Some of my favorite times
By Jeff Salter
Topic: At some point in your past, was there a year – or a significant period of time – that you consider your “favorite” time (or, at least, one of your favorites)? What was going on?
I must have been in a reflective mood when I suggested this topic. As I’m trying to compose this blog, however, I’m very nearly drawing a blank. Certainly there have been spans of time – whether as brief as a day or a long as a season – which I now view as among my favorites, but overall, I feel conflicted. I know there’s a tendency for most of us (especially as we age) to remember earlier times as the “good old days.”
My childhood years, for example, were in the good old days and I have many fond memories of activities, events, places, and people of that period. But I also remember many disappointments, often hearing the word “no”… not to mention living with four other people in a one bathroom, un-insulated, un-air-conditioned house with a floor furnace that seemed to barely keep us from freezing in the winter. I remember chiggers, ticks, skeeters, fire ants, stickers. I remember hand-me-down clothing that never fit me… and wanting tennis shoes that my mom would never buy. For many of those years our family of five lived on a single income of $100 a week… about what a beginning school teacher made at that point.
So, despite a few high points that I remember fondly, those were not such good, good old days after all.
My years as an adult with my own family have featured many high points — but I also remember the grinding weight of meager incomes and tight budgets… and having to be the one to say “no” to purchases that a child wanted and that I wanted for them.
Many high points of my military service and library career were also fraught with the stress of the event itself… and that considerably subtracted from my “enjoyment” of such moments. For example: accepting a newspaper award from the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. John D. Ryan, at the pentagon (1973); announcing the winner of the Louisiana Literary Award at a library association banquet in my speech before about 400 colleagues, with my wife seated at the head table with me; autographing books at the American Library Association Conferences in New Orleans (1989) and Atlanta (1991).
All that said – as a prelude of sorts – here are among my fondest memories:
*** most of a day at Disneyland in the spring of 1958, when I was in second grade. My older brother and I had the run of the place and enjoyed every single minute… even though we couldn’t afford the ticket package which would’ve allowed us more rides.
*** a sizeable chunk of my senior year in H.S. — when I was NOT grounded, that is. I was in three school plays, went to a speech convention, went on a lot of dates, went to several dances, managed the B honor roll without too much academic sweat, had some disposable income from a part-time job, and generally showed off a lot.
*** Our first few months in late 1970 as newlyweds, when we lived in a tiny “shotgun” duplex in Abita Springs and I worked on a weekly newspaper in Covington (LA).
*** boarding my final flight from Thule Air Base (Greenland) on my way home and knowing my remote tour was completed.
*** though I was not doing the actual “labor” of course, the births of our two children were stressful for me. I love both of them dearly and have struggled to provide for them and help them find their way in the world… but I was a hot mess when they were born.
*** A portion of my time in Library grad school, when I was president of the graduate library science association and rotating editor of the association newsletter.
*** there were small slivers of my public library career in which I felt like I was making a positive difference, could see the results of my efforts, and was quite active in the state library association.
*** holding my first published (hardcover) book in my hands [non-fiction, respected royalty publisher, 1988].
*** though the responsibility of being a young parent / provider sometimes felt too heavy on my shoulders, I’ve really enjoyed being a grandfather… especially when each grandchild was still young enough to appreciate my attention and effort.
*** seeing my children and grandchildren baptized
*** watching some of the youngsters I taught (in church programming) when they were little… grow up and graduate H.S.
*** weddings. A high point in my life was our wedding in 1970, though I was too nervous to “enjoy” it… in the sense of being able to relax and chill. Dressing up in a tux and “giving away” my daughter was an experience I’ll never forget, but it was fraught with nerves and emotions. I was a lot more relaxed for our son’s wedding… partly because I didn’t have a role that people were watching. Ha.
Summary: Looking back over my own list, I don’t see lengthy stretches which I view as “favorite” periods. So I conclude that the “best times of my life” – so far – have been bits and pieces as I’ve muddled through, with help from many family and friends, and through the Grace of God.
[JLS # 592]