George Smith: ‘The hair on your shoulders …’
Apr 13, 2013 | 4909 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

“To look in the mirror,

“In total surprise,

“At the hair on your shoulders

“And the age in your eyes.”
* * *

I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of Waylon Jennings, but as the years have rolled by, his cover of “Amanda” (a country music classic) has become something of a fascination for me. Country music, before Garth Brooks came along, sort of kept in step with my life through the years.

* * *
A memory … It is in the mid-fifties and my paternal grandfather, James Houston Smith, is in his late 70s and we’re sitting on his back porch talking. I bring up his age.

“Son, I’ve lived my three score and ten, like it says in the Bible. I’m living on someone else’s nickel now.”

You can look that one up … Psalm 90:10.

Granddaddy made it to 84 or so. I have plans to beat that, like more sugarless oatmeal for breakfast and steamed broccoli at least twice a week.

* * *
There is a memory … In a photo file somewhere in the house is a record of the day my son-and-heir sat on the living room couch and put his name on an athletic scholarship offer from the University of Alabama.

It was a proud day for mom and dad, but it is also the mid-seventies and my “kid” looks more like a San Francisco hippie than a Crimson Tide jock. The late Bear Bryant took care of the kid’s long hair and our lives moved along at an acceptable pace until he walked in one day, took a look at his middle-aging dad, and said:

“Dad, I never thought I’d see the day when your hair was longer than mine.”

I got up, looked in the mirror, got in my car, and drove to the barbershop. Much to the horror of the kid’s mother, I came home with a “buzz cut,” like in very short.

* * *
A memory …

It is 1978 and Cale Yarborough has just won at 500-mile race at the Talladega Superspeedway. Yarborough is knocking on his 40th birthday. In his press conference his age is mentioned.

So how does it feel to be 40?

Yarborough’s answer?

“It sure beats the alternative.”

That is a plan I can live with, so to speak.

* * *
A quote …

“If you live to be one hundred you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.”
— George Burns

Well, Mr. Burns made it to 100. He was born Jan. 20, 1896, died March 9, 1996, just 49 days past his 100th birthday.

Point is, Mr. Burns was not only right, but was one of the “few.” I’ve got a ways to go, but I wouldn’t mind joining Mr. Burns in that select company.

That would definitely beat my Granddaddy … five score and some more has a certain ring to it.

* * *
Facts … If you live long enough:

1. The funeral home can use a broom closet for visitation night.

2. A four-car funeral — hearse, preacher, pallbearers and son and heir — won’t exactly overload U. S. 431 north out of Saks.

3. You’ll have to pay someone to cry.

That last doesn’t bother me one bit. It will come out of son and heir’s inheritance. When he pays the mourners for their tears, he may have enough left to put gas in his car to get to the graveyard and back.

With that, I rest … don’t like that one bit … maybe goodbye … nope … OK …

Thanks for visiting and I’ll see you right here come Wednesday morning.


George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email:

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