When I was a kid, most of my friends looked up to athletes. My hero was my grandfather Merle Shelton. I used to call him my Mickey Mantle. The Mick was my grandfather’s favorite ballplayer. In my eyes, Merle was just as legendary. This month he celebrated his 84thbirthday. Not bad for a guy who has smoked a pack a day since he was a teen. He did adult things early. On his 17th birthday Merle walked into a Navy recruiting office in Pittsburg and enlisted. It was 1943 and the military promised a better future than the coal mine he worked in.
First a follow-up on my last blog post about teaching children well. The number of reader responses was off the charts. I heard from a Wall Street banker, an artist, stay-at-home mothers, lots of fathers, a Harvard professor, many grandparents, a surgeon, a minister, and everybody in between. Even David Crosby’s lovely wife Jan chimed in. Responses came from as far away as Dubai and Ghana. Usually blog comments are just that – a comment. But I received dozens of emails that read like letters flush with emotional memories of your best times. I guess we know what matters most.
This is a bit of a departure from my normal blog posts. No talk of criminal athletes, eminent domain takings, foodborne illness, or Indian casinos. Today I’m onto something more important than all those things – children and time. Last week I took my 10-year-old son Clancy to see pianist George Winston. Clancy is a good little piano player and George Winston is his favourite performer. We drove over two hours on a school night to reach the concert hall. And we didn’t get back home until after midnight. But in between my son and I heard ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Carol of the Bells,’ ‘Snowman,’ and The Peanuts classics. As a father, I got a charge looking at my son looking at George making a piano sing.
This photo of Huey Long was taken in 1929 at his impeachment proceedings in the House Chamber of the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Last night I stood in that historic chamber and delivered a speech on Little Pink House. My speech was sponsored by The Foundation for Historical Louisiana. The organization is responsible for saving many of the historical buildings in Louisiana. But it is losing its fight to save over 100 historical homes in a small neighborhood in New Orleans. This neighborhood was battered by Katrina. But the homeowners restored a lot of these homes with federal dollars. Now the government wants to knock these homes down to make way for a massive hospital complex. While I was in town yesterday, more homes were demolished. Here's a picture.