Musings from the Ocean

A few random thoughts from a newly-minted beach bum. We just returned from a week’s stay on the South Carolina coast. This is the first time in more than 40 years that I had no particular place to be on Monday morning. I am entering my second month of retirement and, so far, I am still married and have not been charged with any crime. Back to the beach. The paucity of daily newspapers and the plethora of big pick-ups and golf carts were my most striking images of our week at Garden City. The lack of newspapers is disturbing to an old-print guy like me. We have been vacationing in basically the same spot since the late 1970’s and, for most of that time, there were multiple daily newspaper machines on every corner. This summer, I walked for about 15 minutes to find either a copy of the Charlotte newspaper or the one daily from Charleston. Now I respect the Queen City and I love the Holy City. But events in Mecklenburg County or West of the Ashley do not pique my interest. I miss the big dailies from the Upstate and the Midlands. These publications are on line but it’s hard to work the crossword puzzle or unscramble the message of the day when Wi-Fi is on the blink. One wish on my bucket list is to own and operate a pick-up truck. I definitely have no need for one and I would likely be a hazard to life and limb if I tried to drive one, but the truck culture fascinates me. I parked between two of these monsters at dinner one night and the bed of each truck came up to my chin. I am sure that all of these vehicles are well out of my price range, but I may cash in a life insurance policy for a down payment. Our golden twins, Sarah Brooks and Patricia, spent the week with us and their laughter, energy, remarkably good grace may breathe life into these old bones yet. They are four and a half time and I discovered that I cannot tell them apart when their hair is wet. They recently completed a week’s worth of swimming lessons and Patricia, ever confident, believes she can dog-paddle across the English Channel. She would have to employ her deep pink flotation device, which features a large and smiling blue elephant, but she would try. Sarah Brooks, the oldest by one hour, is destined to be either a chef or a house mother at an exclusive female college. She prepared a confection composed mostly of Cheezits one afternoon and she is forever waggling her finger at her slightly irreverent grandfather. Their little brother Paul arrived later in the week and he grins with all of his four teeth. He giggles and gurgles and says Mama and Ball. He also has a quick and mean left hook that can send a pair of expensive glasses flying. For aging Boomers like this writer, grandchildren are a gift, pure and simple. They redeem and restore and we cherish ours. For many years in this space, I did not comment on politics, federal, state or local, primarily because of what I did for a living. I don’t have that restraint anymore, so here goes. The state of the current Presidential race has sunk to a depth I have not seen in my lifetime. I remember John Kennedy who inspired a generation. The Texas arm twister, Lyndon Johnson who passed more meaningful legislation in two years than the current circus in Washington has passed in 10. The deeply-flawed Richard Nixon was a brilliant strategic thinker who may have saved the world with his bold international initiatives. Ronald Reagan was a B-movie actor who became the most significant president in 50 years. George H.W. Bush may be the last great man of my lifetime. Now we have Trump of the incendiary tweets and that strange-looking baseball cap. I do believe Hillary Clinton has some level of competence but she apparently conducted foreign policy in her garage, somewhere between the lawn tractor and the empty paint cans. And I can’t wait to see what the next Clinton scandal will be as this campaign bumps to some sort of conclusion. This country is hungry for leadership. For whatever remains of my life and for the sake of everyone’s grandchildren, I hope one of these candidates will provide it. There is always hope, however fleeting. (Ernie Segars is retired administrator of Laurens County and former associate editor of The Clinton Chronicle.)

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