Banks County Opinions...

July 11, 2001

By Jana Adams
The Banks County News
July 11, 2001

Family reunion time
Summertime is family reunion time, when families all across the county - and the country - gather together at church fellowship halls, civic centers, homes and parks for a meal and catch-up conversation.
Like "dinner on the grounds" or "fellowship and singing," the very words "family reunion" hold a sort of old-timey feel for me - linking back to days when any of the above would have been one of few social happenings for the people in a community, a real chance to get together.
Family reunion time, or on a small scale, family get-togethers, are a harkening back to older ways and other days, back to community and the traditions therein - or at least I suspect it seems so for many who have today's busy perspective of world access, electronic mail and crowded schedules. It's a time and a way that is shifting and changing, in danger of passing on as a generation does.
I went to a family reunion Sunday afternoon and was talking to a cousin about what will happen to family events - anybody's family - when the "older" generation passes on. For one thing, who will know all a family's stories, and for another, who will know how to cook like they do? Who knows how to make creamed corn like the kind you can still get at a family reunion, or the especially wonderful rolls, biscuits from scratch or homemade bread? And who has the time, or makes the time? We agreed, sadly, that family reunions reliant upon us for meals will probably be mostly take-out.
Maybe it is a good idea to write down recipes (and related stories), if you can get them - if they can be written down for those who aren't instinctive cooks, what with the pinches of this and bits of that - for days later on when we may find we want to slow down and try them out.
But the really important thing, I think, is whether or not the "younger" generation will make the time for family get-togethers, scheduling them in along with other time-consuming commitments. I noticed - and I include myself - that everyone was in a hurry to leave Sunday afternoon, with each having somewhere to be and something to do, a lot of things and places and people to cram into limited weekend time. Will we all be too busy to spend time together? Will we lose touch, will we lose track of each other, will we lose our roots?
But I listened as my cousin told us how her young sons like to hear stories about what she, and we, did when we were growing up. And I felt better as I listened some more to that same cousin, perhaps our family's tradition-keeper, and my sister plan a July birthday get-together for next Sunday afternoon, a chance for us to celebrate all the family's July birthdays at once. There was talk, too, of setting a date for the August-September birthdays' celebration.
So the cycle continues. We may make our family reunions in our own ways and in our own time, as we can. It may be a challenge, but I believe our close extended family will continue to make the effort, holding on to as many of our bits of tradition as possible, getting together when we have time - at least for a passing along of stories and updates about our lives and a piece of birthday cake, even if it's not from scratch.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.

By Todd Simons
The Banks County News
July 11, 2001

The Great Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt is the greatest baseball player ever to put on cleats. Maybe the greatest man of this century. I'm not much for idol worship, but at one time I would have been speechless in front of Mr. Schmidt. Now I would probably stand silent thinking of the best question I could ask him. Schmidt certainly will hold his place among the best third basemen ever. His skills were amazing. As athletes go he was a genius with both bat and glove.
When Mike Schmidt moved into the realm of the greatest baseball player ever was in the late eighties.
When I was teenager I spent one summer packaging baseball cards and sending them to the stadiums where my favorite players played asking for their autographs.
I received some nice responses: Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Puckett sent autographed cards. Mike Schmidt however wrote me a letter.
I had congratulated Schmidt on hitting his five hundredth home-run, and said that I hoped the Phillies had a good season. Schmidt wrote back, or at least his secretary did.
He welcomed my congratulations. He thanked me for my kind words on the Phillies' season. Then he signed it.
I looked at this piece and awed that the great Mike Schmidt was on the other end of this letter, and some times I still do.
By writing that letter he didn't become more human, he became even more of a hero. He wasn't just a great baseball player who went home at the end of the day. He knew that the kid in rural Georgia would be happy to hear from him and he felt that it was part of his duty to respond. He was like the President having to stand for hours in the receiving line. He doesn't do it because he is honored by the guests, instead he does it because the guests are honored by him.
I felt he was aware of his greatness.
He might be too modest to say that is why he did it. It is very likely that has nothing to do with why he wrote the letter. The outcome however was that I was just as happy about that letter as I was about the occasions that I met Joe Dimaggio or Willie Mays (Mays shocked me by bouncing the ball I had him sign to me across the table where he sat. The ball would later be completed with Mickey Mantle's signature and already had Duke Snider's autograph when he bounced it). They were all luminaries and all of them could respond to the introduction, "He is the greatest player ever to play the game of baseball."
Mike Schmidt became the greatest through 500 home runs, a ton of RBIs and a letter.
Todd C. Simons is a reporter for The Banks County News


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