More Jackson County Opinions...

MARCH 31, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 31, 2004

I have a guest this week
BY GEORGE THOMAS ADAMS III
(Tommy writes about his Uncle Virgil)
Over the past several weeks you have read about characters named George Thomas Adams. Today you have a chance to read about the one and only Virgil Emerson Adams.
I always knew I had an Uncle Virgil. I heard that he was skilled at avoiding real work, that he quit school and joined the Navy at age 17, was a bit on the wild side, and that a lady named Mary Smith had married him and settled him down, that he graduated from college and lived in Georgia, and everyone in the family was proud of him and Mary and her positive influence on his life.
I heard that he sat with me when I was a small child and very sick, and I always heard that he was loved by everyone who knew him. I know that my Granny, his mother, loved him and missed him, because she never addressed me as Tommy, but always said Virgil first, then caught herself and said Tommy. So I was always Virgil Tommy to her.
My first real memory of Uncle Virgil, though, is a trip to the farm pond with him when I was bout 10 years old. Growing up in McLemoresville, Tenn. (you are accustomed to reading 311 etc. here, but I will leave that trademark to Virgil), my first fishing trips were to the family farm pond with PaPa (George Sr.). We used a cane pole and dug worms at the barn or caught crickets and grasshoppers for bait, and we caught bream until we got tired.
Later I fished with Daddy (George Jr.) on Kentucky Lake where we caught our limit of 30 crappie each time we went, and all that was required was the trusty cane pole and some shiner minnows. PaPa and Daddy kept it simple when it came to fishing. Come to think about it, that rule applied to most areas of their lives.
Not so, Uncle Virgil. He had two rods and reels in the back of that ‘55 Ford station wagon he drove up from Georgia, and a tackle box as big as the tool box that housed the tools to keep Daddy’s Allis Chalmers farm tractor going. Until then, the only tackle box I knew about was a cigar box with a rubber band around it, and the only rods and reels were for sale at Eakers Cafe’ and General Store where we ate breakfast on the way to Kentucky Lake, and I was often told that I didn’t need those fancy things to catch fish.
Well, when Uncle Virgil opened up that tackle box, and three trays on each side opened up like stair steps, revealing dozens of compartments filled with artificial fishing baits, I was in total awe, and then and there I became a fan. But there is more. When he carefully selected one of those baits and tied it on the line of that rod and reel, and threw the thing all the way across that one-acre pond, I knew that I was in the presence of greatness. Almost 50 years later, I still feel that way when I am with him. Uncle Virgil expanded my horizons regarding fishing that day.
Later, he included me on a trip with his family to Daytona Beach where I saw the ocean for the first time and where I saw a lesson in free enterprise and the American way, and where I first heard the Virgil Adams phrase that I have so often used (and tried my best to really mean), “That’s awright.”
Seems that ‘55 wagon didn’t handle well on the sands of Daytona Beach, and when it got stuck really deep, an entrepreneur in a Jeep showed up and offered to pull us out for $20. As Uncle Virgil tried his best negotiating skills, the Jeep driver just held his binoculars with his good hand and propped them on the stub of his missing left arm and scanned the beach for other captive customers.
After the wagon was pulled free and the $20 transferred from one wallet to another, and some in our group and in the crowd of onlookers were a bit upset and offered up lots of ideas about how the arm may have been ripped off by an irate customer, Uncle Virgil said, “That’s awright, everyone has to make a living,” and we went on to enjoy the rest of the vacation.
Through many conversations over the years, including some on politics and religion, and discussing the differences in the way folks look at things, Uncle Virgil always says, “That’s awright.” I think now that he really does mean it. He is a gentle man and does indeed believe we can all be a little different, and that God can use us all just as we are.
He can argue without getting angry; I can’t. He can speak at the funeral of his brother and not cry; I can’t. He can flip a pancake six feet in the air and catch it in the skillet; I can’t. He can handle family tragedies with no visible bitterness; I can’t. He can fish the Lincoln County drop-off for hours at a time, not catch a fish, but stay put because he “just knows” there must be fish there; I can’t. The list goes on and on.
I’ll tell you what I can do though, I can cast a fishing lure just as far as Uncle Virgil can, and I probably have just as many rods and reels and artificial baits as he does. He set the standard 48 years ago, and that’s one I reached.
The really important ones? Well, I’m working on my tolerance and trying not to kick filing cabinets in fits of anger and hurt my foot as I have done, and I’m telling my son Tom (George IV), who recently put his fist through a wall in a similar Adams fit, “Be more like Uncle Virgil; it will be ‘awright.’ Just hug a tree and go on about your business.”
Thomas (George V), my grandson, is 2 years old. So far, he seems very easy going and content. Maybe he has that gene from Granny’s side of the family, the one Uncle Virgil inherited which allows him to be the person he is and the person we could all aspire to be like.
In May, God willing, I’ll see Uncle Virgil at Clark’s Hill where we have seen each other every year for a long, long time. I’ll learn from him, and he says he always learns from me. We’ll fish. We’ll talk about family-present and past. We’ll talk about politics and maybe even religion, and we’ll respect each other’s opinions and know that in the overall scheme of things it doesn’t amount to much, but to us it is of critical importance.
Before we part company at the end of this week, I’ll give him a hug and tell him I love him and appreciate him, but if he and Rick are still out fishing the Lincoln County drop-off when I have to head back to St. Louis, that’s ‘awright.’ He knows it anyway.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
March 31, 2004

Using The Jedi Mind Trick
I was more of a Star Wars fan after the first movie with the Jawas than I was after Return of with the Ewoks. For most people, I think it goes without saying that episodes one and two went downhill from there, and I’m resisting the urge to prejudge the downfall of Annakin in the final installment.
One of the movie’s contributions I’m not ambivalent about is the “Jedi Mind Trick,” wherein “stronger” minds, through suggestion, influence the decision-making ability of so-called “weaker” minds. You may remember Obi Wan’s line, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” answered, “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.” As a rule, it takes more bravado than skill to pull a Jedi Mind Trick on someone, but if you’ve ever actually tried it, my guess is you’ve discovered it works.
In college, one of our professors was a frequent victim. To his credit, he was very well thought of in his field, which was psychology, but the student body found him to be more absent-minded than most of our other teachers. “But Dr. So-and-so, you said the test was open book,” or “Don’t you remember you told us that the paper wasn’t due until next Friday?” This sort of ploy worked almost invariably with him, but then again he allegedly left his kids at the mall once after a shopping spree.
Where I find the Jedi Mind Trick to be most useful these days is in my dealings with 2 and 3-year-olds, since I‘ve discovered that using the trick doesn’t have to be the stronger mind taking advantage of the weaker mind, but can also be the older mind preying on an innocent one.
Consider a hypothetical but typical situation: my almost 3-year old son Jack has already consumed his sugar quota for the day, and because of all the subsequent running around screaming, he is thirsty. We have several options in the refrigerator: juice, milk or water. In response to his request for juice, I will simply say, “Jack, would you like milk or water?” To which he will reply, “Chocolate Milk,” and I will proceed to fix him chocolate milk.
OK, maybe that’s not the best example to parade my use of the Jedi Mind Trick, but it does work with eating and getting dressed. Instead of asking whether he wants green beans for dinner, I’ll ask, “Jack, do you want to eat green beans or some really spicy food that would probably make your tummy hurt?”
As a parent, one can almost always juxtapose a preferred piece of clothing as a choice next to one that is less attractive to the toddler, thereby ensuring at least a little bit of influence over what the younger one looks like when he’s dropped off later. This approach, I understand, is short-lived, since my brother informs me that his already 3-year-old son has begun to intuit the third option on a regular basis. When caught between two crummy choices, he will simply say, “No.”
The real trick, I guess, is to be judicious in the application of the Jedi Mind Trick, since its efficacy for me in certain situations is already spotty, and in others it won’t last much longer. If I were to abuse this little motivational tool in the parental context, it could come back to haunt me 10 or 15 years from now.
I can imagine myself, getting up in the middle of the night after hearing a noise or two, and wandering into the living room to discover my sons returning from sneaking out or hosting an un-chaperoned mini-soiree. They will recognize my foggy demeanor and play their hands, “Dad, go back to sleep. These aren’t the boys you’re looking for.”
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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