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A month of memories

September 8, 2008
Bill Harding

September is a month of anniversaries.

This column first appeared in the Morning Journal on Sept. 17, 2000. That was eight years ago, and I cannot believe that I am still writing it. Even if you consider that a couple of columns are missed each year due to such things as computer malfunctions, it still adds up to 400 columns. I guess there was a reason my high school English teachers kept assigning essays.

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing I ever wrote was for a college English class during my freshman (and only) year at Youngstown State University. I might have been a music major, but my mind always wondered to the outdoors and I wrote my essay about a morning on the trapline.

Unfortunately, I was called upon to read my work to the class and you have never seen such looks of amazement on fellow students. As I sat down I truly was a redneck as I was flushed with embarrassment. This city group was obviously not a good target market for my beginning writing skills.

While my eighth anniversary of writing this column is important to me, today, Sept. 7, is even more important. Today is the anniversary of the day I hit the Lotto of life when Barbara McCoy said "I do." If only she had known what she was getting into, she might have said something like, "You gotta' be kidding."

I'll never forget the first time I brought a groundhog home for her to cook. I dumped it in the sink of our tiny apartment and learned a lesson. Barb would put up with my hunting and fishing. She would cook my catch or kill, but nothing came into the kitchen while it still wore its fur or scales. I would clean the game and she would turn it into a delicious meal. Seemed fair enough to me.

Barb will fish with me and target shoot, but she does not shoot game. She does, however, go with me on occasion. I remember the first time she went squirrel hunting with me when she was well along with our first child. Maybe a pregnant woman might have looked out of place in the woods, but I did manage to bag a squirrel.

I doubt if Barb knew when she married me that she would be taking a week long kayak trip. This was no luxury hotel vacation. We slept on shore in a two-person tent and cooked freeze dried trail food on a single burner Coleman stove.

Kentucky Lake served as both swimming pool and bath. Each day was an up current paddle in temperatures approaching 100 degrees. How many wives get to have that much fun?

Eventually we got into sailing and that was a lot more comfortable than the kayak. Of course 12 1/2 hours in a Lake Erie line squall was not exactly a picnic for a woman prone to seasickness. We got hit off the coast of Canada at 4 a.m. and didn't make Ashtabula until 4:30 the next afternoon. According to the Coast Guard, waves were 14 to 15 feet. It was not a fun night of sailing.

By now how many ladies are thinking, "Gee, I wish I had a fun husband like that"? I'll bet there are not many, and I have not even mentioned the camper and the airplane.

I guess I've mellowed over the years. I still hunt and fish, but boat rides are a lot more sedate on our pontoon boat, the Barbie J. The amazing part is that I'm still married to a woman who has put up with me for over half a century. I'll bet most women who read this will be ready to nominate Barb for sainthood.

I think the best thing to happen in anyone's life is to have a spouse who will stand beside you in all of your endeavors. This is true of both husbands and wives.

This is our anniversary, but I pay tribute to all who have taken for better or for worse seriously.

These are the couples who sailed to America in rickety ships despite seasickness and fear. These are the couples who walked side by side across prairie and mountain to open this great country for those of us who follow. These are Americans.



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