Showing category "Reminiscence" (Show all posts)

POSTHUMOUS BIRTHDAY CONJURES NEW WAVE OF MEMORIES

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, September 27, 2021, In : Reminiscence 

Today - Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 - would have been my father’s 83rd birthday.

A little more than three years later, it still feels strange to put it that way: “would have been.” Dad died roughly a month before his 80th birthday, and almost a year and a half after the passing of the woman he promised to love, honor and cherish on a warm August day in 1962. 

He kept that promise, and so did she, and they made doing so look so easy - a fact that I probably took for granted for most of my chi...


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FOUR DECADES LATER, I STILL DON'T GET IT...

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, September 17, 2021, In : Reminiscence 

Back in 1971, while awaiting the fate of his first feature film - the dystopian science fiction parable THX-1138 - and before being inspired to begin work on what eventually became Star Wars, writer-director George Lucas was challenged by his friend and mentor, Francis Ford Coppola, to write a script that would appeal to the larger, mainstream moviegoing public.


Though reluctant at first, Lucas eventually embraced the idea (no doubt in part an “I’ll show him” response to Coppola) and go...


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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, In : Reminiscence 

Today would have been my mother and father’s 59th wedding anniversary. Much love going out to them today.


There’s a backstory to their nuptials - one which I’m certain is most interesting but which, after all these years, I am still only partially aware of. Apparently Mom had been engaged to another fellow at some point, but broke it off; whether she broke it off before meeting Dad, or her decision was in fact the result of meeting Dad, is something I’ve never learned. Ultimately it ...


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LEGENDS AND TALES OF SIPOKNI WEST

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, August 20, 2021, In : Reminiscence 

Sipokni West – the REAL Sipokni West, that is – is located in the small town of Reagan, Oklahoma, approximately two hours south of Oklahoma City and just a few miles north of my hometown of Ravia (the childhood home of Gene Autry). Designed as both tourist attraction and motion picture set, this recreation of an Old West town is the brainchild of a buddy of mine, Reagan resident Johnny Shackleford – sort of a hometown Will Rogers, rarely seen without a twinkle in his eye or a funny stor...


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DARK DAYS COME, BUT TOMORROW STILL BRINGS HOPE...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, In : Reminiscence 
(My granddaughter, Zoey Romania Small - photo taken by her Uncle Josh, May 8 2021)


All his life he’s heard the stories. 

The stories are all he has, to be honest. They are his only link to those long-ago days. He was there, but he doesn’t remember any of it; he was just a babe, after all. The first of a family’s next generation. A generation which, it was supposed, would have the best of everything this nation - this world - might have to offer.


That was the promise. That was the dream. ...


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SOME WOULD BE SURPRISED I MADE IT THIS FAR...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, In : Reminiscence 


Next Tuesday, June 1, I will observe my 58th birthday.


All right, all together now: “BIIIIIIIIIIIGGG DEAL!”


Well, yeah, for me it actually kind of is a big deal. On a couple of levels.


For one thing, it further puts the lie to a couple of teachers I had back in high school who, for whatever reason, fully expected me to have joined the Choir Invisible long before now. To this day I’m not really sure just why they had me, of all people, pegged for an early demise. But they did.


Maybe it has s...


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ON THE TOPIC OF BROTHERS DAY...

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, May 24, 2021, In : Reminiscence 

I was driving back to work after lunch this afternoon and heard a fellow on the radio say that today is National Brothers Day.

There was a time when I would have happily celebrated my relationship with my siblings but, alas, those days are gone...


I am the oldest of three brothers. We were close growing up, but life happens and things change. The middle brother got himself into some pretty serious legal trouble, but seemed on the way to turning his life around when he died of a sudden illnes...


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A CHILDHOOD MEMORY RESURFACES...

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, October 19, 2020, In : Reminiscence 

It's weird sometimes how the human brain works... 


Some memories seem to forever reside right there on the forefront of your neural circuits, always ready to jump into the spotlight no matter how hard you might try to keep them securely under wraps. Others burrow themselves deep into the rabbit hole of your subconscious and remain hidden for years, patiently biding their time until something suddenly makes them decide to jump out and say, "Hi! Remember me?"


Case in point:


Over the weekend ...


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HOW WE DIDN'T SPEND OUR SUMMER VACATION...

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, In : Reminiscence 
(Granddaughter Zoey at the Blue Zoo Aquarium in Oklahoma City)


It has become something of a tradition, over the past decade or two, to devote this space around this time of year to a topic many of us remember from our grade school days: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”

Such accounts over the years have focused on trips to Canada, Louisiana and New York; visits to such varied destinations as the Grand Canyon, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Seattle’s Space Needle and (yes!) the...


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DARK DAYS, 52 YEARS APART...

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, June 5, 2020, In : Reminiscence 

June 5, 1968...


The first news story that really stands out as an intense personal memory for me was the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Maybe it was because it happened just a few days after my fifth birthday, I don't know. I do have vague recollections of the assassination of Martin Luther King earlier that same year, and as young as I was at the time I was old enough in that instance to understand that something terrible had happened. But it was Bobby's murder that made me, at such a young ...


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MY MEETING WITH A FOLK HERO

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, September 19, 2019, In : Reminiscence 


It’s still a little hard for me to believe, even all these years after the fact, but I actually met Johnny Cash once.

My wife and I were still living in Illinois in early 1990 when Cash gave a concert at the historic old Rialto Theatre in Joliet. It was one of his first concerts after recovering from dental surgery he’d had some months earlier; even from our seats up in the nosebleed section you could tell his face was still a trifle swollen from the surgery, and he admitted right up front...


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THAT SENSE OF WONDER...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, In : Reminiscence 

In spite of the fact that I was a mere 3 years old when it debuted in 1966, Star Trek is one of a small handful of TV shows that I can actually remember watching while on my daddy’s knee back during their original airings. (The others I remember from that era include Batman, The Green Hornet, Ron Ely’s Tarzan, Get Smart and, believe it or not, Mission: Impossible.) For that reason, I feel I am justified in considering myself to be a first-generation Trek fan; I may not have understood mos...


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WHEN JOSH THE LAD MET STAN THE MAN

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, In : Reminiscence 
(Stan Lee as he appeared in a 1977 in-house ad for Marvel's then-new teen-oriented publication, Pizzazz.)


One of the unexpected gifts that has come my way as a result of my chosen profession as a journalist and author has been the occasional opportunity to meet one of my childhood heroes.


Over the years I have written in this column about some of those one-on-one encounters with such luminaries as country music legend Johnny Cash; actor Adam “Batman” West; and two who actually became perso...


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The Left-Handed Rebellion: Childhood Act Defines Lifetime Of Heroic Character

Posted by John Allen Small on Saturday, August 25, 2018, In : Reminiscence 


I began my previous entry with the following comment: “My father was, is, and forever shall be my hero.” In trying to prepare my remarks for the memorial service we held for Dad last Friday (August 17), I wanted to find that one particular story that might best illustrate why I have always and will always feel this way. 


It proved to be something of a struggle. The problem was, there are just so many such stories to choose from - and each one would, in its own way, have served the purpose...


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A Tribute To The Best Father A Son Never Deserved

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, August 17, 2018, In : Reminiscence 

My father was, is and shall forever be my hero.


When I was a little boy, I truly believed there was nothing that he could not do. Even with the passage of time, and the adult realization that he was only human after all, Dad was still the person I most wanted to be like. The person I least wanted to disappoint. The person whose opinion always meant the most to me.

It was only when I became old enough to understand such things that I realized just how much of a hero Dad truly was. He overcame...


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RAY LOKEY: 1953-2017

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, November 21, 2017, In : Reminiscence 

(Note: The following is a transcript of my eulogy for my employer and friend, Johnston County Capital-Democrat Publisher Ray Lokey, which was delivered on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Ray's memorial service. The service was held in Fletcher Auditoirum on the campus of Murray State College in Tishomingo.)


I've been agonizing all week about what I was going to say when I got up here… It's hard to sum up in just a few short minutes a relationship that lasted over a quarter of a century. But let me sta...
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THINGS MY MAMA TAUGHT ME

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, In : Reminiscence 
It is a sad fact of life that, all too often, we become so bogged down with the minutiae and infinitia of everyday life that we find ourselves accidentally forgetting the really important stuff.

That almost happened to me this week. I got so busy tackling what was required of me while working on this week’s issue of the Capital-Democrat that it almost - almost - slipped my mind that today (Wednesday, Oct. 11) would have been my mother’s 75th birthday.

It’s hard to believe that it has almo...
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A NOTE FOR MY MOTHER...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, In : Reminiscence 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Me and my mother, Romania Sue Small, circa 1963-64.



I am told that a certain member of my family apparently did not appreciate my sharing the following story at my mother’s funeral last Friday. 


I have to admit to having been somewhat baffled by this response. Certain things being what they are, certain people being who they are, perhaps I shouldn’t have been. I don’t know. 


Everyone else seemed to appreciate the story, and had nothing b...


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31 YEARS AND COUNTING...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, April 6, 2017, In : Reminiscence 
APRIL 5, 1986, Kankakee First Church of the Nazarene, Kankakee Illinois.


Once upon a time, a boy and a girl from opposite sides of town met and fell in love…

The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was president; Styx and the Electric Light Orchestra were two of the biggest rock groups in the country; and nearly a year after its release, Star Wars was STILL the numbest popular movie in America.

One Sunday evening in late April of that year, a teenage boy met the girl of his dreams at church. He was a ...

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IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME...

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, In : Reminiscence 
(Yours Truly in Greece, Spring 1985 - shortly before the events described below...)



It occurred to me, as I sat down at my keyboard just now to share the story I am about to tell, that I probably should have done so back in June. That month did, after all, mark the 30th anniversary of when it actually happened.


But for some reason I generally don’t think about it when the anniversary rolls around. The subject only seems to come to mind around this time of year. When I’m counting my blessi...


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"For Every Dream That Took Me High..."

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, In : Reminiscence 
(Photo: Me at Byrd Park in Kankakee, around 1977 or so.)


I have been a fan of the late Harry Chapin since the first time I heard his brother Tom singing songs that Harry wrote on the ABC-TV program "Make A Wish" when I was a kid back in the early 1970s. A few years later I heard songs like "Cat's In The Cradle" and "WOLD" on the radio, and I was hooked; I was one of those who unashamedly shed a tear when I heard the news of Harry's death about a month and a half after I graduated from high sch...


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THE ACCIDENTAL MEMORIAL

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, May 16, 2014, In : Reminiscence 
(My paternal grandmother, Iona Small)


Let me admit here at the outset that this is one of those stories which most readers may decide they don't care much about one way or the other. But it never fails to send a bit of a shiver up my spine whenever I think about it. Which is why I decided to share it. 


At the very least it should probably stand as some sort of evidence of the existence of a higher power in our lives, and of how we can never really know beforehand the ways in which that power ...


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MEMOIRS OF A NERVOUS BRIDEGROOM

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, April 4, 2014, In : Reminiscence 
(Our Wedding Day: April 5, 2014, First Church of the Nazarene, Kankakee, Illinois)


On the morning of April 5, 1986, I was just about as nervous as a fellow could possibly be without having to call a doctor or look for a fresh change of clothing. How I managed to keep from falling into a dead faint is something I still am unable to fully comprehend these 28 years after the fact. 


In a few short hours I would be getting married. That in itself would have been enough to induce the uncontrollable...


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AVE ATQUE VALE, OLD FRIEND

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, In : Reminiscence 

Back in the early 1990s, while riding together up Interstate 35 en route to represent the Johnston County Capital-Democrat at some Oklahoma Press Association function or another, my then co-worker Jon Parker and I laughingly hammered out what came to be known as the “Small-Parker Treaty of 1992.”


Two years later – as a means of responding to inane rumors that Jon and I were embroiled in some sort of silly feud regarding our columns in the C-D (which we weren’t) - I publicly revealed,...


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A EULOGY FOR GRANDMA

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, August 26, 2013, In : Reminiscence 
(Grandma Tipps and me, some time in the early 1970s)


The following is the eulogy I gave last Friday, Aug. 23, at the funeral for my grandmother, Sylvia Tipps.


My grandmother was a tough old bird.


Somewhere out there, I’m sure, someone is certain to take offense at that. “What a terrible thing to say,” they’re probably thinking right now.


But, see, here’s the thing. Even though I didn’t get to spend as much time with my grandmother during the final years of her life as I would have...


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IT'S NOT THE YEARS, IT'S THE MILEAGE

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, In : Reminiscence 

This Saturday – with as little fanfare as possible, in spite of all my best efforts to ignore it, and no doubt very much to the surprise of a few childhood friends who I'm sure never thought I'd make it – I will observe the 50th anniversary of my birth.


Note, please, that I did not say I will “celebrate” my birthday. The word just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow to me these days. I've felt that way for a few years now. I can’t really say why.


A friend once suggested that it cou...


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TRIBUTE TO A NURSE

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, May 2, 2013, In : Reminiscence 

Melissa Small, RN. (Her college graduation portrait; Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais Illinois, 1985)


(Note: In honor of the observance of National Nurses Week on May 6-12, I have chosen to share a newspaper column of mine that originally ran in the Johnston County Capital-Democrat here in Tishomingo back in our issue of Feb. 20, 1997. I was fortunate enough to later win a First Place award for this piece in the category of Personal Columns from the Society of Professional Journalist’...
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HAPPY TRAILS, COWBOY BUCKAROO

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, In : Reminiscence 
(I'm not sure what Sky would have thought of my using a line from a Harry Chapin song in the above graphic, but to me it just seemed right somehow...)


I had been living in Johnston County for only a few days when I first became aware of Sky Corbin. I had come to town by myself to take the news reporter's job here at the Capital-Democrat and to set up house in anticipation of my wife and infant son joining me a month later. My books and my TV were back in Illinois with the family, and the only ...


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FROM THE ARCHIVES: A CHIP OFF THE OL' BLOCK

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, August 9, 2012, In : Reminiscence 


(NOTE: The following tale was originally published as a newspaper column, and later appeared in my 2011 collection "Something In The Air" [available on Amazon.com]. It is being shared here in honor of Lego's 80th Anniversary.)


A buddy of mine stopped by the house a few years back and seemed rather surprised to find me sprawled out on the living room floor playing with my son’s Lego blocks.


Perhaps he might not have been quite as mystified had my three-year-old son been there, playing and ...


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I'M SORRY, BUT I LIKED THE '70S

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, June 28, 2012, In : Reminiscence 


 

One of my favorite people in the known universe is my former college journalism professor (and still good friend) Joe Bentz – that’s Dr. Joseph Bentz, thank you very much, noted Christian author and currently a teacher of writing and American literature at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, if you ever want to look him up on the Internet. (You really should; he's an interesting and talented fellow, and as my Uncle Bean used to say a good egg into the bargain.) 


While it wa...


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LIFE IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, In : Reminiscence 

Recently – and with as little fanfare as possible, thank you very much – I observed the 49th anniversary of my arrival in this world. I say “observed” rather than “celebrate” because... well, because I’ve reached a point in my life in which the latter term seems ever so slightly less appropriate. At least it does to me. At the moment. If I make it another 10 to 20 years I suspect I’ll go back to celebrating because, let’s face it, making it that far is something a little mor...


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Cherish The Memories...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, July 21, 2011, In : Reminiscence 
(Pictured: My brother Jimmy and our grandfather, Elmer Leslie Tipps, 
 at Pennington Creek, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, around 1972 or so)


It was about midway through the day this past Tuesday – our deadline crunch day here at the weekly newspaper where I work – before I realized the day’s date (July 19) and remembered that Tuesday would have been my younger brother Jimmy’s 45th birthday. 


It’s hard to believe that it’s been five and a half years since Jimmy died following a sudden illne...


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20 YEARS SURE WENT BY IN A HURRY...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, In : Reminiscence 

Try as I might not to let it get to me, I've been experiencing the occasional pang of nostalgia this week. I suppose that's only to be expected when you find yourself facing the 20th anniversary of your first child's birth.


Joshua Orrin Small was born on June 1, 1991 - 28 years to the day after I was born, as it happens. I've spent the last 20 years telling people that shared birth date was the product of accident, rather than design; I've never been that good at math, after all. What makes ...


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ILL WINDS...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, May 26, 2011, In : Reminiscence 

The tragic reports coming out of Joplin, Mo., in the wake of the tornado that struck that city last weekend have served as a terrible reminder – as if we needed such in our neck of the woods – of the terrible devastation such storms can produce.


Those reports have been especially difficult for me and my family, as Joplin has been one of our regular stops whenever traveling between here and Illinois to visit family members over the years. Any time there is some kind of personal connection...


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About Me


John Allen Small John A. Small is an award-winning newspaper journalist, columnist and broadcaster whose work has been honored by the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the National Newspaper Association, and the Oklahoma Education Association. He and his wife Melissa were married in 1986; they have two sons, Joshua Orrin (born 1991) and William Ian (born 1996). Mr. Small is the News Editor and columnist for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, a weekly newspaper headquartered in Tishomingo, OK. He obtained his nickname, "Bard of the Lesser Boulevards," from a journalism colleague - the late Phil Byrum - in recognition of the success of his popular newspaper column, "Small Talk." (In addition to the many awards the column itself has received over the years, a radio version of "Small Talk" earned an award for "Best Small Market Commentary" from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1998.) John was born in Oklahoma City in 1963; lived in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area of Illinois for most of the next 28 years (with brief sojourns in Texas and Athens, Greece, thrown in to break up the monotony); then returned to his native state in 1991, where he currently resides in the Tishomingo/Ravia area. He graduated from Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in 1981, and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in 1991. The years between high school and college were a period frought with numerous exploits and misadventures, some of which have become the stuff of legend; nobody was hurt along the way, however, which should count for something. In addition to his professional career as a journalist he has published two short story collections: "Days Gone By: Legends And Tales Of Sipokni West" (2007), a collection of western stories; and "Something In The Air" (2011), a more eclectic collection. He was also a contributor to the 2005 Locus Award-nominated science fiction anthology "Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe," edited by Win Scott Eckert. In additon he has written a stage play and a self-published cookbook; served as project editor for a book about the JFK assassination entitled "The Men On The Sixth Floor"; and has either published or posted on the Internet a number of essays, stories and poems. He has also won writing awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Library of Poetry. He is a past president of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce in Tishomingo; was a charter member and past president of the Johnston County Reading Council, the local literacy advocacy and "friends of the library" organization; served as Johnston County's first-ever Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator in 1994-95; served two terms as chairman of the Johnston County (OK) Democratic Party; and has taught journalism classes for local Boy Scout Merit Badge Fairs. He is a member of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society.
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