Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Looking up old friends


Over the last year I have really enjoyed the world of social network marketing. I found it a fun way to communicate with friends and family. This all started with a Facebook account and grew to Twittering and Blogging. Although my ‘friends’ list looks pretty sad to most, I am quite happy with the results so far. I am constantly amazed at people with 238 friends! I am sure I don’t know 200+ people! Nevertheless, SNM is a convenient way to keep in touch with my children, brother, and close friends. What a great way to share photo’s and trivialities like “what are you doing now”?

There is a special kind of joy in hearing form one of your kids as soon as they experience some new found joy in life, usually as soon as they feel it themselves. Blogging has opened my sheltered horizons and afforded me with new friends across the globe. I have taking two of my passions, nature and writing, and now have become a happy member of online blogging communities with wonderful people that share my interest.

One of the many project ideas I have for my blog ‘Craig’s Observations’ is to telling stories from my childhood. I tell these stories often to whoever will listen and seem to get a lot of positive feedback. As you can imagine, reliving these stories takes you back and I can’t resist looking people of from my past to see where they are in life and reconnecting if I can.

One particularly funny story involved a close neighborhood friend and I burning down his fathers’ barn. It was most likely just a wood shed with tin siding but you would thought it was the Taj Mahal when his father got hold of us. But before I tell the story let me share with you what I have discovered to be the dark side of all this instant access to global knowledge. My friends name was Lee Shinholster. Not a common name so I thought this would be a snap. I had not seen or heard from him since my family and I moved from that small town in south Georgia when I was 13 years old. Although the story took place when we were around 9 or 10.

I Googled my old childhood friend and this is what I found.

The Ocilla Star Newspaper, Dec. 1998Lee ShinholsterMr. Lee Shinholster of Fitzgerald died Saturday," December ,5,' 1998, in Fitzgerald. He was 36. Mr. Shinholster was born June 21, 1962, in Worth County, the son of Danny L. Shinholster and Faye Mixon Smith. He was sales manager of Haulmark of Georgia in Fitzgerald. Mr Shinholster had lived, in the community most of his life. He was a former employee of Harvey's Supermarket,Fitzgerald Ford-Lincoln Mercury and Pace America of Fitzgerald. He had_served in the U. S. Navy. Mr. Shinholster was talented musician and sang with the Gospel singing group, Witness. He was a member of Ocilla Church of God.Survivors' include his wife, Julie Croft Shinholster of Fitzgerald; one son, Travis Shinholster; mother, Faye M. Smith of Fitzgerald; father, Danny Shinholster of Sylvester; and one brother, Curt Smith of Fitzgerald.Services were held at Paulk Funeral Home Chapel of Fitzgerald on Monday, December 7 at 4 p.m., with Rev. Gene Evors, Rev. Walter Shuman and Rev. Sonny.Pate officiating. Interment was held at Evergreen Cemetery of Fitzgerald. Paulk Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.


I was too late.

As I said, I had not heard from or seen Lee since I was 13. In my head he was still 13. I made this discovery a couple of months ago but have put off writing this until now. I suppose you could guess why. I do not know the details of his passing. I do not know what kind of man he became or what life he led other than what is revealed in the obituary above. All I have are simple childhood memories of the friend I once had that lived up on the paved road no more than a block from my house on the dusty dirt road.

All of my memories are from the eyes of a child. Everything is bigger than I am sure it was in real life; the barn, the fire, the distance from my house to his. This is hard to write, not because of grief, but because of the overwhelming flood of memories from that time and space. It’s hard to focus on just the story when you remember every detail and can see it in your head like an old video forever stored in your mind. Memories like watching my father with a water hose spraying the dirt road in front of the house late in the evening to keep the dust down from all the people coming home from work. Images like these are slamming into my conscious like walking into a door you forgot was there.

So at the risk of loosing my readers I will try and finish the story. Lee and I had somehow managed to convince our parents to let us camp out in the barn overnight. Remember we were most likely 9 or 10 years old. We had some fire wood but it was wet. Being the creative kids we were we developed a plan to really get the fire going. We had our fire pile and our wood pile. It was decided, by whom, I do not remember, that we would presoak the wood pile with gasoline. Yea I know…

I remember picking up a stick of wood and throwing it at the fire. You had to throw it you see, it was soaked in gasoline and went SWOOSH when it hit the fire. Imagine the fun at that age! Anyway, the piece I threw hit the fire and bounce back into the gas soaked wood pile, which was right next to the wood wall of the barn. Next thing we know there are fire trucks involved and Lee’s daddy is chasing him around the yard with a belt and I am screaming, “it was my fault, it was my fault”, to no avail.

You have to trust me when I say it was a funny story told in the right context. Now it’s just a childhood memory of an old friend that I will never see again. I have no way to contact his family or no way of knowing if they even remember the kid that lived down on the little dirt road called Flint Street.

~sigh~

If these humble words do find their way to the family of my friend, please let them know that I am sorry. I am sorry about the barn and I am sorry for their loss.

Just an observation…

Craig Glenn


21 comments:

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Oh Craig, what a sad, sad story. How does it happen that we loose contact with people who are important to us? The years pass and we get involved with our lives and then oneday we look back and wonder where the time went and sometimes, as in this case, we are too late to do anything about it.

Craig Glenn said...

Thank you so much Joan. It is a sad story, one of many I am afraid. How sad is it that we learn the most important lessons in life when it's too late.

Craig Glenn

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

This is a sad story, beautifully told. I think there will always be times when we find we have waited too long, it's human nature to think there will always be time.
I appreciate the reminder to act a little sooner.
I recently had that feeling when past memories were so real and came so fast that I got lost in it and swept away. It can be a way to reconnect with the past.

Craig Glenn said...

Thank you so much Lynn. Your kind words mean a lot to me.

Craig

dAwN said...

Great story Glen! Sad, but powerful..
What silly boys you were to soak that wood in gasoline!
Good think it was just a shed and not the house!
thanks for sharing your story!

scot said...

I really do not like getting older. I always seems to be getting something in my eyes...and the sniffles..

It is not unusual to think about the past and memories. I think it is necessary. Those moments helped mold us into the people we are now.

I sometimes worry about our kids and if they will have similar memories from their childhood.

Some of the best times are when we all sit around the dinner table and tell stories from the past. It never fails to happen, they always come up and we get to laughing. Then we start to laugh at mama laughing...

ok I'll stop now, got something in my eye again...

love ya bro.

scot said...

RIP Lee!! It sounds like So. Georgia lost a good man.

Craig Glenn said...

Dawn:

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It is sad I know. Yes I stayed in trouble all the time. Silly boys is right.

Craig

Craig Glenn said...

Hey Scooter:

Sorry about your eye, I hope it's better. Why could we not have wisdom with youth.

Your big brother.

♥ Braja said...

Well, it's got me stumped how you think THAT is gonna make you lose any readers, Craig....what a unique and touching piece...

Craig Glenn said...

Braja:

Thanks for your kind and gracious comment. I need to edit that line, I was trying to appolize for being so long winded! I think that is one of the rules of writing, never appolize, just write! Thanks again Braja, your words mean a lot to me!

Craig Glenn

The Muse said...

I think so many of us have those wishes, those hopes...that we can, in some way...speak our heart as an adult in a way which escaped us as children...

I am very sorry you have lost a friend. Sorry that the chance to do your heart's desire has been lost.

But I do believe that by writing this, you will stir one of your readers to action...before it is too late.

The Muse said...

oh yes.. here is the word game link

http://myladydujour.com/2009/06/think-a-thought-thursday-4/

it should be posted some time today

Craig Glenn said...

Muse,

Thank you for the wise and gracious words that you always have in your heart!

Craig Glenn

david mcmahon said...

More than an observation, Craig.

MUCH more ....

Craig Glenn said...

Thank you David. It is always a treat to have you visit. I hope these words can somehow find a warm thought or memory buried in some readers mind that will bring them a smile or remind them to cherish their childhood memories. But mostly I hope it incourages them to tell their stories so generations to come can learn and enjoy them.

Craig

San said...

That is a very funny story, Craig, but I understand that now the memory is a sad one, since you won't see that friend again. I've sometimes wondered about friends I'll never see again. It's unsettling.

I came over from David's. I'm glad he introduced me to this lovely, reflective post.

Grace Albaugh said...

Came over from Davids. Childhood memories keep evoking more childhood memories. I too have a blog devoted to them. You are welcome to stop by any time.
Even though I'm sure it was a bit of a shock to find out you boyhood friend has passed I think it's good to know where your past is. Somehow keeps it real.

Pouty Lips said...

Congrats on your post of the day nomination from David at authorblog. I think this is more than observation - it's awareness.

The Write Girl said...

Wow Craig,

This is a powerful post. I really enjoyed your description of your childhood friend. I am sorry that you both lost contact with one another. Perhaps his family is still in the old town and you can contact them. Thanks for sharing your personal story.

Pouty Lips said...

Well, you motivated me to search for my old boyfriend from high school, Bob. He passed away in 2008 so I was too late too. It hurts. I was very stunned.