Alamo Elementary, 1949-54

     In 1949, I began my public education career by entering first grade at Alamo Elementary, three blocks from home on Houston Street in Stewart Heights Addition, Baytown, Texas.  Over the next five years I would meet Mrs Watson (first grade), Mrs Dobbs (second grade), Mrs Kirkland (third grade), Mrs Gunn (fourth grade), and Mrs Hazelwood (fifth grade), along with Mr. Loy (principal.)  There was a secretary whose name I forget, and that was the entire staff.  About 11:30 each day the secretary would come by and ask how many hot dogs we wanted for lunch, and she would take a count.  At noon she would deliver the hot dogs (no chips, no drinks), and we ate our lunches in the classroom.  No cafeteria.  We did have an auditorium.  We were on the cutting edge of technology when in 1952 they brought a big, round, black and white television into the auditorium and we watched the inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower.  I can still see him in that big, open top Lincoln cruising down Pennsylvania Avenue.
     The first year, I was easy to pick out in the crowd of kids…I was the only one with a black tooth. That summer before school started Mom, Dad, Judy, and I were in a restaurant, and since I tended to be a little bit…um…restless, I started climbing around the booths. I don’t remember if the place was busy or not, but there must have been some empty seats. Anyway, all I remember is I was climbing over one booth to the next one when I slipped, fell, and hit the floor mouth-first. I split my lip and yelled like I was mortally wounded, which got Mom and Dad’s attention. They picked me up, stopped the bleeding, and settled me down, and that was it…we headed home. I don’t remember being spanked because I was horsing around, but I probably should have been.
     A few days later, Mom looked at me and noticed that one of my front teeth seemed to be darker than the others.  She was concerned enough about it that she took me to a dentist who examined the tooth and pronounced it “dead.”  He explained that I must have hit that tooth hard enough when I fell that I jarred the tooth and severed the nerves at the top.  The tooth was not loose, so he said the best thing to do was let nature take its course, and when the adult tooth appeared in a year or so, it would force the black, juvenile tooth out.  So for the next nearly two years, I sported a shiny black tooth which I had to explain to every new friend I met.  But sure enough, the tooth eventually fell out, and its replacement came in nice and white.  It was crooked, unfortunately, but that’s a different story.
     I remember only one event during my first grade tenure, and that was the first day.  All of us kids were excitedly sitting in our brand new seats, and we were completely surrounded by parents lining the walls.  I couldn’t figure out why all these old people were in our classroom.  After teaching in public schools, I can tell you that the events of the first day of school for students and parents haven’t changed very much in sixty years.  At the school where I taught, the first day of school brought traffic jams, loads of teary-eyed parents, and hordes of excited first day students.  Some students came willingly and some scratched, clawed, and hung on to mother for dear life.  But within twenty-four hours or so, a resignation toward the inevitable took place, and mother and student accepted their new roles, and a new year began.  My teacher, Mrs. Watson, was the quintessential first grade teacher, quiet, loving, and reassuring.
     Mrs. Dobbs, my second grade teacher, on the other hand, was the opposite of Mrs. Watson.  Students from grades one through six stepped lightly in her vicinity.  Equipped with a strong voice and dedicated to discipline, she ruled her classroom like a queen.  We didn’t fear her, but we made sure she didn’t focus too much attention on us individually.   One time we boys, thinking we were safe from Mrs. Dobbs, were horse-playing in the boy’s restroom and making an inordinate amount of racket.  Next thing we knew, Mrs. Dobbs was right there in the restroom in the middle of us with her voice drowning out any noise we had made.  We all nearly had a group heart attack.  To this day I can see her coming through that door with arms flailing, voice bellowing, and looking like one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.
     My third grade with Mrs. Kirkland is my fuzziest year.  I remember very little about it except the day I walked home in the middle of a school day without telling anyone.  On that particular day, I was not feeling very well for some reason, and my lower abdomen on the right side was hurting. I asked Mrs. Kirkland for permission to go to the bathroom, and, once I got there, I really begin to hurt.  Then I got scared and decided I wanted to go home to Mother.  So I did…I just walked out the front door of the school and ran the three blocks home.  Mother must have heard me coming, because she met me at the front door, and I fell in her arms telling her I hurt.  Of course, Mother began peppering me with questions…”Where do you hurt? Why do you hurt? What happened?” By that time I was REALLY hurting and couldn’t take a deep breath…and then the phone rang.  It was the school, panicked because they couldn’t find their favorite student (slight embellishment). Mother told them I was home, and she didn’t know what’s wrong…she would call them back. She decided to take me to Baytown Hospital, and she roared through the streets with me in the front seat crying and moaning.  Looking back, I’m sure I nearly scared her to death.  The emergency room people grabbed me and threw me on a gurney, which really frightened me.  Mother described my symptoms, and, you guessed it, they suspected an appendicitis attack.  I was given a sedative to settle me down (probably Mother, too), and strangely, in a couple of hours the pain went away.  Further tests revealed the appendix had not ruptured, and the decision was made to monitor the situation before beginning any surgery.  After being kept overnight with no further problems, I was sent home the next morning, and today, over sixty years later, I still haven’t had another abdominal pain.  Oh, well, it made for some excitement anyway.
     My fourth grade with Mrs. Gunn, a quiet, dignified teacher who loved her students, was marred by my sins finally catching up to me.  I received my first paddling at school.  I can’t even remember the reason for the punishment (except to be sure that it was probably unjustified.)  Whatever, Mrs. Gunn called Mom and explained what was going to take place, and Mom said “No problem.”  Mother was not like the mothers of today who would have yelled, “You touch him and I’ll sue!”  I remember Mrs. Gunn holding a wooden paddle and asking me to bend over, and, with Mr. Loy the principal looking on, popping me twice on the bottom.  On the first swing she lifted me right out of my shoes, and on the second swing…….OK, that’s not true.  I remember thinking that I don’t want this to happen again, but it was more embarrassing than painful.
      Although Mrs Gunn beat me unmercifully (OK, disregard that), she also taught me the enjoyment of reading.  She could read a story with such feeling that I could see the events taking place in my imagination.  Our fourth grade reader was entitled "After the Sun Sets," a collection of what would be called nowdays fables and fairy tales, and I loved the book so much I persuaded Mother to buy a copy for me.  As I write these words, I am looking at that old fourth grade reader, and I still enjoy pleasant memories.
     It was also in my fourth grade year that I discovered totally by accident that I was practically blind.  One day while Mom was shopping and Dad, Judy, and I were sitting in our car in the Sears, Roebuck and Company parking lot in Baytown, Judy and Dad were playing a game which involved reading license plates of nearby cars.  I wanted to play, but I discovered I couldn’t see the plates; they were all too fuzzy. Dad told Mom, and the next thing you know I was in an optometrist’s office being fitted for glasses.  Funny, almost the same thing happened to my son years later during his fourth grade year.
     Another rite of passage occurred during the fourth grade year…I turned ten years old.  That may not sound too momentous, but there was a tradition in those days that when a boy turned ten years old, he was considered responsible enough to carry a knife.  So on my tenth birthday I received a pocket knife and a real hunting knife.  Many times during recess at school we boys would grab a limb or a piece of wood and spend our time whittling some sort of object.  When it was new and shiny, I took my hunting knife to school to show the other boys.  It was a beauty…five inch Swedish steel blade with a maple handle and stainless “S” shaped hilt.  I can describe it exactly because I am looking at it as I type these words.  Today, sixty years later, it is a priceless treasure of my youth.  Boys with knives at school….can you imagine that situation today?
     The fifth grade was a momentous year.  My teacher was Mrs. Hazelwood, who was Mrs. Dobbs on steroids.  Where Mrs. Dobbs made you keep your eyes down, Mrs. Hazelwood made you want to climb under your desk.  Actually, after the fourth grade beating(!) I endured at the hands of Mrs. Gunn, I had turned unto a pretty good kid, but some of the others were slow learners. Mrs. Hazelwood could also be funny…like the day when she was yelling at someone, and her false teeth nearly fell out of her mouth. That was the day lot of us boys learned to laugh with our mouths closed and with straight faces. When it happened, she stopped and quickly ran out of the room.  We were all too scared to make a sound, but inside we were rolling on the floor.  At recess it was the major subject of comment.
     Two of my many cousins shared Mrs. Hazelwood's fifth grade class with me.  In the photo standing next to me (I'm the one with the striped coveralls standing next to Mrs. Hazelwood...obviously her favorite student) is Freddy Railsback, who, though a year younger than I, was apparently so smart they bumped him up from the fourth to the fifth grade in midyear.  He was a little guy at that time but eventually caught up to the rest of us in height.  Next to him in the photo is Carletta Downing, a member of the T.E. Downing clan who lived across the street and down a ways from us. Carletta was the opposite of Freddy; she was big for her age, and nobody messed with Carletta.
     The fifth grade was when I discovered…girls.  I fell in love with Mary Jo Fields, or was it Sylvia Watson?….no, it was Frances Oliver…no, wait, it was Dian Anderson…no, it was….well, you get the picture.  There was no “going steady” or anything like that, but just knowing that someone “liked” you was almost like holy matrimony.  Of course, I learned also that romance involved competition, and my good friends James Wallace, Vernis Haynes, Mark Blankenship, Sherman Davis, and others sometimes became my mortal enemies as we jousted for the favors of our Chosen One.
     But when the chips were down, I won the grand prize.  Our class had an election for the favorite girl and boy of the fifth grade, and Dian Anderson and I were the winners. She had been my favorite for most of the fifth grade, and I was in seventh heaven.  To top it off, the fifth grade had been the top grade-level fundraiser for the Spring Festival, and as a result she and I reigned as King and Queen of Alamo Elementary for the festivities. It was a night to remember as we in our regal robes paraded through the packed auditorium onto the stage, and assumed our thrones.  Songs and various acts entertained the Royal Couple as we sat there happy as clams.  My main memory? I wore a white shirt with a tie underneath my red velvet robe.  When I took my robe off after the festivities, my shirt was red. I had sweated so much that the red coloring of the velvet soaked into my shirt.  Mom threw my shirt away, but it was worth it.
     Before I began my sixth grade year, my family moved to the home in which a Downing would reside for the next 55 years, at 6134 Cedar Bayou Crosby Road.  I left my friends of Alamo Elementary and gained new ones at Cedar Bayou Elementary and Junior High, which I would attend for the next four years.  We would all meet again at Robert E. Lee High School, but by then we scarcely knew each other.  Young children are highly resilient and have very short memories, and by the time we entered the tenth grade, our circles of friends had vastly expanded.  For some of my Alamo friends it would not be until 2009 during a class reunion that I would speak to them again.  We have now lived most of our productive lives, and the memories of our youth have grown in value and sentimentality.

206 Hafer St. 1949-54


     The R.L.Downing family moved from  James Street to 206 Hafer, Baytown, Texas, sometime in 1948. Here was a place where we kids could grow…a 100 x 100 lot, two real bedrooms and even a garage.  In time Dad would add another bedroom, a larger garage, and even a full sized, walk-in playhouse in the back yard.  Across the back yard fence was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen, a collie named Dolly.  She was a dead ringer for Lassie and must have loved kids, because when I went outside to play she would come to the fence and howl until I came over to pet her.   Across and down the street from us lived the T.E. Downings with my cousins Carletta, Linda, and Ronnie, and next to them lived Dad’s nephew and family, the Echolses.  A few blocks away lived Garland and Lillian Railsback (Dad's niece) and their two sons, Fred and Ted, and daughter Connie.  Next to us lived my new best friend or worst enemy, depending on the day of the week, Richard Cheney, and his bigger brother George.  Richard was a year older than I and early on picked on me unmercifully.  One day, however, he went too far, and I sort of snapped.  All I remember is Dad pulling me off of him, and I was screaming.  He never bothered me after that, and we became good friends.
    Although Mom and Dad continued to visit the Williams family from James Street occasionally, I lost track of my good friend Vernon, but made many new friends in our new neighborhood. Where James Street was a busy street with small homes and crowded lots,  Hafer Street was quiet, the yards much larger, and the kids could roam around without too much concern for traffic. I soon learned that the place was crawling with kids, and since we were only three blocks from Alamo Elementary, I was soon introduced to a whole army of little people who migrated from yard to yard in the course of play like antelope on the high plains. This was back in the days when neighbors actually talked to each other, and it wasn’t long before my parents knew all the neighbors in a 3-4 block radius of home and I knew all the kids. This was in the pre-television, pre-air conditioning (!) era, so people had their windows and doors open, and there was a lot of outside activity. You could tell what was going on in the house three lots away, and if you wanted to get involved, you just walked over and joined in. Neighbors welcomed neighbors. When Mom and Dad moved into 206 Hafer Street, they were given a “house warming,” which was a sort of party where neighbors and friends came by to visit and offer congratulations on the new home. Visitors would bring some sort of small gift or goodie to eat, and a happy time was had by all.
     Dad’s family was a pretty close-knit family. By this time he had several brothers and nephews who had migrated from Oklahoma to the Baytown area.  Many worked at one time or another at Downing Roofing Company, Dad’s business, until they decided roofing was not for them (boiling hot asphalt and hot summer days do not mix well), and they were able to land other jobs.  The company prospered, and Dad was generous with his relatives.  Many of them owe their early successes to being able to come to Baytown, get a job with Downing Roofing Company, and start a financial base on which to build later.
    My sisters don’t remember this, but the Downings lived life pretty hard in those early years. The Downing brothers and wives would come to our house and play cards and dominoes all night. The smoke would be so thick you couldn’t see across the room, and the beer flowed freely.  I had an aunt who was a really serious domino player, and, since I was just a kid doing the noisy things kids do while she tried to play dominoes, she would sneak me a coffee cup full of beer to try to get me to settle down. I don’t think it worked. (I told Mom this story years later, and she nearly fainted!)  I still remember some of the old country and western songs that would be blaring out from the phonograph as everyone laid down their dominoes.  But all that changed one Sunday morning.
     Dad’s brother, Orville, and his wife, Reba, had begun attending a Pentecostal church in early 1949 (which stopped their smoking and drinking) and began to pester Dad and Mom about attending.  It took a year or so, but after dozens of “not this week,” for some reason Dad and Mom said yes and went to church.  It was a defining moment in their lives. Within a matter of weeks they had received the Holy Spirit and changed their lifestyle.  Their lives became centered around the church, and it changed the way we children were raised.  Our home became a foundation on which we could build our lives as we learned principles of honesty, integrity, Christian living, and parental guidance.  Dad was the head of the house, but he treated Mom with love and respect, and we were all considered when a household decision had to be made.  We kids grew up knowing that Mom and Dad would be there when we needed them for support.
     Dad’s business success allowed him to become what today’s vernacular would probably call a “techno-geek." He loved electronics, although such hardware was in its embryonic state of development. We were the first family in our neighborhood to have a television, a voice recorder, and an air conditioner.  I used to tell this story to my students at school and they would stare at me like I was a real living dinosaur, but it’s true…when we got our television there was ONE station in the Houston area…KLEE-TV, Channel 2.  The television was an RCA Victor, round tube model (black and white, of course) in a sort of cabinet console which allowed the TV to fold back out of sight when not in use.  It became a phonograph player when the TV was not on.  We're talking cutting edge technology in 1948.  Once we got the television, we had neighbors and relatives from far and near who "just happened to be in the neighborhood” around when the Lone Ranger came on.  The Downing clan, especially, came by on Friday night for Friday Night Wrestling.  We kept the television until about 1951 after Dad and Mom had started attending church on a regular basis and gotten away from some of their vices…including televison. During all the years we kids were at home, my parents never owned another television.
     The voice recorder was another electronic marvel my dad enjoyed.  In those days music was played on disks (records) which spun at 78 RPM (revolutions per minute).  An arm with a needle rested on the grooves of the disk and sensed the variations of the grooves which produced sound.  Record players worked due to the simple scientific correlation between vibration and sound.  The needle would vibrate and the player would electronically magnify this sound…voila!...music!  Each disk played only one song and was very fragile…easily broken or scratched.  The voice recorder allowed the owner to make his own records.  Sound was picked up by a microphone and magnified, which caused a needle to vibrate, which in turn scraped some grooves into a disk.  Once completed, you had your own home-produced phonograph record, and people listened and marveled, “How can that thing do that?" On Christmas Eve, 1948, Dad had a bunch of his family over for a party, and he broke out the voice recorder and recorded family singing, joke telling, and Christmas greetings.  I still have that recording to this day; however, I have put those voices and memories on a CD for long term safe keeping.  It is a memory frozen on a disk….of 64 years ago.  I feel old even thinking about it.  Actually, I think the only reason Dad bought the voice recorder was to record the Grand Old Opry. Every Saturday night over some Houston radio station, the Grand Old Opry would come into our home, and everyone stopped to listen.  Dad would place the recorder’s microphone in front of the radio speaker and record the whole program, and then they would listen to it again a couple of times before the next week’s broadcast. Even though I am now highly educated and sophisticated (choke), I still feel a twinge when I hear an old Hank Williams (“I’m Walkin’ The Floor Over You”) or Red Foley (“She Ain’t So Bad To Look At If You Can’t See Her Face!”) song.  Somehow it connects me with my early childhood memories.  I mean, those songs are classics!
     When I was about nine years old, I experienced two trips to the hospital.  My first experience is described in my blog "Alamo Elementary," but the second revolved around the fact that we neighborhood boys loved to play cowboys and Indians.  Every self-respecting boy had a set of cowboy six-shooters at home with a cowboy hat and also a few feathers in case he was called on to be an Indian.  For some reason, the bows and arrows were usually created on the spot when the need arose.  There were trees in the neighborhood called chinaberry trees which had nice, neat, straight limbs which were easily cut off and made into arrows and, using a little string, could be pulled into a very useful bow.  On this particular day, being chosen to be an Indian, I had dutifully made my bow and a quiver of arrows.  We played our game for awhile and then both cowboys and Indians sat down for a little breather.  While sitting there, I decided to see how far I could shoot an arrow.  I notched the arrow on the bow and pulled it back as far as I could.  Unfortunately, I did not notice that I had pulled the arrow backward past the face of the bow to the point that the arrow was aimed at my right thumb holding the bow.  I let fly, and the arrow entered my thumb just above the thumbnail, sinking in until it was poking the skin of the thumb on the other side…and then the point broke off, and the whole tip slipped under my nail.  You could see it through the nail.
     To say I yelled would be an understatement.  Compared to my first hospital visit, this time Mom really DID think I was dying.  She looked at my bleeding thumb and rushed me to the car. The emergency personnel took me into some kind of surgical room, covered my eyes, and using a local anesthetic removed the offending arrow point.  Because it was underneath the nail, they had to cut an incision underneath the thumb and remove the point that way.  I came home with a big bandage and a mildly irritated mother, but, boy, did I have a story to tell at school the next day!
     A third event happened about this time that probably qualified Mom and Dad for some sort of emergency room discount.  My sister, Judy, fell on (as best as I can remember) a broken fruit jar and cut a gash in her cheek.  Another mad dash to the hospital, and she came home with several stitches under her eye.  There was a lot of concern about a possible scar, and for a few years there was a slight trace, but in time the evidence disappeared.
     In the late forties and early fifties, there was one threat which struck fear into every parent’s heart…the disease of polio.  Polio characteristically struck children, and its cause was not known, but the idea floated around in the south that heat, humidity, and over-exertion could possibly cause polio.  Polio crippled the muscles in a body to the point that the patient would be forced to live in an “iron lung,” a massive metal tube in which the patient was placed, exposing only the head.  The “iron lung” used vacuum to compress and expand the patient’s chest and breathe for him/her.  It was an awful existence, and thousands of children suffered.  In the summer, it was not uncommon to see a neighborhood appear practically deserted as parents kept children inside during the heat of the day.  Dad and Mom considered their next electronic marvel… a window air conditioner...to be the solution to this prevailing health threat, and so we were the first in the neighborhood with air conditioning.
     In the summer, the air conditioner attracted neighbors and relatives almost as much as the television, and visitors would walk into the living room and act like they had just landed on the moon as they marveled at the refrigerator-like climate.  There was only one way to run the AC…as high and as cold as it would get.  We could have hung meat in our living room.  In fact, in a few months Mom and Dad began to complain that it was getting harder and harder to get up any desire to go outside and, once outside, the heat seemed to adversely affect you even more than before.  The event that spelled the death knell for our air conditioner, however, was the announcement that Doctor Jonas Salk had perfected a polio vaccine that would immunize anyone from the dreaded disease.  Cities and towns across the nation handed out the vaccine to millions of people, beginning with children, and practically overnight, the fear of polio disappeared.  We kids could run outside in the heat of summer and get stinky sweaty without fear, and with that concern gone, Mom and Dad sold the air conditioner, and we went back to a ceiling fan used at night to draw in air through the windows.  We never missed the air conditioning.  Nothing else was air conditioned, anyway…none of the cars and none of the stores.  Most of us would not survive today without air conditioning.
     During most of the productive years of his life, my dad was a “Mercury man."  That meant he drove Mercury automobiles.  I think that’s where I developed my love for cars, and to this day, I am partial to Mercurys.  There was a lot of product loyalty in those days, and the first car I can remember my parents owning was a 1948 Mercury and then a 1949 model.  Two years later, Dad bought a 1951 Mercury, and it was exactly like the Mercury lead sled that actor James Dean drove at the time of his death.  It was a black two door with no air conditioning.  Dad bought it because it was the first Mercury with an automatic transmission, and some of my more educated relatives would look inside the car down by the brake pedal and say, “Man, that thang ain’t got no clutch!"  Cutting edge technology again.
     It may have been cutting edge technology, but the car was a slug when it came to performance.  The automatic transmission was a two-speed automatic, and you could outrun it on a bicycle off the line.  Our family took a trip in it to California in July, 1951, and it was so hot we blistered our skin while sitting inside the car as we traveled.  Mom said, “Never again!"  Dad was unhappy enough with the car that when the all-new 1952 Mercurys came out, Dad was first in line.  He went back to a manual transmission.  Air conditioning was still in the distant future.  It's funny how you remember some details, but what I remember most about the '52 Merc was the window crank.  The car was a two door hardtop, and my place to travel was in the back seat behind Dad as he drove.  To roll down my back window took 20 complete cranks of the handle.  I never could figure out why it took so long to lower the window.  The car was gray on the bottom with a black top, but Dad didn’t like the black top, so he had it painted a navy blue.  After a few months, he decided he didn’t like that either, so he had it painted bright red.  Here's another strange memory…I rode with Dad as he brought the car home from the body shop where it had just been painted red.  As Dad pulled in the driveway, our neighbor across the street saw the red roof and yelled, “Hey! R.L., your car’s on fire!"  Dad laughed.   A few months later he went back to a black roof.  It was in this car that I learned to drive.  Well, sort of.  We would come home from church on Sunday or Wednesday night, and, once we got to within about two blocks of the house, Dad would let me sit on his lap and “drive” the car the last two blocks and into the drive way.  I could not wait for church to get over in the evening so we could head home, although there was one detour we all enjoyed. On South Main in Baytown was a place called the San Jacinto Creamery, where they prepared milk and dairy products.  But they also had ice cream and the best malts on Earth.  On a hot summer evening, those malts really hit the spot.
     On one hot summer evening, we had all retired for the night, and had long since come and gone. The telephone rang, Dad answered it, and the neighbor across the street whispered excitedly, “R.L.! There’s someone trying to break into your front door!"  Dad hung up the phone and slipped to the closet and got his hunting rifle and eased to a front window.  The house had a front porch with a kitchen window on one end so that a person inside the home could see the entire porch.  The window was open, of course, (hot summer night) and as Dad looked outside, sure enough, there was a tall, slim person seemingly attempting to open to door handle.  As Dad watched, the man straightened up and appeared to be looking at the top of the door.  Dad laid his rifle on the window sill and quietly lifted the bolt and pulled it back to put a shell in the breech.  As he did, the rifle made a distinctive clicking sound…and the person on the porch hollered, “Uncle R.L.! Don’t shoot!”
     Dad jumped up from his spot, and, carrying the rifle, ran to the front door and flung it open.  There stood Jimmy Sutherland, one of Dad’s nephews from California.  He was in his Army dress uniform and had come by to visit.  He said he had sent Dad a letter saying he was coming, but Dad hadn’t gotten it, and the reason he appeared to be looking at the top of the door was he was trying to read the house number.  Just as all this transpired, up rolled the police, who saw Dad with a rifle and politely asked him to drop it.  The neighbor, after calling Dad, had called the cops.  After a quick explanation, the cops left and Jimmy came inside.  Jimmy came back for several visits after that, but for the rest of his life Dad told the story of how he had nearly shot his nephew.  I videoed Dad a few weeks before his death telling this story for the umpteenth time to my uncle Leroy Wilson.  I wish I had videoed more of his stories.

Praise....or Worship?

     In the realm of religion, Pentecostals as a group tend to be a fairly demonstrative lot, and that trait is reflected in their church services. Quick to sing, quick to praise, quick to raise hands, Pentecostals sometimes have to dodge arrows from those traditionalists who contend that there is far too much unleashed emotion and far too little dignified restraint during the evolution of a Pentecostal service. Perhaps this enthusiastic participation in a church service is because Pentecostals feel they have embraced the entire concept of salvation as presented in the New Testament, and each individual has been able to develop a personal relationship with his/her Creator. Pentecostals contend that the Church Age as we know it began in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles. If you view that chapter you will read the sermon preached by Peter the Apostle to the citizens of Jerusalem on the Jewish Day of Pentecost. The citizens had been observing a group of approximately 120 people stumbling out of a building acting quite strangely and speaking in many different languages. Although they accused the noisy mob of being drunk, the citizens were also puzzled how these obviously native Galileans were able to speak in different languages which they had never been taught.
     Peter, assuming his leadership role, began to explain that this phenomenon was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and represented the establishment of the church of Jesus Christ for the latter days. He told them bluntly had Jesus had come to the earth to be their Savior, but they had rejected and crucified the only begotten Son of God. The citizens believed what Peter had to say, felt condemnation for their actions, and asked point blank, “What shall we do?”

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts KJV

     In the eyes of Pentecostals, every other New Testament scripture which refers to salvation is a verification of Peter’s commandment…even the scripture which is most commonly used by televangelists and pastors who do not accept the necessity of baptism or the receiving of the Holy Ghost…Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." The citizens of Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, after hearing Peter’s sermon, did, in fact, confess and believe, thus fulfilling Romans 10:9, but they were still not saved until they followed the instructions of Peter.


     So Pentecostals, appreciative of their personal relationships with their Creator and fully embracing Peter’s commandment, enthusiastically get involved in the process of a church service through active praise. Praise is accomplished through singing, prayer, raising and clapping hands, and playing musical instruments. There are many scriptures which substantiate these activities:


Psalms …….”Sing praises unto the Lord.”
Psalms 33:2-3….”Praise the Lord with harp, and an instrument of 10 strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.”
Psalms 51:15…..”Oh Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
Luke …….”….the whole multitude began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice.”
Psalms 150:1-6…”Praise him with the trumpet…psaltry…harp…timbrel…dance…stringed instruments…organs…loud cymbals! Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!”


     It is through praise that a person is able to create a communications channel to God. The action of praising forces us to concentrate on His blessings and disregard our personal concerns. The difficulty we have sometimes as mere mortals is that we attempt to approach God with a laundry list of things we need, when His simple desire, repeated countless times in the scriptures is for us to praise Him. He already knows our problems, but we need to create an avenue through which He can move to help us overcome. Positive praise creates a positive attitude in our outlook and gives us greater determination and strength to face the challenges of living. The act of praise is not limited to the confines of a church service, but may be given anytime or anywhere the desire for communion with God is felt. We are told in the scriptures, “He inhabits the praises of His people.”
     But beyond praise, there is a higher level of communication with God which brings a deeper understanding of His ways.  Although active, enthusiastic praise is the sugar that gives energy to the true believer,  puts icing on the spiritual cake, and strikes the match that starts the fire…worship is the steak and potatoes which gives us long term strength and helps us to grow spiritually. Praise and worship are two words which are used many times synonymously, but their characteristics are distinct and separate. Notice the different tone in the scriptures referring to worship:


I Chronicles …” Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalms 95:6………..”Oh come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel…”
Matthew ……...” And when they were come into the house, they…fell down and worshipped him.”
Matthew 28:9……...”…And they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him.”


     Worship involves a much more intense, personal, and introspective approach. Worship does not require great actions, loud music, active engagement, or group participation. It occurs when we are most directly in contact with God, and our love, appreciation, and, yes, perhaps even fear of His power demands that we approach Him is a reverential manner. We show humility to Him by bowing and kneeling. It is a moment when we search our hearts and souls. The old song said it clearly:


“Search me, O God, and know my thoughts today
Try me, Oh, Savior. Know my heart I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me…
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free."”


     Some of the most powerful services I have ever witnessed were some of the quietest. Years ago, our pastor at that time conducted communion services on a monthly basis. Although in our normal services we had a variety of musical instruments and we praised enthusiastically, for the communion services only the piano and organ were utilized. His sermons concerning the sacrament were quiet, intense, and very compelling. We members took the sacrament while kneeling at an altar and prayerfully looking to God for strength, guidance, and forgiveness. It was during these services of intense worship and soul searching that we gained power and strength, and as a result we spiritually matured.
     Praise and worship are both vital elements to a successful church, and as such, there should be a balance between the two. Praise is the chocolate bar in the mid-afternoon which gives us a quick jolt and sustains us until the next full meal. The success of our praise, perhaps because it is more active and visual, is sometimes inaccurately measured in decibels, movement, and rhythm.  Though not necessarily harmful, it is tantalizingly easy to put the emphasis on the sizzle and not the steak. A steady diet of chocolate, though enjoyable and perhaps highly desired, will inevitably be detrimental to our health; whereas a balanced diet of essential nourishment will permit the thorough enjoyment of the occasional sweet treat. In the final analysis, it is through worship that we come to His spiritual table and feast on the food that will give us life everlasting. In ancient times, when the king and his entourage paraded through the streets of his kingdom, the villagers were expected to offer honor and loud, enthusiastic praise. But those same villagers, had they been invited to the castle, were expected to approach the throne of the king with a deep, quiet reverence. True believers today do the same: we praise Him enthusiastically when He is in the midst of our services, but as we get closer to Him and His throne, we are compelled to bow, kneel…and worship.

"Jaws" Revisited


     My wife and I love the state of Hawai'i.  Forgive me for spelling it with the apostrophe, but that’s the way it’s done over there. Were it not for money, family, friends, jobs, medical care, cost of living, church, and other various details, we would probably be living there. But, alas, since we don’t have much money, but lots of friends and family, and we need good medical care, plus the Hawai’ian cost of living is astronomical, not to mention that Hawai’i is politically heavily Democratic, we have chosen (been forced?) to settle in our own little Garden of Eden in Houston, Texas. The only thing you can say that is true about both Houston and anywhere in Hawai’i is that they are on the same planet. However we have made several trips to Hawai’i , and are now card-carrying kama’ainas, which allows us to get into all sorts of places nearly free and gives us the right to complain how all the mainland tourists are ruining the true Hawai’ian momona aloha.
     We have wandered Waikiki, cruised Kaua’i, mellowed on Maui, snorkeled Lana’i and Molokini, and viewed volcanoes on the Big Island. We've dinner cruised on every sort of ship and went down in a submarine to view….well, not much. If you get a chance to take the Yellow Submarine, don’t. There's not much to see off shore and 150 feet down. We have practically been to every luau (beach festivity) in the islands and have eaten our share of i’a a poi. It would be easy to say about any activity in Hawai’i, “Been there, done that,” but the fact is, given an opportunity to “be there and do it again,” we would jump at the chance to repeat every Hawai’ian adventure we ever had. Hawai'i is truly a state of mind, and, once affected with the “aloha” spirit, every other place which is touted as “just as good as Hawai’i” somehow pales in comparison.
     On our fourth visit to Honolulu, we stayed at the Sheraton Princess Ka’ialani, next door to the International Marketplace and across the street from the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, the oldest (built in 1903) and most expensive hotel on Waikiki Beach. We had access to it due to the fact that we were in a Sheraton Hotel, but our extent of usage was walking through it as we headed to the beach. Our first couple of days there were spent doing the things one does when in Honolulu…visit the famous sites, hit the beach, shop, and stroll around. On the second evening as we were collapsing in our room after a full day of activities and tours, I happened to see an advertisement in a tourist paper that headlined, “Fish for Shark…The Great Adventure!" The ad went on to say that the boat made regular evening tours with the prime directive of catching big sharks. Upon further reading, I began to hear the soundtrack of “Jaws” playing in my head and could imagine myself as the grizzled Robert Shaw battling the monster of the deep in mortal combat. The fishing excursion, strangely enough, did not debark the dock until “because all the big ones cruise and feed at night.”
     Placing a quick phone call, I discovered that there was a trip planned that very evening, and there was space available. The gravelly voice on the phone said, “We catch more big shark than any other boat in the harbor! There is an 85% chance you will catch a shark!" Already, I was hooked. About I headed downstairs to the lobby and shortly hopped in a van from Sushimo Fishing Charters. The other seven patrons were already aboard. I had been a little nervous about this trip. I had imagined it to be a test of my manhood…you know, the man vs monster plot that Hollywood has used for a hundred years. But on board with me were four giggly young girls, none older than 21, and three of their latte-sipping, quiche-nibbling nabobs that pass for young men now days. The fourth young girl was a girl friend of one of the other girls. I decided that this was a serious joke or that this adventure was not going to be as challenging as I thought. These young examples of America’s future (shudder) were much more interested in their personal interactions that the task at hand. The young girls looked at the large buckets of dead fish we would be using as bait and exclaimed,” Ewwww!" It was clear I was not in a group of serious fishermen. Oh, well, less competition, I thought.
     Our boat for the night would be the “Explorer,” a well equipped 60 foot vessel that sported around 50 ready-to-go fishing rigs, including 10-12 rods and reels that looked heavy duty enough to reel in a battleship. Sure enough, the heavy babies would be our weapons of choice for the night. The captain gave us a safety pitch as we motored out of the harbor and assigned each of us a spot along the rails. The plan was the crew would bait our monster sized hooks, drop them over the side, and our job was to holler “Shark on!” if the line took off. When the alarm went out, all others were to reel in their lines to avoid tangling while the battle of survival was going on. Once the “all clear” came, the lines went back in the water. It was exciting!     We motored out of the harbor and the night was…enchanting. The full moon caused the water to sparkle, and the warm breeze created just enough wave action that there was a rhythmic slap against the bow of the boat as we slipped farther from the harbor lights. The lights of the Waikiki hotels glistened and reflected on the water. I had imagined that we would go offshore for 10-20 miles or so to bob for the big ones, and it confused me when we sailed out of the harbor, turned on our port beam and cruised until we were just off of Waikiki Beach. When we stopped we were close enough that we could see people walking along the beach in the light of the hotels. The captain explained that this was the best place to catch shark…we were in about 100 feet of water and relatively close to the shore because “sharks like to cruise the shoreline to feed." After hearing that amazing bit of news, I made myself a personal note…no more romantic swims!
     The crew started baiting the hooks and tossing them overboard. I was fisherperson number three. Mine went in the water, and about the time he got to number six, I felt a somewhat firm tug on my line and then suddenly my reel started spinning out the line like mad. "Shark on!” I yelled, and the crewman ran over and said, “Yeah, that’s a good one!” as my rod began to bend from the strain. "you want to try it yourself?” he asked, meaning that he would pull it in for me if I wished. My manhood issues popped up again, however, and I replied, “No, I want to bring him in." So he got a cable and anchored the reel and rod to the boat. I noticed he didn’t offer me a safety belt of any kind. Oh, well, tourists come and go, but fishing hardware is expensive. He did help me adjust the drag on the reel a bit so that I ceased to lose line, and afterward it became a tugging war between the shark and me. He stayed near the bottom and did not want to come up, but inch by inch, and reel crank by reel crank, he tired and slowly rose to the surface. When he got within about ten feet of the surface, the crew switched on spotlights, and there he was, a gray shark, about seven feet and around 170 pounds (captain’s estimate). Not the shark from “Jaws”, but big enough to make you decide to stay in the boat. Since this was all catch and release fishing, the idea was to pull him as far as possible out of the water for all to see, then cut him loose.
     I had my camera with me and, while lifting mightily along with the crew’s help, I held the camera in my right hand and sort of aimed sharkward and hoped for the best. At least I got photo proof of my catch. By this time a crewman was holding the line leader lifting the shark and another reached down with some wirecutters to cut the line (see photo). What happened next could have been disastrous. When the crewman cut the line, it snapped back like a whip, and the backlash caught the captain, who was leaning over the rail watching the process, about an inch under his left eye and opened a two inch gash clear to the cheek bone. He fell back and grabbed his face, and grabbed a relatively clean towel and in a few seconds stopped the flow of blood. He put on a bandage and continued with his job. Tough guy.
     With the shark gone and the excitement over, it was lines back in the water, but this night would prove to be a dud. About an hour later one of the young guys caught a four footer that caused a little excitement when it came off its hook inside the boat and the crewmen had to grab it without getting bit. Its teeth were snapping shut like a steel trap. Finally it was grabbed by the tail and thrown overboard. By this time the girls were tired of yucky dead fish bait and just plain tired, so they quit fishing and drank Cokes and ate hot dogs. The guys eventually followed suit, and I, like the Ancient Mariner, was left to go it alone. I had made my catch for the night, however, and since it was approaching , the captain asked me and I said yes, I’m ready to go home.
     We heaved to the anchor, fired the engines, and made the short journey back to the docks. All in all (at least if you’re a fisherman) it was a worthwhile evening. I had a new experience, a cool photo, and another Hawai’ian memory to add to the collection. I'd go shark fishing again.

The End Justifies The Means

     It all started with my most recent interview with my melanoma doctor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. Since I had undergone surgery to remove a melanoma (skin cancer) on my right arm about a year ago, I have been checking in with him about every three months. Everything has been going well, and he was about to cut me loose from him and allow me to just visit a dermatologist occasionally. This time, just in passing, he asked me when I had last undergone a colonoscopy. When I replied that I had never had a colonoscopy, he stopped and gave me that look that only wives and doctors can give and said, “You’re 66 years old and you’ve NEVER had a colonoscopy??” After casting my eyes down in a repentant manner and shuffling my feet a bit, I regretfully answered that I had not. That response, of course, gave him the opportunity to launch into a lecture about the need for regular checkups, including colonoscopies, for anyone as ancient as myself and how all sorts of bad things can happen if regular checkups aren’t scheduled. The upshot of all this was that a colonoscopy was scheduled for me two weeks later. I was to go in on a Thursday for “anesthesia assessment” and the main event would start the next day promptly at 8:00 a.m. I was due to visit the clinic that Friday anyway for my six month checkup in the Leukemia Center, so this way I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. You have to understand that at M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic, every floor of the hospital is like a separate hospital. For melanomas, it’s the ninth floor; for leukemia, it’s the eight floor, for GI endoscopy, it’s the fifth floor, for lymphoma, it’s the sixth floor, for lab work, it’s the second floor. I have been on all these floors; I’m trying to avoid the other levels. Each floor is an entity unto itself having different registration procedures and totally concerned with only its mission…to treat whatever form of cancer is its specialty. They are incredibly competent, organized, and caring. I am convinced I am still here on earth because of God’s hand and their skills.
     Now, if you’re under the age of fifty, it is possible that you do not know what a colonoscopy is. For those of you who are teachers, it has nothing to do with English grammar and counting, adding, or subtracting colons in an essay. Rather it is an up close and personal (REAL personal) examination of your intestinal tract. Your colon (or intestinal tract,) doing the critical job that it does for you, is fertile grounds for all sorts of bad bacteria, germs, and diseases, and therefore close monitoring of this very critical function within your body is a prerequisite to disease prevention. The actual examination is an exercise in state of the art technology and medical creativity. Doctors are able to insert a little video camera into the colon and visually inspect every inch of this tunnel of digestion. When it’s over, they’ll even give you photos, for crying out loud, of the inside of your colon! Seeing any abnormality, they are able with tiny scissors to snip away any bad stuff and remove it for closer analysis. “How do they do this?” you may be nervously asking. Well, the camera and any other tool is inserted through the….is inserted through the….through the…the…well, I’m sorry, I can’t say it. I was raised in a very sheltered environment, and there were just some words we did not say in public conversation, and that included the crude words used by uneducated folks and educated words describing the same things used by doctors and proper people. Let’s just say that the word describing the place of entrance rhymes with the word for the seventh planet from the sun, and let it go at that. If you’re not an astronomer, there are only a couple of areas of entrances into the human body…from the top down or the bottom up. And it’s not the top down. I think I’ve made it clear. It’s really better not to think about the process, anyway, just the results. Fortunately, when all this probing and photography is going on, you will be in dreamland thinking about candy canes. They will say, "This will relax you,” the lights will go off, and the next instant they will be saying, “Wake up, Sir! It’s over!” Piece of cake.
     So, on Thursday, Shirley and I made the trek to M.D. Anderson for my “anesthetic assessment,” which is basically a question and answer activity to make sure I had no hidden allergies, previous bad anesthesia experiences, or potential problems. Each time you visit MDA, a blood draw will be taken along with “vital signs” which are weight and blood pressure. This data is then analyzed and compared to previous records for any changes. All was well with me, and we left MDA to head home via the drug store, where a prescription had been sent for me. The prescription was for the “prep” that would get me ready for the main event tomorrow. When I walked out of the drug store, I was carrying a jug that was bigger than a gallon milk container. In fact, at four liters, it was about a gallon and a pint.
     Just for your future references, if you see any kind of medication with the work “lyte” in it, I would suggest that you make yourself scarce at the earliest possible moment. Medications such as Gavilyte, Colyte, Nulytely, and Golytely (someone had a sick sense of humor there) have an effect that, well, you just have to experience it to believe it. My medication was the tried and true Gavilyte, and all I had to do was drink the entire gallon and a pint of Gavilyte at the rate of 8 ounces every ten minutes. Needless to say, since the makers of these drinks have a sort of captive audience, they have no concern for taste or “drinkability” to quote a beer advertisement. In fact, one could come to the conclusion that the drinks had been designed as some sort of evil revenge for our past sins. Anyway, the taste was not too good. But it wasn’t too bad, either, and I downed the first two or three glasses with no effects. I began to think that this whole process may be pretty easy. A few minutes later, however, the inevitable took place. Without being too graphic, let me just say that in the next few hours I had plenty of opportunity to study my bathroom and make a list of trim to touch up, paintwork to do, and doors to adjust. I was able to determine that my new toilet, which I installed only three weeks ago, worked very well even under extreme conditions. By 4:00 a.m., I was able to find the bathroom in pitch darkness, do my job, and get back in bed without even opening my eyes. At 6:30 a.m. Shirley and I rose up to prepare for the MDA big day.
     Friday morning the weather was muggy, warm, cloudy, and rainy…a bad day for someone like Shirley who is still recovering from a knee replacement a couple of months ago. People who have joint problems like arthritis or joint replacements are better weather forecasters than the best meteorologist on TV. When the weather changes for the worse, they feel it in their joints. And Shirley was feeling it this Friday morning. To make matters worse, she forgot her cane as we left home, and so she had to wander all around MDA without much help. Plus, she had to push me in a wheelchair for a short time. Her day was as hard as mine. The plan on Friday was for me to have my colonoscopy from about 10.00 to 12:00, and then visit with my leukemia doctor about 1:00. I had to get another blood test for him, so since we got to the hospital about 7:30, we went to the leukemia laboratory (8th floor) first. I weighed in, got my “vitals” taken, and blood drawn and headed to the GI Endoscopy Department (5th floor). Check in time was 8:00 for the 10:00 procedure.
     Another thing to consider when entering a hospital is that you check your modesty at the door when you go in. Endoscopy is a prime example. We were cheerily lead back to a large room divided into maybe 16 individual cubicles with curtain walls. The sweet young lady said, “Remove all your clothing, put the hospital gown on, open in the back, lie on the bed, and cover with the sheet. When you have finished, open the curtain so we’ll know you’re ready.” I did so, and lie back to listen to the voices around me. You put sixteen patients with spouses and friends plus nurses in a big room, and cloth walls don’t mean much. The nurse visited the old guy across from me with the intent of giving him an IV, and he told her (as we listened) all the horrible experiences he had endured in hospitals. When she jabbed him with the IV needle, he yelled like his leg was being amputated. I can say truthfully that in the last two years I have probably been stuck with a needle a hundred times, and there have been times I did not know I had been stuck until I looked. The nurses at MDA are incredibly skilled. But maybe he got a bad one…I think it was in his head.
     Think also, there were sixteen patients in the room and all still feeling the effects of their “prep,” and there was ONE unisex bathroom. The traffic was heavy. The Oriental lady next to me headed to the bathroom thinking she was holding her gown closed in back…but she wasn’t. Oh, well, we’re all in this together. Another husband and wife (patient) came in and was assigned to a bed. As soon as the nurse left, the guy said, “Well, there’s not much I can do here. I think I’ll go down to the first floor and have lunch. I’m sure they’ll call me when they’re finished.” And he left. I do not predict a long and happy marriage for that couple.
     In a few minutes, a different cheerful nurse came in and placed an IV in my right hand, and said the big event would commence shortly after 10:00. Since it was still before 9:00 the interminable waiting had begun. In this regard, MDA is like every hospital; time is relative, and there’s no need to rush. But around 10:25, sure enough, in came the serious looking medics who, after telling Shirley to wait in the waiting room, wheeled me down a couple of halls to a large refrigerator. Well, it really wasn’t a refrigerator, but it was cold enough for one. I guess that’s just the characteristic of an operating room. I then had about a dozen wires attached with suction cups to my chest and arms and told to roll onto my left side (open back gown.) With nary a modest thought, I dutifully rolled, and then the nurse said something about relax…and that’s all I remember.
     I awoke to someone yelling in my ear, “Mr. Downing, wake up!” and to the worst sore throat I have ever experienced. My chest was hurting and I was having a little difficulty breathing because I was so congested. I tried to speak, but I had no voice, and I felt I had swallowed a box of razor blades. I lie there for a few minutes until they determined I was back amongst the living and could respond to questions, at least with a head nod, anyway. I asked for a drink of water, but they said, “Not yet.” So I asked for a tissue and was able to blow some of the cobwebs out of my head and breathe easier. They begin to explain that the procedure had gone well, but midway I had begun to choke and managed to get some of my stomach acid down into my lungs. They could not explain why my stomach still had liquid in it while my colon was clean except to say, “Sometime that happens.” They had been forced to aspirate (suction) the liquid from my lungs using the gadget they force down your throat into your lungs. Hence the sore throat. I would assume in an emergency situation like that they’re not too concerned about the effects on your throat and vocal cords.
     I was wheeled back to the recovery area where my faithful wife was waiting. I couldn’t say much to her since I could barely talk, and when I coughed, I sounded like a lifelong chain smoker. In a few minutes, the doctor came by, and said I still had some fluid in my lungs and to be very careful the next couple of days and watch for fever and difficulty of breathing. Pneumonia was a definite possibility because stomach acid can damage the lungs. However, I was able to see for the first time full color photos of my colon which I will not post here in the interest of delicacy and decorum. The colon report was very good and there were no problems. In a few more minutes, we were released from the Endoscopy department…just in time for lunch.
     I was in a wheelchair by this time, and Shirley wheeled me to the first floor and the cafeteria. Although I had not eaten for two days, I wasn’t too hungry, and after a half of a sandwich, I was done. Shirley’s knee was bothering her enough that I couldn’t bring myself to have her push me, so we left the wheelchair in the foyer and headed to the eighth floor and my visit with my leukemia doctor. By this time, neither of us was feeling too well. I was moving slow because the procedure medications had not yet worn off and Shirley was limping badly. But we checked in right on time at 1:00. We were called back to Doctor Farhad Ravandi-Kashani’s (NOT a native Texan) office about 1:30 and waited….and waited…and waited. Finally the nurse came in and gave me my lab reports from the morning…and that was the bright spot of the day. My blood condition is the best it has been in probably twenty years. One funny note: since I had blood work and vital signs taken on Thursday and on Friday, she noticed that my weight on Friday was six pounds less than it was on Thursday. “How could that be?” she asked. When I said, “I had a colonoscopy this morning,” she smiled slightly and replied, “Oh.” Finally, over two hours after our 1:00 appointment, my doctor makes his appearance, checks me over and declares me sound. He asked when I wanted to come back, and I think if I had said in a year he would have said OK, but he said, “Why don’t we keep it at six months; that way I can keep an eye on you.” I agreed; a lot can happen in a year.
     We pulled out of MDA shortly thereafter and drove home and collapsed. As I walked in our home, I began to have chills and a little fever with a still-awful cough. It began to assuage in an hour or so, and, other that just feeling worn out, I began to feel better. Both of us did very little besides recline in our sofas before bedtime. Saturday morning I awoke with a throat not nearly as sore and feeling much better, but not perfect. As I write this, I still have a hacky cough, but my prognosis is in a couple of days I’ll be back to my normal, cheerful self.
     To you readers who are over a certain age, consider a colonoscopy. I think I had a rougher time of it than the usual patient, but truthfully, it is a vital part of your maintaining health vigilance. Remember, you have to go into it with the proper positive attitude and consider it an adventure. Plus, you’ll have photos that are guaranteed to break up any party whenever you feel the need!