We Baby Boomers continue to age, some of us gracefully, some of us kicking and screaming. Either way, the years click by, and most of us at some point reminisce about “better” times. Part of that recalling includes ruing the fact that some of our favorite old haunts are no longer around. In an instant I can list several of mine.
The most obvious places are where I spent much of my youth: schools. Ball Camp Elementary
The 1950 Ball Camp basketball team on the front steps of the old school.
School remained the same for years until 1962. I was in the sixth grade that year, and one fall evening we heard the sirens and watched fire trucks race down the road to the school. The front classrooms, office area, and gym all went up in flames.
Two sixth grades and one fifth spent our year in a converted hardware store across Middlebrook Pike. The place had one bathroom for girls and one for boys. We ate bag lunches at our desks, took hikes to the school under construction on occasion, and tried to keep warm with a huge ceiling heater that strained to make the makeshift classrooms with concrete floors marginally comfortable.
When the new Middlebrook Pike first began construction, that building was razed. I’m not so sure anyone has a single photo of what it looked like back then. Even the school building looks different than it did when the building was completed. The place has been extended and the front entrance moved to what used to be the back.
Movie places used to be important to us as kids and teens. At least once a month, we boys climbed into the car with Daddy on Friday nights, and off we’d go to a drive-in movie. We visited several of

them around the area and found movies that we all wanted to see. In the summer months, we could spend time on the playgrounds until the show began. Rarely did we stay awake for an entire movie, and that’s why Daddy insisted that we wore our pajamas.
As teens, our dates included trips downtown to watch a movie. The Tennessee, Riviera, and Bijou Theaters offered different genres for moviegoers. I remember watching Disney movies, Elvis classics, and Hercules epics at those places. At that time, the price was still affordable enough for teens with limited funds.
These days, two of the theaters are venues for special productions, and one no longer exists. Movie theaters have located toward the suburbs and have lost some of the special qualities of the older ones that were located on Gay Street. Drive-ins are all but gone now. Some have been turned into shopping centers, and one has become home to a flea market.
As teens, part of our weekend activities was cruising. We’d hop in our cars, put a couple of dollars of gas in the tank, and just drive. My friends and I made our first stop at the Copper Kettle on Western
Avenue. It was located just west of where I-640 ramps are now. Beside the place was a small package store, and a steady stream of cars circled the drive-in for hours. Occasionally, a vehicle would pull up to the window at Quincy’s, and the driver would present a fake i.d. so that he could purchase alcohol.
Next, we’d drive up the road to the Jiffy and the Blue Circle. Sometimes a convoy would drive just over the ridge to the Hollywood Drive-in on Papermill Road. Then it was time to make our way to Broadway to circle Shoney’s. Most of us were looking for cars filled with girls, although few guys would ever have enough nerve to actually stop and strike up a conversation. 
Fast forward to today. The Copper Kettle is long gone and has been replaced by a Marathon gas station. Jiffy’s and Blue Circles no longer exist. Shoney’s is now only a restaurant where only the bravest patrons dare to eat a meal. Those guys who used to cruise are now senior citizens who drive Buicks. My how times change.
I miss the old haunts and the folks who visited them. Of course, tastes in popular places change with generations. Our fondest memories are about all we have left. Today, the new places that we Baby Boomers will find most interesting are being constructed all over the area. They’re called assisted living facilities. They might be our last stopovers on this journey through life.


Yes, like so many others, I’m going to jump on Fort Lauderdale, as well as other cities, that have
passed ordinances that forbid the feeding of homeless folks. The fact that I have to even address such a subject is a sad commentary on the world as it exists today.
First of all, let’s take a look at some facts. The HUD Exchange, in its 2013 annual report, estimates that 610,042 individuals are homeless, and of those 109, 132 are chronically homeless. The individual who was ticketed for feeding the homeless was attending to no more than 100 people.
Speculation is that the leaders of Ft. Lauderdale want to get rid of the homeless, especially the ones who hang around the beaches. They are afraid that such a sad site will keep tourists away, something that would cut deeply into their coffers. I suppose that most of us can understand the concern over commerce in this fair city by the ocean.
The median income for residents of Ft. Lauderdale in 2012 was $50,997. The population is given a 170,747. So, the big threat to the way of life and healthy economy of the area comes from 100 people who are homeless and hungry. As I figure things, they represent .0006 percent of the population. WOW! I’m not so sure that such a tiny group can bring so much misery on a thriving, robust area.
How difficult would it be to take a different approach toward the homeless who are hungry? Instead of ticketing people who feed them, the city could undertake a program to provide food. The national average cost for a meal for the homeless is $2.52. If Ft. Lauderdale fed all 100 persons three meals a day, it would cost $756 a day, $275,940 a year.
A quarter of a million dollars isn’t chicken feed by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s break it down a little more. That cost would equate to $1.61 per resident per year. It doesn’t sound like such a big expense that way. Still, it is an expense that the government must take on, and we all know how tough times are for cities and their programs. Too, many people resist any further intrusion by governments of any type.
Ft. Lauderdale took in $691,000 in pool fees in 2012. The city also added $2 million to its coffers from fees charged for yacht dockage. During the same period, $700,000 in traffic fines were collected. Common sense would suggest that the cost to feed the hungry could be covered through such large pools of money that pour in.
In the end, the simple fact is that this country, the greatest in the history of civilization, should be able to take care of its homeless and hungry. It’s true that some individuals resist permanent housing, and many are plagued with mental issues. Still, we owe them a place to sleep and three meals a day. No, it’s not encouraging people to become homeless. I doubt that any competent person would ever wish to exist like that.

We profess to hold religious beliefs; we praise the lord and pass the plate. Some of our churches are extravagant complexes. So, why in the name of all that’s holy do some folks balk at giving to those who are less fortunate? That flies in the face of the Christ’s teachings. Ft. Lauderdale residents and any others in cities throughout this country should dust off their bibles and re-read Matthew 25:35. It calls us to action and defines our duty to our fellow men and our God. 


Last Sunday, our church celebrated All Saints Day. It’s a time to remember those who have passed over the last year. The minister did a good job of talking about those individuals, and he suggested that we all are saints in the making. I don’t necessarily agree that I’m a saint, and plenty of folks might quickly tell you that I’m closer to the devil’s minion. Still, the service set me to thinking about just what life on the other side is like.
Some folks believe that our eternity will be spent singing hymns and worshiping God. They think that means attending a never-ending church service. I might like singing some of the old hymns; they’ve always been special to me, and other folks hum or sing them as they go about their daily routines. However, I’m not so sure how appealing church services would be. Would many of the folks there nod off or fiddle with the same kinds of things they now do on Sunday mornings?
I’m hoping, first, that I make it to heaven when my days are over. If I do, it will be through the grace of a loving God who knows all my faults, sins, and shortcomings, but who loves me in spite of them and who shrugs them off. I feel certain that Heaven would offer the overflowing contentment that comes by being in the presence of God and enjoying an eternal existence.
I have some questions that I want to ask God when I arrive. On so many occasions, life has presented problems and disappointments and confusion. I would like to sit down with Him and listen to His explanations about why things worked as they did. No, I’m not about to argue with the good lord, but I just want to understand the how and why of things that occurred during my time on Earth.
Arriving in heaven, I would hope to see those folks who have been so special in my life. It would be
wonderful to sit at the kitchen table with my mother, dad, and brother. A pot of coffee could be brewing on the stove, and we could share time just being together.
I’d also like to meet my in-laws, as well as relatives. At the same time, I’d like to spend time with some of my heroes in life, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robin Williams, Dan Fogelberg, and Ray Charles. And yes, I’d like to spend a long time with Jesus and listen to him. We all could sing some songs, not necessarily hymns but ones that bring happiness and spark good memories, tell jokes, and hold major discussions on topics.
Many of us will probably will be surprised at the folks who are present in heaven. We’ve all passed judgments on people and decided they weren’t were a dime and were “going to hell in a hand basket.”  I’m pretty sure that God is much more forgiving than we are and will pour His grace and mercy on those who most need it. It stands to reason that He is much better at judging than we are, so I’m prepared to be surprised at who’s there. At the same time, my presence will also stun plenty of people there.

To be honest, I hope I make it to heaven, but I’m not in a big hurry to get there. I want to spend as much time on this planet with the ones whom I love. The line to heaven is only one that I will gladly
allow anyone to cut in front of me. The best way to give praise right now is to live each day fully and to enjoy being in the presence of God in this world that He has created for us all. That is good enough for me; I hope I see you and you see me in a wonderful place after this life is over.


Weekends at our house in the 1960’s took on a routine that included work, play, and family. Back then, our parents managed life on a small income and herded three boys along the way. We had jobs to complete, church to attend, and Sunday dinners to enjoy.
On Saturday, we boys were charged with cleaning the house. Daddy wasn’t a skilled mechanic, carpenter, or plumber, so we boys didn’t learn how to do those kind of things. However, mother was a stickler for a clean house, and she made sure that her sons would never live in “pig sties.” Sometimes we tarried too long before beginning the cleaning, and Mother would show a bit of anger to urge us toward our tasks.
We divided up rooms in the house. Somehow, I managed to get the living room and a hallway. It was the biggest room in the house and held the most pieces of furniture.  The first step was to drag out the old vacuum cleaner. The contraption had a removable base in which water was poured. The machine was heavy and bulky and had no wheels to make it easier to handle. The wood floors were cleaned, and furniture was moved to vacuum in every nook and cranny.
The next job was dusting, something that we all hated. Mother insisted that every item be moved and dusted. The furniture in the living room included an old pump organ with ornate carving and shelves.
On one occasion, I lifted a small statuette of a man wiping his brow and holding an axe and dropped it. The axe broke into several pieces. Mother was disappointed and swore that she owned not one thing that we boys hadn’t chipped, dented, or destroyed.
The rest of Saturday was filled with washing cars, pulling weeds in the garden, or polishing shoes for Sunday. Jim and I always sneaked in enough time for playing outside or just goofing off. By evening, we had taken baths, and the family settled in the living room to watch favorite television shows that included “Perry Mason” and “Gunsmoke.”
Sunday mornings began with pancakes or waffles for breakfast. We finished and put on our “good clothes” for Sunday School. If Daddy weren’t working, we all attended church. Neither parent put up with any nonsense at church, and failure to behave would lead to swift punishment upon our arrival back home.
After church, we boys hung up our clothes and put on our old ones and headed outside. Mother worked to complete the feast that we called Sunday dinner. Usually, a plate of fried chicken on a pot roast was served with vegetables, biscuits, gravy, and some kind of homemade pie. Another special treat was iced tea. On Sunday and holidays, the tea was poured from a Jewel T pitcher. It was sweet and thirst-quenching. After the meal, the pitcher was again placed in the dish cabinet in the hallway where it stayed until the next “dinner.” Weeknight suppers just didn’t warrant the use of this special vessel.
The rest of the day was spent in play. Mother and Daddy cleaned the kitchen and then sat down in the den. Mother would read the paper until she nodded off to sleep, and Daddy would take a nap or get ready for his next shift of work. In the evenings, we made the trip to church where they were leaders of the MYF group, and then we’d race home, pop a big bowl of popcorn, and sit down to watch “Bonanza.”

It’s more than fifty years later now. I miss my parents and my older brother too. I’ve been blessed with my own family, but now the kids are grown, and Amy and I are on our own. Still, I think about how enjoyable those weekends were way back then. The memories become even more vivid when I clean my own house and dust an old statuette of an axe man and a pitcher with a cracked lid. Those items probably aren’t worth a dollar each, but to me, no amount of money could ever buy them and the memories they conjure up.