Newscasters daily spew out the gory statistics in manner-of-fact tones, and headlines in most major newspapers now relegate the slaughter on several continents to inside pages.
We’re numbed to a point where we no longer absorb the details — and thus avoid the pain.
You recall the news: 45 die in mosque blast. 92 headless bodies dug up in Mexico. Suicide bomber kills 38 at wedding. Al-Qaida claims credit for leader’s death. Civil war claims over 1 million lives. Burma’s Muslim-Buddhist clash kills dozens. Syrian death toll mounts.
We’ve heard it all, over and over. We’re straitjacketed into a helpless feeling, knowing we have no means of stopping the slaughter.
It’s old news to many of us. And that adds to the tragedy.
Writing a wrong
Memories. Some have ’em and some don’t.
Last week’s bit of history in this column told of a walking craze 50 years ago last month. Patterson High students and others took up daylong walking jaunts of as much as 50-plus miles — long for even today’s health-conscious society.
John Kinnear remembers. Now a resident of Sonora, he recalls the Saturday stroll by members of the PHS Block P Club and offers a correction to last week’s remembrance of the early-1963 event.
You recall that about a dozen boys and teacher-adviser Jack Kolln hoofed it from Patterson to Modesto and back on a very long Saturday. They started well before dawn and returned well after dark, most with blistered feet.
But John offers more details, as well as a correction to last week’s tale.
It seems that it was Charles “Bob” Mears, as well as John and Eloy Ramirez, who sprinted the last couple of blocks to the downtown circle. And after walking 54 miles!
The 1963 Irrigator had credited Bob Callahan with that final sprint, but Kinnear remembers otherwise. Callahan was one of the hikers that day.
(Mears, it might be remembered, was an outstanding athlete, an Eagle Scout and one of the early casualties in the Vietnam War. He was known as Charles or Charlie, as well as Bob or Bobby, to many of us.
Kinnear also recalls that the group planted PHS pennants in the lawns at Modesto, Downey and Davis high schools, along with proclamations challenging their lettermen’s clubs to 50-mile hikes.
Do those young people standing on street corners waving advertising placards actually draw customers to the businesses they are promoting? I wonder.
I was given a small book for Christmas titled “The Dictionary of Worthless Words.” Do you suppose a family member was trying to tell me something?
We missed one
When 90-year-old Tony Durao, a 74-year resident of the Crows Landing area, died March 14, we discovered that inexplicably he was not on our 90-plus list.
Perhaps there are more out there, and we rely upon our readers to bring them to our attention.
From the mailbag
Mr. Swift: Knowing you admit to being technologically disadvantaged (TD), do you ever undertake simple things like using a copy machine? — Just Jokin’
Dear JJ: Of course I do, but not willingly. Do you know how hard it is to find carbon paper these days?
Ron: I recently learned that years ago, you wanted to be an engineer. Being TD, how on earth did you take that route? — Flabbergasted
Dear Flabber: Back then we didn’t have computers; not even calculators. I found I was very good with a slide rule. No flies dared come within arm’s length.
Note to those letter-writers who agree with me on the subject of cellphones: Cell Phone Anonymous is about to begin regular meetings here in Patterson. Watch for CPA posters in downtown store windows. Break the habit and get your life back.
Students come to order
Fast Talk’s educational offering this week for those readers now nearing the genius level pertains to anagrams. That’s the rearrangement of letters into another meaning.
Here are four samples. Students are asked to send me four more.
•Presbyterian: Best in prayer
•The eyes: They see
•The Morse code: Here come dots
•Election results: Lies — let’s recount
For the sports fan
Don’t look now, but Tiger’s back.
Those Catholic cardinals sure know how to take a vote. Two days and a new pope was elected.
I wonder what Stanislaus County would have charged had a recount been demanded.
Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at email@example.com.