As I Like It!


poison ivy



A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory

Speaking of memories, they keep piling up as I sort through the detritus of 60 years. When I left Jackson, Mississippi in September of 1957, I packed everything I owned in my 1950 Ford business coupe, and took the Natchez Trace to Mississippi State. The next week my mother cleaned out my room, then painted and papered it into a new guest room. I’ve been living on my own ever since, and the possessions pile up over the years.

I’m sitting at my desk looking at a group photo taken in July of 1950 of a bunch of young boys standing by a mountain stream. How do I know it’s in July of 1950, you ask? I remember that we left Greenville, Mississippi on Sunday morning on our way to Camp KiY in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While we were on the Delta Coach singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, North Korea launched an attack on South Korea.

By the time we returned to Cleveland, two weeks late, my Dad had been recalled into the U.S. Air Force. He was in San Antonio, Texas, and Company E. 2nd Battalion of the 155th Infantry Regiment had joined the rest of the 31st Division at Fort P. However, the Air Force decided it didn’t need a Master Sgt who had been overseas for the entire Second World War, so Dad was home within weeks.

The Mississippi National Guard was used to providing replacements for the wounded and killed. Most of the Cleveland contingent saw combat in the desperate fighting after the Chinese intervention. I was eleven when they left, and 15 when they returned in 1954. They needed men to fill their ranks and even accepted boys, so a bunch of us joined up.

In the face of the Korean conflict, the only thing I remember about camp that summer was Hubert Boykin proving to us that he wasn’t allergic to poison ivy. He got naked and rubbed the evil little plant all over his body, and I do mean all over it. He missed the last week of camp, after being evacuated to the hospital in Hot Springs. I’m sure we swam, canoed, hiked and made lanyards, but Hubert’s poison ivy stunt sticks in my mind.



It can take a lickin and keep on tickin.

Fifty Million times a day.

A little dab will do it.

Good to the last drop.

You’ll wonder where the yellow went.



The 1936 Olympic Games

The 1936 Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany are remembered for many reasons. American Jesse Owens won four gold medals, and the U.S. Track and Field team dominated. Basketball was included as a medal sport for the first time, and its founder, Dr. James Naismith, was a guest of Adolph Hitler.

The 1936 Olympics were the first games to feature the relay of the Olympic flame from Greece, and the first to be televised. The German government also provided full coverage to the rest of the world by short wave radio. The Nazi film maker, Leni Riefenstahl, made a feature length propaganda film based on the games. All of this garnered the headlines, but the most dramatic event of the games happened in the Berlin suburb of Grunau.

Earlier in 1936, the U.S. Olympic trials for rowing were held, and a team of working class guys from the University of Washington rowed their way to victory, defeating the usual Ivy Leaguers. Every one of the Husky crew worked to pay for their tuition, and they rowed for the sheer love of the sport.

They almost didn’t get to go, when at the last minute, the U.S. Olympic Committee informed them that they would have to pay their own expenses. The people of Seattle raised the necessary money in a frenzied three day drive, and the Huskies were on their way to Berlin. In the first race they narrowly defeated a very good British crew, and drew a bye until the finals.

In the final race one of their strongest oarsmen was suffering from a severe cold, and the crew refused to replace him. They were competing against the top two European crews, the home standing Germans and the Italians. At the half way point the U.S. was in third place, and the Germans and Italians were pulling away. The boys from Seattle reached down and found a whole new gear, and won a photo finish to capture the gold.

The games ended with Germany wining the medal count, and the U.S. finishing second. Jesse Owens became an American icon, and the team from Washington quietly slipped into the foggy bottom of sports trivia. I believe they deserved better.


Poison ivy photo is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to

Categories: As I Like It!

7 replies »

  1. Enjoy your writings. Assuming you’ve read, “The Boys in the Boat” chronicling the ’36 rowing team’s victory. A GREAT read!
    Ken Stringer, Madison, MS

  2. Went thru Seattle last yr on the way to Alaska and saw the boat at the University.



  3. Have you read the book THE BOYS IN THE BOAT about that Olympic Seattle team.  It’s wonderful reading.Virginia O’NealCOTTONROW BOOKSTORE

  4. Timex Coke-at home at work and on the way Brylcream Folgers Pepsodent

    Sent from my iPhone


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