I am opening this week’s column with a reminder that August 21 is the opening day of fall squirrel season. Again, I encourage you to take a child with you and make memories with and for them.
You know Ben Gish and the staff of The Mountain Eagle and myself have traveled with you for so many years that sometimes I forget where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. I forget that many years ago, Ben and myself found out many people who follow Struttin” Time do not hunt and have never hunted.
I was reminded of that fact again the other day when I spoke with my dear friend, Sue Parks, owner of Messenger Florist of Whitesburg, who told me she never misses a Struttin’ Time column. Sue has been my friend since I played for Coach Buddy Roe when he coached Little League. The year I played for him was 1959. My parents sent me to live for the summer with my aunt and uncle who lived in Whitesburg so I could play ball there. Yes, Sue, that has been a very long time!
Recently, I was looking at some old hunting pictures, and of course there were the Flemings of Jackhorn and McRoberts, who have been my family’s friends for probably 100 years. I thought of them as I ran across a Jenkins High School Commencement card dated June 10, 2011. The tears filled my eyes when I realized the young lady who sent me the invitation was none other than Leshia Lynn Fleming, daughter of Ginger Fleming Isaac and granddaughter of Wid Fleming, my friend and hunting buddy for many years.
Leshia and me hunted together in the early 2000’s until she graduated high school. I have seen her little fingers so cold she just barely could move the while rabbit hunting. I once saw her shivering and asked her if she was alright. She just smiled and said, “Oh yes, let’s hunt.” I hope she is doing well in life.
It has always been my goal to try and help young people get started off right in this world — a world that is changing at a neck breaking speed. Seeing Leshia’s card and going back to that point of life, I know there have been times I have failed, I am sure, but not with her. I thought back to a more simple time when I had the get up early so I could take the young people hunting or fishing. I have failed to stay young and healthy, so I’m not much help these days. But in my mind, sometimes I am still there.
How many young people have hunted with me? I could not start to guess, and I am sure I have forgotten many of them. But I have not forgotten their part of my life when I pull up an old picture of us hunting or run across an invitation to a graduation, or even a marriage they sent to me. I wonder if they ever think of the fun we had while hunting or fishing.
So, please take a kid hunting on August 21 and show them you care.
Oh yes, I did attend Leshia’s graduation.