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Jim's Jottings


The ideal age for boys is 17 and a half



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March 23, 2011 - ut first, did you miss me last week? Wow! I haven't been knocked so low by a cold in decades.

However, during my recovery a tsunami disrupted the world and gave me a comparison to my own suffering. It's a male thing. Things are worse for me.

What happened in Japan prompted war-time thinking, experiences in Japan during the occupation and being given total responsibility for winning the war on the shoulders of this 17-year-old.

It was during this thinking that I concluded being half way through the 17th year is the ideal age.

We have no cares, no thoughts of what lies ahead, our fears were only that of being caught playing chess while on a watch when we were supposed to be watching the horizon for Japanese fighters. It was while I was closing in on 18, that I concluded I didn't want to wait for the draft and to walk my way through the war.

"Hey, Mom, will you sign the papers to let me enlist in the Navy?"

Mom had one son already in the Navy and one in the Marines. Dad also was in the Army during WW1

Mom agreed, but told me much later she didn't think any service would take her tall skinny, 157-pounder.

See what I mean? Decision maker at 17. So I was off to Detroit for some test. While there I made another mature decision. I wanted to see Scurvy the Clown at the Avenue Burlesque. Always liked off-color humor. It was mid-afternoon when a guy came on stage carrying a case and small step ladder.

Scurvy asked, "Where you going?"

The man said, "I'm taking my case to court!"

A few minutes later the man came back on stage this time carrying a case and a longer ladder.

Scurvy asked, "Where you going now?"

The man answered, "I'm taking my case to a higher court!" I roared.

It all ended quickly. A man came in and sat next to me. He said, "I'll bet you played football," and put his hand on my leg.

I lived in the very little town of Vernon, 100 miles from Detroit. I don't remember how I got home, but I've never been to another burlesque and only in Detroit for a Tigers game.

It was also in those, my late-17 years, I had a job sweeping floors at the AC Sparkplug plant in Flint. Many of the employees were mature wives of servicemen. All were older and wiser in "ways" than I had ever been exposed to. I don't know why they took such delight in making personal remarks to me that would make Scurvy blush. They'd speak loud enough for others to hear, and I'd pick up my sweeping pace, only to get exposed to some more teasing at the next machine.

The best thing I remember about working in Flint was the area on the north edge of downtown, where streets parted, making it possible for five corner Coney Islands to locate.

None was better than the other and all were outstanding.

Dad liked the idea of my going to service because he got to use my gas rationing stamps.

Come back next week and I'll rejoice you with my visiting all three of Japan's main islands, including Honshu where tsunami hit.

Or, maybe not.

- - - 0 - - -

Some readers liked my lexiphiles a couple weeks ago. Of course, some didn't, but that doesn't stop me.

• I bicycle can't stand alone; it is too tired.

• When a clock is hungry it goes back for seconds.

• A will is a dead give away.

• With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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