By Dr. Larry Moses
No one asked me but…My wife and I just spent a couple of days at the Grand Canyon. We met Jane, a high school friend, and David, her husband, there. They are from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
They called from Phoenix, Arizona, where they were visiting one of Jane’s other high school friends. Jane asked if we could meet them at the Canyon. I checked my schedule and, realizing that it would not interrupt my two-o’clock nap, I said, “Why not? It is only a five-hour drive.”
Jane and David were a little surprised that we would drive over 200 miles on such short notice to see them. People who live east of the Missouri River plan that kind of trip for days.
We have been to the Grand Canyon a number of times before and it hasn’t changed a whole lot. I guess that is one of the nice things about natural wonders. They don’t change much.
I must admit as much as I marvel at the beauty of the Grand Canyon, the thought that always comes to mind is if I stand here long enough will a band strike up the song “It’s A Small World”, will lights flash, and will the rocks begin to dance as half-naked ladies parade across the plateaus?
This must come from having lived in Las Vegas where nothing is natural and change happens as a regular course of action. If they aren’t blowing something up to build something new, the town is in a recession. Who else would drape its city hall in neon lights and call it art?
Las Vegas is a city where little is natural let alone unchanging. Up until the economic slowdown, each time I went to Las Vegas it was like going to a new city. Sometimes I believe roads and neighborhoods changed while I waited for the red light at Decatur and Charleston to change. There are Kardashian marriages that don’t last as long as that light.
Even a small town like Mesquite is not immune to change. Some idiot decided that a round-a-bout would be a good idea. Now, I could have done without that change. Opening a round-a-bout at the first exit means I am using the second exit. I am way too old to spend my life circling the south side of Mesquite just to go to the old people’s movie. After four loops on the round-a-bout I will have spent the money on gas that I saved by going to the matinee. Don’t be surprised if some Monday you see a red Chevy Equinox making loops on the round-a-bout.
While Jane and my wife were high school friends, Jane and I knew each other much longer. We both attended James Witcomb Riley Elementary school. It has been changed to a vacant lot.
James Whitcomb Riley is best known as a poet, whose works include “Little Orphan Annie” and “The Raggedy Man.”
I didn’t know who he was when I was a kid and didn’t much care. I did know he was one of the men whose faces appear on the cards in the game of Authors.
We used to name schools after famous people; today we name schools after local politicians, heroes, educators, and people who donate money to the school district.
Jane was a year younger than I was, so we were never in the same class but we did associate with each other as best as boys and girls could at recess.
Elementary schools used to have recesses instead of CRT tests. That was when educators believed it was insanity to lock up elementary kids for eight hours a day without exercise or sun light.
They did, however, separate the boys and girls on the playground. The girl’s side had grass the boys had the graveled area putting the girls at a great disadvantage as the boys had rocks to throw at the girls.
Jane and I attended Benjamin Franklin Junior High School, which was sold by the school district and changed into a church.
I went to North High School and Jane went to Roosevelt where she and Jean became friends.
In 1957, they built a new North High School along the Raccoon River. The old North was built in 1898 and now sits boarded up, decaying behind a chain link fence.
While the school site changed, the school’s colors remained pink and green. The students voted to change the colors, but Mr. Thompson, the principal, would never allow the change. I believe he was there in 1898 and chose the colors himself. No one was sure how old he was in 1957, but if you can tell the age of a tree by counting rings, maybe you tell how old Mr. Thompson was by counting the wrinkles. If so, he was really old.
Jane and her boyfriend double dated with Jean and me during our senior year in high school. Jane dated a young man who ended up being the best man at our wedding though he and Jane went their separate ways.
Over the years, with us out west and Jane staying closer to home, we had little contact.
In 2008, at a Roosevelt high school reunion, we met again. This was where we met David for the first time and. though things had changed, they stayed the same. We doubled up for the day and toured Des Moines marveling at the changes in the city.
This column is not really about the Grand Canyon trip; it is about change. After reading the column, I thought I should explain that.
Philosophically, change is neither good nor bad. A person’s attitude toward change is what matters.
When I was coaching Legion baseball, we went to Carson City to play one of the richest summer baseball programs in the state. We played three games in three days and in each game, the Carson City team came out with a complete change of uniforms.
When my players complained they had to wear the same uniforms for every game, I told them they could change uniforms. I suggested that Bill could change with Tom and Scott could change with Dwight. They failed to see the humor in that, but I thought it was funny.
The older I get the better I like the Grand Canyon and its refusal to change.
Thought of the week…Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.
- Robert C. Gallagher