Like many of you, I salute the new year with the ritual of “Throw Away Time.” This year’s yield of detritus includes a copy of a speech I once gave to a local newcomers club back in the mid-’80s, during the Second Invasion of Yankees.
During the talk, I invited my listeners, if they felt inclined, to jot down some likes and dislikes of their new hometown. Here are a few responses:
• “I like Raleigh’s great greenery, friendly, relaxed people, all the birds, the marvelous quality of life and having four seasons.”
• From a Los Angeles newcomer: “I’d rather drive the L.A. freeways any day than motor through Crabtree Valley in peak traffic.”
• “I don’t like looking in the rear-view mirror and being able to determine the color of the driver’s eyes. Tailgating.”
• “I came here dreading to live with the image of the ‘good ol’ boys,’ ” wrote a New Englander. “To my surprise and delight, I have found this image totally incorrect.”
• “Why is it that the only people who reach out to each other are other Yankees? I’ve read my history and General Sherman’s been dead for a long, long time.”
• A native of England, who had moved here four years earlier from Massachusetts and considered herself by then a “native,” submitted an impromptu poem:
They only come here for the money.
They even say we talk funny.
But have you noticed, once they’re here
You’ll hear them saying loud and clear,
We live in Raleigh, and we’re praying
That this is where we will be staying.
I wonder how today’s new residents’ opinions of our fair city of 424,000 differ from those of the mid-’80’s newcomers to the then-city of 180,000.
Let us pause to pass the hat for Mr. Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees’ third baseman who has been suspended for 162 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement.
Unless an arbitrator’s decision is altered, the poor guy’s annual salary of $25 million will be cut by $23 million.
How, I ask you, is a guy gonna scrape by in 2014 on a measly $2.9 million (plus a $3 million signing bonus he’s owed)?
(Will she? Won’t she?)
That’s the big question being batted around the table of every assemblage of TV talking heads.
The question of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s future even invaded our breakfast table recently and distracted my wife’s attention from her bluebird worship.
“I doubt she’ll run,” she said. “She’s 67 and had that clot on the brain. She should just sit back, relax and await the arrival of a grandchild.”
I chuckled, remembering a song from long ago relating to soldiers returning from World War I.
The song asks, “How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?”
Here’s a woman who almost became president, wielded influence around the world as secretary of state and for more than half her life has rubbed shoulders with the great and the near-great.
Sitting around watching the progress of her daughter’s gestation, whenever that occurs, would be to Hillary about as exciting and fulfilling as standing in front of the local meat market and watching the liver bleed.
Like many other areas, our neighborhood seemingly has gone to the dogs.
Sometimes I think there are more dogs than people in this world.
That’s not to say, I don’t like dogs. But how many dogs does it take to satisfy one family? I sometimes see dog lovers being dragged along by three or more dogs.
To their credit, most dog walkers who use our street prevent their pets from violating lawns, although last summer we lost two patches of geraniums to passing pets.
When I mentioned recently the arrival of Boscoe, our new Basset granddog, Raleigh’s Mike Hoyt responded with a Will Rogers quote that fits the feelings of most dog owners: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
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