Patriotism over goose bumps

Over the holiday weekend I saw something on the television news that really sent goose bumps down my spine. On a holiday where we are celebrating the number one selfless act of love for mankind, this punk kid spewed dirty, nasty words to an American veteran.

Over the holiday weekend I saw something on the television news that really sent goose bumps down my spine. On a holiday where we are celebrating the number one selfless act of love for mankind, this punk kid spewed dirty, nasty words to an American veteran.


Growing up television

My mama and I are die-hard TV people. I have always loved television shows since I was a child. I have a memory of being 5-years-old and sitting down with my mama to watch “As the World Turns.” Sure that probably wasn’t the most wholesome thing for a kid to watch but it was the ‘70s and early ‘80s and nobody really gave any thought to how television affected children.

I loved it. The plots were funny and the characters so over the top. I grew up to be a soap opera-a-holic. I love them. I record them everyday. I watch them in my spare time or while I am folding laundry. I even mourned on the days that some of my favorites went off the air forever.

I watched kid shows too. I loved cartoons — Bugs Bunny, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, Hong Kong Fooey, The Jetsons, The Flintstones and Pac-Man. It was my Saturday morning ritual. Back then we couldn’t watch cartoons whenever we wanted like the kids today. The best cartoons came on between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Saturday morning. I had a standing date with the television and a bowl of Cheerios. I would sit in the dark and watch them at a low volume so I wouldn’t wake my parents up. I promise it was the best few hours of the week.

So you see how this has been ingrained in me to the point that sometimes it is fun to think about being in the shows I watch now. How cool would it be to play a character in Storybrook? I could be someone’s fairy godmother or maybe Flower from Bambi. There are all kinds of story lines that could add other layer to the twists the show has going on.

Or maybe I could be a guest star on NCIS? Mark Harmon would be the bomb to work with. I could be an agent, a love interest or maybe it would be more fun to become a victim. What a challenge it would be to lay on Duckie’s autopsy table in the cold room while he explains his findings to Jethro. I could just lie there, try not to breathe and admire Mark Harmon in the flesh. Wow, so much fun! If that worked out they could bump me to NCIS: Los Angeles or NCIS: New Orleans. I just know that Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Lucas Black and Scott Bakula would be excited to work with me.

You know, hospital shows are great to watch too. I could be anything there as well. It is to bad that “McDreamy” and “McSteamy” are gone but I can make do with the current characters. I could be Meredith’s new nanny. I could be a new intern but that is a little obvious. How about a friend of April’s from her high school? I might have a hidden illness and she finds it and makes me all better, all the while mending a broken part of our friendship from years ago. I really wouldn’t mind having a date with Alex or Jackson. Oh, how interesting it would be to learn all that hospital jargon! “We need an OR stat.” Oooh, how cool!

My getaways were mostly through the television. I could be anything. I would take a cruise on the Love Boat to reach Fantasy Island just to hear Tatoo say, “Da plane, da plane.” I was a line worker in the beer bottling plant with Laverne and Shirley. I was eating a burger and root beer float at Al’s diner when Fonzi met Richie. Hazzard County was a great destination to be to see Uncle Jessie fuss at Bo and Luke for wrecking another car. Then I could drive on in to the land of the rich and famous and to get my evil side out whether it was Dallas, Falcon Crest or Knot’s Landing. A good catfight in a luxurious pool would sure be fun!!

There were times I went to school with Arnold and Willis or maybe I got sent to boarding school to hang with Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie. Making stylish outfits was great when doing it with Denise and Vanessa especially when Rudy interrupted. And walking to school with Alex P. Keaton or Mike Seaver would be any girl’s dream.

My imagination is clearly very active and always has been but it gives me a lot of entertainment along the way. While reading this you may be thinking, “Whachoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis? I think instead embrace my quirkiness because I think it is “dynomite!” If you don’t I say to you, “up your nose with a rubber hose.” For now I want my readers to “live long and prosper” and know “that’s the way it is.”

“Good night, John Boy!”

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Everybody picks on the linemen

Had a call one day from an old high school football teammate, and in the course of the conversation, he made a quote that indirectly came from his wife, something about "dumb lineman." He didn't mean like climbing a light pole.

Pat and I played together on a pretty good Leland High team, and had a lot of fun growing up. After he hung up, I spent an hour with our old (there's that word again!) high school yearbook, and there was the same quote next to both our names: "Everybody picks on the linemen!" For the life of me, I can't recall where that quote came from, unless it was one of the coaches, but I do remember that we got a lot of mileage out of it.

It seemed to be a rule when we watched the game films on Monday that the only plays we saw were when we had missed a block or a tackle. "Neill, you let that Number 62 whip you again, boy!" At least, that was the rule for linemen. But seems like the replays of backs were: "See, now that's the way to run over a tackler, Dave!" Or, "Way to turn that corner, V-Shape!" Of course, the guy on the ground in that paused frame was the guard who had pulled and blocked the opposing defensive end, so V-Shape could get around him! Yet if that were noted, it would be as, "Neill, you can't just lay there, son! You got to get up and make another block downfield!" So what if there was a 230-pound end laying on you?

I went on to play at Ole Miss when the Rebels were Number One, back in the glory years. I was too small for a college lineman, even in those days when we were winning National Championships with guards weighing less than 200 pounds, who played both offense and defense back then. I played just over a year, and stayed hurt: separated shoulder, broken thumb, ruptured artery, ruptured hip joint that finally ended my playing days. Yet I was there, by gum, with a bunch of All-American linemen who pounded me into the ground during scrimmages.

But you know what people ask when the subject comes up? Not, "When did you play?" but, "Who was the quarterback when you played?"

Not once has anyone asked, "You played at Ole Miss? Who was the left tackle when you were up there?"

Matter of fact, we did have an extraordinary left tackle whilst I was there. On the day of the first freshman-redshirt scrimmage, this big blonde redshirt called all freshman linemen into the locker room, and seated us on the floor around a table, upon which was a helmet. "Watch this, boys," the tackle said. Then he poised with one elbow over the helmet: "Ready? Crash!!"

He brought his elbow down onto the helmet from a foot over it, and the headgear smashed into little bitty pieces. "Remember that, when you got to block me today!" the blonde tackle growled, and stalked out. He didn't get blocked much that day, nor the next three years he played, making All-American. The story was, he had polio as a child, and his elbow had been replaced with a steel elbow. I can't vouch for that story, but his demonstration was excellent!

So, what Pat and I learned in high school pretty well proved true in college and thereafter. Yet some of the finest folks I know are guards, tackles, and centers. A center that went on to become a doctor saved my life by finally diagnosing the Babesiosis anemia that accompanied my Lyme Disease, and curing it.

Oh, well, it was a team effort, and usually the quarterbacks don't go out seeking the glory, it's the media people who focus on them. If God had gifted Pat and me with accurate rifle arms and bodies unlike fireplugs, we'd have been quarterbacks, or split ends. But He didn't, and we blocked for the guys who ran and passed, congratulating them when they scored, or made a good play. In retrospect, I never played with a quarterback who wasn't a pretty quiet nice guy, off the field. And that was well before the days of modern “Hot Dogs.” If one of us had done a dance or beaten our chests to the crowds back then, we'd have “run the stadium” every afternoon for the next week! 

Hometown Teams! Seems like we were truly molded into real teams back then, both in high school and college.

And I never thought of it before now, but that prepared us well for the period right after college, when many of us were pressed into service for our country, fighting a real shooting war. A squad, or platoon, or landing party, in my case, was a team. We fought for each other, that we'd all come back safely, hopefully on the winning team.

This is part of the Smithsonian Institution's Hometown Teams Exhibit programming, funded by the MS Humanities Council. The views expressed are solely the Author's, and do not represent those of the MHC, NEH, DSU, or Smithsonian Institution. Friends may visit the exhibit until Nov. 11, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. To schedule tours or for more information, contact Archivist Emily Jones by calling 662-846-4781, or by e-mailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Is Santa in danger?


My house is adorned with its Christmas attire and it is warm and cozy feeling but throughout the world there is violence and tragedy that plaque the peacefulness of the season. Crawford apparently has been listening to David and I talk about the news and even has been paying attention to the network news.


Don’t forget the reason


We’re nearing Christmas time, a holiday where the stores are packed every weekend. Everyone rushes franticly to get that gift they’ve been looking for. Some people are worried that each child gets the right amount of gifts — spending the same amount of money. Others are worried that they don’t forget anybody in the gift giving.