MARLBORO MUSINGS:  Musings Spur Memories

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One of the near-certainties when you hang your name onto something then have it printed in the public domain is that someone is probably going to have something to say about it. And if it’s an opinion piece, you hope so. That’s why I write those columns: not to promote my stated opinion – I’m smart enough to know how smart I’m not, but to, instead, hopefully initiate and encourage an open dialogue in the community about a particular matter, hoping that I DO get feedback. It’s always good to hear the opinions and positions of others. I personally love different perspectives. And providing a forum for the exchange of ideas is part of a newspaper’s job. That’s how we grow as a community.

And sometimes that feedback takes some pretty neat forms.

Such as recently when, in the midst of social media posts and tweets and emails and gas station pump, grocery store and WalMart aisle chats about politics and weather and collard recipes and old memories and lost loved ones and other recent column topics, my phone beeped and up popped an email entitled “Tilden Boone Gram.” Huh? Long story, short version, it was an email from a relative, Bennettsville native Tilden Boone, (in true Southern style, he’s the son of C.O. “Cecil” and Maxine Quick Boone, so now y’all can “place” him), telling me how he has enjoyed reading my “Musings” columns, then proceeding to share some memories of his own related to his growing up in Bennettsville.

And just like that I was eight years old again myself, getting a cold Orange Crush in a dark brown, ribbed, glass bottle from the machine at the bus station next to Lester Hunter’s Union 76 gas station on a hot, cloudless, July Carolina day, then riding a banana-seated bike back home for whatever activity Buddy Faison and I had planned next.

Ain’t memories great?

They certainly are. So enjoy if you will, with his permission – and our thanks, Mr. Boone’s letter of his recollected memories below.

Your Mom keeps me up with you…writing to tell you how much I enjoy your ‘Marlboro Musings’ in the paper…though a few years ahead of you…it along with Jack Swann’s articles bring back great memories of Bennettsville.

So many of those who shaped my memories are now long gone…

I recall…

Dates at Sambo’s Diptop, the Dairy Dream, the Coachman and Four, and Ye Olde Tavern…

Eating breakfast at Nick’s Drive in or at the Sanitary Cafe…

My first car… a ’55 Nash Metropolitan…it burned a quart of oil per week (so I used 30 cent re-manufactured 30 weight in it)…

My first date with Judy Hunter…her dad ran a gas station on Main Street where the Greyhound Bus terminal was…across the street was the Auto Fountain…Usher’s Hardware, the A&P Grocery store and Hamilton’s Office Supply…

Oh, by the way,,,Judy’s younger brother met me at the door…said ‘Daddy wants to see you in the kitchen’…he was cleaning his pistol…told me to be a gentleman to his daughter and to have her home by 11:00 p.m….she was home by 10:30…then I met all my buds at Sander’s 66 Station…ate greasy hamburgers and played the pinball machine.

Working at Emerson Electric (loading trucks) then helping daddy cut the grass at the Rowe Airport or working out on the farm near the radio station…later worked at Klopman when I was a student at Spartanburg Junior College…and later, Scarritt College in Nashville, Tenneessee…

I was the only guy there who loved the Grand Ole Opry…especially Earnest Tubb and Loretta Lynn…that even ’embarrassed’ my mama…lol.

After joining the Army in ’72…met and married my bride, Teresa, of soon 42 years…she stood by my side for 34 of my 38 years in the U.S. Army…typed my papers in Seminary…kept the home fires burning during my many deployments (we were separated for nine of those 34 years)…but she kept the cards and letters coming…and put tissue in the cards with her perfume on them…a REAL morale boost…

Met me in Hawaii in 1988 on a ‘mid-tour’ from Korea…to finally have the honeymoon we never had when we married in ’75…and it was magical.

She stood by my bedside through three back surgeries…and she was also bedside when I survived a AH-1G Cobra helicopter crash on 27 June 1977 at high noon…some things one NEVER forgets…the guy with me (Bob Markert) is now a senior United Airlines 747 pilot…talks with me every year on or about the 27th of June…by the way, the chopper crash is why all the back surgeries…if we had rolled left in the Cobra we both probably would have been decapitated…but Thanks Be To God we rolled right and the blades chopped off the tail boom of the Cobra instead.

I now work as a civilian at the U.S. Army Chaplain School at Fort Jackson…I wanted to retire between Nashville and Fort Campbell, Kentucky…but after five years in Korea (2003-2008) with NO Walmart the little town of Ashland City (also with NO WalMart) was not in the cards…so we now live just west of Elgin, SC – and only four miles from a WalMart…

Blessings to you…keep the columns coming and give my love to all…”

Thanks, Tilden, for your email letter, and for your service to our nation. And the flashback. I could almost taste that cold Orange Crush. I can assure you, none has ever tasted better than those back then. I wish I could go back and have one today.

But, alas, those days are gone forever, and just like Mr. Boone, all we have left are our memories. And I encourage anyone with any tales from the “good ol’ days” that they’d like to share to feel more than free to contact either me, or Dan McNiel at the Herald Advocate via a Letter to the Editor. And as anyone who has shared tales of days of yore with me over the bed of a truck or a cup of coffee can attest, I truly do love to hear ’em. So, please do share ’em.

And while I am on the subject of feedback, to those who have taken time to call or to stop me in a store and make a comment or a positive Facebook post, I want to express a simple Thank You. Just wanted you to know that it truly matters, and that it doesn’t go unnoticed.

See you next week.

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SERVICE COMPLETED – Bennettsville native Tilden Boone is shown with his wife, Teresa, during his retirement ceremony at Fort Jackson, SC in 2010 after completing a 38-year career as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army, a career that Boone first began at Fort Jackson back in 1972. Boone notes that Teresa “is the pretty one, on the left.”

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