• There is nothing that prepares one for the vicissitudes of old age except living a very long time and learning to roll with the punches.
Human beings are always in some state of mind or another and tend to assume that everyone they talk to is in the same state that they are at the same time. Of course, that assumption comes from the way that people are and not from the truth: that individuals are all different, even though they are all members of the same human race. As I travel down the brick streets of Winter Park in 2014 my mind becomes Einsteinian for a moment, and my thinking process goes back 75 years to the time when I was pedaling my bike over those same bricks and had never been anywhere on this Earth to speak of. Many material things have remained the same throughout the last three generations, but time’s fourth dimension is the one we now live in and is the scenery of the present day life we are leading.
• “Every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue,” wrote George M. Cohan, a “true blue” American who throughout his life found something to praise in our country and its flag. When I was in grammar school, we started each day by standing facing the American flag in the corner and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we sang “America” and only then was the day underway. During the four years I was in the Navy in WWII, the stars and stripes played a big part in our daily life. When boarding or leaving the ship we stood at attention on the quarterdeck, turned and saluted the flag flying high on the mast. We never forgot whose service we were in — the flag was our home, our family, our friends, and all the things to which we yearned to return. It may be difficult these days for some people to understand the reverence and love which most Americans had for the stars and stripes. I believe that everything I hold dear is something that I possess because I was born American.
• So many people join an extant organization with a history, and then immediately try to change the way it’s run. Winston Churchill said: “I did not take the job of prime minister to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire!”
• I learn on TV that one of my old singing partners, Monserrat Caballé, is having income tax problems. She reportedly owes some $600,000 in back taxes. Now at 81, she is unlikely to be able to sing herself out of this quandary. I’ll never forget singing in Europe with her many times in “Boheme,” “Cavalleria,” “Tosca,” “Butterfly,” “Pagliacci” and other big romantic operas — and to date she owes me not a single cent! She was always rich in singing talent. Too bad she can no longer pay her bills by chirping an aria or two!
• You other guys just park your adjectives for a while. There is no doubt that I have the best wife in the world. She’s still as sweet to me as the day we got married. Before you guffaw that it’s no bed of roses for a wife to be married to an ex-operatic tenor and ex-college prof who has such bad eyes that his steak has to be cut up for him, and he must be driven everywhere, let me remind you that I told you women are crazy ... Didn’t I?
• This past Sunday morning, a guy announced on the radio: “Science has concluded that the universe had a beginning.” I immediately wondered where I had been right before that memorable moment. I also wondered if having a beginning implies having an “ending”? The radio voice, which seemed to be speaking for all of science, has left me — and maybe you — in the lurch, which is a worse place to be than before I heard of all this. Einstein is dead, a fact that seems incongruous as he was “the smartest man in the world,” and should have been able to outwit death.
But for Einstein, and I guess the rest of us, there is an “end” to life on Earth for everybody and everything. Don’t let this worry you or spoil your day.
• Ode to a Florida Summer: Nice water is ice water.