Monday, December 29, 2014


by Rob Watson

Perhaps you have had cause to wonder how any change in a series of events might have changed an outcome. In the cases of great outcomes and cases of tragedies, we humans take time to examine our decisions and speculate on how we might have made things better or worse. The following is a story of a rather benign series of events with a pleasant outcome.

Wife made friends with a co-volunteer at one of her former occupations. A plan, on our part to travel some 3,000 miles,  would bring us within a few miles of this person's abode. Using electronic means they made a plan to meet this friend as we traveled near by. There in lies the tale.

After a week or so of electronic isolation, Wife sent a message of when we would arrive, but received no acknowledgement. Presuming the message would be received later we continued with the original plan. After driving a few hundred miles it became clear we would arrive at the meeting place two hours early. Common courtesy requires one to call to verify we could come early. Again there was no acknowledgement. Now the question becomes to go or not to go. We decided to go.

When we arrived in town,  Wife called again. Again, no answer. We had a GPS, a map, and a general idea of the location of the friend's home. We decided to go there and if no one was home we would come back to town and look around until the appointed meeting time. In order to drive in the correct direction we had to turn around.  We decided to turn around by going around the block. We could have gone right or left. We chose left.

At the end of this block we could again choose right or left. To the left I saw the town hall and seat of local government. I suggested we ask at City Hall for better directions.  Wife responded by turning right and suggested we ask at the post office, which was right there. She turned in and parked.  Being a gentleman I volunteered to go inside and inquire.

As I stepped from the car a lady on a bike rode up and dismounted. I inquired as to whether she knew Wife's friend. "Oh, indeed!" was her reply. "How can I help you?" I told her we were seeking directions to the friend's home. "go back one block and drive south 9 miles until you get to a big barn. Turn right and drive three more miles to a large orange mail box and turn left. You will see the house off in the distance at the top of the hill." I repeat these directions with her nodding to indicate I had gotten it right. Then she repeats these directions again, and concludes "Well, I think that is correct. Lets go in the post office and make sure."

 Inside, the postmaster is on the phone and we must wait for her to finish before asking direction again. "Go back one block and drive south 9 miles until you get to a big barn. Turn right and drive three more miles to a large orange mail box and turn left. You will see the house off in the distance at the top of the hill." word for word the original set of directions I had previously been given. Then the postmaster added "The road is being torn up to be resurfaced but it has not reached the mail box yet... Let me call to find out." She makes a phone call but got no answer. She calls another number and chats for a bit before hanging up. She repeats the directions a second time. I can now go outside, get in the car and relate to Wife all that has occurred, including the, now repeated four times, directions.

When I have finished, there is a pause in the action as a car pulls into the parking space beside Wife. There in the front passenger seat is her friend, who looks over and develops an expression of great surprise.

As It happens, the friend had completely forgotten we were coming. Her mother had died several days before and she had gone, with her sisters and friends, to that home to clean up and sort the mother's possessions. They had come to town to visit the bank, check the mail, and go to a resturant for lunch.

Arrangements were made for meeting at lunch in another town. We lunched, visited, and drove on our way, marveling at the series of events needed to make this happen.

Friday, December 19, 2014


By Rob Watson 

 The group is a Catholic men’s organization first formed by Irish Catholics in Boston in the 1880’s to provide charity to catholic widows and orphans. It has grown to an international group. When I was in college, the Catholic student club, the Newman Club, finally saved enough money to build a new building. It was unfurnished until the Knights of Columbus men of Shreveport sent a team of their officers to Ruston to determine our requirements. A doctor’s wife, associated with our little club, led them through the building, room by room, with a catalog, picking out what we needed. Those men never had a chance. Mrs. Black was smart, aggressive, and attractive… a deadly combination around men. What we got was attractive, durable, and very good quality. We got everything we needed. They spent thousand of dollars, today would be measured in tens of thousands of dollars. I was president of the Newman Club that year and had a front row seat to it all. It is probably time i worked with these guys and did some pay back.( I recently had cause to return to my old college stomping grounds. At the newer, much expanded Catholic facility there, I met some ladies who regularly visited Mrs. Black at an elder care home. I wrote a note to Mrs. Black identifying myself and expressing my thanks and admiration for her work on my behalf. These ladies promised to deliver the note for me.)

However it might be classified, manly or childish, I like the parading around in the fancy outfit and the sword. I have not gotten the hang of handling the sword yet. Today, in church, we marched down the isle and drew the swords in salute. Then we were to replace the thing and remove our hats. Every time I tried to get the sword back into its scabbard, the point snagged the fabric of my glove and would not go in. As a form saving device I held the scabbard and unsheathed sword in my left hand. I removed the hat with my right. After a few minutes I was challenged to use my left hand for another activity, while still holding the hat in my right. I put my hat on to make another stab at replacing the sword. Immediately, the boss knight on the alter, saw me and signaled to take my hat off. This time the sword made it in on the first try. The hat came off and everyone was happy.

The “Installation” pictured is for the officers who were just elected. I am in the pictures because I was a stand-in for a guy who couldn’t make it. My actual induction was part of a secret ceremony done three years ago in Kansas. That group never had a meeting, so I transferred here to the local group. There are a lot more Catholics here than in Kansas… They are active with meetings that include a nice meal, and they use their funds to do public service and charity work. The regalia ( the fancy outfit) is used for funerals and special celebrations in the church. Friday we will go to Many, LA to participate in the 25th anniversary of priesthood for one guy and 17th of another. They will feed us afterwards… another chance to get food on that outfit.

Another recent activity, pictured below, was attending the dedication ceremony for the Veterans Memorial Park. This monument has a series of plaques listing the local persons who died in the various wars our nation has fought. All of these men, pictured, are veterans of the US Military.