– Hugh Abner, (Sonny)
Last year my Thanksgiving report was based upon a difference it was for me as compared to the many others I had experienced. This year had similarities to the last but also it was even more special to me. I was invited to play golf with a men’s group that are among the elite of the TOTW golfers. I asked up front if by chance since I was going to be playing with members of the Men’s League if I could some how begin the process of establishing a handicap. Fortunately for me the answer was yes but I did not know it was going to happen until just before we started the second hole of play. I started out on the first hole relatively relaxed and comfortable and I did not do too badly, only one above par. This feeling of comfort though changed immediately when my handicap regulator told me he was going to keep the score and I would get my first of five notarized score cards needed for the final tabulation. The feeling of being relaxed left immediately. On the second hole my score was so high that in a gentlemanly way I was told that scoring that high was not tolerated in this league. It was explained that in order to keep a sense of proper flow through the course one is required to stop play at a certain number of strokes and record an agreed upon high value. Something like two times the par value. On the putting green of the second, third and fourth holes the only way I could stop my putter from vibrating was to stick it in the ground. This forced me to rapidly work out a plan that would enable me to lift the putter high enough that I could move it. So, by lining up with the putter planted behind the ball and then simultaneously taking a deep breath while lifting the putter and moving it behind the ball a preplanned distance and then to return it at the ball: To hell with the hole just hit the ball. Finally though, I did get relaxed which means that somehow the supply of adrenaline must have subsided.
My final score was in the range of what I recently have been recording but my Chicago observer decided to confuse me by announcing at the end of the 18th that I had shot a near par value. My first thought was – my god – I have not even been keeping score properly. When he signed and handed me the card though I saw my usual old high number. He laughed. My card was signed by another member for extra validity and this man is a New Yorker. I bring up these northern identifications for it is in keeping with the fact that I am a minority southerner here at TOTW. That is, me and my Nannette are, and I sometimes doubt her southern understanding that you do not interrupt another until they have finished their story. Heck! Even Chicago people know that.
The day was to be finished out with all of us first gathering at the home of TOTW’s most popular host and hostess before going out to dinner at my favorite local restaurant, Spotos. This year our hostess had as usual made everything extremely comfortable for all of us. Fun appetizers and drinks all served in her most pleasant home. The host took things to a new level. We were simply treated as family. There is nothing more noticeable about being at home among family than when you are greeted by a shirtless man. One just cannot get a feeling of total acceptance more than that.
So we all ended up as mentioned at Spotos. Nannette and I had Chicagoans on our left and New Yorkers in front and on the right. This is the absolute center of conversation. I have a hard time hearing when in a crowded place anyway and as imagined the accents for me are different but I did pick up on items of interest. At least one of the Chicago members was familiar with Spotos when it was in Chicago. I had always understood that it originated there but for me the first knowledge of it was in a place now burnt down which was located on a street leading out to the beach area of Northern St. Pete. From a New Yorker on my right I learned a historical fact which involved a town very near my home – Jacksonville Florida. My little town is equidistance between Savannah and Jacksonville but up into Georgia. Now, what I learned was that in the earlier days Jacksonville was a local for an establishment of prominent Blacks or Negroes. I never knew this so this morning with a quick research I have learned that Jacksonville was also the southern local for our movie industry. It seems that the first main location for movie making, Silent’s of course, was New York but in the winter they moved to Jacksonville. Even D.W. Griffith the director of The Birth of a Nation had worked in the Jacksonville area as a movie maker. All this did eventually move to California but with Jacksonville being in my home-boy area it is important to me. And yes, there was in those days a special community of Blacks that had their own movie studios in Jacksonville.
All the topics of conversation for the evening are simply too many to record but the evening was finalized around the subject of cigarette smoking. One member still smokes, God bless him, for I enjoyed the habit maybe more so than him at one time but he had a smoking experience at the restaurant which enabled him to explain the present day camaraderie of smokers. You see, one has to go outside to smoke now-a-days so he had been out and had made acquaintance with other smokers. One of them was actually in a booth near us and this opened the way for a group outside of ours to be brought into the events of the evening because our smoker used this opportunity to point out the benefits of present day smoking with its special society associations. Now he had a hard time in delivering his message because my Nannette bombarded him about how much she had enjoyed it and she grilled him about the present day cost of it all. Like a real gentleman he answered her completely but that seems to be the way New Yorkers are —- they do not get flustered as a southerner would. This southerner anyway.
So, again one year later I am here to report that another Thanksgiving has brought a continued set of circumstances for Nannette and I to be thankful and a big part of this comes from our TOTW friends.
Maybe though there is an issue about the Thanksgiving meal tradition to be aware of. One year ago more of us ordered the traditional turkey and dressing selection as opposed to the steak cuisine for which Spotos is popular. This year it was near half and half. I remained traditional but there was a temptation toward changing.