Closing Out A Year Of Fussing; 2 Memorials

Published 8:42 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

We sure did fuss a lot in 2017. Some people woke up on the wrong side of the bed everyday. The year was spent arguing about Donald Trump, Donald Trump and Donald Trump.

He was blamed for just about everything except gravity. We drew sides and acted pretty childish at times as half of us failed to come to grips with the 2016 election.

The division has grown so nutty that parents in Connecticut last week protested loudly when Trump’s daughter and the head of IBM visited their children’s elite high school. Parents wanted to pull their children out lest the tender darlings be corrupted by the exposure to alternative ideas.

The singer Taylor Swift was condemned because she said 2017 had been good to her. She has refused to wade into the political maelstrom, not taking sides as an entertainer. Others in the entertainment industry declared the year to be the worst ever as they struggled with such a terrible President.

Never let it be said our actors and actresses can’t stir up a little drama.

Can we resolve to grow up emotionally in the New Year?

Like Taylor Swift, 2017 was pretty good for me. I kept the thistles at bay on the farm. Elizabeth and I explored the Southwest and Route 66. I climbed Mt. LeConte twice. We added another grandson to the family. I taught the grandchildren how to fish — not how to catch. And I stayed out of jail and the hospital.

Sadly, I lost a couple of friends during the year that many readers probably knew too.

Aaron R. York, III was “Junior” to many and “Shorty” to others. He was my lifeline, the one I called when I wrecked … or got stuck … or the car wouldn’t start on a cold morning.

Without fanfare, he ran York’s Exxon in Mocksville for 50 years, taking over his father’s gas station after serving in Vietnam. I always knew he flew on helicopter gunships ferrying soldiers to the war’s hot spots and picking up the wounded in the midst of battle. What I didn’t know but should have guessed was the long list of decorations for valor he received: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Clusters; Army Commendation, Air Medal with Valor, the Vietnam Medal and two unit citations.

He never talked about it.

After providing a lifeline to wounded soldiers in Vietnam, he worked to do something similar for  motorists in Mocksville. When I was stuck on the side of the highway, I called Junior York and his wrecker. I memorized his phone number.

He died suddenly of a heart attack this year, and his customers and lots of fellow Vietnam veterans gathered in Rose Cemetery to say good-bye.

The world seems a little less safe without Junior York.

Death also claimed another friend this year, Ronnie Smitherman of Smitherman’s Hardware in Lewisville. I had just taken over the reins of the newspaper in 1985 and was hustling for advertising when I met him. Ronnie bought a half page ad, the largest ad I had ever sold. I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. And then I had to stay up half the night trying to make the ad suitable for printing.

I never forgot his trust when I was struggling to get my feet on the ground.

Years later I bought a fancy Radio Flyer tricycle from Smitherman’s for my expanding brood of grandchildren. It has streamers on the handlebars and a bell. Six grandchildren have joyfully peddled up and down the driveway on that red and cream colored tricycle, and I have always been glad Ronnie and Betty Smitherman talked me into it.

Happy New Year.

– Dwight Sparks