So Small Against the Stars

When I was in high school, the longest serving Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, passed on. He was a local boy. You see snapshots of Truman or McCarthur or Ike addressing a joint session; the bald guy who looks just like Kruschev, that’s Mr Sam.

A writer for the Bonhi, the hometown (pop 7,000) high school newspaper, wrote an obit telling what a swell guy Mr Sam was and, boy, won’t he be missed. The funeral would draw four presidents to the front pew of First Baptist Church, the first time that had ever happened. The obit writer told me at the time there was a chance his hagiographic would be picked up by international news services. I remember that significant look he gave me. This could be big.

Well, I sort of missed my calling as well, and ended up after school working in a local factory. There was an outrage there one year; seven #2 operators were laid off without cause sufficient to satisfy the union or its president, Mr Berryhill. So we staged a march. From the union hall on South Main to 4th St and down to the plant, where Mr Berryhill gave a short speech and we broke up the meeting. Before we set out on that march, though, Mr Berryhill told us this day and endeavor was likely to be reported "throughout the world!"

There was a regional teevee station in the next county which ran a brief squib that evening, with a still picture featuring me and old Jones carrying a large banner. AP and NBC failed to run with the story.

You will imagine yourself invited onto Oprah, or coaching Brangelina’s brood in soccer, or changing a tyre for a demolition diva and thus winning her eternal gratitude. You daydream when pretending not to peruse the tabloids at the checkout counter.

I read a novel about this very resonance between greatness and the commons some forty years ago. Recently, I saw another reflection of The Odyssy at the movies, The Brothers Bloom. I did some thinking, even reread much of the old classic story (which is, essentially, unreadable; I’ll be honest.) I wrote down some of the thoughts on Yucca Flats, so if you’re interested, I’d be glad to see you there, and if not, I won’t bother you further here, and I thank you for reading this far.

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