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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 • Posted August 12, 2009

Accounts of Red Faces…

Column #328 for Release Saturday, August 8, 2009

The demeanor of most civic clubs more resembles a sleep-fest than the zany conduct condoned—and sometimes even encouraged—at such meetings a couple of generations ago.

Goings-on at some of them included tie-snipping and biscuit throwing, with speakers praying for deliverance and the good fortune to exit the place with all limbs intact.

It’s as if some have taken sobriety oaths, with new regard for propriety and civility. Of course, women have been invited to join civic organizations that were “men only” clubs in the past. They may have toned things down in some respects, but their vitality has added springs in the steps of club members, particularly those who’d started to stumble….

  • * * * *

As late as a quarter-century ago, political candidates attended as many civic club meetings as possible, particularly during election years. It was an added bonus if they got to speak.

The late Hubert Humphrey fancied himself to be quite the speaker.

One guy who heard him often had a counter view. “Humphrey had the ability to inspire you, then talk you out of it,” he said….

  • * * * *

The late Willard Barr, a “farm boy come to town,” was on the rubber chicken circuit two and sometimes three times a day in his successful campaign to be mayor of Fort Worth, Texas.

“I learned the creeds, mottos and missions of lots of clubs,” he observed. Then, he’d get around to details about a certain evening, when he was attending his third civic club meeting of the day. He was asked to pray as the program began. Heads bowed in reverence.

Call it a lapse, or some such, but Barr began his “prayer” this way: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”…

  • * * * *

Ray West is a charter member of his Rotary Club. One of his “flubs” years ago resulted in a nickname used to this day. They call him “Ray-O.”

Seconds before the meeting began, the president asked him to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag, as well as the pledge to the State of Texas. “But I don’t know the Texas pledge,” he sputtered. “No matter,” the prexy added. “When you finish the US pledge, simply turn toward the Texas flag, and say ‘O’ loudly, and the rest of us will take over and finish it up.”

Little did Ray know that the membership was pre-advised to remain silent when he got to the “O” When he belted out the “O” with gusto, it was met with complete silence. And that’s how he got his nickname on a day he was left hanging out to dry….

  • * * * *

Walt Sarbaugh spared no time and effort in reaching his red-faced status. He served in the Air Force, stationed in Okinawa more than 40 years ago. There, he and his wife, Julia, were friends with another AF serviceman, Weldon O. Mitchell, and his wife, Mitsn. Upon discharge, they went their separate ways, and not until March of this year was contact re-established.

“I found an Internet site that provided multiple names at same addresses,” he explained. “When I found Weldon and Mitsn Mitchell in Laurel, MD, I figured he had to be the only Weldon Mitchell with wife named Mitsn. Sure enough, I was right,” Sarbaugh beamed.

Soon, the Mitchells flew to Texas to spend a long weekend with the Sarbaughs. The foursome attended Sunday school, where Walt proudly introduced the Mitchells.

Responding, Weldon said, “I well remember the entries made on Walt’s permanent record. The commander noted that he never made the same mistake twice.” He paused before continuing, thus allowing Walt’s face to redden up. “However,” Mitchell added, “He made every mistake once.”…

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries and comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com

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