Mason County News
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The Idle American
Living in the Moment
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 • Posted May 25, 2011

Most folks flunk daily opportunities to live “in the moment.” Maybe that’s why coaches get raspy throats pleading with their charges to focus—not “rat” like a mouse but “rat now.”We are more prone—athletes and others—to dredge up golden moments from bygone years, or to dream about such euphoria anticipated well up the road.Sometimes, though, we are buoyed by folks who handle the present deftly, always gleaning the joy hidden in the clutter of the scary “here and now.”…* * * * *One such man—to celebrate his 70th birthday come June 15—has studied life from many angles, finding reasons to smile, chuckle or even laugh out loud when others might frown, cry or scream and run sideways.Maybe it was the growing-up years on a hardscrabble ranch in a community called Calf Creek in the Texas Hill Country, or corralling teenagers during a 33-year career of teaching and coaching, or responding to the steady hand of a teacher/wife for 50 years.Whatever, Dan Gandy has always managed to smile no matter what—even when fourth down tries failed by inches, when he aimed poorly and failed to fell the biggest buck ever, or when his best efforts to rescue kids in classrooms or on football fields fell short….* * * * *The affable Gandy grew up on the spread owned by his family since 1903. Living “in the moment” during early years meant baling hay, pulling cotton, milking cows and assorted other “rough and rural” chores. The creek was his swimming hole, and gloveless fisticuffs with his brother called for Band-Aids bought by the case.He claims to have been 14 years old before learning his first name wasn’t “Gitwood,” and he credits the work ethic instilled during his youth as the basis for his “can do” attitude.Gandy, a high school and college football star, won more than his share of football games, both as a player and as a coach. He signed off as coach in 1995 before entering his second career: farm and ranch real estate. He’s still going strong….* * * * *His wife, Bette, knows her hubby will never willingly retire. “He’s having too good a time,” she believes.At various coaching stops, Gandy picked up additional credentials, including both principal and superintendent certification. The one he’s used for 15 years, real estate certification, was issued more than 30 years ago.He’s put it to use in farm/ranch real estate around San Angelo….* * * * *Gandy is amazed that deer hunting, a sport during his youth that put meat on the table, has become big business.He chuckles about deer hunters. “They find leases, eagerly build deer blinds, get their kill each season and brag about their trophies. They measure racks, take pictures with their deer and dream of the day when they can own their own ranches.”…* * * * *Those who achieve ownership of such property often become “deer defenders” instead of deer hunters.“I think this is partly due to watching them on a daily basis,” he claims. “Deer can become ‘part of the family,’ like a dog, cat or pony.”He describes, in detail, how vaunted hunters sometimes become protectors of the prey practically overnight….* * * * *It starts so innocently, this “cuddling up” to the herd. First, owners notice the deer grazing ever closer to the house. Soon, “Mr.” or “Mrs.”—more likely both—put out deer treats, and the animals come even closer.Usually, naming comes next. Names of Santa’s sleigh-pullers dominate, but “Bambi” and “Rudolph” are popular, too. Sheer “gushiness” prevails when fawns appear. Proud grandparents can’t wait for their grandchildren to come see new additions to the herd….* * * * *These moments, you see, are golden, too—but maybe not in ways first envisioned. Such owners have new “leases on life,” but are no longer interested in leasing to hunters. Some of ‘em wake in the middle of the night, determined to remove prize antlers from above the fireplace. They don’t want to scare deer peering through the window.Gandy smiles, as does his wife. After all, they have it all, including a son, Kyle, who is in his 26th year of coaching, and a daughter, Deidre, who spent several years in coaching. One of the Gandy’s seven grandchildren attended college on a rowing scholarship. “Imagine that,” he said. “Here’s a girl who never baited a hook or ran a trotline but gets a scholarship because she could make a boat go fast.” He wishes he’d considered coaching the sport—“the only one where you win sitting down going backwards.”Such seating and direction aren’t interesting to a guy who keeps moving forward, as well as outward and upward! Happy 70th, Dan….* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send email to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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