I recently had a conversation with my boss that is going to influence the flavor of this column in the future. It has been my habit to start with a header and finish with the subject as a punch line. My boss pointed out that in some cases there is quite a bit of time spent wondering where my ramblings are going. This piece of advice prompted me to reflect on where I have heard this before. So, I am going to visit some topics that show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A case in point is the fact that listening to him reminded me of listening to Sam.
My wife pointed out that not everybody knows who “Sam” is. Well, Sam is Sam Lacy, a Hall of Fame sports writer and editor that served the AFRO and other news outlets for more than 60 years. He was also my father and my boss. Whenever I get some over-the-shoulder advice, I think of Sam. And, when I reflect more deeply, there has been a shadow looking over my shoulder all of my life.
My Pop’s sisters were educators, and because of the social standards of the day, it seems all of my teachers were friends of my aunts. The worst scenario comes to light when I think of my Aunt Evelyn, who was my grade school principal. When most kids got into a little mischief, they were asked to sit in a corner (the “time out” of the 1940’s) and return to their desks after serving out their sentence. I was sent to the principal’s office where Aunt Evie escorted me to the Health Center for a tune-up.
This relationship bred a vicious circle. Somebody would get in my face and accuse me of getting special treatment because my aunt was the principal. This prompted a fight, which led to another trip to the office, another tune-up, and a phone call home.
In later life, I discovered that some things just don’t go away. Soon after I got married, my wife and I attended her family reunion. I had served my country and there were no warrants out for my arrest, so I was received with a smile and a handshake or a hug. Then she introduced me to her cousin, who responded, “I remember Tim Lacy, he got into a fight every day. Deja vu.”
In Junior High School I discovered that most of the women teachers were friends of my aunts and the men had played ball with my pop. I had someone looking over my shoulder all the time. I can’t begin to tell you of some of the unwanted advice I received during those three years. I also can’t begin to tell you how happy I was when September rolled around and I departed for school in Rhode Island away from their eyes—or so I thought. It took about a week before someone walked up to me and introduced himself as Greg Green, a sports writer for the local paper and a friend of Sam’s. It seemed like every time I was stricken with the mischief bug, this guy was around.
College was no different. I chose to attend college in Baltimore, where the coaches and Sam were fast friends. Sam spent so much time on campus, I began to think he had a dorm room.
Working for Uncle Sam provided me with relief, but when I returned to civilian life, I had to work. I initially avoided a job on a newspaper, but eventually the bug caught up with me. Sam was back looking over my shoulder. And, as I write this I look up and his picture is staring down at me and providing me with an occasional nudge. The more things change, the more they stay the same.