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ROUNDING THIRD: Gone are too many friends

John David Fay
Sentinel columnist
Posted 9/11/22

Sooner or later, I knew I was going to write this article. I have to, even if nobody pays any attention.

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ROUNDING THIRD: Gone are too many friends


Sooner or later, I knew I was going to write this article. I have to, even if nobody pays any attention. It is kind of a macabre topic, and it’s been said many times, but I think it needs to be said again and again until the full impact of its message is really heard.

At this age, it’s personal. I have lost too many good friends to its insidiousness and have to put my two cents in.

Smoking! I never did it but for the wrong reasons that turned out to be the right answer.

When I was very young, they would tell you that smoking stunted your growth. That was enough for me. I had athletic ambitions and I knew the bigger and stronger I was, the better my chances were.

All around me my friends smoked, some starting before the age of 10. There were warnings but not the dire ones of today.

For many years in our middle-ages, four of us played golf together every weekend. It was great and we all enjoyed it. The two smokers rode in one cart and the non-smokers in the other.

Years went by and life happened. As the two of us non-smokers were playing one day, we realized that the other cart had gone into the woods and never returned. They had been taken by the poison sticks.

I have lost so many friends to small cell lung cancer it’s disheartening. Others have COPD or other breathing diseases. The draw must be overwhelming. It breaks my heart to see young people pass my office door with a “ciggy” in their mouths while a whole array of pictures on my wall attest to its far-reaching danger.

Okay, I’ve said my piece, and I’ll say it again in poem form.


So, one by one they disappear, my friends and comrades through the years,

While I, the frailest of them all sit pond’ring in the darkened hall.

They fell before a common foe, that gripped them in an icy throe.

“No cure!’ Those words that chill the brain were uttered time and time again.

That little stick of covered brown had brought the strongest of them down,

And then his lifelong hearty friend would meet the self-same painful end.

The acrid weed that soiled their breath had led them down a trail of death,

And though they knew the danger well, insipidly it cast its spell.

They did not know back in their youth what comes today as simple truth;

You inhale poison every day and soon your lungs go to decay.

So, think before you smoke, young teen. Do you want body parts of green?

Don’t lie there on your bed of death while doctors try to feed you breath,

And cry that life has been unfair — you shouldn’t have to gasp for air.

I’ve been there as this story ends—it’s buried some of my best friends. JDF

I apologize for the darkness of that, but the topic is a dark one. Hopefully, just one person will be affected enough to stop and prolong life.

Favorite one-liners:

Taunting in a football game is illegal, but taunting America in life is okay.

I keep trying to lose weight but it keeps finding me again.

Most people say they’ll meet you halfway. Trouble is — they’re a poor judge of distance.

Some people are like wheelbarrows. They don’t work unless you push them.

Historical tidbits:

Some stories strain your credulity, and this is one of them. During a dogfight in WWI, the British flying ace, Reginald Makepeace, had a Captain Headley in the rear seat. During the fight, Hedley was thrown from his seat and tumbled toward earth. The plane continued its dive and leveled off. When it did, Hedley landed on the tail and rode it safely down. If they had lotteries back then, he should have bought a ticket that day.

Strangely enough, in a weird juxtaposition of history, before the Civil War, Confederate General Robert E. Lee owned no slaves but Union General Ulysses Grant — did.

George Washington was afraid of being buried alive, so he asked that his body remain above ground for at least two days. Hey — it happened back then. By the way, both Ronald Reagan and Joseph Stalin were afraid of flying. (me, too!)

Joke: The old bum knocked on a woman’s door and she answered it with, “What in the blazes do you want?” He asked, “Would you have an extra bottle of beer I could have?” She scowled and shouted, “Do I look like the kind of woman who would have beer in my house?” He backed up a bit and asked, “Then maybe you’d have an extra bottle of vinegar?” Okay—I do have a bottle of beer in my house so I think I’ll go and drink it.

See ya! JDF


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