The Way It Was – A word about aging

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Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
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Some time around 1990, our son, Dave, came back to Marysville to play in some kind of “old timers” touch football game on Lewis Field at the corner of Grove and Collins. I went to see that game, and it was a lot of fun.
When the game was over, I hung around for a short time, talking with friends. Then I headed for home, and on the way out, I passed the high jump pit at one end of the field. That pit brought back a lot of memories, as I did a little high jumping when I was in high school back in the ‘40s. I wondered if I could still high jump. I bet I could. I thought I would give it a try, so I set the bar at a height I thought I could clear.
I should say at this point, that I was looking forward to landing in the pit full of foam rubber. During the 1940s, the high jump pit contained about a foot or two of sawdust. That was it. So the jumper had to land on his feet. Landing on soft foam rubber was going to be fun.
I found a place that would make a good starting point to approach the bar. I ran toward the pit, and when I got to the takeoff point, I pushed off with my left foot. Then I kicked my right foot into the air. Today that is a bit old-fashioned, but that’s how almost all high jumpers did it in the ‘40s. It was a technique called the “western roll.”
It was that kick into the air that did it. It pulled a muscle in my back. Oh man, did that smart. Some man who had witnessed the whole thing came over and asked me if I was OK. I assured him that I was fine, but I was a little slow in getting up.
I had a backache for a few days, nothing serious, just enough to let me know that I was too old to be high jumping. Since then, of course, there have been other things … like a touch of arthritis now and then. I guess it’s just all part of getting older.
Maybe 15 or 20 years later, I occasionally began to notice the mental side of aging. It started when I sometimes had trouble remembering people’s names, even famous people like actors, politicians, or athletes.
Today I sometimes have the same problem remembering other words, usually nouns. I might be talking with someone, and every now and then, it takes me a while to come up with the right word. I think that’s fairly common among people my age.

For example, the other day, a friend of mine, who is a few years older than I, told me about a recent trip he made to his supermarket. The store has some sort of coffee bar that offers all sorts of coffee drinks. He goes there occasionally for a cappuccino, and he drinks it as he sits at a table and reads a newspaper.
There were a few people ahead of him, so he took his place at the end of the line. As he neared the counter, he thought about what he was going to order, but he just couldn’t think of the word “cappuccino.” He had ordered a large cappuccino at that counter many times in the past, but on that day, he was drawing a blank. He knew it was an Italian word, and he thought that might help him. But it didn’t.
As he moved forward to second place in the line, he started going over Italian words in his mind, thinking that might help. Maybe he was going to have to order a latte, because that was the only word he could think of. But he didn’t want a latte. He wanted a cappuccino.
Finally, he was first in line, and the lady at the counter asked him what he wanted to order. He didn’t answer, for he was still trying to think of the word “cappuccino.” Then the lady said, “Sir, would you please order. There are others behind you who are waiting.”
That’s when my friend, still searching for the right Italian word, looked the lady in the eye and replied, “Certainly miss, I’d like to order a large … pepperoni.”
I think it’s just a normal part of aging.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at bill@davidwboyd.com



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