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Birney Imes: Gifts all week long


Birney Imes



Wednesday in the aisles of Kroger I ran into a high school friend I had not seen in years, Joey Hendrix. As a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, Joey's career included postings in Vicksburg, Baghdad and New Orleans. He is now retired and has come home to take care of his mother, who lives in New Hope. 


"Hey, I really enjoyed that column you wrote about turning 60," he said. 


We vowed to get together and have since exchanged emails. If Columbus has a public square, it is the Kroger store on 45. The place is a melting pot; no telling who you'll bump into there. 


The column Joey mentioned ran three years ago; I know because this past week I celebrated the completion of one more orbit around the sun, as a friend calls it. 


Seeing Joey was one of many birthday gifts I enjoyed throughout the week. 


Another was lunch with the Mayor -- on my birthday, no less. Monday I had lunch at Helen's Kitchen. Business was slow and Miss Helen was dining alone. I asked if I could join her. 


We had a nice visit and as I rose to go, she said, "Come back," then pausing, "and bring Robert with you." No need to say Robert who. 


Wanting to stay on Miss Helen's good side, I emailed Mayor Robert Smith and he, no doubt wanting to do likewise, agreed to dine with me on Thursday. Someone tipped Miss Helen off it was my birthday and she treated Robert and me to lunch. Afterwards the Mayor took me for a driving tour. 


Our lunchtime visit concluded with a visit to the Trotter Center, presently in the middle of a complete makeover. Expect it back on line in December, the Mayor said. 


My dear workmates, who I am honored to know and work with each day, gave me a card covered with personalized birthday wishes.  


On Friday we interviewed a young man for a position in advertising. We were telling him about what we see as our mission as a hometown newspaper when he blurted out, "This building, this place has such a feel about it. This is Columbus." He could have hardly said anything nicer. 


My mother gave me a secret agent walking stick made of cherry with a shinny brass knob that converts to a telescope of sorts. "When I read about you walking the trestle, I thought you could use this," she said.  


I don't think I need it just yet, but when I do, I expect it will be the first time that old trestle has hosted a wayfarer swinging a brass-tipped cane. 


It is said the secret to a good apple pie is to use three varieties of apples. My lovely wife ascribes to that dictum and on the night of my birthday, she pulled convincing proof out of the oven. Later a friend of our daughter's concurred: "Damn," he said stretching out his "damn" for three syllables, "this is good pie." 


The pie came after having been presented with two pieces of specially created artwork from our grandchildren, a drawing of a honeybee with my head on it and a watercolor of a red barn. They now adorn my bookshelves. 


Friday morning I ran into Ray Timm in front of the post office. We had a chat about our health, something that looms larger as we age and something we can never appreciate enough, at least not until it's gone.  


Ray took an interest in me when I was running high school track at Magnolia Bowl. We've been friends since. Being able to have a conversation in front of the post office with someone you've known for almost 50 years is one of the pleasures of small-town life. 


Friday evening we met friends for spicy food and laughter, the best way to digest food, spicy or otherwise. They came bearing gifts from the garden, a juicy cantaloupe and a sack of perfect tomatoes. 


It's was a good week. Now, on with that next orbit. 





Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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