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Birney Imes: Everything matters


Birney Imes



On a glorious Friday afternoon at the end of a week of glorious afternoons, an old friend visiting from a northern state and I set out for a walk across the river. Bob and his wife, Deborah, are here for a few days, at the tail end of a two-week swing through the South. 


Deborah and Beth met in a racquetball course at The W more than 30 years ago. What possessed either of them to pursue racquetball I doubt either could say. If asked, I expect they would reply without much thought, "to meet Beth" or "to meet Deborah." As far as I know, that was the last time either of them touched a racquet. 


Their lives have been intertwined since. Between the two of them and that invention of Alexander Graham Bell''s, they have raised six kids and kept each other entertained and nourished.  


The other day I was talking shop with another grandparent, describing how the world stops turning when the grands blast through the front door. Everything stops; that''s how it is when Deborah and Beth are on the phone. 


Thursday night I visited Kroger in the company of a certain 4-year-old in his Superman costume. 


"Have you been flying around the store," a cashier asked him. 


"I can''t fly," he replied, disinterested. 


After the grocery we stopped by my office where he seized upon a model airplane someone had given my father years ago. The plane turned out to be a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a long-range bomber used against German military and industrial targets, and, to a lesser extent, the Japanese, in World War II. 


The B-17 achieved iconic status for its ability to return from missions looking like a piece of Swiss cheese. The Flying Fortress starred with Gregory Peck in "12-O''Clock High" and was celebrated in the 1990 film, "Memphis Belle." 


My father''s plastic Flying Fortress, consistent with its reputation for durability, made it to the next morning''s show-and-tell with only one of four propellers intact. 


Retired Marine Major Gen. Tom "Tango" Moore shared with the Exchange Club Thursday moving stories about his experiences with wounded veterans. Moore with his wife Lee Ann -- she a native of Belzoni, he of Scott -- have settled here after a distinguished military career. We''re fortunate to have them. 


And we''re fortunate to have Cherry Dunn and her lovely Columbus Girlchoir who performed at the Exchange Club event. 


The girls fittingly sang a song about peace and closed with a lovely rendition -- made even more so by those young voices -- of "The Poet Sings," a short choral arrangement by K. Randall Stroope. 


Stay the course, 


Light a star, 


Change the world where''er you are. 


As we threaded our way through White''s Slough on the Island, I tried to explain to Bob Gideon Lincecum, the frontier naturalist and genius who lived here almost 200 years ago and wrote about the place and its profusion of wildlife. (For more on Lincecum, see Rufus Ward''s column in today''s paper.) 


"No, I don''t think there any alligators," I said, not quite sure. 


With all the cormorants roosting in the cypress and the carpet of yellow swamp sunflowers underfoot it seemed we were walking through the pages of a Dr. Seuss book  


Almost home, we looked into an open side door of the Princess Theater where several young men were setting up for an evening event. Inside we met Bart Lawrence, the owner. 


An Army veteran and Caledonia native -- Bart''s dad, Bill, was mayor of Caledonia -- Bart hopes to restore the aging Princess to a semblance of her former glory. He appears to be making slow but steady progress. The old Steve''s Cafe and a small outdoor dining area nestled into the entranceway around the old ticket booth have a bright, pleasant feel, and the place looks busy everytime I pass. 


Along with wishes for success, I''ll share with Bart advice cousin Hal McClanahan closed an e-mail with last week: "Everything matters; press on."


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


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