Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Old School

What you are looking at is a motorcycle that has been refurbished to reflect an "old school" motorcycle design.

Many things can be classified as "old school" such as cars, transistor radios, turntables, buildings, cooking and people.

Dorothy Hovanic was old school. Sure, she was 82 when she died last Saturday, but age rarely comes into play when pinning that title on someone or something.

For people, old school can mean those who won't change. Like Father Richard Infante of Pittsburgh who still has not been willing to learn how to use a computer or even myself when I chose to write a song about Pittsburgh that looks back into history instead of celebrating Pittsburgh's present status as a world leader in medicine, education, and music. We're not stupid and we're not resisting change. We are comfortable with who we are and where we are. Yes, comfortable.

In a blog or two ago, I mentioned Dorothy Hovanic's husband, John, who can still fit into his Marine Corps dress uniform. John still grows a garden and has done so for many years before the word "recession" or even "victory garden" were coined. He enjoys tending to his tomato plants and Dorothy enjoyed watching him and eventually making marvelous culinary delights from the very things he grew.

My home town of Smock is undergoing a change. We are slowly slipping away from being old school. Younger people now inhabit the houses which are now over 100 years old. Grass grows up to your knees and concrete sidewalks have as many cracks as lines on a road map. Cars are parked in the yards on that grass that we religiously mowed weekly. And I hear that drugs and alcohol have replaced penny candy and Sun Drop.

But what is really problematic is that the respect for people and even things is slowly fading away, just like Smock's octogenarians. Which begs the question "What will happen to the old school of thinking when all of those remaining fossils either die or get deported to nursing homes?"

I went to Dorothy's funeral yesterday and saw her son and my friend John Michael. Yep, I still call him that and he still calls me Bobby Joe. And that's OK. He's old school. Still married to the same girl for 20+ years. Still lives in Smock but on the "new" side of town. Worked in the steel mill and retired from the same job. Never took a penny of "government money". I love that guy.

So I guess my definition of old school means that you stay honest, work hard at working hard, love your family as well as your neighbor, and NEVER under any circumstances, lose respect for yourself and all those around you, whether you know them or not. You know, all of that love God and love your neighbor stuff. Like Moses and Aaron taught.

I don't know what's going to happen to my town. The only surviving thing from Smock in twenty years may be this blog that I write. My hope is that those who may read some of the stories here may be curious as to what the term "old school" means.

If I'm around in 20 years, I'll be glad to tell you about how things were in the Smock of the late 20th century.

And if we both live long enough, I'll introduce you to John Michael Hovanic, a perfect example of what old school truly is.

Or should I say "was"?

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