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Hats Off    |    by
Column dedicated to sharing news about community activities, service projects, and other events that are important to the life of the residents of our "mountain."

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published on 07/04/2007

Hats off…to Determination

By staff writer

He walked every day around the block. It was an over-sized block as it was the campus for the largest high school in town. He lived on the street that was perpendicular to the school just in front of the main entrance to the gymnasium.

He began the walk by going out the back door of his house, down the driveway and turning left onto the sidewalk in front of the house. It was a miracle he didn’t trip or fall on the sidewalk. Buckled and broken from the roots of hundred-year-old oak trees that lined the street, it would have been safer to walk in the street. But street walking, jogging and Nike Shoes had not been discovered or invented at the time.

Once he made it to the road along the school, he crossed the street, turned right and walked down to the front of the school. Then turning left he walked along the front of the school, which was one of the busiest streets in town. At the next corner he made his second left and this time walked the length of the campus and by far the most comfortable as it was a tree-lined street with old homes facing the school. Sometimes small children or their dogs would walk along with him but for the most part he walked alone. The last one-and-a-half blocks were in the sun as he rounded the football practice field and tennis courts, band building and finally back to the gymnasium and the entrance to his street. The entire walk took forty-five minutes to an hour.

If it was a warm day, he wore a short-sleeve cotton sports shirt always crisp and ironed. Around his neck he wore a bolo necktie. When it rained hard he passed on the walk, but a slight rain or drizzle did not stop the man. Donning a trench coat and rain hat, he faced the damp elements. A cardigan sweater, usually pale yellow or light blue to compliment his white hair carried him through the fall and winter months before it got too cold to walk.

In the early years his pace was quick and determined until one day I noticed he walked slower and with more care using the cane he had gotten accustomed to. Although I had seen him walk around the school many times, it wasn’t until my senior year when I was in my homeroom class, early one morning, that I really noticed him.

It was a beautiful spring morning and all the large windows were open. The bell had not rung but we were all chatting and excited about graduation. Already nervous and concerned about my uncertain future, seeing the old man walking with such determination changed my point of view. The cane now by his side, he slowly crossed the street, stepped up over the curb to the sidewalk and turned to make his daily ritual. My heart welled with pride and my own determination. I knew then I was going to be okay and all was well with my world. I had it in me to succeed just like the old man, my grandfather.