Random thoughts of a retiree

By Jack Sparacino

1. I nearly fell off my chair when one of my new bankers called me “sweetie” over the phone when I was still in Connecticut.  Well, it turns out that people often use terms of endearment in the South, even with total strangers (“What can I get ya, hon?”).  Unfortunately, you could live up North for a lifetime and seldom get such a greeting.

2. Ever wonder where the best strawberries in the world are? Turns out they’re right here.  How convenient.

3. Maynard Ferguson had a spectacular career as a big band leader and trumpeter. He could hit higher notes and play in a higher register than you would imagine a human being could achieve. In 2005, about a year before he died, I stopped to hear him play at Newtown High School in Connecticut on my way home from work. A pretty good crowd showed up, and I grabbed a perfect seat in the second row.  He was in his 70s and did not look particularly well, but he was gracious and as awesome as ever solo as when he led a band of absolutely unbelievable twenty-somethings through the most amazing set of jazz arrangements I had ever heard.  To this day, I wish my father could have joined me, as he died a few years before the concert and loved that kind of music.  When I think how tired I was that night and almost didn’t go, I can only conclude that it really is best to seize the moment. Do what you can, when you can. We just don’t get enough second chances in life, whether we deserve them or not, and sometimes none at all.

4. There are more crabs in Lowcountry waters than you can shake a trap at.  Crabs to the left of us, crabs to the right of us.  They are fun (partly because they fight back) and practically free to catch, they taste great, and they are available most of the year.  A real treat.

5. Dating these days.  While there are far more internet and other high-tech services available to help people meet each other now, I do not miss the dating scene.  I think it was easier 30 or 40 years ago with no technology.  There was less to consider, less to worry about, less pitfalls. But less people, too.  My one piece of advice to daters is to forget about the old saying that “opposites attract.” A mountain of social science data proves that, in general, people are really attracted to those who are basically similar to themselves.  So if you go where people like what you like, it just improves your odds of success.

6. Live oaks are quite a phenomenon here. They give us fall in the spring.  For those who really like fall with all those leaves swirling about, it’s a real bonus.

7. The boundary between civilized and uncivilized behavior is shockingly thin, as demonstrated in numerous studies.  It never ceases to amaze me how nice people can be so easily goaded into acting in very mean-spirited ways.

8. What a pain to forget if you remembered to do something important yet mundane, like turning off the stove, portable heater or sprinkler.  But there is a simple remedy.  Say what you are doing out loud and you will probably remember what you did.  Try not to worry too much about whether someone heard you talking to yourself.

9. The United States is currently awash with simply fabulous storytellers.  Pat Conroy, John Grisham, Laura Hillenbrand, and Jane Leavy are just four that come to mind.  I’m betting there are plenty more just coming on the scene and that is something to look forward to.

10.  One of my favorite memories from living in Chicago was seeing the Blue Angels perform over Lake Michigan.  I think it helped to nudge me into the aerospace business, where I spent 20 years.  And it almost always comes to mind when I look up into the sky at jet fighters from the Marine Corps Air Station. The “sound of freedom” has always made me smile.


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