Columnists
Letís Reminisce: Ode to people watching
By Jerry Lincecum
Sep 27, 2013
Print this page
Email this article

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, so here goes: I have always been an avid people-watcher.  As a boy I remember sitting in the truck or car with Daddy while Mother did some shopping in Groesbeck or Mexia.  To pass the time (we didnít have a car radio), I would watch the folks walking along the sidewalk.  With few people passing, I often studied each pedestrian from first sighting through fading away into the distance. 

I soon discovered that everybody has a unique way of walking, ranging from lumbering along, gliding like a hummingbird, lurching from side to side, riding the waves and even dogtrotting.

A couple of decades later, when shopping mall were thriving, there was no better place for people-watching. Sherman has gone through two malls during my 40+ years here, and I enjoyed walking in both of them when they were in their prime.  The current trend of replacing malls with free-standing stores lined up side by side like boxes does not meet my needs.

Fortunately, a new volunteer job I have taken on carries the fringe benefit of ample opportunities for observing a great variety of people.  Without revealing my vantage point, I will share a few recent findings.

Elderly folks (like me) vary widely in their willingness to ask for a helping hand, even when their need for it is obvious.  They grew up wanting to be self sufficient.  When itís offered, most accept assistance freely and donít hesitate to express gratitude. 

Some repay the helper with a story, such as the gentleman who recalled having walked frequently from Southmayd to Sherman in his youth.

 Iíll never forget the older lady whose car was parked peculiarly, with one wheel on the curb.

ďI call that my kiddie car,Ē she said.  ďWhen I told the children Iíd bought a Jeep, they questioned my sanity.Ē 

She had no difficulty driving away.

While the majority of young children Iíve seen with their parents behaved well, one pitched a fit the like of which I had never seen before.  If one of my own kids had behaved publicly in this manner, Iím not sure what Iíd have done other than try to disappear.

As for the sizes and shapes of folks between the ages of 20 and 80, I am reminded of the fruit comparison offered a decade ago: some human torsos resemble apples and others are more like pears.
I have seen a lot more heavy pears than medium-sized apples.  Especially interesting are the numerous large-pear parents clutching the hand of a trim little apple.  Will that apple fall far from the tree?

If you are looking for a laboratory in which to do your own research, consider the fact that there will be a great many fall festivals held in Texas during the next six weeks or so.

A retired English professor, Dr. Jerry Lincecum teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories.  He welcomes your reminiscences on any topic: jlincecum@me.com