A friend asked last week: “Are you ready for your second childhood?”
“Don’t think so,” I said. “I never grew up. I’m still in my first childhood.”
Perhaps an odd thing to claim when one is scheduled to turn 70 in eight months but I still feel like a kid.
At 69, I ride motorcycles with glee, take photos and shoot video with a smile and gaze admiringly at an attractive woman in a pair of tight jeans. Does that make me a dirty old man? Perhaps, but it also makes me an older man who, hopefully, still thinks like a kid.
I don’t think of myself as old as my grandfather appeared to me when he was my age and I was still a teenager.
I may have a kid who turns 40 this year but it doesn’t make me feel old. Seasoned, perhaps, but old? Legendary pitcher Satchel Paige once said: “Age is case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
As a kid, I was always in a hurry to do things at a younger age than most. The Farmville Herald in Prince Edward County published my first news photo at my tender age of 10. Pete Hallman, then owner of The Floyd Press, hired me as a reporter and photographer when I was 15. I skipped my junior year of high school and graduated a year early and become the youngest reporter ever for The Roanoke Times at 17.
Now, at 69, I’m older than most who do what I consider both fun and a living: Covering news stories and shooting photographs for a newspaper. A staff member of The Floyd Country Store told me last week that there was “no way” I could be as old as I am.
At Food Lion, one of the staff was talking to another about age not long ago when I checked out. She asked me: “How old do you think I am?” A said: “Probably 19.” She was so I asked her how old she thought I might be. “I would guess 40,” she said. When I said 69, she shook her head and demanded to see my driver’s license to prove my age.
I’m older than the 44th President of the United States — Barack Obama.
An encounter between a cow and my Harley Davidson on a dark night on U.S. 221 at the bottom of Bent Mountain in 2012 slowed me somewhat, but I can still hike back and forth along the sidelines of a football game to shoot photos and wander the FloydFest site each year to provide coverage of it.
An 1.8 mile hike over several hills between our house and Barry Sweeney’s garage last Friday afternoon to pick up our Jeep Wrangler did not kill me or leave me winded. Neither did three hours shooting video with three cameras to capture the latest Floyd Radio Show Saturday night.
Others here in Floyd County are older than me and still have energetic, fulfilling lives. Former State Trooper and county sheriff Tom Higgins calls me “youngster” and asks “are you moving a little slower now?” I run into he and his wife at the Blue Ridge Cafe and Food Lion a lot and he can leave me in the dust.
David Larsen — owner of LCF Group, Chantilly Farms and other enterprises — is out and about working on his many projects day in and day out.
Graphic artist Greg Locke designed and painted the new signs at the Blue Ridge. His work is also on display at the Floyd Country Store and other locations. He pinstriped one of my motorcycles and designed the logo and painted it on our motorcycle trailer. He’s older, still rides his bike and can be found working out in the Floyd fitness center on mornings.
To them, I’m still a youngster.