Shovel: Symbolism

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2002

It always tickles me to see citizens lined up, virgin shovels in hand, to turn the first spade of soil indicating that progress will speed up now that the project has been sanctified by their honorable presence. Even when you can’t see their faces you know it’s the mayor, most of the council, the city manager or one being groomed for the position, and any citizen that had a hand in promoting the project. The new high school ceremonial shovel brigade required 15 selectees and all were wearing white hardhats except one who was very special because he wore a white jacket. When there are that many it is impossible to include all those names under the picture and few seeing the photo care anyway. You automatically know who most of them are because the core group is almost always elected officers who don’t mind leaving their real jobs for an opportunity of such distinction. One person you never see is a person singled out to represent the all- important taxpayers. And you have to wonder what those shovels cost and what happens to them.


I do wish I had received enough culture training in my early years so that I could appreciate such things as the &uot;teascapes&uot; featured by someone with too much time on their hands. The Norfolk facility, whatever that is, approached the local Historical Society asking them to provide one of 22 artistic, whimsical ways of serving tea, a favorite Victorian custom. Of course ours, Suffolk’s, contribution was &uot;Tea on the Train,&uot; so as to utilize the fact that we have $208,000 invested in the station. You could have viewed all 22 teascapes if you had paid $4 to visit 240 W. Freemason and shame on you if you didn’t. If I had known of this event I would gladly have offered my entry. Almost every day of my life I fill an old gallon milk bottle, with cold water, put 5 Lipton teabags in it, shove it in the fridge and let Mother Nature do her stuff. I discovered this method after watching an English friend spend half a day brewing a hot cup of tea.

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Somebody offered to sell me a Rotarian ticket on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I didn’t buy because my mind refuses to associate a genuine Hog with any Rotarian I’ve ever known; perhaps a bicycle. A dignified organization like that, in my old hometown, was loaded with bankers, lawyers, accountants, and others whose main physical exercise was carrying a briefcase. You never saw one of them bowling, or even wearing a tee shirt. Lord forbid they had to change a spark plug; maybe a light bulb. I did once see one mowing his lawn but he ran in the house when he spotted my car. I was never asked to join.


The new Veterans Cemetery on Lake Prince Drive is on hold even though it will be federally funded and the feds have plenty of money. The state has to front for it and they are a bit short. But they better find the cash soon as the other veteran cemeteries are running out of space and veterans of World War II have increased their dying rate to 1,500 per day. Believe me it is not our fault and we old vets are doing our best to cling to life so we can dash up to D.C. and see the World War II memorial before we cash in. I’ve heard they are thinking about getting started on it. What bugs me is that the Lake Prince cemetery is less than two miles from my home and I could almost stagger that far on the last day of my earthly visit. It won’t be but a few months and I will be two years beyond life expectancy; I just don’t feel comfortable crowding things. I’m thinking about driving my tractor down there and mowing a spot way at the back just in case.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald.