Kesley Colbert
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Be careful around that swinging gate

One of the things I appreciated as a kid growing up in a small town in the 1950s was, I could understand the rules. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal, respect your elders, close the gate, and be home by supper.

That was it. 

There was no secret handshake. You didn’t have any gosh awful bylaws to remember. No one talked in covert tones. There were no subcommittee hearings on nefarious activities. And if someone said “good morning” or asked “how are you doing?” they meant it.

We were never confused by wavering boundaries. These rules were standard across the board. And as you read them today, you can readily ascertain they need no clarification. Listen, a Philadelphia lawyer with a client as guilty as homemade sin could not misinterpret these guidelines!

Buddy Wiggleton and I spent an afternoon exploring that big cow pasture behind Mr. Archie Moore’s barn. We came back to the house for a glass of milk and whatever leftovers we could find in the fridge. It wasn’t that close to supper so we figured we had time to see if a wild turkey had wandered into our homemade trap down by the big ditch.

We didn’t even get to the curve in front of Aunt Jessie’s house when we saw the cows meandering down Como Road. We changed direction and headed toward the commotion. I’d never seen so many cows running loos – “Oh no, no-no, NOOO… did I walk out of that gate last, or was Buddy behind me!?”

Mr. Archie had his big red bandana out, waving it to beat the band! He was running to and fro, frantically trying to turn the herd off the road and back up to his field. Mr. Luther Purvis had saddled Prince and was riding to the rescue. Daddy got home, jumped out of his truck, and immediately joined the fray.

It was well after supper time before order was restored. Buddy had long since split for his house. Dad was a mite concerned that a breach of the rules had been perpetrated, “Son,” he turned his full attention to me, “do you have any idea how those cows might have gotten loose?”

“No sir.”

I said we understood the rules. I did not say we perfectly adhered to them at all times.

As a matter of fact, a quick count would reveal I’d broken four of the six simple guidelines in one single, late afternoon! That might be a record that infamously still stands in the annals of Carroll County to this day.

My career as a thief lasted from Thursday afternoon till Friday morning. I stole a spyglass from the Ben Franklin Store because I didn’t have the necessary 15 cents to buy it. I thought it would be a great way to get an up-close look at the robins in our mimosa tree.

I hid it on the top of the dresser in our bedroom. That helps explain my brevity in the stealing business. David had it in his hand when he came to supper, “Where did this neat spyglass come from?”

I will remember the disappointed look on Mother’s face until the day I die.

She went with me (to keep me honest) up to the Ben Franklin Store at first light the next day. She made me hand it (I told her I could put it back so no one would ever know) to Mr. Williams and explain exactly what I had done. He gave me the “I can’t believe it” speech as he admonished me severely (and rightfully so).

I was so embarrassed, chastised, and remorseful, I quit that line of work immediately and forever! 

We figured out from an early age there were various forms of cheating. Some of them were almost OK. Playing cards for instance, “Did Mother just call you?” When David looked toward the kitchen, I’d sneak a quick peek to see if he had the Rook in his hand. He had the obligation to “hide” his cards.

In Little League, if I were up at bat with a full count and runners on base, I’d try the old “cough and backward glance” to see if I could spot what pitch the catcher was signaling.

Of course, the difficulty of “fudging” with these rules is they were too plainly written. And they did, without fanfare or long-winded explanations, set a perfect standard to live by. We knew that before we got to the first grade!

In this complex, complicated, nothing is what it seems, everyone “doing what ‘feels right’ in their own eyes” world today, those six simple rules ought to stand out like a sore thumb. But, sadly, they don’t.

It’s almost as if someone, or some nation, or some governing body, or some fringe group, or some political enclave left the gate open on purpose….



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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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