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Sense & Nonsense: Water ballet dreams stymied by dose of reality

June 25, 2012

When I was in third grade, Miss Erma Trice assigned us to write a paper on our ambitions.
At that juncture my heroine was Esther Williams, the movie star/Olympic swimmer that thrilled me with the water ballets I watched on the big screen at James Theatre in Cotton Plant.
There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I could be the next in line to claim her spot in stardom.
In the paper for Miss Erma, I wrote about my desire to "grow up and be just like Esther Williams."
I told about this dream with much flourish because I truly believed it.
It would qualify for one of those "famous last words" moments.
My family and close friends would say I'm bordering on hysteria to write such drivel. And they would have the truth to support them
They know that I can't swim a stroke. Ear problems as a young kid did little to encourage me to master the trait, and later on I wasn't interested.
I did perform some ballet for a time, but only on dry land.
A little later on, after realizing I never would become the swimming star of third-grade fantasy, I set my sights on a career as an airline stewardess. (That's what we used to call flight attendants.)
That looked like an exciting life to me. You would get to see the country/world and meet all kinds of people — the rich and the famous.
Again, irony comes to the forefront. I'm terrified to fly. I haven't been inside a plane in years and will be quite content to spend the remainder of my travel years on land alone.
I know of no adjective strong enough to describe how I would feel about flying on a daily or near-daily basis.
Those are the highlights from my confessions on childlike ambitions.
It should be obvious I never even approached either aspiration.
I did consider pursuing a career in music, which at least was within the realm of possibility, but I forsook the career form for newspapering. While I love music and theatering and all that goes with it, I've never been sorry I ended up where I am.
It's not a profession where you get to count a lot of cash, but it's never dull. And it's always changing.
I recently saw a TV program in which someone was listing professions very young kids had named as their dream jobs.
In this group were such things as nuclear physicist, microbiologist and brain surgeon. I seriously doubt that these little ones have any real idea what these professions entail, much less if they would want to perform these jobs as grown-ups.
And naturally there were such things as firefighter, police officer and other public service professions.
Most of the time kids don't have a real clue as to what they really want to become, but I do think you can note kids' special interests and find out if some of it carries over into later life.
A few years ago, this was noted in a conversation with Dr. Sam Taggart. As examples, Sam referred to himself, to Berry Beard and to me.
The three of us, plus Berry's wife, Hallie, consider ourselves members of a sort of fraternal order because we all hail from Woodruff County. The other three are products of Augusta and I, as I've said thousands of times in this space, grew up in Cotton Plant.
In any event, Sam pointed out that Berry, the Royal Players' resident sound/lighting technician and an electrical engineer by profession, made a radio when he was 14.
He always had to see how electrical things worked and was one of those masters who could take something apart, put it back together and have it still operate as it should.
Sam — who at this particular time was being a big-time promoter of one of the Royal Players shows — said for as long as he could remember, he was always up on a stump "shilling" for someone or something.
And I was always writing or performing from the time I was just a little kid. And I've never stopped.
Some dreams just can't be squelched.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.com

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