Catching up with 'Sense and nonsense'


Maybe this isn't the ideal time in life for me to be giving marital advice since, as most people know, I'm now a widow.
It's hard to write those words and even harder to say them, but truth is truth and facts are facts and that's my status.
However, in spite of the fact that I'm no longer a wife, I was asked recently to share some advice on how to have a happy marriage, which I enjoyed for 36, nearly 37, years.
Probably a bona fide, certified "expert" would disagree with what I shall say here, but I'm a subscriber to the "proof is in the pudding" school of thought. The years Ed and I had together were as good as life gets, so here goes.
I've observed that in articles on marriage, three-fourths of the time the alleged authority will advise a couple to make sure everything is 50-50 in the arrangement.
"Be willing to give over to his/her side at least half the time," Expert says.
"And always tell him when you're wrong."
Those words are easy-come, easy-go.
For those of you about to enter the blissful bonds of matrimony, I'd like to point out that there's another point of view.
Marriage is a two-way street and the scales don't always balance evenly.
Also, consider this comment from my longtime friend Freddy Burton who some time back was categorizing his life with wife Brenda: "I can be right or I can be happy."
Then he added: "And I choose to be happy."
The Burtons have been married for 47 years. I'd call Freddy a smart man.
Freddy and my late spouse had similar philosophies on how to keep the happy home fires burning.
Someone once asked Ed how the two of us managed to get along so well.
"Oh, that's easy," he said. "She likes to have her own way and I let her."
I don't remember the author's name, but someone wrote a book along this line that was titled "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy."
You don't have to think about that much to get the message.
Every time I read a so-called authority's "wisdom" regarding marriage, I always wonder what kind of mate (if any) he/she left at home.
On a similar vein, it reminds me of the time, as a young mother, I heard my pediatrician say I should begin potty-training my daughter.
I thought I had misunderstood. "What did you say?"
He repeated the instruction.
"Are you kidding?" I replied.
"Of course not," the esteemed physician replied. "It's time.
"Dr. -----," I said, "have you forgotten she's only six months old?"
"Oh, you can begin training babies at that age," he insisted.
"It's the best time," he added.
I hesitated only briefly before picking up my purse, diaper bag and child and politely made my departure.
Later, I found out the man was childless. He had never even been married.
To cut to the chase, we switched to a REAL doctor who had had experience with REAL children.
I heard this story about a group of men who had just arrived in heaven. They were given this instruction:
"Now those of you who were henpecked should stand on the left side and those who weren't should stand on the right."
When the group took their places, one man found himself standing all alone on the right side.
"Why are you over here?" he was asked.
"Because this is where my wife told me to stand," he answered.
Who could add anything to that.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.


It's the time of year that stirs up memories from my youth.
I'm talking, of course, about the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.
I grew up listening to and dancing to the music of the king of rock 'n' roll, so his passing struck a vulnerable chord in my life in 1977 and still does.
Like many, I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the tragic news.
I was sitting at my desk in the Courier office — then located in the old Troutt house. Marion Carttar, one of our receptionists, took a phone call from her daughter, Cissy Brown, who had called to tell all of us what she had just heard in a TV bulletin.
It's one of those "everybody remembers what they were doing" events. Elvis was supposed to live on, and with that one call, we learned that his lifestyle had caught up with him and he was gone. Fortunately, his music would live on, but the persona was gone.
I actually saw Elvis perform in person only once. That was in the early 1970s at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock.
This wasn't the young charmer that had sent teenagers into squeals of delight, but the weathered-by-the- years (not nearly enough)-and-lifestyle Elvis whose talent was still amazing in spite of the fact that his looks had been altered by time.
My friend since college days, DeAnne Wilmoth, described Elvis in his latter years this way. She had been to a concert he did in the last year of his life. DeAnne said: "He had gotten fat, but I didn't care; so have I." (Her words, not mine, and just for the record, I saw her recently and she's slim again.)
My memories of Elvis' performing days, unfortunately, don't include one of his stints at the famous Silver Moon in Newport. I always wanted to go there. All the rock 'n' roll greats from the 1950s and '60s, including Elvis, performed there at one time or another.
I begged to go, but the warden of our household, Lillie White Parnell, aka my mother, wouldn't hear of it.
"Absolutely not, Lynda Lou!" Mamma said with the kind of authority that only an idiot would challenge.
"You are not EVER going to go to that place!" she told me. "You needn't mention it ever again because it's not going to happen and it won't do you any good to bring it up."
At a 100-year anniversary held this past May at the Cotton Plant United Methodist Church, Bobby Crafford, the drummer with the Legendary Pacers, shared memories of performing at the Silver Moon.
"It had one of the best dance floors of any club around," Bobby said. "It was just a great place and the people were so good to us there."
He didn't realize he was rubbing salt in an old wound. It was a memory I wanted but never got to make.
None of my girlfriends were allowed to go there either. The mothers of Cotton Plant operated with a strict moral code and adhered to a "united we stand, cross us and you will fall" school of thought.
In later years, Mamma loved to chide me about a missed opportunity to see Elvis perform — one she was more than willing to allow. He was one of the featured performers at Cotton Carnival in Memphis, which in my youth was a huge event that would bring name entertainers to the city for days of fun and frivolity.
Three of my closest friends, Sally, Sandra and Anita, and I wore matching dresses to attend the concert of our choice at the event.
Remember I said we could have chosen to go to the Elvis show? With all the wisdom of "teenagedom," we declined. Instead we picked Eddie Fisher, who was with Debbie Reynolds at the time and was our heartthrob.
If you tell that to today's kids, they'll say, "Eddie who?"
Elvis performed in concert in Pine Bluff during what I believe was his final year. I could have gone, but we were busy and decided we'd catch his show the next time around.
Only the next time never came.
That gives credence to the maxim "never put off till tomorrow what you can do today" because tomorrow may not come.
It's been 35 years since Elvis left the building and fans are still "all shook up." Graceland continues to draw the faithful who gather to pay tribute to the singer that left his mark in a way unsurpassed by any other rock 'n' roller.
Guess that's why he's still called the king.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.