Saving clippings may be a lost art. You read something useful, something interesting, something that you figure one day you might want to read again, and you “clip” it. A good pair of scissors and a drawer is all you need. Before there were Memes on FB, there were clippings.
My Mama clipped coupons and recipes out of the paper and various magazines which she thoughtfully flipped through in the evening after supper. The dishes were all put away. The Smothers Brothers were on TV. She clipped. The next week there was something new on the table. Maybe a pie.
Dad was a voracious clipper. He had an old desk that sat next to his chair in the den. A secretary’s desk with nooks and drawers behind a fold down front. It sits in my manly room at the house, now. There was a pair of scissors in the bottom drawer.
He clipped stories and tales and advice columns that spoke to him. Erma Bombeck, in the AJC, giving advice to parents. American Hunter telling tales of the best hunting dogs ever to have lived. Progressive Farmer with recommendations on how to keep flies off your cows. Practical stuff.
When I left home in 1974, those clippings started arriving in my mailbox from time to time. Sometimes there was a note, but often just a clipping folded up inside. His hand writing across the top. “Thought you might enjoy this. Dad.” And there were check marks in the margins indicating the parts he intended for me to see.
I found one of his clippings last night about a rabbit dog. We rabbit hunted a lot when I was a teenager. A lot. Hawkinsville, GA was like a second home on Saturdays during the season. Seems this guy was bragging about old Blue and his ability to get on a cold trail. He was out hunting the fields with Blue, who was tracking a hot one. He bellowed in the distance and suddenly quit. The farmer, whose land they were hunting, came through the field with his harrow and cut off the scent. The trail went cold. A month later when they came back to hunt the same field, the wheat was up and brought with it the scent. Old Blue just picked up right where he left off.
Another one. “The hardest thing about Elephant hunting is setting out the decoys.” That one just kind of settled in on me. Slowly.
The clippings were Dad’s way of sharing life. Passing along a little humor. Giving advice. Helping me find my footing and direction. There was a poem about a guy who planted way too many watermelons. He planted them in the field down near the train tracks where the hobos came through, with a sign that read, “Take what you need. Be careful with the vines.” Which was pretty much the way Dad looked at the garden he planted. His generosity was intentional.
The internet has done away with the art of clipping. We copy, paste, and share I guess. But it’s different. Just what we need. More cat videos.
What remains, however, is the urge to pass along the things in life that help us find our footing in this world. No one person can think of all the right stuff to say that will inspire us or make us laugh at ourselves. No one has in his own mind all the wisdom or all the tales worth knowing. So, we borrow from others.
Here’s a piece from 1979 with an arrow drawn on the page. Dad’s note: “This is a good one.” Lem Griffis from Fargo, GA wrote: “The folks down here around the Okefenokee Swamp live so long, we had to kill a guy just to start a cemetery.” We met Lem once on a camping trip. He said that they used to float mules across the Suwanee River on watermelon halves. “The hard part,” he said, “was getting them to step into the rinds. After that, we just gave ‘em a little push.”
I’m amazed that I kept all this stuff. I’m also glad that I did. I still believe that there is a lot of good and a lot of laughter to be discovered. Inspiration is so much better than consternation. And all you need is a pair of scissors and a drawer to pass it along.