FLEMING ISALND– Clay Today collected two first-place honors and a special award last week at the Florida Press Association’s Weekly Newspaper Awards. In addition, Clay Today Publisher Jon Cantrell was sworn in as the organization’s Chairman for the 2021-2022 session.
Managing Editor Don Coble won first place in Serious Columns for his letter to his 7-year-old grandson, who’s been unable to attend school, play with friends or participate with the Cub Scouts group because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter also apologizes for the divisive rhetoric that consumes so much of our conversation and politics.
Coble also won for best humorous column after offering a list of unique, if not bizarre, distractions while waiting for sports to return from the pandemic.
The FPA presented Coble with Sally Latham Memorial Award for the best serious column, regardless of circulation, in the state. Cantrell has been with Clay Today organization since 1998, and he’s been a FPA board member since 2016.
My grandson earned the rank of Wolf in his Cub Scouts troop last Sunday. The ceremony was in a park and he was the only scout allowed to attend.
He wore his face mask. His eyes squinted as he smiled when the troop leader put his orange neckerchief around his head. There was no party or celebration. Any satisfaction for a job well done had to come from within. The isolation was disheartening. But for a 7-year-old, it’s what he’s come to expect.
Don Henry loves the ocean. He knows every species of whales. He wants to swim with sharks. The boy lives in the New Mexico desert, but his mind isn’t limited by geographic boundaries.
Unfortunately, his body is. New Mexico essentially is locked down. Masks are required.
My grandson didn’t deserve this. None of our children did. That’s why I wrote him this letter.
Dear Don Henry,
I want to start by saying I’m sorry that you can’t go outside to play, or go to school or meet with your Cub Scout troop.
COVID-19 wasn’t of your doing. Neither was the current social unrest. Or war. You had nothing to do with our current state of divisive politics. All you know about climate change is whether you need a coat to go outside.
I can’t imagine being 7 and facing what’s ahead. I’m 62 and I can’t sleep at night.
Your days are filled with LEGOS, spaceships and your plastic dinosaurs.
You don’t hear the hateful rhetoric of our politicians – from both sides – because you watch “SpongeBob SquarePant.” Keep it that way. Since it works for you, I added the Cartoon Network to my remote-control favorites, too.
You don’t know anything about tearing down statues or Congressional investigations. You don’t have time for such nonsense since there are puzzles to build, pictures to color and books to read.
Apple slices for a mid-afternoon snack are still one of the highlights of your day.
Never stop walking up the slide and down the ladder instead of the other way around. Never stop cramming rocks and sticks in your pockets. Never stop laughing every time you hear something that sounds like a stinker.
I wish I had the answers to make your world a better place. I wish I knew how to help people get along. I wish I knew how to stop wars. I wish I knew how to make stop people from killing each other over religion or their skin color. I wish I knew how to solve the current worldwide pandemic.
I wish I knew how to keep you safe.
The solace I find in all of this is I don’t fear for your future as much as I believe you will be the one who makes a difference. The goal of every generation is to leave the world in better shape than when they got it. My generation didn’t do a very good job. We left you a mess. And I’m sorry for that. My generation was so concerned with creating success, we forgot about the simple pleasures. We didn’t fill our pockets with rocks and sticks.
But your generation will make it better. Don’t follow in our footsteps. Chart your own course. Ask questions and demand answers. Find the good in everyone and everything.
You can build a better world. One LEGOS block at a time.
(Reprinted from July 16, 2020)