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Never too old to learn

POSTED: February 17, 2010 4:00 a.m.

I am a fan of the eternal optimist. The person who sees the glass half full, rather than half empty.

  

There are many great exaggerations of the optimist, such as the story of the 80-year-old newlyweds who asked a real estate agent to find them a home near an elementary school.

  

There is also the old saw about the kid who was digging furiously in a stable that was waist deep in manure. The punch line is, “There’s got to be a pony in here … somewhere.”

  

I have groused and complained about computers, but I don’t want to go back to what I had before.

  

Yet, I know people who would love the world of the Internet if they only tried it. 

  

A friend of mine asked me recently where they could obtain a typewriter.

  

I still have my old manual Royal typewriter where I wrote my first stuff. I keep it as an antique. It is black and very classic looking. 

  

It has a really good bell to remind you that you are reaching the end of the line.

But if I wanted to use it, it would need a ribbon. If you want to buy a typewriter ribbon these days, you would have to go on the Internet.

  

My granddaddy had a mule named St. John, not just John, but St. John.

  

Now, in the Roman Catholic sainthood, there are more than a dozen St. Johns, however, I’m pretty sure that my Baptist granddaddy’s mule was named for John the Baptist. 

  

If you know your Biblical history, John the Baptist got his head chopped off. St. John, the mule, probably had it a little better. Although Papa said the old mule could be a little stubborn.

  

Papa dabbled in farming until he died.  He never knew the meaning of retirement.

  

To be honest, I don’t know what happened to St. John, the mule.

  

I don’t think Gene Bobo knows the meaning of retirement either.

  

Mr. Bobo is 92 years young.

  

A few days ago, I got a request on the popular Internet social media site Facebook from Gene Bobo, who wanted to be my Facebook friend. I gladly accepted.

  

For all of you 60-somethings out there who have some incredible fear of the Internet, I have something to say to you: na na na-na na.

  

If Gene Bobo, at 92, can surf the ’Net, then what’s stopping the rest of you from doing something great?

  

It’s not just the Internet, but it’s the willingness to try something new.

  

You see, thinking outside the box has been a trademark of Gene Bobo for a long time.

  

He graduated from what was then called Clemson College with a degree in textile engineering. He could have been just a fine executive in the textile business, but that would not have given him another rung to reach for on the ladder of life.

  

With several other folks, he helped patent a modern fiber used in pantyhose.

  

Sure, pantyhose are waning in popularity, but there are a couple generations of women who would have been wearing some thick ugly hosiery if it weren’t for Gene Bobo.

  

Call it a goal, a “bucket list” or whatever you like, but we should never be too old to dare to dream or to try one more time.

  

In fact, writing this column was so much fun, I think I’ll try it again next week.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisblackwood@gmail.com.

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