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Darrell Huckaby: Pondering 100 years of milestones

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

When we wake up tomorrow we will see Dec. 1 on our calendars -- and at the top of our newspapers. The date always tugs at my heart strings because it is my daddy's birthday. On the first day of December in 1911, Homer Lee Huckaby was born to Belle and Augustus L. Huckaby in Fayette County, Ga. That is correct. If he were still alive we would be celebrating my father's 100th birthday.

There are currently about 70,000 "centenarians" in our country and those who reach the century mark traditionally receive a mention on the "Today Show" and a letter from the president. My daddy would have loved to have heard his name called on the "Today Show."

But 100 years. Wow. That is really something. It is hard to realize that when my father was born we, as a nation, were less far removed from Ft. Sumter than we currently are from Pearl Harbor -- and by a good 20 years. Confederate veterans were as common to him, as a child, as World War II veterans were to my children.

We had only had air flight for eight years when Homer Huckaby was born, and he would live to see man walk on the moon -- although I am not sure he was 100 percent convinced that he actually did. Ever the skeptic, Homer Huckaby went to his grave convinced that LBJ had a hand in the JKF assassination and that every prize fight that ever took place was fixed.

William Howard Taft was president of the United States in 1911. William Howard Taft! He was the largest of the 43 men who have served as president and was said to have tipped the scales at well over 300 pounds. George Bush, 41 was president when he died and he lived through a total of 15 administrations. He always insisted that Warren G. Harding was the worst president of his lifetime -- although his reasons seemed to be totally tied to the fact that Harding had come through LaGrange, Ga., on a train once, and had, apparently, refused to step out on the platform and greet the crowd that gathered to get a glimpse of him.

Americans born in the same year as my father have lived through wars and epidemics, pestilence and flood, boom times and a Great Depression -- maybe two. Most of those who were born in the South, as was he, were raised in houses that lacked electricity and running water, but those who are still alive live in the most affluent society in the history of the world. They saw Herbert Hoover campaign on the promise of "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage" and now they live in a society in which the poorest of the poor have television and cell phones and every modern convenience known to mankind.

On Nov. 1 in 1911 the world's first aerial bombing took place, during the Italo-Turkish war. The target was Libya. Some things never seem to change.

Notable people born in 1911 include Roy Rogers, Jack Ruby and Liberace. Oh, yes -- and Ronald Reagan. I wish there were another Ronald Reagan on our horizon somewhere.

Statistics tell us that 11,131 babies will be born in the U.S. tomorrow -- Dec. 1, 2011. It is hard to say how many of them will still be alive 100 years from now -- but when one of those new babies' children sits down at a keyboard -- or to do whatever people do to communicate in 2111-- I wonder what they will say about their father's century. I wonder if there will still be a United States to wax nostalgic over. I wonder if they will be able to rejoice in the fact that their parents lived through the greatest times in our nation's history. I wonder what discoveries and inventions they will be able to marvel over.

My daddy thought the ball point pen and the drip coffee maker were two of the greatest inventions of his time. He carried a slide rule to the Osprey Mill every day to measure the volume of a bolt of cloth and said the hand-held calculator would never catch on. He was thankful every day for penicillin -- the miracle drug -- and didn't quit smoking until he realized that it had probably already killed him.

What will those people born tomorrow live through? Will we finally have jet-packs and fly everywhere? Will someone have found a cure for the common cold -- or cancer? Will there even be a 2111?

Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, Happy 100th birthday to Belle and Gus Huckaby's boy -- and thanks for the memories.

Darrell Huckaby, a local educator and author, will be signing his books at Spires on the Square in Covington, Thursday, Dec. 1, from 5 until 8 p.m. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.