A hundred years ago I earned my Eagle Scout Award. It was a proud moment in my life and I still display my framed Eagle award in my living room. If I haven't always been prepared, or lived up to the elements of the Scout Law -- trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, etc. -- it is not Baden-Powell's fault, nor Aubrey Barnes', who was my Scoutmaster for most of my days in Troop 226 in Porterdale.
I loved Scouting. I loved putting on my uniform and wearing it just like the illustrations in the Scout Handbook indicated it should be worn. I still get irritated today when I see Scouts wearing jeans with their uniform shirt. I loved learning about the history of Scouting -- naturally -- and I loved earning badges and Camporee patches and all the pomp and circumstance of the monthly Court of Honors.
My poor mama spent so much time sewing patches on my uniforms -- and always put them in just the right places. I hope she knew how much I appreciated it, because I doubt that I ever told her.
Most of all, I loved hiking and camping and being out of doors. I have spent lots and lots of nights sleeping on the ground in the middle of nowhere, and for seven glorious summers I worked at summer camp -- Bert Adams Scout Reservation, thank you -- the Jamison side of the lake. "Thank God I'm a Jamison man." Jamison was a big part of my life. Ask my daughter, Dr. Jamie, how we came up with her name sometime. It's a good story.
Another great boon to my Scouting career was getting to expand my horizons and meet other Scouts from outside my own troop. A couple of weeks ago, at a book signing, a random middle-aged man came up to me and dared me to recall his name. I couldn't. But it turns out that he and I went to Philmont Scout Ranch, in New Mexico, together in 1973. We had a grand reunion while all the other people in line -- well, the other person in line -- waited patiently.
My dermatologist, Dr. John Fountain, who does his best to limit the damage done to my skin by seven years of working on a Scout waterfront -- and 53 years of general stupidity -- was an Eagle Scout in Conyers the same year I was an Eagle Scout in Porterdale. We discovered that years ago and realized that it is a small world.
A few weeks ago my world got a little bit smaller, and I told you all of that to tell you this. Let me run the calendar back a few months, though. Last winter, after having gone through two major surgeries and almost three months of daily radiation treatments, I learned that the cancer I was fighting seemed to be winning and a number of people began to urge me to get an appointment at M.D. Anderson in Houston. Little did they know that my own daughter -- she of the Scout camp namesake -- had been urging the same thing since by first bad PSA test. She doesn't believe in messing around, understand.
Then one day I got an email from a guy in Athens, Mike Young, who was from Conyers and knew everybody I knew, including my in-laws. Mike asked me if I had considered going to Houston and told me he knew a guy who knew a guy and the next thing I knew, Houston was calling me and asking me when I could be there.
Mike and I corresponded every now and again after that and he invited me to come to Athens and hang out when I felt like it. I finally got to do that a couple of weeks ago and learned what I already suspected -- that Mike Young is good people, a heck of a guy. I also learned that we had a lot more in common than I realized. I know his mama-an-'em for example, and all the people they know. They even come and listen to me teach history from time to time at the Methodist Church. Mike had lived, in college, with some good friends of mine. I also learned that Mike Young is to rednecks as I am to lintheads and has excellent taste in midday dining locales. He eats lunch every day at Taqueria del Sol and now has me hooked on Memphis tacos and Bob's special.
I also learned that Mike Young and I were Eagle Scouts together, way back in the day -- and sat in front of Sam Ramsey and B.C. Crowell for our Board of Revue on the same evening, Yep. Small world.
Mike Young never forgot the Scout slogan -- "Do a good turn daily," and has bent over backward to continue to support my fight against cancer -- and the poverty it often creates. I don't know if he ever helps little old ladies across the street, but I know he opens doors for people every day, especially for me -- and this old linthead appreciates the effort and is proud to have reconnected with my redneck buddy from four decades ago. It's good to have friends, no matter what condition your condition is in.Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.