Thankful for the tail end | Mark’s Remarks

I really grew up on the tail end of things. I mean, I seemed to be at the end of an “age” and the beginning of another at times. 

I’m sure all of us can say this about certain times of our lives. “The end of an era” and those types of phrases come to mind.

I have told you before I can remember neighborhood grocery stores. Most of them were on their way out by the time I came along, but I can still recall one being almost in our backyard when I was very small. Even after I got my driver’s license, we still had D & J Grocery down on the corner of Laurel and Elm.  

Wouldn’t you love to still have little neighborhood groceries on the corner with candy shelves and bottled soda machines?

I also attended schools that were built in the early days of America. Our upper elementary school was a stately old building with dark brown woodwork and tall ceilings. Copies of famous paintings hung from long wires, hung over large nails nailed up high where wall and ceiling met.  

There weren’t radiators in the classrooms, but heat registers that we put our gloves on after playing in the snow at recess. We went outside in most types of weather – even for a short period of time.

I’ll say that again:  we went outside in most kinds of weather.

Even though the computer, electronics age was just beginning, we still had a glimpse into the past. At least a little bit.

I’ve written about my fascination with early kids’ television shows, when you could tune in to a local station and watch a show hosted by a station employee, usually someone who also read the news or did the weather. The host told jokes, did art projects, or talked to local boy and girls scouts. He would show cartoons and “Three Stooges” shorts, and at Christmas time you could write in and he’d forward your letter to Santa.

Kids’ shows had already been whittled down due to the powers that be who insisted every show had an educational element of some sort.  Shows that had people just being silly and having fun were on their way out.  

So again, thankful I caught the tail end.

There are so many people I have had the pleasure of meeting and being around, people who were and are a connection to the past. What fun it was to talk about “old times” with my great aunts and uncles and to hear stories from my grandparents of growing up in the first two decades of the 20th Century. 

Those folks would, in turn, tell stories they’d heard from their own parents and grandparents who had been born in the mid to late 1800s. How fantastic it is to remember those stories and to have written at least a few of them down.  

One of my dear friends, a former teacher, just passed away as she approached birthday 101. My first year of teaching was her last, and she once said to me “I won’t be around when you retire, Mark Tullis.”  

Well, she almost was.  I am so thankful I was around for the tail end of her teaching career, as we continued a long friendship after that. Plus, I was even able to visit her a couple of weeks before she passed away.  

Transitions. Comings and goings. 

Reflecting is something we do a lot of as we grow older, and especially as the holidays come around each year.  

As a tongue-in-cheek sort of Thanksgiving tradition, I’ve been writing a “What I’m not Thankful For” column for the past few years. I got some good responses from it, but I think people, even if they relate, get a little tired of gripey old guys like me.

So, this year, I share with you why I’m thankful again for that “tail end” aspect of so many things in life.  

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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