Changing times

I found myself in need of peace Friday, so I came to the office.

Back in the day, the newsroom would be noisy and busy as we all prepared to leave for the weekend by around 2 p.m. when we would fan out and head home.

We were young, then, so it wasn’t hard to heed the call from the old editor, “Doc” Kirby, who asked us to join him in his Friday migration to Beef’s for a bowl of red chili.

It was literally to die for.

Often, Doc would stop by Mac’s Pool Hall, buy a hot dog and take it with him to Beef’s, where he would cover it with chili and down it as if it were a dish from Cordon Bleu.

We did that once and the question was, “Got any Tums?”

Doc laughed heartily, drank another “Depth Charge” and said he was heading to the American Legion to do his civic duty. That meant a couple more depth charges before his wife picked him up.

It was tradition, something that has been lacking in our nation.

A man who has the chili recipe has promised to bring it to me for years.

Looking back on life in the San Luis Valley over the years, I find myself recalling the traditions that have gone by the wayside as we have purchased faster cars and developed more pastimes.

We were talking the other day about Fridays when, as young adults and older teens, we would go to wherever there was live music.

Those of us who can would still go, but there are few places with live bands and certainly not every weekend.

It was fun and reading this week’s obituaries awakened memories.

My friend suggested that dances at the Legion, VFW and Elks were places we could go without driving much, but the changes in our economy ended that.

One man was a musician and the other a businessman, both of whom would share with the young people.

Kids under 21 could go in and dance, but the sponsors kept an eagle eye on the patrons.

There was always the old man parked out back who charged big money for beer and wine.

There also was the cop in his squad car, watching who drove the cars for the partiers.

Designated drivers were in great demand.

Mention Alex Prince or “Pop Pruett” and old-timers laugh as they remember.

I’m not saying the old days were better, they simply offered more options.

If I could, I would drive to the Legion, find it open and enjoy reminiscing.

All three of the fraternal organizations — I called them the “unholy triangle” are only open once in a while and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is almost a thing of the past. The Elks Lodge is open to members only and their guests.

I look to the east out of today’s newsroom windows and the cemetery is a short walk away.

Perhaps our lifestyle has been hampered by the pandemic and its restrictions on where we can go, how we can eat and where anyone can show his or her face has changed it forever.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem the same.