Friday, December 22, 2023

Andy Young: An initial reaction to the Yuletide

By Andy Young

It’s Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa time, so I really should be overwhelmed by tidings of comfort and joy. But try as I might, I cannot deny what I am actually feeling currently, which is a touch of melancholy that has most likely been triggered by a sudden onrush of sympathy for certain individuals, most of whom I’ve never even met.

Singer Sam Cookie died in 1964 at the
age of 33 after landing 29 Top 40
singles on the Billboard Music Charts.
For example, I’m feeling sorry for Sam Cooke, the singer known by many as the “King of Soul” who had 29 singles land on the Billboard Top 40 charts in an eight-year career that ended prematurely when, at age 33, he was shot to death by a Los Angeles motel manager.

I’m grieving for the late Sean Connery, the Scottish bodybuilder-turned actor who was the first to portray James Bond, secret agent 007, on the big screen. I know I shouldn’t be wasting energy pitying the guy best remembered for having to fend off people like Tiffany Case, Honey Ryder, and Pussy Galore, but what I feel is what I feel.

The inexplicable regret I’m experiencing extends to Sebastian Cabot, the versatile British actor who, despite playing a wide variety of roles in numerous movies, is generally remembered for only one thing: playing Brian Keith’s valet in a saccharin-sweet, late-1960’s television show called Family Affair that no self-respecting non-grandparent would ever be caught dead watching.

Sarah Churchill, the British actress and dancer who died at age 67 in 1982, has been yet another subject of my sympathy lately, and not just because she lived much of her life under a microscope because her father was Sir Winston Churchill, England’s longtime prime minister. By all historical accounts Sir Winston roundly disapproved of Sarah’s first two husbands as well; that couldn’t have been easy, either.

Lately I’ve been feeling badly for Baseball Hall of Fame member Sam Crawford, who was universally known as “Wahoo Sam” due to the name of his tiny Nebraska hometown. I’ve also shed a tear or two for Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman ever elected to the United States House of Representatives, and not just because she didn’t live to see her 100th birthday, which would have occurred next year.

It’s not just dead people I find myself feeling sympathy for, either. Sylvester Croom, still alive and well at age 69, was the first African-American to get a head football coaching job at a major college when he was hired to mentor the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2004.

Unfortunately, he was also the first African-American head coach to get discharged by a major university, though that fate ultimately befalls 90 percent of the people (of any hue) who get hired to coach for-profit college football.

I have empathy for 54-year-old Sam Cassell, who is currently an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. A product of a Baltimore high school who prepared for college with a post-high-school year at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Cassell parlayed a strong work ethic and outstanding athletic skills into a 15-year National Basketball Association career, but despite an impressive resume as a player and an assistant coach, has yet to land his first NBA head coaching job.

I feel badly for entertainers Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, Senators Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito, and every resident of South Carolina, Southern California, and Sioux City, Iowa.

That’s because as long as people believe in a certain jolly old elf in a red suit who lives with his wife and elves at the North Pole, none of them will ever be the most beloved person, place, or thing with the initials S.C. <

No comments:

Post a Comment