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Harris Blackwood: On turning 60 and Western adventures
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Today, I begin my 60th trip around the sun. I’ve lived through 59 and for the most part, it has been a good ride.

Isn’t it amazing, when you are 20, someone who is 59 seems elderly. Now they are your contemporaries. It’s the people who are 89 that seem really old, although I know a few who are zooming right along with lots of zest and vigor.

I have attended a lot of funerals this year. My community has lost a number of people who helped shape this place. You do not replace them. You can only mourn their loss and be thankful for what they accomplished.

I usually take a look at the obituaries each day. When I see death notices for people who are younger than me, it makes me sad for their loss and thankful that I am still around to read it.

I still enjoy reading a newspaper. I still enjoy watching the evening news. There was a time when the morning newspaper and the evening TV news brought new stories into our homes. Now, it is just the latest edition of an ongoing story that first appeared on your phone. For those of you who read this in a newspaper, let me say thanks.

For the past three weeks, I have had my legs wrapped in bandages in what could best be described as mummy style. If I had any thoughts of being laid to rest as a mummy, I have given those up completely.

Other than that, life is good. I have the world’s most perfect grandchild and he brings my wife and me so much Joy. I hope I get enough spins around the sun to see him grow up into a fine young man.

I still complain about the current state of the world. We don’t sing, laugh or converse enough. It frightens me to think that The Great American Songbook will one day contain songs from Taylor Swift, Snoop Dog or 50 Cent. I cringe at the thought that something called “Gangsta’s Paradise” might be considered a classic. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is a classic.

I hope I can deduct a few years from my current age for knowing the names of some current stars of pop culture. Hey, I also can identify Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett or Hank Williams in 3 notes.

This week, I am setting out on a trip that will take me to parts of the U.S. and Canadian West. There are towns that are 50 miles from the nearest fast food restaurant and you really have to pay attention to the availability of gasoline. I love my country and want to see some more of it. I don’t need to see anything that looks like a theme park.

I want to just breathe in some fresh air, see the wide open spaces and have lunch in a place that looks the way it did when it opened 50 years ago.

This trip is a bit of a scouting expedition. The last time I went on a Western sojourn I didn’t have a grandson. I will make mental notes of the places I want him to see one day.

So, it’s time to lift up the kickstand and push away from the curb as I begin another year of life. It’s been years since I took off the training wheels, but there’s still room to live, learn and enjoy.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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