Grins Author:Otis Gardner Forward — The South and the Fifties. A feast for all senses. Beach music sounds. The smell of car exhaust mixed with Aqua Velva. The feel of sand between your toes. The taste of flat beer from wax covered paper cups, and the signt of friends everywhere. This was a place and time that made everyone rich. — Otis Gardner always thought he was the ric... more »hest of all. His experience at bandstands, in backseats and with people named Steve Smith, Kelton Pickering, Royce Bass, Larry Robertshaw, and Ronnie Bowers were recognized by him as something special, even then. The memories became more and more valuable as the years passed, the world changed and friends died.
Anyone who has ever spent time on the coast of North Carolina or strolling through the Chapel Hill campus knows there is a treasuretrove of memories just waiting to be mined there.
Essentially, that's what Otis Gardner does in his columns. He mines. He sorts through the past and the present for gems that reflect character, spirit and oddly enough, reality.
Otis is also a traveler; in fact, he's very food at it.
Wherever he lands, he soaks up the atmosphere, savors the food and admires the scenery.
Otis' favorite work is "wonderful". He is, above all else, an appreciative man. His life is his favorite journey. Unlike those of us who scurry through our existenxe, bouncing from one appointment to the next, Otis sort of meanders through firs checking out one corner of life, then another. He breaks for coffee, pauses for conversation and finds time for friends.
He doesn't lollygage; he simply has managed to find a comfortable pace.
An accountant by trade, Otis treats his days as if they are numbered. Which of course, they are.
Like all good trips, the beginning of life, its adolescence and beyond are equally worthy of celebration, in Otis' view. It's not where you end up that's so important, after all, but how you got there.
Getting there has been way more than half of the fun for Otis. He grew up in the best small town, went to the best high school, and attended the best college.
No life can escape regrets, of course, and even Otis will admit to a few. For instance, he would rather beat drums in a rock n roll band than pound on a calculator in his office. He wishes he could share his friend's enthusiasm for sports, but he just doesn't see the point of all the yelling and hand slapping.
Otis puts even those regrets to good use, funneling both the bad and the good into a personal philosophy that, in a much earlier era, might have earned him a togaclad audience and a laurel.
Of course, Otis Gardner isn't a celebrated philosopher. Surround him wiht togas now and you'd have yourself the makings of a frat party. He isn't a national hero or a literary legend. He's just Otis.
When you read his columns, you might find yourself thinking, "something like that happened to me once," or " I could have written that." He would consider that a compliment. His columns serve as an invitation to take the time to enjoy life's journey. We can follow his lead and add our own ingredients.
Elliott Potter, Editor Jacksonville Daily News.« less