Thursday, November 4, 2010

Move Over Mickelson, Nicklaus, Woods, etc.

(I’ve Got A Green Jacket)

By Taylor Wilson

OK, so there I am, after school and riding in the back of my mom’s 1970-something Buick station wagon. And I can still see my green jacket, the one with the buck and the mallard on the back, going down the street on the shoulders of the kid that stole it.

“Maybe it wasn’t mine?” I thought. But by the time I realized it had to be it was too late.

“Maybe he needed it more?” my mom said, when I pointed out that the jacket had to be mine, farther down the road.

And maybe he did, but I never got it back.

Besides, I knew all the kids that had those jackets. We got them…with the deer and duck…on the back because we all wanted to stand for something, together. There was even this green-yellow color combination (the buck and duck were yellow as well as the writing) on ’em, that would have made the 1970s Oakland A’s green (and yellow) with envy. (What did we know about color schemes? TV Shows were about crime-fighting angels, not designing homes.)

The jackets belonged to members of Explorer Post 70 headed up by then Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge assistant manager Glenn Stanley. Explorers are an affiliate of the Boy Scouts, typically with special interest/causes. And ours was Hatchie NWR. We did various projects on/for the refuge. Things like band ducks, put up and clean out wood duck boxes, pick up trash around the lake boat ramps and count deer (with all the deer we have today, I still have to chuckle at that last one, but we routinely counted them back then).

In short, Stanley took a bunch of small town, country kids and threw them in the famed briar patch—there was no other place we had rather be. What fun it all was and what influence Stanley’s time and effort carved into us!

I had an old picture of the group, one that I kept stowed away in a copy of Gene Hill’s Tears & Laughter or was it Mostly Tailfeathers? I can’t remember which for sure. Ah, I just got up from the keyboard and went and looked but couldn’t find it to scan and show you that once motley crew on a duck-banding day. So you just have to trust me—it was a cast of characters.

Anyway, these kids went on to become an assortment of grown-ups, most with a love for the outdoors still embedded in their hearts and souls, and some with it tied to their occupations. In reflection, it was mission accomplished for Stanley. His influence, time and effort helped mold the lives of some young folks for the better. (We can all do that, you know?)

Well, after my Explorers stint, the years flowed constantly onward like the Hatchie River. But as with most rivers, in life you just never know what might float by.

Then one day Stanley called me.

“Taylor, I was cleaning out my closet and came across my old Explorers jacket. I don’t wear it anymore, of course. But I thought of you, and rather than throw it away, I wondered if you want to have it?” Stanley said.

I smiled really big into the receiver of that phone, and I thanked him—a lot.

And sure enough, as promised, Stanley brought it by. It was green like I remembered, and the yellow mallard and buck were still there on the back. But you know what’s best of all?

It fit.

Thanks Glenn, for everything!