Sure wish I had saved those clubs...


Last week’s blog celebrated the July 4th anniversary of American independence. I hope you joined me in remembering that date. A centerpiece of that blog was an introduction to Princeton Battlefield State Park, site of a significant battle for our independence.


Now, we are back to the park again to engage with targets other than British soldiers. The targets in my day were a tree here, a flag pole there. My weapon was a golf club and the ammunition was golf balls. There was never a place better to hone links skills than Princeton Battlefield State Park.


If you read last week’s blog, you know I spent some of my formative years in the shadows of that battlefield, living just about five houses down the street. In the 1950s, Princeton Battlefield State Park was basically a big playground for me. Acres and acres of grass on both sides of Mercer Road just beckoning me to come play every day.


During this time, I became the proud owner of a partial set of very old golf clubs that had been hidden away in a corner of my grandfather’s garage. Today, these vintage clubs might have value. In those days, they were rusty club heads on hickory wood shafts.


Princeton Battlefield State Park and those ancient golf clubs were my introduction as a 13-year-old boy to a truly nice man by the name of Tom Moore, whose age at that time was probably 50 (give or take a little). Tom was a taxi cab owner who loved to hit golf balls. He was African-American and his opportunities to play on a real golf course in those days were limited to say the least. But, wow, could he ever hit that ball.


Tom had the smoothest swing I have ever seen. It was like a metronome. He was a student of the game. I know he could have been a club champion many times over. I also know that because of his skin color, there were no clubs that would have welcomed him as a member then or even much later.


After a day of dropping off commuters at the local train station, Tom would come many summer evenings to hit balls at the park. And, I would join him there. He would pick a target and I would shag the balls for him. When he was done, it was my turn. Under his guidance, I would learn the proper grip. He was the first to impress upon me that swinging hard and fast is not the way to play golf. He taught me the joy of a game I play to this day, and I remain deeply in his debt for that.


My game has been in a temporary slump for a fairly long time now - perhaps something approximating 30 years, maybe even a bit longer. As I struggle with an ever-increasing case of the yips, I am reminded of this statement by some long ago golfer: “Just once, I’d like to play my regular game.”


These days, my regular game stinks. But, I have wonderful memories of Tom Moore and his willingness to give of his time to help a young boy learn something about a great game.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

George Washington's battlefield was my childhood playground.


Next Sunday Americans will celebrate 245 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There is no better time than that to reflect on our Revolutionary War.


One of the most famous symbols of this conflict is a painting known as Washington Crossing the Delaware. That event occurred just north of the city of Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas night of 1776. In and around what is today the city of Trenton there were three significant Revolutionary War battles - the Battle of Trenton (December 26, 1776), the Battle of Assunpink Creek (January 2, 1777) and the Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777). These are often cited by historians as the 10 Crucial Days that turned the war in favor of the Colonials. The Battle of Princeton is of particular interest to me as that’s where I spent some of my growing-up years.


Less than two miles from the center of Princeton, there is a large public space that is the Princeton Battlefield State Park. This is an important historic site as General George Washington and his troops prevailed over British Regulars who were trying to maintain control of colonial insurgents seeking independence. The Battle of Princeton is an important marker of the American Revolution and all that it stands for.

Today, this beautiful and peaceful park continues on, but it was once a wooded area and the site of a major military operation with lots of gunfire and casualties. As a boy, I spent several years living in the literal shadows of that battlefield on Mercer Road (named for General Hugh Mercer, who was mortally wounded in that battle). The park, at that time, was basically a multi-acre grass area on both sides of Mercer Road featuring a really tall flagpole at its highest point and the famed Mercer Oak in the middle.


In addition to crossing the Delaware, General Washington’s troops also crossed Stony Brook, which is just a few hundred yards to the west of the Princeton Battlefield site. I spent hundreds and perhaps thousands of hours fishing in Stony Brook - often just on the other side of the road from a Quaker Meeting House, built in 1726. Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried there.


Growing up, I was literally surrounded by reminders of American history. As July 4 is now only a few days away, it gives me pause to reflect again on how fortunate I am to have spent formative years in such an historic area. And, how fortunate I am to be an American.


The preamble to the Declaration of Independence contains these powerful words: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among those are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We still have work to do if we are to bring those words to life. I will reflect on that July 4.


My blog next week will take a different and surprising look at the Princeton Battlefield State Park. Stay tuned.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!


I had to leave Ohio to make this dream come true.


We were part of a small group a few years ago that spent two weeks touring the fascinating North African country of Tunisia. You learn a great deal when you go to a country that is very different from what you’re used to seeing and doing at home. In Tunisia, mosques are everywhere. Some dress western. Some dress traditional middle-eastern. You experience new foods. Those differences are a principal reason many people never seem to go anywhere. They’re afraid to try something new. On the other hand, my wife and I embrace a change in cultures. For us, it’s working pretty well so far as we have been to more than 50 countries.


An example of a different experience is that Tunisia was the first place I ever rode a camel. Not the last, but it was the first. Never once in Ohio have I climbed aboard a camel for a ride on the Ohio desert. But, fearless rookie that I was, I joined a band of hearty Americans that, one step at a time, set out to explore the mighty Sahara desert. Just as a contribution to travel trivia, the Sahara is the largest desert in the world and it includes parts of 10 African countries.

The Tunisian piece of the Sahara starts at the very bottom of the country where there are a couple of what I would call border towns. The country doesn’t stop there, but civilization does. You climb aboard a large beast, head south and immediately start traversing the up and down sandy terrain we have all seen in photographs. Within minutes from where you started small towns and people are out of sight. The camels just keep heading for the next up and down of the sand. You are as lost as you would be if somebody dropped you into a remote corner of the South Pole. Fortunately, there is a guide to keep everyone headed in the right direction. But, even if your guide succumbs to heat stroke, keep the faith - your camel knows his way home. Camels are not celebrated for their smarts, but in my experience they are at least as accomplished as the average fifth grader.


So, I learned a lot in Tunisia both about camels and about myself. Today, I am a very good camel rider - perhaps not world-class yet - but at least more worldly than I used to be. I conquered the mighty Sahara (AKA I survived the mighty Sahara). I went on to ride camels on a second trip to that region (Egypt), but we’ll talk about that another time.


Something else I learned in Tunisia is to not count out the progress North African and Middle Eastern countries have made to move forward within the boundaries of their cultures. For example, Tunisia was owned by the French until it was granted independence in 1964. At that time, there were 700 college students in Tunisia. When we were there in 2008, there were 365,000. Pretty impressive growth, don’t you think? In the capital of Tunis, you see students everywhere on their way to school. Traveling in groups, you cannot avoid noticing that some of the females wear burkas with faces covered and only small slits to see through, some are in conservative western outfits with a traditional Muslim scarf, and some wear mini-skirts like you would see in Paris. It would be a big mistake to ever count these folks out. There are a lot of very bright people in that part of the world and they work every day to balance their rich tradition with global change that can be very unsettling.


Tunisia is where the Arab Spring originated - a vast uprising just a few years ago of citizens who have been held back by their own leaders and who believe their time has come.


You might want to think about what you can do to expand your own experiences. There is a larger world out there for all of us. Go see it. Go experience it. Go talk to people who speak a different language. Break bread with Bedouin nomads at their desert home. And, if you just happen to be in the neighborhood, hop on a camel for a ride on the Sahara. Experiences like that have changed my world for the better...much better.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!




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