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Don Locke: Looking Through Bifocals

I see where the HARLEM GLOBE TROTTERS are, or were, back in our area recently.

When they were at the top of their success back in the late 1940s and fifties . . . and into the sixties, some of the sports "experts" said they were good tricksters and ball handlers, but they really couldn't play basketball . . . "Just a bunch of razzle-dazzle." The TROTTERS got wind of this and challenged that year's winners of the NBA to a game. The GLOBE TROTTERS BEAT THEM. The NBA said it was a fluke. To prove it wasn't an accident, they played a second game. They beat the NBA champs again.

Goin' ahead-on, I don't remember a whole lot about the great depression, although I was born in 1933, and the depression lasted about ten years. It's been said that Joseph Kennedy, the older, knew a year or so before it happened and sold-off all his investments. Did he have inside information? Yes, but it was strictly legal. It came from his shoeshine boy.

Back then there were shoeshine stands on about every corner in the big cities. Rich men, and guys bored with a big financial auger, got a shine about every day. Shoeshine boys heard a lot of stuff while working and tended to pass it on, particularly if they were well tipped. It's sort of like the military, if a smart general wants to know what's going on, he talks to a private--it's called SCUTTLEBUTT. The same way, if a company CEO wants to know what's shakin', he talks to the janitor. Janitors are in and out and around.

Harry Truman had this country-boy savvy about who knew what. So did Abe Lincoln. When the Civil War broke-out, President Lincoln knew many of his top generals would be as lost as a ball in high weeds when it came to battlefield tactics. Most of the ranking officers got their promotions by way of politics.

President Lincoln knew a fellow who clerked in a hardware store, an educated man. Lincoln also knew the man had an alcohol problem, although a graduate of West Point, a store clerk was about the only job he could find and keep.

But Lincoln knew this man; he knew the man had the savvy of a real general. That's why Mister Lincoln summoned him to the Whitehouse and said, "I've got a better job for you if you will take it." The man said he would. Lincoln appointed the man as commander in chief of Union Forces in the Civil War. His name was Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant.

Both Presidents Harry Truman and Richard Nixon played the piano. Nixon played on the Grand Ole Opry one time. Maybe you needed to know that; then again maybe you didn't.

So much for the PASSING PARADE.

Kindest Regards . . .

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