Valley Voices

Perry Huffman: Fun with old guys — still on their feet

Much pleasure is found in smiling conversations with old new friends, as we joke and sometimes compare the now in context with the old then.

We are thankful for what we have now and those friends who we have lost over many decades are not forgotten. We are aware each day is a gift to respect as an opportunity to live well. We can walk with friends and stay actively engaged in their lives.

I have more free time for friends and lots of social interaction. It keeps me smiling and laughing. New friends are good because at our age, we are losing too many old ones.

This old man has been a happy member of Sons In Retirement for almost a decade, and it has been very rewarding. We meet for lunch once a month and we have dinner date night once a month. Our mates have a chance to make new friends, too. We have numerous trips and cruises for our ladies to make even more new friends.

A recent week found me playing casual Monday golf with a group of SIRs, attending a memorial for a SIR member on Tuesday, joining a SIR tour of The Bee newspaper on Wednesday and playing in our weekly SIR golf tournament on Thursday.

I didn’t choose to play cards, bowl, play tennis or meet with our tech group or any other SIR activities that same week.

Our old guys who enjoy SIRs the most are those who are able to volunteer to serve other SIRs. They interact with a wider range of interesting guys to develop new friendships.

I was a guest speaker shortly after joining SIR and had planned to talk about my Avenal book and tell some stories. Minutes before I was to speak, Little SIR Reg Rosander told me not to sell my book. So I just told stories highlighting my adventures.

Reg later declared me a humorist who would fill in for Bob Cooper, as his health was failing, and he began missing some of our lunches.

Big SIR Ron Wilson thought an author would make a good temporary secretary and I agreed to help. Wearing two hats over these years has exposed me to a sharp bunch of guys who can dish it out for some fun encounters. What a blast.

As this year’s Little SIR and speaker chairman, I made a wish list of interesting people and set to persuading them to speak to us. We have two ladies-day lunches and 10 months for speakers. Our calendar is filled with mostly my wish list.

Our golf chairman filled one month and we had a tribute to our servicemen in April.

One encounter at the top of my wish list speaks to my issue of aging. I wanted to get a speaker from the Lyles Foundation because it is about more ideas, products, jobs and improving the Valley economy. William Lyles was two years ahead of me at Avenal High School.

I wasn’t making progress in contacting Timothy Stearns at the Lyles Center at Fresno State, so I went to his office and handed him our newsletter, a copy of my letter to him and our almost-filled speaker list. SIR is OK.

As he glanced at my small mess of papers, I said, “We had a guy at the old Bee building on the second floor, working in advertising. Gay Stearns may have been the only gentleman on that rowdy floor.”

Stearns said, “That’s my dad. He turned 101 a while back. He bought a Lexus.”

I gave him a fist bump and said, “Wow.”

“He’s a walker,” Stearns said.

“What’s his routine like?” I asked.

“He’s a walker.” He looked at the speaker schedule, selected October and said, “I’ll bring my Dad.”

So I will continue smiling on Mondays while walking the fairways and getting guff from my glorious geezer golf guys. Life is good — on my feet.