Reflecting on some past columns

What in the world do I have to write about for my column this Sunday?

I wondered as I sat down at my home computer. I was still laid up from a stay at the hospital April 9 for a bit of surgery, and I had not been out of the house since returning home the next day.

And life in the McCoy household is only lively when Ozzie thinks he hears a motorcycle going down our county road.

It was then that I thought about all the clippings and past columns I have written and kept through the years. I had thoughts of pitching them several times but am very glad that I didn’t. Now I can put some of that information to good use.

I saw a column from May 7, 2000, written about baseball facts. It reminded me of a movie Lamont and I are wanting to see, “42,” a full-length feature about Jackie Robinson, a baseball player I remember with the Brooklyn Dodgers but not in his first years in the late 1940s when he started.

I had great admiration for Robinson and was pleased to hear that the movie was a great success at the box office since its April 12 opening. It is a shame that the April 15 date when all major leaguers wear the number 42 to play ball was so devastatingly spoiled by the heart-wrenching Boston Marathon bombing.

I saw the first news flash about it, and my heart went out to those injured or worse and to their families.

Now for some facts from that nearly 13-year-old baseball column: In 1875, the catcher’s mask was invented, and Charles C. Waite was the first player to use a glove the same year. In 1885, a Detroit catcher was the first to wear a chest protector. The four-strike rule was abandoned, and three strikes you’re out was brought back in 1887. In 1889, a base on balls was awarded for four pitches not within the strike zone, and the spit ball was abolished in 1920.

I did a column on March 26, 2000, about the progression of prices over the years for food. The small amount paid in 1900 was very low, but so were the salaries. Steak was 16 cents per pound; sugar was 6 cents a pound; coffee was 16 cents a pound, with no jars of instant back then; fish was 12 cents per pound; and apples were 10 cents per pound. I was surprised that chewing gum was 25 cents in 1900. I remember it being less than that in my teens.

This was a column from Jan. 10, 1999, and it was telling about a sizeable amount of snow during the past week. It must have been a winter that was quite snowy, much like our past four months have been. I wrote, “I have had enough snow for this year,” and this was only in January.

I was talking about going back over incidents in our life and recalling how some were funny and some endearing.

“Wisdom is something we acquire over the years,” I wrote, telling that many times it comes from the school of hard knocks. We learn fast that it is not wise to grab a hot light bulb or poke a finger into a revolving fan …. and usually don’t do it twice. From “Wisdom of the Ages, “I wrote down some sage advice copied from a Sonoma Dried Tomato recipe brochure.

Age 5: I learned you can’t hide a piece of broccoli or cauliflower in a glass of milk.

Age 10: I learned when I wave to people in the country when we drive through, they wave back.

Age 20: I learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so no one will believe it.

Age 25: I learned if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering up someone else first.

Age 35: I learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a card.

Age 45: I learned that making a living is not the same as making a life.

Age 50: I learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

Age 60: I learned when I have pains, it doesn’t mean I have to be one. And I learned this past year that it is necessary to deal with the loss of a child, along with parents. This was added by me as something I learned as well.

I can talk about ice cream from a column written on June 27, 1999. The Guiness Book of World Records lists gigantic ice cream fantasies in its 1998 book. The world’s largest ice cream bar was 19,357 pounds and was made by the staff of Augusto Ltd. in Poland in 1994, The largest ice cream sundae weighed 54,914 pounds and was made by Palm Dairies in Alberta, Canada. It consisted of 44,689 1/2 pounds of ice cream, 9,688 pounds of syrup and 537 pounds of topping. I’m wondering if it was hot fudge? That is said to be the most well liked one. And an ice cream sandwich weighing 830 pounds and measuring 3x8x1 feet was made by Interbake Dairy Ingredients in 1995.

In 10 days the merry month of May will make an appearance, and in my May 27, 2001, column, I told that it was Older Americans Month.

I don’t know if it is still celebrated, but I hope so as I have fit into that category for a long time. When we peer down the road to age 65 and older, we can think about many disadvantages of older age. But when we realize there is only one alternative to aging, we can find joy in many things we had not thought possible before.

Here are some statistics from the University of Michigan on the productivity of older Americans:

Thirty-four percent grow and freeze their own food; 28 percent do home repairs; 56 percent do their own yard work; 42 percent help others with transportation; 21 percent provide child care for family and others; and 33 percent volunteer their time.

Some other benefits of growing older, from the Jefferson Behavioral Health System, are: You take charge of your health, you find your personal style, you are allowed to please yourself, love deepens and widens, curiosity increases, stress diminishes, gratitude deepens, and you become more yourself.

Getting back to my stay at Trinity Medical Center West, I discovered another Diana Gabaldon fan. I started reading all of the author’s books again in early March and was on the book called “Voyager” when I went to the hospital.

I was reading when nurse Donna Dubetz walked into the hospital room and said she was an admirer of the author as well. Like me, she is awaiting a new book to come out. Her books are usually 900 or more pages long, so I know that it takes a long time to write them. I had a thoughtful, dedicated and consciencious student nurse, Korie Cronin of Wintersville, throughout the day, and she was wonderful. You can tell that she likes nursing. Bev Kaufman came into the surgery holding area to wish me well. She usually sits behind me at the Smithfield Christian Church and always wears a big smile. Mary Koos was there with me before and during surgery, and I appreciated that, too.

Dr. Jayapal Reddy has me on a liquid diet, which doesn’t make me very happy, but I have learned to like Ensure and a very runny Cream of Wheat. I can hardly wait until April 24 when I can graduate to soft foods such as mashed potatoes, applesauce, puddings and such. And I especially can’t wait until I can return to a regular diet. I have some marshmallow Peeps from Easter that I want to put into the microwave and blow up and devour.

I guess this is it with my saved column tidbits. Just glad I had information from the columns to write about. Right now the most exercise I am getting is browsing through books, lifting a glass to my mouth, stretching my paycheck and balancing my checkbook. A revised version of that was in a July 2, 2000, column.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at