Monthly Archives: March 2010

Grand Avenue in the ’50s

The construction that made Grand Avenue a true four-lane highway took place in the early ‘50s. Traffic got routed through Railroad Avenue and even New Mexico Avenue during the several months that improvements took place.

This month, a $4.4 million project began on the same stretch of road. The news of the project has sparked memories about the major job some 60 years ago.

Before the ‘50s project, the pavement covered only two lanes, the rest being dirt and gravel, and even the slightest sprinkle of rain managed to get cars stuck. Continue reading

Small teams slugged it out

Eighty teams competed in the just-concluded New Mexico high school basketball tournaments for boys and girls. Eighty teams.

Let’s do the math: There are five classes, AAAAA for the behemoth schools, down to class A, for those quintets whose players need to lead cheers, collect tickets and man the concession stand when they’re not on the hardwood.

An Albuquerque Journal sportswriter, James Yodice, recently wrote a piece about having a super championship. The winners of the four smaller classifications would slug it out for the honor of taking on the AAAAA champ.

Sound like a good idea? It’s not original, having been proposed many times, but it’s flawed by the a priori notion that bigger is better: “You smaller teams have to compete for a chance to meet us, the big dawgs in the neighborhood.” Continue reading

What time is it – really?

Jack Van Horn, the designated liturgist at church Sunday, reminded all of us parishioners to “meet and greet the person in your pew,” then added, “if there is someone there to greet.”

Clearly he was referring to the paucity of congregants, the bulk of whom blame the time change. Some of us lost an hour of sleep Sunday when we converted to Daylight Saving Time; some went ahead and re-found that hour and wondered where everybody had gone when they arrived at church, or some other function.

Naturally, people blame their lateness on the time change, but do those people who show up an hour late for work ever appear an hour early at the other end of the calendar?

Daylight Saving (note: there’s no “s” at the end of “saving” — it’s not like a savings bank) Time is a great innovation for as long as it lasts. I like it, as it gives us a chance to ride bikes, fire up our barbecue pits and generally socialize more. I wish retail stores would adjust to the time change as well, perhaps opening an hour later and staying open a while longer. Continue reading

It may sound sil-ly

‘What’s happened to Lee?” my friend Susan Swan straight-facedly asked me this week, and I fidgeted while attempting an answer.

“Well, Lee, our erstwhile features editor at the Optic, isn’t with us any longer,” I think I answered. Susan responded, “I don’t mean that Lee.”

But let’s back up a little. We’ll get to the other Lee in a few graphs.
Language is what people say it is, which is why you won’t ever find me criticizing its usage.

Yeah, right. Continue reading

A chill’s not a thrill

Ever had chills up and down your spine? I used to think it was a myth — until I saw the famous pea-soup scene in “The Exorcist,” when Regan, the possessed child, decorated Father Damien Karras’s face with it.

That was in the early ‘70s, long before VCRs or DVDs, when we needed to go to a movie house, rather than view the film at home. Well, the second time, many years later, I enjoyed it at home, with selected members of the family — never my wife, who refuses to watch anything violent. With remote in hand, I prepped myself: “Self, you know what’s coming, and besides, you’ve got it on a small screen.”

Did that bit of homespun psychology work? Absolutely not! If anything, the shock I felt in my spine was more intense than the first time. Continue reading