A few of my recent columns inspired several readers to write their own stories. Here are two of particular note.
My column on playing marbles inspired Linda Babcock in Ogden.
"We loved going to a marble convention at the old Ben Lomond Hotel years ago and seeing what people had collected. My kids (now 31 and 33) were amazed and wanted to start collections immediately. People drove in from afar just to ogle, exchange, converse and generally absorb themselves in the world of marbles. It was astounding to see the variety of not just the marbles, but the people who love them.
"As a kid in the '50s, I was into jacks. Just as the boys did with playing marbles, we gals spent hours on end challenging each other with the precision work of playing jacks.
"We were harsh judges and skillful players who invented more than just 'round the world, hens in a basket, double clicks, flying Dutchman, no bounce, pigs in a pen, and more. We invariably tried new tricks that earned us great esteem in our fellow jacks players.
"Since my grand-littles are too young for marbles or jacks, we started a button collection. They had not really noticed much about buttons, but now have a collection hand-selected from their great-grandmothers' button jars.
"It was fascinating to them to hear a little history about the types of clothes and people who had been attached to the buttons long ago. Their jar of buttons is now treasured, much as jars of marbles were.
"It's so easy to do the simple things and so wonderful to see their eyes light up (instead of the open-mouthed stares we see when they gaze at the boob-tube).
"I wish my 93-year-old Dad lived in Utah so he could carve a couple of willow-whistles for them. My kids took him for show-and-tell years ago to show their classmates how to make them. I'll have to drag out the instruction sheet we compiled for the occasion and share it now with his great-grandkids.
"Again, simple things but lots of fun. I guess we're the old ones now, so we better keep sharing, right?"
Striking a chord
John, who asked me not to use his last name so as not to embarrass his grandson, was touched both by my recent story about Vietnam veterans holding a reunion in West Point and my column about baby-sitting my granddaughter, Alice.
"I also have had the mind-numbing pleasure of watching SpongeBob. My own crisis came with my granddaughter, who, after crying for 40 minutes, finally fell asleep for two hours on my chest.
"I desperately needed to use the head, but didn't dare move."
The article on the 'Nam vets also touched many chords. A Marine buddy of mine called and we were talking about it and all the changes we've seen since we came home, the stereotypes then and now, for combat vets.
"My grandson, who is 10, saw a picture of me sitting on my jeep behind my M60 (a machine gun) and, as all kids, had a ton of questions, since I don't speak about 'Nam.
"One of his questions was, 'Don't you kill people in war, Opa?'
"Then I saw my sweet young grandson come to a realization about his grandfather. He came over and gave me a hug and told me he loved me.
"It broke my heart."