Sun Cities Today Blog

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Archive for the month “December, 2010”

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year…Bah Humbug!

I can’t help myself, i hate the holidays. Seriously, i just want them over. Hardly the way to start out a post where the backdrop is a 50-year-old christmas tree, but stay with me and hopefully you will begin to see why and where i am going with this.

Pictured is the old aluminum Christmas tree we put up and decorate every year at the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum. It is a timeless classic. It is pathetically simple and remarkably sturdy. Some would say it is woeful, while i would argue it is exactly perfect. It represents most everything that was right with the country years back and accentuates just how far we have gone awry in the past 50 years.

When Sun City first opened, it was a study in simplicity. Life didn’t need to be complicated, it wasn’t about excess, it was about finding a place where we could be happy, contented. Even as time marched on, life inside the walls stayed lost in the dimension of a timeless pace where we grew older less quickly and could savor each day with as little or as much as we needed to do to feel fulfilled. More often, less was more.

Then a funny thing happened outside the walls; life started moving more quickly. Having more became the symbol of American happiness. Enough was never enough and that breakneck began to creep into Sun City and change how we lived, what we wanted. Success was defined more by what we had accumulated than by how we felt about ourselves or how much we loved or cared about those around us. Sad in my opinion.

My apologies to all you who love the holidays. By no means do i want this post to be a downer. I just think we have lost sight of what Christmas was intended to be. For some it’s a holy day, for other’s it’s a holiday, and for still others it’s a day to get and give gifts; to gather and over indulge. None of those things are necessarily bad, for me it’s a time of memories that are laced with ugly behavior and actions i would just as soon forget. I imagine by now you get the picture, i’m not perfect; i was a drunk and the holidays were laced with behavior i would sooner forget than remember.

What that was years ago, the memories have spoiled any sense of good times and celebration. I tend to eat too much, withdraw within myself and just long for the new year to begin. I love the idea of starting anew each year with new goals, inspired attitudes and looking forward to having a better year. The hardest thing is defining the word “better.”

Funny because those six single letters create an entire kaleidoscope of ever-changing wants and needs. It’s the old proverbial moving target and hitting it becomes an exciting prospect as i grown in both age and hopefully wisdom. Sorry to get so esoteric when most of you are rushing about getting ready for that “most wonderful time of the year.” For me, i’m just counting the days till they are over and i get to burst forth with unlimited opportunities to do better and be better.

Let me just conclude with my wishes for each and every one of you to have a great holiday season, a merry Christmas and a safe new year. And like that wonderful old single poled Christmas tree adorning the page above…keep it simple (stupid…that one’s for me).

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Tragedy in Sun City

It began almost three years ago. There have been no less than 4 presidents who have floated in and out, some lasting less than a week. The task was larger than most expected and when the decision to try to fill 14 months with events showcasing the community was finally decided, only the strongest survived.

Sun City’s 50th anniversary celebration is coming to an end. The number of events remaining can fit on one hand. Most of us still standing are delighted to see closure; it lasted too long. The finale will be on January 12 at the Sundial rec center. The New Christy Minstrels will be performing and we will be drawing raffle ticket winners. Prizes include a Smart car, EZGO 2five NEV, Mexican Riviera cruise, three flat panel TV’s and dozens of great prizes donated by clubs for the 50th anniversary.

All of that pales though given what happened Friday evening. The annual boat parade and holiday show was held at Lakeview rec center. The evening was gorgeous and there was a huge crowd. Initially we weren’t supposed to be at there, but a decision was made to get back involved.

We bought the desserts they devoured, provided the entertainment and judged and awarded prizes for the most festive boats and decorated golf cars (added after the fact). It was quite an event, as the sugar high we had injected had people buzzing. By dusk, people were excited about the parade.

Then tragedy struck. Just after 6 pm, our treasurer Larry Kuppler, was out directing the golf car parade. After they passed, he got in his golf car and as he backed up, it was clear something was wrong. He bumped into a steel bicycle rack and fell from the car and smashed his head wide open.

The firemen at the scene radioed for help and within minutes they were administering to him. The ambulance sped off with all of us stunned about how quickly he had gone down and out. No one was quite sure what happened (if it was a heart attack or the head trauma) or how severe it was.

We finished the boat parade at about 7 pm and tried to pick up the pieces as an evening of fun ended on such a horrible note. By the time we got it all together and got home, we had a call from a committee member that he had died. Paul Herrmann and his wife Nancy had brought Larry’s wife Dottie to the hospital, but they were never able to stabilize him and he just slipped away.

Early on, i’m told one of those on the committee had said “by anniversary’s end, some of those working on the committee would in all likelihood not be around.” We had been fortunate, while some fell away, none had died. They were burned out, worn out, or just grew tired of trying to get so much done with so few people and so little money.

Larry was there from the beginning. He survived, maybe even flourished in the struggle to make this work. He did the books, he was as exact as any CPA would be. He tried to keep us on track and doing things the right way, it was a challenge. Several of us saw the need to get it done, he insisted it be done right. He was an asset to that committee.

That should come as no surprise, Larry Kuppler epitomized the Sun City way of life. He had his hands in everything. He was an avid golfer, a volunteer at the Sun City Visitor Center, very active in his church, played a major role in the Kiwana’s club he belonged to and was a member of the Saturday night dance club. It’s not surprising, he was often elected as an officer and gave freely of his time and expertise. That was how Larry lived.

Sun City lost a man who gave back way more than he ever took. In my humble opinion, nothing defines a person more than that equation…do you leave this earth a better place than how you found it. For those of us who knew Larry, and there were thousands, i suspect all of us would say without question he gave way more than he ever took.

Rest In Peace brother. Sun City will be a lessor place without you here helping keep us on the straight and narrow.

John MacDonald and John D. MacDonald

Ironic? Perhaps, but in my past 10 years of exchanges on the internet, some of us had a word to describe it: Syncrosinicity (really, no clue how to spell it). In essence it meant that many people, many places and all kinds of things at some point intersect. Not always, but more often than we can began to explain. This is one of those times.

Near on a year ago, i went on eBay and bought a box of books. It was an author who caught my eye. I have become a big fan of writers of fiction that do continuing series; like Stuart Woods, Janet Evanovich, John Sanford, Sue Grafton and a host of others. In this case, the preview claimed the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald was one of the first to launch that concept. More interesting was the fact he began in 1964 and continued till he died in 1986. 21 books total and i loved the idea of reading older period pieces. I was curious to see if writing styles had changed much in the past 40+ years.

Now for the sync (i won’t butcher it again). I’m writing this from the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum. Our office resides in the back room where the original owners, John MacDonald and his wife Chloe (pictured with extended family above) had their bedroom. It was an addition and the entry came through the second bedroom they had turned into a sitting/reading room. Barb Wagers (their granddaughter) tells us grandpa loved to read and had built a solid wall of shelves filled with books. One can only wonder if those first Travis McGee books weren’t part of his collection?

It should come as no surprise, Sun City is filled with voracious readers; i suspect it always has been. We have two libraries within the walls and on any given day you can find people with arm loads of books on loan. For those who like owning, there is a used book store that does nicely, a half a dozen thrift stores (i love to peruse for deals) and never-ending garage sales with paperbacks going for great prices. I remember when we held one and had tons of paperbacks and shoppers far smarter than me pulling out their lists to insure they don’t buy something they already read. Been there, done that.

Let’s face it, retirees often have more time than money, and reading a good mystery is one of life’s little pleasures. I know i have more than 50 books on my shelves i want to pour myself into. I try to do three a week, but it doesn’t always happen. I know i need to get better at saying no to people; someday…maybe.

Back to John MacDonald (the author); brilliant. His first book in the series, The Deep Blue Good-by was a little slow starting out. The more i read, the more i understood why. He took his time as a storyteller. He was less graphic and more poetic. His charm was in painting a picture in its entirety. His intent was to draw you in and weave it at slower pace than today’s authors. In those times, writing wasn’t that coarse or blunt.

It made me think about the different styles from those i love today; it was like the difference from a really great photograph compared to a really great piece of art. Both were wonderful to look at, but each stood on its own; beautiful in significantly different ways. The photo explodes at you while the painting takes a bit to sink in. In the 60’s it was more slow and go while today it’s about grabbing you quick and getting you engaged in the first couple of pages.

Sun City is still like that; you can live as fast or as slow as you want. The pace of life can be determined by you, our golf cars can do 35 like mine or you can buy an old three-wheeler that crawls along at 12 miles per. Both work just fine. Life is filled with opportunities to learn and in this case, both of the John MacDonalds’ that have entered my life of late have taught me valuable lessons. How great is that to be able to learn from both an author and a reader? Nice!

I have to say, i’m still struggling with the idea of one of those electronic books. It’s cool to see people carrying them around, but i love the feel of a book in my hand. I like the way they look stacked on the shelf and the joy in sharing a copy of a good read with a dear friend. Heck, i even drop some off at Starbucks from time to time.

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