One Lucky SOB

Yesterday, I met a man wearing a baseball cap which proudly proclaimed him to be a World War Two veteran. I didn’t bother to introduce myself I just asked him in my usual obnoxious manner, “so you are a WWII vet, what are you a hundred years old?” Without flinching or getting upset with me he answered, I’m ninety-four, and I want to live to be 104.” Then he began his history. “I joined the Army Air Corps in 1944 which later became the Air Force. I wore a brown uniform when I joined and a blue one when I left.”

As we spoke I learned that he was invited to attend his first OASIS meeting for visually impaired people By Lion Doc Taylor, his eye doctor. I asked him what problem caused his blindness, he rattled off a condition which I have never heard of before. That is not unusual, since I have become a volunteer member of this group the one thing I have learned is that there is no end to the number of reasons one can lose his sight. The one commonality among blind people is the need for social contact, and support. You don’t stop living when you go blind, but your life changes dramatically, and you find yourself living in a world of darkness.

As we continued to talk, the Vet began asking me questions, number one was “did you serve?”

“No, I didn’t, I was born during WWII, I was too young to be a part of the Korean conflict, and too old for the Vietnam debacle. After that I was too old for all the other world disagreements we were involved in. My brother, on the other hand was drafted during Korea, but wound up serving in Germany. My second wife’s husband was in a medical line waiting to board a ship to go to Korea, when some genius dentist mis-read his chart and pulled his teeth out. He served out his term in Germany also.

“So do you volunteer?” he probed, “I have learned that people of your age volunteer and hate to be recognized for it.”

“Yes,” I replied.

His ride was leaving so we ended the conversation. I might see him again next month.

Very often I thank God for giving me the good fortune to not have to serve in the military. Instead, I tell myself that He wants me to serve in different ways. I try to do that, and all my life I have volunteered for duty that I felt was in the interest of betterment to the community.

My first dutiful stint began in high school where I served in a number of clubs that provided service to the school.

My second term of duty began when I joined the Boy Scouts of America as a leader. I always told my kids that I served the organization to provide them with civic responsibility experiences, and as a secondary matter I helped their friends to have the same. My tenure lasted for twenty-five years.

During the eighties my personal goal was to teach the world about the value of conservation by joining the Folks On Spokes Bicycle Club to show example by using an alternate form of transportation that didn’t pollute nor consume natural resources. During my twenty years in the club I served a term as president.

Simultaneous to the bike club I became president of the Prestwick Garden Guild and led my neighborhood in many educational and beautification projects for the betterment of the community.

My current term of duty is as a Lion with the Frankfort Lions Club. My plan is to die a Lion.

So even though I am a lucky SOB for never having spent a minute of service in the military, I feel I have served as much, if not more, in service to the community to offset.

Show Time

The curtain goes up at six tonight, and the show begins. Frankfort Lions present their annual Wurst Fest. I like to call it the “BEST Wurst Fest.” This is the club’s major fund raiser for the year. We have many more lessor drives to make money but the Wurst fuels our charities throughout the year. So many people not familiar with Lions ask me “just what do the Lions do?” My response is a lot, then I proceed to rattle off the list.

What do Frankfort Lions Do?

Typical Activities by month:

January—      Winter Games on the Green

KidSight Vision Screenings begin

February–     KidSight Vision Screening

Sights and Sounds Raffle for Lions Illinois Foundation (LIF)

March             Community Showcase

Blood Drive

Information Table

KidSight Vision Screening

Adult Hearing & Vision screening

Diabetes Awareness

Lighthouse Demonstration

Adult Vision Screening at Founder’s Center

April               Easter Food Distribution: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

Bunny Breakfast-KidSight Vision Screening

Earth Day Clean Up

Birdies for Charity, LIF

May                 Kick off for Wurst Fest Raffle tickets

Clarendale Vision and Hearing Screening

Lincoln Way Scholarship Presentation

June                Wurst Fest Raffle Tickets

Nominate Club Officers

July                 Movies on the Green, Pop corn distribution

Sponsor Library Youth Group in Lions Peace Poster Contest

Wurst Fest Raffle Tickets

Club Election

President’s Night BBQ

August            Rib Fest Water Soft Drink Sale

PD Night Out Against Crime, Water Distribution and presence

Kick off OASIS second support group for vision impaired people

Farmer’s Market Raffle Ticket Sales

Camp Quality-Cook-Serve Lunch

Wurst Fest Raffle & Dance

September     Labor Day Parade, Distribute flags

Raffle Prize Dinner

PD Health Fair-Vision and Hearing Screening

Diabetes Awareness at Silver Cross Hospital

October          Trunk or Treats, Distribute candy treats

Candy Day Collection on Street Corners for LIF

November      Collect money at Jewel for TG turkeys and food

Thanksgiving Food Dist: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

December      Polar Express/Park District

Collect Money @ Jewel for Christmas Food

Christmas Food Dist: Buy, Pack, and Deliver Food to 25 families

Christmas Gift Distribution for kids in need

We add to the list as new needs are identified. I have chosen to leave off the names of people with  serious impairments or conditions who we have helped in the interest of their privacy. During the year we contribute to over fifty community organizations and/or organizations that help our residents: Where there is a need there is a Lion.

If you want to join the fun and help Lions to serve come on out tonight to the Chamber of Commerce Wine and Beer Garden located at the corner of Oak and Kansas in historic Frankfort. The Wurst is a German themed social gathering featuring German food, German beer, and German music keeping with the German heritage of the community. The highlight of the evening is the raffle. If you were lucky enough to buy one of the two thousand $20 raffle tickets you may win one of seven cash prizes, the largest being $10,000. That same ticket gets two people entry into the venue for an evening of fun and camaraderie, not to mention a buzz from the delicious German beer.

The Lions kick off the much greater community Fall Festival, recently rated as the third best Craft and Arts Fair in the United States. With over two hundred and fifty thousand people attending over the three day Labor Day weekend. This fest is run 100% by volunteers from the village.

Come out to help the LIONS and have a ball too.