Thursday, August 6, 2009

OPINION: Common Thread: Adverbs, Libraries & Fireman’s Balls

By Don Wiltshire

While walking on our village streets, I usually keep my attention on the ground immediately in front of me. This will normally keep me from stumbling over rocks, tree branches, cast-off car parts or “road apples.” Occasionally, there will be special treats in store: coins, rusty nails, twisty Art Nouveau bits of wire, interesting rocks and who-knows-what-all. I’m a packrat at heart with no self-control.
Last week I was rewarded with an early crushed specimen of a political flier for the 2010 New Mexico Governor’s race. The candidate, sporting an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile, invited us to “Think Different” (sic). “Sic” is a Latin term meaning “thus, thus written” and is usually reserved for use by our illustrious (sic) editor when he wants to point out a mistake but just doesn’t feel like correcting it. Even the grammar checker in my word-processing program let this one slip by. Am I one of the few left who religiously slap the “-ly” on the end of adverbs? Apparently so. Thank you, Miss Steel, for making me diagram all of those sentences in the eighth grade and making it fun. A quick survey of the CNN Talking Heads confirmed that adding the “-ly” is entirely optional now-a-days.
The English language is, after all, a “living language,” evolving with consensus, usage and convenience. So be it. Could this be more “funner” or what? And what could be the most “funnest” thing to do on a muggy afternoon? Stop by the Magdalena Public Library and pick up a book by your favorite author. Very quickly, the library will expand into the soon-to-be-vacated village offices. There will be more room to browse through their collections of books, movies, books on tape and music, more room to have workshops, chat with friends or use public computers.
For those who are willing and able to help, there is a sign-up sheet for cleaning, painting, moving of shelves and books at the check-out desk in the library. There also is a part-time paid position open for a library assistant. The applicant must be a low-income senior.
This is, after all, your library, sponsored by the village of Magdalena and the New Mexico Library Association. Like most rural services, it relies heavily on the volunteer efforts of our community members.
Strangely, those of us who live in the village have come to thoughtlessly rely on the services provided by the village: water, sewage treatment, police protection, road maintenance, local court services and our wonderful library. Other vital services are “fudged” with the help of our volunteer organizations: fire fighting, emergency medical assistance, village clean up and social services. Isn’t it time to start including some of these services under the protective umbrella of the village? Or are we too afraid of tax and rate increases? Maybe that’s just too darn of a socialist idea!
There are two vitally important volunteer organizations that I must recognize now: our local volunteer firefighters and our EMS volunteers. Who-are-you-gonna-call when that brush fire gets out of control? Who-are-you-gonna-call when you’re choking on that chicken bone? Why, on our unpaid, strictly volunteer but nonetheless professional Magdalena Firefig-hters and Emergency Medical Service personnel.
This Saturday, Aug. 8, will mark the inaugural Magdalena Fireman’s Ball, which organizers plan to make an annual event. It will be held in the WPA Theater on Main Street from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s billed as a typically laid-back Magdalena event: dress up if you like or not, dance if you like or just hang out and chat. Enjoy the music of the Tori Murillo Band. Chips, dips and soda will be provided. There is no cover charge, but contributions will be accepted. Hopefully, they will raise a few dollars for much-needed equipment. The best part will be putting familiar, real faces on those volunteers. Find out just who it is that you’re calling and how you might help out.
Finally, a slightly off-color joke from my brother back in Cleveland, a retired police officer:
Why do policemen traditionally have bigger balls than fire-fighters?
Because they sell more tickets.

Don Wiltshire lives in Magdalena and shares this column with his wife, Margaret. Do you have comments? Problems? Solutions? Upcoming events? Adverbially correct “-ly” stickers? Contact him at Mr. Wiltshire’s opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

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