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FROM THE VALLEY: My Ship Has Finally Come In

BY TOM VALLEY

This is going to be a different column than what you might expect from me. It's more of a personal story about something which recently happened. Few know about it, but after some deliberation, I've decided to tell you … the readers.

I've been writing this column for quite a few years. It's appeared in five or six different newspapers over the last seventeen years. And in that time, I've received quite a bit of mail.

Most of it is kind and respectful but there are times when I hear from people who, to put it mildly, would prefer I stick my column where only a proctologist could find it. Having, occasionally, sprinkled an opinion or two in the articles I've made myself a target. I get that. I have no problem with someone letting me know they disagree with something I wrote - that's part and parcel of the business. I do have a problem with people who aren't civil about it. Not a little uncivil, but big-time uncivil.

The common thread that runs through the minds of those who send me the extreme “I-don't-like-you” mail is the childish habit of name-calling. Apparently, it's the weapon of choice for those who are armed with little else and cannot intellectually fire back with a viable discourse. It is what it is - and to be honest, I've grown callous to the bloviating chatter.

On the other hand, I have a core of readers who correspond to say they enjoy the articles. And for that, I'm extremely grateful. I try to respond to most of them simply because feedback is the lifeblood of the business. It's uplifting to know when someone appreciates your effort. Those readers know who they are … and there are many. I'll bet they number somewhere in the two's or three's… and I thank them both or all three, whichever applies.

But here's the deal: Every time I get a letter about the column, I put a dollar in a jar. It's just a little gimmick I came up with for no particular reason. Whether it was good or bad, a buck went into the jar. I've done this for about a decade. At the end of the month, I scoop up the money and invest it in the most sound, economical way I know how, I buy lottery tickets … scratch-off lottery tickets. What the heck, eh?!

If I win anything, the money goes back into the jar for the next month's harvest. If I lose, nothing ventured, nothing gained is how I approach it. So be it.

Well, it finally happened … I won. And I won more than the occasional ten or twenty dollars. A lot more. After the last March (25th) column, I took the money out and bought some tickets at a local convenience store.

That's the reason for this column. The money is life-changing. I'm not sure what the future holds. Who does, for that matter? Nonetheless, I'm going to take some time to think about it. I've not even tried to cash the ticket, lest it be publicly blabbed about in the media on the NY State Lottery's terms. It's under lock and key until I have a handle on what it all means and how I'm going to deal with it. Hasty decisions seldom pay off.

It's surreal to actually sit down and write this article. It's different, it's not how I roll. But I wanted you, my readers, to hear it here first, directly from me. Why? Because it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for you and that jar.

A possibility that's crossed my mind – because of the windfall - is having our own place in a warmer climate for the winter months. Just a thought. (Yes, it's that much.) But one thing I'm sure of, is an upgrade to our humble place on the St. Lawrence River. We love the river.

I've always dreamed of having a boat like the ones I see sailing by our place. Yachts of all sizes elegantly glide up and down the river; I've often wondered what it would be like to sail up into the Great Lakes; and maybe out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and beyond. Perhaps, now I can get, at least, a taste of that.

And to think it's all the result of your emails. I can't thank you enough. I've actually gone online to look at some expensive boats for sale. I'm looking for one that sleeps at least four people. There was a beauty in Florida that would be perfect. It would be too big to dock at our place, so I'd have to figure that out. But that's an issue for down the road. And besides, I'm just thinking out loud now, but hey … you never know.

And like always, I think of the small details before I even get to the meat of the situation. For instance, the name I'd put across the back/stern of the boat. I was thinking something along the lines of the same reason I am telling you this today. Something like ...

“April Fool.”

No? Sorry …

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.

The word “ship” in the title was changed from something without a “p” in it. Just saying: Tvalley@Rochester.RR.com



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