Mayor spins plates as he meets challenges
As a teenager I watched the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular variety show from New York, in the days of black and white television.
I was intrigued by the fellow who spun plates on top of poles. He raced frantically up and down the line to keep them all spinning, making certain those he first spun didn’t fall off as he added others.
As mayor facing new challenges every day, I try to find doable solutions while keeping the ones I can’t solve that day from falling through the cracks.
But with each passing day I am awed by people I meet and messages they bring to me. Here are some I’d like to share with you.
Last week I spent some time at Meals on Wheels and delivered a hot meal to Edna Millhouse (she’s 101). Miss Edna, seated in a recliner in her modest home, gave me just a glimpse into her long life here. She told me she spent 37 years working at The Squirrel Inn for the Suter family that owned it. Ironically my wife and I now live in their house. She told me she rode a bus to another job she had at the Navy Base years ago. Imagine that there was bus service here then. I’m serving with others on a transportation committee now aimed at getting more bus service for our region to decrease demands on I-26.
A day later I was among a large luncheon crowd that heard former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur tell her painful account of sexual abuse by her own father that began when she was five and continued for almost two decades. By her own words she became two people – daytime Marilyn and nighttime Marilyn. By day she was the stunning, successful beauty queen from a prominent Colorado family. By night she lived in terror of the monster father who she later learned not only had an incestuous relationship with her but also with one of her sisters. He also sexually abused another woman for 20 years.
Marilyn let her audience know that sexual abuse knows no boundaries. It happens in every strata of society.
She urged her audience to talk with their children.
“Children won’t tell; it’s up to you to ask. Ask them if they’ve been touched inappropriately.”
She said many sexual assaults of young girls start at the age of five and occur at the hands of their teenaged brothers, fathers, uncles or even grandfathers. Males can be sexual assault victims too. Sexual abuse is a despicable crime that mars and scars victims and their families for life.
On Thursday I listened as a young black male told a Summerville High school audience how he grew up in the slums of Chicago, one of ten children of parents who were crack addicts. He was taken from his home and lived in 11 foster homes and was homeless on the streets until a dean at his high school became his mentor.
He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta and is in a graduate program at Yale. He has started his own business – a video company – that enabled him to earn money and climb from abject poverty and despair to a promising future.
Earlier in the month I met with a couple of guys starting a chapter of Cross Trail Outfitters. Their mission is to work with boys and young men from 7 to 20 who have no father figures, teach them to fish and hunt and become Godly men. Check them out on TeamCTO.org
Bill Collins is the Mayor of Summerville and the former Publisher/Editor of The Summerville Journal Scene