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Wednesday, November 21, 2018


To All, I forgot to mention that in English, the phrase "behind the 8 ball" refers to the game of pool, when it's your turn and the cue ball (the white one) is behind the black ball (#8) and thus restricts your range for a good shot.  My comment was a play on that using my age of 80.
     In my reflection on my birthday, I forgot something very important.  I added it here in bold print.  Hugh

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: "hu.murray@netzero.com" <hu.murray@netzero.com>
Subject: Behind the 80 ball?
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2018 06:48:33 GMT

To All,  Wednesday morning I received a phone call from a cousin in Louisiana.  She told me Jim, another cousin had just died.  He was 80.  I told her that tomorrow (today) was my birthday, and I would turn 80.  We chatted some, and when we hung up (a strange term for the mobile phones), I thought about the contrasts between Jim and myself.  He was a good Roman Catholic; I was not.  He attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans; I attended public schools.  He had been a marine;  I had not.  He had been a successful business man; I not.  He even ran for a seat on the New Orleans school board; I was more "run out of town" with some of my political activities.  After a police helicopter followed my car, and when I let out a passenger, the police swooped down and arrested him (and planned to deport him), I thought it about time to get outta Dodge (a phrase from old, US Western movies).
     Don't misunderstand - I am not jealous of Jim's success.  I am happy he was successful.  He and I were different, and we had different goals, different talents, etc.  Basically, I do not judge myself against others, I judge myself against me, against what I might have done.  I was a rebel, and that can bring problems.  I have had a few terrific days and many painful ones.  Most days were so-so, like those of most people most of the time.
     Jim died at 80 and today I AM 80.  When writing something, there is often a deadline, but Jim reminds me now of a real deadline, the deadline we all face.  For me, time is running out.  At 80, some of you might ask, display some of your wisdom of age.  In reality, I am older, but no wiser.  If I could live my life again, I might try to avoid some mistakes, but if I did so, I might make others just as bad if not worse.  I am as flawed at 80 as I was a 8.  As are we all.  Rarely, are our choices black and white - more often this gray or that gray.  But we can still try to choose the best of the grays.
     Overall, I have been fortunate to have met some wonderful people along the way.  Many of those friends are now dead; they were kind to me and most.  (I was remiss, forgetting something obvious, which I now add to the letter.  I owe much to my family who had to endure some of the painful consequences of my rebelliousness, my "criminal" actions.  Even tho they did not agree with me, they were often supportive in important ways.)  I have been lucky with health, even tho I now have eye problems.  Sure, I still have a deadline, but how much can I do before night falls?
     All the best,  Hugh Murray

Dear Professor Hugh,

I still remember the days when we together played the tennis. Hope you are well. 

Best regards,
Mr. Kang Zhenguo,   Deputy Director, 
Division of International Cooperation & Exchange
...Shijiazhuang, (China)

From Tony Flood, an old friend. (We met in the early 1970s doing research for the editor of the W E B Du Bois Correspondence and reprints of many of his works funded by U. of Massachusetts and Kraus-Thompson Publishers.  We had lost contact for decades and when we re-met, discovered, that he. like me, had moved from Left to Right politically.):

A poignant birthday reflection, one that hits home. A milestone. You've been blessed with life and have blessed others with yours. Happy Birthday, Hugh. May you have many more in good health, pain-free. I'll give you a call midday. Tony 
From Irwin L. (he and his wife were co-workers when we were young and began teaching in elementary school in New Orleans. We went on strike together.)

Hi Hugh

I appreciate what you just put together. I am just a bit older than you and in the process of losing an old friend of about 50 years. Getting older is not fun. Nevertheless, i have produced a booklet i call Hebrew Pronunciation Guide, containing everything significant that i have been able to find on that subject. I am working on my third edition. It is a never ending task but i want to leave something hopefully useful behind to make it easier for others to obtain what i have taken in without my struggle. It keeps my mind busy. I would like to think that my being here was not only to partake but to give something back. If you can find the time and energy i suggest you put something together showing where you were and where you now are. I believe that yours is a very interesting story, much better than most of the stuff that comes out today. Furthermore, i believe that you are honest and anything you put out would be spin free, something uncommon nowadays. Keep on trucking. Irwin

From Pat Conery, a co-worker at the court and union representative at the court in Milwauakee.

Happy Birthday, Hugh!!!!
That was a good reflection of life.  Although I am not 80, I'm trailing you by 11 years and reflect on my life and think about my expiration date as well - maybe more than I should. There are mistakes I've made during my life and a few that still slaps me in the face when I think about them.  The key I guess is to let those thoughts go and go forward.

You should be a writer.  Your emails are very interesting and informative and the books would be best sellers.  Just think there are some people that did great things at 80!  I just pray I can make it to 80 and still take care of myself and have my sound mind.

Enjoy your day whatever you decide to do.  Who knows, with all the walking you do, you might live to be 100! Have a happy birthday!

From Huy (I met him in a free tourist-helping group in Saigon, and he was my tour guide in Thailand. Now he has been awarded a scholarship and is a grad student at World Maritime U. in Sweden.)


You called me Mr.28! Now you are Mr.80! 80 is a nice number with a lot of experiences in life! I still remember about your story with Luther King! I admire you And keep a lot of memories with you in Thailand, Vietnam! Enjoy your life!

I wish you a a happy day, better health and beautiful trip...!

From my Cousin Merle (though the name can be ambiguous, she is a very feminine lady, like her mother and sister with a flair for art and beauty.)

Happy 80th birthday. Been there- done that. We are fortunate we have the abilities to stay active both physically and mentally. Slowing down a bit-yes, forgetting some things-yes but it's okay. Enjoy the day. ‚Merle

From Cousin Debi D.

I  am proud of many of your accomplishments: Woolworth-standing ground for what you believed in the 60s. Taught at Tulane [no, only studied and received a BA and MA at Tulane but was there long enough to help force the Board to change the rules of the university; I did teach], in Germany, China, and other places abroad (I'm sure). I believe you were a large influence when the World
Trade Center got lighting in the stairwells.  You saved many people in 9/11. You are very intelligent/ you still review novels today and share your viewpoint. Not counting all your published works. You are accomplished world traveler who shares his adventures with all. I could go on & on. All of us are flawed . There are many things we all wished didn't happen in our lives. All things good & bad make us who we are today. I'm so glad I got to share many of your travels, novels, stories, reviews, and visits to New Orleans. I am excited you are family.
Thanks for being you-Hugh 
Love, Debi 

From Mollie G., a friend

Happy 80th birthday, Mr. Hugh!! What an insightful, thought-provoking reflection. Hope there are many more before night falls.
Can't wait to see you next Thursday for Thanksgiving!...
Mollie G
Some of the emails included photos and composite pictures, but I don't know how to paste them on this properly, so I didn't. A friend took a photo of me with a phone on 14 November, and I had hoped to include that, but don't know how. Perhaps in future. ANYWAY ALL THE BEST TO ALL OF YOU! hugh murray

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