A few spoil Columbia’s idyllic status

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:01 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This is the time of year that most proves the wisdom of my choice to make Columbia our retirement home as the weather begins to mirror the hospitality of its citizens. The month of May normally signals the end of the difficult to predict weather patterns of winter and early spring, giving way to shirt sleeve and convertible weather and the rebirth of magnificent flora, even the weeds that when cropped closely are almost indistinguishable from lush green grass.

Columbia and its nearby neighbors are privileged at the end of May to enjoy a Memorial Day tribute second to none in the nation as we pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom, to those veterans who are still among us and to those brave men and women of our Armed Forces who stand ready to go into harm’s way.

With the exception of a few knuckleheads and malcontents, this city supports the Salute to Veterans air show and Memorial Day parade, not in glorifying war but by voting with their feet to honor and remember those who understood that freedom is not free.

Additionally, the season also establishes Columbia as one of the few cities remaining with a people-friendly downtown atmosphere. The Twilight Festival, occurring each Thursday night during the months of June and September, is organized for the pleasure and entertainment of the young and young at heart with street dancing, multiple music genres, sidewalk dining, games and even a bit of political protest — all in all, something for nearly everyone.

My personal favorites are the musicians and singers, particularly the Bubbas, a father and sons trio whose repertoire includes country, doo wop, old time rock and roll and pop tunes. One will also find a full range of instruments and styles, from dobros to cellos to guitars; balladeers, folk singers, gospel, contemporary and some so deviating from traditional music as to defy (for me at least) identification. Those whom have yet to take advantage of the Twilight Festival estrange themselves from quality entertainment at an affordable (free) price, an opportunity to mingle with friendly folk and a hopping good time.

Columbia, for just a few of the reasons mentioned, is a superior place not only for retirees but also for those seeking employment along with a place to raise and educate their children. We enjoy fine schools (kindergarten through 12, a university and two colleges), excellent medical facilities, theater and movie entertainment, good restaurants and wholesome Midwestern values. There are nevertheless a few behavioral thorns among the roses which, if eliminated, will further enhance the livability of this community.

First among my particular annoyances is the marked proclivity of a few to ignore the parking lot stalls erected specifically for the return of shopping carts — instead leaving them in place, wheeling them into an adjacent space or parking them half on and half off the medians. A select, but thankfully small number, appears to believe those who are physically challenged would benefit from additional exercise and insist in depositing their carts in those spots reserved for handicapped parking.

Is it too much to ask that, in consideration of the patrons who follow you and to preclude damage to vehicles by windblown carts, they be parked in the spaces so designated? It stands to reason, if you are physically capable of propelling the cart through a store’s aisles and to your automobile, that you must also have the ability to propel that contraption another 20 yards to its proper resting place.

Additional thoughtless behavior that mars an otherwise idyllic community is the parking of vehicles in designated fire lanes of convenience store and supermarkets and driving recklessly across parking lots while engrossed in chatting on a cell phone. The fire lanes are clearly marked, the exercise in walking those few extra steps is sorely needed by most culprits I have observed and rodeo clown is a far less perilous activity than negotiating these speedways.

Consideration for one’s neighbor is often contagious.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident who can be

reached via e-mail at

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