The older you get, the more it happens.

By Don Rush

Kids, this may come to a surprise to you, but when you get older — say in your 50s and 60s — your brain still thinks intellectually you’re choppin’ tall cotton. Your body and the mirror may tell a different story, but your brain still thinks it is on top functioning on all cylinders. 70, 80, 90 years or older seems not only doable but probable.
And, then you get a message from a family member or a friend that someone you’ve known for practically your entire life passes the great beyond onto some new grand adventure. I reckon the older you get the more of these messages you get, the more life and death happens.
Last week I was pretty darned shocked to get a message that Steve Percival, a dude I’ve known in some fashion or another since about the third or fourth grade had passed.
Steve graduated with me from good old Clarkston High School in 1981. He had a good singing voice, liked Elvis Presley songs, was in CHS musicals, choirs, barbershop quartets and lots of other musical things. From those days, I remember him smiling, laughing and joking around a lot.
After school we parted ways like many high school friends do — life gets in the way and takes us each down different paths. I went to college to get my journalism degree and then started work at a newspaper that was less than 10 miles from my childhood home (I’ve been here since). Steve’s way took him to join the United States Armed Forces — the Army to be precise.
I talked to his ex-wife, good friend and the mother of his pride and joy, their daughter Kaylee this past Sunday. They seem to be doing as okay as they can be. From them I learned Steve’s path after high school led him to the Army and Germany. He spent two and half years with the Military Police and then another five and half as a counter intelligence agent.
Of which he was proud of.
He was more proud to have had the opportunity to touch the lives of many kids as supervisor of Children’s Village.
“Years after he left, we’d be at a restaurant or someplace and an adult would walk up to us and thank Steve for how he helped them turn their lives around when they were younger and in trouble,” Deb said.
He also went to “Santa” school and for 27 years would dress up like that right jolly ol’ elf and make appearances at tree lighting ceremonies, parades, military and private events. I guess he liked to put smiles on others’ faces.
A few years back, he asked me if I thought he should run for the Mayor of the City of the Village of Clarkston. I think I quipped, “Only if you change that city’s stupid name.” He did a good job as Mayor, fighting an uphill battle on running the city professionally, following the charter and state rules versus whatever was convenient at the time.
He had a twinkle in his eye and that’s what I think most folks who knew him better than I will say. Adios, my friend.

In 2016, Steve [on the right] accepted the gavel as Clarkston’s latest mayor.

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As The Neanderthal Philosopher, last week I opined a wee bit on my Neanderthal genetics protecting me from many things (in particular COVID-19). Here’s a response to that column.
Dear Grog…er…Don,
Thank you so much for broaching this subject into a woke world for the consideration and hoped for understanding of knuckle draggers everywhere! As an Irish, Welsh, English (long inhale) German, French, Native American, I share your condition, am unapologetic about it and do my best to “fit in” with my peers.
While it’s true that Neanderthals became extinct roughly 40,000 years ago, when you consider that our planet is 4.5 billion years old, our exit was very recent! It has been my long held theory that the males of our species left the caves several millennia AFTER the females which explains virtually every aspect of male behavior up to and including laughing at flatulence and “forgetting” to wash our hands before dinner.
While I have seen no studies to confirm my theory, I accept it as fact from no less an authority than my long suffering spouse. I take solace in the reality that, in order to be a knuckle dragger, you have to be able to stand at least partially erect…and THAT is growth, my friend!

Email that knuckle-draggin’ Rush at

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