The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Thoughts from the Lower 40: Tassle Hassle
In May 23 Issue
Russell County News
By Wade Daffron, Columnist

Ah yes, graduation time…

A “rite of passage.”

A bold, new adventure into a “new world.”

What is it that happens at that magical moment when you move your tassle from one side of your pointy hat to the other?

Nothing, really.

Unless you want it to.

I mean really, really want it to.

You can always hang your tassle from your rear-view mirror, use it to tickle you little brother/sister, or something, and most school won’t even let you keep your pointy hat (Not that you could wear it anyplace besides graduation).

I think I have always secretly harbored a desire to give a speech at a commencement ceremony.

It would only be a one-time occasion because I’m sure I would be physically removed from the stage before I could complete my speech.

I think a proper introductory would include walking up to the podium, scanning the sea of graduates, thrusting a fist in the air (or flashing a gang sign), and yelling, “What up, dawgs?”

"Lets' graduate this beey......"

Would I have words of wisdom or clever quotes to razzle/dazzle the graduates?


I’d rather be truthful with them.

Not to be a bummer, or anything, but the “real word,” well, it’s kinda’ harsh.

Sure, sure, it’s only as good or bad as you make it, but you must remember I graduated a long time ago-back in the “Reagan Years.”

If you wanted a job, there was one for you. All you had to do was decide what you wanted to do, and if you couldn’t afford to pursue higher education, student loans and grants were much more easily obtainable then they are now.

Back then, we were still pursuing the “Great American Dream” of a spouse, 2.5 kids, a house with a picket fence, and a good-paying job.

Purchasing your first home was easy with one of those “adjustable rate mortgages” which started out nice-but turned ugly.

If we didn’t have money in our pockets-no problem! That’s what credit cards are for! (Look where that got us!)

Nowadays, most of us are worried about keeping the jobs we have, and I can’t even fathom the “hoops” one would have to jump through if attempting to get a loan of any kind.

Back in the mid-1980s, a lot of people graduated from high school and went to work in factories.

Remember what it was like around here when Fruit of the Loom was busting at the seams? (BAD pun, sorry.)

As a teenager, I always heard how working at one of the major auto plants (as several members of my family did) would have you “set for life” with good pay, good insurance, benefits, and a hefty severance package when you retire.

Now, the American auto industry is facing extinction.

So, graduates, what’s in your future?

Perhaps now, more than ever, your fate is in your hands, and your hands only.

You can’t expect the government to help you out, because they’re in a mess, themselves.

The days of throwing your cap in the air and starting an exciting, new career the next day are over.

You’re probably going to have to get out there and hustle, and I mean HUSTLE to find a job.

Not only will you be “competing” with your fellow classmates for jobs, but also people who have been in the workforce for many years who may have just lost their job.

At first, you may even have to take a job you don’t want until you can do what you truly desire.

Practically any job announced or posted  is swamped with applications, resumes, or plain-out begging.

Look at the latest unemployment figures-the figures don’t lie.


Do NOT get discouraged.

Yes, times are bad, and you should know you WILL face challenges.

You’ll probably hear a lot of people say things like “You’re the future,” or “The future’s in your hands.”

They’re right.

In a way, you graduates are like “explorers” of a “new world.”

These are unusual times (financially, socially, emotionally, etc.) in the United States.

We’ve usually got our you-know-what together, and are leading the pack.

Not so, anymore.

Unfortunately, it will take your generation’s, ingenuity, intelligence, and determination to right this ship.

You can do it.

Maybe you can fix some of the mistakes we made.

We have faith in you, and we’re proud of you.

All eyes are on you, our hope is in you, and our prayers are for you.

Now, go get ‘em…dawgs!

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