Every now and then the words of a metropolitan newspaper colleague come to mind. You may have read them here before.
Those who long for the good old days, he wrote, either have selective memory or a lousy present.
It seemed such a dour outlook. Some might see a glass that is half full. His kind not only would see the half-empty glass; the idea of re-filling it would serve no useful purpose.
But his point wasn't so much a matter of negativity as it was a suggestion that an extended lament about days gone by was time wasted for the more important task of living in the now.
In a practical sense, that might serve as good advice. But a thought to the contrary came to mind Tuesday. This must be a guy who never had a Johnny Jacobs in his life.
John J. Jacobs, Fostoria's long-time link to what truly were the good old days, died at St. Catherine's Manor Monday night. Never mind that word of his passing came in rapid modern form, a text message.
We called him Johnny and for most of his 60 years, though he walked to a different beat, he was always one of us.
Yeah, his was a different pace. As kids we recognized Johnny as being mentally retarded. There wasn't a derogatory sense to that; it was just the description of the time before someone decided there was a better way to say it.
Long before anyone worried about the labeling of a certain portion of the population or political correctness, we knew Johnny was special.
Today's tags, like developmentally disabled or intellectually challenged, are really no better. Disabled or challenged, Johnny had an edge on all comers. He was everybody's friend.
Proof of such was evident when he gave a hug even a self-respecting bear would envy. But while his upper-body strength was impressive, it was surely a distant second to that of his legs. Not only did they support a 300-plus-pound frame, they also covered many, many miles.
Johnny walked everywhere - to City Park for summer recreation events in our youth, to Memorial Stadium for football and to either high school for basketball. But mostly, those legs took him first to the old Payne Field and later to his beloved Meadowlark Park, where he enjoyed watching nearly three generations of softball players do their thing.
The games were so much a part of his life and he was such a part of the games, the city ultimately named the extension of South Union Street that enters the park John Jacobs Drive.
But the fact is every city event took on a little extra import if Johnny made the scene. The St. Wendelin Festival, any one of a number of downtown celebrations and every special fund-raising endeavor had a Johnny Jacobs presence Forrest Gumpian in nature.
One of his favorites was the Fostoria Knights of Columbus Ping-Pong Marathon, a 20-year event which benefited what was then known as the Seneca County Council for Retarded Citizens, a benefactor for the School of Opportunity.
For years, Johnny was an employee with the Seneca Re-Ads, a local workforce associated with the School of Opportunity. He later became a member of the Re-Ads board of directors.
So this event was special. Johnny and fellow Re-Ad Jimmy Bennett were on hand each year to hit the first ball. They'd hang out much of the weekend and play several games, their winning percentage similar to that of grandchild vs. grandparent in alternate games of Tic Tac Toe and Old Maid.
Johnny considered the marathon a sort of a springtime version of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. "Only these are our kids," said the biggest kid of them all.
This is the kind of good-old-days stuff the big-city writer must never have experienced.
He might well be right in that the present got a little lousier around here Monday night. But any one of a number of Johnny Jacobs moments from the past provide an overwhelming buffer.
If they are selective memories, so be it. We are, after all, talking about everybody's friend.