I got a kick out of Milt and some of it had to do with fitness, a subject about which he was serious. Milt was Milt Younger, the attorney who died recently. He, however, had graduated to one-name status a long time ago.

Milt spent a healthy chunk of time in hot pursuit of fitness, and it seemed as if every time I saw him he was in running shorts, having knocked out four or five or six miles. He was proud of his workouts and wanted you to know that no matter how much you were doing and how much younger you were, he could call your bluff and raise you one.

Milt was competitive and intensely alive, those bright eyes boring a hole in you. “How are your mother and dad doing?” Milt would ask, having known them for a long time.

Milt was a personal injury attorney so he was in the suing business, but he had a streak of loyalty too. Dad would tell the story of receiving a call from Chain Younger and Milt himself. There had been an accident on Dad’s farm and whether it had been preventable or not Milt had been called to take the case.

“I’m not going ahead with it,” Milt said. “Please be more careful.”

They were friends and in this case, friendship mattered.

The last time I saw Milt was at Uricchio’s. His eyes were as bright as ever. “How’s your mom doing?” he asked.

She is good and thank you for always asking.

•••

Tell me you don’t feel better right now. Tell me 67-degree mornings and 86-degree afternoons don’t make a difference. Tell me that the coming of fall doesn’t put a giant spring in your step.

There may be one more heat wave. Maybe two, but we’re getting ready to cross the bar and doing so with a heart of gratitude. It’s been a hot summer.

•••

My pomegranates have come in and the branches are drooping because of the weight of the fruit. No red skin yet, green, but red is on its way and the cool nights will help ripen them.

When I think of pomegranates and fall, I think of Dolly Hei, one of Shafter’s finest citizens. Dolly has had a slight bump in the road healthwise but expects to make a full recovery. Talk about a woman who has a bounce in her step. With her stride, she barely needs a car or any other motorized conveyance.

•••

It’s cool so the fair must be near and I’ll be darned if the gates don’t fly open  — think Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory — tomorrow. When you have grandchildren, the word fair makes you think animals as in "I have to take a grandchild or several to see the animals." That’s about as good as it gets, even if you are a hard-hearted, grizzled veteran of too many fairs.

I can already see Nora straining to get out of her stroller. That’s another good thing about grandchildren. They can knock the rust off your heart. All you have to do is watch a kid discover butter for the first time and your heart will melt accordingly.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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