A Good Attitude

Mrs. Eloise Agerton will celebrate her 100th birthday August 18, 2019, but she doesn’t have the wrinkles to prove it.  When I asked the secret to her lovely complexion, she laughed and said it may be the Avon products she sold years ago.  Skin care is probably a factor, but I believe part of the reason she’s aged so beautifully is her good attitude.  Her cheerful demeanor goes back a long way.

Miss Eloise’s mobility is limited, and her hearing presents some challenges, but her attitude is outstanding.  My mother, brother, and I recently visited with her at Northside Villa, an assisted living facility near Rochelle.  “This is a nice place,” she said.  “I’m real pleased to be here.”  Mama enthusiastically responded, “It’s a wonderful place, Eloise!  I would enjoy it here too.”  Miss Eloise promptly extended a jovial invitation, “Well Margaret, why don’t you just come on down?”  She has a quick wit that easily leads toward laughter.

My mother is a long-time friend of Miss Eloise.  They knew each other when their children were growing up in Harmony Baptist Church.  Mama mentioned what excellent teachers Miss Eloise and her first husband, Lewis Fullington, were in Discipleship Training on Sunday nights.  Then the two of them reminisced about friends and pastors and treasured moments from long ago.

Life didn’t start out easy for Miss Eloise.  Her father, Jerry Hudson, worked hard farming to support his wife and three children.  Eloise was the first-born, followed by a brother, Harris, and a sister, Krissie.  Her sister couldn’t say “Eloise” so dubbed her “Wee,” the name she’s most often called today.  When Miss Eloise was eight years old her mother died, shortly after giving birth to another son.

Atha Scroggins, a registered nurse, offered to raise the baby boy.  He didn’t live very long, but Miss Eloise still speaks with gratitude for the kindness shown by Ms. Scroggins, other neighbors, and relatives.  Miss Eloise took over the household chores while her father lovingly did all that he could.  She remembers him rocking a flu sickened child through the night, then leaving early in the morning to work in the fields.

She cooked and kept house at an early age but has no complaints about the tiring work.  The chickens she fried on top of their wood burning stove were the ones she caught in their yard.  When a hen stopped laying, it was a sure thing that dumplings would soon be simmering in a big pot.

“We were poor folks,” she shared with no hint of regret.  “I only had two or three dresses.  I’d wash one out and hang it on the line to dry overnight so I could wear it the next day.  I knew I couldn’t go to college, but I was determined to finish high school.”

She graduated from Union High, a country school within walking distance of her home.  Miss Eloise described the small desks where they studied and ate lunch, and she fondly mentioned a special teacher named Gladys Ruth Robertson.  “Everybody loved her,” she said.  Then she gave us a glimpse as to why.  Miss Eloise enjoyed playing basketball, but her daddy wouldn’t let her wear shorts in front of boys.  She sneaked around to play ball until a caring teacher visited Mr. Hudson and convinced him it was okay.  It was a small gesture of kindness that made a lasting impression.

Miss Eloise’s family includes two daughters, Brenda Thigpen and Faye Gibbs, a son, Emory Fullington, eight grandchildren, 17 great grands, and one great-great grandchild.  Their photographs fill part of a wall, and the nightstand by her bed has a picture of five generations along with her Bible.  It’s easy to see what she values.

After we had visited an hour or so, she noticed my brother had closed his eyes.  “We’ve put Jimmy to sleep!” she said with an infectious laugh.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  Eloise Hudson Fullington Agerton is living proof of Solomon’s wisdom.

If you’d like to send her a birthday card, her address is P O Box 1120, Northside Villa, Rochelle, GA  31079.  If you drop by for a visit and she’s taking a nap, it’s fine to wake her up.  With a mischievous smile she said, “I sleep sometimes because there’s not all that much I have to do.  I even have people to think for me!”  Don’t be surprised if you leave there feeling better than when you arrived.  I’m almost certain I lost a few wrinkles amidst the laughter.  There’s a lot to be said for a good attitude.

Posted in 2018 | 2 Comments

Music and Motivation – Part II

During my first two years of music lessons we didn’t have a piano at home.  It was, however, only a short walk to my grandmother’s house.  Mama Joiner had an ancient Price & Teeple upright in her living room.  It didn’t have a perfect tone, but it sounded pretty good to me.  Four days a week I borrowed her alarm clock to ensure I didn’t exceed the minimum practice expectations.

I plinked out basic tunes with the finesse of an uninspired second and then third grade musician.  Mama Joiner would say, “That sounds really good, Buggy Boy,” calling me a pet name which had no particular significance.

When it was time for fourth grade, Daddy sent my older brother, Jimmy, and me to school in Unadilla.  The last high school seniors had graduated from Pinehurst in 1958.  The eight remaining grades were expected to be phased out in another year or so.

Changing schools meant changing piano teachers, a perfect time it seemed to stop taking lessons.  But Mama wanted me to first meet the teacher, Mrs. Mary Frances Beddingfield.  Mama knew that once I boarded a ship, I was unlikely to jump off.

Mrs.  Beddingfield was a jolly lady with a constant smile.  She had no paddle in sight and assured me we would have a good time.  I reluctantly signed up for the twice weekly program.

Mama and Daddy soon bought a reconditioned piano from Bibb Music Company in Macon.  It cost $250, which was a sizable amount in 1960.  I realized that purchase had sealed my destiny.  Having a piano at home with no one to play it was an option I knew would not readily be offered.

Not long after getting that piano, my mother’s aunt, Kate Bembry Parnell, came for an unannounced visit.  She walked to the edge of the field where Mama and I were picking cotton.  I had even less enthusiasm for picking cotton than practicing piano.  We didn’t have thermos jugs back then.  We’d put ice water in a Mason jar and place it in the shade at the end of a row.  My water was usually gone before the ice melted.  I prioritized quenching my thirst over filling my cotton sack.

Aunt Kate said something that day that will cause me to forever hold her memory dear.  She said, “I was hoping to hear Neil play the piano.”  I only knew a couple of songs, the names of which I have long forgotten, but we all headed to the living room for a concert.

We didn’t have air conditioning at the time, but we had a big, square, green fan that had the force of a mighty wind.  It didn’t matter that the air it stirred was hot.  It was a welcome respite from the heat, sweat, and gnats of that cotton field.

I played those two songs until Aunt Kate raised the white flag of surrender.  That impromptu performance gave me a new perspective on music and inspired me to practice a little more.  My motivation for sticking with piano lessons had shifted from fear to comfort.  I found the rhythmic sounds of that whirring fan blade much preferable to the whines of attacking gnats.

In 1960 Floyd Cramer captivated the nation with his unique slip-style piano recording of “Last Date.”  Floyd was way ahead of Beethoven in my book.   Young ladies swooned, screamed, and sometimes fainted when he played.  I was ten years old and began having fleeting thoughts of putting the alarm clock away, especially during the season for harvesting cotton.

In the ninth grade, I joined the Unadilla Future Farmers of America String Band.  Charles Jones and Jerry Pickard were top notch piano players, but they were needed on guitars.  They patiently tutored me through “Last Date,” “Down Yonder,” and other country standards.  I began to understand that practice helps pave a road that can be worth traveling.

Aunt Emily, my father’s sister, inherited Mama Joiner’s piano.  She gave it to me in the 1970s, and Daddy paid to have it professionally restored.  We were delighted to find that beneath its dull black exterior was beautiful oak wood.

The discovery of that piano’s hidden splendor was unexpected, just like the improvement in my motivation had been years earlier.  Those guys in the band unknowingly helped me embrace a new attitude.  Playing piano in the string band of a small-town school is when I finally stopped watching the clock.  That old piano doesn’t have a perfect tone, but it sounds pretty good to me.

Posted in 2018 | 5 Comments

Music and Motivation – Part I

The late Don Joiner was a first cousin of mine.  He was 14 years older than me and was a gifted musician.  He played the piano and organ as a teenager at Harmony Baptist Church, the place where our family worshipped twice every Sunday.  Don’s considerable talent is perhaps what inspired my mother to arrange for me to take music lessons.

In the second grade, at Pinehurst Elementary School, I began taking piano from Mrs. Myrtle Peavy.  She was also our school principal and had a no-nonsense approach to discipline.

Ben Reed was a classmate, friend, and fellow piano student.  We stayed after school two days a week for our lessons with Miss Myrtle.  In the free time before our sessions, we’d throw a baseball, hang upside down from the monkey bars, or see who could go the highest on the swings.

On one of those afternoons Ben led us on a daring expedition through tangled vines that had encapsulated a small abandoned building.  He took me there to show me Dock Watson’s thumb.  Dock was well ahead of me in school, but I knew him because he lived only a couple of miles from our house.  His thumb had been severed in a shop-class accident then put in a jar of denatured alcohol.  I suppose it was placed in the window sill to remind young boys to be careful around electric saws.  Dock’s thumb was the only thing left in that run-down building.  I guess nobody knew what to do with it.

Miss Myrtle selected a piece for my first recital called “The Wise Old Owl.” She suggested I sing the catchy lyrics, “Hoot hoot hoot goes the wise old owl, hoot hoot hoot goes he.”  She later decided we would forgo the singing.  She didn’t say why, and I didn’t ask.  I had excellent volume, so it must have been something else.

Ben and I took the summer off from music.  When we returned to school for third grade, he told me he wasn’t going to keep taking lessons, that piano was more for girls.  I figured Ben knew what he was talking about.  He was the best athlete in our class, plus he had a girlfriend, the stunningly beautiful Kay Bowen.  When I got home from school that day, I told Mama that Ben and I were quitting piano.  I thought presenting this as a joint decision would give it more credibility.  Mama said if that’s what I wanted to do then she wouldn’t stop me, but that I would have to be the one to tell Miss Myrtle.

That complicated my plans considerably.  Miss Myrtle was nice to me, but her paddling skills were legendary.  I had a notion her music students received a disproportionate amount of mercy.

David Dunaway, a cousin of mine, was a year behind me at Pinehurst Elementary.  I told him this story of my childhood dilemma at a family reunion a few years ago.  He laughed and said he knew why I was afraid to talk to Miss Myrtle.  He said she paddled the two of us for jumping out a window in the boys’ room.  I remember leaping through the windows a few times, but I don’t recall getting punished.  I am, however, blessed with a gift for disremembering things that are incriminating.

I couldn’t summon the courage to tell Miss Myrtle that I wouldn’t be back.  I could out-wrestle anybody in our class, so it didn’t’ bother me if most of her students were girls.  If anyone made it an issue, I knew I could put them on the wrong side of a Full Nelson.  Or I could employ the vice-like grip of my renowned scissor hold.  Once I locked my legs around someone’s stomach, the only sane option was to surrender by crying, “Uncle!”

I kept taking piano, but I was careful to never practice more than the minimum suggested time.  An alarm clock helped ensure that I didn’t exceed 30 minutes per day.  I plinked aimlessly through my second year of music, plagued by a lack of enthusiasm.

I didn’t really believe Miss Myrtle would paddle me for leaving the music business behind.  I think I was more afraid that she would ask me why I was quitting, a question I didn’t have a good answer for.  That small hint of misplaced fear was enough motivation to keep me on the piano bench for another school term.

Not long after finishing the third grade, I found a new source of inspiration.  In the next column we’ll delve into the mindset of a fourth-grade cotton-picking piano player.  Sometimes life offers us difficult choices.  At other times it’s a breeze.  My breeze came from a big green fan in the living room, a fan that kept perfect rhythm with the two simple songs I knew how to play.

Posted in 2018 | 6 Comments

ABC Diner

I’m not sure why distant memories surface unexpectedly.  I’m just glad they’re mostly pleasant.  I thought about Mrs. Balanis today, a sweet Greek lady I met in Valdosta during the 1970s.  I spent four years in South Georgia at Valdosta State College.  The first two years I lived in a dormitory and survived on cafeteria food.  It wasn’t all that bad, but it paled in comparison to the country cooking I had grown up with.

One day there was a student protest of the cafeteria which attracted a crowd of 100 or maybe more.  I didn’t participate, but I’ll have to say their sit-in was quite effective.  The next time we had fish sticks they tasted like something with a possible aquatic origin.

We supplemented our cafeteria food from various places.  Pizza Villa was one of our favorites.  Fall quarter of 1970 was the first time I’d ever eaten pizza.  I’ve had a few slices since then that were almost as good, but I’ve never had one any better.

Bynum’s Diner was our regular place for home-style fare.  The ladies in the kitchen and the ones waiting tables were all senior citizens.  They cooked for flavor not to manage cholesterol or calories.  We probably didn’t tip them enough, but they were nice to us anyway.  I guess those older women understood we were still kids, something that escaped us at the time.

Occasionally we’d go to Ma Groover’s Restaurant or to a boarding house that I’m not sure had a name.  It was a two-story frame home where men rented single rooms and ate old fashioned meals seated around a long table.  Anyone was welcome and the food was good.  The era of boarding houses has long passed but I’m not sure why.  Maybe there’s too much regulation to turn a profit now.

Mitchell’s Barbeque on the south end of town was custom-made for a college kid’s budget.  They only had a few small tables, but it didn’t take us long to eat.  Their plate full of barbeque came with rice and gravy, greens, and cornbread.  Sometimes we’d buy a paper bag of grilled pork skins that were still warm and drenched in sauce.  They made a perfect afternoon snack for a carload of hungry boys.

Shoney’s had Slim Jim sandwiches and strawberry pie.  Mr. Twist offered foot-long hot dogs with a dozen toppings.  Colonel Sanders fried his chicken with secret herbs and spices.  There were plenty of good places to eat in Valdosta during my time there, but the one I wish most that I could return to is the ABC Diner.

ABC wasn’t in the regular rotation for college students.  I first went there as a guest of a couple of Valdosta State staff members, Fluker Stewart and Andy Bond.  I was President of the Student Government Association when Mr. Stewart and Dean Bond took me there for lunch.  I was smitten with the food and even more so with the charming silver haired lady who served it.

It was a small but very busy restaurant.  Mrs. Balanis was constantly in motion, making sure the place was spotlessly clean, the food exceptional, and the atmosphere inviting.  She treated her customers like family.

ABC is where I learned to enjoy tossed salads.  I had until then considered them an unnecessary accompaniment to spaghetti.  Her picturesque salads were crisp, cold, and loaded with her own splendid version of Thousand Island dressing.  Her Greek salads were reportedly even more magnificent, but I was young and lacked the courage to choose such an adventurous path.

It was at ABC where I was introduced to creamed corn so wonderful it deserved its own blessing.  Mrs. Balanis knew how to perfectly sweeten the pot.  Her creamed corn could have been served in a pie crust without apology to any dessert.

And ABC is the place I took my future wife one day when she didn’t feel well.  She ordered a Coke to drink but no food.  A few minutes later Mrs. Balanis brought her a bowl of homemade soup.  With her warm smile and endearing accent, she said very softly, “Maybe this will help you feel better.”  It helped back then, and it still helps now when I recall that brief but tender moment.  Small gestures of kindness can make lasting impressions.

If I could go back to the ABC Diner, I’d order a Greek salad.  But what I’d most like to do is just visit with Mrs. Balanis.  I loved that little diner, because I loved the dear lady who treated me like family.  I don’t know why memories surface unexpectedly.  I’m just glad they’re mostly pleasant.

Posted in 2018 | 4 Comments

Reunion Season

I retired from banking at the end of 2015.  Part of my retirement strategy was to find three free meals a week.  My Three for Free Program has not worked very well during the winter months, but summer is much better.  Summer is the time for reunions.

Reunion Season starts in June, peaks in July, and is pretty much over by the end of August.  I wish we could spread that July concentration over several months, but I haven’t yet figured out how.  Georgia Veterans State Park at Lake Blackshear is a prime location for reunions. I highly recommend it for your family gatherings, and I encourage you to schedule them during June or August.

Jane and I leave church on Sundays a little after twelve, then drive slowly toward the park.  We’ve learned not to get there too early unless you want to help set up tables and chairs.  About 20 minutes later we’re usually standing in line holding red plastic plates, asking folks we don’t know how they’ve been getting along.

Over the past few summers I’ve developed some guidelines that are quite useful.  If you decide to start attending reunions of people you aren’t related to, here are three things that may be helpful.

Rule number One is to “Follow the Crowd.”  I also call this the Twenty Plenty Rule.  It’s important to go where the people are, where you can more readily blend in.  I don’t stop at a place where there are less than 20 vehicles, unless it’s an emergency situation.

More people also means more food.  It’s disappointing to find out that someone has grilled just enough chicken halves for those who responded.  It makes me feel a little guilty to compete for a good position in line, especially if the crowd consists mostly of older folks.  Competing for a spot near the front is also more challenging because of Jane’s impeccable manners.  Unless she’s really hungry I have to tug on her arm to keep her from lagging behind.  When there are fewer chickens than people even a polite hesitation can be devastating.

With a big crowd you’ll have more variety for the meal too.  There’ll be chicken, ham, and maybe a plate of sausage or a pan of barbeque.  There’ll be at least five vegetables, plus deviled eggs, fresh tomatoes, and a whole table of desserts.  And there are always leftovers, which makes the trip even more worthwhile.

As soon as someone makes a move toward cleaning off the tables, I’ll jump up and offer to help.  One of those nice ladies will inevitably ask, “Would you like to take a plate home?”

“Not for myself,” I’ll say, “but Mama sure would enjoy some of your good cooking.”

“How’s your mama doing?” they’ll ask, while trying to figure out who I am.

“Doing pretty well,” I reply, “just hungry all the time.  The doctor says it’s the medicine she’s taking.”  A sweet lady like that will grab a couple of plates and stack way more on them than I’d feel comfortable taking.  She’ll cover them with aluminum foil plus send an uncut pecan pie along for dessert.

Rule number two is “Talk to The Texters,” the 4 T Rule.  By sitting next to a texter, or any type phone addict, you can avoid being asked questions you can’t answer.  Kids are ideal, but young adults will do.  You may need to nod once or twice as a courtesy, but you won’t have to speak.  Phoneaholics don’t want to be interrupted, which helps you keep a low profile and allows you to eat quickly.

Rule number three is “Don’t Stay Too Long at The Party.”  It’s best to go late and leave early.  If you rush off too soon, you’ll miss out on the leftovers, but there’s an element of risk in staying too long.  That lesson came early for me.  We had finished a scrumptious dinner when a young fellow of about seven or eight came running over.  “My mama says she doesn’t know who y’all are.  She wants you to show her where you belong on the family tree.”

I looked across the room and there she was, standing by an easel with a detailed genealogy.  She was staring quizzically at me, while holding a black magic marker with the top already removed.

I said, “Son, I sure do wish we could stay and visit, but we have somewhere else we need to be. If you don’t mind, just tell your mama that we belong on the part of the tree that’s about to leave.”

Sometimes I wonder what part of the tree that lady put me on.  Maybe we’ll find out next year.

Posted in 2018 | 6 Comments

Rufus

By the spring of 1964 I was already a seasoned veteran of the Unadilla Chapter of the Dooly County 4-H Club.  I had completed some noteworthy projects, such as my entomology collection.  It filled two King Edward Cigar boxes and included an elusive water bug thanks to Granddaddy Hill.  The insects were pinned neatly to green Styrofoam, which had been salvaged from a funeral wreath.

Public speaking was another memorable venture.  My mother still maintains that I was robbed of the district award.  She credited me with a stellar presentation of 4-H: The Democratic Way.  The thing I remember most clearly was being glad to get off the stage.  Standing behind that podium in Americus, I learned that public speaking can lead to bladder shrinkage.

I had also chalked up two years of experience in the Dooly County 4-H Barrow Show.  A barrow is a male pig who has been chosen to sing soprano in the choir.  The Bible speaks of eunuchs, a position for which the volunteer line was predictably short.  It’s the same with male pigs.

My prior entries in the barrow competitions were common farm raised pigs of undocumented heritage.  In 1964 I was determined to make a serious run for the coveted blue ribbon.  Daddy agreed to loan me the money to buy a registered Duroc, a breed with dark red hair and a history of stardom.

Mr. Rufus Coody had a large purebred swine operation.  He knew more about hogs than anyone in Dooly County and far beyond.  He searched carefully trying to find a winner for me.  We put that young pig in the back of Daddy’s pickup truck and took him home.  I named that promising little fellow Rufus, in honor of the man who brought us together.

Mr. Allen Fulford was our county agent.  He made regular visits to our farm to check on Rufus.   Mr. Allen would tweak the feed formula, adding or taking away various supplements.  He gave me a strict regimen of daily walks for Rufus to tone his muscles and help train him for the showring routine.  It only took a few trips around our large fenced pen until Rufus caught on.  I didn’t even need a walking stick.  It was more like playing in the yard with a good dog.

Rufus loved attention.  When our school bus made the afternoon rounds, he would trot over to the fence and stand on his back legs.  He would prop on the page wire until I petted him or scratched underneath that big chin of his.  The kids on the bus cheered through the half open windows.  He was delighted by encouraging chants of, “Ruuuuu-fus! Ruuuuu-fus! Ruuuuu-fus!”

One aspect of the 4-H plan was to teach good record keeping.  I knew exactly how much was invested in Rufus.  When it came time for the barrow show, I had spent 57 cents a pound raising him.  That was a lot in 1964, but Rufus had the look of a champion.

That little pig started out as a project, but he soon became a friend.  It was, however, a troubling situation, as I knew barrows shared a common fate.  They travel a one-lane road with no off ramps.  That’s the sobering thought that pounded my conscience when we walked into the showring.

Rufus didn’t win, but he came in a solid second.  I still have that red satin ribbon in a small cardboard box of keepsakes.  The top three hogs always sold for a premium, sometimes for as much as two dollars a pound.  I tried to focus on this being a lesson in business, but my heart had no interest in a lecture on economics.

Rufus was herded through the gate toward a big truck that would take him on his final ride.  He gave me a quizzical stare, but I couldn’t look back.  I turned away and bit my bottom lip.  There was no way to explain to him what was happening.  Even if I could it would have just made things worse.

A few days later our mailman, Mr. Bruce Poole, delivered an envelope from the sale barn.  It removed any uncertainty as to Rufus’ fate.  I knew he had been wrapped in white butcher paper and stacked in a cooler, stamped with a label that didn’t even mention his name or red ribbon.

I had a sick feeling as I walked toward the house while opening that envelope.  My good buddy Rufus was gone.  That was a hard thing for an 11-year-old boy to accept, the low point of a tragic situation.  I thought I’d hit rock bottom, but it got worse.  Rufus had only brought 32 cents a pound.

Posted in 2018 | 5 Comments

Porches

I don’t believe we spend enough time on porches.  During childhood porches ranked high on my list of favored places, four of them in particular.  My memories have perhaps grown more pleasant than the moments.  Tea is always sweeter the day after it’s made.

Mama Joiner’s home was an easy walk from ours.  Her long wraparound porch spanned the entire front of her house and most of one side.  It was furnished with rocking chairs and a green wooden swing with narrow slats like God intended.  A red vinyl cot with a reclining back was added after Papa Joiner had a stroke.  He enjoyed the view of the nearby road and regular visits with family and friends.  He died in 1957, three months before I turned five.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but an open porch now seems a perfect place for repose before taking a journey.

Joiner’s Store was only twenty feet away.  My brother, Jimmy, and I would often walk there from home.  Papa Joiner would sometimes be standing there, leaning against one of the small wooden support posts.  He’d say, “Come on and get a Coke, boys.”  An ice-cold Coca Cola on a hot summer day will buy a lot of good will with a young child.

Uncle Emmett, one of Daddy’s brothers, began operating the store in the 1950s when Papa Joiner’s health failed.  That’s when a lot of my store porch memories were made.  It was a gathering place for neighbors, most of them farmers.  Uncle Emmett’s furnishings included a school bus seat he had salvaged, one rocking chair, and plenty of Coke crates that made decent seats if you stood them on end.  There was a revolving cast of entertainers on that small but busy stage.

One summer when it was hot and unusually dry, Mr. Edgar Andrews stopped by for a cold soda water.  Uncle Emmett said, “Edgar, you think it’s ever going to rain?”

Mr. Edgar paused and studied the clouds like he was looking for a sign.  He said, “Emmett, I’ve noticed that it always rains right after a dry spell.”  The most likely place to hear that kind of banter is on the porch of a country store.  I miss those days, those people, and their charming conversations.

Grandmama Hill’s porch was on the side of their home.  The nearby woods had a spring fed stream and sycamore trees with initials of young lovers carved in the smooth white bark.  That porch is where the men gathered after Sunday dinners.  Granddaddy would sip ice water from his oversized drinking glass as he sat in his sturdy rocking chair.  He’d talk about simple things, like a feisty bull he had seen go through the auction at Ernest Mashburn’s livestock barn that week.

At nighttime in summer Grandmama’s porch offered front row seats to an exceptional symphony.  There were crickets, frogs, and other common voices, but the sound I loved most was the whippoorwill.  There was something intriguing about their lonesome call, as if they were trying to tell me something.  I wondered what they were saying, but I never figured it out.

The small screened porch on the front of our home was perhaps my favorite.  There were two rockers and a comfortable swing, the swing being my preference.  Family and friends talked and laughed on that porch, but the times I remember most fondly are when it was just me.  I’d strum my Sears-Roebuck guitar and sing a Hank Williams tune, or maybe something from the Green Broadman Hymnal.  I wrote a few songs and sometimes traveled with a band of Gypsies until it was time for bed.  The music was never exceptional, but it suited the audience.

Our porch was also a good place for reflection.  Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  A quiet porch on a star-filled night is perfect for stillness.  It’s an ideal setting for young boys, old men, or those who fall somewhere between.  I wasn’t always looking for God in the solitude, but I know now that God was always looking for me.

I don’t believe we spend enough time on porches.  I can’t prove it but I’m almost certain it’s true.  It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a whippoorwill, and far too long since I’ve even listened. Sometimes I still wonder what those whippoorwills were saying.  Maybe tonight I’ll figure it out.

Posted in 2018 | 6 Comments