As I sat on the back porch watching the grass die, I could not help but find myself in my mind’s eye sitting similarly on my grandmother’s porch. It was a summer where I spent a lot of time with my Grandma Kitty and Aunt Norma Jean. Flossie, the milk cow, was meandering through the yard headed for a shade tree where she laid down and tried to create a bit of a breeze using her tail to move an almost non-existent breeze.
God is so good to Christians. All we have to do is just ask and there it is.
I’m not talkin’ about things we want. I am talkin’ about things we need — like pontoon boats and big screen TVs.
I prayed and I prayed for God to give me those and sure ’nuff he did. Of course, I have to keep them at my neighbor’s house.
I can use them anytime I want to day or night, but I think they are starting to see through the sleepwalking routine.
One thing He does bless us with is travel mercies, especially preachers and singers, maybe it’s because we ask for them more often.
Now I have traveled every way possible except dog sled. I have always traveled in the finest cars money can buy — Ford Pinto, Fairmont Stationwagon, Chevy S-10.
I have never been much for heights — this really came to me on my first plane flight. It’s not the heights that bother me so much — it’s the fall followed by the splat.
I was working for Bill Monroe and had to change planes four times on a trip across country. Each time I changed, the plane got smaller and smaller and smaller. They folded me into that last one.
I’m glad I didn’t have to go any further on that trip. My next step would have been flapping my arms with red birthday balloons tied to my back.
On another fateful flight, I was on what I call a puddle jumper — when you first see those planes you’re not sure if it will get across a puddle before falling. I was returning from the Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Tournament in North Carolina. The plane seated about 16 people and we could not have squeezed in one more. We had wall-to-wall soap opera stars, prime-time actors, comedians, football and basketball players and their folks.
What none of us knew was a series of tornadoes was about to welcome us to the not so friendly skies.
It was a few minutes into the flight when we suddenly fell. After collecting everything that was once below our belts from around our ears, everyone released their held breath.
One friend, Chris Castile, from the sit-com “Step by Step” seemed unscathed by the sudden change. Flying fascinated him, and he was watching closely as the pilot compensated for the problem.
The wind whipped us every which way right, left, up and down. I looked around, saying a silent prayer through my gritted teeth as I held the arms of my seat for dear life.
I have never heard screams like that in my life.
After I stopped yelling I realized I wasn’t the only one. You would never imagine football players could make that much noise.
I believe with the Lord’s intervention through the pilot’s skill we sailed on through the bad weather. The Lord blessed us and we all made it to the ground safely. We could not have had a better ride at Disney. That is probably why we were all smiling when we set our feet on the ground.
That is one reason I am not that fond of flying. Besides, it says right in the Bible we should keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. It says “Lo(w), I will be with you always.” It does not say a thing about high.
From the comedy routine “Travel Mercies,” by Randall Franks, used by permission of Peach Picked Publishing.
I walked to the top of the ladder, climbed up on the roof, turn around and sat down looking down. I pulled another scoop of goop out of the gutter and placed it within the bucket I had hanging on the hook below me.
The long row of gutter ahead was scoop by scoop being cleaned out and the bucket was filling up.
With every couple of scoops, I looked out upon the neighborhood seeing it from a totally different vantage point. On one look up, I could see one neighbor cutting hedges with clippers wearing a large triangle hat often seen in films of the far east. I watched a moment as she carefully sculpted the shape she desired. The care she placed in the task was evident.
I returned to my scooping and soon my attention was grabbed as a lawn mower engine roared in another direction. Another neighbor in a t-shirt and a pair of overalls was riding his lawnmower carefully creating diagonal lines, which shined in an amazing coordination from my view.
Far in the corner away from his work, his wife stood by the fence talking with a blonde lady in red exercise clothes who had stopped her walk.
I returned to my scooping as I inched foot by foot around the house until I spied two kids crossing the street, across their shoulders were fishing poles, and in one of their hands was a string of fish they had pulled from the creek.
I returned to my scooping and soon I realized I had matched my rhythm of work to a beating pattern which was coming from down the street. I looked closely to see what it was and I saw a group of kids were playing a game of basketball on a nearby driveway.
Once again, I returned to my scooping, and as I ended of my task, I cleaned off the tools and disposed of the goop in the bucket in the trash can. As I prepared to shut the lid, a loud noise with no specific purpose except the deafening of those that could hear the sound of a bass that bounced from a car passed by.
I thought how the hour or so spent doing something productive allowed me clear my mind of thoughts of everyday problems as I saw some of the best moments in my neighbors lives. Did they see them as the best? Probably not. But within those moments, I saw people, living side by side, in all facets of everyday life from pure sport, intense horticulture hobbies, passing the time of day to the victory of achieving one’s goals. And like the departure of the raucous bass line as the vehicle cleared the neighborhood and the goop was tightly shut away in the waste bin, all was well in our world. And that is really what is important, how we are with one another in our neighborhood and our town. That is where we can make things better for all of us.
I opened the door and the thickly painted white screen door slammed behind me. I seldom noticed the sound it made as I bounded down the three steps from our front stoop. Once down on the sidewalk, I was hidden from the street behind the huge green box hedges fronted by azaleas.
Once I was big enough to roam outside on my own, this is how most summer days began. Once I hit the sidewalk, I was making my way around to the utility room to pull out my green bike to open up the doors of freedom. Sometimes, my mom would be standing there by the washing machine loading in a load of clothes that she would later take out and hang upon the line for drying.
As I stepped up on the pedals, rested myself on the banana seat, and from behind me, I would hear “Be back by lunch, we are going to town for ‘looking and feeling’ this afternoon.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied as I gained speed going down the driveway and turned to the left headed for adventure.
You might ask what is ‘looking and feeling?’ That is what ladies from our area called shopping when they were aiming to get out and not buy but enjoy the air conditioning in the stores in the hot summer months.
We did a lot of that which could seem to be a terminal situation when you had something else on your mind to do as a kid.
But for the morning, I was off to create some adventure, so, my first stop would be banging on a couple of doors to raise some other kids to play. Before you could say Hank Aaron, there would be about five or six of us on our bikes riding down suicide hill.
Soon we would move on to the woods where we had built a series of forts fully stocked with pinecones.
We would pick sides and we were battling the other team to ensure the survival of our clan over the other. Sometimes we were Yankees and Confederates, sometimes Cowboys and Indians, sometimes Germans and Americans, British and Colonists, it really depended upon what movie we recently saw or what history lesson was near at hand.
Either way, and no matter who we were representing the battles took form until we ran out of ammunition and the other team overran our stronghold. We would then restock the forts for the next battle day then we would be off for maybe wading in the creek and then back home in time for lunch.
Usually a bologna sandwich with a slice of tomato from the garden, a wedge of cucumber, some barbeque Charlie’s chips and a big glass of cherry Kool-Aid. Then I would go was off the and change from my play clothes and be ready to climb into the passenger side of our Chevy Malibu to head to the stores.
Often, I would be moved to the back seat, if we picked up another mom and kids. The children were sent to the back seat and we made our way to Woolworths, J.C. Penney, Sears or even Rich’s. Of course, in those days there were no special youth seats, we didn’t even use the seat belts. We sat still though or we would feel the long arm of the law from the ladies in the front seat.
We were expected to behave no matter how many hours the excursion was. Especially when we were in public – in the stores. If we ever forgot ourselves, which I did on a couple occasions and turned the women’s and men’s department into a playground and the underneath areas of the hanging clothes and good places with hide and seek with whichever other kids were on the outing. We soon felt the sting of our mistakes upon our posteriors, and it would come sooner than later if we disturbed other folks.
As I hear kids screaming at their parents and see them acting out in public today, I fondly remember the tough lessons my parents gave me. I remember those days of imagination, the hours of fun and I wish that children today could have those experiences, rather than a childhood attached to screens of various types and parents who look the other way when they act out.
Share America Foundation
106 S Varnell Rd, #42
Tunnel Hill, Georgia 30755
Phone: (706) 963-0016