Wednesday, August 21, 2013


They Arrive in the United States

Someone must have known they were coming.  They were entertained  by an American family.  I think they were in L.A. at least a week.  The time came for them to leave for Bethany, Oklahoma where they would attend College and study for the ministry.   Friends had come to the house where they stayed, to bid farewell.  Greetings were given all around.  They started to the car that would take them to the Bus Station.  As they stood by the car, everyone gave friendly hand waves of good bye.  Koichi and Nana came toward them again to see what they wanted?  "No, no, we didn't want anything."  Koichi and Nana returned to the car.  Everyone waved again, and once more Koichi and Nana came forward.  Finally someone realized:  "In Japan to wave with palm down, the fingers are meaning to Come Here."  When everyone understood the proper meaning of hand signals, Koichi and Nana started to the car.

But, Oh, someone wondered, if they had enough money for the Bus trip to the middle of America.  Koichi brought out his money.  That was not enough.  It would take them only about one hundred miles.  "Ok, then we will go that far and get off and walk."  At that moment the Mail Man came.  He ask, "Is anyone here named Koichi Yamamoto?"  Koichi took the envelope offered by the Mail Man.  It was addressed to this house with Koichi's name.  It had no return address.  There was no post mark.  It contained enough cash money to pay they're whole trip to Bethany.

The same God who leads men through torture and war, who lights temples on fire and guides His people over stormy seas, is surely able to provide their way to the center of America.  Dr. and Mrs. Roy Cantrell, president of the College, befriended them when they arrived in Bethany.  (Years later, when they received American citizenship, Koichi took the American name of Roy in honor of Dr. Cantrell.)  Housing was provided in two upper rooms of the Student Union Building.  Mrs. Drewry, the dietitian, lived below them.  Koichi was given employment in the College Kitchen.  He learned to break two eggs in each hand at the same time.  I don't know how many it took to make all the scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning.  I do know he could crack all those eggs faster than one can imagine.  In Japan this would have been a job WAY BELOW his station.  He did the job with grace.

Koichi and Nana's little daughter was born while they were in Bethany.  When she was a year old, Nana returned to Japan with her.  Koichi had one more year of study.  That was the year I started.  Most Saturdays we met in the Student Union after supper to talk.  He taught me many things Japanese.  He was a true teacher.  As the end of the School year approached he began selling items they had brought from their home land.  A carving of 10 or 12 ivory elephants all in a row, and several other articles I don't remember.  One painting of a tiger creeping through bamboo.  At that time it was 109 years old.  He was asking only $20 for the picture.  O my!  I wanted it so badly.  But I didn't have any money.  I worked on campus and all my time was turned in to the financial office.  It never occurred to me that I could draw out funds.  If I had known, I probably would have it all drawn out.  A friend bought it and later sold it to an antique shop and it was soon gone from there.

Koichi and Nana lived in Japan again with their little girl, but the government of Japan wouldn't allow her because she was born in the USA.  Eventually they moved to Okinawa where Koichi pastored a Church for a while.  Then they were able to return to the States.  Koichi had studied veterinary science before the war.  In Southern California he doctored animals and pastored a Church for ten years.  The next ten years he was director of JEMS, (Japanese Evangelistic Missionary Society).  This organization found Japanese speaking pastors who would move to Brazil.  Over the years there has been a large migration of Japanese people moving to Brazil.

There is also a large population of Japanese in the United States.  Koichi and Nana began a ministry they called The Circuit Rider.  Ever three or four months they got in their little pick-up with the camper on the back and headed down the roads of America hunting Japanese people.  Some might be just a lonely house wife in a lonely town, others might be several families in a larger city.  They were hunting folks with whom they would share the glorious gospel story.  The good news that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save sinners.  They crisscrossed this country west to east and back.  Home for a little while and out again.  They heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Go" and they went.  He said, "Come" and they came.

Several years ago while passing through our area, we had a wonderful evening together and the next morning fore they hit the trail again.  It had been forty years since we had seen each other.  It was a grand reunion.

Where there were Japanese needing a pastor, they helped locate one.  If there were Believers wanting a Church, they helped to organize it.  Koichi and Nana Yamamoto have been servants of God since they were in their teens.  Now as they have traveled the highways and byways of the USA and Canada for many years, they've long passed beyond the years of retirement.  But now they've made the decision to rest and wait.                                                                                                                        


Through Corn, Wheat and Grapes

We went out the gate in the yard wall at 6:30 p.m.  Past the end of the building  and to the right up the hill on the alley behind the bath and bed, then a hard left onto the street above the third floor and we were off.  As we walked up there, Lydia came to the upper window and bade us all "Adieu."

The yard gates all opened onto the street from the right side.  Across on the left, cars and trucks were parked for the night along the whole way down to the end of the street.  It was evening and every dog was in the yard behind their gates to howl us on our way.  At the bottom of the street we passed out of the Village.

We walked on the paved road for about a quarter of a mile, then turned right for probably two, maybe three city blocks.  As we turned left onto a two track gravel with grass in the middle, we met an old man driving very slowly toward us.  Carys and Gaia on their bikes hugged the ditch and stopped as Gabriel and I stood very still.  He crept on passed and we didn't meet anyone else for a long time.

It was a wonderfully nice evening.  Almost no traffic sounds, we were shielded from the highway noises by the hills.  There were virtually no farm steads along our path, we saw a few in the distance.

The two tracker had started to rise in its elivation and continued to reach up for a long time.  We were passing one of those fenced in Italian gardens where they grow produce for the markets.  The gate was open and I was interestedly looking to the right.  On the left were the rows and rows of gorgeous grape vines full of rapidly ripening, nine or ten inch, clusters of grapes, when a car pulled up behind us and turned into a narrow parking space.  He waited and watched for us to move on out of his way.  The girls were struggling a bit with their bicks in the gravels, so had got off to walk and push for a while.  Gabriel was taking pictures of the beautiful grapes in their vineyard.

The driver behind us had probably come back to his garden to check on something or lock up for the night, since the gate was still open.  My little over active brain went into mystery mode and I just knew he thought since I had the largest backpack and Gabriel was photographing and the Girls had baskets on their handle bars, that we were there to rip off several pounds of his precious wares.

But we all kept heaving up the long gravely hill and thoughts of the kindly man in his parked car soon faded from my mind.  Shortly I noticed in the paths of the hill quit a stretch, three or four yards, of small broken pieces of white marble stone.  Now my brain moved over into a different stream of thought.  Wouldn't be interesting to pick up all that marble and see what I could make of it, if I brought it home next week on the plane?  Then reality gave my brain a yank and I walked on just stepping on small chunks of marble.

At the top of a hill where we could look over and see the highway in the valley below, there was a space between a field of corn and one of hay.  Gabriel put down a rug and handed out some plumbs and apples.  We had a bit of a respite with gulps of good cool water.  Since I'm usually the one behind, I started on and after a while, they followed.

At that point the road bent and I followed the bend.  After several rods it bent again.  There in front of me, above the bend, was a brick built schrine.  I knew it was old, but couldn't tell who or what it represented.  Through the trees, there was some kind of farm yard or dwelling.  I left it to move on and soon came to a patch of blackberries.  Looking back, I couldn't see Gabriel and the Girls yet.  So I thought to wait and eat a bit.  O, my goodness!  The berries were abundant.  They didn't have as much juicyness as I would have liked, but they were fine enough.  I ate two large hands full.  There were plenty, but my back up had arrived and they were eager to press on.

We soon reached the apex of our journey, and now it was down a tractor road that hadn't been traveled for many weeks and one track was washed deep from recent rains.  There were prickly vines in the way.  This was another one of those two or three block paths, full of slow going.  But the joy was, that at the bottom a better gravel road was waiting, than we had crossed since we met the first and only creeping car.

Now after all those two track farm paths, it felt like we had hit the high road.  In a little while we saw the moon rising from behind the distant horizon.  We couldn't see the sun,  because of the high hill right beside us, but it was still sending out its light.

Then over the top of that hill, we met a woman runner coming up, and past us.  We kept stepping down.  The Girls were doing great and we could see the distant lights of the village beginning to shine.  Suddenly we were on pavement and in the outer streets of town.

Gabriel and Lydia made phone contact about 8:40 p.m. and agreed we would meet her at the gelato shop at 9:00 p.m.  By the time we reached that paved road the sun light was going out and we were glad to be within the confines of a known way.  Our walking didn't speed up very much, but we did keep walking and now were passing buildings we knew and had passed before.  Finally we were at the door of the ice cream shop and it was 9 o'clock.  Lydia came soon and we all sat on the bench outside and licked away at our reward.

By Gabriel's calculations and the map, we walked five kilometers.  I think that would be about 3 miles.  It's not such a long walk.  It begins to be a bit more when there are a lot of ups and downs.

As delicious at Italian ice cream is, the walk was its own reward.  And I am so grateful for the ability and opportunity to walk.  I remember a few years ago when I had to learn to walk again.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Except for Sunday, Every Day in a Village not too Far Away, There Will Be a Market

When Lydia first lived in the center of Torino, there was a little market open each morning from 6:00 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m.   I hope I got that right.  It was just around the corner from her apartment.  Different stands had different produce.  The same people came with their wares laid out on tables:  veggies, fruits, clothes, chickens, eggs, meats were usually in a truck with a refrigerator, fish would be in a truck with their wares laid on a bed of ice.

Occationally she took her little two-wheeled fold up cart and went to the huge everyday market over near the Royall Palice .  There they had almost anything and it was huge, covered more than a city block in the open air (with covers) and two or three very large building.

In the smaller town and villages they're not so large and come once a week or in Chieri they come on Tueday and Saturday.  There will be cook ware, shoes (men, women and kids), two or three booths.  a few booths in trucks with fold down sides or lift up windows.  Some have all cheeses, or sausages and processed meats.  Some carry fresh meats or roasted whole chickens, that one also makes a wonderful french fry almost a large around a your thumb.

There will be clothes, blankets, rugs, pillows, and odds and ends or all kinds:  Trinkets, pocket books, coin purses, flash lights, and the list goes on and on.

We always like to visit the fresh produce area.  There might be six to eight persons or family groups with their garden goods.  Saturday everybody had peaches as well as their other offerings.  Because the peaches needed to sell that day, the prices were good for the customers.  Gabriel bought two flats, probably a very full half bushel.  When we go home we set up shop.  Carys, Lydia and I pealed and sliced very delicious freestones of different varities.  There were so very delicious.  After we finished, Gabriel set in to cook up some of the best tasting marmalaide.  For a supper dessert, Lydia patted out a short bread dough into the bottom and sides of a large glass pie dish.  After it was baked and cooled, she served it sliced in wedges with fresh cut peaches on top.  That was really good.

In our village the market is a small area, maybe a third of a block, in front of City Hall and across the street from the Coffee Bar.  How convenient can that be?

Today is Tuesday.  I wonder if we'll drive the five miles into Chieri?  There will be two or three markets open.  O, and you should see and visit the Honey stand.  They have flavors from flowers all around these hills and valleys.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The Information Book Said It Is a Shorter and an Easier Climb

Right!  Wrong!!

SATURDAY, August 17, 2013:   Our backup team, Gabriel and Gaia went with us.  He found this trail as well.  So  we were all excited to try a new walk, but thought the easier one would help our muscles, our joints and our ego.  At least it would be a comparison of the one we walked from the Abby on Wednesday.

Gabriel and Gaia seemed impressed with our talk of the walk on Wednesday, so they wanted in on the on hands, or maybe "on feet and legs" experience.  Today we drove to Monta.  That's a little south of Torino.  We couldn't leave too early, because I'm out of needles I'm using every other day for a while and the pharmacy is closing at noon and going on vacation, they are opening at 8:30 a.m.

Wednesdays walk was said to be one hour and forty-five minutes for trained walkers..  It would be up hill for a ways, then we'd begin to descend for a while and finally end after a prolonged ascent.  You already know it took Lydia, Carys and me four hours and thirty minutes.

We understood the literature to say that today's walk would be relatively level and would be finished in about an hour and forty-five minutes.  Wednesday we carried bottles of water, always an important necessity. At resting times along the way we each ate a rather large carrot, an apple and some peanuts, sunflower seeds and almonds.  That was enough and other than never having done this kind of walk, we felt good and were exceedingly elated with our accomplishment.

I was anticipating Monta to be a smaller village, but it was larger than I thought and very beautiful on top of the rather high hills.  Our parking place was good and safe, in the center of town by the police department.  Our departure point was a half block away, across the street.  The whole path is devoted to bee keeping and honey production.  We read four or five sign posts along the way, describing very ancient methods of bee keeping through the centuries.  Interestingly they used two-story brick built bee hives.

Having found our departure point, we almost immediately began to descend a steep bricked alleyway.  Then very quickly we were crossing the last street around the edge of town.  The path opened into a small mowed, somewhat, launching area.  It had a kind of billboard to introduce the idea of apiaries and all things bees.

The trail led off to the side and down, as in not up, but down, going down a steep path which turned into something like stairs.  A three by six  board about three feet long, on edge, held in place by two wooden post about three inches across, driven into the ground held back the upright and the dirt behind it.  In this case a hand rail built of the same three inch post follow some of the steps.  That was a great help to hold onto as we went down the hill or were later climbing up again.  We depend on walking sticks, as well.

At a small kind of level area was the first of those brick bee hives.  It was more like a kids play house in the back yard, but both rooms were tall enough for adults.  The "hive" did not appear to be in operation.  The building was probably 8 X 10 feet and 18 to 20 feet high.  There was a well dug beside that one.  We did read several of the posters along the way, but as I had grown up with bees, we had not come on this walk to study bees.  We were here to walk the trail.

So leaving the somewhat level area around the "bee hive," I expected pretty level going.  But I was really surprised when I looked at the trail in its continuing journey.  We kept going down.  It was several more yards to the bottom.  Earlier, even at the beginning, we had seen small evidence of previous rain, not that day.  At the bottom of the hill we crossed some muddy ground and muddy grass.

At the top, down the first series of stairs, across the mud flats and beginning upward again we passed several patches of black berries.  The first ones were ripe and ready to eat, so we did.  Others will continue to ripen as the next days pass.  It will be a blessing to those who take advantage of those wild berries of juicy sweetness.

Half that first descent was in partial shade, due to trees along the path.  The muddy crossing brought us to an entire hill covered with beautiful old trees and quite a bit of undergrowth.  Continuing on we had the good fortune of those wood and dirt stairs often with the side rail on one side.  I didn't know how to measure the degrees of the climb, but I'm sure a lot of it was in the range of 45 degrees.

Finally we came out of the woods and were now climbing, without stairs or railing, in the turn row of a huge vineyard.  At that point we all were ready to flop down and rest.  Of course, I expected Lydia and Gabriel to make it, because they were in on the planning.  But Gaia, 7 and Carys, 5 went because the adults were going and they in some ways, didn't have a choice.  They didn't complain.  After a short rest, we took a wagon path between vine rows to the top of the hill (not part of our path).  There was another brick house, kinda where many rows meet.  This one was a one room, two story.  The door was open, it had a fireplace, a cook stove, a cubboard and a stair to the upper level.  We concluded it to be for the benefit of workers in harvest.  The vines were beautiful and full of fruit, still a little green.

Lydia brings a small floor rug for down times.  The girls like to lie down at rest times.  We reloaded our back packs and went back down the row.  At the end of all those rows of vines in a vineyard, large or small, is some kind of access road.  That's were we arrived when we came out of the woods, onto an access road.  Now we were at the top and needed to go to the bottom.  This particular road was newly dozed out of the hill.  There were lumps and clods of dirt.  The dried tractor wheel tracks made tough walking.  It often is far more difficult to walk down hill than to walk up.  That's what we now had to do and after an almost tortuous descent we came out onto a "county" black topped road.  Sigh and relief!!!  We moved to the not so muddy side of the flat land road, put down the rug, sat on our back packs, pulled out the water bottles, and the food.  Gabriel had made ham and cheese sandwiches on brown bread.  We had apple slices and walnut halves with more peanuts.  We sat in the shade of some wonderful trees and feasted our bodies and souls on the glorious thought of rest.  An occasional car went by.  After about a half hour we rose up and looked toward the sky.  Our road led out to the highway and at the top was the town with our car in the middle.

It was still a down hill walk to the highway, and there we discovered the trail crossed the highway, didn't follow it.  But oh my, one look at that trail and you knew the tough part of the day had arrived.  Those rugged tractor wheels don't leave "smooth roads nor flowery beds of ease."  Get yourself a book or calender that has pictures of Italian vineyards.  See how beautiful those long rows up the high sides of those beautiful mountains really are.  Now get on your mountain climbing boots and come on over.  I don't know if they can drive their tractors up an incline at more than 45 degrees.  I am almost certain that some of what we climbed must have been very close to 50 degrees. 

Midway of that trail was one of those little brick houses at the edge of the vineyard.  It was level enough we could stand straight up for a few minutes.  Then up toward the blue, blue sky once more.  For a bit, there were those wood and dirt stairs completely overgrown with grass and weeds.  Part of the stair had the hand rail.  From there on it was just dig in your toes and climb.  After several more rows of grapevines we were at the top of the field.  There set another little brick house, Shade!!  Some large posts had been left laying and we sat down and sucked in great long gulps of sweet Italian air.

I don't know if that was a mountain or only a hill, but at the top of it I could see a house.  Our path seemed to be a two path road working it way around the side of a cliff.  Gabriel had read that there were old Roman roads in the area.  I didn't think we were on it, it was not made of stone, only dirt and weeds.  Finally we were beside a brick wall and it kept getting higher and higher.  The road turned to gravel.  Being steep it was a little bit hard to keep going forward.  We came to the end as we stepped onto good old blacktop. 

Gabriel had gone ahead of us a little.  Now he was back with our empty water bottles refilled and announced, "This is it.  We're here."   Another block of walking between houses on a brick street and we were in a little square with a water fountain, seat benches with backs and shade trees.  We sat down after four hours and thirty minutes from our beginning. 

It felt so good to be back, to the other end of the trail.  We walked, after a very long sit, about a half block and dropped down into some chairs with tables on the sidewalk beside a coffee bar, with sandwiches, water and later ice cream.  Another very good rest.

Finally up from the chairs, with packs on our back and in a block we were in the square by the police department were we left the car hours before.  For me, I am learning that this kind of walking does something good for body, mind and spirit.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


He Asked Me to Tell about My First Sermon and Traveling with Royce Thomason

We met Dr. Rev. J. Royce Thomason some time in late 1952 or early 1953.  He was recommended to us by our dear friends, the Percey Ryan family.  Brother Royce was born and grew up on a dirt farm near Fredrick, Ok.  I think he was called to preach at age 19 and began to hold revival meetings about that time.

In 1942, or there about, WWII had started and President Roosevelt put several names in a fish bowl and began to draw out the names one by one to start the draft of young American men for fighting in the war.  The seventeenth name he drew was J. Royce Thomason.

Brother Royce, as everybody called him, was trying to keep the family farm together and help with their needs.  He was the eldest of five children.  His Dad had just died.  His four younger siblings were all still in school.  His Mother was not well and the Grand Mother who lived with them was sickly.  He made an appeal to his Draft Board for a deferment, but was denied.

He shipped out to Europe where he worked as a medic under the command of Dr. Piggman, a surgeon from the Hospital in Hazard, KY.  Brother Royce had great respect for the Doctor.  Their Unit often had no Chaplin to serve the men or to preach on Sundays, so Brother Royce stepped up to fill the gap.  He got acquainted with the Salvation Army Captain in the French town near where their Unit was working, and sometimes was asked to preach there, as well.

In the early and mid '50s Royce was in our area a lot.  He gave a service / program in the Eldorado High School that summer were he invited the entire community, and many people came.  He told of some war time experiences and of other travels through the world.  Once he told me he had, by that time, been in 109 countries.

He was well known in the Burkburnett, Texas area.  There was a military base there, maybe an Air Base.  He often held services in a Church near by.  When he started coming to the Eldorado, OK area, some of those service men came over with him or because of him.  I remember TJ. and Norwood.  There were several others whose names I don't remember any more.  Several of them stayed with us on the farm when they came.  Royce nearly always stayed with Uncle Lawton and Aunt Nina.  They lived just a mile out of town.

It was at their house that he published his first, one page, "Voice in The Wilderness", news letter.  He printed them on an old mimeograph machine he had.  That news letter soon turned into a four page "magazine" and later sixteen pages.

In the summer of 1953, Brother Royce put up his Revival Tent in Eldorado.  He could be "a one man band." He sang well, played his little portable pump organ, and preached an excellent message every time he opened his mouth.  When he came to our town, Percy recommended that he ask Daddy to lead the singing.  But Daddy really did not want to do that.  One, there was a lot happening on the farm and he was the lead horse.  Second, he had always sang base in the family quartet, he didn't want to try to lead the singing.  Three, Royce was coming to preach the revival as an independent evangelist, though we had already started the Church of the Nazarene in town.  But he did accept the challenge and switched to singing lead.  There was good interest and the crowds were pretty good.

Ryan's had come, at least for the week-end.  It was a 125 mile drive from their house to ours.  We were always so glad when they came.  At the close of the Tent Revival, Brother Royce was loading tent, chairs, hymn books and pump organ into his old school bus and heading for the long road to Vicco, KY for his next Tent Meeting.  He had three teen age boys lined up to go help raise the tent and help with handing out hymnals, and whatever needed doing.

Albert Ryan was going and I so wanted to go.  For whatever the reasons that I shouldn't go, my folks "finally" gave permission and I was in.  From Eldorado in far southwest Oklahoma Royce drove the bus to McCloud, OK.  There we picked up Larry McCloud.  He was 14, Albert and I were both 15.  Our next stop was a little north of Springfield, MO.  We were there a couple nights with the Reeves family.  Frank, their 19 year old son, was going with us.  He owned and managed two gas stations, so was getting all his people lined up to fill the gap while he was away.  During the wait, we guys filled gas tanks, washed wind shields, checked the motors for oil levels, and swept the drivers side floor.  AND Frank's Mom was one of the greatest women and a fabulous cook.

On the road at night, we guys slept on piles of tent canvas in the bus.  Brother Royce always slept on an old army cot set up on the ground beside the bus door.  Every night along the way, we were all waiting for Brother Royce's story about his night's adventure.  One morning he told us he knew there must be a military base near by, because during the night a couple of mosquito came and turned him over looking for his "dog tag".  Another night we slept near a swampy place.  Royce was awakened by an awful noise in the frog pond.  When he went to investigate, he discovered two or three frogs trying to break another frog to ride.  He told great stories.  Some he had made up, but his true life adventures were better yet.

We took a break form the road to visit an early American grave site in Paduca.  As we approached Bowling Green, Royce spotted a Revival Tent.  It was about five o'clock.  We stopped and the pastor was there.  Royce made arrangements for us to stay the night, then we had supper nearby, cleaned up a bit and dressed to attend the revival service.  That was a good break in our road routine.  By that point we were following old Kentucky highway 80.  Eighty goes the length of Kentucky and in those days there were no inner-states.  It was a long, twisty road with more mountainous as we passed Sumerset and London.  We slept that night in London.

Brother Royce was acquainted with a Free Methodist Pastor in London, Ky.  They had us in for a wonderful breakfast before we left for our last day on the road until Revival time began.  O my, those narrow twisting mountain roads.  While we were still in Eldorado, OK, Bro. Royce found a sign painter to paint on the back door of the bus, "At the End of the Road, you'll meet God."  On some of those eastern Kentucky mountain roads, we wondered if maybe our Road's End was about to come.

We drove through Hazard, stopped in Happy where one of Brother Royce's faithful supporters lived.  His name was Gillmore, I don't remember his given name.  After the war, when Brother Royce was traveling around in Europe, he had come to the near end of his journey.  He came to a French town near the English Chanel.  Because of his war time connections with the Salvation Army, he knew he could get a free bed there.  He did, but the Captain was gone and they weren't serving breakfast.  He had no more money.  He needed a breakfast and money to cross the Chanel.  As he was leaving the front door of the SA, a mail man came.  He ask if a person named Royce Thomason might be there.  Brother Royce took the letter that was offered.  It was from his friend, Gillmore in Happy, Kentucky.  The note inside said, "Brother Royce, I don't know where in the world you might be.  But I do know that sometimes you might pass by the Salvation Army in G---  Town.  I would send more but this $1.00 is all I have to my name.  I really believe the Lord has prompted me to send it to you."  Another time Bro. Royce might have been in a remote area of New Guinea and his shoe strings were broken.  He had tied knots for the last time and some how he received a letter from the Brother Gillmore which enclosed only a short letter and a pair of shoe strings.

We passed out of Happy and around the bend in the highway we turned off the road, across the bridge and at the Post Office in Scudy made arrangements to pick-up our mail.  Then came back across the bridge and wound on around the mountain to Vicco.

In Vicco, the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches were cooperating to sponsor the Tent Revival.  The Presbyterians were without a pastor.  They gave us permission to stay in their Manse, the guys, that is.  Brother Royce stayed in the tent at night.  The Manse was across a creek and up a very steep hill.  We got there from the tent site by a swinging bridge.

As I remember, after the meetings had continued a few nights, Royce asked Larry and me, if we'd like to preach a sermon before he preached one of the nights, seeing we both had a call to preach?  So he announced that on Monday night, I would bring a message.  On Tuesday night, Larry brought his sermon.  I don't remember what his scripture or title was.  I do remember it was a very good, well prepared message.

I remember that I struggled for days over my message from Revelation 3:20,  "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."  I had three or four points to make.  I don't know how well I made them.  It seemed that I must have gone on forever.  When I finally sat down and looked at my watch, I had spoken a full five minutes.  The only other thing I do remember was how ashamed I felt after I finished.  Brother Royce gave his message after that and it was as good as usual.

Every day at noon, someone in the community had us over for a fabulous home cooked meal.  One old lady had her daughter and a friend help serve the table.  As we sat down, she apologized for the flies.  She said they had not had any flies all summer, but that morning when she woke up, "the house was just filled with flies."  And it was.

Another place we ate was up a holler.  Only recently their road had come in.  Before that, it was at least a three or four mile walk to their house.  But we were able to drive right up to the bottom of the hill.  Then we climbed up to the back entrance of the house.  We stepped up onto a foot high stone, maybe two feet wide and three feet long.  The front porch was on stilts ten or twelve feet in the air.  The house was pretty large, square with four or six large rooms and high ceilings.  The porch ran across the complete width of the front.  A few years before we were there, the lady had been doing her summer canning of her garden produce.  As she finished a caner full, she stacked her boxes of jars on the porch.  One bright day, she dragged the ringer washer onto the porch and carried bucket after bucket of water from the well into the back door, heated it on the stove, then poured it into the washing machine.  She carried out the baskets of clothes to wash, filled the first load  and turned on the agitator.  It wasn't long until she, with water and machine and canned goods suddenly felt the support posts of the porch let loose and they all rolled down the mountain together.
The rebuilt one was in place when we were there.  It was made good and strong.  The woman's husband had also been in the war.  He told Brother Royce how scarred he was ridding a troop train through Oklahoma.  He kept seeing what he thought were Indian smoke signals.  He just knew they would be attacked almost any minute.  What he didn't know, was the oil companies put up pipes near the sludge pits to burn off the excess gas escaping from the wells.

A young couple, Bill and Dorothy with his brother, Peanut, had us to their upstairs apartment for a noon meal.  The young men operated a filling station and auto repair shop.  Years later I learned they were Lilly's uncles, younger brothers of Pearl.  We ate with a family named Campbell.  Gillmore's were a sort of home base.  And I know there were others that I can't recall at this distance.

Several times we went up the holler from Vicco to have a wonderful supper with Dr. and Mrs. Piggman and their three daughters.  They were a wonderful family and had befriended Brother Royce since those days, early in WWII.  When the meetings came to an end, it was time for us to fold up the tent, stow everything back in the old yellow bus and prepare for the long road home:  back past Frank Reeves parents, McCloud, Oklahoma and Eldorado.  I don't remember how Albert got home.  Maybe Royce was headed that way, or...   That was a wonderful time of new sights and great memories.  After a year or two, Bro. Royce let me know that Frank had married Sarah Piggman, middle daughter of the Doctor.  The last I heard, Sarah was a farm wife, raising feeder calves on bottles of milk.

Brother Royce had warned us from the start that Mrs. Piggman was a kind and loving woman.  Before we leave on packing day, she will give you each one, a great big hug and a kiss.  We all vowed that it would never happen.  But according to prophecy, when leaving day arrived, Mrs. Piggman arrived out of the holler in her big, beautiful car.  As we worked and talked and bid goodbyes to members of the Congregations, one by one, with unexpected suddenness, we had each been hugged and kissed by the wonderful Mrs. Piggman.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It's Actually More Like a Hike at A Beginners Pace

For many months, Lydia has challenged me to do the "Camino de Santiago", "The Way of Saint James" with her.  Years ago Lilly and I had discussed doing the Appellation Trail "sometime."  But the day never came.  So when Lydia threw out the bone, I snatched it up.  Since the plan to do the 500 mile pilgrimage from somewhere in southern France to the northwest coast of Spain, we thought it highly important to begin preparing ahead of time.  The goal of the long walk is next summer.  That means, not only gathering equipment preparations, but also walking, lots of walking with a "pack" on our backs.

Last night we packed our backpacks with extra shoes, nuts, apples and carrots, bottles of water, a rug for a nap on the ground if necessary, walking sticks, other anticipations and her phone, of course.  Carys, age five chose to go, Gabriel and Gaia were the backup crew.  They were to take us out and finally meet up with us at a village bar in the mountains for a coffee celebration and chips.

When morning came the sky was full of ugly clouds and thunder, with threats of rain.  By 7:30 a.m. we were ready to go out the door and through the garden gate.  But alas, it was raining.  We thought it not wise to rush off on an excursion that we'd never experienced before.  So Lydia left a note on the table for Gabriel and we went to the bar for our morning coffee and a sweet pastry to await the verdict of the skies.

After a while Gabriel and the Girls came and since the rain had passed over, they had their drink and sweets, then we all walked home, loaded our back packs into the Fiat and headed out for the Abby.  Carys stayed with us for second coffees, hers was milk, and our crew returned to the base camp.  A last wash up in the bathroom, a quick confirmation on the "road west" from the bar keeper, and we were off.

Down the road past the Abby and a family of picnickers at the bottom of the hill, then around the slight curve and up a farm field tractor road with vineyards on the right and mountain drop off on the left.  The sign post by the Abby indicated the village of our destination would be 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Since we are not broken in hikers, Lydia estimated our travel time to be at least 3 hours.

Along the dirt paths and roads we went.  More up than level or down for a while.  At the top of the road where the vineyard ended, weeds and trees began.  We ran into a small patch of black berries... so delicious.  A sign post indicated the direction and we marched forward.  I have to say, "Carys is a great little trooper!" and Lydia the best of guides.  The old man of the prairies was far out of his element, but we all tramped on.

The tractor road turned into a foot path between private properties and after five or ten minutes we were back on a lopsided dirt road.  More of the same, alternating, until we came to a narrow black top.  Along that nice road we ambled at varying speeds such as our ascending or descending feet allowed.  Eventually we came to a settlement of two or three houses.

Then the road changed again to a different color black top and was very winding as we descended to a brick bridge and gray top high way with white strips along each side, which we could see far away.  About a forth of the way down, Carys tripped on her shoe string.  The fall on the pavement bunged up her knee and the heel of her hand.  Thanks to Lydia's foresight, she had a first aid kit.

By this time, Lydia had brought out the rug a couple of times, so Carys had a lie down rest and I took the chair from my back pack to have a sit down, as well.  I think Lydia sat on the ground.  On arrival at the bridge we stopped for a lunch of nuts and seeds with an apple and a full grown carrot.  Lydia hunted the next road sign and finally a passing motorist gave information.

Now, on the white stripped highway we walked the white strip facing the traffic.  Until that point we hadn't seen any people or traffic.  At the white strip road we got people in both tractors and cars.  From there on, it was up, up, up and many, many sharp curves.  There simply was no where else to go and nothing else to do, but creep along that up hill road, so that's what we just kept doing.

At the top of the hill we came to a house, then two as the road turned again and we saw a village with a name.  It was next before our selected destination, but it had no bar and the one were we found ourselves after four and a half hours of pretty steady walking, had two!!!  The other village was only one or two kilometers farther.  So we chose to stop near the bar and wait for Gabriel and Gaia to come so we all ate together.

It never rained  any more, the sun was not, too, hot and the breezes were nice most of the time.  It was a great day of walking, talking and fun with my girls.  Sorry you couldn't all have come.  And we finished our walk after more than twice the expected time.  But to my notion it was a very profitable day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Not All Memories Come together At the Same Time

You've read before where I mention the little old Red House on our farm about a half mile south of our house.  It was  kinda the dividing line between our farm land and the pasture.  The roads of our county were maintained by the County Commissioner's Office.  So a maintenance grader came by now and again, usually after a rain, which wasn't very often at all.  The driver of the grader usually was someone from our area.  We probably knew him on a first name basis.  The road going south by our house got to the Red House and turned to the right, that would be going west.  The road did continue on south for another half mile to the crossing on Red River.  That road was between our pasture on the east and Teddy Joe's field on the west.  But the county never graded it.  It was a set of sand tracks with wild grass between the tracks and on either side all the way to the river bank.

I told you all this because I wanted to tell you about a plumb thicket.  But first you should know that our rectangular farm, half mile wide (east to west) and mile long (north to south) was divided more or less cross ways (east to west) almost in the middle.  North half tillable farm land, south half sandy pasture land.  But the two halves really were more like two "L" shaped parcels.  The longer part of the south pasture half extended above the Red House almost a quarter mile.  Likewise the north half had a little longer and wider part that extended south into what might have been pasture.  That area is where the fruit trees of the orchard were planted and where the government project for wind control in the 1930's planted the shelter belt of trees, east to west between the farm land and the pasture land.

There was a barbed wire fence following the shelter belt eastward to keep the cattle of the pasture from roaming over into the farm part.  Here's the short story of the long print:  About half way along that fence just to the south of the shelter belt, across the fence in the pasture, near the highest sand hill of the whole farm, was a thicket of wild plumb trees.  Every year Mother kept track of the ripening of those somewhat sour red plumbs.  When they were ready, she took us with buckets and pales to gather the plumbs.  The trees were about as high as my head and above the heads of the girls.  Mother of course could see all around.  We picked all we could gather, then headed back home.

The second part probably took place the next day, what with evening chores coming up.  When she was ready, the wash tubs came out and the plumbs got washed up all pretty and clean.  Then into a pot on the stove to cook them down.  They needed to be run through a sieve.  The juice, peals and pits were all separated so she made jelly and jam.  That was some scrumptious dinning.

Mother almost always made biscuits for breakfast.  They weren't the kind you buy in the grocery that come in a tube of cardboard and you whack it on  the corner of the counter, then pull them out and arrange on a cookie sheet.  All the ladies of our growing up times made the kinds of biscuits that Mother made.  Those were worth coming home for.  First you broke open two or three while they were hot and filled them with home made butter right from your own cow cream.  Then you set one or two on the side of your plate.  Next you opened it up and slathered it with good ole home made gravy.  You might need two of those biscuits.  After you finished the biscuits and gravy and all that came with it, then you pulled the jar of jam or jelly over and filled up those other butter soaked biscuits with that jam or jelly or both.

When you'd finished a breakfast started with oatmeal, brown sugar and fresh cream, followed by the above, including bacon, sausage or ham that you'd cured at butchering time and a couple of fresh eggs from your own flock of healthy chicken hens.  You knew you were ready to go to school all day, or a days worth of work on the farm.

If we'd been working at Papa's blacksmith shop ever since we finished our morning chores, we might have taken lunch with Granny and Papa, then back to the shop most of the afternoon.  She knew how much ingredients it took to make a biscuit, and she generally made only three:  one for herself and two for him.  But somehow she seemed to know when boys would be around in the afternoon.  About three o'clock, here came Granny with a few "turtles" as she called them.  They were a little over sized biscuits.  She had pocked her thumb or finger in the length of the biscuit.  In the hole, she had poured it full of black strap molasses or blue ribbon syrup.  By the time she carried them to where you were working, that sweet goodness had soaked out into those biscuits.  After you ate one or two, you were almost fit to fly home to do the evening chores.

Monday, August 12, 2013


What a Beautiful Day among the Vineyards in the Region of Asti

Gabriel drove us there in the last week of 2007.  Joanna and I had flown to Europe, arriving in Frankfort, Germany on Christmas Day, then on to Torino where Lydia's family picked us up, my seventieth birthday.  The next day or so we drove through those gorgeous hills and valleys.  The destination was the Abby of Saint Mary of Vezzolano.   There was no snow, but it was so cold.  We walked from the parking area and toured the Abby.  It is such a picturesque setting.  It was a very long walk and I was so cold.

There was a warm looking bar a couple hundred yards or so up the road.  We eventually walked there and had lunch.  Yesterday when we parked by the bar and walked down the long sidewalk and road, it was still the same distance, but not nearly so far ... I am so much improved from those five years ago.  I do give God praise, with some doctors and medical science.

Normally we would have driven down into Torino at the English Speaking Church of Torino for the Sunday service.  But yesterday was their vacation day, so we went the other direction.  Lydia had prepared a wonderful picnic lunch.  Gaia and Carys had asked me to help them make an apple cake for their parents anniversary lunch - dinner / picnic.   On Saturday the Girls started harping on the need for me to help them make this cake for their parents anniversary.  They were determined!!!  I had never made an apple cake before, but neither had they.  So Carys, 5 years and Gaia, 7 year and I stepped in where "angles might fear to treed."  Gabriel found the recipe on line.   The cake is called:
                                       Fall Sweet Treat:  Apple Cake
     2     Eggs
     2     Cups of Sugar
     1     Cup of Canola Oil
     2     Teaspoons of Vanilla
     2     Teaspoons of Cinnamon
     1     Teaspoon of Baking Soda
     1/2  Teaspoon Salt
     3     Cups Flour
     3     Cups Chopped Apples
                       [ There were a few hitches, but we worked through them.  We added some olive oil to
                         complete the cup of Canola Oil.  We skipped the Vanilla, we were without.  The Italian 
                         Baking Soda is different than in the States, we doubled the amount.  We used 2 Cups
                         Rice Flour, but didn't have enough Farro Flour for the third cup, so Gabriel brought out
                         enough Wheat Flour to finish the ingredients.]
     1.     Preheat oven to 350'     This must be USA stove heat.  Gabriel helped set the oven by
                                                  European standards.
     2.     Beat eggs in mixing bowl.     Gaia and Carys each broke an egg into their small bowls and
                                                        whipped them up to perfection.
     3.     Add sugar, oil and vanilla.
     4.     In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour.
     5.     Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until dough has formed.  (We each stirred
             by turn.)
     6.     Add chopped apples to dough (if you don't have a kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook, then
             it is best to mix in apples by hand as dough becomes very thick.)  ( I can attest that's true.)  (The
             Girls took turns turning the apple peeler.  I cut the apples into quarters and sliced the quarters into
             thin slices, then the Girls each took a quarter and sliced then cross ways into other thin pieces.)
     7.     Pour into a lightly greased bundt cake pan and cook for 45 - 60 minutes.  (We needed a bit
             more than 65 minutes.  And we used a large round glass baking dish.)
                                    Recipe from the kitchen of Selma Horan

For our picnic lunch we shared a trapezoidal shaped park on a rather steep incline with folks at other tables.  Saturday night the Girls had glazed the cake with white, yellow and blue icing.  Carys put yellow in the middle for the Sun.  Gaia drizzled blue around the sun for the sky.  My contribution was white around the edges for the clouds.  And the glaze was something of a flop, since I had never paid attention when Lilly was glazing her fabulous cinnamon rolls those years ago.  So the glaze was rather granny.

After the meal of Cake and Watermelon, Lydia had a wonderful Bible Story on a blanket near the table.  With puppets she told the account of Jesus in the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.  Luke's Gospel tells the story:  Luke 10:39-42 ... " Mary ... was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet.     40  But Martha was distracted with all her preparation; and she came up to Him, and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?  Then tell her to help me.'     41  But the Lord answered and said to her,  'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things     42  but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'"

Having relaxed, eaten, enjoyed good fellowship, we loaded our lightened picnic basket and climbed back into the car for the short drive down the hills to the bar overlooking the Abby.  There among the summer throng we found a table and had a toast with coffee on the porch.  We admired the sight and beauty of bees working and the smell of lavender along the rail fence.

In a leisurely stroll we observed the ancient varieties of apple in the orchard behind the Abby, ambling downhill toward the front entrance.  It is claimed that the Emperor Charlemagne ordered a Church built on the site in the year 773 a.d.   Part of the old foundation dates from 1095.  The current building was begun in the late 1200's a.d. and completed sometime in the 1300's a.d.

I don't know about all people, but the beauty I see each day gives me plenty of reason to praise and honor God, as Lord of All.


Above the Village, Inside the Walls, A-Top the Hill

Gabriel with the girls, Gaia and Carys, received their Italian citizenship some months ago.  Wednesday, August 7, 2013 Lydia's paperwork had finally made the trip from Rome to Torino.  She and they are all four bonified citizens of Italy.  His for Argentina and Italy, her the USA and Italy.  After the swearing in ceremony, we had the little cakes and coffee I wrote about.  Before we left City Hall, the Mayor invited the Girls, with the adults, to come Thursday evening to their house for a swim in their indoor pool.

We drove the somewhat circular streets up the hill behind Lydia's apartment.  Up the incline beside the high wall, ...finally Gabriel called, "Which house?"  We were on the correct street and the Mayor had come out to wave us in to the proper gate.  First we met her husband, Umberto, a paint manufacturer.  The buildings of their house are very old.  They bought them ten years ago.  The rundown condition required five years of repairs.  Now it is in a beautiful state and they have lived there these last five years.

After a tour of the property, we went to the bath house, indoor and underground, with a ceiling of bricks.  There was, of course, a bath room for changing, a shower room for getting wet, the pool for swimming and finally the hot, jacuzzi tub relaxation.  I wondered if this might be something like one would have experienced in the "baths" of ancient Rome?

We had exited the house through the family dining and living area.  It seemed to be something we might call a breezeway.  But there were no screens, only glass doors and windows.  We entered a beautifully landscaped back yard.  There were wide borders filled with a variety of scrubs and flowering plants around the plots of lawn.  Straight out the dining doors one looked across the lawn to a pond of Koi fish with fascinating decor.  Behind the pond rose a crescent brick wall with stairs on either side, leading to a trysting place of lawn and shade above the lower yard.

Back on the main lawn level, to either side of the pond, but a distance away so a sidewalk could cross to the stairs, were two olive trees.  They were imported from Spain four years ago.  The one on the right is 700 years old.  The one on the left is 1,000 years old.  They appear in very good condition.  After settling into their new environment, this year they are producing a few olives.  They are expected to come to full production in the next few years.

Out the dining door we took the path to the right beside the 700 year old olive tree.  As the sidewalk left the yard, the bath house was on our left and a brick wall on the right overlooking another 20 by 30 foot courtyard, facing the street with it's iron gate closed and locked.  The small, three story house to the right is the oldest existing building.  It was built in 400 a.d.

After the swim, we returned to the dining room for supper.  The Mayor served what I think would be six courses:  first was a plate of prosciutto as well as another pork sausage, second was a plate of pealed and  sliced tomato with balls of mozzarella cheese, third was an offering of chopped raw beef, not bad, I have to say with plenty of salt and black pepper, forth came a platter of rolled and sliced pork, fifth was the dessert, peach pie, good and different than we've known, then finally a round of small coffees.

The surroundings were beautiful, the conversation was very good, the food so delicious, the older couple so hospitable and interestingly knowledgeable of their world.  To top it off, a great thunder storm came and poured rain.  The rain came through the joints of the windows where the glass meets wood.  It came through the joints where wood meets wood.  Where it should have been putted, the rain came in.  It was very strange to sit at the table, then stand by the window watching water pouring through places that should have been tight against leaking.  The Mayor brought table cloths, bedding and other absorbent fabrics to gather up water running across her ceramic tile floors.

There are three Churches on the hill next to the house and other houses.  The Churches are two side by side and one across the street.  One was built in the 1300's and belongs to the Villa Family, the first rulers of the village.  The next was erected in 1640 through the early 1700's.  The newest was built in the 1800's.  As I have mentioned before, their bells keep ringing out the time of the day or night, the Ave Maria at three, five and seven, when the faithful die and when the new are born.

Through the entire evening, it was not the thunder and lightening or the pouring rain, it was not the interruption of changing bells, it was the introduction of new foods from old cuisines, the sound of very old dialects spoken as music to uncomprehending ears, the joy of laughter between old men and children, the joy of spoken words having meaning in two or three languages all at the same meal.  That was a night to remember.                        

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


It's Strange How the Bureaucracy Works

In the summer of 1996, Lydia came to Austria to "perfect her voice", as they say.  Two weeks before she left the States, she received a contract to sing in an opera in Germany, following the weeks in Salzburg.  After the Opera, in October she auditioned with Maestro Battaglia for voice lessons in Italy.  Those began early in November.  She came home for Christmas.  Early in 1997 she was back to lessons in Torino.

After two years, Gabriel came to study with Maestro Battaglia, also.  In August 2001, they were married in our little country Church at North Grove, in northern Illinois.  It was a beautiful setting and a beautiful day.  The building was full to the back wall with overflow chairs.  Gabriel's parents, his brother, Willie, and their Aunt Chloe had come from Argentina.  I gave the service in English, my brother Paul, missionary to Honduras, gave the service in Spanish.

 After the groom kissed his bride, the wedding party went around the aisles of the Church to the tune of  "When the Saints Go Marching In."  The reception line formed on the front porch of the Church where the guest greeted the wedding party and continued on to the sit-down meal in the beautiful white tent provided by the Congregation, in the Church yard.

The young couple soon returned to Italy where Lydia had an apartment in the Center of Torino.  After a couple years they began hunting a more roomy abode.  The one they settled on was in the village, eighteen or twenty miles out of the city.  Theirs is the end apartment next to the alley-sized one way street, in an old brick building put up in the 1500's.  It might be three hundred feet long, three stories high and probably holds 8 to 12 apparments.   It has something of a curve in it's length as it snugs against a low hill at the back.  An ally / street behind is supported by a 20 or 25 foot retaining wall.  There are two or three of those retainer walls with houses  and streets ascending to the top of the hill where 3 or 4 very old Churches, built during the 1300's, stand side by side, ringing their loud bells every hour and every half hour day and night, month after month, year after year.

The Village was incorporated in the year 999 a.d.  People had already been living on these hill for a long, long time before 999 a.d.  I was here once in 2010, when the owner of the clothing store told me he was on the village board and the year before, 2009, they had a great celebration of the 1,000th Birthday of their village.

Because there are limitations in living in only one country of Europe, because most of Lydia's work in in Germany, because it might be better to move to the country where one works and many other "becauses", and because both Argentina and the USA will allow dual citizenship with Italy, it just seemed reasonable for them to seek that avenue.  After eighteen months of waiting for paper work to be processed, finally they were notified the time was drawing nearer.  Then word came that Rome was sending the proper papers to Torino.  After trips of eighteen or so miles each way, the papers were ready to be sent to the City Hall, so the swearing in could take place, 

The great day came.  The family joyfully ascended the stairs to the court of Madame, the Mayor.  Oops!  The papers had been separated from those of her family.  Not to worry.  Swear in Gaby and the Girls and wait for Rome to send Lydia's.  After the ceremony, to the surprise of the Mayor and her staff, Lydia brought out her offering of beautiful and flavorful cupcakes.  Afterward the party retired to the coffee bar across the street.

Weeks have passed and now, yesterday we all went down town to the Passport office to collect Carys, Gaia and Gabriel's Passports.  Today we attended Lydia as she went to the Village Hall and was sworn-in as a citizen of Italy by Madame, the Mayor.  Gabriel phoned across the street and ordered coffees, Lydia had bought beautiful little cookies.

Lydia and the Mayor stood at the head of the court room, we all stood watching and listening, while Madame the Mayor very rapidly read the 2 or 3 or 4 very long pages, just to announce that the Family now truly have an Italian branch.

It has been an exciting and beautiful day.  Mom would have been proud.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


You Might not Know What's in a Man 'Till You See It Working Out

He was the young farmer who moved onto the farm down the road from us and up the hill to the west.  The farm was on the left.  I actually didn't know either Teddy Joe or Verna Mae very well.  He grew up with his mother in Olustee, OK.  He and Verna Mae were married when he was eighteen.  Mr. Jones was her dad. He helped them to get the farm.  The Jones' lived in Eldorado.  Verna Mae was Phyllis Walker's younger sister.  Phyllis was, and still is, married to Senior Walker, Mother's cousin.

Teddy Joe might have worked on a farm some time in his young life while living in Olustee.  I really don't know about that.  The part I do know about, has to do with the farm and the farmer.  It must have been 320 acres or less.  That means it was a mile long and more or less a half mile wide.  The east end of his fence line started at the red house on our place where our road crossed the two bridges over Squaw Creek.  The road and his fence went along together to the bluff, up the twisty road and on across past Tatar Mountain to the west.  After a few rods it crossed the north - south road from the river bluffs up past Granny and Papa's.

I only remember that he grew cotton.  There were a couple of small fields to the east below the bluff.  There was pasture on the side and top of the bluff, along the top of the river bluff beside Red River and on the west end of the property where the natural bridge crosses the gully going into the river.  The farm land was along the road, from Tatar Mountain on the west to the milk barn and house on the east.

Teddy Joe's father-in-law bought him ten good Holstein milk cows.  They give lots of milk and he had never milked or at the least, very little.  He was out there milking by hand at sunrise every morning.  He finished milking about noon.  He had a few hours off and then   Then it was time to start over again.  In the mean time he was tilling land and putting in a crop.

The amazing thing:  we never saw a weed in his fence rows.  I've picked cotton in his fields and never came to a weed.  We didn't have weed killers in those years.  We all wondered and said, "How did he do it."  Early and late must have been his secret.

A few times when I got home from school and Mother with the girls wasn't there, maybe Daddy was somewhere in the field or working around the neighborhood, I'd walk to Teddy Joe and Verna Mae's house.  When the folks got home they'd call to see, if I was there.  Daddy always scolded me for "running away" when he came to pick me up.  I knew to start the chores.  Then once when I went over there after school, Daddy was plowing in the field, I knew he was there, but went on anyway.  When he came to the house and was ready to start chores, he called Teddy Joe and told him to have me walk home.  Teddy offered to bring me.  Daddy said NO.  The sun was down and dusk was setting in pretty heavy.  I never "ran away" again.

Those years must have been in the mid 1940's.  By 1950 we had torn down Grandpa's old house and were building the new one.  By the time the new house was about half finished Teddy Joe's house was setting empty.  We had moved into the west side of the dairy barn when the old house was coming down.  But now Teddy Joe and Verna Mae had moved away, so we rented their house and lived there a few months until ours was ready to occupy.

I'm not sure when or where they moved.  I did hear that he wanted to become a Meteorologist, and did.  He came to Granny's funeral about 1988 and I met him at the cemetery.  It was so good to see him again.  He died later.  I don't know any more of the story.

I just know a young farmer made an impact on a young school boys life and I am so very grateful!

Monday, August 5, 2013


This Is Linda's Birthday and I and We All Wish Her the Very Best

When Daddy took us, Donnie, Pallie and Me to see our new baby sister with Mother at Dr. Crow's clinic in Olustee, the first thing I noticed were how cute her ears were.  I don't remember noticing other baby ears before that time.  And I generally still don't pay much attention to them now.  Anyway we were glad to add Linda Kay to our growing crowd of farm hands.

When Linda got old enough to crawl, she didn't.  She sat up on her bottom and pushed herself across the floor with her right hand.  When she finally reached fifteen month of age, she evidently decided to look at things from a higher perspective.  One night Mother and I thought she should learn to walk.  Donnie and Pallie were there as the cheering section.  Mother held Linda up and I was very close in front of her coaching her along.  She came to me, then wanted to turn around and go back.  So we played that game together for quit a while.  I stepped back a step each time.  We all began to laugh. And Linda began to laugh.  We all started laughing and laughing.  That was the night Daddy came home from one of his sheep shearing runs.     (I'm not sure how to justify this part, because Daddy's shearing trips were in the spring and this puts him coming sometime in the fall.  Maybe some of the family can help clear it up.)

Cotton picking generally started about mid September.  School let out for four to six weeks for kids to work in the fields.  And goodness, NO, we didn't have homework.  So school almost always began during the first week of August.

Mother and Aunt Bonnie were top cotton pickers.  Even after Mother was having her family, I remember her picking cotton as she dragged her sack down the row with Donnie and Pallie, one year and two years old, riding on her sack.

The women of our family have always been hard workers, in the house or in the field.  Where help was needed, they were there.  On several occasions Mother put on her overalls and helped with grinding feed bundles for the cattle.  She milked cows by hand before we got the electric milkers and even then she was in the barn or not far away.  The girls milked cows, too.

By the time Linda was old enough, she had the joy of pulling cotton beside the rest of us.  Soon she was pulling faster than Donnie, Pallie or I.  If she was pulling in the row next to you, she'd be pulling off your row and getting ahead as well.  That gave her a real advantage back at the wagon when we weighed up on the scale.  And it was also a real big disadvantage for the rest of us at the end of the day when Daddy figured up our weight production.  OUCH!!! Big time!!! 

We all worked to make the farm go.  I don't remember Daddy ever having just one job.  There were always the multitude of chores and jobs on the farm and then he almost always had custom work for neighbor farmers or carpentry jobs somewhere.

Today in my Bible reading, one of my chapters was Psalm 5.   I thought it might be fitting to share on this special day.  There are twelve verses in the Psalm.  I focused on the first three.  The title of the Psalm is:  Prayer for Protection from the Wicked.   It is written For the choir director for flute accompaniment.  A PSALM OF DAVID. 
     v. 1  --  Listen:  "Give ear to my words,..."
     v. 2  --  Pay Attention:  "Heed the sound of my cry..."
     v. 3  --  The Lord Will Be There in the Morning:    "In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice..."                    

NOTICE:  It's a matter of confident calling on my / our part.
                   It's a matter of clearly expressing our heart's cry with our own words.
                   It's a matter, not of wondering, hoping, assuming, or wishing, but of confident faith that today, this very morning the Living Lord God Almighty has listened and paid attention to my very deep and earnest heart cry.  The hard part may be our waiting for the fulfillment of His will.

     v. 11  --  Sing with joy and gladness because He is our refuge and shelter.
                    Because you love His name, He will exalt you.
     v.12  --  A righteous man or woman or youth or child will be blessed by God and will be
                   surrounded by His favor as with a shield.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


It Has to Be the Most Beautiful Lake I Have Ever Seen

I arrived in Germany and then on the same day on Italy on July 19, 2013.  It was a good flight.  Lydia, Gabriel, Gaia and Carys were all waiting for me at the gate.  What a beautiful sight!  We were here, at their home in Andezanno for some days:  getting me over the "jet lag," shopping, Church at the English Speaking Church of Torino on Sunday, primping and pampering Butter Cup, getting her properly designated with the State to travel the roads of Europe, then packing her up, hitching her on and heading out for a wonderful campground near the old and beautiful City of Annecy.

Butter Cup is the name of Lydia and Gabriel's 1976 small camper.  She's been well cared for through the years by previous owners.  Her new owners are the best yet.  We put my tent inside, loaded up everybody's gear and headed through the mountains.  The Alp Mountains turn south, more or less, at the west end of Switzerland and head for the sea between Italy and France.  Praise the Lord for money and engineers who were willing and had the insight to push the many tunnels through the bottom of the thousands of feet high mountains.

All in about four or five hours Gabriel had driven the car pulling Butter Cup to the wonderful campground.  Our parking, camp site was nearest the shower house as possible.  There were already dozens of campers and more arrived ever day.  The month of August is vacation month in Europe.  Some years ago an old couple, maybe not so old then, turned their farm into this campground.  It's really a beautiful location.  It sets in the middle of a valley, about midway between mountains.  They range between 1600 and 2000 feet in height.  The valley might be a mile wide and a couple miles wide.

Around the area of the camp site, beyond the borders of the farm, are a couple or three small French housing settlements.  Those are all so beautiful in their very old architecture.

About every other day of the week we drove into Annecy.  I'll guess the lake to be thirty miles long and a half-mile or less wide.  The water seems more blue than the sky.  It is said to be the cleanest lake in France, and very easy to see the bottom in most places out from shore.

Because it is vacation time, there are all kinds of festive atmosphere.  Tonight they were having their annual fireworks displays.  It must have been a sight to behold.  We needed to come away and be back in Torino tonight, so we missed it.  As we walked beside the lake, we could see the electric lines and lights, etc., all floating in the planned shore side.  There were huge grandstands and lake side chairs set, 20 in a row, 5 rows deep and there must have been three or four blocks of those chairs.  We heard that the price for the chairs ran from 10 € to 50 € each.

Thursday we drove to the town of Thones, pronounced "Tone."  They were having daytime play grounds in the streets.  A couple blocks had been closed:  the most strange bicycles were circling round being ridden by young and old, wooden games from ancient times were attempted by all ages, and there was the four seat Ferris Wheel.  The only metal part was the axle through the middle.  Two people helped with the loading of the seats, which were very much like our porch swings.  Two men stood on a platform, one on each side, to assist in turning the wheel.  There was no motor.  Children and or adults all rode together.  To stabilize balance, they added a bag of sand for weight, if necessary.  Once the new seats of riders were safely seated and balanced, the wheel turned pretty much by perpetual motion, with only a nudge now and again.

Yesterday afternoon following a shopping trip to town, we visited the Menthon Castle.  It's owners have maintained it for centuries.  This is renowned for St. Bernard, who was born there in 1008 and became famous for the hospitals he started throughout the Alps and the St. Bernard dogs he developed to help with the rescue of injured and lost travelers.