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Fanta Grape 15 Cents

1956. I was six, Jerry Gravley was nine. We lived at the upper end of Furman Hall Rd. and our long sandy driveway ran parallel the full length of Foister St. My Gravley grandparents and Aunt Minnie lived at the end of Foister St. Jo Posey Singleton was our neighbor and Jerry and I would play badmitton with her across the fence. Sharron Davis Hawkins was another neighbor. She had a pony and later was the teen with a super cool Mustang to drive. David Lister’s aunts lived next to us on another angle and it was always a pleasure to talk to the famous Hovie Lister (The Statesmen). We had many other super nice and unique and unusual neighbors. (See my story re: Bluegene Cross.) One great pastime was walking down Furman Hall Road a couple of miles to the Greenville Humane Society. Duke, the first seeing eye dog in Greenville was buried there with a special marker. Mother would let Jerry and me walk to get us a pet. It only cost about $2 back then for the adoption fee. We would stop by Dan Hunts Gas Station and buy a Fanta Grape for fifteen cents and a Zero Bar for a dime. The 291 By Pass was developed in the early 1960’s creating fun sitting on the red dirt cliff waving at the truck drivers and gesturing for the drivers to blow their air horns. A little later the 291 Cafe opened and we could get 4 hot dogs for a dollar.I might find neighbors like Jeri Stafford walking along the way.  As we crossed 291, we would stop and play at the pond behind Stone Manufacturing. Later on Barbara Holcombe Gregory and I would play softball in the field behind their house and her brother Dickie would be with my good friend Nick Howard and we would walk to a baseball game at the textile league games on the Stone field.

Brother Jerry and I were good friends. Time separated us and later illness built  bigger barriers.

Jerry died in the ER of Greenville Memorial two years ago while I was in the 17 day coma here in Greenwood. What a horrible time for my mom and my family. God took Jerry and left me behind with other tasks to complete. Right now, it is to take care of Joy Gravley in the hospital bed here next to me…..and to help home school the grand sons. We all will not have thrones here on Earth . I will see my Christian friends at the feet of Jesus on the throne of God.

Be there!

It will be more refreshing than a Fanta Grape….and the price is already paid.

I chose to add this hymn to my story. God works in mysterious ways for sure as I chose which drink I would include in the story and for the title…Then I noticed the name of the person who wrote the score for this hymn…

This portion copyright from http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org

Jesus Paid it All – The Lyrics
The words to the song “Jesus Paid It All” was written by Elvina Hall in 1865. Being prompted by his wife, John T. Grape wrote the score. However it was Grape’s Pastor, Rev. George W. Schrek who believed the score and Hall’s words should be paired together. The song appeared in a hymnal for the first time in 1868.

Excerpts from Jesus Paid It All
I hear the Savior say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness….watch and pray
Find in me….thine all in all

Chorus:
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin hath left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb

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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Hope and Faith = Hanging On

This Bible verse from KJV greeted me every day for seven years in very large print as it was painted on the wall across the entrance to our lunchroom at Sans Souci Elementary when I attended from 1956-1963.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1
Many will say that we can’t be so brazenly bold today in schools, but that is not the case. Christian teachers have every right to tell school children what they believe and many take steps to do so. With that freedom comes the chance that an atheist or teacher of other faiths may share opposing views. My wife Joy taught mostly grades 3-6 over her many years in education and allowed her students to “return thanks” each day before lunch. (Christian, Jew, and a few others over the years) That time was spiritual, educational, and special. I kept my study Bible on my desk every day in the high schools, middle schools, and college classrooms where I taught. Students saw me read it in the mornings, and heard me read from it as a reference in literature classes. I had a Muslim student one year and took every chance to witness to her in very appropriate ways. One day she wore a Christmas shirt that she had bought at a local store. It showed baby Jesus in the manger and said “Silent Night.” I complimented her shirt and asked her if she knew what those English words on her shirt meant. She said that she did not know. The door was opened as I interpreted to her the special message that the hope of baby Jesus brought our world that Silent Night.  I hope today that she still remembers that message. And I hope that others have found open doors to witness to her and to many others like her. Two Christmases ago as I lay in ICU asleep in a coma for over 2 weeks, our three grandsons Jarron, Tabor, and Hewson  sang “O Holy Night” and prayed over me . The nurses and doctors could not wait to tell me what a special family I had with  our son Anthony praying over me daily. Jennifer prayed over me and her dad who was also in ICU at the very same time – likewise with cancer related struggles. And to top it off, Joy was in the hospital as well. Our family was facing one of its biggest sorrows ever. Hewson looked  up to his dad and asked him, “How do people without faith handle a time like this? What do they lean on or trust in?”…. Good question Hewson. Even today as a 14 year old along with your teen brothers, I hear of how you witness to your home school friends in classes, and how you witness to neighbors, and even to near strangers on Facebook…Well I see hope in you guys…I feel the Hope in your futures and I know that as Billy Graham is in his last days, you are in your youthful days of doing what he did for decades…You are leading others to that faith….That faith of hope. That faith that awakened me through the prayers and eyes of your dad that day….and that faith that wiped out the largest tumor in my spine. That faith that brought Nana home – and your other granddad home for two years when the doctors gave him two weeks…God Can…..and you guys Will…..Amen today and into the Heaven we call our real home.
Revelation 21:4 – And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

MADAM MAYA

Madam Maya

Sleep did not ring at my door
Yet the cry of that small creature
Mr. Mockingbird
Singing In the topside of an ancient tree
Just close enough
Outside my front window.
Crying
Screaming sweet stories
A note? Yes a melodic note
But a note of historic writings
In the wrapping of that one bird
A Tweet, one might say
Came the voice of
Maya, Madam Maya
Speaking to me
And only me
“Dana…Dana Gravley
Get your sweaty , liver-spotted self
Busy tonight, not the morrow.
You too can become The Legend
A legend of words
Dana, right now
Write now
Let small words shout
Let giant words whisper!
From the Carolina valleys
To the roar of Ireland’s shores
Put your night voices to paper
Put your prayers and pride
Upon the shoulders of eternity
Now…”
…Mr. Mockingbird is singing
O’re her grave

copyright 2014 danagravley.com

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Miracles and Mysteries

We were overwhelmed to see that over 150 people let us know (via facebook) that they were praying for my family and me yesterday. That was as big of an angel hug you could ever ask for. It is amazing and miraculous to know that God shows his love in such big ways as you take this kind of walk with Him.

Exactly one year ago today I was awakening in the recovery room screaming and acting quite unruly. I want Dr. Mappin, Dr. Aaron, Dr. Hunis, Dr. Funke, Dr. McCloughlin, Dr. Dean, and all nurses and technicians to know today how much I appreciate them for skillfully taking care of me in a timely and knowledgeable manner.After my surgery I was in the hospital eight more days.
The Mayo Clinic gets accolades from me as well as they studied my tumor smears to find that I have neuroendocrine cancer.
With the lobectomy, they removed the primary tumor along with affected lung tissue and lymph nodes. The remaining tumors (2 in my spine and 1 at the top of my femur) are shrinking and are successfully being managed. I became the tumor “star of the week” as such at Self Regional Healthcare Cancer Center because neuroendocrine tumors are very rare and though most in the oncology field have heard of neuoendocrine tumors, very few have treated patients affected by them. I was technically diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung. I am the first person in Greenwood County to receive this diagnosis.

I feel quite honored that God chose to gift me with this disease. Dr. Hunis told me that I was an open, blank book for him and that there was no chapter in the medical books that described a case specifically like mine.
You see, this group of professionals in Greenwood now have a cancer patient to evaluate and treat in new ways. I am the person God chose to teach them so they can save more lives in the future. Dr Hunis has called his professors , and other colleagues and has spoken with doctors around the world about how to treat me. God used me in a way I would have never thought I would be proud of.

I have had a good role model though.

One person has taught me that a medical diagnosis can be a gift and blessing. That person is my wife Joy. She has said for many years now that God , in His sovereign wisdom, chose her to have multiple sclerosis so she could teach and counsel others. She has helped numerous people worldwide learn how to accept and cope with their autoimmune diseases. Yes, Joy calls her diagnosis “A Gift.” She cannot stand nor walk. She has a bladder cath, and she cannot sit up on her own, yet she uses her creative mind and teaching skills in great and effective ways. I am honored and blessed to be married to someone like that, and she feels the same about me. A very large percentage of married couples break up or divorce when a life-changing diagnosis like this comes along.
Our son Anthony and his wife Jennifer and our three grand boys Jarron, Tabor and Hewson have been so supportive through our daily struggles, We do it all together as a team.
Anthony battles ankylosing spondylitis. His spine and hips are fusing, as are his sternum & ribs. He is in pain daily.  He too uses his disease to teach and work with others as a musician/ songwriter / producer with a passion for ministry and nutritional counseling. Anthony and his family have been right along side us through this new challenge.

Knowing that the warmth and comfort of God is with us and is using us in a most positive way sustains us.
We have received prayers and gifts from family, friends, and strangers. God has taught us so much in this journey. And we in turn want to change lives and help others through many outlets.
The miracles that have come our way over the last year are astounding. We have received new appliances, food, and financial support to allow us to keep our home another year. Our dear neighbors and family have taken care of much of our shopping and errands. We have a church ministry that will soon be coming to repair things around the house. This past Christmas we went to pick up our large layaway to find out that our balance was a penny. A “K-Mart angel” had paid nearly $500 for us to have a great Christmas. We tried to guess who would have done that for us. We realized that any one of our friends or family members would have done that…but knew plain and simple…it was an angel.

Our family has learned to walk daily with the Warmth of Jesus, the Power of God, and the Mysteries and Miracles of The Holy Spirit.

God has a gift for you. It could be a new car, a swimming pool or…

it may be a diagnosis of a disease and the grace & faith to face it head-on.

Whatever your gift… recognize it.. discern it… and accept it. Once you have done that, then you will know exactly how to use it.

Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted. Proverbs 17:8 (The Message)

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

THE PLAYGROUND LESSONS

I am sure if you are close to my age, you remember the school and neighborhood playgrounds where you played while growing up. There were some valuable lessons shared on those old grounds around the neighborhood schools.

Did your school or neighborhood playground have a merry-go-round? I fondly remember the swift, metal ride on the playground at Sans Souci Elementary school in Greenville, South Carolina in the 1950’s. It was one of the most exciting free items of fun a child could experience at school. It was not particularly pretty. The paint was worn and rust was evident in places. And despite the fun, it was dangerous. You had to execute a good bit of strategy to know when to get on and off while it spun rapidly around. A dozen or so friends would randomly jump on or off, while two or 3 people stayed on the ground and grabbed the bars as they came by. These people would push or energize the momentum of the merry-go-round….and if you were lucky, you would laugh , and yell, “Geronimo!”, …and jump off safely into the red, sandy dirt rut that we had worn out.

I remember some serious injuries on the playground. I remember when Sheila got her leg caught under the merry-go-round and screamed and cried in pain. I also remember when Perry jumped from bar to bar on the monkey bars and fell and broke his arm. The cast was a grand badge of honor for him the next day.
That playground was where I caught my first interception as a fourth grader and giggled and ran like a girl to score a touchdown . I don’t think we “high-fived” back then, but I do remember getting some memorable pats on the back that day. One great memory I have is of a friend named Skip who had juvenile arthritis .He played just as hard as we did in spite of tremendous pain he must have suffered from his obvious physical impairment .

Playgrounds have healing power too I believe.
Playgrounds are wonderful places to learn lessons.

You have to know when to start and stop. You have to learn how far to jump and when to jump. and you have to learn which goal is yours and which one belongs to someone else.
Remember dodge ball? Now that is a great learning tool. People want to throw things and hurt you and you learn quickly when to jump and miss their projectiles….Isn’t life a lot like that?

God made playgrounds as great places to learn. If you decided to take a slide down the tall sliding board , you had to remember the old metal sliding board would be hot in the summer, and the end of the trip was a hard bump as your butt hit the ground. Thus, another lesson we learned and we in turn taught our children and grandchildren. Think today, as we grow older how we have to take care of the snags and sneers that trip us up and land us on our proverbial bottoms.

Playgrounds, I think will always be around as one of those great places God made for learning, for friendship and for memories..

How I love your teachings!
I think about about them all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
because they are mine forever.
I am wiser than all my teachers,
because I think about your rules.

PSALM 119:97-99

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Dividing Line


I remember the old neighborhood so well. The stretch of barbed-wire that went across the back of our lot was put up by John Thomas to keep his cattle in. Down the hill past the barbwire was a creek and back up on the other side was the neighborhood where the “colored folks” lived.

I could plainly see the black children playing in their yards. They were playing games and running and having a good time just like my friends and me, but we never played together. We never spoke , or waved at them. We were not allowed to. It was the 1950’s and 60’s and there was a dividing line between whites and blacks. In some places the dividing line was imaginary. At my house it was real; it was the creek. If I crossed it, I was too close.

Racism and hatred towards others is something you learn, not something with which you are born.

Today, I live in a neighborhood with black families, Japanese, Latino, and probably others….and it doesn’t matter to any of us that our skin may be  a little different in hue.

 Here are a few recollections of racial memories from my childhood.

There were two or three sections of Greenville, SC that were called “N’-town. Anytime that we would drive close to or through one of the neighborhoods, I was scared to death because of the things we were told about blacks.

I’ll never forget one day when I was about six years old we were in Sears buying school clothes. I walked up to a water fountain and started to drink.  My brother Jerry grabbed me by the arm and said, “Boy can’t you read! That water fountain says, ‘Colored’…Drink out of this one marked ‘White’!”

That’s right! separate water fountains for whites and coloreds. It’s hard  to believe that I grew up during such a period in history.  And riding the city bus for us was a treat. If we wanted to go downtown to shop or to a movie, we could walk a mile to the bus stop and catch a city bus.  Big problem though – We couldn’t sit at the back of the bus. I always wanted to sit at the back of the bus, but I was taught to read the sign over the driver’s head that read, “All coloreds sit at the rear of the bus.”  But as a child I wished I was colored so I could sit at the back. None of my family or friends thought that was an amusing idea.

I’ll never forget the first black person I talked to other than the janitor at our elementary school. I was a junior in high school. I was taking the SAT college entrance exam at Greenville High School in 1967 and blacks were allowed to take the test with white students for the first time. I walked out for fresh air and to get a Pepsi at the nearby gas station during a break between tests.  A black girl walked out at the same moment and we were forced to have to speak. So we walked together to get a Pepsi and made small talk, but it was  a unique experience. I didn’t tell Mother about it. I was afraid she would faint from fear that , well, I might be getting too friendly with one…You see, it was the times. The times were different.

We had to integrate our schools by law during my final year in high school. We had one black student during my senior year at Parker. He was a curiosity and was everybody’s friend.

 When I went to North Greenville College I got to know more blacks and more racism too. One day, my friend David Whitfield and I went to Lee’s Restaurant down the road from college. We went there often to fill the gap between college meals.  On this particular day, a black truck driver walked in and asked Mrs. Lee for a barbecue plate. Mrs. Lee said , “Well I’ll fix you the plate, but you’ll have to go out back under the tree to eat it. Mr. Lee don’t allow no coloreds to eat in here!”

Over the past few decades I have become dear friends with many people, not all white like me.

Several years ago, I worked with Greenwood’s first black mayor, Floyd Nicholson when we were both at the same school. I was his administrative assistant for a while and we shared many memories of what it was like growing up in a segregated era. He is  a South Carolina state senator now and has achieved far more than he could have in the 1960’s.

We shall still overcome! We shall understand!

If you really carry out the royal law prescribed in Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.
James 2:8

 

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Dad’s Way

In honor of my war hero on this Memorial Day evening…I post a memory of my dad PFC Arthur Elijah Gravley who landed on the shores of North Africa in WW II and later was captured by the Germans. He spent 26 courageous months as a POW in Stalag 2B. A strong, skinny farm boy from Brevard, NC who came home, not broken but molded into a man.

Here is a memory of his gentle, clever manner:

DAD’S WAY

My Dad was the best man in the world to punish you without touching you. It could come in the form of a snap of his finger or just a little grunt. But his best yet came when I was a teen-ager.

My neighborhood friend at our house on Long Forest Dr. was Barry Reeves. Barry lived up across the street from Long Forest Dr. on Buncombe Rd.   Barry and I started a band, which I’ll tell more about later. Barry, Butch (Barry’s younger brother), Robbie Riles , and I were riding through a neighborhood near our house one day. Barry was the only one who had access to a car at that time for fun rides and band trips. Well, we were riding along singing and laughing and having a good time. Barry and I had just finished drinking Pepsi Colas when I decided to dispose of the glass bottles by tossing them out the window of the ’58 Ford. We took great joy in watching them hit the pavement and break into many pieces as we drove off.  I assumed no one saw us , or if they did surely they didn’t know who we were.

The next day Daddy finished his lunch and lit his after-lunch cigarette, blew out a puff of smoke into the air and looked up at me across the table. “I had a flat tire yesterday,” he said reflecting.

“You did?” I said. I wondered at this point why I didn’t know about it. Things like that were usually known around the house the day it happened, not the next day.

“Yep, I was driving on Overton Drive and ran over some glass in the road where someone broke a bottle.”

He half smiled, half frowned. I could have swallowed myself and disappeared from the room at that very moment. I was speechless.

I knew at that moment and know today that Dad did not have a flat tire. I never in all my years later even asked.

I just knew that I had been had…in my dad’s own way.

“If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death. But if their thinking is contolled by the Spirit, there is life and peace. Roman’s 8:6”

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized