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Monthly Archives: April 2011

BLUE-JEAN CROSS

Eugene Cross lived near us on Worley Road. His house was right where the white folks’ houses ended and the colored folks’ houses started. His daddy, I was told, sold illegal whiskey out of his house.

Eugene was a fast-talkin’, fast cursing, little spitfire. Many of the kids in the neighborhood didn’t stand in his way when he came bullying around.

My Daddy, in his witty attempt to mispronounce things decided that “Eugene” was really “Blue-jean.” The name stuck around the neighborhood and many people called him Blue-jean.

One day when I was about 10, I was out in the side yard pitching horseshoes, when Blue-jean, aged 9, walked up donning his dirtiest play clothes. He let out a string of bad words I was sure my mother would “whoop” my tail over. He asked if he could play horseshoes with me. I had to think a brief second and decide what my options were. Say no and get a black eye, or say yes and take my odds from there.

So after about 30 minutes of pitchin’ and cussin’, Blue-jean was angry because I was winning. He became so angry that he jumped me and threw me to the ground. We rolled and tumbled a few times. I knew if he started swinging, I was “done for.” At this point he had me pinned to the ground and had my legs swung up high so that my stomach was jammed into my throat. I could barely breathe. I struggled for what seemed to be eternity and thought that I would die any moment.

I heard the front door open and my mother stuck her head out and said, “You boys O.K?”

She slammed the front screen door fast to keep the flies out and I grunted out something that must have sounded like, “Yep.”

But I really was saying, “Help!”

I decided I wasn’t ready to die. I grunted with all my might, threw Blue-jean over on his back. Straddled him on his chest, and pinned his dirty hands to the ground. Now I had him. At that age I was a little chubby and he was scrawny. If I could do anything, I could squash him with my weight!

The only problem was that if I let him go, his fast fists would drive into my face and boy did I know it. So I sat there and listened to him call me every bad name any drunken sailor might have ever said. For over an hour I sat, listened, pondered , and poured sweat. When could I let him go?   ….I decided…..never.

After an hour and a half, Blue-jean ran out of bad words.

He said softly, and without a profane adjective, “Hey man, if you let me up, I’ll go home.”

So I did, and he did. Although he lived just a few streets up the road, I rarely saw him again.

A couple of years later Blue-jean’s daddy was murdered in their home. I heard how Blue-jean went out in the yard and screamed and cried and I really felt sorry for him.

Eugene Cross was just a guy like me who wanted friends and wanted to belong. In another time and situation we could have been good friends.

But I will always remember the lesson I learned from him that hot, summer day.

If you can’t whip your enemy any other way, sit on him until all the fire is gone.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4 NIV

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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

That’s What It’s all About

I saw someone post a link to a performance of Johnny Cash’s “Were You There?” hymn.

I remember a teacher singing that song in a school assembly at Parker High School in  1966. Johnny did a great job on it though…and Elvis could sing “Let There Be Peace in the Valley” until you were wiping tears… and my brother George, even after three beers did a wonderful job singing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”

So you know? It is Ok for imperfect people to sing about the Perfect Person. That’s what it’s all about. We are not perfect, and that Glory that Christ brought to us in His Birth, Life, Suffering, Death and Resurrection is what makes the whole picture of salvation.

When my wife Joy’s mother was living with us in her final months, we would sing with her. And when she told us she was ready to move on to Heaven, we sang with her every day…many hymns. We laughed and cried so much that we will never forget those songs.

At her funeral our son Anthony paid special tribute to her in song, and was able to get through it because he knew how much music and hymns meant to his Memon.

At this celebration of her life, I was speaking and posed this question;

What do people who have no faith sing to a family member who is dying?

What a shame. It breaks my heart tremendously to think of lost people…They have no song!

In the 1970’s Diana Ross had a popular song. It worked at graduation ceremonies. Maybe this is the only song a lost person can sing.

It was called “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?”

Praise God I don’t have to have that one sung at my funeral.

At that time, my mom and I , along with Memon will already be singing,

“I’ve Got A Mansion.”

Hope you will come see me sometime?

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.   I Corinthians 1:18  KJV

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Gone Fishing

Our youngest grandson asked me if we could go fishing when Nana got out of the hospital. I told him we would go fishing very soon, but had to get Nana well enough for us to leave her for a few hours, which he understood.
I remember going fishing with my dad when I was a child. We would drive from Greenville to Lake Greenwood and park our ’57 Ford Fairlane near the pier and tackle shop. Dad would always rent the children a cane pole for fifty cents and we would all fish overnight. I can still hear the crickets, tree frogs, katydids and bull frogs. And I remember the mosquito bites. Mother would fish too, but some nights she would get sleepy and she and I would curl up in the car for a nap. My brother Jerry would always catch more fish than I because he didn’t take a nap time. Vienna sausages and potted meat on crackers was the night’s menu. Potted meat smeared on crackers is especially good if you have a little earthworm residue left on your fingers.

The water had a magic glow from the pier lights and I imagined what it would be like to jump in at night….something I  did later as a teenager (no parents around for that trip.)
I have a memory of when dad brought home a large catch of catfish. Mother taught me how to nail the head to a plank, cut the skin and then pull it off with pliers. Hope you are not queasy yet, because the description of gutting comes next…Quite an experience if you have never done it.

Oh well…I can still smell the smell…It never leaves your nose.

As Anthony was growing up, we took him fishing in the neighborhood pond, and Joy’s mom, Memon, later helped him learn the exciting surprises of pier fishing at the beach.

One day in about 1980 at Lake Greenwood, Memon and Anthony fished off the bank while Joy and I swam. Anthony was young enough and did not need a license.  Memon was over 60 and did not need one. When we finished swimming, Joy and I walked up to help Anthony untangle his line. While I was holding the rod for just a minute or two, a little green boat puttered up with two game wardens on board and they asked me to flash my fishing license to them.

The next day I paid my fine and learned no lesson from it.
Some things in life are just not fair, but funny years later.

“Peter. John, and James in a sailboat out on the deep blue sea”….Sing it with me now.
Are you a fisher of men?

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2011 in Uncategorized