Saturday, October 31, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: The Festival of Guinea Pig Racing

Forever A Hillbilly: The Festival of Guinea Pig Racing:     Back about the turn of the century, one of the girls in my church announced that a mission trip was planned to Cusco, Peru. It was plann...

The Festival of Guinea Pig Racing

    Back about the turn of the century, one of the girls in my church announced that a mission trip was planned to Cusco, Peru. It was planned as a backpacking trip deep into the Andes Mountains, near the headwaters of the Amazon river, in search of indians who had little or no contact with the modern world. It was also announced that there was one spot open. The others were most all university students. Without really thinking it over properly, I just announced, "I'm going."

     I have to admit, at that time I was not really the strongest of Christians. My motivation was mainly about seeing one of the wildest corners of the earth remaining, and living among the Catchua Indians. I had put on a heavy back pack and trained by climbing the highest hill in Arkadelphia. When we arrived, as it turned out, we could be driven to the village chosen. But I was in good shape, mostly, except for the knee nearly ruined in my training regimen. I was the only gray-haired member of my team, and the Indian, who seldom ever lived to the age of gray hair, treated me with great reverence. This caused many guilt attacks for me, having impure motives for even being there in the first place.

      I had proudly worn my Indiana Jones hat to Peru, thinking if I was going to be like him, I should look the part. But as it turned out, every Indian woman in the village had one on just like it. That sorta dulled the luster on my hat some.

      After we had gotten settled and talked to the Indians awhile, we found out that today was a big celebration day in the village, celebrating the day it was first built. It was all taking place at the soccer field, and we went. The mayor and elders all sat in chairs along the edge of the field, and everyone else sat in the grass behind. Well, the Mayor took one look at my gray hair, told one of the elders to go sit in the grass, and with much fanfare escorted me down to his seat. Another guilt attack.

      They were having Guinea Pig races, with each girl having a string attached to hers, and a little switch to spur him on. I had doubts about how fair these races were, because usually, the winner just dragged hers the last few feet.  Guinea Pigs were, I found out, in a class with Llamas, etc. in that they did well at high altitude. They just ran free in their houses, a pet, until, one fateful day, there was a need, and they became a meal.

      At church that night, the little Indian preacher from Cusco, Pastor Cirro, who was supposed to meet us there and preach, just did not show up. We sang a few hymns, then all the Indians turned and looked at me. After a couple of minutes, Lenore, the “mother” of the church, suggested we sing some more hymns. Then, they all turned and looked at me again. It finally hit me, they were expecting me to preach! Well, I had no sermon prepared, and I was, really, no sort of preacher. Not even a bad one. Witnessing to a small group was one thing, but I had not even thought to ask God to make me a preacher. That went back and forth awhile, then me and a student or two got up and told them how much we appreciated their hospitality, etc. We said a prayer, and they headed home.

      The girls were to sleep in the church, which was right next to Lenore's house. The ground was rock hard, and had bumps the size of a baseball all over it, but those girls just took that all in stride, even the toilet in that part of town, which consisted of a few bushes out by the creek. Ever since I really got to know these OBU kids, I was just totally blown away by them. I felt honored to be on this trip with them.

      A man in the village donated his house to us men as sleeping quarters. The ground was just as hard and uneven, and there was a bed in there, but we all figured that was where the Guinea Pigs would wind up, and we just spread our bags on the floor. When we got settled, and turned out our flashlights, we began to hear tiny feet scurrying about. We never could spot one, so we were never sure if they were Guinea Pigs or not.

Like I said earlier, I was deeply affected and changed greatly by this trip. I got to thinking about the terrible living conditions of these people, how eager they were to hear us speak God's word, what a sweet nature the children had, and how delighted they were to get these tiny bibles we passed out. That change started that night, as I lay awake all night long, with tears pretty much my constant bedfellows. It would be the third night before I slept a minute, after the whole team prayed for sleep for me, and someone dug out a sleeping pill from their bag.


      The next morning, we did craft things with the kids we had brought along, played and laughed a lot with them. They were totally delightful. A couple of young girls just could not accept the fact that I could not understand a lick of Spanish. “No Comprende” became my constant answer. The little girls felt that if they could just take my cheeks in their two hands, hold my face still so I was looking right into their eyes, then said the words very slowly and clearly, a light would just come on in my head, and I would understand. “No comprende.”

      One of the Indian boys stuck a piece of metal almost through his foot. A man picked him up. I asked the man if he would be OK. He looked at me, very seriously, and shook his head no. Seeing none of the Indians with any means of first aid, we dug our kit out, I washed the mud out of it as best I could, covered it with disinfectant, then wrapped it up good. His mother was very appreciative, and carried him home. We prayed for him. I never saw him again.  CONTINUED IN FOUR DAYS.    Thank you for your attention, and your time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Diamond James Archer

Forever A Hillbilly: Diamond James Archer:      The Crater of  Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas is the only known diamond crater in North America. It’s the only p...

Diamond James Archer

     The Crater of  Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas is the only known diamond crater in North America. It’s the only place in the world one can go in, pay a small fee, and keep what you find.

     Back during my diamond mining days in the late 1970’s, I was fortunate enough to buddy up with, and work alongside the most famous Arkansas diamond hunter of all time. A lot of what I learned by watching James Archer enabled me to find my first two diamonds during that first three day trip, the first being my largest find ever, a beautiful 1.00 carat canary diamond. During those three days, I was determined to learn as much as possible from this legendary diamond hunter, and be just like James Archer. Alas, I failed miserably.

     James Archer made his first trip to the Crater of Diamonds by horse and wagon, seventy some odd years ago.  Later on in life, he and his wife came there again, determined to find a diamond. He failed, but his wife did find one. This galvanized his determination to find a diamond. He surface hunted for two years, off and on, and never found one, gently being teased about that by his wife the whole time. When he changed to digging deep holes, and washing the mud through screens, He quickly became successful, finding his first two, a 1.7 carat and a 1.71 carat brown diamond, all in the same day. In the early 1970’s, he worked at a sawmill, unloading railroad ties by hand, then going to the diamond mine to dig after work. At one point, he was not at the mine for two days. When he returned, his arm was in a sling. His hand had almost been severed at the saw mill. He should have been at home recuperating, but the hard working James was not the type to ever sit still. He could not stay away from the crater.

     When he returned to the  saw mill, they told him they no longer had a job for him. This was a turning point in his life. He decided to become a diamond hunter, six days a week, every week. The number of diamonds found varies from one report to another, but the best estimate given by park officials was 5,000.

     As I said, I met James and worked alongside him for three days in 1979. The characteristics I noticed about James that were not present in anyone else seemed to be that he worked very hard, very fast, all day long, every day. For thirty years. I did meet one other man who compared to James in most of these categories, except that he always kept a full time job otherwise, and he’s still raising a family, so he does not get to go every day.  Henry Emison and his wife Lori were digging away when I met them. They were beginners at that time, but they quickly changed all that. Henry soon was recognized by all other diamond hunters on the field as a digging machine, a true man among men. He could work all day at his job landscaping, then drive to the mine and do as much work as we fully human diggers could do in a day. Of course, he quickly found a lot of diamonds. At one time, they moved to my rental house at Gurdon, Arkansas, partially because they loved that 130 year old, six bedroom brick house. But mostly because it was close to the diamonds.

     What is it about rare, driven men like James and Henry that makes supermen out of them when they step onto that diamond field? I wish I knew. I would buy up a few gallons of it and enhance my own diamond collection a bit. Henry moved to the other side of Arkansas, because that was where his job was, a few years ago. But I know he’s still not out of range of that diamond mine, so we still don’t know how his lifetime collection will look.

      James told me the story of finding a very nice diamond on his screen just as two rough looking and talking men walked up. James, a black man, had been treated badly by such men in the past. Afraid they might try to take it away from him, he simply dropped it in the bucket of fine sand he would be taking home to look over closely that night. He was never able to find it again.

     In 1994 James unearthed a very nice 5.25 carat diamond. This was, officially, his largest find. But, when a story came out about him in the National Enquirer, it was said he had found a 7.9 carat diamond. When asked about that later, he stated, “Well, they did get things sorta messed up in that story, all right. About my age and stuff. But I did find that 7.9 carat diamond.” When pressed about this, James related this story.

     “One morning several years back,   I was out here in the parking lot getting ready to go in one morning when it opened. A man started talking to me, telling me he was here to find the largest diamond he could, and buy it for his girlfriend for her engagement ring.”

    “I told him I didn’t have any diamonds on me now, but maybe we’ll find one today.” James went on to say, “A lot of folks talk big like that. But when it comes down to it, they don’t have the money to back up their talk.”

     James continued his story. “So the park opened it’s doors, and we both went in and bought our ticket, and went into the mine. When we got to the search area, he turned left and I turned right. I only went a couple of hundred feet before I saw something shining at me.  I went over and picked it up. It was a big, canary diamond, sitting right on top of the ground. I shouted, “Hey, mister! I got a big ‘un for ya.”
     The man came over, said he wanted to buy it as soon as he saw it. He asked, “How much ya’ want for it?”
     James said, “I didn’t even know how much it weighed, and I usually set my price on that. So I just said, $7000. Then that fella reached in his pocket, and pulled out a huge roll of money. He counted out 70 100 dollar bills into my hand. When he was finished, that man’s roll looked as big as it did when he started peeling bills off’a there.  I said to myself, “I shoulda’ said $10,000. But I didn’t know he really had the money. The man took the diamond and never registered it at the park office. I heard from him later, and he’d had it cut and set in that ring. He said the jeweler weighed it before it was cut and it was 7.9 carats.”

     A lot of people have been wondering for a long time about just how well James has done. Tourists have been trying to pry that out of him six days a week for 30 years. Most people don’t like having people trying to get information about their business, and James was no different. We do know he never lived in a mansion, or bought a new truck.

     When tourists ask, “Is it true all your children graduated from college?” 

      James just said, “That’s what they say.” When asked later how many children he had, he said, “seven.” Is it true they all graduated college? “Yep. And my wife will graduate college this year.” Seems James did not invest his money in himself, but invested in his family’s future.

     On Wednesday, January 8, 2003, James Archer went into the Crater of Diamonds State Park as he had for thirty years.  And, at the age of 77, he died there doing what he loved, digging for diamonds.  The Crater will probably never see a more diligent, consistent, determined prospector than Diamond James Archer. And I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside James, and learn much about diamond hunting, and about life, if only for three days.

     Rest well, James. Your accomplishments at the Crater of Diamonds State Park will never be equaled. Nor will I ever find a nicer guy on that diamond field.

*Some info about James Archer for this story came from­­­ -  “A thorough and accurate History of Diamond Mining in Arkansas”  written by Glen W. Worthington. Published by Mid America Prosprecting,  Murfreesboro, Ar. 71958

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Uncle Franz

Forever A Hillbilly: Uncle Franz: I was born when my dad was 52, my mom 40. The youngest of the Gillum Wing generation.  My cousins were grown and gone, all my s...

Uncle Franz

I was born when my dad was 52, my mom 40. The youngest of the Gillum Wing generation. My cousins were grown and gone, all my siblings were gone by the time I was 12. So, I pretty well grew up with all the old folks. The Gillums mostly lived side by side, or about as close to side by side as we got in Wing. A mile apart.
     Most of my uncles and my dad were pretty serious, no nonsense, hard men. At least, they were by the time I came along. I never knew any of them when young blood flowed through their veins.
     But Uncle Franz was different. He still laughed a lot, and he found things in life to enjoy. He was very, very, smart. He spent much of his working life teaching, as an administrator, or as a Civilian Conservation Corps director after the depression. He had retired by the time my memories of him began. He came back to Wing,  built a house, a big fishing pond, got land and cattle. His girls were still finishing up school, so Aunt Grace hung out at Conway until they were grown. He was so sick of dressing up every day, he came back living and dressing like a sure enough hillbilly.
     He taught at Fountain Hill awhile. He told me once they lived in a pretty rough part of town, and when they came back to Wing for a visit, (Everybody from Wing comes back as often as they can. Wing is just about the perfect place to be. Just about. The one thing missing is a lot of options about what to do for a living. So he, like me, had to scramble around in other, lesser parts of the world to make a living and raise a family.) He was a little worried about his house and his stuff while he was gone. So, he found the biggest, roughest, meanest man in the neighborhood, took him his house key, and asked him to watch his stuff while he was gone. That worked perfectly. Nobody ever messed with his stuff. I told you he was smart. It was a hard day's drive from Southeast Arkansas in those days, what with all the mudholes to get through.
     Uncle Franz seemed to go to bed about the time the chickens went to roost. But he was up by the middle of the night, and a whole lot of that time, he was pounding on his old, beat up typewriter. I saw him doing that a lot, but never knew what he was doing in those days. It was not until recently, when I began to see some of his work, that I realized he was a world-class poet. But his work seems to be pretty much lost to the world. The copies of his poems that I have been able to get my hands on are pretty dim, probably copies of copies of copies from an old typewriter not much good to begin with. But I'm going to do the best I can to figure out some of them, and share them with you. Hope you like them too.

Three Shots Rang Out    (President John Kennedy)
A man was riding on parade                                                                                                       
A great good man who fervently prayed
For peace and freedom the wide world O'er
When three shots rang out and he's no more.

A man so young and sincere too
Ambition spurred to drive him through
A fearless man with wisdom's store
But three shots rang out and he's no more.

A speechless world rose quick and fast
To honor him whose soul had passed
From life through death to live once more
For in hearts those shots closed not the door.

A mortal form lies lifeless now
No wicked worry to fret his brow
Yet he's greater now than e'er before
Since three shots rang out and he's no more.

No Sparkles Show

Sometimes the dew on blades of grass
That crowd in over the padded path
And hide the footprints in the dirt
Goes by unnoticed as I work.

No sparkling diamond hue I see
Because my eyes are so busy
Searching for another sight
A little spot of red and white.

It's hidden somewhere in the grass
I must not miss it as I pass
Of course it probably would be
As well that I did not see.

Yet something inside me tells me “no”
And thats the reason no sparkles show
On blades of grass when wet with dew
At early day when morn is new.

Dew sparkling grass is just as wet
And sparkles just as bright, still yet
It bothers me not as much by half
When looking for a newborn calf.

Oh 'my gosh what was that
That weird sound out yonder?
Sounds just like a squalling cat
followed then by rolling thunder.
Curiosity got the best of me
Out the window I looked to see.

Then quick as lightening's flash
I rushed over to the window
Pulling up the bottom sash
I saw kids on the biggest bender
No, not drunk, I didn't say
Just a frolicking group at prankster's play.

On they came so thick and fast
Noisy costumed witches leading
Followed behind by lad and lass
Street decorum knew no heeding.
Turned the corner down my street
And at the door yelled “trick or treat!”

Treat. The choice was made post haste.
What was left for me to do?
I knew I had no time to waste
When I viewed closely this weird crew
Dressed so spooky from head to feet
Playing innocently “trick or treat.”
     Uncle Franz drove his Farmall Cub tractor by our house just about every morning. I knew he was going to check his cows. But I also knew that before lunch, he would be down at the lake or the river, fishing. If I was able to get loose, I grabbed my pole and headed down that way. Sitting on the river bank with Uncle Franz, catching one bream after another, was always time very well spent. I always rode out on the back of his tractor.
     In his later days, A doctor discovered he had an anurism in his stomach. He was told that if it burst, he would die before he could get to a hospital. Uncle Franz said, “That sounds like a good way to go.” He had no operation. A while later, he did go. Just that way.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Our Own Particular Brand of Racism

Forever A Hillbilly: Our Own Particular Brand of Racism: I am a part of Kairos Prison Ministry. Each Thursday night, a group of Kairos men travel to Pine Bluff Prison, to be present at a churc...

Our Own Particular Brand of Racism

I am a part of Kairos Prison Ministry. Each Thursday night, a group of Kairos men travel to Pine Bluff Prison, to be present at a church service put on by inmates who have been through our Kairos program, primarily to show support for these mostly-new Christians. I gave this talk at that service recently.
     The subject for tonight is Racism. My name is Pat Gillum.  Kairos walk number 37.
      Not long ago, I was fortunate enough to live and work, for a time, at an orphanage in Kenya. I lived, ate, and worked with eighty African children up to ten years old. Some were taken into the orphanage as babies, while others had differing degrees of horrors in their background before arriving there, due to extreme poverty, disease, starvation, and tribal violence. But they all seemed to be totally pure in regard to this horror of the spirit that exists in the heart of many  Americans, our own particular brand of racism.

 They had only been exposed to whites in the form of missionaries, such as myself and my wife, who worked hard to insure that racial prejudice was never a part of their lives. Adult Africans who worked there joined us completely in this effort.

Kenya has only been free from British white colonialism for a relatively short time. Yet even the adults outside the orphanage seemed to be totally pure in regard to racism.

Why does black-white racism seem to be lessening much faster in Kenya than in America? Maybe the daily struggle to head off starvation. Maybe the fact that there are few white Africans. In any event, parents did not seem to train their children, openly or by their actions, to hold racism in their hearts.
To be exposed to a people who did not possess any sign of racism was a profound experience. The children, especially, so pure of heart in this regard, touched me greatly.
Babies are not born with prejudice. Adults pass it on to them eventually, in differing degrees, by their actions.  Until we totally stop training our children to be racists, we will never be free of this horrible thing that causes us to judge others by the color of their skin.

In this country, we have made much progress in this regard in my lifetime, and I can see much hope for the future in my grandchildren.

My grandson was placed on a new basketball team last year. After a week or two of practice sessions daily, the day of the first game arrived. When his parents arrived at the game, they were surprised to see he was the only white kid on the team. It had just not seemed important enough to my grandson to mention that.

My wife grew up in the deep delta, with racism just a part of everyday life. Yet she made the decision early on that she would never be a part of that. Where we live is no excuse for accepting and passing on racial prejudice. God has given us free thinking, and we can make the decision to stop this blight here and now, in our daily association with others, and in our offspring.

As Christians who read our bible, we see references regularly regarding God’s wishes for his people.
John 7:24 – Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgement.   
 Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek – for the same lord is lord of all – bestowing his riches upon all who call on him.
Samuel 16:7- Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.
Galations 3:26-28 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ.

Jesus loved everyone, and died for us all.

Look around you at this gathering – I think Heaven will look a lot like what we see here tonight.  Christians worshiping together, for the glory of our lord, who loved us all enough to die for us.
Question – When have I struggled with racism in my own life?

Question – How can I change?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Polio

Forever A Hillbilly: Polio: ACCEPTANCE COMES SLOWLY    By Jonnie Sue Gillum Willis      My sister, Jonnie, who I always think of as the Angel of Fourche Valley, tel...


ACCEPTANCE COMES SLOWLY    By Jonnie Sue Gillum Willis
     My sister, Jonnie, who I always think of as the Angel of Fourche Valley, tells in her own words of the struggle to save her life when Polio hits.

     " My parents, and my two older brothers and I lived with my Grandma Gillum until I was four and a half years old. From the start, I was the family weaklin'. They tell me that Grandma rocked me in her lap as long as she could hold me. Then I sat beside her as long as there was space. I remember rocking so hard in my own chair that I turned over. This girl might have been sickly, but determination led her to pick up the chair and ride it to many big towns which were foreign to my country environment.
     It seems that I had tonsulitis very often. The doctor never considered  me well.enough to remove my tonsils, until I was grown. Because of my weaknesses, I had to take many medications. Many months of my fifth grade year were spent in bed. I had some problem with my heart, and the doctor advised complete bed rest. Santa Clause Brought my gifts to my bedside table that year.
     Because of my frailty, Mom insisted  that I wear long handles and long stockings to school. My first grade picture reveals my rebellion. The stockings are rolled down and the long handles are rolled up.
     Several months of my first grade year I had to stay home battling bronchitis and tonsulitis. By that time, I was so caught up in the magic of reading, writing, and arithmetic that I kept up with my school work at home. School was such a joy.
     As I reached those pre-teen years, I felt it necessary to play as rough as my brothers and sisters. We would ride homemade carts with blinding speed down hills, played in the creek, built playhouses around trees, played ball, rode bushes to the ground, swung on grapevines, and climbed every tree in our yard.
     From a very young age, I struggled to get a squeaking sound from our worn-out pump organ. Then one day, I succeeded. That was it! I wanted to play the piano. Of course that was out of the question. We couldn't afford to buy a piano, and there was no piano teacher available in our small rural town of Wing. That didn't keep me from dreaming. I walked around playing the notes with my fingers in the air. One day I found an advertisement for music lessons by correspondence. I begged and pleaded and continued to play in the air until my Dad finally found an old piano that he could afford. Then he agreed to order 12 of the 96 lesson correspondence course. After he saw how faithfully I practiced, how hard I worked, he ordered the remaining lessons.I could picture myself as a famous musician, music teacher, or at least a church pianist. (This was a major, major concession for Dad, coming at about the time the sharecroppers notes were being paid off, many years after the Depression had ended - for others.) 

     In January of 1946, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I was on top of the world. I just knew I'd outgrown the health problems and live happily ever after. Ours was a very busy life, and I always enjoyed my part in our many jobs to be done. When a new brother, Pat, arrived I learned to help with the cooking, housework, food preservation, gardening, etc. I continued to make time for those all-important piano lessons for one year. That's when my world came tumbling down.

     The pain in my neck began on a hot, dry August day in 1946 when I was 13. My right arm was weak. Mom insisted that I rest while she, Jan, and Barbara continued to carry water from the creek, bringing it up the hill to water the flowers. (Mom always kept a variety of pretty flowers around the house, and always made time to care for them.) I insisted on carrying a bucket after they got it in the yard. I never realized that this would be the last thing my right arm and hand would ever do.

     The next day, I was in bed, in pain, with total paralysis in this arm and hand. My entire body grew weaker as I lay in bed for three days. The country doctor had never seen a case, but he suspected polio.(That country doctor was uncle Arthur) My parents hired a neighbor to take us to a doctor in Russellville. In a short time, he headed us to the University Hospital in Little Rock.After the painful spinal tap, my diagnosis of polio was confirmed. My memory left me after I was rolled through a door with a sign which read, "Isolation Ward - No Admittance." I was put to bed, unconscious, on a Saturday afternoon.

     By Tuesday morning, the doctor felt sure that I'd never survive, so he allowed Mom to put on a mask, a gown, and gloves to visit me. Evidently this was the turning point, because I remember the tears flowing as I opened my eyes and saw her. I couldn't talk because of a tube through my nose to my stomach. Also, my entire body except my head was in an iron lung. I can still hear the laborous sound as it forced my lungs to breathe. Since I am a very modest person, I still remember the embarassment as the doctor came to check on me daily, housed in this respirator for a week, no gown or covering was placed over my naked body. The pain in my neck had intensified because of the rubber collar surrounding it. I still have a scar from the irritation of that collar.
     Gradually, I learned to breathe without help. Then I was placed on a firm bed with no pillow. My left hand, eyes and mouth were all that moved above my waist. Both arms were tied above my head at night. Later, I learned this was to help my lungs expand.

     Two weeks after the initial attack, I was moved to Children's hospital. There was my Dad outside that isolation ward. He had spent many hours there the past two weeks. Tears of joy flowed from my eyes as he rode in the ambulance across town with me. During all this time to save my life, no brush or comb had ever touched my hair. It was matted, tangled, and dirty. I felt like a mess, but I was alive! As soon as they had me in bed one nurse shampooed and brushed my hair. After a bath I began to feel much better.

       Now the real workout began. The heat packs felt good to my sore, stiff muscles. Slowly, the physical therapy began to loosen my limbs. Strength gradually returned, and I couldn't wait to be on my feet again. I can still see the frightened shock on the nurse's face the first day I put one foot against the side of my bed and raised myself up. She was afraid I would fall flat on my face, but I didn't! From that day on, I began to experiment to see what I could do. Many days, planning creative ways to do simple daily tasks was half the challenge. There was no time to say "I can't". The act of sitting up in a wheelchair one afternoon was one of the hardest tasks I ever accomplished. I gradually relearned to walk, feed myself, and to write in manuscript with my left hand  (before polio, I was right handed.) Soon I was able to help other girls, and I felt like the most blessed girl in the ward.
     After three months I was fitted with brace around my body which held my right arm out and up. "Oh please, don't make me wear this out in public," were my thoughts as the nurse strapped it on. The Barnum and Bailey Circus had come to Little Rock and the nurse was taking some of us. "You might as well wear this and start getting used to the public," she said as we left the hospital. After I began to enjoy my first circus, I soon forgot how I looked.

    Just before Thanksgiving the doctor said I could go home. My dreams of going home and starting to school in the 8th grade had kept me going all those sleepless nights in the hospital. Dad came on the bus to get me. Normally the bus didn't come by our house. However, the driver made an exception and took us to our driveway. Seeing my home again and my family running to meet us brought tears of joy. I was a survivor, and I was home!"

Monday, October 5, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Dens of Iniquity

Forever A Hillbilly: Dens of Iniquity:     My brother Harold and his sons, like Big Dan for example, were both blessed with great strength. Those strength genes just passed my...

Dens of Iniquity

    My brother Harold and his sons, like Big Dan for example, were both blessed with great strength. Those strength genes just passed my side of the family by, but I did have one strength when I was young. I could run a long way.
  But fortunately, I never really needed strength to get by in this world. Even as a young man, just out of high school. I had and still have a well-thought-out self-defense plan, consisting of these 6 steps.

 1. Never become a regular at Honkey-tonks, where most of the problems arise. My Dad never let me get accustomed to such as that when I lived in his house, and I just never got the urge to change that. However, I heard somewhere that it’s a felony to hit a man my age, so I’m tempted, armed with this new layer of protection, to investigate some of those Dens of Iniquity. If not now, when? If somebody would just tell me where they are…

 2. Be humble, which I have always been, especially when I’m in a dangerous situation. Some call that fear, but I prefer to think of myself as possessing great humbleness and humility. Just sounds better, somehow.

  3. My fake big man status. I say fake because I weighed 160 pounds, 6'2” right out of high school. No fat. That's the size I still am underneath the fat, but somehow, I now have trouble stretching myself out to six feet tall. I eventually got up to 260 pounds fat and all, now trimmed down to 220 pounds. So I'm a fake big man, because the fat really does not figure in on the positive side where self-defense is concerned. Just slows you down, and makes you hit the ground harder when you do go down. Though I guess that fat would help some, protect these now brittle old bones.
    But fortunately, this is the first time I ever confessed all this, and most possible trouble makers don't really know I'm not an honest-to-goodness big man.

 4. Bluff. That goes back to step three. Though I did try this a time or two during recess at Fourche Valley School, and it never worked a single time. But I didn’t have the protection of step three in those days. I was just a scrawny kid, and everybody could easily see that.

 5. Don't be too proud to run – far. Which I was able to do as a young man. And fear will help out with the lack of speed problem that always plagued me. Though I have trouble getting out of a slow jog now, and this one may be a little outdated and I may have to rework that. 

6. Don't be too proud to lie flat on the ground and beg for mercy, if none of these other steps work. I have no pride. Actually, bragging about a lack of pride is a form of pride in itself. But I always take great pride in my lack of pride.

So far, thank goodness, I've never had to go past step 5.  But it could happen, and when it does, I'll be ready. Remember this general rule to live your life by:


     Of course, this rule will only work with a young man. Maybe my dad was right. Maybe I should just stay away from those Dens of Iniquity.