Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My mind is like a popcorn popper. If you will observe popcorn through a glass lid as it pops on top of your stove, you will not be able to determine exactly which kernel will pop open and turn into a lovely, edible morsel. Every pop is a surprise. So it is with my mind.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Sometimes you have to grow up to appreciate what you had as a child. When we were growing up in a small town in Central Texas, I puzzled over the destination of the cars that drove down the highway with such speed. Where were they rushing to? What lay up ahead in the big cities? What was there? It had to have been more interesting than the life we were leading. Everything was quiet where we lived and still, and it seemed nothing ever happened.

I remember a small town with graveled streets except for Main St. which had inlaid bricks. When it rained we played in the ditch in front of our home. We also caught crawfish after a big rain and spent afternoons playing with them.

We named our hens, at least one for each one of us. My brother Ben’s hen was mean and tried to peck everyone around. The rest of the hens sought nothing more than to eat, scratch on the dirt and move on and mind their own business. I was allowed to feed the tiny, yellow, chicks, a job I loved.

Betsy, our cow, docile as she could be produced a wonderful calf from time to time. Besides the fact she provided us with milk and butter, she was the most peaceful animal we owned.

I taught myself to sew and made my little sister several garments which she wore with pride. I also taught the two younger children how to ride my bicycle and trembled as they wobbled down the sidewalk.

Mama gave me free rein in the kitchen and I tried all sorts of recipes. Many failed as I didn’t know how to measure properly. Mother didn’t mind the failures. She applauded my efforts. In time I took Home Economics and succeeded in baking.
I also planted a small flower garden. Again, Mother praised my efforts.

I just didn’t know the quiet life we led and the simple activities we were involved in were so joyful and many years later would rush back into my memory bank like a sudden rain shower. And just like the rain showers that clean the air, those memories replenish my mind and make everything seem better.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Chess Game

The small student arrived at the elementary school with his parents who registered him. Larry behaved in an unusual manner, looking up at us and then hastily looking down as though he had offended someone.

His behavior was the same in the fifth grade classroom, which provided fodder for those students who pounced on anyone who was different. To make matters worse, he had difficulty reading. In the cafeteria where I observed so many students day after day, I noticed Larry ate alone. His classmates ignored him during this thirty-minute period, which was probably a relief to the self-conscious child. Meanwhile, we conferred with the counselor: how could we help this student?

A teacher announced: every Friday after school anyone who was interested could come by and learn how to play chess. Many students showed up, some to enjoy the cookies and drinks; others to play chess.

Larry turned up at the door one Friday where the teacher taught chess and entered the classroom reluctantly. The teacher greeted him in a pleasant and warm manner. Larry stayed and paid attention. Surprising his fellow classmates, he learned to play Chess. Very well.

I noticed in the cafeteria now his fellow students said to him, “Larry, sit down to eat with us.” They all sat and conversed in an animated manner.

One day in the cafeteria as they walked in a line a student said to him, “You can’t read.”
Larry looked at him squarely in the face and answered, “And you can’t play chess.”
I realized then Larry was going to be all right.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Speech

I assumed this reunion would be the same as all the others, but I was wrong.
This reunion was different. Tommy, a former classmate pulled me aside and said, “I have to tell you something.” And he began telling me a story about his life and where it had taken him.

“After I graduated I didn’t know what to do with my life. I used to walk by your dad’s service station, and when I did, he always called me over so he could talk to me.”

Your dad said, “Tommy, you must go to college. You can’t just do nothing. You have the ability. Go on and better yourself.”

“Every time I walked by his place of business he gave me the same speech. I knew he was right but I didn’t know how to go about pursuing such a dream. In time I went to Dallas, married and began having children.

“When my children started school the memories of your dad’s talk came back to me like a dream, and I said to myself…I didn’t go to college, but by the Grace of God my children will. I sometimes worked four jobs simultaneously, and I told my children, ‘Just go to school. I will pay the bills. All five children have gone to college and are in different careers. And it was because your dad planted the seed in my head.”

Like my father, Tommy has passed away, but I am sure he went straight to my father and thanked him for the good advice. His children will thank him forever.