Friday, June 22, 2018

"Life Can Be Hard, But God Is Able"


Everything was going okay that day until all the other Post brothers got together in a huddle and decided to team up against Little Jimmy Post. I don't know for sure how things turned out for my buddy, but I have to believe that he made it through it okay. You see, life can be tough, at times as hard as crucible steel. That's what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his "Eulogy of the Martyred Children," which he delivered on Sept. 18, 1963. "[Life] has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace." You don't have to face your struggles alone, if you believe what the bible says in Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." We can all learn a lesson from Little Jimmy. I pray that you will.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Law and Prohibition


Things aren't always as they seem. Consider this story that appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal's "Greetings" column on Feb. 20, 1959, as told by Charles Brents. The actual incident occured sometime between 1926 and 1929, when my great-grandfather, A.H. "Hige" Boles, was sheriff of Clinton County, Kentucky.

When Prohibition went into effect in 1920, millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans chose to violate the liquor ban to satisfy their thirst for booze. Such was the case in Clinton County, which like all other places, thrived in the production and sale of illicit alcohol, such as moonshine.

As you can see in the photo, busting moonshine stills kept my great-grandfather busy during his term as sheriff. According to Brents, during one raid, Hige and his deputies found three men, one of whom was a constable who said, "Sheriff, you are too late. I have already captured these two fellows." While both men were convicted and fined $50 each, it was later learned that the constable had been a third partner in the still. His quick thinking had saved him from arrest and punishment.

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Getting Back Up"


Bro. Melvin Daniel said something at Steve Bell's funeral that really summarized, not only Steve's life, but mine, too. He said, "You don't win a prize when you get knocked down. You only win a prize when you get back up." That really hit home with me and inspired me to write the following.

I remember when a boxer by the name of Chuck Wepner went up against Muhammad Ali at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio. The date was March 24, 1975. Wepner was known for using dirty tricks in the ring, but the fight was thought to be an easy win for Ali, who did minimal training for it. After all, he had just beaten George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" match and was very much at the top of his game. So, everyone knew he was going to win. Everyone, that is, except Wepner, who knocked Ali down in the ninth round. Even though Ali claimed Wepner stepped on his foot and then pushed him, the referee ruled it a technical knock down. Wepner believed he was about to be crowned heavyweight champion of the world. He had almost knocked out the great Muhammad Ali. So, he goes over to his corner and says to his manager, "Al, start the car. We're going to the bank. We are millionaires." The manager replied, "You better turn around. He's getting up and he looks [mad]." Ali punished Wepner for the rest of the fight, scoring a technical knockout in the 15th round. The match would inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the script for "Rocky."

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! - from "Rocky Balboa," 2006.


The question in life isn’t whether or not we will fall down, but whether we will be bold enough to get back up again. It's easy to decide we can’t do it. For Steve Bell, getting back up took courage and a willingness and commitment to do it, even when he was scared or didn’t think he could. But, he kept getting back up, as Bro. Daniel said. Thomas Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times while inventing the light bulb. "I have found 10,000 ways something won’t work," he said. "I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."

You might not achieve all your goals during your life but that doesn’t make you a loser. Suffering defeat doesn't always mean you are defeated. In my life, I trust in God because He knows what is best for me. I firmly believe I am where He wants me to be. Getting up and continuing to get up, is me trusting in Him and allowing Him to work through me. The proof is in my writings. Over the years, I have written many faith-based stories or testimonials and had people comment, "I needed to hear this today." So, I am very content with where I am. What about you? Maybe God has another route laid out for you to take. "You don't win a prize when you get knocked down. You only win a prize when you get back up." So, get up!

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10




Monday, June 4, 2018

The Smell of Music

My dad was born on this day in 1938. It was through him that I learned about the smell of music. I began to ponder it during my early youth each time the guitar case that held his Chet Atkins-endorsed Gretsch Tennessean guitar was opened. For years, I could never find the right words to describe it, and then one day a friend suggested it was the smell of music. From the rosewood finish on the guitar and the plush velvet lining inside the case to the guitar strap that had dad's name on it, there was something special inside that guitar case and the first time I got a whiff of it my life was never the same. The smell of music set the course for my life's journey, thanks to my dad and his guitar. Happy 80th birthday in Heaven, Dad.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Till The Storm Passes By

During a recent singing at my church, friends Rob and Debbie sang Mosie Lister's great song, "Till The Storm Passes By." Before they sang, Debbie spoke about how God spared her family from a tornado that completely destroyed their brand new home in 1998, and how a shelter Rob had built in the basement had protected them from harm. For me, it was an all too familiar story of a tornado that came to my family's home when i was a small child.

The date was March 19, 1963. We lived in an apartment above my grandparents' garage at 601 Hopkins Street. My parents had gone out of town that day and my grandmother, Dimple Speck, was left to babysit us kids; Mike (4), Randy (me, age 3), Darilyn (2) and Ronnie (4 months). As a storm intensified outside, my grandmother looked out a window just in time to see the tornado that was fastly approaching. With only seconds to spare, she quickly gathered all of us together underneath the kitchen table and then, realizing she could not physically protect all of us at the same time, she told Mike and I to run to our parents' bedroom and get underneath the bed. We were overcome with so much fear that, no sooner had we got there, we decide to run back to the kitchen table.

By that time, the roof was already beginning to be pulled away from the building. My grandmother would later recall the haunting sound of hundreds of nails being ripped out of the wood. I cannot imagine how horrifying it must have been for her to see us running back to her at that moment. She was already holding our sister in one arm and our baby brother in the other. There was no way she could have physically handled two more kids, much less try to hold the table down.

My grandmother was a very spiritual woman. You could always find her sitting at the table with her bible either opened in front of her or laying beside her. There is no doubt that she did an awful lot of praying between the time she saw the tornado through the window and the sound of the roof coming apart. Instead of it crashing down on top of us, the tornado sucked the roof and most everything inside the apartment, outward. In the quiescence that followed, one thing that remained was that kitchen table, and all who were underneath it. God had spared my family, just like He spared Rob and Debbie and their family.

"Till the storm passes over
till the thunder sounds no more
till the clouds roll forever from the sky
hold me fast let me stand
in the hollow of thy hand
keep me safe till the storm passes by"

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Farmer and the Bicycle

Old farmer Jacob Rust lived about four miles from Albany, said a letter to the New York Sun. He had a good mountain farm and was very well-to-do in a rough and thinly populated region where a man with $10,000 was considered rich. Farmer Rust had several daughters and Ellen, the oldest, was considered the most 'handsomest' of them all.

This particular summer, a young man named Henry Curtis from Ohio, whose parents had moved there from Albany, had gone back to visit his relatives. He brought with him a bicycle. It was the first one to be seen in Clinton County, the letter said, and people came from miles around to see it. Henry, it said, was an expert rider and frequently displayed his bicycleship before the eyes of the mountaineers. He was even kind enough to let a number of the young men try his "velocipede," as it was called in Albany, but their bruised faces and sore joints soon made them very shy of the machine.

Henry fell in love with Ellen Rust. He pressed his courtship and was accepted, but farmer Rust was opposed. He objected to Henry because, as far as the farmer's knowledge went, he did not technically have what was known as any visible means of subsistence, or has farmer Rust termed it, "he was a lazy good-for-nothin' who had nothin' to do but go gallopin' around the hills on two wheels." Henry assured him he had a good business and fine prospects in Ohio, which was later transpired that his statement was true, but the farmer did not believe him.

So, Henry and Ellen waited. She was of legal age and they could have easily eloped, but they did not wish to do that. They wanted the old man's consent. The bicycle appeared to be farmer Rust's chief objection. He did not believe in it. "My gal," he said, "shan't marry any fellow who fools away his time on such a derned thing as that. Why, he might break his neck any day and then I'd have his 'widder' to take care of. I don't want for a son-in-law any man who rides on a velocipede. If he had a horse or a buckboard it would be all right."

Henry would not put away his beloved machine. The letter stated that he loved that bicycle, next to Ellen of course, and he meant to have them both. On Monday, Ellen was visiting a relative in town and Henry went to see her. They were getting angry at the old man's obduracy. "I will ride right out now, see him, and ask for your hand," said Henry, "and if he does not consent I will come back and we will get married anyhow. You are of legal age and we can have the ceremony performed here in town."

Ellen agreed.

Henry mounted his bicycle and headed for farmer Rust's place. The old man had just come in from a journey and his horse and buckboard were still at the yard gate. The young man immediately made known his errand.

" I told you once before that you could not marry her," said the farmer.

"Well, I am going to marry her, anyhow," replied Henry. "She is in town now. I am going back there and in less than an hour she will be my wife!"

"Then you will have to beat me to town," said farmer Rust. "I don't think any velocipede can get ahead of my old mare and the buckboard. If you get there ahead of me, i guess you can have the girl."

With that said, Henry mounted the bicycle and the old man jumped on his buckboard and the race was on. On a good turnpike or level road, read the letter, Henry could have easily outdistanced the old mare, who was not as swift as she once was, but it was altogether a different matter over those hills. But his recent experience with such difficulties stood him in good service, and, in spite of his rough path, Henry soon had the satisfaction of passing the farmer's bumping buckboard.

Henry waved his hand gleefully at his perspective father-in-law, who was swearing at his old mare and endeavoring to whip her into a faster gait. He wrecked twice, but each time Henry was able to right himself and his wheel without harm to either, and passed into town a quarter of a mile ahead of farmer Rust. He then stopped and waited for the farmer to come up.

The farmer looked at the bicycle for a moment and then exclaimed, "Well, I'll be derned!" Together, they went to fetch the Baptist preacher, brought him to the house where Ellen was visiting relatives, and it was there, on that day, that she and Henry were married.

- from the Sept. 26, 1889 edition of the Parsons (Kansas) Weekly Sun.

The story also ran in the Chicago Tribune, St. Paul Globe, Salt Lake Tribune, Daily Bee in Omaha, Times Democrat in New Orleans, the Clinton, Missouri Advocate and several other newspapers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Medal of Honor Recipient: Oliver Hughes

Harry Truman once declared he’d rather have a Medal of Honor than be president. The area i live in is blessed to have had three Medal of Honor recipients so far: Sgt. Alvin C. York during WWI, Lt. Murl Conner during WWII and Cpl. Oliver Hughes during the Civil War.

Most people may not know about the heroics of Cpl. Hughes. The first soldier from this area to receive the citation, he was born in Fentress County, TN in 1844 and lived in the Static area, close to where Conner lived and not far from York's place at Pall Mall, TN. Cpl. Hughes was awarded the Medal of Honor for an act of extraordinary heroism which he performed on February 20, 1865, while serving with the Union army's 12th Kentucky Infantry at Town Creek, North Carolina.

The Union army had came up on Confederate lines along the road from Wilmington to Fort Fisher. Finding themselves in a comparatively open country with only a few pine trees, the federal troops were exposed to a merciless fire from the rebel artillery. Seeing that desperate measures were necessary, Lieutenant-Colonel L.H. Rassieur ordered an attack on the rebel lines. When it began, Cpl. Hughes saw the color-sergeant carrying the flag of the 11th South Carolina Infantry Regiment. The flag, in those days, was used to signal advances and retreats. Determined to capture it, he made a rush toward the color-sergeant, who retreated to within a short distance of his company. Still, Hughes persisted and within 3 feet of the mouth of one of their cannon, killed him and captured the colors. In the disray, the union was able to counter because with the Confederate flag gone so were the communications it provided.

Cpl. Hughes saved thousands of lives that day Town Creek, North Carolina. After the war, he returned home to farm, but a few years later moved to Macon County, Missouri. He died there in 1911 at the age of 69.

The flag of the 11th South Carolina regiment was returned by the U.S. War Department to the state of South Carolina on March 25, 1905.

"Life Can Be Hard, But God Is Able"

Everything was going okay that day until all the other Post brothers got together in a huddle and decided to team up against Little Jimmy ...