Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Twenty Ten!

2010 -- Okay, I am just wondering, are we going to say Two Thousand and Ten when we refer to the new year, or will we start saying Twenty Ten? Not that I am on a bandwagon to change the way we say it or anything. Like I said, I am just wondering.

In the last decade, we said Nineteen. It was Eighteen the century before that. But now we are saying Two Thousand instead of Twenty.

Go figure, but ever since 2000 rolled around, we've been saying Two Thousand, which makes it sound science fiction, like the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.


But on the other hand, what about the song, 'In The Year 2525' (as in Twenty-Five Twenty-Five), by Zager and Evans?

What is your opinion? Who cares, right? Okay, so see ya in Twenty Ten, or Two Thousand And Ten...sigh.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Beginning (In Days Of Old Lang Syne)

"Each new year is like a new chapter in our lives. As 2010 approaches, I am aware of the prospects of a new beginning that lies ahead, and I, for one, am looking forward to it with great anticipation, and hope. God has blessed me with a beautiful family, a great Church family and many friends. For each of those things, I am thankful." - The Notorious Meddler

When I think of new beginnings, I can't help but think about the Samuel Wood family. Samuel was the son of a woolcomber in Leicestershire England. His father wanted Samuel to follow in his footsteps, but he failed to complete his seven year apprentice when, in 1755 at the age of 18, he crossed the Atlantic in search of a new beginning. By the time the American Revolution began, Samuel was lame, and in poor health, and could not serve in the military, but he performed patriotic service for his new country by giving his pewter tableware to be melted and made into bullets. After the battle near Alexandria, he and his wife, Sarah, nursed the sick and wounded soldiers in their home.

Samuel and Sarah’s first four sons, William, James, Samuel, and Thomas were born near the great falls of the Potomac River. William served in the State Militia in North Carolina, protecting the settlers against the warring Cherokee and Creek Indians. He was a brave man who quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1800, William, his mother, and two younger brothers, John and George, journeyed through the Cumberland Gap to the sparsely settled Stockton's Valley, Kentucky, known today as Albany. Not long after arriving at Stockton's Valley, William was appointed Sheriff and Justice of the Peace. He later served in the Kentucky Legislature as both representative and senator. William was promoted to the rank of Captain during the War of 1812. He was reportedly present when Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames.

Williams brother, James, the second son of Samuel, volunteered in Capt. William Cross’ regiment during the War of 1812. Soon after Samuel, the third son of Samuel, and his wife, Naomi, were married they headed west to live at Stockton's Valley. Samuel and William were two of the 13 charter members of Clear Fork Baptist Church. William was the Clerk for 48 years, until his death in 1850. Samuel was the first appointed deacon of the Church. In 813 Samuel was appointed overseer of the construction of the Burkesville Road. Today a portion of that road is known as 'Wood Street.'

When Thomas, the fourth son of Samuel, arrived at Stockton's Valley, he began helping William in his surveying business. but when news of the death of his father was received in 1800, Thomas returned to Tennessee to handle the affairs. There, he met, and married, his wife Mary. After the birth of their first child, the couple headed back to Stockton's Valley. Mary often told her grandchildren of the trip through the Cumberland Gap, saying that she and their baby son rode on a sled made of poles and drawn by oxen, while Thomas walked, driving and often leading, the beasts over the rough trail. At Stockton's Valley, Thomas took an active part in Clear Fork, often filling in as clerk when William was in Frankfort serving in the State Legislature. Thomas was appointed deacon in July of 1811. History records that Thomas “loyally assisted General Andrew Jackson in the preparations for the battle of New Orleans in 1815, by helping to dig the saltpetre used for the manufacture of gun powder which make the old rifles of the Kentucky and Tennessee troops do such effective work." In 1834, Thomas traveled to Illinois to visit family members who had moved there. On his way back home, his boot rubbed a blister on his foot, resulting in blood poisoning that caused his death eight days after returning home.

The Wood family welcomed their new beginnings. Samuel left his family in England and sailed to America, in search of freedom and a new start. Following the American Revolution, he found both. And then later, walking in their father's brave footsteps, Samuel's children left their homes and boldly moved west into the new frontier, where they helped start a new community and a new Church....the same community and the same Church where I am proud to live and raise my children.

Auld Lang Syne basically means "days of long ago." The song asks the question should old times should be forgotten. After the sacrifices made by people such as the Wood family, I say not. Incidentally, the song, Auld Lang Syne, was included in Thomason's Select Songs of Scotland in 1799 -- the same year William Wood and his family began migrating west. I find that ironic.

In honor of the Wood family....'we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.'

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Story

...And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David: To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

...And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

...And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Songs: Silent Night

It was Christmas Eve in the Austrian Alps but at the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Father Joseph Mohr was upset because the organ was broken. But he was about to learn that our problems are God's opportunities; that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. It came into Father Joseph's mind to write a new song and hastily he wrote the words "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright..." That night, December 24, 1818, "Silent Night" was sung for the first time.

Shortly afterward, upon hearing of the song, Karl Mauracher, who came to repair the organ, took the text and the tune and spread it about, referring to it as "Tiroler Volkslied." It seemed perfect for the snow-clad Alpine region of Austria, and perfect for the Christian heart.

"Silent Night" was first published in 1838 in a German handbook. It first appeared in its current English form in a book of Sunday School songs in 1863.

Were it not for a broken organ, there would never have been a "Silent Night."

Christmas Songs: O Come, All Ye Faithful

John Francis Wade was hounded out of England in 1745. He was a Roman Catholic layman in Lancashire and because of persecution arising from the Jacobite rebellion he and others fled to France and Portugal.

But how would he support himself? In those days, the printing of musical scores was cumbersome, and copying them by hand was an art. So Wade, took a job teaching music in the famous Roman Catholic College and Ministry Center in Douay, France. He became renowned as a copyist of musical scores. His work was exquisite.

In 1743, the 32-year-old Wade had produced a copy of a Latin Christmas carol beginning with the phrase Adeste Fidelis, Laeti triumphantes. At one time historians believed he had discovered an ancient hymn by an unknown author, but most scholars now believe Wade himself composed the lyrics. Seven original hand-copied manuscripts of this Latin hymn have been found, all of them bearing Wade's signature.

Wade passed away on August 16, 1786, at the age of 75. As time passed, Catholics who had fled began returning to Britian and they carried Wade's carol with them. After mor time had passed, one day Rev. Frederick Oakeley came across Wade's Latin Christmas carol. Being deeply moved, he translated it into English and O Come, All Ye Faithful was born - written and translated hundreds of years apart by two men, writing in two different nations to bid us come, joyful and triumphant, and adore Him born the King of angels.

O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Songs: O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Phillip Brooks is considered one of America's greatest preachers. He was a native Bostonian and pastored with great power in the Episcopalian ministry in Philadelphia and in Boston.

On December 24, 1865, while visiting the Holy Land, Phillips attended a five-hour Christmas Eve service at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He was deeply moved. "I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the wonderful night of the Savior's birth."

Three years later, as he prepared for the Christmas season of 1867, he wanted to compose an original Christmas hymn for the children to sing. Recalling his magical night in Bethlehem, he wrote a little hymn of five stanzas and handed the words to his organist, Lewis Redner, saying "Lewis, why not write a new tune for my poem. If it is a good tune, I will name it 'St. Lewis' after you."

Lewis struggled with his assignment, complaining of no inspiration. But, on the night before the program, he awoke with the music ringing in his soul. The next day the children sang "St. Louis." Brooks changed the spelling so as not to embarrass his organist.

Today, this Christmas hymn is known as, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

*Taken from Then Sings My Soul - 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories, by Robert J. Morgan.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Songs: Angels From The Realms Of Glory

John Montgomery was a pastor in Scotland, but he and his wife had a burden for world evangelism. They felt God's call to be missionaries to the island of Barbados. They placed their six-year-old son, James, in a settlement in Ireland and sailed away, only to perish in Barbados.

James spent his teenage years drifting from pillar to post, writing poetry and trying his hand at one thing then another. In his early twenties, he began working for a newspaper. He loved writing so much that James eventually bought the newspaper and renamed it the Sheffield Iris. His editorials proved unpopular with local officials, and he was thrown in jail a couple of times. But, he emerged from prison as a celebrity and he used his newly acquired fame to promote his favorite issues. Chief among them was the gospel. Despite the loss of his parents, James Montgomery had remained devoted to Christ and the scriptures.

As the years passed, he became the most respected leader of Sheffield, and his writings were eagerly read by its citizens. Early on Christmas Eve, 1816, James opened his Bible to Luke 2, and was deeply impressed by verse 13. Pondering the story of the heralding angels, he took his pen and started writing. By the end of the day, his new Christmas poem was being read in the pages of his newspaper. It was much later set to music and was first sung on Christmas Day, 1821 in England.

His parents would have been proud.

*Taken from Then Sings My Soul - 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories, by Robert J. Morgan.

Christmas Songs: Hallelujah Chorus

His father tried to discourage his musical interests, preferring that he enter the legal profession, but it was the organ, harpsichord and violin that captured the heart of young George Frederic Handel. Soon this remarkable child began composing operas and by his 20s, he was the talk of England and the best paid composer on earth. Londoners fought for seats at his every performance, and his fame soared around the world. But, all too soon the glory passed and audiences dwindled. His music became outdated. One project after another failed, and Handel, now bankrupt, grew depressed. The stress brought on a case of palsy that crippled some of his fingers. "Handel's great days are over," wrote Frederick the Great. "His inspiration is exhausted!"

But Handels troubles matured him. His sharp tongue softened. His temper mellowed, and his music became more heartfelt. One morning, he received a manuscript from Charles Jennens. It was a word-for-word collection of various biblical texts about Christ. The opening words from Isaiah 40, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people," moved Handel.

On August 22, 1741, he shut the door of his London home and started composing music for the words. Twenty-three days later, the world had Messiah. "Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not," Handel later said, trying to describe the experience. Messiah opened in London on March 23, 1743 with Handel leading from his harpsichord. King George II, who was present on opening night, surprised the crowd by leaping to his feet during the Hallelujah Chorus. No one knew why and regardless of why, to this day when the chorus is performed audiences have stood in reverence to the stirring words: Hallelujah! For He shall reign forever and ever.

Handel's fame was rekindled and for the next several years he continued performing his oratios. He died on April 14, 1759.

*Taken from Then Sings My Soul - 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Precious Memories

This time of year it is so easy to let our minds wander back to Chrismases of days gone by - those special moments shared with family and friends which fill our hearts with joy and gladness. It's one of the things I love about Christmas. I was thinking about some of those 'precious memories' today,' when that great hymnal popped into my head. I love this song, but after reading the story of how it came to be written, I realized that, for its writer, it was bittersweet.

One crisp, autumn night in 1923, at his home near Hamlin, Texas, the thoughts of a gentle, unassuming farmhand turned to the days of his youth - days before the family circle was broken. Days when cares of the world were unknown. John Braselton Fillmore Wright was not yet an old man, but several events had occurred which caused him to reflect back upon happier days.

Wright’s earliest memories were of his father and mother singing together the songs of their youth. It was this early environment which inspired him to write more than 500 songs. He falls into a category with a fortunate few who spend a lifetime writing songs, and for some unexplainable reason, comes up with THE SONG which eclipses all the others, and lifts one to an imperishable place in the hearts of the people. This happened to John Braselton Fillmore Wright when he wrote Precious Memories.

In 1909, word came to John Wright that his mother had “gone home to glory.” Five years later his father died. The now middle-aged song-writer recounted that the loss of his parents had a “tremendous effect on my life.” But it was on the still, autumn night of October 23, 1923, while he lived in Hamlin, Texas, that scenes of the home he had left 20 years before unfolded in his mind, and he was inspired to write his famous song.

The event, which weighed most heavily on his heart that autumn night, was the recent death of his youngest son, Everett Jackson Wright. “We lived by the railroad, below Hamlin, Texas” Mr. Wright wrote some years later. “Little three-year-old Everett would watch for the ‘chwains,’ as he called them, and he would stand at the frontyard gate and wave his little hands to the trainmen as they passed our house. They would always wave back to him. On Sunday evening, January 22, 1922, he (Everett) was stricken with “Membrane’s Croup” (now known as Diphtheria) and the next day, just as the sun went down, our little boy was dead. For many days after this, when the trains would pass the trainmen would be watching for little Everett to wave, but he was not there. Many times I watched them looking for him, and I wept and cried.”

Some time later as he reflected back on that autumn night in 1923 when he wrote his famous hymn, Mr. Wright said, “when my thoughts turned to my own little son whom we had buried the year before, I bathed my pillow in tears.”

Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old homescenes of my childhood
In fond memory appears

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious memories flood my soul

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the still ness of the midnight
Precous, sacred scenes unfold

Precious Memories first appeared in “Harbor Bells,” published by V. O. Stamps in 1925. It listed J. B. F. Wright as the owner, but with no copyright. According to Nellie Wright, a distant cousin, “a verbal agreement (was made) with Mr. Stamps that every time the song was recorded, he’d get a certain percentage royalty. He only got royalty from the first recording that amounted to $36.00. Then Mr. Stamps died and his heirs would not honor the agreement.”

We often talk about one’s education and what academic level of higher learning we have achieved. There is no doubt that formal education is essential in today’s world. However, some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood is perhaps the best education one could obtain. There is nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing more wholesome, and nothing better for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of church, or of home. One of the most critical factors in making right decisions is precious memories.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.[Philippians 4:8]

taken from words written by Robert J. Taylor

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sister Shipley Died

I've always been fascinated with the early history of my Church. Established in 1802, the clerks kept great records. I was looking at them yesterday, when the entry from December 1858 caught my eye. It contained only three words, Sister Shipley died. It inspired to write the following lyrics.

In 1858 Sister Shipley died
And though it doesn't say it, everybody cried
When the Church folk gathered 'round
And placed her in the ground
On that cold December morn'

The choir sounded like a great angelic band
And the preacher talked about a home in Beulah land
Now here I must confide
The blood was applied
The day that Sister Shipley died

Joy to the world the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
And the angels they did sing
Hosanna to the King
On the day that Sister Shipley died

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King

Hosanna in the highest is the song we sing
For Christ is our redeemer, Lord of Heav'n, our King
O may we ever praise Him as in Him we abide
The way they did when Sister Shipley died

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Shadow of Turning (A Thousand Days Blessed)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

(James 1:17)

This morning, someone said they hope I have 'the best Christmas ever' this year. Little did they know what they said sent a chill up and down my spine as if I were standing outside in this cold December air. You see, my 'best Christmas ever' so far was also one that, although it had a good ending, was nothing short of a nightmare. I have no clue why I am about to write this story. I will blame my gloomy mood on the rain that is falling outside. Maybe that is the reason I find myself sitting in front of my computer about to do something I told myself I would never do. Here goes...

We thought J.D. had a bad cold when we stopped by the emergency room on our way to Church that Sunday morning. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I had so much to be thankful for. God had just given me a baby boy and I was so happy. At six-weeks-old, J.D. appeared to be very normal health-wise, other than the terrible cough he had. Not taking any chances, we stopped by the ER, where we learned that it was more than a cough, it was bronchitis. He was immediately hospitalized.

By the following Wednesday, J.D.'s condition had improved and we were told he would be released from the hospital the following morning. Because he appeared to be fine, we left the hospital to go home and rest. Marina was two and I had felt guilty of not being there for her in the previous days that I had stayed at J.D.'s side at the hospital. So that Wednesday night, his mom and I left J.D. at the hospital, under the watchful eye of his Nana. The phone rang way too early the next morning, but the message on the other end of the phone woke me instantly.

The next morning, the doctor wanted to hold J.D. one more time before releasing him from the hospital. I have always wondered why it happened the way it did, but just has his Nana put J.D. in the doctor's arms, he had a seizure. What followed was a nightmare that lasted a little over two years.

Just as J.D. was placed in the doctors arms, he began choking on mucus. Because he was so tiny, the hospital did not have a tube small enough to fit down his throat to draw the stuff out. When I arrived at the hospital, the room was packed with nurses and physicians. One nurse was doing calculations. Her notes were spread out all over the bed. Every available doctor and every available nurse was in his room helping in some way. Things suddenly went into a tailspin. When I walked in the room, one of the first things I was told was 'the helicopter is on its way.' Tests had showed he was well enough to be discharged from the hospital, but something terribly awful had happened to him. I turned and walked out of the room and joined in a chorus of family, friends and hospital staff who were praying for my son.

The helicopter finally arrived and J.D. was airlifted to Kosair Childrens Hospital in Louisville, where he would spend the next four weeks. The diagnosis was Whooping Cough.

I couldn't believe it. I thought that disease had long vanished from society, but, according to the district health department, up to this point there hadn't been a case of Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, in the state of Kentucky in 14 years. Later, I would be told that three other babies had contracted whooping cough and all four children, including my son, had one thing in common, the same pediatrician.

The Chinese call Whooping Cough the cough of a thousand days, and I believe it because that is how long J.D.'s ordeal lasted. My dad, who suffered from Emphysema, said it was the worst cough he had ever heard, including his own. The first time he heard J.D. cough was over the telephone and he cried like a baby. This story is extremely difficult for me to write because I am having to relive it as I do, and over the past 14 years, it has only been on a very rare occasion that I have been able to discuss it without crying. I will say it like this...there was so much trauma, an unbelievable amount, not only for J.D., but for his parents as well. Never before had I experienced anything like it. Month after month after month, J.D. gagged and coughed every 3 to 4 minutes. Eventually, he coughed so much that he completely lost his voice. I remember having to periodically look into his crib to see if he was crying and many times finding him crying hard -- with no sound coming out of his mouth. That took its toll on us. It was more than I could bare. There are no words to describe how it felt seeing him do that. The whole episode was beyond a nightmare. After all these years, I still make it a point not to think about it, but sometimes, when I least expect it, it creeps up on me.

I guess not everyone believes in miracles or in angels like I do, but something truly wonderful happened while J.D. was at Kosair. We had been there for over a week with no vehicle and were sleeping in J.D.'s room. Eventually, J.D.'s Nana drove up to the hospital to help us out. We took advantage of that and got a room at the Ronald McDonald House. Around 5am, Julie woke up screaming that something had happened to J.D. She said she dreamed there was an angel sitting in the middle of J.D.'s bed and that his wings covered the entire bed. She said there was a golden glow all about the room. She said the angel was rocking J.D. in his arms and was singing 'the most beautiful song she had ever heard,' although she could not understand the words.

We took it to mean that something had happened, but we weren't sure if it meant good or bad. Up to this point, J.D. had slept very little because every 3 to 4 minutes he was coughing, choking and gagging. It was literally non-stop 24/7. So, not knowing what to think, we ran to the hospital as fast as we could go and found J.D. asleep in his bed..sleeping calmly. His Nana was very surprised by our sudden entrance. She said that just a few minutes before we got there, suddenly J.D. went limp and fell fast asleep. Whether or not anyone else believes it, I will always believe that God performed a miracle. J.D. slept almost 12 hours that day. No one could believe he was suddenly sleeping so sound.

Seven days later, we brought him home. It was a week before Christmas, but he was quarantined until the first of February. So, the entire Christmas and New Year holidays were spent shut in at home, but we made the best of it and it turned out to be one of the best Christmases I have ever had.

Something happened on my first day back at work after J.D. had come home from the hospital. We were living in Burkesville. There was a big snow on the ground and the temperature was just above zero. I backed my car out of the driveway and out onto the street and reached down to turned on the radio. The very first words that came from the car speakers were these: "I heard about His healing and His cleansing power revealing, how He made the lame to walk again and taught the blind to see." In my heart, which was racing 90mph, it was God telling me that it was He who was responsible for J.D.'s recovery. At that moment, it was as if all of the trauma, all of the pain and agonizing, all the fears and the worrying was suddenly swept away, and all I could do was cry. As I drove out of town, I rolled my window down and, for next few miles, screamed 'Praise God' as loud as I could over and over and over. All that I had held in was released. I was overcome with joy and thanks. God had spared my precious child.

About the time J.D. reached his second birthday, he stopped coughing. Finally, it was over. Today, except for the occasional use of an inhaler, you can't tell that he was once so sick.

What has been my greatest Christmas so far? The one where I was reminded that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. The rest of James 1:17 is awesome..."and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The last part, neither shadow of turning, means that God did not leave me or my family, and most importantly, J.D., in the midst of that storm.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not
As thou hast been thou forever will be

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lead With Love

If over 86% of Americans are said to believe in Jesus, why are we eliminating Him from our holidays? I hate having to be 'politically correct' for the minority. The majority has rights too, but are we getting anywhere by protesting?

If we spent half as much time evangelizing as we did trying to legislate morality, we'd see a lot more results.

If it bothers you that your town doesn't allow a scene depicting Christ's birth, put a Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If we all did that, there wouldn't be any need for one on the town square. They would be EVERYWHERE!

Some people may be calling it a 'holiday tree,' but remember, Christ made ALL trees.

Instead of writing letters objecting to the way Christ's birthday is celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They REALLY need them.

Visit someone in a nursing home, even if you do not know them. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out, write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family.

Instead of giving your children gifts you can't afford and they don't need, tell them the story of Christ's birth, and why He came here. Remind them that Jesus loves them.

Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

When you are out shopping, even if the store clerk isn't allowed to wish you a 'Merry Christmas,' that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary.

Just like the song says, let others know you are a Christian by your love. 'Lead with Love,' is what I always say.

Lastly, believe it or not, there are people, even whole families, in your town, and yes even here in my town, who will have no presents to give or receive this Christmas. That is one of the reasons why I started the Christmas at Home project a few years ago. I hope you will support it again this year as many of you have in the past. Even if you don't know them, show them God's love for them by buying them some food and even a new toy for the little ones.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Last Picture Show

Artist Fred Thrasher was commissioned by the local Project Graduation group to do a print as a fund raiser. He chose the place where I grew up. Albany Drive-In Theater was owned by my grandfather and uncle. Thank you Fred, you have made my family very proud.

Monday, November 30, 2009

All Aboard The Elite Express

"All aboard!" shouts the conductor.

"Wooo, Wooo, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Wooo, Wooo!" says the train.

The conductor says, "The Elite Express is now departing. If you want to climb aboard, come on!"

Smoke bellows from the stack as Elite Express prepares to leave the station. "Wooo, Wooo, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Wooo, Wooo!" says the train. The conductor looks at his watch and exclaims, "She's right on time!" Then, he heads off to see to his guests. As Elite Express slowly pulls away, the sounds of the train moving down the tracks begins to fill the air...

"Drinklifein, drinklifein, drinklifein, drinklifein, chug, chug, chug, Wooo, Wooo, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Wooo, Wooo!"

Suddenly, Elite Express is racing off toward its destination -- to the TOP! There are no scheduled stops for Elite Express, so climb aboard now for this fast-moving train bound for SUCCESS!!

Oh, by the way, have you met the conductor? Well, you should have already because the conductor is YOU! Yes, that's right! You are most qualified to be the conductor of Elite Express because in order to be a conductor, one must be interested in others, and obviously you are or you would not be aboard this train. The conductor works closely with everyone who climbs aboard his or her train, and he or she is in the right place to make a lasting, positive impression. So, are you ready? Well, come on then!

"All aboard!" shouts the conductor.

"Wooo, Wooo, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Wooo, Wooo!" says the train.

And, the conductor says, "The Elite Express is now departing. If you want to climb aboard, come on!"

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Thanksgiving 2009!

Friday, November 27, 2009


A couple of days before the Thanksgiving holiday arrived, I received an e-mail from the folks who keep up with the number of blog visits to my page, telling me that this blog has reached the level of 7,800 visits since Valentine's Day. That is an average of 195 visits per week. I am humbled and just wanted to say a big THANK YOU! I love writing short stories. Thank you for stopping by and visiting from time to time.

The Notorious Meddler

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Reason For Giving Thanks

"Before they were soldiers, they were family. Before they were legends, they were heros. Before there was a nation, there was a fight for freedom."

I really have a lot to be thankful for. Consider my ancestor, Jacob Speck. Jacob was my 6th great-grandfather. His family overcame a lot just to get to America, where they could enjoy freedom. He played an ultimate role in why am able to enjoy freedom in America in 2009.

Things had turned to the good for Jacob here in the 'land of opportunity.' He had a beautiful young family, including three young children, and no doubt so many hopes and dreams. No doubt, he was thankful for how God was blessing him here in America. His heart had to be overflowing with joy!

Soon after his birth around 1754, Jacob's family came to America aboard the Friendship vessel and lived in Philadelphia. When he was 21-years-old, Jacob married Christine Keefer. Soon after the birth of their second son, Jacob and Christina moved to North Carolina, where they settled at Stokes County, near present-day Danbury.

During the American Revolutionary War, almost every able-bodied man, who was not a part of the Continental Army, joined their local Militia to help protect the settlement in which they lived. At times, these militia troops were also called upon to fight in battles of the revolution. Thus was the case for Jacob Speck. On July 21, 1780, General Horatio Gates was at Camden, South Carolina commanding a force of 3,200 troops. He was joined by the North Carolina Militia, which included Jacob Speck. The British general, Lord Charles Cornwalis, was also at Camden with an army of 2,100. Even though Gates had Cornwalis outnumbered, most of the Americans lacked experience and training. The North Carlina Militia had never been tried. Plus, Gates' army was running out of supplies and many of the troops were not well-rested or fed. Gates was advised NOT to go into battle under the circumstances. But, he ignored the warning.

Just before dawn on August 16th, Gates and Cornwalis found themselves facing each other across a field. The British troops opened the battle as the right flank fired volley's into the militia regiments, causing a significant number of casualties. When the remaining militia looked up, they saw British troops advancing toward them with their bayonets drawn. This tactic had never been used before. The shock of seeing that, added with the fact that the militia realized they did not have bayonets, caused panic to spread quickly and the militia fled before the British regiments reached them. Within a matter of minutes, the whole rebel left wing had evaporated.

What must have been on Jacob's mind that morning as he stood in that field? No doubt he was thinking about Catherine. She was only 16-years-old when they married just five years earlier. Jacob Jr. was now four. Michael had just turned two, and a third son, George, my 6th great-grandfather, was less than two months old.

What must have been on Catherine's mind as she watched her husband leave home to defend their new settlement? It is even harder to imagine what she must have felt afterward. For you see...Jacob did not have a chance to run as did most of his fellow soldiers. In that predawn hour on that warm August 16, 1780 morning, when the smoke and dust from the cannon volley's had finally cleared, Jacob lay dead on the battlefield.

Jacob Speck's story is a sad one, but it reminds me that God never closes one door but that He doesn't open another one, and He always knows what He is doing. Before his death, God allowed Jacob to plant the seed that eventually brought ME into this world. Then, He blessed Jacob by allowing him to see his new son George, my descendant, before he left this world. Surely, before he left home to do battle, Jacob must have looked at his newborn son and thought about George's future...a future that includes me. God is good and this Thanksgiving Day, I really do have a lot to be thankful for.

I know His promise never faileth
The Word He speaks, it cannot die
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth
Yet I shall see Him by and by

The Battle of Camden, South Carolina was depicted in the 2000 movie, The Patriot. The site of the battle is 1.4 miles from Exit 98/I-20 on U.S. Highway 521 North heading towards Camden.

The Battle of Camden, South Carolina.

You can read more about Jacob Speck by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Day Memory

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

I stopped today to remember the many things in my life that I am thankful for. God has blessed me abundantly. He caused my life to be open wide and then poured in all these things, and really, I do not deserve anything. Although I have to admit that I do not always take the time to thank God, still I am thankful that He takes time to notice me. I'm surely not worthy of any good gift, much less any perfect gift which I have received. I am thankful.

I remember as a child the wonderful gatherings that took place at the home of my grandparents, when all of my relatives would gather in for a wonderful time of fellowship and feasting. I miss those days a lot and I wish I had them back. The men folk would gather in the living room and the kids would be playing around. The women would all be gathered in the kitchen helping to prepare the meal, and, oh the aroma of the turkey sitting on the table ready to be eaten! The green beans and corn cooking on the stove. The pumpkin pie cooling off on the dessert table. The sweet smell of homemade bread coming from the oven. I remember the great anticipation that would sweep over me as I waited for someone to say, COME AND GET IT! I can vividly recall the joy, the laughter and all of the million other precious moments that was always present inside that home at 601 Hopkins Street. Now, I realize just how precious those times were.

I have always had a really nice, beautiful, loving, everlasting obsession with DUMPLINGS! Legend has it when I was 2-years-old, there was a huge feast at the radio station. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I went AWOL. They found me in Studio B, where a long table sat holding this tremendous feast. I was sitting there, all alone, in front of a big bowl of DUMPLINGS! with a spoon in one hand and a fork in the other. Allegedly, I repeated that same ritual at many other family gatherings, and I am often reminded of those early days as a child when my one and only purpose for showing up at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners was for the DUMPLINGS! Ah, who am I kidding....I'm still that way. I still can be found at the table, before anyone else sits down, with a spoon in one hand and a fork in another. Okay, maybe not really, but what a nice thought! Just typing this makes me crave them. The only difference is now I know how important the fellowship is at those gatherings.

The Thanksgiving Day tradition that I remember growing up ended when my grandparents passed away. Whenever I pass by the old homeplace, it always causes me to reflect back on those family gatherings. I would love to be able to go back there just one more time to see their faces, to laugh with them once again and to hug them all. I come from a Christian family, and someone always gave thanks before every meal, and on Thanksgiving Day, we gave thanks to the good Lord for all that he had given us. We always knew what Thanksgiving was about.

Today, as I look around at everything going on in our nation, I can't help but wonder if the true meaning of Thanksgiving has gotten lost. The first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims giving thanks to God for the blessing of a successful harvest, and then sharing their blessing with others; a symbol of gratitude, generosity, fellowship and more. Where have we gotten to today? Is Thanksgiving Day just a day off from work, or a time to eat? Is it more about an After Thanksgiving Day Sale rather than spending time with loved ones? All of us have so much to be thankful for, if for nothing but the gift of life. On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed in his famed National Thanksgiving Proclamation that,
"…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced…"
I am thankful that I am a Christian and that, only by God's grace, I am an American. I am thankful for my Church and my Pastor and for my beautiful children and unconditional love. I am thankful for parents who made sure I was in Church every time the doors were open, and that I had a roof over my head and food (DUMPLINGS!) to eat. I am thankful for a military that protects me, my rights and my freedom. I suffered heart failure a few years ago and praise God, I beat it. So, I am thankful to God for allowing me to enjoy my children a little longer. I am thankful to God for watching over my children when the are away from me.

And, lastly, I am thankful for you, my readers, for encouragement which allows me to continue to do what I love to do - write stories. Thank YOU!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bless the Lord

"Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

...And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king."

1 Chronicles 29: 11-13; 20

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's A Me, Me World

I wrote a song this morning. It didn't take long at all. The song begins with the chorus...
It's a me, me world
It's a me, me world
And in this me, me world
It's not about you

Okay, then the first verse goes...
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me

And then back to the chorus...
It's a me, me world
It's a me, me world
And in this me, me world
It's not about you

Now, here is the second verse...
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me

Then it goes to the bridge...
Me, me, me, me, me
Me, me, me, me, me

And, then back to the chorus...
It's a me, me world
It's a me, me world
And in this me, me world
It's not about you

And, then you repeat the chorus again...
It's a me, me world
It's a me, me world
And in this me, me world
It's not about you

And then you sing the tag...
And in this me, me world and it's not about you

And, there you have it, my new composition. Hope you liked it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Roots of the Sexiest Man Began Here

People Magazine announced Wednesday that actor Johnny Depp is the sexiest man on the planet. According to the magazine, the 46-year-old Depp headed a list of 15, catching People's attention not so much for his swashbuckling antics in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, or his freakish charm in "Edward Scissorhands," but his softer side as a family man. "The star has had women swooning since his days as a teen detective on 21 Jump Street, yet it's his devotion to his family that really makes the actor so endearing," People gushed. Depp also won the magazine's "Sexiest" honor in 2003.

Speaking of family, it goes like this: Johnny Depp's 4th great-grandfather was Isaac Tipton Reneau, the legendary preacher of the 1800's, who is buried at Irwin Cemetery in Albany, Kentucky. His granddaughter, Mariba, married John Burks Depp. They are buried at Scottsville. Their son, Oren, is buried at Refuge Cemetery at Eighty-Eight. His son, Oren Laramore Depp, is buried at Owensboro. His son is John Christopher Depp (Betty Sue Depp Palmer). Their son is actor Johnny Depp.

Isaac Tipton's daughter-in-law, Eleanor Means, was the aunt of my great-grandfather William Ezra Means.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Constitutes Success

He has achieved success who has lived well
laughed often and loved much
who has enjoyed the trust of pure women
the respect of intelligent men
and the love of little children
who has filled his niche
and accomplished his task
who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy
a perfect poem or a rescued soul
who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty
or failed to express it
who has always looked for the best in others
and given them the best he had
whose life was an inspiration
whose memory a benediction

The above poem has wrongly been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, however, according to the Nov. 30, 1905 edition of the Lincoln Sentinel, it was written by Bessie A. Stanley at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Stanley in response to a contest on what constitutes success carried on by the George Livingston Richards Company of Boston, Massachusetts. The essay was entered in competition with hundreds of others from all parts of the country. When Mrs. Stanley was notified that she had won the first prize of $250 she did not credit the good news and, laughing, told Mr. Stanley he could have half.

(Thanks Robin!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

War on the Homefront

According to Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer, around September 23, 1861, a Federal force of about 400 men, which had made prisoners of Confederate soldiers and citizens sympathizing with the cause of secession, at or near Albany, was about this time routed by a detachment of Confederate troops under Captain Bledsoe and about 60 muskets were captured.

Less than a week later, the Confederates left Albany and camped about 20 miles away, taking much private and public property, incuding more than 30 home-guard muskets and 3,000 rounds of cartridges. In the presence of a foe outnumbering them ten to one, the Russell home-guards occupied the place, replanting and standing by the colors and defiantly inviting an attack. About 300 Federals, of the 12th Ky. infantry under Col. Haskins, arrived on the 28th and were soon reinforced by 500 to 600 cavalry and home-guards. On the 29th, Haskins ordered Capt. Morrison to attack a new Confederate camp at Travisville, 13 miles distant. About 100 troops were surprised there, 2 were killed, 2 taken prisoners and the others escaped. Maj. Brents, with 45 men, was sent to reinforce Morrison, but arrived too late to participate in the attack.

The "Affair at Travisville," as it has become known, was the first military combat incident of the Civil War in Tennessee. It happened not far from where I live.

From the Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook....

Report of Col. William A. Hoskins, Twelfth Kentucky Infantry.
Camp at Albany, September 29, 1861.

This morning I received information that the Confederate forces were forming another encampment at Travisville, distant from us 13 miles. Accordingly I ordered Capt. Morrison to take the effective force under his command and proceed to that point, and after reconnoitering sufficiently to satisfy himself that the number was not too great to justify an attack, to take them by surprise, order a surrender, which, should they refuse, to fire upon them. In obedience to my orders he proceeded to that point as directed. In about two hours after Capt. Morrison left camp Lieut. Adams joined us, as also the Home Guards of Hustonville Cavalry. I ordered a detail of 15 men from the company under command of Lieut. Adams and 30 from the Hustonville Home Guards, which were placed under command of Maj. Brunets, and he ordered to proceed to Travisville, to support Capt. Morrison in the event he was repulsed; but before reaching that point Capt. Morrison had surprised the camp, finding about 100 troops, which, being ordered to surrender, fled, when they were fired upon and 4 killed, the balance effecting their escape by fleeing to the hills. They also took 4prisoners, 2 of whom, as also 2 horses, were captured by Thomas Huddleston, a private in Capt. Morrison's company; after accomplishing which, to use his own expression, "He looked for more, but they had all fled." Among the officers with Capt. Morrison were Lieut. Miller, Sergeants Hay, Carr, Chilton, Smith, and Howard. The prisoners were brought this side the line, when, after taking a solemn obligation to prove faithful to the United States Government, they were released. But for our timely arrival the Confederate troops, I have no doubt, would now have been in possession of this place, as they were to move in this direction on yesterday.
However, the Confederates did not stay dispersed for long as the following letter dated Oct. 1, 1861 from W.A. Hoskins at the camp at Albany to Brig.-Gen. Thomas indicates:

I learn that the Confederate troops are rallying again at Travisville, with the intention of attacking us. From the best information, they cannot muster a force exceeding 1,150. Last night at 9 o'clock our picket guards were fired upon by a party of seven persons within 3 miles of the camp; they returned the fire, with what effect I have not ascertained. None of ours were injured that I know of, though one of the picket has not yet come up. I have ordered a detachment of fifty cavalry to scout the whole country in the neighborhood of the beat at which the pickets were stationed, as also that in which the absent picket was stationed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. A. Hoskins,
Commanding Post.
Brig.-Gen Thomas' reply dated October 29, 1861:

I learn that they have also a body of cavalry stationed at Travisville, numbering 1,200, which of course will join their main force at Albany, making in the aggregate 4,400. I have no fears from an attack should it come from the direction of the main road leading from Monticello, but apprehend that they may attempt to flank us by crossing lower down the river.

Respectfully, &c.,
Geo. H. Thomas, Brig.-Gen., U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

A sesquicentennial commemoration of the Affair at Travisville is planned for September 2011.

Read more by clicking here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Man I've Never Seen

When I heard of Jesus
And all His marvelous grace
Then I believed He died for me
Gave Himself in my place
When I think of Calvary
And what that old cross really means
Then I rejoice with joy unspeakable
For the Man I've never seen

His love is so remarkable
That no hate can come between
I walk by faith for I have confidence
In the Man I've never seen

I'm thankful for His mercy
And the blood that cleansed me from sin
And now I know I have life eternal
I've been born again
I'll see Him in His glory
When He comes to gather the redeemed
I'll stand umong the saints innumerable
Before the Man i've never seen

His love is so remarkable
That no hate can come between
I walk by faith for I have confidence
In the Man I've never seen

I walk by faith for I have confidence
In the Man I've never seen

Darrell Speck, 1968.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boles' Sister Made The Bomb - Revisited

With Veterans Day still fresh on everyone's mind, I thought I would re-publish one of the very first stories I wrote. It was told me to by my Great aunt Mada Allen, and verified by my grandfather, Elmer Boles. The story is about them. I added a photo, newly revealed to me, at the end. Randy.

As everyone knows, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks during World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States of America under U.S. President Harry S. Truman. After six months of intense firebombing of 67 other Japanese cities, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, followed on August 9, 1945 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. As many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki may have died from the bombings by the end of 1945. Over the years, thousands more have died from injuries or illness attributed to exposure to radiation.

The Manhattan Project involved many of the world's great physicists in the scientific and development aspects, spread out over 30 secret sites in the U.S. and Canada. One secret site, a gaseous diffusion plant for the seperation of Uranium, code named K-25 for secrecy, was erected at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A thermal diffusion plant was added at Oak Ridge in 1944.

No one was allowed to know what was being built, including the workers. All they knew was that it had to be done fast. Not even the 45,000 construction workers knew what the facility was for. Companies, such as Chrysler, Union Carbide and Dupont, who risked their own money and reputations to assist the military in ending the war, were not told anything about the building of a bomb. Yet, they still agreed to help. Precautions were taken not to hire anyone who lived in the Oak Ridge area. Secrecy was of the highest priority.

I was sitting beside my Great-Aunt Mada at her kitchen table one day, and we were looking out the window and watching a whipper wheel that was perched upside down on a feeder, which had purposely been placed by there so that she could sit at her table and watch her birds. She loved doing that, and, on each visit, I loved to sit there with her and listen to her talk. I learned a lot from my Aunt Mada. Somehow our conversations always ended up being about friends and family. And, because I have such a passion for family history, I would cling to her every word. Such was the case on this particular day, as we sat watching that upside down whipper wheel, that she told me the story of how she made the bomb.

My grandfather, Elmer Boles was aboard the U.S.S. Samuel D. Champlain during the Normandy Invasion. When the ship returned home, most of the crew was dropped off on the east coast for a brief leave, while the ship continued on through the Panama Canal to the west coast. Elmer boarded a troop train that went from New York to Oakland, California, where he boarded a ship and set sail for the south Pacific and the Phillipines.

President Truman encouraged the country to unite in the war effort, and asked each citizen to do their part. Since my grandmother, Vada, was busy at home raising her children, Aunt Mada decided she would do what she could to assist the troops, and her brother, Elmer. She and her two closest friends, Nola and Opal Talbott, had heard of a new government plant opening outside of Knoxville. Although they did not have a clue what they would be doing, they headed Oak Ridge.

Again, no one, not even the plant bosses, not even the financial backers, knew what the product that was being made at Oak Ridge was for. But, on August 8, 1945, two days after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Aunt Mada found out. She told me that on this particular day, when it came time for her supper break, she did the usual thing....head for the cafeteria. As she sat down at a table, she said she could not help but notice the headline on the front page of the newspaper a co-worker was reading at the table next to hers: "PARTS OF THE BOMB MADE AT OAK RIDGE!"

Aunt Mada could not believe what she was reading. When it became clear that the headline was true, the first thing she did was go and tell her roomates, the Talbott sisters. Later, after her shift ended and she was back in her dormitory room, she sat down at a table and began writing her brother, Elmer. She could not wait to tell him her news. The post card reached Pa Boles' ship a couple of weeks later. He described what happened this way:

"It was normal for shipmates to read each others mail because they were so far from home and homesick. Mada's letter began making its way around the ship, and it wasn't long until word began to spread, and soon everyone on the ship was saying that BOLES' SISTER MADE THE BOMB!"

Elmer Boles, seated, aboard the U.S.S. Samuel D. Champlain.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It was the fall of the year when the call for volunteers went out at the outbreak of the War of 1812. There was no question that residents of Stocktons Valley, later known as Albany, would be first in line. They were, after all, veterans, or sons of veterans, who had fought the British in the American Revolution, and would eagerly take up arms to defend their country...once again.

In the latter part of July, Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby issued a proclamation calling for 2,000 mounted riflemen to meet him at Newport within thirty days. The soldiers would march to Lake Erie to assist General William H. Harrison in a fight with British troops and their Indian allies, including the great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. On August 31st, Company 53, led by William Wood of Stocktons Valley, reached Newport, and the company's 47 men, including 36 rank and file, 11 commissioned officers and nine rifles, prepared for battle.

On the appointed day, 4,000 men, double the number Governor Shelby had asked for, assembled at Newport. With the Governor leading the way, the Kentuckians crossed the Ohio River at Cincinnati, and headed for Lake Erie. On October 5, 1813, General Harrison and his forces crossed over into Canada where they fought and won the decisive Battle of the Thames. It is said William Wood was present when Richard M. Johnson killed Tecumseh.

The soldiers of Stockton Valley returned to their settlement on November 13th. They had left their home and families to defend their country, and had returned as heroes.

As we celebrate Veterans Day 2009, remember the many who fought - those who returned, and those who did not.

God Bless America and God Bless our Veterans!

* This story was originally written in July of 2008 by The Notorious Meddler as Soldiers of Stocktons Valley.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lone Pilgrim

I came to the place where the lone pilgrim lay
And patiently stood by his tomb
When in a low whisper I heard something say
How sweetly I sleep here alone

The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar
And gathering storms may arise
But calm is my feeling, at rest is my soul
The tears are all wiped from my eyes

The call of my master compelled me from home
No kindred or relative nigh
I met the contagion and sank to the tomb
My soul flew to mansions on high

Go tell my companion and children most dear
To weep not for me now I'm gone
The same hand that led me through seas most severe
Has kindly assisted me home

Bob Dylan

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Red Clackers Affair

Remember when Clackers was the rage? Maybe you don't, but I sure do. Clackers was the ultimate skill game during the late 1960s and early 1970s. By March 1971, 42 million clackers had been manufactured in the United States, making them the first fad of the 1970s. Well, it didn't last long for a reason.

Clackers was two large marbles attached by a sturdy string with a ring in the center. You would put your finger in the ring allowing the marbles or to hang below. Then the fun would begin. The idea was to get the two balls "clacking" against each other by pulling up on the ring lightly. Once you got the hang of it, you could get them going faster and faster until they were smacking each other above and below your hand in a stunning arc.

Then, the problems began. While kids loved them, teachers and doctors....and parents weren't so impressed. Clackers started finding their way into the schoolyards and it did not take long before they were yanked from shelves because kids were suffering eye injuries, and well...there was also something about the velocity of the balls if the cord broke. In February 1971, the Food and Drug Administration warned against Clackers, and so, following a nationwide outbreak of badly bruised arms and bloodshot eyes, Clackers' popularity hit rock bottom and they were BANNED!

However, before Clackers were pulled from the shelves, guess who bought a set?

That would be me.

The date was February 2, 1971. I was 11-years-old and I bought Clackers at McWhorter's Variety Store. Wow! Clackers was just the most popular fad in America and I had red ones! I was in heaven.

You are probably wondering, how I remember the exact date? I thought you'd never ask. You see, the Bulldogs were playing basketball at Tompkinsville that night, and I rode to the game with my dad and Sid Scott, who were going to be broadcasting the game over the radio.

Now, you have to understand I was really excited. The minute I walked out of the store, I tore open the package and began 'clacking.' Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. I couldn't stop. It was like a kid at Christmastime. Wait, I WAS a kid, only it was February.

But, the fun ended almost as quickly as it began. We had only gone a few short miles, when my dad told me to stop 'clacking.' Sid said I was going to put my eye out. Now, I did not believe him, but I did as I was told, and stuffed my Clackers into my right front pants pocket for the rest of the trip to Tompkinsville. The first thing I did when I walked inside the gymnasium was to get out my Clackers and start 'clacking' again. Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. But, sigh, once again, my dad told me to put them up because I could "hurt someone." Can you believe that? So...back into my right front pants pocket my Clackers went!

Clinton County versus Tompkinsville was and still is a bitter rivalry. Even today, long after Tompkinsville and Gamaliel consolidated to form Monroe County High School, when the two teams play it is war!

That night, back on February 2, 1971, was no different, only that particular evening the war was centered around two players, the Bulldogs' Randy Brown and Tompkinsville's Louis Oglethorp. Randy Brown was one of my idols. He was cool on the court. He walked cool. He shot the ball cool. He looked cool. As a matter of fact, everything he did, I thought, was cool. That is why on that night, when I was 11-years-old, I never took my eye of him and his one-on-one battle with Louis Oglethorp. Brown gave back as much as Oglethorp dished out. It had the making of a classic battle, and for me, memorable.

Then, it happened.

During the game, I overheard some ladies behind me talking about the new fad - Clackers! At halftime, I thought I would impress them by showing them MY clackers. I was so proud! I reached into my right front pants pocket to pull them out, but when I did, the cord came loose from one of the marbles. OH NO! I felt like Ralphie on the Christmas Story movie! I was d-e-v-a-s-t-a-t-e-d! My NEW toy was broken. How could this happen to me? I just knew that people were going to laugh at me. Oh, the shame of having the most latest fad in America and it was broken. It was almost too much for a boy of 11 to bear. I was as heartbroken as one can be heartbroken, but suddenly, somehow, somewhere, I came up with a plan. I was going to fix my Clackers! I was not going to throw the hottest thing in America into a trash can, especially at Tompkinsville!

I attempted to thread the cord into the hole in the marble, but it was difficult, because the cord was limp, and because the hole was really small. With pure grit and determination, I wet the end of the cord with my lips....but no luck. The second half of the game had begun. Randy Brown and Louis Oglethorp continued to wage war with each other. It was very heated. Tompkinsville was beating us badly on the scoreboard, but the score did not matter. The battle between my idol, Randy Brown and his arch nemisis, Louis Oglethorp, far outweighed any score. So, there I sat on the bleacher watching the war and trying to fix my Clackers!

And, that's when a miracle occured.

I put that string through that marble! I FIXED MY CLACKERS! There IS a God I thought! I was so happy, that I forgout about my dad telling me not to play with my Clackers inside the gymnasium. So, as the clock wound down, there I sat, grinning from ear to ear, beaming with all the pride an 11-year-old boy could muster up -- and clacking! Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack.

As the clock wound down the final seconds of the game, Randy Brown was standing at the Tompkinsville free throw line. Oglethorp was behind him. I was clacking. Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. Just as the clock went 3--2--1, I know he wasn't, but it appeared that Randy Brown looked right at me, and suddenly he became a human clacker! Standing with one foot flat on the floor, he lifted his other leg and nailed Louis Oglethorp just under his chin with a very powerful kung-fu kick. BAM! Oglethorp hit the floor and just as he did, Brown and the rest of the Bulldog's players ran for the locker room as fast as they could go. It was total chaos as fans on both sides of the gymnasium ran onto the court, before police, school officials and others were able to restore order.

So, that is how I remember the day I bought my red Clackers. When Clackers were pulled from the shelves, mine went into the trash can and that was the end of that. My clacking days were over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, I guess.

Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Another Day (for the 50th time)

Wow! What can I say, my birthday isn't officially here until Thursday, but already flowers, cards, gifts, a nice family meal, a pizza party....AWESOME! Okay enough about me, now lets talk about ME! Just kidding! A big thank you to EVERYONE! Elijah summed it up rather aprapo-ishly when he exclaimed...


Monday, November 2, 2009

Turning 50

The word on the street is that I will be turning 50 this Thursday. I haven't thought much about it. To me it is another day. I have always said, "If you did not know how old you are, how old would you be?" To be honest most days I feel a lot younger than 50, but there are those OTHER days, too.

Last week I flew to Las Vegas. It was the first time I had ever ridden in an airplane. I haven't smoked in going on seven years. I am down 17 pounds in one month, thanks to Zija. I beat heart failure and I have 3 beautiful children, and I am the full-time dad I always wanted to be. If you know me, then you know how that is to me, but that is another story, which I will one day write.

So what is so bad about turning 50? A friend reminded me this morning that I have been blessed to have reached such a milestone. I am still committed to providing my children with the best way of life I can give them. When I have reached that goal, I will have reached the milestone I want to reach. That is my drive, my desire.

I have already been treated to one pre-birthday meal, which included my all-time favorite food, dumplings. Later this week, my friend Kelly is going to treat me to Pizza. At the beginning of this year, when we were planning our 2009 Church calendar, she jovially announced that I would be turning 50 this year. I was just thrilled that someone is keeping up with me. I wrote the Pizza outing down on Post-It note so I wouldn't forget it. It's a turning-50 thing.

That reminds me of a joke. Two elderly women were out driving in a large car, and neither could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through. The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, "I must be losing it, I could have sworn we just went through a red light." After a few more minutes they came to another intersection, the light was red, and again they went right through. This time, the passenger was almost sure that the light had been red, but was also concerned that she might be seeing things. She was getting nervous and decided to pay very close attention. At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was definitely red and they went right through it. She turned to the other woman and said, "Mildred! Did you know that you ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us! Mildred turned to her and said, "Oh No! Am I driving?"

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...