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.

"Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"

It was Christmas Eve 1876 and Ira D. Sankey, the famous singer and songwriter, was traveling on a steamboat up the Delaware River. Travele...