Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Stories, really good stories. I love stories. Stories from my childhood, stories from my kids growing up, stories from the past of all kinds.

But really good stories are not the ones I write down. They don't get repeated to friends. The really good stories are the ones I tell myself. I tell myself these in the dark of night when my brain can't quite stop enough for sleep to surface.

I love these stories, because sometimes I realize they might be all I have left of my life. I would hate to get to the end of my life and have realized I quit living too soon. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Little Missy Daniel

This story is one of my personal favorites. I have told this story, and retold it  for over thirty years. But that being said, it turns out this story is difficult to write. The reason being that it makes no sense unless you know the people involved. So permit me to start at the beginning, and introduce the people who have been in my life for a long time.

You see, this story goes way back to when I was dating my wife. Like everyone else who is dating, you get introduced to each others family. Jan was introduced to mine, and me to hers. All went well. My family liked Jan, and her family liked me.

Except for one person. One four year old little girl. Little Missy Daniel. She, as it was plainly apparent, wanted nothing to do with me. In fact, it would have been just fine with her if I left and never returned, ever.

She  hated me, for I was "stealing her Jan," as she later told me, and she was not going to help one little bit.

I could see that this was not going to be solved with any regular ordinary bribe. No sirree. Candy bars, cokes, and picnic baskets were not going to work on Little Missy Daniel.

I was going to need something big. Something special. Something... Disney! And  it just so happened that a Walt Disney movie was playing in theaters right then.

So we loaded her up and off we went to the movies.  Bought our tickets and sat down. Little Missy Daniel was not near as excited as I was thinking she should be. I mean this was Disney for pete's sake. She should have been dancing, singing praises to me, hugging  my neck, and displaying all kinds of joyousness! But nope, not Little Missy Daniel. She  not only looked the other way, she made no effort to talk to me. None. So while my future bride-to-be was off buying popcorn, I decided to seize the opportunity. I scooted over to the seat beside her and...

"Have you seen this movie?" I asked. Nothing. I could almost hear her sigh.

"Do you like Disney movies?" I asked again. Nothing. I could just imagine her response as "dude, pullleezzzz."

"What do you think the movie's about?" I asked again. But this time her head turned. Slowly she looked up at me. I could see she was going to talk.

Finally! I got through! Yes! The last family hold out is going to like me! Thank you Disney!

"I hope you know that's Jan's seat!" she exclaimed with authority no four year old should ever have.

Yep, smacked down right there by the four year old Little Missy Daniel. Well, some battles you soon learn you are just not going to win, Disney bribe or not. I scooted back over and waited for the popcorn and the movie.

Well Little Missy Daniel later on turned into a really nice grown-up lady that goes by Melissa now. She works really hard as a paramedic. She seems to have her life together, and I respect and admire her a lot.

She is also one of my favorite people (I have many) in this world, and I'm guessing that I'm not too far from the top on her favorite people list either. Believe it or not, we get along really well.

I guess it took a while for the Disney movie to have an effect.

P.S.  Melissa, when I get old and need someone to take me to the movies; you owe me a Disney movie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Liver Story

When I was a kid I used to love staying with my grandfather. He had this rustic house in the middle of fifty acres he owned way up in the north Georgia mountains, and you could do whatever you wanted and not bother the neighbors. Heck, you couldn't bother anybody if you tried.

Granddaddy, you see, at one time had a farm. And now that he was older, it was more of a very large garden than anything else. And when my parents left me there that Sunday afternoon during summer break from school, I had no idea what was in store for me.

Granddaddy's idea for working was simple; get up early, get your work done before the hot part of the day arrived, play a little, eat dinner and go to bed. So the first morning I got up washed my face and ate the breakfast Janie cooked for us.

Oh i forgot to tell you, Janie you see, was my grandfathers second wife. My grandmother had died when I was 5. All of us grand kids just called her "Janie," because well, we just did, I don't know why. She didn't mind, and it was easy for us, I suppose.

So after breakfast we went to the field to hoe the weeds out of the garden. Anyone who doesn't know where the term "hard row to hoe" comes from definitely has never used a hoe in a North Georgia garden.

So after a couple of rows of bent over hoeing its lunch time on the first day. 'Mater sandwiches (as Granddaddy called them) and sweet tea is served. And then I found out it was my time! I could go and do as I pleased.

So I promptly grabbed the .22 rifle and away I went. Squirrels, tin cans, and knots on trees didn't stand a chance against me and my grandfather's gun. I ran, played, jumped in the creek, did everything a ten year old could do in the vast undiscovered woods of Grandaddy's land.

When the car horn blew I knew it was time to go back for supper (that's dinner, for you northern folks).  So I hurried back up the hill. Washed my face and hands in the wash bowl, threw the water outside so the next person could use a clean wash bowl,
as Granddaddy's house did not have running water. Then I sat down at the dinner table ready to eat.

And right there, right there before me, was something I had never eaten. "Liver" is what Janie called it. "Beef Liver" to be more precise. And she plunked a piece on my plate with a thud. It looked and smelled kinda like a big hunk of rubber.

"I don't eat liver" I told her.

"That's fine" Janie told me.

And that's all that was said about that. No "you're going to eat this before you go to bed" like Mom did or anything. No yelling, mad, or nothing.

Maybe she didn't know how Mom did things when we wouldn't eat? I don't know, but this was too easy.  So I ate my 'taters, drank my tea, and sat on the porch till bedtime thinking she was too easy for a ten year old's diet. Maybe tomorrow I'll convince her I want chocolate cake for dinner.

Well 'taters don't last that long in your tummy. In fact, they go by rather quickly. I looked and looked, and I don't think Granddaddy and Janie ever even heard of Pop Tarts. For that matter, candy bars, cookies, or anything like that you bought at the store didn't even exist in their house. You just had to wait until the next meal.

So when Breakfast came around the next  morning I was hungry, and I ate all I could hold. Worked in the garden again. Lunch with 'mater sandwiches again (still my all time favorite). Grabbed the .22 and off I was on another daily adventure on Granddaddy's land.

I caught craw-fish in the creek. Shot (at) a couple of squirrels. Killed several tin cans completely dead, and headed back to the house just in time for the car horn.

Washed my face and hands, sat down, and.... What's this? Liver? Liver again? Really? Didn't I make myself perfectly clear yesterday?

"I don't eat liver" I remember saying. I do remember saying that. I'm sure I said it.

"what's this doing here?" I asked?

"We don't throw out food" Janie said.  As she plunked another piece of that stuff down on my plate. "We have to eat it until its gone." She told me.

And as I sat there with my head propped up in my hands, remembering that there is nary a Pop Tart in the whole house, a plan began to form. A simple plan it was. But for a ten year old boy who was looking at another dinner plate with liver on it instead of chocolate cake, a plan was needed.

Some plans come from genuiness. Others are derived from simplicity. This plan came from desperation.  If Granddaddy and Janie didn't throw out food, and reheated it until it was all gone, then all gone it would be. I decided right then and there, out of pure liver torture desperation, that I would be the one to make sure there would be no liver served again. I would sacrifice myself. I would eat all of the liver. Because I was that kind of boy.

When faced with such catastrophes as re-occurring liver, a boy's got to do what a boy's got to do. Then maybe we could work on that chocolate cake I was wanting.

So I chewed the liver. I hacked and coughed until I swallowed every piece on my plate. Then I held my plate out for more. Yep! I got seconds, thirds, and more, until there was no more liver to be found in the house. Good thing too, because I was feeling a little queasy in my tummy by then. Swallowing it was the first part of the plan. Keeping it down turned out to be the second part, and I hadn't planned on that part being so tough.

Well the next morning went just like I expected, complete with 'mater sandwiches at lunch.

I grabbed the rifle and was headed out the door when Janie asked if I wanted anything from town, because her and B'nard (Granddaddy) was going to the grocery.

"Chocolate cake" I piped up. Oh and "Pop Tarts too", it never hurts to have a back up around you know.

"We'll see" Janie said, and with that they were off to town and left me there by myself. You should not leave a ten year old boy alone with a gun. I mean you learn things you don't want to admit to. Like never ever, no matter how fun you think it is going to be, don't shoot a bee hive with a gun. You can't run fast enough, and them little buggers just can't take a joke.

Well I survived with my dignity intact, and even got back to the house before the car horn. I think it was the chocolate cake anticipation, or maybe the high speed needed to outrun the bees got me there sooner, I'm not sure.

I put the gun up, face hands washed, grinning from eat to ear waiting on my cake..... And you're kidding me! Is this torture! Yep, that little old lady had served up another plate of liver! I kid you not.

"wha, wha, um, what's this?" I sheepishly asked.

"Liver!" Janie proudly proclaimed!
"You ate that so well last night I went to the store specially to get you some MORE!"

I kid you not. She thought this ten year old boy had "taken a liking," to her cooking, as she so proudly beamed.

Well me being the dutiful ten year old boy that I was, I commenced to eating my share of the liver. I noticed her eyes brightened with pride with each bite I took, so I just kept on till it was gone. Besides, I noticed she did not get any Pop Tarts or chocolate cake, and 'taters alone won't get you through until morning.

I will tell you that I spent the rest of the week with my Aunt Sybil and her family. And, thank god, I don't think she even knew how to cook liver.
Thank you Aunt Sybil.

P.S. Sybil knows how to cook chocolate cake!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Yvonne Brookshire

Sometimes in life you get a warning, and those lucky times that you do, you should heed that warning with all your heart, for failing to do so will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Yvonne Brookshire was my warning. I knew it then, and I let the opportunity pass me by. Yvonne you need to understand was one of my Mom's best friends. You also need to know that her son Kenny was also one of my best friends.

Yvonne and my mom went shopping together, lunches together, spent hours on the phone with each other talking endlessly about the goings on in the neighborhood. See, Kenny and his mom lived just up the street from us. So Kenny and I played at each other’s houses all the time. Such was our friendship that we would just show up at each other’s door for no apparent reason, just to see what was going on on that side of the neighborhood.

These were the days before cell phones, pagers, email, text, or anything else we use today. It was the days of excitement when seeing someone unexpectedly at the door. The days of “hey, how are you” that was done face to face and in person. It was Mayberry built right there in Lithia Springs.

Well, one day Yvonne did not feel well, so she made a doctor’s appointment. The doctor checked Yvonne out and told her she was fine, go home. A short time later she still didn’t feel well and went to the doctor again, and again the doctor checked her out and told her everything was okay. A third time she goes to the doctor and he tells her she has no problems, go home. Well, Yvonne had a heart attack before she even got to leave the doctor's office. I am sad to say she passed away right there.

Kenny, as you can well understand was devastated. And this was my first real experience that parents were not here permanently; as I’m sure it was for Kenny. I felt for Kenny. But I knew I had no words that would heal his hurt.

I do remember going to Yvonne's funeral. And I remember Kenny standing at his mom’s grave telling her that he loved her. Right then and there at that moment I had a tug at my heart to tell my mom the same thing. But my family was not the touchy feely type, so I didn't. The years came and went, and whenever I thought of Yvonne or Kenny I had the same tug on my heart, but I always let it pass me by without doing anything.

And one day in the late 90s Mom was diagnosed with cancer. And as you can probably tell from the tone of my story it didn't end well for my Mom either. Mom died in January of 1997 with me never telling her that I loved her. And I remember that warning every day. And I remember every day that I did nothing. Zip. Nada. And I live with that every time I think of it.

Oh sometimes I go to the cemetery and I tell Mom I love her, just as Kenny did, but it's not the same. If I could go back and tell her “I love you mom” I would. But life doesn't work that way. We don't get a do-over. And we have to live with our mistakes.

The best we can hope for is a warning. And if you do get such a warning I hope you listen to it. Because as I sit here behind this computer screen remembering all the opportunities I had, and all the opportunities that I let pass me by, I can only hope that maybe now I can serve as a warning to you.

Call your mom. Go see your mom. Do whatever you need to do. Do not let time pass, for tomorrow is not guaranteed. Do it now. Tell your mom you love her. Tell her over the phone, or in person. It has to be your voice. No text, no email, no messages. I don’t know why, but she has to hear your voice. It will make you feel better now. And you will feel better. Later, when you have the opportunity to look back, you will know you did what you should.

It will make a difference. It will make a difference with your mom now. It will make a difference with you later.

This I promise.

But this story does not end here. For you see I now have two sons of my own. Every time I see them I tell them “I love you.” I always have, I always will. We can have the most tremendous disagreement, and when it is over we tell each other “I love you.” We hug often and long. Long endless hugs can heal any hurt.

At the end of the day, when I’m laying down in my bed, I remember the hugs. The hugs and the “I love yous” and somehow that just seems like enough.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hey Preacher!

Have you ever seen a five year old boy scold a preacher in the middle of a sermon? Only my brother could pull this off.

To understand this story you need to know that in Lithia Springs way back in the 1970s there were only two rather large Baptist churches in town. One Baptist church had Preacher Beaver, and we at Lithia Heights Baptist had Preacher Weaver, and Preacher Weaver, you see, was a very dynamic preacher. He liked to talk real low, and then he would burst out with a shout or two while pounding on the pulpit – to keep people from falling asleep – or at least that’s what I think..

I never really listened to the sermons while I was sitting there. Mostly I just sat there and daydreamed about what the rest of the day would be like. I didn’t really need to listen to the sermons. My mom was always content with the kids just being quiet in church, and that was fine with me. 

Both of my parents liked for us kids to be quiet. Quiet while we were playing. And most definitely quiet while we're were eating dinner. I guess this was a particular challenge because Mom and Dad were constantly telling us "Hey, we're right here. You don't have to yell." 

Now my brother, you need to understand, thought all rules, no matter who stated them, applied to everyone. And if my dad declared a no hollering rule, well, it applied everywhere, with no exceptions. 

One Sunday I was sitting on the front pew with Kent Nelson while preacher Weaver gave his usual pounding "Gotta do what I say" sermon.  

Everything seemed to be going normal for a Sunday morning including the part of the sermon where Preacher Weaver began to raise his voice.

Suddenly I heard, "HEY PREACHER!"

I turned around just  in time to see my brother standing in the church pew, head and shoulders above everyone else, with his hands cupped around his mouth like a megaphone (to make sure everyone heard) continuing his sentence "YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL, WE'RE RIGHT HERE!"

The next thing I saw was my brother being yanked down by his legs like a giant gator had pulled him under. I swear…it took a full minute for all of his hair to fall back down onto his head. 

I spent the rest of church service conjuring up an excuse regarding why I didn’t have a brother anymore, because I was certain my mother had killed him on the spot. 

My brother, on the other hand did not understand what all the fuss was about, for he was only informing the preacher of Dads new no yelling rule. 

Well I did get to keep my brother.

Mom did not have to go to jail for killing him, and, believe it or not, Preacher Weaver did quit yelling in his sermons.

I guess he didn’t want to be verbally smacked down in front of everyone by a five year old ever again. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Little Brown Headed Girl

My first school was a small elementary school in Lithia Springs named Annette Winn Elementary, and my first grade teacher was a battle ax of a woman named Mrs. Harris.

Why was she a battle ax?

Mrs. Harris, you see, firmly believed in corporal punishment. Her complete logic was that corporal punishment was in the bible, and if it was in the bible you either accepted it, or you needed more of it.

It's hard for a seven year old to argue with that logic while bent over for a good backside whacking or two. For almost any infraction she would march you across the hall to Mrs. Phillips class for a paddling. If you failed to turn in your class work, yep, across the hall you would go for your paddling. Talking in class, not staying in your seat, even for something like not eating all of your lunch resulted in bending over in front of strangers to get your backside whacked. I suppose I spent an abnormally large amount of time being marched across the hall for this.

Well me being a boy, aka pre-man, I was already fascinated with girls.  And there was this pretty brown headed girl I had seen at lunch and recess that I could never muster the courage to talk to. She was oh so cute, and to a very shy first grade boy obtaining the courage to talk to her seemed monumental. So I resigned myself to staring and blushing when the Little Brown Headed Girl was around.

One day I was sitting on the playground, and when I looked up and the Little Brown Headed girl was walking toward me. I could feel the lump in my throat get bigger as she got closer.

She sat down right beside me!

I thought the lump in my throat was going suffocate me and my heart was beating faster and faster…

What to say, what to say!?!

Then as luck would have it, she started talking to me first.

"I know who you are." she said.

"Really?" I croaked past the lump in my throat.

"Yes, I see you often." she told me.

Wow, could this be happening? She knows who I am. This is good. She has been watching me too!

"Where?" was my one word response.

"You're the boy that comes across the hall to get a lot of paddlings." was her reply.


I don't know if anyone else heard the pop. The pop that was my seven year old ego being deflated all at once, but I sure heard it. But all was not lost, for after all, she did know who I was. That seemed to me like the first step. And the very next day I had to again be marched across the hall, for who knows what, but this time it was different since she knew who I was, so this time I was smiling and waving.

Like I said, now she knew who I was.

As luck would have it, Little Brown Headed girl and my sister became friends and she spent a lot of time at my house. We even went all the way from first grade through high school together.

I have other stories about her, but they will have to wait to be posted later.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Start of Something Big

The Start of Something Big.

Okay, today is the day I finally, formally, and enthusiastically decided to voice my stories to the world. I have a few family stories I have accumulated from my childhood, raising my two sons, my many years driving down the road. Some of these stories are true down to the last letter. Some are exaggerated, but still based in fact. And others are only my opinions. I hope this blog gets to be a genuine potpourri of anecdotes and opinions. Only time will tell if I have the skill to pull this off.

Good night, and I hope the first story will be here by the weekend.