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Stories

THE DAY SANTA CLAUS ROBBED A BANK


 

 
 
Who would have ever dreamed that Santa would rob a bank!  But, it happened in Cisco, Texas.  On December 23, 1927, a man dressed as Santa Claus walked down the sidewalk in downtown Cisco, followed by several small excited children, and into the First National Bank.  After shooing the children away, he pulled out a gun and robbed the bank.
 
Santa – Marshall Ratliff – and three accomplices then conducted one of the most inept bank robberies in the annals of ineptitude.  A general gun battle erupted during the robbery, owing to the general citizenry being armed, and a standing reward of $5,000 available from the bank association for shooting a bank robber in the act. Over 200 bullet holes were found in the bank building.  
 
When the four robbers finally fought their way out of the bank and to a getaway car, killing two police officers in the process, they realized the car was almost out of gas.  The robbers drove off in a hail of gunfire but made it only a few miles out of town.  After their car ran out of gas, they commandeered another car from a citizen, and continued their way north.
 
During the next three days they stole two more automobiles from other victims, but never made it more than about sixty miles from Cisco.  After three days of dodging the largest manhunt in Texas history, everyone was rounded up, although one of them was shot dead.  The other two received death sentences.  Henry Helms was electrocuted by “ole sparky” in Texas’ electric chair on September 6, 1929.
 
Santa, rather Ratliff, had his execution delayed by a sanity hearing that brought him back to Eastland County, where he feigned illness and killed a guard in an abortive escape attempt.  The good citizens of Cisco decided that they’d had about enough of due process.
 
The following is quoted from a newspaper report about what happened to Mr. Ratliff:
All yesterday they gathered in little groups about the town and muttered about (the guard) Jones’ shooting which physicians said probably would prove fatal.  Last night a crowd in front of the jail swelled to nearly a thousand at 8:30 o’clock.
 
At about 9 o’clock, some 200 men slipped into a side door of the jail and asked for the man.  Jailer Gilborn refused to give him up.  They then overpowered Gilborn, took his keys and got Ratliff.  He was dragged in the direction of the public square, but the crowd would not wait to go those few blocks.
 
At 200 yards from the jail a strong telephone cable was pointed out, a rope flung across it.  A noose was put around Ratliff’s neck and a dozen men on the other end of the rope bent their weight, and Ratliff was jerked from the ground. The rope broke.  Messengers were sent for another rope, and again the mob set to its task.  Then someone remembered that men about to die are usually given a chance to say a last word.  For another moment he was lowered to the ground, but, displeased at his mumblings, the crowd yelled “string him up!”
 
So, Santa Claus met his fate at the hands of the citizens of the town of Cisco.  Amazingly, only six people were killed – two of them were police officers- considering all the shots that were fired.
 
A plaque has been erected on the outside wall of the old First National Bank building in Cisco which reads, “Scene of daring Santa Claus Bank Robbery”.  So far is known, Santa has never participated in another bank heist.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“THE DAY SANTA CLAUS ROBBED A BANK”
 
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Web Site: www.etexasbook.com
 
 
606 words
 

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The Spark Ranger


 

 
 
In case you are wondering, the odds of your getting struck by lightning are about one in 280,000,000.  The odds of getting struck by lightning seven times are, well, almost un-measurable. However, try telling that to Roy C. Sullivan who was a United States park ranger in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  Mr. Sullivan is recognized by Guinness World Records as the person struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being.
 
Between the years of 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning on seven different occasions and survived all of them.  For this reason he was nicknamed “Spark Ranger” by some and “The Human Lightning Rod” by others.  In fact, his co-workers shunned him when a storm cloud rolled in.  They would usually say “I’ll see you later, Roy” and off they would go.  This saddened him severely.
 
Sullivan swore that he was actually struck an eighth time when he was very young, but this one could not be verified.  He states that he was working in his father’s garden when lighting struck a scythe without injuring him.
 
The following are his stories, all verified:
 
Strike One - It was April, 1942 when Sullivan had been with the park service for about six years.  He was stationed at a brand-new Miller’s Head tower when a storm blew in.  The tower was so new that lightning rods had not yet been installed.  Sullivan decided to get the heck out of the tower, but only made it a few feet away before the lighting found him.  “It burned a half-inch strip all the way down my right leg, and knocked my big toe off”, he said.  “My boot was full of blood, and it ran out through a hole in the sole”, he added.
 
Strike Two - Nearly thirty years later, in 1969, Sullivan was driving a park truck when lightning struck two trees on one side of the road, then jumped to another tree on the other side.  Sullivan’s truck was in the middle, with both windows rolled down.  As a result, the ranger lost consciousness and very nearly drove his truck off the edge of a cliff.  When he came to, Sullivan was missing his eyebrows and eyelashes.
 
Strike Three -  The third strike, a year later, happened while Sullivan was off-duty.  He was tending to his garden at home when lightning hit a nearby transformer and jumped to his shoulder.  It knocked him to the ground but was burned only slightly.
 
Strike Four – This strike set poor Sullivan on fire. He reported, “There was a gentle rain, but no thunder, until just one big clap.  It was the loudest thing I ever heard.”  Sullivan reported, “When my ears stopped ringing, I heard something sizzling.  It was my hair on fire.  The flames were up six inches.”  Luckily, he had been registering people at a camping station, so he was able to use wet paper towels from a nearby bathroom to smother the flames.  He was not severely burned.
 
Strike Five -  The fifth strike occurred on August 7, 1973.  Again, Sullivan was in his park truck when he saw storm clouds coming.  The ranger tried to outrun the lightning.  Once he felt he was out of harm’s way, he stopped to have a look.  This was a big mistake.  “I actually saw the lightning shoot out of the cloud this time, and it was coming straight for me,” he said.  He was struck, not injured, but it knocked off one of his shoes with laces still tied.
 
Strike Six -  Sullivan was a strike victim again on June 5, 1976.  He reported that he saw a cloud and thought it was following him.  He tried to run away from it but was struck anyway, injuring an ankle.  This was the final straw for the Spark Ranger – he retired five months later.
 
Strike Seven – Unfortunately, though retired, the lightning found him again anyway.  On June 25, 1977, Sullivan was trout fishing when the hair on his arms bristled.  He was struck by a lightning bolt on the head which burned his chest, stomach, and caused hearing loss in one ear.
 
Sullivan’s wife was also struck once when a storm suddenly arrived as she was hanging clothes in their back yard. He was with her, but was unhurt.
 
It is said that seven is a lucky number, but Roy Sullivan, a.k.a. the “Spark Ranger”, probably would have disagreed.  He was apparently a natural conductor of electricity.  When Sullivan did pass away, it was a bullet, not a bolt, that did him in.  He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1983 at the age of 71, perhaps tired of constantly fearing a fatal lightning strike.
 
Two of his ranger hats are on display at two Guinness World Exhibit Halls in New York City and South Carolina.  
 
 
 
 
 
“THE SPARK RANGER”
 
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Web Site: www.etexasbook.com
 
 
816 words
 
 

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And the Creeks Don't Rise


 

 
 
I have used this phrase many times, “God willing and the creeks don’t rise”, and I’ll wager that you have, too.  I have understood the phrase to mean that  I would be somewhere, or accomplish some task unless prevented by some unseen circumstance.  Amazingly, there is much discussion about what this really means.  Research shows that there are two different opinions about the saying, and both sides are avid that their positions are correct.
 
Some people have problems with acknowledging a higher power called God, and that this God does not interfere in the actions of man.  So, to them blaming God for being unwilling that something happen is unrealistic.  However, to those who believe in God do believe that certain circumstances are not allowed by an all-knowing and all-seeing God, for reasons known only to Him, but usually for our protection or benefit.  But, this seems to be the lesser of the two arguments.
 
To many researchers the main quandary is the word “creek” in the phrase.  To some the word refers to the Creek Indians, and to others it simply means a stream of water.
 
Those who believe that the work refers to the Creek Indians point to Mr. Benjamin Hawkins who was the General Superintendent for Indian Affairs between 1796 and 1818 for the U.S. Government. He was the principal agent to the Creek nation.  In fact, he became so close to its people that he learned their language, was adopted by them, and married a Creek woman.  Who better to write about the risks of the Creek rising in revolt?
 
Mr. Hawkins was summoned to Washington D.C. by the president in order to discuss a number of raids carried out by the Creek Indians in an area which is now the state of Alabama.  It is reported that Mr. Hawkins replied in a letter which read in part, “I will be there for the meeting, God willing and the Creek don’t rise.”  It is argued that the word “Creek” is singular, and the “c” is capitalized thus indicating other than a mere stream of water.  People who hold this position on the phrase argue that Mr. Hawkins was a very educated fellow and would not make a grammatical error in his writings.
 
However, people who hold to the view that the word “creek” actually refers to a stream of water because other renderings of the phrase do not capitalize the “c”, which suggests that they didn’t have the Creek people in mind at all.  That argues for the more mundane origin – the old time difficulties of traveling on dirt roads that forded rivers and streams.  Thus, if the creek don’t rise was a whimsical way of saying that the speaker would carry out some task provided that no obstacles were put in his path such as a flooded creek.  It could be summarized as “if all goes well.”
 
The saying has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson among others, on the usual principle that attaching a famous name to a story validates it.  In the 1950s the phrase became popular as a supposedly hayseed utterance, sometimes as and the crick don’t rise to reflect a regional form.  It was also used as a sign-off tag line of the 1930s US radio broadcaster Bradley Kincaid.
 
So, the argument goes on even today as to which is referred to in the expression -  does the “creek” refer to the Creek Indians or just a stream of water?  Since both arguments have merit you will have to decide for yourself.  The message of the saying is the same either way you interpret it.
 
 
Source:  World Wide Words – Michael Quinion
 
 

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Every Veteran Has a Story Luther Spurlock


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stubborn as a Mule


 

Have you ever hear someone say about a person, “He’s as stubborn as a mule?”   Or perhaps even you have been called “mule headed” by others.  I think we all know what the meaning of the word is, but are mules really stubborn?  If someone is stubborn, it means that they are contrary, unwilling to change, or unwilling to do things that are expected of them.  Some people say that the stubborn person “walks to the beat of his own drum”.
 
Mule expert, John Hauer wrote a book several years ago titled “The Natural Superiority of Mules” in which he says that mules are not really stubborn at all.  He says that they are simply too intelligent to do stupid things.  They also have a powerful self-protective streak.  As an example, if you load up a pack mule with too much weight he will refuse to budge.  But when you lighten the load to a point the mule feels comfortable, he will get going.  Another example – when a mule is exhausted after a long day on the trail, he will stop.  Is he being stubborn?  No, it’s the self-preservation thing.  By contrast, a horse can be ridden to death.  
 
Contrary to popular belief, mules are not slow.  Sure, a quarter horse would win a race around a track, but a mule can keep up a nice gait for hours, and would likely win the endurance race against a horse.  Hauer says that extreme heat doesn’t affect mules as much as horses.  He explains that the large ears, inherited from the donkey side, radiate heat.  Because mules do not sweat much, they do not require as much water as horses.
 
Other mule facts: Pound for pound, they are stronger than horses.  They can jump better than horses.  Their speed and agility is equal to a horse.  They live from five to ten years longer than a horse. Also, their hybrid vigor (they’re produced by mating a male donkey with a female horse) makes them resistant to many of the infections and afflictions common to horses.  In addition, they are exceptionally cute and loveable.  Hauer says that a mule can do anything a horse can do; they can do some things better; and they’ll love you like a dog.  “I kind of consider the mule a super-horse,” says Hauer.
 
Hauer tells about how mules have carried him with unwavering sure-footedness into the highest reaches of the 12,000-foot La Sal Mountains, through Nevada’s burning desert, and up Colorado’s canyons.  They did not get sick, they did not go lame, they never missed a step, nor did they slip on a rock.  Whereas on those rides, he recalls watching other riders dismount their horses and lead them along especially treacherous trails. “It never occurred to me to get off.  I knew the mule could handle the trail better than I could,” says Hauer.
 
I remember that in the long-running “Gunsmoke” television series, Festus Haggen rode a mule named Ruth, instead of a horse.  Perhaps Festus knew something about mules back then.  It’s time to give credit where credit is due.  Let’s put a stop to the “stubborn as a mule” myth.  The next time someone calls you “mule headed”, just say “Thank you for the compliment”.
 
 
 
 
“STUBBORN AS A MULE”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
547 words
 
 
 
 

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THE RUNAWAY COT


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embarrassing situations can arise at any time.  I am intimately aware of “Murphy’s Law”, being a Murphy myself, and no truer statement was ever made – “If anything can go wrong, it will, and at the most inopportune moment.”
 
In 1955 I was a 19 year old college student attending Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Since money was hard to come by in those days, I had to work after classes in order to meet expenses.  I was hired by the Oakley-Metcalf Funeral Home to live on premises and work as a general flunky.  I was paid the awesome sum of $120 per month, plus my room.  Seems very puny today, but back then it was a fairly decent job for a college student.
 
My room was a very small one, right next to the preparation room where embalming was done.  My “flat” was probably 8 feet wide by 10 feed long, and contained a bunk bed, a chest of drawers, a chair, and the most important item, a telephone.  The telephone was important because we had an emergency ambulance and made calls to accidents, heart attacks, and the like.  Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians had not been invented as yet, so funeral homes provided this service.
 
Oakley-Metcalf owned an emergency ambulance, a hearse, and a transfer ambulance, which was a hearse converted to hold a cot for non-emergency transfers.  We usually picked up deceased people with the transfer ambulance, bringing them to the funeral home.
 
Another employee, Gary, lived in an apartment above the ambulance garage with his wife.  Gary was a few years older than me and was the “old pro” at the funeral home.
 
On this particular occasion Gary and I had driven the transfer ambulance to a Houston, Texas hospital to pick up a deceased person.  The round trip of approximately 250 miles was uneventful until we arrived back at the funeral home.  A long, sloping driveway led from Mound Street up to the garage in which we parked.  I noted as we arrived with the body that a number of the deceased’s family was already at the funeral home milling around outside. Naturally, they watched intently as Gary and I drove up the driveway with the body of their loved one.
 
We parked the ambulance, opened the back door and rolled the cot toward the back, and eased it down to the driveway.  Then “Murphy’s Law” struck.  As we attended to several items in the back of the ambulance, we turned our attention away from the cot with the body on it.  In that moment, the cot started rolling down the driveway toward Mound Street, gathering momentum.  The yelling of several family members brought our attention back to the moving cot.
 
We both began our chase of the cot down the sloping driveway and successfully caught it just before it reached the intersection.  We heard a few choice words from some family members as we rolled the cot back up the driveway and into the preparation room.
 
There is not much one can say at a time like that.  Our boss, Skinny Garrison, had a few words to say to us, but did not fire us as we probably deserved.  Gary and I had to face the family again while conducting the funeral, but nothing else came from the embarrassing incident, except that it served to teach me a lesson to be more careful and respectful.
 
Murphy ’s Law still continues to harass me in various ways, as it always will.  After being married now for many years I find that there is a new Murphy’s Wife’s Law – “If anything can go wrong, it will – while HE’s out of town.”
 
 
“THE  RUNAWAY  COT”
 
BY: NEAL  MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986
email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
 
 
 

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And the Band Played On


 

Who would have thought it?  Finding some documents hidden away in a cedar chest for over fifty years has had a negative effect on my ego, sort of like finding out for sure that Santa Claus does not exist. Let me explain what I mean.
 
I grew up in the small town of San Augustine, Texas.  While in school I was a member of the high school band for a total of six years.  Our band did the usual and normal things that bands do - play and march at football games, show out at basketball games, march in downtown parades, and participate in band contests.  I felt good about our band composed of around fifty members.  The high school auditorium was full of people every time we gave a concert.  I never heard any complaints from anyone, until now.
 
Recently two of my class mates, and fellow band members, found some documents in their mother’s closet which shocked me.  These old undated documents appear to have been written in the early 1950s.  These documents were pages of comments written by band judges at a University Interscholastic League event in which the band participated.  Stephanie and Sandra are not sure how their mother ended up with these forms, except that their father was on the school board for many years and  perhaps he was given these grading forms by the band director, Geraldine Loving.
 
On this occasion our band played three numbers, “Front and Center”, “Lustspiel”, and “Shalimar”.  One of these was a march piece, one an overture, and the third was a number to be sight-read by the band members.
 
One judge wrote on his form the following: “This number (Lustspiel) is entirely too difficult for this band to play.  It would be unfair to offer detailed criticism.  The band has no bass section, the solo coronet plays with a very undesirable vibrato, and the clarinets have no conception of a good tone.  Of course, the instrumentation is impossible for a number of this caliber.  Certainly the director, as well as the students, should know that they are not producing music.  The band should spend at least a year on nothing but fundamentals and in trying to build up its instrumentation.”  Not surprisingly this judge gave us a V rating, the lowest.  Wow, and I thought we were producing good music!
 
A second judge wrote:  “The ensemble tone of the group suggests that the individual students are not ready to cope with the difficulties of their parts.  In my opinion it would be good judgment to emphasize individual technical problems for a time before attempting compositions of this caliber.”
 
A third judge wrote on his sheet: “I will not attempt to find individual errors as there are too many.  I simply suggest in the future, if your band stays within this size and the limitation of the instruments that you now have, not to move into the professional band literature.  There are many good easier overtures that your band could handle, and would show your band off far better, especially in contest work.  I will not attempt to analyze your second overture….”
 
I can just imagine how our band director, Miss Loving, must have felt after reading these stinging criticisms of our musical efforts in a contest.  She never told her students how bad we apparently sounded.  
 
By the time I graduated high school in 1954, Mr. Kenneth Stephenson was our band director.  Apparently we had improved somewhat as I note in the records that some individual awards were given to several band members at contest in 1953.  Patsy Ledford received a 1st rating for her saxophone solo, Marialice Boyette received a 1st rating for her trumpet solo, Glenn Anderson captured a 2nd for his trumpet solo, and Carolyn Whitton received a 3rd for her trumpet solo.  Take that, you judges..!
 
Well, now that I know the truth, the ugly truth, the unvarnished truth about our high school band way back in 1951, I feel like just having been told that I was an adopted child….the truth hurts.  Well, as it is said, “time heals all wounds”, and with time, I shall recover from this shock.
 
It should be noted that in 2007 the San Augustine High School band won sweepstakes award at the band contest, which is a first division in all phases of the contest.  And the band played on…..
 
 
“AND  THE  BAND  PLAYED  ON”
 
BY:  NEAL  MURPHY
P. O. Box 511
San Augustine, Texas 75972
936-275-9033
 
760 Words
 

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THE CONFEDERATE GIANT


 

One can only imagine what the Union soldiers must have thought at the sight of a giant wearing a confederate uniform running toward them in the heat of battle.  Henry Clay Thruston was beyond a doubt the tallest man in the Confederate army.  Perhaps at the time he lived he could have been one of the tallest men in the world at 7 feet 7 ½ inches in height.  The average height of the Union soldier was 5 feet 8 inches, and the tallest Union soldier was only 6 feet 10 ½ inches.  This Rebel towered over all the other fighting men like a pine sapling.
 
Henry was born May 4, 1830 in Greenville, S.C.  However soon after his birth his family moved to Missouri where he spent his early years.  In 1850 Henry married a distant cousin, Mary Thruston, and they had four children.
 
When the civil war broke out, Henry joined the Confederate Army, serving as a private under Col. John Q. Burbridge in the 4th Missouri Calvary.  Thruston survived the war hostilities with only a couple of relatively minor wounds.  He became a prisoner of war late in the conflict, but did not spend long in confinement, being paroled in June of 1865.
 
After the war, Thruston reunited with his family in Missouri then migrated to Texas, stopping when he got to Titus County.  He purchased 100 acres of land east of Mount Vernon, Texas, and spent most of the rest of his life there.
 
For many years following the Civil War, he spent most of his time traveling with a circus, and was always billed in these side shows as being “The World’s Tallest Man”.  In order to accent his height, he wore a tall beaver hat, high-top boots, and a long coat.  This made him look ten feet tall.  In those days, one of the big events of a circus coming to town was the parade through the downtown.  When the circus was in any of the Confederate states, he would always walk in the lead of the parade carrying a large Confederate flag over his shoulder, much like a human flag pole.
 
However, if the circus was performing in a Union state, he would usually lead the parade dressed as Uncle Sam, and carrying both the Union and Confederate flags.
 
Judge R. T. Wilkinson, of Mt. Vernon, was one of Thruston’s closest friends, and he said that Thruston was a vain old fellow, and proud of his height.  He was always willing and ready to recount events of the Civil War and of his life.  The Judge said that his hands were as big as hams, and his feet were so large that he had to have his shoes specially made, as well as his clothes.
 
He rode horseback quite a bit and when he was riding a smaller horse, his knees were usually pulled up as high as the horse’s back in order that his feet would not drag the ground.  He had a buggy specially built for him with the seat built high up in order that he could ride more comfortably.  In fact, Judge Wilkinson said that the old fellow always took great pains to call attention to his great height.
 
On Friday, July 2, 1909, Thruston sat down to supper with his son, Edward, his daughter-in-law and their son.  Mrs. Thruston told him that since he had not been feeling very well, he’d better pass on the cabbage.  The big man began to butter a biscuit when he fell back in his chair in heart failure.
 
Before Thruston could be laid to rest, the local undertaker had to await the arrival by train of a custom-made casket from Texarkana.  Being eight feet long, it could not fit into the hearse with the doors closed.  They buried him in a grave much longer than deep in Mt. Pleasant’s Edwards Cemetery.  His house, which had nine foot ceilings, still stands in Mount Vernon.
 
The editor of the local newspaper spoke for the whole community when he concluded, “He was our friend and we shall miss his cheering words and hearty handshake.”
 
 
SOURCES:
Texas Tales – “Tallest Rebel” -  Mike Cox – 2/2/2007
Confederate Veteran Magazine -  December, 1909 issue
 
 
 
“THE CONFEDERATE GIANT”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
711 words
 

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Redneck Repair Kit


 

In my experience with East Texas Rednecks and their sons, Good Ole Boys, I have found that they are generally good at repairing what ever breaks.  They seem to be able to figure out how a gadget works and what needs to be done to fix it.  In recent years, most have narrowed down their list of repair tools to only two items, WD-40 and Duct tape.
 
The general theory they use is twofold: 1. If something moves and is not supposed to, repair it with Duct tape.  2.  If something does not move and is supposed to move, spray it with WD-40.  To them, these are miracle products which will make temporary repairs a snap.  They can get back to their pastime of hunting and fishing.  
 
Let’s take a closer look at these two repair products:
 
WD-40 is a product that was developed in 1953 by Dr. Norman Larson, the founder of Rocky Chemical Company in San Diego, California.  Mr. Larson was looking for a formula to displace water and prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles.   The Atlas missile program was just getting started and water and rust was a serious problem.
 
The official name for WD-40 is “Water Displacement, 40th formula”.  On the fortieth experiment, Dr. Larson discovered the correct formulation of the product that has expanded to include many more uses than it was originally designed to do.  The top ten uses of WD-40, according to a recent survey, are:
1. Protects silverware from tarnishing.
2. Removes road tar and grime from automobiles.
3. Keeps flies off cows and horses.
4. Loosens stubborn zippers.
5. Cleans and restores chalk boards.
6. Keeps bathroom mirrors from fogging.
7. Keeps pigeons off balconies.
8. Removes duct tape.
9. Catches fish – spray on live bait or lures to attract fish.
10.  Treats fire ant bites – takes the sting away instantly.
 
Duct Tape was developed during WWII by Revolite Company, a division of Johnson & Johnson.  It was an adhesive made from rubber based material which was applied to a durable duck cloth backing.  It was excellent at resisting water and was used as sealing tape on ammunition boxes during the war.  It was first called Duck Tape.  The reason? It was related to the cloth cotton duck fabric.  It had the water proof characteristics of a duck, and was influenced by the amphibious military vehicle DUKW, pronounced “duck”.
 
It was not until the air conditioning and heating units became popular and service men used the duck tape to seal the joints in the air ducts that the product’s name was changed to “duct tape”.
 
Duct tape performs its job so well that it has been stowed on almost every space mission since the Gemini days.  In fact, over the years duct tape has been used by astronauts to make emergency repairs to the space ship or the moon rover.  Astronaut Ed Smylie remarked in 2005, “One thing a Southern boy will never say is ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix it.’  In fact, I feel a sense of relief to know that I have several rolls of duct tape on board.”
 
These days you can find Duct tape in many different colors for those who want to add a little sophistication to their project.
 
So, it would appear that the Rednecks have made wise selections in their repair kit.  Actually, if a Red neck with Duct tape or WD-40 can’t repair an item, then it is not really worth saving.  You may as well throw it away.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“REDNECK  REPAIR  KIT”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
 
593 Words
 

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World's Funniest Puns


 

 
 
You may be like me and enjoy puns. They are short and to the point, and sometimes require a bit of thinking in order to get the point of the pun.  What is a pun, anyway?  Going way back in time we find an Italian word “puntiglio” which means “a fine point”.  It is hence a verbal quibble, and is most likely the source of the English word “punctilious”. 
 
A pun is defined by Webster as “the humorous use of a word, or of words which are formed or sounded alike but have different meanings, in such a way as to play on two or more of the possible applications; or, a play on words”.
 
A little research has found the world’s funniest puns listed in a publication titled Pun FAQtory.  The following puns have been voted the top of the list:
 
  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off?  He’s all right now.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.  Then it hit me.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  It’s impossible to put down.
  • I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
  • Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda?  He was lucky it was a soft drink.
  • I’m glad that I know sign language.  It’s pretty handy.
  • I couldn’t quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.
  • A new type of broom has been invented.  It’s sweeping the nation.
  • The person who invented the door knocker got a No-bell prize.
  • The other day I held the door open for a clown.  I thought it was a nice jester.
  • The butcher backed into the meat grinder and he got a little behind in his work.
  • When the cannibal showed up late for the luncheon, he was given the cold shoulder.
  • A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.  The police are looking into it.
  • Smaller babies may be delivered by a stork, but heavier ones need a crane.
  • It was an emotional wedding.  Even the cake was in tiers.
  • Sleeping comes so naturally to me I could do it with my eyes closed.
  • I really wanted a camouflage shirt, but I could never find one.
  • Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway.  One hat says to the other, “You stay here.  I’ll go on a head.”
  • Broken puppets for sale.  No strings attached.
  • Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.
  • The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  • When William joined the army, he disliked the phrase “fire at will”.
  • Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  • Have you ever tried to eat a clock?  It’s very time consuming.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.
  • I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.
  • There was a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.
 
Why do people groan when a pun is used, such as the ones listed above?  Children love this type of obvious humor and can laugh at it without reproachments.  Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to have a twinge of envy and “why didn’t I think of that?”  It is this envy in adults that subconsciously causes them to groan upon hearing a pun.  As time goes by, it can only be hoped that adults will eventually learn to react more like a child and less like a groan-up!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“THE WORLD’S FUNNIEST PUNS”
 
BY: NEAL MURPHY
 
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: SUGARBEAR@NETDOT.COM
 
 
649 words
 

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Dickey Chapelle Breaking Ground


 

In Honor of Women who served or helped in the military here is the tale of the first American female journalist to die in a war.  She was ferrous and dedicated to her cause.  Her name was Dickey Chapelle.  Disclaimer she was a war photographer some photos will be of war. 

 

To read the article click here:  

 

This will download a PDF file.  

 

 

 

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The Ohly Factor


 

I did not know it in the middle 1940s when I was in elementary school in San Augustine, Texas, but I was breaking the law.  In fact all we students were lawbreakers.  Some of you might recall this event that the courts now say was very detrimental to our very souls.  Yet, most of us grew up to be intelligent and useful citizens in spite of the learned judges’ opinions.
 
Once a year, without fail, the principal would report to each class room that there would be a general assembly in the auditorium at 10:30.  I usually had an idea what was going to occur, and I was excited about it.
 
Several hundred six to twelve year old students would be herded into the large auditorium for a special program.  Yes, I was right.  I could see the large felt board on the stage and there she was, Mrs. Ohly.  She and her husband, R. M. Ohly from Tyler, Texas, toured from school to school sharing Bible stories with all the students.  Now she was on our stage, and she had a magic board.
 
She always began her presentation with these words, “Good morning, students.  My name is Mrs. Ohly – O-H-L-Y.”  As she told stories from the Bible she would use cutouts of the different characters which she would place on the large board and they would magically stick.  I never figured out how that worked.  As she related stories of Noah and the Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, the birth of Jesus, Jonah and the whale, and many others, she would illustrate the stories with the figures placed strategically on the magic felt board.  Her stories always captured our young imaginations. If I had only known what damage she was doing to my mind I would have exercised my right to stay in my class room.
 
After her stories were over, she always gave each student a small New Testament to take home and read.  We then returned to our studies refreshed and just a little wiser in the ways of God.  Perhaps we did not realize that at the time. 
 
 

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The Bus Ride


 

Back in the “good old days” buses were the main mode of travel from city A to city B by the general populace.  We are fortunate that San Augustine had a nice bus station with service to several large cities in Texas.
 
Around 1947 I took my first unaccompanied bus ride from Beaumont to San Augustine.  At age ten I was plenty nervous about this trip.  My parents had left me in Beaumont on Calder Avenue to visit with my long-time friends, Hoyt and Bessie Burkhalter.  They owned and operated a feed store there for many years.
 
They took me to the Beaumont Trailways station and made sure I got on the right bus.  I recall asking the bus operator “does this bus go straight to San Augustine?”  The driver, being cute, answered, “No, son, it makes several turns along the way.”  I was very happy to see the bus turn into the bus depot in San Augustine because I was home safe.
 
From 1939 through 1956 the bus depot located at the corner of Main and Montgomery streets served our city well.  In January of 1939, Mr. Sam Hankla had the depot built from native rock, the architect being Rayford Stripling. Randolph Hankla, the son of Sam, helped in the operation of the depot after his graduation from college.
 
The bus depot was divided into three distinct operations, the bus traffic, a restaurant, and a service station.  In 1941 Nay Carter took over the service station area selling Magnolia oil products.  The ‘Airline Bus Station’ suffered serious fire damage on January 5, 1945.  A $10,000 motor coach was destroyed and damaged the service station area.  Shortly thereafter Mr. C. H. Williams took over operations of the ‘Airline Service Station’ selling Sinclair products.
 
In December of 1945 the “Airline Motor Coaches” entered into a special arrangement with Dixie-Sunshine Trailways to offer through bus service to Dallas and Beaumont.  The citizens of San Augustine County could now have direct service to Dallas, with stops in Nacogdoches, Henderson, Tyler, Canton, Wills Point, and Terrell.  On the way to Beaumont, riders stopped at Jasper, Kirbyville, and Silsbee.
 
The “Airline Bus Station Café” was operated by Carmen (Buddie) Fussell in late 1945.  They served plate lunches, short orders, drinks, and candies.  Records indicate that the service station had several operators over the years, including Howard Epps, and Archie Stewart.
 
On September 13, 1956 Dr. Curtis Haley purchased the bus station building from Sam Hankla.   It was remodeled and changed into a medical office shortly thereafter.  Dr. Curtis Haley’s clinic remains to this day.
 
The bus service to the city was taken over by Mr. Opal L. Wells, who moved it to 816 W. Columbia Street where it remained for a number of years.  Ruth Bright was the new agent for Continental Trailways, where she also opened the “Lazy Susan Inn” at the new location.
 
In February of 1964 Elsie Nichols opened “The Ranch House Restaurant” at the bus station. In June of 1972 John and Judy Lynch remodeled the restaurant building and opened the “New Continental Restaurant”.  John had plans to open a taxi service, though no records can be located verifying that this did happen.
 
In November, 1972, the bus station and restaurant were damaged by a windstorm.  Approximately a year later, the bus station was moved to a location on Highway 96 north.  Luis and Lewis Jewel were the operators at that time.
 
Eventually bus service to San Augustine was terminated in the late 1970s.  With no passenger train service or bus service, the city had to rely solely on their automobiles, as it remains today.
 
Personally, I made use of the bus service one final time in 1960 when I rode to Houston to take my physical examination for the military.  But that’s another story.
 

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Tree Top Airlines


 

We all have many “firsts” in our lives – first kiss, first love, and first pet, all of which are memorable.  I would have to add to that list my first airplane ride which occurred in 1959 in Texas, and it was a memorable event to say the least.
 
Having been married for a year and unable to find a good job because of being classified 1-A in the government’s draft system, I was elated to receive an invitation from the Smith-Carona-Marchant Calculator Company to visit their office in Dallas, Texas for a job interview.  The prospective employer was about to make a hiring decision and requested that I visit them as soon as possible.  I made the decision that flying to Dallas from the nearby city of Lufkin would be the fastest way to make the two hundred mile trip.
 
At that time in history, there was only one airline that flew out of the small Lufkin airport which was TTA, or Trans-Texas Airlines.  They were affectionately also known as “Tree Top Airlines” here in East Texas.  They eventually changed their company name to Southwest Airlines, still in business.
 
My wife accompanied me to the Lufkin airport early the next morning, about forty-five miles from our home.  She was going to drop me off at the airport and drive back to her job. As we drove up to the terminal I noted the airplane parked and waiting for passengers.  It was a twin engine DC3 which looked pretty small to me, but I was a novice flyer so who was I to judge?
 
After boarding the airplane I had to walk “downhill” to find my seat.  I had just buckled my seat belt and relaxed a bit getting ready for takeoff.  Then I felt a bulge in my right pant pocket.  I pulled it out and almost panicked when I saw that this bulge was my key ring with the keys to our car and house.  Without the car keys my wife would be stranded at the airport.  I had to do something and do it quickly!
 

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What's Up with Zombies?


 

It seems that zombies are on the prowl again.  They are appearing in movies, videos, and even television commercials. I have met a few “living” zombies driving automobiles while spaced out on drugs and alcohol and ushered them to the nearest jail.  However, these walking “undead” dead people seem to be gaining a foothold in our country.  A little research reveals that this is nothing new. Zombies have been around for many years.
 
First question is, “What is a zombie?”  Well, it is said that it is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft.  Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore.  In modern times, the term “zombie” has been applied to an undead being in horror fiction, often drawing from the depiction of zombies in George A. Romero’s 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead.  They have appeared as plot devices in various books, films, television shows, video games, and comics.
 
In the book The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks, is listed all known zombie attacks throughout human history.  Brooks says that the first recorded encounter with zombies happened around 60,000 BC in Katanga, Central Africa.  He then lists many attacks through the year 2002, the last one in Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands.  He then lists eleven known attacks which occurred in the United States from 1578 in Roanoke Island, N.C. to March of 1994 in Santa Monica Bay, California.
 
It is said that zombies, like vampires, are great opportunists.  So it comes as no surprise that zombie outbreaks often happen in the wake of natural disasters.  Combine disasters with warm climates and you truly have a recipe for a major outbreak.
 
According to “The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency”, the top three zombie outbreaks in United States history are:
 
Key West, Florida, 1935.  On Labor Day, September 2, 1935, a category five hurricane hit the Florida Keys doing much damage from 150 mph winds. Amid the destruction, infected rats began roaming the island of Key West, and by morning the first of the zombies appeared.  Many of the islanders mistook the zombies for dazed hurricane survivors, and the plague spread across the island.  The islanders had no way of escape.  Scores of people drowned when they chose to leap into the choppy surf rather than face the voracious zombies.*
 
Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1863.  After New Orleans fell to the Union, the city of Vicksburg remained as the last Confederate holdout on the Mississippi river.  On May 1863, over three thousand Union troops arrived off the coast of Vicksburg and demanded an immediate surrender, but Confederate leaders refused.  The Union soldiers laid siege to the city with a month of heavy bombardment.  On June 17, 1863, city residents spotted the first zombie, and within days dozens were wandering about. The Confederate soldiers entertained themselves by conducting target practice on the zombies.  But they soon ran out of ammunition and the zombies kept coming.  To this day, Southerners claim that the Union let the zombie plague continue out of pure malice.  When the Union soldiers entered the city on July 3rd, hundreds of zombies roamed about.  The soldiers had to do the killing and they quickly found out that zombies do not surrender.  In the end, an estimated 2,000 people were infected and destroyed at Vicksburg.*
 
Honolulu, Hawaii, 1892.  In the 1890s Hawaii found itself in a tug of war between natives who wanted to remain independent, and powerful sugar growers who wanted to join the United States.  Fighting began in Oahu among Chinese laborers in the cane fields which then spread to Honolulu.  Wave after wave of zombies came staggering out of the jungle, forcing desperate islanders to board outrigger canoes and flee to neighboring islands.
It took several thousand troops to rid the island of the zombies. Just fewer than two thousand people were killed. *
 
Tradition says that zombies kill and eat the flesh of its victims, especially the brain.  Zombie experts say that the only way to kill one is to shoot it in the brain, or by decapitation.  It is said in the tenets of Vodou that zombies have a short “life” span because in a short time God will take the soul back making the zombie a temporary spiritual entity.  It is also said that feeding a zombie salt will make it return to the grave. But, how is this done – you want to try it?
 
So, there you have it – everything you ever wanted to know about zombies but were afraid to ask.  However, I am not sure but that the above information came from people with over-active imaginations.  You must decide for yourself.
 
 
Excerpts from - The Zombie Survival Guide 
                      - Known Zombie Outbreaks
 

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Now, What's Your Name?


 

I felt totally sorry for the little old lady who was confronted by a younger and much larger man at the grocery store.  I felt sorry for her because I have been in the same situation myself and was totally embarrassed.  She was walking out of the store and the man was entering at the same time. He stopped the lady and they exchanged pleasantries.  Then he uttered this question, “You don’t have the foggiest idea who I am, do you?”
 
I hate it when someone asks me that question because it emphasizes and underlines my lack of memory.  I am already embarrassed that I can’t recall their name, and then they heap more coals on my head with that question.  As we age sometimes our brain has a “blip” and just does not work for some reason.  But, back to the little old lady at the grocery store.
 
I wanted to butt in and suggest a couple of responses that she could use on the rude guy but bit my lip and kept quiet.  She could have said, “Yes, I know you but I thought you were still in jail.”  Or perhaps this one, “Yes, I know you but I heard you had been killed in a shooting accident.”  I think he might have gotten the message.
 
I think rude questions like the man asked the lady stem from a lack of etiquette.  Now that’s a French word you never hear today.  Etiquette is a first cousin to “manners”, another word in short supply today.  Webster’s dictionary defines “manners” as:  a. the socially correct way of acting; b. the prevailing customs, social conduct, and norms of a specific society.
 
If the man who asked the woman a rude question had a good handle on his manners, he should have said something like this to her, “My name is Bill Smith and you might not remember me, but I remember you well.”  Now, isn’t that much nicer than emphasizing her lack of memory?   
 
The following are quotes from a number of famous people made over the years concerning “manners”:
 
Evil manners will, like watered grass, grow up very quickly.
Manners are like spices.  You can’t make a meal of them, but they add a great deal to the meal’s enjoyment.
Manners are like the cipher in arithmetic.  They may not be of much value in themselves, but they are capable of adding a great deal to the value of everything else.
Our manners, like our faces, though ever so beautiful, must differ in their beauty.
The pleasure of courtesy is like the pleasure of good dancing.
Manners are like an air cushion – there may be nothing to it, but they ease our jolts wonderfully.
Good manners are as polite as patients in a dentist’s waiting room.
Manners are as soft as wool.
 
Yes, manners help us through the day – everything from a quick greeting, to waiting in line, to eating a meal, to how you look.  No one wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, “I think I’ll be rude all day today.”  Yet, when we are in a hurry or dealing with strangers, we don’t always use the manners we know we should.  It’s not just about knowing hygiene manners, courtesy manners, or cultural norm manners; it’s about being intentional in their use.  See what a difference even the simplest courtesies can make to your day-to-day interactions.  Those of us with fading memories will surely appreciate it, especially if we can’t recall your name at the moment.
 
 
 
 

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Sgt. Stubby


 

Dogs are now specially trained to do amazing things.  Many are trained as police dogs, others to sniff out drugs, and some known as cadaver dogs.  The military now trains dogs for use in battle.  A few dogs were used in WW11, but it was unusual for them to see action in WW1 as did Sgt. Stubby.
 
Sgt. Stubby was the most decorated war dog of World War 1, and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.  How did this happen?
 
Sergeant Stubby was a stray, homeless mutt who saved more lives, saw more combat, and performed more feats of heroic awesomeness than most humans could ever accomplish.  This Pit Bull Terrier started his humble life as most stray animals do – hungry, cold, alone, and stranded in the town of New Haven, Connecticut.  Living garbage can to garbage can without so much as a doghouse roof over head, one day this little canine happened to stumble onto the parade grounds on the campus of Yale University.  It just happened that the men of the 102nd Regiment, 26th Infantry Division were training for their deployment to fight in World War 1 at this facility.
 
The pathetic little dog was adopted by a soldier named John Robert Conroy who named the puppy “Stubby” because of his stump of a tail.   Conroy started leaving food out and let the little guy sleep in the barracks from time to time.  It was not long before every soldier in the 102nd adopted the canine as their mascot.
 
After just a few weeks of hanging around the drill field watching the soldiers do their thing, this little dog learned the bugle calls, could execute the marching maneuvers with the men, and was trained to salute superior officers by raising his forepaw to his brow.
 
When the order came down for the 102nd to ship out to battle, Conroy just stuffed the dog into his greatcoat and smuggled him on board a ship bound for France.  Once safely out to sea, Conroy brought the dog out onto the deck, and all the sailors decided this dog was so great that they had a machinist’s mate make him a set of dog tags to match the ones worn by the soldiers.
 
Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division in the trenches of France for 18 months, and participated in four offensives and 17 battles.  He entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemi des Dames, and was under constant fire night and day for over a month.  In April 1918, during a raid, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by retreating Germans throwing hand grenades.  He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and was able to improve morale of the other wounded soldiers.  When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches.
 
After being gassed, Stubby learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in “no man’s land”, and – since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans could – became adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover.  From first-hand accounts, this dog could hear English being spoken and would respond to check for any wounded men.  If he heard German spoken he would alert like a bird dog pointing at a quail.
 
It was reported that in September 1918 while patrolling the trenches, he discovered a camouflaged German spy hiding out while mapping the allied trenches.  Stubby smelled the foreign soldier and attacked.  He ran the guy down from behind dropping the spy to the ground.  Then Stubby clamped down on his posterior and held on until captured by American soldiers.
 
Following the retaking of Chateau-Thierry by the United States, the women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which were pinned his many medals.  For his actions Stubby was given a battlefield promotion to the rank of Sergeant, which meant that the dog now outranked his owner who was only a Corporal at this point.
 
After the war, Sergeant Stubby was smuggled back to the states where he was an instant celebrity.  He was inducted into the American Legion, offered free food for life from the YMCA, and whenever he went on tour for the war bond effort, hotels would relax their “no dogs allowed” policy for the canine.  He visited the White House twice, met three presidents, and in 1921 commander “Black Jack” Pershing personally pinned a “Dog Hero Gold Medal” on Stubby’s military jacket.
 
When Robert Conroy enrolled in Georgetown University Law School after the war, Stubby went with him.  The dog immediately became the official mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas’ football team, and to this day the University sports mascot is still a dog.  In addition to hanging out with the players and cheer leaders it became a tradition to bring Stubby out on the field during halftime at football games.  He would run around the field pushing a football around with his nose.  Nobody had ever done anything like this before, meaning that Stubby might have possibly invented the Halftime Show at football games.
 
Sergeant Stubby, American war hero dog, died in 1926 at the age of ten.  He was stuffed and preserved by a taxidermist and is featured in his own exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
 
A New York Times Obituary said it best when they wrote, “The noise and strain that shattered the nerves of many of his comrades did not impair Stubby’s spirits.  Not because he was unconscious of danger.  His angry howl while a battle raged, and his mad canter from one part of the lines to another, indicated realization”.
 
 
 

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Every Veteran Has A Story


 

"I was worried clean through. I didn't want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible."…. Alvin York, Medal of Honor Winner, World War I.
 
 
During the World War, what we know today as conscientious objector status did not exist and it did not exempt anyone from the military as one of the most highly decorated soldiers, Alvin York found out.  On June 5th, 1917 on the first national registration day Mr. York answered the question on the form “Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds) by writing “Yes.  Don’t Want To Fight”.1  
 
On that very day in Joaquin, Shelby County Texas 21-year old Earl Ritter filled out his draft registration and to that same question he wrote “yes, object to killing”.2   He signed it and gave the form to Mr. A. W. Harrison who also signed it as the registrar.  I assume Earl then traveled back to his father’s farm near Joaquin and went back to work.
 
 
Earl had always been a country boy, born in October 1894 at Paul’s Store, Texas that was also known as Terrapin Neck.  He was the fourth of twelve children born to William “Bill” Frank Ritter (1861-1902) and Minnie Priestly-Ritter (1868-1929).  
 
After the draft registration life went on as usual for the next four months until October 1917 when Earl received his draft notice and then traveled to the County Seat of Center and was inducted into the Army on the eighth.  Initially assigned to Company A of the 306th Infantry Regiment, Camp Mills, New York on April 25, 1918, he found himself on the British ship HMS Karmala departing New York Harbor with Headquarters Company of the 325th Infantry Regiment.  Private Earl Ritter who didn’t want to kill was on his way to the World War in France at the age of 23.  
 
3Upon arrival, the 325th entered training and waited to be committed to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  On October 10th, the regiment attacked to seize the Cornay Ridge, then continued the attack across the Aire River.   Eighteen days later Private Ritter was severely wounded in action by shrapnel and it is also believed that he had been effected by gas used by the German Army.  
 
He stayed the course after medical treatment and was with his unit when they boarded the troopship USS Harrisburg and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 21st, 1919 five months after the armistice.  Another month would pass before he was honorably discharged, somehow with no disability.  He was awarded the Wound Chevron (Purple Heart), World War I Victory Medal with two battle clasps and the honorable discharge lapel pin.
 
4Wasting no time, he married Miss Fannie Todd of Shreveport, Louisiana on June 16th, 1919, six days after discharge.  They made their home in Shreveport at 311 Louisiana Street where thirteen months later he became very ill.  Mr. Ritter passed at his home at 2:10 a.m. on July 22nd, 1920 at the age of 25.  His obituary written by “A Friend” appeared in the Times, Shreveport, Louisiana on Sunday, August 15th, 1920.  The friend said in part “the Death Angel took from their home a kind and loving husband.  Mr. Ritter lived a Christian life from boyhood and when Uncle Sam called for men, he entered the service.  He was only ill five days and his death was quite a shock to his many friends.  He was a member of the Christian Church at Eagle Mills, Texas.  He was loved by all who knew him; was a kind and loving husband, and a true and affectionate son.  A few hours before his death he called his wife and relatives to his bedside and with arms around his wife, told her he was going to Heaven and for her to meet him there, that they would not have long to wait, for the time she had to spend on this earth was only a very little while in comparison with eternity.  Mr. Ritter was a man of cheerful temperament and a wonderful personality, always having a smile and kind word for everyone.  His many friends extend to the bereaved family their deepest sympathy”.  
 
Private Earl Ritter didn’t want to kill but still served his country when asked.  Probably, he did kill and in doing so I believe the injuries he received in combat contributed to his own death.  His friend who wrote the obituary included this short poem “Through the Valley of Sorrow, to Heart-break Hill with burdened hearts they came that day, for a long-loved form, and a dear, dear face, all in a coffin lay.”  He is buried in the Joaquin Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas.
 
 
 
(Sources: 1Capozzola, 2008, p. 68, includes a photograph of York's Registration Card from the National Archives; 2Registration Card # 233 Ancestry.com July 2017; 3wikipedia.org/wiki/325_Infanty_Regiment; 4Newspapers.com, The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 15, 1920; Find A Grave Memorial 84290234; Ancestry.com July, 2017; Newspapers.com, El Paso Herald, December 23, 1918.)
 

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Noah's Ark Updated


 

Most people who know anything about the Bible are familiar with the story of Noah and the ark. Genesis chapters six and seven relate how God decided to destroy all the inhabitants of an evil world by a great flood, except for Noah and his family.  God gave Noah the “blueprints” of the ark that He wanted constructed and Noah was instructed to follow these blueprints to the letter.  Although it took many years of work by the Noah family, the ark was finally built and God began the flood after it was filled with the animals and fowl of the earth.  The Bible says that “God shut the door” so that no one could get out or get in.
 
Have you ever wondered what would have happened to Noah if God had waited until the twenty-first century to cause the flood?  Would it have been something like this?
 
It is the year 2014 and Noah lives in the United States.  The Lord speaks to Noah and says, “In one year I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all is destroyed.  But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living things on the earth.  Therefore, I am commanding you to build an ark.”
 
In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an ark.  Fearful and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark. “Remember,” said the Lord, “you must complete the ark and bring everything aboard in one year.”
 
Exactly one year later, a fierce storm cloud covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.  The Lord saw Noah sitting in his front yard weeping.  “Noah,” he shouted, “Where is the ark?”
 
“Lord, please forgive me!” cried Noah.  “I did my best, but there were big problems.  First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not comply with the codes.  I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.”
 
Noah continues, “Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether the ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.  Then my neighbor objected, claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building an ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.”
 
“Lord, it gets worse,” cried Noah.  “I had problems getting enough wood for the ark because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl.  I finally convinced the U.S. Forrest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls.  However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t let me catch any owls.”
 
“The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike.  I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Union.  Now I have 16 carpenters on the ark, but still no owls.  When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group.  They objected to my taking only two of each kind aboard.  Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood.  They didn’t take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.”
 
“Lord,” cried Noah, “it’s still not over.  The Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain.  I sent them a globe.  Right now I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking the godless, unbelieving people on board.”
 
Wringing his hands, Noah continues, “The IRS has seized all my assets, claiming that I’m building the ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.  I just got a notice from the state that I owe some kind of user tax and failed to register the ark as a recreational water craft.”
 
“Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional.  I really don’t think I can finish the ark for another five or six years!”, Noah wailed.
 
The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm.  A rainbow arched across the sky.  Noah looked up hopefully and asked, “You mean you are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?”  “No,” said the Lord sadly.  “The government already has.”
 
AMEN
 
 

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The Ark of Noah


 

There are generally two schools of thought about the Biblical account of Noah building the ark to save him and his family from drowning in the great flood.  Some say the story found in Genesis chapter six is pure fiction and just a fable that has been perpetuated.  Others believe that the Bible is true as well as this story found therein.  Whichever side you come down on, we wonder why any evidence of this ark has not been found on top of Mount Ararat in modern Turkey.  Evidently proof that it did exist has been discovered.  And with the find, several amazing facts have emerged.
 
In 1959 a Turkish army captain discovered an unusual shape on the mountain while examining aerial photographs of his country.  A smooth shape, larger than a football field, stood out from the rough and rocky terrain of Mt. Ararat at an altitude of 6,300 feet near the Turkish border with Iran.  Since the captain was familiar with the Biblical story of the ark, he sent all his information to a famous aerial photography expert at Ohio State University.  After studying the photos, Dr. Brandenburger concluded, “I have no doubt at all that this object is a ship.  In my entire career, I have never seen an object like this on a mountain.”
 
The next year the captain and a group of Americans went to the site for a day and a half.  They were expecting to find artifacts on the surface, or something that would be unquestionably related to a ship of some kind.  Since they found none, they concluded that the formation appeared to be a natural one.  The subject of the ark was dropped. This finding received very little media attention.
 
In 1977 Ron Wyatt visited the site and conducted more elaborate tests over a period of several years.  His party used metal detection surveys, subsurface radar scans, and chemical analysis – real science – and their findings were startling.  The evidence was undeniable.  This discovery was the Ark of Noah.
 
They took measurements of the mud encrusted object and discovered that they were in the shape of a ship.  One end was pointed and the opposite end was blunt like a modern ship.  Remember that God told Noah to construct a ship that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.  The distance found from bow to stern measured 515 feet, or exactly 300 Egyptian cubits.  The average width was found to be 50 cubits, again the exact measurements commanded by God.
 
The crew also found four vertical bulges protruding from the mud on the right side which are “ribs” of the hull.  Another rib was located on the opposite side.  Surrounding it are more ribs, still largely buried in the mud, but visible upon close examination. Remember that this object is extremely old.  The wood has been petrified. Finding chunks of organic wood has long since ended.  But there were still several startling finds in the structure that appeared to have moved at least a thousand feet down the mountain slope as the result of an earthquake in 1948.
 
Perhaps the most significant find from the ark itself is a piece of petrified wood. When found it appeared to be a large beam.  Closer examination found that it is actually three pieces of plank that have been laminated together with some kind of organic glue.  This is the same technology used in modern plywood.  This suggests knowledge of construction far beyond anything we know existed in the ancient world.
 
A very surprising find from sensitive metal detectors was several strong disc shaped rivets.  From simple examination it was possible to see where the rivets had been hammered after being inserted through a hole.  If metal rivets being used in ancient construction doesn’t impress you, this surely will.  An analysis of the metal used to make the rivets revealed that they were a combination of iron, aluminum, and titanium!
 
The experts know that aluminum was incorporated in the metallic mixture because it does not exist in metallic form in nature.  This, again, implies an extremely advanced knowledge of metallurgy and engineering.  The mixture of metals apparently used in the ark forms a thin film of aluminum which protects the metal from rust and corrosion.  The addition of titanium would provide added strength.  The rivets have survived from antiquity!
 
Several miles from the location of the Ark, huge stones were discovered, some standing upright, and other lying on the ground.  These stones, weighing many tons, have holes carved in the top of them.  Scientists have determined that they were anchors and the holes would have been their attachment to a ship with hemp rope.  These huge anchors would have been suspended from the keel of the ship.  This was common practice among ancient mariners to stabilize a heavy ship and ensure that the bow is always facing the on-coming waves. A “top heavy” ship, such as the Ark, could easily be capsized by a wave approaching from the side.
 
Taking all these facts together, I conclude that these findings are further proof that Noah’s Ark was a reality and that it has indeed been found in Turkey.  “And the Ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.  And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.” (Genesis 8:4-5)
 
I’m often amazed at our lack of knowledge about history.  Ordinary people are hungry for this information, yet, the media responsible for disseminating these facts seem to have an agenda to keep us in the dark.  This is especially true when it comes to ancient Biblical history.
 
 

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Cotton, Courtship, Chevrolets


 

The summer of 1956 was an interesting one for me. I was out of classes from Baylor University for the summer.  I had purchased my first car, a 1950 Chevrolet two-door sedan.  My future wife and I were courting pretty often, and I found a much-needed job.  The only problem with this picture was that the job was in Houston, Texas.
 
A job had opened up for me with Anderson-Clayton Cotton Company paying $350.00 per month.  This was good money for a nineteen year old naive kid from East Texas.  I needed the money badly enough to accept the job, and rent one room in an elderly couple’s house on Pease street in Houston.
 
The job was located in a large warehouse on the docks of the ship channel. No heat or air conditioning made for an uncomfortable shift.  I had never seen so many bales of cotton in my life as were stored in this warehouse, and several more warehouses along the docks.  I soon learned that each and every bale of cotton received by the company had to be rated, weighed, and classified.  This is where I came in.
 
Situated at a long table with several other men, a bale of cotton would be brought to the table. One man took three samples from the top to bottom of the bale.  Another man would grade the color, another the texture, and finally a third man the length of the fibers of the samples.  My job was to write down all these ratings on a tally sheet.  I did not know much about cotton, but I sure could tally.
 
One week we were instructed to take inventory of the bales of cotton contained in these warehouses, which were stacked from floor to ceiling.  I and another man would start at either end of the cotton bales and start counting until the end of the row.  If we both came up with the same number, we could go to the next one.  Not only were there bales of cotton in those warehouses, there were also rats, spiders, lizards and other unidentified critters. Needless to say, I hated taking inventory.
 
Each Friday afternoon we were paid by check.  I would come to work Friday morning with my Chevrolet packed, then speed out of Houston at the end of the work day, stopping briefly in Cleveland to cash my check at a bank.
 
Once back in San Augustine on Friday night, I would call Clara and set up dates for Saturday and Sunday nights.  This worked well for us all summer.
 
One Sunday night while driving back to Houston after our date, my Chevrolet began to act up.  On highway 190 between Woodville and Livingston, the engine died and I coasted to the shoulder of the road.  I realized that I was stranded right in the middle of the Alabama and Coushatta Indian Reservation.  My only knowledge of Indians was reading about Geronimo and Sitting Bull, and they did not seem to be very hospitable.  I was more than a little nervous.  After locking my car doors, I dozed off to sleep.
 
The first car along the road after dawn contained an older couple, yes, an Indian couple.   Their car stopped, backed up even with mine.  The woman peered at me through the window.  I rolled down my window and told them I was stranded and needed help.  These nice folk drove me all the way to Livingston to the Chevrolet dealership.  The movies never showed this side of the Indians.
 
Well, all’s well that ends well.  I saved up enough money to buy Clara an engagement ring. And the rest is history.
 

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In the Doctor's Office


 

My wife, Clara, began her medical career in 1959 when she went to work for Dr. M. J. Buchele in San Augustine.  She worked there several years along with Helen Farr until we moved to Houston in 1962.  She then worked for several different doctors for the next twenty six years.  She has the “inside scoop” of what really goes on behind the scenes in a doctor’s office.
 
Most of us see doctor’s offices as rather drab and usually full of sick people not on their best behavior.  But, that view can be incorrect.
 
Clara was working for a Dr. Cruce in Houston on North Shepherd Street around 1964.  She was receptionist/bookkeeper/lab assistant/nurse for the office.  One spring morning when the waiting room was full of people waiting their turn, she heard someone cry out that there was a snake in the room.  “A snake?  I hate snakes!  I am afraid of snakes, everybody knows that.”  Clara thought as she responded to the distress call.  But, she needed a weapon to fight off a dangerous snake and nothing could be found.  She spotted a small cutting board on a cabinet.  She grabbed it by its handle and rushed into the danger zone weapon at the ready.
 
The snake had coiled itself at the base of a pot plant.  He was about a foot long and mostly green. “How did it get into our office?”, Clara wondered to herself.  She mustered up all her gumption and quickly lay the cutting board on top of the snake, then stomped on it with her foot.  The snake never knew what hit him.  While this was happening, a male patient ran his finger up her back about the same time as a joke, which almost backfired. “Just for that I am giving you a shot with a square, rusty, needle”, Clara retorted.
 
The doctor never knew what was going on at the time, but found it amusing after it was over.  However, Clara was not amused.
 
On another occasion a man walked into the same doctor’s office holding a cat in his arms.  He walked up to the window and handed Clara the cat.  He reported, “We don’t want the cat.  Here, take it back.”  She realized that he had mistaken their office for the Veterinary office located down the street.  As the man turned to leave, Clara protested, “But, sir, this is a doctor’s office.  The veterinary office is two doors down.”   Apparently not hearing or understanding, the man looked over his shoulder and repeated, “I said we don’t want the cat.  Just put it to sleep for all we care.”
 
As he walked out the front door, Clara raced after him with the cat in hand.  She caught him in the parking lot and finally convinced him that he had brought the cat to the wrong office.  He reluctantly took the cat back.
 
Back in the office Dr. Cruce kidded Clara, “Well, I see you almost got a new cat, didn’t you.”  “I sure did, no thanks to you”, she replied.
 
Since Clara performed some lab tests for the office, she would normally take off her wedding rings to protect them from chemicals.  On one occasion while she was taking her rings off they suddenly flew off her finger toward the floor, but she never heard them hit the floor.  After performing the lab test, her number one project was to find her rings.  She looked everywhere but could not find them. Even Dr. Cruce joined in the hunt but to no avail.
 
As a last resort, Clara asked Dr. Cruce if she could check the inside of his pant cuffs for the rings.  He agreed and she found them there.  The rings had apparently landed in his pant cuffs on their way to the floor.
 
Space prohibits me from relating several other incidents, such as getting her finger caught in the posting machine, accidentally breaking a finger by shutting a sliding door on it -  she x-rayed it herself.   She was even grabbed and kissed on three different occasions by male patients who apparently could not control their passion.
 
So, the next time you go to a doctor’s office you should realize that there could be some “doings in the doctor’s office” going on.
 

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Call Me A Taxi


 

The comedian Don Rickles used to have a joke – “Call me a taxi.  OK, you are a taxi..”  It was usually good for a few laughs.  However, if you are in need of a taxi around these parts you are out of luck.  All this reminds me of an incident that happened back in 1987 to my wife, Clara.
 
She was working at First National Bank at the time as a secretary.  One day she received a telephone call from a computer company in Houston. It seems that Mr. Edward Clark, the owner of the bank, had decided that the bank needed a new computer system. The computer people were flying to San Augustine the next day in a private jet. They would be landing at the San Augustine airport, she reported.  The conversation went something like this:
 
Clara: “Do you know what time your people will arrive?  We will have someone meet them.”
Secretary:  “Oh, don’t worry.  I’ll get them a rental car at the airport.”
Clara: “But, we don’t have rental cars here.”
Secretary: “That’s ok, they can get a taxi to downtown.”
Clara: “Well, we don’t have any taxi service here.”
Secretary: (a pause while thinking) - Then the pilot can call the bank from the airport. 
Clara: “Sorry, again, but there is not a telephone at the airport.”
Secretary: “Gosh, guess I’ll have to find out exactly what time to meet them.”
Clara: “That’s good, and I will have someone there early to shoo the cows off the runway so they can land.”
 
I can recall on several occasions in the early fifties having ridden in a taxi from down town to our home on Hwy 147 north.  I believe the cost was about 25 cents.  So, there was a taxi service at one time in the past.
 
The records show that in October of 1940, a new taxi service was opened in San Augustine.  Mr. Maurice Armstrong and S. O. Hall opened a taxi service.  The day office was phone 215, which was the Justice of Peace office.  Apparently Mr. Armstrong was also the JP.  The night phone number was 214, his residence.
 
In May of 1946, Mr. Dick Renfro purchased Armstrong taxi service, and began serving the city and county.
 
Records indicate that in 1947 Hall’s Taxi service was opened.  They could be reached at phone number 282.  The taxi office was located on the corner of Nay Carter’s service station.  Tiller’s Tax Service is now located there.
 
In 1948 Mr. W. R. Pinkston opened up a taxi service, located in front of the Stripling Drug Store building.  The phone number was 300.
 
Mr. Maurice Armstrong opened up the Yellow Cab Company in February of 1951 with three taxi cabs.  They were located next to the White Auto Store.  The phone number for a taxi was 2200.  This undoubtedly was the taxi service that I used several times as a young teenager.
 
In 1953 Mr. Woodrow Thacker opened up a taxi service, located on the Miller Mathews corner, which is now Mills’ Hardware Company on the north side of the square.  Their phone number was 2707.  It would appear from the records that Mr. Thacker operated the last taxi service here, but they do not show when the business was closed down. I do know that there has not been a taxi service here in many years.  Perhaps there is still a need for this and some enterprising individual will provide this service once again.  
 
At one time in its history, the City of San Augustine had a city bus service.  As a youngster, I can remember seeing a green bus making its rounds throughout the city.
 
In October of 1945, the city granted a two-year franchise for bus service  to Mr. R. T. Nutt.  A route was mapped out which guaranteed a round trip every thirty minutes.  The bus started its route on the Bland Lake road in Sunset over to the prisoner of war camp north of town.  This route included stops at all city schools, and all major intersections in downtown.
 
The route included Columbia Street from Sunset east of town to Livingston Street to the prison camp and Sunset.  The cost of a ride was five cents.  Mills-Brumer Grocery, one block north on the Center highway, advertised “The city bus stops at our store every thirty minutes”.
 
This bus service apparently was short lived.  No further references past 1945 can be located.
 
Cell phones have replaced pay telephones, and we still don’t have rental cars or taxis at the airport.  I am not sure about cows on the runway.
 
 

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Chigger Fighter


 

The worst thing about the East Texas summer isn’t sunburn, heat or humidity – its chiggers.  They were commonly called “red bugs” when I was growing up during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  There were times when I went fishing and the next day those annoying red bumps began to appear on my legs and torso.  Then the itch began, and grew in intensity.  From my feet and ankles upward, and especially at those tender locations my mother told me not to scratch in public, the maddening itch took hold.  The itch would last for days, and even weeks.  There was not much one could do to relieve the itch but grin and bear it.
 
I knew a man, an unusual man, who seemed to be immune to these juvenile forms of a mite, akin to a tick.  His name was Ben Woods, my uncle.  When my father’s sister, Margaret, married Ben, he was a candy salesman in the late 1930’s.  Uncle Ben worked for a candy company.  He would load his car trunk with all types of candy and traverse the dusty country roads of East Texas and western Louisiana.  Aiming for small communities in the back woods, he would park his vehicle under a tree and honk his car horn repeatedly.  Kids showed up in abundance to purchase his nickel candy, and earn a chance to try their luck at a punch card.  If they punched out the right hole they could win even more candy or other prizes.   He never seemed to attract any chiggers while working the back roads.
 
In the late 1940’s Uncle Ben got a job with the Texas Highway Department, the perfect job for him.  His task was to search for gravel on private land that the department could lease from the owner then use it in new road construction or maintenance.  This required Uncle Ben to roam through the forests of East Texas, parts of which required a machete to get through.  Day after day he searched for gravel, often finding Indian arrowheads and other relics of the past.  Still, he never seemed to be bothered by those small, red pests.
 
Perhaps he knew something that I did not know about them.  One day I asked Uncle Ben a question, “What do you use to keep the chiggers off you?”   He looked at me, a cigarette hanging from his lips, and chided me, “Well, son, it’s simple - bacon grease.”  Surprised at his answer, I replied, “Are you kidding?  Bacon grease?  Just how does that work?”  He flipped the ashes off his cigarette, put his hand on my young shoulder, and explained, “What you do is smear bacon grease from your ankles up past your knees, a real good coat of it.”  Was he kidding, or serious?  I could not determine.  “So, do the chiggers not like the smell or something?” I queried.
“Nope, it works like this.  When the tick or chigger starts to climb up your leg he can’t get any traction, and simply slides back down.  After a while it just gives up and jumps off.”
 
As a youngster I figured that this advice had to be real.  After all it was from a man who practically lived in the thickets.  I actually tried it a few times but stopped when my mother loudly complained about my greasy pants, and her lack of bacon grease to cook with.  I think I finally figured out his secret – he used powdered sulphur, called sublimed sulphur.
 
Chiggers hate sulphur and definitely avoid it.  Available at most pharmacies, it works well when it is dusted around the opening of your pants, socks, and boots.  Some people rub on a mixture of half talcum powder and half sulphur on their legs, arms and waist.
 
I recently asked a local surveyor the same question I asked Uncle Ben so many years ago.  He told me that he uses ordinary flea and tick collars usually seen on dogs.  They are placed around his ankles and thighs, according to him, and they keep the ticks and chiggers off.  I wonder if that is an “Uncle Ben” answer?  What do you think?
 

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About Cedar Trees


 

The house that I grew up in was surrounded by six or seven large cedar trees.  I never paid them much attention during my early days, except that they smelled good and my dad was allergic to them.
 
It occurred to me one day recently that most of the very early settlers’ homesteads were surrounded by cedar trees.  Even today walking through the hills of East Texas one can spot a former homestead by the presence of an old curbed well and cedar trees.  The question came to me as to why the early settlers planted cedar trees all around their property.  Did they serve a useful function, and if so, what was it?  The cedar is not native to East Texas.
 
Over the years my mom and dad cut down the sturdy cedar trees surrounding their house one by one.  I never knew why they did this.
 
The cedar is a large evergreen tree which will usually grow to a height of up to fifty feet, a few can reach one hundred or more feet.  They are common in forest areas that have a good deal of annual rainfall.  They seem to prefer moist soil with limestone beneath it.  The cedar trees often live a long time, some as long as two hundred years.  One reason is that the wood of cedar trees is very resistant to disease.  Another reason is that the natural oils in the wood are toxic to insects and fungus.  This oil does not fully develop in young trees which often leads to the rotting of the red heartwood  of the tree.  This results in mature trees that have hollow trunks which make great homes for animals.
 
It seems that native Americans were fond of the cedar tree.  They were used to hollow out a canoe.  The wood of cedars was used also used to make weapons, boxes, bowls, and baskets.  The bark of the cedar tree was used to make blankets, capes, and costumes.  It was also an excellent source of fuel.
 
I can recall that my parents and grandparents had real “cedar chests” in which they stored valuable linen and woolens.  The cedar scent kept moths and silverfish from entering the chest.  Most closets were lined with cedar for the same purpose.  I recall hanging wallpaper in closets of homes in the fifties.  The wallpaper was manufactured to look like cedar planks. It contained the cedar smell which lasted for years.  When you opened your closet door you were met with a pleasant cedar aroma.
 
Cedar fence posts were a favorite of our ancestors.  The red center of the wood resisted rotting and insects.  Even today while exploring an old homestead you might stump your toe on the remnant of a cedar post.  Today’s pencils are still made of cedar wood.
 
So, I have to speculate that our founding fathers knew much about the benefits of having cedar trees surrounding their modest homes.  Someone has stated that our ancestors believed that if you planted a young cedar tree, by the time it was grown it would provide a shade for your final resting place.
 
Cedar trees do make a great addition to any landscape.  The evergreen foliage adds color year round.  The beautiful fragrance of the wood wafts on the breeze.  The branches make excellent locations for bird and squirrel nests. Cedar trees look magnificent towering over the land as a single tree, or bunched together in clusters of several trees.  I think our forefathers were pretty smart, don’t you?
 
 

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Laddie


 

 
Autumn in East Texas is quite colorful.  The year 1952 was no different, with the trees changing to their vivid colors, mornings getting cool, and sometimes with fog mingled in.  My brother-in-law, Robert Crosby, was a barber by trade.  He loved animals, and loved to hunt and fish.  
 
One of Robert’s pets was a large dog with the name Laddie.  He was a mix of German shepherd and Collie, tan in color.  He was easy to train, and had been taught a number of doggie tricks by Robert.
 
We decided to go on an overnight camping trip on the Sabine River in East Texas.  The river had carved out a high bluff at this particular point, at least thirty feet high.  Robert picked out a level spot to pitch our tent, and build a fire.  Laddie, now around eighteen months old, was with us on his first outing of this kind.
 
The three of us spent the night inside the tent after cooking bacon and eggs on the camp fire for supper.  Nothing smells quite as good as bacon frying in an old iron skillet, and frying eggs in the bacon grease.  We had set a number of hooks, “set hooks” as they were called, along the bank of the river in hopes of catching a catfish during the night.
 
Early the next morning, it was cool and a heavy fog encompassed our camp site.  We decided to “run the hooks” before breakfast to see if we had snared any cat fish during the night.  Laddie was running and barking through the woods, enjoying himself to the limit. Then the unexpected happened.
 
Laddie was headed straight for the bluff with his head held high smelling the many aromas of the woods.  I looked at Robert, and he yelled out to Laddie to “stop”.  The young dog kept going, ignoring the warning.  Laddie walked right off the cliff and fell the thirty feet to the river waters below.
 
Had he survived the fall?  Robert ran downstream to a place that he could climb down safely to the waters below.  There he found Laddie, wet and frightened, but unharmed.  They were both able to climb back up to the top without incident, Laddie probably having learned a good lesson that day.
 
Robert joined the Texas Highway Patrol about six months later.  He was shot and killed in the line of duty on November 24, 1954.  My sister, Evelyn, moved back to my parent’s home, and naturally brought Laddie with her. I adopted him as my own, but he missed his master.  He would never perform any of his “tricks” again for me.
 
I went off to college and Laddie disappeared one day and was never seen again.  The river bluff is now under water having been swallowed up by the massive Toledo Bend Lake.  But the memory of both still remains with me, and I have a few photos which help.
 

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Bride and Groom


 

In late 1957 my fiancée, Clara, and I were planning our wedding for June, 1958.  Our situation was somewhat unusual in that her father, a minister, was to perform the wedding ceremony.  My father was the county clerk, and would thus issue our marriage license.  So, both our fathers were to play a very important part in our wedding.
 
We became interested in a new television program, “Bride and Groom”, in which couples were brought to New York City by the program, all expenses paid, and the marriage ceremony televised.  It seemed like a good idea to try and get on that program.  So, I sent a letter to the director inquiring as to what needed be done to get selected .  In early December, 1957 I received a letter from a Roger Gimble advising us to complete a detailed application.
 
As instructed, we completed the application and attached photos.  Then the waiting began.  I felt sure we would be selected due to the roles that our fathers would play.  Just in case it did not, however, we continued our own plans for the wedding here in East Texas.
 
We were naïve and unaware that the show received 500 letters a day from young women eager to fit out the new home with such goodies as live chinchillas or gold from a mine in Montana.  “Bride and Groom” had supervised the weddings of some 2,500 couples, among them a Douglas Aircraft executive, two Medal of Honor winners, All-American athletes, an atomic physicist, Phi Beta Kappas, a TV producer, and Jinx Falkerburg’s brother.  To each of them went about $2,500 worth of loot.  They were passing out mink coats and deep freezers long before politicians ever thought of it.
 
Our answer came rather suddenly.  The program was cancelled in 1953 about a month after we had sent in our application.  Murphy’s Law had struck again.
Our chance at a big wedding on national television vanished.
 
I then wrote a letter to a new motel that had been constructed in Lufkin, Texas, to see about reserving the “honeymoon suite”.  I received a response on May 5, 1958 in which was reported that the motel indeed had a “honeymoon sweet”, and that it cost $10.00 per day.  So, the “Sun & Pines Motel” is where we spent our first night as bride and groom.
 
I still have those two letters, and they make good reading.  One letter about what might have been – the other about what actually was.
 
 
 

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Boy Howdy


 

 
Being a born and bred native Texan, I sometimes have to stop and consider some of the idioms or sayings that I use routinely without even a second thought.  Folk who are not from around here sometime have a difficult time with the sayings that we natives all use.  As one northerner once put it, “My brain hurts, but I get it now.”
 
Sometimes in my writing I tend to lapse into my “mother tongue” because for me “Texan” is the one true language. Let’s look at a few true Texan phrases and what they mean.
 
A Texan might exclaim “I tell you what!”  It is like saying, “Well, my goodness!”  It can express pleasure, disgust, or dismay.  Don’t sit waiting for an answer because most true Texans never actually “tell you what”.
 
If a person is called a “ring-tailed tooter’ he/she is a person out of control or bad beyond belief.  “A real piece of work” is an interchangeable expression.  You might hear a statement like this, “That Britney Spears is a ring-tailed tooter, ain’t she?”  This statement would be answered with “I tell you what!”
 
Let’s take a closer look at the Texan phrase “Boy Howdy”.  I am sure that you have heard it when someone expresses anger or awe.  But, where did the phrase come from?  You may find this hard to believe, but it has it’s origin with the TV show “Howdy Doody”, a 1950s kiddies program which featured Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle the clown.
 
Actually “Howdy Doody” and “Boy Howdy” are related.  The “Howdy” in “Boy Howdy” is the same word as in “Howdy Doody”, the name of the marionette that starred in the TV show.  “Howdy” is a short form of the phrase “How do you do?” which is a social greeting that dates back to the 16th century England.
 
The term “howdy” took root in the Southern U.S. in the 19th century and was carried West by veterans of the U. S. Civil war.  “Howdy Doody” is simply another form of “how do you do?”  Although “howdy” as a greeting is usually associated with the West, it is actually used all over the U. S. today.  Actually I often hear myself blurt “howdy” when I’m passed on the street by someone who has a stronger memory of me that I have of them.
 
“Boy Howdy” is another Southernism, usually attributed to Texans.   It is a simple combination of the exclamation “Boy!” (indicating surprise), and our friend “Howdy” used together to mean “Wow!”, or to indicate strong agreement with a statement or question.
 
The phrase seems to have been popularized in the years after World War I when returning soldiers, who had heard it from Texans in the service, brought it back to civilian life.
 
Speaking of exclamations, the interjection “boy!” is used to introduce and emphasize a statement since the early 20th century.  Its original function was simply to catch the listener’s attention, equivalent to saying “Hey, mister…”  But, today “boy” used this way signal that the speaker considers what follows to be important or surprising, i.e. “Boy, I never thought they’d actually fire me!”
 
You might hear something that sounds  like “I mona”.  Since Texan tongues can be very lazy, that expression means “I’m going to”, or “I’m gonna”, as in “I mona get another cup of coffee.”  Now, I “mona” stop writing this little article and think of other strange Texas sayings. Ah, Texas – the land of mystery.
 
 
 

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The Kiddie Pool


 
 
My six year old son, Doug, came running up to me and said, “Dad,  Dad, mom is under water !”   Knowing how my wife hated water, I knew this was not good news.  In fact,  the headlines in the next Houston Chronicle might read, “Mother of two drowns in kiddie pool while on vacation” popped into my brain.
 
In 1972 our family decided to take a trip from Houston to California, specifically to Disney Land for our summer vacation.  So my wife, son, and daughter trekked on a budget of $50.00 per day for a fun vacation in sunny Hollywood and surrounding tourist traps.  Except for the fact that the water, with its high mineral content, kept my wife’s digestive system torn up, we had a great time.  It was only on the way home that we read a sign posted at a California rest stop that we knew about the water.  On any future trips to the west coast, we would know to take bottled water along.
 
On the last day of our vacation we were in Brownwood, Texas headed home.  We decided to spend the night at a motel there, so I allowed the kids to pick out the motel.  Their only criteria was that it have a large swimming pool.  As luck would have it, we drove past a nice motel that had not one, but two swimming pools.  The large pool was connected to a small wading pool of about two feet of water.  That was enough for the kids, so we registered there for our last night of vacation.
 
As soon as we reached our room, the kids were donning their swim suits and ready for the challenges of the pools.  My daughter was around 9 years old and already a good swimmer.  My son had not learned to swim as yet, and my wife, Clara, was afraid of water.  She never allowed her head to go underwater for any reason.  She paid for this during high school as she was always the first to be thrown into the pool or lake.
 
A little strategy was called for here.  My daughter and I headed for the large pool with its high diving board.  My wife and son decided the wading pool with a small water slide would be appropriate for them.  She sat in a lawn chair and watched as Doug splashed in the water, and rode down the slide many times.  Then the idea struck her...  This is the last day of vacation, it won’t matter if I get my hairdo messed up.  Besides, that slide looks like a lot of fun.  If Doug can do it so can I. Playing in the water looks like fun.
 
So Clara got up, walked over to the kiddie pool, stepped into the cool water, and sat on the side.  Doug encouraged her to slide down into the shallow water, landing on her feet.  It seemed easy enough, and fun, too.  He had done it a dozen times already.
 
Getting up, discarding her towel, she waded over to the slide, climbed up it, sat down, and away she went.  Unfortunately, her feet went up in the air about the time she hit water, and under water she went, her head and all.  What a revolting development this was…nothing like she had envisioned.
 
To make matters worse, she could not seem to get her feet underneath her body in order to stand up. It was then that Doug decided he had better come get his dad as he knew the situation was critical.
 
Kay and I ran around to the wading pool in time to see Clara sitting on the side of the pool, coughing and spitting out pool water.  She had finally gotten to her feet and her head above water.  She reminded me a lot of the way our poodle used to look when still wet from a bath.
 
While we were consoling her, a lady who had witnessed the whole incident walked up to us and said, “Well, honey, I began to get worried about you when I saw you come up for the third time.!”  My wife thought to herself…Well, if you were so concerned about me, why didn’t you jump in and pull me up..?
 
Well, all’s well that ends well.  Doug learned to swim later on, Kay was a good diver, but Clara still won’t allow her head under water. In fact, I think she puts on water wings when she takes a shower.
 

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DO OUR PETS GO TO HEAVEN?


 
Most of us, at one time or another has had a favorite pet in our lives.  Be it a dog, cat, horse, or even a hamster, they eventually die.  We miss them, grieve for them and even wonder what happens when they pass away.  The eternal question has been, “do our pets go to Heaven?”
 
I, too, have lost pets over the years, only cats and dogs, and have wondered the same thing. Does God provide a way for us to see them again in the hereafter?  The only place that I know to search for answers is the Holy Bible, which I believe is the true account of God’s message to man, His most wonderful creation. What does the Bible say about animals?  Unfortunately, it does not say much, or at least enough for us to draw any firm conclusions.
 
The Bible does tell us that God created everything, including animals, for His pleasure and glory. The Bible speaks of even inanimate objects, such as the sun, moon, stars, and rocks praising Him.  Of course, we know these objects cannot praise God in the same way we humans can.  However, they praise God by shining, and by carrying out the role God planned for them, they glorify their creator.
 
The main hurdle for animals going to Heaven is that of all God’s creations, human beings alone were created in God’s image.  Animals were made from the same dust as humans and have the breath of life (spirit) in them as we do, but God made man and woman in His own image, and entrusted them with the responsibility of overseeing, protecting, and enjoying the rest of his creation.
 
Because humans can reason, we are able to make intelligent and moral decisions, whereas animals cannot.  God did not make animals with the ability to choose right or wrong, to accept or reject salvation.  Only humans were given the ability to reason.  So, we can say that the plan of salvation was designed for human beings and not animals.  In order for one to be saved and go to Heaven one has to believe in Jesus.  But animals cannot exercise saving faith in Jesus.
 
With all of that said, it would appear that our faithful pets cannot get into Heaven.  However, the Bible does teach that when Jesus returns and sets up his earthly kingdom, there will be animals.  Isaiah, chapter 11, talks about the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid.  The calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.  This sounds like we will have pets in Heaven, does it not?
 
There are others who believe that our animals do go to Heaven and will be there to greet us when we arrive.  Randy Alcorn in his book titled “Heaven” believes that animals will be present in the Kingdom of Heaven.  He bases his belief on the fact that a pet’s love is so completely unconditional.  They don’t care what your day was like, what went wrong at work, what your mood is when you come home.  They are always ready to jump up into your lap and are so full of joy at seeing you that they display this love in their actions.  Alcorn believes that God will allow our pets to go to Heaven because, as the Bible says, “God is love.”
 
Dogs have been called “miracles with paws” and “a heartbeat at my feet”, and we all know that dog spelled backwards is g-o-d.  There is an old saying that the day God made a dog, he just sat down and smiled.  There’s an older saying by Native Americans that, “God made the earth, the sky, and the water, the moon, and the sun.  He made man and bird and beast.  But He didn’t make the dog.  He already had one.”  For most dog owners, it wouldn’t be Heaven if their dog isn’t there.
 
Mark Twain wrote, “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
 
So, what do we make of all this?  Well, I’m trusting Billy Graham on this one.  He said, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in Heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.”  We do not know all the details of what God is preparing for us in Heaven, but we do know that it will be far beyond anything we can imagine because it’s in the Bible.  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)
 
My best advice is for us is to love our pets and enjoy them while they are here with us, and trust God in everything for the future.  He sees and knows all, and nothing is too hard for him to do.  So, Slick, Curley, Sitka, Mama Cat, and Miss Kitty, maybe we will be getting to pet you again some day when we get there.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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MOTHER KNOWS BEST


 

 
 
BY: Neal Murphy
 
“Now, Neal, I want you to ride the school bus straight home today.  Your dad wants you to start weeding the garden”.  Those were the words of my mother that spring morning in 1944 -  words that eventually were providential.
 
My mother and father both worked in town.  Sometimes, after school, I would walk the three blocks downtown and just “mess around” until closing time.  I would go into Dad’s office (he was the county clerk) and play with a typewriter.  Then I would go into my mother’s beauty shop and see who was getting their hair fixed and listen to the gossip.
 
I was in the third grade in San Augustine Grammar School at the time.  On this particular day, a friend, Donald Renfro, asked me to ride with him on his brand-new bicycle downtown after school.  He was persistent, but my mother’s words kept coming back to me, “Ride the school bus straight home today.”  So reluctantly I said, 
“Sorry, Donald, I have to go home after school today.”
 
When school was over for the day, I boarded the school bus and got out at my home.  I was a “latchkey kid” at the time and did not know it. I began the unpleasant task of weeding the garden.  But I was still thinking about Donald’s new bicycle.  It was a really pretty Schwinn, bright red.  It even had a front fender light and a luggage rack.
 
My parents came home around five-thirty, and I noticed that they were rather quiet.  Finally, my mother said, “Come here, son, I need to tell you something.”  I could not imagine what news she had to tell me, but I went over and sat down by her at the dining table. She looked at me and said, “I have some bad news for you.  Your friend, Donald, and a Mitchell boy were killed this afternoon. They were run over by a pulpwood truck near downtown. Donald was giving the Mitchell boy a ride on his bicycle. They were both killed.”   
 
 
At nine years of age, I was somewhat confused by all this talk about death.  What did it all mean?  Why did it happen? And then it came to me - I could have been on that bicycle instead of Drew Mitchell!  And then it could have been ME down there in the funeral home, except for the fact that I obeyed my mother’s instructions.  “Take the bus straight home today.”  This is when I began to realize the truth to the saying “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.”  This should be  a warning to all kids - obey your mother. Whether you like it of not, you should do what your mother tells you. Sometimes, it seems that they receive special revelations from God himself.  I am not one to question things like that.
 

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Being Bamboozled


 

The next several months we citizens will be subjected to being “bamboozled” by thousands of stump speeches and political commercials on television.  Yes, it’s election time in the United States again. We voters will be “bamboozled” by much “gobbledygook” from the many politicians seeking your vote for a political office.
 
“Bamboozled” is an interesting word.  The earliest meaning of bamboozle was “to deceive by trickery, hoodwink, or to take in by elaborate methods of deceit”.  This is why many believe that it arose among the criminals of the underworld.
 
“Bamboozled” is one of those words that has been confounding etymologists for centuries.  No one knows for sure about its origin.  One thing that we do know is that it was originally considered “low language”, at least among such defenders of the language as British satirist Jonathan Swift, who hoped that it would quickly fade from the English language.
 
One unlikely theory has it that bamboozle comes from “Bombazine”, a kind of fabric that when dyed black was used to be worn for mourning.  One can only imagine black-bombazine-wearing widows in the late 17th century bilking young gentlemen out of their purses.
 
By around 1712, the word had acquired the sense “to perplex or mystify”.  This idea may have emerged under the influence of the Scottish word “bombaze”, which means “to confuse”, similar in both sound and meaning.  Given the befuddling qualities of alcohol, it’s not too surprising that in the 1800s, bamboozle showed up on college campuses as a slang term for “drunk”.
 
Efforts have been made to connect the word to the French word “embabouiner” which means “to make a fool of”.  Of course, the word could just as easily been invented by someone to fit a momentary need and then went on to gain popular usage.  A good example of that is the word “gobbledygook” which was coined in 1944 by U. S. Representative Maury Maverick who was the grandson of Sam Maverick.  Sam had a habit of not branding his cattle which gave the name “maverick” the meaning of “independent”.  Representative Maverick, overseeing factory production during WWII, described the doubletalk and jargon he was encountering from government officials as “gobbledygook”.  The word was an instant hit.  He later explained that “gobbledygook” was his attempt to imitate the sound a turkey makes.  But, in one inspired moment he gave us the perfect word for the sound that a bureaucracy makes.
 
So, far from slinking into obscurity, the word bamboozle today has left its roots behind and found a secure place in the lexicon of our English language.  Its very longevity stands as a reminder that you can’t predict or enforce the fate of a word.
 
So, during this election cycle just beware of being “bamboozled” by the “gobbledygook” of the many politicians who will promise you anything just to get elected, then do as they please thereafter.
 
Remember what Mark Twain said – “The best day for people of any age to trick and be tricked is April Fool’s Day, when we celebrate being bamboozled by harmless hoaxes. April 1st is the day on which we are reminded what we are on the other 364 days.”
 
 
 

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RED NECKS AND GOOD OLE BOYS


 

East Texas is an area of the country in which “red necks” and “good ole boys” live, along with most of the deep southern states.  I know some of them and I suspect that you do as well.  Most people think that the “red necks” and the “good ole boys” are one in the same.  They are mistaken as there are notable differences.  I will list a few of the differences here.
 
We might begin by defining what a “red neck” person is.  The term dates way back to the early 1800s when uneducated white people worked in the fields all day.  Their skin, particularly the neck area, would take on a reddish hue due to sun exposure.  Thus, they were called “red necks” by the upper class folk.  They usually lived in small, rural towns, were known to drink a lot, and were offensive in other ways.
 
Around 1920 the use of the term was popular in the coal producing states of West Virginia and Kentucky.  Striking coal workers usually wore red hankies around their necks to reflect their position to management.  Thus they were called “red necks” by non-union people.  
 
Jeff Foxworthy has given us a number of ways to describe a “red neck”. You might be one if:
 
You think loading your dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.
You cut your grass and find a car.
You think the stock market has a fence around it.
Your stereo speakers used to belong to the drive-in theatre.
You own a home-made fur coat.
The Salvation Army rejected your mattress.
Birds are attracted to your beard.
Your school fight song was “Dueling Banjos”.
You keep a can of Raid on your kitchen table.
The tail light covers on your car are made of red tape.
 
Good Ole boys, on the other hand, are the sons of Red Necks, usually from eighteen to thirty five years old.  Good Ole Boys are normally from the Deep South and they like cheap beer, NASCAR, football, professional wrestling, hunting and fishing, and country music.  They usually carry a personal spit cup on their person while chewing their tobacco. 
 
They are not necessarily bad persons, but occasionally are portrayed as racist, though many could care less, aside from cracking a racist joke with his buddies.  Good Ole Boys are generally all about having a good time.  They may speed to impress a girl they’re taking on a date, but won’t hit and run.  They may have a few beers to impress her later at the bar, or even get in a fight there, but won’t get so drunk that he can’t drive her home.
 
Good Ole Boys most often drive a rusty muscle car or a four-wheel-drive pick up.  They are not looked upon as a bad person, in fact most are pretty good natured guys.  He is a Southern-born boy who is country to the core and proud of it.  He likes to hunt and could not be prouder of his gun collection.  He carries one knife in his pocket, and another one in his boot, in case the one in his pocket gets confiscated.  The Good Ole Boy is a hard working, honest gentleman who prefers the simple life and is just looking for a girl he can take shooting.
 
As one single country girl put it, “On our first date, he showed me a picture of him pulling a bullet out of a deer’s heart.  He said he keeps it on his desk.”
 
So, there you have the low-down on the difference between a Red Neck and a Good Ole Boy that perhaps you had never thought about.  Are you personally acquainted with any of them?
 
 
 

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist, Feb 28th


 

Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday. In the ancient church and in many denominations today, Transfiguration Sunday is one of the most important holy days in the Christian faith. In the ancient world, the earth was flat and above the sky was the realm of God (or gods). So when Moses was called by God to receive the Torah, he was called to the mountain. Moses was enveloped in a cloud, and the people saw what appeared to be a raging fire on the mountain. In our Gospel Lesson Jesus along with Peter, James and John ascend the Holy Mountain: The three disciples see Jesus transfigured and standing with Moses and Elijah. They hear from within the cloud a voice which says, “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.” With this holy day, the Season of the Epiphany ends. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent.
 
I went to Tenaha Methodist this morning to hear Pastor Matt preach. It was so nice to see so many friends and to listen to Matt’s thoughtful message. I was late for Sunday School, but Fannie gave me an excused tardy. This was the last lesson in the quarter; accordingly, we received new material and will have a new author. We have been in double digits at Paxton every Sunday this year! We all hope that Susan, Vera, and Keith are on the mend. Sue has also been sick, so I took her place to start our worship service with readings.
 
This past week we headed to both Holiday and Lakeside for our monthly ministry. Both ministries were well attended—we had so many volunteers who read, sang, and visited with the residents. Larry Terry came to both ministries to play his fiddle. At Holiday Fannie told some little-known facts about the Presidents in honor of Presidents’ Day. Nora read a book and sang a song. At Lakeside Joyce Hughes and Emily Taylor brought their harps and played several selections. Joyce also played the piano and sang. Nora and sister Jo put their voices together to sing a song. Laura read three poems. We all had a good time and enjoy visiting our friends at the various nursing centers.
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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In God's Word by Mike Mills


 

Forgiveness
 
February 28, 2017 - Such a simple term, such a difficult task at times. Forgiveness is the true test of the Christian's inner self, a true test of the level of faith in each of us.
 
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15) This verse follows the Lord's Model Prayer which is (Matthew 6:9-13).
 
Jesus forgave those who nailed him to the cross, even as they drove the nails through his hands. He is our example, our measuring board for our actions in life.
 
Job sat in sack cloth and ashes, covered by sores from head to toe, suffering extreme pain. Three of his friends came to console him, but instead they judged him guilty of some heinous crime due to his condition. Job however did not let them persuade him, for he knew he had done nothing wrong, instead he trusted in the Lord and the Lord repaid him double what he had before when his test was completed.
 
Like the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, we are forgiven by our Master, so to must we forgive others or be judged as hypocrites.
 
"Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying; "I repent, you must forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4) Note, the scripture didn't say; "you might forgive him, no, it says, you must forgive him." It also tells us it may not always be easy to be a Christian. Not easy to forgive when we are wrongly or unjustly accused or blamed, not easy, but necessary, for the Lord says we must.
 
"And you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he sat aside, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)
 
As the Lord nailed our trespasses to the cross and forgave us our sins, we too must forgive others of their trespasses and sins.
 
No matter the situation, whether it is in business, in our family life, with our friends, or in church, the command is the same. Forgive others as the Lord forgave you.
 
"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are all members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." (Ephesians 4:25-27)
 
Speak the truth, always, because we are all of the same family, the human family. You may be angered by the actions of others toward you, but you must forgive and not sin as they have sinned.
 
For if you do not forgive; you enable the devil to come into your life and hinder your faith, hurting only yourself. Stopping you from becoming the Christian you can be.
 
Lord, please, help us to bring the spirit of forgiveness and repentance back into our country, into our daily lives and into our churches.
 
Help us, O Lord to be the best we can be for your namesake, amen...
 
May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you this day...
 
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In God's Word Pastor Mike Mills


 

 

 

 

 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5) 
 
February 21, 2017 - The great king Solomon, the son of king David brings us these words in the book of Proverbs, the source of many of the wisest words of the Bible.
 
King Solomon advises us against depending upon our own opinions, but instead to trust in the Lord and not ourselves.
 
"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:6) 
 
To make straight our path means to make our path shorter, more direct, an easier way to go. So by asking God for His help and leadership in all that we do we find ourselves having an easier time of navigating the path through this world. Acknowledge your own weakness and His strength.
 
As the old saying goes; "the man who has himself for his lawyer has a fool for a lawyer" so to is the man who "leans upon his own understanding".
 
"Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:7) 
 
The wise man fears the Lord, for He is all powerful, controlling all things, at all times. As the model prayer says; "for your's is the power, the kingdom, the glory" these things, all power, all kingdom and all glory belong only to the Lord, it is His and His alone and He will not share His glory with anyone.
 
The person who thinks he is smarter than the Lord is indeed a fool and destined for darkness. Fear the Lord and turn away from evil so that you too may flourish and be fruitful.
 
No man possesses wisdom, wisdom is an attribute which must be found and it is only found through prayer to the Lord. When, as a young man,Solomon became king of Israel God asked Solomon what he would wish for God to grant to him. Solomon asked for the wisdom to govern his people with knowledge and understanding. "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore," (1 Kings 4:29)
 
Solomon understood what God had done for him and he used his God-given wisdom to rightly judge and rule over Israel all of his days. He wrote these words about wisdom and understanding; "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from "her" (being wisdom) is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13-14)
 
If you find yourself floundering in a sea of despair, if the daily grind seems just too much to handle, stop what you are doing. 
 
Sit for a time each morning, waiting on the Lord. Just sit and talk to the Lord as you would your best friend, for He wishes to be so. Talk to Him about your problems and troubles, ask Him for guidance and leadership and wisdom. 
 
But first, if you are not saved, ask Him to save you, for the prayers of the unsaved fall on deaf ears. 
 
Ask him to forgive your sins and to save your soul from hell, accept Him as Lord and He will redeem you. Gain the wisdom from God to navigate the straight path through this world.
 
May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you...

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist, Feb. 19


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday was the 7th Sunday of the Epiphany, a season which is very long this year because Easter is so late. The Old Testament Lesson from Leviticus and the Gospel Lesson are tied by a command. In Leviticus 19:2 we are told to be holy because God is holy. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says we are to be perfect because God is perfect. Holiness and Christian Perfection strike at the heart of Methodism and Wesleyan theology. In Wesleyan thought there is no holding steady—either one is moving toward Christian perfection or one is moving away from God. We too often become conditioned and don’t spend the time needed to study and to meditate. Wesley speaks of two kinds of works which are a sign of one’s love for God. First are works of piety which include worship, prayer, meditation, fasting, and studying scriptures. Then there are works of mercy: visiting the sick and imprisoned, taking care of the poor, and above all else, Wesley says, “doing no harm.”
 
We had a small Sunday School class but a great lesson, which again used Paul’s letter to the Galatians as the starting point. Paul speaks in his letter to people about freedom, an idea not well understood in the Empire. Only a small number were citizens of Rome. Most people were conquered, and many were slaves. But Paul sees freedom in following Jesus. Ms. Fannie led a lively discussion, and we all appreciate her preparation. We missed Joy at Sunday School and worship, sending her our best as she recuperates from surgery. Keith and Vera both have the flu, and we hope they start feeling better soon. We miss you all. 
 
Our Sunday School class (there is only one) is held in the sanctuary. It is always such a wonderful sound to hear the door opening as folks come to worship. It was great to see Larry, Susan, Laura, and Joe. Hilda plays for First Methodist in Tenaha and then drives down 84 to Paxton to play for us. Hilda and Joe always select hymns that seem just the right ones for that particular Sunday.
 
Sue starts off our worship time with The Gathering Words which usually come from that Sunday’s Psalter Lesson. We as a congregation then speak a creed of our church. Usually we use the one that most Protestants know the best—The Apostles Creed. But the last few Sundays we have been using a Modern Affirmation. Next Sunday is The Transfiguration, which will be followed by the forty days of Lent. As you know, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is the day after Fat Tuesday (better known as Mardi Gras) and ends on Easter weekend.
 
We have two ministries this week. On Tuesday we go to Holiday Nursing Center and on Thursday, Lakeside Assisted Living. Both ministries start at 2:00. We have been collecting soap and shampoo all month for Community Christian Services. Next month we will donate cans of chili. 
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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In God's Word By Mike Mills, Feb. 14


 

As I see the unrest, the "protests", the "riots" in America I wonder, just what is causing these things? They claim they are protesting for some mythical, "worthy cause", but when asked questions about their reasons, most cannot answer. Most cannot tell you why they are there. I see the answer in God's Word.
 
"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:28-32)
 
Now, before you accuse me of mixing religion and politics, no, I am simply looking to the only real truth in this world for answers to today's questions of life. I know by studying the Bible that it is the only truth of this world. If I need answers I am going to look for them where there is truth. I go to the book of answers, the Holy Bible.
 
The problems of America are not; unemployment, illegal aliens, or ISIS. No, the problems of America are lack of knowledge of the Word of God. 
 
God tells us how dangerous this is, to reject Him. "My  people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." (Hosea 4:6)
 
An unrepentant generation can cause just such happenings as we see daily on the television. God clearly states that if we forget His teachings, He will forget, even our children. 
 
When God is at controversy with the people of any land that land falls into despair and the following happens; "There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed." (Hosea 4:1-2)
Is that what we are seeing in America? Is that where we are headed? I am afraid so, I am afraid that unless Christians rise up and do as God has instructed us in His Word that things are going to continue to follow the path of destruction in America.
 
"If my people who are called by my name (Christians) humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
 
Its time Christians, it's time to follow God's instructions. Do as He says; humble yourself, forget your pride, get on your knees and beg Him for forgiveness for yourself and your country. Only then will we see conditions in America improve. 
 
Read and study your Bible every day, make time, its important...
 
Not by man but by the Lord God will America be restored to its former greatness.
 
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you this day.

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Love Is Something You Do


 

It was a time when the Roman empire was at the height of its power and the last thing they needed was for their soldiers to be concerned about anything other than fighting. But as has always been, young men and young ladies dream of love and marriage. The Roman government, not caring that much about a young soldiers dreams realized that if he had a wife he would be more concerned about his wife than conquering the world. So a decree went out that no soldier could marry, and any priest caught marrying them would be arrested. But a priest named Valentine felt that the perfect will of God was demonstrated by true love between a man and woman. So he began secretly performing marriages between soldiers and their loves. He was arrested and thrown in prison. While in prison he continued to minister to the imprisoned Christians of the love of God. He became friends with the jailer. As their friendship grew Asterius (the jailer), told Valentine of his sick daughter. Valentine had him bring the girl to him and he prayed for her and she was miraculously healed. The story goes that before he was to be executed he wrote the young girl a final letter and signed it "your Valentine."

Of all the things talked of in the bible, nothing is mentioned more than love. Throughout the bible God reassures us of His love for us. His love is a perfect, pure and unconditional love that crosses all cultures. A perfect description of how we should love is found in 1 Cor. 13:3-8. Paul writes; "If I give away all that I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but do not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." If you read this closely you will see that love doesn't have as much to do with how we feel, but what we do. For some reason we have distorted love over the years and turned it into a "feeling." The Bible teaches that love is not about how we feel about each other at all, but how we treat one another. To show love you have to give love.

So this Valentine day if you really want to show someone that you love them do something for them. Don't just buy them something. Do something for them that is completely unselfish and ask nothing in return. Do it just because you love them. Material gifts last only for a little while but a true act of love last for eternity. Gods gift to us was given over 2000 years ago and is still as relevant today as it was then. Jesus gave the ultimate gift of love; Himself. Accept His gift of love to you today and enjoy the peace that comes from living in a loving relationship. "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Don't miss out. Receive the love of God and share it with someone today.

                                                                       I'm Just Sayin,
                                                                       Mike Belgard

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"Oil and More" By Doug Fincher


 

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so….” Psalms 107:2
 
While on recent vacation to the West Coast, Pam and I took the “Alton, Utah” exit searching for a much-needed quart of motor oil.  Nine miles later we entered the village of about 40 houses, found a beautiful Mormon Church, but not a store anywhere.  We knocked on several doors but couldn’t find a soul home….anywhere.  It was like a ghost town.
 
But I finally got a response. A young mother with two young children came to the door and got me a quart of motor oil from their garage. Refusing to take money for it, she asked me to wait as she went back into her house. She later reappeared with a religious tract on which she had written: “Have a safe trip, Love, The Heatons”.
 
As we topped the hill on our way out, I began comparing what the lady did with what so many church members would have done.  
 
While most Christians would’ve given the quart of oil, I wonder how many would have also shared their faith.  The needy might not expect us to give them anything more than a quart of oil.
 
But God does.

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In God's Word By Mike Mills, Feb. 7


 

It is finished" (John 19:30) 
These were the last words spoken by Jesus before he gave up His spirit on the cross. 
 
The Bible says he bowed His head and gave up His life. With those three words, the most important and selfless act of service ever to be seen on this earth was completed.
The sins of mankind from the beginning of earth until the end of this age were, once and forever, paid-in-full by the Lord.
 
The act of love shown to us by the Heavenly Father was on par with the act carried out by Jesus on the cross for the Father gave up His only Son, condemned Him to death for all mankind.
 
"I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26) By His ministry and His death Jesus made the Father known to all men, for all time.
 
"He will receive blessings from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob." (Psalm 24:5,6) This is the blessing, the reward for those who do know the Lord. Those who do accept the free gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them through this world.
 
The eternal blessing of salvation, freedom of the penalty of sin, forever, paid for by Christ Jesus, freely given to those who seek the face of God Almighty. 
Jesus asked the Father in His prayer just before being arrested by the soldiers; "I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." (John 17:15) Freedom from the penalty of sin, forever, for the saved.
 
Our promise of salvation, eternal life spent with the Lord; "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24) 
 
That day will come with the Rapture of the Church when all the saved will be lifted up to meet the Lord in the sky.
 
"Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us into His presence." (2 Corinthians 4:14) This will happen just as the Bible says, it even gives us reassurance as we grow older, that we are to wait patiently, for our time is coming. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16) 
 
If you are saved then your time is coming when you will be with the Lord in heaven, forever. 
 
If you do not know the Lord then I beg of you today, seek His face, pray for forgiveness and you will be saved.
 
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you every day of your life...

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist, Feb. 6


 

Sunday was the 5th Sunday of the Epiphany.  The Gospel Lesson continues with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We find a similar story only in the Luke Gospel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plains. Matthew’s telling of the story is more difficult and much more Jewish.  In Matthew’s telling Jesus has a problem with the Temple and those that serve the Temple.  In today’s lesson, Jesus tells those listening that they are the salt of the earth and the light that will bring brightness into the world.
 
It was raining Sunday morning.  Fannie went to see her great-grandchild baptized today, so the folks at Paxton had to put up with the preacher for both Sunday school and worship.  This quarter all of our lessons came from the Psalms and all dealt with praise.  Today’s lesson was Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  Paul established this church, but word has reached him on his missionary travels that trouble brews.  In the church at Galatia, some are teaching that in addition to believing in Jesus, a follower also has to keep the Mosaic Law.  This was the first known split in the early Jesus movement: This letter has often been called Magna Carta of Christian Liberty. 
 
Even though it was a cold, rainy morning, we had a nice crowd at worship.  Susan, Laura, and Joe have become regulars, and we all so enjoy them.  Today was Keith’s birthday, so we sang Happy Birthday to him.  Joe and Hilda had us rocking through two peppy hymns.  After the “Service of the Word” we celebrated Holy Communion.  We appreciate Fannie preparing the “bread and wine”—the elements of communion—for us.  Tomorrow we go to Green Acres Nursing Home for our monthly outreach.  We are so thankful to Hilda for organizing these outings.  This month we are collecting soap and shampoo for Community Christian Services.        
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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In God's Word by Mike Mills


 

The blessed man of the Psalm-
 
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by steams of water that yields its fruit in it's season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." (Psalm 1:1-3)
 
The Psalmist tells us not to; walk with the wicked, nor stand with the sinner, not sit with the scoffer. In other words, pick your friends carefully, choices made today determine your life tomorrow and eventually, possibly even your eternity.
 
I think this is a reason some are reluctant to accept the free gift of salvation from the Lord Jesus. They are afraid they may have to change their habits, friends or sometime maybe their jobs.
 
And this may be true, except, once truly saved it is not something you "have to do", it is something you will "want to do". Your life is then changed for the good.
 
The blessed instead delights in the commandments of the Lord and meditates day and night. (Meditate - to engage in devout religious contemplations; a quite, spiritual introspection, or look within oneself)
 
It says the blessed man is like a tree that yields fruit, that does not wither; he then prospers in all that he does.
 
So, let's break this down and see what it means to us as born-again Christians.
 
Yes, it is true that once one is born-again that his life does change. Old things of the world no longer tempt him, old haunts no longer draw him, and old habits are left and not revisited. This is all good though and helps in a closer walk with the Lord each day.
 
Let's look at the results of the born-again life.
 
By giving up the things of the world in which we once delighted, we now delight in the Lord. Our time is spent with Him and not in the pursuit of worldly things.
The scriptures say the benefits are; we then become like a tree planted by flowing water. Our roots run deep keeping us grounded in the laws of the Lord and we no longer drift around in darkness but now walk in the light. We now yield fruit for the Lord which is the reason for our being here, and everything we do will prosper.
 
To meditate daily gives us the roots we need, by transcendental meditation we go way beyond simply studying the Bible, we take study to a supernatural level and we find ourselves becoming of a quiescent mind, a restful and peaceful mind.
 
To take full advantage of our daily walk with the Lord we need to take a particular scripture or passage or even a single attribute of God and spend time in meditation just contemplating the meaning of it. Letting God talk to us as we listen to Him.
 
In this way we become more deeply rooted, more steadfast in our relationship with our Lord God. By spending this time, transcending the normal study of the Word we become much more useful to the Lord and much harder for the evil one to deceive.
 
May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you today...
 

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In God's Word Pastor Mike Mills


 

And Jesus answered her; "but, whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)
 
As God made water flow from the rock in the wilderness when the Israelites had no water to drink, so to does the water of life flow today. For not only is one saved for eternity when he accepts Jesus as Lord, "drinks of the water that I will give him", but once saved that person wants to see others experience the same joy and peace that he has received. So the water of life flows forth from each.
 
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
 
To receive the water of life, one must first believe and receive the word of God. He must believe and accept God's Word as truth as he accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Master. No other way can one receive eternal life in heaven. 
 
Peter tells us; "but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you." (1 Peter 1:25) 
 
The same "good news" preached by Jesus and His Apostles is still true and being preached today.
 
As Jesus said; "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." "Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38)
 
These rivers of living water that will flow from the hearts of the redeemed is the gospel of the Lord Jesus. 
 
When one is truly born-again, that person is inclined to want to share the joy and good news that he has received with others. In this way the living water flows from each Christian into the world as it has from the original twelve disciples.
 
The reward for accepting Jesus as Lord; "Then the angel showed me the river of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city, also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. "
 
"And night will be no more. They will need no kind of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." ( Revelation 22:1,2,5) 
 
The scene in heaven as described by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation. 
 
Is this not where you wish to spend your eternity, a place where you drink from the river of life and eat from the tree of life year-round. 
 
The alternative is to be cast out into darkness, separated from the Lord forever, tormented day and night for eternity.
 
Jesus says; "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37) 
 
Answer His call, come to Him and drink from the living water and thirst no more.
 
May God's blessings fall upon you each day...

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist, Jan 23


 

Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus. This Sunday, the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become his first disciples. John the Baptizer is in prison; Jesus picks up the mantle, calling upon people to prepare for the coming Kingdom of Heaven. The radical call and the radical response by the four fishermen served as the Gospel for this Sunday. The response by the four was radical in that they immediately answered the call. They walked away from the way they made a living. They also walked away from their comfort zone—their families and their community. Few people are willing to make that kind of sacrifice to become disciples.
 
I read an article where the writer says he is not a “fan” of Jesus, which really grabbed my attention. The writer is astounded that 75% percent of Americans—some 223,000,000 people—say they are Christians. If this is indeed the case, then how can so many people go to bed hungry every night? Why are so many children ignored? The writer decides that most people who call themselves Christians are really just “fans of Jesus.” They like the story of Jesus. They certainly want their tickets punched for Heaven. But to be a disciple—that simply requires too much. I think between disciples and fans are the vast majority of Christians who try to be followers. We try to follow in the footsteps of the master, but we find such an adventure very difficult.
 
Our Sunday School was special in many ways. First, Pat Pate came this morning, and we were all so happy to see her. Pat taught with Sue and me for a long, long time and remains one of our best friends. Secondly, Ms. Fannie sang the beginning of Psalm 104. Joe sang the next part, and then the entire class sang the last of the Psalm that was printed in our lesson. It was a great way to rejoice at God’s goodness, although singing isn’t the greatest talent of so many of us.
 
We were in double digits this morning—always something to celebrate with such a small congregation as Paxton. Joe and Laura, our “newbies,” as my sister-in-law said upon meeting them, came to church this morning. Pat knew most of the folks at Paxton already and was introduced to those she didn’t know. We received a letter from First Baptist Joaquin thanking the Paxton church for our financial and personal support in providing Christmas gifts to young folks in the community.
 
Our Paxton ministry served Holiday Nursing Center last week. Hilda, Fannie, Sue, Nora, and the preacher visited friends, shared stories, and sang songs. The weather had been steady rain for several days, but Thursday afternoon the rains slowed and the sun came out. We are looking forward to our outreach at Lakeside Village this coming Thursday at 2:00. Many of our volunteers are Paxton members, but others just have that desire to bring cheer to our friends and neighbors.
 
In November there was a wreck out in front of our house. It was rainy weather and a car hydroplaned, leaving the road and taking out two large bushes, our street sign, the State’s “55mph sign,” hitting our culvert and flipping over. Luckily, all were safely buckled in, so no one was hurt. This past week I went to a sign shop in Center to order a new street sign. The gentleman who waited on me and I got into a long conversation about people we both know. Ms. Margie Dorner, who we all know from our visits to Lakeside, came in. Turns out she is his mother, and we had one of those “small world” visits. 
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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Trust The " Anchor" by Mike Belgard


 
Repelling is fun. The feeling of walking off a 50 ft. tower or large cliff with just a rope between you and the ground is exhilarating!
 
I will never forget the first time that I was challenged to do it. I have to say this right off, I have always had a "fear" of heights. So for me to do this, in my mind, was truly a feat. As I began to climb the tower and think that what I was about to do feeds one of my biggest fears, my chest began to tighten, hands sweating, breathing labored, and my knees got weak. That's right I was in full anxiety mode. My fear was so strong I didn't know if I could make it to the top of the tower, let alone jump off it with nothing more between me and the ground but a rope and one of my Army buddies holding the line at the bottom.
 
Once I got to the top I was "rigged up" and walked to the edge of the platform. The instructor could tell I was nervous, so he comforted me with the words, "Don't worry if you fall, we can slow your descent so you probably won't die, just break a couple bones." Then he laughed. I was given instructions on how to stop or slow myself on the way down and told to step over the edge. As I looked back over the edge and seen how far it was to the ground, all those fears rushed through my head, "What if the rope breaks?, What if I forget how to stop?, What if the guy on the ground is not paying attention as I plunge to the earth?"  Then the instructor gave me some wise advice. He said, Just step over the edge and hold for a few seconds until you get used to being over the edge."  Then he told me that the guy on the ground end of the rope could stop me if I started to free fall. You see the "anchor man" at the other end of the rope could actually be your salvation if you began to fall. With this realization, my fears were relieved and my anxiety began to subside. I made the repel without incident and couldn't wait to get back and try it again. I almost let fear and anxiety keep me from experiencing something that could give me enjoyment.
 
In life we let our fears lead us to anxiety and worry. When we allow these to take control of our lives it can paralyze us and keep us from moving forward. Did you know that about 90 percent of the things we worry about daily never materialize. So we spend a lot of our days being afraid to step out of our comfort zones to be all that God wants us to be. We can use fear and anxiety as justification for our inaction, but in reality it comes down to not trusting our "anchor man." Who we put our trust in if we start to "free fall."
 
Hebrews 6:19-20 says, "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus." When we are convinced that we can trust Jesus as the anchor of our soul we can live life head on, without fear.  Paul tells us that if we, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4: 6-7)
 
So don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Its time for you to stop letting fear and anxiety hold you back. Step out, and put your faith and trust in the "anchor" that never fails, Jesus Christ. When anxiety enters faith leaves, but when faith takes over anxiety disappears.
 
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt.
                 
Trust God and stop worrying. You won't succeed if you never try.
 
 
                                                                                                       I'm Just sayin,
 
                                                                                                       Mike Belgard

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist Church


 

 Last week we celebrated the Epiphany, which put off to this Sunday the scriptures about the baptism of Jesus.  All four of the canonical gospels have a baptism story, so we know how important this event is.  Jesus comes to the Jordan, where John is urging people to be baptized and transformed.  Jesus is baptized, which marks the beginning of his ministry.
 
Water is the most valuable resource—all living things need water to survive.  Water is a source of life and has great importance in almost all world religions.  The Hebrew Scriptures begin in Genesis speaking of water covering the face of the earth.  Revelation in the Christian scriptures has a vision of water flowing from the throne of God.
 
Baptism joins us with God and a community of God.  Stanley Hauerwas writes that we are called upon to be a community “capable of forming people with virtues sufficient to witness to God’s truth in the world.”  Our baptism calls us into the Kingdom—a Kingdom of tolerance, love, and bravery.  Our baptism is joined with Jesus’ and from that union living water must flow from our lives into the lives of all we meet.
 
The scripture for our Sunday school lesson continues to be the Psalms.  Psalm 65 praises and blesses God for abundant grain and rain.  The poet says that even the deserts drip with God’s goodness.  All the little things that we often take for granted make life good.  We often forget that.
 
We had a good crowd by Paxton standards.  We have been in double digits every Sunday this year!  Sam came with his grandmother, Mrs. Fannie: We at Paxton have enjoyed seeing Sam grow up, and now he is all grown up!  He is getting ready for a new semester at Panola.  Our End-of-Year Reports and other required paperwork were sent via the mail and the Internet.  It is always nice to get this business completed so we can concentrate on the important things.  I have a meeting with the District Superintendent next week in Lufkin.
 
This Tuesday we go to Holiday Nursing Home for our monthly program.  A week from this Thursday, we head to Lakeside Village.  Both programs begin at 2:00.
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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In God's Word Pastor Mike Mills


 
"Arise and go down to the potters house, and there I will let you hear my words." So I went down to the potters house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potters hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?" Declares the Lord. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18:2-6)
 
This story of the potter's wheel truly is the story of the relationship of mankind on earth with the Lord.
 
Just as with the clay of the potters wheel, all men are "spoiled" as we are all born into this world with the sin nature inherited from our forefather, Adam. 
 
From birth we are molded by our parents, our siblings, our school and our church, yet we are still spoiled by our sin nature and for us to be complete and be useful vessels we too must be reworked into a useful vessel, a new creation.
 
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) 
 
"If anyone is in Christ", meaning, once we have accepted Christ as Lord and Master we are then a "new creation". Once saved you will be changed, the old things of this world will no longer control you as you learn the true joy of living in Christ. You will grow in faith to realize that nothing of this world matters, only God's Word and your relationship with God is important. It is your future, your place in eternity that matters.
 
"Arise and go down to the potters house, and there I will let you hear my words." Is God not the potter, is the potters house not the church? Isn't God telling us here that if we are to become useful vessels then we must go to where we can hear His words? "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17) 
 
Absolutely, we see here from the scripture that to be saved; we must "hear the word" for "faith comes from hearing". God is telling us that we must be told as were the 1st century Christians, they did not know "the Word" until John the Baptist and Jesus Christ came preaching repentance of sins. Without this preaching, not one person would be saved today.
 
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
 
"For with heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." (Romans 10:10)
 
There it is, we must be reworked by God's grace into new creations, useful vessels for the work He put us here to do.
 
If you don't know Him, find a church today be there tonight and begin the process of being reworked by God into a useful vessel.
 
May God's blessings be upon you...

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In God's Word by Mike Mills


 

In 1 John, the Apostle tells us how we must "test the spirits" in these latter days in order to know the truth and that we must remember that God is love and we to must live in love for one another.
 
"Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
How, you may ask can I know? Simple, if the prophet speaks of Christ coming in the flesh then he is from God, all others are from Satan.
 
A true, God-sent-preacher must profess that Jesus has indeed come in the flesh, a living man, and that He truly is the Son of God, that Jesus is both man and God, one in the same. If any preacher does not profess this then you should not listen to him nor assist him.
 
How can we know we are in the company of other true Christians?
 
"Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)
God's love was made manifest when he sent His only Son into the sinful world so that all humanity had the chance to live eternally with Him in heaven. The love of both the Father and the Son is so strong that Jesus died a cruel death on the cross for the sins of all people, forever.
 
Only those "of God" will show love to others when they are persecuting them, those of the world do not know the love of God and will not show Godly love to those who disagree with them."Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15)
 
Each day we are to witness to others that Jesus is truly the living Son of God so they see the joy we have as we abide in Him. We don't live in a perfect world and we are not perfect so there will be trials and tribulations but we must do our best to hold true to the faith and promote the gospel of the Lord to others each day. Just saying "I pray you have a blessed day" is sometimes all it takes to help someone through a rough day, be an example of good for Christ.
 
"By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as He is, so also, are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
 
Residing in Christ gives us the peace of mind we need to have total confidence in the day of judgement and our place in it. Either eternal life or eternal punishment awaits all humanity. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)
 
The choice must be made by each. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Redeemer, simply ask Him and He will save you.
 
May God bless you each day.

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist Church


 

 
Sunday was the First Sunday after Christmas and, of course, New Year’s Day!  Happy New Year!  I hope that the New Year will bring you joy and fulfillment.  On this Sunday the Psalter Lesson was Psalm 148.  The Psalms are the Jewish people’s hymnbook (but we just recited—no singing).  Hymn 148 is an exuberant song of praise sung by the entire universe.  The Gospel Lesson has Joseph once again receiving a vision in a dream, in which he is told to take his family to safety as mad King Herod was on the loose.  These two scriptures deal with the paradox of faith.  We go from the world shouting out with joy to the story of human depravity found in Matthew 2:13-23.
 
Psalm 148’s song of praise does not spring from a delusion that the world is fine but from the human capacity for joy.  The Irish monks and mystics of the 7th Century had a practice of “listening for the heartbeat of God”—NOT listening to the heartbeat but listening for it concealed within all that is around us.  Listening for the heartbeat of God is certainly a good practice for us this New Year!
 
Ms. Fannie had a great lesson today and encouraged everyone to take time this New Year to notice all the beauty around us.  The scripture lesson for today was Psalm 33:1-9,  a hymn of celebration of God’s creative power and his steadfastness.  One of the reasons for worship is to praise God for all his creation.
 
We were in double digits again this Sunday!  It was great to have Laura and Joe worship with us again.  It was wonderful to see Carolyn after a long absence—she has been in Pennsylvania since October.  Joy and Gene are back from Christmas with their family in Houston, and Joe Fielder said he had a good visit with Ben and his family.  All the Paxton folks sure appreciate Hilda and Joe for bringing us our music each Sunday.
 
Our next nursing home program is scheduled for Monday, January 2, at 2PM at Green Acres.
 
We’re expecting rain, but maybe we can slosh through the puddles for this mission of ours.  And speaking of weather, they’re even predicting snow for Friday!  This week we might be experiencing all the seasons in a matter of days.
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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“Song of the Birds”


 

 
“The birds of the air nest by the waters and sing among the branches ...” Psalm 104:12
 
January 2, 2017 - In 1970, a professional photographer warned me that my interest in bird photography was only a passing fad. But thirty-two years later I’ve proved him wrong. Pam and I invite our avian friends often to our home and we visit them regularly at theirs.
 
Our favorite feeder is located about fifteen feet from my computer room window. This morning I’m watching the last bunch of goldfinches stuff themselves on sunflower seeds in preparation for their journey north. Two Inca doves are fondly nestled together on a pecan limb directly above the feeder. The habitat of these little birds (sometimes called “Mexican doves”) has extended to San Augustine during recent years and their small flat nests can be found in the many trees of our town.
 
Our backyard congregation includes mourning, ground and Inca doves, chickadees, cardinals, brown thrashers, titmice, purple finches, goldfinches, brown thrashers, wrens, sapsuckers, three species of woodpeckers, jays, robins, several sparrow species, and a host of others. And we’ll soon see buntings, grosbeaks, kingbirds, flycatchers, orioles, and other biannual visitors as they return to nest in our East Texas countryside.
 
Our beautiful birds are just another expression of God’s creative genius. And as they rub their happiness off on us, they’re also teaching us to sing while receiving God’s blessings…..
 
… as they so cheerfully do. 

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Resolutions by Mike Belgard


 

It's New Year and everyone is trying to come up with their New Year resolutions. It always amazes me that people typically have to make the same resolutions every year. Some of the more popular resolutions are; losing weight, starting a new workout program, quitting smoking, praying more, and reading your bible more. And while these are all great resolutions, it seems that after a few days or weeks our resolve tends to begin to weaken and before you know it, we are right back to where we were. It's not because we don't really want to accomplish these things, we just seem to get busy and distracted and it becomes too easy to put other things first.
 
God knows how we are. He created us. He knows that we are weak in our resolve sometimes. The disciples were, Moses was, even the Apostle Paul realized this when he wrote in Romans 7:15 "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate. (ESV)" We all struggle with resolve. God has given us some encouragement in His word to help us along our journey to accomplish what He has put in our hearts .
 
Here are some "pearls" of scripture from the word to help you accomplish your goals this year and succeed in accomplishing your resolutions.
 
1) Proverbs 3:5-6, " Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
 
We must learn to trust God in all things. We don't have to understand whats going on or even how He is going to work it out. We need to put it in His hands, and have faith that He will work it for our good and His glory.
 
2) Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength."
 
When we feel ourselves getting weak this verse reminds us that it's not our strength that can carry us through, but we must rely on His strength. The God that created the universe and all things in it with just a word, promises us that He will give us His strength to accomplish anything that he puts in our hearts to do.
 
3) Matt.19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
 
When the world tries to tell you that it can't be done, this scripture reminds us that when we place trust not in our self, but in the One who has control over everything, nothing is impossible.       
 
Write these scripture down and review them everyday and when the going gets tough they will renew your resolve. Remember God loves you and wants you to be successful in all you set out to accomplish. Trust Him and He will give you the strength you need to succeed this year and forever.
                                                                I'm Just Sayin
                                                                Mike Belgard

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In God's Word by Mike Mills


 

While the Bible is full of mysteries, today we look at samples of the 7 mysteries of Matthew Chapter 13 called by the Lord; "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven".
 
The parables of Jesus are actually stories told in the physical but talking about the spiritual, they are parallels between the two worlds.
 
"For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Matt 13:12)
 
What could this mean? "Whoever has" is the believer who has accepted Jesus as Lord, more will be given him, eternal life in heaven. "Whoever does not have" are the lost, all they have are the things of this world, all of that will be taken from them for all things of this world will pass away.
 
The seven mysteries or parables in chapter 13 are: 
 
(1) the sower, or the difference in people, from the hard-of-heart who will not listen to the Word, to the semi-annual Christian who goes to church only a couple of times per year, to the full-time Christian who has turned away and needs to be brought back into the flock, to the sold-out Christian who lives each day for the Lord. 
(2) the wheat and the tares, the story of all Christians who must live here on earth in the midst of the children of the devil. Many of the tares will be so completely deceived by the devil that they will believe themselves to be children of the Lord. 
(3) the mustard seed, the story of the gospel, beginning with Jesus and the 12 disciples and spreading all over the planet 
(4) the leaven, commonly seen as the impurity in bread and in the church. No where in scripture is leaven considered good. As with the wheat and the tares, the tares never become wheat and are finally sorted out by the angels and burned in the fires of hell.
(5) the hidden treasure, heaven is such, a treasure hidden from view and only to be seen by those who believe, to gain it Jew and Gentile alike must forsake all of the world, or the field, and turn to the treasure alone. 
(6) the pearl of great price, the true church, paid for by the blood of Christ, covering the world. The kingdom of heaven, the children of heaven paid for by Christ, baptized into one spirit into one body, now being prepared to be given back to Christ as the pearl of great price. 
(7) the dragnet, the complete reaping of the world in the end of this age and in the day of judgment. When the just will be sorted out and taken into the temple of Christ while the unjust are judged guilty and thrown into the burning fires of hell. Let us be the "good ground" the bearers of good fruit for the Lord.
 
As Jesus said so often; he who has eyes, let him see and he who has ears let him hear. May we each one be the one who does see and hear the Word of God. 
 
I pray if yo u do not know Jesus as your Lord and Redeemer that you find Him in the upcoming new year. 
 
May God bless you each day...

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Happenings at Paxton Methodist, Dec 19th


 

Sunday was the Fourth Sunday of Advent, bringing our Advent journey to an end.  The four words of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love.  I agree with Paul when he says the greatest is love, and that is today’s theme.  Christmas comes on a Sunday this year.  At Paxton, we will have Christmas Morning Worship Service at 10:00.  There will be no Sunday school.  Only two of the four Gospels speak of Christmas morning.  Christmas was not celebrated in the Christian Church until the 4th Century CE.  Even after the universal church made Christmas an end-of-year celebration, many Christian sects refused to participate.  In the Puritan colonies it was a crime to observe Christmas.  Workers were ordered to the fields and expected to give a full day’s labor.
 
The Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent is Matthew 1:18-25.  If Luke is Mary’s story, then Matthew is Joseph’s story.  And it is a story of love and devotion.  The angel spoke to the handyman Yosef and said, “Mary will bear a son, and you are to name him Yeshua.”  There is no greater example of someone discounting his own pride and feelings to do something out of love than Joseph, a model of humility and love. 
 
Our Sunday School lesson came from Luke 1:8-20, which tells about the promise of a child to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  We are familiar with this story and reminded that we must trust God even when it challenges us.  Our writer had one whole section called “Silencing the Skeptic”:  We have to admit that we are often skeptical just like Zechariah.  I remember reading about a scientist and  Christian who said sometimes she has to “will” herself to believe.  We all have to do that sometimes. 
 
Last Tuesday many of us went to Lakeside Village for song and stories.  Joyce, Lori, and Wyatt sang and played piano and guitar, delighting everyone with their special talents.  Fannie shared a poem that she wrote for Christmas 2016 and had copies of a wonderful Christmas story set at the end of WWII; she gave both to all the residents and guests.  Gene Casto sang a song about that special little boy, Jesus.  Nora shared her version of “Mary, Did You Know?” a haunting  Christmas song.  All of our nursing home ministries are made possible because of the work and planning Hilda does.  Our Holiday Nursing Center ministry has been cancelled for this month, but we’ll pick up next year!
 
In Methodist tradition, pastors will meet with their District Superintendent (Presiding Elder) in January, and around the world Methodist churches will submit their yearly reports on January 9th.  With all the new technology, these reports are done online.  That saves an extra trip to Lufkin. 
 
Everyone at Paxton Methodist wishes all our friends and neighbors a Happy Christmas.  Each New Year comes with challenges, and 2017 will be no different.  But our wish is that many joys will be found in this New Year. 
 
“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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