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.
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.
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.
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.