Three Score and Ten Years Plus

We are promised 3 score and 10 years as a good life time.  That gift is my  reality with bonus added.   Looking  back, the really amazing fact is that, I have made it .

Maybe the fact that  the Lord protects children, and looks after fools is true!

Growing up in rural Saluda County, SC in the late 1940 through 1950′s was an interesting experience.  Town was 5 miles away; our  only transportation was a battered old red truck Daddy used to get to work, or the mule and one horse wagon Grandpa Gis used for every other transportation need.

I felt a clear distinction between the “rich town folk” and us “p’or folk”.

My early childhood memories are a chilling example of the conflicting emotions of snobbish contempt for those believed to be, somehow,  ”better than me” and a burning desire  to have what “they had”. 

Why did I feel this way?

My parents never taught me to diminish my value; but, come to think of it, I was never encouraged to reach out, to believe that I could become a part of a world outside the restricting little community I was born into.

As a six to 10 year old child, I observed.

Rather than viewing community improvement as a signal for opportunity,  I viewed them as  a painful reminder;  I was not of  ”their world”.

As a young child I remember feeling  I was the beggar under the rich man’s table searching  for scraps.

A child often misunderstands intents of adults; a resentful child assigns negative motives to simple acts of kindness.

Sadly, in my childish mind, simple acts of kindness and caring,  emphasized the  differences in the worlds of the “haves and  have-nots”.

It frightens me to realize where this could have led.

The world turned on its head during the decades of the 60′s  and 70′s;  unthinkable events took place; social systems crumbled; a world that was, literally ended

My generation was forced to examine its convictions and act on them, for better or worse–there  was little choice.

There were many who allowed the poisonous ideas of a world  of  ”have and have-nots” to fester to a point of  eruption that threatened the existence of  both worlds.

I graduated high school in 1959,  my resentment and discontent was gone.   I knew who I was; what I stood for.

Why change in my thinking?

 How was I able to smother the seeds of  bigotry that were taking root when I was so young?

I began to recognize two things when I was about 10 years old.

About this time I began to think very seriously about God.  I remember sitting in the cab of that old red truck studying, feeling a thrill that there is a personal God who cares.    I came to really believe that it does not matter who you are, what you have; He sees, smiles, guides.

It was then that I determined that I would do what I  understood to be God’s will no matter the consequences;  I began to see my limited  possessions, talents and opportunities as godly gifts.

I was only 10, but  I understood.

The Saluda School System  was in its infancy 60 years ago; but what a world those dedicated  teachers opened to those thirsting for knowledge.   The names  Bradley, Waters, Cromley,  Bullard, Carson, Forrest still shine as examples of ones who cared  in my  early years.

It is not so much the principles of life that I remember from them;  it is the love of knowledge, information–simply coming to know I can do it, that I treasure.

In high school the learning of life values was an osmotic process as I watched those guiding  me through the  educational process.   I learned method, but more importantly, I observed  in their lives morality, trustworthiness, commitment to principal.   They seemed to have something to give; they gave from their hearts.

In the dark ages of my youth , the value of higher education was not recognized as it is today.

High School graduation was the goal of the majority; a few would be privileged to go further.

Finances limited opportunity; but I think there was  a feeling  that higher education was simply a way to avoid getting on with  ”real life”.

Personally, I never  pursued a higher education, first for financial reasons; later becoming involved in life’s pursuits gave me an excuse for avoiding the commitment to a scholastic life, in short, I am lazy.

I am so glad that I did absorb the understanding that information is out there–I can find it.

It has been my privilege to  associate with many well educated, intelligent people who have been willing to tolerate my presence — I learned  from them.

Materially I still have less than some but I feel rich beyond compare; life has been good.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on February 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    It sounds like you have a rich, satisfying life. 🙂 Enjoy to the fullest.


  2. Wow, Lane. My mother was from the Hollywood community, and I thought “country people” were smart and industrious. My parents
    raised vegetables, were thankful when others shared, and canned
    or froze food, so that our meals were always as fresh as possible.
    Except for a few staples and meats, food was from the garden. Also,
    we ate birds, doves, and fish. Oh, how could I forget? Fresh
    chickens as long as my daddy’s mother raised them.

    All that to say, though my Rankin grandparents lived in town, they
    were part of all of this “natural food” thing, but I somehow believed that we did this because of Mama’s ties with Hollywood.

    Perhaps there was a division at school. Somehow I believed that I could never cook, clean, etc. as well as those who lived outside the town limits.

    This reminds me that Kay Wills Wade once told me that she felt some students believed that she was less because she rode the bus.

    To me, the irony is that we were and are so much the same, but our perceptions of ourselves and each other were so skewed. Perhaps the greatest irony is that some one from NYC would find it amusing that all of Saluda isn’t considered country.



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