Archive for the ‘small towns’ Category

Creatures In My Garden

 Two Worlds Collide

With one exception, I encourage critters in my garden. Creeping, jumping, slithering or flying — they are all welcomed!

You see, I am the intruder into their world where life, wonder, grace, purpose and  beauty abound.   Sure, there is struggle, even fierce conflict and death, but not senseless destruction, we humans accept as part of ours.

Yes, I experience conflicting emotions.   From youth my thinking has been guided toward  “If it is small, exceptionally large, or extraordinary, destroy it.”

IMG_0101The rationalization is this annihilation is done in the name of science ( study it), our protection and preservation (it might do harm ),  maybe boastful pride ( a trophy).

In my garden, I can be different.  There is no need to destroy simply because it is here;  the beauty of co-existence brings appreciation for the little things.    There is no need for two worlds to collide.

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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.

Small Town, USA

Small town USA, the place that forever imprints it’s images  in our minds and on our hearts.  Come with Larry Davis as he visits one town, so similar to many, yet uniquely different from any.

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Cockleburr, TEXAS

Larry D. Davis

It’s a 790 miles trip, from the Oklahoma state line, to the tip of Texas on the Mexican border south of Brownsville

I am in Cockleburr, Texas.  Barely a wide spot in the road,  Cockleburr sees little traffic, an occasional farm tractor; maybe, a carload of locals.   The cane poles stickin’ out the passenger window of the vehicle says they are  heading for their favorite fishin’ hole.

It has been a long day on the road; it is nearing sunset; this is about as far as I want to go.

A small sign at the edge of town tells me 327 people live here.  The water tower looming in the distance proudly agrees, giving  me confidence, this indeed, is Cockleburr, Texas.  Never been here.

I pull up to one of  three intersections. A single red stop light dangles from a drooping line. The other two intersections, a block away, have stop signs in both directions.  I suppose these visual “arms of the law” keep the traffic orderly.

It is not difficult to survey the heart of town. I  can see one café, a few other stores, including a  convenience store called“Toot ‘n Tell”; “Ralph’s Clip-Joint”, a barber shop; and one gas station.

Charley's Sinclair Gas Station offers gas and information about Cockleburr

As I  pull in to “Charley’s Sinclair Gas Station” for a fill-up, I  am  greeted by a short, rotund little man.  An un-lit black stogie hangs from one side of his mouth. He bounds out of his tiny office, eager to serve. I am gassed; ready to go in a jiffy.

During our conversation he highly recommends “Johnny McWhorter’s Quik-Stop Café” for a reasonably priced, filling meal.  I am famished. I head down the block, this is my only choice in Cockleburr.

Just as soon as I plop down on a stool, a petite waitress, menu in hand, greets me.

I order coffee – black – hoping to recharge my road-weary body.

I study the meager menu, chose the “Blue plate special of the day”.  It looks good enough – $4.95. including iced tea (sweet or unsweet).

This is Thursday, the “special” today is chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes, country gravy, collard greens, Texas toast and, for desert, peach cobbler.

“Great meal!”, I think.

While waiting, I peruse the “breakfast menu.” Decide I will have one egg, “sunny side up”, biscuits with sausage gravy, a side order of grits, in the morning; this will be sufficient to start a new day.

My evening meal is satisfying.

I drive to the “Cozy-Nite  Motel”.   My  room is  simple, but clean;  reminiscent of the “tourist cabins” along “Route 66” I remember from childhood.

There is that unmistakable aroma of those  personal-sized, complimentary, fragrant soap bars that were a permanent fixture of  Mom & Pop motels in the days of my youth.

The older model TV picks up few channels.    This does not  matter; I am dead-tired; I do not need to be entertained.

Restful sleep comes quickly.

A beam of laser-like sunlight, piercing the dark through a crack between the drawn drapes covering the front window, is my wake-up call.

I am jolted awake; back to reality!!

My own bed! My home! It is time to get ready to head down the expressway, going to work.

First, a quick shower.

So, Cockleburr, Texas was just a dream.  Or was it??

On the tray in my shower lies an unopened, complimentary bar of fragrant soap, labeled “Cozy-Nite Motel”.

©2010 Larry Davis