Posted tagged ‘Dairy Queen’

Front Porch With the Uncles

June 9, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                               June 9, 2018

                             

Dewey Helton was my farming grandfather who lived a few miles outside the sprawling metropolis of Paintsville, Kentucky- population 4,000 and a few! Some of my best childhood memories are from my time spent on the Helton farm, jumping from the hayloft of the barn onto bales of hay, drinking the cool well water, exploring in the woods and fields, and making up games to play all by myself or with the cousins who might be around. 

When my aunts and uncles came for a Sunday afternoon meal I’d sit on the front porch with the men, listening to the stories…both made-up and true…and soak up the time with them. It was back in the day of front porch smoking: Uncle Bernie with his pipe and cigars, Uncle Milliard with his chewing tobacco, and Uncle Junior, Uncle George, and my dad with their cigarettes. Chuckles filled the air as much as the smoke. 

There was a hint of oneupmanship present. The next story needed to be as much of a “knee-slapper” as the previous story, or better. The common sense wisdom of my uncles was inserted into stories that featured doofuses and knuckleheads in order to elevate the appearance of Helton intellect. I still remember some of those stories fifty-five years later…like the story of the boy whose father had not been educated. He brought home his report card filled with “D’s” and “F’s” and told his papa that a D was short for “darn good” and an F meant “fantastic!” 

I’d sit there with the uncles soaking in the cultural education. Uncle Junior had a tendency to pinch me on the leg if I sat next to him so I always hoped for a seat a safe distance away. I’d usually try to sit beside Uncle Bernie because I loved his soft chuckle and the smell of his cigar. 

Stories had to be punctuated with statements to emphasize the tale being told. Phrases like “Lorrddd, have mercy!” and “God is my witness!” were uttered often. Inserting God into the story raised the story’s believability! The narrative might come from past military experience, county politics, or something that happened in the course of a typical afternoon.

“Let me tell you boys something!” my Papaw Helton started in. “There was a man stopped hur (here) the other day and he was selling these things called…ahhh…satellite dishes…big ole’ things! Said they get as many as thirty TV channels! Lord have mercy! And then I asked him how much a dish like that cost and he says “Nineteen-ninety-five!” Good Lord, he made it sound like a twenty dollar bill!”

“Boys, let me tell you! I’ve never worked so hard in my whole life!” my Uncle Millard exclaimed, telling about his career change from town barber to owning a Dairy Queen. Think Floyd from Mayberry and you’d get an accurate picture of him. “One night around dinner time I looked out and there was this long line of people and I just yelled out, “Doesn’t anyone eat at home any more?” Lord, have mercy! I’ve never cooked so many hot dogs!” 

Sit and have a smoke. Sit and laugh. Sit and be together. Sit and be educated about the things of life that you couldn’t learn from a textbook. It was the first men’s group I was a part of…at the age of eight! 

Reliving Life

February 16, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        February 16, 2015

                                                  

The needle of my life pushed past the halfway mark a few years ago…unless I live to be 120! Since my chronological age has a six in front of it I spend more than a few moments each day reliving past moments.

Understand that doesn’t mean that I’m constantly reliving those moments- few and far between- when I was hoisting a trophy in the air…or being honored by the Rotary Club for being named “Citizen of the Year”…no, that was a dream.

I seem to relive conversations, talks that stand out for their depth and discovery. As a pastor I remember counseling sessions where I was as stressed out as the confessors. I remember hospital bedside moments where eternity has been anticipated, regrets have been voiced, and hopes have been attached to grim realities.

As a parent I relive some of our kid’s soccer games…David’s high school team winning the state championship; basketball experiences…seeing Kecia nailing four three pointers in a game; Lizi captaining her college cheer squad at football games.

I also relive the boyfriends and girlfriends that graced our homes…sometimes for a while and other times for a moment. Most of the time these “special friends” got kicked to the curb…in a loving Christian way.

I relive special moments…Carol’s surprise 40th birthday party at Mason First Baptist where we drove up to a dark church building, but Carol noticed Lorraine Demorest’s car sitting out front and immediately thought that Lorraine had been killed by an axe murderer while we was practicing hymns on the organ for that coming Sunday.

I relive moments with many of my relatives who have gone on to glory. I think of my Uncle Junior prone to give my leg a pinch if I wasn’t paying attention; my Uncle Bernie’s pipe and delightful laugh; and my Aunt Irene’s taking me to Dairy Queen in celebration of my sixth birthday and allowing me to order a foot-long hot dog, milk shake, and banana split.

I also relive the dark moments and dreaded phone calls. I remember Dave Hart’s early morning phone call that his step-son Gary McClellan had been killed in a car accident; and my wife’s call while I was in the middle of a Deacon’s meeting to say that David, who was two years old at the time, had fallen from our neighbor’s second-floor landing on to a piece of sheet plywood that, thankfully, was laying on top of the asphalt below.

I relive my daughters’ weddings and the overwhelming emotional experience it was for both Carol and me. I’m tearing up as I relive them again right now.

I relive the waiting room experience at Penrose St. Francis Hospital as Kecia was in labor with her second child…and suddenly hearing the cry of a newborn baby a few yards away…and Reagan has been talking ever since then!

We relive life, learn from our mistakes, long to repeat the unforgettable, thank God for the endearing. Every conversation is a gift, another ornament on the tree of my life. Every sunrise is a blessing, every sunset a reminder of the cycle of God’s attentive care.

I pause several times a day to thank God for what has been, the richness of relationships, and the ability to say “Lord, you have blessed me bountifully!”