Category Archives: Movies

Lynching A Brother

The definition of “lynching” is as follows: “To put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.” Now, you’re probably wondering where this is going. Let me tell you a story….

As an innocent older brother myself, I distinctly remember my Grandmother telling us this story about my Dad.   He was the oldest of three boys and a sister.  Way back in the day–long before there were any electronics for kids to consume their time with–kids played outside.  As you can imagine, in the summer this was done all the time.  Mothers pushed their kids outdoors as soon as it was deemed necessary for the mother’s well-being, which was immediately following breakfast.

Before it was politically incorrect to call a game “Cowboys and Indians”, kids played Cowboys and Indians.  Like it is today with our current themes, this was very popular among kids due to the content of movies and TV shows of that era.  So as a result, my Dad would play this with his two younger brothers, Jim (the middle one) and Tom (the youngest).  Now, as a child growing up, I never heard of any major conflict between the three of them as children.  So I have to assume that they had typical sibling relationships and conflicts, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Maybe that changed after this little incident.

As it came about, my grandmother was in the kitchen doing the dishes one morning.  She thought about checking up on the three boys, so she glanced up and out the kitchen window that was above the sink.  As she did so, she froze in mid-wipe of a dish at what was unfolding before her.

The three of them had thought it a great idea to play Cowboys and Indians again.  Someone (my Uncle Jim) had apparently been caught rustling cattle and was being sentenced by the local sheriff (my Dad).  What part Uncle Tom was playing at this particular moment is unclear to me.  Maybe he was playing the part of a bailiff, considering what my grandmother was witnessing through the window.

At any rate, the evil cattle rustler had been sentenced to a lynching by the local sheriff.  This lynching was scheduled to commence immediately following the court proceedings, which had wrapped up rather swiftly from what Grandma could tell.  All three of them were standing under a sturdy tree in the front yard.  The sheriff had grabbed the bailiff’s tricycle and had the rustler standing on the seat of it.  He had a rope around a tree branch above the rustler’s head and had it looped around the rustler’s scrawny neck (all rustlers have scrawny necks).  The bailiff was holding the other end of the rope so that it was as taught as a guitar string.  The sheriff slowly made his way around to the back of the tricycle.  It was obviously clear to my grandmother what the “sheriff” was getting ready to do.

Like the climax of any good lynching movie scene, Grandma did everything and more to try to beat that moment of imminent doom.  She was nothing but a blur of frenzied motion as she flew from the kitchen to the front yard to intervene in this most heinous situation.  She cleared the front door as my Dad’s leg was raised to kick the tricycle out from underneath the rustler’s feet.  She screamed out, “ROBERT, DON’T YOU DARE!!!”  This caused the sheriff to pause long enough for her to change trajectories and grab the other end of the rope from the bailiff.

If we had been able to witness this unfold before us, I imagine my grandmother’s antics to save this rustler would have put any western-action-movie-actress to shame.  Swiftly and justly, she meted out justice to all involved and left nary a trace of blood to show for her actions.

She did any mother proud!

The Hazards Of Construction Work

My brother and I grew up in a household where my parents spanked us when we deserved it.  Now, I realize that spanking can be a touchy subject in some circles [Do you see it?  Read that again.], but for my brother and I, gettin’ a whoopin’ when we had one comin’ was one of the best things that could have happened to us as kids.  And it made for some interesting memories–two in particular.

The first occurred when we both decided to play “construction worker” and play with the cage door of the morning doves that my parents had in the house.  It was a pretty big cage for two morning doves and the door to it was actually the whole top of the cage.  It was hinged on the backside of the cage with a lockable latch on the front (no lock was on it, so who’s fault was it really??).  The cage was probably a good five feet high, so we got us a chair and our plastic hats–I think I even had some plastic tools and a tool belt that I wore–and we went to “work”.  It was amazing how fast that cage door had hydraulics installed and was operational within minutes.  It even opened all the way up!  How amazing is that?!  You could tell heavy-duty materials had been used in the impressively quick installation of this much-needed accessory to the door by how loud the sound effects were when the cage door raised and lowered itself.  It was so impressive that the two morning doves could only sit inside the cage on their perch in total astonishment and wrapt attention as the new hydraulic lift opened and closed their door….repeatedly.  Even though we had both been told never to play with the cage, we–and especially I–thought the improvements were very noteworthy.

My Dad did not.  Our rears attested to that fact.  But what makes this memory so memorable is that after we received the said disciplinary action from the foreman on the construction site (a.k.a. our Dad and a paddle in the living room), our parents took us both to go see the movie “Grease” at the drive-in, complete with popcorn from home!  Does that seem odd to you too?  Uh-huh…me, too.

I’ll tell you about the other one next time……

More Camping Memories

My wife and I both grew up with our individual families going camping in pop-up campers.  So, it would naturally be inevitable that my wife and I would own a pop-up of our own.  But it didn’t start out that way…

Like most campers, we’ve done most of our camping on or around holidays.  We started with a five-man tent about four years ago and camped with some friends of ours who have a full-sized camper.  That’s where the camping bug first hit us.  That winter we discussed what we wanted to be–tent campers or pop-up campers–and decided we would commit to the work needed for being full-fledged tent campers.  We had a great set-up, too!  The family tent we bought consisted of three 8×8 rooms and an outdoor 8×8 canopy (so it looked like a big square of four equally-sized spaces).  The center room (which was ours) even had an opening in it for an air conditioner (which, of course, we also had)!  We then had our 5-man tent as the “kitchen” and a gazebo tent for the picnic table.

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But the first time that we set all of this up was  a very hot-and-humid Memorial Day weekend camping trip.  That was the first and only time that we camped as “tent campers”.  With the notion that camping is supposed to be relaxing, we set in on that trip with a whole lot of work getting everything set up.  Then we turned around a day-and-a-half later and did all that work again tearing it all down and packing it.  I was wasted.  And definitely not relaxed.

Lesson learned.

Then my wife found a great deal on a high-wall pop-up camper.  It’s beautiful!  And it’s got everything:  gas stove, microwave, toilet/shower, and a refrigerator (all things my wife realized she wanted after the tent-camping incident).  We had to replace our awning a couple of years ago and decided to go with a “Dome awning”.  So now, this what we camp with when we’re camping with friends and family:


It’s also never boring when we camp with these people.  Far from it.  In fact, one of our buddies decided to surprise us last year and dress like Cousin Eddie from the “Vacation” movies (he’s holding a beer, but it is of the “root” variety):


So far, though, I would have to say that my fondest memory of camping with our friends took place last year.  We typically camp with three other families.  One of the wives from one of those families had a rather interesting experience when she went to take a shower at the campground.  (For the sake of everyone involved and to protect the identity of innocent parties, we’ll just call her “Patty”.)

It was around 7:30 in the morning and Patty decided she was going to the shower.  As she approached the building, she couldn’t remember which side of the building the showers were on.  But since she noticed men were going to and from the right side of the building, she headed to the left side, saw a door marked “Showers” and walked right in.    She thought it odd that the undressing/dressing area would be completely open like it was with the showers being off to the side in separate stalls, but didn’t think much of it.  She was the only one in the whole shower room, so she took advantage of it by taking her time undressing, showering, toweling off and getting fresh clothes on for the day.

As she started heading for the door, a man walked in, saw her and they both stopped in their tracks.  She gave him a compassionate, knowing laugh and said, “I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He, still looking at her like a deer in the headlights, said, “No, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  She, now feeling a little perturbed at him, said, “Nooo, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He then said, as he backed up and checked the shower sign, “Nooo, you definitely walked into the wrong shower.”  And she said, “Nooooo!” in complete shock, embarrassment and  amazement as she walked to the door–a door that clearly said “MEN” under the word “SHOWERS”.  She took all that time to do all that she did in there without one man entering that shower room!

God is merciful…


The Gravel Truck

It’s hot out here, isn’t it?!  Reminds me of how some of the summers could be where I grew up….

Remember that gravel pit that I told you about?  The one right next to our house on Drumheller Road?  Yes, the one with the barn fire.  You got it.  Over the years that we lived there, some summers would see visitors to the gravel pit:  those big double-hauling gravel semi-trucks.  We could always count on some point in mid-summer as being the infestation time (“You know, Myrtle, if them thar metal monsters is gonna show their ugly carcasses around these here parts, now’s the time they’s agonna shows up.”)  We would watch them pass by in a cloud of dust and pull into the gravel pit next to us.  They would disappear back into the gravel pit, the sound of metal banging against metal as the gravel trailers hit every pothole in the gravel pit drive.  I-69 eventually cut off the back corner of our property and a good portion of that gravel pit when it went in, so at that point these trucks went a mile further down our road to another smaller gravel pit.  And that’s where these memories really kick in.

Let me remind you that Drumheller was a dirt road, as straight as it was long.  It was an old road, built on logs in some places, which meant that usually from mid-summer on it got dry, dusty and as bumpy as a washboard, especially a mile or so down towards the fire department (which is the direction these trucks would come from).  This usually meant that we could hear these gravel semi-trucks long before we saw them.  Those trailers would bang so loud that we could hear them almost a mile away–and to a kid, it sounded like a huge monster coming for you!  (Remember as a kid watching that Sesame Street episode about “Go/Stop” where you hear someone say “Go” and watch something in the center of the TV screen that is really small and quiet get bigger and louder as it’s coming towards you and you realize in the center is a guy on a motorcycle with a bunch of other things making noise and they’re all coming right at you getting bigger and louder until you can almost see the whites of the eyes of the guy on the motorcycle until finally someone yells “STOP” and they all freeze just before they come out of the TV screen and into your living room and all you can see is the guy on the motorcycle and how close he came to getting you ??  Yeah, I know, that one always scared me too.  Still does.)

Being summer, we’d usually be playing outside in forts or on bikes or something to do with ninjas and spies and soldiers and stuff like that.  Suddenly, one of us would shush everyone else…and then we all heard it…..the distant banging of a gravel semi heading towards us, it’s metal jaws limbering up for the tasty meal it was anticipating!  We’d run down to the end of the driveway and look down the road towards the fire department.  There was a small hill in that same direction where the road descended about 1/4 mile from our house, so all we would see is the cloud of dust being raised and hear the horrendous noise the gravel trailers would make as the trucks flew over the washboard-like dirt road down there.    Seeing and hearing that, it was certain what was coming!  We’d scurry into our fort across the street (which was nothing more than a small grove of bushes on the top of a small hillside) or up into a tree we climbed at the end of our driveway.  Or sometimes we just ran for all we were worth out into our big side yard and would dive behind one of any number of big pine trees that were out there.  We’d flatten ourselves against the ground, our surroundings becoming our camouflage–or becoming as one with the branches of the tree we were in–seemingly invisible to the huge metal monster that was bearing down upon us.

If we felt particularly daring and audacious , we’d wait at the end of the driveway until we saw the front of the truck appear at the top of the hill as it came hurtling and banging towards us.   Then, pumped with adrenaline and about ready to poop our pants,  we’d run to our hiding place before the semi would pass our property.  And always–always–we would be left in a huge dust cloud that descended upon everything around us.  (If the wind was just right, my Mom would find layers of dust in the house, no matter how much she cleaned.)  Coughing and squinting through the dust, we’d look triumphantly down the road, confident that the evil truck driver had not seen the boys that were so strategically hidden around him as he passed by.  With our ninja-like senses and reflexes heightened, we would wait for the return of the metal monster known as The Gravel Truck.  Those were the days!


A Knife’s Edge

Good Afternoon, my friend.

Well, this is interesting.  I just heard from my wife that her stepbrother died the other day from a heart attack at age 47.  That’s pretty young, considering.

Have you ever stopped to consider how fragile our lives really are?  We really do live on the edge of a knife, you know?  I remember hearing about aneurysms and blood clots, how these can strike without warning and strike so fast that you can literally drop dead.  You probably know of other examples of life being over so quickly and suddenly.

So why talk about this?  It can be so negative and depressing.  Well, now, that all depends.   Surely you have seen a movie called “Field Of Dreams”  starring Kevin Costner.  Way back in 1989!  (Can you believe it’s been that long?)  Remember a scene where Ray Kinsella’s brother-in-law Mark is trying his best to convince Ray to sell the farm and avoid complete bankruptcy? (Just to make sure you remember, Ray has taken up a good portion of his corn fields to create a regulation-sized baseball diamond in pursuit of something he can’t explain.  “Shoeless” Joe Jackson–a childhood baseball hero of Ray’s that he believes he is to help somehow–and some other old-time baseball players eventually appear on his baseball diamond.  Ray and his family can see these baseball players play ball, but Mark cannot.)   While they’re arguing, Ray’s daughter falls from the bleachers and isn’t breathing.  One of the players on the field runs over and helps her to breathe again.  After all of this happens, Mark looks across the field and eventually says to Ray, “Where did all these baseball players come from?”

Those players were there the whole time.  Just because Mark couldn’t see them didn’t mean that they didn’t exist.  Now, this movie couldn’t be further from being scripturally accurate, but follow me for a minute.   Do you know that scientists and mathematicians have been in the process of proving the existence of at least three other dimensions besides the three we live in, and it may be as high as four or five?  So what if one of those other dimensions is a spiritual one–one we can’t see with our physical eyes?  Add to that, then, the validity of the Bible (something that can definitely be confirmed if you look at the right resources, like a book called “The Case For Christ”), and you’ve got a very potent mix.  A mix that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because it means that now they are actually accountable for the sin in their lives–and who really wants to face that?

But hold on a minute.  The “sin factor”, as it were, is only one side of this.  The much more significant side is also much more appealing.  And that is this:  What God has in store for you and wants for you as His redeemed through Jesus Christ is so wonderful and fantastic that it is very literally beyond even your ability to comprehend.  But that can only happen if you first face and accept your need for Him.  You’ve got to deal with the one side to get to the other–but oh, is it worth it!

So when we talk about death and things that happen, the place where you begin makes all the difference.  My beginning place is from that “other side” (thanks to Jesus, I have already been able to deal with the first side).  If your beginning place happens to be from that first side, though, all you see is hopelessness.  And that’s the worst place to be in.  But you can very quickly change that.  It’s simply a matter of acknowledging the sin in your life, your need for a Savior because of it and then inviting that Savior (Jesus Christ) into your heart.  He even told us that it’s so simple to understand and to do that even a child gets it (and they do!).

Sound preachy?  It probably is.  But it’s the truth, and there’s nothing wrong with stating the truth.  You can argue with it all day long, but that just means that you’re not seeing the baseball players that have been on the field the whole time.  So do you want to see them, or not?