A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

Heart to heart with Mackie

              Here, on this site, I cannot use the heart language of telling. The spoken word will reveal by inflection, intonation, just exactly what the teller wants the listener to “hear” and the effect is more dynamic.  The energy required to tell a story is derived from the sub-conscious “memory bank” where every word is recorded and the definition recorded along with it will not consist of words. Therefore every word we speak will reveal things not spoken, but plainly discerned by the listener through the spiritual connection which the Lord has in place.  That is why in my workshops I always emphasize finding the right story for the right audience.

            Today, I have prayed for several weeks now about what to say on this first blog, and I have thought of several themes that I would love to write about, what words I would choose to use, since I remain primarily a storyteller, and I have the same motive for telling that I do when facing a live audience.  When on public radio, I simply imagined my audience.  My voice, my words, my subject—everything was meant to have a certain effect on the listener, and by the response I knew whether the bull’s eye was centered.  I plan on making these blogs in the same way that I did with that imagined audience. I will use the same words that I would use if we were speaking face to face! We will allow that this is impossibility, but hope makes the intangible-tangible, and hope is from God, so I place my trust in the Lord and venture with Him.[1]

              I also wish to say in this introductory blog, that my watchwords are LOOK UP, LAUGH, LOVE, and AND LIFT.  So I will be thinking along those lines.  Now to discuss the well known story, The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg.

            In case you do not remember it, there was a man who owned a special goose that laid an egg of pure gold every day. Wow! He loved to place her on the table in front of him and say the magic word “Lay!” You may keep your private thoughts to yourself here, because there was no abracadabra—simply the one word, “Lay!” Then the goose would lay a golden egg for him and that was a fantastic game that he loved to play.  The only trouble was that the rule said, “Only one egg per day.”  Well, he would just have to be satisfied, and that was all there was to it. 

            One day, he said to himself, “Baloney on this matter of only one egg at a time!  All that gold she keeps for herself and gives me this one little egg!  We’ll see about that!”

So, spit, spot, he chopped off her head!  With greedy eyes and hands impatient to get all that gold, he opened her up and lo, there was nothing there but just the plain old insides of a goose!  Now he had no goose and no gold either.  And he had that mess to clean up!

            As my mother always said, “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

Note: The naked truth is perfectly acceptable when clothed in a story.  (An old saying.)

Therefore, the truth of this story can be applied wherever needed for an antidote to falsehood, which is blatantly spread these days from the Father of Lies, for he delights in pulling the wool over the eyes of the sheep, but Christians, remember that Jesus is Truth personified, and therefore we do not need Snopes to guide us, only the Word of God. I like to be an encourager, so let us all be hopeful that our Christian faith will sustain us in the days ahead, and we believe that our hope is centered in the God of our Fathers.

 “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him.  (Lamentations 3:25a) NIV

 


[1] May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 NIV.  (Look Up)mbl

The Land of Play-Like

Heart to heart with Mackie

             The storyteller’s mind has a flying horse at its command.  Just get on it and tell it to take you into the land of make believe.  I took my first ride when I was about three years of age, and my bigger brothers and sisters took me to play with them, for Irene was appointed my guardian angel, and she took the role seriously.

            This story is in my memoirs, told at length, but I will shorten it here to one episode.

            The older children were into what they called, play like, and that meant to pretend.  When they pronounced the two words it sounded like plike.  Therefore, they were saying to Johnny or me, “plike you  (whatever)”  I remember that brother John was willing to play any part they wanted, he understood it was a game, but it was a different matter with me, for everything was unreal.

            This is the scene that I recall vividly.  They were playing that I was the Davenport child, (brother George’s child) and Irene took me over to her “house” to play with her child.  When we arrived she said to her imaginary child, “Look who came to play with you! Sylvia Davenport!” I asked, “Where is your little girl?”  She laughed and called to Clementine, “Mrs. Murphy, can you come over and bring Tommy?”  Then Clem came over with my brother Johnny and said, “Oh, you have Sylvia with you! Hello, Sylvia!  You can play with my little boy, Tommy.” Of course there was no more mention of any other child, but I said, “I am not Sylvia, and he is not Tommy. His name is Johnny and mine is Maxine” 

            At that, Irene stooped down and explained it, saying, “We are playing a game of grown-ups and that means we play like we are grown-up.  Look at me, Mac, I am not grown-up, and I am Irene.  Now I am playing that I am Mrs. Bryant and that means it is not real. This is my play time, and that is what I am playing.  If you want to stay with me and play this game, you can’t be Maxine for that would be real.  We are playing something that is not real.  Now, do you want to stay with me, because if you do not want to play this game, I will take you back to Mother, for she allowed me to bring you with me to play.”

            Of course, I wanted to stay with Irene and I readily said, “I want to stay with you.  I want to play the game.”  So then when I was Irene’s little girl I was one name, and when I was Clementine’s I was Mary Katherine, Mary Kay for short, and sometimes I was some other imaginary child in the scenario they were acting out.  I was talking to my mother and I said “You can call me Mary Kay if you want to.”

            She laughed and said, “So that is what the girls are calling you when they play.”  I said, “Yes, and I am Virginia and Sylvia too.”  She laughed and sat down to talk and said, “That’s all right when you are playing with the girls, but when you come back to the house you are my real little girl.  I am your REAL mommy.  You are Maxine. That is your REAL name.  I call you “Mac” sometimes but that still means Maxine and you remember that.  You are MAXINE.  Don’t ever forget that.”

            Well I never did forget it.  I have always known the difference since that talk with my real mother.

            The minute I took Irene’s hand we mounted the magic horse and I grabbed her around the waist and held on for dear life! What a ride this has been!

            This means that I have never had any problem whatsoever with my real identity.  I am still Maxine, and you may call meMackie, for that is what my nieces and nephews called me when I was single and wanted them to be able to say something easy instead of Aunt Maxine. For a baby, that’s a mouth full.  Then when I met Frank he picked it up from them, and it got spread around to all my friends, so here I am, the real me.

            Yet, at an early age, I learned to mount the flying horse.  We ride off to the mountain where the dragon is hiding, and we have no fear that the sword in my scabbard will rid the world of that monster.  I have been riding this flying horse for ninety years, and he has grown quite accustomed to our strange adventures.

            I never was led to give up my National Storytellers League, even though I dropped all other organizations when I surrendered my will to Jesus Christ.  The reason was that our organization stands for the good and beautiful in life and literature, and I knew that our beautiful Savior is author of all that is good and perfect, so I remained a faithful member of my local league. The Lord has made good use of my skills in telling stories, in sharing what I have learned through the printed word, and my travels for teaching.  I have found that the gift of imagination is one that God has placed in His created people for His use! 

            Mother taught me that I have “special eyes,” and “special ears” and that God gave them to me so that I could get to know Him better.  She reminded me of the boy Samuel, to illustrate the “ears,” and of Joseph’s story for the “eyes.”  At first I believed they were literally there, but as I grew older she helped me to understand that the terms are figurative.

Therefore, I use my “special eyes” and my “special ears” when I go to Him in prayer or when he says, “I am here, knocking; if you will open the door, I will come in”   I open the door!  I see Him with my special eyes, and I hear Him with my special ears. He says that He will sup with me and I with Him.  I believe that means we partake of the kind of food he was speaking of when he said to his disciples, “I have meat to eat that you know not of.”[1] This is the divine imagination that he uses to communicate.  This is possible through study of His written word, then using the special eyes and ears.  When the old hymn says, “He walks with me, and He talks with me!” that is meant to be literal through the special instruments that He created for that purpose and His own Holy Spirit in whom we live and move and have our being[2].  When we commit ourselves to Him without any reservations, we become a “new creation.”  We are “converted” and now the special eyes and special ears become operative. He is then able to act in us.

             If we want Him to act in us, and through us, we must first be “converted” from our worldly, cynical viewpoint, ready and willing to “listen” with the ears of the Spirit.  Read the Gospel of John with a good commentary.  You will find Barclay’s on most church library shelves.  In John’s book, it shows plainly that the Father and the Son are residing in every believer through a special, invisible Presence.  We call Him the Holy Spirit, for He is the person and power of God that we possess in Christ. 

              John shows plainly how the “invisible” Christ is “visible” and that brings a new dimension to the Christian’s behavior, “in honor preferring one another.[3]” We should remember that admonition in the way we treat other Christians, for we have this Treasure in earthen vessels.  We should be watching for that special spark to reveal the Living Savior to us. That is how he makes himself visible through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

            Think of your “special eyes” as the new night vision glasses that allow our soldiers to see in the dark.  When you see with your special eyes you are peering into the invisible world, as Dr. Brand did with his microscope[4].  By using your special eyes of the spirit, the Lord illumines the dark places and you can see your way.  Peering into the darkness of sin’s tunnel we see a great light!  Now you can look up, laugh, love and lift.

             Jesus wants us be cheerful and help others to be light hearted.  He said, “Be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.”[5] Well, now!   Since that is the case, we need not fear venturing with Him anywhere, any time!  Oh, the stories I could write on that theme, but like that fellow with the golden egg that you read about in the first blog, we have to be satisfied with little nuggets.  

            SO (yes! I said so.  I prefer it to “therefore” in this case and it’s my blog)) Now I go back to SO, you will notice as you read these tales, that the one who practices all the Christian graces will be the one who wins out in the end.  He gets the lovely princess.  She gets the handsome prince, even if one of them did have to kiss a frog—there’s a lesson in that too, but I’m not telling) I was grown before I knew why I absolutely loved the story Toads and Diamonds as a child but when I began telling it as an adult, it was as plain as the nose on my face.  (That is plenty plain!)  

              As Christians we all know that our God is greater than that one ruling the secular world with all of his minions.   AND a great verse to keep in mind as you study and prepare stories is this one: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus[6]  Well, as long as we know he keeps those, then we wade right in and tackle that giant. 

            That’s why I can teach storytelling with abandon!   I have a sword that has a mysterious power.  I pulled it out of the Stone which the builders rejected, and it is hidden in my scabbard unless I need it .  Then it becomes Excalibur.  I also have a shield that is huge!  I can hide behind it!  And it is impenetrable!  I have special shoes that I put on and immediately gain the stature of any giant out there, and scare the wits out of him.  By the time I get all my armor on and I mount the flying horse, I am ready to fight that old dragon.

            Here is a quote from J.R.R.Tolkien, and I believe you will find that he concurs in all that I have said in the above. It would be good to memorize these words or print them out and put them where you read them often.  Be sure to tuck them in your pocket before you go  flying off into the land of make-believe.

 The realm of the fairy story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost. — J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) from On Fairy Stories

            I will give just one more quote.  I have dozens but these two are at the tip top of the list. This one is from Albert Einstein.  He says:  If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

             I conclude with these few words of explanation.  I notice on rereading this that I have alluded to several scripture references that I did not look up and give the reference, and I’m leaving that for you to do if you want to know where they can be found.  I am begging age as an excuse.  When you reach ninety-three it will not matter a whole lot where the verse is located, but the important thing is whether you have that “sword in your scabbard” or “hidden in your heart” and that’s another one you can look up.  As my mother always said, “I’m at the end of my tether.”


[1] John 4:32

[2] Act 17:28

[3] Romans 12:10

[4] Oops! A weakness I have of assuming things! I was thinking here of Dr. Brand, co-author of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.Zondervan. C?—go to Google!

[5] John 16:33

[6] Philippians 4:7

THE GREATEST REVOLUTION

William James is credited with saying that the greatest revolution is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.  If changing the inner attitude of the mind could do it, there would be no more broken New Year resolutions!

             The psychologist’s use of language infers that a person by just changing his inner attitude of mind can change the outer aspects of his life along with it. All I have to say there is “HA!”  Then quickly I must add, “AHA!”  The aha is because of the word inner that he uses.  There is only one person who has access to that inner self of the person.  Only the Creator may enter that sacred citadel of personhood. 

            Eve made a fatal error—a vital error it was—the inner flame that causes us to be a human-being was extinguished.  Outside of His intervention, after the age of accountability, we are dead in trespasses and sins!  For there to be any change in the inner attitude as William James describes, God the Creator must bring about the hope and the faith that the mind will accept and allow.  Then, and only then can anything be done about the inner attitude of the mind.

             There is a Balm in Gilead!  There is help beyond our own resources.  He never forces his way into that inner citadel, but when asked, the angel of God stands ready to enter.  It does not matter the location, the time, the weather, or anything else that is happening in the outside world, He answers at once that call for help!  The inner person is changed at once, from one who is unable to cope for example with just one more scream of “Mama! Mama!”  That person at that moment is able to go and pick up the child, hold it close and croon a lullaby.  She can sit down and rest and gently doze as she hums softly to that little one. She can be renewed in body, mind and spirit!

            The greatest revolution as described by our famous psychologist, William James, is dependant upon self.  He does not allow for the helplessness of that soul to climb out of that despair without a call for help to the Rock of Ages.

            My brother, John, hated his life because of alcoholism and for years fought the losing battle.  He described this as a gravedigger who digs the hole too deep and he cannot climb out.  The shovel is too short to use.  He needs Someone to reach down to him and help him to climb out.  John could manage to be sober for years, and then fall off the wagon, and he tells about that final battle that led to victory in his book, Rosin for the Bow.  He sat down to write his complaints to the Lord.  Something just did not add up.  Why did prayer never work for him?  Why did memorizing scriptures not work?  Why did good intentions never work?  As he wrote, the words and lines began to form into a poem, “Why can’t I be like Job?” his question became his plea to understand why God did not help him in that awful struggle.  It became a long epic poem with beautiful words and perfect meter—the Lord met him in it, and surprised him with joy.

            The Lord began to answer him in the words and lines of the poem.  It was in the fact that John loved birds and always cared for them by making houses and feeding stations for them.  He would buy wild bird food before he would buy something for himself!  He watched them and listened to them.  He wrote poetry about them and he mimicked their calls on his violin.  The Lord asked, “Why have you never taken them for a sign?  They have nothing to prove to me.  When they need to fly, they fly!” 

            It was a signal for John to stop that trying to do it by himself.  By giving up the struggle, by abandoning himself to God, he gained the victory, and remained sober for the rest of his life.  He said, “I never fell after writing that poem, “Why Can’t I?” The revolution came about through the revelation that God brought by breaking through into his consciousness with an answer for him. He said, “It was like having a flashlight in the pocket and never knowing how to turn it on.  When God spoke in the poem, the light came on, and I could see my way.”   

            No amount of resolution can bring about that revolution!  As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:21-25 (NIV) So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  

            Jesus Christ came to bring a great revolution.  The world and its systems are part of a dying world.  Eternal life comes with joining in the great revolution and becoming a soldier of the cross! 

            We have just celebrated Easter and now we set our faces at this time, resolutely towardJerusalem. We stand with Jesus.  We survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died.  Our richest gains we count but loss, and pour contempt on all our pride.  Were the whole realm of nature ours, That were a present far too small!   Isaac Watts penned those words, and we sing them with great joy as we have just experienced Easter Sunday.  All the churches of the world rang with the singing, and the bells of celebrations!

            Now we go marching! marching! marching as to War!  With the Cross of Jesus, going on before! (Eph.6:14-18)

            As we put on the whole armor of God we take our places in his war against the schemes of the enemy.  We stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waists, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, the sandals of peace on our feet, then we grasp the shield of faith, don the helmet of salvation, while we stand ready to wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God—then prayers, and the banner over us is Love! 

             Hallelujah! Now this is the Greatest of all Revolutions! The great question for each person is, “Are you a soldier of the Cross? Is your spirit joined with His, in the battle for truth?” 

A Mother’s Day Tribute

TENDER RECOLLECTIONS

  The words to an old song came to my mind this morning, and I suppose it has been hiding there behind all these other thoughts I have been entertaining. The minute it popped up I sang all these words that have kept themselves in wraps for quite a while. This is the way it goes:

I’ve a tender recollection I’ve cherished all my life,

And age but makes it dearer day by day.

It’s the memory of a mother whose smiles in days gone by,

Drove all my little childhood cares away.

She was gentle, she was kind,

I shall ever bear in mind,

The many golden lessons she taught me.

I have wealth and earthly power;

I’d trade all for an hour,

Of the evenings that I spent at Mother’s knee.[1]

Of course, I have neither wealth nor power, but the meaning is no less true for me. I learned that song as I learned all the old mountain ballads and dozens of great hymns that are no longer in the hymnals, simply by hearing them over and over as Mother sang them, for she sang about her work, and I adopted that habit from her example.

A tale is made for telling and I have a few tender recollections that might serve to bring a few to your mind. Everyone remembers great stories from their childhood, and I promise you, if you don’t tell them, don’t expect that they will be engraved on your headstone. So be a storyteller.

At age twelve my sister, Josephine, was at home and I was turning somersaults on the front lawn. She called and said, “Mac, you are too big to be turning somersaults. You will soon be a young lady. You are not to do that anymore.” Then I burst out crying. I went running to my mother and said, “I don’t want to grow up!” Mother then asked, “What’s wrong, Mac?” I told her all that had happened and she took her apron and wiped my eyes, and held me close to her. She laughed, and lowered her voice, “Now, Mac, listen! When you and I are here all alone, and the boys are in the field, I will let you turn somersaults again. Shhhh! Now don’t say anything to Jo about this.”

You see, Jo was her first born and she was allowed full authority to run the house and the younger children when she was at home. It was an unwritten law that anything Jo said was A-OK with Mother and Dad. We all knew that Jo held that position, but that time, Mother gave me permission to turn somersaults again, and that was a privilege I indulged in many times, after that. In fact, I recall that I said to myself, “I will never turn my back on childhood. I want to stay a child forever.”

I am glad that God gives us time to “become” a child again, for the childlike spirit is the one that has special eyes and special ears! I thank the Lord that my child-spirit is always in the wings, watching the act, ready to dance out on the stage at the slightest cue.

Oh, yes! I went along and grew up. I loved school days. It was a joy to be learning new things and that is still true today. I have not changed in that way. I have retained the curiosity and wonder about the “why” of things.

Here is a recollection about our rose-covered smoke house.

One day when I was five we were sitting by the fire and Mother was browsing seed and planting catalogs. She gave me several to look at and said, “You pick out two that you think are the prettiest ones and I will order them for you.”

I picked out the red Baby Rambler and the pink Dorothy Perkins rambler.

When they arrived she said, “Mac, here are your roses. Where do you want to plant them? Remember they are climbers, so think about it. I could ask your father to have a trellis built for you over one of the gates to the property.” I went out and looked all around, came back in and said, “I think one on each side of the smokehouse would be the best place.” She went out, looked around, and then said, “Mac, you are right! That is a perfect place for those two rose bushes.”

Then she had the brothers dig deep holes and she layered each hole with rocks and cow manure that was aged two years, then a layer of top soil. At that spot she put the root of the rose on that top soil, filling it in the rest of the way with our rich new ground, and pouring about a gallon of water in on the plant at midway, then more of our rich new ground was tamped in firmly. The smoke house was the showplace of our home site in the summer. When Mother gave cuttings she would always say, “Now these roses on the smokehouse are Maxine’s roses.” Then she would tell them the name of each rose as she gave a root cutting.

One day I heard her voice calling, “Mac, come up here.” She was in the smokehouse. I went running and entered the dim coolness of the smokehouse. She said, “What do you hear?” The humming roar overhead was what I heard. “Oh, it’s the bees!” I said, and she answered, “Do you remember what I said to you the day we planted the roses?” I said, “No, Ma’am.” She reminded me, “I said, “Mac, you are making a feast for the bees!” I then remembered, and said, “They are really feasting.”

My mother always shared words with me that I loved hearing and then saying them myself. She was a poet and in her world the bees were “feasting,” the brook was “singing,” the dove was “mourning,” the squirrel was “chattering,” the calf was “bawling,” and her roses she would sniff and say, “Heavenly!” She loved planting and growing things, then she would stand on the porch, take my hand and exclaim, “Mac, look at the garden! Is that not a sight in this world!?” It just looked like a garden to me, but at this moment the feel of her warm, strong hand in mine brings a tender recollection!

She planted many varieties of roses, and was, in fact, famous in the community for her roses. One thing we all loved to see was the smokehouse in full bloom. The beautiful pink Dorothy Perkins rambler rose grew on one side and on the other the Baby Rambler, crimson in color. They completely covered the roof of the smokehouse, intertwining and falling down the sides of the house in great profusion; mixed pink and red loveliness and the bees were not alone in their feasting.

What pride and joy to hear Mother say, “Maxine’s roses” and when we brought large bouquets of roses in for the house, her voice would carry special meaning to me when she said, “Put a vase of Maxine’s roses on my kitchen table.” In our old fashioned country kitchen that was her work table. When she went in to start dinner she would say, “Maxine, the scent of your roses has filled my kitchen.” In those days the roses all sent forth a heady sweet perfume, but it is faint or absent from the roses of today.

Mother knew how to make my heart glad at every turn. I loved being careful as I set the table to do exactly as she had taught me, arranging the silverware precisely, salt and peppers at each end of the table, sugar and creamer at the end nearest Mother’s plate. There would be the jams and jellies, pitcher of molasses, and a honey dish. The glasses for milk had a shaping about 5/8″ from the top, and I poured milk to that line, exact look-a-likes. These were placed the same distance from the top of the knife. When her words of praise came for several days I would walk around on cloud nine setting the table as if we were expecting the Lindberghs[2] for supper. My efforts to please were rewarded by her smile and the words, “Well done, Mac.” Then she added, “No excellence without great labor, Maxine.”

You see she used those words to correct me when I had not done a thorough job on something, and repeated them as praise when I did the job well. That was an extra compliment and showed that she appreciated the pains I took to please her and pleasing her was my greatest delight… The words of the song, “Just a wee bit of sugar makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way,” makes me think of Mother; a great proponent of that philosophy.

I can add all these lines to the poem that says “Richer than I you never could be, for I had a mother who read to me,”[3]

I can say, “Who laughed with me, who praised me, who corrected me, who sang to me, who told stories to me, who recited poetry to me, who doctored me, who talked with me, who played games with me, who walked with me, and most importantly, prayed with me.” Every one of those added lines have tender recollections that go along with them! That’s why my book of memoirs is full of stories about her.

Here is another precious recollection about our place, Rose Hill Farm.

Our house had a large yard that was fenced to keep the pesky hens out, and Mother planted roses all the way around the section that bordered the lawn. There were white, yellow, red, pink and even variegated. She built a circular flower bed with bricks around it and planted cannas, elephant ears, snap dragons, dahlias, four o’clock, scarlet sage, petunias and two or three other varieties that grew close to the ground such as marigolds. In the middle of the right side of the front lawn there was a huge tree stump. I don’t remember the exact measurement but Mother wrote it down in her journal and it was something that she loved to point out to visitors.

When my dad first saw the stump he was grieved and told Mother about the loss of such a tree. He said, “I put a red tag on it but I tied it to a branch and they said they didn’t see it.” When my mother heard that she said, “Surely they saw that red rag hanging from that branch. It was the greed of the big lumber men who wanted the wood from that tree.” She always held that belief. She asked dad to be sure that the stump was not blasted out of the yard. For that reason the stump was a conversation piece for Mother planted roses all around it and let the flowers cover it. People were amazed when she told them the size of the stump. Then Dad and Mother, while sitting on the porch in the evening, would recite in tandem the poem, Woodman, Spare that Tree,[4] in which the poet begs, “Woodman, spare that tree! Touch not a single bow! In youth it sheltered me, and I’ll protect it now.” There were several verses that they recited with great expression.

When we grew tired of playing hide and seek, or it grew too dark to play, we would go and sit on the front steps and listen as they sang the old songs, or recited the poetry, for in their school days they had to memorize everything! My father, though ten years Mother’s senior, was a school “Master” as the teacher was called. I believe he said that he taught school about five years before he was married to Mother. He always knew all the songs and poems that she knew.

The name, ROSE HILL, is emblazoned on my mind. Years have done nothing to mitigate the homesickness that sometimes stabs the soul. I thank the dear Lord for the gift of storytelling that has allowed my childhood memories to stay intact so that others may share vicariously the freedom of mind and spirit that was upheld and enjoyed by our family.

I want to paint one more little scene out of thousands that I hold in Technicolor.

We loved to have company and because of that our home was nearly always filled with people on Sundays in the summer. There was one time that we counted just for the fun of it and there were thirty-nine guests for dinner. That means there were forty-eight people for dinner that day! That also means umpteen trips to the garden for more veggies, and many trips to the hen-house for more chickens! These represent hard work in summer heat over a kitchen stove that burned wood! The women were all fully occupied in preparing and serving the food.

This is a story that I will always love.

As the hubbub of activities would wind down, then one by one each family would leave. However, there was one family, a double first cousin of Mother’s, who would always give in to the children’s pleas added to Mother’s and they would stay to watch the sunset. Remember our dirt roads were narrow and winding in the twenties, and people wanted to get home before dark, but these brave souls would stay and be rewarded.

Mother had a heart of generosity, and she enjoyed going to the garden and cellar to fill their car with gifts. Then as the sun gradually sank behind the mountains, we would all go down to the fence and stand there transfixed at the spectacular sight—a West Virginia sunset! How breathtaking to watch! The scene is indelibly fixed in the mind and the melody lingers on in the spirit making it true that a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

I have always wondered why we walked down and stood at the fence? Why did we not stay on the porch where there were at least half dozen rocking chairs? There were the steps that the children loved to use. No, when it was time for sunset, we went down to the fence for some strange reason! I can feel the breeze in our faces as we children went running ahead. I can see the adults following in their leisurely way, pausing a second to say something special, talking as they walked, and then standing there at the fence to watch.

If I were an artist I would love to show that family lined up there in various sizes and ages, with awe struck expressions of wonder on each face; before them a tree covered forest, beyond that a series of mountain ranges and a sky made up of an impossible array of colors to stagger the mind with the glory of God’s great creation.

Then we walked with them down through the second gate where the car was parked and finally they would start the motor and get away. We stood there and waved, calling last goodbyes until we lost sight of them down the hill.

Then Mother would bring us down to earth with, “Now, you boys get the milking done and you girls fix supper; there’s plenty of left-overs. Mr. Johnson and I are going to walk around the orchard for a bit.”

Now it was time for the girls to shoo me off to the back porch swing while they busied themselves with supper and girl talk. There I would prop myself up on the cushions and watch the stars appear one by one, while the cicada and the tree frog filled the air with their concert, and the whippoorwill repeatedly called for the whipping of poor Will, while I was left to wonder what poor Will had done to deserve such punishment.

Well, you can plainly see that the Lord has given me, in these recollections, a safe and sure retreat should anything upset the apple cart to threaten my peace of mind,

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[1] I Google the words, “I’ve a tender recollection” and up came the page with several websites, and I scrolled down to the one that looked the most likely which was American Old Time Song Lyrics and these words were shown, so I clicked on it and there it was and it shows a second verse which I remembered the minute I read it, but it did not come back to my mind completely as the first verse and chorus did, so I will let you Google that website and also there was one line that differed from mine but that is common to the old ballads, for people changed the wording to suit what they remembered, and my mother always said, “little childhood cares” and this one has it “troubled childhood thoughts” so you see the meaning is the same. I imagine you could also find the melody. I did not take the time to search that far, but it has a sweet plaintive melody.

[2] We had two or three records singing the praises of Charles Lindbergh, who flew the first solo flight from America to Paris, about 1927 or 28 I forget which. One of the songs was my favorite. I went around singing it all the time and every time a plane flew over, (very rare in those days) I would run out to wave and the pilot would dip down and wave to us. Then I would sing, “Lindy, oh what a flying fool was he, Lindy, his name will live in history! Over the ocean he flew all alone, gambling with fate and with dangers unknown. Others may take that trip across the sea upon some future day, but take your hats off to Lucky, Lucky Lindy, the eagle of the U.S.A.!” This was hero worship, and I loved to imagine that he would find a place to land on our farm, and we could all visit with him. He would take me for a ride in his plane. These little planes were called “Piper Cubs” and had a single engine.

[3] Strickland Gilliam 1869-1954

[4] George Pope Morris. 1802-1864

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