Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
TODAY IS MY FATHER'S 121ST BIRTHDAY: JUNE 28, 1898. He lived just three weeks short of 75 years. Today, I’m remembering those earliest days that shaped my life. His early life is also my foundation. He lived across the creek and went to school at Falling Springs Baptist Church and ate his lunch on one of the flat gravestones. (He showed me which one.) He finished the 8th grade back when the 8th grade was stuffed with a lot of English and practical math. He read well and was good at basic math.
THE BUILDING IS STILL THERE AND STILL USED FOR CHURCH SERVICES. He made a profession of faith in Christ there at some point and was baptized in the West Fork River. He always sat in the back of the church so he could get out. He didn’t mingle with the people, much. He didn’t like crowds. He was a one-on-one kind of person.
HE WATCHED HIS DADDY FARM AND STRUGGLE WITH A MULE, and being the oldest of seven children, he was fascinated at a sawmill he saw. His mind was made up; no mule; somehow, it would be sawmilling for him. He became an expert sawmill man, with a reputation for high-quality wood products. He had to start small.
AT AGE 16, WITH THE HELP OF AN UNCLE, FLOYD SPECK, WHO HAD A DOGWOOD MILL, he bought his own mill on credit and hired his teen-age sister, Stella, to fire the boiler that powered the mill. He borrowed a wagon and team of mules and hauled his Dogwood shuttle blocks to his uncle’s mill 10 miles away at Livingston, TN. His uncle paid him for the shuttle blocks and sold them with his own.
WORLD WAR I WAS ON AND THE MILITARY NEEDED DOGWOOD SHUTTLES in the weaving mills that made tents, uniforms, etc. When World War I was over, he left the Dogwood mill shuttles and began sawing lumber for building houses and general construction. There was a strong market for lumber. After a few years 1929 arrived and everything shut down. But by 1938, it looked like the Depression was easing up.
WITH A BANK LOAN, DAD OBTAINED A WOOD-FIRED, BOILER-POWERED SAWMILL and a crew of 8 men who slept in a bunkhouse in our back yard. The bunkhouse was made of scrap lumber from the mill. My mother cooked breakfast and supper on a wood-burning stove and packed lunches in lard buckets for the mill crew. But the Depression was not completely over. Markets were not stabilized. The economy dipped again, and the building industry halted.
DAD WENT BANKRUPT IN 1939 WITH A YARD OF LUMBER ON HAND that would not sell at any price. He (we) lost our sawmill, truck and car. I was five and had not yet started to school. We were ten years into the big “depression” that had put so many people sleeping in the streets and in the soup lines. To many, finding work of any kind at a dollar-a-day meant food on the table.
IT HAD LOOKED LIKE THE DEPRESSION MIGHT BE EASING UP AND THE BANKER was willing to make the loan. But a second wave of tight money stopped the building of new houses and we were stuck with a yard of lumber. The WPA came along building new outside toilets and with their labor and our lumber, we got a brand-new outside toilet. So did my grandpa that lived down hill from us.
THE BANKER THAT CAME FOR THE SAWMILL, truck and car was crippled from polio and he and I had a little talk while his men were loading up the sawmill. He was sitting in his car with his feet and crutches resting on the ground. He seemed to be such a nice man. Pretty soon he reached in his pocket and gave me a nickel. That was nice! I had never had my own nickel before. I didn’t know he was there to haul away all “our” stuff. (It was his stuff.)
AFTER THEY WERE ALL GONE and I realized what had happened, I took the nickel out of my pocket and looked at it. I didn’t want his ol’ nickel! I suppose I was the only one in the house that had a nickel. But I didn’t know what to do with it. A nickel was too much to throw away. I don’t remember what I did with it.
I DO REMEMBER THAT ON A WARM SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1941, that our battery-powered radio told of an awesome air attack on Pearl Harbor. A winter front was moving in and we spent the afternoon hauling wood on my wagon to the kitchen and living room. We worked a while and then listened to the news to catch up on what was happening. The short of the story is that:
WE MOVED AWAY AND LEFT STACKS OF LUMBER TO ROT. Dad was through cutting lumber. He switched back into cutting Dogwood shuttles through partnership with a company in Greensboro, NC. As America went to war, everything changed. Suddenly the Depression was over, and the nation geared up to fight a world war with Japan, Germany, and Italy.
AGAIN, THE MILITARY NEEDED TENTS, TARPS, UNIFORMS, PARACHUTES, jeans and coats for factory workers. Women pouring into factories and offices needing new clothing. The clothing and tent industry required a steady stream of Dogwood shuttle blocks. Dogwood mills became a priority and its workers were deferred from military service to produce shuttles. You might say that all of that took place in one day, December 7, 1941. Everything changed that day. It would ration gasoline, tires, sugar, lard, and new cars and trucks (which were no longer made) and the existing new cars and trucks were moved into warehouses and sold slowly with government permits.)
WHEN I THINK ABOUT DAD'S BIRTHDAY, this is what my memory rushes to. Happy Birthday, Dad! I suppose they have birthdays in Heaven. We shall see. My dad’s favorite song was “Keep on the Sunny Side,” by the Carter Family. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
June 28, 2018 – FRIDAY
A.M. Job 10-12 P.M. Acts 8:1-25
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Good Verse to Memorize:
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:31-32) (Write verse on scrap of paper and put in your pocket to memorize.)
Song for Today:
Keep on the Sunny Side (2:53) (Carter Family)
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