As we wallow in the midst of a terrible pandemic – COVID-19, it’s sometimes difficult to find things to be glad for or grateful for, but we can do it if we try. Come with me as I tell you some of the things l’M GLAD for even in these difficult times.
l’M GLAD I wasn’t “born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” In other words, born rich. Sounds crazy, huh? But let me tell you why. My parents were of very modest means. They both grew up in Arkansas of fine, humble families. My father, after a stint in the Navy prior to World War I, came back to Arkansas where he attended barber school. In 1917, he married my mother and brought her to Frisco. He and his brother started Warren Brothers Barber Shop and set the price of a haircut at 25 cents, the going price in those days. As you can imagine, no one gets rich at those prices.
I was born in 1921, becoming an only child, a title I held all my life. I want to go on record saying that my parents were very patient, loving people. l’M GLAD I was born to them for many reasons. They taught me to respect authority: my teachers, the police, other adults and others in positions of authority. That teaching served me well, especially when I was in the military and had many who outranked me.
My parents taught me nothing is free except the air we breathe, and we should not expect everything to be given to us – we are to earn it. That’s why I learned to work early in life.
My parents taught me, as our Constitution says, “All men are born equal,” and it’s how we live and behave after we’re born that makes the difference.
My parents taught me to choose my friends carefully. That was easy to do in Frisco where all of our neighbors were good, God-fearing people. I had four really good friends, all close neighbors. We played together every day in vacant lots near our homes, always in view of one or more mothers. If one of us misbehaved badly, you could be sure the truth would beat us home, where a hickory switch could be waiting.
When I was about six years old, I was handed a great blessing. My paternal grandfather retired from his school teaching job and came to live with us. He taught me many things – some on purpose and some by accident. He chewed tobacco, as did many men in those days. By the way, many of the women of that day “dipped snuff” – their version of chewing. And one day I slipped in his room and got a little pinch of his tobacco just to see what it was like. “Like” is not the word, as I soon found out between vomits. Anyway, that was one of his best lessons, and l’M GLAD!
l’M GLAD I was “drugged” when young – to church, that is. Our parents “drug” us to church. At that time, there were only three churches located near our neighborhood, and we four best buddies enjoyed attending one each Sunday that our parents didn’t take us. It was an adventure, and, after all, there was no other entertainment to be had. We learned a little and sang some songs to which we sometimes gave new words. Instead of “Rescue the Perishing” our words came out, “Rex Chew the Paraffin.”
When I was a little older, my parents and I became full time Baptists and my Sunday school teacher was one of the finest men I have met–then or since–a man named Nommie Talley. A few years later when I turned 12, he became my scoutmaster. There he continued to teach me some great principles by which to live. The Boy Scouts of America is one of the best organizations I know of to teach boys how to live. The Boy Scout Oath says it well: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout law. To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
What a great world we would have to live in if we all lived by that oath!
Moving along chronologically to the year 1938: l managed to graduate from Frisco High School, and l’M GLAD There were only 20 in my graduating class, and I’m the only survivor, so I can now have a class reunion every day.
Next, l’M GLAD to say I had saved enough money by picking cotton, running a paper route, working as a “soda jerk” and other odd jobs so I could enroll at Texas A&M, one of the finest colleges at the time, now a top-notch university. After graduating there in 1942, l’M GLAD I married my sweetheart who, over time, became the mother of my five children who have given us 11 grandchildren, 13 greats and four great-greats. l’M GLAD to say they’re all my pride and joy to this day.
With WWII in full swing in 1942, I enlisted in the Army Air Corps, became a pilot and was assigned to the Troop Carrier Command in Europe. Our primary job was to deliver Airborne Infantry into enemy territory by parachute or glider. l’M GLAD to report my plane and crew managed to emerge unscathed through several invasion missions.
After the war, I came home and got a job with an outstanding oil company, Humble Oil, which became Exxon. They sent me to a little field office near Beaumont, Texas. The office was staffed with some very nice old oil field “hands” who welcomed me with a jaundiced eye, wondering what a college graduate was doing there. Every office was furnished with a cuspidor – a “spittoon” to accommodate the tobacco chewers, but I didn’t need one. Anyway, they welcomed me and taught me the oil business. I worked for that company 36 years, moving eight times before retiring in 1981.
I came back to Frisco and built a retirement home on the lot where I grew up. I was GLAD to be home and planned to spend my time travelling and playing golf. Some of my friends who had other ideas talked me into running for City Council. I served 12 years on the Council then seven more years as mayor of the city. Those were some of the best years of my life, working with excellent city officials and council members. I am SO GLAD for that opportunity.
In 2006, my wife of 64 years died, and I married my sister in-law. She lived only six years, and I found myself alone again. Then I remembered the Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone,” so I soon fell in love and married another fine lady, my wife, Beth. The Lord has been good to me, and for that l’M GLAD.
That brings me to another love – my love of country. As Lee Greenwood’s song says, “I’m proud to be an American,” and I like to stand proudly when the National Anthem is played. To you who choose to kneel rather than stand – yes, I know that is your right and I’m glad we have those rights. But please look around and see your friends and teammates who are standing. They are honoring those who cannot stand or have died defending our country so we can still stand. If you ever see me on my knees when the anthem is played you can know I have fallen and cannot get up.
Yes, l’M GLAD for lots of things and I’ll bet you can be too if you try. So, all together now, let’s do it!