Category: Family

Good Night . . . and Roll Tide

(Originally published August 4, 2011; edited and republished August 27, 2020)


It all started because the highfalutin Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton, Missouri, a well-heeled inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, didn’t have any Diet Coke in the house.

Hard to believe, I know, but true. All they had was Pepsi. I’m a Southern man, and I don’t cotton well to Yankee pop (HQ in NY), its North Carolina roots notwithstanding. I blame my mama. She filled my baby bottle with original Coke so she could get some precious sleep (pretty sure she didn’t read Dr. Spock).

It worked. She caught some Zs, and I caught an addiction and a mouthful of cavities.

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Getting On Board Bus #18

I was an immaculately-groomed half-pint in September 1968 as I stood by the road in front of our brick rural rancher waiting for Bus #18 to usher me into the next 12 years of mandatory public school education. A book bag in one hand, a G.I. Joe lunchbox in the other, I was escorted by my older sister, a worldly-wise 5th grader who was under orders to watch my back.

I heard the bus before I could see it. It had another stop about a quarter mile down the road, at the foot of a low-grade hill. I listened as its diesel engine geared down, brakes squealing, and then there was a pause that seemed to last forever as my neighbors boarded.

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A Tale of Two Schools: A Review of the 2010 Christian Scholars’ Conference

People look at you kind of strange when you tell them that you shelled out good money to attend something called a “Christian Scholars’ Conference” and that you actually enjoyed it. Reactions can range from “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like that?” to “Well, la-de-da!” But believe me, after a long season of Tim James political TV ads and rootin’ tootin’ “Ag Commish” wannabe viral videos, I was ready for a little more “la-de-da” in my life.

You know Eyegal and me–liberal arts geeks to the core. An itch like that doesn’t always get scratched sufficiently in a high tech town like Huntsville, Alabama.

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The 12th Man

Number One Son road-tripped to Auburn this past weekend to visit with some friends and to watch the Bama v. Auburn basketball game. The visit with friends went well. The game? Not so much.

Yesterday morning, Number One was driving to church when he stopped at an intersection with a crosswalk. He looked both ways, halfway expecting a herd of cattle to come ambling by about that time. Instead a lone figure in a suit was walking down the sidewalk to his right and starting into the intersection.

Number One stayed stopped and yielded like he was supposed to. He looked down to fiddle with something in the car, and when he looked back up, the man in the suit was directly in front of him and staring straight at him.

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Cubera Nights

USS_Cubera;0834702.jpg.jpgIt was fitting that my Father’s Day gift arrived in a small, Priority Mail shipping container. The Navy ballcap emblazoned with “USS Cubera, SS-347″ barely fit inside its tight, cardboard quarters. The snugness reminded me of the way her crew must have felt, tightly sealed inside the smothering, steel hull of the Balao Class fast-attack submarine as she patrolled the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic during the Cold War, her eyes ever open for any sign of danger from Mother Bear.

And of course, the cap reminded me of my father, which, I suppose, was the whole point.

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The Road From Malibu to Searcy Runs Through Birmingham

Pepperdine.jpgI didn’t graduate from Pepperdine University. In fact, I’ve never set foot on the beautiful Malibu campus nestled by the jagged shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. But thanks to our youth minister, Jason, who recently attended the annual lectureship there, I am the proud owner of a bright orange Pepperdine t-shirt with arched, blue letters and a school seal with motto that reads “Freely ye received, freely give.” It was the first shirt that I pulled out of my drawer last Friday as I prepared to travel to Ozark, Alabama to spend Memorial Day weekend with my younger sister and her family.

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The Rightful Owner

I held my breath and walked through the door as a small bell tingled, announcing my arrival. I’d never set foot inside a pawn shop before, but the place fulfilled my stereotyped expectations. The walls were lined with shelves filled with discarded televisions, stereos, power tools, and once treasured trinkets, many pawned in last-ditch, desperate moves for quick cash.

The pawnbroker sat behind a glass display case lined with cheap handguns and gaudy costume jewelry. He was reading The Decatur Daily and nursing his morning coffee as the smoke from his cigarette curled lazily upward toward the tobacco stained ceiling.

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