THE OLD PARTY LINE

Do you remember phone party lines? If you’re old enough to remember how could someone easily forget? If you wanted to make a call somewhere you didn’t just pick up the phone and start dialing. You picked up the receiver and listened first to see if anyone else was on the phone before you started dialing. Today I simply push a button on my phone and a voice comes over and ask me what can they help me with. I would say call so-and-so and it would say, “Calling so-and-so.”

I used to be a walking phone book. I could remember phone numbers like the back of my hand. Those days are slowly slipping by though. Now we look for a persons name and hit the call button. I have to constantly ask my wife and son what are their cell phone numbers when I have to write it down on something.

I’ll never forget in my younger years when I was much more mischievous than I am now. Err, I mean when I used to be mischievous. I would pick up the phone and if I heard anyone on it I would put it back down so they would know that I’m not listening in on their conversation then I would ever so slowly and softly ease it back up and listen in on their conversation.

You could learn a lot eavesdropping on a party line. I was never so sure that someone was ever eavesdropping on me and my friends as well as we talked about what we were going to do over the weekend or who was going to spend the night with who. Or how good-looking Becky Thatcher* looked in her outfit that she wore to school that day. But I definitely heard more than what I should have as a youngster.

One thing we learned about the party line at one place we lived; after every hard rain if one person was getting a call then every one on the line was getting the same call. If one phone on the party line rang then they would all ring. My father had to learn that the hard way when old “Mrs. Johnson” was calling one of her children. She wouldn’t hang up after a few rings she would let the phone ring and ring until someone answered. Finally daddy would pick it up and answer it. To his dismay “Mrs. Johnson” wasn’t really calling any of her children, she just needed someone to talk to and daddy was always the first one to pick up the phone after it would ring fifteen or twenty minutes. After about thirty minutes or so of Mrs. Johnson talking and daddy listening he would finally tell her he had something on the stove and he had to go. That would pretty much be it. She either forgot about calling any of her children or she just changed her mind because the phone wouldn’t ring again for the rest of the day.

Kids and young adults today will never get to enjoy the perils of being connected to a party line. I remember one time I was talking to a friend on the phone and he not being raised as Christian as myself was using his choice words in the conversation. A few days later mama and daddy wanted to remind me that we need to set an example for others to follow and if one of my friends just happen to be using ugly, slang curse words then I should remind them not to be talking like that over the phone.

I’ve always wondered if it was brought up in one of those long conversations that daddy and “Mrs. Johnson” were having. It also made me wonder if someone had been eavesdropping on me and my friends conversation. Why else would mama and daddy pull me aside to scold me for something my friend had said over the phone line. Or should I say the “party” line.

I’m a lot like my father. Even today I still don’t care much for talking very long over the phone. My loving wife has to constantly remind me to call someone.

Now I know what my daddy always said about the “Good Ol’ Days”. There wasn’t too much good about those days. We had some good times and we had some good days but them days don’t compare to the comfort people have today. And of course I’m enjoying more comfort than my father and mother did and they enjoyed more comfort than their parents. People today are living in the good old days, and another generation from now if the good Lord tarries, this younger generation will be telling the next generation the same thing.

There are a lot of things I do miss about those days but the party line ain’t one of ’em.

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Eccl. 7:10 (NIV)

*If you were wondering who Becky Thatcher was I would suggest reading Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.

WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?

On January 1, 2018 I did something that I had never in my life had done before.  I had just turned 50 years old the day before (12/31/17) and there was only one crazy thing that I wanted to do in all my life.  I have always watched people take what they call ‘The Polar Bear Plunge’.  I told my loving wife years ago I would love to do that just one time.

Well, Monday, January 1, 2018 was that time.  I told her if I didn’t do it this time I would never do it at all.  She was a real trooper because she hates the cold weather, but she chose to go and support me in my endeavor or quest or whatever else you want to call it. I called it my one-thing-bucket list.

I love a story I once heard.  I don’t know who the original writer was or whether it was just a made up story or a real story but I love the meaning behind it.  It goes like this:

A young man and his new bride was cooking the Thanksgiving meal for the family.  He noticed before she put the ham in the oven to bake she cut big chunks off each side.  He asked her why she done that and her reply was that it was a tradition and her mother always done it.  At the dinner table curiosity got the better of him and he asked his mother-in-law why she always cut big chunks off each side of the ham before baking it in the oven.  Her reply was that it was tradition and her mother always done it.  Now that everyone was talking about the strange tradition all the attention turned to the grandmother.  “Why did you always cut big chunks off the sides of the ham before putting it into the oven to bake?”  Someone asked.  Her reply was, “Because my pan was too small.”

My wife and I met several families down there that had made it a tradition on New Year’s Day to take the plunge.  I saw people as old as seventy, eighty and probably even into their nineties and children as young as eight, nine, ten or eleven braving the elements to do something few people venture out to do in a lifetime.

Why do we do what we do?  If the Lord doesn’t come back anytime soon and I’m here twenty, thirty, forty years from now I want to tell my grandchildren and maybe my great-grandchildren about my polar bear plunge.  Who knows, maybe one day they’ll want to do it and I would want to be a part of that, even if it was nothing more than being a spectator.  I have seen way too many people say they wished they had done something when they were younger.   Sure, we’ve all done stupid stuff when we were young and some people would even say those that take the ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ is stupid or crazy for doing it.  One of my worst fears in life is that if I didn’t do it would I look back years from now with regret?  How many things are we going to look back on with regret in our golden twilight years wishing we had done differently?  Or done at all?  I look back on some things I did or didn’t do with regret now.  I certainly didn’t need or want another.

Now some of those people who said I was crazy and wouldn’t do it with me are now telling me they want to do it with me next year.  I didn’t say I was going to do it again but I’m not going to say I won’t either.  It remains to be seen.  I will say this: I have never felt more exhilarated since I took that plunge in the Gulf of Mexico back on New Year’s Day. Maybe it was something I was so excited to do with a bunch of other people that my adrenalin hasn’t worn off yet.  Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Do something spontaneous in 2018.  Do something because it’s out of the norm for you. Nothing illegal of course but live life a little and enjoy it.  Don’t sit around when you’re too old to do anything enjoyable and think back and wish what could have been.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Will You Celebrate The Victory Tomorrow?

The Iron Bowl is over and the Auburn Tigers won the game;
The Crimson Tide went down like a house in flames.
The victory is sweet, bragging rights for an entire year;
They’ll start rolling Toomer’s Corner as they celebrate and cheer.

Fans storm the field as number one was taken out;
“There’s a new number one in the state!” they boast and shout.
The winners are exuberate, the losers are feeling sore;
The defeated quickly leave, making their way for the door.

Will you stay up and out too late to celebrate or complain?
Will you have a headache tomorrow or have other aches and pains?
Will you be too tired from all that transpired today?
Will you stay at home so you don’t have to hear what others have to say?

Will you go to church tomorrow, wearing your team colors with pride?
Will Sunday School consume what someone said on the other side?
Will your thoughts be on the game and not spiritual food you’re being fed?
Will you be too tired and sleepy to hear what the minister said?

Will you celebrate the victory, the victory you can have tomorrow?
Will you celebrate a victory of life, a life without sorrow?
Will you shout just as loud, like you did for your team?
Will you stay away from church and not want to be seen?

Will you celebrate just as much tomorrow for a greater cause?
Will you leap to your feet, clap your hands in joy for it all?
Will you go to church to enjoy and celebrate the win?
I’m not talking about celebrating a ball game, I’m talking about a life free of sin.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. ( 1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV )

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