Always Choose The Wing (a revisit)

  (A reflection of Character)

WELL HOWDY FRIENDS. Good news, good news. The Tin Cup Clan’s new digs is almost done. But let me tell you…these ol’ bones feel every nail and hammer blow. Since I’ve been rather short on time of late I’ve been repostin’ some of the older stuff. I figured this might give our newer members a chance to catch up a bit. But that’s about to come to an end!!! This should be the last of the reposts’. But don’t let that keep ya from reading on.

Ya see…many a lesson can be learned from the humblest of items. In the past we’ve discussed pink socks, button jars, DWB’s, and so on. But for now, let’s talk about the lowly chicken wing. So just for a minute or two why don’t you sit down, clear yer head of all the nonsense goin’ on around you. Then let this simple little chicken appendage bounce around in that ol’ noggin’ of your’s.

Never can tell…you might just learn somethin’ before we’re done.

ALWAYS CHOOSE THE WING.

Southern folk are a peculiar folk, raised a bit different we were, but southern “mountain” folk…well, that’s another subject entirely. I’m afraid I cain’t speak for everyone else, all I can do is relate insight on how I was taught, unfortunately, that’s a time long gone. This new-found writing career of mine has taught me to find stories in the most unusual of circumstances. One of these circumstances presented itself just the other evening whilst I sat staring at (of all things), a platter of fried chicken. You, my dear friends are about to discover one of life’s most important lessons, you’re about to find out why… “you should always choose the wing.” So, fasten your seat belts folks, here we go.

Back in the day… long before they were slathered in Buffalo sauce; or attained center stage in trendy eateries. Long before they found themselves delivered by barely covered young ladies, only to be gnawed on by beer soaked middle-aged men. (I’m referring to the wings not the ladies). These humble and understated parts of the chicken were known by one and all as “poor people” food. Yep, that’s right… it wasn’t very long-ago, wings were most often bought by the gallon bucket at your local Piggly Wiggly. Wings, livers, and gizzards gave the most bang for the buck, and let me tell you something…I ate more than my fair share of those things. Well… not the gizzards, I don’t like ’em, the longer you chew ’em, the bigger they get. Where’s this going you ask? Well…hold on a minute, we’re just about there.

You see…there’s a lesson to be learned in the humble wing, you could say a quiet, solemn, sense of purpose, free from vanity (unlike those prima-donnas of the poultry world known as chicken breasts), and those thighs… well we’ve all heard stories about those guys. Nope…the wings have a job to do and they know it, and part of that job is teaching us just a little about “humility.”

I was told as a child, “better a peaceful penny than a stricken dollar.” As a boy I could never make sense of that, but now…I get it. Our world is full to the brim, packed tight with folk after the best, the fastest, biggest, most expensive, me, me, me, my time, my life, my this or that. And at what cost?

In my not so humble opinion, life needs to be a bit more like the supper table, and that platter of fried chicken, (told ya we’d get there). My mother never, and I mean never grabbed the first, or the last of anything. Grabbing the first piece was frowned on, and viewed as arrogant and self serving, while grabbing the last was seen as selfish and uncaring. In our house, this resulted in a dozen or so hands grasping at the same plate at the same time. For more of this, refer to the great Jerry Clower and his story “The last piece of chicken.” The nuts and bolts of this little tale boils down to watching out for the one behind you. As crazy as this may sound…the type of piece you choose, reflects the personality you posses.

Let’s get preachy: Romans 12: 10 NIV

“Honor one another above yourselves”

Get it now? Watch out for the one behind, or beside you. Don’t go around grabbing the best parts, don’t go around leaving nothing for the next to arrive. Stop thinking so much of yourself and focus on your neighbor. All of this from a chicken wing; never saw that coming did ya? But wait, there’s more.

Remember the sacrifice made by our parents? In a large family with extremely limited resources, it was common to hear Ma’ say, “well, I didn’t really like pie anyhow, or, I’m not in the mood for chicken tonight.” She was always the first to make the sacrifice when there wasn’t enough to go around. We need more of that; we need more folks willin’ to take the high road.

Preachy again…   Luke 14:10 NIV

“But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, “Friend, move up to a better place.” Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.”

My stepdad told me, “never be the first to enter a room.” That stuck with me, when I open the door now, I let the person behind me enter first, out of instinct, not strength of character on my part, or a conscious decision, it just happens, like blinking. “It’s impossible to straighten the bend in the oak, the crook that grew in the sapling.” Ever heard that one? Ever had the door shut in your face at the grocers? Yea…that dude grabs the breast off the platter every time, I guarantee it. Next time you’re at the Piggly Wiggly, Stop, open the door for a stranger, Please.

All this, and we’re still talking about a chicken wing, what about that. Once again, that little wing teaches us humility, and in an odd sort of way, makes a better person. So…as you go through life remember, don’t be the first to enter the room, it has a Ta,da, aura about it, nobody likes it I promise. Make sure and take the lowest seat at the table, both literally and figuratively, trust me, it’s embarrassing if someone asks you to move a few seats back. You may be the center of “your” universe, but you ain’t the center of “the” universe. Yea… that one’s not original either. Never take the last piece, or slice of anything unless asked, once again, literally and figuratively, doing so makes you come off as selfish and inconsiderate. And finally, always grab the humble wing, leave that breast for momma. That little wing is sorta like an outward manifestation of inner humility. (hey, that little comment’s an original, with a big word thrown in for extra measure). For once, let someone else have the best piece, you’ll get yours, I promise. Trust me, folks will notice and tell others, just like I have passed it on to you. “We need a lot more folks chewin’ on a wing, and far fewer chokin’ on their words.” (That was another original). So, this Saturday go out and grab ye’self a big ol’ bucket of wings, Come Sunday you’ll be sittin’ about that table just drippin’ with humility. But that’s just my opinion, feel free to make it your own.

If you like this little tale I would appreciate it if you would share it, at least once. You gotta know somebody who needs to read it, we all do. Leave a comment if you can, I sure do love reading them. Till next time… Thank You, from The Tin Cup Clan. Better still, press the follow button, I’m trying to build a platform here.

The Rolling Store

I posted this some time ago, but thought I might share it again for those who missed it.

During my childhood in the hills of East Tennessee, the most popular, though somewhat less dependable method of social interaction, came in the form of an old truck known by all as the “rolling store.” As kids, we looked forward to the weekly visit nearly as much as Santa Claus. Many a childhood memory centers around this wonder of modern technology, and I remember the truck like it was just yesterday.

 It was an old Chevy truck covered in a rich patina of faded blue paint and rust, complete with areas’ worn to rusted metal by years of winter salt and summer mud. I believe every window was cracked, yellowed, or frosted white around the edges by age and the glaring sun.

The front of the truck was dominated by a large white(ish) grill, which from a distance blessed the ol’ truck with a goofy sort of smile. That grill bore the scars of countless chips, dents, and dings from countless miles of gravel and dusty country roads. The grill hung tenaciously to the rusting metal by various odd nuts and bolts, along with bits of twisted wire and bailing twine.

Countless insects: frozen in the midst of their death throws hung suspended in time behind the metal teeth. All manner of moth and butterfly hung there, frozen in time and appearance. A Lepidopterist could hardly have done a finer job.

Every now and then we would find a small unlucky bird, dried by the summer air rushing through the radiator. Of course, in the minds of two young boys this was irresistible, providing countless specimens to play with at a later date. But this could be tricky, the hot air dried the little bodies out in the extreme, and great care had to be taken as not to crumble the body of a lunar moth, cicada, or small finch.

Behind the worn cab was an extremely large white box, corners smashed in from low hanging branches. A heavy roll up door was at the rear of the box and below the door a large deck. This served as a porch for the driver and counter-space or leaning post for the countless patrons. The proprietor walked on a wooden floor worn smooth by time and traffic.

The ancient wood was periodically “cleaned” with motor-oil, then kerosene was used as a preservative. Well-worn pathways were a lighter color and stained from countless spills.

Coat upon coat of white paint covered the wooden shelves that lined the walls. These shelves were well stocked with any number of goods that a rural family might require. Next to the roll-up door sat an antique brass cash register, whenever the drawer would open a bell would ring a crisp clean “ding” that echoed in the old box.

Every Friday we would hear it rattling down the road. Calling women of the household to gather at the end of their drives or, should they live on a dirt road, down to where the chip and tar began. There they would wait patiently, kids in tow, an adult version of waiting on the school bus.

Many women carried all manner of handmade wares or different sorts of homemade foods. All neatly wrapped in brown paper or scraps of cloth, then carefully tied with sisal twine. These items were considered more valuable than paper currency, and were bartered for needed staples such as flour, sugar, lard, and coffee.

Bartering was an all-important and expected method of exchanging goods’; the value of these staples was dependent on quality and the reputation of their creator. Therefore, the makers of truly exceptional commodities soon became well known and respected along the route. One such lady was known to everyone as “Granny Smith.”

“Granny” lived next to us in a large run-down farmhouse. The backyard was full of chickens and outbuildings, all of them in various states of disrepair. The collection included the usual lot a person might expect to find on such a homestead.

Chicken coop, root cellar, spring house, the list goes on. Climbing Rose, Clematis, Wisteria and other climbing flowers covered the sides of these structures so thick that some appear to be the only thing saving the buildings from certain collapse. Thousands of colorful insects filled the air around her house, buzzing and fluttering from flower to flower, blessing the entire yard with an almost surreal and fairytale appearance.

I would escape and pay her a visit any time I had a chance. The rather portly old woman could usually be found in the same apron and bonnet. The fabric with it’s pretty Lilac print no doubt sewn by her own hand. There she sat, on the large front porch in her favorite rocking chair, humming to herself as she broke beans or shelled peas.

If I were extremely lucky, she would be sitting there singing to herself quietly as she churned butter. She pumped the handle in perfect cadence while singing the same old song. “Poor little possum in a pawpaw patch pickin’ up pawpaws puttin’ ’em in his pocket”, over and over. She didn’t have a single tooth in her head, nary a one, this gave the words a warm and comforting dialect.

She usually held a dip of snuff tight in her lip. I swear that woman could pick a gnat off a dog’s butt at ten yards when she spit. Come to think of it, most “granny” women of the day were pretty accurate, years of practice had made them expert marksmen.

I looked forward to taking my turn at the handle and never missed any opportunity to do so. There in the summer heat we would sit, churning butter and singing about possums and paw-paws.  The resulting sweet butter was cool and savory on my tongue, I can almost taste it now as I think back and write these words.

The butter was pressed into antique hand carved wooden molds then chilled in the spring house. Each pound of butter was then wrapped in waxed paper and sat on a shelf in the same spring house to mature and cool, waiting for the rolling store to make its weekly rounds.

Her goods were of particular value and fetched a relatively high price. Folks were certain to ask for them by name, as a result these didn’t last long on the truck.

At each stop, the ladies would step up to the counter, proudly spread out their goods for inspection and the bartering would begin. If cash exchanged hands; the bell on the old register would ring loud and clear.

Credit was routinely extended with a simple handshake and a promise; followed by a note stuck on the wall by a nail. Few even considered breaking they’re word for risk of a bad name. Times were different then.

If a holiday or special event was approaching, items such as buttons, thread, zippers, and fabric were in high demand.

If it had been a particularly good week, meaning my brother and I had found a few soda bottles, we were allowed to trade them in for a couple of “Peanut Butter Cups.” We rarely received any candy, so such an event was not to be taken lightly. To this very day I swear the peanut butter cups were twice the size and far tastier than these “so called” modern versions. (But that’s a story for another time).

With the bartering now finished and the bills paid or charged, usually the latter. It was time for the important stuff to begin, time to gossip, spread the news or catch up. This waited until the very last of course; because everybody knows you don’t mix business with pleasure.

Gossip flew in the summer like fireflies; the news was passed down the line becoming more exaggerated with each telling. Open mouths, “aww shucks,” “you don’t say,” and “oh my Gods” were exclaimed in hushed tones. Finally, after all was said and done, the doors closed, hands were shook and the truck slowly began rattling its way down the old road once again.

Time for the ladies with kids in tow to make their way back to their homes and restock their cupboards. A new list of needs was started, and the wait began anew for the next visit by this long-gone icon of my childhood.

While I wrote this story; I thought I would do a quick search. On the interweb I clicked in rolling store. (Go ahead, try it!) There I found several old rusting hulks, covered over with weeds and vines, their travelling days over. Letters that once proudly proclaimed the proprietor’s name were now faded and barely readable. It’s a sad reminder of our time and I wonder how long it will be until no one is left who remembers the “Rolling store.” But now dear reader; I believe you will, at least for a while.

I would appreciate it if you would take the time to share these stories, maybe even go so far as to follow this page. Oh…and don’t forget to Google “Rolling Stores,” and get a look at these long gone staples of rural life.

The Trouble with Pink Socks

Once again I find myself apologizing; I’ve really let you folks down with the posts (or lack of) lately. Things have been a little hectic around the Tin Cup Clan’s new domicile. So busy in fact, I’ve found myself thinking of little else. That was until today…when for some unbeknownst to me reason, I found myself thinking of “pink socks.”

Wow…I heard the collective sigh loud and clear. But bare with me for a while and let me preach on, it’ll all make perfect sense, I promise.

Now back to this pink socks epiphany. The whole thing began innocently enough on a cool spring morning, on picture perfect New England beach.

The good Lord has blessed me with the honor of calling a great many places in this great country home at one time or another, and I loved calling the new England coast line home for a while.

One of my favorite things to do was get up early in the morning so my wife and I could stop by the beach on the way to work. There we would sit on the rocky coast, enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the lobster boats go out as the sun peeked his head above the horizon.

So…there I was, sitting on my special rock, sipping my insanely over priced coffee, while watching a lone fishing boat as it slowly disappeared into an early morning mist. (Yea, got ya hearin’ that sappy background music right about now don’t I?)

Then suddenly, harshly, and without warning, (cue the needle scratching across that background record.) “Why are you wearing pink socks”?

In that instant I forgot about the sunrise, the fishing boat, the ocean, I forgot it all as I looked down in horror. She was right, some how in the early morning dark I had picked up a pair of her socks and there wasn’t enough time to go back and change. To some guys this wouldn’t be a problem, but to a strapping young buck like my self this was an utter and complete catastrophe.

All I could think about throughout the entire day were those damn girly socks which I was certain were eating away my ankles.

Here comes the lesson. My point is simple, that morning and everything that led up to it is a treasured memory, but everything after the sock statement is gone, but more likely it was never there to begin with. I was focused on those socks. How many firsts did I miss that day? How many once in a life time moments. Was there a special cloud I missed? Perhaps some one needed help and I didn’t notice? I could go on and on.

My point is…sometimes we all have “pink sock” days. Oh they may seem harmless at first, the guy that cut us off on the freeway, that snob that cut the line at the store, but what they steal from us, well…that’s something we’ll never know. We may spend the entire day stewing over ’em, and never take time to notice the fishing boat, or the sun set on the way home. We can never measure what those little burrs cost us, but we know the loss is there. We feel it some how, not the weight but the absence of weight, the “muchness” of it all. Deep down we may feel a little… less some how. Life gives us gifts daily, but even gifts come at a price. That price is our attention, and our gratitude for the small things. After all…those are the things we remember. All this from a pair of pink socks.

Friends… most times it’s not the big things that derail us. Oft times it’s the smallest, and that small size makes them truly deadly. Don’t let ’em do that. Forget about that guy on the freeway, stop thinking about the line cutter at the store. After all, they certainly ain’t thinking about you. So quit letting people or things live rent free in your head, and remember…watch the boats, soak in the sun rise, enjoy the coffee, and always, and I do mean always check those socks before you put ’em on.

As always The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for your valuable time. We’re honored that you chose to spend a bit of with us. If you liked it, make our day. Like and share (especially share.) Leave a comment, we sure do love the comments.

God Bless…..Thank You…The Tin Cup Clan

Did Ye’ wipe Ye” Feet ‘fore Ye’ Got in the Bed?

It’s been a while since the last post, but I got a good reason I promise. You see, a few years ago the little Mrs. and myself moved off to the beach for a while. Since then we’ve been blessed with no less than seven grand-babies. These damnable treatments combined with the travel distance made moving back to our beloved mountains a “no-brainer.”

We bought ourselves a little farmhouse nestled in the hills of north east Tennessee. I love it here, I’m close to the kids and the blessing of a post card view greets me around every corner. Praise the Good Lord I’m finally home. But Lordy mercy this place needs work, not just a little work naw sir. I’m talkin’ sittin’ on the pot whilst starin’ at the floor joists kinda work. For a far more detailed explanation of this; please refer to the story about the “Outhouse,” just search back a little you can find it. Yea… that’s the one, but a more “grown up” version.

We have no choice but to live in our little construction zone. We keep telling ourselves we can do this and encourage ourselves up by remembering “This momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory.” Kinda paraphrased the Good Lord there, but I’m sure he won’t mind, considerin’ our givin’ situation.

I was gettin’ ready for a well deserved night’s sleep when the little woman ask me a question. It was the same question she’s been asking almost every night since she was lucky enough to marry me. Only this time it made me stop and think a bit.

“Did ye wipe ye feet fore ye got into bed ?

Now I’m certain I’m not the only one what’s grown up hearin’ this same late night question right before shovin’ those freezin’ tootsies ‘neath the quilt.

There’s a logical reason behind it you see. The simple act of walkin’ to the bedroom (no matter how clean your floor may be), attracts any and all manner of microscopic pieces of flotsam and jetsam. It seems dust bunnies wait for that very instant you walk by with nothing but a good slumber on your mind. Like Ninjas’ they attach themselves to the bottoms of your feet. Then by some miracle, seem grow to five hundred million times their original size once they make it under those covers. Once again…at night

Then…it hit this ol’ noggin of mine, (Are you ready? Here’s where it get philisophical).

I figure the same rules apply to Life. Think about it for a bit, really think about it. As we walk through this grand scheme we call life, we cain’t help but get things stuck to the bottoms of our feet. Oh sure…as the day goes on we don’t give ’em a second thought, a harsh word to that certain stranger, a cold shoulder when a loved one needs our attention. A missed “Thank you,” or “You’re welcome.” We’re just to busy right now. Sound familiar? Things that simply happen during the normal passin’ of the day. Stuff to small to matter. Right?

These things stick to us, alone they’re small, undetectable, nothing really. But they matter, they accumulate, they have weight and sooner or later they begin to burden our steps. Funny thing, the burden builds so slowly we don’t recognise the weight. Without knowin’ we begin carryin’ the ponderous heft of a life time of microscopic schmutz.

But when we sleep… when we shove those toes under the sheets, those burdens begin to feel like broken glass to our bare “feet.” Minds race, thoughts scream at us, we wake in the morning feelin’ like we’ve never slept at all. To often…folks don’t know why they’re so uncomfortable, so burdened when they turn in for the night.

Won’t you do me a favor when you sit on the edge of your bed tonight?

Don’t forget to wipe your feet before gettin’ in the bed. Then stop for a second…take a deep breath, and think about your day. Then lower your head, close your eyes and wipe those “other feet” as well. You may be surprised at what’s stuck there, maybe even a little embarrassed. But boy howdy you’re sure gonna sleep better, I promise. Never know…you might wake up in the mornin’ and feel rested for the first time in ages.

Just thought I’d share this with you folks. I’m sure it ain’t gonna change any lives, or bring about world peace. But hey…it might help. Just a thought from the Tin Cup boys.

Once again as always; The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for spendin’ a bit of your time with us. Times as they are, we’re sure you have more important things to be doin’ and we’re humbled that you choose to spend some of it with us.

Don’t forget to hit a few buttons below, share this with a friend or two, maybe even go so far as to leave a comment. Thank You and God Bless.

Do You Have a “Loser’s Limp?”

I reckon I need to begin with an apology. Things have been a bit busy of late and my posts have suffered. I find myself answering E-mails inquiring if I am still among the living. Well believe it or not, I’m still kicking. But I fear there may be one or two out there that may view such news as depressing to say the least.

Of late we have been talking about the word “normal’ and how it applies to each of the boy’s families. Personally I don’t care for the word, boiled down to it’s simplest meaning it’s little more than a unit of measure, and a poor one at that. Relative in it’s definition and subject to the opinions of the person holding the measuring tape.

This week we visit Mikey and his family. Remember when I talked about how Chucky’s family circled the wagons when hard times hit? Well…Mikey wasn’t so fortunate.

Excerpt : Chapter (1)

It was cold in the house, not freezing cold, just cold enough to make a person miserable. The kind of cold that seeps into your bones like wet mold, making every joint painful and slow to move.

The kerosene furnace had once again died during the night. Seems like the only time the ol’ girl decides to give up the ghost is when she can cause the most discomfort. Mom had the oven door open in a desperate effort to get some manner of heat into the kitchen. It didn’t do a lot of good really, the trailer had so many air leaks we might as well be camping in the great outdoors.

But as usual, there we stood; holding our hands out in front of the open oven door, pretending the glowing coils were a campfire. The two of us rubbed our hands together and slapped our arms shaking off the chill. If it was really cold, she would pull a chair to the front of the oven, there she would sit, waving heat into the room with a piece of cardboard. Once her arms began to ache, we would take turns.

I’ll work on the ol’ girl when I get outta school I said.

Though young, she looked worn and battle weary. A hard life had carved deep furrows into her worried face, and the elegant brown hair of youth was now polluted with streaks of weathered grey.

“Do we have any kerosene left” she asked.

Yea. I think there’s another five gallons or so out back I replied.

I was used to working on the ol’ girl. Heck, I’ve had her apart about a million times. I knew every nut, every bolt, and every mood swing. Yep, we kinda got a love hate relationship that stove and me. I hate to work on her, but I swear she loves the attention.

 But enough of that, we had a schedule to keep. Missing the bus weren’t an option, not that we couldn’t walk to school naw sir. Missing that bus meant I’d end up missing out on school breakfast, and that was something I just couldn’t allow.

You see…Mikey’s normal is him and his mother, the wagons didn’t circle for them. When times got tough, his dad left. I don’t discuss the matter much in the books, he’s gone simple as that. This was a time before government checks, before safety nets and federal programs. School “free lunch” program meant taking your turn working in the lunch room washing dishes. Oft times, needed groceries were bought with a signature in the store ledger. and more than once, the electric bill was mysteriously paid by persons unknown. That’s Mikey’s “normal.”

I’m not Mikey, but he and I are a lot more alike than we are different. I remember those times, I remember mom coming home late at night so tired she couldn’t eat. I remember no heat in the winter, and my sisters sleeping in the living room floor while we waved heat from an open oven. And I remember Christmas baskets, and the smell of apples, oranges, candy and spices as I held the box tightly to my chest. This was our normal.

I once read about something called a “loser’s limp.” I don’t remember where, but I believe it fits today more than ever. Whenever a ballplayer loses the ball, flubs a play, or strikes out, watch him as he walks off the field. Most of the time you will notice a limp, slight yes but a limp just the same.(Go ahead, look for it next time). I’ve heard folks call it a physical manifestation of failure, others call it a plea for sympathy. I’m just gonna let you ponder it and make up your own mind.

You see…we have choices in life. We can walk around with a “loser’s limp,” blaming our childhood, our circumstances, our whatever. It’s not my fault, they made me this way. Or…we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and walk off the field with our head held high, damn the limp. We can choose to show our scars, they tell a story. We can choose to remember the time the electric bill was paid by that unknown someone. Then, if we are blessed with the means, pay it forward. Then sit back and remember the smell of that Christmas basket.

So dear reader…I reckon Mikey’s “normal” is my “normal” after all. My mother was both parents and I think she did a fine job. She’s a proud Appalachian lady and she taught us to work with what the good Lord blessed us with. She taught us the value of hard work and humility (a trait in short supply today). From time to time I find myself limping, sometimes it just happens. Sometimes I have to remember sitting in front of that stove to snap out of it. I am proud of my “normal,” what’s yours…think about that for a while, after all, there is no right or wrong one.

I’m not sure what the next post will be about, I think I’m in the mood for a story, a funny one. I got one about pink socks, yea…maybe pink socks.

As usual dear reader, I’m gonna close with a heart felt Thank You from the Tin Cup Clan. I know you have more important things to do and we’re honored you chose to spend some of your time with us. Please remember to hit a few buttons and share or like…maybe even tell us your thoughts. There is also a Tin Cup Clan FB page stop by for a visit and be sure and like that as well. God Bless.

It’s said; “There comes’ a point”

As a rule I do my best to keep my “self” outta the posts and excerpts. Instead, I focus on the boys, the book, life growing up in the mountains, and every now and then throw a bit of a “lesson” in the pot. But…a few things have happened since we last met forcing me to accept the unpleasant fact that…I may very well have been wrong about a couple of things. Namely my old trusted and true motto; ” We all reach a point in our lives when life stops giving stuff, and begins taking stuff away.” This will eventually make sense if you bare with me, I promise.

About three years ago I really took that little phrase to heart and for lack of a better term it kinda became my “montra.” I reckon you might say I found comfort in it, it provided me with a reason “albeit a feeble one” behind this blasted cancer. I hadn’t given up…far from it, but I accepted it. I hadn’t stopped fighting the battles, but I knew who was gonna win the war, yep…life had begun taking a lot more than it provided.

BUT I WAS WRONG

Just last week I met my new grandson for the first time, he’s my daughter’s third son. Only a couple days ago, my son welcomed a set of triplets, giving him a total of four sons, I haven’t been introduced to them yet, but I plan on our first meeting this weekend. That gives me a total of seven grandsons, Kaden, Taylon, Saylor, Landry, Lennox, Maddox, and Amaris. (I’m sure I misspelled at least one of ’em)

Once Landry had fallen asleep, my daughter laid him on my chest, his head tucked under my chin and I held him tight, (but not too tight). I have a rather long grey beard ( yea yea I know, Hillbilly, long beard, I get the joke),and he snuggled his head into it as one would a pillow. I closed my eyes and relaxed, he smelled good. Warm and pure, soothing and innocent, if life and Love has a scent this has to be it.

By the time you read this I hope to have met the triplets, I want to hold them to my chest, close my eyes, feel them, smell them as well, and relax. I’m sure there’s plenty of room for three on this ol’ grey beard and plenty of room under my chin.

My disease has forced me to build a world and I began to put that world on paper. The Tin Cup Clan. Those boys are very real to me, they’re adventures have afforded me an escape from the never ending Chemotherapy and radiation. When I feel life takes away a little to much, I escape there, I find myself riding along beside them down a country road. In that world they will forever chase witches and legends, search for the unknown, gain and lose friendships, fail and learn from they’re mistakes. and they will love. They’re problems are my problems, but cancer will never be one of them.

In some ways I had all but given up on life in the “real” world. But just a few days ago I realized; Life was still giving. Yes Yes, it was taking a great deal, but it was still giving as well, in the form of family, and the smell of newborn grandsons.

The good Lord has richly blessed me with a wonderful son, three fabulous daughters, and seven incredible grandsons. Chances are; I won’t be around to see them all grow up, I’m not saying I’m OK with that, but I do plan on enjoying the time I have with them and count it an honor and time well spent.

The next few posts are gonna revolve around family, it’s time you met big David’s, Stick’s, Chucky’s, and Mark’s. I might even be so bold as to say you’re gonna feel right at home, maybe even sit down a spell, maybe…shake loose some old memories. The boys will prove that family comes in all shapes and sizes, there is no true “normal,” and each has it’s own unique hurdles. I hope you find your self in one of ’em.

With these new births, The Tin Cup Clan is growing. Family is growing, and if you’re reading this, you’re family and we’re happy you’re here. Thank You for choosing to spend just a bit of you’re time with us. Until next time; God bless and I hope life keeps givin’ for ya.

D.W.B.s and Why Everyone Should Know What They Are.

I brag about my stepdad a lot, that’s not news for those what know me. I was a tad worried when that crusty ol’ yankee came into our lives. We were from two different worlds’; he didn’t understand much of what I said, and I sure didn’t understand that New York accent of his. But Ma seemed to be happy with the arrangement, and as the “man of the house” I went along with it. After all, back in those days; finding a feller to take on a divorced lady and her band of four heathens was no easy task, even if we were all just “perfect angels.”

I don’t know when it happened, but sooner or later that ol’ coot started to grow on us. Possible because he looked the part, I rarely seen him in anything other than his bib overalls and long sleeve shirt. A gnawed toothpick eternally hung from one corner of his mouth, while a lit cigarette hung from the other. He kept a large ashtray by his recliner, but it was only a general target, evidenced by the ring of ashes circling it.

His nature was loud to say the least, and anything he had to say was generally heard by everyone in the room, (whether they wanted to be a participant in the conversation or not). He had the “particular” habit of calling me by my formal name, never “Mike” but “Michael,” and he began every conversation with it.

I can’t begin to list all the advice he passed down to my teen-aged self. Most of them are just…automatic now, I don’t think about them, they just seem to be there and happen, like blinking, you don’t think about it, you just blink. But one piece of advice sticks out above all else, it’s a list, and I’ve tried to pass at least one item from that list to each member of The Tin Cup boys.

That list, titled by my stepdad was known as your D.W.B.s’. More formally known as your “Damn. Well. Betters’.” (Right now, my kids are reading this and shaking their heads, yea…they’ve heard em before.

D.W.B.# 1

“Michael” (see there, he did it again). You damn well better pay your taxes, “Render unto Caesar” he would say. It’s your responsibility to pay your fair share, after all, it’s a small price to pay so’s you and your family can lay down and sleep at night, free from the fear of some cracker head breaking in and taking it from ya. This country ain’t perfect…but it’s a damn sight better than most. “ Now I don’t know about you” he would say, “but I got no desire to be standing in line to buy cheap government issued toilet paper.” Besides…you don’t want em getting their hooks in you if you don’t pay em. He called em “hooks” not “claws,” claws you can just pull out, but hooks, they’re a different story, you can’t pull em out, they got barbs. Once the government gets those hooks in you for non-payment, they ain’t letting go. So…good Lord willing, I’ve paid em what I owe em, ain’t got no hooks in me to speak of yet.

D.W.B.# 2

“Michael” (there it is again). You damn well better realize there is a “Higher Power.” Now you can call this “Higher Power” what you want, “but believe you me brother,” (he said that a lot as well) there’s a divine force pulling the strings. “You may be the center of “your” universe, but you’re not the center of “the” universe,” I guarantee it. We as children of God have the responsibility of looking out for the one on our right. Think about that for a second, it makes sense. As children, we answer to our parents, we have rules and like it or not, we have limits. A five-year-old may want ice-cream for breakfast, but as a parent, it’s our responsibility to say no. Adults and parents aren’t any different, we (adults) also have rules and limits. We can’t have everything we want, or do anything we want, oft times those things aren’t good for us in the long run, so sometimes God says “no.” Kids need to feel comfortable asking their parents for advice, just as adults need to feel comfortable asking God for advice. Often we may not like the answer, just like the ice-cream.

D.W.B.# 3

“Michael” (you knew that was coming). You damn well better fix that toy. This is a big one for parents, so pay attention. A child will never bring you a broken heart if they can’t bring you a broken toy. (I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute while you read it again). Don’t get so caught up with life and all its troubles, that you don’t have time to fix that broken toy and wipe that tear from your little ones cheek. When your child brings you a headless doll, or a crashed toy car, all things gotta stop. Period. To them, that bobble is their heart and their world, and they’re asking you (trusting you) to fix it, and they die a little inside, each time you don’t have time for them. When they get older, the toy is replaced with more grown-up issues, they need to know they can bring that to you in safety as well, they gotta know they matter, and you will do your absolute best.

D.W.B.# 4

“Michael” (aww come on, you didn’t expect to stop now). You damn well better open the door and take off the hat. This one can get a little sticky so bear with me. This revolves entirely around respect. Never forget to open the door for the person behind you, especially if that person is a lady. It’s simple manners that many have forgotten. The practice serves two purposes. Doing so humbles you in the company of others, that’s an honorable thing no matter how important you think you are. (Refer to #2), not the center of “the“ universe thing, remember? This little habit reminds us of our place in this world and our responsibility daily. The next and most important, is respect. This small act of humility honors the other, especially should that person be older. They have done their time, gained a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom, and are worthy of our (your) respect. I’m gonna inject a little of my own here and ask something of you. The next time you are waiting in the drive through, getting your morning coffee and sausage biscuit, pay the tab for the person in the car behind you. Don’t wait around for recognition just do it, that’s between you and God, (he notices stuff like that), trust me on this one. You’d be surprised how much it brightens their day, remember, take care of the person to your right, (also from #2). Finally, never sit at the table with your hat on. To some this may seem rather trivial, but in removing your hat you demonstrate reverence to your Heavenly father for providing you the means to afford and enjoy the meal you have been blessed with, as well as respect for the one who prepared it for you.

D.W.B.# 5 “Michael” (you knew it was coming). Family is everything, especially when you don’t like em. Relationships are like the tide; they ebb and flow. Some days they’re so sweet you could eat em up, and other days you wish you had. (feel free to use that quote). Nobody gets along all the time, if that’s what you expect, you’re destined for heartache. We age we change, we hurt we heal, we forgive… and we love. In a perfect world love is unconditional, unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. So…God gave us families, a group of imperfect individuals to help bare the burden when life gets to heavy for one. We may (and will) fight and argue, we may say and do things we shouldn’t, we forget birthdays and anniversaries. We may even take each other for granted. But in the end, we are all we have, and quiet possibly all we need, ain’t it wonderful! You see…he “that Higher Power” designed us that way, and the last time I checked, he don’t make no mistakes.

D.W.B.# 6 “Michael” (Last one I promise). Never break a covenant. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. When you give a man your word, or shake a man’s hand, that’s the end of it. You can’t break a covenant, not even the good Lord will break that. To this day, If I pump a man’s paw, I know it’s serious business, I still conduct a lot of my affairs that way, and I warn folks about the importance before they grab my hand. I get the short end a good many times, but as long as you keep your end of the bargain, you can sleep well at night.

So there’s the D.W.B.s, you might even want to put em on your refrigerator, right next to the crayon drawing of the family dog. I’ve tried to instill at least one of these D.W.B.s into each of my boys in the books. My hope is, when you read it, you will see it in their personalities. The release date is still up in the air, times as they are and all, publisher says they are doing their best. Until then I request and Thank You for your patience. As always, a “like” or “share” is greatly appreciated, and I enjoy the comments. There is also a “Tin Cup Clan” FB page, you are welcomed to join us.   Till next time…. sincerely, The Tin Cup Clan.

Lessons from my “Dad”

The man I came to refer as my dad in fact wasn’t. My “real” father decided early on that four children weren’t worth his time, so off he went in search of greener pastures, softer women, shiny cars, etc. etc.

My mother was then faced with the insurmountable task of raising two boys and two girls (one suffering with severe diabetes) quiet alone in a time before all the “support” commonplace in this day and age.

The courts forced my “father” to do right by us. He begrudgingly sent fifteen, that’s right fifteen dollars per child per week to my mother. She supplemented that with a night shift job which paid three dollars an hour. Our baby sister’s medical needs ate up a great portion of that.

We lived in an old mobile home on a rented lot. The floor was collapsing in several places and the electric worked in only a few outlets, extension cords crossed the floor like strands of yarn. The kerosene furnace seldom worked; many a winter’s night was spent under quilts on the living room floor while we took turns waving heat from an open oven with a piece of cardboard. Some nights so cold we placed an old hairdryer under the blankets to keep my little sister’s feet warm, (a problem with diabetes). Broken windows were sealed with sheet plastic and tape, while leaky doors were sealed with rags and towels.

Looking back, I am awestruck by her courage and force of sheer will. There were no monthly checks, no Government assistance, no help with rent or utilities. She did it all, and did it against all odds. In a time when divorce was viewed with indifference by some and disgust by others, she persevered.

The pressure seemed to roll off her “like water off a duck’s back,” but as an adult and a parent, I now understand the pressures she was under, and she worked fervently to keep us blind to the reality. One of the very few times we caught even a glimpse of that pressure is burned forever in my memory.

She drove us to Huston Sellers grocery store one evening, we waited in the car as she went in. Money was short as usual, so she bought what we needed on “credit,” another little fact she kept hidden from us kids. I watched as she walked out, then stopped just a few feet from the door, there she wobbled a bit, and we stared in horror as she collapsed on the sidewalk. That evening I saw the ugly result of the weight she was bearing. Now a days when I hear the term “white privilege” I shake my head.

We survived that period in our lives as a family… yes, we had our problems like everyone else. But she forged a family in the amidst the turmoil. Time (as it does) moves on, we’re still close, though not as close as we once were, (another effect of time). Hemingway said, “we’re stronger in the broken places,” I am forced to agree. There is an unfortunate side effect to that strength, those broken places are left with a scare, a callus. That “suck it up” attitude, or “whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re probably right” thinking is strong in our clan, we know no other way.

Some tell me that I don’t take this Cancer of mine seriously enough. It’s bad and it’s spreading all the time. Why ain’t you freaking out? they ask. Ain’t you afraid of dying? So on and so on. Well…yes… yes to all the above. But faith and Fear can’t live in the same house, that lesson comes from her. I gotta admit, were it not for those lessons I would have imploded long ago.

We are blessed… at seventy-six years of age mom is still with us, and still full of piss and vinegar. About forty years ago she met a crusty old yankee, and he pulled us out of that mess, he didn’t have too. After all, what sane person would take on a woman and four “wild as a buck” kids, but he did, and we’re alive because of it. He’s passed on now, but he’s the one I call “Dad.” He taught me how to be a man, mom taught me how to be a person, he built on a solid foundation that she laid.

In the book series I modeled the main character’s mother after my own. In the pages you’ll get a glimpse of life for some of the mountain’s poorest. I hope you’re impressed by their strength of character and perseverance of spirit.

That’s what this article is about, “Father’s day,” and on this “Father’s Day” I celebrate my mother, for the greater part of my life she was both, and I think she done one hell of a job.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY MA, you deserve it.

Wisdom in a “Button Jar”

I want to introduce you to a couple of folk today. No, neither one is in the books, but each had a profound effect on me as a person. Neither were flashy, brash, or loud in any way. As a matter of fact, they’re lives came and went, and the world scarcely took notice. It does that, (the world), fanfare, and accolades are seldom showered on the humble, the quiet, the loving in heart and spirit. No… now-a-days folk look to the loud, the colorful, and oft times obnoxious for inspiration.

A few seconds… that’s all you need, just a few seconds on the “interweb,” or evening news and your heart and mind are assaulted by this new normal. Folk cain’t seem to get enough of it. We want more, we want faster, we want cheaper, we want no limits, we crave excitement, we’re addicted to the rush and we want it “our” way.

That’s why this post is so important. It appears we’ve lost our way, and a great many have forgotten the lessons left to us by our elders. We live in a time when many need a handful of pills to silence the voices at night, followed by another handful of pills to wake those same voices come morning. We’ve forgotten how to stop, be silent, and listen to that “still small voice.”

So dear friends, allow me to introduce you to Otha and Naomi Henry, I think you’re gonna like em.

Otha and Naomi were known to family and friends as Dadaw and Mamaw. They lived in a humble farmhouse that, to the best of my knowledge, he had built by his own hand in Townsend Tn. That home saw several children and for the most part they mirrored the same strength of character and wisdom of they’re parents.

Otha married the love of his life and from the beginning they were inseparable. I came to know them late in they’re life, Naomi was bed-ridden at this point. But every Sunday family would gather in her bedroom, there they would find her wrapped in home-made quilts and sitting up against the headboard with a broad smile on her face.

Otha tended to her every need with joy, time (as time does) may have been unkind to their bodies, but the spirit…well that was still bright as ever. The Lord finally saw fit to call Naomi home, and suddenly Otha was left without his “help me” as old folk call them.

But he still found a way to care for his dear wife. You see, every day he rose early and drove to the cemetery, there with nothing but a simple shovel he began to rebuild the stone wall that protected her resting place. To him, it was simply “the right thing to do.”

I pulled into his drive one day and found him sitting in a lawn chair beside a stump. On that stump sat an old cobalt blue button jar. He had poured the buttons out into a pile and was sorting through them. His white hair and neatly trimmed white beard hovered over the stump in deep concentration. I watched for a second or two as his finger slowly separated the buttons into groups known only to himself.

“What-cha doin’ Othie” I asked. He was quiet for a moment; his reply was profound. Oh…talkin’ to Naomi, he said. Those four words spoke volumes then, and they speak volumes now. He knew there was comfort to be found in the solitude, that’s where she waited for him. That’s where they talked and shared memories. I came to realize the need to stop, just stop for awhile and “talk” to those we love, past and present. The wisdom of the ages lies hidden in quiet contemplation. I visit that summer Sunday often in my dreams, he’s still there, sitting next to that old stump, talking to his beloved Naomi.

He finally finished that stone wall. Funny thing, it wasn’t long after he laid his shovel down, the Lord called him home to be with his beloved Naomi. Such a wonderful ending to such a wonderful romance. Why cain’t we find that same peace now a days? I’m sure I’m not smart enough to have the answer to that. But I do know this…it’s not the loud, obnoxious, over the top things that make a difference in our world. Most times it’s the small, the quiet, the humble acts that shake the ground and leave a lasting legacy. I know it did for me. Think about that for awhile and share this story, I’m sure there is someone in your life that needs it about now.

One last note…I’m not sure where that button jar is today, I’m certain some family member has it. I hope they know it’s significance, and I hope they have it sitting in a place of prominence. I sure wish I had it, I might just play with the buttons and talk to an old white haired man by the name of Otha Henry.  

A master of everything “Shag” Branch

By Michael Miller

I do my best with finding a “balance” of sharing short stories, things to think about, and of course filling everybody in on the “Tin Cup Clan.” But from time to time a certain story in particular may hound me to no end. I am truly honored (not to mention humbled) that folks find these words worthy of their time and stop just for a while and read them.

The following is one of those “particular” stories. It’s by no means a biography, far from it. It’s in it’s simplest definition, the recollections of a very young boy regarding a kind old man.

As an adult I admit these tales may contain a great deal of hyperbole, But I believe it is of great importance they remain as seen from very young eyes. If we take away one thing from the following tale I hope that we realize that oft times it’s not the huge accomplishments, the larger than life personalities, or the loudest voice that impacts a young life. It’s far more likely to be the quiet gentle spirit, the comforting touch, and the soothing nature that soaks into our souls never to leave us. We never know how great an impact we may have on some one else.

With that firmly in mind, my friends I humbly give you ” The story of “Shag” Branch.

          Market morning found us up at the crack of dawn comfortably dressed and in possession of at least two burlap tater sacks per person.

Along the way, we would frequently stop along the creeks to collect watercress, for those not in the know, these were wild growing greens, a popular and much needed staple in the mountains. They were common in small running streams or road-side ditches. Our mother could spot the little plants a mile away but unfortunately, I never really got the hang of it.

The ditches also required close inspection as they may hide soda bottles; as little boys we could spot the glint of a partially buried bottle from a mile away. These bottles were common forms of currency among kids and were highly sought after. The going rate for an eight-ounce bottle was five cents, the sixteen-ounce bottle ten-cents, but the elusive two-quart bottle brought a whopping twenty five-cents on the open market.

On rare occasions, we were able to fill a sack on our way to the store. Off we would go, our full sacks clinking with every step, our shoulders bent from the weight and our minds racing with the dreams of things we could buy with our new-found riches.

When we arrived at the train crossing, both of us would carefully rest our sacks and run a few feet down the track. On top of the glistening rail, we each placed a few pennies, (we’ll discuss the reason for this little act later) then hurried back to our waiting mother to continue our journey.

 Along the way, my brother and I swapped stories, argued back and forth, gave each other Indian burns, and exchanged punches to each other’s arms.

One favorite topic that always seemed to bring a smile to our faces involved the grocery store owner. We weren’t sure why, but he possessed the annoying little habit of walking around with his fly open.

We weren’t sure why, this may have been due to a mechanical malfunction, or perhaps he needed the additional ventilation. Maybe his big belly simply obstructed his view.

Whatever the reason you can be sure it was the first thing my brother and I checked upon arrival. If indeed it was in the down position it brought no small number of giggles between the two of us. This always produced a puzzled look on the ol’ feller’s face, I don’t think he ever figured it out, or more probable, just didn’t care.

Now you may think that growing up in such a rural area provided few opportunities to rub elbows with notoriety. Well my dear friend I’m afraid you couldn’t be more mistaken.

You see, we had in our very midst an individual of the highest social order. A world-class orator, not to mention an international traveler of the highest caliber. A bonafide expert in countless legal matters, a gifted politician, and believe it or not a meteorologist. I believe he was also a magician as well, but I can’t prove it.

This feller even published an annual article in the town newspaper, forecasting weather and crop predictions. His wise advice was sought by many in city government on all matters of the greatest importance.

And last but certainly not least, he usually served as grand-Marshall in all the local parades. An honor he retained in perpetuity.

This wonder of evolution, this walking talking repository of human knowledge was known to one and all as “Shag Branch” what follows is my recollection of him. (Though I’m sure not entirely accurate).

 Shag was a jolly old man; I don’t recall ever seeing him without a broad smile across his round face. He kept a small thin pipe clenched tightly between his teeth at all times. The pipe was such a permanent accessory, it wore little notches into his teeth as he held it tight. Just a little taller than he was round but far from fat (pudgy really), if I were forced to put it to words, I would say “papaw” size.

He always wore the same outfit, medium grey slacks just slightly short at the cuff. (All the men wore trousers with cuffs in those days). Being a careful man, he wore both a belt and a pair of light grey suspenders. Totally ignoring the old saying “a man that wears both, wears no underwear.” Above the trousers, he wore a long sleeve button down shirt with a small plaid pattern, at the base of the neck a crisp white t-shirt was visible. Finishing off the look was a matching grey coat.

Upon his neatly trimmed grey head rested a dark grey fedora (worn by most men of the day). But the hat itself wasn’t the remarkable part, no not by a long shot.

 This man was a walking talking amusement park from head to toe. A silver chain encircled his waist, carefully woven through each belt loop. Further up on his person dangled two pocket watch chains on each, yes I said “each” of his lapels.

Hanging from all five chains were toys from countless bubblegum machines, and keys from countless unknown locks. They jingled when he walked, making the man a walking, talking calliope. These were not the cheap stickers and tattoos kids pay fifty cents for from modern machines, oh no, far from it.

Here hung the good stuff, die cast metal cars with working doors and spinning wheels, colorful carousel ponies with moving legs, airplanes with spinning propellers, spaceships, and little metal soldiers and kazoos. Millions upon millions of toys and dangling keys.

The chains hung heavy with all manner of wonders; every kid knew this was the real reason he wore both a belt and suspenders. He had too, if his trousers were to fall, they were sure to crack the pavement. Silver whistles of all shapes and sizes, some even with the little pea inside dangled from both lapels.

 The wonder didn’t stop there, far from it, each of his suspenders were completely covered from top to bottom with badges and pins of every description and color of the rainbow. Election badges from the past eighty or so years. War effort badges from every conflict since WWI, and he had stories for every last one of them.

Even the fedora was decorated with the overflow, all firmly attached to the hat band and completely encircled his head.

To a child, he was a wonder to behold, and mesmerizing to listen too. but still it got better.

The grocery store was small by modern standards but huge for the day. Entering the store, you were immediately greeted by an assortment of bubblegum machines, just past those sat a large grey safe (just like the ones in westerns).

Between the safe and the machines sat a little metal chair and there sat Shag, smoking his pipe and twirling his cane. Every single soul entering or exiting the Piggly Wiggly received a wink and a wave.

 Mothers filled their buggies with needed supplies while the kids sat in a circle around the old man. With legs crossed and mouths open we listened to stories about lands we would never see; oceans we would never cross, and fantastic characters we would never meet. Every toy had a story, every pin had a history, and we sat there soaking them all in.

 All the while smoke from his pipe escaped from the gap in his teeth. He could blow four or five rings in a row; they would hang there midair like they were tied to the ceiling with an invisible string. If you were careful enough you could slip your arm up through the center and pretend, they were cloud bracelets. He would slap his knee and giggle with delight at our efforts.

The rings floated there, amazing us until someone walked by disturbing the calm air and making them fade away.

  Soon the shopping was done, and our mothers would come to collect us. Before we left, we would climb into his lap blow a whistle with the pea inside and give the old man a hug. I remember he smelled of pipe tobacco and mothballs, a truly wonderful scent, I imagined it was how a papaw should smell and I was sad when it was time to leave.

We each got a sack, now heavy ladined with groceries and started on our way home. Conversations were somewhat somber on the way back; mother was worried about supper and my brother and I were thinking of the chores that awaited us. These thoughts forced us to quicken our pace a little even with the extra burden we now carried.

 When we arrived at the train tracks, we set our groceries on the ground and ran to the spot where we left the pennies earlier. They were now paper thin, smashed from the weight of a passing train’s wheels.

Lincolns silhouette could still be seen even though the surface was now smooth and slick. With a smile, we put them in our pockets, we now had something to trade with at school. (see, I told you there was a reason). If fate was kind to us, a neighbor may chance to drive by, of course they would always stop and offer our little band of vagabonds a ride.

My brother and I would sit on the tailgate, feet dangling over the edge just inches above the road surface. Staring down at our feet, we were filled with the sensation of flying over vast landscapes, we imagined ourselves in a supersonic jet, skimming over endless unknown jungles.

All to soon we would arrive at our destination and the ride would be over. We grabbed our sacks and walked up the drive, back to the real world. Such as it was on market day.

I went back home just a few years ago; the Piggly Wiggly is now long gone. The tracks are still used to this day but the rails have lost most of their shine. Weeds now grow in the ditches that once grew water cress and soda bottles.

I’m sure the old man has gone through those pearly gates. I like to think of him sitting there, showing off his baubles to a more heavenly crowd. I doubt he ever realized the effect he had on so many young lives, how many fond memories he left behind.

These are the memories of a child. And like pictures in a coloring book, subject to which-ever bright coIor deemed pleasing to the artist. I reckon few down here remember him now; but I do. Now you will as well…. his name was “Shag Branch.”

Please… If you enjoy these ramblings, hit like, follow, or share. Or better yet, leave a comment. The Tin Cup Clan will be forever in your debt. Until next time, Thank You.

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