Archive for August, 2012

LICENSE & REGISTRATION, PLEASE, PART II

Editor’s Note:

The following Woodshed Wisdom was originally posted on Mar. 10, 2011 to honor the memory of the late Jake Robinson, South Carolina Highway Patrolman extraordinaire. It details the first contact Jake had with a trio of red-dirt, Rte. 4 country boys – James McKee, Ralph Nix and yours truly. The three of us were practically inseparable throughout boyhood. When you saw one of us, the other two were not far behind.

But while the memory is fuzzy about why Ralph wasn’t with us when we met Jake that Sunday afternoon over 50 years ago (he might have been in a hot game of Cow Pasture Baseball), the details of the meeting are crystal clear as posted in the original account. The purpose of this re-post is not to re-tell that story, but to report the second meeting of Jake Robinson and our boyhood buddy, James McKee. This meeting occurred as James grabbed the hand of our Lord Jesus yesterday and took the Hallelujah Exit off this ol’ road we’re all traveling on.

But when James and Jake met again yesterday, it wasn’t on a two-lane, tar-and-gravel country road. And Jake didn’t give James a ticket this time for walking on the wrong side of the road. Instead, I believe Jake probably met James with one of his patented strong-as-steel handshakes and walked with him down Gloryland Boulevard, the street that’s paved with pure gold and where the air they’re breathing is equally pure and healthy. Neither Jake nor James will ever be sick again. And to me, that’s a ticket worth writing about.

James Olin McKee
1944-2012
____________________

To all our Woodshed friends: Please pray for James’ wife Nadine, and son Anthony, along with Elizabeth, Michael and Cindy, and the rest of the family. And, if you think about it, please include the other two Boyhood Buddies in your prayers. God Bless.

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

As I rounded a curve in the Georgia two-lane blacktop, my thoughts of supper time at home were jarred by a multitude of flashing blue lights. I slowed down to about forty thinking that there might be a bad wreck just ahead. But then, I realized that I didn’t see any red emergency lights. Just a bunch of those flashing blue light strobes that must have sent the squirrels to the very top of the nearest tree.

The next thought that popped into my noggin was to ask one of the officers if Jesse James and his gang had been spotted somewhere out here on Highway 63. Why else would there be so much commotion? The interstate was ten miles in my rear view mirror. And it was another good eight miles or so into Homer. There’s nothing out here but pastures and pine trees.

But then another thought sent that first one about the James gang right out the window. I might not be the brightest light bulb in the pack, but I had no intention of paying a visit to the Banks County ‘woodshed’ with cornbread and milk and pinto beans waitin’ on me at home.

Of course, this was a license check! And that realization sent my heart rate up about forty beats a minute. Had I let my tag run out? Can I find my registration card? Are both head lights working? Has my license expired? Since we only renew every hundred years or so, I can never remember when it’s supposed to be done. Does this ever happen to anybody except me?

I waited nervously for about thirty minutes (in reality, it was only a couple of minutes) while the officer checked everything out. Then he said what my up-tempo pulse needed to hear, “Thank you, sir, and have a good evening.” Another confirmation of my decision to take the two-lane when I have a choice of two roads to take on the way home.

I never go through a license check without thinking about the first ticket I ever received from a highway patrolman. I can’t say I was pulled over because I wasn’t. Wasn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license. See, back home at Route 4, Seneca, SC, there was a stretch of the main road that everybody called Red Hollow. Probably goes back to when it was a red dirt road.

Anyway, my buddy, James McKee, and I were out walking on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t remember that it was Sunday, but it had to be. Otherwise, we would’ve been chopping and totin’ firewood and stove wood or drawing water, or some other chore around the ol’ farmhouse. And I don’t even remember why Ralph Nix, the third member of our little countrified version of The Three Amigos, wasn’t with us on this particular caper.

Anyway, there we were, strolling along through Red Hollow, talking about whatever 11-or-12-year-old boys talk about. Probably lamenting how long it would be before we could get our license and start driving. Then, from out of nowhere it seemed, a South Carolina Highway Patrol car pulled up beside of us and stopped. Our hearts jumped up in our throats and our mouths went as dry as a bale of hay.

Out of that patrol car stepped a man who blocked the sun when he stepped over to where James and I were standing on the side of the road with our knees knocking like sledge hammers! He was about 7-feet tall, broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips. And that gun! It looked like a shotgun hanging down one side. And what appeared to be a 10-foot nightstick on the other leg. Many times since that day, I’ve always thought that guy should have played the part of Buford Pusser in ‘Walking Tall.’ Or Broderick Crawford in the TV show, ‘The Highway Patrol.’

When he said, “Boys, come over here and get in my car,” James and I fell on top of each other in the back seat. This highway man could have picked each of us up with one hand and flung us out in the briar patch if he had wanted to. So when he said, “Get in the car,” he didn’t have to repeat himself. While I was praying (we learned to pray back then at any early age!) that Daddy wouldn’t come by and spot us in the back seat of a highway patrol car, I heard the Highway Man say, “You boys know why I stopped you?”

I tried to speak first but no intelligible sound would come out of my throat – just a stutterin’ nnnnnoooo, sir. Before James could test his voice box, the Highway Man answered his own question. “You boys were walking on the wrong side of the road.” By this time I was beginning to get some oxygen back in my brain. And I thought, “Well, it’s not exactly the five o’clock rush hour here in Red Hollow, so what’s the big deal?” Notice I said thought, not said.

Did I mention he was also a mind-reader? As he was writing our warning tickets for “improper walking,” Highway Man explained. “You are always supposed to walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic.” I started to say, “So the right side of the road is not really the right side of the road.” But as James clamped his hand over my mouth, Highway Man said, “If a driver loses control, you’ll see it in time to jump out of the way and not be hurt.”

Years later, I was privileged to get to know and become friends with the Highway Man. And many times during our friendship, I’ve asked Jake Robinson why he gave two country boys tickets for walking on the wrong side of the road. And he’d always smile and say, “Have you ever been hit by a car that was out of control?” We’d both have a good laugh and he’d shake (more like crush) my hand. And I’d have to say, “No, Jake, I haven’t.”

When I learned last week that Jake had passed away, I could almost feel that powerful vise-grip of his strong right hand and hear him say, “That’s because you learned what the real right side of the road was.”

And now I just wonder how many other youngsters (walkers & drivers) he might have shown the right side of the road during his 40 years as a South Carolina Highway Patrolman. Truth be told, at that age, we all probably needed to be shown not only the right side of the road to walk on, but also the right road to walk on, period.

I guess that’s why I choose those two-lane black tops even now, more than fifty years removed from that ‘improper walking’ ticket, when I have a choice of two roads to take on the way home. Because of Jake Robinson, I feel more secure on the narrow road versus the wide interstates.

There’s another man who’s been teaching us for over two thousand years the difference in the two roads of life. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus reminds us once again that the road to trouble is wide, and many people go there. But the road that leads to joy, peace, and happiness is narrow, and only a few find it.

The wide road is fast and almost anything and anybody can go there. And there might be some potholes in the narrow road. But then again, I’ve never seen a 15-car pileup on a two-lane blacktop. The life lesson here is as plain as the nose on my face – as we’re all walking down the road of life, on our way Home, walking on the left side of the right road, is a good travel plan. Like the sign at the old country church said – Get Right or Get Left!

This is just me, but I believe that when the Highway Man made it home last week, Jesus told him, “Good job, Jake Robinson. You not only showed ‘em the right side of the road, but you also showed ‘em the right road.” And Jake probably just smiled and gave Him one of those knuckle-crushin’ handshakes.

Jake Robinson
The Highway Man
1925-2011

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GOOD MEDICINE

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Editor’s Note: As many of you know, we’ve been working for quite some time to publish our first book of Woodshed Wisdom stories. The devil has been working overtime and doing everything in his power to prevent this from happening. That was to be expected because we know he’ll do whatever he can to stop anything and anybody, including a Christian publishing company, from giving glory to God.

However, I’d just like to boldly and publicly stand up today and tell you that the devil is no match when it comes to God’s power! Our first book, Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 1, is very close to becoming a reality. Just this week, I have signed off on the manuscript, photos, cover design, etc. With that being done, I am under conviction to once again re-start the writing process. Below this note you’ll find my first effort in that direction.

Also, I have been told by my publisher, Tate Publishing & Enterprises, that we can reasonably expect to be able to start ordering books from their warehouse by the first of October with a shipping time of approximately three weeks. What a wonderful praise to the Lord that it looks like anyone who wants the book, or prayerfully, several of them, will be able to read it and/or give it as a gift just in time to honor the Lord during the season that we celebrate His birth! To Him be all the honor and glory forever. Amen

GOOD MEDICINE

Pneumonia? Are you kiddin’ me? Who gets pneumonia in the summer time? Inquiring minds want to know. At least this inquiring mind did. But that’s exactly what we heard Dr. Mitch Dillman say two weeks ago after examining my weak-as-a-kitten, coughing-like-a-jack-hammer, pain-wracked wife.

But then reality set in as he explained what our life was going to be like in the immediate near future. First, a shot in the hip with a big ol’ horse needle that surely must have been borrowed from the vet’s office. Next, antibiotic capsules as big as your thumb to be taken every twelve hours, around the clock. And cough medicine (don’t call it syrup, that’s for pancakes) that also could be used for motor oil. Plus enough liquids to bring the lake levels back up to full stage. And, oh yeah, complete ‘house arrest’ with no visitors for the next two weeks while you’re contagious.

If you know my MHB (mill hill bride), you’ve got a pretty good idea of the situation that I had on my hands. What Doc should have said was, “Set off a Lysol bomb in your house. Then park all the cars, stop all the trains, ground all the airplanes. Get you some plow lines and tie this gal up hand and foot till you bring her back to see me.”

Growing up at Rte. 4, I can remember on the fingers of one hand how many times I was taken to a doctor. In fact, only one time made a lasting impression. And it was to a dentist who I thought surely must have used vise grips and channel lock pliers to jerk an abscessed tooth out of my mouth one Saturday afternoon after office hours. And the resulting dry socket that made my jaw look like a blimp and hurt like a ball peen hammer upside the head for the next month.

But in the cold winters of a farm boy’s memory, there was only one remedy when you got sick. No doctor’s appointments, no waiting rooms, no trips to the hospital ER. No chest x-rays and prescriptions emailed from the doc’s laptop in the exam room to the local drugstore and picked up at the drive-thru window. Even as I write those words, my Rte. 4 mind is still trying without success to wrap itself around modern medicine.

For the Martin boys and girls, it was just gobs and gobs of Vicks Salve stuffed up our nose and down our throat till we gagged. And a big piece of one of Daddy’s old flannel shirts saturated with that miracle balm, held over a whistling kettle on Mother’s wood burning cook stove till it was blisterin’ hot, and then tied around our chest.

You have to remember this was before inside bathrooms and showers with hot and cold running water. So you carried that ‘aura’ wherever you went for several days. Stray dogs and cats would run the other way. The cows would hurry over to the other side of the pasture. And chickens would jump up on the choppin’ block, stretch out their neck, and wait for the axe to fall.

And even after we confessed to Mother that a miracle healing had indeed occurred, and begged to be allowed to go back to school, she would sweetly say, “Just wear your flannel undershirt a couple more days.” Even before the word ‘why’ could form on my lips, she would say, “Just in case.” Until I was 18 years old, I thought Justin Case was the name of our family doctor. Turns out she knew the Great Physician. And His name was, and is, Jesus Christ. I know because I heard her talking to Him many mornings over that old cook stove.

But now, hit the fast forward button. Back to my MHB. After a truckload of chicken soup, vegetable soup, chicken pot pie, casseroles and other homemade get-well-soon goodies from family, friends, Sunday School class and church members were slipped under the garage door, accompanied by another truckload of prayers sent up to Mother’s (and our) favorite healer, the healing process indeed began. For the patient and for the care-giver.

Now, we’re sittin’ in Dr. Dillman’s exam room again. After his cautious “How are we feeling today?” greeting, my MHB replied, “I feel like a brand new person!” But it was the next words out of Doc’s mouth that I won’t soon forget. In a soft, almost reverent voice, he said, “It was the Lord and the good medicine.” Hallelujah! I think I hear the choir singing.

Have you been to the Great Physician’s office and received His healing prescription? He’s on call 24/7/365 and, the best part, you never have to wait. He even makes house calls. And it doesn’t matter to Him how contagious (sin-sick) you are. In fact, He was eatin’ dinner one day with a bunch of His patients (Matthew 9:10-12) and His office staff.

When He heard some puffed up, know-it-all Pharisees ask His disciples what in the world Jesus was doing eatin’ with sick folks, He gently and tenderly took ‘em to the Woodshed where the next words out of His mouth taught ‘em a lesson they (and all of us) should never forget. Healthy people don’t need a doctor, just the sick. And He wasn’t just talking about sniffles and sneezes, either.

So, for the really important stuff, like getting’ healed from the contagious disease that Adam and Eve spread all over all of us, call on the Great Physician. For the colds, flu, and even pneumonia, keep some Vicks and an ol’ flannel shirt handy.

Justin Case.

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