A Rush to Hack – Never Late

Until my fourteenth birthday, I only knew two men who golfed: Dick Powell and Grady Sanford. Prior to that, summer Sunday afternoons consisted of fishing. In the space between church meetings, I’d race through Jeff Sanford’s house to grab a Zebco reel and see Mr. Sanford sitting with his feet up intently listening as commentators whispered the difficulty of Nicklaus’ next shot – like watching paint dry, I thought to myself.

Yet, when I turned fourteen, I discovered golf for myself. I only hit one in four straight, but that’s all it took. I was hooked. The problem was that golf required time and money – both of which were scarce on Sunday afternoons in the Blackmon house.

I managed to scratch up enough couch change to pay for nine holes at Gravitt’s Golf Course, but there was still the problem of time. You see, my father applied religion militantly in our home. There was never a sickness bad enough to keep us away from church. In fact, my father knew of no sickness that a good preaching would not make better.

Full disclosure, our faithfulness to organized religion had significantly slipped until my grandfather passed away in 1980. After that, my father rededicated our commitment to church. We did not vote on it.

If we were less than ten minutes early, we were late. I sat quietly and listened during meetings for fear of his disapproving gaze that was so penetrating it could crack the polar ice caps. I even learned to nod my head in agreement with the preacher when I caught Daddy looking at me out the corner of his eye.

I strategically judged his mood and once I caught him having a particularly good day, I proposed Sunday golf. Doing his best to live a Christlike life, my father was a just man. He laid it out plainly. “You can go after church, but you will be back in time to get dressed and make it to evening church on time. Do not be late.”

I called my golfing buddies, Truett Wilbur Moss II, who we called T2, and Shane Moss, and shared the good news. Still, they were both younger than me, and I was only fourteen. Transportation was a problem, but Daddy was benevolent enough to solve that problem for us as well.

“You can drive the truck. Just take the backroads and be careful,” he counseled.

My father was black and white. The laws of Heaven were nonnegotiable, but man is flawed, so breaking his rules might get you in a little trouble, but they wouldn’t tally a sin.

T2, Shane, and I would sit on the edge of the pew idling as Winford Casey wound his Sunday sermon up. We prayed that he would not get caught up in the Spirit, decide to try and capitalize on a good sermon, and opt for an alter call. Or, call on the wrong man to close our meeting in prayer. The old man who would get up, move to the end of the pew, get down on one knee and begin a simple closing prayer that would end up blessing everything from starving children in Africa to old lady Butterworth’s gout. We would be crawling out of our skin by the time he finished.

In reality, the old man should have prayed for our safe travels to and from the golf course. We learned to prep our gear and after a few weeks, we could make it from Amen to tee time in a half hour. By the eighth hole, I was as nervous as a cat on a porch full of rocking chairs. It seemed that we were always running late, and I dared not tempt Carl Blackmon’s anger on a Sunday. Cards tallied, victor crowned, we’d race to that old 1971 Chevrolet, and I’d hit the Dews Pond Road squalling tires on every corner.

One day, we were running especially late. I hit the dirt and gravel, where Lovebridge becomes Langford Road, rounded a curve, and there was Randy McElrath coming the other direction. I could see the whites of his eyes, the fear in his face, as we passed one another. I dodged him on the left, locked up the breaks, and came to rest in a cloud of dust in the ditch. I heard something that sounded like, “Jimbo, have you lost your ever-loving mind,” as I inspected the truck for damage. Luckily, they put a little steel in trucks back then, so no damage done.

Back when hackers had nothing to do with a computer, we were just that – Hackers, but man did we have fun. Sometimes we were still sweaty for Baptist Training Union (BTU), maybe a bit ripe, but thanks to Carl, we were never late.

Kris

Kris Kristofferson said Janis Joplin dreamed pretty dreams. I think that’s beautiful. He also claimed that Jesus was a Capricorn. I don’t know about that, but I know that “Why Me” was sung in honky-tonks’ on Saturday nights and churches on Sunday mornings. That’s genius.

Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

I don’t think Kris gets enough credit. Rhodes Scholar with a masters in English Literature from Oxford. Golden Gloves boxer, Airborne Ranger, and Army helicopter pilot for crying out loud.

KKHe’s legitimately the World’s Most Interesting Man, with a beautiful mind to boot – a genuine renaissance man.

How about composing “Bobby McGee” for Janis or “Sunday Morning Coming Down”” for Cash? Or, a stable of my childhood favorites. Anyone born by 1970 has heard…

Take the ribbon from your hair
Shake it loose and let it fall
Layin’ soft upon my skin
Like the shadows on the wall

“Help Me Make it Through the Night” – mega hit for Ms. Sammi Smith. Yes, written by Kris.

 

Dare I mention, “For the Good Times?”

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine

…was considered to raw for its time, yet, Ray Price won song and album of the year with it. Just a warm up. It was also recorded by Elvis, Dolly, Sinatra, Como, Martin, Atkins, eleven others, and Michael sang it to his mother on her birthday – yes Jackson. After that, and “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris said, “I never had to work again.”

We have not even discussed him playing opposite Barbara Streisand in “A Star is Born,” much less

his epic role slaying vampires in the Blade movies. Kristofferson is 82. I’m a huge fan and hope that you are too.

Sitting in a tree just a looking for a deer
Mind began to

wander and then began to veer.
Not thinkin’ ‘bout a thing
Yet I begin to sing.

In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday School and listened to the song that they were singin’
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

MAGA – Kristofferson in 2020 for Worlds Most Intereting Man.

Thanks for the tip, & Happy Birthday.

My father was a professional reminiscer. He jumped at every opportunity to tell me about the good old days. With vivid clarity, he could recall the price of eggs, gas, and milk from 1945. Most of his stories revolved around the cotton mill, fishing, archery, and hunting. Many was the day that he told me about taping a match stick to the riser of his bow for a sight.

My archery journey has been all about experimenting with various methods of aiming and shooting. Yet, here I am at 50 years of age, and I’ve never taped a match to my riser. So, yesterday I went out back and did exactly that. The head of the match was much too large for precision aiming, so I broke off a toothpick, dipped the tip in white cresting paint, and taped it to my bow. Within minutes, I had a single sight pin that worked nicely from five to eighteen yards.

The forest was deadly still this morning – so quite you could have heard a squirrel snoring in its nest. As night gave way to dawn, I could see that a large gray blanket of fog covered the Red River, which was still swollen and muddy from last week’s storms. Soon, black turned to blue, then pink on the eastern horizonfullsizeoutput_1b2a.jpeg

With a hint of heat, the fog began to fade. The tops of red oaks with a few golden-brown leaves still desperately clinging on emerged from the gray. Then, suddenly, it was as though new life was breathed into the fog. It started to swell and roll. Like smoke in the wind it began climbing the bluff where I sat watching over 250 feet above.

In a matter of seconds, I was completely engulfed the cloud, a unique position from which to watch the visibly silent fog creep through the trees. Once up, the sun quickly burned the fog off, and the forest came alive. Birds flew branch to branch sounding an alarm for breakfast. A family of chipmunks began squabbling over a nut on a nearby log.

I saw the doe out of the corner of my eye. She was moving from the river up the ridge. Twenty meters back there were two more does. The lead walked with purpose up the trail adjacent to my stand. I prepared to draw when her head disappeared behind a large maple. A tug of the string, limbs bent, and the bow was cocked. I put the tip of the toothpick on the spot and the arrow was gone.

The doe bound up the ridge leaving my arrow on the ground, soaking wet with blood. The big doe only ran thirty yards and lay down, where she expired.

We lost Daddy this July. Today, is his birthday and he would have loved nothing more than to have spent it hunting. He would have been 87. Happy Birthday, Dad.fullsizeoutput_1b2b.jpeg