About Billy Graham – A Different Perspective


We got our first black-and-white television sometime around the time I was four years old. Television was quite the novelty for our family, and it didn’t get turned on unless there was something in particular we wanted to watch. I remember Saturday morning westerns on television in particular, and a few selected weeknight programs that aired after my homework was finished and before my 8:30 pm bedtime. My father liked to watch the evening news on television, but he was always very conscious of my presence in the room, and would turn off the television set if the news included something he didn’t think I should be exposed to as a young child. I was a very sensitive little girl, tenderhearted to the core, and my parents were always careful to protect me from things that were frightening or threatening to me.

Also in our home was my grandmother, who lived with us until her death after I was grown and married. Granny was a Bible toting, Hell and Brimstone devout Southern Baptist, who believed that because we were Methodists, we were in dire need of salvation. She was an odd duck, to put it mildly, who picked and chose her favorites among her grandchildren, and who could be very cruel to those who weren’t on her “favorites” list. She never quite approved of me, but for some reason I didn’t get the brunt of her very strange personality as my sister and some of my cousins did. As sensitive as I was as a child, it’s a wonder that she didn’t mar me for life.

With all this said, there was something that happened when I was about nine years old that had to do with a combination of Granny, her strict religious beliefs, and our black-and-white television, which at the time seemed relatively tame, as far as I was concerned. I guess it was the perfect storm aimed at little Jennie Lou.

It was a Billy Graham crusade. I think it must have been the first one aired on network television. Granny was exuberant in anticipation of watching the crusade on our tv. She listened to his radio program religiously, and sent him money whenever she had a little extra to spare from her babysitting jobs. She convinced Daddy that we all needed to watch the broadcast. I am sure that she believed that we would be saved and would see the error of our Methodist ways. I didn’t know what to expect.

I was a little girl that night—only nine years old. I had been brought up to this point in my young life learning about Jesus and his teaching, believing that God is Love and that Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. My faith was that of a child, simple and true. Looking back at that night, I don’t remember any specific details about watching the crusade service, but I recall the music—hymns I knew from the Methodist church—which were beautiful. What I do remember is Billy Graham at the pulpit preaching, and how his voice and way of talking fascinated me. I was mesmerized, at first. Then terrified. He got louder and louder, began waving his arms into the air, holding up his Bible with one hand, and pounding on it with the other. I’m sure his sermon was typical of an evangelistic camp meeting of the time, but to me it was the opposite of inspiring. It scared me to death. I began to fidget, and Granny sternly instructed me to sit still and listen to what Billy Graham had to say.

I started silently crying, tears rolling down my face, afraid to move from my spot on the sofa next to Granny. She was loving it, and it appeared that my parents were also paying close attention to Billy Graham’s sermon. My feelings of fear grew and grew, until I jumped up from the sofa and ran to my room, slamming the door behind me. I sprang onto my bed, pulled the covers up around me and sobbed like there was no tomorrow.

My mother followed me to my room, and quietly sat down at the edge of my bed. I folded up into her warm and loving arms and buried my face into her soft and cushiony bosom. She finally got enough out of me to learn that Billy Graham had truly frightened me, although to this day I don’t recall exactly what he said that sent me over the edge. I only know that I was afraid that I was going to die and go to Hell, and that I might not wake up in the morning. I also remember not understanding what it meant to be saved, and he had said that if I weren’t saved, I would spend eternity separated from God and Jesus in eternal fire and agony. I loved Jesus. I had a print of him holding a lamb hanging over my bed, which comforted me and made me feel close to him. Why was Billy Graham saying that I wasn’t good enough?

I don’t remember what my mother said to me that night. I only remember her arms wrapped around my small body and her soft voice reassuring me that I was loved and that nothing bad was going to happen to me. She sat with me until I fell asleep, a habit that continued for quite some time after that night, because I was afraid that if I fell asleep, I would die and never see my family again.

The Billy Graham Crusade was banned from our home television viewing after that night, much to my grandmother’s objections. Later, when I became a teenager, she would watch the crusades on television when they aired, but I always stayed in my bedroom, refusing to watch.

I was confirmed into the church when I was eleven years old, and when I was sixteen, I dedicated my life to Christ. Even then, I was still somewhat afraid of Billy Graham. As an adult, I worked up the courage to watch one of his crusades on television and puzzled over what had frightened me so intensely that night when I was nine. It is something I’ve never quite understood or come to grips with.

As I write about this childhood memory, I do so within a week of Billy Graham’s death. Reading about his passing and his life and watching commentaries about him have brought this all back into my mind. I am in awe of the man, his great faith, his calling to preach the Gospel to the world, and his lifelong dedication to God and to saving souls for Christ. He did more in his life to bring people to God than I could ever imagine doing in mine.

It makes me wonder, however, what it was that frightened me so many years ago when I was watching him and listening to him preach on our little black-and-white television set. I wish I knew. It would make it so much easier for me to reconcile what I know about Billy Graham’s life and ministry with what I experienced as a child in the living room of my home. Why didn’t his message bring me to my knees at the altar in confession and salvation as it did for so many people over the course of his lifetime? What was it that terrified me? I was a child of God then, growing in my faith, and walking the path of redemption and salvation in my own little life. What was it that frightened me so terribly?

In my collection of days, the day this nine-year-old watched the Billy Graham crusade on television was a significant one in my life, and one that left an imprint that has stayed with me all these years. As a Christian, it also leaves me without a clear understanding or answer about this memory, pondering why I feel the need to record it now in my writing.

As his followers mourn his passing, as people line up to pay their final respects to him, and as accolades are proclaimed about his life and ministry, I find myself with more questions than answers. I know that there is much rejoicing in Heaven over Billy Graham’s arrival into God’s kingdom, but I can’t forget the little girl in Georgia who was afraid to go to sleep at night.

What is the message in all of this for me? I don’t know. I wish I did.


Raggedy Ann and Christmas


This little girl, Raggedy Ann, has a very special story to tell you this Christmas. Here she is, happily sitting on the bed in my guest room, with the quilt that my Mama hand-quilted beneath her, and the pillow that Mama also hand-quilted supporting her as she waits to share a very special story with you.

Raggedy Ann wasn’t always faded and mended, as you can tell if you look very closely at her little legs and the sutures that were lovingly placed to mend the fabric of her legs many years ago. You can’t see underneath her faded flowery dress and dull white pinafore to the faded red heart that says, “I Love You.” You also can’t see the back of her head where her orange yarn hair has fallen out with the years, leaving a bald spot at her crown. Her black button eyes once sat close to her face, while today one of them is extended and hanging on by a thread. But if you look at her smile, you will see that Ann is happy and content, and she is safe with her little girl, Jennie Lou.

Ann was a Christmas gift to Jennie Lou for her first Christmas when she was less than a year old. Jennie Lou doesn’t remember the day that Ann appeared under the Christmas tree, but her mama told her about how she ran (yes, she had been walking since she was seven months old!) to the tree, grabbed Ann up into her little arms, and hugged her tightly. That Christmas, Ann was actually taller than Jennie Lou was, and her mama joyfully related the memory of Jennie Lou holding this wonderful doll in her lap, a doll who completely enveloped the little toddler in her rag doll arms.

That first Christmas was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between Ann and Jennie Lou. Ann slept with the little girl every night, and even had a pillow of her own to rest her head. She said her prayers with Jennie Lou, as the little girl would fold Ann’s hands together as she did her own little hands to pray each night. Jennie Lou showed Ann the  portrait of Jesus holding a baby lamb that hung above her bed, and when she was old enough, she told Ann all about Jesus, the good shepherd. Every morning the little child would pull up the dress and pinafore from Ann’s body to look at her red heart, knowing that the words, “I Love You” were still there, long before she was able to read the words for herself. She knew what the heart meant, and she loved her Raggedy Ann with all her heart.

Jennie Lou grew and grew, and in a few years she was taller than Ann. Her love for her beloved doll grew and grew as well, as they shared adventures, went for rides in Jennie Lou’s doll carriage, rocked in the big wicker rocking chair on the back porch together, made blanket forts underneath the dining room table, and went outside together to look for good Thinking Places. Ann absorbed the child’s tears when she was sad or angry, received many hugs and kisses along with lots of loving, and listened to stories of adventures that Ann wasn’t allowed to accompany her on. Ann never stopped smiling. Her love for her little girl was constant and true. Her “I Love You” heart always reminded her that there was a special bond between her and Jennie Lou. She knew that she was loved as much as she loved.

One day when Jennie Lou was a teenager, she noticed that Ann was fading and becoming very fragile. She couldn’t bear to part with Ann, but she was afraid that Ann’s fabric arms and legs were at risk of more injury and becoming torn. She lovingly wrapped Ann in a large towel and placed her in a cedar chest in her bedroom. Every now and then she would open the chest and take Ann out for a visit, and then tenderly put Ann back into the cedar chest where she knew she would be safe.

The years passed. Jennie Lou became a mother and had two sons of her own. While she didn’t dare give Ann to her little boys to play with, she gave them each a Raggedy Andy doll of their own, making sure that each doll had the same red heart as Ann had. She wanted her little sons to know that Andy loved them as Ann loved her. Somewhere along the way, the little boys outgrew their Andy dolls, and they were donated to charity for another child to have. Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and GI Joes took center stage as the little boys grew, and the Andys were soon forgotten.

But Jennie Lou never forgot about her Ann. Ann traveled with Jennie Lou through her life with move after move, from one home to another, where she was always safely tucked away in the cedar chest, never far from Jennie Lou’s bedroom, no matter where she lived.

There came a time in Jennie Lou’s life when she feared for Ann. Jennie Lou was going through a trying and painful period of her life in which she feared for those possessions that she treasured the most. One day, in desperation, she took Ann out of the cedar chest, wrapped her in a blanket, and whisked her out of her house without anyone noticing, taking her to visit a friend. This particular friend, named Dena, had a bedroom in her home that was her Raggedy Ann room. Jennie Lou had visited it and had told Dena all about Ann and how special she was. Dena offered to keep Ann for her until Jennie Lou’s life returned to normal, and Jennie Lou took her up on her offer. Jennie Lou and Dena made a spot for Ann among all the other Anns in the room, making sure she was comfortable and happy. With tears flowing down her cheeks, Jennie Lou kissed Ann goodbye and promised her that nothing bad would ever happen to her.

A few years passed. Jennie Lou’s life led her down a lovely and bright new path, the sun came back out in her life, and she moved into a new house of her very own. She was very happy in her home, starting a new and fresh life, when surprise of surprises! Dena came to visit her one day, carrying Ann in her arms. Dena told her that it was time for Ann to come back home.

Together, they placed Ann on the guest room bed, surrounded by photos of Jennie Lou’s family, posters and pictures of happy times and places adorning the walls. Ann sweetly smiled as she rested her head against the comfy pillow, and her red heart underneath her faded dress and pinafore just about burst with happiness and love.

Ann was now sixty-eight years old, the same age as Jennie Lou.

Ann was home.

And so was Jennie Lou.

Raggedy Ann and Jennie Lou wish all of you a blessed Christmas, filled with love and happiness as we once again welcome the Christ Child into our lives! May our hearts always beat with Christ’s love, just as Ann’s has all these many years.

Take Me Back to the Hills of Camp Toccoa


I have hiked the Appalachian Trail in three states.

I have gone tubing down the James River in Virginia.

I have body surfed in the Atlantic Ocean.

I have explored and hiked trails in Arizona, marveling at the art left in the rocks by those who lived there before my time.

I have climbed a mountain and gazed down at the city of Kyoto, Japan.

I have gone 4-wheeling in the Pyrenees of northern Spain and southern France.

I have climbed Stone Mountain more times than I can remember.

I have sat on a rock overlooking the Shenandoah Valley and watched a hawk soar through the blue autumn sky.

All of these things, and many more, I have done in the 69 years of my life. I have experienced a lifetime of extraordinary days.

But none of these adventures hold a candle to the ones I had every summer growing up, and spending weeks on end at Camp Toccoa in the North Georgia mountains.

From the age of 8 until my 16th summer, the end of school in June meant that summer camp was near. My days were spent in anticipation of going to camp, riding the train from Atlanta to Toccoa, and then spending anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks (depending on my ability to beg my parents to let me stay, and their ability to pay for it) at Camp Toccoa.

I was a very shy little girl – an introvert before I knew the word or what it means – and never was quite comfortable anywhere except in my cabin at camp with 7 other girls. I always felt overwhelmed in a school classroom filled with kids, on the playground at recess, waiting to be picked for a team, and even in Sunday School, where I was never sure where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to believe. In my everyday life I was somewhat of a chameleon – I could adapt to my surroundings and my environment, but I was never comfortable or at ease. I never felt like I was part of any school group I attempted to join – I was always on the fringes, or so it seemed to me. I was happiest when I was outdoors swinging on a rope swing, lying in the grass gazing at the clouds drifting across the blue sky, or walking on the beach or along a path, either by myself or with a trusted friend.

But I loved Camp Toccoa. And I loved being a Camp Fire Girl. Camp was a place where I felt like I belonged, and being a part of the group that was Camp Fire gave me a safe place to be me and to explore the depths of my imagination and my soul. The counselors and leaders were my mentors, and I looked to them as the role models for my emerging self. Camp was the place where I knew where I was, where I was supposed to be, and who I was supposed to be with. The pressure was off, and I was free to be myself.

This past weekend, the memories flooded back as I attended Camp Toccoa’s 90th anniversary alumni reunion. The camp has changed quite a bit since I was a camper in the 1950s and 1960s, but even with the changes and the growth, there are some things that never change. I slept in the cabin I spent four weeks in when I was 9 years old. I found my signature – along with the silly little writings of a 12-year-old – written in pencil in the rafters of another cabin. I found quartz crystals where I had searched for them as a teenager. I climbed a huge rock ledge to a lookout point where I had spent sleep-out nights as a girl pondering the universe and gazing out at the valley below. I hiked trails that were familiar to me, and a few that I had never been on before, discovering that Camp Toccoa always has something new to offer me.

Seeing old friends and familiar faces was a treat for this introvert, giving me the courage to step out and engage with new friends. Still, at age 69, it can be a challenge! I was a sponge, absorbing everything, every word, every face, every story.

I sat in a rocking chair on the lodge porch, my mind flooded with memories long buried, now bubbling to the surface. I observed the happy reunions as former campers and counselors arrived, recognizing familiar faces, and greeting each other with hugs and lots of love. I watched the night campfire crackle and pop, while children eagerly fed it wood and anticipated making s’mores. I listened to stories of summer camp, and contributed a few of my own as the bonds of Camp Fire intertwined around us all, pulling us all together as a universal family.

I was at camp, my safe place. I was home.




“Beneath the pine trees, I hear the night breeze. It seems to whisper of Camp Toccoa…..Take me back to the hills of Camp Toccoa.”



Playing in the Key of C


When I was taking piano lessons as a child, one of my exercises was playing scales. Of course, C was the easiest to play – all white keys. It got a little more complicated as the scales of F and G were added, one with a flat and the other with a sharp. Then, they got harder and harder as more sharps and flats were added, and constant practice was needed to teach my fingers where they should go.

Among the simple little pieces my piano teacher gave me were hymns. Of course, I began with the ones in the key of C, and mastered them pretty quickly. “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” was one of the easier ones. Another was “Jesus is Tenderly Calling.” I moved on to hymns with one flat or one sharp. Since I learned to read music the traditional way, I read both the treble and bass clef, and didn’t know about chords or chord progressions until years later when I took organ lessons. My brain was forced to look at both clefs and relay the message to each of my hands about which notes to play.

I remember my teacher showing me each new hymn and making me study the music before I ever put my fingers on the keyboard. She would tell me to think in that particular key. For instance, if the hymn was in the key of G, she had me look for all of the F sharps in the song and picture in my mind my fingers going to the black key. I learned to concentrate on the key of the music before I ever attempted to play it. I would then play a few scales in the key of G to warm up.

The difference between flats and sharps never bothered me. I have friends who are amateur or hobby musicians like I am who tell me that they can’t play flats, or they can’t play sharps. They hand pick the hymns as those that fit their particular criteria. Because of the way my piano teacher taught me, I was never daunted by the difference.

I did freak out, however, when the hymn had more than two flats or sharps. But by using the approach I was taught, I was able to play, if not master, most of the hymns I wanted to learn.

Isn’t life a lot like playing in the key of C when things are going smoothly in our lives? We find that we travel effortlessly along the white keys of life. We don’t even have to consider, worry about, or work to avoid the black keys. But as life becomes more complicated, and challenges pop up in our musical score adding sharps and flats along our way, our fingers have to work a little harder and train themselves to maneuver in order to make sweet music. We discover that sometimes we need to stop and study what is going on in our lives, and anticipate the change in the pathway. Through prayer, contemplation, and meditation, we are able to set our hearts and souls for the change in path.

These days, my music page of life has turned from a song in the key of C to one in another key. Things aren’t quite as predictable as they have been for the past couple of years. I am facing new challenges, unknown melodies, and probably some sharps and flats in my life. I need to set my mind to think in a new key, and prepare myself for some time on the black keys.

It may not be easy, but I’m hopeful the result will be some beautiful music.

Small Town, Georgia, Girl





           I have a new baseball cap that labels me as exactly who I am. It says “Small Town Girl”. It has a map of Georgia embroidered on it with a star designating my approximate location in the state. It was a gift, and I love it!

I guess I’ve always been a small town girl, even though I was born in Piedmont Hospital in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in 1948. But even though I was born in a large hospital in Georgia’s capital city, I never claimed Atlanta as my own.

I grew up in Decatur, Georgia, which during the 50s and 60s was indeed a small town. We were six miles from downtown Atlanta, which to the child that I was seemed like an awfully long way from home. It was too far to walk, so we had to take the trolley if we wanted to go downtown to go shopping at Rich’s. My mother didn’t drive a car, meaning that most of our shopping was done right there in Decatur. It was when Mama needed patterns and fabric to make clothes for my sister and me that we dressed up like we were going to Sunday School, hopped on the trolley near the Decatur train station three blocks from our house, and spent the entire day downtown, getting off the trolley back home in Decatur late in the afternoon, just in time for Mama to prepare our family supper. Sometime in my adolescent years, Decatur lost her small town status to become part of Metropolitan Atlanta. But she remained a small town for me until long after I moved away at the age of sixteen. Today, even though Decatur retains much of her small town charm, the traffic congestion and difficulty in finding a place to park that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, along with the variety of pricey restaurants, remind me that she really doesn’t qualify for “small town” status in my mind anymore. Even the houses on the street where I grew up are now priced so far out of my reach when they go on the market to be sold, I could never afford to live there these days!

Enter Monroe, Georgia, the small town I have called home for the past five years. Now, this little town reminds me more of the Decatur where I grew up than any place I know. Yes, we have our traffic snarls on Broad Street, especially when the big trucks are trying to get through town on their way from one of the interstates to the other, and when I am trying to come out of the Walmart parking lot during rush hour or on Saturday. It’s a lovely little town, with friendly people, welcoming churches, a terrific little community theater, a Saturday farmer’s market, lots of small shops for browsing and purchasing interesting items of all kinds, safe places to walk my little dog Sunshine, a strong medical community, and the warm touch of Georgia hospitality. People here wave as they drive by, and they pause on the sidewalk to say hello to my dog. They don’t ignore me as I walk past and will look at me and greet me with a smile.

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be living in Monroe, Georgia, I probably would have shaken my head, pondered in my mind just where Monroe is on the Georgia map, furrowed my brow, and asked, “Where? Why?” It isn’t important why or how I landed in Monroe, but I am happy that I did. I was even able to purchase a small home – one that I could afford – to set down a root or two. I am making this my home for awhile and claim this little town as my own, even though I am a transplant.

Small Town, Georgia, is a good place for someone like me. I live a simple life, enjoy listening to the birds singing in the trees around my home and watching the deer in the park, appreciate that nothing that I need is further than 10 minutes away by car (and I could walk if I had to!), and have made some very good friends. All this, and more, are what make me a true blue “Small Town Girl.”

In the novel that I wrote, “Fishbowls and Birdcages,” the main character was someone like me, a person who moved around from town to town, never quite belonging, and never sure just where Home was. She finally found her place, and it, too, was in Small Town, Georgia, although hers was a fictional town. She learned that the saying, “bloom where you are planted,” had a positive meaning for her as she developed her own identity and strength through her faith in God. Fran found her place, and I have found mine.

Yes, I am now officially a Small Town Georgia Girl. My new hat is proof of it!








Help Me Make It Through the Night


The telephone awakened me from a sound sleep. My bedside clock showed that it was a few minutes past 1:00am. Caller ID on my phone informed me that the caller was my friend, Bill. What could he want to talk about at this hour of the night. We had talked earlier in the evening for almost an hour.

Bill apologized for waking me up. The sound of his voice told me that something was wrong. I couldn’t get him to share with me what was on his mind, or why he called me at this ungodly hour, even though I asked him more than once what was the matter. Rather than quiz him further or demand an explanation, which it was obvious I wasn’t going to get, I simply asked him, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Talk to me, “ he replied. “Please help me make it through the night.”

Only a couple of days earlier we had been talking on the phone about our favorite song writers, and Kris Kristofferson came up in the conversation, where we had agreed that we both liked his music, and this song in particular.

“Talk to me,” he repeated.

“Would you like for me to tell you a story?” I asked.

“Yes, please.”

Drawing from my writing and my collection of days, I began telling him about a game my sister and I played as children, Runaway Orphans. Since Bill and I both grew up in the same town, he was familiar with the places my sister and I visited when we played this special game. I embellished the story and added drama to it in an attempt to entertain Bill with its telling and perhaps help him get whatever was troubling him off of his mind.

When I finished, he said to me, “Tell me another one.”

I then went into the story about the day I ran away from home when I was five years old.

“Another one?”

I dug deeper into my childhood, recalling our family tradition of making homemade peach ice cream on the Fourth of July every year and about my job of sitting on top of the churn while Daddy turned the crank. From there, I went into the story about my special brother, Johnny, and a story about my daddy’s pocket watch. As I finished this story, I realized I had been talking for well over two hours, and that it was very quiet on the other end of the line.

“Are you still there? Are you feeling any better now?” I asked.

Bill’s voice, barely above a whisper, answered, “Yes, I think I am.”

“Do you want me to tell you any more stories?”

“No, I think I’ll be ok now. Thank you.” And he hung up, leaving me wondering what had just happened. It was now 4:30am.

Bill never told me why he needed me that night. The next evening when we talked, I commented, “Well, we made it through the night last night, didn’t we?”

“Yes, “ he said. “And it was no small feat. I’ll forever be grateful to you for staying on the phone with me all night long.”

I never learned what was troubling Bill that night. Over the course of our three-year friendship, I discovered that he had his own demons he was battling, and little by little, one by one, he shared a few of them with me. He also recalled tidbits of his history and life as a journalist – he truly had the gift of the story teller, and could have me laughing uncontrollably or sympathizing with tears running down my face as he’d relate a tale from his past.

Bill also encouraged me as a writer. He never completely understood my style of writing – I am not a journalist or reporter, but a weaver of tales and a painter using words instead of paint of my memories and adventures through life. He would sometimes tell me that I needed to step away and be more objective in my writing, that I put too much of myself into it. I’d politely disagree with him, and he’d keep on complimenting me on my writing, even though I didn’t take this piece of advice. He said on many occasions that I was a better writer than he was. That wasn’t true. He was a gifted writer, a diligent researcher, and an extraordinary communicator through the written word. I could never do what he did.

One thing that Bill told me often was that he didn’t believe he would live to be an old man. He once said that he didn’t think he would live to see 70. And he was right. I guess he somehow knew his limits and sensed his life span. When a classmate of ours died recently, he told me he thought he might be next. I wish he had been wrong.

Bill was my friend. My heart is aching as I write tonight. I’ll miss hearing his voice, listening to him telling me about his latest writing assignment, and being the recipient of his praise and admiration of me and my writing.

I wish I could have had the chance to say goodbye.

“I don’t care what’s right or wrong,

I don’t try to understand.

Let the devil take tomorrow.

Lord, tonight I need a friend.

Yesterday is dead and gone, and tomorrow’s out of sight.

And it’s sad to be alone.

Help me make it through the night.”

“Help Me Make It Through the Night” by Kris Kristofferson

Gimme That Stick!


My friend, George, told me a story from his childhood that keeps rolling around in my head, and I can’t let it go. With his permission, I am retelling it on my blog. What a day in his own Collection of Days!

George’s childhood was spent living in a mill village near Charlotte, North Carolina, in the 1940’s. Both of his parents worked in the textile mill – his dad was a superintendent, and his mom operated a spinning machine of some kind. They had a family of three boys and two girls, of which George was somewhere in the middle, and lived in one of the mill-provided homes. George has many stories from his childhood growing up in the mill village, but this one is the best.

When George was about ten or eleven years old, he had a German Shepherd dog named Jake. He and Jake were best buddies, and roamed the village and nearby fields together. When George was at school, Jake would go out to the front of the house and lie down in a small ditch beside the dirt road where they lived. One morning, when George was heading off to school, he saw one of the mill workers come barreling down the dirt road in his truck, running late on his way to work. From George’s perspective, it appeared that the man saw Jake lying on the side of the road, swerved his truck as he rounded the curve at George’s house, not in an effort to avoid the dog, but purposely to try to hit him. Luckily for Jake, he dodged out of the way, avoiding being hit by this man and his truck. Unluckily for the man, George recognized him and vowed to get even.

George promised Jake he would take care of things. Nobody was going to try to hurt his dog! That afternoon after school, he found a big stick and walked down the road to the mill. He waited at the bottom of the steps to the main entrance, watching for the man to come out at the end of his shift. The mill whistle blew, and workers started pouring out of the doors and down the steps on their way home. George spotted the man, approached him with stick in hand and shouted,

“You’re the man who tried to run over my dog!” With that, he began swinging and thrashing the stick at the man.

About that time, George’s mother came down the steps on her way home and saw George swinging the big stick at the man.

“Boy, what are you doing?” she yelled at him.

With angry tears in his eyes, George answered, “He tried to run over my dog.”

“Boy, gimme that stick,” she demanded, grabbing the stick from George’s hands and proceeding to take over where he left off.

Moral of this story: Don’t ever mess with a boy and his dog, and by all means, don’t mess with the boy’s mother!