I Remember: “Free Air”

Hi Friends:

I remember when every Gas Station had an air hose … sometimes, it was between the gas pumps, and sometimes it was near (or just inside) the “Service Bay.”

Come to think of it … I remember Gas Stations … Real Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas, check your oil, and clean your windshields.
Just thinking about the term “Gas Station” brings back a lot of different “I Remember” categories.

I remember the saying that, “When gas was 25cents a gallon, they’d pump your gas, check your oil, clean your windshield, and you’d always get something free like a dish or a glass, or something free … Then, when gas got to be a dollar a gallon, they did none of this.”

Here’s another:
Yes … I remember … when gas was 1.00.
If you really want to get crazy … I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon …

I remember when Daddy would stop and get gas, and he would never mention how much gas he wanted, by dollar amount, but by gallons. He’d say, “Give me 5 gallons.”

We don’t have a “Service Station” within driving distance, and, frankly, I don’t even know where the closest “Gas Station” is.

I remember, as time went by, in different towns I’ve lived in, that there was always one “Gas Station” in town. Where you could get gas, get air for your tires, and, they even would have an active Service Bay, with “Mechanic on Duty.” Often, this was where you would take your car to get it repaired, and it was the only place where you trusted the mechanic, because you knew him … maybe, even went to the same Church.

Gradually, one-by-one, these Gas Stations, where they would pump your gas for you, disappeared. Replaced by “Convenience Stores.” For a long while, these “Convenience Stores” offered “Free Air” to go with their gasoline.

I remember when there would be only one place left in town where they would pump your gas for you. Remember always pumping your own gas, even though they would do it for you?
I remember driving up, getting out, raising my hand in greeting, with an “I’ll get it” to let them know you knew how to do it.

I remember when you actually had to learn how to pump your own gas … how to operate a gas pump … when these things were new …
I remember when the “Self-Serve” or “Self-Service” signs were used.

Change happens gradually … even in the gasoline business.
I remember when many Gas Stations offered two distinct sets of gas pumps:
Full Service.
Self-Service.

I can remember, even then, going to the “Full Service” section, and pumping the gas myself.
It never seemed to bother me, then, that the “Full Service” gas cost more. If a gas pump was available, I’d spend an extra 30 cents to not have to wait in line.

I can also remember when ladies, in particular, didn’t like to pump their own gas. So, this helped keep these stations stay in business as long as they did.

I remember the “Mechanic on Duty” signs.
I remember the “Full Service” signs.
I remember when the Gas Station didn’t have coolers, or groceries. Maybe a couple of candy bars and chips, up at the counter (which was always dirty). They would only have a Coke machine, and that was it.

I remember the “hose” that stretched across the parking lot, running across the pumps … that, when you drove over it … it would make a bell ring … to alert the owner that someone was at the pump?
Remember that?

Ok … yes, I even remember, it was always something you had to do, when you were on your bicycle … you would have to, as least once … run over that hose … make that bell ring … maybe … and, of course, I would never do this … of course … but, you would, maybe, run over that hose a second time … or more … whatever it took to make the man come outside to see “who’s there.” The trick was to be gone as fast as you could pedal … before you got screamed at …

Riding your bicycle to “the store” was always a thrill … we would seem so “grown up” … and, we would always get air in our tires. At the very least, we would always stop at the air hose to check our tires.

I guess tires … and cars … have gotten so much better that we don’t need “Service Stations” anymore. I know that there are still “Full Service” stations left, but not as many.

I remember “Re-Treads.”
Just thought I’d throw that in.
I remember “Used Tires.”
I don’t even know if these are available anymore, but there was always that one place in town where you could buy “Used Tires.”

Which would account for, sooner rather than later … needing that “Free Air.”

I remember when Daddy always carried a “Tire Pump” in the trunk of the car.
They were always red.
I remember when all tires had tubes.

I remember when there was this new kind of tire … I didn’t understand it at the time … but, they came out with something called “Tubeless” Tires.

I remember when, along with the tire pump … you always carried a “Tube Repair Kit,” which always included at least one “Tube Patch.” Remember the shape of the can? The “sandpaper-like” top of the can? Remember the glue?

I remember that having “Free Air” was a “selling point” for a gas station or convenience store.
I used to always buy used tires … so … knowing where you could get air for your tires was a necessity.
I never dreamed you would, one day, have to pay for air.
But, then, I never dreamed that, one day, we would buy water.

Anyway, those gas stations and convenience would always have a big sign … like they were so proud of it … the sign, and air, would always be off to the side … I guess to handle the rush of folks waiting to avail themselves of this service … the sign would proudly proclaim:
“FREE AIR.”

If you know me, then you could see this:
I would love to park near the “Free Air” Sign, get out, and then go stand near the “Free Air” sign. I would make an exaggerated, big deal of it. I’d stand there … beside the sign … and, just breathe … in exaggerated motions, arms flailing in and out, chest heaving … your get the idea, and, proudly demonstrate for the passersby (and interested on-lookers), the fact that I was enjoying the “Free Air” that was advertised to be available … at that exact spot.
“Hey … over here … there is free air!!!”

Maybe this had something to do with why they don’t offer “Free Air” anymore.

At least, here in my town … “If you want air … you’ll have to pay for it …”

Here, you have to pay 1.50 for the air … for “Five Minutes of Air.” Seems like just last year, it was only 75 cents. Don’t get me wrong: I am thankful for this air … even if I have to pay for it. If you’ve got a tire going flat … how about the ‘ol slow leak … it’s a real bargain …
This machine even takes a credit card!
Even has a “chip reader!”

I have learned to get my money’s worth by taking the stems off the tire valves before I put the money in.
What a genius idea:
How do they make these machines to run out … while you are in the middle of filling up the fourth tire? It never seems to fail.

Which leads me to a quote I uttered recently, while I was making sure all the tires on my truck were properly inflated. This is a “must-do” after the Winter, when all the tires have been exposed to the cold concrete of the garage, or just being outside in the daytime.

Remember when “Make sure all the tires are properly inflated” was at the top of the list for trip preparation? I guess it still is.

Anyway, I was on my knees, filling up the tires, when a friend of mine, came out of the convenience store where the “Air Machine” is. We talked for a moment, and, from out of the blue, one of “those quotes” just came out.
As he was laughing at me (I’m sure he has an air compressor or air tank) for having to pay for the air … It just came out:

“I remember when the air in this Country used to be free.”

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Advertisements

Quote: “Ready or Not, the Future Will Come”

Hi Friends:

I wanted to share this quote from a soon-to-be graduating Senior at our local High School.

One of our televisions in the Library is always tuned to a news channel, so current events are always “on display” for patrons to view, and, often, to share their thoughts about.
Today, like all days, the news was on, and, like always, we hear comments like “What’s this world coming to?” Or, concerns about “What’s going to happen next?” Needless to say, world political events, and especially the United States’ part in them, are always at the forefront of discussion, especially among adults.

I guess these are the same questions that mankind has had, to a certain degree, always. And, to a certain degree, “always” will have.

For a Senior graduating High School, getting ready to “step out there” for the first time, it does give a different angle to “all things become new.” I sensed the apprehension this young man had, as he contemplated the future … especially his future. We spoke about this, and then, “from out of nowhere,” seemingly grasping wisdom well beyond his years, he said this:

“The Future is going to come faster than you think it will.
The only thing is, “Are you prepared for it?”
Because only you can make your future become reality.
Everyone else can only help you from the sidelines.
Remember:
The future is going to come, whether you are ready or not.”

I Remember: “Bruno!” “Bruno!” “Bruno!”

And now, I must write about Bruno Sammartino.

I once wrote that “Mickey Mantle … was … well … Mickey Mantle.”

Bruno Sammartino was … well … Bruno Sammartino.

To me, like so many of you, when you hear the name “Bruno,” there is only one man’s image who comes to mind.

Many times, I’ve been to Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” and marveled at the large poster-displays of legends like Elvis Presley, Walt Frazier … and, Bruno Sammartino.

Bruno Sammartino.

If you are a baseball fan, you “just remember,” just know, Mickey Mantle’s lifetime batting average, how many home runs he had, what number he wore, etc.:

Please keep in mind that in these “I Remember” posts, I never research … I just write from memory, so here goes:
.298
536
Number 7
Etc.

I’m thinking that, in much the same way, you remember Bruno Sammartino:
Headlined at Madison Square Garden … and sold out Madison Square Garden … 188 times.
No one has even come close.
No one has even come close to coming close.
Set the World’s Bench Mark Record, “benching” 565 pounds. He held the weights for 2 seconds on his chest, before raising the weight. He did this without wrapping his wrists or elbows.
Known as “The World’s Strongest Man.”
Superman … “The Italian Superman.”
The Living Legend.
Wrestling 18 minutes with a broken neck.
A true gentleman.
Class personified.

Just last Summer, I was in Pittsburgh, in Bruno’s “hometown,” and spent time in Bruno’s old neighborhood, the “Oakland” section of Pittsburgh. A neighborhood where both Dan Marino and Andy Warhol were raised.

Yes … I know it was Professional Wrestling … but … Bruno held the World Championship longer than any man in history. He beat Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds (I still know that!) at Madison Square Garden, to win his first World Championship. That was in 1963.

Bruno would hold the World Championship (this first time) until January 18th, 1971. Think about how long a time that was. You guessed it:  No one has even come close. No one has even come close to coming close. I have to look this up to make sure: seven years, eight months, and one day (2,803 days). I think of those who grew up during the Great Depression. The only President of the United States they knew was Franklin Roosevelt. In much the same way, kids growing up during this time only knew Bruno Sammartino as Champion.
Bruno lost the title to Ivan Koloff, at Madison Square Garden, on January 18, 1971.
I mention that date to bring back the memory.

A couple of days ago, I watched that match on YouTube. At the end of the match, the announcer said, “You can hear a pin drop at Madison Square Garden.”
Grown men were seen weeping in the crowd.
Later, Bruno would say that he thought he had suffered ear damage, because he could not hear the crowd. His ears were fine. The sold-out crowd was just that stunned.

 Interestingly, one of our favorite shared videos, and most popular, features Ivan Koloff, sharing his testimony of how Jesus saved him, and brought him into the ministry.

Here’s a quick link to that story and video:

https://pastorappreciationblog.com/2013/07/26/special-video-testimony-ivan-koloff/

Yes, Bruno would re-gain the World Championship in 2 years, defeating Stan Stasiak. Remember that?

As I’ve gotten older, do you know what I remember most, think about most, when I think of Bruno Sammartino?
His story.
And … how it inspires me.
How much his family went through.
This is what I remember:

What a thrill it is to see those old videos of Bruno, and, in the introduction, “From Abruzzo, Italy” … I have a special connection to Italy … Yes, Bruno’s family would move to Pittsburgh, but, the way his story began …

There were seven children, and Bruno was the youngest. Four (yes, 4) of the children would die during Bruno’s childhood. Bruno’s father would go on ahead to Pittsburgh, but, before his children could follow … World War II broke out, and Germany invaded Italy … Bruno’s mother took her children, including a young, sickly Bruno, and hid out in the nearby mountains. They would hide all day in the mountains, and then, at night, Bruno’s mother, Amelia, would sneak into town, under cover of darkness, gather whatever food and supplies she could find, and bring them back to her children …

It was a miracle, but, Bruno, underweight, and sick, somehow survived. I’ve heard Bruno speak of this … how sick and weak he was … how he wished his mother “could see her little Bruno now … “

When Bruno arrived in Pittsburgh with his remaining family, he was little, weak, and sickly. He could speak no English. Want to imagine what a target he became to local bullies?

Accidents happen. Even in a well-planned event.
On April 26, 1976 (I did have to check the exact date), at Madison Square Garden, Bruno wrestled Stan Hansen (yes, we remember “the Lariat” and Borger, Texas). Something went wrong. Bruno suffered a “neck fracture.” Yes, a broken neck. Bruno literally, and I mean literally, for real, had his neck fractured during the match. A broken neck. In the middle of the match. I’ll never forget it … because of what happened next … and, next … and, next …

Bruno Sammartino wrestled for another 18 minutes … another 18 minutes … with a broken neck … a broken neck …
He wrestled for 18 minutes with a broken neck. Bruno would later say that his doctors advised him that he came within a millimeter of being paralyzed from the neck down. I remember the cover of the Wrestling magazines, with Bruno on a stretcher … with the neck brace on, and everything …

Keep in mind that I, like many of you, lived “way out in the boonies,” so we only got a couple of local TV channels, so we only got to “see” our heroes in magazines … which made them, somehow, even more of a hero …

Was this real? Yes, it was. I’ve written how, because of how honest my Father was, I never doubted the story of Abraham Lincoln walking 5 miles to return a book. In the same way, I never doubted how tough Bruno was. My dad was that tough, so I never doubted how tough Bruno was. 

By the way … remember? … the rematch with Stan Hansen had to be held at Shea Stadium … Madison Square Garden would have been too small to hold the crowd … Yes … Shea Stadium … I’ve seen that match, too …

I’ll probably watch that one again tonight …

Today, Saturday, as I do laundry, the grocery shopping, the bills, and, instead of going outside to enjoy the first “almost warm” sunny day in recent memory, I write … I remember … What a privilege it is, to be able to share my thoughts on the great Bruno Sammartino.
Not the wrestler.
The man.
The gentleman.

This week, once again, grown men, including myself, were “seen weeping” over a Bruno Sammartino loss … The Great Bruno Sammartino …

Here is a video announcement of Bruno’s death, from KDKA Television in Pittsburgh … where we hear Bruno speak of his Mother … Note the look in his eyes … the sound of his voice … as he says, “My Mom showed the courage of a lion … I don’t know if I’d been man enough to do what she did …”

 

The Slide Show: John Michael Montgomery’s “The Little Girl”

Recently, we featured the song “The Little Girl,” written by Harley Allen, and sung by John Michael Montgomery, from his album “Brand New Me,” which was released in August, 2000.

I wrote how I had wanted to do a “slide show” of this song, but never got around to it. Years later, I had never forgotten the song, or wanting to feature it, in some format, some day.

Here’s a link to that post:
“The Little Girl:” John Michael Montgomery

I found a “slide show” done to the song, and feature it now.

I will admit, readily, that, frankly, I went “back and forth, back and forth” about sharing this. Yes, I received notes like “That’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.”

When I featured the song, I wrote:
I think about how blessed I’ve been, how fortunate I’ve been, and, I think of this verse:
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
Psalm 27:10

I thought … and thought … about sharing this slide show. It does have some disturbing images.
But … Not all of them are.

However … it is about life … which can, for so many … carry “disturbing images.”
But … Not all of them are.

However … I then realized that … it’s not about the beginning … it’s about the ending …
Now, that’s a familiar theme …

Now, I’m reminded of this verse:
“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
Ecclesiastes 7:8
That was written by King Solomon, considered to be the wisest man who ever lived.

The beginning of this story does carry some disturbing images.
The beginning of many of our lives carry some disturbing images.

I thought, “Our only goal, our Mission Statement here, is
“To bless, inspire, and encourage.”

Well … this story “ends well.” In fact, it blesses, inspires, and encourages me.
My heart breaks at the beginning … and … guess what?
When I went in and watched this, just now … for “the hundredth time” … those were real tears I was wiping away …
Why do I feel “it’s the right thing to do” to feature this?
Because those tears came at the end of the slide show … not the beginning …

Disturbing images?
Maybe … just maybe … I need to be disturbed … I need to “feel as He feels,” heart breaking, as He sees choices made, and “at what cost.” Maybe I do need to be reminded to care more … to pray more … to do more … Maybe I do need to be “disturbed” …

Plus … I really love the ending … It “gets me every time.” The fact that it features the Police and Military, two groups I respect and admire … and, then … there is Jesus … He died for me, too … He loves me, too … He cares for me, too …

It’s not about the beginning …

In my research, I found this profound statement on the website, Greater Grace World Outreach,” in a commentary on the verse from Ecclesiastes:
“We are not able to know how something will end by the way it started.”

Great News! Praise God! “The Buzzards are Circling!”

Hi Friends:
It’s funny how you can take one “old saying,” and apply it to two different circumstances, and it mean two totally different things.

All my life, the saying that “The Buzzards are Circling” was a bad thing.

A very bad thing.
In fact, it always meant that, as bad as things are now … they were about to get worse.

That is … until I moved into the North Country.
To the Great North Woods.
A place where even words like “Spring” have a totally different meaning than from anywhere else in the Country.

A little over 2 weeks ago, our version of “Spring” arrived.
As with a lot of things “up here,” what things mean “everywhere else” means something different here.

Please don’t take this as “always negative,” either. It’s amazing the difference that even something like “an old saying” can take on a totally different meaning … based solely upon the attitude of the person who is saying it. That’s the case with this “Buzzards are Circling” phrase. All my life, it has meant that things were going to go from bad to worse … and, that fact was so evident that even the buzzards knew it.

We all know what buzzards do. Like so many things we may consider as “undesirable,” they have a purpose and a benefit.

I’m thinking that the saying “The Buzzards are Circling” came from the Old West, here in the United States. My earliest memories of hearing the phrase came from watching those old Western movies, where, at a really bad time, the characters, always in a desperate situation with no hope for rescue, would look up to the skies … where, sure enough, the buzzards would be circling. We all knew what they were waiting for. What they were expecting to happen.
So, this phrase, it just went without saying, meant that all hope was gone. It’s over. I mean … things are so bad, that … well … the buzzards are circling …

Enter the Great North Woods.
Literally.

The land across the road from our house is wooded.
Tall, tall pine trees.
Thick branches.
Perfect for roosting.
Guess what roosts every year in the top of those big pine trees?
Buzzards.
Guess when they begin to gather and roost in these trees?
At the end of Winter.
Not, necessarily, at the beginning of Spring.
But, at the end of Winter.

I honestly don’t know where they stay during the Winter months.
I really don’t.
I mean, I see them all Winter, all over the countryside.
But, they don’t roost here.
I don’t know where they stay all Winter.
All I know is that they show up, like clockwork, at Winter’s end, a couple of hours before dark.
First, only a couple of buzzards are seen circling around the trees.
Then, as we get closer and closer to dusk, the number increases.
Increases greatly.
You see them circling … first, in wide circles … then, gradually, the circles get smaller … and smaller … until, one by one, they land in the tops of the trees.
You can hear their wings ruffle as they get comfortable in the trees.
You can see them, through the branches, as you hear them “settle in for the night.”

Again, they only start doing this at the end of Winter … and, they continue to roost there all Summer, and deep into the Fall.

So … after such a long, long, cold, cold, seemingly never-ending Winter … last Wednesday, the last week of March … they started to arrive.
What an allegory this is … they arrived Wednesday evening … only a couple to begin with … but they were here!
Praise God!
The buzzards are circling!
Let me say that again:
Praise God!
The buzzards were circling!

Remember that early line about how even an “old saying” can take on a completely different meaning, based solely upon who was speaking it?
I clearly remember, last Wednesday evening, being on the front porch, and saying this, out loud, and I mean out loud:
“Thank you Jesus!
The buzzards are circling!”

God is so good.
So good!
He can even take something like that old saying, those words, and turn them into a praise report!

Oh yeah?
Yeah!
“Well, how is it now?”

Well … I’m looking out the office window, at 5:00PM on Friday, April 6.
What do I see?
Not buzzards.
It looks more like “blizzard.”
Good ‘ol North Country.

That’s ok.
We’ve been blessed.
So it’s snowing.
Hard.
This morning, when I left for School … it was 12 degrees.
But … the buzzards are circling!
It didn’t feel that cold.
Ok … that’s because we just finished a wind storm (good ‘ol high gusty winds with below freezing temperatures), and,
because the wind had subsided, it felt warmer.
How high has the wind been?
One of our neighbors, at School today, asked if we’d lost any trees.
So, 12 degrees, with no wind, was a blessing.
Plus … the buzzards are circling!

Man! I’m still looking outside, and it still looks like a blizzard.
Good ‘ol April 6th!
But … a few minutes ago, about 4:30 … through the snow … as I stood on the front porch … I could make out … through the snow … yes it was …
A buzzard circling!
I saw, and heard, him land in the treetop across the road, and heard the ruffling of his feathers …
Any minute now … more buzzards would be circling through the snow …
We’re at the end of Winter!
I look outside the window again:
Man, those are some big flakes!

I just looked out the back window.
Those are some big flakes!
I rush back to the office to make sure I read the calendar right. Yes … and, this last Sunday was, in fact, Easter.
Yep … Today is April 6.
Baseball season has started.
I gotta get back out to that front porch …
I gotta see more buzzards!
I also gotta make sure I’ve got gas in the snow-blower …

I write of all this, because we have readers all over who just find it so hard to believe that the weather is really “like this.”
It is.
They always ask questions like “How do you handle it?”
(I know they really mean something like “What are you, crazy???)
Anyway, when I left for School this morning, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Beautiful.
What does this mean?
Stick around … it’ll change.
Enter the Great North Woods.

Here’s how we “handle it” in the North Country:
When I left School this afternoon, it had already begun to snow.
I left the School parking lot, and up ahead, a couple of blocks away … through the snow … I could make out an image …
A student, who lives a couple of blocks from the School, was shooting hoops, out in front of his house.
Keep in mind that it is snowing.
This student has a basketball goal at the end of his driveway, so he has to “dribble” in the street. There he was, shooting hoops …
as the snow continued to fall … wearing the “hoodie” which we up in New England have come to love … big deal … he was outside, Friday
after School … snow falling … big deal … he was playing basketball, and hitting layups …
Did he know we were officially at the end of Winter?
Did he know the buzzards had begun to circle?

A couple of streets down … snow falling heavier now … I glance off to the right … the baseball field …
Yep … there they were …. as the snow continued to fall …
Baseball practice.
Baseball practice.
Looks like everyone showed up.
Baseball practice.
As the snow falls.
Did they somehow know that it was the end of Winter?
Did they somehow know that the buzzards had returned?
Did they know, for a week now, that the buzzards had been circling?

For our friends “all over,” who are complaining about the cold weather, this is how we “handle” the weather “up here.”
Yes … the buzzards are indeed circling …
Let’s grab our bats, mitts and gloves … let’s get out there and practice our layups …

For … Praise God … “The Buzzards are Circling.”

Wow! Those are some really big flakes.
That’s ok:
The buzzards are circling!

Just so you know … we’ve used 6 tons … plus 20 bags of wood pellets, in our stove … so far …
For those keeping score … that is 12,800 pounds of wood fuel pellets …

But … Thank you, Jesus … The buzzards are circling!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Looking Back at Winter (Through the Rear-View Mirror): Blue Lights and Badge of Blessing

Hi Friends:

We’ll never forget the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We had days, in a row, where the temperature didn’t make it over zero. I mean we had day-time highs of -4. As it always does, when you’re in the middle of these, it just seems like it’s never going to end.

One of those days, when the high temperature was well below zero, and the wind was really whipping … I had a flat tire. Not in the driveway or garage. That would have been too easy. I was on the way home. It was in a 25 mile-an-hour zone, and I felt the tire go flat … that jerking motion of the steering wheel, and then I could hear it. Anyone who has driven with a flat time knows that sound … I was only a half-mile or so away from the Tire Company where I had bought the tires, so I tried to make it. I tried. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t going to make it without losing the tire. In no time, the rim was scraping the ice and sand covered pavement. Anyone who has heard that sound has also felt that helpless feeling that the only place you’re going to make it to, is the side of the road. Yet … and you know what I mean … it was -4, the wind was 40 miles an hour, and, well, being stranded on the side of the road just didn’t seem like an option … I had to try to make it to the Tire Company! Even if it meant pulling in on “all rim.”

Well … the tire and rim was making a terrible noise … and, that’s when I saw the Blue Lights in my rear-view mirror. It was our City Police! I wasn’t going to make it to the Tire Company! Never mind what I said!
It turned out to be a great blessing. The Policeman was one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met. For safety reasons, he had pulled me over. Here’s what he did:
In the freezing, freezing cold, he asked me if I had a jack, and we’d try to change the tire. We found the jack. Those of you who have a truck know about the jack. It’s placed underneath the back seat (a club cab) in a compartment. And, you’re right: They must place the jack and accessories in that small compartment … and then build the truck around it. Tight fit! Don’t worry, I wasn’t able to put it back correctly, either! As an old-time, independent do-it-yourselfer, I was ashamed of the fact that I had to look in the Owner’s Manual to even find out where the jack was. Good ’ol AAA! I must have known at one time, when I first read the manual, but that was a while ago, and I’ve got AAA! Anyway, part of the jack handle is used to “uncrank” the spare time from its holding cell, underneath the truck bed. It’s not really a “holding cell,” just chains, to slowly let down the tire, as you twist the jack handle around and around.

At least, that’s how it goes in the manual. As we said, the spare tire isn’t really covered, under there. It’s completely exposed to the elements of rain, ice, snow, salt, and more rain, ice, snow and salt. What condition do you think the chains and pulley were in? I guess … if you kept your truck in a garage … and, only drove it in 100% dry conditions … not even allowing exposure to dew … this idea of putting the spare under there, uncovered, is a good idea. But, that would be the only way that could be a good idea. Needless to say, the spare tire wouldn’t budge. The Policeman tried multiple times (he had some really good gloves) to get it to drop, but it just wouldn’t. At first, we’d go back to the manual, making sure we were doing it correctly, but it wouldn’t budge. The Policeman said it was probably rusted, and would probably have to be “torched” out. Of course, he was right, and, when I did get the truck towed in, they had to use a torch to remove the spare tire. The chains had all rusted out, and the tire was, literally, welded to the underneath of the truck bed.

So, we couldn’t change the tire, and I would have to call AAA to get the truck towed. The Officer gave me a ride home. I got to ride in the front seat! Near the heater! I will never forget this act of kindness from our local Police Department. I thought of the tremendous responsibility Police Officers have. See, this Police Officer, in a way, was like we as Christians are. We represent our faith, and for those who “run into us” along the way, to them, we represent all Christians. This particular Police Officer was not only an example of our local Police, but an example, to me, of all Police Officers. He was so nice, so caring, and so willing to do everything he could to help me. Yes … he was doing his job (a job, by the way, a lot of us are unwilling to do) … by pulling me over, as I was definitely a safety hazard. But, once he stepped out of his Cruiser, he became much more. Much, much more. As, he did much, much more than “his call of duty.” It’s so easy to say he is a credit to his job, his profession, and our city. Well, if it’s so easy to say … why haven’t I written that letter to the Police Chief? It’s long time I did. As the writer of “Wealth Stored for the Righteous,” in which I write of so many blessings we enjoy every day, and, so often take for granted … have I just discovered another blessing we so easily take for granted? I know that, on this day, this one Police Officer, in below-zero temperatures and a howling wind, would not leave me stranded … would not leave me “out there alone.” Without hesitation, he asked me where the jack was. Without hesitation, he worked and worked, in that brutal weather, trying to get that spare tire down. Without hesitation, he gave me a ride home, and let me sit up front. Near the heater. Without hesitation, he asked if there was anything else I needed.

The only thing I needed, on that day, at that time, was to thank him.

Which I did, and, am attempting to do now. Again, to me, he exemplified not just our local Policemen, but all Police Officers.

As I think back to that cold, miserable day … Ok, I’ll say it, because it’s true … as I look back, I am reminded of something else I am grateful for … something that I don’t thank God for, enough. It’s something that I heard a Christian Brother say as part of a testimony: “I’m not the man I want to be, or am going to be, but I thank God that I’m not the man I used to be.” That’s powerful, and something else I think we take for granted so many times. I’m so glad, so thankful, that when he pulled me over, “I had nothing to hide.” That, alone, is a great feeling, And, a tremendous blessing. Again, think about that statement just a moment. How God has done a great work in us, to change us. Perhaps never is that more evident than when we are dealing with Police Officers. And … I’ll say it … When they are dealing with us. It’s just different, in such a great way. Again, allow me to let that sink in for a moment. God changes us for our benefit, so our lives will be better. And, ready for this … think about it … it makes their life better, too! Think about that.

How many times have we seen on a television show (or maybe even thought ourselves), the person who gets pulled over says something like, “Why are you bothering me, instead of trying to catch criminals?” Let’s just say that, on this day, I am so glad that this Police Officer was right behind me, stopping me, and, yes, blessing me, instead of … being anywhere else.

Often, when I write, I use the term “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

I’ve battled with whether I should mention the Officer’s name. I’m a private person, and I don’t wish to invade anyone else’s privacy. I believe it’s the right thing to do, in this case, to mention, at least the last name of this “Blessing with a Badge.” A man who reminded me that, just as he represents, to me, all Police Officers, that we as Christians also represent “all of us,” a “Royal Priesthood,” at any given time we deal with others. There is that saying that “we may be the only Jesus someone may see.” If we meet a Police Officer, that, too, in a similar way, may be the only Police Officer we may ever meet, and, we may base our whole opinion of the entire “group” just on that one Police Officer. In one case … shall we say this one “cold” case … I’m ok with that. Here goes:

The Police Officer’s last name, who reminded me of my own walk … his last name was:
Priest.

That cold, miserable day, I was so thankful to have Officer Priest in the Hood.

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Looking Back (Side) at Winter: Race to the Road

Hi Friends:

As we anxiously awaited the arrival of Spring this year, we couldn’t help but think about how tough this Winter has been. Yet, through it all, we’d always, every day, hold onto that “promise of Spring.”

I don’t think I’ve seen the snow as deep in the back yard as it is now. The snow bank, next to the driveway, which is where we throw the snow, is 5 feet high. I have friends who just don’t have anywhere else to put any more snow. But, that’s how our version of Spring’s arrival looks.

I don’t remember having as much ice as we’ve had this year, and, by that, I mean how the driveway has “iced over” so many times. I remember one Monday, taking the trash barrel out to the road, I didn’t make it down the driveway … at least on 2 legs. About half-way down, I just couldn’t half-stand any farther. I was doing the ‘ol surf-board bend, my left arm extended, and the other hand grasping the handle of the trash barrel, when gravity took over … I ended up sliding, on my backside and side … down the second half of the driveway … ending up in the middle of the road. Me and the trash barrel ended up in a dead-heat at the road, both arriving at the same time. No … I think I made it to the road first!

For a moment, I knew how those guys in the Winter Olympics feel … Unfortunately … it was that guy who symbolized “The agony of defeat.”

And, speaking of “de feet,” I felt even worse, because I had a pair of “crampons” attached to my “big boy boots,” sitting there by the pellet stove. What a life-saver these are. Carol had gotten me these for Christmas, and I have used them a couple of times, when clearing out the ice and adding dirt to the driveway. These are the “strap-on” crampons, with rubber “soles,” which you just stretch over the bottoms of your boots. If you are thinking about buying these, they are worth every penny. It’s like a tool you buy for a particular job, and don’t use very often. But, when you use them, they are well worth whatever you paid for them. I even saw the mail carrier wearing these. I was concerned that there was no way she could walk up the driveway, on a day when the whole driveway was a solid sheet of ice. She got out of the mail truck, and without flinching, proceeded to walk up our driveway, without batting an eye. When she first started up, I was amazed … it seemed miraculous … it was like she was walking on water, which if you think about it (think about it in context here), she was … frozen water. So, anyway, they are worth the money.

So, why didn’t I just slip my boots on, this particular morning? I mean, I walked right past them on my way out the door to take the trash down, and then leave for work. You know why. Because, as I always do, when getting ready for work, I cut it as close as humanly possible to leave at the last possible moment. I mean, like many of you, I have it down to a science. Every second really does count. I don’t wear “tie-up” shoes, slip-ons only, so I won’t have to “waste” 2 minutes tying shoes. Most of my school shirts are of the “pull-over” variety. I’m not mandated to wear a tie, which would be difficult because of what I may have to do, on any given day. This saves me precious seconds spent buttoning a shirt. I have my clothes ready, and lunch made, from the night before. I am constantly trying to find new ways to save time in the mornings. So, I did think about putting on the boots with crampons, but that would have “cost” me precious time, having to deal with the boot laces, and then, having to untie the boots to swap into my school shoes (slip-ons, of course) would have cost me maybe, just maybe, 3 minutes. So, I made the decision to “risk it” and walk/crouch down the driveway, to get the trash to the curb. 3 extra minutes! What would you have done?

While it could have been much, much worse (I know people who broke bones in less of a fall), especially if there had been any traffic at all, I still got my palms and arms bloodied up a bit, but, since I was running late for work … I waited until I got to work to “clean up” and check to see if my clothing had suffered any tears. On the way to work, I used what paper towels and tissues I had in the truck, to get the bleeding stopped and clean up enough to make the walk from truck to building without attracting any attention.

The next part I must place in context. I had slid a pretty good distance on the ice, and, if there was any damage to my clothing, it would be in a place I couldn’t see. When I reached the Library, there were a couple of staff members, which are trusted friends. One of the ladies, yes ladies, had suffered a serious injury from a fall on the ice, a couple of years ago. I mean, she had gotten really hurt from the fall. So, I knew she would understand. She is also a friend of Carol’s, so it seemed ok to politely ask. So, in the best, mild-mannered way I could, I briefly explained what had happened, and would she be kind enough to check out … I mean … take a look at … I mean … well, it wasn’t comfortable, but necessary under the circumstances. I had to make sure my pants weren’t ripped … They weren’t, and only my pride had been injured.

As I flew (I guess you can fly on your rear end) down the driveway, I could really sense God’s hand on me. I really could. The thoughts of so many people, friends I’ve known, who have been hurt by falling on ice, I must admit, raced through my mind. Which made the fact that nothing was broken, or badly injured, mean that much more to me. I may have come close, but, yet again, when I’ve done something stupid, God’s hand was still on me.

Yeah, it’s been a tough Winter. Yet, that’s all the more reason to be thankful. Thanks, literally, to God’s protective hand, we’ve made it through. Yeah, there is still more “weather” to go through … I mean … If I hear one more person tell me how they remember when it snowed on the 4th of July …

Like so many situations in our lives, it is God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us hope for the future. As David said, the same God which delivered me from the bear, and the lion, will deliver me from this …

Again, I can’t remember a time, ever, when I have looked more forward to Spring and Summer …
Yet, as I remember this Winter, what God wants me to remember is that it is a memory … of times past … when He kept His hand on us, and gave us confidence and assurance in the future. A future which He has made possible, and, He will be with us in the middle of Spring and Summer, too.
See, the weather will improve.
I need to improve.
He doesn’t.

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.