The Pie Maker

The Pie Maker During a Summer vacation in the 1970’s, I visited Katherine, my mother, in Valdosta. For most of the flight home I planned how I would pick blackberries from a cluster of brambles that have flourished since my childhood. Then, I would ask Katherine to make a blackberry pie. In exchange, I would organize […]

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The Alert

The Alert In the 1930’s and 40’s before most of us could afford electricity in my neighborhood, only three families had telephones. So, in addition to the usual channels for gossip, we also developed a community-wide system to alert the neighborhood when a family was in peril or pain.  Regardless of the time of day, […]

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Who Will Tell the Story

This story is released earlier, because it was timely told in this month of January. Who Will Tell the Story? The task fell to me … Since age four I wanted to go to school. On an August day in 1939, at age five years 3 months, I ran away from home and followed my […]

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Another Orientation

Back story to last month’s story. To write the December 2017 Story of the Month, A Fighting Machine Marked Surplus, I was assisted by a very special lady. Mrs. Pamela Murphy just seemed to be omnipresent at the Veteran’s Hospital in Sepulveda, CA. She was mostly seen walking the hallways with a clipboard and an […]

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A Fighting Machine Marked Surplus

Each of us has wondered whatever happened to someone who shared our time, if only for a brief spell before moving on. After wearing the Air Force uniform for two decades I feel a kinship with anyone who proudly wore a military uniform, of any service, for whatever period. And so, I sometimes wonder whatever […]

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He Knew Everything About Everything

[A version of this story appears in my first book, Half Way Home From Kinderlou. I edited it for presentation again now.] He Knew Everything About Everything My grandfather knew everything about everything. I called him Papa. His knowledge seemed to flow so smoothly and with confidence from his experiences and from a vast library […]

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Mister Buster & The Farmer

So much of my “schooling” was presented by people whose formal education often did not exceed grammar school. For instance, when my daddy’s father became disabled, my daddy had to leave school to help take care of his family. He had only completed the second grade. ** This month I celebrate two men whose words […]

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Mister Dye

This delayed offering was caused as I evacuated my home in South Carolina, expecting the wrath of hurricane Irma. Fortunately, she did not come. My prayers for those she visited. In my first book, Half Way Home from Kinderlou, I introduced four men from my childhood in a tetralogy titled: A Little Help from Monday Through […]

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Mr. Holly & Mr. Eli

You might have noticed a pattern in my stories. Every time I visit my hometown, Valdosta, Georgia, some sights and things evoke special memories. During a visit last month I approached the old Shell gas station and stopped for a while. I deliberately walked down a special street, just in case another man might be waiting […]

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An Elder Among Us

I am slowly recovering from an almost two month bout with shingles. Ironically, the person who helped me cope with the misery was the first man I treated with this affliction. I was a 17 year old medic at the Lackland Air Force Base Hospital. He taught me some lessons that have served me to […]

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The Community Compact

The Community Compact During my childhood in Valdosta in the 1930s, there was a community compact that conferred parental surrogacy to every adult to protect the safety and welfare of every child. It also authorized every adult who wore a belt or who could handle a switch to issue corporal punishment to any child to discourage […]

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Does a James Edward Live Here?

During a recent drive along country roads in South Georgia I reminisced about a tradition during my childhood that might have faded. Before the roads were paved there were fewer visitors at homes along the dusty trails, but at each home there was something to quench the thirst or sooth the palate of a traveler […]

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He Sang from the Heart & Mister Ben Went for a Walk

This is the third promised offering about some men who, during my childhood, helped to shape my notions of self-sufficiency, deep affection, spiritual dedication and humility. Both stories appeared separately in my book, I Wish You Had Been There, but are combined here because of the relationships of time, location and personalities. He Sang from […]

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Know Your Place

Another in the series of tributes to some men whose style helped to shape my notions of self-sufficiency, deep affection, spiritual dedication and humility. Know Your Place My place was wherever my elders asked me to be. On that Sunday morning when Mister Harold asked me to come and sit for a spell, it did […]

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Howdy Mister Harp

Whenever I visit my hometown, Valdosta, Georgia, there always seems to be something that triggers memories of people who guided my early years. During a recent visit I remembered some men whose style helped to shape my notions of self-sufficiency, deep affection, spiritual dedication and humility. Over the next three months I will profile some […]

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Listen But Shut Up

The following story first appeared in my third book, I Wish You Had Been There. It is presented here following a conversation with a friend about our grandmothers. Listen But Shut Up When the old ladies assembled I was the only child allowed to sit and listen to their discussions. I did not know why, […]

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Right of Way to Graduation

The following story first appeared in my second book, Forks in the Road. It is repeated here with an update. For those who have not read Forks in the Road, the following are explanatory notes: DINFOS — The Defense Information School, then located at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Colonel John J. Christy, DINFOS Commandant. Right […]

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The Latin Teacher

The Latin Teacher George U. Alexander was a man who had clear objectives and the vision and methods to achieve them. In 1889 his objective was to marry Maria Gaines, which he accomplished on Christmas day in Lowndes County, Valdosta Georgia. They were my grandparents. I called him Papa. For most of his 76 years Papa was […]

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The Funeral

During a recent visit to my childhood hometown, Valdosta Georgia, I drove through some old neighborhoods that spawned so many fond memories, including this one of a special day during my fifteenth year. The Funeral During my childhood in Valdosta, funerals were routinely scheduled at churches on Sunday afternoon almost immediately following the morning services. […]

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Silent Authority

Silent Authority Authority is the power one exercises to direct or encourage the actions of another. This ability to command can be conferred by statute, custom, tradition, or usurped and enforced by a greater power. Authority also flows from respect and trust, like that earned by my Uncle Maud. Even when his older brothers and sisters […]

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The Sounds and the Music

The Sounds and the Music On Monday my mother walked more than two miles to work. On Tuesday it rained, so Miss Virginia, my mother’s employer, gave my mother a ride home. When the car stopped at our door I rushed to greet both ladies; to welcome my mother, and to answer Miss Virginia’s questions. Her […]

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The Boss Man

The Boss Man Military service members are generally addressed by their rank and name. During my 20 years of active duty I was often addressed as Mr. Alexander, rather than Sergeant Alexander. But the most unusual address I heard was applied to a lieutenant colonel at Dow AFB. His troops called him “Boss Man.” One day in […]

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Gussie

Many of you never met Toian, my wife who inspired the Story of the Month. Toian died May 21, 2016. This month I share pictures which symbolize our harmony, and one of her favorite stories.  The following story was first shared with fellow members of the Island Writers Network, located at Hilton Head Island, SC. […]

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The Haircut

The Haircut In 1965, Greenland was exclusively owned by Denmark. America leased an Air Force base there at Sondrestrom, where I reported in January to begin a tour of duty as the manager of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Station (AFRTS). When I arrived, all of the barbers were white men from Denmark. Shortly […]

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Neighbors & A Trip Around the World

One question I’m often asked is how I remember so many stories of my very exciting and blessed life. One answer is a process I call “clustering.” When I recall thoughts of a particular person, activity or event I just let my mind wander to enjoy the fullness of that experience. Then, the cluster of related […]

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The Shoe Box

The Story of the Month is now read by more persons and in more places than I imagined at the outset of distribution. The increase is due, in part, by your sharing these stories with your friends, a tendency that I authorize and encourage. I also invite your comments. One recent respondent asked that I […]

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Listening and Learning & Wisdom

Listening and Learning Serendipity springs from its own fountain. Recently, on the same day, I became acquainted with three women. I watched one “show out” — a phrase the old folks used to compliment someone’s laudable behavior. One sought my advice. Another woman shared her secrets with a stranger. Immediately after meeting each woman, I […]

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The Blind Leading the Blind: Two Navigators

The following story first appeared in my second book, Forks in the Road, and subsequently published in Hilton Headings, a Low Country Anthology by the Island Writer’s Network, and The Island Packet Newspaper, in Bluffton, SC. It is now shared in this series for those who missed the earlier presentations. The Blind Leading the Blind: […]

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Santa Wore A Cowboy Hat

Santa Wore A Cowboy Hat After waiting in line for almost a half hour, I was still at least a dozen positions from the airline counter. It was two days before Christmas in the late 1970s, and I was among the horde of holiday travelers at Denver’s Stapleton Airport. Suddenly our wait was extended. A woman […]

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The Reach of Grandmama’s Hand

The Reach of Grandmama’s Hand When I arrived at Westover Air Force Base in 1962, there was insufficient housing on base to accommodate me for four months of temporary duty at 8th Air Force Headquarters. I was given a voucher to pay for housing off base. Rather than stay in a motel, my inquiries about […]

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Let Us Drink Water Together

Let Us Drink Water Together We met by chance on a cold day, and as we drank water from paper cups, his presence warmed my spirits (Washington, DC, circa 1969) Washington, D. C., was cold. As I strolled along on Capitol Hill, my chest and head ached, and I sought immediate relief from a cold […]

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Betty

In a recent discussion about heroes I shared these memories. Betty She did what heroes do …. When Betty came to school on Monday, her pigtails framed her plain face, and her brown dress was freshly ironed. She took her seat near me in the first grade at Magnolia Street School in Valdosta, Georgia. The […]

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Who Owns the Key?

On some days during the 1970’s as I travelled to work in Denver, I passed a magnificent house on a sprawling corner lot. It was a symbol of accomplishment in a community of other fine homes, but it seemed to possess a quiet elegance that the other sizeable neighbors lacked. Whoever built it anticipated that […]

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A Remedy for Nightmares and a Troubled Mind

Even though this conversation happened when I was a boy, I can clearly hear the words and see the smile of a woman who shared her love story. A Remedy for Nightmares and a Troubled Mind At age twelve, my walk through the woods from my grandparents’ country log cabin to the highway took about […]

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Measure Three Times; Cut Once

Last April I undertook to plant another row of shrubbery in the yard. I assembled the necessary tools, including the wheelbarrow to transport heavy plants and a large amount of dirt. As I began to dig and toss the surplus dirt into the wheelbarrow, I hesitated, smiled, and spent time remembering one of my heroes […]

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Marking Time

I am often asked the titles of my favorite stories. This tribute to my mother is one of my favorites. I offer it as the initial Story of the Month and as a salute to all mothers on Mother’s Day, May 10th. Marking Time (A Tribute to My Mother) To help us appreciate the significance […]

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