"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Friday, April 29, 2005

"Miss Dot - The Church Lady"

She was reared in a well-to-do Alabama family, but chose to marry a poor boy from the other side of the tracks. "Miss Dot," as she will always be known, chose true love over money. Tells you something about her right away. Disowned by her family for marrying beneath them, Miss Dot eventually emerged a very strong lady from the hardships and sacrifices of the life she chose for herself.

Miss Dot remains a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, country girl whose retirement has been unselfishly spent helping single moms rear their own problem kids. This lady will, doubtless, have many stars in her crown someday.

During her working life Miss Dot spent several years as THE "in-house" teacher at a local high school. She got all the trouble makers, smart alecks, future repeat offenders, and all those kids whose home lives were utter disasters. Little did these folks know when they went to Miss Dot's room for the first time, that they were being introduced to someone who would become the very best friend in public education, or in any other arena, that they would likely ever have.

Miss Dot ran a tight ship. She was a stern, no-holds-barred disciplinarian - the very prototype for many of the "zero tolerance" programs now utilized in school systems across the country. If there was a tolerance number lower than "zero" for sorriness and misbehavior, Miss Dot both invented and embraced it. The Marine Corps could very well have used her at any time as a drill instructor.

Given these things, one would think that en masse these troubled students would have come out of Miss Dot's reform school whining, complaining, and filing all kinds of complaints against the abuse they suffered at her heavy hand. Quite the contrary. The vast majority came out not only as better students, but most went on to graduate and really make something of themselves in life.

This writer has personally been in Miss Dot's presence when former members of these in-house classes would come running up to her, grown men included, giving her hugs and kisses usually reserved for mothers and grandmothers, and showering her with profound expressions of thanks for the priceless things she taught them during those difficult days.

Quite a woman!

The strengths that Miss Dot possessed and utilized for the good of so many could also be known to get a little outside the box on occasion. Such as the time she volunteered to help hand out tracts and other promotional items at a booth rented by her church at a local community craft fair.

It was hot and muggy that Saturday. Typical southern summertime. About 90 degrees with 90% humidity. Miss Dot and several others had been hard at it since early that morning. Scads of folks had come by the booth, readily accepting the plastic bags that Miss Dot and her fellow workers were offering. These bags had been stuffed with scratch pads, ink pens, refrigerator magnet-calendars, and a few assorted tracts introducing the church. Printed on the outside of each bag was the church's name, as well as other pertinent contact and logistics information.

Miss Dot would kindly greet the passers-by, telling them a little about the church, inviting them to visit, and then closing the encounter she would offer the bag as a courtesy gift. Everyone had been so receptive and friendly. Hundreds of the bags had been given out. Many of them by Miss Dot herself.

She could never have anticipated the lady with the frosted semi-beehive hairdo. A very proper, socialite looking wench who appeared as if she had just stepped out of a $75,000 Lexus. Jewelry, nail polish, spike heels and unabashed pretention were everywhere. "Snooty," is what Miss Dot called her. At least that was the baptized (cleaned up) version she used when telling her story to the preacher a little later on in the afternoon.

As the lady approached, Miss Dot greeted her in a very kind and gracious way and issued the same offer that had been made to countless others. As with all the others, Miss Dot then held out the free bag of church goodies. The lady stopped dead in her tracks, put her hands on her hips like folks do when they are extremely put out, and stood glaring at Miss Dot from behind her $200.00 Oakleys - for way, way too long.

Finally, looking down her catty, pointed nose and over the top of her high fashion sunglasses, she reached out as if she were shooing a roach from her dinner plate and pushed away Miss Dot's hand, along with the free bag of church stuff.


The lady then said, in a very dismissive and condescending tone, "No, no honey, you keep your little bag of trinkets - I'm not the least bit interested."

Wrong again!!!

The rock-hard, combat countenance of a veteran in-house warrior swept over Miss Dot's face. Her smile and bright eyes, so evident just a few moments before, disappeared.

The battle had been joined!

Slowly, Miss Dot laid the bag on a table at the front of the booth. In an exaggerated fashion she brushed the back of her own hand - the one that had been touched by the lady - in the same way someone would flick dog doodoo from a child's pant leg. She then called boisterously to one of her co-workers in the booth asking for the antiseptic hand wash to be passed to her - and quickly!!

If this were not enough to get the point across, before the woman could go flitting on her way, Miss Dot - in a voice that St. Peter himself could have easily heard in the farthest depths of the Hadean world - fired a final round...

"That's fine...No room in our church for trailer trash anyway...But, I'm pretty sure there's room in hell for one more!!!"

You go, girl!

Evangelism will never be the same again!!!

LIB John Brown

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What Are You Doin' To My Mama?

Sunday afternoon is naptime all over the south.

Everybody and his brother has a "nap attack" just after lunch. Which follows - of course - the morning nap they took during the preacher's sermon just a short while before.

The Sunday afternoon nap is observed by old folks, middle aged folks, empty nesters, kids, and babies. What a pleasant thing it is to take an hour or two's respite from the week's race of the rats. As the Good Book says, "the sleep of a laboring man (or woman) is sweet..."

Not all, however, seek the haven of slumber on Sunday afternoons.

Young married couples who also happen to be parents typically find another form of amusement on Sunday afternoons. "Make hay while the sun shines," can fittingly apply to some fairly passionate and carnal diversions on any given Lord's Day somewhere between the morning and evening services.

There is one caviat, however, to the wedded bliss that Sunday afternoons can bring. The kids must be either out at play, gone home to spend the day with church folks, or fast asleep in their own beds with the doors padlocked and the shades pulled down tight.

Mama's are funny that way, especially young ones.

A dear friend confided one time that one such Sunday afternoon made an indelible memory for him and his young (at the time) wife.

Their kids were ages five (girl) and four (boy). They lived in a very small modular home with paper thin walls and hollow core doors. Just like my dad always said about a Jim Walter home - "knock on the front door and the back one will rattle."

Therefore, for anything serious to take place, one kid had to be gone, the other had to be almost comatose.

On just such a Sunday afternoon their five year old daughter had gone home with a friend from church. They had purposely kept their four year old boy up LATE the night before so that he would NEED an afternoon nap.

Tsk, Tsk...Evidently, the conjugal desperation of youth knows no shame. They might as well have put Nitol in his milk.

After lunch, they put the boy in bed. He had already fallen asleep at the kitchen table during lunch. Then, this amorous young married couple went hurriedly to the bedroom and began enjoying the precious time they had manufactured.

As things were getting cranked up beyond the point of no return neither one could contain the decibel level of their verbal expressions of hormonal relief and celebration.

Good thing they hadn't made the same mistake that one fictional couple did during their child's infancy. The joke says that the pretend couple had installed the baby monitor in their child's room (and theirs) backwards. The result of this snafu was that their child's first words were not "ma-ma" or "da-da", but rather, "C'mon baby, give it up, baby!"

Back to the story...

My friend and his wife were not only getting a little too loud in their frivolity, but were also totally and blissfully oblivious to the fact that at some point during the proceedings an extra person had quietly joined them in the room.

In the throes of passion, someone hadn't secured the bedroom door.

My friend said that when he finally sensed this presence and looked up, there it was. This tiny four year old male face staring at him - at them - in curious amazement and obvious disapproval. Before my friend could think of anything "fatherly" to say, his little four year old son blurted out those immortal words...

"What are YOU doing to MY mama?..."

My friend said the voice was low and demon-like, reminiscent of Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

Here he was - a former Marine, combat veteran, Purple-Heart recipient, and hard as woodpecker lips - terrified and speechless as a whore in church.

"Go back to your room, son!," he barked in his best drill instructor voice. His boy screamed and ran crying back through the modular home to his tiny room, locking the door behind him.

Ever since that fateful day, my friend says that if he even hints to his missus something above and beyond the proverbial Sunday afternoon nap, she takes off running through their now palatial home, screaming and locking their bedroom door behind her.

My homonally deprived buddy then seeks out his (now) teenage son, rips off the boy's Ipod headphones, grabs him from off the couch - interrupting his son's Sunday afternoon nap - and in a crazed, vengeful tone says...

"Look what YOU did to YOUR mama!!!"

LIB John Brown

An Extra Set Of Cheeks

A popular comedian from the 70's once said that he loved old people because they were smart. His reasoning, "You don't get to be old by being no fool."

Old people are also commonly very honest and frank in their speech. Uninhibited is probably a better word. Like young'uns, old folks can say stuff and get away with it because of who and what they are. Old folks not only grow short in memory, but also unashamedly so in their "tolerance" (or intolerance) of things they don't like.

Old people think that political correctness is just a bunch of hooey.

Long live their wisdom.

An old white haired brother in the Lord named "Clayton" was just such a specimen of boldly speaking his mind.

Once in a Bible class the idea of, "vengeance is mine saith the Lord," was being hotly debated. Old brother Clayton always sat down front, and always stood up when he had a comment to make. As the vengeance discussion grew in its vigor, old brother Clayton raised his hand. When recognized by the teacher he stood up and slowly delivered a memorable gem.

"I know that the Lord said what he did...but I see it this-a-way...if you don't like my peaches then don't shake my tree."

The class was "over" after that. No one heard another word the teacher said.

To top this, one Sunday morning the issue was immodesty and lust. Brother Clayton had always spoken his mind zealously in wrathful condemnation of such. However, it was also a sure bet to find him every weekday afternoon in front of his television set intently watching soap opera lovers polish each others tonsils in the semi-buff.

The old adage, "Do as I say not as I do," comes to mind here.

As the different observations regarding immodesty and lust were offered in that morning Bible class, the trembling old hand of brother Clayton's slowly rose from the pew down near the front. When the teacher nervously called his name brother Clayton stood, this time much more slowly and deliberately than normal. The auditorium went deathly silent.

E.F. Hutton even hushed his proverbial mouth.

"It's a crying shame that our young ladies walk around half nekkid like they do today," he began. At first his voice was low and soft, but grew louder and more passionate with each word. "Why, in my day...when a body strutted around...notta wearing no clothes...we assumed they was either a whore with no sugar daddy...or that they was poor as a he-haint."

Now, any good Christian from the south learns early in life that "he-haints" are male ghosts. Further, it is a widely accepted truth that, since ghosts always appear unclothed, they must be poor and destitute.

The "he" part is an unspoken anatomical thing.

The only thing poorer than a he-haint was and is "Job's Turkey."

Either way, the mental image is the same.

Brother Clayton continued: "If we found out they didn't have nothing to wear...we would either take up a love offering...er else give them some of our hand-me-downs...Why, even Adam and Eve knew enough to git some fig leaves on their carcasses...when they heard the Lord a-comin' in the garden that day."

Brother Clayton's sermonette continued for several minutes. The teacher was either so captivated or so put out by it all - one of the two - that he proceeded to sit down on the edge of the rostrum next to the pulpit to listen. Mothers were struggling to mute their restless, crying babies. The deacons looked around to see what the preacher's body language was conveying. One old sister about half way up on the right hand side was even taking notes.

Finally, brother Clayton ran out of steam. The congregation, breathing a collective sigh of relief, began adjusting its laundry. With one final burst of righteous indignation brother Clayton delivered a powerful parting shot.

"I think," he shouted, "that every righteous soul in here...ought to tell these hot-tailed young women of ours...what a shame and disgrace it is...that now they are a-wearing their dresses so short...that every one of them...has got an extra set of cheeks to paint!!!"

As brother Clayton sat down there was a variety of reaction from the startled flock, muted laughter being the most dominant. The poor teacher, not knowing what to say, thanked the class for their attendance and asked all to bow in a dismissal prayer.

Before he could accomplish this, however, one old brother near the back - who was about the same age as brother Clayton - raised his hand. The teacher reluctantly recognized him, not knowing what his rebuttal would be.

The class readied itself in weary anticipation of another prolonged diatribe.

As brother Clayton had done, this old brother arose from the pew and dryly observed, "I want to thank our dear brother for his words this morning...I have always wondered...and now I know...exactly what the good Lord meant...when He said fer us...to turn the other cheek."

The gaunlet had been "throwed" down.

The teacher had had enough.

"Let us pray," abruptly ended the laughter that had erupted from the second old brother's remark.

As the congregation stood up to stretch, all over that auditorium, beloved "sisteren" (female equivalent of "brethren") - young and old alike - could be seen tugging discreetly but vigorously downward on all sorts of dresses and skirts regardless of their length.

Brother Clayton had evidently, "done quit preaching and gone to meddling."

Amen, brother...

LIB John Brown

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Chicken Fishin'

Our church has a group of older retired men who meet on Tuesday mornings at a local Burger King. I assume they chose BK instead of our own church annex so they could tell lies without the guilt of doing it on the Lord's property. They call themselves the, "Romeo Club." Romeo stands for: "Retired Old Men Eating Out." Their weekly sessions have proven to be an endless source of humor and storytelling.

The dean of the bunch is an old mountain man from up around Blue Ridge, Georgia. "Bill" grew up on a small hillside farm in the heart of the north Georgia mountains. He was one of the older among several siblings, and the valedictorian troublemaker of the entire clan. If there was an opportunity for mischief lurking anywhere nearby Bill could sniff it out better than a blue tick on a coon hunt.

One late summer day Bill's mama gave him a chore to ramrod. With fall and winter approaching in the mountains, the chimneys and fireplaces would need to be thoroughly cleaned out. Few things in the hills were more dangerous and threatening to the well-being of the family cabin than a raging creosote fire in an old flue.

Other than being the family heathen, one of Bill's other qualities was his quick, sharp, creative mind. This was, in truth, his only redeeming trait. As far as manual labor was concerned Bill was, "sorry as gully dirt," as his daddy readily admitted to friend and stranger alike. This combination, however, served him well as he continually searched for and usually found ingenious ways of getting out of chores.

Cleaning out chimneys was field hand work, Bill reasoned. The wheels in his head began to turn.

From his shady perch on the floor of the back porch he could hear the sound of daddy's eight prize settin' hens as they milled around the back part of the cabin pecking out their afternoon meal. Suddenly, like an epiphany from above, it came to him.

Bill called to his younger brothers and ordered them to run to the corn crib and bring him an ear of the family's scrub corn. He then sent his youngest sister, who was far too innocent to see the plan that was taking shape, to the barn to retrieve a couple of daddy's good cane fishing poles. Bill told them to meet him around front as he trotted off to find the family's homemade ladder. "We're gonna' go chicken fishing," he whispered.

When all the pieces were in place, Bill and his brothers climbed to the top of the cabin with their cane poles. Once there, they baited the hooks with the corn and lowered them down almost to ground level. Bill then told his sister to herd the chickens around toward the area where the baited hooks were waiting.

Bill's sister had great difficulty coercing the chickens to head in the right direction, but finally they showed up and began to peck at the corn on the fish hooks. The original thought was that the chickens would swallow the corn like a fish would have. When they only pecked at the corn, the baited hooks would flitter back and forth in every conceivable direction. Bill and his brothers were having a devil of a time keeping the bait in front of the chickens.

An added dimension involved making just enough noise so that mama would hear from inside the cabin and think that her boys were complying with her instructions. Too much hoofing around on the roof would surely coax mama outside to investigate, and thus bring down maternal fire and brimstone once she found out what was up.

Finally deciding that the chickens would not cooperate as he had hoped, Bill enacted plan B. He began "gigging" the chickens in the neck with the fish hooks. Once he had set the hook firmly in the chicken's neck he and his brothers would pull each of the screaming victims to the roof of the cabin, dislodge the hook, and stuff the bird down into the chimney. His theory was that the flapping of the fowl wings as the chickens descended would dislodge the built up creosote and thus clean the flue.

Bill's plan did not allow for at least three significant contingencies: One, what to do if the chickens got stuck on the way down. Two, what to do if the creosote was hardened past the point of being affected by the fluttering of the wings. Three, how to explain to mama what those prize settin' hens were doing coming out of the cabin's fireplaces screaming to the top of their lungs.

The whole experiment turned out to be a miserable failure. The process removed precious little of the creosote, three of the chickens got permanently stuck and had to be put out of their misery before being removed from the chimney, and at least one of the chickens got the better of Bill - pecking him profusely around the neck and ears before flying off. Also, mama eventually did come outside to investigate the ruckus and received an appreciable shower of chicken fecal matter as the surviving hens flew overhead on their way to safer ground. In the end Bill and his brothers each received their just reward from daddy's razor strap when he came in from the fields that evening.

The next day Bill was seen back on the roof of the family cabin with his arm stuck down the chimney finally doing the job right. His two brothers were inside attempting to catch the falling creosote in two large tow sacks. His sister, having been given a parental pardon due to her age, continued her daily routine of play in the creek - her stripes having been partitioned among the three brothers. Mama and daddy sat longer than normal at the kitchen table at dinner (the term used for "lunch" in the country) discussing Bill's certain future as an inmate in the Georgia correctional system.

And, there wasn't one chicken anywhere to be found.

LIB John Brown

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"Get Your Heart In Dixie, Yankee, Or Git Your Yankee Self Out"

“There’s a demographic trend in America today
That I’m here to tell you really gripes my soul,
All these blue-bellied Yankees are movin’ south by the droves
And they’s every one tryin’ to take control…

They come down here sayin’ we talk funny
And that our ways is back’ards and dumb,
Well, anytime ‘youse guys’ git tried of it round ‘chere
Ya’ll can always pack up and go right back where ye come from…

Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get yourself out
We’d all be better off – there ain’t no doubt,
It’s time for all true Rebels to stand up and shout
Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get your Yankee self out…

They think that God sent ‘em on a mission down here
To teach us how they done it "up there"
Eatin’ that old spicy, greasy Italian food –
And drivin’ like a bat out of you know where,
Most of em’s rude and down right unfriendly –
I guess they think that kind of behavior’s just fine
We try to practice manners and a little common courtesy –
On this side of the Mason-Dixon line…

Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get yourself out
We’d all be better off – there ain’t no doubt,
It’s time for all true Rebels to stand up and shout
Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get your Yankee self out…

Ya’ll burned our whole of life clean to the ground
When you come here back during the great war
Ain’t a single son of the confederacy ever forgot
What happened back in 1864,
Right now, we’re willin’ to be hospitable with you all –
We may even let ye stay for a spell
But, if any of yuns gets fed up with life here in the promised land –
Every single one of ye can book a flight straight to…
Cleveland, or Boston, or New Jersey or one of them screwed up places…

Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get yourself out
We’d all be better off – there ain’t no doubt,
It’s time for all true Rebels to stand up and shout
Get your heart in Dixie, Yankee, or get your Yankee self out…"

In Uniform Posted by Hello

Tales of Parris Island

My father was trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, in the old white barracks during the months of June-August 1940. His Senior Drill Instructor will go down in history known to me only as, "Staff Sergeant Kepple."

One day, with the black flag flying, Staff Sergeant Kepple had kept the platoon drilling out on the "Grinder" during the hottest part of the day. Back then, near the 1st Battallion barracks was a large area of circular waterpipes known as the "Water Hole." These pipes lay on the ground, and had holes punched every few inches along the top of the pipe. When the water was turned on several recruits could stand in a circle and all drink at the same time from the little fountains of water that came spewing up.

With the whole platoon wringing wet with sweat and their throats dry and parched, Staff Sergeant Kepple marched them over toward the waterhole and brought the whole mob to a halt. My dad said he just KNEW that finally they would get some relief. Having brought the platoon to order arms and parade rest, Staff Sergeant Kepple went over, turned on the water, got a long, slow, drink for HIMSELF, turned off the water, brought the platoon to attention and right shoulder arms, and promptly marched them right back onto the grinder.

My dad said that at that moment, he and the rest of his platoon mates began for the first time to try and think of ways to end the miserable earthly existence of such a person as this.

Another messing with the mind (and body) came shortly after my dad began his training at MCRD, Parris Island, SC. The culprit was the same senior Drill Instructor - Staff Sergeant Kepple. One early morning Staff Sergeant Kepple had them do something that had no rhyme nor reason to it other than the inflicting of intense pain and suffering.

As these eighty young Marine recruits were marched onto the parade deck, they had no idea that they were about to become, "Sitting Ducks."

The platoon was lined up four abreast. Staff Sergeant Kepple ordered the first line of recruits to come to port arms, and then to assume a squatting position. He then ordered them to raise their old bolt action Springfield .03 rifles over their heads with arms fully extended - while keeping the weapon parallel to the deck. Then, to the rhythm of a very slow count or cadence, Staff Sergeant Kepple had the recruits to duck waddle or "march" on their haunches the full distance of the parade deck.

There, the Junior Drill Instructors were waiting to call them to a halt and an about face, and to make sure that they maintained the squatting position while waiting for the rest of the platoon to join them. This excrutiating little adventure was repeated until the whole platoon was at the opposite end of the grinder standing at "duck attention."

My dad said that after about two relays of this drill the legs and buttocks began to cramp in ways far beyond any human description. And, for those who had not completed an adequate head call that morning (i.e., "The Three S's"), there were other obstacles to overcome.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this fun a staff car rolled up. A "full bird" Colonel stepped out and smartly proceeded over to Staff Sergeant Kepple. After the exchange of salutes and the issue of, "As You Were," the Colonel asked Staff Sergeant Kepple in a strong, low voice that echoed over the entire parade deck: "Staff Sergeant, just what in the name of God do you think you are doing with this platoon?" Staff Sergeant Kepple answered in the same type of voice for all to hear, "Just trying to get a few of the kinks out of 'em sir!"

My dad said that for the next few minutes the Colonel paced back and forth watching the spectacle intently. Every recruit in the platoon was certain, he said, that Staff Sergeant Kepple was going to get the chewing of his life for such blatant physical abuse of a new platoon.

After what seemed to be an eternity the Colonel walked back over to Staff Sergeant Kepple and said, again loudly enough for EVERY recruit to hear: "Well done, Staff Sergeant...We can't have Marine recruits full of kinks, now can we?" "No Sir!," Staff Sergeant Kepple happily barked in return.

With that the Colonel turned, strode back to his car, got in and rode away...Taking with him any and all hope for relief from this mindless torture.

My dad said that Staff Sergeant Kepple just seemed to feed off of the Colonel's approval...The platoon continued the duck waddling drill for more than an hour after the Colonel's departure.

For years my dad told this story...Always ending it with the same line: "Yes sir, Staff Sergeant Kepple and that @*#!*%$ Colonel rescued us from being the only 'kinky' Marines in the history of the Corps!"


What's In A Name?

Names are powerful things.

Judas, Jezebel, Chedarlaomer were some of the choices before and during the time when the good Lord walked here. Then came Fred, Alice, Barney, and Myrtle. Now-a-days its Haydee, Shakina, and Bryson, not to mention (the late Frank Zappa's kids) Dweezil and Moon Unit.

The Indians had it right. Squatting Dog, Running Dear, Fornicating Bear. Descriptive, unforgettable, yet not pretentious. The old joke about the guy trying to pick up the girl by asking, "what kind of men do you like?," is a good one. When she answered that she preferred native American Indian men, Jewish men, and good old southern redneck boys, he answered: 'Let me introduce myself...My name is Running Bear Goldstein but my friends call me 'Bubba.'"

When my kin over in Alabama couldn't agree on a name for their first boy they named him "Son." Them Injuns ain't got a thing on my people.

I saw two beautful young ladies one night on the news who had a super name thing going on. They were twin sisters whose apartment had caught fire, and were being interviewed by a reporter. Their names: LaTonya, and LaZonya (pronounced just like the Italian dish). Funny, she didn't look Italian on TV.

Then there's the well known tale of mothers naming their kids after Jello products ("Orangello," and "Lemonjello"). Or, the one about a mom who named her kid "Placenta" after an experience in the birthing room. Or, the mother who looked at her newborn fresh back from the hospital nursery and exclaimed her dismay that someone had already named her baby. What she was reading was in fact the tag on the portable crib which identified her little girl as "Female" (she pronounced it, "Fuh-Mah-Lee").

Also, I attended a high school graduation not long ago. Twin brothers graduated that day with the last name Williams. One was (and I am not joking) "Telly Savalas Williams" (as in the original Kojak), and the other was, "Isaac Hayes Williams." I loved it. Two great young men. Very mannerly and polite. Their names will help them go far.

Then, there's my wonderful brother-in-law. He is a III in a line with the name, Polye (pronounced "Po-Lee") Marvin. We call him Marty. His dad was known simply as "PM."

To top it all, my wife's second cousin teaches second grade in Memphis. This is no joke. On her first day in the classroom she looked at the roll and a little boy's first name came up as (forgive me but it's true), "Shithead." Shocked, she called his last name, invited him to the front, and asked him quietly how to pronounce his first name. Very proudly and innocently he said out loud, "Shu-Theed". She said she was SO relieved, and that eventually "Shu-Theed" became her star student and teacher's pet.

Goes to show you never know when the good Lord is gonna' fling a blessing on you.

LIB John Brown

Would You Buy A Used Funeral Sermon From This Man?

Funerals and baptisms, and all kinds of church related stuff in our wonderful southern culture, are "happenings" to say the least.

I officiated a funeral once where one of the family members was so angry at the dearly departed that he asked me to simply read the euology that he had written for his family member. Like the big dummy that I am I agreed. "Without rehearsal," he demanded. The demon that had me in his clutches that day did not protest. I was simply along for the ride.

The sermon was handwritten on what looked like to be used pieces of notebook paper from way back in my elementary school days when the "Nifty" Trapper-Keeper was in style. I sensed that this "loving" tribute had been composed some time before the poor sinner in question had gone on to meet his maker. Nevertheless, I read it. Every word. Just as it had been written.

When I got to the part about the deceased, "roasting like a pig over a hot flame somewhere beneath the hubs of hell," I decided right then and there that I would accept no remuneration for this one. After the closing prayer, no one offered to bake me a pie or even take me down to the Pig n' Jig for a barbecue sandwich. Every since that day, whenever there is a potluck dinner on the grounds at church, I have this same man who wrote the now infamous, "funeral from hell," to sample any food brought to me by courier - the local general store having mysteriously sold out of rat poison the day after this monumental occasion.

A friend of mine was approached by a family in his congregation asking for him to baptize their youngest daughter. This young lady, in her early teens, was severely mentally retarded. My friend said that it was his belief based on what the Good Book says that this girl did not need to be baptized. Her family disagreed and pressed the issue. My friend finally relented.

He donned the waders and headed into the cold baptistry waters as the deacon lead the congregation in, "Oh Happy Day." There were two long flights of stairs (about twenty steps each) leading down into the baptistry waters from each side. Once my friend made it down into the water from his side, he looked up and saw the young lady at the top of the other flight of stairs. As the deacon and congregation were finishing the song my friend quickly moved through the water to the side where the young lady was. His aim was to hold her hand and help her down into the water.

Before my preacher buddy could reach the other side, the young lady - evidently moved by some unclean spirit - let out an ecstatic utterance of some unknown kind and proceeded to do a perfect swan dive from the top step right into the middle of the baptistry and direcly on top of my dumbfounded and drowning preacher friend.

They said the water from that dive flew out the front of the baptistry and drenched the poor deacon songleader from head to foot. The congregation was still laughing the next Sunday when they took up at the building again for morning services.

Who says a preacher don't earn his keep?

For those who do darken the door of their local church building or other place of worship more than once right at the end of it all, here's a little ditty that you might want to keep in your front pocket just in case. If your preacher ever gets stuck in a longwinded rut and you feel anointed or moved by some higher force to help him recover from it, simply suggest that on the next Sunday he might consider preaching the world's shortest sermon.

Which is...

"Turn or burn, while we stand and sing!!!!!!!"


LIB John Brown