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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: This life story begins in 1973 (kind of) – part 15

Crossing the Georgia Line

It is like looking down into the vastness of the Grand Canyon and knowing its wonder but never questioning its source: The Lord made that, all of that beauty His magnificent handiwork, ours is just to look at it and wonder at it.

That, too, is the summer of 1973.

God’s hand weaved its way from the dawning to the setting of the sun.

My memory holds true of the summer, almost to the detail, although sometimes I have to dig way down to re-create in my mind some scenes as they unfolded. 

Here is one of my early memories: I remember being on the phone at our white, wood-framed house at 901 Juniper Street and talking to Pee Wee and having him confirm that his brother-in-law Red Williams agreed to put me on with his crew that summer. We will introduce ‘Pee Wee’ later.

I was moving from a shoe store to a bricklaying job, moving from $1.50 and hour to $2.50.

That is twenty dollars a day, money that I had never seen nor dreamed of. 

That was almost a dollar more than Mama ever made working at the cotton mill right down a couple of hills from our house.

I also did not know that I would earn every dollar that boisterous Red Williams wrote onto that check. I would reach out and take the check from Red each week in my scratched-up, sore, calloused, bleeding hands and get it cashed at Winn Dixie, which was appropriate since Winn Dixie was the first of two jobs I had had at that point, not counting a brief night’s work at the Pizza Villa that sat in the corner of the shopping center between the grocery store and the shoe store. Mama put an end to that job quickly, but that story can wait a while. 

We will take this bricklaying job – you and I – and we will build a story, no, more than a story, we will build a hundred stories around it, just like we would lay brick around a house with all of its unique elements. Our stories will take us back before the year 1973 at times, and then they will cover that year like the blanket that would cover me when I was even younger watching the LaGrange Grangers football team in a debacle at a cold, cold, December football game at the Callaway Stadium, just a few hills down from our Juniper home.

When we tell the last of the stories, when we describe the final picturesque scenes that lie within that Georgia red clay, when we examine the inner thoughts of a young man digging his way through a fast-moving and hectic summer, and when we reluctantly – as reluctantly now as then – have to say goodbye to some of the most memorable parts of life and to one of the sweetest Southern ladies ever to grace that red soil – it is then we will have a better picture of what shapes a young man into something a bit more of a man than when he began. Even then, still, we will know he, and we, will have a ways to go. At the end, our journey will have just begun.

I cannot help but pause again (how many times we’ve done that I could never count): Ah, friends, it is a marvelous thing how life requires such a myriad of influences, personalities, scenes, events, tragedies, victories, loves, and, above all, the working of Providence to get you and me from the days of youth to that which we will become.

Yes, it is true in a way that we – you and I – become something different as the years roll on. Nonetheless, I can say even more assuredly that what I was in the summer of 1973, that is what I am today.

And that is what I’ll ever be.


Continued next week.


Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a writer and preacher of the gospel. And, after a ten-year hiatus, he’s also returned to work with students at Ferris High School as well. 

In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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