As I shut the door to Homer Massey’s ’57 Studebaker coupe I turned and gave a farewell wave. Homer put the car in gear and rumbled off towards his home down the hard road. It was a marvelous looking car Homer’s Studebaker. A long sleek body with fins raising up from the rear fenders. It was a two-seater with a storage area behind the bench seat that had a console in the middle. It was a 232 cube V-8 engine with a nice roadster rumble sound exhaust humming along down the road. It had a shiny black coat of paint with white fins on the rear. Oh! To have a car like that here in the “Almost Heaven” of Ballengee. I stood there and dreamed of having a car like that until the sound faded off in the evening.
As I walked up the path in the meadow to the little cabin I called home I reviewed the evening Homer and I had spent together at Clyde Hawken’s farm on Creamery Mountain. It was surprisingly a pleasant evening and we left Clyde a humbled and happier man than we first met him. It is always good to come and understand why people are the way they are. Too often we are quick to judge a person and let the first judgment hold on and never change. They say that first impressions are lasting impressions and that may be true but I say it is a shame.
As I sat down on the step to the porch I realized that it was later then I thought. For the little woman, she has a large roar that sometimes could last through breakfast. If I was to fix breakfast for myself it would probably be a peanut butter sandwich with coffee for dessert. Tasty as that is it lacks in being proper for a Sunday. So I sat quietly moved on to the rocker and pondered on the evening just past.
I first met Clyde Hawkins on Friday while at work at Lively’s feed store. I had not been working at Lively’s long and had yet to meet all the farm folk that lived throughout the mountains surrounding Ballengee. Tom had to run down to the Ballengee Deposit to care for some banking business and left me alone as Junior was making deliveries. There I was the king of the store and in walks Clyde Hawkins. Most folks around Ballengee are a pleasant sort even on a bad day. I offered Clyde a cheerful greeting and received nothing in return but a snort. Much like that of a hog but I kept that thought to myself. I tried again to be nice and said “it sure is a pleasant fall day. I love the color of the leaves and the new crispness of the cool air.” Another snort was the reply.
“You got any traps big enough for a bobcat sonny?” Clyde grumbled.
“No, sir. You might try Bobbie’s hardware down the street they might have some traps. We do have some wire in the back if that would be a help to you.” I said with an aggravated calmness.
“You know that for sure?” He said.
“Well no, it’s just the only thing I can suggest.” My replay.
“I don’t need another wild chase.” He snarled and did an about face and slammed the door on the way out.
The pleasantness of my day was now gone and it did not come back through the rest of the day. Tom came back from the bank and asked how things were going and I said couldn’t be better. Tom asked if I was sure detecting a sarcasm in my voice and I borrowed an answer from Miss Mary. “I said everything is well.”
When I got home that evening I had determined that I wasn’t going to sit in my rocker and stew over the day, as it would not be worth the effort and would only make it worse than it already was. So I grabbed the Sears and Roebuck and went to the outhouse to sit on my throne. When I drove myself out of the outhouse with odiferous flavors I went back to the little cabin only to see Homer Massey sitting in my rocker. It is impossible to be mad at Homer but he was sitting in my rocker. Being courteous I took to the porch swing and just sat there waiting for Homer to say something.
Homer said I see you are not in the best of humor. All I could say is that I had a bad day. Homer with a surely not in Ballengee approach said, “Well tell me about it.” So I did, I repeated my misadventure with Clyde and even added a few details that didn’t actually happen. Well, you know how a story grows with each telling. Homer said well it will all work out you will see. I’ll see you tomorrow and we will take some more about Clyde. Not the right answer but I bid Homer a pleasant evening and said see ya.
I barely had my Saturday morning chores done when I looked down the path and Homer was coming up. At His side was a large German shepherd dog which looked a lot like Meme Mims dog. When Homer reached the little cabin he said this is Hank. So it was Meme Mims dog. Homer told me that Meme was getting long in the years and the dog was getting too much for her to handle. Homer said that he would take the dog off her hands and find a good place for him to live. Meme was grateful to Homer and now he had this dog. But I was thinking Homer was older than Meme and that it would be just as hard for him to care for Hank as well.
We went out into the meadow and threw a stick back and forth between us and Hank had a big-time chasing that stick. Soon he was able to catch it in mid-air and now he was keeping the stick away from us. Hank was wearing me out I was wondering how much longer Homer would last. I kept saying Homer maybe we should sit down for a while and have some lemonade. But Homer kept tossing the stick and Hank keep getting it. So I went up to the pouch and sat in my rocker first.
Homer followed along and Hank sat by his side along the swing. Miss Mary brought out some lemonade and we sipped it slowly savoring the flavor for a while. Poor Hank was panting and big drops of water dropped off his long tongue. When the lemonade was near gone Homer suggested we go on up to Clyde’s and walk an extra mile with him. I didn’t quite catch the meaning of what Homer was saying but walking an extra mile was not on my to-do list for this Saturday. I told Homer I still had some things to do and I thought I had not better go. Homer asked what I had to do yet. Well, Homer stumped me and I said I could do those things tomorrow, as that is when I do most things anyway, tomorrow.
Homer, Hank, and I walked down to Homer’s Studebaker coupe and climbed in for the ride to Clyde’s Chicken Ranch. Homer liked calling it a ranch and that was okay with me. When we arrived I wouldn’t say that Clyde was glad to see us. I knew he wasn’t glad to see me and I didn’t know if Clyde knew Homer. But he should have as Home knows everybody everywhere.
We went up to the house and Clyde kept us waiting there about five minutes longer than he should have. Finally, he came over to us and asked what we wanted from him. I wasn’t about to start another bad conversation with Clyde so I left it all to Homer. This whole meeting was his idea anyway and it is all in his control. Clyde started the talk in his usual pleasant way and asked what that dog was doing here. He said you know that dog will scare my chickens and they won’t lay an egg. But Homer was ready for Clyde and told him Hank would not scare his chickens but was here to protect his chickens. Homer told Clyde that Hank was a trained Bobcat chaser. I said really. And Homer gave me that say nothing look.
Clyde said if he can chase away that bobcat and keep him away he can stay. But what is that going to cost me, Homer? Homer explained that Hank was Meme Mims dog and she couldn’t keep him any longer and she offered to let you have him. Clyde said really. Homer went on to say that he had bought 100 pounds of O’ Roy dog food and a water bowl. And Clyde said really, why? Homer said because you sell eggs to my brother Herman in Charlotte and we do not want to slow down the business. So it is a good business for everyone. Meme doesn’t have to worry about her dog, Herman doesn’t have to worry about not getting his eggs, you don’t have to worry about the Bobcats, and I don’t have to worry about Tom Lively’s hand getting his heart broke. Clyde looked over at me and said, “I am sorry sonny.” I tried to smile and with great surprise I did. All was mended between us.
Now as I sat in my spot in the old rocker moving to and fro I pondered what Homer meant by walking an extra mile with Clyde. As I sipped on another glass of cool lemonade the adventure began to take shape in my pondering. That first mile with Clyde was a rough one that left me angry. We sometimes resort to anger without truly understanding the full trouble that the other is having. Instead of trying to find a solution to Clyde’s troubles is was more effort to be finished with him. I festered the evening away in the throne house. Homer that evening went home and looked to the resource that he had to solve the problem. Instead of anger, he showed compassion. That is what we are to do, take that which the Lord provides and use it for His glory. As I pondered further I came to an amazing hope. Suppose Clyde decided to join our little family at the Church on the Knoll.
Caleb Hodge did and he is a man with a changed heart. I think that if God can change the heart of a man like Caleb He can change the heart of anyone. If we would just go that extra mile with one who is struggling we might just change their life to a better world. A world without end, amen. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two." (Matthew 5:41)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
Ballengee, April 17, 2018