Archive for category Columns

Living In Extreme Winter

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Maybe we’ll get a light snow or two this winter. Being home with hot chocolate, soup, and coffee makes a snowy day a beautifully peaceful day. But what if you lived alone in a cabin in 12-foot snow and your nearest neighbor was 60 miles away? What if the power you rely on is bottled gas. No electricity. Just firewood. Long ago I traded letters with a writer who faced that situation each winter. He lived alone in the remote reaches of Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun.

His letters described a beautifully harsh landscape where solitude is yours whether you want it or not and each day is briefer and darker until, finally, darkness swallows you.

This man’s companion through the long Alaskan winter was a crackling fire. His forays into the snowy wilderness meant encounters with grizzly bears and one day he had no choice but to shoot one in the chest. The bear clambered up a hill. For a long time, he feared an attack from this wounded bear.

The Alaskan writer was John Haines. His wintry wilderness story began in 1947 when he and a friend drove to Alaska where he bought a 160-acre homestead, 80 miles southeast of Fairbanks. His goal was to paint the Alaskan winters. He salvaged wood from an old bridge and built a 12-by-16-foot cabin. When his paint froze, he turned to writing instead.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: God’s love makes everyone unique

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’ve mentioned before about how most small towns have unusual characters who are disrespected and mocked as an embarrassment to the community. Like folklore legends, these outcast individuals are remembered for their strange behavior while it’s hardly ever mentioned about who they really are. Recently the subject came up again about these odd men and women and I thought that instead of just feeling sorry for them, I could learn a valuable lesson about treating others with dignity. The notable recognition list included a few such celebrities as, shopping buggy man, barbershop man, dancing girl, Ahab the Arab, and a man they called “Eggs” who would sit on Main street day and night and just quietly watch the traffic. I’ve spoken with some of these people in the past and discovered they are not homeless or penniless, they just enjoy walking around and doing what makes them happy. They wave when people honk their horns and will gladly take a sandwich if you bring them one.

I read a story a while back, about two young girl’s that were playing on the front porch. As one of them raised up, she spotted an older woman coming down the sidewalk pushing a tattered baby carriage. She was wearing old wrinkled clothes but was not doing anything wrong. Most people around town knew her as “crazy Mary” the lady who picked up odds and ends from the trash. As she quietly passed by the front of the house, the girl’s started mocking her and calling her names, laughing and giggling. Even after the woman was out of sight, they continued talking about her and judging her harshly until they looked up to see the father of the girl who lived there staring at them. He sent the friend home and calmly told his daughter to go upstairs and change into her church dress. She did as he said without saying a word and soon returned. He said they were going for a walk and on the way he wanted her to think about what she had done and to prepare an explanation about how sorry she was for being cruel.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Best Job Ever

Tom Poland

Shenanigans, Chicanery, & Plain Out Tomfoolery

By Tom Poland

For two years I worked as a ticket agent for Southeastern Stages and Greyhound while going to graduate school at the University of Georgia. It was the most entertaining job I’ve ever had. I worked with a great group of ticket agents and baggage handlers. We came from all over Georgia. I was a wide-eyed innocent seeing things I’d only heard about. It was in the bus station lobby that I saw for the first time a man passing himself off as a woman and there that I saw a man shoot himself. As he approached the ticket counter, he dropped a gun, which fired upon hitting the floor. He limped out trailing blood. I found the crumpled bullet in a corner of the lobby.

I saw drug dealings and other crimes. One cold December night before Christmas, agent M.E. Geer and I were closing the station. It was late and we had all the cash from the afternoon’s ticket sales and shipping fees, $7,000 or so, ready to go into the safe below the shipping counter. The safe was open and we were about to put several zippered money pouches into it. Seven feet away was the back door we’d failed to lock.

The door flew open and a wild-eyed hippie burst through. He had both hands thrust menacingly in the pockets of his army field jacket and slammed them on the countertop right at us.

“Give me the bread, man. C’mon, give me the bread, I’m in a hurry.”

What seemed an eternity passed, then M.E. said, “What?”

“C’mon man, give me the dough.”

M.E. and I looked at each other. Without saying a word, we each were about to hand over the money when this desperado said, “We’ve got a shipment of pizza dough here.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Someone remembers – someone cares

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It’s true that some people are healthier than others, but the uncomfortable facts reveal the human body is generally frail and vulnerable. I occasionally joke around with my Son-in-law about him being from another planet because he says he’s never been sick, but unfortunately, like all the rest of us, there will come a day when something will go wrong. As a minister, I’ve been around my share of sickness and pain and it truly hurts me to see others suffer. My father was a very sick man, and our family watched him go through years of agony. With my parents being faithful members of their church, they received countless thoughts and prayers for him to overcome his health problems. Why was he not healed? Well, I guess that question could also be asked about millions of others since the beginning of time and the answer is always the same – we really do not know. Do prayers work? Of course, but just because we do not see instant results or for that matter, any results at all does not mean the power of God was not working behind the scenes. I absolutely believe in miracles from heaven and have personally seen them, but we also need to remember this life is only temporary and its true meaning is to develop an awareness of humility, respect, and trust in the one who is in total control.

We’ve heard the old saying about how life was never promised to be a rose garden and we can see a lot of spiritual truth in this statement. In this light, we can also be reminded that every rose has its thorns. If our path was always smooth and we always had plenty of money and felt wonderful every day, we would not understand what it means to desperately seek Him. There would be no desire to pray or need to demonstrate faith which are essential spiritual building blocks in our relationship with God. You see, the Lord did not intend for us to worship creation and have the independence to live however we want. He desires that we worship Him the creator and live according to His will. Each person is given a few years on this earth as an opportunity to know God and allow Him to transform and prepare us to live with Him forever, which is what life is all about.  Read the rest of this entry »

A review of Newspaper Wars

By Jay Bender

If 2017 is bookmarked in history it will be as the year of reassessment.  During the year we’ve been urged to reassess the meaning of “sexual harassment.”  We’ve been urged to reassess what is “normal” conduct for a President of the United States.  And, sometimes with violence we’ve been confronted with a reassessment of those who are honored by statues and monuments in public places.

Former reporter Sid Bedingfield, now Dr. Sid Bedingfield, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication of the University of Minnesota provides a timely and solidly researched book on the role of newspapers in South Carolina during the civil rights movement and the white backlash to that movement.  The book, Newspaper Wars Civil Rights and White Resistance in South Carolina, 1935-1965, examines the emergence of a black newspaper, the Lighthouse and Informer, as a leading weapon in the effort by the NAACP to gain a role for African Americans in 20th Century political life in South Carolina.

The other side in the newspaper war was fought by the white press, led principally by William Watts Ball, Thomas R. Waring, Jr. and William D. Workman, Jr. through the News and Courier in Charleston.  In today’s context all would be characterized as racists and white supremacists.  In their period, they were merely typical of white South Carolinians in attitude, although their ability to communicate their views was far from typical.

Bedingfield traces the confrontation between the black activists and white resisters with profiles of the principals in the battle.  On the side of the NAACP there was Columbia activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Lighthouse and Informer editor John Henry McCray, the African American citizens who risked lives and property to participate in suits challenging unequal pay for teachers, inadequate facilities and resources for black schools and the exclusion of African Americans from voting in the Democratic Party primary with appearances by famed civil rights lawyer and later United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  Read the rest of this entry »


Tom Poland

Your New Neighbor From the West

By Tom Poland

First sighting, a hazy afternoon near the Georgia-South Carolina border. Driving east on Highway 221 toward Clarks Hill Dam, I spotted a gaunt, leggy, yellow dog loping along the left shoulder. It darted across the road right in front of me, looking back as if to say, “That was easy.”

“That’s a coyote,” I thought. I had seen one before. Maybe. I live on the edge of a forest. Lots of wildlife around. Deer, bald eagles, and omnipresent opossums. Raccoons, of course. Running a trail, I spotted a tawny dog. It stepped from the woods and stared at me. Then the dark, green forest swallowed it. Maybe it was a Carolina dog, but the critter near the dam was a migrant from the West.

Coyote concerts were part of the old westerns. “Gun Smoke,” “Rawhide,” “Bonanza,” “Wagon Train”—none were complete without yipping coyotes and moon-howling wolves. After watching tumbleweeds and campfire scenes, I wanted to stand beneath a full moon and hear a wolf howling or coyotes yapping.

The reality is that coyotes, like fire ants and armadillos, have moved into the American South, and we’re learning to live together, or trying. To succeed, we need to cut through myths and better understand our new neighbor.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Hope is confidence that something better is coming

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I have the privilege of being a community chaplain and along with this opportunity to serve I see a lot of heartbreaking circumstances that many people do not see. Every year at the holiday season it’s difficult for me to be filled with excitement because I’m surrounded by those who are facing major problems and will not experience the same blessings that most of us enjoy. This past Christmas and Thanksgiving, we were overwhelmed with those reaching out for help. The little children are so innocent and helpless and we have actually watched them open the jars of peanut butter and eat it with their fingers because they were hungry. We do not have to search in other third world countries to find people who are hungry and going through hard times – we have them in our own hometown. The last couple of months, I’ve been busy helping to coordinate food drives for the needy, but even though we helped numerous families, this did not resolve the problem. Boxes of food and clothing is a nice gesture but how can we help people escape from poverty? I know nothing is impossible with God as I remember Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. If this was not amazing enough, after everyone had eaten all they wanted, they took up twelve baskets of leftovers. Maybe instead of focusing on the size of the need, we should consider how big our God is!  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The Perfect word of God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We apprehend this is not a perfect world and as humans we constantly make mistakes. However, when it comes to the Bible, there is a major difference. This book might have been transcribed by mere mortals but it’s content is not from this world. The holy scriptures are a collection of divine messages directly inspired from an Omnipotent God and was simply recorded by ordinary men. As one of the most popular and best-selling books in the world, it’s given much reverence and respect but as our postmodern society continues to evolve in their progressive arrogance, many individuals are now convinced with the false notion that the Bible is not true. Psalm 19:7 declares, “The law of the Lord is perfect” and Proverbs 30:5 promises that, “Every word of God is pure.” These heavenly claims of purity and perfection are statements of heavenly truth from the only one who cannot lie. Note the text doesn’t say God’s Word is “mostly” pure or scripture is “nearly” faultless which leaves no room for partial perfection theories. “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19. We are reminded when Jesus answered Pilate and replied that He had come into the world to bear witness unto the truth. Pilate then asked the question, “what is truth” and revealed that humanity is spiritually blind until God graciously opens their understanding.  Read the rest of this entry »

See Rock City

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland, A Southern Writer

In Mom’s back yard stands a red and black birdhouse on a white pole. Its roof holds iconic words. “See Rock City.” If it had not been for Garnet Carter and Clark Byers, that birdhouse wouldn’t exist, for that birdhouse harkens back to a heralded part of Southern lore. Times were, you could drive along a back road and sooner or later you’d see a barn with its roof turned into an advertisement.

You’ll be hard pressed today to find a classic barn’s roof declaring “See 7 States from Rock City. Near Chattanooga Tenn.” In case you’ve never heard of it, Rock City is a roadside attraction on Lookout Mountain in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Chattanooga is close by. Gigantic rock formations, gardens, a Lovers Leap, and caverns with black lights I recall. I remember, too, Ruby Falls but that is an attraction inside Lookout Mountain. (No one’s ever proved you can see seven states from Lookout Mountain.)

I saw Rock City as a boy but I can’t recall ever seeing a Rock City barn. Monday, October 16, I did. The barn you see here stands on Highway 28 between McCormick and Abbeville, South Carolina. All these years it was close by. Surely I must have seen it at some point. Just can’t recall it. I’m sure of one thing, though. Photographers and artists captured the old barn’s likeness. Weathered with boards missing and gaping holes here and there, the proud old barn stands as an art museum, a survivor.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: A meaningful New Year’s resolution

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A brand-new year is here and I am excited to see what the Lord has for us! Keeping Christ at the center of our thoughts takes a great deal of discipline and determination but so does everything else we really care about. It comes down to how serious we are about knowing God and how willing we are to give Him the control of our life. Whatever we become involved with, He simply wants to listen and obey his instructions which is what being our Lord is all about. If we abide under the shadow of His wings, we will walk in the peace and joy of His Spirit but if we allow ourselves to be tempted and drawn away, we will remain distant and miserable. Matthew chapter 22 gives us the meaning of life, “Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Most of the time we are so busy making our own decisions that we hardly ever consider about the distractions that cause us to drift away from Him. In the book of Revelation chapter two, He’s disappointed with how the Ephesians had left their “first love” and today is a perfect time for us to examine our heart, and choose whom we will serve. Actually, the Bible contains many passages where God says He loves us and how much He wants to be with us. The incarnation, crucifixion and the resurrection is all about restoring our fellowship with Him and living in the awareness of His presence.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Let every heart prepare Him room

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

The author of this story is unknown and has been told by many people throughout the years. The gentleman to whom I’m going to introduce was not a scrooge, but a kind, decent man and generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other people. He just could not understand how or why Jesus came to earth to save us from our sin. It just did not make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He went on to say, he would feel like a hypocrite and this year he would much rather stay home. He would just read and wait up for them until they returned. And so, he stayed as the rest of his family went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched as the flurries were becoming heavier and then went back to his chair in front of the fire to finish reading his newspaper. A short while later he was startled by a thudding sound…then another, and then another. His first thought was that it sounded like someone throwing snowballs against his living room picture window. As he opened the front door to investigate, he found several birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter, did not realize the glass barrier keeping them entering into the safety of his home. Well, he could not just let the poor creatures freeze, so he had an idea that the barn which housed his children’s pony would be a provide a perfect place from the storm if he could only figure out how to direct them into it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Wreckage Along The Back Roads

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

I seek beautiful wreckage along the back roads. It’s out there, a chest of tarnished treasure. The key is that red, white, and blue shield you see in the photograph. I know it is a place to avoid. Rather than speed from one destination to another, I follow old roads into the past. And it is there that I ramble, detouring and losing track of time. It’s there that mysteries occur to me, something that never happens on a rough-surfaced interstate where road noise drowns out your thoughts.

Take the scene you witness here. It’s the remains of an old store near Great Falls, South Carolina. Being between the forks of two roads did not save it. When the interstate came through, it sucked the life out of it and many more a business, a sad tale oft repeated. As you can see, not even the old tree survived. The stop sign seemed to be begging someone to stop at the old store, so I did.

I did not venture on to I-77. I stayed the course on Highway 97. With good reason. I speak to groups about my journeys into the countryside. I promise people that they will see nothing of interest along the interstates. You can be in Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina and the terrain will be remarkably similar, mountainous regions excluded. The Land of Monotony and its endless ribbons of asphalt and concrete make for a bland, sleep-inducing trip, albeit at timesaving speed. Think about that. Sleep inducing and high speeds. And gridlock, which you won’t suffer on back roads.

I seldom travel interstates. Only in dire circumstances do I take them—when no time to linger exists and when they can’t be avoided. Whenever possible, I look at maps and plot alternate routes through the country. Sunday I got up at 5 o’clock and hit the road for Davidson, North Carolina to see my granddaughter, Katie, play in a volleyball tournament. I could have slept in till 8 a.m., hit I-26 to I-20, and then to I-77 and made the trip in two hours. Instead, I took Highway 321 as far as I could before the interstate system got me in its clutches north of Charlotte. My journey took three and a half hours but it was worth it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Looking to God within a fallen world

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

One area of the vast unknown that has been the focus of speculation throughout the ages is why certain events happen that seem to be cruel and unfair. As a Christian minister and counselor, I am consistently either thinking, writing or being asked why tragedies happen when there is a God who can easily prevent them. How many times has someone said, “If He is all powerful, then why does He allow terrible things to happen?” This leaves His followers trying to explain what we understand very little about. Actually, the Christian worldview does not have answers to specific situations but there are general reasons why some things happen. Matthew 5:45 mentions that nature does not discriminate between good and bad or the atheist and the believer. Suffering can come to anyone and anytime without moral cause. There are several reasons why we are vulnerable to tragedy but we only have time to observe a couple. First, we are mortal and very vulnerable against an environment that is filled with danger and death. In the beginning, God established this world with natural laws in mankind’s best interest but these laws can also cause us much harm. For example, fire can be a wonderful way to cook our food and generate heat to keep us warm but it can also be a destructive and devastating force. Likewise, gravity is a blessing as it keeps everything in place but if we are skydiving and our parachute does not open, there will be tragic consequences. On the sixth day of creation, God said that everything was perfect and beautiful which many believe included a disease-free atmosphere without sickness, genetic defects or any other type of fear or danger. However, when Adam and Eve sinned against God and was cast out of the garden of Eden, according to the Bible most everything changed. Unfortunately, physical and spiritual death became a part of our vocabulary.  Read the rest of this entry »

Down By The Catawba River

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Driving north on US 21 toward a “very small town,” I watch the land change. Hills rise into view. Large rocks protrude from the ground. Boulders. I’m passing over land where hard crystalline basement rock meets softer sedimentary rock. I’m leaving the coastal plain for the piedmont. The juncture of these two zones creates the Fall Line. Great Falls sits on it and I’m headed that way.

I drove around and through Great Falls several times, that town down by the Catawba River. The day was cloudy and gray and I sensed ghosts. When I saw an old brick building with an old wall dog sign on it I knew ghosts were about sure enough. At first it looked like the sign spelled “Pelks” but I knew in a flash that once upon a time Belks operated here. As I took photos a big man stared at me.

Big man walked up. “Can I help you?”

“Just taking photos,” I said, and we began the business of checking each other out.

Turns out that Glenn Smith and I had a connection with the University of South Carolina’s Media Arts Department back in the 1980s. We tossed names about. Glenn had worked there and I had freelanced for various project directors … people like Larry Cameron.

Glenn said that before Belks came along, the old brick building had been a company store. Textile workers spent company scrip for goods there. As a result, Great Falls developed a split personality. Back then, merchant Andy Morrison, who had a drooping eyelid, sold things people needed at lower prices. The company discouraged its workers from trading with old Flopeye but people liked his prices and moreover they genuinely liked him. As a result, the area around the Number 1 mill, company store, bank, and First Baptist Church came to be known as “Downtown,” while the retail area where Flopeye held court came to be called Flopeye. To this day, two business areas exist.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Finding our place in the world

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Personal change is not easy. Anyone who advertises how wonderful it is to sacrifice, suffer and be uncomfortable, probably has a degree in marketing. There’s nothing wrong with reading books and watching videos about how other people have accomplished their goals, but even if we become experts on how to be successful, this does not automatically mean we will. Besides, beyond the motivational seminars and highly proclaimed formulas that are available, you are a unique individual and God has a special path for you to take. There is no substitute for prayer and perseverance if we are to become all that God has called us to be. Anyone that has experienced even a modest amount of achievement had to eventually arise from their couch and get moving. Every idea needs faith and a plan but without allowing the Lord to build us His way, we will most likely never fulfill His perfect will for our life.

When it comes to finding our place in this world, let us consider two categories. The first one I call, “floating down the river.” Picture a scenario of someone napping in a small boat without a compass or a paddle. Having a spectator mentality, they have no map or intentional direction but rather are just hoping for the best. It’s also common for these individuals to throw pity parties from time to time, because their happy go lucky lifestyle runs into problems and disappointments. Often haunted with thoughts of being left behind, they are caught in a vicious cycle of confusion and discouragement. As a Christian counselor, I’ve tried to help those who are stuck in this drifting mindset and certainly have compassion on them. No doubt it’s extremely difficult to climb out of a deep hole whether they blame themselves or in denial believing everyone else is causing them to fail. It’s always scary to move out of our comfort zone and face reality because sometimes life can seem like a huge mountain that’s impossible to climb. We cannot force anyone to do anything and neither can we help those who not willing to help themselves. In every area of life, those who desire a healthy state of being must see the truth about their own situation and be willing to act on it. Since His character and nature is divine order, we can agree there are no heavenly blueprints for floating aimlessly down the river. The good news is that God is patiently waiting to help us whenever our desire to change becomes stronger than our desire to remain the same.  Read the rest of this entry »

Catching Gators

If you’re going to get ‘et,’ be brave and get ‘et.’

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Like a lot of eastern Georgians I grew up with no contact with gators. I heard a rumor that someone had seen one crossing Poland Road from my granddad’s pond. Never verified that. Never saw a gator growing up. My writing career, however, would put me around gators far more than I would have imagined as a boy in rural Georgia.

Earlier this summer I drove over to Woods Bay State Park near Olanta. Woods Bay State Park is a protected Carolina bay, one of Earth’s more mysterious landforms, one known for its pond cypress swamps, rare species, and gators. I parked and immediately noticed no one but me was there. No rangers. No visitors. As I stepped out of my car I heard what sounded like a television dropping into water. “That’s got to be a gator,” I thought.

With camera and tripod over my shoulder I headed for the boardwalk that crossed the bay’s watery interior. I walked slowly, looking for snakes. On to the boardwalk about forty yards out I set my tripod onto the decking. That’s when it happened. A gator burst right out from beneath my feet and exploded across the water. I scared him and he scared me. Call it even.

That’s the closest I’ve been to a gator in the wilds and it’s as close as I care to come. A few days later it occurred to me that had the gator made it onto the boardwalk it could have cut me off from escape. That thought gave me a good case of goosebumps.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Bullies are a product of immaturity

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

As children, we only think about life on a surface level. Having fun, our toys, food and security are usually at the top of our priority list and this is normal. However, when we become older, we hopefully begin understanding things with a more mature perspective. I’m reminded of the scripture found in I Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 11 that talks about how it’s alright to think like a kid for a while, but there will come a day when we put away our toys and become accountable for our thoughts and actions. We all have memories of people in our past that had certain personalities. Unfortunately, bullies are usually never forgotten whether in our childhood or as an adult. By the way, let it be said that nothing positive can come from this type of barbaric behavior.

I remember when I was around ten years old, there was a girl at school a couple years older than me that was constantly being made fun of and treated harshly. I can see her clearly like it was yesterday even though this was fifty years ago. She was a stocky girl with tangled jet-black hair and her clothes were often wrinkled, but what really caused the negative attention was her constant runny nose. There are many reasons why children are mean, but as a shy child, I’m ashamed to admit I was a part of the crowd of spectators that quietly witnessed the daily harassment of this poor young lady. How I wish I would have had the courage to stop them but I was just a scared skinny kid who was thankful they were not picking on me. After months of mean and rude comments, the entire school eventually learned who she was and also made sure they stayed far away from her. Not only was everyone afraid of catching her “cooties” whatever that was, but they did not want to be associated with her and risk being included as another target.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Fondness For Old Gas Pumps

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Something about old gas pumps pleases me. I think of them as elder statesmen, as senior citizens left behind by the rush of time itself. When I see a proud old pump, its dispensing days behind it, I feel a surge of pride tinged by sadness. Veterans of another era, they have been put out to pasture.

I have a long history with gas pumps, and I’m sure you do too. Ever wondered how many hours you’ve spent by a gas pump filling your cars over the years? The answer is plenty. Ever worked at a place where one duty was to pump gas? I have.

My first job, outside of working for Dad, was at Goolsby’s store on Georgia Highway 47 bagging groceries, stocking shelves, and pumping gas. I liked the way the old pumps clicked off the increments as gasoline flowed into cars and trucks. I liked, too, the glass bubbles where you saw the gas swirling. Note that this old pump has instructions that read, “Glass must be full before delivery.” And who can forget the old pumps with glass globes atop them. The old pumps amount to works of art; consider them sculptures. I’ve had a fondness for old gas pumps ever since.

Only once did pumping gas concern me. Down at Goolsby’s Store I pumped regular into a car whose owner wanted “high test.” The way he reacted to receiving regular made me think I had mixed nitro and glycerin and that car would explode when he started it up. Of course all was fine.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Last race

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Well, it’s finally here; the last race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Every year I complain about the length of the season, and then every year I’m sad to see it end. When that checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19, Jimmie Johnson’s championship reign will end – temporarily – and he will be replaced by either one of three former champions, or one shiny new one.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, since we all know that in racing, as in real life, one small error can make a huge difference. For example, isn’t it strange – and kind of terrifying – how just one word can land you in a big pile of trouble, regret and, in my recent experience, embarrassment?

In this case, the word in question is “late.” The bad news is that in last week’s column I described legendary comedian Jackie Mason as being late … and I didn’t mean he was tardy. The extremely good news is that I was wrong. Fortunately for comedy lovers – and especially fortunate for Mr. Mason – he is very much alive, and as honest as ever.

“The key is that I’m always relevant,” he said. “Some of these comedians have nothing to say. They don’t have any ideas … so they give you a whole series of swear words and it’s really just a way for them to get themselves out of trouble when they can’t come up with anything. They’re irrelevant and ridiculous.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Let us exalt His name together

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. I also confess that sadly between football, conversations, and pumpkin pie there is not always a lot mentioned about being thankful. Unfortunately, many have forgotten or maybe they have never known the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It’s been recorded that the new colony were focused on giving God thanks for His blessings and protection as William Bradford is quoted. “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of God have all the praise.” Clearly, the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony worshiped God and appreciated Him for all they had, but today the meaning of Thanksgiving is almost completely lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks and aggressive commercialism.  Read the rest of this entry »