Friday, April 18, 2014

 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. --I John 3:16

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tennessee Reunion

I mention a while ago thet my cousin, Harvey Loughmiller stop by to visit.  Did I tell you about the fambly reunion he thow fer ever'body back in '28?  Waal, Harvey, he decide that all the fambly should get together, rebind the fambly ties, ya see.  So he start invitin' one 'n all to his farm over by Caney Creek.  Harvey have him a amazin' spread over there.  Hundreds of acres, he has accumulated, hills and hollers, timber and bottoms, and he has prospered, that would be the word for hit.

Well, gettin' the word out, fambly scattered 'round as they were, got to be a problem fer him and his wife, May Dean.  So he decide to take out ads in the newspapers, had hit printed up in Rogersville, in Kingsport, in Stone Gap and Newport.  Run it in Bristol, too, an' for the Lockmillers what go to Texas, and the Millers now out here, he send invitations to all he could locate.

His ad say, "Big Family Reunion! to be held at the home of Harvey and May Dean Loughmiller, September 1,2,3, Caney Creek Farm, Rogersville, Tennessee.  Bring your musical instruments, your tents and blankets, and bring your big, open and loving hearts.  Loughmillers, Lockmillers, Millers, Whitacres, and Whitakers, all descendents of Jephthah Loughmiller should be here!

"Shucks, if you are a friend of any of the Jephthah Loughmiller clan, come along too.  Plenty of space for everyone's tent, and plenty of food for everyone!"

Well, sir, near as we could figure they were three hundred seventeen people there!

Harvey had put his har'd hands to work gettin' the place ready.  They had fix parkin' space for a hunnert cars, they had dug latrines and set up extry outhouses.  Set up a dormitory in the barn loft for them as din't have tents.  Th' old ones would stay in guest rooms in the main house.   They prepare pits for hog roastin' 'n I believe they go through five, maybe six hogs.  May Dean an' all the cousins who live in Hawkins County pitch in an' prepare baked goods 'til you would not believe.  Bread, pies, an' cookies by the hunnerts.

Reconnectin', that's what hit's all about!  Why, catchin' up with kin! Little kids from near-newborns to great-grandpas.  The oldest ones there was the Elspeth Whitacre granddaughters, 94 year ol' twins, they was.

Entertainment?  Oh, my.  Hill people allus been able to make they own.  Mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, ever' sort a string instrument, many build by the musician whut play 'em.  Singers!  Lord 'a mercy, thet clan were blessed with voices to thrill th' angels.  The Lockmillers from Texas had a quartet, sing in closest harmony you ever hear!  An' my uncle, Rumford Miller, baritone voice transport you to heaven. Anyway, the music go on day 'n night. Townfolk drive out ta hear the music!

Excitement?  Waal, you might imagine the thrill of seein' uncles an' cousins you ha'n't see in ages.  An' sport?  Baseball fer ever'one 'n games fer the kids.  See thet horseshoe nailed above the barn door there?  Thet there is my trophy fer winnin' the horseshoe pitchin' contest.  Hah!  Fool them ol' buzzards, I did.  I allus been purty good at shoes, an' I kep' my hand in over the years.  You know that, boy; I whup up on you right frequent, don't I?

The best show, though, were put on by Cousin Abe Miller f'um over to Rye Cove an' Cousin Marvin Lockmiller from Dothan, Alabama.  The singin' were goin' on, prolly a hunnert people gathered 'round listenin'.  The group whut tuk the stage jes lay a finishin' touch on "Wildwood Flower."  I tell ya, those folk over on the Holston got nothin' on this fambly, come to singin'.  Waal, sir, Abe 'n Marvin were standin' to'rd the back the crowd.  Standin' nose to nose, they were, an' they voices startin' to gettin' louder 'n louder, twel when the music stop, they coulda been heard to Rogersville.  Marvin screamin' "Anyone vote for Hoover is a mo-ron!"  An' Abe come back with, "Who you callin' a moron?"

Hunnert or more eye witnesses by now, an' yet no one could ever say who thow the first fist.  But go at it?  I guess not!  They was punchin' an' kickin', grabbin', and dreckly they was rollin' on the groun', clench in a death struggle, bitin' 'n clawin', an', no lie, still hollerin'.  Now it was "Say Uncle!"  'n "Hah! You say Uncle!" So four five a th' ol' uncles finely separate 'em.  They stagger to the well an' bathe they wounds 'n by the time they was breathin' steady again, they was best pals.  Hang out with one another along of they wives the whole rest of the party.

We wind it all up Labor Day afternoon, all gather together, hold hands in a big ol' double ring and sing "Will the Circle be Unbroken."

© 2014 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where is Jiggs?

I suppose I was nine years of age.  I know I was not yet ten, for just before my tenth birthday we moved some forty-five miles up the road to a city.  I walked each day to school, walked home for lunch, and walked back to school for the afternoon session.  Then I walked home. Each trip was some seven city blocks, or possibly half-mile in standard units.  The two-mile exercise each day did not hurt the kid.  In fact, it was doubtless the most exercise this kid got, for he was much more likely to be curled up with a book than to be out and about.  But this story is about the dog.

One of the first things on the agenda when arriving at the house was the greeting by the faithful pet.  But one day, Old Jiggs did not show when I arrived home for lunch.  Then.  Then Old Jiggs failed to show up that afternoon, nor was he home before my bedtime.  The desultory conversation alluded obliquely to the fact that no one could imagine what happened to Jiggs.

The next evening at supper, the four of us sitting sedately at table, as was our wont, I was fiddling with the food, stirring potatoes with fork, scraping peas back and forth, but putting little or nothing in my mouth.  A lot of silence around the table.  I finally stated, in my pensive way and with a tentative question in my tone, "I've been thinking.  I think Old Jiggs is dead."

Dad looked up, said, "What would you say if I were to tell you Old Jiggs is dead?"

"Is Old Jiggs dead?" I asked in a startled voice, terrified at the prospect.

Daddy laid his fork and knife across his plate, signalling the completion of his meal, and responded, "Yes, he is dead.  I found his body in the ditch two blocks up the street late last night."

Jiggs made an important contribution to my life for the two and one-half to three years he lived with us.

Rabbits.  Our next "pet" experience involved rabbits.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



Saturday: 78o 
Sunday: 78o
Monday: 68o
This morning: 29o  

Is this Mother Nature's April Fool joke?  She's late; but then, everything has been late this Spring.

Monday, April 14, 2014


When I was a lad, perhaps six or seven years of age, a dog came to live with us.  I was never sure of the details concerning the acquisition of the beast, but I don't believe he was a stray.  I think Dad had rescued him from some circumstance from which he needed to be free and persuaded Mama that it was the right thing to do.  The dog was housebroken and a good pet, ostensibly for the kids, but there has never been any question that Jiggs was Dad's dog.

Sister and I may have been "involved" in the naming of the dog, I really don't remember.  But again, I have no doubt that the chosen name was the name Dad chose, or would have chosen.  I cannot prove this, either, as so much fades into the mists of the past, but knowing my father as I did I suspect that he lifted the name directly from the comics page in our little local newspaper.  Dad, many times over the course of his life, said, "The only thing you can believe in the newspaper is the funnies page."  And I do know for a fact that Amos Hoople, Alley Oop, and Jiggs and Maggie were among his favorite literary characters.  Hence, the dog's name was Jiggs, or as he came to be known during the two or three years of his residence with us, "Old Jiggs."

The animal was referred to as a fox terrier, and there is no doubt that his parentage was predominantly terrier.  He was mostly white, with black and brown markings.  He would have weighed perhaps twenty-five pounds.  He ate the same things the family ate, assuming there was something left for the dog.  Kidding.  He always got something to eat.  Jiggs was a good house pet, and a suitable companion for the children, both under ten years of age.  But let Mama pick up a broom, and Jiggs's tail instantly protected the underside of his body, as he crouched and slunk out of sight, could he find a place to hide.  Clearly, the dog had suffered mistreatment sometime in his life, but never at the hands of any of the occupants of our house.

Jiggs was otherwise fearless. He never offered to attack or even offend a human. Dogs, on the other hand, were all fair game, size or disposition notwithstanding.  He was an obedient dog, though. He sat on our front stoop, but he would leap down to attack a passing dog only if granted permission to do so .  One of my father's delights with this dog was to sit beside him on the top step watching the world go by. When a dog would approach, Jiggs would prick his ears, thrust his muzzle forward, raise the hackles on his back, thus announcing his intention to vanquish the would-be intruder.  As the offending outsider would pass our walk, Jiggs would start to tremble. Yet there he would stand until Dad offered the magic words:  "Sic 'im, Jiggs!"  Then like a lightning bolt unleashed from a storm cloud, the animal would explode from the porch in hot pursuit of his prey.

I vividly recall watching this tableau play out on more than one occasion when the "victim" was a St. Bernard that lived two blocks up the street, and was given to taking his morning stroll past our place. Unaccompanied. Most dogs walked themselves in that time and place, for the dogs were no doubt brighter in those days than are the namby-pamby creatures we harbor these days.  They were perfectly capable of walking themselves.  And they did.  Anyway, "Sic 'im, Jiggs!" would set Jiggs on this behemoth which no doubt weighed northward of 175 pounds.  Jiggs would burst from the yard, pursue his target, and leap upon the great Saint's back, landing on all four feet and securing his position by taking the scruff of his foe in his teeth.  The Saint would amble on, never missing a stride.  And Jiggs would persevere half or three-quarters of a block, until he heard Dad's shrill whistle, which called him home, just as that whistle would call home the Sister and I if we were out of sight at supper time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Entry into Jerusalem

Cesare Vagirini mural
Franciscan Church

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Anniversary of a Tragedy

In spite of the skip-to-my-Lou, Pollyanna-everything-is-hunky-dory facade this blog presents, my life's experiences have not all been beer-'n-skittles.

Forty-nine years ago last night, we were sitting in our living room, possibly watching Ben, and Hoss, and Little Joe, and the boys, when the lights went out.

 Peru Daily Tribune, April 12, 1965
  Peru Daily Tribune                     
               Eastern High School Yearbook, Aurora

vanilla's personal photo album, 1965
White loop drawn around my classroom windows.

The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak took 271 lives across the Midwest and caused five and one-half billion dollars in property loss.  Our family had no losses of lives or property.  Tragically, some friends and acquaintances did have.