Archive for Family

A Fathers Day Tribute

My grandfather, Luther “Bunk” Stringer, was a man whose life, in my opinion, was of historic note, and his story deserves to be told and remembered. He was by far the best man I ever knew and he was my hero. If I’m one day considered to be even half the man Bunk Stringer was, I, too, will have had one hell of a ride.

One Hell of a Ride

 

Come over here and sit for a spell

Lend an ear, I’ll give it a bend

I’ve been known to tell a tale or two

Of things that were, or might have been

 

With words I’ll paint a picture of days

When I was young and I was lean

Of days I sat tall in the saddle

Long ago when just a teen

 

I’ll tell of the time I met a girl

Who made me blush and act the fool

The most beautiful girl in Texas

Was no mistake they called her Jewel

 

I’ll tell you about the sunlit days

                              Out on the north Texas plains

Where I chased the steers that wandered

                                 ‘cross the hot mesquite filled range

 

I’ll tell of how I sat atop my mount

         On a hill as I pondered and dreamed

             Dreams of what lay beyond the hills

                   Far places I’d never been

 

I’ll tell you ‘bout some of those places

For a bit of traveling I have done

                                Oh, I wandered from ocean to ocean

                              In pursuit of that brighter sun

 

     But all roads lead me back here

                         Now I’ve lost the lust to roam

And so you find me here on this porch

       In Texas, my home sweet home

 

No, I don’t have much to show

                               For the eighty some years I’ve lived

For I lived hard and I loved hard

                            I gave this world all I had to give

 

But cry not when you look upon

             The few things I leave behind

My life was full of love and laughter

            And I had one hell of a ride

Copyright © 1996 C. Mashburn

 

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I Want To Be Like Billy

This is a repeat, but it bears repeating. God puts people in our paths to show us the way. I wish I could’ve realized it sooner; maybe I would have paid better attention. Fortunately, the lessons he showed me with the people he sent my way took root. It just took me awhile to realize it.

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Psalms 25:4

God sends special people into our lives for us to learn from. Today, I’d like to tell you about three very special ones He sent my way.

Judge Billy Meck was my Sunday school teacher when I was ten. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but he left a lasting impression on me. I remember him as one of the kindest, perpetually happy men I’ve ever encountered. I want to be kind and always happy like Billy.

just us kids 2

In case you can’t tell, Billy Ray is the one on the right. The other two are pretty special too. (I’m the beanpole on the left. Kenny is the hot dog below me, and sister, Patsy is the beautiful little girl in the middle.

Another Billy who left a lasting impression on me was my little brother, Billy Ray Mashburn, who died at fourteen in a car accident two weeks before I graduated high school. Billy Ray could look at you with those big blue eyes—fighting back a smile, so as not to crack his forever chapped lips—and you couldn’t help but smile back at him. Billy Ray loved everybody and everybody loved Billy Ray. I want to love and be loved like Billy.

My oldest son, Billy (he goes by Bill these days, being grown up and all) is the Billy I admire these days. I don’t know anyone who can match his work ethic or his love for his family. He’s a good man, a good husband, and the most devoted father I have ever seen. I am so very proud of my son. I want to be a good man like Billy.

I’m working on it.

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The Cake Incident

When my boys were about seven and nine years old there occurred what I’ve dubbed “The Cake Incident”. Their mom, Evelyn had an uncanny ability (I know none of you moms out there had/have this) to tune the boys out, and zero in on what she was watching on TV. I was not blessed with the ability to tune them out, so I heard every word they said. I didn’t mind. Quite often, they were better entertainment than what was on television.

cake incidentSo, there we were, having a quiet evening at home, Mom relaxing on the couch, watching TV; me in my recliner, and the boys playing on the living room floor. Billy, the oldest, leaned over and asked little brother, Wes, “Hey, Wes, you want some cake?”

Wes nodded enthusiastically, and Billy looked over at Mom and says, “Hey, Mom, can we have some cake?”

Nothing.

So, the boys went back to playing, and about five minutes later, Billy leaned over to Wes and said, “Wes! You still want some cake, right?”

Wes is really into the idea of cake by then, and his nod is even more enthusiastic. Wes was a boy of few words, mind you, but when he decided to speak, he could blow your mind. (Still can.)

Billy looks at his mom, and a little louder this time, says, “Hey, Mom! Can we have some cake?”

Nothing. Zonesville.

So, they returned to their toys, and after a few more minutes had passed, Billy leaned over to Wes and says, “Okay, Wes, I’m gonna ask her one more time, then we’ll start tearin’ stuff up.” Wes got a wide-eyed look on his face, glanced over at his mom, then shrugged and gave a curt nod of approval.

I said, “Evelyn, you better get the boys some cake.”

She said, “Huh, what?”

The boys got some cake.

 

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Wows and Holy Cows

pink bugBack in the late seventies, I worked as a logger in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. The work was hard, and as a result, I was in the best shape of my life.

For a couple of those years my “ride” was a 1963 VW Bug, with little flowers painted all over the inside. The other loggers would just shake their heads sadly when I’d come “roaring into the parking lot each morning.

Out of necessity, I learned how to change out an engine on that VW bug. I drove the little car hard, and when the engine went kaput, somebody told me it was easy to take the old engine out and put another one in.

Briefly, here’s the procedure. There are four bolts holding the engine in place—and of course other smaller nuts & screws had to be removed to disengage various smaller parts. Once the bolts and screws were removed, you stood inside the engine compartment at the rear of the car, twisted the engine, pulled it out and dropped it on the floor of the garage. Without the engine, the back of the car was light as a feather, so the next step was to lift the car and roll it over the old motor and set it back down. It was a bit tricky, in that you had to straddle the engine as you walked the car forward. Next, you’d slide the old motor out of the way, slide the new on into place, and reverse the procedure to install the new engine. Piece-a-cake!

So anyhow, one Saturday morning, I was preparing to install an engine in the VW for the second time, and when I mention this to my son Billy, who was eight at the time, his eyes got wide, and he said, “Cool!”, then ran out the front door.

Later–I’d dropped the old engine, and was standing behind the car preparing to lift it up and over it–I crouched, gripped the bumper with both hands, and then a small voice behind me whispered, “Now… watch this!”

I turned to find Billy, his little brother, Wes, and four neighborhood boys standing in a row, bent forward, hands on their knees, waiting for the show Billy had obviously promised. Not one to disappoint my boys, I turned back to the chore at hand and to a chorus of reverent ooos, ahs, wows, and holy cows, I lifted the car up and rolled it over the engine.

When I turned around, there were six very impressed little boys standing there, eyes popping and mouths agape. I took a step toward them, did a weightlifter pose and growled fiercely. They about killed each other trying to get out of the garage.

I often wonder what happened to my little pink VW bug; probably a pile of rust somewhere up near the base of Mt. Rainier.

 

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Lesson Learned

Wes was 8 and Billy was 10, and we were home alone. I’d turned the oven on and then continued watching television with them while it heated up. After fifteen or so minutes, Billy reminded me it was dinner time, and Wes, ever the parrot, said, “Yeah… dinner.”

I got up and headed for the kitchen, the boys hot on my heels, and when I opened the oven door, they were standing side-by-side a few feet away.

exploding ovenI failed to notice the oven hadn’t lit, and when I opened the door, the combination of propane, oxygen and pilot light created a minor explosion. Thankfully, it didn’t go, BOOM, and only made a muffled, “POOMF” sound. Looking back, we were lucky I didn’t blow the house up. The extent of the damage was my moustache was fabulously curly, and I had no eyebrows.

The boys had scurried into their room, which was adjacent to the kitchen, and were staring, wide-eyed, at me from the doorway. When I smiled, they figured the excitement was over, and came scampering back into the kitchen.

They looked in the empty oven, then looked up at me. Billy grinned and said, “Cool!”

Wes said, “Yeah… cool.”

Lesson: Never close the door and walk away from a gas oven until you know it’s lit.

 

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Strike Three!

door to doorIs there such a thing as a door-to-door salesman these days? Probably not, since we can buy virtually anything and everything on the Internet.

I had an encounter with one back when I was barely old enough to claim adult status, but already had two boys of my own. One afternoon, I answered a knock on the front door, and found a guy standing on the porch, the screen door between us, who might as well have been wearing a sign that read, “Salesman”, on his chest. Suit, tie, hat, sample case, and a big phony smile.

“Good afternoon, sir,” he said. Strike one. He was thirty-something, and I was twenty. Don’t call me sir.

“Do you have kids?” he asked, smiling.

I looked over his shoulder at the toys in the front yard and made no reply.

“Do you have any portraits of them?” Smile widening.

One of my eyebrows arched. Strike two. Don’t go there.

“Well, then I have a deal for…” I cut him off.

“Not interested.”

“But,” he said, “I guarantee you…”

“Not! Interested!”

The smile faltered, and he said, “Oh… so you don’t love your kids?” Strike three!

I kicked the screen door open, and to my amazement, he was halfway across the yard before I stepped onto the porch. The dude was fast! By the time I got to the curb, his tires were spitting gravel as he sped away.

My neighbor across the street came out his front door, watched the car slide around the corner, then looked at me and grinned. “I see you don’t love your kids either,” he said.

 

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The Good Times

just us kids 2We weren’t poor when I was a kid. We didn’t have a lot, but we always had enough. There were bad times and good times, but we were happy for the most part. I give Mom credit for that. Read the rest of this entry »

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