The last time I was in Hamburg I asked a policeman where I could get breakfast. He told me. I took a look at the Post Office as I turned to walk toward food. The Post Office was proof that I had been in this town before.

I walked past an empty building that had once been Foot and Son’s Grocery. The five and Ten was gone as was the Ashley County Leader, the old name for the county newspaper.

Van Carpenter’s clothing store was missing and Sawyer’s Drug now sold food but it was not open for breakfast. What’s the point? Walker’s Hardware was empty. Across the street, Hester’s was growing grass instead of fixing hamburgers. Judge Ethridge was no longer practicing law and his office was gone.

The Baptist Church had been replaced with, well, it hadn’t been replaced, it had been upgraded. In its place was an education space. Across the street Mr. and Mrs. Serrett’s house was gone. She hired me to rake her yard one fall but I never finished the task. I would tell you that I was going to do it on this very day but that would not be true. Anyway I couldn’t finish it on this day because I was going to breakfast at the service station across the street from an Icon that let me know that Hamburg was still grounded in its faith. The Methodist Church played a song on the bells that made me smile. Thanks for reminding me that Hamburg is not ashamed of praising God in public.

The breakfast was good. I wondered later what their rating was. I am alive so what difference does it make. The lady that fed me took time to make gravey that didn’t have sausage in it. Try getting that service at The Mac. I decided to give them a 100 rating, so there.

As I moved back toward my ride I passed the building that housed the first job that I remember. Nap Murphy performing for the citizens of Hamburg. He sold gas and also had a tow service. I continued up the street.

I looked left and every thing across the west side of the street was different. The buildings were there but the businesses were different. The old hotel on the east side was now part of Carpenter’s but he was gone, moved to Russellville.

Harvell’s Hamburger joint did not move when the Pool Hall moved down the street. It was also gone. Maybe Hamburg no longer needs a place for kids to hang out. Mothers may not have approved of their sons being there but at least they knew where we were. Right James (Jimmy)? He was not the only one. My mother also chased me out of the hall one afternoon.

I got in my car and within four hours I was headed back to Tennessee. Like Hamburg, Nashville has also changed in the last fourty plus years. Hamburg was a great place to grow up. As they say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Thanks for the memories and for the old friends that still make me want to call Hamburg home.

Big Boy Elizando

B.B. was as much an institution in Hamburg as Dr. E.E. Griever. He was big and brown and covered the area as if it belonged to him. It probably did. We called him B.B. but I think his real name was Big Boy. I am inclined to say he belonged to the Elizando family but it may be closer to the truth to say that they belonged to him. Big Boy was a boxer that never met a stranger.

Raymond Carpenter

Raymond Carpenter and Dr. E. E. Griever were a team when I moved to Hamburg. Mr. Carpenter directed music on Sunday and Wednesday. He never looked in the hymnal for the page number of the song he wanted us to sing. The job that payed the bill for the Carpenter family was with the post office. Inside of Raymond Carpenter was a pastor that wanted to get out. God gives you peace about the work he wants you to do.

When Mr. Carpenter resigned, Mr. Jimmy Linder took his place. He was the prosecuting attorney for the county and Miss Mary said he always wore a red rose when he tried a murder case. She also said that he never lost. Fact or fiction?

Dale Hester

I was sure that I could beat him in the mile so I told him so. Dale Hester said it just wasn’t possible. “Mark the route and I will show you,” I said. Dale did. It wasn’t close. He only beat me by half a mile. I decided that I would make it my life’s project to improve my running skill and then re-issue my challenge. I never did but I often thought about Dale when I was out running. Thanks Dale, for the inspiration you gave me. You were a great neighbor and friend.

Miss Mary

She was as round as she was tall. After class one day she said to me, as everyone else was leaving the classroom, “I know that Billy Ray put that tack in my chair but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me jump from my seat.” That was Miss Mary, tough as nails. She passed away a couple of years after we graduated. I don’t know why. I understand that the First Baptist Church was standing room only. A fine tribute to a wonderful lady.

Bobby Chadwick

Bobby Chadwick was an early friend I made on the first grade playground. He was a big boy then but he introduced me to his bigger brother Charles. “If we ever need a person to take care of us, my big brother will look after us.” he told me.

Bobby continued to grow as Charles reached a leveling off point. Bobby moved to Star City for his last years in high school where he played fullback for their football team.

Mr Graham

The girls liked him. He had a winning smile and a disposition full of humor. Mr. Graham was always throwing his plastic vomit for effect. It was used almost as much as his poot cushion. He was always saying, “I’m not getting married until I have to.” That quote got me into a lot of trouble. Mother didn’t see the humor in it.

Sheriff B.A. Courson

He was a tall thin man that protected Ashley County as its sheriff. B.A. Courson survived the Bataan death march that took most of the lives that took part in the long dreadful journey during WWII.

After my brother came back from Korea, Mr. Courson took a liking to him. It was a friendship that my brother always appreciated. His life was cut short when he apparently ran off the road and struck a tree one night. People who influence your life should never be forgotten.

Jimmy Roberts

Someone had cut a large log into four pieces and place then vertically on the ground. Each took its place, proudly forming a square. Two, four by ten, boards connected the corners, creating two benches that controlled a barrel in the middle. That area between Mrs Young’s old white music building and the large brick building that brought us together for physical education.

The building became known as the Smoking Pit. It made prisioners of any student that had permission from their parents to enter the area for a tobacco break. Jimmy Roberts told me one day that he wished he had never started smoking. I didn’t understand and suggested that he discontinue the practice. He suggested, in return, that after eating lunch the craving for tobacco was stronger than his desire to eliminate the habit.

We all have habits that have taken over our lives. Some of these habits are productive and some are not.We move toward our thoughts.

Mrs Myers

Looking around Mrs Myers’ first grade classroom, which was full of pretty girls. I chose the one that I thought was the prettiest and clamed her as my girlfriend. I didn’t dare tell her but did confide in one of my male class mates. He then informed me that she was his girlfriend. I assured him that he was mistaken. He then turned to the female in question as said to her, “You are my girlfriend.” Her response shook me when she said “yes.” As they say, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Miss Essie and Miss Pink

They knew more about what I was doing than I did. Miss Essie and Miss Pink were two silver haired sisters that lived behind the bus station close to the Methodist church.

During the summer mother would assign me to ironing before I came to town. On many of those summer days one or both of the sisters would shout at me, telling everyone that I had been ironing for my mother. I asked mother to stop telling the sisters what I was doing. She did not.

One afternoon they asked me to pick up and deliver a package for them from the post office. Actually mother volenteered my services. I couldn’t believe it, those sweet little ladies were drinking ginger ale!

Miss Essie and Miss Pink did not want me to come back to Hamburg after college. Each of their visits to mother’s beauty shop would find them with information about job opportunities in other cities. Mother sent the information to me at Tech and I in turn would file the information away for later reference. Every job that I considered was a direct results of their imput. Look beyond your own council.

J.W. Hall

Mr. Hall was a man who dedicated his life to making ours better. If foundation means anything, he was our corner stone. I don’t remember seeing him smile very often but that was his way.

He taught me how to drive. He took me to the lake with his family. He taught one of my Sunday School classes. He never let me get away with running to lunch because it was against the rules.

These are just a few of the things that he did for me. There was much more. He was one of many that protected us during WWII. Hamburg honored Mr. J.W. Hall on Monday during Veterans Day. I did not know him as a soldier but only as an educator. Thank you Mr. Hall for being a part of my life.

In every generation there are travel choices that put the traveler in peril. We certainly had our adventures. My late father-in-law told me a story about his free rides. He said that he never shared the adventure with his sons because he was sure that they would consider it okay because their father had done it.

He was a medical student that had to make his own way and working the wheat fields in the mid-west was his summer job. He would ride the rails when the school year was over and then return home the same way. His final trip found the local law looking for a man that fit his discription of a murderer. While he was in jail they found the villan and Dr. Teeter was released. He was a smart man and did not ride the rails again. What we do lives after us.

He wasn’t the first person to take me fishing but he taught me more about fishing than anyone else. Tyson’s pond was in the general area of our homes and Billy Ray Carpenter took me there one summer day. Billy Ray had two brothers, Glynn Allan and Richard Arnold. Richard died from leukemia while I was away at College.

Billy Ray married Carol Ann Stone. I can’t imagine how he pulled that one off, but he did. Carol Ann said to me, “Bill and I had lots of fun together.” He was not the Billy Ray that I grew up with. When I think about Saul and how God used him, as Paul, I think about Billy Ray and how he glorified God in his new life. He had a wonderful wife and two exceptional children.

They say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. That was true for Bill and Carol. At his funeral I met one of his close friends. A fishing buddy and a pastor friend that lives in south west Arkansas. His name is Vernon Livinston and he was Bill’s gift to me. Vernon has a prison ministry among other thing and travels through Nashville about every three to six months.We have a meal together when he is in the area.

I have learned so much about Bill Carpenter from Vernon. Bill was certainly not the Billy Ray that we grew up with. Bill, for some reason, has been on my mind today. He would laugh if he heard me say this, but if God could use Bill he could use anyone. It gives me reason to pause.

Leonov was the first astronaut to walk in space and I was learning to play Hearts.

Weekends at Tech were special to me. Most of the students went home unless there was a football game being played. Saturday evenings would find us organizing a game of Hearts. The chatter that went on around the cards would have been worth charging an admission.

Love without questioning, Need without demanding, Want without restrictions, Accept without change, Desire without inhibitions.

Love not given is a life wasted.

Wish I had the answers, Life questions I could fix. Reflection in the mirrow, A face your mom would pick.

Listen to the silence, Vibrations never felt. Living in the moment, Playing what is dealt.

Friends long departed, Memories with us still. Find a place to settle, Know the fake from real.