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.

Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison and I was a senior in high school. My friend Tommy moved to Alexandria, Virginia.

Hamburg was a place that forced you to find your own form of entertainment. We did have a drive-inn theater and on occasion a traveling skating rink would settle around the square.

Beatle Mania was sweeping across America and they reached the number one spot on the music charts with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Their long hair was a disgrace and lots of teenage boys started copying their style by spending lots of extra time in front of a mirror trying to make their hair look like Paul McCarney’s.

“She Loves You” was their second number one song. When they made a special appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, I was invited over to LaFran’s house, with Carol, Suzanne, James Mack, and Roy, to watch the event.

I ran track my senior year, mostly to prove to Coach Crews that I could put up with his attitude. I ran the mile, because there wasn’t anything longer for him to make me run. He knew what he was doing, but I always felt that his short coming was failing to let the runners know what he was trying to do with all those laps.

When track was over, Coach Herrod asked me to be the catcher for the school baseball team. I think that team was the first to compete for the school. We had some very good athletes in our class, but none of them chose to play on that team. My senior year seems like a blur. We all wanted to catch the wind, explore the dawn, and discover.

“Lord of the Flies” was a popular film, but I found it less exciting than the book. Bud Wilkinson resigned from the University of Oklahoma. He was their head football coach. Only the truest O.U. fan would care or remember.

When fall came around, I had decided to attend Arkansas Tech College in Russellville, Arkansas. Elaine, Sue, and Mother took me to Russellville early because the band started their thing early. It was exciting being a part of such an impressive group of musicians. The best from all over the state were there and most of them had chosen to major in music. I just enjoyed playing and getting a free ride to all the away games. Tech always had excellent football teams.

Jimmy Daniels was my first roommate and he played the bass drum. He took a lot of crap from students that knew nothing about the instrument. He was good natured and nothing seemed to bother him. We lived in the smallest dorm on campus. It had room for about eighty students. We did not have an air-conditioner and very little heat on some of those cold winter nights. Life was good!

I did not go back home until Thanksgiving and then I only left because they closed to dorm. I took a large duffel bag full of dirty cloths home for Mother to wash. I honestly thought that was what I was suppose to do. She saw that bag of clothes and asked me if they had washers and dryers in the dorm? I told her that they did and she told me that I should take them back and wash them myself. What she said was understandable. Her washer was an old wringer type machine and those in the dorm were new and easy to use.

When I left for home, someone took me and those clothes to the bus station, but when I returned on the bus I had to walk back to the campus with that heavy bag over my shoulder. Lesson learned.

I tried to listen to the fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, but my radio would not keep the station. In between fadeouts, Clay won. It took seven rounds. Liston never recovered from the rejection that he felt from home town fans.

Most of my trips home were made during holidays. I didn’t ride the bus very often. I tried to catch a ride with some of the other students. There were occasions when I could only catch a partial ride and I had to depend on my thumb for the rest of the journey. I would never consider using that process today.

One such adventure took me outside Pine Bluff and my first ride was with two men in a pickup truck. They said that they had come from Oklahoma and I could tell that both of them had been drinking. Even then three in the cab of a pick up truck was a crowd. A yellow school bus was in front of us and as the law states, you have to stop for the bus. Little black children were its load. The driver, the man I thought had been so gracious in picking me up, was giving me a different impression as he suggested that he was going to run down the next group of “n!@@&£$” that got off the bus.

I began to think about my exit strategy. My bag was in the back of his truck and contained most of what I owned in the way of clothes. I decide that when he pushed the gas peddle and attempted to become his own judge and jury, as it related to the lives of those children, I would push the door open and jump to my fate. I did not want to be a part of his plot. As I awaited my opening, he slowed down and said that he was going to turn onto a side road. I was never so glad to get out of a vehicle.

It took about an hour to find another safer ride. I completed my journey home without being part of a mass murder or having to share their whiskey. Finding peace within yourself allows you to live at peace with others.

President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963 and everything seemed breakable. The darkest moments often cause the most beautiful flowers to grow.

We all waited the afternoon he was shot for word of his condition. It was impossible to believe when the word finally came to our class room that he was dead.

Surely the doctors had made a mistake or the news people misunderstood what the doctors had said. What was the point? The truth hit home as we watched the funeral take place on television.

A television was placed in the school auditorium and we were encouraged to watch and say our goodbye to our fallen leader.

Negro field hands all over Mississippi were going on strike for better wages. They wanted to be paid one dollar per hour for their labor. The white land owners said that they gave them a house to live in and that was enough.

I was familiar with some of those houses and they would have had to pay me to stay in them. It was a strange summer with an unexpected spark that kindled a very bright flame.

I worked for a small construction company in Greenville, Mississippi that summer. Mr. Gray was often my work partner. He was an old black man that was also a Baptist Preacher. On a particularly hot July day, I asked him where he was going to eat lunch.

Preacher gave me all the particulars about where he was going to eat and what he was going to have. It sounded so good that I invited myself along. You can imagine my surprise when he said that I could not go with him. I was stunned.

What could be so wrong with me? Why did the kind old Preacher man not want to enjoy my company over lunch? He assured me that neither one of us would make it out of the lunch room alive if we went in together. I still didn’t understand. Even when he said the two of us could be mistaken for Freedom Riders. It was only months later that I understood the full impact of what was going on in Mississippi at that time.

I made seventy-five cents an hour that summer and I bet that Mr. Gray made less.

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space and I could have cared less. Mini-skirted dancers in cages were the feature of America’s first discotheque called the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. It was two years later when I saw my first short skirted female. Everyone liked them so much that they are still with us. Do discotheques still exist?

Fall was a time for football and football was king in Hamburg.

The protest movement of the 1960s was well stated in the Bob Dylan classic, “Blowin’in the Wind.” Demonstrations were going on in Washington as 200,000 Freedom Marchers did their thing.