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Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Heaven At Tiger Stadium

My dad worked a lot as we were growing up.  He grew up during the depression when people couldn’t find a job.  For years he worked the swing shift.  It meant he switched from 7-3, to 3-11, and finally from 11-7.  He was the sole provider for our family and I think he had a deep fear of not being able to be  that.  He was probably the first guy on the list the bosses called when they needed someone to work overtime.  Sometimes over the objections of my mom he would be awaken by the phone and she would hear him say “yes, I’ll come in.”  When my friends came over and we played outside we had to be careful not to make much noise.  It was understood when dad was home he needed his sleep no matter what time that might be.  Maybe because he wasn’t always around, when he was it was precious.  Especially so when he made plans to do something with me one day!

When my dad told me he was going to get tickets and we were going to Detroit to watch the Tigers play in person back in 1965 I didn’t know what to expect.  I’m sure he saw my love for the game as an eight year old even though my only exposure was the TV and radio broadcasts.  I had sat watching Tiger games with him by the hour and asked him question after question.  Dad went down to WKZO, our local radio station.  Back then you could pick up Tiger tickets there.  He bought tickets for a Sunday afternoon doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on July 25, 1965 and I waited patiently for the days to pass.

My first memory of baseball was the 1964 World Series.  The Cardinals were playing the Yankees.  My mom and I were rooting for the Yankees and my sister and dad were rooting for the Cardinals.  It was in color on our new colored TV and we all sat there and watched the game.  This memory was from one of the earlier games.  The series went the whole seven games.  I remember watching the seventh game by myself.  The World Series was played in the daytime back then.  The rest of my family was occupied with other important things in life.  I watched the Yankees get far behind. In the last inning they gave me hope with back to back home runs.  Then Bobby Richardson hit a high pop up to second base and it was all over.  The Yankees had lost 7-5.  I sat there as the Cardinals celebrated in a swarm by the pitchers mound.  I was so disappointed that the Yankees lost.Cardinals celebrate

After 1964 I had become a Tiger fan!  I think it came from exposure.  Some of the Tiger’s games were on TV and all of them were on the radio!  My 6th grade teacher Mr. Meyle told us that if we conducted ourselves properly in the morning that we could watch the World Series that afternoon!  It was 1968 and the Detroit Tigers were in it!  Of course being from Michigan we were rooting for our home team!  It had been 23 years since the Tigers had been in the World Series.  It was a first in our lifetimes!  We must have conducted ourselves well because just before game time a big  black and white TV was wheeled in on a tall TV stand.  The room was in an uproar whenever the Tigers did something good! The Tigers won that day and evened the series at one game apiece.  We thought letting us watch the game was the greatest thing a teacher ever did for us and we were all in heaven!  Let’s say it was a taste of heaven, not to be confused with the sights and sounds of the real thing three years earlier.

Our seats were waiting for us

Our green seats were waiting for us

If we were going somewhere dad wanted to get there early.  At about 8:30 right after breakfast we were on the road to Detroit.  It is at most a three hour trip maybe two and a half.  We got to Detroit probably a little after 11.  We were way too early to go to the game so dad had a thought.  He decided that we could go over the bridge and visit Canada.  We hung around Windsor for a while stopping at a food place for lunch.  We also killed time by visiting a retail store.  We went back over the bridge to Detroit in hopes of making the game in time.  Unfortunately we got turned around.  Detroit is a big place with plenty of traffic and if you don’t know exactly where you are going you can be swept in the traffic flow.  After circling the city two or three times we finally stopped at a filling station and asked for directions.  The man who gave us directions was a friendly black man.  I think it was the first time I ever saw anyone in person with skin a different color than my own.  To show you how different and trusting the times were the man and my dad made a friendly one dollar bet on the games.  They agreed that after the games dad would stop and fill up the tank and settle the bet then.

The biggest place I ever saw!

The biggest place I ever saw!

We drove around the stadium and found someone waving us into a parking spot.  People would make money using their lawns as a parking lot on game days.  We parked and walked down the road to the largest place I had ever seen!  After going through the turnstile we had to walk and walk to get to gate number 225 where our seats were.  Entering the gate the first thing I noticed was green.  The grass was the greenest grass I had ever seen and the fences and seats in the ball park were all green.  We made our way to our seats which were wooden seats that you unfolded before you sat down.

Everything was Green!

Everything was Green!

By the time we settled in our seats it was the third inning.  The White Sox were in the field.  Unlike the uniforms I would have pictured them in, their uniforms were actually a light baby blue.  It was their road uniform color that year.  The Tigers uniforms were as white as I have ever seen and had that English D on the jersey and their number and names on the back.  Our seats were in the lower deck between first base and home plate.  They were good box seats and the view was magnificent! I knew the players by name and number but it was so much different seeing my heroes in the flesh.  Dad bought me a Tiger Yearbook with Bill Freehan the star catcher on the cover.  It was a beautiful book and seemed to glisten in the sun.  He also bought me a Tiger hat to wear!  When he saw me looking through the yearbook as the game was going on he reminded me that I could look at the book anytime.  Sitting there watching the game in the bright sunshine with my loving dad next to me was like heaven.  Everything was so new and it made every little thing deeply interesting!  The crack of the bats and the pop of the mitts.  With every little thing I was seeing I loved the game even more if that were possible!

My 1965 Tiger Yearbook

My 1965 Tiger Yearbook

my hat

As much as I was yelling for the Tiger players there was a kid probably about my age who was yelling two rows behind me.  He was cheering for the White Sox.  When a White Sox player came to bat be it Pete Ward or Moose Skowron his voice would pop up “Cmon Pete, Cmon Moose.”  It surprised me that there was actually someone cheering for the White Sox there in our Tiger Stadium!  The White Sox had a big inning in which I think they scored seven or eight runs.  The Tigers just couldn’t get them out!  They ended up winning the first game 10-6.

Cmon Moose!
The kid was yelling “Cmon Moose!”

We waited the fifteen or twenty minutes between games.  The only entertainment was watching the grounds crew raking and watering the field.

             Is this what you pictured?
Even watching the workers on the field was a new experience!
Al...Let's play 2!

Al…Let’s play 2!

Still even that was so new to me that it was an experience.  Someone behind me said that Al Kaline wasn’t in the lineup for the next game.  I couldn’t understand why my favorite player couldn’t play every game!  The second game went the Tigers way early as they hit four home runs I think.  Two of them were by Norm Cash and it was thrilling hearing the crack and watching the ball sail into the upper right field deck!  The Tigers ended up winning 13-2 and rookie Denny McLain who would win 31 games three years later got the win.  After the game we stopped back at the filling station where it was decided the bet ended in a tie with each team winning a game.

Norm Cash had 2 Home Runs!

Norm Cash had 2 Home Runs!

Over the years I went to a few more Tiger games at Tiger Stadium.  In 1968 my baseball team went to a game together.  I remember we sat out in the upper deck in left field and stood on the seats yelling for Willie Horton to throw us a ball.  Willie the left fielder was throwing balls to the fans that day during batting practice.  Unfortunately none came our way.  Through the years I got two souvenir baseballs from batting practice I still have.  None of the other visits came close to the magic I felt that first time.  We took my son to one of the last games at the stadium in 1999 when he was nine.    Maybe the timing was just right in my case, because I don’t think he had quite the experience that I did.

I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, but sometimes I think God gives us a glimpse in our lifetime.  Like the taste of baseball heaven we got when the black and white TV was played in our classroom, my experience that day at eight was like a small taste of the real heaven.  Nothing was old that day as I enjoyed the sites in wonderment!  The sun was shining bright and there wasn’t a care in the world as I sat by my loving father.  My dad was wonderful that day! He did everything in his power to make my experience even more enjoyable!  I can’t even imagine what heaven will be like when everything is always new and astonishing forever and ever.  As far as I can tell though it will be like the first glimpse of a child at eight of a beautiful green field and the bright white uniforms of heroes playing a game that I loved so much!  Looking back the real hero was my dad who loved me so much that he made my heavenly experience possible!

Father & Son

Within These Walls I Hear Voices

I took my camera over to the old buildings the other day.  I planned to take pictures of how they looked one last time.  The lights really went out on these buildings years ago.  That was when the College of Business moved to a new and improved location.  The Haworth College of Business building today is equipped with all of the modern technology needed for students to learn in today’s world.  Years later the old buildings still stand.  The University tried through the years to find a purpose for them.  It would have been nice if they were left to stand as a reminder of how it started. Yet, buildings have a life too and like us they get old.  Maintenance bills are very expensive for buildings standing there with no purpose.  Visiting them was like visiting an old and dying relative in a nursing home. One time I visited an old family friend at such a time.  I was in my late 30’s and when I told her who I was she said my you have grown.  In her mind I was probably ten.  John Cougar Mellencamp had a song with the lyrics “life goes on long after the thrill of living is all gone.”  That song typified my feelings as I looked at those buildings.  East Hall in particular looked very rough as I took the picture.  Not nearly the memory of it I had.  It was always old of course but it’s age used to bring it uniqueness.  It’s age used to depict all of the stereotype learning institutions we saw in the movies.    Now it just looked like an old abandoned building that was falling apart.

Built in 1905

East Hall  Built in 1905

The news came a few months ago that the old East Campus buildings would be torn down.  All except East Hall which was the original one.  East Hall was built in 1905 and was the first building of the university.  East Hall will be renovated but the other buildings will be no more.  East Campus was a big part of my life back in the late 70’s.  It was there that I went to school for all of my business classes.  It was our College of Business and it was our own little dwelling place apart from the main campus.  I always thought it was cool with the old buildings!  Almost like we were going to school out east with the ivy league theme.  Although the buildings didn’t have the best heating and cooling systems and the radiators would creak for no reason it seemed like home.  The temperature varied to downright cold to extremely hot depending on the season. The door knobs were still from the old antique lot and the rooms looked like they were in a time capsule.  Here we were in the late 1970’s feeling like we were back in the 1930’s.  Still it was unique and the experience we shared is in my mind forever.

In my mind I could hear their voices.  Hey over there, don’t take our picture now!  Remember us for what we were when students were walking our halls!  Remember us for your experiences that made you a better person!  I took three pictures but decided that I would use pictures off of the web.  It would be pictures in happier times of building more like I remembered them. These buildings reminded me of an old relative that could remember events from thirty years ago with clarity but couldn’t remember what happened yesterday.  “What is your name anyway your face is familiar.”  It was a voice from the past and I played along.   I let them know that my name was Hamilton and I got my degree in 1979.  I also came back in the mid eighties to study accounting.

My Old Friend

North Hall…My Old Friend

Hamilton hmmm let me think said North Hall thinking of the past where the memory was clearer.  Hamilton, yes, you were in advertising weren’t you?  North Hall was the place I spent most of my time.   North Hall was built in 1924.  It was the youngest of the three main buildings. It was the home of the marketing department and within that the advertising section I was part of.  Years ago I had a dream of writing advertising.  I always felt I could come up with really good ideas and enjoyed the process of analyzing what the consumer would go for!  Basically by 1978 I had my general education classes out of the way.  Most of my classes the last two years were in those old buildings.

It was Fall Semester 1978.  Mr. Cannon, the head of the advertising department and my professor, let us know that we would all be entering a national contest for best advertising poster.  One of the foreign auto makers, I’m thinking it was Nissan or Mazda had came out with a mini pickup truck.  It’s benefit was that it had increased cab space and still had the bed of the truck to haul things!  Our mission was to put the best ad we could come up with on a poster board, coloring in our poster for just that special effect the company would like.  The winner would have their ad shown in the national campaign along with being given a large scholarship for the Winter Semester!

The contest was a chance for one or more of us to step out from the rest and I was ready!  In my mind I was dreaming of the difference this single contest could have in my future.  What if I could piece together an advertisement that would blow the competition away!  What if my ad was picked as the national winner?  I came up with my idea.  The truck was a pickup with extra cab room and a lot of room on the truck bed.  I would make an advertisement that would hit home with the students!  How many times do students leave campus with their belongings jammed in a car and hardly room for them to be comfortable? This little truck could change all of that!  My slogan was “Get Away From It All In Comfort!”  I had two guys in the front seat with plenty of room to move around in the spacious cab!  In the back I had everything that I could conceivably think of that they would be carrying home.  I was picturing that the time frame would be the end of the school year and they were going home for awhile and bringing all of their stuff with them.  I put in the back their bags, tennis racquets, clothes, sports equipment, and anything and everything I could think of!  When the picture was done it had the cab part with room to move around and the back crammed with everything they possessed!  There was one thing missing as I finished my picture.  I needed to show where the copy of the ad would go.  I took some white out and made four straight lines on the bottom of my picture to indicate the  copy section.  It was an awesome picture and one I felt confident had a good chance to win the big prize!

Besides the marketing department North Hall also housed Business Law.  I remember having my first business law class.  It was called Legal Environment and the professor was a man named Bliss.  I don’t remember if he was Dr. Bliss or Mr. Bliss.  I’m thinking he was probably Mr. Bliss because he seemed to come right from being a prosecuting attorney.  I say that because he conducted his class like he was handling a case.  Mr. Bliss did not live up to his name.  Bliss means to be happy and satisfied and Mr. Bliss seemed to be neither.  He paced around the front of the room making points like he was ready to condemn the guilty party.  His voice crackled up and down in volume as if he had a witness in the chair and was trying to get a confession!  It was theater at it’s best to be in his class!  I think it was Mr. Bliss who made it a point to tell us that anybody can sue anybody at any time.  Invariably a test question would be someone totally in the wrong wanting to sue the other party.  The example was always so ridiculous that you were tempted to answer that the first party had no business bringing a lawsuit on the second and if they did they would lose.  The question was could they sue?, and the answer was always yes.  Anyway as I thought about North Hall and the Business Law section I heard the voice of  Mr. Bliss doing one of his prosecuting attorney lectures!

Within that same building was of course  Mr. Cannon and the advertising department.  Mr. Cannon was a softer spoken man.  He liked to bring in guest speakers who had been in the business to let us know what it was like.  Unlike Mr. Bliss,  Mr. Cannon was more of a friendly man.  Although I never got the feeling that he really knew who I was, in his own way I think he cared that we comprehended what he was teaching.  Besides the copy and layout class that the contest was a part of he also taught a class called advertising theory & ethics.  In that class he stressed that advertising is a business where you can be deceitful.  It was a class that many people in the field would just as soon forget.  It talked about the right thing to do in situations and tried to lead us on the straight and narrow path.  I can almost hear Mr. Cannons voice talking about the ethics of advertising.                 

West Hall                                                                                       West Hall

I know I probably had at least a couple of classes in West Hall.  West Hall was the home of Business Communications.  West Hall was built in 1915 and is the second oldest building on the campus. I remember the business communications class that I had there.  It was a class where we made resume’s and wrote cover letters and that kind of thing.  It was a creative class that used the English language in the way it was intended along with the proper punctuation marks at just the right time.  My professor was Mrs. Markovich or something like that.  As I was standing looking at the empty west hall I could almost hear Mrs. Markovich talking about the proper way to write a cover letter.

Lastly there was East Hall.  East Hall was the home of Accounting and Finance.  Accounting classes were never easy for me.  Although I was a finalist in the mathematics of merchandising contest of all of the area high schools accounting was different.  In the mid eighties I went back to school and took some advanced Accounting classes. I did this because I was working in accounting and thought I would add a major to my degree. Once again I struggled some.  One of the reasons that I struggled was that I committed Accounting suicide.  I literally tried to take too many Accounting classes too fast.  To this day I don’t know why except that I wanted to get done!   “That is perfectly logical”, I heard a voice say.  It was Cannon’s voice coming from the North Hall.  The buildings were talking to me in the form of my former professors voices.  The voice of East Hall wasn’t a particular professor.  It was more of one of the accounting professors who I have to say presented the dullest lectures I have ever heard.  In my mind the voice was in that same tone.  “You know the assets have to equal the liabilities”, it said in that accounting matter of fact tone.  Cannon from the North Hall piped in emphatically, “you were an idea person”, “you were a people person.”  It seems there has been a debate all of these years between the two buildings.  As different departments in companies have a hard time understanding each other, the marketing and accounting buildings were always at odds.  North Hall applauded when I disclosed that I took an incomplete in my last two accounting classes and joined a friend in a part time business helping people with their finances.  “At least you were helping people and using your people skills!”  It was Cannon’s voice again coming from North Hall.

You know I never went back to complete those incompletes.  After a year I got the failing grades in the mail.  You can only have an incomplete grade for so long.  It figures said the dull voice of one of the accounting professors.  Your heart was never in it was it?  I have to admit that accounting classes bored me.  The one that interested me the most and that I did the best in was Fund Accounting.  That was the same accounting system the university used and was very interesting because it was related to my job.  Other than that accounting to me was mundane.

Another voice emerged from North Hall.  It was the voice of Dr. Luqmani.  Dr. Luqmani was my professor in marketing strategies and he had a foreign accent.  In Dr. Luqmani’s class I wrote the best paper I have ever written in my life!  I heard Dr. Luqmani’s voice say “that paper you did on frozen pizza’s was maybe the best I have ever read!”  The project was to write a paper on the marketing of frozen pizza.  We were a company trying to position our pizza in the frozen pizza world.  We would be competing with Tombstone, Jack’s and all the rest of the frozen pizza’s.  I literally went into explicit details on every item I could think of.  Competition, consumers, pricing, the general market and uniqueness.  I wish to this day that I still had that paper!  When I got it back it was an A+.  The people around me were getting B’s and C’s.  It was maybe the proudest day in my college life and let me know what I was capable of!

I anxiously awaited the results from the poster as Mr. Cannon was handing them back!  Suddenly he called out Hamilton and I took my poster.  The comments on the back were not about the terrific idea I had come up with.  The comments were about a foreign substance I had used for the copy lines.  Paint is not allowed it said in big red letters.  My poster was not going to be sent to the national contest because of it!  It turns out that someone from our school ended up winning the national contest.  I picture this person using his contest win as a springboard to be a big ad writer in New York or someplace today.  I didn’t see his poster but in my mind it couldn’t have been better than my disqualified one!

I heard an old speech that Bill Russell the great ex basketball player gave to kids at a school years ago.  He said, “you can be whatever you want to be as long as you want to be it bad enough.”  I don’t think I ever really wanted it bad enough.  As a kid I saw my dad so dedicated to his job at the paper mill that he worked 80-100 hour weeks.  I vowed early on that I would not be like that.  I would be around more for the people I loved.  I also wanted something closer to where I grew up so I could do things with the friends I grew up with!  I wasn’t overly excited about leaving my hometown for employment.  I ended up getting a position at the university and have been employed there ever since.

As I relived the sad moment of the poster disqualification one more time I heard the voice of Cannon coming from North Hall.  So what did you get into Hamilton?  I told him that I stayed in town and worked at the University for the last 32 years.  I told him that surprisingly I stayed in accounting.   At this point the accounting professor’s voice from East Hall gasped in surprise.  Cannon’s voice was comforting.  “You know Hamilton, I’m not sure you would have made it in Advertising anyway.”  “Too much breaking of the ethics in the industry.”  “You seem like a very conscientious man.”  “I think something would have come up that you would have objected to doing and you would have been fired.”   “You are probably right”, I conceded.  “I’m doing some writing now I told him and I’m really enjoying it!  I’m trying to be an encourager to people in life’s battles!”  “Great”, a voice came from West Hall.  It was the voice of Mrs Markovich.  “Make sure you put those punctuation marks in the right places.” “Wow”, said the voice of Cannon from North Hall, “Now isn’t encouraging people through your writing far more important than trying to persuade people to buy a product they really don’t need?”  “I have grown to think so and I am enjoying every minute of it”, I said as I realized something for the first time.  You know I used to think that college was about getting a job and finding a career.  Although that is a happy byproduct  the real gift of college for me was finding myself and learning about life!  It was a time of growing up and finding the values I would live my life by.  Surprisingly all of the voices agreed that the college experience was much more than just a career path.

In a few months the picture will be a lot different looking up here.  Only one of the buildings will be left standing.  My department may very well be housed in the new East Hall.  That would be for me a path going full circle.  The thought occurred to me that whether the buildings were still standing or not made no difference to their legacy.  They would always live on in my mind and the minds of thousands of people like me!  They will always be a vivid part of the history of the university.  I was glad that I came back one last time to reflect on a path in my life so many years ago.

As I was walking away I heard the loud voice of Mr. Bliss coming from North Hall.  In his best prosecuting voice he said, “You know you shouldn’t have used that white out”.   “You should have known it was illegal!”    “I didn’t know”, I conceded. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”,  his voice rang out as I headed for my car.  I thought about his condemning words.  I had to admit that he was right.  It had been years since I thought about the white out story.  It had long ago been placed way in the back of my mind.   I think that God allows things to happen for a reason. With the condemning voice from North Halls Business Law department still ringing in my ears I left feeling like everything turned out exactly as it was supposed to and Knowing that  my memories of East Campus were firmly intact!

A Candle In The Ice

Watching the Super Bowl game brought a memory back about my family that happened many years ago.  With the Baltimore Ravens comfortably in the lead 28-6 after returning the second half kickoff 108 yards the unexpected occurred.  With 13:22 left in the third quarter half of the stadium lights went out.  Thankfully it wasn’t a full blackout but it obviously was enough where play had to be stopped.  After the thirty four minute delay the San Francisco 49ers picked up the momentum that the Ravens left in the dark.  The Ravens hung on for dear life for a 34-31 win.  It was a game that might not have been so close if the unexpected hadn’t happened.

When the unexpected occurs

When the unexpected occurs

I believe the year was 1985.  My sister, mom, and dad planned a trip to Florida.  My dad had some property in Florida and they were scheduled to see the land, stay at their good friends in Zephyhills, Florida and possibly stop at my dad’s beloved Alabama hometown on the way back.  From Michigan it is a long car trip and my mom decided to include her own little survival kit.  She brought along a coffee can, candle and matches.  My sister rode in the backseat and had a quilt and pillow in case she or anyone else wanted to take a nap.  The trip went smoothly as they did everything according to plan.  They stayed one night in Zephyhills with their friends.  My dad helped his friend fix his car which kept him occupied.  They later shopped at a grocery store and had lunch together.  Although their friends begged them to stay another night my dad thought it best to get back on the road.  About 2 pm they left the confines of their good friends and hit the road.  About four hours later driving down the highway going 75-80 miles an hour in Georgia the unexpected happened.  Sounding like a shot but coming from the car an explosion sound rang out.  My dad noticed that the car stalled, the lights went out, and there was no power steering.  At first he was steering the car to the right side, but my mom yelled out “go left”.   Taking her advise he wrestled the car to the left medium and down a five foot slope.  My sister thought they may flip the car but that didn’t occur.  Instead they stopped out of the way of traffic but also in need of help.

Along the way the radio was reporting what record low temperatures Georgia was having that day.  The night time temperatures were going to be even colder.  Not only were the temperatures going to be below zero but a stiff wind was also blowing.  My sister had a red sweater she dug out of her suitcase and they put a flashlight inside of it.  My dad went out to the side of the road and waved it in hopes that someone would stop.  Unfortunately, even though there were cars passing nobody stopped.  My sister noted in reliving the story that not even the four or five police cars that passed stopped.  After my dad was literally frozen from his efforts my sister relieved him.  Nothing changed as the traffic kept moving without anyone willing to help.  It was like the story of the Good Samaritan except the Good Samaritan couldn’t be found.  By this time the darkness had set in and the roads were getting worse.  Finally a semi truck stopped at about midnight.  The drivers appearance was very much in question and when he insisted that he wouldn’t help unless my sister came with him, she refused.  The truck driver left them stranded.  Traffic was starting to lessen and it was decided that they would have to do their best to survive until daylight.

Left them stranded

He left them stranded

My mom lit the candle and put it inside the coffee can.  They took the quilt that they had originally brought for napping and wrapped it around all three of them.  They sat on their knees and  huddled up in the front seat.  The candle along with their body heat produced enough heat for them to survive.  It probably got up to thirty degrees in the car which was far better than the below zero temperature outside.  Ever so slowly daylight came.  It was still frigidly cold as my dad made the effort to flag someone down.  Surprisingly when in the light a new revelation was discovered.  The path to the right that he originally was going to take when the lights went out had a twenty foot drop off.  If they had went with his first instinct the car would have flipped probably killing all of them.

Not only were they freezing cold but they were all hungry having their last meal at lunch the previous day.  The roads had gotten worse and there was far less traffic on the highway.  It wasn’t until about 11 am that someone stopped.  It was another truck driver, driving a long flatbed truck.  Once again his appearance left a lot to be desired.  At first he insisted that my sister go along with him.   My dad volunteered that he would go and the driver almost reluctantly took him.  My mom was apprehensive about the situation and hugged my dad like she might not ever see him again.  Dad reassured her that he would come back and rescue them.  Dad got into the truck and off they went.

Mom was  really worried at this point.   She mentioned to my sister that you never know what might happen.  Dad could be hit in the head and killed and they could be left there to freeze to death.  I’m sure the apprehension increased as time went by.  My sister and mom huddled together and prayed and sang hymns.  Time continued to drag on.  An hour passed and still no truck to rescue them.  They continued to pray and sing.  About two hours after my dad was picked up a tow-truck came driving down the wrong side.  Dad was nowhere in sight.  The driver said that he was sent to pick them up.  Although they were glad someone seemed to be there for them mom was still apprehensive.   “Why wasn’t dad with him?”,  she thought. The car was hooked to the tow-truck and mom and my sister climbed in the cab.  Mom told my sister that if this man tried to kill them for her to escape and not stay to find out moms fate.  The tow-truck driver started talking about how cold it was.  “You mean you survived all night in that car?”  “It was reported that this was the coldest night on record around here!”  They drove and drove and finally stopped at a service station right next to a hotel.  There  mom and sister were happily reunited with my dad!   Dad realized there would be limited room in the cab and thought it best to stay behind.

The service station garage discovered that the fan belt had broken on the car.  It happened that the garage didn’t have this particular fan belt in stock.  The owner said that they would have to call another party and if they didn’t have the belt the car couldn’t be fixed until an out of town delivery could be made.  This would take a day or two.  Fortunately the belt was available and a young guy working there had compassion on them and said that he would drive the few miles and pick it up!  After a three hour wait the car was fixed!

In the days and years to follow my dad always referred to this episode as “The night when the lights went out in Georgia”.  That songs title had a new meaning to all three of them.  Although the song was actually about a brother getting murdered it is ironic that the name of the town the brother returned home from was named “Candletop”.

As I was thinking about their adventure so many years later certain ironies came to mind.  First of all the decision to go left instead of right had to be a Godsend.  With their lights disabled and darkness setting in, that decision literally saved their lives.  The whole scene seemed like they were in Gods hands also!  The car for instance offered a place of protection from the winds.  The candle and the coffee can was like the light in their hearts that the Holy Spirit brought.  The candle wick was like Jesus’ body and because he died the light inside of them was always burning! Then there was the quilt.  It was wrapped around them much like how God wraps his arms around us showing  his love as he warms us and protects us from all harm.

I can picture in my mind three people huddled together with a quilt around them in the dark, with only the flickering light of a candle preventing total darkness.  My parents had my sister sit in the middle to give her added warmth from them.  We learn a lot about ourselves in crises times and I think that their seating arrangement suggested that if only one of them survived it would be my sister.  I imagine that time moved very slowly as they sat there.  Under these circumstances I doubt that anyone slept for more than a few minutes.  We’ve all had the experience of watching the clock wishing the time would pass quicker.  In these moments it seems that time stands still.  When daylight at last finally came they discovered that there was about an inch and a half of ice that had formed on the inside of the windows.  Still flickering it’s light, the candle was strongly burning giving the warmth that they needed to survive another day.

A candle in the ice

A candle in the ice

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