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Archive for the category “Growing Up Without Modern Technology”

A Baseball Game and War

I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was at a flea market earlier this week and I saw it! It was on a table as clear as life. I have looked on ebay so many times for this game that I enjoyed in my childhood. I’ve found it but couldn’t justify paying $75-$100 for a childhood memory. It couldn’t be just any of the versions either. It had to be my particular version from the year 1966. When I was nine years old I got this baseball game. I don’t remember if it was for Christmas or what the occasion was but it was called All-Star Baseball Game and it was made by Cadaco. When I asked the vendor how much he wanted for the game I couldn’t believe my ears. “Five dollars”, he said. I couldn’t get the five dollars out of my pocket fast enough! He obviously didn’t value it nearly as much as I did!

There it was! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

What gave the game it’s uniqueness was how they made it so realistic. They took statistics from players in the major leagues and made round cardboard discs of that player that represented his performance statistically. For instance if a player hit a home run five percent of the time the home run number on his disc would be five percent of the total space. The discs were put on a spinner and there were two spinners (one for each side). The player not batting had a spinner to spin too. If the player batting spun a number representing a fly ball the other player would spin to see if his team caught it. The same was true for a ground ball. On hits the defensive player would spin to see how many bases the other runner on base got or if he possibly could throw out a runner stretching a hit.

Baseball discs scientifically made!

My cousin Wendell and I would spend the night at each others house often. The neat thing about it was that we were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted to. Of course we did it in the summer so school wasn’t involved. He or his older brother Lawrence had an All-Star Baseball game too. I’m not sure whose game it actually was but it was available to us! There were times Lawrence played right along with us even though he was 5 or 6 years older.

The game board and spinners (a game of chance)

The game would start with drafting players. We would put all of the discs in a big pile and then take turns pulling players for our teams out of the mix. You had to fill all of the positions and then maybe add a few subs. Then we would take 5 or 6 pitchers each and we were ready to go. We would sit there long into the night playing the game. Spinning the spinner over and over. Moving our pegs from base to base. Figuring team statistics after the games.

One time that I remember as clear as if it were yesterday I was spending the night at Wendell’s and we were playing the baseball game. His brother Lawrence was there too but he wasn’t playing with us that night. Lawrence was 18 and he was a very skinny excitable kid although at the time I didn’t think of him as a kid. He also smoked a lot and on this particular night or morning he was smoking more than usual. He was very talkative and at this particular time he was talking even more than usual. But it wasn’t his normal talk. It was more of a nervous scared kid as he listened to the radio. My memory tells me it was at night but it doesn’t make much sense because of what was happening. Like the way Wendell and I were drafting our players Lawrence was involved in a different draft. On that morning or night they were in the process of picking dates of the first 18 year old boys to get drafted to go to Vietnam. Each birthday was drawn out of a baseball cap (in my imagination) and the first ones drawn would be the first to get drafted. The radio was broadcasting it like a baseball game. They would pick a date and pause for a little while and pick another date. All the while Lawrence was smoking one right after another and scared out of his wits. He couldn’t get very excited when his number wasn’t called because he knew the next one could get him. It was almost like he was in the war and the enemy was shooting at him. Trying to dodge the bullets was a skinny kid whose life had seemingly just begun but now faced a decisive day as to it’s future.

My next door neighbor Bob and I were good friends. His brother Al served in Vietnam. Since he was much older than me I accepted the fact that he was gone away more easily. Finally after he served his time Al got his discharge. Instead of letting his parents know Al had something else in mind. We lived within walking distance of the airport. Al decided to fly in and make the walk to his parents house and surprise them. What a surprise it was when Al showed up on the doorstep. There were tears of joy on a day that was long remembered!

Looking back the irony of that day at Wendell’s was mind boggling. Here Wendell and I were spinning the spinner with our disc in place. Lawrence sitting there with the radio on smoking up a storm. In reality it was like he was in a separate game. Maybe his game would be called “War” and it seemed that game was played differently. Wendell and I chose our team based on how we perceived the skills of the players. In the game Lawrence was in it was a random draft. One player was just as good as the other in that draft. It was like Lawrence was actually on one of those discs we were spinning. But instead of hits or outs that disc was divided into 365 numbers and each little section had a number between and including 1 through 365. After each spin the resulting number was slotted into the sequence it was picked. Maybe the top one hundred numbers were sure to go. One of the numbers on that disc was Lawrence and the longer he could go without his number called the better for him. The object of the game he was playing was to have his number slotted near the end of the drawing.

It may seem kind of crazy but our baseball game kept going. We drafted our players and spun our spinner like nothing was happening around us. Lawrence tried to draw us into his game with updates on his status. He did draw our interest and answered our questions patiently. Question after question as only 11 or 12 year old kids could ask. It was amazing that he was able to talk to us at all sitting there with his future in the balance. Meanwhile our minds drifted back to our game and spinning the spinners in the hopes of scoring runs and making statistics!

I remember watching the news in those war days. Each day Walter Cronkite would read the statistics on the war. Kind of like a baseball games post game show. This was like the war games end of the day rap up. Total Americans killed today and a number. Total Vietnamese killed and another number. Sometimes we would see some play by play as a journalist took us behind the lines. We could see our troops over there fighting for their lives in the jungles. We would see explosions all around them as they fought on. Most of the time however it was just the cold hard statistics that Cronkite would read.

What would Lawrence’s future hold?

As I looked back on that day I started thinking that maybe we could have been more supportive to Lawrence. Maybe we should have abandoned our game and put our whole attention on his radio and him. I started thinking about the lesson I learned from this place in time and what I might be able to pass on. The theme kept coming into my mind that so many of us are busy playing games while our neighbors are hurting. Although this is a very true statement this conclusion just didn’t seem to fit our situation in this case. What could an 11 and 12 year old do in this uncomfortable setting to help their older brother and cousin? Maybe the best thing we could do is just what we did. We continued to be kids and played our game. What purpose would be served by stopping our game other than causing even more discomfort for Lawrence? After all maybe the fact that we were playing a game made him dream of a time when he could leisurely play a game without it being life and death. Maybe the most important thing was that we were there. Maybe the lesson out of all of this is even if you can’t do anything being there is important. It wasn’t that we comprehended everything that was happening, but we were there even if it was unplanned. When we started playing the game we didn’t realize his game was going on. When he came in smoking his cigarette with his radio, as he voiced his nervous giggles we realized that there were two games on the agenda. We didn’t drop our game, but we definitely paid attention to his game too.

Not all of the Vietnam stories had happy endings like Al’s. There were 58,138 U.S. Soldiers that died in the Vietnam war. Fortunately Lawrence was not one of them. He won his game that day! I think his number was over 300! I don’t remember who won most of the games Wendell and I played. Our games were fun games with results long forgotten. Our games were kids games where life is fun and problems come later. Two years ago Lawrence died. It was some forty years after that fateful night. Lawrence ended up losing a war to inoperable cancer. I don’t think I cried when I heard the news. It was an expected thing because the cancer had eaten away Lawrence’s skinny body. There was not much of him left when he departed. It was more of a relief knowing that his suffering was over, much like the relief he felt when the draft numbers fell his way. It’s strange that relief can come from both death and avoiding death. When I bought that All-Star Baseball Game I was thinking about my childhood. I was sure it would bring back memories of games past. In fact that is exactly what it did, but in a much different way than I anticipated. Little did I realize that the memory it would take me to would be a transition place between being a boy and a man. A time that would decide if my cousin Lawrence would jump right into manhood and possibly die for his country or if he might be able to remain a boy and play a few games for just a little longer? The other day as I was thinking again about the memory of Lawrence on that day tears filled my eyes. I’m sure it was a belated mourning of Lawrence dying as I thought of the games we played that night. Wendell and I competing for honors in a baseball game while Lawrence was involved in a much different game altogether. We were two kids playing a game of chance for fun and one young man who was on a playing piece in a game of chance with his life and future on the line.

Leaving A Record Behind

I almost drowned once. My family did not grow up around water. There were no swimming lessons for my sister and I. My dad was a strong swimmer. He also worked the swing shift with frequent overtime so we didn’t always see him a lot. He did own a Lot on Lake Michigan for awhile. I remember the family going there and finding his lot. I also remember going to the beach. We may have waded into the water a little ways but that was it. I remember one time my dad going way way out into the lake. I mean he was so far out that he looked very small way out there. He was a very practical man. When he went to the grocery store he knew what he wanted and he got it. As a swimmer that day he knew he wanted to go way out in the water and then swim his way back. Looking back I was in great admiration that day of his swimming abilities.

My best friend growing up was Keith who was my age. He had three brothers, two of which were a little older one was much younger. At times I would hang around with Lloyd or Wayne, the older ones also. This particular day Lloyd and I did something together and we ended up back at his house. In his back yard on the other side of the fence the neighbor had a in ground pool. They also had a pool party going on! I’m sure all of the excitement and noise made Lloyd want to be in that water. If Lloyd wanted to do something he could be very persuasive. In order to get into that pool with me around he decided that he would give me the only swimming lesson I would ever need. After all he had earned his merit badge in swimming with the cub scouts. “I’ll teach you” was his response when I reminded him I couldn’t swim. His next step was asking the neighbor lady if we could join the party. “You both are good swimmers?”, the lady asked. “Oh yeah”, Lloyd said and we were admitted. We were standing down at the shallow end and Lloyd decided the first step would be to relieve my fear of the water. “We’ll both go under the water at the same time”, he stated. It seemed kinda strange but I was willing. Plunging myself completely under the water in a quick instant. To this day I really don’t know what went wrong. All I remember is that the water had control of me. I bobbed up once, then twice in the drowning mans bob. Before I went down for the third time Lloyd picked my whole body up. He was much bigger than me in size so the feat was no big deal. Of course I was coughing and gagging and he was scolding me. “You opened your mouth didn’t you?” “You know, you could have just stood up”, he mentioned again. When he sat me down I was only in maybe chest deep. To be honest I was just glad to be alive. I didn’t remember the details and I don’t remember if he tried to continue the swimming lesson or if he just decided it was hopeless.

Records everywhere at Harvey’s!

The reason that this distant memory came to mind was the fact that it is Labor Day weekend and time for Harvey’s sale! Harvey is a guy in our town that has the biggest garage and basement sales that I have ever seen! Harvey has a sale Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, and one in the winter. He has the most extensive collection of records in the state! We are talking vinyl albums that we all used to have! All of his albums are arranged alphabetically in his basement and most are for bargain prices! Going through Harvey’s collection is like going through a large record store back in the day! You would have to be there a few hours to get close to thumbing through all that he has! If there is a group or individual that you can think of that had at least one hit record, chances are Harvey has their album! If they didn’t have a big hit Harvey still might have them. We are talking many decades too! From the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, you can find them in that basement. From the one hit wonders to the household names Harvey has them all!

Speaking of one hit wonders there is a song my wife and I used to listen to on W.I.D.R the Universities alternative music radio station many years ago. The song is titled “There’s Never Been Any Reason”, and it is by a group called Head East on their Flat As A Pancake album. My wife was very disappointed in the album because she bought it based on the one hit only to find it was the only song she liked. In the chorus the song has the lyrics “Save my life I’m going down for the last time.” It repeats that phrase many times throughout the song and thus my connections with the experience that day with Lloyd and the swimming pool.

Save My Life I’m Going Down For The Last Time

Thinking of Harvey’s astronomical collection I started to wonder. I wonder what the groups members on those albums are doing now? I wonder if they are happy all of these years later with the legacy they left. After all, their legacy in most of our eyes are what we hear when we play their albums if we play them anymore. At one time their songs were on everyone’s lips! At one time the fame of being a member of their particular band could get them so much of what the world has to offer. Yet, now most of them are just remembered by their albums that can be bought at a place like Harvey’s as memorabilia. For most we may hear their songs on the oldies radio station but that’s about it. Some have found that their lives were empty and met a tragic end. Others might do tours with their old fans reliving their youth. I’m sure that most get royalties from their old hits, but I wonder if they feel empty thinking their glory days are behind them? Wondering if what they left behind is really worthwhile?

What if we all had an album that when played would give the listener songs of the things we did that helped others in our life’s path? What if the mistakes that we made could be deleted from our album so that only the hits could be heard? When I thumb through Harvey’s albums there are times I ask myself “Who was that?” “What did they sing?” Sometimes I will recognize a song and say to myself “Oh, I didn’t know they sang that.” Other times the titles will have no meaning at all. The title “There’s Never Been Any Reason”, from the Head East album, is not the way God looks at our lives. There is a reason each of us are here! Whether we are known to everyone or not very well known at all God knows. There is an album each of us are making whether we realize it or not. By having God in control, editing the entire production, our album can be a legacy for all that follow us. It can be a living light and a testimony that inspires others on their path! Instead of being forgotten our lives and our legacy can live on in others! It would be a comforting thought to know that someone playing my album would be blessed and come to a closer walk with God after I really do go down for the last time!

Here I am at Harvey’s thinking about life’s records and what I want to be remembered for

Somehow It Was Enough

I was walking down the hall and someone almost ran me over!  It was someone not paying attention to what was in front of him because his mind was on his cell phone message, or text, or something to do with his gadget.

My thoughts go back to when I was growing up.  I’ve lived enough of life now to be able to think back.  Knowing that there is far more behind me than in front at this point reflections come more easily.

kids growing up

I was fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where there were a lot of kids around my age.  Depending on the season we played a variety of sports.  Baseball, football, basketball, and street hockey.  On the bus coming home from school someone would be organizing a game.  Richmond’s field football four pm, can you be there?  Since we probably got home at 3:30 it didn’t leave us much time to linger around.  We played tackle football without pads and we played for hours at a time.  Nobody really taught us the fundamentals of everything like they would today.  In fact there wasn’t any grownups  involved, just kids playing games and enjoying it.  Today everything is organized and adults are involved in the games.  When my son showed an interest in basketball he wasn’t lucky enough to have a neighborhood of kids that would get together and play like I did.  He was shown the proper techniques at camps from people paid to instruct.  That is all good and fine but we didn’t have that in my day.  We just had kids playing ball together because we loved the games.  Somehow as simple as it was it was enough!

Today I’m hearing that we have a problem with obesity with our kids.  Back when I was a kid we didn’t have video games.  I have a news alert: Playing video games does not burn up many calories!  During the summers it wasn’t unusual when I was a kid to play ball most of the day.  If we weren’t playing ball we were playing kick the can or some other game!  We entertained ourselves back then and somehow we got by and maybe we were a little healthier for it!

Back then there was more of a trust.  My parents knew that I was out playing ball and gave me the freedom I needed.  When I told them where I was going they could trust me to know that is where I would be.  Back in the day we didn’t have cell phones, 100 channels to watch on TV, microwaves, computers, or the internet.  We actually sat down together and had a family meal.  I remember times where we would take a watermelon to the park and eat it at a picnic table.  It was simple and yet it brought the family together.  My mom was home with us.  My dad provided our household financial needs.  It was comforting knowing that mom was always around.  She kept the family together day to day on the home front.

Don’t get me wrong, I like technical advances as much as the next guy.  I enjoy getting on the internet, and using microwaves, cell phones, and watching 100 plus channels.  Yet for all of these advances I sometimes wonder if we have advanced at all.  Are we so wrapped up in our little computer world that we are missing the important things in life?  Should there be danger signs “cell phone zone” put up for our safety? Do we get so wrapped up around a TV set that we lose focus on effective communication with our family?  I wonder if kids today get so amused with the computer that they have more computer friends than friends they actually see and play with?  Most of all I wonder if all of these advances have brought us closer to God or taken our attention away from him?  If it has made our attention stray have we really advanced?

Thinking back to those days puts a smile on my face.  What we didn’t have in “modern technology” we had countless alternatives that were real, alive and personable!  I have so many good memories of friendships as we kept ourselves entertained.  I have memories of my mom playing hide and seek with us when it got dark!  I remember my dad and I watching  football games, but at halftime taking a football outside and throwing it around!  I have memories of games my sister and I created, making up characters and having them interact with each other!  All of those things and so many more showed me I was loved and somehow it was enough!

Baseball Cards and The Marble Game

The year was 1964.  The average income was $6,000.  Gas was 30 cents a gallon.  A new car averaged $3,500.  A loaf of bread was 21 cents, a postage stamp was 5 cents and the price of tickets to the movies was $1.25.  The average house price was $13,050.  None of those prices mattered to a 7 year old kid.  Somehow as luck would have it I had a dollar in my pocket!  I don’t know where I got the money.  I may have found it laying around in the house or maybe it was a gift.  I did know that I was on my way to Reed’s Party Store to see what I could buy!  An item with a price I was interested in was candy!  I knew I could buy a candy bar for 5 cents.  Let’s see I could buy 20 candy bars.  When I got to the store mixed right in with the candy boxes was a box of baseball cards.  They were also 5 cents and I decided to buy all that I could.  I don’t remember if I bought 20 packs or if I could only buy 19 with tax involved.  I do remember that I walked away without my dollar but with a brown paper bag filled with packs of baseball cards!

Why baseball cards you might ask?  Well a few months earlier my family had taken a trip down to Alabama to visit relatives.  My older cousin must have noticed how bored I was in a strange place and let me play a game with him.  The game was flipping his baseball cards with the target of a baseball cap he had placed in the middle of the floor.   We must have flipped cards for hours it seemed, though for a young kid time has no meaning.  My cousin didn’t know how much I appreciated his attention and him including me in his game!  He also didn’t realize how he influenced that first big purchase of my life!

Looking back, I think I made a wise frugal decision.  Buying candy would have been good for awhile, but it probably would have given me a belly ache.  It wouldn’t be long before all of the candy was gone.  Buying the cards was like a 3 in one package.  First and foremost was the cards.  Secondly was a stick of hard gum in each pack.  Thirdly in some if not all of the packs was a baseball coin of players with writing on the back about them.

The reason for the purchase wasn’t the gum or the coin, it was the cards!  I discovered that each card had the players name, picture, and the team he played for at the top. Imagine a 7 year old kid opening 19 or 20 packs of cards.  Pulling the stiff sugared gum out of each one and possibly a player coin.  Leafing through the cards as I opened them.  Actually the players names meant nothing to me.  I had never heard of any of them.  It was like a new adventure.  Like reading about people from another world, grownups playing a kids game.

On the back of the cards were  batting or pitching statistics along with heights, weights, and comments about the players.  There was also a little trivia area on the bottom on some of the cards.  A question was asked and you had to scratch off the space given with a coin or some other object to get the answer.  For some reason not ever explained some of the cards had the trivia questions and some did not.  On the back of the Lou Brock card it asked the question, “What was the most positions played by a man in one season?  The answer found from scratching the answer spot with a coin was Jim Walsh in 1911 playing for the Phillies played all 9.  With the answer they had a little cartoon that illustrated their answer.  It was a little extra designed for the market of their product…kids.

I also found some very interesting stories on the backs of those cards, some explained and some not.  An interesting mystery was the statistics of a player named Joe Nuxhall.  On the back of his card was an entry of an inning he pitched in 1944.  One game, one inning pitched, 5 walks and an earned run average of 45.00.  In the comments it mentions that Joe pitched in his first major league ball game when he was just 16 years old!  To a young kid who didn’t know much about the game the story wasn’t that special.  However years later I found out the story behind the story.  It was during World War II and Joe played on a semi-pro team with his father.  The Reds were interested in signing his father since all of baseball was looking for able bodied talent.  Most of the able bodied men of baseball age were fighting in the war.  Since his father told them he wasn’t interested the Reds became interested in his son.  On February 18th of 1944 Joe was signed to a major league contract.Joe was the size of a grown man even at his young age.  On June 10, 1944 playing against the Cardinals and trailing 13-0 in the 9th inning Joe was called into the game.  He retired the first hitter on a ground out before yielding 5 walks, 2 hits a wild pitch and 5 runs.  Joe did not make it back to the major league until 1952 8 years later.  The statistics on the back of my card had him with 109 wins.  He was 36 years old at the time and ended up with 135 wins for his career.  The quirkiness of the situation was best explained by Joe years later.  “I was pitching against 8th and 9th graders, kids 13 and 14 years old…All of the sudden, I look up and there’s Stan Musial and the likes.  It was a very scary situation”.  For the record my card wasn’t quite right either, Joe was 15 years and 316 days old.  The card did mention something else Joe did that few had.  Joe struck out 4 men in one inning.  A few years later I figured out the mystery after seeing the same stat on a Bob Gibson baseball card.  If a player strikes out but the ball gets by the catcher he can run to first base if there is nobody on base at the time.  In the statistics it is recorded as a strikeout.  Apparently both pitchers struck out the batter but the catcher couldn’t make the putout and it was necessary to strike out the next guy to get the “third out”.

An old box was found and I dumped my cards  in it.  There was no trying to protect the corners with plastic sleeves or anything like that.  Taking them out of the box with a hands on effort was just what I wanted.  I wanted to touch, feel, and play with the cards just as I would any other toy.  I tried the flipping game with my cards just as my cousin and I had.  I had a bunk bed and getting on the top bunk and flipping the cards toward the cap I placed on the floor was an unusual challenge.

My bedroom floor was made of wood.  Between all of the wood pieces were small spaces.  Those spaces were just a perfect fit for cards to be placed so they would stand up.  The cards were carefully placed in their baseball positions.  Sometimes players with gloves were used in the field, although most of the time players posed with their bats.  There was no compromising though.  If a player was an outfielder he was not placed in the infield and infielders did not play the outfield.  Once the cards were lined up in their positions the game could begin.  My sister and I played many hours of this marble game.  Oh yes, we played with a pencil and a marble.  One player would roll the marble from the pitchers slot and the other would hit it with the pencil.  If the marble hit one of the cards that was standing it was an out.  Obviously the cards took a beating in a game with these rules.  Just getting them into the cracks would sometimes damage the bottoms and if the marble hit them they paid for the catch they made.  Yet, the fun of the game was worth more than the cardboard cards in our minds.

When I wasn’t playing games with my cards I was pulling them out and sorting them or reading the backs.  Comparing statistics of like players was a fun thing.  The next year I went to Reed’s looking for some cards but they didn’t get them in that year.  One day on the bus a friend gave me some 1965 Topps baseball cards he found on the playground.  There were maybe 15 of them.  That was my only exposure to 1965 cards.  In 1966, 67, 68 and 69 Reed’s had baseball cards again and I bought my share.  Maybe it was because the 1964 cards were the first I bought or maybe it was the fact that we had so much fun with them, I can’t say.  But those cards were always my favorites.

Amazingly I kept my cards through the years.  I have pictured some of my cards and their damaged condition.  Years ago I thought it would be a really neat collection to find my cards I still had from 1964 in mint to near mint condition.  It took a few bucks but i was able to purchase many of the same cards I bought on that day in 1964.  Pictured you will see a few of my original cards, worn out by the games we played with them and how some looked when I first bought them.  I have some cards today that are worth more in the eyes of card dealers, but this collection is the dearest to my heart and will never be sold.

Above: A few of my old cards displaying the creases and ware that were marks of love!

Below : What some of my cards looked like when i bought them in 1964.

Smoky Burgess (pictured above) was the catcher we always used in the marble game.  I never knew the story about why he was called Smoky?  The back of the card says he lived in Forest City, NC.  That probably explains his real name which was Forrest.  He was crouched in perfect catching order and that is why he was our all time catcher.  He was only 5’8 inches tall which for a catcher or any major league player seems pretty short.  The Burgess card wasn’t the only card that was intriguing.  With every card there was a story and with every story there may be 3 or 4 questions from a curious 7 or 8 year old.  Rusty Staub and Pete Ward for instance had little trophies on the side of their cards. Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie is engraved on them.  Rusty also played for a team called the Colts.  It was only later that I learned that the Houston Astros were originally the Houston Colt 45’s.  Interesting also is the fact that Rusty had just turned 20 years old when the 1964 season began.  He showed enough promise to earn the Topps Rookie Award at the age of 19!

Today the baseball card industry has been taken over by grownups.  When you go to a sports card show very rarely do you see a kid buying cards.  The fact is the collectibles craze has priced the kids out of the market.  No longer are the kids encouraged to play with their cards like I did.  Cards are meant to be treasured in plastic sleeves and please don’t damage the corners!  You might say my cards were damaged but I think a better term for it is worn.  It’s like buying a glove or a bat and using them.  Sooner or later they get worn out, but the enjoyment of playing with them should have been their purpose.

I’m sure that there are a lot of similarities with my baseball cards and how God looks at us.  I’ll bet if cards could talk they would rather be loved by kids rather than be in card dealers showcases.  The very purpose of baseball cards was for kids to play with them.  Sometimes we feel that we are not being used by God.  Maybe it is like the story of Joe Nuxhall where we are just not quite ready for the job.  On the other hand maybe we sit in a showcase and look good to those who see us without ever trying to be used for what God has planned in our lives.  I think those blemishes on my old cards are like what God looks at when he sees his faithful servants getting older.  Every wrinkle and crease is seen as a memory of the times they were doing exactly what they were created to do.

Electric Football, A Good Vibration

I think I was 8 or 9 years old when I got my first electric football game. It was made by a company called Tudor and it came with players that were yellow and white. On the box it said “Plan your offensive and defensive strategies.” Now what sports nut kid like myself wouldn’t love that? The game also came with paint and a brush to actually make some nifty uniform colors. I didn’t paint any of my players. I think my sister one day painted a couple on the white team. Along with the paint there were stick on numbers that came on a wax type paper. The game included 2 goal posts that were to be pushed into holes right on the goal line. That’s right, the goal posts back then were located right on the goal line not 10 yards back like today. They were in the form of an H. On one end was a dial that was supposed to act as a game clock. I never used the dial and seriously doubt that it worked. I played the game until I was tired of it and then the game was over. There was a screw at one end that controlled the intensity of the vibration. To anyone not familiar with electric football the game was played on a vibrating field. With the control switch in hand you lined your players up and then turned on the vibration and watched the action!
Each plastic player was on a little stand. The bottom of the stand had 4 little sticks of plastic that ran straight down. Those tiny sticks actually helped control the players direction as the vibrating field maneuvered them. The ball was just a miniature hard piece of cotton. A specialist player was also provided for each team. This was the quarterback-kicker. This player would not play in the game unless you decided to pass or kick. At that point you were supposed to shut off the vibrations and attempt to press the ball back in his hand like a sling shot. The ball would fly down the field and hopefully hit a player on your team. If it did it was considered a completed pass. The game was stopped for the kicker too. With a flip of the lever behind his shoulder his leg would swivel into hopefully a successful kick of the ball.

In all of the advertisements for electric football, the games were played by 2 friends competing for football glory. My electric football was an individual game. I played that crazy game for hours. I didn’t have much use for the quarterback-kicker guy. I was more interested in seeing how the players advanced down the field. I think there were 3 different poses a player might have. The obvious blocker with his arms folded, the defensive specialists with their arms out, and the stars of the team with their running poses and their right arm in position to slide the ball in.

Naturally my favorite player was one of those star players. I never gave him a name but he was number 89 of the yellow team. I don’t know how it happened but that particular player had a way of dodging the other players and heading up field with an uncanny ability. Well it seemed like great ability to an 8 year old kid anyway. I would usually line him up in a pile going straight, but somehow he would bounce to the outside and straighten himself up and head down the field faster than any of the other players! Over time his number 89 peeled off and I just put a number 1 on his back with a marker. Truly he was the best ever and deserving the top number!

For a couple of years I played with that game so much that one of the wires got frayed. The only way to make the game work after that was to have the switch clicked on all of the time and connect the wires to make it go. My parents must have noticed my game’s sad shape and the fact that I was constantly shocking myself because that Christmas I got a new electric football game. This one was called The Super Dome and it was much bigger and fancier. It had pictures of all of the famous football players of the day on the outside rim of the field. For some reason though I never had as much fun with it as I did that basic little Tudor model.

The fancier Superdome game

The fancier Super Dome game

One thing I enjoyed doing while playing with my game was lining all of the players at one end and having them race to the other end. Usually number 89 and later number 1 would win the race. Sometimes a dark horse would take the honors. Invariably there would be a player taking the lead and looking like a sure winner only to turn on a dime and start going the wrong way. From constant use and the wearing down of their little guider things on the bottom of their platform, players could change direction in a split second. Sometimes they would get tangled up with each other and start spinning around together. Other times they would get turned to the out of bounds of the game and the vibrations would cause them to just stay turned bumping aimlessly into the side. Other players would go in circles. Still others got stuck in one place no matter how much the vibrations were turned up. This was probably caused by completely worn down guiders. Sometimes if I wanted to see a faster race I turned the vibration up. Invariably some would fall down and lay there helplessly spinning on their backs.

It occurs to me all of these years later that we are a lot like those electric football players in the race to heaven. Some may take the straight path, but far too many of us will get tangled up, lose our way, bump aimlessly off to the side, go around in circles getting nowhere, or just continue to be glued to one spot. When trials come many of us fall down and are not able to get up. When those figures fell down I was quick to set them upright, turn them in the right direction and watch their new progress. That is exactly what God does for us. Sometimes it takes falling to get back on the path to victory!

I never gave number 89 a name but I think I’ll name him the Apostle Paul. One who ran swiftly and straight for the goal no matter what came his way. In a distant part of my mind I hear a faint sound of a game vibrating from days long ago. I see 89 (Paul) straightening himself out and gliding down the field.  I see the kid in me smiling and shaking his head in amazement!

The Bible vs The Cell Phone

Someone sent me this email and I thought it was very interesting in light of the popularity of cell phones these days!  I have written all of the material used in this blog up to now.  I’m going to change that for this particular thought.  I would like to give credit for this amazing comparison to the original writer.  Unfortunately I don’t know who that is.  But God knows and you will be blessed for the blessing you have shined on others! Thank you so much for analyzing a topic we can all relate to!

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?What if we flipped through it several times a day?What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being
disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think ‘where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!

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