The Lord’s Prayer – in Detail


By Bill Murphy ( I’ve omitted the © symbol from this work. It belongs to everyone! )

Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye:”

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

This prayer is traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer – because it’s the prayer our Lord taught His disciples – and us. In truth, it should be known as OUR PRAYER. He gave it to us, not as a prayer to recite, but as model or guide as to how we should pray. Alas, all to often we ‘say’ the prayer, without praying the tremendous depth and meaning behind the words.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

OUR FATHER underscores the parent/child relationship we have with God. While other gods are tyrants over those who cow in fear, our God is our loving FATHER, who embraces us in unfathomable compassion and love.

God is many things. He is supreme, He is all powerful, all knowing, endless, the ultimate judge, the Almighty. We can never begin to comprehend the greatness and majesty of God. However – and this is hard to fathom – in spite of how far above and beyond our human frailty He is, He wants RELATIONSHIP with us! And the relationship He wants is that of Father and child! Attempt to get your head around that awesome concept. Modern science has taught us to appreciate the vastness of the universe of which we are but a tiny part. And yet, God who CREATED it all, stoops to love us – as his children!

which art in heaven,

Scripture tell us God is omnipresent, that He is everywhere. So why then would Jesus refer to Him as being “in heaven?” Jesus was teaching us, as mortals, how to relate to the spiritual. As mortals, we’re encaged within flesh and blood, in a physical world. Our physical world is constrained, defined by measurable dimensions, understood by placement in both time and space.

God is a SPIRIT. As physical mortals, we understand physical limits of time, place, and space. He is not constrained, not limited by measurable dimensions or amounts. Because of the spiritual attributes of God, how could He be limited or constrained within a specific location? I say, He cannot be. Therefore, I cannot believe that ‘Heaven‘ is a specific ‘location’. Like God Himself, His ‘dwelling place’ is – everywhere!

Hallowed be thy name.

God is holy. And even His name is holy. ‘Holy’ means ‘set apart.’ It also means ‘sacred.’ God’s name is set apart from common usage. It’s to be revered and thoroughly respected. God’s name is never to be used lightly – and certainly never in vein.

Exodus 20:7 tells us plainly, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” If we can revere (and almost reverence) sports figures and movie stars, then how much MORE should we also revere God Himself! He above all others is due our unfailing respect and total reverence. God loves us far above any love others can give, and far beyond anything we could ever imagine. Knowledge of this alone should make us fall at His feet in praise and thanksgiving!

He is WORTHY of praise. But how many times a week do you hear people foolishly using the Lord’s name both carelessly – and purposely – in vain! This is never His will!

Thy kingdom come –

This is an affirmation of our allegiance to Him. It’s an assertion that we want God to rule and reign! In John 18:36 Jesus told Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Jesus taught ‘separation of church and state.’

A great spiritual battle rages around and within us continually. Although the war’s already won, daily battles continue to rage. When we tell the LORD “Thy kingdom come,” we’re affirming that we want His kingdom to triumph, we want righteousness to win, we want Him to rein and rule. We are pledging our allegiance to Him and to Him alone!

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

If you want an insight into how much God really loves us, consider this:

Genesis 1:27 tells us… “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” ‘In his image’ means in His LIKENESS. That means God created us to be LIKE HIMSELF! But this ‘image’ is NOT a PHYSICAL image – not a two arms, two legs, one head likeness. No. It means that we are LIKE Him in CHARACTER and in CHARACTERISTICS. Imagine that! God loves. We have the ability to love. God has understanding. We too have the ability to foster understanding.

And the most amazing thing of all is this: just as God has a will – He gave us a will also!

Because of giving us a will of our own – He gave to us the ability to REJECT Him! It would be more practical if we didn’t have a personal will! It would be more practical (for God’s Kingdom) if we were programmed to follow Him. Of course, then we’d be little ROBOTS! But instead, God gave us a WILL of our own, the freedom of choice! Why?

God didn’t want robots, He wanted CHILDREN. He wanted living, breathing children He could LOVE! He wanted children who would RESPOND to Him and to His LOVE. He wanted to be loved in return! He didn’t want toys or pets. He wanted children.

“Thy will be done,” is our ultimate pledge of agreement and recognition that His Will is best for us – that He has our best interest in mind – and that He knows what He’s doing. We aren’t required to understand, and often we don’t. But we can always be assured that ‘Father Knows Best!’

“…what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 27:9-11 KJV

Give us this day our daily bread.

Personally, I tend to spend a lot prayer-energy on STUFF. You know what I’m talking about – wants and wishes, perceived needs – and imagined problems. Things. We pray about the things – and stuff-related things that consume our lives. Yes, God DOES want to hear our petitions. He cares. He cares about our every need. But the truth is: God is always at work caring for and helping His children. All too often those things which trouble us, God has already taken care of! Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for jobs, house, transportation, and all that other “stuff.” He didn’t admonish us to pray about all the creature-comforts that we’ve made so much a part of our lives. No. Instead, he boiled it down to the NECESSITIES – “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Is that really like us? No, it’s not. Yes, we want the bread. But we want the butter and jelly on it. And, we want it toasted. Oh, and make that whole wheat. Thin sliced, please. You see what I mean?

Perhaps we should pray, “Thank you Lord, ever so much, for all the good stuff that’s piled around me – stuff that I can enjoy. But if it’s your will that I no longer have tons of stuff, then please, just give me bread to eat each day.”

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

I don’t believe that Jesus was altogether referring to MONETARY DEBTS when he said we should pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Conscientiously as well as inadvertently – we disappoint, we affront, we injury others – emotionally as well as physically. Because of this we OWE them restitution, or at least apology. This is a DEBT in the truest sense of the word. Just as we want a positive response from others who cause an affront to us, Jesus says that we owe the same to them.

Look closely at what He says – forgive AS WE FORGIVE! We’re praying that God will forgive us in the same manner as we forgive others! If we refuse to forgive others, how can we expect God to forgive us?

I’ve often heard it said, “Never do business with family or church friends.” Why? That’s because we find it hard to forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. Otherwise, it would be a preferred thing to do business with them!

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Were I to paraphrase this verse it would be (in reversed order): “Lord, save us from the devil, and please save us from our selves!”

If we’re sincerely praying “deliver us from evil,” this is the easier part to pray.

James 4:7 tells us to, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That appears to say that keeping the devil at bay is easy. Not so – it’s a full time undertaking. I Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He uses every trick to accomplish this. We CAN resist him and he’ll flee, but we need HELP. Satan is powerful. We’re weak. He’s cunning. We’re gullible. We need God’s strength WITHIN US. This is why we need to pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Be thankful for the opportunity to request God’s assistance.

On the other hand, “Lead us not into temptation,” involves placing more of self into the equation.

I always thought this was a strange request.

Why would God even consider leading us into temptation? Scripture has this to say about temptation: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” James 1:13 (NIV)  When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re not praying for God not to tempt us. Instead, we are praying that He not lead us into situations where we can be tempted.

“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” James 1:14 Therefore, when we pray “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re praying that God will lead us away from areas where our personal desires, habits, weaknesses, and human ambitions might expose us to spiritual failure. In other words, we’re praying that HIS DESIRE for us will supersede our own desires. We’re praying that His understanding supersede our own, where His infinite knowledge will supersede our foolishness and ignorance. This can be a difficult prayer to pray sincerely – for it requires SURRENDER.

Many a prayer request has been offered to God that – in truth – was in OPPOSITION to His will!

(A side note: There’s a major difference between temptation and TESTING. God tests us, He never tempts us. The sole aim of temptation (from Satan) is to foster FAILURE. The sole aim of testing (by God) is to foster understanding, wisdom, and SUCCESS!)

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, 

There’s a difference between “Thy kingdom come,” and “For thine is the kingdom.” The former looks to the future. The latter proclaims the moment!

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layette up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-22 (KJV)

This man’s wealth was his ‘kingdom.’

We use the expression that a man’s home is his castle. Our little piece of the world can become our kingdom. It can be our profession, our talents, our possessions. They can become our kingdom, to rule and rein over. Jesus tells us to give relinquish our kingdoms to God! It should never be, MINE is the kingdom. No – THINE is the kingdom. It’s another statement of surrender.

and the power –

One must have authority to rule. And one must have power to successfully execute that authority. True, God freely grants both authority and power to His children – but He does NOT grant them to be used for selfish purposes. When authority and power are abused, only destruction can follow! “Thine be the power” is our pledge to God that any authority, any power that we might be granted, are always and forever to be under HIS direction and control. It’s also a statement of recognition that all power and authority comes from Him!

and the glory –

When God created us in His likeness, He shared with us traits and characteristics which we, as human beings, find difficult to manage (control). And perhaps this is the key to our problem. God never intended, nor wanted us to ‘control’ these Godly traits. If we would ever learn to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” Luke 20:25 (KJV), then we would have no problems in these areas. Like God, we too respond to GLORIFICATION and ADORATION and HONOR.

Hollywood has taught us to glorify the flesh, both of others, and our own. BILLIONS of dollars are spent each year for make-up, apparel, and body ‘sculpture,’ all so that we may receive glory. Solomon said it right when he said, “All is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV)

When we say, “Thine is the glory,” we are pledging to give all the glory to God! Yes it’s true that often others do praise us, others do bestow honor and glory upon us. But this is our pledge to pass that honor and glory on to God. In truth, the origination of all glory and honor comes from Him anyway!

for ever. Amen.

Roughly only half of this prayer is supplication (wants). The other half is proclamation – proclamations of God’s greatness – and pledges of our allegiance to Him. “For ever. Amen” is such a pledge.

I’m reminded of weddings vows, where couples pledge their love and devotion “until death do us part.” When we pray, “For thine is the kingdom, power, and glory FOR EVER,” this is such a pledge and affirmation.

But in this case it’s far BEYOND “until death do us part!” We proclaim this not for just the moment, but for – FOREVER.

“Amen” simply means SO BE IT! Yes Lord, so be it!

How can we ever again look at ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in the same old way?




Thanks Mamaw

mamaw-copy©2017 Bill Murphy

I began this blog-quest with ‘WHY I WRITE.’ This piece could have been titled, ‘HOW I WRITE.’ Whatever writing aptitude I may possess, I acquired many years ago – through radio. Allow me to explain.

My maternal grandparents lived next door. From the time I could walk, Mom would stand at the backdoor and watch as I made my way across the driveway, and into Mamaw Fairchild’s house. There, she’s serve me hot coffee liberally laced with cream and sugar, along with hot buttered toast.

Then we’d listen to Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club on the radio. It was a morning ritual, the fond memories of which I treasure to this day.

We foolishly thought that listening to Don McNeill sing and dance around his breakfast table was all fun and games. Little did we understand that work was also involved. You see – we could not see him and his merry guests as they laughed and cavorted around that wonderful breakfast nook. Our minds were required to construct that image of mirth and merriment and wonder. Little did I realize that coffee and toast with Mamaw and Don McNeill – was teaching my young brain to think, to imagine, to create what my young eyes could not actually see. It was pre-school at Mamaw’s house.

Don McNeill wasn’t my only brain-aerobics instructor. I had Arthur Godfrey, Burns & Allen, Jack Benny, Judy Canova, Bob Hope, Lum & Abner, and both Bob and Bing Crosby. (Just to name a very few.) Many of them gave their brain-workouts in our family automobile.

My paternal grandparents lived in Carthage, MS – a long 65+ mile drive on 2 lane highways. At least one Sunday each month, after church we’d head to Carthage and Dad’s parents. Our car had radio! In the 40s, it was all AM radio, often static-y. Also, it would completely vanish when driving under a bridge, or through a thunderstorm. “And Dr. Watson, I think you’ll agree that the true murderer was – crackle, crackle, crackle.”

Sunday afternoon radio was pregnant with drama. Boston Blackie, Bulldog Durmmond, The Whistler, and The Shadow. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” We’d hang onto their every word from driveway to driveway, my growing mind receiving a good workout every mile of the way.


It’s a hard habit to break, brain-exercise. I find myself easily bored with TV. When this happens I seem to hear my brain voice the words, “Hey, I want to play too!” Then I’ll walk upstairs and pick up a well worn Sudoku book from among my many copies – and let my brain out to play.

50 – 75 years from now, will my great-grandkids be hanging an old antiquated flat screen TV on the wall as a remembrance of today? I think not. But as I write these words, I look across the room, at the well-worn hulk of a 1930s-40s radio – a cherished Father’s Day gift from my dear wife Carol. Sadly, the radio’s innards aren’t in working order, but even if they were, I doubt that I could pick up Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club.

Thanks Grandma, for listening to him with me. And for helping back then to prepare my growing mind – for today.


A Bridge Goes Missing

bridge© 2017 Bill Murphy

During the night, in a small hamlet in upstate New Jersey, a bridge went missing. No, this was not a collapse. The bridge simply up and vanished – lock, stock and barrel.

Where the day before stood a heavily traveled arched iron bridge over a small river, now there was nothing. Not a trace. The roadway simply ended a few dozen yards from the river bank – cut off as clean as if done with a jeweler’s saw.

What made it all the more strange was that there was absolutely no evidence left that there had ever been a bridge there! Right up next to the pristine ends of the old highway, grass and wildflowers grew – as if they’d done so for decades.

It cause quite a traffic jam for morning commuters, and kiddies on school busses. It didn’t take long before head-scratching municipal authorities arrived to investigate this strangest of phenomenons. Needless to say, they were at a complete loss, as were county and state inspectors when they too arrived on the scene. One brave soul speculated that it was snatched away by UFOs.

Soon it became a media circus. Before 9 AM there were more news vans (they had to park blocks away) than stranded motorist and school kiddies. By 10 any news anchor worth their weight in salt was either on site, or well on their way – with several charter flights madly racing across the oceans.

Of course, there were ample residents to interview. “No, I never heard a thing during the night,” said one. “I swear I heard a huge ‘swooshing‘ noise, like a great wind or something,” said another. “I was up letting the cat back inside, around 1, when I heard it – must-a scared Felix, my cat. Scared me too!”

Around 3, Fox News interviewed a sweet old lady who lived within 40 yards of where the bridge once stood. Yes, she told them, she knew what happened to it. She knew exactly what happened to it.

According to Bela Doukas, she made the bridge ‘go away.’

Her story aired across the nation that evening on Fox News. No other news agency spoke with Bela. She explained that she’d lived “There,” as she pointed towards her house, for almost 60 years.

“Me and my Mom immigrated here from what was left of a tiny village in the mountains of northern Greece, in 1946 it was. First the Germans tore the place up, then the British made a further mess of it trying to push out the Germans. Them American boys didn’t exactly treat the town nicely either, but I married one of ’em. We didn’t have much left after the war. No need to stay. Came here with the hubby.”

She paused a moment to catch her breath. Bela Doukas‘ health had seen better days.

“Mama died before she could complete her citizenship here. All of us had good jobs, and we bought the little house there.” And she pointed to it again. “Like I said. Lived here since then. Saw a lot of changes. Most of it noisy – like the war. Boom, boom, boom. All the time. Build this. Build that. Then tear it down and build something else. Boom, boom, boom. And that bridge – it was the noisiest of all. Garbage trucks going back and forth, big trucks hauling who knows what, busses, endless cars – and every one always blowing horns. I got sick of it. So, last night, I put a hex on the bridge, you know, poof be gone – and it was GONE!”

With a huge grin on her face she exclaimed, “Now I can have peace!”

Of course, fewer people watch Fox News that ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and NPR. So who really knows what happened to the bridge! But Bela Doukas claims she did it, and the fact remains – the bridge is GONE!



My Grandfather Lied!

© 2017 Bill Murphy


My grandfather lied to me. It was the sweetest thing he ever could have done.

The time was in the mid 1940s. My mother’s older sister lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana. We visited her often. That trip, my grandparents were with us.

Bogalusa was and is a paper mill and railroad town. My uncle worked for the railroad there. And, my grandfather was retired from the Canton & Carthage RR. He’d been an engineer. So, I’d learned to love trains and railroading. Grandpa Fairchild walked for exercise. His favorite walking path was railroad tracks. He often took me with him. (That leads to several other stories!)  The photo of us was taken perhaps a year of this Bogalusa trip.

That day in Bogalusa, as we neared the rail yards, I told him that I wanted to push a boxcar! Instead of scoffing at this insane childish idea, he lead me over to a lone boxcar sitting on a siding.


He instructed me as how to place my hands on that rusty, grimy, knuckle coupler on the boxcar’s end, place my feet firmly against the wooden cross-tie, lean forward ,and push with all my might. I pushed.

Of course, nothing happened.

Then he stepped off to the side, like a football coach on the sidelines. “PUSH,” he encouraged. “You can do it, PUSH.” I pushed.

A big grin spread across his face, as he patted me on the back. He told me that the boxcar actually moved – not far – only slightly – but that it moved!

Years later I came to realize the foolishness of my great boxcar push. There’s not a man alive who can singlehandedly push a boxcar. But was I upset by my grandfather’s ‘lie?’ Not on your life!

Grandpa Fairchild’s little white lie taught me that when I set my mind to something, it is possible. And discovering the truth about the boxcar didn’t burst that bubble! No sir! His ‘lie’ continues to give me impossible strength. Today, I want to be a writer. And in spirit, Grandpa Fairchild is still standing beside me, telling me to PUSH, telling me to try. This time he’s not fibbing – because you’re reading this – aren’t you!



My Personal Gethsemane

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
Heinrich Hofmann, 1890

© 2017 by Bill Murphy – Originally written March 1997

In the 1980s, an electronics store opened in a mall close to our church. A large dimly lit room surrounded with television sets was in the rear of the store – every one on. Comfortable sofas arranged in a great circle in the center of the room faced the screens. One could sit and relax and choose at leisure which set you wanted – if you were a customer.

On nights after church, instead of going out for a pizza, a crowd of our church teenagers made a bee line for the mall to watch TV. Ownership of a TV was forbidden in our church. Why bring filth into your home? The mall was close to the church, so the rebellious teens were soon found out. They simply moved their meeting place elsewhere – miles away to the airport, safely out of sight of the sin-police. The airport waiting room had TV.

That was just kids. And kids will be kids. Spiritual issues are far more serious for adults.

The Easy Way Out –

There are those from that holiness church I left years ago who still probably think that I took the easy way out. Who knows, maybe they thought I just wanted a TV! The bottom line was – they assumed I could no longer take the guiding instructions (standards) of the church – that I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I spent a tear-stained night in my personal ‘Garden of Gethsemane.’ I stood on the edge of the precipice, yet standing on ‘solid’ ground. I had a strong appreciation for the stable, secure, walls of security which surrounded me. As long as I did what I was taught to do, as long as I strived to be what I was taught to be, as long as I lived as I was taught to live – I was safe – I was secure – I was in the will and the good pleasure of God. I understood there were wolves out there, seeking to destroy me. But I was safe – as long as I stayed within the fold.

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:7-9

I knew that being ‘in the fold,’ meant that I was within the fellowship of God’s people. I was surrounded by the strong walls of that church, its teachings, its precepts, its guiding principles, its standards. It was safe and secure behind those fences. It was comfortable. Yes – constraint was a key – but that was a small price to pay for security and safety.

And here I was considering jumping the fold. Was I crazy or something?

The truth was, I was becoming spiritually lazy. I didn’t have to think – just follow the leader. Stay behind the fence.

I was looking for more. I was searching for more of God. I was searching for that part of John 10:7-9 where Our Lord says, “I AM THE DOOR.”

And He was searching for more of me!

We met that night, and embraced. I continue to hold His hand tightly.




The ‘Infamous’ GM&O Rebel


When I was a small child, my mother’s older sister – known to the family simply as ‘Sister’ – lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Mom and I often visited her, riding the GM&O streamline passenger train THE REBEL. The Jackson, MS train station, now preserved as an historical site, was located just off Jefferson Street up the hill from the State Fair Grounds. The photo above is an earlier photo of the Rebel, when the GM&O was the GM&N. Notice the Old Capitol cupola behind the station. This was during the war years (WWII), so the train was always filled with soldiers, who according to Mom, ‘adopted’ me for the trip.

The Rebel was a unique train according to railroading history, a first of it’s kind. Up until the Rebel, built in 1935, all passenger trains in the US were ‘articulated.’ This means that each rail car SHARED a set of wheels between the cars. Individual passenger cars could not be uncoupled – none added or removed without serious work. The Rebel’s cars were built as are all passenger cars today, with wheel trucks on both ends.


The Rebel also sported another ‘first’ for railroading – 5 airline-style HOSTESSES to cater to the needs of the passengers!

The Rebel was never know for its speed. The route from Jackson, TN to New Orleans, LA took 14 hours. Yes, this calculates to just under 35 miles per hour – but one must take into consideration the 55 STOPS it made along the way.

Speaking of stops – I remember one trip when we were traveling through typical rural southern countryside. The Rebel slowed down even slower. Looking out the window I saw an old woman waving something in her hand, as she trotted toward the tracks. The Rebel STOPPED and picked up her MAIL!

Being a railroad-minded child, I had my electric train. As a child’s toy, it simple went round and round an oval track. As a 3 and 4 year old, it greatly confused me that the Rebel LEFT the station heading RIGHT (south to Bogalusa) and RETURNED us to the station in Jackson heading LEFT. How did it turn around?

My mother loved to tell the (true) story of one return trip. I must have been no more than 3 at the time. She said that I refused to leave the station – until she led me up to the front of the train, where I could KISS the Rebel good-bye! Such has always been my fondness for trains!

The next time you’re in a bookstore, look for a book on American Railroading. You’ll find the Burlington’s Zephyr, Boston & Maine’s Flying Yankee, Illinois Central’s Green Diamond, and Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha. Chances are you won’t find the Rebel – or if you do – only a scant mention. That unfairness always puzzled me. A few years ago, the sad reason for this slight came to light.


Unlike all the other glorious passenger trains of it’s day – the Rebel was designed and built for racial SEGREGATION! A schematic of a typical Rebel car, seen below, clearly reveals this. The smaller black section to the left has it’s own men’s and women’s restrooms – as does the larger white section to the right. (Schematic redrawn from an illustration in the GM&OHS NEWS).

Little 3 year old white boys in the early 1940s had no comprehension of this disparity. Therefore my memories of the Rebel are all beautifully positive – of happy times riding the rails – traveling to Bogalusa (a paper mill town) to visit my cherished aunt. And because of these trips, I still have a fondness for the sweet smell (to me) of a good ole paper mill. Ah, those were the days my friend!


This post is in response to the Daily Post Challenge.


The Sunbeam

© 2017 Bill Murphy

I can’t remember the cause of my depression that ‘Blue Monday.’ It was deep. I felt unloved, unwanted, forgotten and worthless – the state of mind when your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. God seemed a million miles away – with his back turned.


I was preparing for work, shaving at the bathroom sink, when I noticed a small sunbeam filtering between the curtains. The tiny shaft fell across a corner of the sink, a small detail barely noticed. Numbly I continued the necessary chore of shaving, my movements automatic. After a few moments – I realized that the beam had moved!  Where the shaft of light had fallen was now in shadow. I was fascinated.

As I watched intently – you could see the small ray of light slowly, ever so slowly – moving! It was then I realized I was witnessing the principle of the sundial. As the earth slowly turned, it caused my tiny sunbeam to move across the edge of the sink. Incredible! The earth is thousands of miles in diameter and the sun millions of miles away and here I was watching the effect of their interaction from within my tiny bathroom! Amazing!

It was then that God spoke to my heart. ‘I made this earth and the sun, and I am greater than they! Just as you have witnessed their movements even here in this small spot, I see you now. I know who you are, where you are, and what you are. And I love you. I’ve just shown you!’

Instantly my depression vanished!

It’s been years since that day, yet every time I see a sunbeam I remember with awe and thanksgiving the day the great God of the universe looked down from heaven and reminded a troubled soul that he is remembered – and loved.

By way of comparison: The earth is 24,887 miles in circumference. If you could drive an automobile around the world at 65 miles per hour non stop, night and day; the trip would take 16 days. Yet I was witnessing the effect of this large globe’s rotation in a small spot of less than an inch – in my bathroom! That tiny sunbeam took 8 minutes to reach the earth, traveling at 186,284 miles per second! If you took that same sun to earth trip at 65 miles per hour in an automobile, you’d be driving (without pause) for 163 years!

It’s a big world in which we live. And what a great God we serve! I, for one, am oh so very thankful!





The Hell-evator


© 2017 Bill Murphy

I once had a love/hate relationship with an elevator. I worked at the time in the sprawling McCarty-Holman 1920s era warehouse on Mill Street, in the Jitney Jungle corporate offices.

One gained access to our offices by a narrow flight of stairs built at an absurdly shallow angle. These much longer than necessary stairs zig-zagged thru four upward flights, divided by a short landing. Or – you could take a painfully slow, archaic elevator.

I use the term ‘elevator’ in a loose, technical sense. It could be best described as a metal cage. It invoked visions of a solitary confinement jail cell. But these doors ‘scissored‘ open and closed. Thankfully, the lower portion of the 3 cage-like walls were covered, but not the upper portions which revealed the stained brick walls of the elevator shaft, barely six inches away at most.

It was claustrophobic, no more than four feet square at the base. The load capacity of this rickety contraption was four.

More than a few people are nervous in any elevator, but this one had a quite higher than average fear-factor. Most folks took the stairs.

But I must say, this mechanical fossil had one redeeming feature; a beautiful art nouveau ceiling light medallion. The company closed in 2001, and I wanted that medallion, but it was not mine to take. Years later, fire took everything when the old building burned to the ground. Bitter/sweet memories of that old elevator remain.

Perhaps someday I’ll write a horror story featuring that infernal contraption. Unsuspecting souls will enter the prison-like cage and presses the button. Be it up or down, the devilish machine will always go DOWN. And as it descends faster and faster downward – the dirty brick walls appearing to be racing upward just inches away – it will descend faster and ever faster down into the very bowels of the earth. It makes your mind scream in terror.

That’s as much of the story as I care to think about right now!


Aunt Penny

a-p© 1994 by Bill Murphy

Divorce is not a common thing in my extended family. Of the fifteen children of my grandparents, only two aunts divorced, both due to wandering husbands. One of those couples later remarried. So when my first marriage failed – I took it hard. The marriage was a failure, and I felt like a failure. I was taught that marriage is for keeps.

The circa 1960 photo at left from a postcard, is NOT the subject above –  although anyone who knows her would swear it is. It’s not kosher to have pics of old flames /wives laying around.

A few years after that failed marriage, love and marriage redeemed themselves in the form of Helen Carol Ringer Rainey. She and her 3 daughters Liz 4, Tricia 2, and Lois – new born, became not just a part of my life, but the very center of my life. Please see the post, ‘The Year That Changed It All.’

One Saturday afternoon years after Carol and I married, our 4 grammar school age girls were spending the day with my Mom. To keep the tykes entertained, Mom gave them old family photo albums to explore.

Now my Mom and I are alike in that we seldom throw away anything.  The girls discovered a photo of a pretty, young bride. “Who’s this?” they innocently asked.

Now to understand my mother’s reaction – and her answer inspired by that reaction – you have to understand that she was old-school prim and proper. “W-W-Why – that is – ” she stammered, “that is – your – your – your –  Aunt Penny!

The girls had found a picture of their dad’s first wife! To this day, we all continue to refer to her as ‘Aunt Penny.’

We were high school sweethearts, Aunt Penny and I. We came together through a simple misunderstanding. She and I were in the same history class. At the time, she had the hots for a boy who lived across the street from her grandfather 100+ miles north. The boy’s name was Billy Frye. As love-sick girls are apt to do, she’d written ‘Penny + Billy’ on the front of her notebook. Another of our class-mates spotted her little love notation, and assumed that this ‘Billy’ must surely be yours truly. So my buddy suggested that I invite her out on a double date. Our first date was on December 7th – Pearl Harbor Day.

I don’t know if I won out over the other Billy or if she simply opted for a Billy closer to home, because by the next weekend we were going steady. That second date was Friday – the 13th!

I suppose we were your typical 50s couple, doing all the silly stuff only adolescents dare. We talked on the phone endlessly about nothing, passed notes in class, walked the halls hand in hand, and made impossible plans. We were young and foolish, far too wrapped up in one another to be much a part of our high school scene. We claimed to be in love, yet neither of us truly understood the definition of real love. This failure did nothing to enhance our continuing relationship.

We wanted to marry right out of high school but got resistance from our parents. “Wait a year, maybe two.” If we’d waited two, we probably never would have married. She got a job in Jackson and off to Mississippi State I went to study aeronautical engineering, and to wait out that year.

I only missed two weekends coming home that year. Several of my hometown pals rode back and forth with me on occasion. Because I always left Jackson as late as possible those Sunday nights, one of them named my car ‘The Midnight Cannonball.’ Another replied, “At least the sun’s not in our eyes.”

The wedding was in her home. It lasted 12 minutes flat, reception following. I think I still have the 8mm home movies.

The divorce came seven years later. Of course there were good times in between, but I’ll save that for later. The last time we saw one another was the day she drove off into the sunset, April Fool’s Day of 1968. We had a thing about special dates.

Years later, Carol and I we were cleaning up after a successful garage sale when she commented, “Well now I’ve gotten rid of everything that once belonged to Aunt Penny.” “No you haven’t,” I replied, “You still have me!”

And she still does!



The Year That Changed It All


Fairy tales often begin with, ‘Once upon a time.’ But that’s fairy tales. Stories from our personal lives are seldom traced back to specific times and places. They’re set in motion days, weeks, even years before when what we often call ‘fate’ – begins to lay the building blocks of our future.

New Years is a time of personal reflection. The following narrative tells the unique story of the year that changed my life forever – 1970.

I must back up a bit – to Sunday,  July 20, 1969 – the day that Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. Little did I suspect that as he made that ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,’ I too had begun my first small step into the greatest and grandest change of my life – ever!

I was divorced at the time, and had invited several other couples over to watch those historic grainy black and white images on TV. When all the TV excitement was over, and it was time to clean up after our little moon landing party – the girlfriend (Mary Ellen Ringer) of one of my friends was helping me in the kitchen. As we washed dishes together, we chatted.

As I recall, she’d just made an off-hand remark about by ‘domestic’ life-style when she remarked, “I know someone you’d enjoy meeting.”

“Who?” I asked.

“My sister.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.”

“She just moved back here from California.”

“Ok. Sure. I’d like to meet her,” I said.

“There’s one thing: she’s married.” Then she quickly added, “But she’s filed for divorce.”


“There’s one more thing,” she remarked. “She has 2 children.”

“Thank’s OK,” I said, “I like children.”

“And one more thing,” she said, this time more seriously. “She’s pregnant. She just found out, after she got back home.”

I’m not sure what I thought – or even if I thought. I just remember saying – “Look. I’d just like to meet her – not MARRY her!”

The following weekend I did get to me her – Carol Ringer Rainey (at the time.) And the day after that, we met in Level Woods Park and I met the 2 children, Liz and Tricia.

And then her mother found out about this meeting with a man ‘who surely must be crazy,‘ and Carol was forbidden to be ‘out with any man’ until after her divorce was final.

A week after meeting Carol, we were talking marriage!

The roots to our remarkable story actually began the year before. My house had a small 4 x 4 coat closet off the living room. I removed the door, wallpapered the walls, cut an antique school desk in half and mounted the seat to one wall and the desk to the opposite. Then I installed the telephone on the wall of my little private telephone booth. So when Carol and I were limited to ‘phone calls only,‘ I was prepared.

And something else had prepared me for acceptance by Carol’s mom. I’d been enlisted by a committee of the Mississippi Arts Commission working with the Junior League of Jackson, in the design and construction of the Children’s Pavilion of the Mississippi Art’s Festival being held in 1970. The chairman of our committee was Bobbie King. Her husband just happened to be the attorney handling Carol’s divorce. I’d been in his home many times. So when Carol’s mom made a remark about the ‘crazy guy’ who was interested in Carol – he was quick to correct her – saying that I might be different – but definitely not crazy. I got the family OK.

When the divorce was final and Carol and I could be seen together in public, it was wonderful time! I took great glee, much to Carol’s chagrin, introducing her to friends and family alike as, “This is Carol, my pregnant girl-friend.” That joke almost back-fired.

Carol’s OB doctor was old school. ‘The baby will come when the baby’s ready.’ Liz had been 2 weeks over-due. Tricia even longer. Lois – well, Lois was, according to everyone’s calculations, 5 weeks over-due! A few weeks more and I would have been the likely suspect! Lois’ lollygagging caused us to postpone the wedding a few weeks. 

Yes, I count 1970 as the pivotal year of my life. That New Years was different and exciting to say the least! And nothing has been the same since – PRAISE GOD! Molly came along in 1971, and since then the births of 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grands.

Yes, Little did I know that on that fateful Sunday night in 1969, that I’d be taking one small step – that would lead to a giant leap for myself – and mankind!