2 CokeBill Murphy  2020    

I was young and impressionable at the time, hardly thirteen at most.  Impressions can be both negative and positive.  This one was a most positive impression, one that’s stuck with me all of my life.  

     It happened around 1953, the dawn of rock & roll.  Soft drinks were a nickle each, and came only in glass bottles.  When returned to the seller, you were paid a two-cent deposit on the empty bottle.

     On weekends, I worked in the Jitney grocery store that my father managed in Mart 51.  I did odd jobs around the store, keeping the shopping carts orderly, and bagging groceries.  I was also tasked with emptying the trash containers in the check-outs stands.

  I was emptying a bag of trash into the dumpster when I heard the distinct clink of glass.  “Oops, ”I remarked aloud, “Someone carelessly threw away a bottle.” 

     “No, not one, but two!” The remark came from Authur England, one of the store’s full-time employees.  “One bottle can’t rattle!”

     I stood frozen in my tracks, allowing this jewel of truth to sink in.  

    Almost seventy years later, when my grandkids and great-grandkids begin to bicker and fuss, most often as not pointing a finger and proclaiming, ‘They started it!’  I stop them with this simply truth: It takes two to rattle.

     Thanks Arthur, for sharing your wisdom!







Bill Murphy 2020

The ascent to a mountain top is by progression, a step at a time.

Yesterday, a line from an old hymn we sang in my Methodist Church came to mind so vividly.  “God is so good… He’s so good to me.”  This life experience in my life brought these words to mind.  They also brought to mind that they too can be a step in progression.

The word ‘good’ is an adjective, describing somethings of meaning or value to us.  The opposite is, of course. ‘bad.’

Yesterday, yet another ‘issue’ had confronted our family.  This was an automotive issue, which spilled over to involve more than just a car.  Our daughter’s vehicle is old, and well used.  But she and our granddaughter were not a quarter mile from home when the issue occurred.  They were over six hours away… hundreds of miles from home.  And the car suddenly ran hot!

She’d just gotten the car out of the shop the week before.  What needed repairs, was repaired.  It was deemed ‘good to go’ by professions.  Obviously not.  Now came the dilemma, ‘What to do?’

Two law enforcement officers stopped to give assistance.  They added water, got the vehicle running properly, and escorted them to an auto/repair/parts company located right across the street from a motel.  The auto shop told her they’d be closing for the day within 5 minutes.  They’d look at it tomorrow.  Our daughter called us.

Yes, Carol and I were distraught, worried and concerned.  Yes, they very near automotive help.  But we were not near them!  We were also not helpless.  We prayed.  God can help.

Our daughter also called the mechanic who’d given her car a clean bill of health.  He offered suggestions on how to get home safely driving the vehicle.  She called us, and we suggested that the information sounded plausible, but not to be foolish.  Be wise.  Try this in daylight hours, beginning the next morning.  So they did.

Their six hour drive home took almost nine.  And God rode with them, and in front of them, preparing the way.  They got home, with the vehicle, safe and sound.  God is good.

Many years ago, I began my climb to the mountain top.  I’ve gotten off the path before, and tumbled painfully back into the valley of darkness.  But with God’s help, I’ve gotten up, brushed myself off, and began the ascent once again.  No, I’m not at the tippy-top yet, I’m still ascending, one step at a time.  I’m more careful of where I step today than I was at twenty.  The view is far more beautiful the closer to the top that one ascends.  And part of my ascension is learning that God is not just good… He’s the BEST!

Once again Dear Lord, Thank You, for being so good… so good to me!





   We all lost a ‘keeper’ earlier this week when we lost Debbie, the former Debbie Barnett of Jackson, MS.  Right now, when our loss is new and acute, we only think we know how much we’ve lost.  The future will show us just how great our loss has been, and is, and will be.

   Debbie was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.  She was up when all the world was down, the positive that banished all the negatives around us all.  She was a treat to have around… no, she was more than that… she was a necessity. 

   Our family met Debbie and her family at church, and it was an instant connection.  Debbie was a teenager, and our brood of four daughters were much younger, so Debbie baby-sat a lot.  When not ‘working,’ she came over to simply hang out.  She and Carol grew close, even though there was a large gap in their ages.  But their’s was more than a big sister/little sister relationship. 

   I honestly don’t think we’ve ever owned a home with doors that were ever locked.  So our home was a home-away-from-home for many of the teens from church.  Most were simply in and out, at all hours of the day or night.  And some came and stayed, for days, weeks, even months.  But Debbie’s home was only a short drive away, and her pillow normally remained at her home.

   After church, there were five or six homes (including Shoney’s) where we congregated Sunday nights after church (finally) dismissed.  Debbie’s perpetually under renovation home was one of our Sunday Night Food Troughs… as was ours.  Billy and Earline Barnett (Debbie’s parents) really put on a spread… and we gobbled it up!  The food was always plentiful and tops-notch.  But the fellowship topped that!  Oh the sweet memories.

   Yes, Debbie was always one-of-a-kind… they broke the mold when she was born.  She’s the only individual I’ve known personally whose day and month of passing is the same as that of their birth.  She’s that unique!  But what you might not know is that Debbie came very near to passing many years before… while she was in our home!

    Debbie was there baby-sitting for us.  Who knows where Carol and I were, I can’t remember that part.  This was back before the days of plastic drink bottles, and all soft-drinks, even the big ones, came in glass bottles.  We were big Dr. Pepper drinkers at the Murphy’s.  There were usually one or two in the frig, and two or three more sitting on the floor around the frig.  Debbie was bare-foot.  You see where this is going.

   She reached inside the frig, and accidentally knocked over a large bottle of Dr. Pepper.  It crashed to the floor and the glass shattered.  Somehow, the base retained its shape, on the floor, right side up, but with long razor sharp shards sticking up like shark’s teeth.  Debbie stepped back… and one of those long sharp shards sliced deep into her ankle, not just cutting her, but slicing an artery in her ankle!

   Long story short… Earline and Billy rushed to our house, saw the damage, and sped Debbie to the hospital, where, Earline promptly passed out. The doctors told Billy that within a few minutes more, Debbie would have bled out!

   I believe that my favorite ‘Debbie Story’ is the one about tomato sandwiches, hence the photo above.   Debbie enjoyed two things a LOT.  One was swimming, and the other was having a customary tomato sandwich after a swim.  We got a call one day from her Dad.  He was calling from home.  “You won’t believe this,” he said.  “I wouldn’t believe it either unless I’d just witnessed it myself.  But Debbie got back from swimming a while ago, and she’s just consumed EIGHT TOMATO SANDWICHES!

    Bob Hope was famous for his ‘Thanks for the memories.’  Debbie, we don’t really want just memories.  We want to be still making memories with you.  That’s what we really want.  But since we can’t have that, we can all be thankful for all the wonderful memories that do have, and will always have and cherish, of you, and of your bubbly, positive life.  Thanks Debbie!  Thanks for all the memories you made with us!