Hey Boy, Don’t Run!

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 1.21.47 PM copy© 2017 Bill Murphy 

My e-Mail and model airplane building buddy that hails from the great state of North Carolina is on a fitness regime. In addition to being enrolled in a quite active RUNNING class, he also participates in local running events. So, in addition to our regular e-chats concerning model airplane plans, building, and flying – he’s also keeping me abreast of his exciting life of RUNNING.

And Dave is quite close to my own age. Shame on me.

But I do have a few interesting, even exciting running stories myself. My stories, like Dave’s, may be from yesterday – but not yesterday in a literal sense!

I’ve said before that it’s no small wonder that I survived childhood. My childhood friend Buddy Gorday and I were always ‘daring’ one another to attempt some hair-brained stunt. ’I’ll bet you can’t jump that!’ And off we’d go. I can remember crashing into more than one hedge or fence at full tilt, because I really COULDN’T jump it! But I tried.

But once – I didn’t try. I chickened out instead.

I probably have LEGS today because I refused to be dared to jump onto a rolling flat car on a local freight – and ride it from one crossing to the next. (That would have entailed running.) Buddy wasn’t with us that day, as a group of us walked home from Enochs Jr. Hi along Terry Road. A slow freight was crossing Terry, heading into town. If I remember correctly, one brave (dumb) soul actually did it!

So, I’m a WALKING chicken today. But that’s OK with me.

At Enochs we did LOTS of running in gym – and I proved to be especially fast on the shorter sprints. I was usually FIRST in my gym class. I’m sure you find that difficult to believe today. But that was then. The coach wanted me to try out for track, but I’d heard too many horror stories about how physically taxing ‘track’ was. I never cared for taxes.

Across the street from Enoch was Poindexter Park. The park was our playground and gym field. There was little grass on the side of the park closest to the school. We kept it worn down. This lack of grass cause erosion around the large trees which bordered the park. Because the park itself sat a bit higher than the street, most of the trees had huge, exposed roots near their base. One day, during football practice, I was running downfield, chasing after the ball carrier. Just as I reached him, a down-field blocker from the runner’s team threw an illegal block on me – CLIPPING. My feet went out from under me, and, running full speed, I handed tail-bone first onto one of those roots! Ouch! And I mean ‘ouch‘ in its truest sense. It HURT! I limped for days.

Oh, the title of this piece. That came from the public Swimming Pool which at one time was in Battlefield Park. Because it was a concrete pool, the concrete apron which surrounded the pool could get a bit slippery when wet, which it usually was. Running at the pool was forbidden. The lifeguards would bellow at us, “Hey boy – don’t run.” We heard this so often that it was forever ingrained in our psyche. It because a part of our very vocabulary. If we were, say, at the drive-in theatre, and while walking to the concession stand, we happened to see someone we knew, in a vehicle and in a passionate embrace with their girlfriend – we’d approach the vehicle and scream loudly – “Hey boy, don’t run!”

‘Run‘ assumed many meanings.

In the mid 60s, in basic training with the ANG/USAF at Lackland Air Force Base, we ran every day. The running track required 5 laps to make a mile – so we began with 3 laps and worked up to 5 – and then 6. Some poor guys had difficulty managing 1 or 2! This was SUMMER – IN TEXAS – and it was HOT. A few days it was deemed TOO HOT for PT. (But just a few).

I remember literally DRAGGING my exhausted frame back to the barracks, and stumbling into the shower. These were ‘communal’ showers, designed for mass-showering of 18 or more. No one cared. It might well have been male AND female in that shower! Like I said, no one cared. We were beyond exhaustion. No one was interested – in anything but COOLING OFF – of REST – of blessed RECOVERY! Most didn’t even stand – we simply LAY where we dropped!

Just before we left Lackland, the instructor told us that he’d lied – the track was actually a quarter mile around. We ran more than we thought.

Because Jackson is so close to Vicksburg, I’ve made innumerable trips to Vicksburg National Park in my life. On the west side, there’s a steep hill which overlooks a bend of the river. It’s a high hill, and like I said, steep. In those days, there was no fence or barrier – not at the top, not at the bottom, not in the middle. You see what’s coming.

“I bet I can beat you to the bottom.”

I can’t remember who won. In fact I can’t remember too much about that run downhill. One minute we were running, and the next – everything was an insane blur as we tumbled end over end downhill – in unplanned for cartwheels. Again I ask, how did I ever survive childhood?

1960 was the year of my first marriage. I had the chance to run then, but I didn’t and should have. Like that hill at Vicksburg, I blindly forged ahead. And like the hedges I crashed into earlier, I later found myself asking, ‘What on earth possessed me to do that?’

Running can definitely have it’s ups and downs.

I do most of my running today from in front of the TV to the supper table!

 

~~~

Just Call Me…

The following short piece is yet another Little Egypt Writer’s Society writing challenge. Our subject assignment was NICKNAMES.

 

Just Call Me    © 2017 Bill Murphy

If nothing else, I’m well documented.

My first documentation being the hospital birth certificate issued minutes after my birth. The second, my official State of Mississippi birth certificate, followed by the certificate issued for my very first day of Sunday School at Grace Methodist Church on Winter Street in Jackson. And, yes, I still have them, as well as my one and only Social Security Card issued in 1953.

The list goes on and on from there.

If ever my identity needs to be changed, someone is in for a LOT of paperwork! And that’s just for my official (legal) name.

That official name is William Hendrix Murphy, Jr., after my father, who was named after his Great-Grandfather, William Hendrix. In reference to the Hendrix name, my Dad went by ‘Hendrix,’ shortened by his family to ‘HINX.’ My mother chose “Billy’ for me, and so it was, for the next dozen and a half years.

The family Hendrix/Murphy name brought on my first nickname. ALL of the relatives in Carthage, even to this day, call me BILLY HENDRIX. When I graduated from high school, one of my Carthage aunts gave me an engraved key chain – engraved with the initials B.H.M. I still have that too.

I really messed up the records for the Jackson Public School System during high school. In the 10th grade, I was still ‘Billy.’ In the 11th I went formal with ‘William.’ And then back to informal with ‘Bill’ in the 12th.

I picked up two nicknames during my 1967 to 2001 years with Jitney Jungle, both of which have endure to this very day. We always considered ourselves over-worked and under-paid in the advertising department. If nothing else, EVERYTHING was ALWAYS on a TIGHT deadline. It was stressful.

BreakThe smokers went outside to smoke to relieve their stress. I never smoked. But in a bottom drawer, I kept a small model airplane (under construction) and a few basic modeling tools. While they smoked, I cut balsa wood. One day, Mr. McCarty came in, not at all happy with my stress-relieving activity. He blared something like, “If you don’t put that airplane away and get back to work, you’re name’s gonna to be Mudd! And it was, from that day forward.

Oh, that – and Murf. I still answer to Mudd, Murf, William, Billy, Bill, and Billy Hendrix, and hey you.

You can basically call me anything. But just be sure to call me for lunch!

 

~~~~

THE BABY THAT REFUSED TO COME

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Carol and I had the most amazing courtship that one can imagine. It was unusual in more ways than one. As things have turned out over the years, our lives together continue to be both amazing and unusual. Both of these qualities are fraught with writer-material.

It was a second marriage for both.

Fortunately (for me) my first marriage produced no children. The same can’t be said for fertile Carol. She had two toddlers, Liz and Tricia.

Baby

When we met she was separated from her first husband – and in the process of divorce. Obviously there was more going on in their rocky marriage than just fussing and fighting. As the divorce papers were being signed, she received the unexpected news that she was pregnant with her 3rd – Lois.

A few weeks later while on a double date, the other girl in our group just happened to be Carol’s sister, Mary Ellen. I didn’t even know that Mary Ellen had a sister.

That night she commented that I might like to meet her sister. Why not? A soon-to-be-divorcee with 2 toddlers – and one on the way? Hey, you said MEET her, not MARRY her! Famous last words.

That weekend I met Carol, pooch belly and all. The next day I was introduced to Liz and Tricia. Before the week was out, Carol and I were talking marriage!

But first, there was this small ‘issue‘ concerning baby number 3.

Soon the divorce was finalized. The ex-husband all but rode off into the sunset. We hardly heard a peep out of him. We set the date for Valentine’s Day.

I took Carol to church with me, and proudly introduced her to my pastor, S. W. Valentine. “This is Carol, my pregnant girl-friend.” Hey, it was the truth! Much to Carol’s chagrin, I used the “pregnant girl-friend” line a lot. I received a deep, satisfying pleasure in using such a shadowy, shameful line in such a totally innocent and honorable manner.

Carol must have enjoyed pregnancy, or maybe her doctor charged by days-of-pregnancy. Liz was 2 weeks overdue. Tricia had been 3+ weeks overdue. Lois broke the record. It got to the point where in calculating the time we met and adding the usual 9 months gestation period – I was beginning to look like the guilty daddy.

We moved the wedding back.

There are dozens of old-wives-tales on how to induced labor. Believe me, none of them work. We tried. Carol drank yucky concoctions that would make a virgin go into labor – but nothing. She tried physical exercise. Nada. Concentration didn’t help, even with me helping. Day after day we failed to launch Lois from of Carol’s belly. The kid was obviously happy where she nested.

1968-dodge

The car I drove at this time was a 1968 Dodge Charger – a real ‘muscle car.’ We’re taking Dukes of Hazard Dodge Charger. It had magnesium wheels, wide-oval tires, and an 8 track tape deck. That car could MOVE!

Late one night, when the city streets were deserted, we took the Charger down on South State. There’s a railroad crossing not far from the south end of State. The track sits higher than the street, so the street’s elevated, RAMP-LIKE, to make it level with the tracks.

We hit that crossing going at least 90, all 4 wheels leaving the ground. It was a flight worthy of the Dukes. We even tried it from the opposite direction. But alas, even that didn’t dislodge Lois.

“She’ll come when she’s ready,” said the doctor.

She finally arrived, 5 weeks overdue. And like the others before her, when she came, she was READY! I got the call at home, around 1 AM. “Come quickly,” I was told. I was needed to baby-sit the other two while Carol was rushed to the hospital. Expecting a long delivery time, I settled myself comfortable on her mother’s sofa. Before I had time to hardly close my eyes, the phone rang. “It’s a girl.”

Our 4th, Molly, was also late in coming, but not nearly as late as Lois. But her actually delivery time was even faster.

Carol had a “standard” late-term check at her doctor’s office that day. I was at work, so Carol’s sister took her to the doctor. Just about the time I was preparing to go to lunch, I got a call from ME. “Come to the hospital. Carol’s in labor!” Before my lunch hour was over, Molly arrived! I barely made it to the hospital.

I told you that our lives have been amazing and unusual. Why just this past week…

 

~~~

THE DAY WE BUILT A HYDROGEN BOMB

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 11.04.48 AM© 2017 Bill Murphy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s no small wonder that I survived childhood. Those “Don’t try this a home” warnings only made us want to try it all the more!

Even with running the risk of being investigated by the FBI, ATF, AEC, and LSMFT – I’ll relate this story of how I (and my neighborhood pal and partner in crime, Jay Tolar) built – and exploded, a rather impressive Hydrogen Bomb in his back yard.

OK, I’ll admit it – Jay was the real ‘brains’ behind this undertaking.

Jay lived one block over, on Winter Street. His Dad was a radio/TV repairman, and had a quite impressive radio/TV shop in his backyard garage – filled with all manner of exotic things both electrical and electronic. Of course, it was ‘off-limits’ to us. But to 12 year olds, ‘off-limits’ actually meant ‘just don’t get caught.’

We had no access to items radio-active, unless you counted the recently repaired and now working Crosley Portable Radio sitting on the shelf in Mr. Tolar’s shop. (That radio was now ‘active.’ Get it?)

Jay and I built our bomb using the everyday and very plentiful items HYDROGEN and OXYGEN – the two ingredients which make up common WATER! Thanks to the excellent teaching of the Jackson Public School System, we knew how to separate common tap water into hydrogen and oxygen. We had also learned (in school) that hydrogen BURNS – and that oxygen SUPPORTS combustion! Yes, we paid attention in school.

Our ‘factory’ which did the work of breaking down our water into hydrogen and oxygen was a simple quart Mason Jar. This same Mason Jar also served as out bomb casing.

Not wanting to give our great grand kids too much information on how to blow their heads off, I’ll just say that our ‘bomb’ was one evil step beyond a simple class-room experiment in electrolysis. And because we intended to build a bomb, and because bombs are supposed to ‘go boom,’ we really didn’t want to blow our own heads off either.

Using a post hole digger, we dug a really deep hole in which to place our little home-made, back-yard, Hydrogen Bomb. This way, we reasoned, the blast would go UP. So what if we punched a hole in a cloud?

We buried our bomb that afternoon. Early the next morning and before school, we turned on the current to begin the hydrogen/oxygen separation process. It merrily made hydrogen and oxygen all day long! We could hardly wait to get home.

Jay had access (when we didn’t get caught) to a large timer. We disconnected the wiring from the Hydrogen/Oxygen separation circuit, and transferrer it over to the Detonation Circuit, and attached these leads to the timer. We set the timer for 60 seconds, and crouched safely beside the garage – not really knowing WHAT to expect.

What happened was far more than we’d expected. All that was missing was the familiar mushroom cloud – and the unhealthy dose of radioactivity.

What we had instead was a very, very tall/vertical cloud/column of mud, dirt, glass, wire, grass, and probably quite a few earthworms. Oh, and the earth shook. It really shook. It was probably quite loud too. It was a few minutes before our hearing returned.

Jay’s mother came running from the back door, her mouth wide as if in a scream. As our hearing slowly returned, her screaming only intensified. I decided it was best that I mosey on home. Exit, stage right.

Amazingly, the hole was not all that much larger, but I do believe it was deeper.

Only once more was I ever that close to a really big explosion. That was the time I emptied a full can of Carbide into the sewer drain not long after a good rain. When I threw the match in after it, the blast actually raised the man-hole cover in the middle of Evergreen St. high enough to see light beneath it. Now that blast was LOUD!

~~~~

Oh To Crawl In A Hole

This piece was a writing assignment from my Little Egypt Writer’s Society group. Our assignment was to recall an event when we wished we could hide in a hole. You’ve probably been there – done that also.

THE URGE TO CRAWL IN A HOLE hole-ground-home-wild-animal-57149387.png
@2017 Bill Murphy

I too have had my moments when I wished for vanishing dust, or a handy, empty hole. Two of these embarrassing events stand out above all others, both similar in nature.

In 1954 our Methodist church received a new pastor, with THREE daughters. I was all starry eyed over the youngest. We were 13 at the time.

Sunday afternoons we had MYF – Methodist Youth Fellowship – which was just what the name implied, a time when the young folks of our Methodist church fellowshipped together with sports, games, snacks, and a short spiritual message. Several of us were gathered on the front steps of the Fellowship Hall. Myself and two other boys were seated on the top step. The object of my affection was standing with a few girls rather close to the steps. We each had large glasses of iced tea. Glass. Clear, transparent glass.

I have no idea what caused ‘the event.’ I had no allergies, no sniffles, no congestion. (You see what’s coming.)

I was about to sip my tea, or perhaps just had. My glass was at about chest height, fortunately far from my nose. Then it happened. The sneeze was like a sudden spasm,  unexpected, and with force. Just the sneeze would have been ok, for the tea stayed in the glass.

Amid that sudden blast of air, from my nostrils was ejected an exceedingly huge mass of what may well have been fully grown jellyfish – right into my iced tea. I was relieved to see that my tea was the only victim of this terrible assault. But here I sat with a large, transparent glass of tea with ice, sugar, lemon, and – yuck! Oh the horror.

While looking for a hole, I held my glass in my trembling hands. Looking all the world like a sun-burned indian. I hoped no one would notice why I was no longer drinking my tea. At 13, this was a catastrophic, thoroughly mortifying event.

Fast forward around 15 years. I was successfully employed as a commercial artist. As in most fields, there’s usually room for advancement with other companies. The Yellow Pages was looking for new commercial artist. I met with the Ad Director at a downtown restaurant for an interview over coffee. This time I had my beverage much, much closer to my lips/nose.

There was no ‘jellyfish‘ involved this time, but the prospective boss was thoroughly sprayed with a blast of coffee, well laced with both cream and sugar. Sadly, the floors were solid in the restaurant, with no holes in sight. Likewise, there was also no follow-up call for a second interview.

 

~~~~

An Animal That Could Rule The World

This was a writing assignment for my Little Egypt Writer’s Society. Enjoy. Crown

AN ANIMAL THAT COULD RULE THE WORLD

by Bill Murphy ©2017

I’ll go one farther – how about an animal that no doubt WILL rule the world?

Actually, I don’t believe this, for the simple reason that I’m one of those ‘Bible Thumpers’ who believe – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10 (KJV) Maybe my choice for ruler will be ruling before that event!

My choice for World Ruler has been around for (non-creationists scientists say) 320 million years – before the dinosaurs. That’s got to count for something – like EXPERIENCE. And, my Ruler-choice is hardy, hardy, hardy – capable of living in MINUS 188 degrees Fahrenheit. He makes his own anti-freeze! (Industrious) Furthermore his resistance to nuclear radiation is up to 15 times greater than yours and mine. So, he’ll be long around after ‘The Big One.’

My choice would make a good President also, with an inbred talent for crossing, no – merging – Democratic and Republican lines – with his group-based decision making abilities. Unlike us, his concept of cooperation and competition are in complete BALANCE! We need him in Washington now!

Did I mention that he can still breathe with his head removed?

My Ruler’s reproductive abilities far exceed even that of my dear wife and our 4 daughters. How about an astounding 300 to 400 kiddies a year? That’s what I call being fruitful and multiplying!

Considering that this Ruler could do better at the polls than one of late… my queen (at least some of her distant cousins) are said to produce milk that is the most nutritious on earth!

She has a famous ancestor named ‘NADEZHDA,’ who flew in space with the Russian Foton-M tests, and became the very first terrestrial (earthling) to give birth in space!

So – who or what is this most amazing animal? I believe that Madonna (the singer) summed it up perfectly. She said, “I am a survivor. I am a cockroach,  you just can’t get rid of me.”

 

~~~

All This And No Money Either

Elvis Wolfe copy.jpg

FPC, JCM, NMMC © 2017 Bill Murphy

When you have a large family, lived a long life, visited so many exotic places and done so many amazing things, you don’t have an excuse for not writing. Your problem is – writing about ‘WHAT?’ Sadly, things fall through the cracks. This morning, an unexpected Facebook post shook a basket of nuts from the tree.

Bishop Wallace, from my days with Jitney Jungle, was fond of saying, “All this and money too.” But FPC, JCM, and NMMC didn’t pay. They did however, claim that the retirement was out of this world.

All of my adult life I’ve worked with my eyes, hands, and imagination. I’m an artist, and paid for my keep through working as a commercial artist. I joking call that prostituting my talent. Basically – I sold pork chops for Jitney Jungle.

FPC, JCM, and NMMC didn’t sell anything, they offered a pathway to salvation.

FPC stands for First Pentecostal Church. Our family was faithful ‘dues paying’ members for 25 years + or – 1 or 2. Naturally, I volunteered my ‘gifting and abilities’ to the work of God. Shortly after our union with FPC, the church took over a struggling Bible School from Tupelo, bringing it to Jackson and renaming it JCM – Jackson College of Ministries. Only last week I ran across a proof copy of the very first JCM Catalog, which I helped layout and typeset. Soon came the monthly newspaper, conference displays, etc., etc., etc.

And then, FPC/JCM acquired a new Music Minister and Dean of Music – Lanny Wolfe. FPC and JCM were famous for their joint effort in the creation of the NMMC, The Nation Music Ministry Conference – a week long yearly event designed to educate, inspire, and showcase musicians from across the national United Pentecostal fellowship.

That was when the fun really began!

The annual NMMC was a big deal. It brought in hundreds of musicians and guests from across the nation. It was claimed that FPC would sit 1,000 – but this proved to be an exaggeration by a couple of hundred. The architects lied. Chairs in the aisles did little to help. The venue was moved to the Municipal Auditorium. The NMMC made no small economic impact on the city of Jackson either.

The NMMC was never a simple dog and pony show. No way. The days were filled with seminars from everything from fiddling to copyrights. And the night events were marathons of choirs, soloists, and dramas. My ears still ring.

And everything had it’s advertising, paperwork, forms, signage, banners, brochures, etc., etc., etc. Bill was a busy boy – for several months prior and until after the home stretch. At the time, I was probably singing to myself – If this is the days my friend, when will they ever end?

I still have a couple of old notebooks with ‘to do’ lists. I’m amazed at the length of those lists! But, I was younger then.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved what I was doing. I felt honored to be a part of such a huge undertaking. But I also loved to grip and complain. Don’t we all?

All those fun-filled and heady days of FPC, JCM, and NMMC came roaring back this morning in the form of the drawing above of Elvis Wolfe, which Lanny posted on Facebook. I guess he must have recently run across it. The original Lanny Wolfe drawing was done for an NMMC project, and in a spare moment of madness, I took the time I couldn’t spare to create that little tension-releaser.

Thanks Lanny for sharing it with me – after all these years. As before, it brought a big smile to my face.

~~~