DREAM CATCHER

dream-catcher-902508_640© 2018  Bill Murphy

The object at left is called a ‘dream catcher.’  I dream every single night, therefore I don’t want one, and don’t need one – and never have.  I’ve longed for a dream blocker to give me a restful, dreamless night of sleep.

My dreams are always vivid, action filled, in color, and with taste, touch and sound.  I usually awake tired, and expecting to see dust on my feet.

That said, here is a typical example of my night-life… as actually dreamed last night.

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The dream began as I got off a train in Boston.  I was with a group of 9 or so other people,  composed of an equal number of men and women.  I did not recognize any of them. Carol was not with me.  We were told to pair off, giving each person a ‘travel-buddy.’ After this, we would receive a few rental cars, and drive into town.  I immediately spoke up, explaining that I’d been to Boston on numerous occasions, that I knew it ‘like the back of my hand,’ and would have no problem finding my way around.  I felt rather confident about this.

Looking around, I saw that the pairing was complete… except for myself… and a young woman.  She walked over and replied, “It looks like it’s you and me Ole Buddy.”  Four of us got our rental car, a very old and worn red Nissan convertible.  The top was up, but the operating mechanism was broken – so it had to be raised and lowered manually… and then tied down with bright red wires wrapped around the rear view mirror at the top center of the windshield.  (Yes, my dreams are always this vivid with detail.)  The 4 of us got in, and I drove… because I could find the way.  I pointed out interesting things along the route.  The streets were filled with traffic, and the downtown area crowed with bustling people.  When we got to the restaurant, we parked on the street, a few doors down from our destination.  When the guy in the back seat got out, he pulled me aside and asked, “Did you tell your travel-buddy that you’re married?”  I replied, “No, it never came up!”

As my group began heading for the restaurant, I stayed behind to lock the car, because our luggage was inside.  It took a while to get ragged vehicle locked, and when I looked up, no one in our party was in sight.  All I knew was the restaurant’s name… but could not see it anywhere!  I looked for a point of reference, so I could find my way back to the car, and walked off… searching for the group and the restaurant.  Suddenly… nothing looked familiar… I felt lost!

If dreams can have chapters, it was at this point that chapter 2 on my night-story began.

The fellow who had asked if I had told my travel-buddy that I was married, came rushing up, all out of breath.  “You’ve gotten a call from home… I have to rush you back.  The New Jitney Jungle Company is re-organizing, and they want you on the board!”

I’ve said that my dreams are realistically vivid… but the realism is in the details… but not always within the correct parameters of time and of space.  The next thing I knew, I was walking across what looked like the stately campus of an ivy league university… and my traveling companion was leading us toward a large building with ivy covered walls. This was where the board of directors of the New Jitney Jungle was conducting their organizational meeting.

As we walked toward the building, I remarked that I was not wearing clothing befitting the occasion.  My companion handed me a dress shirt and dress pants, telling me that he’d picked them up for me.  I quickly dressed in the men’s room near the front of the stately building.  But I discovered that there were numerous, large bright green paint stains on the legs of the pants!  “I can’t wear these,” I remarked, and he replied that I should just keep eye-contact at eye-level and all would be OK.  (Where did the paint stains come from? I explain that later.)

As I entered the room, I immediately recognized many of the well dressed men in attendance.  Many were former executives of Jitney.  Several came to shake my hand, and welcome me.  But it all seemed somewhat forced, even a bit stand-offish.  I felt very uncomfortable.

The man in charge, who I did not recognize, came over and shook my hand.  “I’m sure you’re surprised by all this,” he began. “We’re all a bit surprised by it all.  Everything’s happened so fast!  You see, several of us were discussing Jitney, and what a shame it was what had happened to such a fine company.  So… we decided to do something about it! We’re resurrecting it!  And because of your many years and experience with the company, we want you aboard in this endeavor.”

I reminded him that my father had been on the board of the old Jitney, back in it’s hey-day of growth and prosperity.  “Yes I know,” the man said, “and I know that he’d be proud to have you, sitting with us, on the board of the New Jitney.”  I was taken aback, not really knowing what to say.  Then I spoke, telling him that I didn’t understand what I could bring to the table… that I was only involved in one area of the company, advertising.  Then he put his arm around my shoulder and explained that I had far more to give than I imagined… that I had a wealth of memories, and understanding, and passion for what Jitney was and could be again.  He said that he wanted that input around the boardroom table.

I remarked that this position would be a great honor, and yes, my Dad would be proud.  Then I remarked that the new income would given my wife and I the money to travel more, as we longed to do.

The man then stepped back.  “More money?”  Now he looked confused.  “Perhaps I need to explain something to you.  Yes, you will be paid for time on the board of the New Jitney, and you will be paid handsomely.  However, you must understand, that although you will be paid many times more per hour than you were paid when working for the old Jitney – with the New Jitney, the board meets, and therefore you will ‘work,’ only two hours per month.  Therefore… your monthly income will be far, far less than you were making years ago… far, far less.

I was confused, and flabbergasted!  I tried to explain to this gentleman who was in charge, and who would be my new boss, that this didn’t seem quite kosher.  “Let me get this straight,” I said, “You’re asking me to come into the boardroom, with a brain and heart filled with memories, experiences, and understanding of this company, and relay those years and years of memories, experiences, and understanding… and be paid only for the time sharing it with everyone?  Are you saying that you perceive my value to be in the time sharing the message… and not in the countless hours I spent in acquiring the message?”

He looked at me as if I were loco.  “That’s just the way it works. What’s just the way it is. And that’s just the way it will be.  2 hours pay, each month, every year, for the rest of your life.  Take it or leave it.”

“I’ll have to think about this,” I said, as I backed away.  It just didn’t seem right.  The fact that this ‘deal’ sounded so one-sided weighed heavily on my mind.

I began to awake.  Yes, it was weighing heavily on my mind.  Something really was weighing heavily on my mind, and on my brain… something warm… something furry.

We have two dogs.  Both sleep with us.  Tiny little Chloe was under the cover, near Carol’s feet – as always.  But during the night, 20+ pound Amy had taken up position at the extreme top of the bed… against the headboard.  She was now draped across my pillow, wedged between the headboard and my head!

As for the green paint.

I think that must have come from my early days of working full-time for Jitney.  It was 1967, and Jitney was much smaller at the time.  We had less than 30 stores.  I was hired to set-up and run the new Graphics Department, tasked with creating and printing not only store window signs, but point-of-purchase materials.  It was a messy, silk-screen printing shop.

But in my pea-brain, it was a big step up for me at the time.  Now I wasn’t just one of the worker-bees, I was the boss.  So, each day, as befitting ‘management’ I wore a TIE to work.  And yes, I also operated the large, messy, ink-filled printer.

I carefully tucked my tie into my shirt, to keeping it from dragging in the ink – but it never stayed tucked.  Never.  Soon, practically every tie on my tie-rack had multi-colored tips.  I’m sure that some of that stray ink was bright green!  I guess that’s what dreams are made of.

 

 

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THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

jetshot1@ 2018  Bill Murphy

Bob Hope had it right!  We can be thankful for some memories.  But for a toy?

A few of my childhood toys bring back memories…. like the large 3-wheel bike, without brakes.  I was 5 or 6 at the time.  The thing was really an oversized, stretched tricycle.   Boy was it fast!  I discovered that the very first time I rode it.

Dad unloaded the new toy at our driveway, and I immediately took off, lickety-split down Evergreen.  I should have gone in the other direction.  I was rapidly approaching busy Terry Road when I discovered the thing had no brakes.  I managed to pull off the sidewalk as I neared Mrs. Busby’s house, hoping I could slow it down in her front yard, or perhaps, as I circled her house.  I did neither.  Instead, I crashed full-tilt into the large tree, with larger roots, at the end of her driveway.  I think I went 5 feet UP that tree!

Things like that, one can’t help but remember.

But the toy which brought me at least as much pleasure, but with none of the pain, was a unique water-gun.  My guess is that it came from H.L.Greens, downtown.  It probably costs no more than 50c.  But it gave me many, many happy hours of flying and fighting fun!  This water pistol was made in the shape of an airplane!

Jets were new at the time, and this toy was a close replica of the all new U.S. Air Force Republic F-84 Thunderjet.  I’d fill ‘er up, grab the handle, and take off… zooming into action… on search and destroy missions all around our yard.  I’d sweep down low… making my best jet-fighter sounds… and strafed anything and everything that moved: enemy tanks (roly-polies), ants (troops), crickets (vehicles), and worst of all, evil spiders, (artillery)!  The fun only stopped when I was forced to return to base to re-fuel and re-arm.

A few months ago I saw this one pictured above (with missing canopy) for sale on eBay. Someone obviously knew just how much unadulterated fun was contained in this small plastic toy – because I could have purchased several dozen cases of them way back when… for what they wanted for this single item today!

No, I didn’t purchase it… it was that expensive.  Anyway, I suppose I would look rather silly now, running across the yard make jet-noises, and squirting at ants.

 

 

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GOODBYE FAMILY HEIRLOOMS

Table

© 2018 Bill Murphy

Today, another heirloom from the Murphy’s past has exited the scene, stage left. I had mixed feeling about this one, both sad and glad.

A few years after my Carthage grandparents passed away, their beloved old barn was torn down.  Now that was a relic to be sure.  My Dad helped split the cedar shingles which formed its roof.  As a child, all the young Carthage-Cousins practically lived in that old barn.  Knowing it was to be demolished was like seeing an old friend on his death bed.  Before the barn was no more, I removed dozens of those worn and weathered cedar shingles.  I still have many of them… kept as unusual, but treasured keepsakes – heirlooms if you will.

This very morning, a formal dining room table which had been among the first pieces of furniture my parents acquired after marriage, left my possession – sold in a yard sale.

Mom and Dad married in the mid 1930s.  Dad was working for Jitney Jungle.  One of their customers, who owned a moving and storage business, approached my father with an offer.  He explained that several years back, a local doctor put an elegant dining room suite into storage.  Now they’d moved away, and could not be reached.  He needed the room, so… would Dad be interested in buying it?  He did.  For only $35.

This was NOT particle board and veneer furniture… but GOOD stuff.  Included was 6 padded chairs, the table with 2 extensions, felt table pads, plus a china cabinet and large buffet.  All for $35.  I sat for 19 Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations around that table while living at home… and many more after moving away.  Yes, I had a fond attachment for it.

After the deaths of Mom and Dad, it became mine.  As nice and elegant as it was, it really wasn’t 100% practical.  The legs were large, and the ornate lower bracing seemed to always get in the way.  Coupled with those tree-trunk-like legs, it could be annoyingly uncomfortable.  When Carol and I moved to Illinois, we put the thing in storage!  One of our daughters attempted to use it, but soon discovered it’s annoying ways.  She bought a new set, and back into storage the treasure went.

This weekend, we’re having a yard sale.  We decided that its about time to part company with this uncomfortable heirloom from the past.  A couple paid $75 of the table and chairs… more than doubling Dad’s original investment.  I think he would have been proud.

 

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MY DRUG OF CHOICE

 

BreakfClubBlueBill Murphy ©2018

Today we live in a drugged society.  I’m on 5 medications myself.  The problem is with what are called ‘recreational drugs.’  Most folks today have no perception of our  practically drug-free 1940s utopia.

But we did have drugs in the 40s.  The number one drug of choice was nicotine.  And yet, my family was practically unaffected by this drug.  Of my 28 aunts and uncles, I knew of only one uncle who smoked.  My maternal grandfather had a corncob pipe (which I now have), but I never witnessed him smoking it.  And for a while, my maternal grandmother dipped snuff.  I’m so thankful that my upbringing helped me dodge the nicotine bullet!

The second most prevalent 1940s drug was alcohol.  And again, my family was largely untouched by this free-flowing drug.  At the very end of our street was the Night Owl Cafe, a neighborhood ‘watering hole’ which sold beer.  I only set foot in the place one time in the 19 years I lived on Evergreen… and that time was to get change to ride the city bus.  However, I did taste my first beer when I was 5… when my mother gave me a tiny sip of the nasty brew she was instructed to drink… as an aid in milk production… when my sister was a baby.  Crazy, huh?

The third drug of choice, and the one on which I was soon hooked, was caffeine… served hot, administered orally, suspended in delicious coffee.  My snuff-dipping grandmother lived next door.  By the time I was two, Mamaw Fairchild would stand at her back door, and Mom would watch for ours ‘s, as I toddled across the driveway and along the well worn path to Mamaw’s.

Mamaw’s kitchen was tiny.  Her small table was pushed against the rear wall, allowing for only 3 chairs around the table.  And there we’d sit, almost everyday, enjoying one another’s company while eating hot buttered toast and drinking coffee liberally laced with sugar and milk – while listening to Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club on the radio.

In my case, that happy morning ritual of 75 years ago got me thoroughly hooked on coffee.  The positive reinforcement that coffee, Mamaw, and Don McNeill gave my psyche was solidly welded in place.

Mamaw Fairchild has been gone for decades, as has Don McNeill.  Gone also is that tiny kitchen… that cherished haven of contentment.  But what has not faded are those valued memories.  Today, each sip of coffee, takes me back to those wonderful, carefree days of childhood… back to when we danced in our minds around the breakfast table, with Don McNeill.  Good Morning Breakfast Clubbers… I’ll drink to that!

 

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REMEMBERING GRACE METHODIST CHURCH

Grace Church copy

©2018  Bill Murphy

Grace Methodist Church sat diagonally across the street from George Elementary School, on the north/west corner of Winter and Union streets.  Why is it that you fail to take a snapshot of those people or places you most want to remember?  Above is a photo taken by my mother sometime in the very late 40s, of a George School activity.  I suppose I’m in there somewhere.  Behind us is the old church building, before it was remodeled in the early 50s.  The parsonage is immediately to the right.  The white frame structure to the far left is the adjoining Sunday School rooms.

Grace was a neighborhood church, with no church parking lot.  There was ample parking on the streets for those who drove.  I walked to church many times.

This was my home church for my first 19 years.  Dad was on the Board of Stewards, and Mom was Superintendent of the Primary Department.  I sang in the choir when in high school.

Our family was always there – dependable, we were.  Sometimes we did miss a Sunday or two, but only for a valid reason… such as vacations.  Driving to Quebec, lower Florida, Vancouver, or deep into Mexico… on those pre-interstate 2 lane highways, you needed all the travel time available.  But our family attended church as we traveled – so that my sister and I could still be in the perfect attendance category.  One Sunday morning in Utah, we couldn’t find a Methodist Church anywhere – so we attended a Mormon service held in the Bryce Canyon Lodge.

I dearly loved Grace Methodist Church.  I am who I am today largely because of the instruction, foundation and examples I received from Grace Church.

I’m blessed to have participated in many memorable, spirit-filled, soul-jarring, life changing worship services in other churches over the years, yet I can truthfully say that none of those ‘pinnacle’ services compare to a typical service at Grace Church.  How? Why?

Because Grace Church was what it was!  I miss those wonderful days there, the place we thought of as “God’s House.”  We considered it to be a Holy Place.  And why did we feel this way and why did we feel such awe in simply entering the building?  Because… as small kids, we were taught that it was not just a building.  We were taught that it was “The House of God,” as if He dwelled there!  We learned to reverence it, respect it, and love it.  It was special… very, very special.  And because of this, we expected Him to be there with us and among us each time we entered that Holy place.

Were we lied to?  Was this some adult trick or ploy to make us behave?  Hardly.  Scripture plainly tells us that where two or three are gathered together in His name, then He is there! (Matthew 18:20).  And we knew to respect and reverence not only His presence which actually was there, but also His ‘house.‘  It was all real, very real.

Grace church was never locked when I was a child.  It was alway open to those who wished to enter, to feel His presence and love, to come kneel and pray.  There was a water fountain in the hallway of the ‘education’ department… and on hot summer days, we kids often entered the church to cool off and drink.  Although just a hot and sweaty pack of 8, 10, or 12 year olds, our parents may as well have been watching over our shoulders.  When we passed over the threshold, our very countenance transformed, automatically.  Why?  Because we knew to respect and to reverence that place, be it Sunday morning during church service or Tuesday afternoon.  We had been taught to give honor where honor was due… and God’s ‘house’ was due our honor and respect!  We neither talked loud nor ran in the hallways.  We had ingrained respect for where we were – because we’d been taught to have that respect.

I appreciate those life-lessons more and more each day that I live.

We didn’t have a ‘praise and worship leader’ at Grace Church.  But we had praise… and we had worship.  We had both in bountiful measure.  We had a choir director, but his duty was to direct the choir, not to serve as a cheer-leader.  We didn’t require a cheer-leader, because we knew that God was there, in our midst.  One could not help but feel His presence.  It was easy to worship Him at Grace Church.  This was His House!  And we respected it.  We hallowed it.  I think that it was this ‘attitude’ of respect and reverence that we brought with us to church that made it so easy, so natural, to worship.  We passed through the door expecting to meet Him inside!  And we were never disappointed!

My very favorite memories of Grace Church were the Sunday night services.  After 2 or 3 songs, and the announcements were read, the pastor gave his message.  Then we sang another hymn.  The lights were lowered, giving one just enough illumination to see, and then the pastor told us that the altars were open for those who wished to come and pray.  I always went forward.  There, in that darkened and quiet time, in that Holy place, it was as if I was not among dozens, but rather, alone with God.  It was so easy to feel His presence, His loving hand on my shoulder, His breath on my cheek.  It was just the two of us.  I worshiped Him.  And He filled my young heart with His presence, and His love.  It was like Heaven on earth.  I treasure those memories.  To think that the creator of the universe paused long enough to spend quality time with me!  A reverent soul is but putty in the hands of God.

Alas… Grace Church is no more.  Even the new building grew old… and time marched ever onward.  Folks prospered and moved away to bigger and better things.  Due to his strong work-ethic, Dad continued to get promotions at Jitney Jungle.  He and Mom moved away from Evergreen, to a larger, nicer home in north/east Jackson.  The congregation of Grace Church began to dwindle… until it was no more.  Sitting unused and uncared for, the leaking roof began to collapse.  A few years ago, the building was leveled.  Where the House of God once stood, and where heaven once opened its doors to a young boy… is now but a vacant lot.

Grace Church may be gone – but Grace Church is not forgotten!  Not in this heart anyway.

 

 

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AN ANGEL IN THE CLOSET

Sk. In Closet copy© 2018 Bill Murphy

We often hear of skeletons in the closet, of deep dark sins and secrets hidden away, musty and dusty and, we hope, dormant and forgotten.  But what of angels in the closet?

My family has one of each – and both are from the same closet!

I come from two large families, with a total of 13 uncles and aunts plus all their wives and husbands. This large collection of unique individuals has gifted me with a wealth of stories and life experiences.  One of my favorite story-treasures involves my mother’s older sister, Lillie Fairchild Padget, and her husband Fred Padget.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Lillie (who everyone in the family called Sister) lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Uncle Fred died of a sudden heart attack in 1947, and Sister moved next door to us on Evergreen Street.  Now Uncle Fred had an evil skeleton in his closet, which Sister packed up and brought to Jackson when she moved from Bogalusa.  She kept it not in a closet, but in a large trunk.

Not long after settling into her new home in Mississippi, she joined Griffith Memorial Baptist Church on Silas Brown Street, near our home.  And she began to sew.  She made for herself a beautiful, white Easter dress.

She was oh so proud of that dress.  It was of the finest silk, and rivaled the elegance of any wedding dress!  That top quality garment hardy cost her pennies to make!  The smooth, lily white material she already had.  It was brought from Bogalusa in the trunk.

You see, Uncle Fred had been an officer in the Bogalusa chapter of the KKK.  Sister made that beautiful dress, a dress to wear to church to worship and honor her Lord and Savior on the day set aside to celebrate that marvelous day He arose from the dead!

Sacrilegious? NO!

Read your Bible.  Over and over again we read where God used the weak to defeat the strong, the fearful to instruct us in bravery, and the ugly as a radiant example of beauty. This former skeleton in a closet, a dark symbol of sin and shame, my dear Aunt Lillie transformed into an angelic statement of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior.  I know that He looked down on that silk’s new form, and smiled.

 

 

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BC, AD, and PCP

telephone© 2018 Bill Murphy

In school, we learned that history was divided by the birth of Christ… BC before, AD after.  Allow me to add another time-division… PCP – Pre Cell Phone.

You’ll have to be less than 50 in age to appreciate the amazing changes that we old geezers have seen and experienced.

I remember when our home phone number was 32246. No prefix. No area code. Think about that for a moment. In my home town of Jackson, MS –  that meant the number of telephones was limited to 99,999 telephones… which included private homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, public services… everyone!

We had only one telephone in our home… no extensions.  It was a ‘land-line,’ and all connections were made ‘physically’ over wires.  My aunt and uncle who lived across the street had a pedestal phone.  I always wanted one of those. I think they were classic, as far as telephones go.

Our telephone was located in the hallway, near the center of our home.  It sat on a small shelf, in a ‘nook’ recessed into the wall, with a flat shelf underneath which held the phone book.  There were numbers, 0 thru 9, arranged around a dial.  Each call required 5 ‘dials.‘  WHERE you talked was limited by the length of the telephone cord.

There was no such thing as recorded messages. ‘Speed dialing‘ was determined by the dexterity of your fingers.

Then came prefixes, which allowed the number of telephones within an area to increase. Our prefix was FLEETWOOD.  It was dialed as ‘FL.’  New telephones were required for this, for the addition of these alphabetical letters.

To make a long distance call, you had to call the phone company and be connected to the circuits which led out of town and to distances beyond.  There were extra charges for long distance… and it was not cheap.  You were charged by the minutes you talked.

With the advent of area codes, you no longer had to call the ‘long distance operator’ to make a long distance call.  But… the long distance calls still costs extra.

The first person I knew who had a ‘cell’ phone was my mother-in-law.  But it was not called a cell-phone.  It was called a ‘mobile phone.’  It would not fit in your pocket!  The thing came in a box about the size of two shoe boxes joined side by side.  It had a receiver to talk into and listen with, just like the telephones at home.  She had hers sitting on the ‘hump’ on the floor of her car, between the front seats.  It was next to impossible to use with the car in motion.

When wireless transmission really took off, there were not that many ‘mobile phones’ around. But there was plenty of PAGERS.  Both my wife and her sister worked for pager companies.  A pager was a small hand-held wireless device, that when your pager was called, it buzzed, and displayed the phone number you were to call.  It could also display a brief message.  But… you had to call the pager company and tell them what pager to page, and give them the number/message you wanted displayed on that pager.  Because my wife worked for the pager company, she put the pager software on our home computer… and I could page her directly!  “We’re out of milk,” I could tell her while she was on the way home.  What a time saver!

The first time this modern technology really rocked my world was in the mid 80s. Carol and I were on vacation in Maine.  We were walking down the main street of Machias, ME.  Carol noticed something in the window of shop and commented that her sister would like that.  There on the street, Carol paged Mary Ellen, describing the item.  Mary Ellen paged Carol back, and said, ‘yes,’ she wanted it.  Carol made the purchase.  From Maine to Mississippi, the deal was settled almost instantly.  That was truly amazing at the time!

And practically overnight it seemed, we had cell phones.  Gone were the days of being anchored to a wire when you made a call.  Now you could talk anywhere… outside, up a tree, under the house.  And just as suddenly, that expensive bane in the budget – LONG DISTANCE – was a thing of the past.

Today the world is at our fingertips.  ‘Back then,’ if your family didn’t have a set of encyclopedias, it required a trip to the library to learn the capital of Ireland.

But… all this miraculous ‘convenience’ has come at a terrible price.  We’ve loosing the gift of gab.  Our kids are not learning to communicate, not face to face.  Today people can hide behind a tiny screen and lash out and rip apart the lives of others.

Today we’re still chained to copper wires.  Today’s chains are the chargers – which people continue to lose – or to borrow… because they lack the responsibility to bring their own along.

When I was growing up, there was a box to be checked (hopefully) on our school report cards.  That box was: PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS.  Our kids today, sadly, are in training to lose this ability.

Oh, what were you saying?  I was reading a text.