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!

 

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Little Sailor Boy

Sailor Copy copy© 2017 Bill Murphy

My deep interest in World War II history began in George Elementary School. In the library I discovered a book relating the exploits of Naval Aviators during WWII. In this book was a photo of the ill fated Torpedo Squadron Eight – which was decimated early in the Battle of Midway. Only one man, Lt. George Gay, survived. For some reason, this story made a deep and lasting impression on me. Today, I have an autographed copy of his book about the battle. This began my collection of famous aviator autographs, and aviation history books.

I was born 10 months before the United States officially entered the war. My early childhood toys were mostly war-related toys. One such toy eventually led to my long and endearing friendship with Art Simmons, a WWII war veteran. My kiddie petal-car was styled after the Curtiss P-40 Flying Tiger.

And, I have several photos of me in a kaki Army uniform – and also in a white Navy uniform. But a few weeks ago, I learned something truly amazing, and of deep significance to me.

We were in Carthage, Mississippi at the annual Murphy Family Reunion. I was chatting with my 1st cousin Ray Cochran, a little less that 2 years younger than me. We were discussing family heirlooms and mementos that we own. Ray then told me a story that I had never heard before.

His father had served in the Navy, in the Pacific. When he returned home after the war, he brought home his uniforms. Because my mother was a seamstress, his mother (Aunt Joy) gave my mother a set of Uncle Raymond’s white uniforms, and had her make from them a little sailor suit for Ray.

Ray then told me that not only was he photographed in this suit, but also all of his sons, and all other young tykes in his family. He still has the original little suit! WOW!

I sent Ray copies of my photos in ‘my’ little Navy suit – and he tells me that they look to be the same! His only concern is the possible size.

Personally, I choose to believe that this is the same suit. Why would my mother make two suits? But, possibly she did. After all, from a uniform belonging to an adult male, it would be all together possible to make two kiddie uniforms! At any rate, Ray’s story thrilled me to the very core!

All these years I’ve thought that this was perhaps just a photographer’s prop, or simply store-bought. But no longer. No!

Now I see myself in those photos, proudly smiling in a little US Navy WWII Sailor Suit made from fabric that actually saw combat in the Pacific! And that makes those old photos all the more special!

Thanks Uncle Raymond. Thanks Aunt Joy. Thanks Mother! And thanks Ray for the story of that little sailor suit!

 

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FORGIVE AND FORGET

ForgiveThe Divine and Human Side of Forgiveness

©2017 Bill Murphy

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.       Isaiah 43:25

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

It’s said that we should forgive and forget. True, we should. But the forgetting part is what we find most difficult, and rightly so. There’s a vast difference between Divinity and Humanity. Mankind simply was not wired for selective forgetfulness.

Few of us come to God at His first call. Often there’s a period of intense conviction when our heart is being prepared for surrender. If we were endued with the ability to willingly blot out (forget) those early guilt-pangs of conviction, it would greatly enhance our efforts to reject God’s calling! So, in God’s great mercy, He’s thankfully not wired our hearts and minds with the ability of selective forgetfulness! Praise God! (This works to HIS and OUR advantage!)

However, we do forget. We just find it next to impossible to selectively forget!

From my understanding of true forgiveness (Godly forgiveness) – the iniquity is forgiven and forgotten. (See Isaiah 43:25 above). It’s just as if the iniquity had never happened. Therefore, from the Divine standpoint, remembrance serves no purpose what so ever. Think about it.

However, from humanity’s standpoint, remembrance does serve an important purpose. Remembrance serves a useful purpose in the righteousness ledger – such as remembering the goodness and mercies of God. It also serves a righteous purpose on the unrighteous side of the ledger! Isn’t that just like God to use the ‘bad’ for His good!

When we say we truly forgive, our forgiveness is not always genuine. We may sincerely believe it is, but deep down, in the remote recesses of our spirit, tiny vestiges of hurt and disappointment sometimes remain. Remembrance is the rain which waters these tiny seeds, allowing them to bloom into full grown un-forgiveness. We need to be made aware of this all-to-human shortcoming – so that we might correct it!

I believe that remembrance is an internal barometer which highlights the truth (or not) of true forgiveness.

Important truth – Remembrance has absolutely no effect on true forgiveness. But remembrance can have an adverse effect upon unforgiveness.

Remembrance helps us to be aware of our own short-comings. When we want to forgive and when we think that we’ve forgiven, but remembrance stirs up something that ought not to be – remembrance us a spiritual warning to get our heart back in order!

So don’t be discouraged when you can’t forget – and sincerely want to. God made us that way!

 

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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!

 

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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…

 

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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!

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A RECIPE FROM THE GRAVE

© 2017 Bill Murphy

My family has a long history of spiritual/ghostly encounters, and this somewhat spooky event is perhaps the most unusual – and the most delicious!

Pie 2

To most folks, they’re known as CHESS PIE. Mama Murphy, my Dad’s mother, called hers CORNMEAL PIE. Excuse the pun, but they really were ‘to die for!’ Her always from scratch Cornmeal Pies were the hit of every gathering.

Sadly, Mama Murphy passed away in the late 70s, as did her recipe! It wasn’t many months after her passing when cooks of the Murphy Family suddenly realized that no one had a copy of Mama Murphy’s recipe for this delicious Cornmeal Pie.

A futile search was made for the recipe, but none could be found. Mama Murphy had no need of a written recipe – for it was firmly engraved on her heart and mind – just as the sweet taste of that pie was solidly engraved upon our collective memories. For months, cooks of the family got their heads together to recreate the recipe. Dozens of version were attempted and rejected, but none produced the results that Mama Murphy achieved with each and every one of her pies. This failure was a major disappointment.

Perhaps a year had passed since the last Cornmeal Pie failure. And then one night, my mother had a dream.

In her dream, she was in Carthage, as she’d been so many times before. She was in the kitchen with Mama Murphy. And in her dream, she asked Mama Murphy to bake a Cornmeal Pie. And in this dream, my mother observed closely, taking note of each and every step, each and every item, and each and every amount of those elusive items. My mother was recording in her heart and mind the recipe that Mama Murphy kept recorded in her heart and mind. When Mother awoke, she wrote down what she had witnessed in the dream. And then she baked one. And yes, it was ‘the one’ and only – Mama Murphy’s Cornmeal Pie!

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MAMA MURPHY’S CORNMEAL PIE

2 egg yolks                  1 C. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla               3 heaping tsp. cornmeal

3/4 C. butter

Beat butter, sugar and eggs. Then add meal and vanilla. Bake in uncooked 8” lined pastry pan until thickened. Add stiffly beaten egg whites and 5 tablespoons sugar and brown. From my experience, I cook over a slow flame until well mixed and begins to bubble. Stirring almost constantly, raise flame a little and continue until mixture thickens or is done. At same time, bake pie shell. Empty into shell and brown.

 

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