© 2019 Bil Murphy

Who remembers playing in the old smokehouse? I’m not talking about your local tobacco store either! Unless you’re like me, older than dirt, then you’ve probably never had the blessing of smokehouse fun.

Pappa and Mamma Murphy had a ‘working’ smokehouse when I was a kid in short pants. It sat a few feet from the rear of their house in Carthage, MS, and a few dozen yards from where those hams were born and raised. Because my Dad loved his parents dearly, we visited Carthage often, much to my approval and delight!

The ole smokehouse was no more than eight feet square, with a low roof. Hams hung from the rafters at about eye level. It smelled… what can I say… almost heavenly in the place… but it was dark inside. Because it was a valuable asset to the farm, and a major source along their food chain, our care-free play time inside of it was strictly limited.

Occasionally, a friend or distant cousin would visit who was ‘out of the loop’ of our country fun activities, and we’d suggest a game of follow the leader.

The smoked hams hung from the rafters of the low roof by strong cords, making the lower portion of the heavy hams about eye level to an eight or ten year old. Perfect! We’d entice the unsuspecting newcomer to follow us inside that dark and sweet smelling place. The aroma alone was enough to shock your senses, and throw your thinking off balance.

Did I mention that these the hams hung down… looking for all the world like punching bags in a prize fighter’s gym?

The leader would wait until the door was closed, and it was once again dark inside, and the unsuspecting victim was pressing close to the leader for guidance… and then the leader would reach forward and push a ham forward… and then release it… and duck! Instead of egg in your face, the poor visitor got twelve pounds of ham in the face!

My grand and great-grand kids think that I must have had a boring childhood… because I had no cell phone, no TV, no radio controlled toys, no video games.

And I shake my head and think what an artificial childhood they are having, because they have no smokehouses, hay lofts, peanut patches, nor have they ever experienced drinking cool fresh water that they themselves have drawn from a well with a bucket on a rope.




© 2017 Bill Murphy

My assignment was to chose a word with special meaning and importance. I didn’t have to deliberate upon this task – my word – AWARENESS – had already hit me in the face.

Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines awareness as: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.

Awareness is a most important word/concept in our relationship with others – and especially in our relationship with God. Awareness is our very first step in entering into a relationship with Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Even before belief – one must have awareness.

I’ve always said that my childhood was truly the happiest, fullest, and most blessed childhood possible! No, we were not rich in worldly goods, but my family was extremely wealthy in love, devotion, trust, faith, hope, and what a young child desperately needs – security. There is nothing about my childhood I would change or exchange. But in the 1940s I was very ignorant of some things. 


These photos are of boys of approximately the same age. Both photos were take within the same time period. The happy boy on the left is me, my face dirtied from playing in the ashes of a burn pile.

The face on the other boy is sad. You can feel the trauma surrounding his life – just as the mangled debris of war surround him in the background. As sad as this photo is, there are countless more that are far beyond sad – they are horrifying.

The happy boy was blessed to be born and living in America. The sad-faced lad lived out his childhood in war-torn Europe. We don’t even know if he survived the war! The sooty faced child was blissfully unaware of the other boy.

‘Blissfully unaware.’ That can be true in certain cases. But usually ‘blissfully unaware’ is a misnomer – an oxymoron – as in being ‘blissfully unaware’ of God and His amazing love for us.

We – you and I – need more awareness in our lives. We’re doomed to stagnation without awareness! Awareness is the first step to anything and everything! Awareness is the first brick of the wall, the first post of the fence, the first step of a journey. Awareness is the keel of every spiritual ship that ever sailed toward heaven. Awareness is the beginning of all.

Today – 70 years removed from those 2 photos – when I think of those days of ‘heaven on earth’ on Evergreen Street – I’m compelled to remember – to be aware – of those thousands and thousands of children who – on the other side of the world – were living through a hell on earth. If nothing else, that awareness makes me all the more thankful for my blessed childhood – that I assuredly didn’t deserve.