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Friday, October 31, 2014

Family Time

The clouds had gathered through the night and by morning, 8 am, they were threatening.  Not cold enough yet for snow, but surely rain would fall today.  But the waters held off; the tears of heaven retained their height, until evening, and even after most of the Halloween Trick or Treaters had finished their rounds in the Winston Salem area.

Today was a family day.  We drove on past the raised foundations of the Bethabra Moravian Community Historical Site, the Wells Fargo Bank Building Tour (once called Wachovia) and several public libraries, all so that we could visit brother, sister-in-law, and nephew and niece and their spouses and child wherever we could.

First stop was the office of the non-profit and very successful Winston-Salem Youth Chorus.  Niece Lori has been the Administrative Director of this highly talented and musically eclectic group for less than a year but is very much in the groove as she works full time to keep the financial and public relations wheels greased and rolling.

Their much acclaimed Music Director, Barbara, is retiring after more than 20 years of service so Lori will be quite involved in the search for her replacement for the 2015 season even as she leads the work to take the group to New Orleans next year, and on tour out of the US in 2016. Busy!  Our friend Vicki would know all about that in her work as the Managing Director of the Conway Symphony, if you remember those posts from Arkansas several months ago.

Lunch with brother Marty and his wife Shelby at the West End Eatery was wonderful.  TY for the treat, guys! Then home for a nap for me (shades of Sunday afternoons when I was preaching twice a morning) and catchup conversations for Mona.

In the evening we went to the 13 Bones Restaurant to meet up with Lori, husband David and son Daniel, and Lori’s brother John and wife Christie. David is a teacher in the Midway Schools of the Winston Salem System and Daniel is an active student and member of his mom’s Chorus. John is THE IT guy at Cook Medical Supply and he helps (partners with) his wife Christie in her business as a professional photographer to the southern equestrian community through HIGH TIME PHOTOGRAPHY, the company 
                                                                         they started almost 5 years ago. 

Joining us for dinner was Ashley, a twenty-something and long time close member of Lori and David’s household. Ashley spent a year in Uganda ending last spring  teaching in an International American School and is now living and working with a friend in Winston Salem. Glad you could join us Ash!

Our server kindly took the picture above, and she let me take her picture too.  Sadly I neglected to write down her name! But we can call her Bat-Girl for now.

We drove the short distance to David and Loris to see their two new Shih Tzu (sounds like… no.  I’m not going there) pups, Willie and Millie. By the time we left the rain was falling harder and the temperature was COLD. 

To warm Mona’s heart John and Christie, at whose home we are staying this evening, treated us to a late night MILKSHAKE at Steak and Shake. Amazing how that cold shake warmed Mona right up!

John and Christie live in a very comfortable gated apartment complex and run their photography business entirely online from their home.  They spend most weekends, 40 this year, at horse shows of different types in several southern states, and their reputation for fine work is now growing exponentially.

Meanwhile, on the FROG front, our coach is all set to go and we pick it up Monday.  Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday.  The folks at Cummins have no problem with us taking our time getting back and she is all hooked up sucking down their electricity while she waits.

But we our home.  Its time to get back to her, and warmer weather.

Have you heard me say that before???


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fast Food for All

An hour and a half drive north-west from Holly Springs took us to several libraries and ultimately to Greensboro, North Carolina. It was here, on February 1st, 1960, that four male freshman students of NC- AT University sat down at a segregated, whites only, lunch counter in the downtown Woolworths and tried to order food. On July 25, 1960, the 
                                      counter was officially de-segregated by the F W Woolworth 

This first successful sit-in created a snowball effect of others which also began, some peacefully, and some violently, to integrate many public businesses all over America.

Today that same Woolworth building, and its entire block of other stores, have been turned into the International Civil Rights center.

Not unlike other museums and foundations that have been formed at other historic civil rights sites around the country which we have visited (See our blog posts on Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee this summer. And our Facebook pics of January last from Birmingham, Alabama) this facility is centered on the heroic efforts of a few ordinary people who decide or are called to do extraordinary things.

While the exterior and lobby of the museum are able to be photographed the interior is not.  This prohibition includes the original entire lunch counter inside where for over 6 months college and high school students, black and then also white, demanded that blacks be served and segregation be stopped. But photos of the counter are available online.

As one slogan so aptly said it, “Sometimes you have to stand up for your rights by sitting down.”

We left Greensburg and drove to King, NC, where we met Mona’s brother Marty at his home.  He led us over to the King Library where we met his wife Shelby who was working till near close as a polling volunteer for North Carolina’s midterm early voting elections. Marty will serve here in November on the regular voting day.

Since Shelby had to stay the three of us, joined by Marty’s son John’s motherinlaw, to visit one of the most unusual houses in America.  There we met John and wife Christie for a tour by Marty.

The house is called a cabin by Marty, though by any standard it is way too big to be that. But that was Frank’s plan when he began building it several decades ago. Once he hand dug the well and enclosed it inside his first roofed four walls, he just never stopped 
                                              adding on.

Built with a native ingenuity and learned skills by Frank and his brother Oscar, even the flying beams and pole uprights were cut and placed by hand.

The source of all the lumber was the Halsabeck farm.  Even before the well Frank bought and moved a portable sawmill onto the property.

Oscar is in a nursing home today. Frank had a stroke and died two years ago.  Their niece Lindsay inherited the house and much of the farm and now opens the place up for tours and several mountain music family events each year. Uncle Frank loved mountain music.

At Frank’s death he was getting ready to complete an enclosed deck and it looks like he intended to build in a spa!

We ended our evening with a trip to the local (really local. There is this one in King and one other in Stanleyville) DAIRI-O restaurant. Great food, great selection. Ask Mona what a SLAW DOG is if you don’t know.

Tonight Mona is catching up on news with brother Marty.  We sleep here and visit tomorrow, then we drive to dinner with niece Lori and husband David’s family and  John and Christie.  We stay at John and Christie’s for Friday evening before turning south once again, back to FROG.

TOAD is already shivering a bit in these higher elevations far from the sea. The low tomorrow here is still projected to drop into the thirties. And snow is coming to the mountains for the first time this year.

This was Mona’s favorite find on Facebook today:


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Trunk or Treat!

Dawn over Holly Springs, North Carolina and a full day awaits.

The Snyder tribe greets us at breakfast. The twins, Khloe and Kendall are dressing up this Halloween as Anna and Elsa, the sisters in the                                                           Disney film FROZEN.

Mona borrowed the Anna wig to see if its time after 20 years to change her hair style.  Its not.

Lunch time was a real southern treat. We went to the uniquely named nearby town of Fuquay-Varina to the many decades old family owned restaurant, Campbells Diner. It’s a single wide mobile home with the kitchen attached  that gets crowded at breakfast and lunch every day but Sunday and jams the crowds in somehow.

We were in for a real treat though as our table had an unusual musical instrument for sale hanging on the wall beside it.  A $35.00 tin can one string guitar. And Larry, the maker, was sitting with his wife at a nearby table.  He heard us talk about it and came over to play it for us.  Larry says he sells almost 1000 of them every year. Now that’s retirement income!

 I gave him one of my cards and he happily told me he is a lay pastor who lives each summer with his wife in his fifth wheel in a campground up near Cherokee, NC, and preaches there every Sunday.  We agreed that we would look him up if ever we get up near there.

Back home it was Punkin Chunkin time.  Not tossing them; gutting and chopping them with dremel tool, knives and spoons.  We trashed the driveway, and cleaned it up again several times throughout the afternoon.

Then Mackenzie Snyder, the 13 year old, helped the 6 year old twins with makeup and dressing to become Elsa and Anna.  Then she and her two besties make up as UNICORNS. And off to the Good Hope Baptist Church in Cary, NC TRUNK OR TREAT event for the evening.

In addition to a wonderful free light supper of slaw and chili dogs there was candy in abundance. And some good Christian fellowship of course!

The Snyders turned their trunk into an AWANA game display and promoted the churches children’s program. Puppets, slap down cups, and good fun made it a hoot to participate in.

Other persons and groups of the church promoted all kinds of other ministries. And every one gave out candy of all kinds.

Even though it rained some the crowds did not diminish much and I believe the numbers topped a thousand till the evening that had started at 6 was over at about 8pm.

There were many kinds of costumes, almost all simply cute or funny. One clown scared some small children.  How did they learn to be afraid of clowns so young? But the stars of this Halloween in Cary was FROZEN, and while there were an awful lot of Elsa and Annas running around the triplets as OLAF the SNOWMAN were the absolute cute hit of the evening.

Tomorrow we head west through Greensboro to Winston-Salem to visit Mona’s brother Marty and his wife Shelby and their son John and his wife Christie, and Friday their daughter Lori and her family.

The weather turns decidedly cooler as we head north and west (High of 50 and low of 35 on Saturday) so we’ll turn TOADs nose south again Saturday morning, back to warm savannah and FROG who we heard has a new air hose on her turbocharger and is getting her fuel gauge checked for accuracy till we get home next week.


Appointments of God

Sometimes a disappointment turns into joy when we see how God has planned a purpose for our sadness.  We had been invited to cancel our Marriott reservation in Florence Monday evening and stay with Laverne and Jean Buckwalter but it was too late to cancel it. Tuesday morning we discovered why.

We met Pastor Alena and her husband George in the breakfast room at the Fairfield Inn in Florence, SC. She serves a church in Jersey City, NJ, about 80 miles from her home in South Jersey. Alena has only been serving for about a year so the first thing she asked when discovering I was a retired 17 year full time pastor was, “What advice do you have for me?”

I had to think of the best I could give, but not long. “Develop a relationship with a Christian professional pastoral counselor you can take your most personal issues to and expect prayed over and real answers from.”

I thought of my experiences with my mentor, Larry Leister, and other good clergy and lay accountability partners but it was my long time relationship with Dr. Wally Fletcher that really grew me, and our church. He was the person who first suggested, “Get the church out of your home now.” Well, it was more than a suggestion, for everyone’s benefit.  And we did.

We left the hotel and hit the ‘Stockade’.  Well, it was a stockade in 1864-65.  This was the short lived but deadly Confederate prison which took as many of the Union soldiers as possible, maybe 12,000 or more, after Andersonville Prison in South Georgia, was threatened by Sherman’s march to the sea.

Over 2300 died here in horrible conditions as the nearly defeated south struggled to provide meager food and supplies to its own soldiers, much less prisoners.  Truly, though, the much wealthier north had horror stories of poor care in its camps of captured Confederate soldiers, and there was no excuse but sloth, greed, or hate, to explain that.

The camp has been covered with forest almost since its desertion after the war. Though the Union dead were moved to the nearby new National Cemetery begun for them in 1865-66. Sadly most of their names were lost in the camps closure so the bodies inhabit two large grass lawn areas with single markers at the head of each row.

Today a ‘Friends of the Stockade’ group of locals and Civil War amateur historians care for and are attempting to develop the site.  It is not well marked but you can get some sense of its structure, where the men lived and how from the work this group has done thus far.

We left the stockade for the Confederate Museum, in a residential section of Florence.  It was closed.  Mona just smiled.

Why did she smile?  Because next stop was the Florence library.  Now we don’t know why this is as it is, but Florence is not a big town, even though it is the center of Florence County life.  But their library is one of the largest we have ever been in.  We could have been in downtown 
                                                Washington DC!  Cool!
 Next stop, Fayetteville, North Carolina. No, we did NOT stop at ‘South of the Border.’  Been there, and never want to do so again.  It capitalizes the T in Tacky, and when we have stopped in the past its poor quality and empty buildings were creepy.  We are surprised it still exists.

My main objective in Fayetteville was not Fort Bragg, where our nephew Scott Crum trained in airborne tactics, but the Fort Bragg Airborne and Special Ops museum which is located conveniently downtown in the historic district.  It is HUGE.  
                                              And very interesting… for me.

Mona approached me to say she was going outside to read after walking it in 30 minutes.  I took nearly 2 hours and only read some of the displays.

The museum is ordered chronologically starting with the formation of the Airborne and the Rangers during WW2 after the models of the German and British army paratroops. The last war depicted is the one we are trying to finish now.  The one this display 
                                              called ‘The Long War’.  Afghanistan.

Beside the museum is the North Carolina State Veterans Park. Dedicated to every person who gave their life in war, each county is represented and the names of each person is on their counties pylon, dating back to the founding of the European settlement.  No state or county freedom fighter Indian names are here from their nations.  Those nations themselves are mostly lost to time and destruction by whites.

Whatever could be next on our agenda?  A library, of course!  We hit two and found this one just north of Fayetteville set up as a polling site.  Yes, its voting day here in North Carolina.  A dozen or more folks asked us as we went in if we were voting.  I said, “Yes.  For the books!”  That got a cheer from several pollsters.  When we came out a group walked up to us and wanted to tell us they were thrilled to see such obviously long term married folk holding hands as we walked.

I asked them how they new we were married, or old.  They stuttered and laughed and Mona told them a story about how our public affection for each other has attracted positive attention throughout our lives.

I simply said, “Come on Mona!  The back seat is waiting!” and we departed amid laughter and fun.

We drove to Holly Springs, NC, just south of Cary, NC so we could spend a couple of days with our nephew Tim’s family.  Tim is a long time IT guy, and his wife Crystal, a former school teacher, is a full time parent of their four.  Mackenzie, Landon, Chloe and Kendall.  The last pair are twins and KNOW it!

We had a great evening getting to know each other all over again and settled in before bed to watch FROZEN, the newest popular Disney movie.  They had seen it many times before but we had not.  They knew most of the songs by heart, of course.

Landon gave us his room for two nights.  TY Landon.  We slept well!