Archive for August, 2007

JQF….and the joy!

August 4, 2007

Sir and I

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The man in the photograph is my grandfather whom we all called ‘Sir’…never ‘Grandpop’ or ‘Poppa’ or any other term of endearment that would connect him as our grandfather….it was always ‘Sir’! For the sake of understanding-in this photo ‘Sir’ is the ‘doughboy’ and I am the younger man being tattooed-the photos are to show how much we favored each other.
I’ve written a lot of things about Sir. I knew him more-and he was different from my mothers father.We were brought up to call him Pop Pop,his real name was Joseph Quinter Flickinger.
I only have certain images of Pop Pop in my memory. He was a large man with huge hands. He owned a garage where he was a mechanic-but he also did extra jobs like install washing machines (in those days they were the huge wringer washers-unlike what we have today) and he mowed lawns-a memory I regain every time I pass a freshly mowed yard seeing myself holding the chain on my grandfathers wallet and following along as he mowed to and fro along the lawns. There is one home which plays strongly in my memory-that of old Mrs.Smale. She was an invalid laying in a bed by a window and I remember being afraid of passing that window for that frail old lady would there looking out at you,and those little boy fears would scare you….she was probrebly glad to see a little boy.
PopPop had a way of putting the fear of God in you-he had a nack of being gruff,yet he also had this charm-but that gruff side was almost killer. He had ways of putting the wire handle of a fly swatter on your little boy butt that would instill a memory I aint yet shook. I believe I can recall about every time my rear end felt that wire handle hit-and crossing the street with the old man almost saw you with the socket of your arm seperated from your body. He’d grab you just between the elbow and your shoulder and nearly drag you across the street-none of our other relatives had such concern.
His biggest kick was the ice cream ride. Pop Pop would say “who wants ice cream”? and me and my cousin would immediatly say we do…and that old fart would drive us around the county and we’d see the A and W and yell out there it is! And old PopPop would say something critical about how he did’nt like so and so who ran the place,and on we go-and we’d see ‘The Cup’ and yell out there it is! And old PopPop would drive on by saying the old guy who ran the place sold melted ice cream. And we’d go on and there’d be the Boyertown Dairy Bar…same dang thing-and then we’d go home and PopPop would turn on the TVset and we’d watch Gunsmoke not quite being able to fully enjoy it because the memory of the ice cream trip was still in your mind-that hope! And sure enough during the last commercial break old PopPop would go in the kitchen and shovel out two big bowels of ice cream with a pretzel garnish and thats how we saw the end of Gunsmoke.
About six years ago I had an occasion to visit the old place up there and hooked up with my cousin and we got to talking about the old guy and the ice cream runs and other topics and he remarked that at least I got to go home (refering to the fly swatter pops on the butt) -he on the other hand was there all year round. I never really thought about it-but indeed that added a mystery to another part of my family and myself and indenity. This visit-my cousin being here last week,we talked more about it and I realized more than I ever did. Why it never crossed my mind before is interesting.
I have some old family movies on a video casset and during my cousins visit I suggested we take a look. To quote my cousin-the time watching them was a treasure. It was-especially seeing Dave jump up each time our grand parents came in view-especially each time PopPop came in view.
I got tears in my eyes. I had to leave the room and dry them off.
I cannot say when I saw so much love in a mans eyes as Dave watched and hoped for another segment with PopPop-there were also clips of his sister and parents and him as a toddler and his brother as a baby and many wonderful memories that ironically provided more memories for me for the future-seeing this man watching the screen as if he was a small boy seeing these things for the first time.
It came to me there was a life that my grandfather and my cousin had that was beyond what I knew and it was wonderful to have that revealed and see it in this mans eyes each time he saw his long passed grandparents.
Dave grew up only blocks away from our grandparents-I grew up across the state and away.
For some reason I inherited our grandfathers cuff links. I put them in a small tin and have kept them over the years-really I always thought they should belong to Dave,and this visit to my home in the woods they became his. On them is our grandfathers initials ‘JQF’ …Joseph Quinter Flickinger. The response was overwhelming.
People don’t understand me and money. My old boss even remarks that I’m the only person he’s ever met that has no interest in money. Its faith…thats what I have interest in,money has notta to do with faith. Seeing this treasure-the look in my cousins face as he watched this film and saw PopPop running bases around a ball park with his grandbabys-wearing a shirt and tie…perhaps those cuff links kept the sleeves closed and were in those old movies.
There is no money that buy such a scene-theres no money that can can pay to orchestrate such a vision…there is no money that can ever buy the joy that I had seeing this man so happy over seeing the grandparents he must of loved so much.
I am so rich because of being able to have given my cousin those cufflinks and seeing the joy in his face.
Money? Pooh!

the green grass is no greener…

August 1, 2007

self portrait in a Pete

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

There was one thing about trucking that was kind of like finding a piece of fools gold where you always thought that the next load will be better…it will be the load! It is such a prominant myth that even a drivers dispatcher sometimes uses that pitch to urge a driver to stay out and run just one more load…this is that load,they’ll say!
You might think I’m making this up but you go to a real truck stop and sit at the drivers counter and get a cup of coffee and wait. I promise that the moment you catch another drivers eye from across the counter or in the mirror behind a counter or just by looking a guy in the eye when you sit next to him…these all invite the ever present conversation about the load from hell. It never misses,the moment you catch that drivers eye it gives him permission to tell you about that load. We all have loads from hell. They all know that they exist but continue to wait for ‘the load’ to come along!
I know this is a strange way to explain this-but in the Bible is a story where there are these men fishing in a boat and across the water on foot comes the Lord Jesus and these men are in awe of the sight,even unbelieveing they are really seeing it! Of these men there is Peter and he is convinced to climb out of the boat and to walk towards Jesus-which he does,although a ways out there he sinks.
It always interested me as why it was Peter and none of the others that trusted the scene and the Lord enough to go out there and try-after all,it was Peter who nearly groveled to express his love for Jesus only to turn and deny he ever knew him the day the soldiers came and arrested him.
I think Peter began to sink when he started to consider his load-in this case,his self.
Somewhere in my path through the hippie days I met this monk of some kind-an oriential asian kind of guy who I thought might have been a krisna by the way he was dressed-sort of like Ghandi. We got into a conversation and somehow it led to me saying I owned five acres of land and he said I owned nothing. I meant to correct him yet he persisted that I owned nothing-I began to think he was just having difficulty understanding me because of a language barrier but I learned later that night that he understood me and I was not able to understand him.
We were at a festival of some sort and off on the fringes of the festival site there was a campground with multitudes of hippies all around and people of all descriptions-Jack Keroac likes and Alan Ginsburg likes and Ken Kesy likes and then there was this monk,and I bumped into him again when I had walked into the dark to pee.
I did not see him sitting there in the dark and only lit by the light of the moon but he saw me and gracefully noted his presence and soon he recognized me from earlier and and had full recollection of our conversation and he pointed up to the sky and said that every one of those stars belonged to me and nobody could ever take that away-he said they were always mine. I wanted to argue with him-I still was thinking he was stupid and had not understood I had a deed for five acres of land,but he was’nt stupid. I was.
This man looked at me and laughed this funny quiet chuckle that was polite and yet he he was laughing at my confusion. He told me that when the daylight comes and I look up at the sky and see the huge clouds that float along-the ones that look like you could just climb up them as if they were a soft mountain….this man said I own all of that too. No matter what I can see-no matter how far,it was mine,he said. It is better to the owner of things that people can’t take away from you,he told me. People can’t take away that which they can’t have-the sky he said was all of ours and ours individually too.
I was too young and daft to fully understand what that monk was saying-but I began to learn.
To try and imagine what it might have been like to be Peter out on that water I try to make a trip to the shore every so often. I take off my shoes and roll up my jeans and walk out to the edge where the surf is right there and all you can see is the sky and the sea and the emptyness of the open space-the grandest view there is because it is so pure in its void of structures and traffic and and anything man made. I find the sound of the surf and its soft voice soothing and seeing the open space of the sky and the sea at the same time began to open my eyes to the way that old monk talked back then at that camp-this belongs to me,and I am safe here and no one can take that away.
Now whats that got to do with going out to a truck stop and try to avoid eye contact with the drivers with the load from hell? Well…those guys are all the same-you and I are all the same. We all have a load ,truck or no truck…we all have a load. It was Peters load that began to weigh him down causing him to sink. Out there ahead of him was a friend who he could trust but the weight of his own doubt brought him down.
The monk was right.-and so was Peter for trusting enough to climb out of that boat onto the water. So is the truck driver with the load from hell.
I wish I could perfectly trust everything and go and stand at the oceans edge and know completely with out doubt that that is all mine-the stars and the moon and the great big ocean and the pureness of the void…the void of being empty of all that I tote.

I loved the solitude of the big truck. It was almost impossible to maintain contact with others because it is so isolated in its excile as nature made it. It is so hard to for me to connect with others that the truck was a way for me to be alone and live at the same time-to make a living. I would always be okay out on the road-but when ever I was here on my five acres and the day to take off and hit the road had come again I would get sick to my stomach and anxious and worry would consume me. It was much to do about leaveing here…leaveing all my things and surroundings-eye candy some folks call it,the bottles I collect and the paintings on the wall-or photographs and momento’s of some sort or the other or even just the trees and all you can see around you.
But I would get out on the road and see the big bend of Texas or the great colors of the Mohave Desert and at night in Montana you can stand out in the open and see the stars and galaxies and hear the great quiet of it all-the void….and it all belongs to you-and no one can take that away and it is always there night or day and I began to see that the old monk was right and all these things that I possess are anchors and like Peter they cause us to sink.

I know I’m not making much sense , perhaps.
I am like the trucker and I tote a load from hell and I am like Peter and have a desire for trust and yet sink from my load. And I listened to that old monk and despite the fact that I learned what he was saying I still remain in possession of these things-the five acres of land and my trinkets and gee gaw of anchors.
Emotionally I am a bit drained. I tried to assemble one of these anchors this past week with my cousin coming to visit-wanting to revive a childs memory-we were boys together during our summers. I’ve been needing to find it again,my boyhood,to try to find things that I have lost-or to try to mend things that have been broken. I guess these things are anchors too and evidence as to why I am sinking from them. It is impossible to ever go back and repair,I should know that,but I try.
And so I guess what I am trying to say is bringing some confusion…so I should let this rest for the time being.