Monday, March 24, 2014

Old Houses and Ghosts

March 24, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's finally getting to be spring in Hollyhill. And boy, are we all ready for it! The March flowers are blooming on the hill on Mr. Crutcher's farm next door. He says there used to be a house there, but it got torn down and the pieces carried off to build a new house in a new place. Gosh, if there had been ghosts in that old house, wonder if they went with the planks, beams, windows and doors to the new place. 

Oh, I know some people say there aren't ghosts, and I can't say that I've ever seen any. Of course, there's the Holy Ghost. You can't actually see Him either, but you can feel Him inside you. That's not like the ghosts that might have haunted that old house on Mr. Crutcher's farm. They'd be different. Maybe left over spirits from people who used to live there. Who knows? Maybe something bad happened there. Somebody could have been murdered or died after a terrible accident. Maybe falling off a cliff or something. 

Dad says people don't hang around down here after they die. They go on to be with Jesus. Or not. But their spirits don't linger down here haunting people. I believe Dad, but I've heard plenty of stories of ghosts too. Haven't you? People who see ghosts. 

Tabitha, that's my sister, she said she met a woman out in California who said she saw ghosts all the time. That she not only saw them, she could talk to them. The woman told Tabitha that sometimes the people couldn't go on to their heavenly rewards because they felt they had unfinished business here on earth. This woman claimed to help them take care of whatever was keeping them from going on. One of them, she said, just wanted to make sure her family had the right recipe for Thanksgiving dressing. 

I told Tabitha that was crazy, but we both agreed that crazy things sometimes happen. So who knows? 

Even the disciples weren't so sure there weren't ghosts. In Matthew, it says they thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw him walking across the water that night when their boat was being tossed around on the sea by the winds. It wasn't until He spoke to them and told them not be afraid that they knew who He was. Dad preaches on that sometimes. About how Peter was walking out on the water to Jesus and didn't sink until he took his eyes off Jesus. Dad says we can keep from sinking in life if we keep looking to Jesus instead of letting the winds and storms knock us off course. 

So I don't know if there are ghosts or not. I just know I haven't ever seen one. I haven't seen Jesus either, but I know He lives in my heart. So I don't have to be afraid when I'm back there picking a bouquet of those March flowers on Mr. Crutcher's farm where those ghosts might still be. 

Have you ever seen a ghost or heard anybody else say they have? 

Mrs. Williams at church says she saw her husband after he died in a tractor accident some years ago. She thinks he came by the house to tell her goodbye. I asked her if she was afraid and she said why would she be afraid of her own husband. She was just very sad because she knew he was heading up to heaven and she'd have to wait until the Lord called her home before she'd see him again. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Toads, Warts, and Twins

March 17, 1965
Jocie Brooke here, reporting from Hollyhill. And whew! Am I tired. We had a day off school today and I volunteered to help out the Hearndons by keeping their three-year-old twins. Wow! Have you ever tried to keep up with two three-year-olds? I mean I've taken care of Stephen. He's my sister's little boy and now that he's walking, he can keep me busy. But two who not only know how to walk, but run too!! In opposite directions.Tell me, how do you decide which one to run after? The one headed for the mud puddle or the one chasing the chickens? 

I picked the mud puddle. I figured the chickens would just have to take care of themselves. 

Finally I corralled them and got them paying attention by catching a frog. Not a Jupiter one that runs on bug juice, but a regular Earth toad frog. Do you think they really give you warts? If so, I'm in a heap of trouble. But I'll take a few warts if that helped me keep up with the Hearndon twins. 

So I don't have the energy to write anything else tonight. Got to go to bed!! 

Did you ever catch toad frogs? Did they give you warts?

Monday, March 10, 2014

To Be or Not To Be a Princess

March 10, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill, Kentucky.  

Did you ever want to be a princess? Like in the fairytales. A Cinderella or Snow White. But you know, when you think about it, those two had a pretty rough time. Cinderella had to sleep in the ashes and talk to mice, and Snow White had to run away and hide out with the seven dwarfs to keep the wicked queen from getting her. (Quick question - can you name them all? Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Grumpy, Happy. Oops, I'm stuck. Do you know the others?) 

But forget the missing dwarfs. Back to princesses. Then there was Sleeping Beauty. So okay, beauty in your name has to be good, but not sleeping a hundred years. What's wrong with having a princess who is just that? A princess who doesn't have to have the unhappy before the happy ever after. Oh, I guess that doesn't make much of a story for ordinary folks to read. 

But Dad was telling me about a real story he saw today about a Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. She got engaged. Dad showed me a picture of her. She's very pretty and looks happy and so maybe her happy ever after started the day she was born to a King and Queen. A real princess.

I'll bet she doesn't stumble over her own feet or get chocolate ice cream all down the front of her blouse when she's eating an ice cream cone. She's probably never said something she shouldn't have said or lost her diamond bracelet. 

That's something I haven't done either - the losing the diamond bracelet part. Okay, so what if I don't have a diamond bracelet to lose. I've got other things I bet she doesn't have like a dog with a cock-eyed ear like Zeb or a crazy Aunt Love or a "granddaddy" from Jupiter. 

Wes says I could be a princess on Jupiter. That they need princesses up there, but hardly anybody wants the job because princess dresses are full of starch and jeweled crowns might look all glittery but they're heavy and a girl has to sit like a statue to keep it from falling off. He says no way could a princess ride a bicycle or on the back of a motorcycle. 

He didn't have to tell me all that. I already knew I didn't want to be a princess. I like being who I am. Jocie Brooke.  

How about you? Did you ever wish you were a princess? What do you think you'd enjoy most about being a princess? What do you think would be the worst part?

Oh, and I still haven't heard from Sharon who won my giveaway here. I'll try to contact her one more time and then if I don't hear back from her, I'll pick a new winner. So Sharon, if you see this, check your messages.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Marches

March 3, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Not much has been happening here in Hollyhill. School. Basketball games. We actually won one game in the District Tournament. So we had lots of basketball pictures in the Hollyhill Banner. Even one of Valerie jumping up and cheering. I felt especially generous taking that picture. Valerie thinks she's so cute that it makes me sick, but it was a good picture of her actually cheering the team on. I can't help it if her hair did look a little messed. A little. She'll probably corner me the day after the paper comes out and demand we print a retraction. Her hair does not get messed up!!

But there was plenty of news this time last year when Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson, the Jackie Robinson who played Major League Baseball, came to lead a march on Frankfort to try to get a Civil Rights bill passed. 10,000 people came from all over the state to march on the Capital to convince Governor Breathitt to push a bill that had been introduced in the General Assembly but was stuck in committee. It didn't work. The bill didn't pass and so in some places blacks still can't eat inside restaurants or stay at hotels. The day of the march last year the sun was shining but it was cold with sleet and snow flurries coming down at times. That's March weather for you. 

Anyway, thousands of people, black and white, lined the avenue to watch the Mr. Robinson and Reverend King lead the demonstrators down Capitol Avenue. After walking four blocks, the speakers made it up the Capitol steps to the platform, where Peter, Paul and Mary were singing. Dad went down to Frankfort that day and wrote up something about it for the next week's paper. Of course all the big city papers had already reported it by then.  

I read all the reports and saw the pictures, but I really didn't get it until Noah moved to Holly County and began working for Dad on the paper last summer. He knew all about the Civil Rights march because his mother used to ride the Freedom Train in the south. Noah was even part of the Children's March in Birmingham. He said I didn't know anything about Civil Rights and how it felt to be discriminated against because his skin was black. And he was right. 

But I was interested in hearing his story. Dad was too, but he had to make sure Noah knew what kind of paper the Banner was. Here's an excerpt from Orchard of Hope.

    "You might not like what I wrote," Noah told Dad when he asked him if he wanted to write something about school.
    "Then I wouldn't print it." Dad fastened his eyes on Noah. "We might as well get one thing clear right at the beginning, Noah. The Banner is just a small-town paper. We put out one issue per week. We're here to serve the community by reporting on what happens in Hollyhill and Holly County. We don't do national news like what Congress is up to or what's happening in Vietnam unless it has a local handle, such as one of our Hollyhill boys flying the bombers over North Vietnam or one of our senators coming through town. If something like that happens, it would be front-page news for the Banner. But we leave the rest of the national and state news to the daily papers out of Lexington and Louisville."
    "So how do you sell papers if you don't have anything much to write about?" Noah asked.
   "We manage," Dad said. "Folks here want to read about what happens in town and at the schools. They like seeing their pictures or their kids' pictures in the paper."
    "Sounds pretty dull," Noah said. "I thought newspapers tried to come up with controversial stories to keep people interested." 

    "I don't print stories to stir up trouble just for the sake of stirring up trouble."
    "But sometimes trouble needs to be stirred up in order to get wrongs righted," Noah said.
I don't think there would be any doubt that if Noah and his family had been living in Holly County last March, they would have been in that crowd marching on the Capital. At least Noah and his mother would have been. Last year, she helped turn us around here in Hollyhill on some of the things we should have been doing differently. 

I can't tell the whole story here, but you can read all about it in Orchard of Hope. Myra Hearndon is quite a woman. Somebody who makes a difference. That's how I want to be when I grow up. I want to do things that matter. I don't know what, but Dad says that's okay. The Lord will guide me to the right things if I let him. 

How about you? You ever march for something you believe needs to happen? And do you think papers like the Hollyhill Banner filled with local news are good or plain boring?

Oh yeah, and I've got to announce the winner of my blog contest. Sharon is the winner. She'll get her choice of one of my books. Thanks a bunch to all of you who left comments and entered to win a book. Maybe we'll do it again soon.