Chance Encounter Two

A few days after my 18th birthday, I registered at Bethel Junior College. I was probably the greenest, least-prepared freshman in history. I was on my own; no financial support. I has just enough for the first quarter’s tuition, used textbooks, and a month’s rent in a private home, where I would share a bed with a stranger.

Three days after registering, I rode a University Avenue streetcar to the state capitol and headed back on foot, hitting every business that might hire a student part time. Two miles later, Lexington Tire and Battery hired me for weekday afternoons and evenings at 35 cents an hour. Simple math told me I couldn’t possibly save enough for next quarter’s tuition, but I took the job.

Three months later, a new Mobile station walking distance from school opened. Same pay, but I’d save almost a buck a week on streetcar fare, and the hours were better. I switched jobs.

In early January, a note on the Bethel bulletin board gave the phone number of a blind man looking for a live-in companion to cook breakfast and supper. Compensation: board, room, and unspecified cash. I signed on, though I knew little about cooking. Turned out, the cash barely covered car fare to school, but I would have more study time, free rent, and all the food I could eat.

In February, classmate Ken invited me to visit the  Ober Club for Boys where he worked. The club was a neighborhood outreach of the St. Paul Union Gospel Mission. Ken introduced me to club director Glenn Dewey. Upon hearing my name,  he said, I knew a Duluth policeman named Mattson. Officer Mattson was a friend of my father, Duluth’s mission superintendent. Small world: Officer Mattson was my dad.

Three weeks later, Mr. Dewey offered me a job.I would live in the Mission Hotel, eat at its commercial restaurant, work weekdays in the boys club and Sundays at the Mission.That spun off into a three-year life-changing adventure.How I wish I had known then what I know now!

Bethel Seminary gave me a Bachelor of Theology degree. The Union Gospel Mission gave me an education. All because of a chance encounter. So it appeared.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

 

Chance Encounters

The Sage and I reflect often on the life-changing, chance encounters that keep cropping up. We long ago concluded more than chance is a work. Then there are just plain fun encounters.

Last Wednesday we betook ourselves to Sunshine Café, our favorite philosophy haunt. The owners, Young A and husband Steve, have become good friends. Steve cooks. Young A serves as hostess.  She gave me a hug and produced my cushion–hard booth; long sessions.

Sunshine Café is unique. Guests actually talk to each other! Thumb-twitching is rare. After the lunch crowd thinned, Young A brought a tourist couple from Belgium to our booth, Alayn, a banker; wife Petrice, a dentist. They were doing the Lake Superior circle tour.

We enjoyed a warm, lively visit. I gave them my Hole News card– our international reader list keeps growing. We will remember these delightful new friends from Europe, and they will remember the two geezers they met in a cozy Midwest America café.

Their visit turned our thoughts to the impact other chance encounters have made on us and on the persons we met. Three or four years ago, Clyde befriended a young coffee shop barista. He learned she was working through difficult issues. Life looked bleak. Today, under Clyde’s caring guidance, the sun shines. Adventures beyond her dreams have appeared on the horizon.

I recalled five years back, in the midst of the most frustrating period of my life, a chance encounter led me to my geezer nest at Woodland Garden, just down the hall from the girl in 313.

I thank the Lord of chance encounters. Then last night’s reading rewound my mind 75 years to a chance encounter that set the course of my life.  I’ll tell you about that next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

Shakespeare, Solomon and Me

Sitting around this afternoon, gloating over two new books, I got to thinking how how rich were my 93 years. Back in the dark ages, I aspired to write a book called The Seven Days of Man. It would trace life in seven parts beginning with birth and pre- school years on Sunday, wrapping up Saturday evening in the crematorium.

Then I discovered William Shakespeare beat me to the idea, casting life as a seven-act play. In As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7 He wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school. And then the lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

King Solomon also took a stab at old age: Ecclesiastes 12:3-5: “Then the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.”

I’ve had a lot more fun life than Shakespeare or Solomon’s guy. I’m awed at the adventures life brought. I know Saturday evening is gaining on me, but I plan to enjoy every minute that remains, sans nothing.

Grandpa Lloyd

 

America’s Sunset: Part Two

 

Professor emeritus Bernie Hughes’ thoughts in his June 6 Duluth News Tribune op-ed piece in no way diminishes the contribution America has made to the world in its relatively brief history; nor does it reflect unpatriotic pessimism. It does question America’s continuing viability. Here is the conclusion:

The U.S. appears close to also concluding that being the world’s leader is more than we can afford. We have troops stationed in several hundred countries of the world and have sent war supplies, advice, and means of support to many countries. This has contributed to a national debt that has become more than we can bear, especially as it has meant ignoring basic needs on the home front, including the maintenance of infrastructure.

At the end of his term, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex, which has become the real boss of U.S. governmental expenditures. His warning hasn’t been heeded. Very expensive military equipment is manufactured; and nothing, it seems, is too expensive. Corporations and Wall Street have come to expect those funds. Our days are numbered. We need to take on our other needs that haven’t been adequately met.

At this point, President Trump seems to speak for our entire nation, and his plans to make us great again may be a dream only. We can’t continue to expand wealth inequality. We presently have a growing list of 537 billionaires in the U.S. We lead the world in our number of billionaires.

We need to reduce our military, especially with regard to troops stationed around the world. We need to provide for all the American people: plain and simple democracy. We talk a lot about our democracy; but, in fact, we have become a plutocracy. As one example, our elections have become contests of money. Look today at our country’s leaders.

Our wealthy elite need to pay taxes like everybody else. They can’t be allowed to hide their money in places like the Cayman Islands, as activist Ralph Nader detailed in his book, “Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism.” Has Congress become another thief of tax money when it cripples government regulations or underfunds the departments with the responsibility for developing and enforcing those regulations?

Fewer voters is wrong. Gerrymandering is wrong. Limiting polling places and increasing voter credentials restrict voters. Most important is our need to get more Americans to the polls. Polling numbers do not illustrate our claim of democracy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

America’s Sunset?

This post will require two parts to honor my rule about keeping Hole News pieces short. The subject may not grab you, but I had to get it off my chest.

Like much of America, I’m troubled by what I see all around me. Not just the current inexplicable political scene, but our arrogant rush toward self-destruction. No way can we police the world, or force our brand of government on regions that have battled with one another for thousands of years.

Our own history is bathed in myth. Manifest Destiny! Ask Sitting Bull about that.

I love our land and all it continues to do for me. But I lament our decline into a bankruptcy we don’t dare admit. We kite money to pay last year’s mortgage. We rob Peter to Pay Paul. Paul smiles and counts his chips, Peter agonizes, sometimes dies.

This op-ed piece in the June 6, 2017 Duluth News Tribune caught my eye. It was written by Bernie Hughes, professor emeritus of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. See what you think. I quote:

President Donald Trump promised to make America great again. That caused me to read history. I thought we had been great before. American exceptionalism is tied to the idea of “manifest destiny.” That was a term used by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s to promote the acquisition of much of the United States.

From the 1840s to the late 19th century, McGuffey Readers sold 120 million copies. They were studied by most American students. Quentin R. Skrabec, in his 2009 book, “William McGuffey: Mentor to American Industry,” said that the Readers hailed “American exceptionalism, manifest destiny as God’s country … to bring liberty and democracy to the world.” Great expectations. Accomplishment questionable.

What has America done in recent years? We have taken the place of former world-leading nations, the kings of the hills. Rome held that rank in very early days, and several world nations followed for varying lengths of time. England preceded us, and the role and responsibility became more than that nation could finance, as previous countries also discovered.

To be continued

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

More Small World

The June 19 Small World Hole News stirred a lot of interest. Responses continue to come. This today from Bob Kobielush, a cherished friend of many years:

My, what memories!  As you know, my aunt Hilda Ljungquist pastored Spirit Baptist Church for 18 years, and I claim it as my boyhood church.  Loren was my Sunday school teacher for high school years (covering grades 7-12.)  What a faithful servant!  Tillie and Dan would often have us over for Sunday dinner…quite a commitment!  It was my aunt Hilda, Aunt Ellen, Mom and five boys.  If it wasn’t for that invitation, we would have to endure the windy ride on Hwy 86 from Spirit to Ogema, then south to Westboro on empty stomachs…often sick from lack of food and the roller coaster ride.

Oh yes: the two back rooms you lived in.  It was there I knelt to receive Christ after being scared into the Kingdom by a traveling evangelist by the name of Russell Kingsley.  With Hilda by my side, I prayed “Lord I’ve been a bad boy (for all nine years of my life) and I want you to come into my heart”.  (I later learned the right words and what happened when I went to seminary.)

As a remembrance of those hallowed rooms, I have the old white kitchen cabinet in my garage and use it for a work bench…I’m sure there is a sermon in that thought.  Perhaps you will remember: the cabinet stands 7-8 foot high, glass doors on sides, a work area, and a few drawers below, now filled with tools and gadgets.

It is fun to grow older…memories the young ones can’t even imagine. Thanks for your faithfulness, friend!

Through the centuries, small places have spawned great leaders. I first met Bob when he directed Trout Lake Camp in Minnesota. He then served Christian Camping International as president or many years. He is winding up his career as a camp and conference consultant.

Friends like Bob Kobielush opened many opportunities for my ragged career.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Life Support

You look so good!  I hear that all the time, always salted with surprise. So I turn 94 in August. Big deal. Centenarians are popping up all over. Old ain’t what it used to be.

Check grave markers in any 1800’s cemetery. Life expectancy keeps increasing. A world of potential spreads before today’s elderly and I’m grabbing as much as I can hold.

I have my theology down pat: Mystery, Sovereign Grace, and Incarnation. That’s it. Hang the details. If your favorite doctrine hides in my Mystery bin, so be it. My genetic mix along with medical advances have spared me the debilitating woes so evident in many my age.

Over the years I beat an out-of-sync heart, colon cancer, blurry eyes, mumbling friends (I got hearing aids), a life-threatening stone, and wobbling of brain and spirit. All my spare parts work. What more could one ask?

Once I aspired to write The Seven Days of Man. The book would assign life qualities to seven periods from cradle to grave.Then I learned Solomon and Shakespeare beat me to it.  According to my book, I’m at Friday evening–still vita but fading. Practicing three principles helps slow the fade: honest acceptance, responsible expectations, and perpetual gratitude.

Old is for real. Platitudes can’t change that. I’m on life support, sustained by a pacemaker, belly bag, eye-implants, hearing aids, fake hips, cane and walker with a wheelchair on standby. But my brain and spirit still fly!

I have never been more content, happy, and fulfilled in my long years. No geezer on earth has it better. Thank you family and beloved friends. You keep me perking along.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Small World!

Pat Sirois lives in apartment 201 at Woodland Garden. I don’t recall how Spirit, Wisconsin entered our conversation. It was one of those small-world moments.

My life of church-related work began the summer of 1945 as student pastor at Spirit Baptist, a small, white church surrounded by fields. Dan and Tillie Nelson and their young children lived on the farm adjacent to the church. Their oldest son was Loren.  Turned out, Dan Nelson was Pat’s cousin! Tillie was the faithful church pianist. She didn’t much like me, and for good reason.

When Pat learned of my Spirit connections, she invited me to a cousins’ reunion held last Thursday at a restaurant near Pike Lake. She seated me across from Loren Nelson and his wife Lois. Now 79, Loren was too young in 1945 to remember me, but we filled two hours talking about people we both knew. I turned 22 that summer.

Memories flooded in. I told Loren about the Green Lantern episode that stirred Tillie’s ire. I also told him about a near-tragedy when four young men took their novice pastor shining deer.

I recall the drive to Spirit the first Saturday of June, 1945, I hooked up a rented trailer and pointed my ’31 Chevy for Spirit 200 miles away. Aboard were my family (Sally was not quite three) and two college-age VBS teachers.  I planned to preach on Sunday. We reached Spirit Monday, dead broke from three flat tires and two nights in rustic accommodations.

Our family moved into two small rooms in the back of the church, no running water. As summer progressed, the church invited me to continue with them through Christmas. Without a reliable car, I would commute from seminary on the Soo Line, then a steam train, departing Saturday afternoon and arriving at Prentice, 13 miles from Spirit, about two Sunday morning. The return left Prentice at 1:00 A.M. Monday, reaching St. Paul about 8:00 A.M. Clergy fare: $13 round trip. The church paid $25 per week.

My crippled Chevy waited at a garage near the depot to transport me along a winding country road to Spirit. When freeze-up came, adventures began. I abandoned the car on the church drive. Lloyd Nelson gave me ten dollars for it.

The Spirit congregation will celebrate its 125th anniversary in October. I’d love to attend, but I’ll settle for written greetings and reflections. I’ll not mention the Green Lantern.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Wounded in Woodland Garden

Now I’m an easygoing guy, not given to complaining. But I’ve had it with Facebook. I refer to a film link daughter-in-law Lila sent to her daughter Kat. It depicted a skinny, scantily-clad German woman showing off on parallel bars. Kat was a gymnast in younger years. Her father Dave, my #3 son, was a scholarship gymnast with the Indiana Hoosiers. Kat responded to the woman’s performance (she was 91): “I wish I could do that now!”

It wasn’t the attire that troubled me but the putting down of normal geezers like me with meat on our bones. In spite  of that, I responded with gentle humor: “Big deal! Yesterday I took three steps without my walker!”  “Stud muffin!” replied Kat. Sensing something, I commented: “Check with the Girl from 313. She’s just two years older than my daughter Sally.”

I have a notion to write Facebook about allowing stuff that hurts a whole generation of citizens. Everyone knows skinny is not good. As you age, you need reserve in case of a medical emergency. Gamboling on gym equipment? Downright dangerous! Why stir unrealistic comparisons? Wounding loving grandparents is downright immoral.

l dearly love my five children, 14 grandchildren, and great-grands without number. I do the best I can. I’ll guess I’ll just let it go.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Iron Sharpens Iron

I got thinking on that in the dark of the night.You recall Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  I had just been sharpened.

On Wednesday I enjoyed a four-hour gabfest with Bob Gilmore and Clyde Rogers at Sarah’s Table. Our conversation wandered all over the map—personal stories, theology, philosophy, history.   Bob had to leave in midstream, but Clyde and I hung on.

Hole News regulars know Clyde, the Sage of Juniata Street. A while back, I told Bob Gilmore’s remarkable story from his Thailand days. Getting together with those guys lit a fire and I’ve been aglow ever since.

Bob and wife Gayle are long-time Emmanuel Baptist friends.  Clyde will be installed as a member this Sunday. We talked about our beloved church and the search for a new pastor, but mostly we talked about everyday stuff, ranging from childhood to old age, from ancient times to our troubled present. We talked about different approaches to practicing religion.

We all agreed: For us, there is no sacred/secular divide; whether we play or pray, every moment is equally spiritual, We spread the gospel by being Christ-like with frequent opportunities to talk about our faith. 1 Peter 3:15 comes to mind. There’s a part of that verse many readers miss.

Clyde, Bob, Grandpa Lloyd: three ordinary guys filling different niches in Creator God’s plan. It’s strengthening to learn how God is at work through friends.  Iron sharpens iron.

Old Grandpa Lloyd