Summer Fruits

For me, this home quarantine experience has given me a new perspective and appreciation of God’s beauty around our house. Being the introverted-extrovert that I am, I haven ‘t minded being at home with my family and enjoying the nature that surrounds us. I want to share our fruit-bearing season of the beautiful yet humid Southeast Tennessee, especially here at our home.

We began walking up and down our 800 ft. driveway as a family late in March for family exercise. Until April, the majority of the trees were bare. The Bradford pear trees had bloomed and had some leaves, but that was about it. As the days went by, that “first green”, vibrant, light green donned our mountain. In a week, the whole mountain was “first green”. By my birthday on May 7, it was all “spring-summer” green with that rich, green, chlorophyll shroud. All the different grasses (Bermuda, fescue, crab grass, weeds, clover… LOL) blended together by June to make our summer carpet to match the green drapery of our trees that surrounded us. I also have to mention that our black walnut trees budded and unfurled their leaves the latest we had seen since our first spring here in 2005. The spring of 2020 our two black walnut trees had not budded by May 1, yet they had small leaves adorning their branches by my birthday six days later.

 

God isn’t finished with me yet when it comes to carpentry, gardening, or being a mechanic. He may bless me with the opportunities to learn those things quite soon. Who knows? Maybe never. However, I love watching vegetables and fruits grow. Last week, I was doing my weekly mowing on the tractor ( Oh, once again, our Brother in Christ, Lloyd Thieman, has been our tractor savior this year!!! ) , and I drove under some of the infamous privet hedges that are 10 feet tall. Dangling from the hedges were muscadine vines with muscadines!  Some were even turning purple! While dodging privet branches I yelled only to God , “Muscadines already?” , and I could hear God (Not God’s literal voice , of course… I’m not Pentecostal yet) saying, “Yes, Haven. ALREADY.” This thought gave me the theme of this entry. After I parked the tractor in the barn that evening, I took my phone and snapped photos of our muscadines, pears, and black walnuts.

 

 

 

As long as the earth will stand, God will give us our seasons. He shared that promise with Noah thousands of years ago. This isn’t an entry about the spiritual seasons of us Christians, but, of course it’s a parallel. Friends and family, stop and enjoy God’s seasonal surroundings. You won’t regret it.

Judy: The Blackberry Picking German Shepherd

shallow focus photography of berries

Photo by Thierry Fillieul on Pexels.com

 

 

Blackberry picking is a summer ritual for me just as catching lightening bugs, catching June bugs and sometimes trying to fly them on a string, listening to the katydids, and sitting somewhere under shelter while listening to a summer thunderstorm. I was mowing several weeks ago, and I hopped off the tractor to move a garden hose. Near our swimming pool fence where the hose lay were some blackberry bushes. I picked a blackberry, ate it,  and with its taste came 50 years of beautiful blackberry memories: Evenings when the whole family picked blackberries together, homemade blackberry cobblers, and my bud, Judy.

I love dogs, and I cannot remember life without them. My pet dogs are a part of my essence, and all of them hold a special place in my heart. I am not done with living yet, so I cannot say that Judy was .. THE ONE… that ONE CANINE SOUL MATE…. But she comes pretty close. Judy had many talents and gifts. Lord willing, I will expand on some of them in future blog entries, but this entry is dedicated to Judy the German Shepherd and her blackberry picking abilities.

 

Judy_Haven

Judy & Haven: July 1986

 

Have you ever had a dog that could/would pick any berry: strawberry, blackberry, blueberry (kinda high off the ground I reckon), a muscadine, or a grape? Well, my Judy would blackberry pick with me. I have no idea when she started nor do I have any recollection of her watching me. However, my Judy surprised me one summer evening while I was strolling through our yard.  On the edge our yard near a pine grove, there were some blackberry brambles (bushes). In case you are reading from another area of the United States or the world, the OVERWHELMING majority of our blackberry bushes grow on thorny stalks/brambles. As a blackberry grows on its bramble, it begins as green, then turns red, then turns “black” (deep purple). When it is black it is ready to pick and eat. Well, Judy had been walking by my side, and she stopped to watch me inspect and eat some blackberries. When I finished, she took her turn at finding a blackberry to eat. She sniffed, inspected the remaining, unripe, red blackberries, sniffed again, then ever so delicately (remember there are thorns everywhere) nibbled off a ripe blackberry. After she swallowed, she nipped another berry. I laughed, knelt down, and gave my girl a big ‘ol hug. “You stinker! You sure are smart!” , I said… and yes, she was very intelligent. That was all she wanted that evening. She would eat blackberries with me in later years, and it always amazed me.

Friends and family, I love it when you post your comments in response to my blog entries both here and on other social media. Please share the summer antics of a special member of your fur family: Either past or present. We need some heart-warming stories to make us smile this summer of 2020 and post some pics if you can.

blacberry-2020

July 8, 2020: While picking some blackberries for a smoothie, I snapped this pic in memory of Judy. 

Auschwitz: Eradicating History (Part 2)

 

I was glad we were at Auschwitz on a busy weekday. The crowds helped me keep the heaviness of “man’s inhumanity to man” at fast pace where there was very little time to reflect and be stirred in one’s soul.

Auschwitz_arbeit

The infamous gate “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Free) are at Auschwitz (prison proper), but the stoic, railroad gates that are also associated with Auschwitz are several miles up the road at Birkenau. Auschwitz, the original prison, is quite small.

 

 

Auschwitz

 

Folks, there is nothing profound I can say. I want to strongly urge us all to not fool ourselves into thinking that concentration/extermination camps cannot happen again. It can. The seeds are being planted right here and right now. Have you noticed people screaming, cursing, and assaulting people simply because they DISAGREE WITH THEM? People have been beating business owners who have been trying to protect their businesses. People are being physically assaulted for walking down their own streets. People are being assaulted and sometimes killed for expressing peaceful, American constitutional rights of speaking and printing patriotic beliefs that are all inclusive for every citizen. The people assaulting innocent people are people (all colors, races, & creeds) with decent educations, plenty of money (who in the world has time to maraud and assault people instead of working like I have for 37 years?), cell phones, latest tennis shoes, boots, new helmets, masks, and bandanas?  They are not starving, oppressed peasants… land serfs… abused factory workers, etc. They are under-read, over-fed, feeble-minded entitled jerks!

Word Press wants me to pay over $100 /year so I can put videos on here. It used to be free. You can see the multiple videos I posted in the past when it was free. Please watch the videoI recorded while I was in Gdansk.

Gdansk_jews

Poles abusing their fellow citizens: Gdansk World War II museum

 

The video is very tame without anyone kicking people in the head (like multiple people have done marauding and assaulting here in the United States May/June 2020) or setting anyone on fire. The absolute atrocity here is the fact that it’s Polish citizens abusing Polish citizens….just so happens the Nazi Polish citizens are assaulting the Polish citizens who are Jewish. RIGHT HERE … RIGHT NOW… United States citizens are assaulting and sometimes killing their fellow citizens. In the name of Jesus the Christ, PLEASE STOP.

 

One thing I was talking to Sean about the other day was the Nazis took photos of the work prisoners (not exterminated prisoners… they went straight to the ovens with no photos) when they entered. They looked like us friends: healthy, “vibrant”. They kept records of their deaths, and most of the people in the photos were dead within a year. Most within a few months. They were literally worked to death. If I’m not mistaken, the museum at the Schindler Factory had the photos of the political, educational, and religious (Catholic priests) prisoners. Once again, the political opponents of the Nazis were the first to go to prisons/work camps. Some were even set free.

Auschwitz_scenes

 

The Auschwitz prison-proper had only one shower for the Zyklon B gas extermination with the two ovens you see in the middle. When the demonic Nazis decided they needed more camps with more showers and ovens for extermination, they built a secluded camp in fields of birch (Birkenau) trees. There the Nazis had multiple showers (4… the Nazis destroyed them before the Russians liberated the camp) with ovens.

& to close… once again.. please read and ponder…

Birkenau_Auschwitz

Kraków, Poland

As their historical readings for 4th grade, Sean, Carter, and Ammon had been reading multiple books from the Holocaust: The Hiding Place, Irina’s Children & Anne Frank. Sean had read Schindler’s List by himself then he paraphrased / abridged, then taught Ammon and Carter some events that had happened with Jews and the Polish people in Krakow, Poland. Shindler’s Factory is almost 2 miles from downtown Krakow. By the time we finished the logistics of our Polish Summer, we knew we wanted to spend the most of our time in Krakow. We also decided to save Krakow for the end of our Caylor-Brown Polish Experience 2019. It was not just the engaging history and charming Polish architecture we were looking forward to in Krakow, but the geographic region is very much like Southeast Tennessee too: rolling hills, low-lying mountains, and lots of summer-green.

The 21st Century high-tech Polish passenger trained had taken 4 hours to get from Gdansk to Krakow. We had been anticipating Krakow for 2 weeks. The greenery of the Polish fields and the demure mountains of southern Poland pulled us like a magnet into the Krakow-Glowny Railway Station.

train_krakow
One of those adventurous, engaging European train rides from Gdansk to Krakow- July 3, 2019

By taxi, we found our wonderful apartment (full apartment – huge Great Room -living room/dining area/kitchen , hallway, bathroom w/clothes washer, and huge bedroom … like $75/night). The Caylor-Browns were neither disappointed with the apartment nor the city of Krakow.

Krakow_kitchen
You can tell by the size of the full kitchen kitchen how large the apartment is.

Milk Bar (s)– large cities in Poland have popular restaurants called Milk Bars. It’s cafeteria style and sells the same foods (perhaps a SLIGHT CHANGE of menu taking out some breakfast foods around noonish) all day long starting at 8 AM. If you find yourself at a Milk Bar in Poland be ready for lots of potatoes, beets, peas & carrots

I think we ate here at least once a day for 7 days.. well, almost. My most memorable moment was when, I think, a native Krakow couple was eating at this Milk Bar. The mentally disabled gentleman of the couple walked up to our table, grabbed a fork, and ate my remaining potatoes from off my plate!

The City of Krakow (associate the paragraph with the below photos)

I am really looking forward to returning to the St. Mary’s Basilica. It has been my favorite building of worship in Europe since I started traveling in 1984. I’ve only felt this spiritual connection one other time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, but I was only there for an hour. I was in Krakow for a week. Each morning after my morning jog (finishing up around gulp!….. 6:30 AM!! Sunrise was about 5AM), I entered the basilica, knelt, and prayed. They weren’t just rote-memorized prayers, but Spirit-lead… everything from my family, to distant friends, to the Polish people, to world peace, to Milk Bars! LOL I really felt a spiritual connection while in the basilica. Wawel Castle is on a hill overlooking the Vistula River. The castle (begun sometime around 1038) sits over rock caverns one of which was the home of the legendary Wawel Dragon. The bronze, fire-breathing dragon is a leviathan of enjoyment. It breathes fire about every 5-10 minutes.

 
 

There was a lot to do in Krakow proper, but I want to venture to some nearby attractions with you all: The Wieliczka Salt Mines and the Oskar Schindler Factory (Krakow Museum). The salt mine has 26 subterranean caverns. One of which is a chapel to worship. All the walls and sculptures in the salt mine are made of salt. If you go to Krakow for any length of time, you must take a tour of this mine: Well worth the money.

Huge Chapel in salt mine

From 1939 to 1944 Oskar Schindler, an official member of the Nazi Party, had an enamel factory in Krakow. Between the Krakow Ghetto ( walking distance to the Factory) and the Plaszow Work Camp, Mr. Schindler saved 1,200 Jews from extermination. In 1962, he was declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official agency for remembering the Holocaust. According to his wishes, he was buried on Mt. Zion , Jerusalem. Thanks be to God for such human beings as Oskar Schindler.

Schindler’s Desk & Schindler’s Secretary’s Desk . One of only 2 preserved 1940 rooms of the museum.
 

Two more things:

Nazis topple Krakow/Polish History

1) There is an underground museum in the Market Square. It commemorates Middle Ages Krakow. We were not allowed to take photos, so I will allow Trip Advisor to give you all a tour. 

2) Several countries, Russia, Austria, and Germany (Nazis) have tried to erase Poland from the world: Literally. When people do this, they eradicate art (sculptures, STATUES), literature, music, and language. They wish to ERASE your identity …. your heritage. While we were at the Schindler Museum I took a photo of a photo where Nazis were toppling a provincial / national Polish statue attempting to erase history. Folks, since the dawn of civilization, groups have done unnecessary sometimes horrific atrocities. No person, city, state, nation, or empire is blameless. That doesn’t mean we erase the art, literature, and heritage from the past. We simply need not repeat man’s inhumanity to man. 

I hope you have enjoyed this Krakow blog. If you happen to be following chronologically, you are approaching my final blog of Poland. It will be a blog covering our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I write the final words of this blog, I am already very emotional in my soul with its preparation. I am praying that I will do the experience of Auschwitz justice and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.

Gdansk, Poland Summer 2019

I wasn’t pushing a stroller in the crowded Long Market this time. 10 years- old Carter and Ammon were walking and taking care of themselves in the streets of Gdansk this time.

Gdanks_bridge

 

In 2010, we had taken a day tour of Gdansk ( 20th Century European scholars may remember it with its German name, Danzig). Pushing strollers through the hot (there was a heat wave in the Baltic area that summer… temperatures in the 90s in Gdansk, Poland, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Stockholm, Sweden) was not comfortable, but there was something very likeable about Gdansk. This was one of those times an excursion from a cruise planted a seed, a goal, for the Caylor-Browns to return to an historical and charming European city. We saved and prayed, and God blessed us with a return in the summer of 2019. I’ve already shared Budapest  and Warsaw, and now I will continue with Gdansk.

Jogging in Gdansk

Jogging in Gdansk: Nostalgic feelings while I jogged ALONE at 6 AM remembering when I pushed and meandered with a stroller in 90 heat 9 years before.

 

The Millennium Cross above Gdansk Glowny is great not only for a photo op, but because of the bunkers with history mechanical/audio-visual history lessons.

Millennium Cross

Hill behind Gdansk’s Train Station that overlooks the city.

Gdansk_learn

Bunkers with life-size action figures (Disney World’s Hall of the Presidents style) depicting the history of Gdansk.

 

Gdansk World War II Museum

Overwhelming museum of Gdansk / Poland 1918-1945

World War II Museum: Gdansk, Poland. Man’s inhumanity to man. History is full of cruel people who make others their victims. This short video Jews in Poland World War II    shows how Jewish people were abused by Nazis before World War II. Take a close look. There are neither facial differences nor skin color differences. It’s all about people’s cruel character not race, creed, nor color.

 

Jewish Children

Jewish Children’s Monument

Whippoorwills are late in 2020

Whippoorwills were VERY LATE this year. Like 5 weeks late! What’s up with that? Oh, well, I heard my first 2020 whippoorwill at 5 AM this morning. I had to take Buddy the dachshund out for his morning constitutional, and the little whippoorwill was bellowing away!

Okay, so I am now anticipating lightning bugs, katydids, and cicadas. Your up, summer 2020! Don’t let us down. We need a good and fun one.

whip_poor_will

Continue reading

Painting Mystery: Parenting Strategies on the Go

 

I’m going to leave a cliff hanger for the first time in my writing history, and, yes, it’s a shameless ploy to guide readers especially young parents to my book Parenting Strategies on the Go

Parenting Strategies on the Go

“Parenting Strategies on the Go” -Haven Caylor, Ed. D.

 

Ammon and Carter were born through surrogacy. Carter was born in San Diego (maybe 15 miles from the In Vitro Fertilization clinic), and Ammon was born in Mission Viejo. From beginning to end, God blessed every move/choice we planned from an egg-donor mother, to choosing two spectacular surrogates ( and their wonderful families), to donating our sperm, to the fertilization, to the implantations, through the gestations, until the births, we were blessed. Carter and Ammon were fertilized in February of 2008. When their surrogates were 6 months pregnant we combined a visit with them in San Diego with a personal cruise on Carnival Cruise lines out of Long Beach. When we ported in Puerto Vallarta and disembarked the ship, there was an artist who painted tiles with his pinky fingernail. In Spanish (you have to remember that I am fluent in Spanish), I gave explicit instructions to his apprentice how I wanted our “futuristic” painting to appear. We told him we would be very late returning, and he said there would be no problem. Even if the artist, Jorge López, wasn’t there, he would be, and he guaranteed that the tile would be finished.

IMG_0676

The Caylor-Browns Gazing into the Pacific Ocean at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Jorge López

 

After a spectacular and long day in Puerto Vallarta, we did, indeed, retrieve our tile. It was BEAUTIFUL, but as we inspected it, we saw an error corrected. What was it? Well, in Chapter 4: Using Souvenirs as Teaching tools after you’ve been on the Go, you can find out. The painting blunder/cover-up still makes me smile and laugh after 12 precious years.

Warsaw, Poland: June 26-June 30, 2019

 

Polish people never yearn for freedom. They fight for it! 

To understand the courage and resilience of Warsaw (and Poland) I want to take you all back to 1920. After 120 years of not existing as a country on the world globe, Poland had become a country again after World War I. It was strong, vibrant, and ready to blaze into the 20th Century as an independent nation. However, it had made two enemies, Russia and Germany, with rabid instincts to retake the lands they had held during those 120 years. Germany was too busy recuperating from the economic depression and high unemployment during the 1920s to pay much attention to Poland, but Russia with its newly instituted Red Army tried to take Poland in August of 1920. World History rarely teaches how Poland beat the crap out of the Red Army and they went running back to Russia leaving Poland alone to “enjoy” the Roaring Twenties.

Poland experienced two decades of peace and prosperity. It was the envy of Europe. Warsaw was bourgeoisie and lively. Back in Germany, Adolf Hitler had set Germany on a route to European as well as world domination. In a rare and short-lived alliance of political, polar opposites, fascist Germany allied itself with communist Russia to CRUSH Poland so they could regain “their” lands of the 19th century. Very few history books tell students that Poland almost recuperated from Germany’s September 1939 blitzkrieg. Germany had exhausted its ammunition, and Poland was ready to turn them back: Enter Russia on Poland’s Eastern front. Poland could not defend itself on both sides, and it fell.

 

One of the saddest parts of the Nazi occupation was the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto that housed 200,000 Jewish people. Jews from all over Europe had been shipped to Warsaw for their holding until they could be forwarded to extermination camps such as Auschwitz Birkenau or Treblinka. Two heroes (on opposite ends of the survival spectrum) emerged: Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak. Irena Sendler was a nurse in Warsaw who with her resistance group helped save over 1000 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Although she risked her life, was beaten, and tortured (like whipped the soles of her feet then they broke her legs), and almost executed several times, she survived and lived until 2008. Janusz Korczak was a children’s author (“King Matt the First”) and a doctor. He took care of the orphaned, Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto. When the Nazis decided to ship the Jewish orphans to Treblinka for extermination, Dr. Korczak refused to leave their side even after Christians and the resistance begged him to stay in Warsaw and fight. Janusz died with his children in Treblinka.

Janusz Korczak: National Hero of Warsaw and Poland

Janusz Korczak was a doctor and and a children’s author who refused to be separated from the Jewish orphans from Warsaw. They were all exterminated in Treblinka.

 

Americans call the August 1944 uprising to take over its city the Warsaw Uprising but the English words in Warsaw say Warsaw Rising. The people of Warsaw knew the allies were headed to Berlin, and when they arrived in Warsaw to help deliver it, they wanted to show them that they were a free city who had liberated itself. They fought for 3 months: men, women, children (ran electricity lines and utilized the sewer city with great effect), clergymen, EVERYONE. Part of the city was even FREE. However, German forces were still embedded in the city, and their supply lines were still healthy. The Polish people hoped and prayed that either the allies or the Russians could send help, but help never came. If you travel to Warsaw, the Uprising Museum is a MUST SEE.

 

The Germans may have been losing ground in Western Europe, but they were going to severely punish Warsaw for its uprising. Because so many Germans were still rat-nested throughout the city and could not be evacuated (Russian forces were just a few miles away waiting to pounce on German troops to arrive… if they arrived!), Germany gave all civilians 48 hours to get out of the city, flee to wherever, because the bombing planes were going to OBLITERATE the city, and they did. In the Uprising Museum, there is a 5 minute 3D video of the post-obliteration of the city. It looks like a nuclear holocaust: The church to the right is St. Augustine’s church. It was spared, not because the Nazis respected this Catholic Church, but because it held Nazi ammunition, foods, and medical supplies.

 

So, Poland became communist in 1945. The Polish people suffered greatly under communism, but they persevered.

Warsaw_communist

The Soviets took over Poland for 45 years, but they DID NOT take over the Pole’s spirit of Freedom.

 

In 2019, the Polish people are “loud and proud”. They refuse to allow foreign powers to tell them what to do with their people and their government. They are very nationalistic, and keep their wonderful culture flourishing. They love families. The Polish government even pays its families to have more children. The families spend time together, eat together, shop together, and go to church together. The Caylor-Browns experienced their awesome nationalism and hospitality, and we were so impressed. We definitely want to learn more Polish and return to Warsaw soon.

 

Budapest June 2019

 

Hovering over each photo gives a narrative of that photo!

 

 

The Caylor-Browns thoroughly enjoyed Budapest June 22-26. Sean and I had been trying to go since 2008. Hungarian is such a difficult language, but most of the Hungarians were willing to speak English and help us.

 

Yes, we ate goulash, but we also found a delicious, Hungarian pizza called, “langos”.

 

Budapest_goulash.2

lagos

 

 

This 21st Century is an awesome time for Hungarians. Buda was the ancient site of this spectacular Roman city 2000 years ago. Pest grew through the centuries but then Asian Mongols invaded the city in 1241. They finally leave and the Maygars (Hungarians) try to recuperate. The Ottoman Turks then invade Budapest in 1541 and stay through 1699! Central European wars and political grabs leave the Habsburgs to rule the Hungarians (which the Hungarians never embraced…. it seems they liked Empress Elizabeth, Sissy, but who really knows) with lots of 19th and 20th Century turmoils. Next, defeat in World War I then German invasion and the expulsion and extermination of millions of Hungarian Jews, then Communist rule…. now…. freedom and pride in being a Hungarian!!! Sean, Carter, Ammon, and all advise to travel to Budapest. Aesthetically, with the Danube, we much prefer Budapest to Paris with its Seine, and we would choose to return Budapest over Paris any day.

 

 

 

Train Whistles & Granddaddy Alexander

Train Whistles & Granddaddy Alexander

(Like Wikipedia, I welcome people to add names & pics… I will add things as I find them).

 

steamengine_TVA

(Thanks, TVA for the pic.. this is a restored, 1904 engine that ran on Southern Railway!) 

William Oliver Alexander : May 15, 1875 – June 29, 1935. Southern Railroad Locomotive Engineer.

Friday evening September 28, 2018 location = Collegedale, Tennessee, Collegedale Greenway 

I was jogging beside the railroad track headed toward’s Collegdale’s Southern University, and I heard a train coming: Sometimes it’s a BNSF train, and sometimes it’s a Norfolk Southern train. Traveling at about 35-40 MPH a Norfolk Southern diesel locomotive comes barreling into the clear. I smiled, kept jogging, and I waved. Of course, trains blow their whistles at the crossings, and the engineer had just passed the College Station Crossing. I had no idea if my waves would illicit a friendly blow, but THEY DID …. “Toot, Toot…. toot ,  toooooot”: I smiled from ear to ear and continued jogging. Granddaddy Alexander whom I never met (he died 31 years before I was born) immediately came to mind…. However….

Join me  the summer of 1988.

My dear friend of  mine, Loraine Morgan Hammontree (February 2, 1913- May 13, 1989) , and I had been cultivating our awesome, Varnell friendship, and she had said, “Uh, Haven, would you like to visit my sister (Ralph Morgan, I’m tracking you down for her name! LOL) in Dalton. She can tell us some stuff about Varnell from our childhood.”  Loraine’s sister was several years older than Loraine and she couldn’t drive, and neither could Loraine who had heart failure. I rearranged some of my busy, summer schedule (I was in town for the weekend from Lipscomb University Summer Semester where I was just about to finish my last year) , and we drove to Dalton. Loraine’s, sister was so hospitable and so sweet, and charming. I fell in love with her lovely demeanor immediately.

 

Loraine: Haven, I was just a kid and I don’t remember, but my sister remembers living in the Alexander’s house in Varnell. (Turning to her sister) Tell Haven about living there and Mr. Alexander.  Mr. Alexander was Haven’s great-grandfather.

Loraine’s sister: (With a huge smile). I didn’t know that! Let me tell you.  You know , Mr. Alexander had a fixed schedule, and we always kind of knew he was coming. He would begin tooting the whistle as he entered Varnell, and we would run down to the track. The train went right in front of the Alexander house, and he was going slow. Depending on what he had, he would toss it out to us kids. Sometimes, it was candy wrapped in sacks and sometimes it was bags of coal we needed for our coal-burning stove. It was like having Santa Claus!

Loraine: (Turning to me with a huge smile.) Yeah, just like Santa Claus, that’s just what I was thinking.

The visit was perfect, and I had spoken with someone who knew Granddaddy Alexander personally. I took Loraine home with a full heart and lots of joy.

Before I finish this Santa Claus tale of  Granddaddy Alexander, I ‘ve got to share one more thing (I could be dead tomorrow, and I want Carter & Ammon to know) LOL ….

Trains (Steam engines in the 1900s – 1930s) were steam engines and so different from the powerful diesels of today. The trains stopped at every “pig trail” in those days. Granddaddy Alexander’s route took him from Atlanta to Chattanooga. When stopping at the “pig trails”, boys from the local area would bring stuff (nuts, berries, live animals such as baby squirrels or baby opossums) to sell to him. He would buy whatever for a few pennies. On up the line, while stopping for water, coal, or passengers, he would let the animals go free. He sometimes would even take a baby squirrel or a baby opossum back to his house in Atlanta for Nanny, Madeline, and Florence to play with!  In a few weeks he would put them back in his pocket, take them to Inman Yard where his engine was then carry them back up towards Chattanooga where he would set them free.

Back to September 28, 2018-

As I turned around to face my jogging destination, I was overcome with emotion, and tears came unexpectedly into my eyes as I started sobbing  with happiness about Granddaddy Alexander as I trotted onward.

No one is ever perfect, but William Oliver Alexander was a good, caring human with a wonderful heart.  His girls (Mary Naomi Alexander Caylor, Gloria Madeline Alexander Kirk, and Florence L. Alexander Sheeley) adored him. Nanny always shared how he loved life, loved to joke, and loved nature.

With my memories and the wonderful avenue of the Internet and/or writing journals, I can keep Granddaddy Alexander and his story “alive”.

-Happy Saturday to all- Haven