By David Miller
As a youth, I spent some of my spare time at the Vansant Drive-In theater. It was a favorite place to take a date since you had great privacy in your car. I also went to the Lynwood theater located in Grundy. They had movies only on the weekends and so we typically went on Sunday evenings. It cost 14¢ for the movie and for another 10¢ you could have a bag of popcorn and a bottle of pop. There was also a movie theater, the Rex Theater, in our area on Garden Creek. It always had a double feature with westerns every Saturday. We would watch Movie Tone news followed by Tom Mix, Lash LaRue, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and all the other great western stars. The guys in the white hats were always the good guys, and they always defeated the bad hombres in the black hats. This was great entertainment.
I was regularly active in the Garden Methodist Church and especially in the youth activities. The church was in a community center that was staffed by two deaconesses who were appointed by the Methodist Conference. The pastor was a throwback to the circuit riders of long ago. He pastored five churches each Sunday, and of course, drove his car instead of riding a horse like the early circuit riders. The pastors were appointed by the conference and usually stayed about three years. Our pastor was typically either just out of seminary or about to retire. If the young pastors turned out to be exceptionally good, they were typically transferred to a larger pastorate before the end of three years. My favorite pastor was Reverend Carl Beadles. While he was pastor, I made a profession of faith at nine years of age and joined the church. He was also the Scout Master and spent many nights with us on camping trips.
Our favorite camping location was on the Clinch River in Dickenson County. We camped on the banks of a river in a very sandy location. The eggs and bacon for breakfast usually contained a fair amount of sand. My Dad usually went along as one of the leaders and I noticed he normally cooked his own breakfast. The last camping trip we took while I was a Boy Scout was to the Breaks Interstate Park (Kentucky and Virginia). The park is considered the “Grand Canyon of the South” as the Russell River has cut a deep gorge through the mountains and provides a spectacular view. The leaders told us to gather a lot of firewood to keep the fire going through the night as it was very cold and there was a forecast of snow. It was March, so we ignored the forecast and failed to collect the firewood. Early the next morning, our tent started to sag from the weight of the snow. The leaders got us up and we started looking for firewood in about 8-10 inches of snow. Sadly, we were difficult to manage. Unfortunately, Rev. Beadles later passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage at the young age of 32 after being transferred from our church.
The two deaconesses were Miss Emma Mann and Miss Zella Glidden. They were kind ladies and extremely interested in helping the youth of the church in any way that they could. They lived in an apartment that was part of the community center/church.
They also did some remarkably interesting things that were not very smart. Their car wouldn’t start, so they decided to push it down the hill to get it started. They pushed and it started rolling down the hill from the church. The only problem with this action was there was no one in the car to steer and start it. Fortunately, it ended up just short of the highway with minimal damage! 😊
There was another incident when Miss Mann was driving and she drove over a dead dog in the road, doing quite a bit of damage to the car. When asked why she drove over the dead dog, she replied that she thought it was a soft dog 😊.
We also took a trip to church camp with one of them driving and five of us in the car. We had a flat tire about halfway between Tazewell and the church camp. We had to unload luggage for six people, which somehow fit in the trunk. No one knew how to change a tire other than me. I got the spare out of the trunk only to discover that it was flat as well. I then decided to take the tire off the car and go back to Tazewell and get it repaired. I hitchhiked with the tire both ways. Upon returning, I put it back on and we went on to camp, arriving several hours late.
During the summers we led a very carefree life, roaming the mountains and playing in the school yard bottom. We normally were barefoot and seldom wore shirts as we played all kinds of games. Our favorite game was holding the right foot still and kicking the can. You would have to witness these games to understand them as a written description would be difficult to understand.
We also liked to fish from the bridge that connected Garden Creek highway to the dirt road leading up to Poplar Grove. We used cane poles with worms as bait and typically caught suckers and sometimes snagged catfish as they roamed the bottom of Garden Creek. The water was always deeper at the bridge because high waters washing over the bridge created deeper holes. We also frequently climbed the mountains to build a cabin. We cut down trees that were about 5-6 inches in diameter and stacked them on top of one another. We never really finished one as we would normally tire of the activity as the cabin reached about waist high. We constructed several of these waist high cabins over the years. I wonder if the remains are still there. We had no idea who owned the property.
One evening, my cousins, Jimmy and Tommy McGlothlin, along with my brother Bill and I, were playing above the houses on Poplar Grove. Bill and Tommy went back to the house to get something and Jimmy suggested we climb a tree and scare them when they returned. He climbed the tree first with me following close behind. As he reached about twelve feet, he lost his grip and came tumbling down the tree. As you might expect, he fell on me and I went tumbling down the tree, landing on my back with him on top of me. I could tell immediately that I could no longer breathe. Bill and Tommy returned just as this happened and were delighted to see that our scheme had backfired. Finally, I was able to utter “artificial respiration” which we had learned in the Boy Scouts. They administered the artificial respiration and I recovered rather quickly.
We then decide to roll a very large rock down the hill. There is no rationale as to why we decided to do this. It was headed straight at a house and would go through a wall if it hit the house. Fortunately, it hit an electrical pole instead. When we arrived back at our homes, which were next door to each other, we were informed by our parents that the power had been knocked out on Poplar Grove. We acted as surprised as possible and wondered what caused such an outage, knowing full well we were responsible. As you can tell, we enjoyed our boyhood in Buchanan County, Virginia! I grew up there, not too far from Tommy Hale. I stayed overnight with him and his brother (Jerry) several times in the Page Coal Camp.
This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “The Story of a Mountain Boy”. I am doing this so there will be a record of our family for future family members.
Without the grace of God mankind cannot understand the plan of the Creator. Throughout my life I have experienced many high mountains and low valleys. For some reason, each time, I have been spared the inevitable that each human must face sooner or later in this fleshly body.
The first book I was introduced to, as a child, was the Bible. As I went to church and was taught by Mrs. Audrey Addison at the young people’s meeting, I was very quick in finding the ‘Bible drill’ scriptures that she would require us to find. As a result, she referred to me as the ‘Little Preacher’ and prophesied over me that I would eventually preach the gospel. She would be happy to know that for the past 50 years, I have preached to anyone who would listen about the wonderful love of God and how He promised to live in each of His children.
The Shortt family was enjoying a picnic at a small meadow beside the river known as ‘Little River’, in Southwest Virginia. Its beginnings are in Tazewell County at the Tennessee watershed and ends up in the Clinch River. There are several species of fish, namely, Rock bass (Red Eyes), black bass, and several species of sunfish (bluegill, crappie, etc.). I was about seven or eight years old at the time and swam like a hunk of concrete. Although I lacked the ability to swim, I took it upon myself to get into an old tire inner tube to float in the pool below the meadow. When I had floated out to the middle of the pool, I began moving around thinking I could somehow guide the tube back to shore. Suddenly, being very small for my age, I slipped through the opening of the tube. After reemerging, I must have cried out for help, and a savior in the form of Emory Osborne, who was there with his family, swam out, placing me on the tube, and floating me back to shore and safety. I was never able to thank him properly and by the time I found out he had moved to Colorado, it was too late for me to thank him as he had passed this life. God used this man to preserve me for a future use.
I had gone to a tent revival in the town of Doran with some neighborhood boys of Shortt Gap. We were awaiting the meeting to start, and it was decided that we would go down to the Clinch River for a swim before the preacher began the service. Most of the boys were strong swimmers, one in particular being Elmer Pruitt, known as Sputnik, who would soon play an important role in my life.
I was somewhat of a daredevil in those days, being about eleven or twelve, and could only dog paddle if the water was shallow enough. When everyone else jumped in, I did likewise, not thinking of the deepness of the water and the swift current at this time. I suddenly found myself being swept away, in water over my head, and could not reach bottom. I cried out for help and Sputnik swam out and pulled me back to safety. I was able to thank him properly and several times thereafter. I always considered him to be my Savior in flesh, and so he was, as God used him to preserve my life.
While in the Air Force 1960-64, I drank quite a bit as alcohol was readily available on base, as well as, off base. While drinking with some friends at a club in Carmichael, California, one of the men, Tex R. asked me and a couple of my friends to go flying with him as he owned a twin engine, Beechcraft Bonanza airplane. Being quite inebriated already, we agreed unanimously to go. What we did not know, nor care, being under the influence of booze, we would be required to ride in the rumble seat usually reserved for baggage. I was near the passing out stage when we took off and by the time we reached an altitude to head toward Reno, I was already sleeping soundly. Just as we were about 10,000 feet over Reno unable to land due to heavy snowing, I stretched out and kicked the baggage door open. Had it not been for Shorty Smitherman, my friend who worked at the airport in Fair Oaks, California, I would have been sucked out of the door and goodbye Frank! He pulled me to safety and as we held the door shut with our bare hands all the way back to Fair Oaks, we both had near frozen fingers and quite a sobering up experience. Tex was pretty shook up as he was unaware of anything that transpired in the rumble seat. Besides, his girlfriend was keeping him quite busy as she made over him as he tried to fly the airplane. Once again, a good friend became the Savior of my ignorant being!
About twelve years ago I went for a walk to the local shopping center, as is my morning habit, had my coffee and a roll, and was on my way back to our town home in Evergreen, California. On the way back I encountered an older gentleman named Joe who had recently had open heart surgery. Before I saw Joe, I had been experiencing some strange feelings in my heart area, a burning sensation, as well as some pains, not like gas pains, but much sharper! When I stopped to talk to Joe, the burning and pains subsided. I always stopped when I saw Joe to ask of his welfare and his progress with the surgery. We passed the time for about fifteen minutes, talking of the things of God, and I continued on my way. The burning sensation and the pains returned, even sharper this time. When this happened, I was only about a half a block from our home. As soon as I entered the door, I immediately climbed the stairs informing my wife that I believed that I was having a heart attack or on the verge of one. She insisted that it was probably only heartburn and that I should take an Alka Seltzer and see what occurred. I became persistent and told her that if she would not take me to the hospital, I would drive myself! She immediately dressed herself and we began the trip to Kaiser Hospital in South San Jose. Upon arrival, we informed the emergency crew that we believed that I was having a heart attack and they immediately placed me in an emergency room where a young lady Vietnamese doctor began preliminary treatment for one experiencing a heart attack. By then my daughters, my grandson, and my best friend had arrived, and they all began to pray for me. Just as I had the heart attack, a young Chinese Cardiologist appeared out of nowhere and as I had the attack, the needle dropped to zero, and she instantly administered nitroglycerin into the main artery of my heart. As I came to, the first voice I heard was a soothing, pleading voice saying, “Frank, come back to us, Frank, come back to us!” It was the voice of Charlotte Vu, over my body pleading for me to come back as if I was her own father! She arrived just in time, a miracle in itself. Did I see lights? No! Only blackness! I must have not gone out of my body long enough to enter the realm of light. She was used of God to preserve my life!
As I mended, after a stint was administered into my main artery, which was completely blocked by cholesterol, I wished to send Charlotte Vu a dozen red roses, which I did on one of my visits to the Cardiologist to which I was assigned. I keep the thank-you note from her as a reminder of her diligence and caring nature which caused her to be my Savior in flesh at the right moment!
One Sunday, my faithful friend and brother, Guido Droira invited my wife and I to have lunch with him and his wife. We agreed to go to Black Angus in Milpitas, California to have some meat as I had not had beef in a long time. For some reason, the service was very slow that day and my body requires food at a certain time, otherwise, I become very weak and begin to shake. I ordered ribs and chicken and when the food finally arrived, the ribs were somewhat dry making them hard to chew and to swallow. Upon taking a portion into my mouth, I attempted to swallow it. I must have not chewed it thoroughly in my haste to satisfy my hunger. It became stuck in my throat cutting off my breathing. As I was turning red in the face, with signs that I was having difficulty breathing, my good friend Guido, having knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver, went behind me and began the process of dislodging the piece of rib. After a couple of attempts, and a trip to the restroom, the piece finally popped out and my breathing was restored. The apathy of our race was apparent at that time as not another person around us offered help of any kind, and the room was completely full. Once again, I owe my life to a quick-thinking human being who became my Savior in flesh. I am thankful that all these people have been there at the right time to preserve me for future use by God.
As a human being, I have questioned God as to why I have been allowed to live through so many attempts to end my life! As I walked one morning, I encountered a young nurse on my walk and we began to talk of life and relationships. By the time I finished chatting with her, she thanked me for being there at this time in her life when she is encountering hardships and difficult decisions. This allowed me to look past the curtain of time for an instant to realize that, my total job on earth is not finished.
Praise God for his wonderful grace to me throughout my life!
What next? Who is minding the store? How did the Las Vegas gunman sneak all those weapons and ammunition into the huge Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino without anyone even suspecting anything amiss?
The United States is supposed to be a civilized nation. What used to be law and order has become unlawful chaos! Citizens, so called, take advantage of a police shooting to loot and burn their neighborhood merchants. There are few arrests as, during the chaos, no one could tell who did what! Is this to be the norm in our civilized nation? Whether a person is killed in a riot or in a peaceful demonstration, a murder was committed. A weapon had to be bought, or stolen, to commit the act!
If the police in Las Vegas had taken the shooter, Stephen Paddock, alive, what would have been the outcome of the trial? Most of these incidents cost the taxpayers of municipalities millions of dollars for just one trial as our civilized Attorneys battle back and forth, the defense claims temporary insanity, and finally a jury will sometimes, not always, recommend the death penalty for the shooter. Then the waiting for the right opportunity to carry out the sentence, as our civilized Attorneys battle back and forth as to how the miscreant should be annihilated.
With all the to-do concerning the “Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History”, a few facts could be overlooked. How many of us civilized U.S. Citizens have taken a look at ourselves lately? How many of us have ‘murdered someone in our hearts’ in the near past. That person who cut you off unexpectedly on the highway, did you just yearn to pull out a gun and do away with him or her? How about the person who voted differently than yourself in the recent elections? Would you like to maim, or even kill, that person? (Some crazy things have been happening in recent protests across our nation!) When you went to a gambling resort with all the money you possessed, did you decide in your heart to burn the place down as you left the front door completely broke. Could this have been Stephen Paddock’s beef?
Whatever the reasons for our outrages, have we stopped to think how many people are going to be affected by our negative responses on Twitter and other media outlets? Haven’t we stirred up enough people? This question can be asked, from the President of the United States, to the homeless person on the dusty riverbank!
The plea of most sane-thinking Americans at this time is: Haven’t we seen enough of American killing American just because we happen to be of a different religious or political persuasion? Isn’t it time that neighborhoods begin to act like neighborhoods instead of acting like jungle animals, stalking each other for a few measly dollars or to sate an old grudge? Talk about terrorism! We have more terrorism in one rundown neighborhood in one weekend than the so-called terrorists are actually harming each other or ourselves.
Next time you have an outburst of hatred, stop and ask yourself. Will I harm someone who is responsible for several people? Will I lose my own life or end up being taken out of society for the good of all people? It has been said that Love, not hate, will accomplish more to help humanity than all the protesting and rioting one could do. Think on these things!
A weapon does not kill or harm anyone. It is the hatred behind the weapon that does the damage. Whether a person is murdered with a hatpin or a sub-machine gun, it is hatred in some form that did the job!
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
A front-page story in our local paper quoted a very recent story in the
Washington Post newspaper regarding a just-completed survey pertaining
to the Washington D.C. area interstate highway system (includes
surrounding parts of Virginia/Maryland).
It indicates Washington D.C presently has the worst traffic-jams of any
major city in this country. That right, D.C. has traffic nightmares that at
present exceed the legendary traffic woes of New York City, Atlanta,
Los Angeles, and Denver.
While giving due mention to traffic problems on I-495 (the beltway around Washington), and a couple of interstate feeder-highways in Virginia
and Maryland, the article zeroed in on I-95, from its intersection with
I-495, to a point south near Fredericksburg, Va.
The story quoted median wait/lost time for the average driver using that
road each day-coming and going to work.
They quoted the cost of wasted gasoline for those stalled vehicles
and when totaled ran into millions of dollars. While it’s hard to put dollar figures on it, add up the time the drivers are stuck in
traffic jams, for say, 10-15-20 years. You could be talking about two years
of a person's life LOST-sitting stuck in that jam-looking at the dirty
bumper of the car in front of it-breathing air heavy with residue from
auto exhausts, denied time with their family, etc.
Let's look into the cost from another angle; the psychological cost to
In the 1980s into the 90s, I was the Claims Division Manager of a major
insurance company for any/all claims in Maryland, Delaware,
District of Columbia, and some of Northern Virginia. I am not exaggerating when I say that seldom a week passed that we didn't get med pay
claims from policyholders who were punched/assaulted by irate motorists
who felt our policyholder(s) 'cut them off' or 'cut in front of them' in a
line of traffic.
These physical attacks usually resulted in injuries that required medical
attention-and we, their auto insurance carrier, would be responsible for
paying their medical bills.
Oh yes, bills like that ARE covered by auto med pay insurance.
Drivers stuck in the daily traffic jams-both in the mornings and evenings-five days a week-relegated to literally inching along the road to/from work-causes resentment, anger, and hostility to build in them.
When someone cuts them off or ducks in front of them delaying their arrival even more-it pushes their anger to the breaking point.
Many times, the 'offended' driver gets out of their car-runs to the near-by
car of the 'offender', jerks open their door and punches them in the face-maybe even drags them out of the car and beat them.
If the 'offending driver' has their doors locked-denies the furious driver
from physically beating them, then 'angry driver' will often take a
tire iron, baseball bat, or any other handy object and beat the doors, fenders,hood and roof of the 'offending driver’s car to the tune of $5000
in repair costs.
Conversely, they may just break out the car window-reach inside the car-and give the 'offending driver' a punch in the face-while calling them every
foul name in the book (and some not in the book).
I once saw a claim involving a city bus driver in Washington D.C. and one ofour insured drivers. The bus driver-cut off, he claimed- got out of his bus,
marched up to our insured's car, climbed on the hood and jumped up
and down until it was totally destroyed-and after that marched
back to his bus.
The insured then got out of his car, walked back to give the bus driver a
beating. The bus driver shut the bus door, denying our insured the
satisfaction of giving him a 'horse whipping'. Our insured then used his
brute strength to pull apart the bus doors (3-4 inches), and that caused
the bus' brakes to come on-and stay on. Now the bus couldn't move-the
passengers couldn't get off-and our insured drove off-leaving the bus driver
to call the bus garage for emergency road service-and another bus to take
the passengers to their destinations.
Washington D.C has traffic situations like this day after day, after day.
It takes a mental toll on otherwise sane, civil, people.
Now turn the page of the newspaper and read the story of Amazon.com's
intention to build a brand-new east coast distribution center.
One of their qualifications for any prospective city wishing to have Amazon build their store is they must be a city of at least ONE MILLION people.
What is wrong with this picture?
Cities with populations of one million people like Washington D.C., Atlanta and New York already have:
(1) traffic problems
(2) overcrowded schools
(3) real estate prices so high you are left to wonder if people there measured
the cost of homes not in cost-per-square-foot, but in per-square-inch (for even modest homes on postage stamp lots).
What is Amazon going to say to the employees they want to move to their
new east coast operation? Huh? How about, "Hey-we'll raise your salary-you can put your kid in a private school; you can live in a condo-who wants
to mow grass anyway; don't get shaky about the traffic problems-use the subway, cars are a pain."
At the risk of sounding facetious, I think it is time for legislation that forbids crowded cities to add even one additional soul until all under-populated towns have reached their optimum level.