Living The Abundant Life At 1528 West Johnson Street

A few weeks ago I was flying from Pensacola to San Diego on a mission for one of my consulting clients. The plane was an Air Tran 737 out of Atlanta to San Diego. Upon settling into my seat I noticed that there was a terminal connection for ear phones. I thought, “ I wonder what the movie is ?”. I pulled out the current Air Tran magazine from the seat back pocket in front of me and started looking for the movie schedule. To my initial chagrin … there was no movie schedule only an XM Radio schedule. My disappointment was short-lived because I found channel 164, Old Classic Radio. I settled back for the four hour flight and listened to times long past for me as I once again heard and recognized the voices of Fibber McGee & Molly, Jack Benny, Dennis Day, Red Skelton, Abbot & Costello and Amos & Andy. “My childhood was an abundant life.”, I mused.

As my thoughts drifted back over my childhood and the pleasure I derived from listening to the radio; a particular memory came to mind which I will share with you now.

It was a Saturday, about the middle of August, in the year following my completion of the 7th Grade at Layne School. The family had moved back to the little house at 1528 West Johnson at the end of school. We had lived in the house previously for about three years before moving as the result of my father declaring the house too small to skin a cat in (the odyssey covering about a year is subject matter for another story or two). That summer was a particularly boring and long summer; as I was at the awkward age of being too old to play all day and too young to work. I was eagerly looking forward to returning to Central Ward and starting the 8th Grade in September.

It was one of those hot and humid dog days of late summer and all my brother Johnny, Ole Sandy (the dog) and I wanted was to find some place cool and stay there. As the little rotating fan clattered back and forth blowing a welcome breeze on me, then Sandy and Johnny; I got the idea to go swimming at Burns Run. After a few minutes of pleading my mother agreed and said she would take us in the late afternoon about five o’clock.

When 5 o’clock finally rolled around; Johnny, Sandy and I piled in the 1947 Blue Plymouth (the newest car the family had ever owned to that point). Ole Sandy took his usual position sprawled out on the rear package shelf. Exiling Johnny to the back seat; I took shotgun in the front. As the car headed east down the hill to Maurice Avenue our heads, Johnny’s, Sandy’s and mine were full of anticipation of getting into the cool water (Sandy was an avid swimmer).

We turned north on Maurice and headed out to where it joined Highway 75, then made another left and headed for Burns Run on the Oklahoma end of the Denison Dam.

About half way across the dam we noticed huge black clouds moving in rapidly. By the time we neared the end of the dam those clouds had opened up with a lightening bolt and loud clap of thunder followed by rain coming down in a solid sheet. With the wind blowing, the poor visibility and the thunder and lightening; Johnny’s and my knuckles turned white gripping the backseat and dashboard as my mother slowed the car and began looking for a place to pull off the road to wait the storm out. Ole Sandy was already in his place on the floorboard where he had made a diving jump from the package shelf on the first lightening bold and clap of thunder.

Mother finally pulled off in the parking lot of Patti’s Tavern (mother called it beer joint) in Cartwright, Oklahoma. We waited for about thirty minutes for the rain to slack up before continuing east to Colbert and turning south on highway 69 to head back home to Denison. It was evident that there would be no swimming this day, as the storm had ushered in a cool front, which; after the hot weather we had been in all day, seemed uncomfortably cold and damp.

Johnny and I had gloomy looks on our faces as Mother drove back to Denison and our house on Johnson street. Seeing our disappointment; she cheerfully said, “When we get back to the house, I will make us some hamburgers and French fries for supper. This brought a smile to our faces because Mother could make a great hamburger; fresh ground beef from B&B Grocery, Mrs. Baird’s bread, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and a big slice of onion. Upon pulling into the driveway; we all piled out of the car and ran toward the house as the rain was still coming down pretty hard. Once in the house; Mother set about right away to frying the hamburgers and making the French fries.

After what seemed an eternity; Mother brought our hamburgers, fries and drinks (hot Maxwell House coffee for me and milk for Johnny). Johnny and I sat down cross-legged in front of our little radio in the living room as Mother turned it on. Just coming on was “The Adventures of Tarzan”.

As I sat there conscious of the steady patter of rain outside and listening to the voices of Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheeta while sipping my Maxwell House and savoring every bite of my hamburger and fries … a warm peaceful feeling came over me that I have always remembered. It is the feeling you get when you realize you are living an abundant life when you have a dry place to live, good food to eat and are with people that love you. All it takes for me to get there is to hear one of those old radio programs.

You know what … right after Tarzan Gunsmoke came on ! God is good all the time !

Edmond Ellis
April 16, 2008
PS I have XM Radio in the truck !


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