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2016, A Long Way From Childhood Dreams


peace_symbol_petri_lumme_01When I was about 14, my family lived in a rural suburb of Youngstown which hadn’t started to experience the boom that would soon overtake that community.

There were many fields, some farms, and enough woods to give a curious and lonely teenager a place to explore and dream.

My Dad was a pastor of a small church which sat on a dead-end road that headed back to a Little League baseball field and then some woods that stretched far, far behind that field.

Acting as a “gate house,” to the world of my retreat, the parsonage occupied the lot at the entrance of that so-called street as a major highway rolled in front.

I had a dear friend during those formative years and her name was Lady. A mutt by breed and a loyal companion by nature.

Lady and I would often wander off and “get lost” in those magical woods that seemed to call my name as soon as the Summer sun rose in the morning sky.

In the middle of the woods was a small meadow and a babbling stream of cold, clear water, where I first saw a water spider skimming across the top of what appeared to be a sheet of  glass.

That wondrous water way was the first place I ever saw minnows darting back and forth among the ripples and the first place I ever saw tree frogs and toads.

Eagerly Lady would join me as I would take every chance I could to escape what I called, “the front world,”  and head back on that dusty little lane to a world only she and I could appreciate together.

In the meadow, that I named for her, I’d lay among the clover and wildflowers looking up at the clouds drifting by. They never seemed to interest Lady, but there she laid by my side, her head upon my chest with loyal devotion.

I would later in life write “every boy should have a dog to remember as a man and every man should have a dog to bring out the little boy.”

For me these were simple times, carefree times and a time without fear and anger. Times of dreams and imagination for a lad trying to find his way in what would become a complex world..

As I  recently watched the TV reporting on the Charleston; Orlando; Louisiana; Minnesota and now the Dallas shootings, read the instant online accounts plus the instant Facebook and Twitter postings, I begin to wonder if this “instant” age of information, bad or good and mainly bad, hasn’t taken us to a world where youth no longer hear the call of those “dreams,” those “magical woods,” or even, do those woods exist anymore?

Has man’s inhumanity to man paved over those dusty lanes to dreams?

I wonder if simpler times are now only illusions of age, a notion desired and enhanced by the fear of growing old?

Brutality has always been around us, yet it now appears to be even more so because it’s an instant age and romping through a meadow on a Summers day, being amazed by water spiders and tree frogs are not and instant moment.

That long intro now brings me to my point and where I must pause and remember three very remarkable, yet not very famous people, who did a big part in local “civil rights” in Northeast Ohio and influenced me, molded my thoughts during those turbulent 60’s.

My Dad and Mother will never go down in history as “civil rights” leaders, or well-known marchers, but they were there, standing side by side with those who sought justice and equality.

In every pulpit my father preached, in every parish my parents worked, they practiced what they preached throughout both Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

In 1963, Dad and a local pastor of a black Baptist Church, joined together as “Brothers” and worked together in unity and fellowship.

Dad invited Dr Dulaney to preach from his pulpit along with an invitation to the Baptist Church Choir to perform.

They accepted and what a history making Sunday that was to behold.

Dr Dulaney in return invited Dad, along with our choir, to preach and sing at his Church, which was another history making event.

Neither of these events made the news wire service or will go down in the history books, but both men and events were just as important in establishing mutual respect and in teaching me the real ideals and truths that shaped the 60’s.

Later, when Doctor Dulaney was killed by a passing car while walking along the side of the road, Mom was asked to sing at his funeral, for the bond that was forged in unity of life was still strong, even in death. I can still hear my Mother’s voice singing “How Great Thou Art.”

Doctor Dulaney, Dad and Mom, I thank you for all you showed, taught me and instilled in me about mutual respect and love.

Thank you for taking a stand when others hid.

Thank you for showing me the truth in the fact that “all it takes for evil to conquer is for good people to do nothing.”

Thank you for being “good people” who did something.

All are gone now and I pray that the labor of their convictions have not gone in vain during this turbulent period of American history.

I can never return to those carefree days with Lady in the woods, or hide in the meadow day dreaming, but my parents did give me direction, a moral compass and the path to follow in this complex world.

I hope that as I reach the end of my journey, that I will be remembered as one who believed strongly in “All God’s children are created equal.”

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