Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Woman Driver

Today's picture was taken in the 1910's, and shows a woman driving a car. In the early day of the automobile, I wonder if it was common for women to drive. I also notice that the steering is on the right side.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Horseless Carriage

This picture was taken in 1909, and shows a US Senator in a car. I do not know what type of car this is, but find it interesting. I wonder why he has what looks like two drivers up front? Also interesting is that the car is designed very much like a carriage.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today's picture was taken in Washington DC in 1914, and shows a line of taxis parked in front of Union Station. I wonder what cab rides cost back then?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old Car Week

Welcome to Old Car Week here at OPOD. I love old cars, so we are going to spend some time looking at a time when cars were simpler, and life moved a little slower. I don't have a date for the photo, but I would guess it was in the 1920's or perhaps 1910's. Perhaps some Old Car buff could identify the date from the looks of the car.

Domestic Update:

Haven't' talked much lately about my year as a school teacher. Things are going very well, and I really enjoy the students I have. They pretty much have very limited resources, but they are all working very hard. My multimedia class just launched their class WEB site. In this class, I have one project they work on all year. The project for them was to build a WEB site that has inspiring posters. This last week, they got the first edition of the WEB site published, and it is called Inspiring Posters. They made the posters by finding old photographs, restoring them, colorizing them, and then adding an ispiring quote. If you visit the site and like it, you might drop them a note of encouragement at the email address at the bottom of each page on their site. I think they did a nice job. Also, they are offering prints of their work for sale on the site. Proceeds from any sales go to buying new equipment for the class. I am trying to show them that if you do good work, people will buy it.

Speaking of WEB sites, those of you that have been with the blog for a while remember my multimedia class last year. This group of students was a very troubled group of students who had convinced themselves long ago that they were all failures. In the class, there was one particularly troubled student named Dustin. Dustin had been in, and was in all types of trouble. In the class, I taught them that they could be excellent at something, and they built the Picture Indian WEB site. As they built the site, they got thousands of emails of encouragement, many from followers of this blog. This gave them incredible confidence, and really changed their lives. Throughout the year, I saw amazing changes in Dustin, as he began to see that he was not a failure, and that he could escape the mistakes of the past. At the end of the year, Dustin actually approached me that he wanted to enter an essay contest. He entered, and his essay "Into the Clouds" won, and he won a trip to Washington DC. I shared with you guys that Dustin did not have very nice clothes, and had no pocket money for the trip. You all responded overwhelmingly, and $1,400 was donated in under 24 hours. Dustin did not know that I was trying to find help for him on the trip. The principal called Dustin into his office, and had his mom, and the school councilor there at well. He presented the envelope with the money in it to Dustin. Dustin looked in, and had never seen that much money in his life. He took the envelope, and handed it to the school councilor, and asked her to create a scholarship fund for other students. He kept none of the money himself. He worked chopping wood on the weekends to earn what he needed for the trip.

Dustin was successful in getting into college, and now is in his second semester. He is working on becoming a Certified Wind Technologist, to work on the big Wind Turbines. He has done well and is making all A's and B's in college. I got an email from him last week that I wanted to share with you all, since you were such a big part of his "turnaound" in life, and you helped show him that there could be a bright future.

Last week he made his first "Climb", where he actually went up and worked on a wind turbine. This is especially meaningful if you read his "Into the Clouds" essay. These pictures below truly show a dream come true for this young man.

I love the smile on his face. It is not a skin-deep smile, it is smile that comes pouring out of a joyful heart.

Dustin gives a thumbs up to all the people who encouraged him, and wants you to see that he did finally make it to the top.

I share Dustin's story with you, because your notes of encouragement to the class, and your financial support really changed this young man's life. Also, I share it to remind myself that we can never give up on a student. No matter how bad the situation, no matter how "hard case" a student appears to be, there is always hope, and I need to constantly strive to help the next Dustin find his way.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Round II

OK, Dave humiliated me in round I in under 10 minutes, so the gloves come off, and there will be a surprise round II. Who is this Mystery Man?

Game On

OK, it is Mystery Person day. I post the picture, you have to figure out who it is. If no one gets it in 24 hours, I win. I won last week for the first time in a long time, and today I am going for two victories in a row. If I win, I get a magnificent victory breakfast in the morning. Let the Games Begin!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sharecropper Woman

Today's picture is from 1935, and is a portrait of a Sharecropper Woman. The woman pictured is Allie Mae Burroughs. The picture was taken in Alabama.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Missouri Sharecropper

Today's picture was taken in 1939 in New Madrid county, Missouri. It shows a sharecropper which has just been evicted from his land. I number of sharecroppers had been evicted, and they set up a tent city by the side of the road.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cotton Sharecroppers

Today's picture features a group of sharecroppers hoeing a field near White Plains, Georgia. The picture was taken in 1941. The people appear to be wearing fairly decent clothes, compared to the rags we have seen in other pictures. Notice the little guy over to the left watching.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sharecropper Family

Today's picture shows a Sharecropper Family singing Hymns on Sunday. The picture was taken in 1935 in Alabama. The man is Frank Tengle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Black Sharecropper

Today's picture shows a black sharecropper. The picture was taken in Arkansas in 1935. The man is leaning on his shovel in front of a barn.

By the time I came along in the 1960's, sharecropping was pretty much gone. Tractors and other modern farm implements did away with the intense labor needs on farms, and so I think this help lead to the demise of sharecropping.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sharecropper Daughter

I enjoyed Tobacco Week so much last week that I decided this week will be Sharecropper Week. We start with this picture, taken in 1935, and showing the daughter of an Alabama Sharecropper.

Mystery Person Contest Update:

Well, looks like I will have to declare myself the winner in yesterday's contest. I am really surprised no one got it, as these were not obscure figures. First the man in the white suit. He was James K. Vardaman. He was governor of Mississippi and US senator from Mississippi. His supporters were primarily blue collar workers and rural farmers and laborers. He had somewhat of a grassroots populist movement going, and his followers started wearing red neckerchiefs, and started calling themselves "Rednecks", which I guess is where that term came from.

The lovely lady was the widow of Rebel General James Longstreet. He married her later and life, and she was young. The amazing thing is that Mrs. Longstreet did not die until 1962. I was born in 1961, so I find it fascinating that I was alive at the same time as the widow of a Confederate General. Makes the war seem not so long ago.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Go Time

Today is contest day, and hope you all have your best game on. This morning, you have to name both people in the picture. You only win if you get them both right, and I wont tell you that you have one right . . . only one right is the same as a wrong entry. Lets Go!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tobacco Market

Today's picture shows a tobacco market. I like the old-style clothes and hats everyone is wearing. The picture was taken in Louisville, Kentucky in 1906.

I do think it is too bad that so few kids these days have to do real work like farm work. I used to work with a guy that had grown up on a family dairy farm. He was a brilliant scientist, but what really made him successful was the extremely good work ethic he had. I think people that grow up on farm work, no matter what they end up doing, always can be depended on to be hard workers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cutting Tobacco

This picture was taken in 1917, and is shows a 10 year old cutting tobacco. The farm was near Gildersleeve, Connecticut. Several days ago Ken made a comment that he had picked tobacco, and how the leaves were harvested from the bottom. This picture sort of reflects his description. Sometimes I wonder if it was really such a bad idea to have little kids do hard work like this. Today, we expect too little from our kids, and I wonder if they would really be able to take care of themselves if they had to.

Domestic Update:

Things are going very well in Chickie Town. I got 9 eggs yesterday (from 10 chickens). We are getting at least 8 eggs a day. Perhaps Mrs. PJM's "soft" management style is achieving results . . . happy chickens lay lots of great eggs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tobacco Warehouse

This picture was taken in 1906, and shows the Tobacco Warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. I wonder at what point in the process the tobacco left the warehouse. I guess my question is, was the warehouse just for storing and then shipping the tobacco, or what part of the curing/processing done there.

Domestic Update:

Took a quick day trip to Boerne, Texas with Mrs. PJM. We took my mom, and our daughter along. A while back I was going somewhere and got lost in an ice storm, and ended up in this quaint little town called "Boerne" that I had never heard of. I found my way back to the highway, but since then have always wanted to go back and visit Boerne. It is a nice little town, and all the buildings look like something from the 1800's. We had a nice time looking around.

On the way there we were on Interstate 10, and we looked off to the side, and there was the most enormous John Deere tractor dealership you have ever seen. Mrs. PJM saw me staring as we went by, and she said, "Maybe we should stop and have a look at those tractors". I said, "No dear, I want to make sure you have all the time you need to look around Boerne".

I view it as a positive sign that she suggested we go in and look at tractors. I passed on stopping, as I felt it would build points by showing she was more important than the tractor. I feel that my chances are going to be most excellent in getting the tractor and achieving "Gentleman Farmer" status by this summer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Loading Tobacco

This is another picture from 1940 near Lexington, Kentucky. It shows men loading tobacco onto a wagon. Several people have mentioned the aroma of tobacco as it is drying. When I was a boy, several old timers around town would grow a couple rows of tobacco in the their gardens, and then would hang it in the garage to cure. That was the most wonderful aroma I ever smelled. It was a very sweet smell, like honey. I am surprised no one has ever tried to capture that smell in a candle or something.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Burley Tobacco

Gooooood Monday Morning to you all. We are going to be looking at a neat set of pictures this week. The picture above was taken in 1940 near Lexington, Kentucky. The men are picking Burley Tobacco. The thing you notice is that the picture was in color. Normally, you would expect pictures from the era to be in Black and White, but this is a very early example of color photography. Wonder if anyone out there ever picked tobacco?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Big Send Off

OK, we gave my dad his big send off yesterday, and what a send off it was. I had mentioned that my dad had served in the Pacific during World War II. He had been in the first wave to land on the beaches of Leyte, and then was also in the first wave to land on Okinawa. He was on the front lines and in the most intense battles on Okinawa. He received 4 bronze start for his service. To honor his service, we wanted to have a military funeral for him. To be honest, I had expected that the military would send down a couple of bureaucrats in uniform to fold up the flag and play taps. But, it was much different than that. They sent down three decorated active duty combat soldiers. Each was here between tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and each had been in combat. There is no way to tell you how much that meant that the army would remember an old World War II soldier by sending three of their best . . . three modern day heroes.

Hearing taps, and watching them fold the flag from my father's casket was truly a moving experience.

After folding the flag, the young soldier came over and knelt down at my mom's seat. He presented her with the flag, and he had tears rolling down his cheek. He struggled with a quivering voice as he told her that on behalf of the US Army, he presented her with the flag, and he thanked her for my father's service in the pacific. He did not know my father, but he mourned for the loss of one of his "brothers in arms". I have to say watching him give my mom that flag was the most moving experience of my life.

Below is my best buddy Mark. Mark is not in the military, but he has a particular set of skills that result in him working in Afghanistan. In America's War on Terror, he is on the very edge of the sharp end of the spear. Given his line of work, I find it interesting that he is probably the sweetest man I have ever met in my life. It was a true blessing that he happened to have returned from Afghanistan the day before my dad got sick. Mark, my brother, my dad and I spent many, many afternoons over the last ten years sitting on the South Concho river smoking fine Cuban cigars. Mark was there with us during that last week. He would hold my dads hand and just say the sweetest things you ever heard. For hours on end he would just whisper to my dad, "You are my old buddy, you are my old smoking buddy, you are my old ride around town buddy". He sat and told my dad about every good time they had ever had together.

Cousin Scott was also a Pall Bearer.

Yes, it was a military funeral, but it was also much more. You see, I really did it. In the end I really did it . . . I ordered up a Mariachi Band to be at the cemetery. You see, there were many unusual things about my dad, but one of the really unique things about him is that he had a peculiar love of Mexicans. I say "peculiar" in that he was not looking for social justice, he was not political, he was not trying to right wrongs or anything like that, he just loved Mexicans. When I was a little boy, he taught himself Spanish, and then he was always looking for a Mexican to talk to. In later years when he could not get around very well, my mom would leave him on the bench in the front of walmart while she went in shopping. When she would get done, and come back to get him, he would invariably have a group of Mexicans around him talking to them. They probably thought it was funny that this old guy wanted to talk to them. When he was in the hospital that last week, a lot of the nurses were Mexican, and he would always speak to them in Spanish. Then as he grew weak, and could not see who was there, he would speak to all the nurses in Spanish, I guess just in case they were Mexican. The white nurses would have to ask him to speak English.

When the very end was growing near, we moved him back home. The last day or so, my mom was by his side constantly. When the very end came, my mom had stepped out very briefly to take care of some other matters. So, it is interesting that when my dad actually passed away, it was his little Mexican housekeeper, Rosa, who was holding his hand. She had her Mexican music playing on a little CD player by his bed. So, I thought, what could be more appropriate than a good old fashioned Mariachi band at the funeral.

I don't know if you have ever tried to book a Mariachi band at late notice for an early Saturday morning job, but it is not an easy thing. I guess Friday nights are a big night for Mariachi bands, and few are willing to make a commitment for an early Saturday show. My dad loved the San Antonio river walk probably more than just about any other place, and we were actually able to finally get a Mariachi band from the river walk to agree to come. San Antonio is a good 4 hours away, and we finally got them signed up late Friday afternoon. Even having them signed up, I put it at about 50-50 whether they would actually make it. Saturday morning at about 7:30 I got a report that a Mariachi band had been spotted having breakfast at Jo-Jo's, the local cafe. I knew my Boys had made it! So, yes they did make it to the service, and what a wonderful thing it was.

As the guests arrived at the cemetery, the Mariachi band was playing the slowest saddest music you have ever heard. If you have been around the Mexican people, you notice that the culture is that these people live life with their intensity dials set about 3 clicks higher than everyone else . . . their food is hotter, their drinks are colder, and their colors are brighter than most of the rest of us. When they are mad, they get madder, when they are happy, they are happier, and when they are sad, they are sadder than the rest of us. So, there is no music as sad, as sad Mexican music. That sad music, and the sight of the casket with the flag brought everyone to tears. The service started with the same sad theme set by the music . . . ashes to ashes, dust to dust sort of thing.

Then towards the end of the service, the Mariachi band played and sang "Vayo Con Dios" to the casket. Well, Vayo Con Dios is quite possibly the saddest song ever written, and they sang it sadder than anyone I had ever heard. It was truly a rendition for the ages. They sang it like it was their own Mama in that casket. Everyone was bawling.

Then the preacher shared the message of hope and faith, and the promises or resurrection and new life in Christ. Then he gave a wonderful closing prayer, and with the last "Amen", the Mariachis really uncorked it and let rip one of the most rousing presentations of "Rancho Grande" and other most festive songs. I am talking the full "Reeba Reeba" and "Yeee Haaaaaaa" Mexican music. Very exciting and changed all the crying to joy and celebration.

It really was a stirring service, and the mix of the Military, the message of faith and hope, and the Mexican music all came together to create a wonderful service.

Our lovely daughter, and a young lady of great faith refuses to wear black to a funeral.

The lovely Maxine Morgan. Those of you who have read this blog for a while, or those of you who read the best seller "True Women" have read the incredible stories of Georgia "Little Sweet" Woods in the Civil War. When Maxine was a little girl, she shared a room with a very old lady . . . Little Sweet. Maxine grew up hearing the stories in "True Women" from Little Sweet herself. Maxine is such a wonderful woman, I enjoyed having a few minutes to visit with her yesterday.

So, we sent my dad off in grand fashion yesterday, and I promise that tomorrow I will get back to posting the old pictures you have come to expect and love. Thank you for giving me a few days to share a little of my grief and joy. It has meant a lot.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Send Off

No mystery person contest this morning . . . I have to go give my dad his big "Send Off". Will update you all on the ceremony this afternoon, then tomorrow morning we get back in our old picture routine.

Wanted to share a little irony with you. My dad had grown up with, and been lifelong friends with Orval Edmiston. They were the two oldest men left in town, and both had been in this little town their whole lives. The funny thing is that both of them had been one cigar a day smokers from the time they were both about 6 years old. I think it was when they hit about 80 or 85 that the doctors finally stopped bothering them about it. Anytime a doctor or anyone else would tell them that they needed to get off those cigars, their response was always, "All my non-smoking friends have already passed away", which actually was true.

When my dad became sick and was taken to the little hospital here, he was admitted within hours of Orval also being admitted. They had unrelated illnesses, but their last few days were right across the hall from each other. Then they both passed away withen a few hours of each other. Now the two of them are down at the funeral home across the hall from each other. I also noticed that each had a couple of cigars in their shirt pocket. Really gives lifelong friends a new meaning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lazy River

I wanted to thank you all for your kind words of encouragement over the last few days. They have meant a lot. I hope you don't mind if I take a day or two here to reminisce about my dad, and then on Sunday we get going again on the old pictures.

This is one of my favorite pictures from my childhood. When I was growing up, we would spend every summer on the River. We had a little airstream trailer, and we would move the trailer to the South Concho River, and spend the entire summer camping out. Much of the summer was spent as shown in this picture, floating down the river on an inner tube with my dad, brother and my dog. It was a great way to grow up. Mrs. PJM and I have carried on the tradition as best we could. Ever since our daughter was born, some 20 years ago, we have spent every vacation on this very spot. During our vacations there, my mom and dad, brother and other family members would come down and see us every day. Many great memories.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Best Friend

Dan Truett McWhorter
January 8, 1920 - March 10, 2010

Today I received the phone call that I have dreaded all my life, it is the call we all dread. I learned that my father had passed away. As I was growing up, my father never called me by my name. He always called me his “Little Buddy”. I can remember to this day how good that made me feel. From my very earliest childhood memory, to this very day, he always was my closest and best friend. Throughout my life, I always knew that there was nothing that could happen that he could not take care of. I was able to spend most of the last week by his side, and holding his hand. The first several days, he was speaking, and we were able to just sit and talk about old times. As the week went on, and his strength faded, we just held his hand and told him we were there. While I always knew this day would come, it is still such a hard thing to deal with. As I come to grips with this new reality, I would like to share a true story from my childhood. There is no doubt that many will be offended by it, yet it would give me comfort to tell it, and I hope that some would find comfort in reading it.

My Snake Story.

This is a true story of my childhood. It is a story of fear, faith, and hope. It is a story of overcoming your fears. I hope you find this story encouraging.

Whenever I face fear, stress, or crisis, I am taken back to the days of my childhood to a hot Saturday afternoon in West Texas. I grew up on a ranch outside a little town in West Texas in the 1960’s. Houses had porches and front yards, and in the evening people visited with each other, read, or perhaps took walks or worked in the garden.

Summers were special in West Texas. School was out, and you felt as if you would never have to go back, and things would never change. It felt like your entire life could be spent in that summer, full of exploration and freedom.

A special part of West Texas Summers were Barbeques. Typically, ranchers would butcher a calf, a lamb and a goat, and then slow cook them over oak coals. By late afternoon they would have a batch of meat like you have never tasted in your life.

Barbeques typically did not have an official start time, but usually got started about mid-afternoon. Some people would typically show up early, usually to help in the preparations, and some would show up later, perhaps because they had work to do. In any event, people would usually start showing up about 2:00 PM, and the crowd would slowly grow from there.

Of all the people that put on great barbeques, none could compare to those of Jim Cawley. He was renowned for his barbeques, and an invitation to one was an honor to be most treasured. I can remember one particular Summer that we were invited to one of Jim Cawley’s barbeques. He lived about 20 miles outside of town, so it was a little bit of a drive to get to his house over dry caliches roads. My dad had a little light green Volkswagen beetle, with no air conditioning. He would always make the trips in the country fun though, because when we got to the top of a hill, he would always turn the engine off, put the car in neutral, and then coast as far as he could. As the car would finally get to the point that it was about to stop, he would put it back in gear, pop the clutch, and get the motor going again. The object was to go as far as you could with the motor off, and never have to use the starter to get it going again. The Volkswagens had running boards outside right beneath the doors, and my dad would sometimes let me ride outside the car, standing on the running board, and holding onto the window post.

Anyway, after a typical fun drive, my Dad and I got out to the Cawleys at about 3:00 in the afternoon. The crowd was already starting to gather. Now at a Barbeque, the host provides the meat, and everyone else brings a side dish or beverages. We took our side dish into the house, and then joined the men who were outside standing in the shade of the oak trees. Women gathered in one area, and the men in another. Barbeques were definitely a family affair, and the yard would be full of children running every which way. At this time in our nation’s history children would run with sticks, would play with knives, would make improvised explosive devices out of black cat firecrackers, and could amuse themselves for hours on end with nothing but a gallon of gasoline and a few matches. Anyway, against this backdrop, my Dad and I made our way over to the group of Men. On this day, I decided to stand with the men, rather than run around the yard with the children.

Conversations at such affairs were always interesting. The number one topic was always rain. There was always a need for more rain. The ranchers depended on rain for the grass that would fatten the cattle that would then be sold. Without rain, there would be no grass, and the ranchers would have to “feed”, which would eliminate any hope of any meaningful profit, or income. So, there was always a need for more rain. In addition to Ranchers, there were also Farmers around, who were keenly interested in rain as well. Unlike Ranchers, who simply always wanted more rain, the Farmers wanted rain, but needed it at the right time and in the right amount. Rain after planting was a good thing, but if it rained too much right before a harvest, the mud would keep the tractors out of the fields, and all would be lost. So sometimes everyone wanted rain, and sometimes disputes would break out between those who wanted rain this week, and those who needed it to stay dry for a few more weeks. I guess the bottom line is that you never had everyone happy at the same time. Suffice it to say that on this particular hot July day, everyone was in agreement. We needed rain.

I will never forget this particular day, this particular barbeque, and specifically this particular moment. The discussion on rain, and the calmness of the afternoon, was broken by a woman’s hysterical shriek: . . . . “RATTLESNAKE”. A woman who was walking into the front yard with her children spotted an enormous six foot rattlesnake at her feet coiled at the gate post.

At this instant mass hysteria broke out. Terrified women ran through the yard, trying to find their children. Men turned about in confusion, trying to determine where the snake was. Children ran to the front yard, trying to figure out what all the commotion was about. To sum it up, it was mass pandemonium. Women were crying, men were confused, and children were moving in to try and get a better look.

In the midst of the chaos and terror, the front screen door of the Cawley house suddenly burst open, and out stepped Big Jim Cawley, and Big Jim was packing a double barrel 12 gauge, with an extra box of shells. The sudden appearance of Mr. Cawley, and his associated firepower, had a calming effect on the crowd. Immediately, the crowd was silenced, and they began to separate, clearing a path for Jim. It was understood he would be shooting the snake, so everyone scooted back to give him a clear line of fire and unencumbered view of the monster. Women were clutching their children to ensure no one ran into the line of fire. All was quiet. Jim came in view of the snake. He slowly drew a bead on the terrible creature, and right at the time you were expecting to hear the report of the shotgun, you heard instead a voice in the crowd say firmly, “Wait”. Then the voice said, “Wait, that is no way to kill a snake”.

The voice was the voice of my Dad. My Dad shocked the crowd by interrupting what was expected to be a simple and clean kill to suggest that there was a better way to kill the snake. While today killing a snake might be considered politically incorrect, at this time, there was simply no other consideration. Snakes were dangerous and if you found one you killed it, and you killed it in the quickest most efficient manner possible. Rattlesnakes were terrible creatures, feared by women and despised by men.

So, there was no small confusion when my Dad interrupted Jim’s kill. People were whispering and muttering, “what does he mean?”, “what better way could there be to kill a snake?”, “has he gone crazy?” Anyway, as people stood there in confusion and amazement, my father stepped out of the crowd and approached the serpent.

The crowd gasped as he made his approach. Carefully he walked closer to the snake than any sane man would ever even consider. The crowd was in complete amazement. Everyone held their breath. They did not know whether to think him brave or crazy. Why would he risk his life with such a foolish stunt? As he made his final approach to the snake, my Dad slowly crouched down, and then when he was about 1 foot from the snake he made one quick cat-like pounce, and snatched the snake up by the tail. He then swung the snake around and around in a circular motion by the tail. The theory being if you kept the snake swinging around fast enough, the head would not be able to come around and bite you. Once he had the snake going around in this fashion, he calmly walked over to a large rock, and slammed the snake down on it. He then dusted off his hands and said, to the amazement of the crowd, “that, my friends, is how you kill a snake.”

The people at the barbeque that day knew that they were in the presence of a great man. A man of courage, and a man of bravery. The rest of the evening was somewhat subdued. It was much quieter than a normal barbeque, and the evening ended much earlier than usual. I think it was because people were somewhat in awe of my Dad’s brave actions, and somewhat humbled by their own fear and panic in the face of the snake.

Over the course of time, my life has changed significantly from that hot West Texas afternoon. I left the ranch and saw the world. I became a successful researcher, executive, and entrepreneur. On this journey I faced many trials and challenges. Challenges, problems, and crisis that would terrify you, that would make you give up all hope, and that would rob you of your joy. Invariably when faced with such challenges, with such great fears, I would always go back to the day of that Barbeque, and remember that snake.

What I remember about that day more than anything else is the complete look of panic on the people’s faces. The terror in their eyes, and the fear in their voices. In my mind, the image is indelibly burned. It was the picture of utter and complete, undiluted fear. But in the crowd that day there were two people that were not afraid. There were two people who had no fear. The two people were me, and my Dad.

The reason that my Dad and I had no fear was that we had a secret. A secret that no one else knew. The secret was NOT that my dad had special snake expertise. The secret was NOT that my Dad was extra quick, or had ever done anything like that before. The secret that my Dad and I had was that we knew something no one else knew . . . we knew that the snake was already dead.

You see, in telling you the story of driving out to the Barbeque that day, I left out one critical fact, and that fact changes everything. Understanding that day, and understanding how I overcome fear requires you to know the fact. The fact is that about a quarter of a mile from the Cawley house we saw a huge six foot rattlesnake going across the road. My Dad ran over the snake right behind its head. It broke the snake’s neck, but did not break the skin. The snake was dead all right, but looked normal. My dad tossed the snake on the back bumper, and when we arrived at the barbeque, he discretely coiled the dead snake up by the gate post of the Cawley front yard.

Now one thing about a dead snake is that for several hours it will continue to twitch and move and rattle. The snake is dead, but reflexes and nerve endings remain active for several hours.
So, at the point the snake was “found” by the guests, it was big and ugly and twitching and moving and rattling and threatening, but it was harmless. The snake was already dead, the snake was harmless, it had been crushed . . . but the people were terrified.

So, my question for you is, what are you afraid of? What is it in your life that is robbing you of your joy. What is robbing you of peace? What is it that is keeping you from becoming the person God created you to be?

Maybe you are tormented by the cruel and hurtful actions of someone close to you. Maybe it is peer pressure, trouble at work, damaged relationships, or mistakes you have made. Perhaps you are facing a serious medical condition, or maybe facing the ultimate fear . . . maybe you are staring death right in the face.

There are many things that cause fear, depression and anxiety, but whatever the specific cause of our fear, understand that it all gets back to the snake. No, not the snake at the barbeque, but another snake, much craftier and much more sinister. The snake I am speaking of is that old serpent the Devil himself. The Bible says that the devil comes to Steal, Kill, and Destroy, and he is very busy in the world today. He comes to us to rob us of our joy, to rob us of our peace, and to keep us from being the people God created us to be. These problems leave us with a sense of hopelessness and no way out.

I hope you will learn the lesson of the snake. My Father faced down the snake, not because of his courage, his bravery, or his power. He faced the snake because he knew that no matter how terrible the snake looked, the snake was already dead. The same is true of that serpent the devil. You see the real battle occurred several thousand years ago, and the victory has already been won for you. God sent his one and only Son in the person of Jesus Christ into the world to save mankind from sin, and to save man from Satan’s sinister plans.

Satan, of course, wanted to foil Gods plan. Christ could not pay for the sins of mankind, if he sinned himself. So, Satan’s first plan of attack was to tempt, trick, and torment Jesus into sin. Jesus stood firm, and did not sin. With time growing short, Satan realized that his only option left was to kill the Son of God, and by killing him, having victory over Christ, and God’s plan for mankind.

Satan succeeded in his plan . . . he pulled the strings of the hearts of men to crucify Jesus. Jesus died, and was buried, and Satan thought he had won the victory. However, three days later, Christ rose from the dead. Christ overcame death, and overcame the grave. Christ won the ultimate victory over death, the grave, and Satan himself. Satan, and his plans, were defeated, once and for all, and for all times. Satan brought all he had, and it was not enough. Christ was victorious.

My prayer is that each of you has that same hope that I have today as I cope with the tragic news I have received. If you have never had a point in your life where you have put your trust in Christ, it is very simple, and can be done with a simple prayer like this:

"Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and can never earn my way to your acceptance. I accept your free gift of eternal life, and put my trust in Jesus Christ. I ask Jesus to come into my life and into my heart, and to be my Savior and Lord. Thank you God for this wonderful gift."

By praying that prayer, and meaning it, God promises us the free gift of eternal life. It requires nothing else, just trusting in Christ and his sacrifice. Accept Christ’s promise of eternal life in heaven with him, and the promise of a life of peace and hope while here on the earth.

I will sorely miss my Father and my Best Friend. I find hope, courage, and peace in knowing that there will be a day that I will once again be able to sit with him, and never be separated again.

Today the storm came. The winds blew hard, yet the anchor held.

Revelation 21:1-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Until that day I am comforted by a lifetime of memories of a loving earthly father.

Dedicated Photographer

This picture was taken in the early 1900's and shows a dedicated photographer going to great lengths to get the shot.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Civil War Photography Wagon

Today's picture shows the Photography setup and field darkroom of Sam A. Cooley. Cooley followed the Union Army, and took pictures of the battles around Savannah, and of Sherman's March to the Sea. The field darkroom was used to create each negative prior to taking a picture, and then to develop it afterwards. It was a very tedious process to take a single picture.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dorothea Lange

Today we feature a picture of photographer Dorothea Lange. The picture was taken in 1936. Dorothea was one of the Resettlement Administration photographers who went across the country in the 1930's photographing the effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Dorothea is best remembered for her photograph of the Migrant Mother, which has become a defining icon of the Great Depression.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Welcome to Photographers week here at OPOD. I love this picture which shows a group of professional photographers at a baseball game in the 1910's. I wonder what type of film these cameras used . . . was it roll film, or did they have to load individual sheets for each photo taken? I find this to be a very exciting picture.

Domestic Update:

OK, last Sunday I described to you my new egg production improvement initiative out in Chickie Town. The initiative involved monitoring the output of each chicke, posting production charts around Chickie Town, and creating positive reinforcement by featuring a "Chickie of the Week" on the blog. The initiative was launched last Sunday at 6:00 AM. Well apparently the effort earned me a one day "Egg Embargo". Yep, while up to that day I was getting a solid 4 eggs a day, I started the program, and that day did not get a single egg. Sunday evening when it was clear to me what was going on, I went out to chickie town and rounded up the Lead Instigator, and got her and brought her into the kitchen. Mrs. PJM asked what I was doing with a chickie in the kitchen, and I told her, "Fixing Supper". Mrs. PJM kindly requested I put the chickie outside, and then she sat me down for a "talk". Mrs. PJM told me that I was putting too much pressure on the chickies, and that is why they were not laying eggs. Mrs. PJM told me that the chickies probably would appreciate their privacy when they go into the laying box, and that I should not open the top, and watch them. She further told me that walking around with my clipboard making notes on how long they were sitting there before laying an egg should stop. She went on to say that all my production posters were to be taken down. Then she said that I was to stop catching the chickies, and putting them in the laying boxes, that they would go in when they were ready. I was then told to refrain from the "lift and gently squeeze" technique of trying to get them to lay, once they were in the box. While we were there, she also mentioned that I should not walk around the house with my clipboard making notes of how many times people left lights on in a room. In fact, she asked that I turn the clipboard over to her all together.

Mrs. PJM is a City Girl, and obviously knows nothing about chickies nor modern production enhancement and management techniques. I, on the other hand grew up on a farm, and come from the corporate world, and understand the importance of modern quality and management theories. However, I have not managed to stay married to the lovely Mrs. PJM for 22 years by being stupid, so I handed over the clipboard and agreed to her new "soft" management approach to running chickie town. As soon as I took the posters down, egg production resumed, and we are now up to 6-7 eggs a day. With this, we can eat all we want, and still have a nice amount to give away to friends. It does bother me however, that I know the chickies are capable of more, and if given the opportunity to fully implement my management plan, I am confident we would be at a solid 10 eggs per day.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mystery Contest

OK, we all know how Nate likes to sleep in, so lets throw him off his game by starting contest at 3:30 AM Pacific Time. Poor Nate will not have a chance this morning. Let the Game Begin!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Radio Newspaper

This picture is from 1938, and shows a picture of a device called a "Radio Newspaper". It looks like some sort of Facsimile machine. I was surprised to learn that technology was available in 1938 that could send pictures over a wire (or wireless, perhaps). I am not sure what the printing technology is being used at the receiving end.

Hey, is this the same guy seen in Wednesday's picture? If so, he has all the cool gadgets.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Printing Telgraph

Today's picture is from 1908, and shows a man operating a Printing Telegraph. The device looks like it is something of an early version of a teletype. I found the conversation yesterday about Ticker Tapes very interesting, but will admit I was a bit confused, as the conversation began to center on Telex . . . is that the same thing as a ticker tape?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ticker Tape Machine

Technology week continues here at OPOD with this picture of a ticker tape machine. Ticker Tape was used to print stock prices. The data was transmitted to the machine over telephone or telegraph lines.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This is a picture of an office of switchboard operators. Some had discussed seeing such scenes yesterday. I have heard in some places the managers were on roller skates, but I do not see any of these people on skates.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Candlestick Phone

Today's picture comes from the 1910's and shows a man talking on an early candlestick phone. Interesting that a human operator had to connect each and every call. For calls over greater distances, some number of humans would have to patch the connection together. Later, phones got dials, and people were able to make some connections simply by dialing. When I was growing up, we had a "Party" line, which meant that a number of families along our road shared one line. Sometimes you would pick the phone up, and there would already be someone using the line. At other times, you would be talking on the phone, and then here a click . . . meaning someone on your line was listening in to the conversation. I think we were able to get a private line when I was in Jr. High school.