Fifty years ago today was Friday, July 19, 1957. For most people, a day of no particular consequence, for Essie Lynn Stubblefield it was the day she gave birth to a baby boy … me. There are times when I wish I new more about what that day was like for Mom. I know that Sam drove her to the hospital and left for basic training the next day.
For me it doesn’t seem like 50 years. I still think of myself as being younger and able to do all the things that I could when I was 21, 174 pounds, tan and muscular from working on scale jobs doing the pit construction and assembling the lever systems for the truck scales we installed all over West Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
From 1957 to 2007 there have been a lot of changes that have occurred in this country. We have gone from Sputnik and the ‘57 Corvette to what we know and take as common today.
Not as much change as what our parents and grandparents saw in their lifetimes, but still a huge amount of progress. I can actually remember things that happened when I was 3 or 4 and living on Evergreen Street in Dresden. I can remember a few things about the Taylor’s that lived next door and Mr. John Carey’s garden with all the watermelons and his (Reelfoot) Lake Boat. It was one of the most amazing things. If you have never seen one, picture a canoe with the point in the rear of the boat gone and replaced with a small transom. The canoe is lined on the outside with metal, especially on the front of the boat about a third of the way down the forward portion. I also had a Briggs & Stratton engine with a shaft and a propeller at the end of the shaft just outside the transom. If you have ever been to and know the history behind Reelfoot Lake, you know it was formed in 1812 when there was an earthquake along the New Madrid fault and formed the lake which was lowland in Northwest Tennessee near the Mississippi River. The land was covered in Cypress trees and still today has Cypress knees (stumps) that stick out of the water. Well this boat was built to travel on the lake and glance off of the Cypress stumps. Mr. Carey’s was the first Reelfoot boat I saw up close.
I remember some things about that house on Evergreen Street, the living room with what seemed like a big picture window that looked toward the Taylor’s and down the street toward Parker’s store. I remember my John Deer tractor (tricycle) and a picture I saw for years of Earnestine pushing me on it on the sidewalk.
Fifty years is one of those personal milestones that we cross as we age. There have been times when I have thought I wish I could go back and do things differently, but then it hits me. If I were able to change that history and experience, I wouldn’t be who I am now and where I am now. The choices I made and the experiences I have lived have molded me into the person I have become. Without them, who knows how different I would be?
I thank God has given me these 50 years, Inez, the family I have and all of the things He has blessed me with and that He has protected me even in my ignorance and stupidity. His power and wisdom was and is greater than me or anything I could try. His grace and mercy is greater than imaginable. Amen.