The Anniversary Pitcher

After the hike to the hill, Dave was seldom without his sling and a pocketful of rocks. He returned often to the old Sycamore, a short distance from home. Someday he’d make Mr. Jake proud. One Saturday morning, Dave spotted a challenging target just back of the McGillicuddy home He unlimbered his sling, failing to notice the kitchen window just beyond the target.

Meanwhile, Mrs. McGillicuddy took her usual post by the living room window, clad in robe and slippers. Mr. Levi limped by on his daily walk. How could he give that boy Dave so much free time? Sheep need tending! With no further action, she nodded off.

The sound of breaking glass startled her awake. She saw a glimpse of a familiar boy running hard across the meadow toward the hill. Hurrying to the kitchen, she stopped in horror. Her cherished decorated milk pitcher recognizing 25 years as Ladies Aid president lay shattered on the floor amid shards of window glass. Grimly, she headed for the bedroom to dress. She would see to it the culprit was punished.

She returned to her living room window post to await Mr. Levi’s return. She would fill his ears! The first person to approach was Esther, Mr. Jake’s wife. She carried a well-filled shopping basket. Mrs. McGillicuddy sprang into action, decibels rising. Esther listened patiently; she knew her neighbor well. “I’m so sorry!” she said, “I will tell Jake. He’ll fix your widow and deal with David.”

As she turned to leave, far down the road, Mr. Levi’s bent form plodded homeward.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



The Sycamore Snag

Armed with their slingshots, the boys lined the rim of the hill and began flinging rocks over the valley. Mr. Jake moved from boy to boy. Then, a rock whizzed past, just missing his ear. “Whoa! Dave, get over here where I can see you! Tell you what: let’s find a target.” He led Dave away from the other boys to a sycamore snag that had caught his eye. “See how close you can come to that old sycamore, Dave. Put a rock in that woodpecker hole, oh about eight feet up.”

“Awe, come on; nobody could do that!”  “Give it a try,” Mr. Jake replied, “Make me proud.”

When the boys had used up their ammunition, Mr. Jake sent them to gather dry sticks for a lunchtime fire. After eating, he told the boys a story and turned them loose. Dave stayed behind and the man he loved more than anybody in the world led him to a quiet place overlooking the valley. “What do you see down there,” Mr. Jake asked.   Dave replied, “Well, that’s our farm up there just across the creek. Some of our sheep are by the pool” Mr. Jake replied, “You know, The Lord is like a Shepherd and we’re like sheep. The Shepherd loves us ad invites us to follow him.He told Dave how as a boy he had decided to follow the Shepherd. “Why don’t you think about it?”

Mr. Jake prayed left to keep his eye on the other boys. Dave sat thinking. On the hill that day he decided he too would follow the Shepherd. He looked down at his new sling and remembered the sycamore. One day, he vowed, he would make Mr. Jake proud.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Hill

The boys gathered Saturday morning at Mr. Jake’s for what would be Dave’s Club first hike. They would climb the Hill. Mr. Jake counted noses and shouldered his pack. He headed up the road followed by a noisy troupe.

Mrs. McGillicuddy heard them coming. She was Mr. Jake’s nearest neighbor. Parting the lace curtains, she peered out the living room window. Hmmph! She said that a lot.

The trail that led to the Hill left the road just above McGillicuddy’s. Mr. Jake turned the boys loose. “Race you to the top!” shouted one boy. Dave stayed behind with Mr. Jake. The boys splashed across the creek then the trail grew steep. They waited at the top and soon Mr. Jake and Dave arrived. They sat down for a breather and Mr. Jake unstrapped his pack. He dug out a bundle of leather thongs, a ball of waxed twine, and a fistful of soft leather squares; the making for a shepherd’s sling.

Handing each boy his supply, Mr. Jake helped them secure the thongs to the leather pocket and tie a loop on the longer thong. When everyone was ready, Mr. Jake dug into the pack and found and egg-size stone. He took his sling and stepped to the rim of the hill. Whirling the sling faster and faster, he flung the stone. It landed the valley, startling a sheep.

“That’s how you do it,” he said. “I want each of you to find five stones. We’ll practice with four then see who can sling a stone farthest.” Awed, shepherd boy Dave set out to find his stones.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Chair

Dave lived for Friday evenings. He ran the half mile to church to join Mr.  Jake and the boys, all older than him. Every meeting was different. For two hours they made stuff like birdhouses, kites, and whistles; they played games; and Mr. Jake told a story.

On the last Friday of each month, the Ladies Aid met at the church and Mrs. McGillicuddy was touchy about noise from the basement. The boys toned things down at game time, but the night of the chair, they forgot.

The chair was rarely used, a relic Mrs. McGillicuddy placed in a far corner where potlucks were served and the boys played games. She said her great-grandfather had made it. The arms and back were fancy carved from walnut; faded purple fabric covered the lumpy seat.

The game that night was like musical chairs, but six numbered chairs were scattered about the room. The McGillicuddy chair was number 3. Mr. Jake plunked a tune on the piano, the kids milled around. Suddenly he stopped the music and yelled a number. The first kid to land on that chair got a prize. Half way through the game, he yelled Three! Two boys reached the chair together with Dave at the bottom. A chair arm broke off!

Just then, Mrs. McGillicuddy stormed down the stairs to shush the noise. She found Dave holding the broken chair arm.

Sunday morning after worship, Mr. Jake, Dave, and Mrs. McGillicuddy met with Pastor Sam in his study, Mrs. McGillicuddy breathing fire. “I tell you pastor, this has to stop right now. All that noise and violence is not befitting the house of God!”

Pastor Sam caught Mr. Jakes’ eye. “I will certainly look into it. Dave, could we talk a minute?” And Dave walked home happy, love welling up for Pastor Sam and Mr. Jake. And tomorrow, the Hill!

Old Grandpa Lloyd




A Kid Named Dave Part 1: The Club

There was this kid; his name was Dave. He lived with his dad and older brothers on a sheep farm in the hills just north of town. Those brothers were a pain. Dave do this; Dave do that; Dave, get out there with those sheep. His father was Mr. Jessie; he was old and tired.

To the south a few blocks away lived the McGillicuddys. Missus was president of the ladies aid; had been forever.  She kept track of things, especially the goings on at her neighbors’, the Jacobs. Mister led the boys club at the church. The kids called him Mr. Jake. In Mrs. McGillicuddy’s opinion, he wasted far too much time on those boys when he could have been serving the Lord.

Dave ached to join the boys club but his brothers said he was too small. The club held overnights by the river, sleeping under the stars and cooking over fires. They made kites and flew them. They made whistles out of hollow reeds. Mrs. McGillicuddy hated the whistles. Sometimes they hiked up the high hill across the meadow where Dave tended his sheep.

Dave watched the boys hiking the trail to the top of the hill beyond the meadow where he tended sheep and cried.

Then one morning the month he turned twelve, Dave was walking from the farm toward the village. He passed the McGillicuddy home and came to Jacobs’ Mr. Jake was hoeing his garden. He called, “Hi Dave! Got a minute?”

Of course he did! Mr. Jake said, “You know, Dave—he knew every kid in church—you’re shooting up like this corn. I’ve been wondering: could you like to join the boys club? Sure could use your help with those kids.”

Dave forgot all about town. He turned around, ran past the McGilihuddy’s barely hitting the ground,  past the sheep pasture to his home. He found his father in the kitchen.  “Dad! Guess what?”

A Kid Named Dave

About 50 years ago I was attending a regional camp leaders’ gathering at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talledaga, Alabama.  The auditorium was filling for the opening session. A notable personality was to speak. I was on my way to join them when the session leader grabbed my arm.  Lloyd, we’re in a jamb! Our speaker has been delayed. Can you come up with something?

You can’t say no to a man about to cry and I kicked my brain into overdrive. I can talk at the drop of a hat, but saying something is another matter. I had about a half-hour of preliminaries to work with. A story I had recently put together for Christian Service Brigade leaders came to mind. I called it A Kid Named Dave. When my time came, I changed the setting, airbrushed a few details, and let fly.

The crowd was with me, particularly a redheaded young man named Garry Cropp.  He was totally hooked. He thought A Kid Named Dave was the greatest speech since Moses gave the Ten Commandments. I later learned he acquired the tape and all but memorized it. He loved the punchline: Whatever good could possibly come from a slingshot?

Garry and I have been friends ever since, sharing several camp adventures. We still keep in touch. The most recent Hole News reported his love gimmick for his wife Shirlene on her birthday. In his Facebook response, Garry reminded me of the Dave story and that set me to pondering—always dangerous. I had never put the story in writing. What if I did that, posting it scene by scene on the Hole News and hanging it on my Story Tree?

See what happens.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Campfire Friends: the Best

Much of the last 60 years has found me involved in camping; writing, leader training, staffing; summer adventuring by canoe, horseback, or afoot on mountain trails. Countless campfires gave me my best memories—and friends.

One of those friends phoned last week. Garry Cropp and I have tracked each other 50 years. We connected in a leadership canoe trip out of Whiteface Woods in Minnesota, at Camp Bethel in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp Haluwasa in New Jersey, and Lake Ellen Camp in Upper Michigan. Garry gave his life to camp leadership, impacting thousands.

As you know, behind every good man stands a woman on the edge of despair. Shirlene looked after Garry through his long career; she brightened many a camp kitchen. They retired in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Last week, as Shirlene’s birthday approached, Garry set up moments his sweetheart will never forget. He secretly challenged friends to send 100 cards. The response: 102.  Check her reaction on Garry’s Facebook page.

Thank you, Garry and Sharlene, for enriching my life through 50-plus years.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Spring Hopes Eternal

The wind whistles in my window. The backyard is glaring white. Woodland Garden’s flag whips straight east as the wind-chill flirts with absolute zero. Where oh where are those April showers that bring May flowers?

In the long ago, I studied south-exposed walls for the first brave dandelion and yearned for April’s snow-free patches that invited us to play marbles. Do kids still play marbles?

My mind often turns to the long ago. Take this morning. I shared coffee with Mike, our head maintenance guy—a mere kid of 70 something. We talked marbles and Boy Scouts. Scouting literally shaped my life. None of the stories posted on would have happened without Troop 18 and the men of Lester Park Methodist.

How could that be?  You’ll have to ask the One who put it together. I’m so grateful.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Secret to Living Longer, Living Better

I forsake my usual profound philosophical frame to discuss a function vital to all geezers: breakfast. That is particularly true when one’s supply of days starts running low.  Without care, you can putter around the kitchen half the morning.

Well, I have cut the breakfast process to about five minutes. First, I punch up the coffeepot, which I set the night before, and drop one or two slices in the toaster. Next I lightly butter a small cereal bowl into which I whisk in one jumbo egg, a dash of milk, and salt. Then I nuke three Jimmy Dean precooked sausages for one minute and followed that with the egg/milk mix for 30 seconds.  By now, the coffee is down and the toast is up. I slather with butter maybe jam on the toast and that’s it. I thank the Lord for another day and scarf down sausage and scrambled eggs with no messy cleanup.

To round it out, I eat a banana or clementine while I meditate on how great a life I enjoy.

Why is this important?  If I live to 100 (six years to go), I’ll have saved several precious hours for napping.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Sheepshank Philosophy

Thanks WordPress and webmaster Jackie for untangling Hole News email knots. I remember the knots when I was group emailing the blog to 250. Thanks Jackie for rescuing me—then and now. I’m a digital knots klutz.

Speaking of knots: Thumbing through my fading circa 1935 Boy Scout Handbook recently, the night of the sheepshank came to mind (85 years ago). The sheepshank was a required Tenderfoot knot and it  wasn’t coming, in spite of clear Handbook drawings and instructions.

Then a leader  pulled his chair across from mine and took the rope. I mastered the sheepshank in short order; he didn’t talk, he tied while I watched.

I doubt that will ease my digital deficiencies; 85 years takes its toll; but the sheepshank philosophy fits perfectly as we move among friends. Tie more, talk less.

Old Grandpa Lloyd