Play it Again, Sam

I know the title is a misquote, but it serves my purpose. I hear myself saying the same things over and over; and for one reason. I rebel against pervasive tribal instinct. We all believe what we believe because someone told us it was true.

But what if that someone was wrong?  What if compelling evidence challenges his or her ideas? History is filled with damaged souls who dared to challenge established authority. Take Galileo.  Show of hands:  How many believe the sun revolves around Earth?  You would be surprised at who poo-pooed that notion in Galileo’s day.

One question lies behind the frequent kerfuffles over my simple theology: Who do you think you are to challenge the Fathers? And I ask, Which Father? The Fathers disagree among themselves and each one presses for tribal loyalty. I settled that issue long ago and gave myself to the one who said I am the way, the truth, and the life; all authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given unto me. If Jesus was wrong, I am wrong. I’ll risk that.

I live by a simple creed: Mystery, Sovereign Grace, and Incarnation. I whip it out every chance I get. I gladly report what I believe and why I believe it, but don’t bug me over details.  I’m old and crabby.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Letters to Alice 18: A Moment of Terror

I was 13 or 14 when this story took place. I had just got my first skis with real bindings. I was anxious to try them, but it winter was slipping away. Then a March storm brought new snow and I called a buddy. We decided to ski the rustic Seven Bridges Road from my home and back—five or six miles.

With the mild breeze to our backs, skiing was easy. We reached we reached the turn-around and paused for a breather. The wind had picked up blowing new snow. It would be in our faces as we skied home. That’s when I had the dumbest idea of my life. Our homes were about a mile and a half south through the woods down the hill. If we skied through the woods to the spring trail, we’d cut our return trip in half. I knew the route well from many summer hikes.

We left the road and headed south, but it was tough going. Everything looked different in winter. By the time we reached the top of the hill top, the sky had darkened. March days are short. Worse than that, I couldn’t find the spring trail. And there was danger. There were small cliffs with jagged rocks at the bottom. I was lost; my buddy followed close behind.

Suddenly, a moment of terror: we were airborne. In the snowy darkness, we skied of a cliff. We missed the rocks, landing in thick brush, our skis buried beneath us. Getting untangled wore us out. All we could do was slog downhill carrying our skis, fighting brush. Finally we reached a street a half-mile from home, a couple tired kids. Home never looked so good and Mom and Dad didn’t even scold.

I hope you never make such a dumb decision, Alice.  I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd


Letters to Alice 17 The Deeps

Hi Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd here.

When I was a kid, we had a family rule: no swimming without big people present.  I thought about that as I found myself sliding headfirst down the waterfall into the Deeps. Would Mom believe my story?

The Deeps was a popular boys’ swimming hole in Amity Creek, about a mile from my home. It was surrounded by rocky cliffs. A log bridge spanned the creek just above the waterfall. The Deeps was forbidden territory for me.

Three friends and I set out to explore the Amity one morning. We took our revolvers in case we ran into rustlers. We had a great morning and no rustlers. We started home about noon following a trail that crossed the Amity just above the Deeps. But instead of using the bridge, we decided to cross the creek by jumping from rock to rock. Not smart: the current was swift. My friends made it fine, but my first jump landed me on slimy green stuff and down I went, face first.

The current swept me over the falls and into the Deeps. I lost my revolver. Unhurt, I swam to a ledge and climbed out with my friends laughing. But I had a problem: If I came home wet, what would I tell my mother? Jumping jump across was a dumb idea. The only thing to do was dry out.

We built a fire in thick woods and I hung my pants and shirt on sticks to dry, standing around in wet underwear. Two friends left for home. My clothes were still damp when I started home, and I smelled like smoked fish. Maybe I could change before Mother saw me. But no such luck. She was waiting. “So, you fell in the creek. Are you all right?” I think she smiled.

I never found out which friend squealed.

Next: A scary ski adventure.   Love you, Alice.

Great-grandpa Lloyd






Letters to Alice 16 The Widows’s Apple Tree

Hi Alice, Great-grandpa Lloyd here. I hope you enjoy my apple tree story.

When I turned seven, my father joined the Duluth police force. One October night just at dark, an elderly widow phoned our home. She told Father somebody was in her backyard stealing apples from her tree. Stay quiet, Father told her, and don’t turn on lights. I’ll be right over.

Picking up his flashlight and gun holster, Father asked if I would like to come along.  We slipped out the backdoor. Father told me to make no noise, not even a whisper. Reaching the widow’s neighbor, we stole to his backyard and hid in some bushes to watch the apple thieves—there was just enough moonlight

One man was up a ladder handing down small bags of apples to another man, who poured them into a big potato sack. Father put his fingers to his lips. We watched.

When the potato sack was nearly full, father snapped on his flashlight and called out in a big voce, “Thank you, and boys. Mighty nice of you.”   The ladder man nearly fell off sliding down. Leaving the ladder and apples behind, they ran to an old pickup in the alley and roared away.

Father hefted the sack of apples and we walked to the widow’s back door. “Nice neighbors!” He said.  “They picked your tree nearly clean.”

Father told the story to a friend, laughing.  The friend asked why he hadn’t arrest the men. “Why?” Father replied, “They didn’t steal anything.”

Next time I’ll tell you the story of the Deeps.

Love you, Alice.

Great-grandpa Lloyd




Mah Friends


Mah friends….I can still hear President Franklin D Roosevelt’s sonorous voice intoning those words on our small Philco radio.  Whatever you think of his depression-era politics, DFR made a lot of friends in a desperately needy time.

Friends are the measure a person’s wealth. I can’t forget the  man who sat alone in the coffee room at Tucson. Happy chatter filled the place. He looked so miserable, I intruded to try to cheer him up. He reluctantly entered the conversation. I don’t recall how friends came up, but I spoke of mine with appreciation. he said: I have no friends. The man had plenty of money. Poor rich man!

I deeply value my walk-around friends, also my Hole News and Facebook, though the latter are getting out of hand. I screen, still some turn out not to be scams. I regret time does not allow the extended messages conversation others seek.

Have you read old timer Sam Walter Foss’s friends poem? Here are the first and last stanzas, and I’m sorry I don’t know how to properly post verse:

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn in the peace of their self-content;                                                                                  There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart in a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road where the race of men go by.
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, wise, foolish–so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.

A worthy life goal.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Richest Kid in School

Hi Alice!  Here’s my marbles story.

Playing marbles was a spring thing. We couldn’t wait for dry ground to play big ring, little ring, cigar, chase, or lag. We played every day then poof it ended and you stashed your marbles until next spring.

Marbles measured a boy’s wealth. The more marbles, the richer you were. Each season, I soon grew poor: We played for keeps—the winner took all the marbles—and I was not a sharpshooter. But one spring, a fire in a newsstand made me the richest kid in school.

Now the only thing worth more than a marble was a tattoo, a small square of paper with a picture of an Indian chief, cowboy, ship, or lady in a bathing suit.  You licked your arm, pressed the tattoo over the wet spot, and wore the picture all day. A tattoo cost one penny or one marble.

The newsstand on fire sold tattoo books—hundreds per book. The firemen sprayed everything, including the tattoo books. Some books we’re just damp, but the man threw them all away even though the tattoos were OK.  My policeman father was checking on the fire. He saw the damp tattoo books and brought them home for me. I took a book to school the next day and came home with my pockets bulging. All my classmates wanted tattoos and were glad to trade for marbles.

At home, I dumped the treasure in my coaster wagon to admire it and a strange thing happened. I was the richest kid in school, but what do you do with books of tattoos and hundreds of marbles?  I discovered marbles make fine ammunition for my slingshot.

Next time, my Deeps story. I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd


I Become a Writer

Alice 13      I Become a Writer

I never planned to become a writer. I never studied writing. Yet a couple dozen books and a thousand stories and other stuff have my name on them.

I remember the day the writing idea was born. I was alone in our little house on Oneida Street, sort of napping. I found my mind telling a story! It was about the Bob’s Hill Boys, ids a little older than me I met in several books by Richard Pierce Burton. They were my kind of boys. I loved their secrets.

My story came almost like a dream. I thought, Maybe I could become a writer! Of course I didn’t tell anyone; they would laugh; I was just nine. Writers were important men with beards on cards in the Authors game sister Hazel and I played. But the writing idea never left me.

Well, I never wrote Bob’s Hill Boys story, but when I got old, I wrote a storybook book about grown-up boys and I met at Lake Ellen Camp in Michigan. The book has four stories: Big Foot and the Michigamme Trolls, The Curse of the Cross-eyed Moose, a story about Grandma Hoppola’s fine jersey cow, and a long Alaska poem about gold miner Tim I knew when he was a kid.

Tell you what: I’ll send you the book. You’ll love the cover. When you get older, you can read and maybe write a story about me.

Love you, Alice. Next time I’ll tell you about a pocket full of marbles.

Great-grandpa Lloyd

Elephant to the Rescue

Hi, Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd again.

I told you about my first school years and that I wasn’t very good at studies. Books were my problem. I learned to read in first and second grades from the teacher’s flashcards with big letters, but picture books with small print were a mystery. I think the teacher figured I was slow.

Grade three had just begun when our mother took sister Hazel and me our first circus. The big, big tent with three rings fascinated me. All those clowns from one little car!  Mother pointed across the center ring and said, “Look! An elephant!  I couldn’t see an elephant.

Mother took me to an eye doctor in the Medical Arts Building.  He put me in big black chair and made me look through a machine with little glass circles. “What letters do you see?” I saw a black blur. He kept changing  glass circles until E G W R popped up. The doctor peered in my eyes with a bright light, scribbled on a small paper, and gave it to Mother. Severe astigmatism, he said. I had no idea what that meant.

The next week I got my first glasses and became the only four-eyes in our class. Kids teased me, but I could read! I began going to the library three blocks from our school every chance I got.  I read every book in the kids’ section a boy would like.  Sometimes I sneaked over to the big people’s section until I got kicked out. I got my own library card and took many books home, winning the summer reading award. My report cards got a lot better.

Next time:  I become a writer. Love you, Alice

Great-grandpa Lloyd

Letters to Alice 10 My First Campout

Hi, Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd here.

I took my very first campout when I was eleven.  A buddy and I got permission to spend the night on the hill. We had no tent. We tied food and a flashlight in our blankets and followed the trail to the spring, pausing to drink. At the top, where Hawk Ridge is now, we found a flat place where we could look down on our neighborhood.

There were no fir trees to make bough beds like Deep River Jim wrote about in his Wilderness Trail Book, so we gathered ferns and long grass. We spread out our blankets then explored the area around us. Toward evening we built a fire, ate our sandwiches, then sat time talking and watching city lights blow us come on one by one.

It was fairly dark when we climbed under our blankets, sleeping in our clothes. We were cold right away, and the ground was hard with small stone poking into our backs. I lay there looking up at the stars. Maybe I slept a little.

No way could I have imagined how many campouts lay ahead of me. Baxter Park in Maine, a  bull moose picking his way among sleeping campers as he headed for the lake. The night of the skunk in Wyoming, saddle horses nearby. Canoe Country campfire, the sky ablaze with Northern Lights. A scary night in Twisp Pass, Washington and burrowed into the snow at sixteen below in Alaska. Mountain treks in Japan and Austria. Canada’s Cascades; Early morning in the desert on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

It will be interesting to see where life takes you, Alice. Live happy each day.  I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd





Susan Kline Did it Again Part Two

Susan Kline concludes her provocative comments on an ancient problem: Why do bad things befall good people? Susan points out we have no answer for that; but we don’t have to know everything to feel secure in God’s love. Susan wrote:

Eventually, we read that God speaks. He’s heard enough of accusations and questioning from Job and his friends. Beginning in chapter 38, He reminds Job that He alone is God, Creator of all, and He decides what will happen to whom. Job does not know the things that God knows and has no business questioning His ways. After being rebuked, Job replies, “I am unworthy – – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – – twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5, NIV). Job got the message.

Similarly, who am I to question what God is doing in my life or in the life of someone else? Why do we always feel the need to have answers or know the reason for our plight? Is that walking by faith or by sight? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:45 that God causes His sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. No one is exempt from trials, and no one has the answers to all of life’s questions. No one, except God. “Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him” (Psalm 115:3, NIV). We don’t need to know, we just need to trust!

To receive a fresh start each day, email You will be blessed.

Old Grandpa Lloyd