Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Faded Portrait

Inspired by my thoughts while viewing an old family portrait hanging in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Manchester, TN.


Faded Portrait

A family portrait from long long ago
Faded and dulled by time it does sadly show

Each face with expressions that attempt to say
The kind of lives they lived each and every day

Were they happy or were they sad?
Were their days mostly troubled or sometimes glad?

We can intently study for a hint of their life
But the faces are unfeeling on both the man and his wife

The couple portrayed has long since passed on
Years from now we too will also be gone

Our life is only a flickering shadow in time
We must explore life fully, not just the sublime..


It was obvious as I looked at this “Faded Portrait” that the couple portrayed were dressed in their Sunday best. It was also obvious that they were immigrants who had endured a hard life. Their faces and eyes reflected the tiredness in their bodies. They had probably come to this country with a dream, they probably still had it, but their lives must have been full of hard work and pain. Even through the facade of their serious stares into the camera I could see what they were hiding.
I felt a sadness as I contemplated the scene and what I could see past the portrait.
At the time of this poem I had not made any contact with my European relatives. I remember my Grandma had occasional contact with some relatives in Belgium over the years but these stopped when her contacts probably passed away.
My Grandma passed away at the age of 106 years. During the last 30 or so years of her life she probably had no one left to communicate with?
I had no family portrait of any of my ancestors past my grandparents.
Was this one of the reasons I was so captivated by a faded portrait?
Was this the reason for my curiosity?
Things would change soon when I made contact with my European relatives.
That story will be next.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This is a true account that happened at a church we attended at Winchester, Tn. The gentleman who "played" the part of God laughingly related the story to me. Hope you enjoy.
As Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darndest’ things!” That saying was probably never more true that on the occasion of a young boy’s trip to church with his Grandmother.
It was fairly obvious that the little fellow had never attended church very often in his young life. He was extremely curious about every detail of what was going on and was constantly quizzing his Grandmother.
Just before the passing of the collection plate his grandmother handed the wide-eyed little guy a crisp, new, one-dollar bill. His eyes widened even more as he immediately took the dollar bill and shoved it deeply into his little pocket. Seeing what he did the Grandmother gently leaned over and told him to get the dollar from his pocket because that dollar was “for God.” She explained that she would give him one for himself after church. As he withdrew the dollar from his pocket the confused child raised his head. He was shocked to see a distinguished looking gray haired man holding a shiny plate covered with money in his hand standing next to his seat. The gentleman smiled as he held out the shiny plate. Not really knowing what to do next the astonished and confused little fellow did not take his eyes off the distinguished man with the snow white hair as he very slowly placed the dollar bill into the plate. After placing the dollar in the plate the distinguished man with the shiny white hair moved up to the next aisle. As the little fellow slowly looked up at his grandmother he said in a very timid quiet voice, “Grandma was that God?”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pasteurized Milk

This is a true account of an event during my youth...
Were you raised on “store bought” milk? Have you ever even tasted milk that came direct from the cow?
As a person raised on a family farm in Tennessee during the 1950’s I had never tasted “store bought” milk until I was eight years old. After that tasting I was convinced that the city folks had the right idea.
We got our milk from our cows that fed primarily from the pasture. Normally the milk was sweet and good but certain plants that grew in the pasture would make the milk bitter once the cows ate the plants. This was especially true with wild onions in the spring of the year. My mother’s rule was that I still had to drink a glass of milk daily regardless of the taste or smell. For some reason mother felt that if I drank a glass of the foul smelling onion milk each day it would keep some kid in China from starving. I really never understood how the process of that theory worked?
Anyway, once I was spending the night with a school friend of mine when we were in about the third grade. He lived in a nice large home in town with his parents who were a good match for Ozzie and Harriet. He had his own room as opposed to my sleeping in a bed with my snoring brother in a corner of the dining room. As we cleaned up and put on fresh clothes for “dinner” which meant “lunch” to me but as he explained it his “dinner” was equal to my “supper.” I figured it didn’t really matter what he called supper as long as the food was good. His Mom served us food similar to today’s fast food that was a far cry from the “beans” and “taters” served almost daily on the farm. Sometimes Mother mixed it up and we had “taters and “beans” on alternate days.
To my amazement she brought a container and started to pour milk for us. Since it was onion season I immediately declined her offer. She urged me to try the milk and it was as sweet as any milk I had ever tasted. His Mom explained that the milk was pasteurized to make it better. It was written right on the carton. What an idea!
On returning home I gave my Dad my sales pitch I had rehearsed regarding pasteurized milk. He listened as I explained that if he sold all our milk to the milk company then we could buy pasteurized milk in cartons from the general store in town. That way he could sell more milk and we could all drink pasteurized milk. What I didn’t say was that I hated the thought of ever tasting, or smelling, onion milk again. For my part it could all be sent over to that starving kid in China who probably wouldn’t drink it either. After my sales delivery he looked at me and asked if I knew what “Pasteurized” meant? I tried to explain but finally gave up and confessed that I had no idea.
He just shook his head and with a tone that I now recognize as tongue-in-cheek stated that all it meant was that the old cow had stuck her foot into the milk bucket. That’s how it became “Pasture-ized.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Global Warming

This item was written based on a NY Times article in late 2005. I had to have some fun with this politically correct subject.

Short and sweet -- I made my case in less than 5 minutes effort! Ain't "poetry" fun sometimes?

Note: I sent Dr. Walter E. Williams, Economist at The University of Virginia, an emailed copy after he discussed the same article while filling for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.

I was surprised when he sent me a very nice email regarding my effort.

Here goes......

Global Warming

The New York Times says the poles

Are melting on both Earth and Mars

Hollywood wacko activists say that global warming

Is mostly caused by cars

If this is the case

Then where on Mars

Are they hiding

All the cars???

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The TV Set

This one was published but with rights reverting back to me. A very true story!!!


Have you ever picked cotton? Do you remember the first TV set you ever saw? Unless you grew up during the

1940’s or 1950’s in the south you probably can’t answer “yes” to both questions. You may wonder how these two totally unrelated questions might mesh together in one short article? During the next few paragraphs I plan to show you how it’s done.

My early teen years were spent during the late 1950’s in southern middle Tennessee. A local joke was that we were so far back in the “sticks” that the Grand ole Opry, a Saturday night radio tradition, did not arrive in our area until Sunday morning.

The high school I attended took two weeks off each October for what today would be called “fall vacation.” At that time in history it was referred to simply as “cotton pickin’ vacation.” Before mechanical cotton pickers were in common use people picked cotton. There was a good-sized labor pool in the local school of both good and bad quality. If your family didn’t raise cotton then you could “hire out” to farmers who did.

Dad gave my brother and me an acre of land down by the creek to use for whatever cash

crop we wanted to grow on it. It was not a prize piece of farm property since it was normally underwater due to the creek flooding during heavy rains. We planted cotton and in the fall as we picked the cotton we stored it in a shed until we got enough for a bale to take to the cotton gin to sell. A bale was a minimum of 450 pounds of ginned cotton. We not only worked during fall vacation but after school and on Saturdays. One good year we made two bales and had money to burn. We bought all our school clothes, saved some, and purchased a TV set for our family. Our family had never had one before. It was great! It was a nice black and white Sylvania with probably at least a 13” screen. We also bought an antenna system. We got two stations from Nashville and one more from Chattanooga by simply moving the antenna. I think that if Lawrence Welk’s show had been on 24 hours a day my folks would have probably watched it.

For younger readers if a station needed to be changed the viewer had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and sometimes go outside to redirect the antenna. This was an early form of aerobic exercise. I consider myself to have been an early wireless remote. Dad would tell me which channel he wanted to watch and I would get up and turn the knob. I guess you could also say that I was also a voice-activated wireless remote. A very ahead of its time item for 1960. It was probably a guy like me who invented the TV remote?

When color TV first hit the market I remember our family going to the hardware store to see the new color TV set in the store window. This was a major event in our area. Perry Como had a Saturday night variety show that was broadcast in color and that is what we were going to see. The sidewalk crowd was fairly heavy in front of the large display window as show time neared.

Looking through the large window as the show began I was shocked to see that Perry Como was a green person who had strange clothing taste since he was wearing a fuzzy purple suit. For some reason the colors would blend and change as you watched. Sort of a rainbow effect.

My thought on walking away from the hardware store window after the show was that color TV would probably never be a success. It would more than likely never be more than a status symbol.

J. Glen Brodie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tennessee Hills and French Fries

My title came with much thought and wonder as to how I could tie a family history blog to a storyteller blog.
I then realized that my stories all relate to my growing up in Southern Middle Tennessee at a time when life was fun and simple.
Throughout my whole corporate career I always thought that "I should write about that" when events happened that had a measure of memorability. I never did but I always kept notes.
During my high school years and college years I enjoyed writing for various papers and postings but I never pursued writing after that. During this same period I also enjoyed poetry writing. This caused me some problems with many of the guys on the football team. Sort of like playing piano in those days. It was thought of as "sissy."
I persisted and used poetry effectively during my dating time with my wife to be. In fact, she still has a box of my letters as keepsakes. Sorry, but these are not for public viewing!
I do have a good mix of stories and poems that I will share along with information about my "French Connection."
A couple of years ago I made contact with my family in France. I definitely will share that with you.
More later.