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Once Upon A Pie

Back in the early fifties when most ladies wore one-piece bathing suits which covered their buttocks and their breasts – and everything in between, when prepubescent children wore either swimming trunks or simply their underpants, and when “suntan lotion” was mostly baby oil with a tropical fragrance, the developed portion of Ocean City, Maryland, went up to perhaps 20th Street and the Boardwalk. One of the first motels (for before then, most accommodations were in rooming houses) was the Sea Scape Motel, at 16th and Boardwalk. (It’s gone now, replaced by a Hyatt Place, to open in 2018.) Back in those days, for a day trip a family brought their drinks and food in their Skotch Kooler, or (if they were really flush) bought hamburgers or hot dogs on the boardwalk. But for weekends or longer their choices were enhanced with diners such as the one downstairs in the Sea Scape. T’was there I formed my first crush – on Irene.

The first time I recall seeing her, I’d been given some money to go get myself some lunch. I climbed up on the rotating stool at the counter, perched on my knees, and spent some time trying to get the uniformed waitress’ attention away from some guy who was “talking her up” at the other end of the counter, but to no avail. I grew impatient with being overlooked, stretched to my best height, and let out a wolf whistle in her direction. “Dat,” as the cartoon character said, “dood it!” Smiling, she came down the counter and attended to me. I asked for a piece “of that pumpkin pie there,” in the case on the counter, got it, and enjoyed every bite. It was so good, I asked for another.

“So,” she leaned in and asked, “You liked that pumpkin pie, did you?”

“Sure did. Best I ever ate.”

“Well, Honey,” I felt myself blushing. “I’ll get you another piece, but I gotta tell you, it’s not pumpkin, it’s sweet potato pie.”

I pondered this revelation for, oh, maybe three seconds. “Sweet potato, huh?”

“‘fraid so.”

“Tasted like punkin to me. Gimme another piece, please.”

After that, when we went to Ocean City, I’d seek out Irene. We became friends, though I have no recollection of her looks or her age. Then one day, she was gone. Threw me over for some truck driver. Maybe it was that guy from the first day. I was crushed (by my crush – see what I did there?) for a time, but I got over her.

And I’ve seldom had that good a piece of sweet potato pie since.


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A DROWNING PREVENTED“Is there a shark in the water?  What’s everyone looking at?”  The spectators on Panama City Beach were transfixed by the unfolding horror of an entire family being swept out to sea. Nine members of the Ursrey family had been caught up in a powerful riptide and cast helplessly into fifteen feet of dark, turbulent waves. Their cries of terror barely reached the shore.

A few men rushed into the sea and began to link arms.  Quickly others went racing out to join them.  Within minutes, a human chain began to take shape in the midst of the chaos. People who could not swim joined hands in a surf rising to their necks. Swimmers paddled out to the end to link arms.  Soon eighty men and women had instinctively orchestrated a human lifeline nearly 100 yards long.  They reached the imperiled victims and, one by one, passed them safely back…

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When 22 people died outside a concert hall in Manchester, England, the media coverage was wall to wall.  The cry went up that something must be done! Journalists followed the investigation.  Press briefings were scheduled regularly. With broken hearts, we pored over color photographs of the victims, many of them only children, and we listened to bystanders describe their horror.  The world grieved as the story unfolded for a week.

Five days later, 29 Christians in Egypt died when terrorists attacked their bus. Forty-two others were seriously injured and the assassins got away.  That story vanished in less than 48 hours.  No color photos.  No interviews with authorities. No tragic details.

Here’s what you probably never heard.  The Christian group of parents, grandparents, and children were traveling in two buses to pray at a monastery. Their vehicles were stopped by terrorists outside the town of Minya.  After the buses were…

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For some reason, this morning my thoughts drifted back to around 1955, when I lived in the newer section of Buckingham (apartments), in Arlington, Virginia. There, bounded by N. Pershing Drive, Henderson Road, and what is now North Second Street, lay a five-acre oasis of sorts, the home of “Mr. Culpepper” (Charles Washington Culpepper (1886-1980) a renowned horticulturist, it seems).

I was a runt, eight years old, with allergies to just about everything. I couldn’t stand to be around flowers, for instance, but I never experienced any symptoms while wandering, with his permission, through what was to me a jungle of every type of plant and tree imaginable, including a stand of bamboo. There was even a frog pond, fed by a spring. I was the only kid I knew of whom he trusted to wander unaccompanied through his property, because all I did was wander. I never interfered with the frogs or picked anything, as did others later on, which resulted for a time in him posting his land off limits. Mister Culpepper had the biggest hands of any man I’ve ever known.

While I never developed an interest in gardening, I did later on in life find enjoyment in traipsing through the woods, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) (not all at once) from Harper’s Ferry to Swift Run Gap, and about half of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania, as well as numerous “day hikes” on offshoots of the AT, and two traverses of Old Rag Mountain, one on which Mary accompanied me.

I wish I could let his descendants know how fondly I remember Mr. Culpepper and how much his (to me) “Garden of Eden” still evokes pleasant memories, but that trail seems to have grown cold, as I discovered his son passed away over a decade ago.

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This is not meant either to distract or to educate, but if you’re interested…

Genesis 2:10 (NKJV) says, “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.”  I got wondering just what “went out” means.  Apparently, in the Hebrew it means only “went out,” with no certainty that the “River of God” (as some call it) actually originated in Eden, which has always been my assumption.  If its source is there, that places it somewhere in the area west of Mt. Ararat.

Other theorists think that Eden is not at what was then the source of at least two of these rivers, but at their confluence, in southern Iraq.  In this scenario, one of the four rivers is thought to run where the Red Sea is now.

It seems logical to me to stick with my original assumption that Genesis, in saying “went out” and “from there” and “became,” meant that Eden encompassed the source of the originating river.

What do you think?


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Having just celebrated the birth (incarnation) of Jesus Christ and realizing that, even of those of us who claim to be Christians, only a minority focused on Him, I began to reflect today on the upcoming transition to 2017.

Here is an entire world, waiting upon what it deems to be the push of The Great Cosmic Reset Button, expecting that “things will be different next year,” or “I’m really going to…,” when there is absolutely no logical (or cosmic) reason for that expectation.

So many folks tonight, are looking for the New Year to bring a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start. They’re looking in the wrong place, or to be more precise, they’re not looking to the One who has already provided the one and only way to what they seek. They don’t want to hear it, but yielding their lives to God through Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated, is their only path to that clean slate, that new beginning.

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One of the few conservative voices in Hollywood. Worth a read.

James Woods

Twitter is a dangerous place for the faint of heart. Gang thuggery can devastate a delicate sensibility and even damage professional reputations beyond repair. Sarcastic allegations of misbehavior border on defamation and baseless charges of criminal behavior can be defamation per se. Whether such acts can be disputed, ignored or litigated depends on their severity and degree of malicious intent. The civil courts of late are demonstrating their impatience with irresponsible behavior of the most egregious kind. I personally have been victorious in this arena, while others less inclined, or for various reasons unable or unwilling to fight back, have fared less favorably. Anonymity, the foundation Twitter’s business model and appeal, supports the more venal in our midst, as it has supported those cowards who would snipe from dark corners since the advent of the written word. Before the the written word, malicious whisperers claimed their victims in a different…

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