My mother—the former Betty Cantrell—was born and reared in DeKalb County near Smithville, Tennessee. She was the one who insisted that I attend Sunday school and Church…and taught me about The Lord Jesus.

Mother had all the important qualities described in Scripture such as kind, gentle, long suffering, patient, trustworthy and willing to go an extra mile to help someone in need. Yes, she had those qualities…almost to a fault. She never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings.

She grew up during the Great Depression. Her dad was a share crop farmer of modest means.  Mother was a great storyteller who had a crystal-clear mind until she passed in 2016. I got my love for storytelling from her; heard all her true stories over and over; still enjoyed every one.

One story that comes to mind now while I am writing this article includes my grandfather, a devout Christian. In the 1920s and 1930s there were only a few automobiles in that area.

It was common for traveling salesmen on foot to simply show up at someone’s front door selling products such as cough medicine, salves, food flavorings and other products that would fit in his suitcase. Sometimes they “would invite themselves” to have a meal on the host…or even spend a night while going door to door in the community where homes were few and far between.

One day, Mr. Vick came along. At least that was the name he gave. A neighbor in the community invited him to spend the night with the understanding Mr. Vick would get up early the next morning and be on his way. Mr. Vick never made it to the breakfast table.

A member of the family knocked on his bedroom door; no answer. Mr. Vick had passed away during the night. With no identification or any means to contact survivors, neighbors agreed that Mr. Vick should have a proper burial. Some men in the community made a casket; actually a wooden box. Then they dug a grave at Dale Ridge Cemetery located near Center Hill Lake.

My maternal grandfather, William George Cantrell, was called on to open the service with prayer. A local preacher concluded the funeral by surmising that The Lord had surely sent the deceased to the community to be shown Christian hospitality and given a proper burial.

Think about the “good ole days”. Mother said her parents were married in 1918; had $10 in cash; rented a house for $2 per month and set up housekeeping with furniture given by family and friends.

Times have changed.  But, success and happiness are also subjective and relative. Are we happier than those who preceded us? I sometimes wonder.

 Ralph E. Vaughn

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