My Dad was a pastor and is still a preacher. He has been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ since he was 15 years old … that makes 68 years! So Daddy, this one’s for you … Happy Father’s Day! I can’t believe I got to have you all to myself for 10 days! What a gift. I love you and thank you for living out-loud your faith in Jesus all my life. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for showing me how to dream and how to live it out. Thank you for pointing me to Jesus to “this good hour.” Thank you for being a man of integrity in all you say and do. Thank you for being my daddy.
My father’s dad was a carpenter, but also, a farmer. They, like so many others in that day, couldn’t make ends meet, so they left Oklahoma in the mid 1940s to make the week long drive on Route 66 as they moved to California. I asked my dad to tell me a few more details about it recently and this is what he said.
“I was about 10 or 11 when we left Oklahoma. We already had some “kin” out there and they said to come on out. We weren’t in the first big wave to go from Oklahoma; we went in the second wave in 1943. They dubbed us as “Okies,” which wasn’t entirely a term of endearment in those days. My family was living in Clarita, Oklahoma, working on a farm but could no longer make a living. So, my folks loaded us all up in our old 1936 Ford, pulling a trailer full of all our worldly goods and said to us boys, “We are going to California where we heard there is work and are staying ‘for the duration.’” I had to stop my dad at this point and ask, “what was the duration?” He looked at me as if he were surprised by the question and answered in a very matter of fact tone, “Well, it was until the war was over.” Of course it was. What was I thinking? (I believe when you live through something so monumental, it is hard to imagine that everyone doesn’t remember it the way you do.) “During the war they had to ration almost everything. Naturally, gasoline and tires were in great demand. The speed limit was 35 MPH on that ole’ hot long road. When we got there my Dad got hired on at the Salinas school system doing building repairs, and we all worked in the fields picking mostly strawberries. Sometimes we planted celery. I loved it out in California- it was a good time for my family. This is where I got saved, as a 12-year-old boy, when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. It was the best time of my life.”
If you haven’t read about this time in history or haven’t read John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, you must. I found an interesting article if you are interested in more details about the dust bowl on www.history.com called “10 Things You May Not Know About the Dust Bowl.”
A brief history from the above mentioned site… “In 1929-1939 America suffered the great depression, it hit Oklahoma hard, as it did the rest of America. It was a hard time to make ends meet for most families. It seemed like the perfect storm in the 1930’s when the decade long drought came during the depression, World War II, and the “dust bowl.” With the invention of the tractor, farmers were able to plow up much more land than ever before with horses. Millions of acres were plowed up by the new tractors and left vulnerable to the sweeping winds that come in off the plain states. As the plain states plowed up the land, the drought continued and “the winds they did blow!” Then the dust — it did blow. It traveled 2,000 miles all the way to the East coast in the worst series of dust storms in history.” It was literally the perfect storm! Needless to say, most farmers don’t plow up the fields anymore. Lessons learned from history … Valuable!
I’ve written before about our family “Be Glad Days.” Regardless, of what we were doing, if we were all together, it was a day to be glad. My Dad gave me the legacy of believing someone was always on my side. I knew no matter what happened in my life good or bad, happy or sad, my dad was my ally. He was my safe person. I knew I could tell him anything and he was with me — sympathizing, rejoicing, encouraging, laughing, crying, agonizing, hurting, dreaming, listening, talking, believing the best in me, telling me I could do anything in the world I wanted to do … giving me exactly whatever the situation called for. My Dad is one of the greatest examples in my life, and his legacy is much of who I am today. Our home was a wonderful place to grow up — a very rare home centered on loving Jesus. “Be Glad Days” are part of my memory. When I was growing up whether it was a family vacation or a Saturday together, it was a “be glad day.” I think that is a great way to put it because it captures the essence of our hearts desire for our family and our lives. The word says, “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).