My dad and his sisters went to a one-room school about a mile up the road. My sister started there about 24 years later. By then, however, things were “progressing,” and she finished grade-school in a three-room school another mile up the road. I began at that three-room school six years later but, by my sixth-grade year, the three oldest classes (4-6 grades) were shipped off to a brand new school in town. Fifth grade, then, was the last year that I spent at the little school in the country, though I wished otherwise. The lower three grades stayed in the old school for only a few years, until the school was closed, and the little ones sent to town, also.
Times were different then. We began each day by putting our right hands over our hearts and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The lunch line went quickly in the little school, and we waited to eat until the principle had said grace. No-one objected to either. Boys who fought got boarded, as did the tattle-tail who told on them. There was a Christmas program and an Easter program, and every child in the school had a part to play, or a piece to recite. Yes, things were VERY different then.
One little rite of passage occurred in fifth grade to which every kid in our area looked forward—receiving a Gideon New Testament. Those who received one know that the little volumes also contain the books of Psalms and Proverbs. There were usually two men that showed up sometime in each child’s fifth-grade year, and were allowed to speak to us a few minutes and give us a “little Bible.” Kids from what appeared to be non-Christian families seemed just as happy to get them as those whose families went to church. Maybe it was because some of those kids were so poor that it seemed like a gift to which everyone was entitled. According to what I wrote inside it, we got ours on October 26, 1965. I’ve treasured it ever since.
Oddly enough, though I was raised in a Christian family, and taken to church, I wasn’t saved until shortly after I was married the second time, at age 28. It was already a well-traveled little book by then, though. It sat on the table in my bedroom, sometimes read, but more often not. However, when I started camping in a year or two, the little volume went with me. When I was a little older and went camping in the West Virginia mountains with my friends, it was in my backpack. When I got my first truck-driving job, it traveled in my lunchbox. It did the same on my second driving job, and my third. For the twelve years that I worked in the factory, it traveled to work and back with my lunch. It was likewise with the four years that I spent at telemarketing. I should have read it more over the years, but most of my Bible-reading was done at home in full-sized Bibles. Still, I usually had the little testament with me. So it wasn’t surprising that it traveled with me while I drove dump-truck on during the past couple years.
Last Thursday, I went to the emergency room and was admitted. The next day, I asked my wife to bring the little book to me when she visited. I read it some each day. I’m home now and the little book lies beside my computer monitor. I probably would have become a Christian anyway, but I still have to wonder if I would have, had that little book not traveled with me through so much of my life’s journey. © 2016
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” - from the Book of John, Chapter 1