When Fred Marvin and Josephine Celeste moved to Newport in December, 1948; I was in the second grade. In a neat little bit of planning, Fred and Josephine decided to make the move so Bobby “The Music Man” and Tommy wouldn’t have to miss any school (Freddy “The Big Ugly” stayed back there to finish the eighth grade).

Those of you that are somewhat familiar with those “dark age days” will remember the Christmas break was really all we had in which to cling to eliminate the drudgery of non-stop “readin’, writing, and ‘rithmatic taught to the tune of the hickry stick” (with apologies to whoever wrote that song).

That’s right; spring break, fall break, break break, and “just because we can” breaks were unheard of back in the “good ole days.” A day off for Thanksgiving (maybe two), a day off for Easter (maybe two), and a day or two off for the fair gave me a rest from walking to school five miles in the snow, uphill both ways (maybe in the words of that stupid little green Australian gecko, “That last phrase is a complete dramatization of course, but you get my point”).

My point? Oh yeah; back to my point! Christmas break was all we had; and now Fred and Josephine were taking that away – so we wouldn’t miss a day of school? Wasn’t that nice of them? Gimme a break!

Anyway, off to Newport Grammar, second grade, second semester little Tommy trundled. I remember all the faces looking at me, checking me out. Pete Cureton, Roy (Shot) Burnett, and Patsy Blackwell (Shoemaker) befriended me on the first day. Most of those kids in that (and the other) 2nd grade class went on to become part of the illustrious class of ’59 at CCHS.

We didn’t have a cafeteria at that time at Newport Grammar; so mom always made my favorite sammige (a little different from a sandwich – you would just have to experience it to really enjoy the experience). My favorite sammige was a BLT – a soggy BLT. Soggy after being in my “Lone Ranger” lunch box all morning, wrapped in waxed paper – soggy with Miracle Whip juice and tomato juice and bacon juice and lettuce juice – and, by lunch time, bread juice. It was messy; but it was a little bit of heaven at lunch time; and I deserved it because I had missed my Christmas break (I forget; have I told you that?).

So, childhood memories being so important and all; I look for BLT on the menu when I go into a restaurant now – trying to find one that is soppy with all the juices – only to be disappointed again.

But one place had a good BLT on the menu – I repeat HAD a good BLT. I couldn’t find it the last time I looked; and “Miss ‘Nita” astutely observed that they had to make room on the menu for all that “Southwestern” favored stuff, green things mixed in with ‘Murican cheese, hot sauce, and other forms of “set you on fire” stuff that would have been a form of torture for Christians back in the dark ages – yeah that’s it – make ‘em ride on a 1957 model school bus with no water and nothing to eat but that “Southwestern style” stuff.

Did I go to sleep and wake up in a time warp or something? Where did all the BLT’s go?

I mean if I go to a Chinese place, I expect Chinese food; I expect Italian at a pizza place; Ti at a Ti place; and “Southwestern” at a Mexican place – so why not ‘Murican at a ‘Murican place?

Imagine my surprise when I find green things mixed in my bland ole yeller cheese or floating in my soup?

I guess Gomer Pyle said it best: “Surprise! Surprise!”

That’s why we need to be perfectly clear when explaining salvation to people who haven’t heard and do not know the truth. Be clear about who Jesus is and what He does! Ok, you’re a Christian; but headaches and toothaches will still come, flat tires and dead batteries, financial and physical reverses; but the BIG PROBLEM is SOLVED! The big problem — you know the one I mean – “What happens to me one second after I die; or Jesus comes (which ever comes first)?”

A person who receives Jesus Christ as Savior doesn’t go immediately to heaven with his “get-out-of-jail-free card” in his hand! It’s not a bowl of cherries to live the Christian life in this world – BUT THE BIG PROBLEM IS FOREVER SOLVED!

Do you have the big problem solved; or are you still experiencing surprise after surprise in your spiritual life?

Where did the BLT go? Life changes man; deal with it; school changes, foods change; but Jesus does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The way to heaven does not change, it was, is, and always will be Jesus – deal with it!

Tom Mooty serves the West End Baptist Church as its Sr. Pastor; and writes this column for the Wednesday and Weekend Editions of the Newport Plain Talk. E-mail Mooty at tommooty15@gmail.com; write him at P.O. Box 851 in Newport; or call him at 423-623-9056 with your comments.

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