On the wind that kept the sea of American flags blowing was the smell of diesel and the sound of laughter. The grounds at the 42nd annual Macungie antique truck show in Pennsylvania seemed somewhat sacred to generations of trucking families. There were the old timers who walked down memory lane like royalty, the adolescent boys with their cell phones filming content, and all of us awestruck observers in between. The artist in me appreciated the design lines and chrome that were common 25+ years ago but have since been replaced by cheaper manufacturing decisions.
Something that caught my attention about one truck in particular was not the vehicle itself but its passengers. Leaning out the driver side window were two dogs eagerly waiting for their master to return. I was impressed with their control and patience. If only we humans could be as obedient waiting on our Master to return. They say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but I’m here to disagree. From simply observing those dogs in that old Mack truck, I’ve gleaned a few insights. If we get impatient and jump out of what our Master has deemed safe, we could get hurt. And even if we survive the fall, we’ll probably get distracted by the world and get on a scent that would pull us away from the Master Plan. The dogs even resisted the urge to follow well-intentioned, friendly people who came up to the truck and interacted with them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had that kind of resolve!
Fido (translated means “faithful”) was a dog in the early 1940’s in Italy who became famous for waiting. His master, an Italian brick kiln worker, had found him injured and restored him to health. Fido walked with his master to the bus station every day and waited for him to return. One day in 1943 a WWII air raid bomb killed the man at work and Fido remained at the bus station, waiting…for the next 14 years!
While dogs like that get really close to earning the title “man’s best friend”, there were two that were certainly not our friends one evening in Disney World. While dining at the 101 Dalmatians themed restaurant, Jack (then a small boy) had to use the bathroom and the duty fell on Jeff to take him. When they returned to the table, I could tell something had gone awry. The story unfolded gradually like peeling back layers of an onion that makes you cry. There had been confusion at the onset because the doors were marked with “Purdy” and “Pongo” instead of men and women, and Jeff, not being familiar with the movie, didn’t know if he was a Purdy or a Pongo. Sensing the urgency of his small son, he didn’t tarry long on the decision and darted into one. They were in their secure stall when they heard women’s voices. A desperate man planning his next move, Jeff told Jack to stay close and keep up as they darted past a gauntlet of disapproving female stares. They didn’t even take time to wash their hands!
As for the dogs waiting in the Mack truck…I wonder if they were waiting obediently because they knew their master was nearby and were loyal in that security. Or perhaps the parent dog knew a jump outside of obedience might not harm it personally, but it could drastically hurt its child if it most assuredly would have followed suit. What if we were so generous to the next generation?
In closing, think about what it is you’re waiting for. Is it to be appreciated? To be healed? For a spouse or a child? For a special Valentine in a few days? Take heart! “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalms 27:14) Sometimes waiting for someone or THE one is the Master’s Plan.
“Pap” was the best story teller. We’d beg him to tell us a story until he’d surrender, spit his tobacco juice one more time and launch into it. “Well, Punk McCartney and Ancil Anderson were here at the farm one time and Punk got it in his head he wanted to ride a cow. So Ancil and I worked until we got a rope and saddle on one ole girl. She was a sassy one with horns. As quick as Punk got in the saddle, away she took off up the field. Crazy thing is, in her hurried take off she accidentally caught her horns in Ancil’s galluses (suspenders). That cow snorted and carried on while running around wildly. Ancil looked like he’d rather be turned loose but Punk was having the time of his life. Finally Ancil’s galluses broke free and Punk jumped off after a while. We didn’t try that anymore but we sure talked about it several times after that.”
Pap’s glory days were fun to hear about and I imagine each generation has their own adventures. l asked mom what wild times she and Aunt Hilda had growing up and she told me a story about rolling a big rock down the hill and it tore up the fence above the barn. I’m not sure if they simply lived quiet lives or if this was all she was willing to give up for the article. For sure their daughters had more spirited stories to share, mostly because Cousin Brenda could talk me into anything. I’ve already written about us going down the flooded Holly River on a tractor tire tube. Another time at a craft show in Ripley, WV one Fourth of July weekend, she convinced me to put on these hot pants featuring Old Glory. I pranced around and when a group of state troopers walked past mom’s basket booth, Brenda had them all salute my hot pants!
And then there was a time between October 1990 and June 1992 we thought it would be an adventure to see for ourselves the true events happening at the Ravenswood Aluminum plant. I still can’t believe we were allowed to go, but there we were in the midst of it. We met some friendly, colorful characters who shared about the escalated labor dispute and all the health and safety concerns, union efforts, scabs, and how the workers pooled resources to survive what would be a 20 month strike. We also learned what jack rocks were…and didn’t realize the probable danger zone we’d entered until we were looking back on it. I’m glad my glory days included that adventure.
Some of us still use the old-fashioned phrase “Glory Be!” to reflect shock or surprise. Others say “To God be the glory!” showing honor in a moment of praise. Glory is used multiple times in scripture as well. Who hasn’t stepped out on a starry night and looked up to realize the fullness of Psalm 19:1. “The Heavens declare the Glory of God…” The most significant use is when glory refers specifically to God’s presence The Holy Spirit, like in a pillar of fire, or a cloud that guided and shaded in the desert and later filled the temple. It is this Divine presence that I wish for all of us to experience in the upcoming new year. Jesus told his friends if they believed, they would see the glory of God. What if we just need to believe more?
I’ve never ridden a cow like Pap’s friends, and my adventures nowadays have been reduced to helping my sister cut her chicken’s toenails (which can be quite lively if you don’t know what you’re doing.) But I can leave you with this: Whether the stars are in the heavens or on your hot pants, use it all for the glory of God…and may all our days be Glory days.
Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! It’s an old family saying usually accompanied with the shaking of one’s head. Just when you think you’ve seen it all or think you know what’s going on, God surprises you. Some of us have Gomer Pyle’s “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” on continual loop in our brain. I’m almost to the point in this crazy world that nothing shocks me anymore…but that’s not entirely true…December is full of surprises.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel