Wednesday, August 7, 2013

July 26 -29, 2013  marked the first family vacation with the ENTIRE family that being our newest edition Hunter Jackson Long who came into this word on January 29th.  Summer is always hectic around our house...4-H work, garden work, yard work, work work work...did I mention work?  Anyway we were excited to get to take a few days...get away and just have fun being together!

Mary Audrey has been asking us for weeks when we were going to the beach.  Well the time had finally arrived and as we left Blocker Rd she held her sand bucket and shovel tightly as she drifted off to sleep along with her brother.  We had only been on the road for about 30 minutes when she woke up and informed me that we needed to find a gas station so she could get out and throw a ball with me since "she had been in this car seat way too long!" ( By the way this is a tradition that we started on a recent trip to Chattanooga where we stopped outside of Fort Payne and threw the ball around while momma fed Hunter. )

As we traveled down the familiar roads..I was taken back several years to my childhood when my family, along with the families of Jerry Ray, and Tommy Morgan all went to Gulfport on vacation.  It was my first time to the beach and I remember the excitement that Mary Audrey was feeling and it was so good to relive those moments through her eyes.

As we approached the beach I made sure to stay on Hwy 49 as to add to the presentation.  As it came into view I said to MA...Look there look what I see!!  She became ecstatic! She started screaming "Daddy Daddy I knew you could make it!!!!"  Oh the words of a child that speak so true..

We had a great time.  We ate good food we collected sea shells...we played and played and played. As I sat on the beach with my family watching Hunter clutch fist fulls of sand and MA making "birthday cakes"..I took a moment closed my eyes and as I  thanked God for my blessings, I felt the warm gulf breeze on my face, as the small waves lapped the shore into the inner workings of my heart. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

memories that lasted a life time

May 15, 2013


Today marks the 36th anniversary of my daddy and I going to Lake Whittington in the Delta on a fishing trip. I remember this date as daddy would tell in the years to come that it was May 15th and he had gotten paid that Friday. This would be my first of many to the lake and when this comes around each year I am always reminded of it. I want to catalog this memory for historical purposes but also because I want to document that memories in the mind of a 5 year old child can be very vivid and long lasting. Things that seem insignificant to adults can seem like the grandest adventure to those small in stature but big in imagination.

The details as to how the trip came about are lost but I do know that daddy told me we were going bream fishing in the delta with Coach Fultz and his daddy. I could hardly sleep the night before and as I prepared for bed I got a pad and pen and drew a fishing boat with two people in it with fish under the boat and put it by my bed.

We probably arose sometime around 3 am and headed out. My dad had recently purchased a jon boat and trailer from someone in Morgan town. It was a nice boat with a 6 horse Evinrude and outdoor carpet lining. This was to be its maiden voyage. Thinking back I sometime imagine our journey leaving our small town of Sturgis. I imagine watching from the darkened storefronts as our lights drove past. I imagine all the people that were such an intergral part of my life sleeping in their beds unaware of our passing. Into the inky blackness we drove in my dads 1969 Chevy Pickup.

We were to stop in Ackerman and meet Coach Fultz just beyond the 4 way stop. It was when we stopped that daddy realized that the trailer lights were not working. So as we waited daddy jiggled the wires and performed some magic. My job was to notify him of when they came on....lights now fixed and meeting up with Coach we headed out!

I don't know our exact route but I must have fallen asleep soon thereafter. Awaking later on in the dark truck only illuminated by the dashboard light was daddy gripping the wheel and staring down the road.. 'Where are we?" I asked. "Son, I don' t know where in the hell we are" was the reply. As we were following Coach and daddy was trying to keep up. But we did arrive safely at Nibblet Landing on the lake and wow was it a hub of activity! Boats, campers, tents, and people galore! We went into the bait shop and bought all our supplies....poles, hooks, line, corks, lead, ice, drinks, snacks, and 2 tubes of crickets. I remember holding them to my chest and their legs felt like they were stinging me....boy did I hollar!


We put the boat in the water and started following Coach to parts unknown. ( The boat ride seemed to last forever but I was to later find out we were not all that far away from Benoit Hunting Club). We pulled through some willow trees off the main lake and Coach directed us to a spot between two trees. I remember his statement now as he slid past them. "There was some boys there last week that tore them up!" Daddy slid the boat and tied us off while he rigged our poles. I remember daddy having to pinch the lead shot on the line with his teeth since he did not have a pair of pliers. I remember being scared he was going to break his false teeth and telling him not to do it...his response was "Aww son don't worry it'll be fine". He baited my hook and in years later he would say "I just pitched it in between those trees and turned to fix my own pole...only to hear John yelling..Daddy!! Daddy!! as he pulled the biggest blackest bream I have ever seen!" He must have thought it was just luck cause he baited my hook again and threw it back in the same place as before...the cork never stopped as another huge bream made my line start singing round and round. Before we knew it...the bottom of the boat was a steady flopping of fish as daddy rebaited my hook and took the fish off.

We sat the rest of the day in that one spot and filled the ice chest to almost overflowing. I remember thinking as I had given up fishing and staring at the lake beyond the trees the late afternoon sun started its downward fall and looking over the beautiful black water that this moment was special, that I somehow needed to put it in my memory bank and remember the sights, sounds, emotions that were going though me. How the light did flicker like gold that day as King Midas ever did possess.


Daddy ,a practicing Baptist, informed me as we ran out of crickets that we would spend the night in nearby Cleveland and return in the morning...a Sunday morning... and try to catch some more.  Wows were we ever heathens but the allure of spending the night in a motel overrode any non-scriptural based guilt that this young child could have. Daddy called momma from the bait shop and told her the news.  We drove to the town of Boyle and met with a long family friend named Mr. Medders.  Mr. Medders used to have some land that we had cows on and had moved to Boyle for work.  Daddy and I visited with the Medders family and told them of our luck and plans to return.  Mr. Medders young son Haney said “Daddy we should go to! We have a sailboat we could use!”  Mr. Medders look on his face was enough to say…”We aint going in a sailboat on Sunday!”  I remember Mrs. Medders coming out to the truck and she had a gold tennis racket necklace with a ball on the racket and I thought that was so neat looking! I also remember during our visit that daddy had put the tube of new crickets on the dash of the truck and I was fascinated by it for some reason or another!  Off we went to Cleveland and pulled into the Delta Motel.  It was a grand establishment and was probably fairly new.  We got a room and I remember putting the boat motor in the front seat to avoid thieves.  Daddy took me to eat at the restaurant at the main office where I ate a hamburger and French fries made for me by friendly woman with a warm smile.  Consequently enough we ran into a young couple from the Louisville area that daddy knew.  They were cooking fish in the parking lot and even gave us talk about full! The mans wife asked me if I wanted some cookies and she took me to their room and gave me some Oreos.  I felt like a king.  Dad and I went to our room where I believe he may have called momma again collect and I got ready for bed.  The bathroom had little bars of soap and you better believe that I was going to take some of it home with me!  Daddy had turned the air conditioner on and it felt so good to sleep in his arms with that steady hum. 


Again we arose early to return to the lake.  Our friends from the motel were at the ramp and were soon following us to our fishing spot.  I can still see the sun rising as our boat ploughed through the water and the fog parted in front of us.  We immediately started catching fish again and filled the other cooler that daddy had bought at the bait shop to capacity.  Daddy would often laugh as a side bar that our motel friends came in on our spot later that morning and asked daddy if they could buy a coke from us.  My daddy being the giving person that he was and I am sure as a penance for having his young son on the water on a Sunday morning gave them two bottled cokes.


After the cooler was full we decided to head back to our little town that seemed so very far away.  I don’t remember all that much about the return trip probably because more than likely I fell asleep due to the past exciting two days that I had witnessed.  I do remember that the next afternoon daddy incorporated the help of my Uncle Gerald and Jimmy Clardy to help clean the fish.  For 3 hours they scraped and gutted in the pine thicket of our back yard.  I remember this time well because I remember thinking that it also took that amount of time to drive from our home to the lake. 


I know that those that read this story will just view it as “just another fishing tale”, and that is fine.  I realize that our catch were not the mighty tarpon in an offshore adventure or a beautiful rainbow brought to rise by a well placed dry fly but merely the common sunfish that inhabit many of the waters of our nation.  But to a boy of only 5 it was the things that memories are made of. It has forever ingrained itself in my mind.  It has caused me to go back again and again to relive those moments and to make other memories.  Every year after that the air would begin to warm, and the mere picture of a red wing blackbird would immediately transport me from my 5th grade class to that far shore. We made many more trips to that lake throughout the years.  Camping and fishing and many more adventures would also come our way and even more memories made.

 I write this to the reader, whether father or mother, make good memories with your child our time with them is so short but can be so long lasting.  No time ever spent with a child is wasted, but is an opportunity to make a lasting impact on them in ways that you may never know. Always  tell them you love them and show it through not only word but action. 


 I held my daddy’s weathered hand from a hospital bed in the final days of his life almost two years ago now little knowing it would be our last conversation.    “Daddy I want you to know that I am so appreciative of what you have done for me.  I enjoyed all the times that we had together and all the things that we did together.”  He calmly gripped my hand and through closed eyes in a moment of clarity that only our Heavenly Father provided he said..”Son, I am glad you did but I want you to know you may have enjoyed it but I enjoyed it more.  I just wish that we had more time together.”  A few short weeks later and he was gone.  As I stood by his grave missing him so, I could almost hear him say from the other side. “Aw son, it will be alright.”


Thank you God for the priviledge of being the son of James Elton Long.  May he lovingly rest peacefully in Your arms until we meet again on that distant shore


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fun times shooting

Had a great time at the recent Refuge Day on Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge!  We had a JAKES TAKE AIM trailer...there was also an archery range and lots of other fun stuff for the kids to do!

Monday, September 24, 2012

time sure does fly!

Just realized that I had not posted on my blog since last year!! Shame on me~! Oh well, I found this quote that I really liked and decided to put it up!

"No, I am not a good shot, but I shoot often"-Theodore Roosevelt

Guess that pretty much sums it up!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wylde Thang!

Well a dream of over 20 years has finally came true...I got to see my absolute favorite guitarist Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society in concert for the first and probably last time...The music was great and he played it to perfection. He played the House of Blues in New Orleans October 9th...I sang every song and even my mosh pit skills were somewhat still there for a 39 year old. I was really kinda sad as it was over too soon but all good things must come to an end. Thanks Zakk for a lifetime of memories..keep on doing what you do! TBLO/ SDMF!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wheel in the Sky

Ohh its that time of year again! Opening day of dove season was and windy and burning some powder....make that alot of powder as I took my new Versa Max to the field and killed the first dove I shot at.....quickly going down hill from there....I also had my trusty dove dog with me Kanden...thanks again buddy for three years straight....check out the lunch as we fried some of the doves up coupled with some good southern cooking...thanks Mrs. Rebecca!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Loving Memory

As the sun sets on this day, I feel my heart grieving over the loss of a dear friend. This friend I came to know as a child. He was there for my whole life and now mine must move on without him. Nothing hurts like losing someone that you love, and I can truely say that I loved him like a member of my family. I have very good memories of working and even playing with him. He was always up for whatever fool idea I came up with. Like the time I wanted to preach and had him dig out of storage a podium and placed it in the house. I think at the time he was the only member of my congregation. Or the time that I wanted to go fishing in Morgantown and so we loaded up on my 3 wheeler and went....I am sure that we were quite the site. The list goes on and on. He watched me grow up and go through those times that everyone does. We skinned deer and turkeys. We talked about the weather and "how that rain was coming in" and how cold it was because "that wind was blowing off some ice" However, my first memory of him was getting in his car in Reform at the end of a long day....finishing work and getting ready to go home, the sun setting below the horizon. I can remember feeling safe with him...knowing that I was alright in his care.

I can sum up what Willie Gray meant to me and how much of an impact that he made on my life in a simple statement...He was always faithful!

I will never forget you. I will always love you. May you rest in peace with our Lord where the sun always shines from our beautiful were always faithful.

See you later Will!