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Archive for August, 2010

The Biggest Fish

I felt a slight bump on the tip of my rod, and thinking that it was just submerged weeds, I gave it a gentle tug. Bam! The rod bent over and the fight was on. First he went around the bow and I had to lift the rod over Big Mike’s head as he headed away from the boat, then back again, with me reeling in, and then letting out the drag. Time moved slowly on as I fought this great fish. It had been a long day and I was tiring quickly. Big Mike offered to take over, but I bravely fought on. All I could think about was maybe this one would win the “Biggest Fish Trophy.” The thrill of seeing him jump out of the water almost caused me to faint. Again and again he jumped and I hung on with all my might. Mike was now pouring cold water over my head to cool me down. My arms were really aching and I was glad when the big fish begin to tire. Slowly I worked him to the boat. But he was not through and would take off again. In the end my superb fish skills paid off and after one last half-hearted run, I reeled him to the boat and my friend Michael netted him and lowered him into the boat. I sat down stunned at his size. Mike and I “high five,” because we knew it was a winner.

We were at the Brotherhood Retreat at Lake Yale Baptist Camp, and fishing in the Bass tournament. I had made my brag before I left that we would bring home first prize, and really needed to live up to it. Even with my superior fishing ability Mike was even better, so we could not lose. But, I do have to say that over the years I have learned that Bass fear me. No, they really do! Sometimes, they somehow sense that I am near and they would rush to the nearest deep hole and lie in an almost comatose state while I am fishing near by. That kind of makes it hard to catch them for any fisherman, when they do.

Like I said, Mike was a better fisherman than I, but today he was with me and today of all days, the bass knew I was there. We fished all over that lake and Mike only caught a couple of small bass that didn’t make to the big hole in time. They only weighted about a pound and a half, so we fished on hard. About an hour before weight in time, we were in the middle of the lake just drifting and resting in Mike’s nice bass boat. All the steam had gone out of us while unsucesssfully hunting the hole where the bass were hiding. Mike was mumbling something about a fishing partner, and I was thinking if he had a nicer boat we may have had a better chance. I was not all that upset that Mike had caught the only fish we had in the boat either, after all they were just tiny little bass. However, since we were drifting across a grass bed, I had changed lures to a “Bass Pro gold, long arm, lazer eye, double willowleaf blade, chartreuse spinnerbait.” Being a superb bass fisherman I knew just what lure was needed in any situation. Mike always kind of rolled his eyes when I said that to folks, but being the friend he is I don’t mind so much. Deep down inside I know he knew it to be true. It’s not bragging when it is factual, right? Anyway, while drifting across that submerged weed bed, and feeling a little depressed that our bad luck was due to the fear the bass had of me, I felt that small bump, and I caught that big bass with that spinnerbait on a 14 pound test line. You always remember what tackle you caught the big one on.

At the weight in I could tell I was the envy of everyone there when they saw me lift that big bass out of the live well. I’m sure they were wondering why this one was not in the hole hiding with the rest of the bass, but not everyone can lure the big ones out the way I can. I wanted to stand around and give them some tips on my techniques, but Michael was in a hurry to go to our room. I guess all the adulation I was getting was some what embarrassing to him. I mean what with his 2 small bass and all.

The next day they announced the winner of the most pounds, which we took second place, and then they announced the biggest fish winner. Tears came to my eyes when they called my name. I cherish that trophy even today. The inscription says “David Butler, Biggest Fish, 3-1/2 lb Bass”, what a great day! I just wish they had not run out of time before I could give my prepared speech.

Mid 1990’s

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Hummers

Like a lot of other lazy people, I like watching birds, and hummingbirds are one of my favorite. I have feeders scattered around the yard, all in line of sight of my front porch rocking chair, or swing, (on the back porch). However, unlike some, I’m not overly excessive with the number of feeders, (only eighteen in the front yard), not wanting to spend a lot of time filling the feeders. It only takes about 30 minutes a day to mix up the powder and fill the little jars. This nice little past time gives me a lot of pleasure, watching the thirty or so little hummers all jockeying for a spot at the little flower nipples. They spend a lot of time playing tag or bump and run. This is great fun for me, especially when BJ comes home from a hard day of shopping and tries to get from the car to the house. The little dive bombers love to greet her at the arbor by making several passes at that lovely head of hers. Her screams of glee, (well, maybe not glee), always brings out a laugh or two. I know she doesn’t mean it when she threatens to take a ball bat to the feeders, nor that look she gives me is as bad as it seems, as she begins to pick up the packages. You know, her hair really doesn’t look that bad, ruffled that way.

Hummingbird feeding has long been a hobby for me. I remember the days when I only had the one feeder and would wear bright red shorts when I sat on the porch, to help attract them. It is amazing how many hummers a big man in red short can attract. Many a Saturday morning I would sit out there with my daughter Candi watching the hummers flying all around the feeder, (and my shorts), doing their bump and run. All the while I’d be sucking up bees with my rainbow vacuum cleaner. Those pesky critters would cover the little flower nipples if I didn’t. Hummm! Maybe that is why they attacked me and threw me off my porch last spring. That has to be it. Revenge of the bee! Oh my! All this time I’ve been saying that the attack was unprovoked. Is there a lesson in this somewhere? Yes, buy more wasp spray.

By and large, hummers liked me, (of course nothing like the love they showed BJ), till this one time, I accidentally caught one of the male hummers in the rain bow vacuum. It really was an accident. I hurriedly open the rainbow and took out the little bird, and I dried it off with my bandana that I always had around my head. It soon was ok and flew off. After that, for the rest of the season, when I would sit out on the porch there was this one male hummer that always tried to take a dump on my head. The only way I could stop him was take the vacuum out there with me. With that in hand he stayed away. BJ never could understand the vacuum deal. “If you want to vacuum something try the carpet.”

Then there was one time ole Blue Eyes, our Siamese Cat, was sitting on the banister just waiting for a chance to grab a small snack when a hummer got too close. He had one in his sight, and when the hummer came by he sprang. At the last moment I stuck the vacuum hose to him and caught him in mid flight. Boy, talk about a mad feline, I had one on the stick. I wouldn’t turn off the vacuum until I got inside the house and shut the door on the hose. Ole Blue Eyes didn’t like me anyway, but after that it was “War” but, that is another great story. Did I tell you that I like to watch birds?  

David Butler

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Shopping Carts Anonymous

Why is it that a little thing like leaving your shopping cart in the stall you just vacated such a big deal with me? I don’t understand why that upsets me so. Why does it make me downright angry when that cart rolls against my car or truck. I should be more sensitive to the laziness of the American Public. I mean after all, they may have been brought up to be inconsiderate of others, so who am I to get angry when all they are doing is exercising that birthright. If it was just one class of people then maybe I could understand it better, but no, no, no, that queer behavior is prevalent in every culture, race, religion and economic status all across this great land of the free. Maybe that is it! Being free releases these characters from having to respect their neighbor by doing something as simple as walking 10 feet, or less, (in most cases), and put their cart into a cart corral.

I just guess I will have to seek help with my insensitivity problem. I really don’t know who to turn to for this. Is there such a thing as SCA, “Shopping Carts Anonymous?” I could maybe start by leaving my shopping cart all over the parking lot, or maybe even against another vehicle. Who knows I might like this despicable act so much that I become an advocate for “Free Ranging Shopping Carts.” Inconsiderate people of the world Unite! Let’s show the world how lazy and inconsiderate we really are. Today shopping carts, tomorrow throwing trash out car windows! Yeah! Wait a minute! We are all ready doing that!

I know, we could keep on driving when a funeral procession passes by. Nope, we’re doing that also. Ok then, how about when we leave a ball game, that we not let any of the cars on the side of us, get in line ahead of us. Sorry, ingrates have that cornered also. Gees, there must be something we could add to our behavior to make us more despicable than we are.

No, I think I would rather spend my time looking for “Random Acts of Kindness” in the American People that I love so much. Better still, I hope someone catches me doing so.

David Butler

Jasper, Fl

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As I tried clawing my way back up the mountain, I looked over my shoulder and I could see the women from the village walking along the trail to the spring where they filled their buckets. They were looking up at me and pointing and worst yet, they were all laughing!

It was suppose to be a mission trip of a life time. Yeah, right. I have images burned into my mind, and a friend named Kay that loves to tell it every time he gets the chance. We had left the compound in Les Cayes, and went to a village up on a mountain North East of Beaumont. It was a small place with the “Soon to be church” in the center. Our mission was to put a roof on the church that they had been working on for many years. You have to know that Haiti is a very poor third world nation. There was no electricity or running water in the village. Neither were there any facilities for bath or toilet. They had spent some time building us an “Outhouse”. That was an adventure in itself since it had a sheet for a door and that door faced the compound. When the wind blew, well you get the picture.

We put the roof on the building after all the material made it  there. There was no road up to the village, so it was brought up by hand from the base of the mountain. That was a real fun time for me. I really loved doing that. If you could have seen the looks on the faces of the people when we finished you would have cried like we did. They had been praying for ten long years for this. What a spiritual high! I think about my friend Phil that gets to see that every year and Kay also, who makes that an annual trip. They are blessed indeed.

After the work was over, I was ready to bathe. They had made a make shift shower stall on the back side of the preachers house. The house was only five feet from the edge of the mountain, so the shower stall was right on the edge of the mountain. From there it was a red clay slope down the hill to the trail leading to the spring. In order to conserve water JR, Kay and I decided to share the same five gallon bucket of water. As we got behind the sheet that had been attached to posts, I got on the side next to the edge. At first we were doing ok. We started on the head first, after an agreement that no one would wash the bottom before we washed our face and such. So, as we worked our way down to our legs, all the run off water was going under my feet. Yep, you guessed it. I slid out from under that sheet and down the hill. My lily white body was on display for all to see. JR and Kay were reaching for me as I clawed and clawed my way back up. Finally I made it. Whew! That was almost as hard to write about as to have lived it. I don’t have the energy now to write about what happen later in the week, so I will save it for another day.

David Butler

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Webster defines a family as; “A fundamental social group in society, typically consisting of parents and their offspring.” I am just naïve enough to think that Webster should have written; “See Alderman Family” for a definition.

Webster also defines Legacy as; “Something handed down from an ancestor or predecessor”. That “Something” which, has and still is, being handed down has marked us forever as Aldermans much more so than just DNA alone. We ARE because they WERE. You ask 50 Aldermans what that something was and you would get the same answer most of the time, which is: Love, love of family, respect of family, love of God and His Church, dignity, and love of country. Our Legacy is so strong and powerful that it is infectious to those that join our family by choice. You didn’t have to be born an Alderman, to be an Alderman. How great is that?

Legacy? Yes, the Aldermans have a legacy which is a work in progress. Being built before our eyes, and remembered in our past, with the ones that have gone on home. But oh, how we miss them, especially each July when the Alderman Clan gathers together.

Dallas put it so well in one of his songs, “Losing them wouldn’t be so hard to take, if heaven wasn’t so far away.” Wouldn’t you just love to drive over to heaven to see Granny Rosa, the one who passed down a big part of the legacy? Then there’s Tom with his gentle spirit, and we can visit kind Edna. I would love to see my brother Kenny, and Wendell with that ready smile on his face. Barbara would be there too with Joey, Pat and Mark. I wonder if God has a golf course for Tommy to play on, maybe so. We would look up Uncle’s Robert, ken and Jim to say hi. Dallas said, “If heaven wasn’t so far away, we could pack up the kids and go for the day.” Sadly, we can’t do that, but their legacy lives on in us and we should never forget. We must emphasize their memory because they are still relevant to us. Great Americans all, even with their faults and frailties they were and still are significant and sacred to us. That is why we teach our children our heritage. We each have Alderman Stories, and they resonate throughout our spirit.

The third week-end of July, we gather in Albany to share those stories and renew relationships that may have lain dormant for the past year. We will fellowship, laugh and cry while passing out the hugs and forever passing on the heritage. Great Americans all.

Another Great American, John Steinbeck, once penned in a book the now famous quote, “How will we know it is us, without our past?” Indeed…

Forget who we are, or from whence we have come? Not on my watch.

David Butler

2008

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It was a quiet and somewhat peaceful morning when I left for work that day in December of 1969. We were living in Panama City, (The Republic of Panama), while waiting for base housing to open up at Fort Clayton. Our apartment was small and tight, but at least we were together as a family. I remember the bathroom as being a combination type where you could shower, brush your teeth in the sink, and potty at the same time. Yep, it was very tight. Anyway, we were only going to be there a short period of time.

On the way to the base, I noticed the lack of normal traffic along the way, but only in the back of my mind. At work, Sgt. Poe brought it up and talked about the National Guard, (police), walking around in tight little groups. The Maintenance Officer came in and said that something is going on and for us to get our air craft ready to fly, which we had already done.  Several of us promptly reminded him we had family living downtown and wanted to know if they were in danger. Before he could answer, the company commander called and ordered everyone living downtown, “Go get your family and get them on base now!” President Omar Torrijos was in Mexico and some colonels were trying to overthrow him and take over the country.

I took off for the main gate going into the city. There, we were told to travel in convoy according to what part of the city we lived. I was second behind a lieutenant that was going to our neighborhood. He came to my car and said that if I see him, “Shower down”, for me to do the same because he was not going to be stopped by anyone. Believe me I stayed right on his bumper. We passed one burning NG vehicle and up ahead saw a group of men running. I saw a puff of smoke come out of the Lt’s car and knew he had floored it. I stomped my accelerator and we went plowing through them, with about 10 cars at 70 miles an hour!

I got to the apartment, where Barbara Jo and my daughters, Missy and Terri, along with Bobbie, BJ’s cousin who had came with us to Panama, were ready to go. They had heard the gun fire and were scared. We grabbed a few things, loaded them into the car, and with the kids lying on the floorboard we took off for the base. We passed the burning car and made it to the base ok. Putting my family in “Harms way” was not what I had in mind when I brought them to this country.

In the aftermath, everything turned out ok, with the coup having failed and President Omar staying in office. We soon got base housing on the very back side of Fort Clayton, where the Panama Jungle started right out our back door. We lived there until I was called back to Viet Nam. And that is all I got to say about that.

David Butler

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It was a very nice home, for Jamaica, with a concrete floor that had an etched design in it. Its rich maroon color shined from the daily waxing it was given. The natural air conditioning was working ok when we had a breeze, which we did most of the time. This home had electrical power, with a single light hanging from the ceiling in each room and a few outlets scattered around the dwelling. Water was collected from the roof into the cistern water tank for the family’s needs. We would get a five gallon bucket of water each day to bathe in and flush the toilet. Our host and hostess were very gracious and tried to make us feel at home. Jeff and I shared a bed in the front of the house. Outback, in the yard were banana, mango, and bread fruit trees, and some of the most beautiful humming birds I’ve seen.

Richard, Keith, Jeff, Craig, and I, plus Morris, Matt and others, had gone down on a mission trip to work on a school and do Bible School. It was the first time out of the country for some, which had it own challenges. I on the other hand had lived for three years in two different third world countries, and was use to getting around in such places. However, my world traveling experience promptly got Jeff and I into trouble the second day there. Our buddies were housed with a preacher about 30 miles away from us. That didn’t set to well with us, as we didn’t want to miss out on any fun they might be having.

The Saturday night we got there and were taken to our host’s home, we kind of sat around and looked at each other and played with the cat. The next morning we had an early breakfast at the dinning table alone. Our meal was quite different from our usual Southern Breakfast. I only knew the name of one dish. We had a sweet mush of some type with cream, a small dish of greens, (poke salad maybe). Then there was boiled bread fruit, which taste like a used handkerchief, then the main dish of boiled meat. I have no idea what that meat was but, as I turn to Jeff to seek his opinion, I saw him looking around everywhere, even under the table. He looked up at me, then at the meat, then back at me and said, “David, where is the cat?”

After that meal I felt the need to travel. So Jeff and I took a couple of buses over to where the guys were. We only knew that they were somewhere in this town about 30 miles away. But, we didn’t care. We rode the bus with the chickens and local people. I had fun trying to chat with them and Jeff had a good first experience. We found the guys by chance and learned that everyone was looking for us, and were shocked to learn that we took that bus, because of the danger. Leave it to me, always living on the edge. Anyway we went to church with them that night. We rode to church in the preacher’s car that didn’t have any shocks. He had a PA system in the car, and as we rode around, he used it to call out to the people that it was time to come to church. Great fun and worship.

It was a great trip and mission project. Supper at our host home was much better the next night. Never did see that cat again though.

David Butler

1986

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