"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Father's Journal

What did you enjoy doing most as a child?
Did you prefer doing it alone or with someone else?
Reading,listening to my mother sing. Climbing trees, swinging on grape vines, playing hide and go seek, blind man bluff, kick the can, hide and go seek, ginn, visiting my relatives with my mom and dad, going to church with mother, listening to stories of The Church Elders experiences in their missionary journeys, wading water, mud, swimming, going fishing with my dad, watching ants build hills, birds nesting, baby birds learning to fly, listening to the mocking birds, listening to the whippoor whill, walking barefoot on dusty roads, watching dust squirt up between my toes, listening to older folks tell of haunted places, learning to play baseball, watching my dad and older brother drive and copying them.
There was times I liked to be alone but generally I liked to be with someone or a group.Who gave you your name and why? Did you have a nickname? How did you get it?My mother gave me my name, after her father, James Caldwell, and for my father's father Henry Alvin Gargus.
Yes, "Freckles," was my nickname. I had a million freckles until I was 17 years old. Later, instead of James, or Jim my name, or nickname become "Jimmy" and it has stuck with me, as many still, after all these years refer to me, as Jimmy.
Describe your childhood home. What was your favorite room?
My childhood home, as I recall, was happy, and like most boys at that age and time, in the 20's, 30's was carefree, and I had no idea we were poor people, until years later when someone informed us of this strange fact. On the farm, til about 8 then in town. There was 9 children to contend with and enjoy, or be real miserable, all depending upon the older children, who could make your day or break it. Were you baptized or dedicated as an infant? If so, where and by whom?
Baptized at 8 years old by immersion by Bro. Thomas Newton a travelling Elder in the church.
Bro. Newton long since passed on.
Baptism is only for responsible youth or adults, who can and will make a mature, informed decision to follow the way of Christ.

Did you attend church as a young boy? What are your earliest memories of church?
With my mother and older children going to prayer meeting. Going by farm wagon or model "A" Ford, cold feet and hands, muddy roads.

Where did your father go to work everyday and what did he do? Did his work interest you?
Farmer mostly, he did some work for the city of Paris, Tn in sewer service. No, his work didn't interest me at all. He was a moody person and we children were afraid of him, most of the time.

Did your mother have a job or did she work at home?
My mother mother was a full-time homemaker and a part-time school teacher. A humorous lady with a serious mission in life, to honestly sincerely be a good mother, wife, and neighbor.
Yes, she worked at home with 9 children to attend-to, 3 boys, 6 girls, and another son. Whose birth contributed to her death, by a hemophiliac condition, the bleeding couldn't be stopped. She was a devout church attender and believer by deeds and conduct.

What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity? Why was this your favorite?
The schools I attended had no sports program. We played cow pasture ball growing up, a home made twine ball and a hewn out homemade bat. Did you pray as a young boy? Who taught you to pray?
I think I prayed. Later my mother taught me by example. Did the pastor or visiting missionary ever eat dinner at your house? Did they have an impact on your life?
Pastors and traveling missionaries were a very influential part of my younger years, especially between age 7-13. I was baptized at age 8 in 1928 by a traveling Elder Thomas Newton, who (as did none of the ministry serve for pay) in all their travels, all expenses were born by the men themselves. They gathered corn, picked cotton, bottomed chairs, they plowed and hoed or whatever needed to be done to earn their travel and keep. They sent about 2/3 of their earnings home to their families if they had one. They could not, indeed would not sell their ministry; they served out of love, as indeed they do to this day. In all humility, I do the same. And have never suffered for it, but rather received many wonderful blessings, guidance, and healing.

Did you ever feel that God had a special calling on your life?
As a young ex-soldier WW2 1946, I was told by one who loved me that the Heavenly Father wished to use me in a special way, but I needed to clean up my life and prepare for the call to ministry.
This I proceeded to do, with much confusion and uncertainty enroute.
I served as a teacher for 4 years, with much joy at seeing many people responded to my interest in their lives, homes, prayer life, and church attendance. As I served I also was under great temptation the last 3 years and even tho, I did not fully succumb to these enticements, I suffered loss and so did those of my home and the isolated members to who I was sent.
I moved to Memphis from Paris, Tn in the winter of 1953-54 and was ordained as a priest in 1955 and was ordained an elder in 1957.

Describe the most memorable time of life.
I served as Elder, 57-1968, when I decided to turn in my priesthood license. (This after my wife left me for someone else in 1966.) I have no excuses to offer even tho I suffered, as did my children, Ronald James, (Elbert James) now Joseph, Bonita Marie, Leah Kay, and Larry Alan. We were very active in the church. I was a pastor at two locations, chaplain at the high school, and elementary school, Boy Scout Leader, and Cub Scout Leader. My wife, Edna, was P.T.A. President and parliamentarian; she was also secretary to the zoo director, secretary to church district pres.,Thomas S. Gough; and were told the neighbors looked to us as a model family and neighbors.
After she left me and the divorce I was too distraught and weak to resist the temptation to get even, rebel, and do harm to my family, friends, and myself.
The road back was formidable, and didn't want to give up the (don't care life). But the call of the church was too strong and now I am serving to the best of my ability.

How far did you have to travel to attend school and how did you get there?
School bus or walk. We were not furnished cars. They were then considered a luxury or necessity depending upon the existing circumstances. Mileage varied from 1/2 mile to several miles. How did you come to write in this journal?Lance, my son, gave me this journal, and if I don't' write in it, he'll fuss at me. June has been a rewarding month so far. I've gone back to work. Working at Tri-State Protection Agency as a security guard since I retired.What about your church? My church has been so good to me and so good for me. Tho, I drive 12 miles, roundtrip, I really feel great about it. The people that are such fine Christians, no pretense, just good honest people; clean living and really appreciate my ministry.What word best describes your childhood?
Uncertain, at times. My childhood was like it was due to a problem in the home. My mother was settled, calm, and caring. My father was almost always abusive, belittling, name calling, profanity, no showing of affection, or care,always requiring the utmost effort in whatever I did-never satisfied, and no compliments. He made me labor beyond my physical ability and then demanded more, or more abuse. I came to believe I was no good or retarded, as he accused. I loved him in spite of this. He was my father. He did change after he became 55 or so. He died of cirrhosis of the liver. A very painful demise. But he did die a very changed man. Thank God!What advice about life do you want others to remember?
Do not allow others to tell you how you feel. You decide what your life should be like without being cynical. You are a special person, no one is, or ever will be like you. Trust in the Lord- put your hand in His, do His will, that is all that's necessary. Do you have a special message for one of your children?
Yes, my eldest son, Ronald James Gargus, born October 16,1946. Fine son, very intelligent, gifted "A" student, athlete, and lettered in 5 sports. Had call to priesthood, but was cancelled by a questionable Elder, who disagreed with the call. He was very disillusioned after that, and more so when our prayers for Bonita's daughter wasn't answered as he thought they should be. And she passed away at 8 months of age. He is of fine character but at times disillusioned.This journal was presented to me by my son, Lance Lee Gargus, on 6-13-98.

James Gargus

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