Today In Former Years

Journal Excerpts:

September 11, 1980 to 2002


John W. Cowart

Sept. 11, 1980: Attended Teacher’s conference with Gin & Mrs. Pope. Paid $20 each on light & water bills. Jennifer made 119 on gifted children’s test, 125 was entrance score; We’re very proud of her. Buccaneers 10; Rams 9 boring game.


Sept. 11, 1981: Ginny and I have looked forward to this day for weeks: today was a Love Day. At least once a month we plan to spend an entire day cuddling, loving and acting out our combined erotic fantasies. We’ve missed doing this all summer because children were always home and underfoot But now that they are back in school…

We spent the day at Dunn’s Avenue Park picnicking. We spread a blanked on a bed of pine straw beside a field of wild flowers. We spent the day strolling through grassy fields, loving, sipping a bottle of Blue Nun and talking, touching and loving for hours. Bought a new pipe at Eckerd’s Drug Store. Picked up the kids from school and took them to the library.


              Wednesday, September 11, 1985 – up early. Kids to school. Worked on Titanic article ms. Went to paper to call old folks for eldercare article. Went to Eve’s school for conference with teacher. Went to HUD to explain our finances for the year – they think I’m a rich guy trying to sneak into the Springfield slums in disguise – took ‘em all our check stubs. So far this year I have a total income of $5,088.65. Wake me when I’m a rich and famous Christian writer.

Prepared invitations for 5-day bible Club. (28 neighborhood kids came!)

Went back to paper to call other old folks.

Home at last to bed


September 11, 1986

Newsletter guy called. Car insurance expired. Mailed janitor article. Blood bank guy came by to get me for an emergency transfusion to that girl with leukemia; I’ve forgotten her name. Changed flat tire. Finished Ship Chandler’s article lede.. Made car history article calls.

Friday, September  11, 1992:

              Took Gin to college then I visited Fort Caroline Museum and Humane Society Thrift Store. I bought a few books related to the London Journal and Glog.

Wednesday, September 8, 1993:

              In the morning, no sign of either Mike or Jennifer! I’ve been stranded alone at their apartment since Monday night. Nothing to do but watch their extensive collection of porno films. I was stuck with no bus fare to get home and it’s way too far to walk even if I knew which direction to start in. Exasperating!

              Finally, Mike showed up about noon and drove me home where I had to dash around packing and preparing for our trip. (I’d been invited to appear on a tv show in Tampa for an interview about my book on prayer).

              Since M&J were in combat, Gin and I certainly did not want to rock their boat even a little bit. So we made other arrangements for a place for Pat to stay and for a car to drive down in.

              Tim & Carolyn (bless them) agreed to have Pat as a guest at their home; and I worked out a schedule of feeding and care for Sheba.

              I made a list of six or eight people I know who own more than one car and I called about borrowing a car. Jim did not return my call till late evening and Arthur said no.

              As I prayed about the problem, an odd name came to mind: Ken Cooper, director of Prisoners For Christ. Ken and I have not even spoken for months but I called him. "What can I do for you," he said.

              "You know I wouldn't have called unless I needed something," I said.

              "What do you need?"

              "I need to borrow a car for tomorrow, Friday and Saturday".

              "OK. I have one you can use."

              "Don't you even want to know why I need it or where I'm going with it".

              "No. I know you and that's all I need to know," Ken said.

              Once I heard a speaker say that when we are young we make our reputation, but when we grow older our reputation makes us; this incident proves that statement.

              About supper time Ken and June brought over a Dodge camper van with a kitchenette, carpet, air conditioning and a fold-down double bed -- a wonderful vehicle. So Ginny and I could travel in style. How good is the Lord to thus provide for us!

              Mike & Jennifer plan to meet with a marriage councilor tomorrow. When Jennifer called me tonight, I offered to stay home if we could help them out, and I also offered to let her move back home till she gets things straight, but she declined my offer. I really wanted, after a fashion, to make this trip because I've already spent much of the money IVP sent me for the trip on living expenses and I'd have to repay it if I did not go, but family is more important in God's sight than vain speaking engagements and I would have canceled if necessary; Curtis has another writer in the St. Pete area and I could have arranged for her to fill in on the TV program. But going seems to be the thing for me to do to give the kids space to work things out... Especially if some of their money problems stem from their helping me out all these months.

Thursday, September 9, 1993:

              Gin and I on the road in the cool comfort of the camper van. We followed Highway 301 south to Wildwood then joined Interstate 75 into Tampa and on over to Largo.

              The TV station (WCLF-TV22) paid for us to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Clearwater, a resort style hotel with fountains, parks, Jacuzzi, pool, continental breakfast, and all sorts of amenities.

              After checking in with the station we spent the afternoon in the pool. I read and indexed my own copy of the prayer book; Gin read the Confessions of St. Augustine as we pumped ourselves up for appearing in public as HA "spiritual leaders".

              Because money was so short, we'd eaten surplus army combat rations in the van driving down, but we splurged and ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken buffet for supper -- Heavenly! the first real food we've tasted in ages.

              So nervous about not looking like an udder fool on tv, I kept waking up all night.

              I arose, polished my shoes, studied Bible references, worried over my appearance and worried that I needed a good night's sleep.

              At 3 a.m. I went to bed again... and dreamed that I had overslept and missed the TV show!

 In my dream, NBC News anchorman Dan Rather came to get me and tell me that the producer was angry that I had not shown up. He and I became good friends. He told me the whole TV camera team, stars and audience was coming to my house for supper and that if I entertained them well, the producer would not be mad at me. Patricia and I rushed to the refrigerator. Not a thing inside but frozen bags of shrimp! We tried to boil them but found they had been frozen with the heads still on. Dan Rather (in full suit and tie), Patricia and I jumped to and began to head shrimp in my kitchen until I woke at 5:30 a.m. Friday, September 10, 1993:

              I went out to the pool for a time of laughing at my silly dream and devotions with the hotel's fine hot coffee. There I watched one of the most wonderful sunrises of sun through rain clouds I've ever seen.

              When I write, I spend days or weeks or months gnawing at ideas and ways to express them before presenting them to an audience, so I greatly feared the ad lib nature of this television show and having to answer questions immediately right off the top of my head. I do not think well on my feet at all. I like to have some Idea of my audience and their needs but I was going into this blind, having never even heard of the program or seen it before being asked to go on the air. Therefore, I had prepared my usual props and crutches of visual aids; I feel too shy to try to speak to a group without some crutch in my hand. The Show and Tell style of kindergartners is my style. So I took a number of iron tools, including a World War I bayonet,  and a magnet in my bag (the one with the false bottom filled with fish cutouts) and the wooden faith hook to illustrate how prayer changes our internal polarity by rubbing us against Christ, etc.

              I did tell Sandra Sims, the show's producer that I had a sword in the bag to use as an object lesson -- but she apparently did not tell Herman and Sharon Bailey, the Action Sixties hosts, that I had it and they were surprised that some nut was on their set on the air with an 18-inch long knife in a paper bag!

              Of course, because of the show's internal format, the Bailey's had never seen me before we met on camera... poor things.

              According to the station brochure Action Sixties has been rated as one of the world's top ten Christian TV programs; it is syndicated in over 25 national markets and carried on two satellite networks around the world. "It has a potential viewing audience of 15 million homes".

              For the past 13 years the Baileys have interviewed some of the age's most successful Christians: presidential candidates, high-ranking military officers, astronauts, actors, Olympic athletes, and even Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys!

              And then they get Cowart.

              On the air, Mr. Bailey introduced me by reading some of my magazine credits and telling everyone how important an author I am....

              As we talked, to be honest, I had to correct the false impression that I was somebody important so I ended up talking about my meager income, failures, struggles with poverty, trouble paying the electric bill, shrimping for food...

              The one impression, the one message I wanted to convey was that while the viewers have heard from people who are great successes that Jesus Christ is worthy, I wanted them to know that even when you are on the bottom of the pile -- when the lights are cut off, when the divorce happens, when you get laid off work, when the cancer grows, when all life is a messy can of worms and nothing works right -- even then Jesus Christ is Lord! He is worthy of our worship and our total lives because He is true. He is the Ancient of Days making all things ever new. He is worthy.

              Instead of leaving such a positive message, I feel I wallowed in self-pity and poor-mouthed God for 45 minutes before millions of viewers. I did get to use the magnet lesson but I got so carried away with my own thoughts that I forgot the time and did not show either the fish net or the faith hook... but I did get through the show.

              Now the purpose of this appearance -- arranged by IVP's public relations agent, Luanne Parks -- was to promote sales of the prayer book. But I felt so uncomfortable taking about my self -- if we had been talking about People Whose Faith or some historical or biblical subject I could have spoken with positive authority -- I squirmed. Especially over the host's last question which was geared to make me appear more of a giving, caring Christian than I am.

              So I actually said on the air "I hate this book!"

              So much for John Cowart as a book salesman.

              After the ordeal, Zelda, one of the show's secretaries, gave Ginny an envelope with $30 cash in it. "The station usually provides guests lunch money," she kindly said. But the program director had already written me that the show does not. so I feel that Zelda was moved to her act of compassion by my pitiful poor-mouthing. But we were concerned about having gas enough to make it back to Jacksonville so we accepted the money just as if I deserved it. What scum.

              Anyhow, that left Gin and me free for the rest of the day. We drove to Sand Key, a place where 28 years ago we could park the truck and stroll on a deserted beach, only to find it wall to wall condominiums. But we found a park and strolled a few hundred yards back and forth picking up shells in a torrential freezing rain. I found a hat on the beach for her to wear and we kissed with wet runny noses and laughed at ourselves then took Zelda's gift and ate lunch at a Woody's B-B-Q.

              We drove east on Interstate 4 through heavy traffic to the Winterhaven turn off then went to spend the night with my brother David and his wife May and her elderly mother Gladys.

              May baked a cake for us and roasted the first solid meat we've enjoyed in ages. It was wonderful and I gorged myself. They lavished all kinds of nice gifts on us. May gave Gin some mug mats she'd woven herself. Gladys gave me a bag full of Bible study books. My brother gave me a meerschaum pipe carved in an Indian head, an ashtray shaped like a pipe, an ashtray shaped like a pot-bellied stove and a belt buckle formed as an over-the-road truck.

              And... David had arranged with a friend who owns an appliance repair business to tape the Action Sixties program! Tapes from the studio cost about $20 and we could not afford to order one and we though we'd never get to see the wonder of me on tv.

              But my brother arranged it so we all sat in his living room and watched the program video...

              How pleased and how shocked I felt. I had no idea I was so grossly fat! or that I sound like such a squeaky whimp, or that my teeth really look that bad with my face caved in and all. How can Ginny stand to look at me? I resolved then and there to loose a whole bunch of weight!

              But, every once in a while, I thought that something positive about Jesus did come across in what I said on the air. The object lesson with the magnet did communicate well.

              David and May gave up their own bed -- and David slept on the sofa while May worked at the hospital. How gracious they were to us... And we fell dead away asleep.

Saturday, September 11, 1993:

              I went to work with my brother today for a few hours. David works at a mini-warehouse private storage facility and we checked the locks on all the storage sheds then we took a list of 200 or so units which had not been paid for and double locked them. I got to catty the boxes of padlocks for my brother.

              After that he drove me to meet Phil Bader, who owns a television repair shop. Phil made the tape of the television show and he was making another one for me to carry home.

              Phil is also a Christian. The roof of his building is being repaired and he turns up the air conditioning in his office and invites the roofers down to get cooled off from the searing hot roof and to drink from his water cooler.

              Yesterday, the three roofers had been in his office and stayed to see David's brother on TV. Phil invited them down to meet me in person today. One greeted me saying, "You ain't near half as ugly on tv as you are in person!"

              Another complemented me saying I didn't sound anything like a preacher.

              One man told me about his own anxiety over having his family's electricity turned off and how worried he was and how he'd never heard anyone talk about such a thing on television. My testimony seemed to have gotten through to him. I was so surprised.

              David, Phil and I had a great conversation about the problems of being a common ordinary Christian in daily life just trying to make a living.

              We got away from Winterhaven late laden down with the gifts from David, May and Gladys -- including two big cases of potato chips left over from an abandoned warehouse or something.

              Gin and I drove north on Highway 27 to Ocala where we joined 301. We stopped at an antique store in Waldo where we bought a copy of Venus de Milo for Patricia, some Indian arrowheads for Donald, and a civil War bullet for Eve who is so interested in that part of history.

              We rushed home to return Ken’s van because someone else needed to use it tonight.

              Tim & Carol brought Patricia home and they (not Pat, who was embarrassed to see me on TV) watched the video with us. Tim especially seemed to get a big kick out of it.

              Finally, we stumbled into bed... discouraged after this triumphal tour because we are right back in the common problems of life and we still have not yet paid September's rent...  or lights or water or phone bill ... and there was no check from Better Tomorrow or Parent's Plus Loan or anybody else. The only mail was another form letter turning down one of Ginny's job applications.

              Sic Transit Gloria.

Sunday, September  11, 1994:

              After church today, the Pastor took me outside and showed me the new car some anonymous person in the congregation is giving to us. It is a 1984 blue Nissan Maxima and appears to be a very nice little car. It needs tires and a muffler and some work done but the donor is paying for all that as well as for title transfer and insurance! We will be able to pick it up one day next week.

Monday, Sept. 11, 1995

Slept in late with Ginny till 8 a.m. then a picnic at Pearl Street Park. Unbelievable amount of sleep this weekend. We were frazzled!

Left work early to watch football with Ginny.

Jennifer called wanting $$ but I only have one quarter to my name. Donald visited with papers for us to sign.

Tuesday, Sept 12, 1995

Typed resource letter for library. Helped Florence Yerkes and Eleanor Scruggs give tours of church to dance class kids.

Late tv news story about shepherds in Wyoming using donkeys to keep wolves away from flock. I wonder how that applies to pastors as shepherds of God’s flock?

Patty got a referral from school.

Thursday, September 10, 1998:

              In a dream the other night, and through reading George Muller's autobiography, I have been encouraged to spend more time reading the Scripture. I feel that I need more direct instruction from God's Word for the good of my own soul and that I should base the will of God book more on inductive studies than on second hand experiences.

              Therefore, today I began studying Stringfellow's translation and harmony. I chose this one because it is unfamiliar to me.

              I also spent much of today reading a biography of Puritan preacher Increase Matther.

              Today Ginny picked up her new glasses, her first new glasses in five to eight years. She got a special deal which gave her a pair of regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses at a low rate (about $200). So when I met her evening bus she was wearing dark glasses. She had worn a black suit to work and the combination of that and dark glasses, the first pair she's ever owned, made her look like one of the Blues Brothers. Her appearance shocked me and I laughed and laughed saying that now I'm married to a raccoon!

              She said that with her new glasses, I look handsome.

              We had a great time walking home. Then she wandered around our yard really looking at flowers. She sees them so much better now.

              The CBS evening news tonight displayed one of the high points of television history: Dan Rather and his gang spent the whole broadcast telling how President Clinton is being forced to resign or be impeached. Then word came that the President wanted live time on the air. Rather appeared sure that the President would breakdown and resign on the air. Rather introduced the President with a flippant, "Here's the president who has something to say". President Clinton then appeared on screen and announced that an airline strike has been resolved and went about his business with no reference to the media's speculation. Rather was nonplused to say the least. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV. Ginny & I cheered the President. He just ignored the nibbling mice that scurry around his feet. I'm reminded of elements in the Book of Esther where little people, sycophants, try to bring down lions.

              Clinton's public approval rating in surveys still ranks up at 69% tonight. If the Republicans attempt to impeach him before the November elections I think voters may surprise them. They ought not to disregard the voice of the people in this matter. I think it was Ginridge who said, "It is no light matter to set aside an official the people have elected."

              The stock market has been going up and down drastically over the past ten days. My impression is that this is caused not by the fact that the President fucked his secretary but by the instability created by Republicans trying to oust him from office. Not sure of what the Congress is going to do, people are trying to hold onto their money.

              Last night Ginny and I talked about our personal spiritual state for a while. It's not good. While our core beliefs remain the same, we have, to a certain extent, given up on God. Our theology remains conservative but our practical living religion seems drained. We feel deeply in need of renewal and talked about going on a retreat or something. We attribute our state to two causes: (1.) we have not recovered from the kicks we received related to Patricia; we still are grieving for her (2.) We are too comfortable; with the pressure of children off and our income increased, we are not as aware of our utter dependence on God as we were when we had to pray for daily bread daily. We are also just plain tired and weary.

              Tonight we agreed to watch the televised Billy Graham crusade to see if that might help us. He spoke on the battle for the mind. Be renewed by the transforming of your mind... Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus... The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways... As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is... Love the Lord your God with all your mind...

              After the service, we cut the tv off, read mysteries for a while then went to bed.

Friday, September 11, 1998:

              Slept late, till 4:30, then came out to the office to make journal entry for yesterday, and enter a note or two in the will of God book.

              After walking Ginny to the bus and shopping at Winn Dixie, I attempted to pray for a while. I have to rely on the fact that when we know not how to pray as we ought, the Spirit Himself prayeth within us with groanings which cannot be heard. I read over a few prayers from the new Book of Common Prayer adding a few comments of my own as they came to mind. This is a mechanical way to pray but it's the best I can do at the moment, for I really have no idea what or how to pray.

              Following the inclination of my own heart, I then decided to cut the grass quickly. Barbara had called about lunch and I wizzed through the yard to get ready to meet her at 11:30, but the mulcher ground up most of the leaves.

              We ate at Silver Star. The situation with her kids continues to degenerate. Back at our house, we talked about teaching methods for the Sermon From The Mount which she is teaching to her Wednesday prayer group.

              She drove me down to the river near Riverside Park where I rescued a crab stranded in a dry area separated from the water by a cement wall. I imagine he came up in the net of some shrimper last night. Mr. Crab was as appreciative of his rescue as his nature allows.

              Met Ginny's bus and we walked and talked around the Five Points Shopping Center. (She is so beautiful! It amazes me that such an intelligent, beautiful woman could possibly be in love with me! She is the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life!) Then we went to Blockbusters Video for some films to watch over the weekend. The manager there, Michael ???, recognized me because a while back I had given him some reprints of the Bateman/Titanic article which he’d read somewhere. He asked for copies which he passed on to his district manager. The Blockbusters company spearpoints the sale of the Titanic movie video which is the rage. So Michael apparently gained some earned some points through his information. Anyhow, as we left the store, he gave me a gift of a video copy of Titanic. People have been waiting in line all night to buy copies of this film at exorbitant prices so this represents quite a gift. Ginny and I have not seen the movie but we keep hearing people say they've seen it six or eight times because they are so impressed. I think it won some Oscar awards too.

              We ate sandwiches at Firehouse Subs then strolled home admiring cats and flowers and cars and talking together about everything and nothing.

              Arriving home, Ray met us in the front yard. He had jacked up our car and determined that it needs not a rack and pinion but new ball joints, and a water pump and clutch and new injector seals and this and that. He called around to auto parts stores and determined that the car can be fixed for about $300 plus labor and he say he will not charge us for his labor.

              Lord, what will You have us do? We are willing to keep traveling on foot or by bike or to buy a new car or, our last choice, to fix this one. But we don't want to piss away more money into this 1984 car only to have something else break. I feel like a fool for believing the estimated other mechanics have given us in the past, $750 for the rack & pinion alone.

              I know nothing about cars and I hardly know Ray who appears to be good-hearted and says he has mechanical experience. I’m not at all sure whether or not he knows how to fix this one. (NOTE: As things turned out, Ray is one of the finest auto mechanics I’ve ever met).

I wonder if God keeps throwing us into contact with Ray for some purpose far beyond merely repairing a broken down car. What should we do at this point? From the many people we have met on the streets as we walked or biked I wonder if God has us on foot to make contact with people or for our own, enforced, exercise. Am I a fool for Christ or just a fool period?

              I hate fooling with mechanical things; they never work right for me. Big deal. The only question in this as in all things is, Lord, what would You have me to do? Again I have that feeling that I am on display to the community.

              Of course, as I told Barbara this afternoon: Whatever else, I feel proud that I have a bigger inferiority complex than anyone else that I know of!

              There was a message on the phone machine, a pox upon it, from Wes Basset. he had been by and not finding us home, left a pair of leather boots for me in the front seat of the car. (my feet are too big for them) but I called his phone machine and thanked him for them. I'll send them to The Lord’s Store Mission at St. Pete's for the poor as soon as we can get out there; we have a carload of stuff to go awaiting transportation... maybe if we had a running car I could get these items to the poor before winter.

              Exhausted with all this, Gin and I vegetated in front of the tv and went to bed tired out...

              Oh, one other thing: today Peggy, personnel director at Gin’s work, called Ginny for more information concerning her transcript because she is processing some paperwork related to Ginny's application for a permanent job. We have been concerned about employment because Ginny's present part-time, temporary job ought to have ended by now and we had no prospects of other income. We have been hoarding the cash in the credit union thinking that we might have to use it for home mortgage and living expenses. I have been walking on eggs thinking that if Ginny loses her job I would have to go back to menial labor as a gray-haired bag boy or something (I make a point of speaking friendly every morning to the Winn Dixie manager) to keep us going. I have hesitated to fully commit to writing any book for fear that once again I might have to break off  to go to manual work as I have in the past; such a feeling of dread saps my spirit. I don't know that I can take it if I have to kill my dreams one more time. If that does happen, I suspect they would stay dead.

              We have hesitated to aggressively pursue the purchase of another car because we feared not being able to make payments on one. We have no idea if we are to "step out in faith" or to be as "prudent as the ants". Anyhow, the contact with Peggy is NOT a solid job offer yet but it indicates that one may soon be in the offing.

              We are either at a point of "holy resignation" or "Don't give a damn"; I don't know which.... Is there a difference?

              Of course there is. One reflects a positive attitude toward following God's plan as He reveals it from day to day; the other reflects despair.

              Could be. Maybe. I think.

Saturday, September 11, 1999:

              I borrowed the church van so Gin & I could take some items to the Lord's Store Mission. We also drove to a hardware store and bought more potting soil, yard  and pool supplies.

Sunday, September 12, 1999:

              We walked to church where the pastor preached on forgiving those who have wronged us. I wish he'd dwelt more on how to do this. I already know that the Lord commands it and I have tried and tried (seven times) but various incidents happen which bring the whole thing to mind again just as fresh as the day it happened years ago. Does this mean that I have not forgiven them? Or does it simply mean that plain old common human memory is at work? If that's true, then it's an opportunity to forgive again. I'm not at all sure about this. I say the words and leave it in God's hands... but then, how am I supposed to regard those people now. Most of the time they did not mean all that much to me in the first place, so now is it incumbent on me to associate with them just because I have forgiven them? Pastors talk too much about what Christians are to do without telling us how to do it.

              Patricia called this afternoon. We talked about jobs and cars and Aunt Hazel (Gin & I visited Hazel earlier in the week; she has lung cancer and is in Hospice care). Patricia seems to be on the right track now; I'm pleased with her direction.

Friday, September 8, 2000:

              I drove Ginny to work then returned the van to church and walked home to begin my chores to prepare for the weekend...


              Barbara called asking me to lunch at Silver Star. Waiting for her to arrive, I cleaned the pool filter and threw a couple of loads of laundry into the washer and dishes into the dishwasher.

              Barbara is upset over things happening at her former church. She says she felt as though she does not belong when she attended Sunday. The on-going saga of her children continues to disturb her. She is enmeshed and refuses to extricate herself.

              Once she left, super heavy rains set in again.

              This morning's radio announcer said giving his weather report, "Nobody has a clue about what it going to do today. We thought the front was moving on and it did but now it appears to be headed back this way; if you go out today, you'll just have to take your chances".

              I attempted to write a letter thanking Corporate Care Works for Ray Hellier's help in counseling me...


              Want to hear God laugh?

              Make plans.

              Warren Douglas sloshed through the rain to my door. Someone at his wife's work has some furniture that must be moved -- NOW. Did we want it.

              The lady had new furniture delivered this afternoon and she must either move her old stuff or set it out in the rain because she has family coming in for a funeral at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

              I sloshed through the mud to meet Gin's bus and she said she feels as though God wants us to accept the furniture sight unseen -- either for our own use or to supply some child in CEW. If those things don't work out, she'll send it to the mission.

              I called Warren. He called the lady and waited for her return call. It came just as we sat down to supper. I left my plate on the table and darted. Warren, Carol, and I drove to Northside out Dunn Avenue and picked a rose-floral pattern matching sofa, loveseat, rug  and overstuffed chair. Lovely stuff. We tied them in a pile above his pickup truck, covered them with plastic sheets and -- the rain returned with a vengeance. All the stuff got soaked during the drive back through rain so hard you could hardly see through the truck's windshield. We wadded through ankle-deep water ponded at our front door and piled it in our living room.

              Lord, You know how much I hate clutter and now I'm inundated in water outside my door and furniture stacked all over inside. Thank You for the stuff, but I do question Your timing about all this.

              Oh, the lady who gave us the furniture: tracts on her table caused me to question her; she is a Christian and has enrolled in the choir for the Billy Graham crusade. We had about 45 seconds of conversation and immediately bonded as Christian brother and sister.

              Warren and Carol, who apparently have known the lady, whose name I never caught, for years, wondered at the rapid rapport that must have appeared to them to come out of nowhere.

              God's grace and sovereignty are indeed wondrous.

Saturday, September 9, 2000:

              Gin & I waited around all morning for Warren to show up again because I understood that I was to help him move more furniture.

              But when he at last did show up, he had made arrangements for Dennis to help him with the remaining stuff and deliver it to the home of a poor person who Dennis knows. After much negotiating I persuaded them to take at least the sofa and chair with them to the poor person-- our living room is much too small for all these things. But Dennis insisted that we keep the loveseat at least.

              All this furniture moving pissed away our whole day.

Sunday, September 10, 2000:

              Church, Sunday School and afternoon football.

Monday, September 11, 2000 – Wednesday, 13th

              Did nothing but read novels.

Thursday, September 14, 2000:

              Attended another Billy Graham training session.

Saturday, September 8, 2001:

              Yard work all day.

Sunday, September 9, 2001:

              Today was one of the most beautiful early fall days I've ever seen. So, how did we spend it? Shopping for shoes -- Inside K-Mart!

              Watched tv football all afternoon.

Monday, September 10, 2001:

              Barbara (who had broken her arm a few weeks ago and could not drive until now) said she wanted her car back tomorrow, so I chased around running errands all day. Late this afternoon she called saying her arm still hurts and she can't drive after all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001:

              I spent the day driving Barbara here and there; grocery shopping, library, bank, etc.

              About 1 o'clock a friend of her's told us that several air planes have crashed into buildings in New York and Washington, D.C. The car radio said that four air liners were hijacked by terrorists and deliberately rammed into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. The Whitehouse and Capital have been evacuated. President Bush is running the country from a command center aboard Air Force One. The attack is deliberate but we are not sure which bunch of assholes, there are so many in the world, set it off.

              I got Barbara back home, phoned Ginny, put gas in the car (prices in some areas have jumped from $1.49 to over $5 per galleon (see what I mean about assholes), and I drove home. Ginny's building had been evacuated; Gale gave her a ride home earlier in the day.

              We watched coverage on tv all evening.

              We expected the Red Cross to call us up for the duties we’ve trained for but have not heard from them so far. Jennifer and Eve called to check on us. Gin called her parents; I called Fred and John -- all are ok.

              Newscasters estimate that 266 people died aboard the airplanes; several hundred more inside the Pentagon; and as many as 50,000 people work in the World Trade Center's three buildings that collapsed. The terrorists timed the attack so that police and firemen who responded to rescue victims of the first crash, were caught in the second explosion (a common terrorist practice in other countries); over 300 firemen died just after they arrived on the scene.

              The President gave three short speeches today and Congressmen who were still in D.C. stood on the Capital steps while leaders voiced their support of the President. The most extraordinary thing was that at the end of the speeches, someone started singing "God Bless America" and more and more senators and representatives joined in until the whole congress were rag-tag singing with tears in their eyes. That was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen on tv.

              Somebody somewhere is going to catch hell for this outrage.

              If we don't use nuclear bombs for this, what would we use them for? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2001:

              Gin went in to work as usual.

              I followed the tv coverage of rescue attempts all morning. I cut the tv off and wrote a little more on the history of Jacksonville novel.

              When Gin came home, we discussed whether or not we ought to call Red Cross about volunteer work (I’’d driven by headquarters yesterday and they were swarming with helpers) but decided to keep ourselves in reserve for Hurricane Gabriel which is expected to strike this weekend.

              In D.C. the Executive Office Building and the U.S. Capitol building were both evacuated because of bomb threats during the day. The terrorists have established a no-fly zone over the entire U.S. and no flights other than military are allowed.

              Hurricane Gabriel approaches Florida's gulf coast and is expected to cross the state from Tampa and turn north through Jacksonville.

Thursday, September 13, 2001:

              I gave up on even trying to work and watched tv coverage of the disaster all day. Rumors and counter rumors fill the air ways. Great speculations on all news programs.

Friday, September 14, 2001:

              Between eminent threat of war, general weariness, and vile weather, Ginny stayed home from work today.

              President Bush has declared war on terrorism, Hurricane Gabriel should come ashore any second now, the country is in turmoil -- and my clear cut Christian duty today is ... putting Barbara's cat in a box and taking the damn thing to the vet!

              Barbara wanted her car back today so I drove through driving rain (over 8 inches in the past few days) captured the lovely little kitten and drove her and it to the vet. She brought me home and visited for a while then left.

              Gin & I spent the day making storm preparations, following news programs, watching the storm approach and the rain pour, and reading murder mysteries. Since the Red Cross has not called us up, we decided to continue life as she is lived here in this place.

              All indications are that (as I've observed in other disasters and special occasions) there is an overflowing of volunteers swarming driven by the general excitement of the situation. These wonderful folks, caught up in the panic of the moment, run on nervous energy. Compelled to be part of the action, they burn out all too quickly having jumped in with little idea of long-term commitment. God bless them, they labor intensively during the crisis, but drift off when the real work begins.

              I went through all that back in the D.C. riots at King's assassination -- Wow, that was exciting. But I have learned to let others do their thing -- say, serve Thanksgiving dinner at the mission -- while I try to serve on the other 364 days of the year. Some good-hearted folks don't realize that the poor need to eat more than once a year.

              Of course, I suspect that all of us do-gooders do good out of some internal need of our own which has little, if anything, to do with serving God or our fellow man.

              Or maybe those thoughts merely justify my sitting on my ass at home warm and dry watching tv instead of being out there on the firing line.

              Gin commented that there has never been a hurricane threat when I did not spend the worst day of it on the road driving somebody else because of their lack of planning. I realized that that is true of practically all holidays too! Being a Christian is sometimes a pain in the ass.

              Anyhow, the cat got to the vet and I survived.

              President Bush declared today as a National Day Of Prayer and Mourning. Gin & I watched -- and cried and prayed -- during the service from National Cathedral. Billy Graham, appearing feeble but speaking with power, delivered the sermon. A touching service of worship and patriotism.

              All evening people have lit candles, waved flags, delivered flowers to the crash sites. etc. The non-Christian falls back on such meaningless rituals because of the urge to do something, yet they have no direction as to what to do. They gather in groups, shed tears, wear ribbons  and sing songs of feel-goodism but there is no substance to their actions. – OR MINE! It's sad.

Saturday, September 15, 2001:

              Super heavy rain all morning.

              Gin & I read, watched tv…Our street and yard are flooded but we have missed the worst of the storm.


Tuesday,  September 10,  2002

              Gin & I went to vote before work. As we left, the pole worker outside said, “Hope the ones you voted for wins”. I replied, “I’m not sure I want them too, considering the list we have to choose from”….

              The building management at Ginny’s work  displayed brilliant poor taste and stupidity Monday. A notice from management appeared on the elevator walls announcing that Wednesday they would be testing the fire alarm system all day with alarm bursts lasting from 20 seconds to three minutes and that building office workers should just ignore all alarms unless they sounded for more than three minutes! Of course some dummy chose September 11th first anniversary of the World Trade Center attack to run this test. President Bush has put the nation on Orange Alert, highest state of readiness short of actual war,  expecting the enemy to commemorate their terrorist attack by killing more Americans tomorrow. Embassies are closed. Troops armed with Stinger missiles guard government buildings. Air Force planes have orders to bring down suspicious aircraft… and Ginny’s building management decides to run an all-day test of fire alarms!

. Many people plan to take off work tomorrow. Gin and I plant to keep to our own routine and let God’s plans for us work our amid wars and rumors of wars.

              Tonight, Gin, Donald and I went to visit Jennifer and Pat to show off Donald’s new van and for Jennifer to show off her new house. We all loaded up in the van and drove to Krispy Kreme Donuts laughing with family exuberance over every little thing and enjoying each other’s company..

Wednesday, September 11,  2002

              Spent the day either fooling with the car or waiting for Rex and Adam (bless them) to show up and take over the job which I’m incompetent to do. A nut on the axel hub is frozen in place and we can’t get it off. I’m to take it into Rex’s shop Friday morning so he can use an air impact wrench to loosen the thing, then Saturday morning we’ll be able to get on with the job or replacing the CV axel joint assembly. Thus the project stretches on and on before me consuming my mind and life.

              Electric power went off for two hours this morning. I’m not sure if it were a routine power loss or a terrorist act coming as it did on the anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. First I checked our own circuit breakers, then I made some calls to see if the outage was just our house or the whole neighborhood. I checked with Warren and Dennis but neither was home. Then I checked with a neighbor’s wife, I don’t know her name. She seemed scared thinking that it was more terrorism. I sat on their front porch with her a few minutes to reassure her that there is no imminent disaster on Ernest Street. About 1:30 p.m. the power was restored but I had no explanation of what had happened.


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