Do you ever get fed up with all of the "stuff" which comes into your home and life every day, every night unless the cable has gone off, possibly because of a wreck or other power reason? I used the word "stuff" because the programs are so varied a person can get lost if he forgets which or when or where. Worse than that is what the programs are about and today's "diversity" which causes one to shake his head at the content. And how about the 24/7 news reports that more often than not are opinions which are presented on a biased opinion program by biased so-called experts.
Do any of you remember when the cable first came to town, say to Gravette? It was sometime in the seventies. It was called Southern Cable. I used to have one of their program listings which included about a dozen or so stations. There were a couple of Fort Smith stations if my memory is working, but there were stations from Joplin, Mo., and Pittsburg, Kan. I remember there was a Chicago station and one from New York and others which are buried deep in the gray matter that isn't working. I do remember the cost was a little less than twenty dollars a month. I don't think it was on 24 hours a day. It was installed by a Rogers man, G. Don Thompson, who eventually sold it. Now there are hundreds of stations with every topic ever heard about barging in ... if you let it.
Now you wonder, why is this included in this week's 'cuff? The answer is later in the column as it lists a program that I really enjoyed a few nights ago, a program that visited old time entertainment, especially since it was based on the principles of live and love. It was a program, I'm sure, that touched all those who were enjoying principles from the good old days that were being expressed rather than the disgusting language and vulgarity we hear so often. And the performance? It was entertaining and expressed a message on what life really should be all about, simply life and love.
As the program progressed, my mind began to wander backwards some forty or so years when some of the subject of the evening drifted back to those days when ... you know. Now you can see almost anything on many of the tube programs, much to the dismay of parents who are attempting to teach their children the necessities of nice living, not some of the topics the little ones manage to get exposed to ... even in some of the cartoons for today's generation. It's time to drift to the end of this 'cuff by explaining, along with dozens of others who broke away from the tube to attend a local program, which had its beginning more than forty years ago.
It began when four high school boys from Gravette formed a singing group, "The Sonshine Quartet." They entertained locally and sometimes out of town. Who were they? They were Lee and Don Donell, Bruce Wilbanks and Steve Tucker. Down through the years they have kept in touch and in harmony, returning to their hometown to perform, and such was this special appearance at the Baptist Church in Gravette. It was special because the quartet, in April, lost a fifth member who, as a young man, joined the quartet as its pianist, Jonathan (Jon) Pickup. The program was to honor his memory and to express the life and loving between all of these young men who now have grandchildren of their own ... and especially to sing the Sonshine songs that enveloped their lives and those who remember them.
The two hour program of singing and the tribute to Jon breathed a new look into the memories of how five young men have touched the lives of so many. There were ripples of laughter when a tale from the long ago filled the sanctuary as well, no doubt, when a tear often formed as memories shifted to reality of the loss... and, yes, for the love that reached forward toward another year as Sonshine continues ... when we allow that to happen. Quite a lesson for everyone.
Jon was born in Claremore, Okla., where he attended school. He met his wife Carolyn Ann Thompson while he was serving as pastor at Park Street Baptist in Bentonville. He also served as pastor of the Baptist Church in Gravette. Jon and Carolyn had three children, Jamie, Justin and Jordan, who prepared a two page obituary of his life which was given to all who attended the program. In a letter to his family he wrote, "As far as my funeral, I really want a birthday theme (balloons, no flowers, streamers and every family member of mine to have a box of Cracker Jacks)," which he explained. And at the program's end each person who attended received a little bag of Cracker Jacks as they left the sanctuary.
And so ... this 'cuff is just a reminder that no matter how much "stuff" tries to fill homes, there can always be "Sonshine/Sunshine" that will help the clouds roll away, so important are the sunbeams parents allow to fall on their children. Five young men, real men, have proved this truth.
'Till next time.
Dodie Evans is the former owner and long-time editor of The Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.