My family tree, back three or four genera-tions, and I am sure much further, is populated by extremely poor dirt farmers. My grandparents and parents worked as sharecroppers for much of their lives. West Texas is where the family rooted for a long, long time.
Recently, my cousin brought me this photo of my grandfather, Hill Sawyers. Taken in the mid to late 1920s out in Stonewall County near Old Glory, Granddad worked farm land to provide a meager existence for his family that included my mother.
Our family emerged from the deep poverty of its past thanks to a combination of white privilege; various forms of government assistance, including help with education, tax policy, health care and homeownership; and hard work. Not rich today by any means, all of us who survive are doing much, much better than Granddad and Grandmother.
Hill Sawyers was a special person in my life.
He took me all over the canyons and "breaks" back of his old clapboard house on many memorable occasions. I remember how much I loved to make the trip to "West Texas." I remember being fascinated by his high-top, lace-up shoes, so soft and worn, much like his well-worn overalls. He chewed Brown Mule tobacco by the plug. He covered his toothless mouth with his arthritic hand when he laughed out loud. He was a character.
I loved the old man.
He loved me.
Recalling just now an old Randy Travis song, I guess I did think that he walked on water.
To hear Randy Travis' song about a man like Hill Sawyers, He Walked on Water, click here.
Or, watch this rather rough video of Travis performing the song.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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