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From the Publisher's Desk – I have some confessions to make (Jan. 14, 2015 issue)

Saint Augustine once said “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
Let’s just say that I have a few things to get off my chest. My early social skills revolved around church and visits from family.
I do remember being the inquisitive type. “Where do the dinosaurs come into the Bible story,?” I repeatedly asked my Sunday school teacher. She was obviously perplexed and trying to stick to the small scripture cards in front of her. “Adam and Eve were first,” she would say. “Were they before the dinosaurs,?” I continued to question. “Were they not saved on Noah’s ark?” Obviously, my small mind was running far beyond her Biblical offerings.
I got in trouble for throwing sand in the eyes of the pastor’s daughter, trying to cut off the finger of the pastor’s son with the saw in my toy tool kit and pulling the extended rope, hanging down from the ceiling, which caused the church bell to ring.
I later grew up to be involved in church as I taught, including a youth Bible school group. One night, when I was struggling to hold their attention, I skipped directly to recess. I proceeded to help each one crawl out of the window in the small basement room. We couldn’t go upstairs and alert the adults that we were finished already. Crawling out seemed like the best plan at the time to keep them happy. Let’s pretend we are Paul and Silas in prison and escape. Hoist and shove, hoist and shove.
My cousin Karen Adkins Guinn came over most Sundays after church when we were younger. We always had plenty of adventures, from finding brown jugs in the barn that we thought were moonshine, to making our sled look like it had plunged over a high embankment of snow into the creek below.
The jugs turned out to be chemicals for “gassing” tobacco beds. Needless to say we were stripped and scrubbed head to toe, while being quizzed on whether we had attempted to drink any of the dried up chemical that may have been left in the jar. The misleading sled tracks didn’t seem as funny to our moms as we had anticipated. Not everyone can take a good prank.
It was clear that Karen and I were too good at using our imaginations. This was before video games and thousands of other things to occupy the idle mind of a child.
I remember standing on the front porch with Karen when we were young. She was near the edge of the high end. In the spur of the moment, I yelled “Let’s play astronaut,” and pushed her off with no notice. Needless to say, her power boosters failed to ignite. However, her temper did.
Karen was crying. I rushed to her rescue pleading “Shhhh, you’ll get me in trouble.” Houston we’ve got a problem. Mission failed – abort and run.
I later tried to make Karen famous when I submitted a terrible, childlike drawing I did to a local children’s show called “Romper Room,” which aired on WCYB-TV. I think we were 12 or 13 years old at the time and out of school for the summer.
Of course, I had drawn it with my intentional pre-school quality and Karen’s name printed sloppily at the bottom. In the accompanying letter, Miss Ann, who was the pleasant host of the series, was asked if she could show the art on TV and possibly see Karen and Keith in her “Magic Mirror.” She closed her show out everyday with the mirror, revealing the names of good boys and girls. The letter was signed love, Karen.
I still recall as Miss Ann showed what she thought was Karen’s artwork and bragged about the quality and how she had colored within the lines. Later, when she raised her “Magic Mirror,” she proclaimed “Magic Mirror tell me do. Magic Mirror tell me true. Did all my friends have fun today? Did all my friends have fun at play?” Then she proceeded with “I see Karen and I see Keith.” She peered over her mirror and gave a smile as if she had done us a big favor.
If Miss Ann could really see things in that mirror, she would have known I was a bad boy and Karen did do the art.
My mischief continued through high school and college. I will skip details of those accounts. Not for lack of choices to pick from but rather from lack of space here.
While working at The Erwin Record, I recall dumping a box of styrofoam peanuts into a friend’s car, hanging a commode seat on the trailer hitch of a truck, parked in the back of the building and driving around with a mannequin in my back seat. I also forgot and left the commode seat up after using the bathroom. Employee Janice Metcalf was the next to go in and actually fall in. Her pants were soaked.
There was also the time that former Publisher Mark Stevens, Janice and I were exploring the old town hall building on Gay Street. We were in awe of the stage and theater on the middle floor and spooked by the eeriness of the building itself. I was alone in one of the rooms when I opened a closet and found an old sheet inside. I draped it over me and hunched down, pulling the door closed behind me.
Janice, who saw me hide, directed Mark toward the door and questioned what could be behind it. He opened it and I slowly rose up with a deep moaning sound. All we could hear was Mark running down the hallway, the stairs and outside with a continual scream that faded into the distance the farther he got from the ghostly image.
Although I didn’t grow up around my dad, mom says that I got a lot of my pranks and teasing from him. It’s us quiet ones you have to watch out for.
However, I did get out smarted Sunday. I knew it was time to get volunteers to teach Sunday school class. After class I headed to the restroom and found Spud Chaffin in line in front of me. He and I decided we were safe to be away from the conversation around the sign up sheet for teaching.
Spud made it back to the group before me and set me up. After I returned, he called for a quick vote of all in favor of me teaching. All hands went up and I was outnumbered.
I’ll admit, poetry is more along Spud’s specialty. In fact, he has had published works in The Erwin Record. I am sure he would be glad to speak to any schools in the county.