It’s rather ironic that during historic times of crisis like we’re currently experiencing, I am personally led to thoughts of my upbringing in the little town of Throckmorton, Texas.
There are advantages to growing up in a town that has a population of a little over 1,000, but boredom sets in as you approach high school days.
When I got my driver’s license at 13 years old, back in that day, you get friends together and you drove between 75 and 80 miles one way to see a movie in a theatre or eat at a real restaurant or hamburger joint.
There were actually several choices, but distance was always an issue — though it didn’t stop us.
For bowling or a drive-in movie, it was at Graham, about 40 miles away. Movies, Putt-Putt Golf, and awesome burgers were to be consumed in Abilene, a trip of about 75 miles, and more movies and other forms of entertainment in Wichita Falls, about 80 miles away.
When I was a freshman in high school, our church youth group took a trip to Lubbock, of all places, and that was a fun and eye opening experience. The church where we attended a youth rally had more members than the population of my little hometown.
You’ll never understand simplicity and being naive unless you lived the first 17 years of your life in a small town.
I have been so appalled and disgusted at the repeated onset of selfishness, the death of a man at the hands of misguided law enforcement, and the mixed messages of our so-called leaders of what it all means and how we fix it.
It is no wonder why people of all races and cultures are angry and beside themselves with rage. This has affected all of us in one-way or another.
The makeup of Throckmorton, then and now, consists of a white majority followed by families of Hispanic origin.
By the way, we dare not forget to include cowboys and ranchers in those numbers. That was it! The only thing that skewed the numbers over the years was the rotation of doctors from the country of India.
My parents, may they rest in peace, taught me well about how to relate to other cultures and people who weren’t like me. I’m especially grateful they did not bias me against people who went to other churches in town. They were living examples of faith and left that decision to me.
Even though we went to the Church of Christ in town my, dad would always say, “Son, never believe that we have an edge on Heaven.” That has resonated with me all through my life.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why during my early years and as an adult I have deep respect for all people — and that is at the core of my sadness at what I’ve seen over the last few days.
My dad, who was the vice president of First National Bank, was one of the most respected men in town. He sat down with people of all demographics, religions, education, backgroundsand age. He loved all people and they loved him. He listened to their stories and did everything he could to meet their financial needs. He had a servant heart, and that’s what is missing today.
After living a sheltered life for 17 years, I did not sit down and talk with a person of color until I went to Lubbock Christian University in 1970.
It’s not that I didn’t want to; it was just that the opportunity never afforded itself.
The most pleasant and rewarding experience I ever had was when I met an African-American man named Julius Caesar Graves III. Because of my upbringing, there was no tension on either side of the table, just a celebration of becoming friends with someone of color — and that continues today.
I am happy to say that to this day I have friends throughout all cultures. I wish I knew more about what they’ve been through.
I love them all, and it’s because of my parents and growing up in that blessed little town of Throckmorton, Texas.
Bob Massey is a Herald correspondent.