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James R. Stout

Ed, Ed, Eddie, Eddie, Ed

            What’s in a name? Jim Croce sang “I Got A Name” back in 1973. Your name means something. Not the meaning that you look up on Wikipedia that shows the origin of your name, but the meaning of who you are in other people’s eyes. People start to think of your name for not only who you are, but what you are. It doesn’t have to be global in nature and usually it is far more local in nature. To this day I have only known one person named Conrad. Now, I’m certain that there are and have been many men named Conrad who were good and decent men. Men who made their name stand for a good and decent person. But the only Conrad that I have ever known was a bully who was vulgar and seemed to only know vulgar language. He was a serial rapist and killer in the making. OK, perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he became one of those types of men. So, when I hear the name Conrad it’s not with an ounce of liking. That Conrad made his name a synonym for evil. Thankfully, I have only met a very few people of Conrad’s ilk in my life.

            Let me tell you about a name that has a significant meaning in my life. I have been deeply affected by no less than 5 people with this name. The name? Ed. When I was 8-years-old the pastor of our church was Reverend Ed Wiggers. While I only knew him through the eyes of a child, I knew him as a man of God who had a pastor’s heart. Ed Wiggers led me to the Lord when I was 8 and he baptized me at that little church in Bryan, Texas in the fall of 1963. As so often happens in the Baptist Church, Ed was called by another church to move and become their pastor. It was the leading of the Lord in his and the lives of the two congregations involved. Strangely enough, our next pastor was a man named Reverend Ed Pounders. Brother Pounders, as we called him, was also a man of God. He had a pastor’s heart and it was via his sermons and leadership that I first came to a deeper understanding of who Christ is. I also got to know his two children. Ernest was about 3 years older than me and had a major crush on my sister Debbie. Ernest’s sister Cindy was a year older than me and for a time I had a major crush on her. Ed Pounders was the first minister that I came to know on a personal level as opposed to just being a member of the congregation.

            During this period of time I became best friends with a boy in our neighborhood who was my best friend during my first 10 years of life. His name? Eddie Brown. Starting to see a theme here yet? Eddie and I were the Tom and Huck of the neighborhood. I’ve written about him at length in other blogs, so if you want to learn more about Eddie, then look at my archived blogs on I’ll just say that Eddie was a great guy. Unfortunately, we lost Eddie when he drowned in the San Jacinto River in July of 1965. He was the first person in my life that died and was close to me. It was a traumatic event and created a hole in my life for years to come. I often wonder what kind of man he would have grown into had he lived. Would he have had children? I do take comfort in knowing that just two weeks prior to his death he became a Christian and was baptized in the same baptistry that I had been baptized in 18 months prior.

            We moved back to Houston when I was 11-years-old. After living in a temporary home while waiting for our house to become available, we moved into the house that I consider the house in which I grew up. It was also the neighborhood in which I grew up. The first day that we lived in our new home I was standing outside in the front yard, basically trying to stay out of the way of the movers and watched as the men unloaded our family’s earthly belongings. While standing there a boy about my age walked over and introduced himself to me. I was a bit taken aback at his name. His name was Eddie Black. My immediate thoughts went to my friend Eddie Brown. Eddie Black and I did not become the Tom and Huck of the neighborhood, but we were definitely friends. We rode the school bus together since he lived across the street from us. We played catch, talked about comic books, and did many of the things that two boyhood friends do. Eddie took me around the neighborhood and introduced me to all the other kids. It wasn’t something that he had to do, but instead it was just who he was. A friendly guy who wanted to help a newbie get to know the neighborhood kids. Over the years we saw each other pretty much daily given we lived across the street from each other. We talked about girls and cars and both oohed and awed over each other’s first car. But as so often happens in life, following high school we sort of drifted in different directions. However, to this day Eddie, who now prefers to go by his first name of Doyle, is a friend on Facebook. I don’t think that I’ve actually seen Eddie (he will always be Eddie to me) for more than 40 years.

            During those heady days of my teenage years I met perhaps the most influential person in my life. I had started to attend more and more of the youth functions at our church and the youth minister was, you guessed it, Ed Humphrey. He inspired me with his faith and dedication to God from the beginning. He also encouraged my development in not only being a Christian, but in other aspects of my life. He took a genuine interest in my music and songwriting and often had me perform for the youth and the church itself. We had our ups and downs during those years, mostly driven by my immaturity, but we never ceased being good friends. We have kept up with each other throughout the years. I’ve known him now 48 years and I communicate with Ed often. When we met, I was 16 and he was 26-years-old. Now I’m 64 and he’s 74. We’ve gone and gotten old. I will say this about Ed Humphrey. Upon his graduation into Heaven, whenever that might be, there’s a verse in the Bible that will best describe him. It is 2 Timothy 4:7. I’ll insert a different pronoun than what is in the verse to make it specific to Ed. The verse would then say, “He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith.”

            So, what’s in a name? To be more specific, what’s in the name “Ed”? For me it is the name of 5 people that had a profound effect on my life. Some of them for only a little while and others for a lifetime. They all make the name “Ed” proud. I am fortunate to have known these 5 people and I can’t help but ponder how it is they all were given the same name. I can only hope that when people think of my name it is with a positive feeling much the same way that I feel about these 5 people.

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