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James R. Stout

Go With Your Gut

            In 1967 my sister entered a contest and won a week’s stay at a new resort in Arkansas. She was underage, so my parents had to make the arrangements. In the first week of August we all piled into the car and went on our first vacation in 5 years. At the time, my mother was 37, Dad was 44, my sister Barbara was 17, my sister Debbie was 15, and I was a month away from turning 12. I remember the thrill of going into another state. Other than a short trip to Louisiana when I was an infant, I had not been out of Texas. We stopped and ate at a restaurant in Texarkana and the state line was inside the store. I put one foot in Texas and the other in Arkansas just for grins.

            Mom made sure that the motel that we stayed in on the way had a swimming pool. That was just fine by me! There were some pretty funny and fun moments on that trip. I had recently learned that you could make a certain motion to truckers and they would blast their airhorn. This became a source of great embarrassment to Barbara. At one point, she slid down in the back seat and hid her face while saying, “I’m so embarrassed!”. I loved it. As we drove on Highway 7 through the mountains, we kept seeing signs for apple cider. Barbara thought it would have liquor in it, but it was just good ole apple cider without any fermentation. We also saw signs advertising antiques. Dad jokingly started calling them “anty-ques”. We got to the resort late in the day on Sunday and checked in. We would be staying for 3 nights and 4 days. Mom and Dad would have to go to some meetings that were basically sales pitches, but we three kids were left to our own devices. We stayed in a mobile home on the property and the walk to the recreation center was about a mile or so.

            Some random memories of that week include sitting in the resort restaurant and putting a quarter or two into those jukeboxes that were at each table. I definitely remember paying to hear “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by The Monkees, “A Little Bit of Soul” by The Music Explosion, and “Light My Fire” by The Doors. There was a putt-putt golf course, a huge swimming pool, a game room with a pool table and some pinball games, and an area for horseshoes, volleyball, and other outdoor games. One night Barbara and Debbie got to go to a teen dance at the recreation center. I wasn’t a teen yet, but I sat outside and listened to the band doing Top 40 songs of the day.

            The days were not terribly hot, but they were certainly warm enough to go swimming. One day my parents were attending a sales pitch meeting and I was given permission to walk down to the pool and swim. I would have to walk back to the mobile home though. I should remind you again that this was 1967. Things were very different then than they are today. We didn’t worry about things that we have to worry about nowadays. That said, I should say that my parents raised us to have common sense. I had gone swimming for about an hour and decided I would go back to the mobile home to eat a snack. Mom had bought some groceries so that we didn’t have to eat at restaurants for all our meals.

            I grabbed my towel and put on my flip-flops (gravel roads made going barefoot not the smart thing to do) and headed for the mobile home. There was a main road through the facility with several roads with mobile homes on them that crossed the main road. I had gotten about ¼ of a mile down the road when one of the salesmen for the facility pulled up in his car with the window down and offered me a ride to the mobile home. There was something about the way that he looked at me that made me feel uneasy. I had no idea why at the time but getting in that car with him just didn’t sound like a good idea. I politely declined and he drove slowly as I walked and after about a minute or so he sped up and drove away. I never told my parents about the whole thing. I wouldn’t have known what to tell them. I didn’t know a thing about sex much less that there were men who I would later learn were pedophiles. I just knew that something about the guy was off.

            Decades later I think back on that day and I can’t help but wondering if I avoided something that could have totally messed-up my young life. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to believe anything was actually off with that guy that day, but there’s a part of me that knows deep down inside that I dodged a bad situation that day. That event was one of first events in my life that I learned to go with my gut. I still go with my gut today. Some would call it discernment. I think that is apropos. I didn’t know why I felt like I did, but I listened to my gut. I realize that there are some people who just don’t have the ability to discern when something isn’t quite right. My Dad used to have a saying that went, “It doesn’t pass the smell test.” I believe that we have the ability to develop a “smell test” and to “go with our gut”. In today’s world, I suggest we teach our children and grandchildren how to do that. You don’t have to go into gory details about things, but you need to show them how to think and to discern. Our children are so very precious and such incredible gifts from God. I believe that it is our duty and our commission to protect their young lives from an ever-sickening society. Let’s all do our part and protect the children from the predators that have no other agenda than to harm them.

Mr. Cool with drooping sock, Debbie and Barbara

 

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