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James R. Stout

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My Father's Whistle


      In the fall of 1963 our family moved into a new home (new for us) in Bryan, Texas. Bryan was a sleepy little town back then. College Station, Bryan’s sister city, was a good deal more "of the times", but for a few more years Bryan would be more like the 50’s than the 60’s. Of course, this too would be plowed under throughout the next few years as the turbulent 60’s changed everything. In October of 1963 we moved into that house on the outskirts of town. There were many vacant lots still in our subdivision. They would remain so for the next several years. Things tended to change a bit slower in Bryan.

      We also had a pretty extensive forest or, “the woods”, as we called them that was to the south and the east of our subdivision. All of the neighborhood kids played in those woods for hours on end. They were perfect for building forts, pretending to be WWII soldiers a la' “Combat” from TV, exploring and generally having a great time. This was a time when my parents did not have to worry about us being harmed by bad people. We were allowed to range far and wide. It was good for us too. There was nowhere that we felt unsafe and most, if not all, of the mothers of the neighborhood kids were "stay at home" mom’s and they looked out for everyone. Sure, there were the arguments and kid’s stuff that went on, but by and large it was a peaceful neighborhood. At least that is what I choose to remember about the 3.5 years we lived there.

      The summers were the best. I never wore shoes, even in the woods, and a pair of shorts and a “muscle” shirt were all that was required. My best pal, Eddie Brown, and I would play make believe games, create puppet shows with old socks, sing the latest hits from the radio, and generally had a fantastic childhood. I remember so many good times from those years and the best part of it was how close our little family became. My oldest sister Barbara was in the 8th grade when we moved into the house, my other sister was in 6th grade (which was still elementary school in Bryan I.S.D. at the time), and I was in 2nd grade. We experience a lot of life in those years. JFK’s assassination, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the Vietnam War beginning, and so many other events. Most of the bad things that were happening in our world didn’t filter down into our little town or the little neighborhood we called home. We were somewhat insulated. That would change, but for a while things were still innocent.

      Mom usually had dinner ready for us about 6:30 every evening. It was usually a simple affair, but home cooked and good and tasty. We set together around the table as a family and talked about our day. A lot of talk about happenings at the church, who had a crush on who, who could I make fun of for having a crush on someone, and all the little things that together made for a great big wonderful family life. Unless it was raining I was outside playing until just before dinner. About 10 minutes before dinner my Dad would walk out onto the front porch, put two fingers in his teeth, and blow the loudest whistle you would ever hear. It was an all natural whistle. It seemed like a train whistle to me. No matter how far away I might have been I knew my father’s whistle and I knew it was time to hightail it for the house. He did not have to whistle more than a couple of times because we knew we better get home quick. Dinner was about ready and that was a good thing to look forward to. Besides, the consequences of ignoring my father’s whistle were not to be taken lightly. He never hurt us or mistreated us, but we sure didn’t want to let him down. 

      I’ve often thought about those days and how happy they make me to remember them. My father’s whistle is an integral part of those years. It was the lifeline to home and family and all that was good in my life. My father was 93 years old and has passed away this day. He was a great guy. A terrific father who couldn’t love his children, grand-children, and great-grand-children more. Not to mention his marriage of nearly 68 years to my Mother.

     He was called home to eternity with Christ. It is part of life. But there’s something that sustains me as I face his passing tonight. The fact that I will again see him when one day I depart this life. I had a dream about this not too long ago. In fact, it was that dream that caused me to write this. In the dream I was somewhat older and I was very ill. It was obvious that I was near the end of my life. My parent’s had both already gone home to Jesus as well as other loved ones. As I layed in the bed in that dream, my death bed I presume, I suddenly heard clear as a bell My Father’s Whistle. He was calling me home one last time

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