Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wrong side of the tracks

As I was coming home from work the other day, traffic was at a dead stop on By Pass 4.  Nothing unusual about that at 5 in the evening, but this time I was stopped close to the little Butler Regional Airport.  It was a beautiful clear day and as I looked over at the airport, I could see Tylersville Rd winding uphill around it, then I could see Tuley Rd and "the knob".

If you're not from around here, you wouldn't know what "the knob" means.  Well, it's the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.  It's the place where hillbillies from Kentucky came to settle and raise their families.  The houses there were some of the last to get indoor plumbing in Butler County and many of them are built on stilts to level them.  It's very hilly and parts of it are run down and neglected. The yards are sometimes full of old cars on jacks and the front porches are sometimes home to old washing machines and back seats of cars.  By the way, the back seat of a car makes a nice front porch lounge chair, in case you were wondering. How do I know so much? Because that's where I was raised.  I am a knobber!  For people who have met me in the last 20 years and don't know my background, this may come as a surprise.  I'm not ashamed of it, quite the contrary.  The knob is part of me and it will forever be "home" in some ways.  I still have relatives, who I love dearly, that live up there. And I feel at home when I visit them.

I sat there in the traffic that day remembering with fondness my childhood on the knob.  We played hopscotch on the driveway, we ran to the corner store to buy candy whenever we had a pop bottle to cash in.  We walked around barefooted most of the time and there were no leashes on our dogs.  In the evenings we sat in the front yard until the lightning bugs came out and then we chased them around and rubbed them on our arms just when their tales would light up.  It was kind of like wearing those flashing tennis shoes, but at the expense of a poor lightning bug. I got my hair pulled or whipped with a switch when I misbehaved, and my friends were banned from the yard when they misbehaved. Now, I've never whipped my kids with a switch or pulled their hair...but it didn't damage me in any way so I'm not complaining.  My parents/grandparents did the best they knew how to do back in those days.  They were poor hill folks from Kentucky who were trying to give their families something more than they had.  They felt comfortable on the knob and they sure had a better life than the one they left behind.  No more coal mining or moonshining for my grandpa.  He was now a member of the UAW and a proud factory worker for the General Motors Corporation. 

It wasn't really apparent to me as a child that I was raised on the "wrong side of the tracks".  I didn't realize it until I was about 13.  I started to realize that a lot of people lived in nicer houses and a lot of people had better clothes and even some of my own family had moved on to nicer neighborhoods.  I admit that when I took driver's ed and they dropped me off at my house, I was a little embarrassed.  My house looked great compared to a lot of the houses on my street.  But there were a few close by that were in really bad shape.  It bothered me a little that some of my school mates might think I was poor or some kind of hillbilly, but I wasn't popular enough for that to hinder my high school career.  It bothered me even more to think that I might actually be vain enough to care what people thought of me...so I blew it off. All these years later, I look back at life on the knob as a good life.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to raise my kids up there, but it wasn't because people were poor.  It was because there was crime and bad influences around.  It was because I didn't want them to be looked down on for where they lived.  I could afford to raise them in a better neighborhood...so I did.

This little pause in my trip home from work made me think about how much my life has been transformed in the last 35 years and where I have come from.  None of that compares, however, to the transformation of the heart I have undergone.  I have been made new from the inside out.  I am an heir and a joint heir with Christ, the hope of glory.  I am still the little girl that was raised on the knob, but I am also a daughter of the King of Kings.  He has clothed me with lovingkindness and tender mercies.  He has written my name in the book of life...the book of who's who, you might say.  I am a member of the royal family, and my address once my life on Earth is over is very simple.  You will find me on the right side of the tracks...my address will be easy to remember.  Heaven....city made of pure gold.  Thank you Lord, for claiming me as your own.

 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.  1 John 3:1

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