Last Saturday was “Bedlam,” as the annual football game between the U of OK and OK State U is called. It made me think of Jimmie Franklin, for he is a committed OK football fan, because that was where he earned his PhD.
When I knew Jimmie, he was a professor of history at Eastern Illinois University. He later became a distinguished professor at Vanderbilt and, in the process of historical research, became a friend of George Wallace. That was not surprising to me, because I had been Jimmie’s pastor, and I knew what kind of man he is. It was remarkable, though, because Jimmie is a black man from Mississippi, and George was the leader of the racist and segregationist forces during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. George did a complete about-face on race. Jimmie helped.
Jimmie grew up in a small town in Mississippi, where chances for advancement for black kids were few. But he was a basketball player, and he got a scholarship to play at Jackson State. When the day came for him to get on the bus, the rear of the bus, with his one suitcase, to go to Jackson, he did not have the 35 cents for the fare. So his pastor went around town, borrowing nickels and dimes, until he had enough for the fare that would take Jimmie to a whole new life.
That is kind of what my life is now, nickels and dimes worth of energy and concern. Sometimes I’m the one asking for those nickels and dimes, to help someone get on the bus. Sometimes I’m the one loaning them. They don’t seem like much, as I look at the total needs of the world, but that one nickel, that one dime, might make all the difference for someone.
When I was growing up, a lot of folks talked about being “nickeled and dimed to death.” It meant being bedeviled by a lot of little bothers until they added up to a big bother. Sometimes we can be nickeled and dimed to life.
Spoiler Alert: If you have read this column in the last 3 months, all that follows is old news:
I stopped writing this column for a while, for several reasons. It wasn’t until I had quit, though, that I knew this reason: I did not want to be responsible for wasting your time. If I write for others, I have to think about whether it’s worthwhile for you to read. If I write only for myself, it’s caveat emptor. If you choose to read something I have written, but I have not advertised it, not asked you to read it, and it’s poorly constructed navel-gazing drivel, well, it’s your own fault. Still, I apologize if you have to ask yourself, “Why did I waste time reading this?”