There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you haven't time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded. Robert Brault

Whats driving a bus like? Seventy of your kids in the back seat going to town. Mr. Brandon

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


For the one that will take my place:

     The school is not exactly down town. I have found that the rural roads that lead to the school are great for letting you catch your breath as you are about to start your day.  I personally have found it to be a great quiet time to say a prayer of thanks for all that I have been blessed with or to make request for the many things that I seem to come up short on.  As you are checking your bus out, which is important because you make up 50% of the schools fleet of buses, you will hear a multitude of roosters from the farm next door crowing to welcome the day. You may even see a few of them scampering across the school grounds. In the spring it's always blow the grass out your tail pipe time. No, this is not a type of country insult. During the spring, because of the large diameter of the tail pipe on the bus, the swallows try to build a nest in it each afternoon when the bus is parked and it has cooled off. Monday mornings are the worst, when you start the bus about a half a bale of hay will blow out the tail pipe. They will continue to do this for about two weeks before they give up and move on.  As you pick up the students, it may seem like a no brainer, be sure to smile and say, "Good morning." You see for some of them you will be the first friendly voice they have heard that morning and for some you are the first person they have talked to that morning because no matter how small you may think they are, they got themselves up, got dressed, and came out to wait on the bus all by themselves because Mom or Dad never got out of bed.  Some of the first students to get on the bus will be a brother and sister. The brother will just go sit down but the sister will often stop look at you, she has a little scar over her left eye, and say, "Guess what?"  For the sake of time just guess anything because she will give no hints.  I usually go with the absurd like, "A dinosaur ran through your yard or your brother was eaten by an alligator." You will have to make at least two guesses before she will tell you the guess what. Do not let her sit by her brother they will fight all the way to school. At this point you have a few miles before the next pick up. If you want you can talk to the little quiet boy that will sit right behind you. He hardly ever responds so I often do both sides of the conversation. As you come into the next neighborhood you will pass in front of Hot Pickle Boy's house but don't stop he has moved on up to the middle school. I'm sorry that you won't get to know him. One day, the last week of school, he was standing waiting on the bus in a full ghillie suit. If you don't know what a ghillie suit is, it is the suit worn by hunters or military snipers that helps them to blend in with grasses and other flora.  In his case he looked like a Sasquatch waiting for a ride. So on my list of things that I thought I would never see or hear I added two things: 1. Picked up kid in ghillie suit. 2. Gave Sasquatch a ride to school. Oddly enough he was also the reason for the one listed right above that, when he got on the bus one morning wearing a military gas mask. After a few more stops you will be picking up the Twins Who Are Not Twins. To avoid a lecture no matter how much they look alike, dress alike, or talk alike do not say or refer to them as twins. After all these years I still don't know who is who. Later you will pick up a young man that loves to wear a mohawk. I just call him rooster he seems to be ok with it. Before you leave the neighborhood you will need to pick up my best friend Mr. Mucus.  He has grown from a little kindergartner whose face was always gooey to a young man that is kind hearted and will befriend those that need it. If you have a new student that is scared his or her first day, Mr. Mucus is you man and if you let him he will be your best friend also. There will be a little girl on the route, which if she doesn't grow out of it, will cry almost every day she gets on the bus. With her you have to do the Daddy thing and not feel sorry for her or she will cry all the way to school. Give her to the end of the block to stop on her own, she will on occasion, if she hasn't stopped look at her and say, "Knock it off already you're not hurt." Most of the time the tears are turned off instantly. There are several little boys that will make you wish you had a tranquilizer gun to use on them or yourself. Just grit your teeth and hold on. You will pick up Francine along the way, that's not her name but I've called her that for so long, because I didn't know her name, that she answers to it better than when you call her real name. She never fails to turn and wave when she gets off the bus in the afternoon. It's that kind of wave where she just wiggles her fingers. There will be many more, each with their own personalities, each needing a friendly face to start their day. Before you know it you will be a constant figure in their life, the one thing they know that will not change. You will be there each day to say, "Good morning" and there each evening to say, "Have a good evening, see you tomorrow." Remember they may be small but their dreams are big and the things that seem silly and trivial to you and I are world changers to them. And if perchance you feel half as loved by them as I have, you will be truly blessed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

“It’s In There”

Remember Wednesday Addams from the old T.V. show The Addams Family? Her clone was riding my bus. There before me, on her first day, stood a pretty little first grader, long dark hair, and an emotionless expression. I said, “Good morning!” She looked at me, blinked, turned, and walked down the aisle to be seated. As she left the bus I said, “Have a great day!” She paused long enough to cut her eyes my way, without moving her head, and then exited the bus. The voice inside my head said, “Challenge accepted.” As each day passed I would tell her how pretty she looked or how glad I was to see her.  Each was rewarded with the same stoic expression. Then one day I made a joke about where she would play when she got home. She looked at me with those dark eyes and just stared. “Well,” I said, “I saw that your parents were having a yard sale. If they sell your yard where will you play?” Then it happened, instead of the same emotionless stare, she rolled her eyes as she walked off the bus and said, “It’s just an expression. They don’t sell the yard.” Be it ever so small there was a crack in the dam and a droplet of emotion had squeezed through. Each day the onslaught of complements and corny jokes continued. One afternoon, as we pulled up to her house, her mother was out watering some flowers. Held in one arm was her baby brother and in the other hand her mother was holding a water hose. In a panicked voice I said, “Is she going to hose that baby off right out here in the yard?” I opened the bus door and as she descended the steps I actually heard and audible snicker. The crack was now wider and the droplet was now a steady stream. Over time with persistence the flow seemed to increase ounce by precious ounce. Then during the last week of school as the bus came to a stop in front of her house she said, “Here” and she handed me a red pipe cleaner that had been made into what I took as a bracelet. “It’s the best circle that I could make,” she said. There was even a half smile on her face, well maybe a quarter smile.  The flood gates were open, and all the seemingly futile moments that we had shared over the months were all wrapped up in a red pipe cleaner bracelet.  At that moment I wouldn’t have traded it for one of solid gold. The people that you meet each day they all have a red pipe cleaner bracelet. Some wear it on their wrist for all to see and give it easily, with others it’s often hidden and takes time and effort for it to be revealed. Best of all, some of those red pipe cleaner bracelets will turn out to be gold bracelets in disguise.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


When he stepped on the bus you knew this was not just a normal day. He had on a nice pair of pressed khaki shorts, a handsome pull over three button shirt, and sun glasses. After he was seated he addressed me as if we were already in the middle of a conversation, “That’s right I’m headed for Las Vegas. I’m playing in a big golf tournament out there. I’ve decided to play some professional golf.” Well this most defiantly explained the sharp outfit and it was a change of pace from all the professional athletes that I usually carry to school each day. Having played a few rounds of golf myself I felt this might lend its self to some tickets to the Masters or some other prestige’s tournament if he were playing in the area. I didn’t ask about ticket to the Vegas tournament a little too far to travel. Well, he sat quietly for a few miles. I assumed he was going over his game plan in his mind like most professionals do. The next thing I know he asked, “Mr. Brandon do you have a five iron?” I apologized, not have a five iron on me at the time and said it in that quiet tone that golf announcers use, because without me knowing it he had already teed off and was in the middle of the fairway. Trying to get a feel for the course and being a helpful caddie I asked, “Do you need it to finish out this hole?” “Yes, I’m trying to make a decision here.” You know yardage is critical in club selection and not to question his judgement I asked, “Well, how far are you from the hole?” He squinted as he looked down what appeared to be the fairway, out the front window of the bus. I looked and could not see the hole so it must have been a considerable distance so a five iron could have been the proper club selection. I repeated, “How far?” “Well,” he turned and gave me that thoughtful look, “about twenty….. about twenty minutes.” I’ve had rounds like that. I didn’t want to second guess him but for me, a distance to the hole of twenty minutes at least calls for a three wood.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Random Thoughts of a Bus Driver, “Summer Breeze”

"If it were a snake it would have bit you," was a phrase often used by my father. He would send us to find a particular item that he needed. As time passed and we had not returned he would show up and we would say that we were unable to find it. At this point he would reach just a few feet from where we were standing and retrieve the item. Truly if it had been a snake it would have bit us. Often there are things that are right there yet we do not seem to see them.

    The signs were there, I just wanted to ignore them. Age it was trying to make itself known but I refused to give in. My truck tried to tell me, yes my truck. I looked down to read a message that had come up on the information panel. It said, "Your turn indicator has been left on." How long does your turn signal have to be left on that even the truck says, "Hey, old man turn your blinkers off." The next evening I had the opportunity to pass on that feeling that comes when you feel age creeping up on you. My wife came home from work and pulled off her shoes complaining how much her feet were hurting. After sitting for a few minutes we were headed for her mother's house to fix supper. She said, "You know my feet are hurting so bad I think I'll just wear my house shoes." Since we were just going to her mom's house, she slid those fluffy things on. Not being one to let such an opportunity pass I started with the come on granny jokes. I asked if she needed me to get her walking stick before we went out the door. Then taking her by the arm I said, "Come on Momma let's shuffle on out to the truck." I delivered every old person joke and innuendo that I could think of on the way to the truck. She accepted each with her usual smile. I opened her door and helped her into the truck as I would any elderly lady. Just as I was about to close her door she smiled and said, "Gramps before you get in the truck you might want to zip up your pants." The signs are often there but ignored, until brought to our attention by a dear loved one or a gently breeze.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

“A Moment In Time”

The loud buzz of an emergency alarm called my attention to the rear of the bus. There are alarms on all of the emergency escape windows and it is not unusual when a student stands up for their book bag to pull on the handle and set it off.  As I look back that appeared to be exactly what had happened. “Zoomer, sit down and push that handle back down also.”  He looked around rather confused and with the help of some fellow passengers the handle was pushed back down and the ear piercing alarm was finally silenced. All of this was followed with me saying, “Who is passing out the balloons? Let the air out of them and put them up.”  As I finish closing the carnival I hear, “One, two, three, action.” My attention is now drawn to a student that is wearing a camouflaged ski mask and he has started what appears to be a movie scene.  His next line is, “I have a machete and I know how to use it.”  He then turns to me and says, “This is where I say a curse word.” “No” was my response. “But I heard it on T.V.” “No, I don’t care if you did hear it on T.V. it’s not ok to say.”  I said it in such a way as to let him know it was not a suggestion. He understood because he said, “We better wrap it up guys the old man looks like he’s about to lose it.”  All of this happened in a matter of a few minutes.  There were discussions later that revolved around Jesse James and how you probably could ask Mr. Brandon about him I think they were good friends.  Then there was the conversation about how you didn’t always have to be cool.  That conversation had a line in it, “Take Mr. Brandon for example.” Then there was a question of whether or not I was a little bit crazy.  If I come away just a little bit crazy then it was a successful day.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"Facing Mortality"

We have all thought of it at one time or another, the end, final day, our last breath.  For most it comes at an unknown hour but for some it can come at a given period of time.  We sometimes ask ourselves what would I do if I knew the time?  This was the question that was posed by one young student to another student.  He said, “What would you do if you were on Hawaii and you knew it was going to blow up in thirty-six hours?” The other student answered, “Leave Hawaii.”   I was in complete agreement.  This was not the thought provoking response that was desired so he tried again.  “What would you do if you knew the whole world would blow up in thirty-six hours?”  Well this was more to the point and took a little more time in thought but not as much as you would expect.  His eyebrows went down; you could tell he was pondering the end, the certain mortality of man.  After a surprisingly short time for such a weighty question, he responded with the certainty of a man with a plan that would surly give him peace of mind as he prepared to meet his maker.  “Well,” he said “I guess I would go to my room and eat some Beanee Weenees.”  He noticed the looks on the faces around him and so as if to add validity to his plan he added, “There’re really pretty good.”  So the next time someone comes up to you and says, “You look like you could use a can of Beanee Weenes.”  You might want to make sure things are in order.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


With Pop-Tarts in hand the pre-K student struggled up the steps to the bus.  He looked at the package of Pop-Tarts and then at me and asked, “Can I eat these; I didn’t have time this morning?”  Well the bus rules strictly forbid eating or drinking on the bus so I looked into his little innocent face and said, “Sure, but I better not find any crumbs on the floor of my bus.”  With a grin on his face he started down the aisle to find a place to sit.  Within a few minutes he was back at my elbow, “Mr. Brandon, I don’t think I can eat these without getting a few crumbs on the floor.”  “I understand,” I told him. “But be careful and don’t get too many.”  Later he was back with a Pop-Tart in hand and said, “Here you go Mr. Brandon you can have this one.”  Not being a Pop-Tart fan I was not particularly interested but I assumed it was an offering of gratitude for letting him eat the other one on the bus, knowing that most likely there was a small mountain of Pop-Tart crumbs on the bus floor.  As he handed me the Pop-Tart he added, “It’s a super hero Pop-Tart.”  I looked at it and sure enough there was Catwomen.  I might have been able to turn down a Pop-Tart at any other time but a Catwomen Pop-Tart, I don’t think so.  I think you could market mud pies if they had a picture of Catwomen on them.  You put Catwomen on a Pop-Tart and that thing comes out of the package hot, no toaster needed.  Sorry, got a little side tracked, back to the story.  As we pulled onto the school grounds he was once again at my side waiting to get off the bus.  Knowing that students are supposed to wait till the bus has come to a complete stop before they line up, several of the students told him he should sit down.   The reply that he gave made clear to me I had been a pawn in a web of graft and corruption.  He said to them, “Its ok, I gave him a Pop-Tart.”  It turned out the Pop-Tart was a payoff, a bribe; my good reputation had been compromised for a place in the front of the line.  Now the other students addressed me, “Mr. Brandon he needs to sit down we haven’t stopped yet.”  I turned and looked at the driver’s side window where I had carefully stood a Pop-Tart.  Looking back at me was Catwomen, memories of Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether flashed through my head and I said, “Its ok, he gave me a Pop-Tart.”  They say, “Every man has his price.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016


A normally cheerful student entered the bus with his hat turned backwards and a disgruntled look on his face.  As he sat there he mumbled some rather grumpy remarks to those that were around him who in turn looked back at him with very puzzled looks wondering what they had done.  It looked as if this situation would continue to deteriorate.  It was time for “Bad Attitude Intervention”.  I called his name and he turned his furrowed brow toward me.  “First things first,” I started.  “I believe the first step to making this a better day would to be to turn that hat around so that you look like somebody who knows the front from back and not look like a hood.”  He slowly complied with the request. “Ok, handsome young man let’s move to step number two.”  There was not a smile on his face but the frown had subsided somewhat.  “Now I want you to look at each of the friends that are seated around you and say something nice about each of them and they will say something nice about you.”  There was an exchange of pleasantries such as, “You’re a good friend, I like your hat, you’re funny, and you’re nice.”  As they looked at each other they begin to laugh and all was ended in good humor.  Believing all was well, I left them alone.  Little did I know, the snowball of happiness that I had put in motion was continuing downhill and was about to end in disaster.  The first sign was on hearing the now happy young man singing, “I’m a tap dancing monkey, I’m a tap dancing monkey.”  He had removed from his backpack an old fashion sock monkey and it was dancing across the back of the seat.  The musical cabaret continued with a performance of “Watch me whip, whip, watch me nae, nae.”  There was a slight intermission with a discussion of what exactly was a nae?  Then the snowball crashed into the peaceful valley below with sock monkey preforming “I came in like a wrecking ball”.  This is not something you want to see a sock monkey preform.  It will crush and destroy precious sock monkey memories that you have cherished from your childhood.  Note to self; a frown and furrowed brow are much preferred over an illicit sock monkey dance.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


"Well," the young man said in a tone loud enough to gain the attention of those around him, "in a couple of weeks I'll be having another birthday and you know what that means." The students around him and myself waited to hear what that meant. There was a pause then all was revealed, "I'll be having a birthday and then it won't be but a few more years and I'll be going through puberty and things will start happening." He definitely had my attention. He looked at the others and said, "Let me tell you about it." I cleared my throat loud enough to get his attention and he looked at me in the mirror. "There are some things that we do not share with younger children," I said. He frowned and shook his head yes. Then he looked at a second grade girl that was seated in front of him and still looking his way and said, "Trust me some changes coming your way." I cleared my throat again and shook my head no. So he changed tactics paused for a moment and said, "Mr. Brandon when did you grow that mustache?" I must have given him a disapproving look without realizing it because before I could answer he said, “Come on Mr. Brandon give me a break here, big man is going through some changes." Before I could reply he continued. “I’m sure my older brothers will be good role models they have already talked to me about,” At this point I took a deep breath and gritted my teeth. “They have already talked to me about how to kick a football.” I hope that is the only step of puberty that we have to worry about at this time.

Monday, February 8, 2016


I was reminded of the familiar quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  All who know Mr. Mucus, know he has a love of life.  He approaches all things with zest and excitement.  As if that very minute was the greatest time of his life.  But it was a much subdued and quite Mr. Mucus that approached.  With bowed head and faint voice he said, “Mr. Brandon, did you hear the news?”  Having shared in the lives of my riders over the years, I prepared to listen.  Because of the tone of voice, I prepared for the worst, already feeling a heaviness in my own heart.  “Did you hear, they are closing the Ryan’s restaurant in town? My father told me about it last night.”  I gathered myself and in an equally hushed tone I said “I know, I heard that too.  What are you going to do?” Then as he spoke you could hear a small quiver in his voice, “I don’t know,” there was a pause to gain control of his emotions, “I have to admit when my father told me, I cried a little bit.  I had a hard time concentrating on my homework after that.  So last night we went to Golden Corral and ate.  As we were eating my father looked across the table at me and said, “It’s just not the same.”  Then with feet and heart that seemed too heavy to lift, he moved silently back to his seat.  True love, great are the rewards, deep are the sorrows.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

“Family Tradition”

When far from home one’s identity and family connections can be blurred or lost all together.  Rural America on the other hand is where roots run deep.  Family traditions and pride go back years.  People talk of Great, Great Grandfather and his accomplishments.  Some family names are held in high esteem in the community.  Others are referred to as pillars of the community.  To impugn the heritage of a family is serious business.  For this reason my attention was drawn to a conversation that I heard coming from behind me.  “My family is known for two things” he said with a hint of pride in his voice.  I looked in the mirror and there he sat with his chest puffed up, sporting an Alabama Crimson Tide ball cap.  “Yes,” he said, “we are known for two things in my family, farting and belching.”  Then he sat back with a big smile on his face.  Moments later, with my eyes burning, I opened my driver’s side window to let in fresh, frigid air, I saw him raise his finger and he said, “I’m number one”.  There was all indication that he would uphold family pride and tradition for his generation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


In this year of campaigning and political decision making I thought it should be my responsibility to inform you of one position that has already been decided.  I was approached by the little, cute, kindergarten, girl delegation and was informed; 1. They love me very much. 2. I was the best bus driver ever.  I was feeling pretty good about the position until a return visit from the delegation.  In true political fashion it seemed they now had a request they wanted granted.  There was a plea for eating of candy on the bus as long as they put the rappers in their pockets.  Not wanting impeachment proceedings to occur on the same day that I had officially taken office the request was granted.  I’m not being self-congratulatory but I’m just reporting the facts and the rest of you will just have to fight it out for second place.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

“Drop In The Ice Cream Market”

He boarded the bus with the flourish of a big spender.  Shortly after being seated he made everyone aware of his wealth.  In the half light of the early morning bus ride he reached in his pocket and pulled out his money.  Holding it in the air and doing a little dance he asked several children, “Do you have ice cream money?”  As they sat blank faced and staring he started singing, “I have ice cream money.  I have ice cream money”.  No one said a word as he danced and gloated of his financial status.  Then in the quiet hush between bumps in the road there was a sound.  A slight ping, you know the sound a coin makes when falling to the floor, from the sound I guessed dime.  There was a low muffled, “Oh man” and song and dance ended.  He sat quietly, on what I’m sure seemed a long ride to school.  Fate can cut your legs out from under you in a hurry.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Random Thoughts of a Bus Driver “It Won’t Kill You”

     When my grandfather would say, “Boys, come with me down to the shop.  I’ve got a job for you.”  We knew exactly what that meant.  He would reach over in the corner of the shop, remove a hoe, place it in a vice on the workbench, and with a few quick swipes of a file it would have a nice sharp edge.  He would hand it to one of us and would repeat the action twice more till each of us stood with tool in hand.  We would then step out of the shop and he would point to some part of the farm and say, “You boys start over there and I want you to hoe out all the thistles, milkweeds, and cactus that you find”.  The key word was start, there was not a, “When you reach there you can stop”.  There was a start but no stop.  On a large farm in Oklahoma there were enough thistles, milkweeds, and cactus for a life time of employment.  There were occasional stops for water, back to the house for lunch, and the afternoon would find us in the shade of the pecan trees down by the creek.  But for the most part it was hot, dusty, and sweaty.  Not exactly what one looks forward to.  Most of us have similar stories we recall, with the effort and severity of the job growing with the passing of time.  We delight in telling those that are younger how lucky they are and how hard we had it.  Yet we are here to tell the stories so it did not kill us nor did it drive us to hate our fellow man.  As parents we try to help our children by doing better for them than what we may have had as children ourselves.  We try to keep them from what is sometimes perceived as hardships of everyday life.  We don’t want them to have to do without or work as hard as we felt that we had to, even if the severity is only self-perceived.  Most of all there are the memories that we have because of those times, that bring joy to our hearts when we think of them and we would not trade them for anything in the world, though at the time we thought we would surely die.  I am afraid that as we try to remove the struggles, as we perceive them, that we also rob our children of experiences that would make them stronger and richer people.   Many would agree that some of our favorite memories that we share with our spouse are the times we were struggling together to make that first little house a home and crying and laughing when our children cried and laughed.  That which we hold the dearest is what we have poured ourselves into, both mentally and physically.  The struggles that our children and grandchildren face in moving from level five to level six of their favorite video game will long be forgotten but the sweat and labor involved in earning that game, will bring a feeling of satisfaction and make them stronger people.  Thanks to my parents and grandparents for the memories and yes hard work that I will always treasure.  I look back on those times and they make my life full.  Oh, if you were wondering about pay, from time to time because of our hard work our grandfather would take us to town to the local cafĂ©.  We would all sit at the counter and you could have all the foot long hotdogs you could eat.  Well, maybe not because of hard work, maybe just because he was a grandfather.  Because I know how that feels.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

“The Claw”

The doors opened and big brother hurried on to the bus.  Little brother turned for one last embrace from mom, which is not uncommon.  It then turned from an embrace to a clinch.  He then became a preschool cocklebur with all of his little spins buried in the folds of his mother’s clothing.  With great effort she slowly pealed him off.  You could almost hear a sound as if Velcro was being parted.  She dangled him at arm’s length making sure he could not make contact with her and reattach himself in any way.  She placed him as far up the bus steps as her arms would allow.  Then the bus driver’s arm reached out, like the claw on the machine at the county fair.  Grab and miss, moving target, an adjustment, another grab and this time there is contact.  The claw closed its fingers on the backpack and then unceremoniously lifts the preschooler into the air.  With little feet dangling he is deposited in the aisle to find a place to be seated.  The door closes, the bus moves toward the games of skill and chance, which wait at the next stop.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"Welcome Back"

Nothing like the procession that comes with going back to school after a long holiday break.  There are a number of ways that students come to the bus showing their level of eagerness to return to the halls of education. On a rating scale of 1-10 you have the student that drags to the bus rubbing their little sleepy eyes because they have been getting up at a much later hour during the holidays, that comes in at a 1.  On the other end of the spectrum coming in at 10 is the student that comes to the bus as if they have never been gone, as if it was any other day no more excitement than usual.  Then there are those that are outside of the spectrum.  The house that you pull up in front of and there are no lights on at all may rank a 0.  As I pull up to pick up Mr. Mucus he comes to the bus all grins as he steps on to the bus I said, "Good morning my good friend.  Hope you had a great Christmas.  Are you ready to get started again?" Without a word, but with a big smile, he threw his arm around my head putting me in a head lock and then gave me an extra heavy duty head knuckle rub.  I think he came in on the scale at a strong 25. From the pain in my neck a very strong 25.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Random Thoughts of a Bus Driver “Listen”

     Walk into any rural, small town cafe or restaurant and you'll find it in the corner, front or back it doesn't matter but it will be there.  It can be long and rectangular or it may be round but regardless of its shape or location it often is referred to by the same name "The Liar's Table".  Seated around it you will find a variety men ranging in age but for the most part they are older men that are either retired, close to retiring or those who will never retire regardless of their age.  They share jokes with one another often the joke has been told a number of times due to the fact that the teller has forgotten that he has already told it on a previous occasions.  Most of the time that’s ok because the listeners don't remember hearing it and those that do, laugh like it was the first time they have heard it.  Sometimes you will find a jar of homemade jelly that has been provided by one of the regulars.  As the men come and go, for they are never all there at the same time, they talk and share stories.  Some of the stories as you can imagine should not be repeated, in polite company.  As they tell their stories they reveal the paths that they have walked.  Though their backgrounds are varied they have two common threads, laughter and hard work.  Too many it would seem like these two things do not go together.  Surely joy and laughter can only be found in avoiding hard work.  Yet if you listen carefully, it is the hard work in their lives that has let them enjoy the little things that happen along the way all that much more.  They know what it is to rise before the sun and come home after sunset.  They have come home covered from head to toe with dirt and smelling of sweat, only to collapsed in exhaustion and then to rise again and start all over.  Many of those jobs offered no pay, they were for friends and relatives and they were raised in a generation where relationships were more important than pay.  Now as time has passed they look back and find humor in those times of stress and worry.  As they tell their often exaggerated stories you also realize they are the community historians because they talk of “remember when”.  They often argue about dates but they remember the big snow, the flood, the tornado that devastated the community and where you could go to buy local moonshine.  They remember when the Smith farm was the Johnson farm and before that it was the Jones farm or how an old man that everybody called Uncle John would always give you a ride in his wagon if you needed it.  They give direction not only by road names but by landmarks like that big old oak tree, that old two story house they tore down, Steger’s curve, or over on the creek at Hump.  They are the history of the community, for they have grown up here, worked here, and buried loved ones in the family plots in the local cemeteries.  As our society continues to change what will become of the liar’s table.  We have become so mobile that few live where they were born and even fewer know the bone tiring labor that was common place for another generation.  There are not many relationships that go back more than a few years.  We don’t know who lives next door much less the history of that old house down on the corner.  I often wonder what will happen when no one else remembers where the best pear tree in the county is or what will happen when we lose men of character who would not increase the size of their field, because it would mean cutting down that pear tree.  These men are not only found around this table.  They are at our own table during family get-togethers and holidays, they are sitting on the pew next to you at church, they are on the porch of the house across the street. Take time to listen, because one day where there was history and character, there will be silence.