Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 20, 2017


A worn out pickup truck meant everything


        In collecting memories of my Daddy, I have come across stories of his generosity that I did not know about. Daddy was not wealthy. But that did not prevent him from blessing others with what he did have to give.

        Daddy helped me get an education at Auburn University though tuition cost a lot less in 1950 than today. I recall the tuition for my first quarter at Auburn was about seventy-five dollars. My job in the Sports Publicity Department helped provide food and pay the rent for an apartment shared with two friends. I bought used text books and sold them back to the bookstore to help secure the next set of books. When I finished Auburn, I had only one text book I still owned; it was a book about courtship and marriage.

        Some parents are able to give their children a car or a truck. I never wished Daddy would give me a truck because I knew he could not afford such a gift. But I grew up knowing that my parents did what they could to help me become a responsible adult.

        My nephew, Jimbo Berkstresser, is 39, a welder by trade and a fine young man with a wife and three children. But he remembers a joyous moment at age 15 when my Daddy told Jimbo he could have his old pickup truck. This touching story reminds me that gifts need not be lavish to make a difference to the recipients.

        Enjoy reading Jimbo’s memories.  Perhaps doing so will prompt you to think of something you could give to a deserving child, a gift that might provide someone with the kind of joy Jimbo experienced. Here is what Jimbo had to say:   

        Papa was almost 80 by the time I entered the picture but I do remember many trips to Catfish Country Restaurant in the blue car he drove around in, just checking on the neighborhood.

“I will never forget the day I was out playing when I was about eight years old and all of Uncle Gene’s cows got out of the pasture. The cows were up around Aunt Margie’s house. Suddenly here comes Papa in the blue car. He opened the gate by the cattle gap (which as far as I know is the only cattle gap in the world so you should know where it is). Papa told me to stand on the road and he was going to run the cows toward me. He said for me to yell and wave my arms and the cows would go into the pasture.

“In a few minutes I saw a giant herd of cows running straight at me so I ran in the ditch and jumped through the fence that used to be in front of Uncle Seth’s old house. The cows kept running down the road. When Papa got to me, he asked me what happened. I told him they were about to run me over. He said, “Those cows won’t hurt you; they are scared of you.” Then he laughed and drove off to get some real help.

“One thing I always remember was Papa coming to the house and drinking coffee with Mom. One day will be forever etched in my mind; it was one of the last times he stopped in, about two years before he died. Mom said Papa wanted to talk to me so I came into the kitchen (I can see it all as plain as day) thinking I had done something wrong. Then Papa asked me if I wanted his truck –  a 1973 Chevy pickup truck.

“Now keep in mind my mom and dad didn’t have a whole lot of money and I was 15 years old. I knew there was no way I would have a vehicle when I turned 16. So when Papa asked me if I wanted that truck I was the happiest 15-year-old boy on the planet! You might as well have given me a brand new truck off the showroom floor the way I felt. I couldn’t get to that truck fast enough and for that I will forever be grateful and I will always cherish that memory.”

        The truck Daddy gave Jimbo was 20 years old, worn out from rugged use on the farm. But to Jimbo that old truck was an affirmation of his manhood, a gift of love from a grandfather he admired. It created a moment of joy he has never forgotten.

        Take a look at your possessions. You might find something you could give away, something that could bless the socks off of somebody. Then, 20 years after your death, that somebody might be giving thanks for your generosity. + + +