Blog 1462 – 09.19.2019
A Picture Sparks A Fond Memory
This past April, my father-in-law, Wallace Mendel Stokes, “Dad” passed, but the memories of him linger long and dear for all of us who knew and loved him. One of my fondest memories of him is singing an impromptu duet at The Old First Church of God, in Houston, Texas. It was a very small congregation at that time, long after I first had attended Bible College there in the early nineteen-seventies. Dad Stokes and I would have had a hard time getting on the music program in those days but years after the new and improved First Church had built a new building in the suburbs of Houston and even years after the Bible College had relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and even after the church building had changed hands several times, and was once again a Church of God congregation. The pastor was at the time was one of my old college classmates. Wallace and I were just visiting and I knew he loved to sing, having long sung in a gospel quartet and having sung many duets with his wife in their South Carolina home church. We belted out one for the small group just before the sermon like a rock concert opening act. We both had a lot of fun doing it.
But today’s picture reminds me of another fine memory with Wallace. As much as Dad loved to sing, he loved to work even more. When my son was a boy we bought Jon a John Deere Tractor toy that when you pushed down on the top said, “Let’s get to work.” The voice and the sentiment sounded just like his Grandpa Stokes.
Most summers we spent a week at the Stokes farm and with most of Dad’s boys being grown, with families and work of their own, I spent the first ten or so of those annual vacations working side by side with him before I finally decided that I deserved a vacation too with my wife, son, and Mom Stokes when we could steal her away from having to help dad fix farm equipment. Once we even talked Dad into coming with us to Myrtle Beach and he actually played in the surf with us. What a unique, fun, and pleasant memory that is.
I still have not gotten to the memory this picture sparks though. It is one of a several days project Dad and I worked on, trenching in a water line from his well and pump down to his son Luke’s place because his well had failed. Dad Stokes always bragged about how good Lee County water tastes and it really does. I had a lot of fun working with Dad putting in that water line much more so than many of the farm equipment repair jobs that I worked with him on that first ten or so years of vacationing in South Carolina.
But Heaven knows I wish I could work on a greasy tractor with him once more. If there are any tractors in Wallace Stokes’ heaven I am sure he keeps them all repaired, prepared, and “Ready to work.”
Your friend and fellow traveler,
One of Wallace Stokes other boys,
I love Wallace Mendel Stokes as much as I love my own dearly departed Dad, James Clifford White. They were and are two of kind, men who worked hard, loved their families, and shared their dreams. Both were proud veterans of WW2 serving in the South Pacific theater of the war.