My first heroes were my brothers. They left home when I was 3 to fight and win World War II. Of course I stayed home to protect Shirl, Kat, mom & Dad. You never know what evil lurks, when your brothers are gone.
That never changed, but I added some Heroes as years passed. Willie sang a song, “My heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”, I added cowboys to the list in about 1946. Roy Rogers was okay, but I liked Gene Autry and Rex Allen.
(Dad’s favorite place in the world, in the pulpit)
I admired my dad. He was an amazing man. Not only was he a great pastor and preacher, but manual labor never bothered him and seemed to invigorate him. There was work to be done at every church he pastored. My dad’s philosophy was, ‘you don’t waste God’s money, or God’s people’s money’.
Before I was 6, I watched him mix mortar and serve as helper for men who were laying block, building an addition to the church. Now that I know more about building, I know my dad was doing the work of two men, acting as a helper for four masons. A helper sets up scaffolding, mixes mortar and keeps each mason ‘loaded’, no matter how high the scaffold. He also carries all the block up to the masons.
In Burlington, the church needed a well. Dad and some other volunteers hand dug a new well. When they hit rock, dad used dynamite to loosen it. He allowed no one in the hole except him. He hand drilled the charge hole and set the charge. He lit the fuse and they used the windlass to bring him up. I learned later, dad was a certified expert with dynamite.
In Albemarle, I watched him, nearly alone, dig a basement under the parsonage. There he used dynamite also, and never cracked the plaster in the house. Dad knew dynamite all right. Back then you could buy dynamite at the hardware store.
He continued to work when it was called for, up until his retirement. All those churches could have paid someone to do that work, but dad had his ways. Sweat was one word he was not afraid of. He always said it was like washing your body from the inside out.
I heard him speaking about a good friend once who was always impeccably dressed, he told my mama, “I bet his sweat is so rare, one drop would cure TB.”
Yes, it was not until late in life that I realized, MY DADDY WAS MY #1 HERO. He was called, “BF”, Frank, Doc, Reverend and Brother. He loved his church flock as much as any shepherd. He laughingly called himself, “Benjamin Franklin Thomas Edison Roosevelt Darnell.” He honestly had many of their characteristics. He never forgot he started as a Peanut Farmer in Georgia, then a cotton Mill worker in Lowell, NC.
(He visited us in Biloxi Mississippi, that is our trailer He is holding Jack Jr., who at the time his youngest Grand son looking on is the oldest Grandson, Howard)
Dad, I have now lived longer than you, but you put more quality in a week, than I, in a life time. I miss you.
One thing you can give and still keep...is your word. (That sums up my dad, he loved a hat also)
These cars were built the year dad was born.
1903 Electric Columbia