Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas At The Gas Station

I first encountered this when it made the rounds of email a few years back. Now I post this here every year because it is worth the time to read and ponder. If it is true that it is the little things that make Christmas; and if we can do the little things every day, then every day can be Christmas.
How simple...
May the Lord bless you and keep you, this and every Christmas Eve.



Christmas At The Gas Station

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."
"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.
He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty, "Stew ... made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."
Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."
George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.
"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ........" George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.
"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.
"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.
 "None for me," said the officer.
 "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."
The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"
The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."
He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week ..."
George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued. "Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"
Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."
"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."
George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said, "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George.  You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord."

Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Editor's Introductory Comments (preview)

Offered here are the introductory comments from my upcoming work on Freemasonry in Old San Diego. Reproducing articles from 1850-1901 from local newspapers, it is presented as an aid to research and understanding. This work is intended to be expanded in future editions.

Editor's Introductory Comments

Freemasonry in San Diego, indeed in all California, formally began shortly after the United States takeover of the California Territory resulting from victory in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).
By this time in the development of craft Masonry, all new lodges could only be chartered by an established grand lodge. In the United States most grand lodges held jurisdiction over the area of an entire state and could not encroach upon the another grand lodge's jurisdiction.
But by 1849, California was not yet a state and had no grand lodge. So grand lodges from other states and jurisdictions were able to charter and establish lodges there until such time as California could form its own grand lodge. It all began with the chartering and establishment of California Lodge #13 out of the Grand Lodge of Washington, D. C. in San Francisco in late 1849. California Lodge #13 together with four other lodges chartered from other grand lodges formed the Grand Lodge of California in May 1850 located in Sacramento. Under the new Grand Lodge of California, California Lodge was given the number "1."
Old San Diego was in many ways a Masonic town. Many if not most American males who lived there belonged to the fraternity. Whether in politics or business, the men of San Diego Lodge #35 played an important role in the growth and development of San Diego. The actual inception of Freemasonry in San Diego is lost to history. However, Orion Zink, Historian of San Diego Lodge #35, documented both the popular tale of its beginning as well as the formal steps taken to constitute San Diego’s first Masonic lodge. As Mr. Zink stated:
Tradition has it that the formation of a Masonic lodge in San Diego was first suggested at a picnic, when it was discovered that several of those present were Masons. However, the first action to form a lodge was taken June 20, 1851. At a meeting held that evening at the Exchange Hotel, a petition for a dispensation was drawn up and forwarded to Grand Lodge. The petition was granted Aug. 1, 1851, and San Diego became the oldest lodge south of the Tehachapi…
During the Lodge’s stay in Old Town, from 1851 until 1870, meetings were usually held in private homes…They also met in the little brick court house, and in the Railroad Block. They were in the latter place from 1866 to 1870*
From its earliest days, the story of Freemasonry in San Diego has been the story of San Diego Lodge #35. It was not until 1866 that San Diego County established its second Masonic lodge – Southwest Lodge #283 in National City.
There have been at least two major works describing the place of Freemasonry in California: Fifty Years of Masonry in California (2 vol.) and, One Hundred Years of Freemasonry in California (4 vol.)
Both of these works are large and very comprehensive; covering various topics all relating to the formation and expansion of Freemasonry in the state. The first work, Fifty Years of Masonry in California, published in 1898, is a fine example of late nineteenth century scholarship. The second, One Hundred Years of Freemasonry in California, published in 1950, reflects that date in style and presentation.
However, both of these works are what I would term "big canvas history." This is where an idea or institution is traced and documented over a large spatial area, i.e. the great state of California in this case, pulling information from a wide variety of sources, public and private. What is presented here is "small canvas history." It concerns a very small geographic area and draws from a limited resource pool. In the case of this work, solely under consideration is the city of San Diego, specifically the areas of Old Town San Diego and New San Diego. The sources are limited to the newspapers, the San Diego Herald and the San Diego Union. Only information that was publicly available is here considered.
The documents contained herein were transcribed from the pages of the San Diego Herald and the San Diego Union and detail incidents and episodes from the first 100 years of Freemasonry in San Diego. The first newspaper printed in Old San Diego was the San Diego Herald with John Judson Ames as editor. Ames was himself a Freemason. The Herald's premier issue was the May 20, 1851 edition. Almost from the first issue, the Herald printed articles and notices related to the fraternity, the formation of San Diego Lodge and various lodge happenings.
Ames moved to San Bernardino in 1860 and started the San Bernardino Herald. Once Ames left, there would be no newspaper in San Diego for the next eight years. In early 1868, a prominent San Diegan, Philip Crosthwaite paid a visit to his sister and her husband, William Gatewood, in Texas where he published a newspaper. Gatewood visited San Diego, saw the possibilities and, long story short, the first issue of the San Diego Union, under his owner-editorship, was published on October 19, 1868.*
An interesting aside, J. J. Ames as stated above was a Freemason. However, Philip Crosthwaite was also a Freemason with Ames. Crosthwaite even served as Master of San Diego Lodge at one time. So far, I have been unable to uncover any evidence in public sources whether W. J. Gatewood, founder of the San Diego Union was a Freemason. Though E. D. Bushyhead, silent partner and successor to Gatewood as owner of the Union was a member of the fraternity.
These newspaper articles are presented complete and unedited, without prejudice or comment for the consideration and contemplation of the brethren and also as an aid to fellow researchers. Though this is not meant to be a complete listing of every mention of the fraternity in San Diego newspapers, I believe it is representative. In addition, I firmly believe that the publication of this work is not the last but rather the first step in an on-going research project. This work will grow and evolve in future editions.
I welcome all comments and criticisms.


Sean K. T. Shiraishi

December 22, 2015

* From "Masonry in San Diego," an unpublished document. San Diego History Center Archives. In 1870, San Diego Lodge relocated to New Town on Fifth Avenue between F & G Streets in the Dunham Building.
* For more information regarding this, please see From the Journal of San Diego History, Summer 1982.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Further mad scribbling from this asylum-bound Historian


Ok, so what craziness is planned for "Old Sins" for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016!


-finish twitter summary of Stephen King's Doctor Sleep.

-begin an occasional series titled "Books Jonelle Made Me Read" - more on this later - may expand into further series.

-comment/review on "Beyond the Count" and "History of the IOOF in San Francisco."

-preview of Freemasonry in OTSD book as an aide to researchers.

-get back to doing audio recordings with new mic.

-try my hand at writing short fiction.