Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog 89: Henry, the Leather Specialist

By Vernon M. Herron
     When I lived in Joliet, IL, I went to Henry Shoe Shine Parlor to get my shoes shined weekly. Henry Hammond was his full name. He was somebody!! He knew who he was; why he was there; where he was going; and how to get there. I call that process identification, purpose, and destiny. Henry impressed me greatly with his self-worth concept; his business vision; and the recognition of his father’s teachings.
     I understand that Henry passed a few years ago. I wished that I had a picture of him and the volume of shoes awaiting his service. Since I don’t have such documents, let me tell you the story for your consumption.
     The location of Henry’s Parlor was on Chicago Street, which runs from the business section into the Black community. Hence, Henry’s business catered to the business community as well as to local citizens.
     I never saw a shoe shine cost amount posted in the Henry’s Parlor, so I  generally left $1.50 for the shoe shine cost and a 50-cent tip, totaling $2.00. I thought that amount was generous but later understood that amount to be an insult to Henry’s integrity. He later told me the meaning of his service.
     Henry announced that he no longer services the average shoe customer. “I leave those shoes to my helpers. Those customers pay less than $3.00 for service. I have a selected clientele. You see, I am more than a shoe shiner. I am a leather specialist who knows the art and treatment of shoe leather; one who knows the differences in shoe materials, which requires specific polishes, brushes and treatments. As a result, the shine is a professional treatment of leather which lasts and preserves the shoe longer. There is no fixed cost as my customers pay for my knowledge and professional service which generally is in the four figures. I have more work than I can do.”
     The specialist shared with me a poem which has served as a guide throughout his developmental years:

If you cannot be a tree on the mountain top
Be a scrub in the valley
If you cannot be a moon, be a star
But whatever you do,
be the best wherever you are. 

     Even though Henry was limited in formal education, he excelled in every respect as a citizen who supported worthy causes, Civil Rights, and local churches.
     Henry gave his father credit for his growth and development.  “My father should have been paid the salary of a Ph.D. because he knew the subject matter, he taught it to me, and was one who watched my growth and development. I am indebted to him.”
     This closing story fits Henry’s father well.
     Father Hammond applied for a job as a janitor of a local school with the School Board. He was refused the job because the father could neither read nor write. So he bought a box of cigars at wholesale cost and sold them at a resale price, making and banking the profit. The process was repeated and continued until Mr. Hammond sought to open a cigar stand with a bank loan. When attempting to borrow $5,000 from the bank to start a cigar business, he was informed that the banking customer had more than enough in his saving account to open a cigar concession without borrowing.
     Then the banker asked, “If you have this amount of money in the bank, not able to read nor write, what would you be doing if you had those skills?” Father Hammond  answered, “I would be the elementary school janitor.”
     Today, we salute the Late Henry Hammond, the leather specialist and his father.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog 88: My Elementary School Teachers, Too, Were 'Cute' and 'Fine'

By Vernon M. Herron
     I can relate to the verbal experience of a 9-year-old male student of the Brookside Elementary School in Gaston County, (Gastonia) NC, who was suspended for three days for using the words “cute” and “fine” to describe his teacher; words which were interpreted as sexual harassment.

     A 65-year-old former principal, who worked with the Gaston County School system for more than four decades, and for 15 years as the school principal was forced to be demoted or to retire “within an hour,” over his decision to suspend the “youngster.” He is now appealing to the school board and to the public for reinstatement support. While the third grader has been reinstated with an apology, the “fired” principal has not been rehired (at this time.)

     I had six elementary school teachers who were “cute” and “fine.” I prefer saying that they were “beautiful” people,” as some of them resembled my grandmother. Never-the-less, my calling them “cute” or “fine” would be no justification for my being fired from retirement nor for being unfrocked.

     To confirm my opinion, looking through my scrap book, I found pictures for four of my six elementary teachers. Here they are:

     Not only were my elementary teachers “cute” but they were “beautiful.” Here is where the 4th grader and I may vary in opinion a “little bit.” Beauty is skin deep. I say that my teachers were beautiful because they saw ‘potential’ in students. They went the second mile to cultivate the “diamond in the rough.”

     I remembered a fifth grade episode in which the teacher used warm water from a radiator can, to remove dirt caked on a classmate’s face and body, then continued her teaching. That brother is a retired M.D. today. She saw a diamond in the rough. I wonder what would have been my lot had I openly called my teacher “cute.”

     I was privileged to meet two of the most beautiful women in the world; one was Black, the other one was White; both had distinguished inner qualities of purpose, refinement and personalities. They were Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt. Their beauty still radiates within my mind, heart and being today because they touched the intangibles of my soul. They along with my elementary teachers were “cute,” “fine” and “beautiful.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog 87: What helped me through the grieving process

By Vernon M. Herron
     Approaching and during my retirement years, I have lost several family members in death, which is defined as a separation and is a certainty for all. A family member who was aware that death was approaching asked, “Am I going to die?” Whereupon the nurse answered, “We all are going to die.”  
     Physical death is a separation of life from the body. It is a separation from the physical existence as we know it today; from loved ones, environment and possessions. Spiritual death is separation from God which is eternal. By grief, I mean a deep distress caused by bereavement. 
     Yes, recently I have lost  in death six family members which left me in grief: an aunt, a mother, a sister-in-law, a sister, and two brothers. I often wake up in the mornings thinking about their famous sayings, their laughter and their contributions to others. 
     I remember that after each death, I  would say to myself and to others, “Give me three months and I’ll get over it.” 
     That did not happen, so I changed the time span. Then I said, “Give me three years and I’ll get over it.” Well, that helped some, but let me tell you of three good things which helped me through the trenches – (the grieving process.)

One – My Faith
     Death brought my faith in an omniscient God, my theological views, the word of God (Holy Scriptures) into a focus which helped in the understanding of a “provided eternal life,” and a church ministry called “H.E.A.L.” God is the giver of life who determines our end. Our final destiny is dependent upon our relationship with Christ as Lord and Master and from whom we receive an Everlasting life, then at death, Eternal life. The scripture teaches much about life and death:
     Gen. 3:19 speaks of our origin and destiny.
     John 3:15 and Romans 6:23 speak of our source of everlasting and eternal life.
     I Corinthians 15 speaks of our resurrection and immortality.
     According to the Rev. Michelle Jones, “HEAL is a fitting acronym for Helping Others with the Acceptance of Loss through Spiritual Affirmation. … It is a grief and loss ministry, people sharing a living” death as well as the loss of a loved one. The ministry facilitates “becoming whole” through God’s healing.” 
Two – Time
     Time is a great healing source. Initially, I thought a three-month period was a sufficient time to heal, not knowing, that was naivete. Many years won’t do the job either, if grief is not correctly challenged and channeled. 
     Only time, which differs in duration, heals well. It gives space for adjustment; it slowly fades the freshness of memory, association and earthly relationships; it provides the opportunity to increase one’s dependence on God and His healing power. I can handle a death experience three years after the fact better than I could have three months after. Yes, time is a great healer.  

Three – A Family Joke
     The third thing which helped me through the grieving process was a family joke. It was originally told as “a Moms  Mabley” joke. 
     At one time, my brother, sister and I walked together with the aid of canes. I would often say, “I generally hang out with young people. If you ever see me hanging out with older folks with canes, they are my relatives.” That would tickle me but not them! 
     Even though they are now “asleep” in Jesus, that joke helped me through the grieving process.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blog 86: A Salute to Connie J. Dillon: My Alter-ego

By Vernon M. Herron 
   There are many good people in the world today and Constance J. Dillon of Joliet, IL is one of them. Let me put my claim in first. 
   Connie is my alter-ego and is a supportive friend of the Herron Speaks blog and has been through the years. As an “alter-ego,” Connie is my counterpart who shares my thinking and conviction and someone who speaks well on my behalf.
Connie J. Dillon
   As such, Miss Dillon has served well as our first field reporter of the Herron Speaks blog. A former parishioner and a native of Joliet, IL, the daughter of the late James B. and Roberta Dillon, Constance was educated in the Joliet public school system, a graduate of Joliet Junior College and employed by the US Federal Government before retirement.
     Connie contributed to many of the popular subjects covered in the Herron Speaks blogs. She is noted for her unique and creative subjects. Her writing style is Socratic in form  yet practical in nature.
   Connie is strong in religious conviction and service. Her church membership is with the Second Baptist Church of Joliet, IL which is the oldest African American Church in Joliet where she was baptized at the age of 9. There she served in many ministries including Children, youth and adult ministries, music and church education, church administration including Boards of Directors. 
   It is fitting and appropriate that we honor Constance J. Dillon for her work as our alter-ego and her service to the Herron Speaks blog. The entire readership salute you, Connie.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blog 85: Answers to Fun Quiz


(In blog 84, the following test was offered. See answers below)


Answer the questions below, but remember, the obvious answer is not always the right answer!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.  How many birth days does the average man have?  (1)

2.  Some months have 31 days; how many have 28?  (All)

3.    In baseball, how many outs are there in an inning?  (6)

4.    If there are 3 apples and you take away 2, how many do you have?  (2)

5.    A farmer has 17 sheep standing in a field and all but 9 drop down and died. How many sheep are left standing?  (9)

6.    How many members of each animal did Moses take on the ark? (None;  think Noah)

7. How many two-cent stamps are there in a dozen? (12)

8. A clerk in the butcher shop is 5’10” tall. What does he weigh? (Meat)

9. Do they have a fourth of July in England? (yes or no)  (Yes)

10. How many 9’s are in the range of numbers 1 to 100? (20)


(Here is the process to # 10):

9-19-29-39-49-59-69-79-89-99=11; 90-91-92-93-94-95-96-97-98= 9; total 20.


This blog project is interactive. Therefore, tell us about your answers.

How many questions did you answer correctly?

Which one(s) gave you trouble? Do you need help in understanding?

How do you plan to further use this game?


Monday, January 2, 2012

Blog 84 - The Game Which Stole the Christmas Party

The Game Which Stole the Christmas Party
Vernon M. Herron

Recently, I attended the Annual Christmas Breakfast Party sponsored by the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum. It was well planned and executed. It was attended by former presenters who are making a difference in the world, politicians, elected officials, singers, musicians, Santa Claus and his helpers, food caterers, the “Tuned-In” choir from the McCreesh Place (a residence for homeless men) under the direction of Dr. Thomas Moore. It also included exchange of gifts for everyone and the recognition of our long time leader, Mrs. Sarah Stevenson.

Mrs. Sarah Stevenson

But the best part of the party was the game, “Just for Fun” quiz taken by everyone. Since there were no “winners,” nor “losers,” everyone had fun. I was so impressed with the game, I now invite you to participate with the quiz. Answer all questions, keeping your responses as a matter of record and note the correct ones in the next blog.

All comments are welcomed.

Answer the questions below, but remember, the obvious answer is not always the right answer!!!!!!!!!!!!
1.    How many birth days does the average man have?                         __________
2.    Some months have 31 days; how many have 28?                           __________
3.    In baseball, how many outs are there in an inning?                        __________
4.    If there are 3 apples and you take away 2, how many
do you have?                                                                                    __________
5.    A farmer has 17 sheep standing in a field and all but 9
drop down and died. How many sheep are left standing?               __________
6.    How many members of each animal did Moses take on
the ark?                                                                                            __________
7.    How many two-cent stamps are there in a dozen?                          __________
8.    A clerk in the butcher shop is 5’10” tall. What does he
Weigh?                                                                                            __________
9.    Do they have a fourth of July in England?(yes or no)                    __________
10. How many 9’s are in the range of numbers 1 to 100?                   __________

            For answers, see next blog

Recognition to:
Laura McClettie, Andrea Huff, Jackie E. Walton, Steve Johnston, Lucy Carter and Carlenia Ivory.