Wingspread E-zine for June, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

Contents

  • New story: “Bledsoe at Cuyahoga High”
  • This month’s puzzler
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Winners of the 100-word story contest!
  • How to purchase Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information

*********************

Please forward or share this E-zine with friends. Thank you!

New story: “Bledsoe at Cuyahoga High”

After his divorce Harold Bledsoe decided to travel back to his Boston roots, arriving to a joyous welcome from his parents. His mother had always given him her unconditional support, never questioned his choices. “Harold; why don’t you move into your old room? Take as long as you’d like to heal from your disappointments.”

He walked into his bedroom, untouched since he’d left for college—family pictures, overstuffed chair, writing desk, body-building posters, the familiar smell. He took advantage of his willing parents—hibernated, paid no rent, didn’t help with household tasks, borrowed their car when his was in the shop. Such is the logic of the single man.

His divorce had shaken him. Thinking back to his high moral training at Plymouth Congregational, he resolved to straighten out his life by reducing his alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and even avoiding dating. . . . To read more, click here: https://jimhurd.com/2020/05/29/bledsoe-gives-up/

(*After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

Puzzler of the month:

(Credit: Bob Dinger)

All the words in this list share one thing in common. What is it?

Assess
Banana
Dresser
Grammar
Potato
Revive
Uneven
Voodoo

Answer to last month’s puzzler: If you wished to lose at a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” how would you do it? Answer: If you wished to lose, you would play the game exactly the same way you would play if you wanted to win.

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month: Bildungsroman novel

A coming-of-age story where the protagonist matures emotionally and spiritually. (Think Dickens’ David Copperfield or Anne of Green Gables.)

Book of the month: John Grisham, The Appeal. 2008. A legal thriller that pits a billionaire against a poor woman in a small town. Spoiler alert—it does not turn out well.

Movie of the month: Call the Midwife. This Netflix BBC TV series is simply a delight. One of the few series my wife and I both like to watch. Set in the rough east end of London in the mid-twentieth century, it tells the story of a dedicated cadre of nuns and midwives who provide services to poor birthing women. Great characterizations. Redemptive stories. Dedication, compassion, dare I say love. Warm community. Positive treatment of religious values. I told my wife, “Except for the blood and screaming, and too many pregnant women, it’s a great show!” 😊 Highly recommended.

Thoughts to ponder:

  • I thought I saw an eye-doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to only be an optical Aleutian.
  • She was only a whisky-maker, but he loved her still.
  • A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.
  • No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
  • A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
  • Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  • A hole has been found in the nudist-camp wall. The police are looking into it.
  • One of my all-time favorites: Why is it that time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana?

Watch for my upcoming novel: East Into Unbelief (provisional title)

Shawn and Kathleen grow up in the charmed world of 1950s California. But just after graduation, Shawn travels east to Torrey Bible Institute where he fails at his life ambition, loses his deep Christian beliefs, and loses Kathleen. How will he find his way back to his dream, his faith—and Kathleen?

Special challenges when you’re the mother of Jesus . . .

Winners of 100-word story contest:

Ta Da! The results are in. Readers submitted their best stories—in 100 words.

Here are the winners:

Bill Doyle        While living in Germany, my young family traveled to visit friends in Austria. The American military hotel in Munich, our first night’s destination, was full, so we continued south on the autobahn. Soon we entered a small town with a quaint gasthaus, a combination hotel, restaurant, and bar. I asked the proprietor in my best German: “Haben sie eine doppelt zimmer?” (Do you have a double room?) He brusquely replied in good English, much better than my German: “What do you want?” Though I continued to study German, from that day I usually spoke English to start conversations with Germans.

Virginia Todd:      Jerry shivered in the cold and tried desperately to steel-away waves of panic. He had no coat, nor even shoes. His frail body went unnoticed by those who passed. No caring. No help. “Jesus, you will help me. You love me, and only you!”

The morning began to warm. Jerry, weak and teary-eyed, stood up. His languid blue eyes looked down the busy sidewalk. “God,” he breathed. “I see help. A lovely lady is coming my way!”

A warm coat and shoes were put on. Jerry smiled and praised God. Thank you too, lady, for caring. He smiled.

Eric Beck:     I had been carrying the stein around with me all day. The beer inside it was virtually gone. Now I entered the music store. I knew this would be where I’d find it. And though I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, I said to the clerk, “A bass.” Was it a word of knowledge directly from the Lord?

“What color?”

I hesitated. I held up my libation.

 “Ah,” he said. I went home that day with a red four-string.

I walked out of the house the next morning with a purple coffee mug.

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) 

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Bledsoe at Cuyahoga High

After his divorce Harold Bledsoe decided to travel back to his Boston roots, arriving to a joyous welcome from his parents. His mother had always given him her unconditional support, never questioned his choices. “Harold; why don’t you move into your old room? Take as long as you’d like to heal from your disappointments.”

He walked into his bedroom, untouched since he’d left for college—family pictures, overstuffed chair, writing desk, body-building posters, the familiar smell—all the same. He took advantage of his willing parents—hibernated, paid no rent, didn’t help with household tasks, borrowed their car when his was in the shop. Such is the logic of the single man.

His divorce had shaken him. Thinking back to his high moral training at Plymouth Congregational, he resolved to straighten out his life by reducing his alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and even avoiding dating. He worked a few odd jobs—restaurants, construction. Even though he didn’t see the point of attending, he felt guilty about staying away from church. But what could the church give him? Plymouth’s teachings provided thin porridge for his thirsting heart. He felt condemned and uncomfortable with Plymouth’s high moral standards. How could anyone live up to them? His parents didn’t pressure him, but he realized how much his life had diverged from theirs.

 

Two years passed. He told his father, “I’m going to apply for some high school teaching jobs.”

“Great idea, Harold. You can use your teaching degree, your coaching minor,” his father said.

Bledsoe knew he needed to get away from his folks but didn’t want to go back to California and face the debris he’d littered on those shores. He stumbled upon an ad mentioning that Cleveland’s Cuyahoga High School needed a coach and guidance counselor, so that summer of 1956 he applied, then drove out for an interview. Cuyahoga High was housed in one of those massive L-shaped brick buildings built in the 1920s with a tall brick chimney on one of the gable ends and a flagpole on the other. He walked the halls imbibing the institutional smell of wax and old wood, talking to teachers and staff, then interviewing with the principal and superintendent.

The superintendent queried him about the two-year gap after his Palo Alto counseling job. He told him, “Well, I was recovering from a nasty divorce.” Beyond this speed bump, he wowed them with his personality, good looks, and articulate answers. They hired him on the spot, and that fall he started teaching and counseling at Cuyahoga. His first year at his new job went great—this bronzed Odysseus awed everyone. Divorce had encouraged Bledsoe to make some moral amends, amends he was proud of—he’d stopped smoking and cut back on his drinking, but the giant of lust still loomed. He continued reading girlie magazines, feeling it a harmless pastime, not seeing the need to stop, not thinking how it might harm him.

 One day in early fall of his second year, he found himself in his office behind closed doors, listening for two hours to one of his counselees who oozed pain and struggle. “Mr. Bledsoe, all my dad does is yell at me,” Beth said. “I feel like I don’t have any friends. I’m afraid to talk to boys. I’m a bad student. I don’t think people like me.” He gave her a sympathetic hug and she responded. He smelled her perfume, felt her warm skin.

After a few sessions they began meeting furtively after school. She has no one and she needs me, he reasoned. What harm can it do, especially if no one finds out? Being in an unfamiliar city far from home, still wounded from a divorce, he himself needed human touch, and here was a young girl that idolized him.

If he wanted something, he pursued it. Not Beth’s need, but his own selfishness impelled him to continue seeing her. He became more and more attached—and more and more afraid of being found out. Beth came to him as a fragile, vulnerable flower struggling to bloom. Desperate, she found in him a harbor for her soul.

What am I doing? he thought. She’s fifteen years old. He knew if the school discovered their liaison, he would not only lose this job; no other school would hire him. But, he rationalized, Beth needs me. I’m the only one that can reach her, help her. I mustn’t fail her.

Bledsoe employed his neocortex, not so much for logical thinking but for rationalizing the things his little rat brain really wanted. He congratulated himself on his compassion, his skill in dealing with Beth’s anxieties. He could not admit that his meetings with Beth merely fueled his own lust, harmed Beth and jeopardized his job.

WINGSPREAD E-zine, May, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

May 2020                                                                                         James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story!
  • Writer’s Corner
  • My new novel: East into Unbelief
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread subscription information

*********************

New story: Bledsoe at Play in California

 (Please share this story with your friends at: https://jimhurd.com/2020/05/05/bledsoe-at-play-in-california/     Thanks!)

True—Harold Bledsoe had come to Torrey Bible Institute without much of a Fundamentalist background. Born to wealthy Bostonian Christian parents, he grew up in historic Plymouth Congregational Church, a stone edifice that honored its Pilgrim founders. Plymouth was big on social gospel, moral uplift; not so big on sin or the Cross. As a teenager, Bledsoe bundled lots of undisciplined energy into his sculptured body and lifted weights several times a week. Plymouth’s pastor, Rev. Emerson Bodie, took Bledsoe on as his special project, confirming Harold at age thirteen—a ritual more like a tribal rite of passage than an affirmation of historic Christian doctrine. Bodie told him, “Harold; you’ll go far; God has his hand on you.”

Starting his senior year in high school, Bledsoe told Rev. Bodie, “I want to help young people like you’ve helped me.” But really, he wanted only one thing—to get away, see the world. . . .

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2020/05/05/bledsoe-at-play-in-california/ 

 (*Please leave a comment on the website, and share the site with your friends. Thanks.)

  

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:

Scenify:  Dividing your manuscript into scenes. This helps reader visualize the story. “Showing,” rather than “telling.”

Book of the month

Agatha Christie, Death in the Clouds (hardcover), London: Collins Crime Club, July 1935. 256 pp. An extortionist passenger is mysteriously killed, apparently by a blowgun dart. With her on the plane is Hercule Piorot, Christie’s unlikely Belgian dandy detective, who shuttles between London and Paris, casts suspicion on all the passengers, and then brilliantly solves the mystery. (As a pilot, I was a little critical of the aviation terms in the book.) At one point, only the Bible had sold more books worldwide than Agatha Christie.

 

Watch for my upcoming novel:  East into Unbelief

A bildungsroman tale of Shawn McIntosh, who lived a charmed California childhood and assumed all his dreams would come true. But in his senior year (1959), his father died, and then his best girlfriend deserted him. He traveled east to Chicago’s Torrey Bible Institute searching for a vocation and for answers, but instead, lost his life dream of mission bush flying, and then began to lose his Christian faith. It was a long road back to faith—and joy.
The novel is finished, but the title (and other stuff) is still evolving.  😊

 

New contest, only for you, our E-zine readers! 

Write a story in 100 words, maximum. Come on! You can do it! Only 100 words.

It can be on any topic, and can be memoir, fiction or non-fiction.
I’ll select the best story and publish it in our June Wingspread Ezine. ((You’ll be famous.)
Final judge—me! I will evaluate the stories based on human interest and writing craft.
Deadline—May 30, 2020.

Go!

This month’s puzzler:

A woman was born in 2020, but dies in 1995. How did she do it?

Answer to last month’s puzzler: Assume that the earth is a perfect, smooth sphere. If you were to stretch a string around the earth at a height of two feet, how much longer would the string be than the circumference of the earth?

Let D                                       =          Diameter of the earth

D+4                                         =          The diameter of the string

Pi D                                         =          Circumference of the earth

pi (D+4)                                  =          Circumference (length) of the string

Subtract circumferences    =          pi (D+4) –   pi D

=          pi D + 4 pi – pi D

Circumference of string     =          4 pi

=          4 (3.14) or 12.56 feet

Therefore, the string is 12.56 feet longer than the circumference of the earth. (Note: this works, regardless of what the earth’s circumference is.)

——————————————————–

Other quotes and quips:

 Things that keep me awake at night:

  • Is the “S” or the “C” silent in scent?
  • So Queue is a “Q” with five silent letters?
  • How come fridge has a “d” in it but refrigerator doesn’t?
  • Can toilet paper be used as legal tender?
  • I saw a t-shirt with the sun on it wearing sunglasses. What is the sun protecting its eyes from?
  • If you throw a surprise party for a psychic and they’re surprised, is their reputation ruined?
  • I woke up one morning, and saw that all of my stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates.  Steven Wright

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

  Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, please reply with the words, “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Bledsoe at play in California

True—Harold Bledsoe had come to Torrey Bible Institute without much of a Fundamentalist background. Born to wealthy Bostonian Christian parents, he grew up in historic Plymouth Congregational Church, a stone edifice that honored its Pilgrim founders. Plymouth was big on social gospel, moral uplift; not so big on sin or the Cross. As a teenager in the church, Bledsoe bundled lots of undisciplined energy into his sculptured body and lifted weights several times a week. Plymouth’s pastor, Rev. Emerson Bodie, took Bledsoe on as his special project, confirming Harold at age thirteen—a ritual more like a tribal rite of passage than an affirmation of historic Christian doctrine. Bodie told him, “Harold; you’ll go far; God has his hand on you.”

Starting his senior year in high school, Bledsoe told Rev. Bodie, “I want to help young people like you’ve helped me.” But really, he wanted one thing—to get away, see the world.

“Harold, you want to help people and you like athletics. Why don’t you major in counseling and coaching? I’ll write you a college reference letter.”

So Bledsoe applied to Stanford (as far away from Boston as he could get), got accepted, and in the fall of 1948 drove solo to the West Coast. He loved breathing in the leather smell of his 1946 Cadillac convertible, a graduation present from his folks. With its three hundred forty-six cubic inch L-head V-8 engine, hydramatic transmission, fat bullet fenders and a spotlight, it turned heads.

When he arrived at Stanford, his roommate Jerry warned him, “If you’re a freshman, you can’t park a car on campus.”

But Bledsoe told the men’s dean, “Say, I need a car to take my disabled aunt to the grocery store a couple times a week.” The dean bought it—no one found out that his only aunt lived three thousand miles away—so Bledsoe got a permit to park on campus.

Stanford hit Bledsoe like a grenade. The war years had just past, and the pedagogues knew that education held the key to bringing peace to the world (ignoring the fact that educated Germans had just presided over the killing of six million Jews). Stanford’s entering freshman class planned for crazy—minoring in academics and majoring in fun, soaking up the easy living in the coppery California sun. A college degree guaranteed a job, so they studied whatever they fancied. Harold inhaled this West Coast world, a world where established custom, morality, traditional ideas, hung in a state of suspended animation. He signed up for ballroom dancing (for his phys ed major), English, modern sexuality and a film class. He studied casually, striving for the “gentleman’s C.” He wasn’t sure he really wanted a degree but he liked the ethos of Stanford, and he had no alternate plans. Besides, college would keep him out of the draft.

He loved hanging out and smoking with the other jocks in his genteel, testosterone-fueled fraternity. The guys would go to restaurants, beachcomb, body surf. His parents footed his bill, so he had money to drive his friends down along the old El Camino Real, where they hung out in Dinah’s Shack or Rickey’s Swiss Chalet, savoring the juicy burgers and fries.

And the California girls! They’d flung off the strict morality of their East Coast forebearers, along with miscellaneous articles of clothing. He wondered if they’d invented the saying, “Girls just wanna’ have fun.” He loved their impossibly long legs, painted toenails, their slim, tanned bodies and abbreviated two-piece swimsuits.

The beautiful Stanford girls invited Bledsoe to beach bonfires, drive-in movies. They relished riding in his black Cadillac convertible with its wheel skirts and white sidewalls, the wicked wind blowing through their hair. They loved his Boston accent. (Instead of California he said Californier).

In a word, Bledsoe was a chick magnet. He chased the girls and they chased him. He had an early liaison with a willing Mexican girl he’d met in film class. He told his roommate, “I love her Spanish accent, brown skin, black hair and eyes. I never knew any Mexicans growing up in Plymouth, Massachusetts. ‘Course I’m not thinking of marriage.”

 

Then came Bledsoe’s senior year at Stanford. By this time, his most exciting activity was reading Stag magazine. He didn’t broadcast his literary interest, rationalizing that it was private, harmless, and anyway, lots of other guys in the frat house read it.

Since he’d just turned twenty-one, he decided to celebrate with a drive down the coast to historic San Juan Capistrano. He was sitting in the Mission Grill sipping a Margarita and feeling good about life when a couple girls in two-piece bathing suits approached his table. They seemed hardly out of their teens—California-tanned, long blond hair, brown eyes, looking for adventure.

“Hi; are these seats taken?”

“Nope…. Are you guys in college?”

“Yeah; we’re both freshmen at San Diego State. We’re tenting down on the beach; wanna join us?”

An abrupt request, but of course he accepted. They jumped into his black Cadillac and let him drive them down to the beach.

The evening started out splashing about in the cold waves and continued with bonfire-roasted hot dogs on a stick washed down with beer. The girls joked with him, putting their arms around his neck, rubbing his back. He had no trouble reading the cues. Do they want what I think they want? he wondered.

The sky darkened, the moon rose, the fire died down. More beer, mixed with the taste of the sea-salted breeze.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Well, no. . . . I’ve got several friends but no girlfriend.”

In the fall, California beaches get chilly when the sun goes down, and the girls proposed that they retire. That night their two-person tent accommodated three, and the evening ended up with communal conjugation. Turns out, the girls were looking for a manage de trois with the next reasonable male they could find, and apparently he qualified.

 

The next day Bledsoe drove the several hours back up to Palo Alto, bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, his head still spinning. He, a child of privilege, didn’t feel conflicted about the encounter, or indeed, about anything—he followed his emotions and animal desires. From the heady viewpoint of the broad sea-smell vistas along the California beaches, the high morality of his old Plymouth church seemed outdated.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for April, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

Contents

  • New story
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information

*********************

New story: Bledsoe Arrives at TBI
(
Excerpted from my upcoming novel, East Into Atheism)

 At the first men’s devotions of the semester, Dean Puckett introduced Harold Bledsoe, the new men’s dean. Dashing Harold Bledsoe—bouncing on his heels, full of energy, he seemed to refract an alien light. Shawn McIntosh stared at him. He didn’t look very dean-like—seemed like a circle among rectangles.

After Bledsoe got settled in his tenth-floor office, Dean Puckett gave him campus block patrol. Torrey Bible Institute couples would walk the city block that circled TBI—traversing the cracked and broken sidewalk along the chain-link-fenced parking lot, then turning back toward the women’s dorm. The rule was—keep walking. The deans warned students not to linger in the recessed doorways of Moody-Sankey Auditorium. Bledsoe would cruise around in his big black Cadillac convertible with the top down heedless of the weather, shining his spotlight into the recesses, flushing out couples….
To read more, click here
:   https://jimhurd.com/2020/04/06/bledsoe-arrives-at-tbi/

 *Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.

  

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month      —     Pitch:
The act of trying to sell your book to an agent or a publisher.

Book of the month:     Jay Winik, April, 1965: The month that saved America. 2006. The month that ended the Civil War and turned the tide of the nation. A great, entertaining historical docudrama. New York Times Bestseller.

 Watch for my upcoming novel with the provisional title:  East into Atheism
After he lost his father and his girlfriend, Shawn McIntosh travels east to Chicago’s Torrey Bible Institute looking for answers to his faltering faith, but instead, falls into atheism. It’s a long, uncertain road back.

Punography

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. But he says he can stop any time.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club. But I’d never seen her herbivore.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra…

PMS jokes aren’t funny. Period.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

New puzzler

Assume that the earth is a perfect, smooth sphere. If you were to stretch a string around the earth at the height of two feet, how much longer would the string be than the diameter of the earth?

 Last month’s puzzler: How do you diagnose a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac?

Answer: That would be a person who stays awake all night wondering if there’s a Dog.

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  

A memoir about how childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 Subscribe free to this E-zine

Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to this WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Bledsoe Arrives at TBI

At the first men’s devotions of the semester, Dean Puckett introduced Harold Bledsoe, the new men’s dean. Dashing Harold Bledsoe—bouncing on his heels, full of energy, he seemed to refract an alien light. Shawn McIntosh stared at him. He didn’t look very dean-like—seemed like a circle among rectangles.

After Bledsoe got settled in his tenth-floor office, Dean Puckett gave him campus block patrol. Torrey Bible Institute couples would walk the city block that circled TBI—traversing the cracked and broken sidewalk along the chain-link-fenced parking lot, then turning back toward the women’s dorm. The rule was—keep walking. The deans warned students not to linger in the recessed doorways of Moody-Sankey Auditorium.

Bledsoe also flushed people out of Moody-Sankey’s balcony, one of the best hiding places at TBI. At random times he would burst in, shine his big flashlight and surprise couples in the act. He wouldn’t usually take down names, only kick them out the door with a warning. Shawn fantasized about the balcony; he had no girlfriend, but the prohibitions made the dark balcony attractive.

Bledsoe’s portfolio was dean of men, but several times Shawn had seen him chatting up the women students. They loved his California stories, loved his black convertible. On the nights that the deans spread out to sit at student tables in the dining hall, Bledsoe would often end up at the same table as Sally Wilberforce. His casual style, so different from the other deans, riveted her attention.

&

The next week, Shawn walked over to Moody-Sankey Auditorium and initialed his name on the sign-in sheet for mandatory chapel. Often, President Clearson spoke, or a visiting Bible teacher. But today it was Harold Bledsoe.

Shawn saw Sally signing in alongside another girl he didn’t know. They walked in another door, but Shawn saw where she sat—beatific, attentive, her big blue eyes focused on the podium. Serious, thirsty.

President Clearson introduced the new dean. He told the students that Bledsoe was born in Boston, then attended Stanford University where he did a B.A. in counseling with a coaching minor. He’d come to faith, Clearson explained, when teaching at Cuyahoga High School, Cleveland. Wearing a sports coat and light brown slacks, Bledsoe gave a touching testimony of his dissolute life at Stanford, his days in Cleveland, and his powerful conversion, then ended his talk with a call for commitment.

After the service Sally and her friend turned to walk out. Shawn saw how Bledsoe’s sermons touched people—Sally was blowing her nose and dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief. Shawn overheard her and her friends enthusing over him.

&

Two weeks into the semester, Dean Harold Bledsoe elevatored up to his Cromwell Hall office, rocked back in his desk chair, inhaling the smell of waxed oaken woodwork and feeling joyful. When he glanced in the mirror, he noticed his gold watch and dark brown pants and saw an eligible bachelor in his thirties, a bronzed god over six feet tall with a Roman nose, wavy dark hair and ears that clung to the sides of his head.

He quickly grew popular with the students but the deans did not always appreciate him, especially Dean Darla Dickenson. An office partition separated her from Bledsoe, but she thought he took up too much space—she could smell his cologne. She found Harold Bledsoe both repulsive and fascinating. In spite of herself, Dickenson secretly envied his self-confidence, his relaxed, joking manner, and especially, his Greek-god physique. But these very qualities fueled her dislike for him, he, with his black convertible and casual attitude. The mean little part of her brain grew jealous of the attention he paid to the TBI girls. She’d heard his conversion story and knew he wasn’t reared in a Fundamentalist church.

Bledsoe smiled a lot. Why does Bledsoe smile? she wondered. At TBI, smiling was mandatory—it was thought to radiate a “good testimony” to the world. Some people smile out of habit, Dickenson thought, some out of obligation, some because they see the ironies of life and some because they’re truly happy. Hard to tell with Harold Bledsoe.

Dickenson walked over to Dean Puckett’s office and whispered, “I don’t think Bledsoe is very TBI-esque. He’s too friendly with the girls. When he drives around the block, he shines his spotlight up at Hargreaves Hall and the girls open their windows and wave. I’m afraid he’s not a good role model for the boys, either. TBI forms serious, mission-driven men and women, not clowns.”

Puckett said nothing.

But Dickenson’s fears had some basis. Harold Bledsoe brought with him a tangled background and many guarded secrets.

Wingspread E-zine for March, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”


March, 2020                                                   James Hurd    

Contents

  • New story: Sally Shows Up at TBI
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread Ezine subscription information

*********************

New story: Sally Shows Up at TBI

(excerpted from my forthcoming novel, East Into Atheism)

Shawn returned to Torrey Bible Institute that fall. Running late for class as usual, his shoes scratched the rough tile floors as he sucked in the steam from the hall radiators. Swinging by the P.O.’s on the slim chance of a letter, he twirled the combination on his box, leaned down, peered into the empty box then turned to walk away disappointed. He remembered the bright vision of Sally on the beach at the luau two summers ago but he hadn’t seen her when he’d been home this past summer.

When he glanced up across the large room, contradicting everything he knew and believed, he saw a vision. As he blinked trying to clear his head he wondered, was it wish-fulfillment or was it really her?

“Sally! Is it you?” He ran to her. Why was she here? ….

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2020/03/17/sally-shows-up-at-tbi/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 

 Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Social distancing—-The practice of separating from other people during a time of contagion, such as COVID-19 virus.

Book of the month: John Grisham, The Brethren. 2000. A story about the gentle art of extortion. Grisham weaves a tale at once fantastic and believable, as if he were a criminologist.

Movie of the month: Midway. The powerful story, retold, of the decisive 1942 naval battle in the Pacific between the U.S. and Japan, six months after Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack.

  Watch for my upcoming novel: A young Californian travels east to train for mission aviation at Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago. One problem—he’s losing his faith, and after reaching campus, declares himself an atheist. (Presently in editing and revision.)

 

Puzzler

New puzzler: How do you diagnose a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? (Answer next month)

 Last month’s puzzler: A skeptic points out that in I King 7:23, Solomon’s brass basin is described as 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits around. The skeptic argues that this proves the Bible contains an error, since, mathematically, circumference equals pi times diameter. Therefore, a 10-cubit diameter demands a 31.4-cubit circumference. How might the biblical literalist explain this apparent biblical error?

Answer: The diameter might refer to the outside of the lip, and the circumference might refer to the inside of the lip. (I’m not making this up. I actually read this explanation somewhere.)

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.

How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

 

Just For Fun

Things to think about:

  1. What if my dog brings back the ball because he thinks I like throwing it?
  2. If poison is past its expiry date, is it more poisonous, or not poisonous at all?
  3. What letter is silent in the word “scent,” the S or the “letter C?
  4. Why is the letter “w” in English called double u? Shouldn’t it be called double v?
  5. Maybe oxygen is slowly killing you, and it takes 75-100 years to work.
  6. Do twins ever realize that one of them was unplanned?
  7. Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.
  8. The word “swims” upside down is still “swims.”

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/wingspread-ezine  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Sally Shows Up at TBI

[Excerpted from my novel, East Into Atheism, forthcoming.]

Shawn returned to Torrey Bible Institute  that fall. Running to class, late as usual, his shoes scratched the rough tile floors as he sucked in the steam from the hall radiators. Swinging by the P.O.’s on the slim chance of a letter, he twirled the combination on his box, leaned down, peered into the empty box then turned to walk away disappointed. He remembered the bright vision of Sally on the beach at the luau two summers ago but he hadn’t seen her when he’d been home this past summer.

When he glanced up across the large room, contradicting everything he knew and believed, he saw a vision. As he blinked trying to clear his head he wondered, was it wish-fulfillment or was it really here.

“Sally! Is it you?” He ran to her. Why was she here?

She flinched, then raised her eyes. “Hi, Shawn….”

Her visage seemed darker, transformed from the high school girl Shawn had talked to over a year ago. Was she ill?

“Sally! Why did you leave Biola? Why did you come without telling me? Are you okay?”

She shriveled under the barrage of questions. “I don’t know…. I don’t want to talk about it. Spoken hesitantly, her eyes cast to the floor. “Shawn, I’m so sorry I didn’t let you know…. I dropped out of Biola last November, moved back to my apartment in Costa Mesa, went back to work at the Jolly Roger down in Balboa.”

“But what are you doing here? Why didn’t you write me?

“I made a quick decision. I just felt I had to get away, far away, from California and my old friends.”

“Well, it’s sure great to see you.” And then Shawn thought about Reggie—-sophisticated, fast-track, confident, outgoing. Sally had worn Reggie’s varsity sweater. Shawn knew Reggie was dating someone else but didn’t know if Sally was still interested in him. “How’s Reggie?”

“Oh, I don’t know; okay, I guess,” Sally said. Her eyes focused on something distant in time and space. “You heard we broke up last August. We’re not dating or anything now.”

She seemed polite, but her heart appeared shut up like an insect in amber. Shawn’s mind churned. Is she running away from something? he wondered. He dared not think she had come to TBI because of him.

“I don’t understand it but I’m glad you’ve come, Sally. It’s so great seeing you. You’re one of the few people I know at TBI from Southern California! I hope we have some classes together; I hope we can see each other.”

“Yes… I hope I did the right thing in coming. But after Reggie and I broke up, I just lost interest in dating. I hope you understand. I hope we can talk sometimes, though.”

He watched her disappear up the stairs ghostlike, toward the Cromwell Hall classrooms. He wondered about her troubled, averted eyes, full of nostalgia for something she’d lost.

 

The days passed and Shawn hardly saw Sally, but one Wednesday evening he happened to walk by the Muslim Prayer Band room. There she was—-all tan-sweatered, full-skirted, wearing brown flats. She didn’t notice him staring.

Why had she chosen Muslim? Shawn wondered. The most admired mission field was Africa, and northern Africa &&was Muslim—-hard-core, resistant. Maybe she’d joined Muslim Prayer Band for the challenge.

For his part, Shawn didn’t attend a prayer band. He found them boring, and anyway, he didn’t understand how prayer worked.

Despite his unbelief, that same night he walked into Norbert Hall prayer room, knelt and tried to pray out loud. He prayed for his family, for Sally, for his roommate, for poor and suffering people. Kind of vague here—-he wasn’t much in touch with the suffering world. He never prayed for Muslims, though, because he couldn’t imagine Christianity would interest them.

How does prayer work, anyway? God already knows what you need, he thought. Why do I need to remind him? And God will do what he wants to do anyway. I wonder if my prayers will escape this small room, or if they’re only my own thoughts bouncing off the walls to mock me.

 

One cold, rainy October morning Shawn jerked awake; then yelled over to Fulton, who was still sleeping, “We’re late for devotions!” He jumped up, threw on shirt and pants as he spit on his hand to smooth his cowlick. They ran out of their dorm room and joined several guys running down the Norbert Hall stairs.

As they jogged along, Shawn’s thoughts drifted to the previous summer with Betty. He realized he hardly knew Betty, except physically. He’d told her he loved her, tried to talk himself into loving her, but only because he wanted to justify their intimacy.

Sally seemed so different from Betty—-more complex, more substantive. Why had Sally come? Is she running away from Reggie? I’m glad they broke up. Dare I think she came back to TBI because of me? She talks about California and her friends but never about me. I don’t know how I could ever deserve her.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for July, 2019


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

July, 2019                                                       James P. Hurd       

Contents

  • New story: Leaving Lancaster County
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Puzzler
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Wingspread subscription information

*********************

 

New story: Leaving Lancaster County

The Saturday after that wonderful Thanksgiving of 1959, Alex drove Shawn around Lancaster County.

“Let’s stop and buy some venison,” he suggested. The Oldsmobile’s tires crunched on the crushed limestone farm lane as they pulled up to a house and found Ruth Hostetler standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Where’s Seth?” Alex asked.

“He’s still sleepin’.”

“Oh, don’t bother him; we want some venison but we can come back later.”

“That’s all right. Chust come and sit here in the livin’ room and I’ll go up and get ‘im.”

They sat down, calmed by the smell of the hot woodstove with its black chimney. After about ten minutes Seth walked down the stairs in his long underwear. Ignoring the boys, he leaned over to tap out his pipe at the woodstove, his bare rear end peeking out through the undone flap. He refilled his pipe, lit it from the stove, sucked on it, then turned toward the boys without smiling…..

 To read more, click here:   https://jimhurd.com/2019/07/12/alex-and-shawn-leave-lancaster-county/

 (*Request: After reading the article, please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

 Subscribe free to this E-zine: 

Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the WINGSPREAD E-magazine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Logline: A one or two-sentence summary of abook.

Book of the month: Summer of the Danes by Ellis Peters, 1991. Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael is pleased to join a mission of church diplomacy to Wales. Travelling in the safety of the Prince of Gwynedd, they face unexpected dangers when Danish longships beach at Anglesey. They seek to protect a young Welsh woman from harm. Set in 1144.

 Watch for my upcoming novel: Atheist in the Institute. A young graduate travels east to train for mission aviation at Torrey Bible Institute, Chicago. One problem—his childhood faith is dwindling away. After failing to qualify for the flight program, he declares himself an atheist.

Presently in the “edits” stage. Target publication date: Spring, 2020.

scrooge grammar

Every author’s nightmare

July puzzler: 

I King 7:23 says that Solomon’s brass basin is described as 10 cubits in diameter and 30 cubits around. The skeptic argues that this proves the Bible contains an error, since, mathematically, circumference equals pi x diameter. Therefore, a 10-cubit diameter demands a 31.4 cubit circumference. How might the biblical literalist explain this apparent biblical error?

 Answer to June’s puzzler: 

Recall that the contest was a kite flying contest. The first person to be able to get his kite to land on the other side of Niagara Falls, won.

After one little kid was successful, the  engineers then took that kite string and attached to it a rope that was slightly heavier than the kite string. They pulled that rope across and they attached successively stronger ropes, until they finally had one strong enough to pull, what? The first cable of the bridge spanning the gorge!

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Alex and Shawn leave Lancaster County

The Saturday after that wonderful farm Thanksgiving Day of 1959, Alex drove Shawn around Lancaster County.

“Let’s stop and buy some venison,” he suggested. The Oldsmobile’s tires crunched on the crushed limestone farm lane as they pulled up to a house and found Ruth Hostetler standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Where’s Seth?” Alex asked.

“He’s still sleepin’.”

“Oh, don’t bother him; we want some venison but we can come back later.”

“That’s all right. Chust come and sit here in the livin’ room and I’ll go up and get ‘im.” They sat down, enveloped by the smell of the hot woodstove with its black chimney.

After about ten minutes Seth walked down the stairs in his long underwear. Ignoring the boys, he leaned over to tap out his pipe at the woodstove, his bare rear end peeking out through the undone flap. He refilled his pipe, lit it from the stove, sucked on it, then turned toward the boys without smiling.

Alex inhaled the sweet tobacco smell, then introduced Shawn. “This is my friend Shawn from the Bible Institute, Seth. We were hoping to buy a couple pound of venison.”

Seth looked to be in his mid-seventies, balding, a long gray scraggly beard, no mustache. Said he’d lived here on this farm all his life. Other than asking Shawn where he was from, he seemed un-curious about him.

Shawn had a hundred questions but didn’t know if he should ask them. Alex had cautioned him, “Don’t ask about doctrine; Amish people don’t talk theology.”

After Seth sat down on a stool across from them, Shawn asked, “Do you use candles at night?”

“No, not usually. Some Amish use kerosene lamps, but in Lancaster County we use propane.” He pointed to a lantern atop a long metal pipe that disappeared into a small wood cabinet. When Seth lit it, it whooshed up a propane-smelling ball of flame. “It gives all the light youse need at night.”

Seth handled English well, but his speech betrayed it as his second language. He said saeys instead of says; pungin for pumpkin, fortnight to refer to a two-week period. He referred to his wife as “she,” never using her name.

After leaving Seth’s, they drove back to the farm to present the meat to Alex’s mom, then walked in the cold November day out to the barn to help with the milking.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Shawn and Alex left Lancaster County headed back toward Chicago. They overnighted in Ohio with one of Alex’s Mennonite uncles, then continued west. The snow had turned into a cold misty rain when they pulled into an Indiana truck stop for food. The parking lot smelled of diesel exhaust. The place was populated mostly by truck drivers—-solitary,  untethered men, bleary-eyed from long hours over the road.

They sat down at the lunch counter next to an old trucker who looked like a character from a Marlboro ad. “Bud” had two days growth and a black bill cap that read “True Outlaw Country.”

“Where’re you guys goin’?” Bud asked, putting down his egg sandwich.

“Back to school in Chicago,” Alex said. “Torrey Bible Institute. We’re just stopped here for gas and food.”

Bud’s smile widened. “Well, watch out for them lounge lizards. They’re jailbait.”

“Lounge lizards?” Shawn asked, in-between bites of his muffin.

“Short skirted, big-breasted lounge lizards. Them skags hang around truck stops and chase truckers who got them new sleeper cabs. But they’ll pick up anybody.” Bud saw himself as the seasoned sage as he passed valuable counsel to two naïve teenagers.

“Okay; we’ll be careful,” Shawn promised, as he noticed a well-endowed young woman walking through the restaurant. He thought himself bulletproof against sexual temptation. Foolish boy. They paid and drove away.

It was now evening, the rain had stopped, and Alex was driving. They had the windows cracked and inhaled the crisp winter air. It was 1959, the cold war was at its height, and talk turned to the draft. Shawn said, “The U.S. has 2,000 military advisers in Asia, and Russia’s building a hydrogen bomb. What do the Mennonite boys do about the draft?”

“Well, they classified me 1-A,” Alex explained, “so I talked to my bishop and he wrote my draft board. They reclassified me 1-O, Conscientious Objector, because I was in the Mennonite church. Mennonites don’t join the army.”

“Wow! They classified me 1-A in September, right after I started TBI. I talked to Dean Winters and he sent a letter, so they re-classified me 4-D, ministerial student. But if I leave TBI, they’ll probably draft me and send me to Vietnam or something….”

Alex pulled away from the signal light. “Vietnam? Where’s Vietnam?”