Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grandparents Have Emotions Too.

Our church here in Visalia has had a couple of kids with serious health problems recently.  Two different families.  As I heard about these kids and prayed for them.  I also prayed for the kids parents and grand parents.  You see I have some experience in this area.

Our first child, Brian William Lutterbein was born on October 13th, thirty six years ago.  I still remember the pain and horror of his problems and death two months later.  Everything was wrong with him.  He had no chance of living a long life.

As I remember that time I remember all the support and help we got from my parents and Diana's parents.  At the time I had no thoughts of the pain and hurt they were suffering with and enduring.  At the time I didn't understand that Brian's grandparents had feelings too.  I was thinking of Brian, Diana and myself.

It wasn't until I became a grandparent myself that I realized how emotional it is when a grandson is sick, or is having problems in school and how emotional it can be on a grandparent.  As a parent and grandparent; why can't I fix this thing or at least have the wisdom to say something to make everyone feel better? 

Grandparents are not magic.  They have no control over what happens.  It amazes me now how outwardly calm my parents and in laws were when Brian was slowly dieing.  They were so strong and supportive, but how were they on the inside.  From my experience as a granddad I know they were in a mess inside.  

God gives grandparents the ability to act strong and under control during times of high family stress.  That is a wonderful thing.  God seemed strong and almost cold when his son was crucified for us, but I'll bet he was suffering just like any other father would.  We are made in Gods image.  Through prayer and lifelong praying for others, we parents and grandparents somehow muster the strength to get through bad times.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you pray for a sick child, it would be helpful if you also pray for the child's parents and grandparents as well.  Not all prayers are answered the way we might think they should be, but I know prayers are answered.  I have felt and seen the power of prayers from people who have prayed for me.  Please pray for help when you or someone else needs it, but also offer prayers of thanks when good things happen to you through the grace of God.   Prayer helps all the way around.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Baseball, My Favorite Spectator Sport

I grew up in a pretty small town.  We had two stop lights, a k-12 school all on the same site, one full time policeman and the town team/high school/little league/pony league baseball field.  With everyone using the same field, it was busy all the time.  It was a pretty nice field too, and it was well lit for night games.  The town team played a lot at night.  There were bleachers on the first base side of the field and car parking on the third base side of the field.  People would sit in their cars all along the third base side of the field and when a good play was made or a home run hit everyone would honk their horns.  It wasn't uncommon for a car to get hit by a foul ball, but that didn't deter people from getting the best viewing parking spots.  Huck Zimmerman's mom ran the concession stand with her kids.  It wasn't much more than a mini storage shed with a flip up wood window and a couple of electrical outlets.  They served hotdogs, popcorn, candy bars, pop and coffee.

That baseball field was about fifty yards from the back of our house and my small bedroom had two nice sized windows and was on the second floor of the house.  At night it was like being at a baseball game.  The lights would light up my room.  With the windows up in the summer I could hear all the chatter of the players and the chears and moans of the fans.  When cars started honking I knew something good happened for the home team.  To this day I love to hear the "crack of the bat" when a ball gets hit.  

When I was a little older and finally got my own transistor radio, I'd have the Detroit Tigers on the radio at the same time as the local game was going on.  Listening to Ernie Harwell describe the game with the sounds from the local ball field was great.  Harwell was famous for the way he would call a game.  When a fan cought a ball he'd say " A fan from Gross Point cought the ball."  Every time it happen he'd say another town surrounding Detroit.  When a home run was hit he'd say "It's loooonnnggg gone!"  My favorite call was when someone was called for the third strike with out swinging.  He'd say " and he stood there like the house on the side of the road and watched it go bye."  Ernie Harwell is in The Baseball Hall of Fame now.  He was the greatest.

Growing up so close to the ball field, I was there all the time.  Watching games and even high school practices.  The high school coach gave me a broken bat from time to time.  I would take it home and my dad showed me how to fix them as long as they were not broken completely in two.  We would get some really small nails, Elmer's glue and electrical tape.  We would drill a little hole just a little shorter than the nail, squeeze some glue in the crack, put the nail in and the tape it up real good with the electrical tape.  When we were done, it was almost like new.  I know I never had to buy a bat to use, even though most of the ones we fixed were too big for me.  Sometimes I would take them back and show them to the coach.  He was probably just being nice, but he always acted like I had really done something good.

My baseball playing career started and pretty much ended in Little League.  I played three years in little league.  My first year I was terrible and was stuck playing right field.  I was a skinny little runt and hadn't developed many muscles.  It was a long season and the coach was a kid just a few years older than us.  He didn't have much patience with us.  My second year I had Huck Zimmerman as my coach.  Looking back, he was probably the best coach I ever had in any sport I played.  Huck wasn't a good student in school, but he was enthusiastic, kind, and just made me want to work hard and play better.  He moved me to first base and I started every game.  I actually made the all star team that year and was a pretty decent hitter.  I remember there was one kid I just couldn't hit.  His name was Chuck.  That kid had a really good fast ball and he struck me out every time except one.  That one time was the last game before the all star team was chosen.  He was pretty cocky and was trying to make me look bad.  He threw me a change up and I hit a home run off him to win the game.  I knew he was throwing the change up because he cocked his wrist differently and I was waiting on it.  Chuck and I were friends and that was the first time I could ever rub it in to him like he did to me so many times before.

Over the next winter, I started to grow taller and became a little more uncoordinated.  I tried out for Pony league, but got cut.  I was still young enough to play little league again, but was not nearly as good that year as the previous year.  The next summer I tried out for Pony League again and got cut again and thus ended my baseball career.  I didn't play baseball until I pitched slow pitch softball at college.  By then I was much bigger, stronger and a pretty good athlete.  I played soft ball until the age of thirty and loved it and was pretty good.  I was a pitcher the whole time and hit over 600, but couldn't hit a home run.  I just opened my stance and slapped the ball where there was a hole.  Strictly a singles hitter.  

Well now you know all about my illustrious baseball career.  The game I loved the most was the game I just coulded master as a teenager, but it's still the best game in the world.  Play Ball!!

This picture was my last year in little league.  I was the tall kid in the last row.  As you can see I had gone through quit a growth spirt and was way taller than the other kids.  Huck Zimmerman is on the far right.  I have really good memories of playing baseball as a young kid.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

There's A Song In My Heart.

After church this morning a friend of ours motioned us over.  Sally said I've met your daughter, I'd like you to meet my daughter.  She is from Fresno and her name is Katie.  As I shook Katie's hand I began to sing.  Kkkkatie Kkkatie, your the one the only one that I adore........when the Mmmmoon shines over the Cccow shed...........
She and her mom both seemed to enjoy my silliness.  I explained to them that my Dad sang to my Mom all the time when we traveled places.  Many of the songs were love songs.  Mom would sing with dad a lot as well.  My dad truly loved my mom and vice versa. 
It's funny as I get further removed from the lumber business my memories of my dad are more as my dad and less as my boss and later business partner.  For the last forty years of dad's life our relationship was a business one and most of those good memories of him as a father were pushed to the back of my brain.
My sisters probably wondered why I didn't give him more of a break on his little faults.  I think I was pretty hard on him and didn't appreciate him as a dad.  All he would ever talk to me about was business and I just accepted it as the way it was.  Enough of that.
I'm so thankful for my dad and I'm so happy that the memories of dad are surfacing to the top of my mind now.  Tell my why the stars do shine, Tell my why the ivy twines.  Kkkatie Kkkatie.  Bill Grogans Goat.  The horses run around with their feet upon the ground.  There were many more, I just can't think of them right now.  Some one will say something to me and it seems there is always a song that relates to the comment.  
There is a song in my heart.  Thank you dad.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eleven Perfect Years

I think all Lutterbein's are born to be very competitive.  My dad and his two brothers and his sister were all that way.  I think they had no choice in the matter as It was instilled in them by their mother and father.
That being said they all tried to pass it on to their kids.  I know my dad certainly did.  Even something as simple as having kids with the best attendance records in Sunday School attendance.  I don't know about my sisters, but at one point I had eleven years of perfect attendance.  Do you remember the Sunday Schools pins for attendance?  There was a pin and then little hanging bars or schrools hanging off the pin.  Dad even made us wear them from time to time.  
You might ask, how can you do something like that.  As I remember it was something like this...  1. We weren't allowed to be sick.  2. We never went on vacations.  And 3. Even when we went to or from Grandma Rowe's house on a Sunday morning, he would find a Methodist Church in some town pull over and into Sunday School we would go.  At the time it was terrible.  My sisters and I hated it and I think the only reason we stopped was so when they give the little awards out we would always get/win the attendance awards.  Another victory for the Lutterbein family!
Now let's look at the bright side.  I'm sure going to Sunday School other places didn't hurt us at all.  It was also good for us to meet different people with different ideas and ways of doing things.  Our minds were in some ways opened up and expanded.  Finally it equipped us with the ability to meet and communicate with people we didn't know.  That in itself was worth the torture we felt.  Everywhere I go I easily meet people and love to talk to them with ease.  It's quite a gift form my mom and dad.
No matter how much I may complain I love my whole life.  God has blessed me.  I am very thankful for the Grace of God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Playground Lumberyard

     In a previous post I mentioned how we would play in the old lumber shed and the old high school gym converted into a warehouse.  Those weren't the only places.  Lutterbein Lumber was a treasure trove of places to play and imagine adventure.

     Where do I start?  My dad ran construction crews and they layed bricks and blocks on those buildings.  To make the mortar they needed masons sand, lots of it sometimes.  There was always a pile of sand contained by three wood walls.  Whenever it would run a little low, dad would order another dump truck of sand.  Sometimes there was a little sand and sometimes it seemed like there was a mountain of sand.  It was a great place to play except it was also a cat litter box, but we over looked that small problem.

     In the back of the lumberyard there were wild strawberries growing all over the place.  In season it was fun picking and eating thosestrawberries.  There were really small and as I remember pretty sweet.

     Climbing on piles of lumber was our version of going mountain climbing.  We would use our imagination and reall have fun.  There was one day that the boy across the street had a pile of lumber tip towards him and trap him so he couldn't get out.  I still remember him screaming "I'm dying, I'm dying."  In reality he was just scared half to death.  He wasn't hurt at all.  We just unstacked a few dozen 2X4's and let him out.  No harm.  No foul.

     Speaking of fouls, we also had a grass basketball court nailed to the side of the lumber shed that had the walk across plank.  All the neighborhood boys would come over to play basketball.  We didn't have referees so there may have been a few fouls here and there.  Again, no one ever got hurt, we just had fun.  

     Dad and Uncle Dick were quite the promoters.  A few times they hired a company with an elephant and a monkey for a promotion.  A way to attract customers.  An elephant inside the retail store!  That was the neatest thing in the world.  How many people have been able to experience that?  What fun!

     One time one of my sisters (I won't say which one) was in the office playing.  She found a few sheets of "stickers" and thought it would be fun to past them to the office chair.  I imagine it was very pretty.  We were pretty much banned from the office from that point on.  Those stickers were postage stamps.

     In the back of the lumberyard where the strawberries were there were dirt driveways with deep ruts in them.  When it would rain those would fill up with water.  A few times when it was hot we would play in them.  Running and doing belly flops in them sliding from one end to another.  We were just like barnyard hogs wallering in the mud to stay cool.  To this day, I don't know why I didn't get in a lot of trouble over that.  Again, we were never hurt.  I can't imagine even thinking about letting my kids do half of what I did as a kid.

     I mentioned earlier that Dad and my uncle were promoters.  On another occasion they put a pen up in the north lumber shed and had a large pig put in it.  They had a hog wild sale!  People could enter to win the pig.  The good thing about it they had Pepsi put a Pepsi/Mountain Dew machine out there with paper cups.  We drank all we could get away with.  I think my friends and I drank up any profit that might have been made.

     It was another day back in the 1950's and 1960's.  We did things that parents would probably be charged with child endangerment today if they let their kids do.  Of course we didn't ask our parents if we could do any of this.  We were allowed to roam as we pleased.  There was little or no danger to any of us being allowed to do as we please.  I am thankful for the freedom I had.  We learned as much playing as we did in grade school.  Both parts were important to growing up.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Soft Shoulder.......

Diana and I drove to the coast yesterday.  On the way back I saw a sign that said "Soft Shoulder".  I said my mom had a soft shoulder.  What? Diana asked.  I said my mom had a soft shoulder.
I remember when we were kids mom and dad would take us to grandma Rowe's house once or twice a year.  It was always a long drive and it was usually after work in the evening or very early in the morning.  
This was before seat belts and car seats.  Once or twice dad would put concrete blocks in the back seat where your feet would go and then put a piece of plywood cut to fit all across the back seat.  That gave us a level floor to play or sleep on.  I think he put some kind of padding on it to make it more comfortable.  Cars were a lot bigger then.  I can remember sleeping in the back window ledge of the car on one of those trips.  I would draw things in the frost that gathered inside the window.  It was pretty cool and a fun place to be.
The very best place late a night was in the front seat with mom and dad.  I still remember the warmth and love mom showed as I leaned against her soft shoulder.  The radio would be playing softly or mom and dad would sing quietly to each other or they would just talk softly to each other.  We were lucky, my sisters and me, to have parents who were so much in love.  We were lucky to have parents who loved us unconditionally as well.  Yes we got spanked from time to time and yes we tried them as much as we could, but the love was always there.
Some days I feel really sad when I think of the way mom is now with her memory pretty much gone, but I will always have my memories.  I think I will tell her about this distant memory when I see her next month.  I love you mom.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chisel, Hammer and Mercurochrome

Growing up in a lumberyard was a pretty cool life.  It was like having a playground and an amusement park right out the back door.  Big trucks coming and going, the sounds of the big belt driven rip saw and the wood planner, lumber sheds and lumber piles to climb on and of course the retail store to explore.

A couple of things I remember was the lumber shed that had a catwalk on both sides and a 2X12 plank running from one side to the other in the middle of the building and the old gym building with loft areas to explore and hide in.

That 2X12 was one of the things my sisters an I felt we should master.  It was really scary at first.  It was less than a foot wide and eight or nine feet to the ground.  It looked like a mile to the ground when we first tried crossing it.  At first we would crawl across it very slowly hanging on for dear life.  Then walk a couple of steps and the crawl the rest of the way.  After a while we could walk over it like it was dry land with no problems.  We eventually ran across it.  It was nothing to us then.  

The old gym was actually once the high school gym.  It was an old wood structure that my grandfather bought and had moved from the school yard to the lumberyard.  If you used your imagination you could see where the bleachers were on both sides and where the stage was at the east end of the building.  When we were kids there was a big sliding door on both ends and on either side was built a loft for misc. building materials.  The neighborhood boys loved to play back there.  We'd be all over it exploring.  We really weren't supposed to be there, but you know boys.  Every once in a while old Nick Watson, one of the truck drivers would come back to load something onto the truck.  We were scared to death of old Nick.  He was a big thick person and wore bib overalls.  When he'd come we would hide hoping he didn't kill us or worse tell dad.  I'm sure he heard us once in a while, but he never found us.  As we grew up we found old nick wasn't so bad.

Back to the title of this little story.  My dad worked with the construction crews when I was small plus sold buildings in the evenings.  He was very busy.  Sometimes when he worked at home and if he didn't get done with a job he was working on he would leave the tools lay so he could continue the next evening.  Well I have a scar the width of my left index finger and you can still see it fifty six years later.  Dad left his hammer and one inch chisel on the front porch.  Somehow I managed to deeply cut myself all across my finger.  I think dad was home at the time because I was the only one person panicking.  That would be me.  We didn't go the the doctor for stitches as we would today.  No it was the soap and water, mercurochrome, gauze and tape.  That ended up being the way it was from then until I was married.  I never had a stitch until after I had a wife to insist that I go to the doctor.  I have a lot of scars that I'm sure would not be there if only they were stitched nice and tight.

Life simple in the 1950's.  I thank God that I was able to grow up in a time where a lot of what you learned was from doing dumb things.  We didn't have to worry about making the right decisions.  We were allowed to make bad decisions and learn from them.  There was much less stress and a lot more care free fun.

Stay tuned for more exciting (or not so exciting) stories of growing up in the lumber yard.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

I Was Born

I Was Born.......the first time.

On October 1, 1952 I was born, the third child and only son of John and Myrtle.  A couple of years later I had another sister.  My Mom wanted five boys.  The pressure was on.  And woe was me with three sisters and two being older made it even harder.  I think one of the first politically correct thing I learned was putting the toilet seat down.  Enough of that.

Mom got the the hospital ready to pop a baby out, but the doctor wasn't there.  The nurses must not have known what to do, so they held her legs together for twenty minutes until the doctor arrived.  I can't imagine that being done today, but that's what I  was told.  At any rate, when she finally pooped me out my head was pretty deformed and blue in color.  Of course it straightened out pretty quickly and I look as normal as anyone else today.  I didn't learn all this till I was in my forties.

As I grew I was physically active and enjoyed baseball and basketball as a child.  In school however, I was always a little slower than my sisters and much slower than my parents and grandmother "L" thought I should be.  We will never know if any of that was connected to the birth delay.  I like to think it was.  

I had a terrible time memorizing things and I still have trouble with that today.  I took me forever to learn the alphabet and to add and multiply.  I had to be tutored in reading well.  Socially no one could tell I struggled with that.  I was able and am still able to figure out things that a lot of people smarter than me had trouble doing.  I have the ability to spot things that are wrong and then able to fix the problem.  I think that is how I learned to study.  I was and am a terribly slow reader, but I can look at a page and almost instantly pick out words I don't know.  I was terrified when I had to read out loud in class at school.  I always embarrassed myself.

Despite all of my early problems,  I managed to graduate from high school and college.  I worked in the family business, as expected, and feel I was successful there as well.  I have probably more confidence than I should have.  My wife and two kids really help me in the confidence area.  They are all kind to me and respectful.  God has been very good to me.  When walls go up, go over or around them.  Work with the gifts you have and don't fret over the gifts you may not have.  Have faith that you will succeed and work towards those ends, and you will succeed.