‘In September 1963, before the Beatles were a blip on anybody’s radar in North America, ‘The Quiet Beatle’ was living up to his reputation by visiting his sister, Louise Harrison Caldwell, in Benton, Illinois. At the time the other three Beatles were vacationing in Europe, Paul and Ringo in Greece, John and his wife Cynthia in France. Harrison came to Southern Illinois with his older brother Peter, to hang out, play music, go camping and get a first-hand glimpse of life in the Midwest. While here he did an interview on a radio station in West Frankfort, bought a Rickenbacker guitar in Mr. Vernon, jammed with a local band at a VFW Hall in Eldorado, bought records at a Benton music shop, hung out with coal miners at a Bocci Ball Club, then lost (and recovered) his wallet, and turned heads and hearts with his ‘mop-top’ hair and Liverpool accent.’ Illinois Times
Benton is a lovely town in Southern Illinois. It is also the home of the renowned actor John Malcovich.
So…65 is barking at my heels and I continue searching for this Old Man’s role in the life of my Community. When I look into the faces of my fellow Southern Illinoisans I see The Forgotten People. We are infatuated with the happenings of the East Coast of our nation…and if the East Coast is having a dull news day…we look to the West Coast for valuable life lessons… the Midwest…Southern Illinois is forgotten. We people of Little Egypt have done alright with our hardscrabble lives and taking the lesson of Esther of the Bible and thus gleaning what the important or right people have left behind…and without a doubt, it has caused us to develop our own opinions of what is essential in life and our intrinsic value to our Creator.
Humble we are with a readily extended helping hand…when you know poverty and the struggle for bread…you recognize it quickly in others who are experiencing it. As I walk the streets of our little towns and hamlets and villages…I primarily encounter the poor and the marginalized and those who have effectively been forgotten by the affluent and the powerful. When we see each other…we know our brothers and our sisters…those who have come through the furnace of want and deprivation. Those who save all year in order to have a little money for Christmas gifts for their loved ones. Those who think before they drive somewhere…because they do not have the money for gas. Those who do not turn on the furnace but rather layer their clothing and wear mittens in their home…and wonder what those who have an abundance of money…will come up with next…
Money is the greater divider. Churches are no different. Many in our region look for a church where they feel that they will not stand out for their penury. The denominational churches did not seem interested in them…but the storefront missions…beckoned with open arms. Some of those with open arms have open hands for the hard-wrought earnings of their poor congregants. Many poor and needy congregations are proud of their ability to keep their pastor in the finest lifestyles…after all…they are giving to God…
Got choked up, in the best way, reading this. Thank you 💚
My pleasure, my friend.