Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Requiem For a Friend

High School Class Photo

High School Class Photo

 To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “In every individual’s life, comes that special moment when he or she will be called upon to do something great, and what a tragedy it would be, if at that moment, they were unprepared for the task.”

 My grandfather spent his whole life preparing for this moment.  Not that he didn’t appreciate life.  He did.  But he looked forward to the day when he would stand at the door of his father’s house…with all of the world’s mysteries unveiled…and where he would be reunited with Glenn, Harry, Ernest, his mom and dad…and Louise.  

And I’m sure for the first time in several years he is hearing that familiar refrain we heard so many times, “Now Elie, you know that ain’t right!”   You see, on many occasions when my grandfather recalled an instance that happened in his past, my grandmother would reply, “Now Elie, you know that ain’t right!” and she would quickly point out the way it really occurred as she remembered it.  Perhaps in heaven my grandfather might actually win an argument…but I fear St. Peter has his hands full with “Bumba”.

Growing up as a boy, I would spend weekends with my grandparent Feemsters and with the Russell’s.  On Saturday night after supper, Granddaddy and I would sit on the backdoor steps where he would polish his shoes.  He would look over at me and ask, “Doc, you got those shoes shined up for church tomorrow?”  I would say, “Well, my shoes are already clean.”  Granddaddy would be quick to reply; “Those shoe’s aren’t polished.”


Granddaddy would spit on his shoes as he polished and bring them to a high luster…and I would spit on my shoes because that’s what granddaddy did.  Afterwards we would retire to the dining room table to do our “lessons”.  That’s what he called it.  I would rather watch TV but granddaddy said we had to study for Sunday School.  “But why do we have to read all that?” I would ask.  “We’ll be reading it again tomorrow.”  “You need to lead the discussion.” He would point out.  “You need to be prepared.”


In the twilight of his life, the grandchildren would stay with him on Sundays.  On one particular Sunday, I ventured through the house and peered into his closet.  Granddaddy did not own many suits.  The one tie I recalled him wearing often, I was told yesterday, actually belonged to my father, as did the shirt he wears today.   


If you walked through the house, many of the books you would find belong to my dad who reads about one a day.  The books that belonged to my grandfather can be found in the hallway in the bookcase and on the headboard of his bed. You would find they are study guides on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…the meaning of Revelations, a Biblical Concordance, and a Bible.


You see my grandfather was a simple man.  During his lifetime he worked at the bleachery I am told, at the JP Stevens Plant, drove a taxi cab, worked with the chain gang with my Great Granddaddy Will.  He was farmer who raised his own crops and cattle, served with the volunteer fire department, and served as a Sunday School teacher.  He was a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.


Throughout his life he placed God first, his family second, and his work third.  And he was a hard worker.  If he told you in the morning he had just a few chores to do, that meant he would be out till the sun went down. 

There’s a passage in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare penned, “And when he shall die, cut him out in little stars and cast him to the sky.  So that all the world will be in love with the night…and pay no attention to the garish sun.” 



Bumba and Elie - 50 Years!

Bumba and Elie - 50 Years!

Tonite, when I look to the heavens and see the stars twinkling bright.  I will think how fortunate I…all of us in this room…and the countless numbers whose lives he touched…how fortunate we were…to have known Elie Russell. 

Relaxing at home

Relaxing at home

March 24, 2009 - Posted by | Personal | , ,

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