Friday, April 18, 2014  
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A Comment By Joe Lee III

   Be sure to lock your home when you are away, and if you have an alarm system, set it.
   There are reports of several break-ins and attempted break-ins around town and in the county. A break-in is a sure way to ruin this happy season.
   Speaking of the season, we sincerely hope everyone has a great Christmas with friends and family.
   Christmas is a time for memories. The first Christmas I really remember was my seventh.
   I remember the tree, the living room, and the American Flyer steam engine pulling freight cars about the tree like it was yesterday. I remember very little else about that year ... my second grade teacher’s name ... Mrs. Seavey ... a few other things.
   I later switched to three-rail Lionel and started collecting Atlantic Coast Line steam engines, but I still have that original two-rail American Flyer steam engine, and all the cars that circled the tree countless times over six decades ago.
   My Atlantic Coast Line collection is connected to a fond memory, too. Maybe not Christmas, but a wonderful day ... a day truly filled with “wonder” for a small boy.
   My Granddaddy was a steam locomotive engineer for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. One day -- I must have been about five -- he took me to “Export.” Export was the big railroad switch yard outside of Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived for almost a century.
   I rode in the engine beside him, rang the bell and blew the whistle. What else could a young fella wish for?
   (You can bet this old geezer would give a pretty penny to do it over again today!)
   I have an operating model replica of that same Baldwin 0-6-0 switch engine on the wall in my office. I traced the original from a old photo. It was melted down for scrap in 1958.
   To top that great day off, we went to a sugarcane mill. I got to feed the cane into the top of the machine as an old mule walked in a slow circle all day squeezing the cane.
   Now, that’s a memory.
   I am sure you have some memories that bring a smile to your face, and, I am equally sure you, if you are old like me, are working hard to make certain you leave some good memories in a young mind or two you hold dear.
   Merry Christmas and, above all, remember Jesus. He gave his life to pay for our sins -- the big ones -- and the little ones, too.
   Most of us don’t have too much trouble avoiding the big ones, but if you don’t watch out, those little ones can sneak up on you in a heartbeat!
   Jesus offers love and forgiveness.
   (Most of us probably need to practice a little more love and forgiveness.)

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