God has provided many blessings in life, but one in particular, that I know about and resides firmly in my heart, is the cherished honor of having Loralyn Bailey Dennis as my wife.
Today, ‘Dodie’ and I celebrate our first anniversary. By design, it is also my 65th birthday.
I’ve always been proud to share the same birthday with my dear friend, Michael Sheffield. We go back over 50 years as “brothers,” co-workers, instigators, Strawberry Hill connoisseurs, and adventurers.
One of the most obvious traits about us, besides being Sagittarius, is that I’m the most mature of us two. I was born first on December 5, 1955 in Smyrna, Tennessee. Mike was born two 1/2 hours later in San Antonio, thus allowing me additional wisdom and maturity due to my longer life experience.
Dodie and my story goes back to 1961. We were both enrolled in a two-room private school called Jack and Janet, on Mayfield Blvd., near Pleasanton Rd. on San Antonio’s southside.
For some reason, both of our parents signed us up early, her in the pre-first grade classroom at age 4. I was enrolled at age 5 as a first grader. Throughout our school years, we dealt with the distinction of being the youngest student in our respective classes.
Although, I’m not aware of ever meeting Dodie’s mother, I’m very thankful for her in so many ways. It’s likely the most notable thanks is for something Mrs. Bailey did at Jack and Janet.
Apparently, Little Miss Pre-First Grader Dodie was becoming increasingly headstrong and unyielding in class. When her Mom got wind of the obstinence, she marched into the classroom one morning and called Dodie up to the front.
Mrs. Bailey placed little Miss Bailey across her knee, hind end up. In full view of every four and five year old in the room, Mrs. Bailey busted Dodie’s butt.
According to legend, the crown fell off as the dress went up with an adequate amount of discipline and public humilty administered that has lasted to this day…so far.
To my dearest Mother-in-Law in Heaven, I remain truly grateful.
We were honored to have Pastor Jack Comer, Jr., his precious wife Pam, and their son Sam, from Bridge City, Texas at our wedding so he could officiate.
I can’t express how meaningful it is to have a friend and classmate from as far back as the 7th grade preside over our ceremony. In simple words, it was fun, sentimental and special.
Dodie was particularly thrilled to see members of her volleyball team from the McCollum Class of 1974 there. Some of these ladies had not seen each other in decades.
Little did any of us, a year ago, imagine what 2020 would be like.
We lost two dear friends who were at the wedding this year. Dodie’s childhood friend, Mary Thompson-Brewer, lost an almost two decade battle with cancer in early September.
Our special guest of honor and dear friend, WWII Navy veteran Ralph Watkins passed away on October 28, 2020. Ralph would have been 95 on January 17. He shared the same birthday with my mother and daughter.
Despite the negativity of 2020, we’ve had a meaningful year. When we started Clever Journeys at the end of May, we shared our ‘Creed.’
“To live with less, so that the truly important things in life may rise to the surface. To enjoy the freedom of travel and America’s liberty. To live minimally, but meaningfully. To live simply, but fully.”
We did just that by moving farther out in the enchanted Texas Hill Country.
My son Brady calls our home a “cabin,” because it’s very small, quaint and simple. The 1947 vintage cinder block house is perfect! Like my ancestors (yes, there’s Chickasaw-Choctaw in my heritage), we have the three basics needed no matter what happens: a pristine river behind us, game all around and fertile growing soil.
(Friday evening Dodie prepared an Italian dish, Eggplant Parmesan, with the vegetables from our garden).
In June and July, we defied the media, socialist politicians and anyone else who bothered us by NOT participating in any lockdown. Instead we took our sweet time and roadtripped across 15 states and D.C.
Most of us have had at least one moment this year when we wished 2020 was over. There’s no need to list everything that has happened this year, but I’m reminded of a story edited long ago by Edgar Allen Poe called “A New York Ghost.”
The writer spoke of being in a cave and he said he “felt the side walls closing in upon me.”
Individually, I guess we have all had our own personal challenges and unique experiences. Collectively we have been dealing with isolation, illness, economic stress, politics, and so much more. We have all been affected this year and I get messages each day that some feel as if the walls are closing in around us.
But as a brand new 65 year old, who has over two more hours of experience than Mike Sheffield does, here is the one thing I can be sure of:
God breaks down walls!
We only need to remember Jericho to witness literal walls coming down. Through the Holy Spirit, He has given us strength for modern day wall destruction too.
That level of strength is only acquired through time with God, both in His Word and in prayer.
As we grow with God, we are better prepared to trust that He might not answer us in our time, but He will work His will in His own time and to His glory.
Thank you Dear friends and loved ones. We appreciate your readership and sentiments.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5
Thank you for joining us on our Clever Journeys.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.