by Tim Patterson
PLYMOUTH, MI – At one time my hometown of Kermit, Texas was a thriving, pristine community. Though established in the middle of the sand hills of West Texas, it had been developed into a town that would make the community of Beaver and Wally Cleaver green with envy. (Those of you of a certain mature age will know of whom I speak)
The tax base in that little hamlet was enormous because of the oil and gas production from which it drew the lion’s share of its resources. The county was, to say the least, wealthy and used its finances to create a living atmosphere that was storybook perfect for families. It was a planned community to some extent by what was then called the Gulf Project funded by the Gulf Oil Corporation.
The downtown area reflected what you might imagine as the perfect town of the 50’s. Today many of the new subdivisions and planned communities being developed across the country are very similar to this homey little hamlet. The long main street was lined with business after business that ranged from the Rexall Drug Store on the corner to a feed store at the far end of town.
One business we would frequent only once or twice a year was Richies Shoe Store. It was the only exclusive footwear establishment in the town. Other clothing and department stores carried a few lines of shoes, but Richies was the best. Besides, Mr. Richie was the local Boy Scout Troop leader, and could be trusted to give you a fair deal.
Richies was, in my youthful opinion of the time, the premier provider of shoes and boots because they were the exclusive retailer of Buster Brown and Red Goose Shoes. From a young boy's perspective there were no rivals in the world of footwear. Nothing came close to those pentacles of podiatric protectors.
It was extremely difficult for a six year old to make such monumental decisions between the two of the finest footwear known in kiddom, but some slick Madison Avenue marketing techniques were powerful enough to persuade me to go with the Red Goose brand. It had little to do with the quality of the shoe, and everything to do with the big red goose that was strategically positioned near the cash register.
This was no ordinary red plastic goose. If a purchase of Red Goose Shoes was made the extraordinarily fortunate buyer received the privilege of pulling down on the long extended neck and head of the goose. The process of this neck bending would automatically release a golden egg from the gooses’ entrails, which would be expelled from its, well let’s say, posterior.
Within that golden egg could be anything. Toy prizes that were beyond imagination were encased in that golden sphere of surprise. The sheer thrill of chance and surprise beckoned my imagination to worlds of childhood wonder. The story that circulated through the peers of my little world was that one boy actually received a genuine ray gun that projected images of space creatures on almost any surface.
It is curious to me, that the older I get the less I like surprises. I think it has something to do with control. When I was that little boy of six nothing could bring me more joy and happiness than an egg from the posterior of a plastic goose. It’s funny how perspectives and priorities change.
Those changes reflect maturity and understanding or at least they should. The things I loved as a child have faded to the inconsequential and unimportant. Today I have grown and developed a more sophisticated and refined list of wants and needs.
God tells us that as we mature physically we should also mature emotionally and spiritually, but there are some of us who are perpetually stuck in an infantile and childish state. Maturity is a malleable and moving goal, and even now at my present age, I find it a summit I have yet to reach. Yet, I still strive for the prize.
It is time to move on and move up. It is time to find our greatest joy and fulfillment in those things that are eternal and not temporal. I know that those goose-given-golden-eggs were really “swift” and “super neat”, but toy ray guns are no match for the wonders that await those who “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.”
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
- 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.