“The Foot Log” By Doug Fincher

January 27, 2020 - When my Lumberton friend Allie Sheffield said as she grew up, she crossed their creek on a foot log, I immediately remembered the one that I crossed when I was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Mauriceville, Texas. When I arrived at the church parsonage, a deacon came by to help me move in. He walked up, held a thumb up and said, “My name is ‘Thamar Dickerson’, and I hear you like to hunt squirrels.” Thamar and I became best friends and I’ve never forgot this man…or his name.

Thamar showed me “The-S-Curve Woods” on Highway 96, and his favorite woods, “The Foot Log Woods” on The Lemonville Road. The Foot Log Woods could only hunted by walking an old foot log across a rice canal. When Thamar took me there, his dog “Yeller” whizzed ahead of us and sailed across the log to the other bank. “Don’t you try that, Preacher,” Thamar warned. ”You can’t cross like Yeller just did…. and besides, half way down this slick log is a 'Coon and Possum' outhouse.” I couldn’t believe how beautiful the woods were on the other side…the huge white oaks, tall pines, the large grove of holly trees….and it was obvious that the squirrels enjoyed their quiet environment, too.

In time, the Foot Log Woods became my favorite woods and on rainy days the hum of the distant Texla Sawmill and their 12:00 whistle always told me time and direction. On certain days, I hid in the holly grove and watched the birds and squirrels feed on holly berries. Little did they know as they hunted food, I was too, slipping up the canal bank and watching the exotic Wood Ducks eat floating pin oak acorns so invigorated me that I seemed to forget that I was there to hunt squirrels. And when two Red Foxes walked past, me one morning, I started taking my camera when I hunted The Foot Log Woods.

I had a terrible case of flu in 1965 while I lived in Mauriceville. When Deacon Delbert McWhirter came by and asked how I was, I said “I can see people walking all over the wall.” “Then I’ll see you later," he laughed as he hurriedly left the room. Two days later, I stumbled my way to the car coughing, sneezing but determined to hunt The Foot Log Woods. When I got half way across the Foot Log, I suddenly slipped and landed waist deep into the frigid cold water. Clawing and scratching my way to the bank, I shivered my way home, put on dry clothes, and went to bed. I couldn’t believe how I woke up the next morning…no fever…. no coughing ….and all my flu nymphets were gone!

That all happened almost 55 years ago and if I walked into the Mauriceville First Baptist Church today, I wouldn’t recognize many of the people. Their present Pastor was born when I was their Pastor in the sixties and all fourteen Deacons have now crossed The Jordan. .

Yesterday, (1/15/2020) as Pam and I drove down the Lemonville Road, I asked her to pull over. Since we were parked within fifty yards of The Foot Log Woods, I began telling her my experiences there and about 30 minutes later, I suddenly remembered that we were on our way to photograph birds on the Gulf Coast.

The years have gone but I won’t forget the kindness of the people at Mauriceville. I spent six wonderful years there.

They were six of the best years of my life.