Mr. Stewart Grace
Copeland used to say you could tell a lot about a person by the way the
washing was hung out on the clothesline. But this day and time, with all
our modern conveniences, clotheslines are just about obsolete. So weíre
left to figure out other ways to determine certain characteristics about
folks. With the disappearance of the backyard clothesline, the next best
thing, I think, is the outside appearance of homes and yards. Thereís one
home not too far from mine that Iíve often wondered who lived there. It
doesnít have a clothesline in the back yard, but itís has a well groomed
yard, and in the spring and summer seasons, there are always flowers in
bloom. Just recently, I learned that particular home belongs to Mr. Stuart
Grace. Donít you think thatís a very distinguished sounding name? Stuart
Grace. I looked up the definition of "Grace," and one example I found says
this - "A sense of correct or appropriate behavior and consideration for
others." I believe this describes very accurately the characteristics and
personality of Mr. Stuart Grace.
On May 29, 2006, Mr. Grace celebrated his 94th birthday, but no one would ever guess thatís the age he is. He was born some 12 miles west of Moss, Tennessee, in a community called Milestown. Although he lives in Livingston, he still grows a very large garden in Clay County. As he and I sat on the back porch of his home one afternoon recently, there were a couple of Brown Thrashers in an evergreen at the edge of the porch feeding their young. The birds seemed to be completely unafraid of being in close proximity to us, and this was mainly because Mr. Grace cares about these fine feathered friends, and quite often, puts food out for them.
All across the edge of the back porch flowers had been set out, but on closer inspection, various kinds of vegetables had been planted in amongst the flowers. Mr. Grace expressed concern to me about the two cucumber plants he had set out. Both plants were just getting big enough to begin to flower, but he had already determined there would be no cucumbers on either plant. And this problem he attributes to the fact that there had been no bees to pollinate the plants. He explained that use of chemical sprays is drastically affecting the honey bee and bumble bee population, and as a result of this loss, our food supply will suffer. He believes this problem is one that needs the urgent and utmost attention of those in the agricultural industry.
The decline of honey bees and bumble bees is a great concern of Stuart Grace. He believes the use of chemical sprays is one thing that has contributed to the fact that bees are not nearly as plentiful as they once were.
Mr. Grace also agrees with Benjamin Franklinís belief that wild turkey should have been chosen as our national bird. Franklinís theory was that the wild turkey was a bird native to North America. The turkey is also a peaceful bird, feeding off vegetation, whereas the eagle is a predator. The wild turkey is a different animal from the one that graces our Thanksgiving table. The modern farm-raised turkey has been bred to be so stout and meaty that it is virtually unable to fly, and is thus ungraceful. However, the wild turkey was able to fly quite well and was a challenge to hunters. According to legend, it was John Adams who desired the eagle to be our national bird.
In looking back over his 94 years, Mr. Grace told me he was one of nine children. His parents were Wilson Grace and Vadie (Armer) Grace. He attended school in Putnam County, and had to walk a distance of three or four miles a day when school was in session. His parents were hard working and each child in their family was taught to work. Their diet consisted mostly of chicken, eggs, hoe cakes, cornbread, sweet potatoes, molasses, and whippoorwill peas. They grew their own cane to make molasses. Chickens and eggs were sold and the money used to buy staples. Mr. Grace can remember the first time his mother bought a loaf of bread. He was in his late teens, and at that time, the price of a loaf of bread was twelve cents. Selling chickens was also one of the ways money was made in order to pay for his college education at Tennessee Tech. He graduated from Tech in 1958, and over the next 31+ years, he taught both grade school and high school students at Hermitage Springs, as well as other schools in the area.
He attributes his living to the age of 94 in part to the fact that he doesnít smoke, he doesnít drink, and he has never used drugs. He believes that our present day system is failing to make any headway toward combating drug problems that exist all around us. It is his belief that those who have been convicted of crimes relating to drug use would be far better served by educating them rather than making career criminals out of them. He believes we are living in an age of fear and greed, both of which contribute to the condition our world is in.
Mr. Grace had one request about this story, and that was that I include what he decided to call his Daily Prayer. I agreed to do just that, and here it is:
"Lord, Iím thankful for this day. Iím thankful for the spiritual and material blessings we are privileged to enjoy. Our food, our shelter, our clothing, and our modern ways of transportation and communication. I am thankful for our good communication we have with those we come in contact with."
"Help me, Lord, not to say or do anything to provoke, condemn, or offend anyone. Help me to live day by day according to Godís will. I pray that we not have any problems with fire, wind, water, or gas. I pray that we have no accidents as we go about our daily activities."
"I pray for health, happiness, success, and well being of our friends and loved ones. May they not want for necessities or be users of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs."
"I pray for those who have made mistakes in the past. May they realize their mistakes and return to church to ask for repentance of their sins."
"I pray for our enemies who go about spreading rumors and false accusations. I pray for those living in poverty, confinement, homelessness, fear, stress, or a hostile environment."
"I pray for the abused, the abandoned, and the rejected women and children. May they have adequate food, shelter, clothing, love and affection."
"May we live in a land of democracy and a land of freedom where all are good law abiding self-supporting citizens."
"I pray that I become not so puffed up and obsessed with pride, malice, prejudice, and prestige that I might have a tendency to judge and abuse the less fortunate."
"Lord, have mercy and compassion, and redeem me from the persecution of my enemies. Forgive me of my sins and direct me along the pathway of righteousness."
Mr. Grace told me he prays this prayer sometimes twice daily, once when he first awakes in the morning, and again at night before retiring. I think it reflects the definition shown above as being a person who possesses "a sense of correct or appropriate behavior and consideration for others."
Another thing Mr. Grace enjoys is solving problems as shown in this example: If you were born May 20, 1912, how old would you be? Please give your answer in years, months, and days. If you know the answer, drop Mr. Grace a note in the mail sent in care of The Overton County News, P. O. Box 479, Livingston, TN 38570.