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‘My home, sweet home’

Every July 4, two words, Southwestern and Caprock, come to mind.

It was the summer of 1962, and I had just finished my sophomore college year. I was selling books for Southwestern, the oldest door-to-door sales company in the country (est. 1855). I had been assigned to work towns with names like Hereford, Dimmit and Muleshoe in the area of west Texas they call Caprock because, geologically, the area is elevated and the soil is rich, as were the farmers.

Things were different then. Almost every door I knocked on let me in. I never once felt threatened or in danger, nor apparently did they, with one exception. Farmers saw me as a friendly Tennessee country boy working his way through college, and invited me in.

July 4 was my most prosperous day of that summer. A million miles from home, I saw it as an opportunity to sell. I figured families would be together and in a patriotic, happy mood. I sold $600 of dictionaries and Bibles that day. That would be like $5,000 in 2021.

I have one haunting memory of that summer. I grimace whenever I relive it. One young woman smiled and welcomed me in and offered me a seat and endured the demonstration of my books. Just as I was beginning to close, her mother walked in, horrified that I was there. When I heard her daughter speak for the first time, “Mommie. Look. Bible,” I realized that she was mentally challenged. That mother probably always thought that I was trying to take advantage of her handicapped daughter. Cringe!

I’m aware that those were not happy days for many Americans. But this July 4, I will again sing or whistle “America, my home, sweet home” and feel grateful for my privileged youth.