Get out a Map of Ohio. Look in the middle of the state. The big city there is Columbus. Now look slightly to the left. Do you see Bellefontaine? Follow State Route 47 West out of town until you see a little dot in the highway labeled Logansville.
I lived there for a while when I was a little boy. I think I was about ten. My Dad was the pastor of the little church built on the highway.
I spent many lazy afternoons riding my red balloon-tire bike and exploring creeks. I dressed like Opie Taylor. I wore Levis every day with black sneakers. (Red Ball Cadets, as I recall. Or were they called Red Ball Jets?) I was never without a red wool ball cap tilted back on my head. The sun would bleach the bangs of my already blonde hair. I wore T-shirts with horizontal stripes. That was before writing on T-shirts became popular.
One afternoon bored I wandered into my dad’s study and asked him if he would help me build a tree-fort. He said no. “The trees aren’t ours. This is a parsonage. The people of the church may not want us to build a tree-house.” I wasn’t sure I liked being a pastor’s kid. I went outside and set under a tree.
About ten minutes later I heard my Dad whistling and looked up to see him coming across the yard. He wore a dress shirt and tie every day no matter what he was doing. But he had pulled cover-alls over his dress clothes and he had his tool box and some boards. “Go get the ladder,” he called. “We’re going to build a tree house.”
An hour later I was sitting on a board up in the croch of a tree feeling a little like one of the Hardy Boys. Dad rigged up a bucket and pulley so I could get things up in the tree. Sometimes mom let me eat my lunch up there.
A mentor of my Dad’s at the time was an evangelist named John R. Rice. Dad said when John R. Rice was a boy he had a special place to be alone with the Lord. Dad said; “This can be your special place to be with the Lord. You can read your Bible here and pray.” I loved that tree house and spent hours on my shady perch on summer days.
We moved away one day but I remembered it as one of the best places we lived growing up.
Many years later we came back to an area an hour or so south of Logansville. I worked about twenty miles north of where we lived. It was a third-shift job working all-night with a crew of reprobates. They talked filth continually and played wretched music all night every night over a cheap PA system. Every night I worked with a knot in my stomach. It’s hard for me to remember ever being more discouraged.
One night I took an hour off for lunch and got in my car and began to drive. I drove east in the night until descending into a little sleeping village. It must have been two or three in the morning. I found the house I remembered. I turned my little Volkswagen onto the street beside the house. I parked and shut off he engine. I sat in silence for a few minutes and looked up into an old maple tree. The boards were gone but the tree still stood in the corner of the yard.
After a few minutes I started the car up and went back to work. I’ve never been back. It’s been over twenty years. It is one of the pleasant places I visit in my mind sometimes when I have been around too many reprobates and I’ve had to listen to too much loud music and my stomach is in knots.
If you have a little boy in your life, do something with him. Build something or go somewhere or take a walk and just be together. Someday you will consider it a great investment. Years from now when things get hard for him he will have some pleasant places to visit in his mind.