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Once Upon a Time: a Tale of Rags to Riches

Today’s guest blogger is Daisy Lee Archibald, a story-teller from the Wiregrass. Please judge her words as a work of fiction.

Once upon a time . . . there was a trucking company. Let’s call it Blue Transport.

Now, the hero of our story is Clyde Poser Blue who started Blue Transport in that golden jewel of the New South, Georgia, in between the wars. He would tell his protegés some time later that he had no choice but to quit school and go to work. His dad Jimmy had died when Clyde was just 16. And so all the responsibility fell on him as the middle child to support his six brothers and sisters.

Now, don’t you be lookin’ at the facts up there to see if that makes any sense, you hear? Jimmy actually died in 1962, not ‘33. But this a story. It’s a work of fiction. Nothin’ more. So hush up.

Clyde started work at a tanning factory and swiped the fat off the hides and made soap to sell on the side. And he bought himself a truck. And then he bought himself three more burned-up ol’ Smack trucks. And then a few more. And few more . . . until he had a whole fleet of 3000 trucks. The seventh largest transport company in the United States. That was Ol’ Blue.

And Ol’ Blue would help a lot of uneducated but wiley ne’er-do-wells just like Clyde rise from their raggedy and poor white trash surrounds to impressive and rich white trash surrounds. Rags to riches, donchaknow.

Now Blue was a real honest-to-goodness Christian. The fiery kind. The witnessin’ kind. He’d share the Bible with everyone who passed. In 1955, he borrowed $10K from some ol’ trusting Northerners to start a church — The Brookemaven Chapel. He was sure to invite his employees to the services. And he’d selflessly ignore costly errors if the employee agreed to convert to Christianity. Now that’s evangelism! Clyde printed Bible verses on all the company checks and newsletters. Nothing wrong with that, right? Clyde just wanted to be a gospel witness at every exchange of currency. Now those Jews up North didn’t like it in the 1990s, but they are a bunch of godless commies anyway.

Blue even directed and financed the New-Fangled Gospel Minute. So enamored was Clyde with this evangelist, Jersey Tumblegood, that in Spring of 1980 in Lynchington, Clyde bought him a big “secure” five-bedroom house with an eight-foot cinderblock wall surrounding it, all with a swimming pool.  Just helpin’ a brother out. . . . Can’t fault him for that. Evangelists need a pool to cool off in after heatin’ up America with the New-Fangled Gospel.

Now Blue Transport was a family business, but Blue’s family was . . . well, how shall we say it? . . . puny. He had lost his younger son at 10 months to the measles. And his older son died in ‘Nam fightin’ back the godless commies. He had but one child left to carry on his legacy, Mary Lou Blue. She had the unfortunate plight, however, of being a girl. There was nothing high-powered about that li’l thing. Just a Kindergarten teacher. And you can’t make money a legacy with education.

A few young men caught a whiff of the Horatio Alger aura at Ol’ Blue. They were sure to find their fortunes as long as they chose the right means — acquiring the same sketchy and unfinished credentials while shoveling a whole lot of cow cookies. In 1959, Korean-War-vet Spike Lemming just graduated from the William McAdoo College of Law — an unaccredited independent law school in Atlanta. Now, Spike would never practice law or pass the bar. Why go to a basement law school if you ever want to be respectable? No, Blue was his destiny. He loaded and drove trucks at Ol’ Blue and began sucking up Blue stock like a Hoover. By 1968, Spike had schmoozed his way up the corporate ladder to be the CEO and President of Blue Transport. Good thing, too, since Clyde was having union trouble. Those godless commies again.

There was another never-finished-school son-of-a nobody who got rich at Blue — Woodrow “Woody” Boberson. Woody had fallen on hard times in 1960. He had lost his every penny investing in some automatic pin setters for Mulligan Sports. He had wowed the sales force at Albert Vera’s Surgical Stuff Company, hocking scalpels and lab knives. And when Mulligan bought out Vera, Woody thought he could make a killing in bowling equipment. Yes, I said bowling. That’s our Woody.

But it would prove to be a foolish investment. And he lost everything — including all hope.

He sat in his sorry ol’ apartment and took a handful of little blue pills to end it all.

But all he ended was his sleeplessness.

He woke up several hours later and discovered a never-before-seen Gideon Bible on his nightstand. “How’d that get there?” he wondered. And, Woody claims, he prayed the kind of prayer that gets hazily remembered in sad-sack revival illustrations.

After praying, Woody rubbed the skeet out of his eyes and focused his attention on what would become his financial salvation on the other side of the room. There it was. That sorry ol’ company gift from Mulligan: a bowling bag.

Woody loved that bag. It matched his style, so city-slicker-like. He could just picture his swagger into the lanes with that bag and his thick pompadour. But he hated that bag just the same ‘cuz it reminded him of the worst mistake of his life — trusting “a dishonest man.” That’s how he would remember it in another century.

“Dadgumit,” Woody said out loud to himself, “I can get $9.95 for that bag. At least then I can eat.”

So down he went to the Monkey Ward’s at Ponce de Leon Avenue. He walked in to make the shady “return” when . . . miraculously, he found a friend he’d met while golfing during his salad days at the prestigious Standard Club. This golfer friend was in charge of personnel at Monkey Ward’s, and, of course, a Jew. . . . What? Of course, he was a Jew, of course. You didn’t catch that? I was giving you a clue — I mentioned he golfed at the Standard Club! Pay attention now, or you’ll miss the colors of my story!

Woody was a man of the world, after all. He knew that even a Jew could give him a job. And so the Jew at Monkey Ward’s gave that son-of-a-nobody a job selling lowly Kraftyman lawnmowers. And Woody rose to be the top salesman there at Monkey Ward’s.

Or so he insisted.

But for Woody’s nobody-daddy that wasn’t good enough, and he made Woody move back home. Woody hadn’t paid off his debts yet, so he had been pleading with the bank for a loan of $7000. “I’m a Christian!” he cried. “I neeeeed the money.” He claims that last appeal won him the loan. . . .

Maybe there was a lesson to be learned there. Everybody teaches Woody a lesson, no matter who. Maybe . . . this religion thing could make him some money.

Daddy introduced him to this Clyde Poser Blue. Daddy said that Woody and Clyde were cut from the same cloth. Both “boosters.” The same “personality.” Whatever that means.

And there Clyde and Spike and Woody would form a lifelong bond. Woody would fondly recall all the lovely Christian millionaires and oil tycoons he’d met through Clyde. Once he met a L. H. Shunt and his mistress-turned-wife Ruth twelve years after Shunt had died. Imagine that! Clyde even had connections beyond the grave.

Now Woody was married to the choir girl he met at Golgotha Bapternacle Chapel (a church he would leave to form his own which his kin would again leave to form another in 1990 — a tactic he learned from Clyde). But Spike? He was still unattached. And in Spike, Clyde saw the possibility of a legacy. He arranged for Spike to marry old-maid Mary Lou — a match made in Clyde’s heaven. By 1978, Spike and Mary were together worth $30 million — over $100 million in today’s economy. Warms your heart, don’t it?

And with great income comes great . . . well, tax evasion.

In 1984, the godless commie IRS was snooping around Spike and Mary Lou’s books, and Spike was getting anxious. He didn’t talk to Mary Lou about it — a point he emphasized to the IRS in 1997 when the IRS claimed he owed $10 million in back taxes. But in 1984, when that tax bill was thirteen years in the future, Spike just needed to sell off some assets. He had this 37-foot Italian speedboat he didn’t need in West Palm Beach. Some unidentified buyer had approached a dealer at the dock whose name was only “Don.” The buyer didn’t have the actual cash for the boat, so he offered Spike something “better” — 24 boxes of gemstones, assuring him that he could resell them for cash. They were worth $400K, dock dealer only-Don repeated.

Seems legit.

Desperate, Spike agreed to the deal. The gemstones appraised at only $150K, but he couldn’t find a buyer. Jewelry dealers agreed to consignment alone, and that wasn’t good enough for Spike. He had to liquidate the jewels. . . . but how?

Well, now we come to the moral of our story: a man who has friends is never alone. Especially friends who know the power of prayer . . . and re/over-turning (unpurchased) merchandise. Friends with nice cozy tax shelters. He called his old buddy Woody who lived about two hours away now. Woody would understand since he was cut from the same Blue cloth. Even his Daddy said so.

Spike gave Woody a jingle. “Hey Woody, can you he’p a friend out? These jewels are mighty pretty. And they are worth . . . uh . . . $320,756. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the precise amount they are worth. That. Exactly.”

Seems legit.

Always willing to help out a friend, especially an old friend, Woody agreed to help. Spike donated the jewels to Woody’s charity — The Gospel Friendship Association, the mission arm of Bob Johnson University. Good thing Spike and Clyde had sent their friend up there to Guerneville back in January 1977 when the criminal cases against Ol’ Blue were gettin’ hot-n-heavy.

Doesn’t that story just warm your heart? All those jewels up there in Guerneville, all for the sake of friendship and lawlessness the Gospel.

I guess, the money isn’t in education or transport. I guess, the real money is in charitable donations to missions work.

Won’t you give today? Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late.

Daisy Lee Archibald lives in Castleberry, Alabama. Miss Daisy enjoys canning, crocheting, Bible reading, and getting ready for the Strawberry Festival. Miss Daisy would also like to thank Mr. Richard Merritt for his inspiration. 

Once Upon a Time: a Tale of Rags to Riches

2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time: a Tale of Rags to Riches

  • May 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm
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    Oh really, Miss Daisy? Doesn’t everyone have a mission board that doubles as a tax shelter? (Is it too late for me to get one? I could use the tax breaks!) Fascinating story, especially where it inadvertently led me to the IRS docs detailing the transactions with the jewels! Makes you wonder whatever happened to them, or perhaps if they’re stashed in a museum somewhere that might also be owned by a mission board… Maybe there’s a story to go with that too!

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