Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Firehall and the New Year

As I sit here listening to the humm of the butane heaters, clanking of forks, plates and coffee mugs I am comfortable and at home. I don’t know everyone around me, I recognize a few, but I don’t have to know names – we are family just the same. This ole place is where so many have come over the years to sit and visit and gossip and laugh. The common thread is the food and the family that serves it and I have a chair at the table in the back to watch life happen in this small town gathering spot.

The new years is here and America is set on a course of the unknown, un-chartered policies of a new president. We have many who are embracing his ideas and policies and just as many who are concerned that they are going to be harmful. Times are hard for more folks than not and it is imperative that the promises he made and the things he does to right this ship are effective. That was the package the majority of Americans bought in November and all of America is counting on their judgment.

My heart goes out to the elderly who have lost so much in the financial markets. These are the people who can’t go back to work and rebuild. They are the ones who have worked long and hard, saved and planned and now are devastated and in despair.

I have little tolerance for those who can work and don’t. I have little tolerance for programs that feed into the mind set that the government owes anyone something. We are all going to have to work to dig ourselves out of this mess.

Clarence Vogel has been arriving here at the Firehall Restaurant every morning for the last 41 years. His day starts at 5 a.m. and he locks the doors after a late dinner service at –9 p.m.. years old. Vogel, 80, has worker hard all his life as well as his family who serve the meals, wipe the tables and sweep the floors. They have a small handful of loyal employees who work hard as well to take care of their families. Their life is about serving others.

David Vogel, Clarence’s son, is a big boy who likens Hank Williams Jr. in appearance. David has a bum knee he has struggled with as far back as I can remember. David is also in-charge of the catering trailer. A big heavy behemoth that they pull all over the area serving up their world famous fried catfish dinners. You can see the discomfort in David’s face, but you have to look through the smile. He gets up and gets the job done because that is what you do when you’re a Vogel.

I know the Vogel’s have had their ups and downs, good times and not so good. But you don’t hear them complain. They smile and chat with customers, they order the food for the week and wash the dishes and clean the pots and pans. They make a payroll and pay their taxes and try to put a little in the bank on those rare days when there is something left over.

I personally learn best in lean times, hard times, times of pain and despair. I am working on trying to change that, to live my life looking for God’s direction and seeking Him out in good times, times when things are just OK, but it is hard. When I am doing well I tend to put off my quiet time with God and forget to rely on Him.
As we begin a time of transition and change, a time of rebuilding and rethinking our lifestyles and priorities, lets remember to live each day, each moment grateful for the small things as well as the rest. We are all going to have to pony up, Vogel up, and get the job done.

I am going to pray for the new president and his team. I am going to pray they seek Him in their decisions and at their meetings and at night as they lye in bed. Thanks to Steve, Ronnie, Jr. and the Vogle family for your inspiration and hard work, may God bless you in every way and may God bless America.


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