The Color Red

As a little girl growing up in a small town, my Grandpa was a big part of my life. He owned an Auto Parts Store and a Marine Store in Leechburg, PA, and everybody knew Bus Crookshank. When I think back on those days of stopping into his store with my mother, the smell of the Auto Parts store becomes very vivid. It would smell of tires and grease, as you would expect from an Auto Parts Store. Before the car dealerships carried their supplies, everyone would come to the Auto Parts Store for what they needed. Crookshank Marine Store had its personality all of its own. They sold boats, motors, life jackets, skies, fishing supplies, anchors, and everything one who owned a boat would possibly need.

The people who worked in both of the stores were very nice to me, and they all called me ‘Little Red’ because I had naturally curly red hair. They would say, ‘here comes Little Red to see her Papa!” They would tease me about almost anything, and we would laugh. They would have me come around the counter when checking people out, and I would count the change out to the customer. Sometimes I would tear a big piece of brown paper on a big roll under the counter, and we would wrap what the customer bought. One job I had was to go down the aisles and count how many spark plugs there were on ordering day so Papa would know how many to order. Liz, the bookkeeper, would let me watch her type on the typewriter. I learned a lot of math at the Stores, and that’s where I learned to type on an old typewriter that wasn’t electric. My fingers would fall between the keys, and there was a lever on the right side that you would push on when you got to the end of the line, and it would take you to the beginning of the following line. I would go down to the store’s basement when deliveries would come of oversized items, like exhaust pipes for cars. The delivery drivers would say “Hi Red!” as they carried those long heavy pipes into the storage area through a separate entrance to the store.

Sometimes when I would go into the store, there was always a ‘job’ for me to do. Papa would sometimes give me a quarter or so after I did my job, and everyone would say ‘Good Job, Red”, “Thank you for your help, Red!”. Sometimes he didn’t give me anything for the help, and he said it “wasn’t because I was worthless, but because I was priceless.” That meant that he loved me. They all made me feel like part of a work family, which is what it was.

Every year in Leechburg, there was a Western Day Parade Celebration. I don’t know how it began, but it was a significant event in town. The High School band and other area school bands would march and play. People who owned horses would ride them in the parade. There would be floats of big flatbed trailers that had hay bails on them, and people would be sitting on them waving to the people who came to watch the parade. Town officials and business owners would walk or ride in convertibles with the tops down. The boy scouts and girls scouts would walk the parade route, too.

One year was remarkably outstanding for me. Bat Masterson, who starred in a Western TV show, came to town to be in the parade. His real name was Gene Barry, but everybody called him Bat. He came to town in his Western garb, ready to defend those who were unjust, and he would flirt with the women. The ladies in town all seemed to have something in their eyes when he was by because their eyes would blink kind of funny. Papa said that he was a real western gunslinger. He carried a cane for show, had a holster, wore a suit and a hat, and was a tall and handsome man.

As one of the town’s business owners, Papa let me walk with him along the parade route that day. I was so excited! I wore a brown skirt and vest with fringe, my cowboy hat, a holster, and new brown cowboy boots. As I walked hand in hand with Papa, we would wave to those along the sidewalks who came to watch the parade. Papa knew everybody in town. His friends would shout out, ‘Hi Bus! Who is that redhead holding your hand?” We had a small town, but boy, did that parade route get long, especially with my new cowboy boots! About halfway through the parade, Papa could see that my feet hurt, and he said, “Let me pick you up and carry you the rest of the way”. Oh, what a relief! That was so much better! I put my arm around his neck and still had my other hand free to wave to the people. My mind goes to another parade over 2000 years ago when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. People were yelling and cheering at him, anxious to see him. They were waving Palms and laying their cloaks down on the road in honor of him. Some people were confused and didn’t know who He was. The crowds that had gathered answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” The crowd that watched that parade gathered at the Temple, and the blind and lame came to see him, and he healed them and renewed their strength. When he finished, he left town.

After the parade, we gathered at Papa’s Auto Parts Store that could hold many people. That’s the place that Bat Masterson was going to be when the people come to see him. He signed autographs and hung out with the townspeople before he would go riding off out of town. It was so exciting to have a TV star so close and in Papa’s store, but some didn’t know who he was! When the crowd was thinning out a bit, he said to me, ‘Hi Red!” I got a little nervous and called his name wrong, and I said, “Hi, Mr. Bastardson.” Everybody laughed, and I was a little embarrassed that I got his name wrong. He somehow knew my name.

What a day that was! That was in about 1958 or so, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t exactly remember what happened after the parade, but I know that there must’ve been food involved. Food was always involved after an event like this.

Red has always been my favorite color. It excites me and makes me happy. To be called ‘Little Red’ back in my very young days made me smile. In our home, we have red accents in almost every room. My wardrobe contains many shades of red, as are the colors of my fingernails most of the time.

Do you remember the phrase ‘red sky at night means a sailor’s delight, but red sky in the morning, sailor’s take warning’? That was a phrase taught to me by my Mother. It had something to do with predicting the weather sailors would encounter. I still love to watch beautiful red sunrises and sunsets. It reminds me of the Majesty of God and His goodness and promises of hope as He paints His masterpiece every day in the sky, just for us to enjoy.

As a small girl in school, learning to read and write, I remember getting homework pages and tests returned to me with red markings by the teacher. The red marks were areas of correction to teach me grammar, or a misspelled word, or a correction for an arithmetic problem. Very often, at the top of the page would be a great big letter A or B in red, indicating my grade for that page. Sometimes it was a red C, but a red D or F certainly was not a good mark; however, it was a sign that I needed correction and a better understanding of what we were learning. The teacher’s gentle correction helped me to get better at the subject that we were learning.

The other day I was rooting around in a drawer in our back bedroom, and I came across a small black Bible in the back of the drawer. It is faded and worn and stained. The pages are yellowed with time and use. This small Bible, only about 2″ by 3″, was given to me by the Commission of Education of my home church in Leechburg, PA, on May 16, 1971, as a High School graduation gift. When I opened it, I was struck by the familiar red words. Those are the words that Jesus spoke in the gospels. Those red words are the important ones, the ones to remember like Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is shed for you” (KJV). The Teacher’s red words are there to teach us how to live our lives.

As we enter Holy Week, which will take us from Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem with people cheering at Him on Palm Sunday to Good Friday and the trial when the crowds shouted: “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” We will remember Him being flogged, humiliated, and his hands and feet were nailed to the cross. The Roman soldiers put a crown of thorns upon his head and pushed it down so that the thorns would tear His flesh. The cross was lifted upright, and there He was hanging for my sins and your sins. The red blood fell from him to the ground. After three hours, He looked up to God and said, ‘It is Finished”. He accomplished what He was sent to do for those who believed in Him by paying our sin-debt in full. He died his human death, and they laid him in the tomb. Three days later, when the women came to anoint His body, they discovered that He had risen from the dead. The stone covering the tomb was rolled away, the cloth garment that covered his face was laid in the grave, unfolded. The unfolded cloth meant ‘I will return, and He did, and He will again. He conquered the grave and lives again in you and me, and by believing this, we will live eternally by accepting Him as our Savior.

One of my favorite songs of Holy Week is ‘Love Grew Where the Blood Fell” by John Starns. Here are the lyrics:

See my Jesus on the cross, the people crying
Looking on, a man would think it tragedy
But what the world could not see
Was when they nailed Him to that tree
It would break the chains of sin’s captivity.

Love grew where the blood fell
Flow’rs of hope sprang up for men in misery
Sin died where the blood fell
I’m so glad this precious blood has covered me.

Thorns of violence, thorns of hate were growing wildly,
All the pain that sin had caused was plain to see
But when the blood came streaming down that cross
Where my Saviour bled and died
It broke the chains of sin and set me free

Love grew where the blood fell
Flow’rs of hope sprang up for men in misery
Sin died where the blood fell
I’m so glad this precious blood has covered me.

“Sin died where the red blood fell. I’m so glad His precious blood covers me.” He is still there to pick us up, hold us close, and carry us the rest of the way, just like Papa did for me that day in the parade. One of my readings from ”He Holds my Hand” by Carol Kent this week reads ‘You’ve felt the pressure of holding things together during a difficult year that’s been filled with more detours, stressors, and hardships than you ever anticipated. You’ve carried these burdens on your own far too long. I am your Father. Come to Me. Let me pick you up, hold you close, and carry you.”

Yes, this has been a challenging year for us with the pandemic, loss, grief, unemployment, illness, inability to be with family and friends, doubt, and fear. This year, in particular, I am so grateful that He shed his blood for us.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.” Matthew 26:26-28.

The Master has prepared His banquet for us that will last for eternity, along side of the Bread of Life.

Be blessed to be a blessing to others,


Published by Candy Morgans

Being recently retired from the Healthcare Industry, and the spouse of a retired Methodist Minister, I find some time on my hands, and a strong desire to share experiences and develop relationships with others. God is my driving force, and I have humor and joy in my heart.

2 thoughts on “The Color Red

  1. Candy, your mother was my cousin. She was a wonderful person. I always thought that we had a special connection. After reading this I know that she was and is very proud of you, as am I. Please don’t stop writing !!!
    Chuck Jackson

    Liked by 1 person

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