George Markham Dixon 1909-1999
My dad is face to face with the Lord, but the memory of his life remains in the hearts and minds of his children and grandchildren. He was a man of principle, a deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. Not a perfect man, but always making the effort. He hailed from Henderson, Kentucky, where our descendants received a land grant for their service in the Civil War.
Dad told me of his first travel experience over a glass of sweet tea on hot July day. It was during the Great Depression when work was scarce and money was “tighter than Dick’s hatband.” He hoped a freight train in the middle of a cold and snowy night with only a dime in his pocket and a layer of cardboard to cover the holes in the soles of his shoes. I couldn’t imagine my dad as a hobo.
Dad migrated to Dexter, Missouri where he met and married Gladys Christine Blunt, a beautiful green-eyed brunette. They both worked in the shirt factory. My brother, George Michael, and I were born in Dexter. My Granny Dixon lived with us in the two-story white framed house. We were as poor as the proverbial church mice; however, we were snug and happy in our home.
Our young family did not travel very far in those days. But God had plans for a man with dad’s inherent intelligence and excellent work ethic. A gentleman offered to mentor dad if he would come to Tennessee to work in his pants factory. Dad accepted the offer, packed up our family with fear and trepidation to move to McMinnville, Tennessee. Mr. Rader trained dad as a superintendent, and within a matter of a few months we moved again to Cookeville where he did an internship, finally settling in Lebanon. My sister, Martha Kay, was born there, our family complete.
Dad’s travel for many years was for family reunions in Missouri. I recall the typical trip as filled with complaints from the three children in the back seat that someone was touching them or looking at them. Mom would get us started on car games, counting cows and burying them, or seeing how many states we could see on license plates. We always stopped at Pete’s Light Springs where dad had his favorite dish, Kentucky Burgoo. This was the only occasion that we dined out during these early years. Other times dad stopped at a tavern, I remember the smell of hamburgers wrapped in white paper packed in a brown paper bag, unwrapped and consumed in our car. No one had ever heard of fast food restaurants at that time.
When I was in middle school dad took us for our first trip to the ocean, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One special vacation Granddad Dixon came with us to Silver Sands, Florida. It was his first time to see the ocean. We all loved the sand and surf. I think dad enjoyed driving through different states. We always looked for the signs that proclaimed the state we were entering.
Dad was the father of Little League in Lebanon. He wanted my brother to have a place to play baseball. The year he was President of the Kiwanis Club, he persuaded the mayor, Walter Baird, to give land for the Kiwanis Club to build a baseball park. The following year the Lion’s Club sponsored a Babe Ruth League. Dad coached my brother’s team every year. He traveled with his team to play in other Middle Tennessee towns. This would not be considered adventurous travel by most folk’s standards; however, it was something dad wouldn’t miss.
He enjoyed golf and played with his buddies at every opportunity. His group of friends loved to travel to other states to play at interesting courses. He liked to tell about perfect shots.
As dad aged his favorite place was at home with all its familiar comforts. If he had wonder lust it would have to be satisfied by other means. I don’t recall how dad discovered travelogue videos, but he was an instant fan. He “traveled” to Alaska, Spain, England; he was limited only by the list of available titles. He took delight in learning about other countries from his arm-chair. He wasn’t limited to videos, he was an avid reader. My dad personified the lifelong learner.
I don’t intend disrespect the process of going home, but, I often wonder as we leave this world, do we get a panoramic view of all wonders of this world? Do we get to see the places we never got to visit? My question is answered when I recall my dad telling me, “Earth is not our home, Heaven is.”