The Last of the Good Old Boys

The preacher took me to Shoney’s after church. He bought my breakfast, then he filled my truck with gas.

Sepulga Baptist Church is a three-room building off County Highway 43. I visited the rural congregation one Sunday. I listened to an old man deliver the kind of sermon that sounded like Karo syrup on hand-cut biscuits.

The kind of preaching without microphones.

This church has been here since before the invention of television. They have nine and a half members.

The preacher took me to Shoney’s after church. He bought my breakfast, then he filled my truck with gas.

I asked why he was being so good to a stranger.

He said, “‘Cause this world needs more good.”

Andalusia, Alabama—my friend and I were at Dairy Queen. We’d just left an early wedding. He stood on the sidewalk, smoking.

A feral cat meandered past us.

My pal tip-toed to his truck and removed a can of cat food. He opened the container with a pocketknife and set it on the curb.

I asked why he had pet food in his vehicle.

He explained, “My granny used to feed any animal she saw, even squirrels. Was a habit I picked up when she died.”

I asked if he missed his granny.

“So bad it hurts,” he said.

Birmingham, Alabama—I was eighteen. He was riding a bike, carrying a backpack. He was old. He smelled as ripe as a laundry bin.

He saw us leave the restaurant, he rode toward us. He said, “‘Scuse me boys, you got any spare change?”

I only had quarters—I was notorious for being low on silver.

Not my pal’s brother. He had a hundred-dollar bill. It was his gas money. He gave it to the man.

“No,” the man said, “I can’t take this, it’s too much.”

My friend’s brother added, “If you don’t take it, I’m just gonna throw it in the garbage.”

The man took it, then gave us parting gifts in return. He gave my pal a women’s wristwatch. I got a monkey made out of a wool sock.

My friend offered the homeless man his hand. But he pulled him into himself. They embraced.

Look, I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You’ve got a busy life, and God knows there are plenty of voices out there talking to you. You don’t need another.

But experts are telling you the wrong things. They tell you about death, murder, terrorism, politics, and gluten.

They worship pop-stars. They call idiots wisemen—then give them talk-shows. Sometimes, it seems like common sense is becoming less common.

I suppose, I wish these folks could shake hands with a kid who feeds feral cats for kicks. I wish they could visit a nine-member church in the woods.

And meet the white-haired man who shows up early on Sunday mornings. A man who believes in something.

Something good.

Who fills your truck with gas just to prove it.


  1. Priscilla S. Adkisson - February 10, 2017 2:23 pm

    Sean, this sounds like a wonderful pastor/friend we had at our church for many years.
    You are right – this world needs more people who are willing to give of themselves to help others. Thanks for the good stories that bring a warm smile to my heart. Keep up the good work.

  2. Cindy - February 10, 2017 2:28 pm

    I thank God every day that I found your blog. What a special voice you share with your readers. Thank You Sean.

  3. Christi McCully - February 10, 2017 2:43 pm

    Me, too.

  4. Carol DeLater - February 10, 2017 2:46 pm

    Around here there is a “begger” on several corners every Friday..payday. I admit it can be hard to give a buck, but easy to spend $10 for groceries for the sign that says single mother needs milk, bread and diapers. Our newspaper has run reporter under cover stories about local panhandlers that make $60,000 a year moving around the city asking for a handout. It can make you skeptical. So you trust your gut, give a hand, and be thankful you can.

  5. Judy - February 10, 2017 3:06 pm

    These good people still exist, but usually in rural areas and small towns.
    On my first visit to a really big city, and I mean really BIG, my friend and I walked passed so many panhandlers. We felt so bad for these people. Finally my friend offered, instead of money for food, as his sign requested, to take the guy into the McDonald’s and buy him breakfast. The guy said, “No, I just want money.” After that incident, it was a bit easier to ignore the panhandlers and just keep walking. My rural naivete and innocence was killed on that visit–all the people pushing and the rude driver’s….I belong right where I live–nice people, would help their neighbor in a second, driver’s that slow or stop and let cars come into the main drag from a side street. Yep–I’m right where I belong.

  6. Mich Lueken - February 10, 2017 3:07 pm

    This is beautiful ! We need so much more of this and less of the other. It would be a better world. Thank you for this today.

  7. Linda Lewis - February 10, 2017 3:53 pm

    Sean, you write so well it hurts. I’ve been reading your work for a little over a week now. Each morning I find a gift from you in my inbox. You never fail to get a reaction from me. A smile, laugh, tear… I recommended your blog on my blog this morning. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to read your thoughts. Thanks.
    Linda Lewis

  8. Sandra Lee Van Dam - February 10, 2017 5:49 pm

    You just keep on telling us about the good. We so need it. Thanks.

  9. Cherryl Shiver - February 10, 2017 6:49 pm

    You know the older I get, the more I realize, sense isn’t that common anymore. It is getting harder and harder to find,but you seem to have a double dost of it.

    I sure am glad we met.

  10. Maureen - February 10, 2017 8:39 pm

    You restore my faith. Thank you

  11. Nancy Segovia - February 10, 2017 10:00 pm

    I love your blog. Am so happy I first discovered it . It is my shot in the arm of happiness every time I read it. It makes my day. I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again God bless you .

  12. Joan Raines - February 11, 2017 1:43 am

    I have read this 3 times because it makes me happy.

  13. Brendaburklow - February 11, 2017 12:40 pm

    A very special friend of mine gave me your blog to read . It’s so good to know that there are others who experience the good in life and share with others.

  14. Brett - February 11, 2017 3:56 pm

    Great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  15. Loree - February 11, 2017 4:43 pm

    Thank you for the voice of clarity in the sea of stupidity. I miss my Grandmother so much it hurts too.

  16. Regina - March 8, 2017 2:06 pm

    I look forward to reading your stories every morning. They seem to uplift my spirits and certainly adds one more blessing. Thank you.

  17. june - March 8, 2017 7:00 pm


  18. Annie - March 8, 2017 8:03 pm

    Glad I live in a very small town also. I feel loved and cared for here. Lived in a big city for 30 years and glad to be home.

  19. Kathy Burgess - March 9, 2017 5:32 am

    The Good Lord in heaven knows you tell us the truth. It may make us laugh, or it may make us cry but it does not make us mad, or hateful. What it did for me today as I do every day, is make me miss my Grandma so much it hurts. She was a little old lady Jesus, and l long for the day I will see her again. Thanks, Sean.

  20. kathleen - March 9, 2017 7:37 am

    Loved this story!

  21. Charaleen Wright - March 30, 2019 3:53 am


Leave a Comment