Nativity Twentieth Century
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by Frank Shortt
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2016 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
A promise had gone out among some poor Appalachian residents that a special baby was to
be born sometime in the twentieth century. What with all the negativity America had been experiencing in the past, some good news
I was just a small boy of ten, and I learned that some of the men and older
boys in the neighborhood of Shortt Gap were planning a raccoon hunt soon. This was for the purpose of dog training, becoming familiar
with their barking dogs on the trail, and also, to try to distinguish their particular dog after the raccoon was treed. This was known
as baying the game. I so wanted to go but knew that my mom would put the halts to my going as soon as I asked. Surprise! Surprise!
She allowed me to go along with my older brother, as long as I stayed out of the way of the hunters and didn’t learn too many cuss
words. I was ecstatic!
We climbed the hillsides alongside Grassy Creek to the spurs
and ridges up high. I was exhausted when arriving at the top. Some of the men had brought along alcoholic beverages, as was the usual
trend while hunting. They said that it kept them warm and gave them energy. I was taught never to touch the stuff, and believe me,
there were plenty of opportunities for a boy to indulge if he had a mind to.
ole Blue”, Uncle Jay exclaimed! Naw, that’s ole Sprint”, Uncle Joe refuted. Needless to say, neither man knew for sure, at this point,
whether or not it was his dog. It was only good-natured bantering leading up to the time when the whole passel of dogs would sound
and finally tree the wily raccoon. I found out later what a fighter a large male raccoon can be when he was shaken out of the tree
and allowed to hassle with the hounds. Several of the dogs were severely scratched after the melee and a couple of them had punctures
in the belly. After the raccoon was soundly whopped behind the head with a stout hickory stick, things settled down for the second
“Now ain’t that jes like ole Trumpet? Uncle John growled. He don’t know a ‘coon
from a ‘possum! Why, tuther day he chased a deer all over Grassy Creek ‘fore I cud call him off!!”
But for some reason, ole Trumpet was not moving. He just sat and bayed, as if he was baying the moon. All of a sudden, the woods lit
up, bright beings appeared and sang, “Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed, etc.” Things just came to a standstill! The drinking men
threw down their jugs. Whoever was chewing tobacco, swallowed it out of amazement! The rest of us just sat there with our mouths open.
You could have heard a pin drop. Even the dogs became silent, which is awfully unusual for a hound.
One of the bright beings stepped forward a ways and began talking to us. “You know, the world needs a Messiah! Earth’s men have gotten
a little to biggity for their own britches!” He talked to us just as if he was one of us hillbillies. “Them men in the big churches
have forgotten what they are supposed to be worshippin’! So, it is time they had a little reminder. We could have chosen some of them,
but they wouldn’t understand what simplicity is all about. They are too used to hifalutin things. We decided that we would find some
low-down, no account drinkin’ and chewin’ fellers to carry our message, sorta like goin’ in the highways and hedges, like we were
told to do some two-thousand years ago. Here we are a’tellin you, that down in Raven, the worst place we could find, where all the
beer joints and gamblin’ halls are, there is a baby born tonight. He’s gonna grow up to be some kind of a great man. He’ll be able
to heal at a touch, tell all what folks is a thinkin’ and besides all that, He’ll be able to tell us what is a’comin’ to this world
in the future.”
Were we scared? I’d say we were panicked! Never in two thousand years had
anyone been approached like this. We began asking questions like, “How will we know Him?” What will he look like?” Where will we find
Him?” and a whole passel of other questions we asked.
“You’ll know Him by his fruits! He’ll
look just like one of you fellows! You’ll find him wherever two or three are gathered in His name! Just keep a’lookin’ and we are
sure that you will recognize Him sooner or later.”
You’d a thought that a message such
as this would have gone to some great theologian, wouldn’t you? And Raven, why that was the lowest place around, almost as bad as
Bethlehem was two thousand years ago. It took almost three years for the three wise men to get to Bethlehem back then! We wondered
how long it would take for wise men today to find Him.
You talk about soberin’ up quick!
Them rough men, who before had been cussin’ and a stewin’ became messengers to an outlandish story. Even me, I could not help but
tell others about how them bright beings came and talked to us just like they was one of us. All my life, I’ve looked everywhere I
could to try and find that baby, but the only way I have seen him was in the actions of some decent folks. Folks who didn’t care a
hang for politics, religion, and all the other stuff folks fuss about. These folks only had one thing on their mind: The little baby
that was born in Raven and how he influenced so many people, insomuch that He was able to change a bunch of rough livin’ men into
straight thinkin’ citizens. After this happenin’ these old boys didn’t need alcohol for warmth and energy. They just lived on what
that bright being told them for the rest of their lives!
Wouldn't it be wonderful if this
could happen again?