It’s 1972. I’m sixteen years old, sitting on a guardrail about halfway between Amarillo and Dallas, Texas, eating a biscuit and thinking about the earlier part of the day. I’d been on the road for a day and a half and had was feeling grateful.
In the ’70s, hitchhiking was a much more acceptable way to travel. I’d been in Texas for a while, but hadnt gotten to the point where I enjoyed it. (Willie and Waylon and the boys were just getting started.) So, I decided to head back to Colorado. That summer, I spent in a park outside of Golden, playing my guitar, exploring the mountains, and just enjoying life.
Toward the end of July, I headed back to Dallas. Winter would be harsh in the Colorado environment, and I still had a bedroom in my Dad’s house.
Interstate 40 runs through the heart of Amarillo. At that time, it passed through several neighborhoods, some of which were old. You know, the ones with clapboard houses painted pastel shades of pink, turquoise and green.
I arrived about mid-day and was walking along the sidewalk when an older woman called out to me from her front porch chair, “Y’et yet?”
“No, ma’am”, I answered.
She invited me in and began to prepare a magnificent meal, which consisted of three fried eggs, bacon, gravy and homemade biscuits. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed. While she cooked, we talked and she told me some of her story.
Her name was Ellie Hoskins. She’d been a Methodist minister, preaching to folks around the area, including parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico. When her husband died, she stopped traveling and took up in this little home that they’d bought. Now, she spent a lot of time setting (sic) on her porch, ministering to passersby.
After an hour or so, it was time for me to leave, if I wanted to make Dallas that night. “Before you go”, she asked,”would you let me pray for you?”
“I’d appreciate that”, I said, sincerely. So, she did. Then she handed me a plastic bag that contained three of those homemade biscuits. “They’ll keep you going”, she said.
Sitting on that guardrail, in the warm Texas evening, I was grateful for those biscuits, and for Ellie Hoskins. She might not be preaching to those church congregations, but she was still affecting lives. This is obvious, as I’ve never forgotten what she did for me.