Deputy Sheriff Barney Southall

Deputy Sheriff Badge

Deputy Sheriff Badge

One of the more colorful characters from my childhood was “Mr. Barney,” who was a deputy sheriff of Union County. He served the people during the era of the 1940’s and 1950’s. It was a sign of great disrespect for a young person of my generation to call an adult by their first name, so Deputy Barney Southall was known by me and almost everyone in the county as “Mr. Barney.” He appeared to me as a giant, not simply because he was over six feet tall and weighing in excess of two hundred and fifty pounds, but because of the respect every one had for him. When I first learned of his exploits he had been in law enforcement for over twenty years and had earned the respect from young and old alike.

My Dad (Pop), was a general practitioner in medicine, and it seemed he knew every one in El Dorado and Union County. Because he made house calls almost every night and some of the calls were into unsafe neighborhoods, Pop would occasionally have a deputy sheriff follow in his patrol car and keep watch during the time of the visit. Usually Mr. Barney was the deputy on call, so he became one of Pop’s best friends and guardians.

I don’t remember Mr. Barney wearing his deputy’s hat, but he was so polite he may have removed it when I was in his presence which was indoors. As I recall his service revolver was a pearl-handled thirty-eight caliber, and according to his nephew Barry who inherited the pistol at Barney’s death, it “was rusted from disuse.” The one weapon he carried which was well-used was a black flap-jack. He kept that instrument in his right rear pocket and was known to use it liberally on any Saturday night when there was a dispute or disagreement in one of the more dangerous areas of town. It was said Mr. Barney could remove that flap-jack from his pocket and deliver a paralyzing blow so fast the shiftiest character did not have reflexes fast enough to avoid the blow.

It was told on one Saturday night in the volatile, all Black St. Louis section of town Mr. Barney was called to investigate an altercation. Two young men who had been drinking alcohol to excess were fighting, and the fight couldn’t be stopped. When Mr. Barney held one of the combatant’s arm and told him he needed to leave the premises and go home he jerked his arm away. He said, “You ain’t my Daddy to tell me what to do!” With that the flap-jack flashed from Mr. Barney’s pocket and a quick blow to the man’s temple left him on the floor in a semi-conscious state. His companions gathered around him and said, “You know who yo’ Daddy is now. Mr. Barney is yo’ Daddy!”

Mr. Barney was a master in settling disputes, and quite often he could get it done in a non-violent fashion. Pop told me this story which involved a married couple who lived in another racially segregated area of town called Fairview. It seems they had a physical altercation with each other almost every weekend when they were drinking alcoholic beverages. Invariably Mr. Barney was called to their home to separate them and to get one or the other  to the Emergency Room for suture repair of the injuries. On this occasion Mr. Barney said, “Now listen I’m sick and tired of breaking up your fights. You two can’t seem to get along, so do you want to get a divorce?” “Yes suh, Mr. Barney, we wants to get di-voced.” Barney  told them to place their right hands on his badge and answer this question, “Do you James and you Sally desire to divorce each other?” “We do,” was their reply. “By the authority given me by the state of Arkansas and the county of Union, I now declare you divorced.” According to Mr. Barney, James and Sally continued living together, but never had another altercation requiring Mr. Barney’s attention. I was not told whether they gave up drinking alcohol, but suspect they did not.

Deputy Barney Southall had a long and faithful record of service to the people of Union County, and I believe he was never paid a salary reflective of the value for his service. His greater value and true legacy has been recorded in the memory of his family and friends who knew and loved him. There were countless people like James and Sally with whom he made a lasting difference by his firm but sometimes unusual methods of law enforcement. I just wish there were a few more Mr. Barney’s around.

Dr. John


“I Have This Pain In My Back”

Knife Wound

When I graduated from The University of Arkansas Medical School in 1964, I was certain that I wanted to pursue a career in the field of surgery. My Dad (Pop) was a general practitioner that was experienced in many areas of medical care, but he especially loved performing surgical procedures and the associated drama of the operating room. In looking back through trained and experienced eyes at the procedures he was able to do then, he was an excellent surgeon with superior judgment and skills.

The Medical Center hospital in Little Rock offered the best and most up to date care in the state at that time, but was relatively small in size, and the bed-side experience of the individual physicians training there was limited. I wanted to further my training in a larger metropolitan area hospital where there was no limit to training opportunities. In deciding on an internship, I had visited the city hospitals of Chicago, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Atlanta. I was especially interested in Cook County Hospital in Chicago, but unfortunately, I visited there in December prior to my graduation, and the icy weather I endured during my 2 day visit convinced me that was not the place for me. I opted for Atlanta and the best hospital for me was Grady Memorial Hospital. Grady is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country, and I experienced things there I had never before seen.

The emergency room was an exciting place to serve as a young and eager doctor. There was a constant stream of patients; particularly on weekends, with injuries ranging from simple lacerations to major trauma involving gunshot wounds, stabbings, and auto accidents. The work schedule of the interns was 36 hours on duty and 12 hours off duty. That was a gruelling schedule, but we not only survived but thrived in an atmosphere where each of us was given great responsibilities and got to perform lots of procedures. When a patient came to the emergency room for a problem such as pneumonia, or a severe asthmatic attack, he was sent to an urgent care unit where the pace was a little slower. The truly urgent problems were treated immediately while the less urgent were asked to wait until a physician was available. The same doctors that covered the emergency unit also covered the urgent care unit. A triage nurse was designated to determine the urgency of any particular problem.

I was assigned to the emergency room during the month of December in 1964, and the weather that year in Atlanta was unusually cold, with several extended days of icy weather. One particular night near 11 PM a man wearing a large, dark overcoat walked to the triage desk and was asked about his complaint, to which he responded, ” I have this pain in my back.” The nurse asked him how long he had that pain, and he said that he developed it that night. Assuming he had sprained his back in some way, she handed him the usual paperwork to complete, and asked if he would take a seat in one of the waiting room chairs, and he would be called into a room as soon as one was available. He indicated he was willing to wait his turn. That night was busier than usual, and there were more than the average number of trauma cases. The man in the overcoat had to wait for about an hour and a half. When the emergency room pace slowed a bit, one of the nurses escorted him into a treatment room and asked him to remove his overcoat so that he could be examined. When I entered the room, he was sitting in a chair facing me, and seemed to be in no great distress. The nurse had just seated him and had not taken his vital signs when I approached him. He said he had the pain in his back since being a witness to a bar-room fight earlier in the evening. I asked where in his back he was hurting, and he turned slightly and pointed to his mid-upper back. I was shocked to see what appeared to be a butcher knife protruding from his chest wall and it was so deeply embedded that only the handle of the knife was visible. The handle was in such a position that the man couldn’t reach it, so he was not aware there was a knife protruding from his back. Needless to say, the intensity level of his treatment escalated, and I called a more experienced surgical resident to assume his care. An x-ray was immediately done and he only had a minimal collapse of his lung, thus no shortness of breath.

The man did well; recovering quickly, and was able to go home in a few days. I learned several important lessons from this emergency room experience that night at Grady. First, never assume that the complaint from an unknown patient coming to an emergency room is a minor condition until proven otherwise. Secondly, get a more detailed history of a person’s complaint before having him seated in a waiting room for more than a few minutes. And finally, when you see a butcher knife protruding from a person’s back, don’t assume that the problem is minor back pain, despite what the patient tells you.

Dr. John

Church Visitation With Brother Tommy

Prairie Grove Revival

Prairie Grove Revival

Brother Tommy Freeman is one of my best friends, and he has encouraged me in my Christian life as much as any man, apart from my brother Berry Lee. I had known him during our childhood years when we both played baseball in the Boy’s Club program, but I didn’t make any other connection with him until years later when his sister graduated from the nursing school in El Dorado, Arkansas. At that time, I had been in my surgical practice for over eight years, and Cathy and I had experienced a spiritual conversion in our lives the previous year. I was delivering the commencement address to the graduates and encouraging them to be a witness for Christ while practicing their profession as nurses. Following the address Brother Tommy re-introduced himself to me, and asked if I ever preached in any churches. I told him that I would be honored if I were ever invited, but had not received many invitations at this point. He immediately invited me to speak at his church, the First Baptist Church in Keo, Arkansas.

Years earlier following high school graduation Tommy had enlisted in the Marine Corps and subsequently married his sweetheart, Joyce Hawkins from El Dorado. At the time of their marriage she was a junior in my high school graduating class but I still didn’t connect with Tommy then. Upon his discharged from military service they moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where Tommy began working for J.C. Penney in the sporting goods department. They were very active members of an active Southern Baptist church, and it was there Tommy felt the call to vocational ministry. He began the long process to complete the college requirements in order to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. His first  pastorate following graduation was the First Baptist Church in Keo.

I had no idea where Keo was located, but discovered it to be a lovely cotton-growing community in eastern Arkansas. The church was relatively small but filled with some of the most loving and generous Christians who endured my early efforts at preaching the Word. My friendship with Brother Tommy was sealed, and we began communicating on a regular basis.

We spoke with each other weekly, and he would invariably ask questions such as, “How’s your Sunday school teaching going?” or “How many people did you win to the Lord last week?” or “Have you been praying with all your patients?” I didn’t realize it at the time, but each week I purposed in my heart to improve in all those areas so I could give him a good report when he called.

Within a year or two Brother Tommy was called to a larger church, the First Baptist Church of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The area was quite a contrast to eastern Arkansas because this was in the heart of Northwest Arkansas and was near the beginning of the rapid population growth for the area. After he had been the pastor for about a year he invited my brother, Berry Lee and me to preach a three day layman’s revival beginning on a Sunday. We had never been involved with such a meeting and were very excited to see how God might use us in this way. Berry Lee was not able to stay the entire three days, so he was scheduled to preach for the Sunday morning service, and I would  preach each evening from Sunday through Wednesday.

Tommy wanted everyone in Prairie Grove to have the opportunity to hear us, and began promoting the services about six weeks prior to the meeting. Flyers with our photos and biographical data were posted all over town, and the church members began inviting friends and family. The Sunday morning service was well attended, and Bubba preached one of his best messages on salvation and spiritual growth.

The members of the church were so loving and generous and among other things had arranged a special lunch at a different home each day. Bubba only got to enjoy the first of the four scheduled lunches. The food and fellowship at each home was enough to make the experience memorable, but there was much more to come. On Sunday evening following the close of the service Tommy said to me, “John, we need to get up early tomorrow, so we can begin by jogging for a couple of miles, get cleaned up and then go out visiting!” I had no idea what was about to happen.

Following the exercise and a sumptuous Freeman breakfast I thought we would visit a few selected homes, but Brother Tommy was determined to introduce me to everyone who lived within a ten mile radius of Prairie Grove. I learned quickly from him the best way to grow a church and increase attendance is to knock on doors and make yourself and your church known to as many people as possible. We visited downtown stores while shaking hands with all who stopped. I met church members, pastors from other churches and seemingly everyone in town. If everyone had attended the revival who promised on those visits the church would not have held the crowd.

One unforgettable visit was to the Bailey’s home. Both George and his wife Eula had been faithful members of First Baptist for years, and lived in a unique farmhouse far out in the country. They were unpretentious in their actions and appearance, and it was not uncommon for one or both of them to come to church dressed in work overalls. Among other animals on their farm they raised goats, because they loved fresh goat’s milk and believed it to be more tasty and more nutritious than cow’s milk. They frequently asked Brother Tommy if they could bring him some goat’s milk, but he always declined their generous offer.

On arriving at their house I noticed some steep steps up to their porch, and there appeared to be a goat on each step. We had to be careful maneuvering around each goat because of the congestion and the “clutter” on the steps. Upon their hearty welcome of us George said, “Come on in boys. Can I get you a cool glass of fresh goat’s milk?” Brother Tommy quickly said, “Dr. Moore really loves goat’s milk and has been looking forward to a big glass of it!” When George disappeared into the kitchen I told Tommy, “I’m going to get even with you over this.” I was able to get the milk down without gagging nor appearing ungrateful for the gift. I don’t know whether it made a difference to them, but the Bailey’s came to every service to hear me preach. I have a suspicion they endured my attempts at preaching in much the same fashion I endured that glass of milk. I am confident my preaching skills since then have improved, while my desire for another glass of fresh goat’s milk has markedly declined.

Dr. John

“The Devil is Loose in New Orleans!” Part 1

New Orleans French Quarters

New Orleans French Quarters

My grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore was affectionately known in South Arkansas as “Dr. JA.” He was a pioneer practitioner in family medicine and was also involved in many civic and spiritual endeavors in a rapidly growing town which was fueled by the oil boom of the 1920’s. When the Busey Well # 1 was completed in January, 1921, it marked the beginning of a population and financial boom for the area. Almost overnight El Dorado grew from a small agricultural town of four thousand to over forty thousand residents. Granddad and  Deeji had moved to El Dorado from Dexter, New Mexico in 1912. They had formerly lived in South Arkansas where he practiced medicine in Lisbon, a small community west of El Dorado. While living in Lisbon for 12 years they had three children; John Walter (Uncle Walter): Lilly Mae (Aunt Mae); and Berry Lee (Pop). In 1910 he contracted tuberculosis and was advised to move to a warmer climate, so they moved to New Mexico where he was able to recover. When they moved to El Dorado to begin his new medical practice they built their home at 317 N. Jackson which was 4 blocks from the downtown square. At the time of their move Pop was ten years old.

As an early settler in El Dorado Granddad was a major stockholder in two banks; the National Bank of Commerce and the First National Bank. He was one of the founders and staff members of Warner Brown Hospital which opened in 1921 and  later served as the  Chief of Staff for several terms. He was very active in the Masonic Order when they lived in Lisbon and was chairman of the board which built the Masonic Temple in El Dorado in 1924. Granddad’s office was in the Masonic Temple building on the second floor and remained the office site for 3 generations of Moore physicians until Dr.Berry Lee Jr. (Bubba) built his office on Grove Street in 1967. By this time both Granddad and Pop had departed this life.

Granddad and Deeji were very active members of First Baptist Church where he served as a deacon from 1912 until his death in 1943. All of their children were baptised there and received their early spiritual training through the Sunday school and the Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU), which was the name given to the Sunday evening training organization. Pop told me behind the scenes all the boys in the church referred to BYPU as “Button Your Pants Up.” As the largest and most highly visible church in downtown El Dorado First Baptist was a spiritual leader in the rapidly growing boom town. Important decisions affecting the spiritual lives and growth of many were being made regularly. Years later one of the long-time members and deacons at First Baptist told me when he was a young man and a fledgling member and deacon, whenever there was a business meeting and an important vote taken on any particular issue; he would “look to see how old Dr. JA voted and vote exactly as he did.” Granddad’s wisdom and spiritual discernment were well-recognized.

Granddad’s personality and demeanor were that of a dignified professional. Although friendly he did not have an out-going personality and was never heard telling a joke or a funny story from his life experiences. Whenever seen in public and even while making house calls late at night Granddad was fully and immaculately dressed in coat and tie and had his gold pocket watch in his vest pocket with the gold chain openly displayed. His older son (Uncle Walter) had a similar personality, but his younger son (Pop) was just the opposite. Pop was outgoing, openly friendly, talkative and always had a funny story or joke to tell. Pop was usually the life of every party, and he loved both life and parties.

When Pop graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1932, he decided Charity Hospital in New Orleans was the best place to continue training as an intern, and the city of New Orleans, known as “The Big Easy” suited his personality well. When not on duty at the hospital he and our mother (Mimi) frequented a place in the French Quarters known as The Fireman’s Band. It was partly owned by a fellow intern at Charity Hospital, and the typical customers were married couples who enjoyed the atmosphere of Dixieland music, jokes, laughter and the serving of adult beverages. It was not a place which Granddad approved, but he accepted the fact he and his physician son had differing views on entertainment and drinking alcoholic beverages. I’m certain my Pop never drank an alcoholic beverage in front of his Dad.

After Pop and Mimi had lived in New Orleans for about 6 months Granddad decided he needed to visit them to determine for himself the quality of training his son was receiving at Charity Hospital. He was also interested in seeing his only grandchild, Berry Lee Jr. (Bubba), who was five years old. Granddad rode the train because Deeji was not able to accompany him, and the drive from El Dorado by auto in those days took over ten hours.

Pop took Granddad on a grand tour of the hospital, and was able to introduce him to many of the distinguished faculty responsible for intern training. Granddad told him he was very impressed with the level of training he was receiving and gave his hearty approval. Pop thought the visit would not be complete without a tour of the French Quarters and also The Fireman’s Band. Pop said his Dad was very quiet during this portion of his visit and had very few comments and no questions

Upon Granddad’s return to El Dorado he was speaking with his pastor at First Baptist, Dr. John Buchanan and was asked, “Dr. JA, how did you find New Orleans?” According to Pop Granddad never cracked a smile when he responded to the question. ” Dr. Buchanan the devil is loose in New Orleans!” Despite the fact Pop loved living there and receiving such excellent training in Charity Hospital I am confident Granddad was greatly relieved when two years later Pop finally delivered Mimi and Bubba from the influence of the devil in New Orleans. He brought them to a much safer El Dorado to begin their life and medical practice there. Granddad did return to New Orleans once more for a post-graduate medical course, but I know he never once set foot in the French Quarters!

Dr. John

The Bread of Life Soup Kitchen

jesus-breaking-bread-4297852On one occasion in Capernaum as Jesus was speaking to his disciples and to the crowd which followed Him He made this astounding statement, “I am the bread of life who is come down from heaven.” (John 6: 35-40). He was proclaiming He was their anticipated Messiah and was sent from God to feed and save the world. He also stated whoever was hungry for eternal life must partake from Him alone. This word picture and name of Jesus seemed to fit as the name for the soup kitchen in El Dorado, Arkansas which was founded by my wife, Cathy and representatives from several churches in our hometown.

The Bread of Life Soup Kitchen was located in the Salvation Army building which at the time was in a strategic but economically depressed area. The initial excitement of these servants for the beginning of a new ministry was soon replaced with the hard work of planning, preparing, serving and clean-up for approximately seventy-five meals daily. The spiritual mandate for such a ministry is found in Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 25 in which he said whoever desires to inherit the Kingdom of God must be sensitive to the brethren who are hungry and thirsty and should give them food and drink.

Each of the involved churches was given a specific day of the week in which they were responsible for the food preparation, serving and clean-up. Cathy was the overall coordinator who was there every day to make certain it all happened. The church not only prepared the food but designated someone who would give a short devotion and pray before the meal. Some of the churches were more faithful at this than others.

As a result of Cathy’s leadership role in the Soup Kitchen our entire family became involved with the ministry. It was a time in which God stretched each of us and taught us unique and timeless lessons concerning His provision and work in the lives of the less fortunate. When we recount our Soup Kitchen experiences the names of some of our special friends come to mind such as Jimmy, “Razor,” Mr. Ford with his 5 children and Mr. Cornelius. There were many others but these have a special place etched in our hearts.

With Cathy’s faithfulness to the ministry and at her encouragement our family always worked at the Soup Kitchen on holidays. Cathy didn’t think it was appropriate to ask others to make the sacrifice of being separated from their family on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. At first there were a few in our family who grudgingly “volunteered,” but the Holy Spirit began working on all of our attitudes. When we  saw the smiles of those being served and heard the thanks they gave for our service our attitudes were changed. Whenever family members from out-of-town visited us on holidays Cathy encouraged them also to join us at the Soup Kitchen for a couple of hours. I don’t remember even one who refused her offer, and all told us they also received a blessing.

On two occasions I took my guitar to the Soup Kitchen to have a sing-along with our guests. I’m not sure vey many appreciated the type of music I was playing, but I included some well-known hymns, and occasionally could get a few to participate. Our children reluctantly joined in singing, but there was so much background noise from serving and with people talking with one another the sounds of our musical offerings were diminished. I loved singing for them and followed with a word from the Word.

One particular holiday a local store gave us a large number of loaves of day-old bread. There were so many loaves I was able to give at least two loaves to each person. Some got more depending on how many family members they said were at home. As I was passing out the loaves I told those seated at each table they could eat this bread, but after a few hours they would be hungry again. I said when our duties for the meal were over if any one wanted to hear about “some bread they could eat and never be hungry again,” come to the small office room adjacent to the kitchen. I didn’t think anyone would be interested based on their demeanor at the time.

When the meal ended and the floors were swept and mopped I went to the room and found it packed with at least twelve to fifteen people who wanted to know about the bread. I told them Jesus was the Bread of Life, and whoever took Him into their life would be filled and would never hunger again. When I invited all who wanted to receive Him as  Savior seven adults raised their hands. I explained the good news of salvation to them and each one prayed to ask forgiveness of their sins and to receive Christ into their hearts. The following week I called four pastors in town in an effort to get all of them involved with a local church so they might follow their decision with baptism and begin their spiritual journey.

Cathy continued in her role of leadership, and the Soup Kitchen was operated in its’ original location for approximately five years. Subsequently the Salvation Army built a beautiful facility in a new location, and the operation of the food ministry was assumed by their leadership. In my opinion the Army has always had an excellent record of serving the needy and preaching the Good News to all whom they serve. I do not know the present state of the food ministry through the Salvation Army, but I do know for five years Cathy and a host of faithful volunteers served the Lord Jesus in that place. Our family was privileged to serve with them, and in the experience we learned the meaning of having a servant’s heart. In giving we received much more than we gave. This is the promise in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Dr. John

“You’re Not Much of a Witness”

Grandpa and Grandma Luther

Grandpa and Grandma Luther

Grandpa Luther was never at a loss for words, and often his words would cut through all the pretense of pride and focus on the main thing. For him the main thing was his witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever Cathy and I were with either Grandpa or Grandma Luther the conversation invariably led back to Christ and His redeeming work on the cross.

Grandpa never met a stranger, and he would often initiate a conversation with someone he didn’t know by saying something like, “I’ll bet you didn’t know I have two birthdays. How many birthdays do you have?” Regardless of the answer, Grandpa used his opening line to give his natural date of birth, and then tell when he was born again into the Kingdom. His follow-up question was always, “Have you had your second birthday?” One of his favorite opening lines when he met a woman was, “I know Someone who loves you.” Usually she would ask, “Who is it?” Grandpa followed with, “Jesus loves you so much He died on a cross to save you. Have you been saved?” For Grandpa and Grandma Luther every encounter and every conversation led to Jesus.

Grandpa told me about an encounter he had with a man while on a shopping trip with Grandma to “Walmarks.” He always called the giant chain “Walmarks,” and to this day it is difficult for me to remember it is Walmart. Grandpa was waiting for her to finish shopping and was sitting on a bench in the foyer of the entrance. He said  “an old man” came in with his wife and while she shopped he sat down beside him. I asked Grandpa just how old the “old man” was, since Grandpa was in his late 80’s when he told the story. He said in his usual loud voice, “Oh, I don’t know. Probably fifty or sixty.” Grandpa was hard of hearing despite wearing hearing aids which never worked very well for him.

The two of them sat without speaking for five or six minutes when Grandpa said loudly, “Where do you go to church?” The man said quietly, “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.” Grandpa had no idea about Jehovah’s Witnesses nor the doctrine they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. To Grandpa one was either lost or saved and was either a Christian or a non-Christian. When the man told Grandpa that he was a “witness for Jehovah,” Grandpa responded with, “You’re not much of a witness! We’ve been sitting here for over five minutes and you haven’t said a word about Jesus!” Grandpa said the “old man got up and left.”

In Grandpa’s world everything was either black or white. If you love Jesus and claim to be His witness, you need to tell everyone around you how wonderful He is, and He will save you if you are lost. Grandpa didn’t intend to be unkind to the “old man,” but was challenging him to be more faithful. Grandpa and Grandma Luther lived and witnessed on a different level from any other Christians I have ever known. Because of their continuous and faithful witness they led many thousand people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When I think of their witness I am convicted that what Grandpa said to the “old man at Walmarks” can also be said about me.

Dr. John