Good Friday morning ...

Taylor Road was my territory as a kid growing up in Norfolk County, Virginia.

The road was a narrow, two-lane affair with drainage ditches to each side and covered with tar and chip. It began at State Road 337 near the Hodges Ferry bridge and went northwest to Pughsville Road ... a stretch of some three and a half miles.

At one end of Taylor Road was Kirchemier's Genral Merchandise (An "If-we-don't-have-it-you-don't- need-it" kind of place) owned by a prominent local family with a huge three-story house on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River. At the other end was Jack's Store, a small, one-room shack of a structure which sold basic sundries and had a single gas pump out front. It was owned by Jack, a black man whose last name I never knew. He lived next door to his store in a ramshackle house with as many kids as inhabited my own.

My family home was at RR2 Box 292 at the point where Taylor Road crossed Drum Creek and curved north to cross two railroad tracks before ending at Pughsville Road. Ours was a six-and-a-half acre farmette where the seven Engel children were raised and fashioned into adults.

As a boy, Taylor Road consisted of farmland all along its three-and-a-half mile stretch. There were a few houses that faced the road before you reached our farm ... namely the Moores, the Jersilds, the Scotts, the Agners, the Rudys and a few others ... all about one mile from my home.  But mostly, both sides of Taylor Road was planted in crops of corn, soybeans or winter wheat or barely. It was a boyhood's paradise. Wide open for exploration and adventure.

Across from our family place on Taylor Road was where the Pierce family lived with their six chidlren. They had a fifty-acre spread on which they lived in a green shingled home nestled in some woods at the end of their lane which ran between two open fields. Mike Pierce, a year older than I, was one of my boyhood friends

Down Taylor Road was another boyhood friend, Calvin, who was one of six children from the Shiemann family who lived at the end of Denning Lane, one of two offshoots from Taylor Road. Calvin and I were the same age. I think he was kind of sweet on my younger sister, Karen, and I was kind of sweet on his younger sister, Shiela. But his family being Catholic and mine being Lutheran, there was no way any of that sweetness would go anywhere. Besides our focus was definitely not on girls. It was on everything about outdoor adventure.

Our adventures were played out over the fields, gullies, creeks, and woods of Taylor Road. We led armies of fighting soldiers across battlefields  mined with explosives; we forged ahead against enemy atacks, bombarded by infantry fire and exploding grenades; we attacked and commandeered abandoned farm houses and claimed them as our headquarters; we slepped through creeks and ditches to rescue imprisoned soldiers; we led  cohorts of men to conquer German  troops holed up in a final stand against the Allied invasion. Finally, we won the war.

Our battles were fought with sticks fashioned as rifles topped with bayonetts; our weapons were logs propped and positioned as pieces of heavy artillery; our grenades were pine cones retrieved from the stands of southern pine ... all heavily enhanced by our imaginations.

We were the infantry that won the war, backed up by our imaginary force of tanks that preceded us into battle and the imaginary air cover provided by  bombing aircraft above. Dirty, exhausted and battle-fatigued, we rested under the shade of trees to plan our next battle thatwouild be saved for another day. After all, there was a lot to conquer along the fields and woods of Taylor Road. And summer break lasted for a full three months.

Fierce battles such as this did not take place every day, of course. There were farm chores to do, gardens to care for, vegetables to be canned and/or frozen, grass to be cut, fence rows to be sickled, chicken coops to muck, and a host of routine tasks and duties around the farm for each of us. But occasionally, an overnight camp-out in the woods gave us extended opportuntites and added the twist of a nightime foray that enhanced the danger and sparked the imagination even further for this Taylor Road band of soldiers.

Soon enough our battle skirmishes ended when growing-up maturity began its inevitable influence and the Taylor Road triumverante went their sepearte ways. Besides that, the fields and woods of our boyhood playground became prime real estate for developers and new homeowners. The face of Taylor Road has been forever changed.

The young boys who inhabit those hundreds, perhaps thousands of homes along the stretch of Taylor Road, will never know the battles that were lost and won on the fields where their homes have been biuilt. They will never know the thrills of excitment and exhilerating feelings of adventure    They will never know the joy those once-open fields brought to the imaginations of three scruffy farm boys from yesteryear.

They will never know the true history of Taylor Road, for it is lost in the hearts and imagniations of those three boyhood friends from the 1950s.

Change is all around us. Everything is in flux. It is inevitable. We are taught that nothing stays the same. They call it progress ... and in some ways it is and most of it is good. But there are some things that should NEVER change ... indeed, CAN never change.

“I the LORD do not change." [Malachi 3:6] 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal  glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." [II Corinthians 4:16-18]

Have a great weekend in the Lord …



Service Times

8:30 AM - Traditional Worship Service

9:40 AM - Sunday School & Bible Study Classes for all ages

11:00 AM - Contemporary Worship Service

Holy Communion is celebrated at both services on the first and third Sundays of each month.


Grace Lutheran Church & School

12200 McCormick Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 928-9136