Back in the Saddle Again

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Craig Murphy, a well-known Fort Worth country music vocalist, has found his niche after trying several other pursuits that turned out to be short-lived. He’s certified in both law enforcement and auto mechanics, but his interest in both fields flagged quickly.

During COVID’s darkest days, he tinkered with auto repair once more, but thinks of it now as only a hobby. He turned in his still-shiny badge after a brief time, admitting that he’s happier letting others enforce the law.

Dr. Don Newbury

He’s now 51 years of age, and during the past decade, he has found music to be his passion. He has belted out country music favorites since 2012, with a majority of his almost 6,000 engagements for residents of retirement and care centers.

Let me do the math. Until 2020, when COVID put the damper on gatherings, he averaged almost 600 performances annually. To reach this number, he booked three performances on most days. He also takes care of setting up and taking down sound systems, and commonly drives 200 miles or more without ever leaving the Metroplex. Also a composer, he frequently performs emcee duties as well as directing karaoke competitions. Somehow, he has industrial strength vocal cords which produce songs some 20 hours each week at 15-20 venues.

With a work ethic ingrained by his parents, Charlie and Mary Murphy, Craig still finds time to work occasionally on the family ranch.

Though known for his music, Craig inserts light-hearted jokes along the way. He told the story of a man who was addicted to brake fluid. “It didn’t bother him, though,” Craig said. “He says he can always stop when he wants to.”

Another friend who finds humor in unlikely places is Nancy Esters. For example, as a youngster, she heard her mother’s oft-repeated hope that she and her husband might die together, thus making it possible for them to enter heaven at the same time. 

Not until years later did she question her mom’s wish. “Over the years, when my dad was driving, she always sat in the backseat, and I was assigned to the front passenger seat,” Nancy recalls.

Her position is well taken. If her mother had truly been serious about such a wish, surely she would have taken the “suicide seat” instead of Nancy.

Nancy is an avid reader, always on the lookout for humor. She enjoys the writings of Paula Gulledge Williams, who is a church musician in High Point, North Carolina. A retired teacher, columnist for her hometown newspaper and Sunday school teacher, she also writes devotionals in wide circulation.

Nancy eagerly awaits Williams’ devotionals, not only for the spiritual content, but also for jokes and stories. In a recent piece, Williams cited reasons for Christians to honor biblical instruction for adherents to assemble with others in church. It was entitled “Assembly Required.” She pointed out that we assemble to be refreshed, comforted, instructed, edified and perfected.

She asked a young girl, “Why is it important to be quiet in church?” The youngster replied, “Because a lot of people are sleeping.”

Williams also told about an elderly Christian, watching new neighbors move in next door. After modern appliances, electronic gadgets, plush furniture and expensive artwork were carried in, the elderly onlooker had a word for his new neighbor. “If you find you’re lacking anything, let me know and I’ll show you how to live without it.”

Nancy remembers her mother-in-law as being a natural-born worrier, especially over her children. One day, she confided in Nancy that she was worried about her daughter who was experiencing health problems. Nancy responded that it was fortunate that her oldest child Eugene–Nancy’s husband–had no problems. Her mother-in-law indicated that she had “worried about him, too, since he had four children and a wife who didn’t work!”

 Then there was a man who confessed that he “likes his wife’s mother-in-law more than he likes his mother-in-law.”

   Dr. Newbury, a long-time university president, continues to write weekly and speak throughout Texas. Contact information: Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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