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Mr. Priest’s Surprises

Mr. Guy Priest

Early in January 1954, Mr. Guy Priest came to our house with a box of surprises.

Usually I saw Mr. Priest when I was skidding my bike around on Teft Road or Baker Street.

“Hello, Mr. Priest!”

gladiolasInstead of waving, he smiled and nodded. That’s because his hands were busy with two 5-gallon pails stuffed with gladiolas in full bloom. Mr. Priest cut these beauties from the garden behind his house on Baker Street, and he was delivering them to customers.

No flowers, but a box

This January day, however, Mr. Priest carried no flowers. Instead he brought a box of surprises. I needed surprises, because the doctor had sent me to bed for many days to allow some bones to mend.

shoebx-whiteMr. Priest’s box was cardboard, like the box my new shoes came in from the store in Jackson. But a wrap of heavy white paper hid the J.C. Penny logo, and it was larger than my shoe box. Maybe it once held a pair of boots.

Each day a new surprise

On all four sides, from under the lid, numbered tags dangled on strings. Mr. Priest told me to pull tag #1. I pulled, and out came a tiny plastic car. He said tomorrow I should pull tag #2 and the next day #3. The number of tags equaled the number of days I had to stay in bed.

So each day I tugged at a new tag, and out came a new surprise — a toy compass, a magnifying glass, a pen, a 3×5 notepad, a plastic comb, a pocket mirror, a little tractor, etc.

Just a regular guy

His name really is Guy, and he was just a regular kind of guy.

I never guessed he could pick me out from the batch of kids playing tag on bikes. Yet here he was, standing beside my bed.

I never dreamed Mr. Priest might have once been a child himself. Yet his tags spoke the language of a 12-year-old. They glittered more brightly than the golden bells and pomegranates at the hem of Aaron’s robe.

I would not have picked Mr. Priest as our “Most Creative Neighbor.” We lived among merchants, missionaries, and college professors. Some told my parents how concerned they were for their injured child. Yet it took the imagination of a glad gardener to point a 12-year-old’s thoughts away from another long day in bed ─ toward today’s surprise.

That’s how I remember Mr. Priest, a regular kind of guy with a box of surprises.

  • Thank you, John Harris, for this picture of Mr. Priest.
  • Thank you, Larry Brugger, for sharing your memories of Mr. Priest.

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7 Responses to Mr. Priest’s Surprises

  1. Larry Brugger May 13, 2017 at 12:23 AM #

    Guy Priest was a Very Thoughtful man. When I was in the Air Force he would write me assuring of his concern and prayers. Always Thoughtful and Kind.

  2. Nancy (Snyder) Ragatz May 15, 2017 at 9:30 PM #

    Nice photo of Guy Priest. It’s interesting to read these memories of him and see him in a new way. Of course, I was younger than you guys! But I well remember him pulling a wagon down the street with buckets of glads in it. And his smile. What sweet memories!!

  3. Sharon (Bosworth) Cox May 16, 2017 at 6:01 AM #

    I always remember him in his garden with his glads. Him ringing the church bell.

  4. Pam Harper Houser May 16, 2017 at 6:59 AM #

    Yes, I too remember Mr. Priest and those beautiful bouquets of glads. My fondest memory was living across the street from him on Teft Road and we would talk. He found out from me when it was my birthday, an August child, and he delivered a bouquet of glads to me.

    Also, Guy cleaned the chapel after church on Sundays. I had forgotten and left my favorite “lamb” book behind on the pew one day in the ‘infant’ section. Distraught and upset because my parents told me to pick it up, and I didn’t — I forgot it. What seemed like an eternity, (and I forgot about it) Mr. Priest approached us with a little book he “found and I think you’d like it”. It was my book.

    I have NEVERTHELESS forgotten this man or his wonderful acts of kindness he brought to our little community of Spring Arbor.

  5. Sharon (Moore) Hastings May 16, 2017 at 11:37 AM #

    I remember Mr. Priest for ringing the church bell in the old stone church for Sunday School and church. He also rang it on New Year’s Eve to ring in the New Year. And, Pam, he continued to clean up the sanctuary in the new SAFMC after services! What a kind, humble man.

  6. Hallee Wash Viniotis May 16, 2017 at 1:21 PM #

    I saw Mr Priest quite often because he took care of the Old Church, where my Dad’s (Hubert Wash) office was. I went every day after school and saw Mr Priest so often. He was older then and very quiet so I didn’t talk to him but always felt he was watching over us. This story made me tear up because I always wondered if he had people who cared about him – now I believe everyone cared about him. We grew up in such a lovely small town.

  7. Carmen Greene May 18, 2017 at 10:28 AM #

    How I enjoyed these memories! Thank you, Larry, for sharing. Please share more stories!
    Mr. Priest was a gem! I remember Momma buying glads from him.
    Hallee, you are so right about those SA days!

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The Days of Elijah - a story

The Days of Elijah – a story

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