Letter to the Editor

A haunting memory

I am still haunted by the shrill ring of the telephone at 4 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, 1992. Most phone calls at that hour are not good. It wasn’t. The All-School Favorite of the Central Texas high school where I lived had been killed due to drunk driving. He had gotten drunk, and driving 90 mph, lost control of his Luv pickup. Hit a 4-inch diameter tree in the median of I-35. Killed instantly. His riding companion, also a teenager, still has a closed head injury for life.
Seven hundred students, teachers, coaches, counselors, school administrators and community residents showed up for his funeral at the church where I was pastor. It was standing room only. Four hundred people inside the church, 300 outside. For 45 minutes, I stood at the head of his open casket as 700 grieving people filed by. I don’t want to ever do that again.
He was a good kid. Harmed by a substance available in the community. Poor judgement on his part, on the voters who originally voted alcohol in, and on the part of those who sold it to him and his underage friend. After 37 years as a pastor, I agree with the great Presbyterian pastor Peter Marshall: “Of this one thing I am sure. Alcohol has never done anything good, clean or decent for any man or woman. It does not enoble or dignify. It does not produce kindness or peace … neither happiness nor health … but will destroy these things sooner or later.”
It has never been about money. The projected annual sales tax receipts for Graham are exaggerated. You say you can control your own drinking – maybe you can. But, boys like the boy I knew, so full of promise, and others, cannot. Alcohol is a substance that harms the community.
I agree with my colleague Joe Finfrock: “More alcohol availability will lead to more alcohol misuse/ abuse.” I urge you to vote against the local alcohol proposition.
Mark Bumpus

The Graham Leader

620 Oak Street
P.O. Box 600
Graham, Texas 76450
Phone: (940) 549-7800
Fax: (940) 228-0589