My Probation Officer Was a Nice Man Who Gave Me Hope

RMlogo My Probation Officer Was a Nice Man Who Gave Me Hope

Probation was two years. It did not infringe on anything, other than a regularly scheduled meeting with a nice man. I’m not sure when or why they stopped, but they did. I wish I knew his name. You can find encouragement in the strangest places; it was my probation office whom the Lord used to move me farther along, and eventually finding Him.

What You Want to Do?

Mr. Probation Man asked me during one of our times together what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I wanted to finish high school, go to college, get an excellent job, and have a family. He told me that I was an unusual juvenile. Most of them did not have ambition, other than more crime. I was so encouraged that I wanted to get mom a, “My son is the best juvie on probation” bumper sticker for her car.

One of the questions he asked me was whether I was going to commute to college. I had never heard that word in my life. Being the cool kid that I was, I gave him a half-baked answer, hoping it would not reveal my ignorance. I said that I had not decided yet. After I got home, I looked up commute in the dictionary to see what I had not decided yet.

Whew! I out smarted him!

Walk This Way

The most significant benefit of the arrest and probation is how it stung me enough to pause and think about what I was doing with my life. Robby was already in prison. Joey was not doing well, and they were about to incarcerate him. They arrested Gary and Dwayne with me, so their lives were circling the drain too.

Dad was a habituated drunk, and mom was sleeping around with many men, including the police force. Let’s just say that my family was out of control. I had to decide if I was going to walk their way or make an about-face.


If you don’t know the Lord and want to change yourself, you pay attention to what’s working with others, assuming it’s legal, and you model it. So I cut my hair, stopped cursing, drinking, and smoking. Those things were the natural, common-sense things to amputate.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).

I figured I would limp through high school since I had no college plans. (I wish someone would have helped me to think about college and show me what I needed to do to get there.) I chose, instead, to become successful since I had a solid work ethic. I worked wherever I could.

I left home and moved into Mama Grant’s house when I was fifteen, and walked away from the 15 years of dysfunction that I had known. The next ten years were various forms of self-reformation, which had successes and failures.

My Plan

My formula was simple. Get a job, save money, find a wife, and live happily ever after. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I had a job; I was finishing up high school, and I was saving money. Self-reform was in full effect. There were good times ahead, no doubt.

I did note how there was still something missing inside of me, even with the determination and plan to self-reform.

Streaking, Throwing Eggs, and Destroying an Airplane

RMlogo Streaking, Throwing Eggs, Destorying an Airplane

I wrote the purpose of these blogs in my “Apology” for this website. I need to say this to you because of the next batch of family stories. I write these posts for my children. I want them to know what it was like for the “Thomas boys.” One of the biggest problems we have in our country today is that there are several generations who have no clue what it is like to suffer. They have only known a flourishing America. To forget where you came from is to slip into things you’ll regret.

Our three children have lived a blessed life, and they will tell you that if you ask. They do not have my categories, experiences, or darkness. I’m not writing to glorify an evil past (or brag or “one-up” you, or any other misguided interpretation). I want our children to know that God’s grace works and the gospel transforms. I don’t want them to assume they can deviate from God’s path, and it will go well for them.

I began my life by walking down an evil path, and then I found the gospel (Christ). Our children have never known anything but a gospel environment. I want them to see how things could be if they choose to walk from the blessedness of all that they have known.

They Call Him the Streak

We five brothers were notorious for doing pranks. Some of them were fun and funny, while others were mean and regretful. In the mid-seventies, streaking was a big rage. Remember Ray Stevens? To streak, you have to get bum-naked and run through a crowd of people.

One day, I was perusing the Monroe Enquirer and saw a picture of my brother (Gary) on the front page. Yes, the big picture that they put at the top. He was sitting on the back of a rag-top, naked, riding down the main drag of Wingate College (now Wingate University). The front page! Literally. I was so impressed at his boldness and thankful it was not me.

The Egg Caper

My grandfather had chicken eggs. Lots of them. Papa Grant had an entrepreneurial spirit, though he was more like Fred G. Sanford than anyone else. He had scores of washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators in his yard.

Mama Grant accepted it.

One evening Robby and Joey stole some eggs from our grandfather and took them to Wingate College and began throwing them into the windows of the dorms. In those days, there was no air conditioning; they used window fans. When those eggs “hit the fan,” gooey slime splattered all over the dorm rooms. I have always imagined a college student finishing up his term paper on a manual typewriter, and he could not make any mistakes. Remember “whiteout.” This prank made a colossal mess and incited several students.

The chase was on.

Robby, being the athlete, jumped a nearby ravine and kept going. Joey, who was following close behind, tried to leap the large ditch but came up a yard short. He landed on the dark side of the bank. The first thing to make contact was his knee, which caught the corner of a concrete block. It knocked his knee to the backside of his leg. Joey was in screaming pain. The ambulance and police showed up at the same time.

I believe he went to the hospital first.

Is That Your Plane?

Dwayne, the youngest, demolished an airplane that belonged to the neighbors of one of his friends. Dwayne’s friend said the plane was his, as I understand the story, and Dwayne did not believe him and told him so.

The young boy “proved it” was his plane by attacking it with a club. I’m not sure what that proved, other than they were dumb. Dwayne joined in with his buddy. They threw rocks through the windows and beat the body up with sticks. They totaled the airplane.

Dwayne and his friend were about 12 years old. They were too young to prosecute.