(part 5 of A True Story)
By J. C. Corcoran
Continued from Disobedience + Distrust = Discipline
The Prescott National Forest is a 1.25 million acre United States National Forest located in north central Arizona in the vicinity of Prescott. The forest is located in the mountains southwest of Flagstaff.
I entered the forest about two miles south of downtown Prescott onto a logging road. I drove in about 1/3 of a mile and passed a sanctioned camping area with tables and grills and restrooms, and water. I continued on for about another ½ mile and found a cutout with just a picnic table. I backed the trailer in as far as possible; set it up and unhitched it. This was to be my home, off and on, for the next three months. It was April, 1980.
You were only allowed to stay in this area for two weeks and then you have to leave for at least a week. So every two weeks I would hitch up and go to Granite Dells camping area on the north side of Prescott and stay there for a week; then back to my site in the forest.
This is where I entered
I think this is the same area I used/it’s quite similar
This is Granite Dells. I couldn’t find a picture of the camping area but it wasn’t any different than any other camping spot in that area
You talk about being lonely; I began thinking about dying out here all alone and nobody would know it. Nobody knew where I was and I’m not sure there was anyone who cared. I still hadn’t talked to God about it; wasn’t praying and didn’t even know where my bible was. But I did sing gospel songs. I had a guitar and knew about five chords, so I would build a fire at night and sit on that bench and strum my guitar. I sang old time gospel songs like “Take my Hand Precious Lord”, “How Great Thou Art”, and “Amazing Grace”; “Why Me, Lord” (my favorite) and three or four others that I can’t think of right now. I suppose that was a form of prayer. But it just made me feel that much lonelier.
I had to have food. I had some money but wasn’t sure how long I could make it last. One day while I was out driving around I found a large flea market that was opened every weekend and I figured if I had something to sell I could generate some income. And then, later on that day, I was sitting on a bench in the town square when I decided to grab a newspaper from the vending machine across the street. That’s when I discovered the list of yard sales. I thought, that’s my answer.
You know, as I’m writing this it becomes obvious how God was still protecting me and taking care of my needs; even though I wasn’t paying Him much attention. Can you see it?
All day Friday of each week, I would shop the yard sales and go to the flea market on Saturday and Sunday. I actually made a pretty good living that way. I already had a good large cooler and I was able to keep it full of burgers, hot dogs and other foods. Most of the time I would have a coke and snickers bar for lunch. I was doing a lot of hiking during the week so I was in pretty good shape. Life was good; except for the loneliness. I often thought about that girl down in Phoenix. Her name was Joan.
I went to watch the Fourth of July fireworks and thought about her the whole time I was there; wishing she was with me. So the next day, I found a telephone booth (no cell phones yet) and called her and, to my surprise, she answered. After a few minutes of small talk, I told her that the rodeo was coming to Prescott the following weekend and there would be a big parade on Friday evening before dark. Then I got brave enough to ask her to come on up and join me. I told her I would sit on the curb near the post office and wouldn’t budge until the parade was over.
Downtown Prescott, AZ. You can see the signs and flags; Rodeo is coming
I said, “If you’re not there by the time the parade ends, I’ll know you’re not coming.” She said she would think about it but she doubted it.
On Friday afternoon I was dressed in my best pair of blue jeans and my cleanest shirt. I was sitting on the curb in front of the post office and the parade hadn’t even started yet when I heard, “Hey Jack.” And there she was across the street waving at me. I wish I could express the way I felt at that moment but I just cannot come up with the words. I was sure I loved this girl and didn’t care about our age difference one bit. She was twenty and I was forty.
She really surprised me when she asked me to come to Phoenix. She was staying with a nice couple and their two sons and, again to my surprise, she said she had already talked to them and they would be happy to set up a small cot for me in the basement. In fact, I probably had a job if I wanted it.
Rosarita Mexican Foods had a distribution plant there in Tempe and the man of this family just happened to be an executive with the company. He was sure he could put me to work driving a delivery truck. Little did he know that, in just a short time, the company was going to downsize and, since I was the newest employee, I was the first to go in about ten months. And by that time we were married and expecting our first child.
Shortly after the baby was born, Joan suggested that we should go to church. I had told her that I was a Christian and she wondered why I wasn’t going. Since I had no excuse, we went to North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix because we had heard so much about the preacher, Richard Jackson. The second time we went; Joan grabbed my hand and nearly ran to answer the altar call. And when she got baptized two weeks later, I joined her. Because of the way I had been living, I wondered if I had truly been saved. But when I think of the way God had continually protected us and provided our every need, I was pretty sure I was.
During the next five years I would bounce around from one job to the next and, at the end of the first five years, we had four beautiful daughters. Things were tight but we were managing, thank God. And then we made the move to Flagstaff.
We immediately joined the Baptist Church there with pastor, Steve May, and I went to work driving a truck for Pepsi Cola. It was late in the year, 1986.
In Proverbs 3:5 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” And as we go along from here, I hope you can see the truth of this scripture. It took me a long while to accept the truth of these words because of my trust issues but you will see the hand of God on us as we go along. I hope you’ll stay with me.
See you in a few days after I put all the pieces together.
God bless you all
J. C. Corcoran