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Out on a Limb: Everything Tells A Story

John Embry

I love my home.  I guess I've always known this but it really hit me last night.  We hosted the Embry family Christmas celebration, which was a huge success.  I think we had around 40 descendants/relatives of Audra and Eva Embry at our home.  It was great and a testament to them.  

Why else was it such a good night?  Well, several reasons, of course.  The fact that we were gathered in a place that was so dear to my Dad was obviously significant.  This was magnified by the fact that an old store building from the 1940s transformed into a home was the site of our gathering.  I can't tell you how many people thought this construction project was a crazy idea.  Build a new house, they would say, or take a bulldozer to the old building and start anew.  But, that's not me.  By the way, you can't find these naysayers now.  They've vanished!  I guess they've gone to the same place as those who thought starting Beech Tree News was wacko.  Since the remodeling is complete and and the house looks pretty decent, everyone you talk to thinks it was a great idea.  But it wasn't that way in the beginning.

A verse in Proverbs, which is paraphrased (and shortened), states "where there is no vision the people perish."  It's one of my favorite verses, as you can imagine.   

Everything tells a story.  That's what I told cousin-in-law (or something like that) Marcus Harrison last night as he was asking me about the history of the store building, among other things. The aerial photo of the store/bait shop taken during the 1980s, the original Ronald Reagan poster from his successful 1980 campaign, the 1940s' cash register, the radio that was stolen from the store by escapees from the Boys' Camp but was later recovered by then KSP Detective Joe Gaddie (which I still listen to), the prints from my Mamaw and Papaw Johnson that are on the walls of the bait shop/office, my Dad's old fox horn, the old wood stove that we used to heat the bait shop, the original bait shop counter turned into an entertainment center, etc.  I told Marcus and showed him where Dad used to put old license plates when the termites would occasionally eat out a floor board, an interesting story about a basketball goal, how a 2,000 gallon concrete enclosure for an above-ground gas tank is now the home of a storage building, a very old fox hunting print, a Kool cigarettes match holder, an early 1900s print featuring Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, a little history about King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, etc. Yes, everything tells a story.

I could tell a hundred more stories — humorous ones about the "grease rack" and the sign that Dad put up beside the minnow tank that read "I can talk and I can count but I can't do both at the same time."  You get the picture.  Marcus was a good listener and I thank him for that.  It helped me.   

We are all connected to our history — for good or bad.   Embrace it.  Understand it.  Own it.  Don't try to be something that you're not.  Resist the temptation to do what others expect.  Being considerate of others is not the same thing as conforming to their wishes.  You've got to be true to yourself in accordance with God's plan for your life.  

Speaking of God, I've had a lot of people say to me how they wish my Dad was around to see what we've done with the old store building. Is he not?  Although he isn't physically here for us to share this adventure, are you sure that he doesn't know what's happening on Aberdeen Hill? Without getting into a theological discussion, I tend to think that, in the spiritual sense, he is well aware of what's going here, what's taken place at the store he owned for 30 years and the bait shop that he started amidst strong opposition.  I would like to think he's happy with the progress.

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Contributor Bio: John Embry is the author of Out on a Limb.  He is vice-president and co-founder of Beech Tree Media ( and Beech Tree 1570 AM WLBQ.  John teaches American History (8th Grade) at Butler County Middle School and is the head softball coach at BCHS and BCMS.  He is married to Beth and they have one daughter, four-year-old Isabella Faye. 





It's ironic this story was posted when I woke this morning. We pass the store frequently going to my daughters, I told my husband again yesterday how I thought it was so incredible what you guys have done. My husband is not from around here, so I've filled him in a little about your dad and what little history I know about the store from my child hood and from living across the road from it for a few years as an adult. I think it's so awesome that you and Beth have decided to make it your home with Isabelle. Not only is it great for you guys, but the memories that child will have of living in her Pappaw's store (house) is something alot of children will never experience and she'll have so many stories to repeat to other children that you guys can share with her. The history and memories are something you John will always have and I think it's incredible you can live it every day in your HOME!!! Congrats you you and your family for the choice you made.
Truly our heritage is of the utmost importance. We would all be so lost without those trail blazers who pointed us in the right direction. We are so blessed because of the love and memories they shared with us. They are alive as long as the memories dwell in us.
I really enjoyed reading this piece. Your home is sooo neat, comfortable, and special. So glad you all agreed to include it on the DAR home tour for all to enjoy. Also, I am confident that son-in-law Marcus enjoyed the tour and talk as much as you did.... You both share similar interests in many things, especially history.
Great writing John, I love the way that you transformed the store into a wonderful home for your family while preserving the character and history of the place at the same time. Simply put, "You are the man!"
Loved visiting your home during the DAR tour. Don't think I was ever in the store but I remember it. Thanks for the history. Janeen Taylor

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