An elderly country doctor had a standing offer that he would cure any ailment for $500 or he’d refund the patient $1,000.

A young city doctor decided he would teach the old fellow a lesson by posing as a patient and making up with some especially difficult-to-treat symptom.

“I have lost all the taste in my mouth,” the young physician said. “Can you help me?”

“Nurse, bring me medicine from Box 19 and put three drops in this young feller’s mouth,” the old doctor said.

“Yuck,” the young man shouted when the drops hit his tongue. “That tastes like gasoline.”

“Congratulations, you’ve got your taste back,” the old doctor said. “That will be $500.”

The young man returned a couple days later, still posing as a patient, hoping to get his money back.

“I have lost my memory,” he told the old man. “I can’t remember anything.”

“Nurse, please bring medicine from Box 19 and put three drops in the patient’s mouth.”

“Oh, no. That’s gasoline,” the young fellow protested.

“Congratulations, you got your memory back,” the old doctor said. “That will be $500.”

The ability to remember is such a wonderful gift. I was reminded of that the other day. My daughters had gone to an Alan Jackson concert and sent me a short video they had shot of him singing one of his most popular songs. It was about him as a boy getting to drive his father’s old pickup on dirt roads.

The lyrics included these lines: “Just a dirt road with trash on each side. But I was Mario Andretti when Daddy let me drive.”

The note that popped into my cell phone with the video said: “This song reminded me of you.”

It brought tears to my eyes.

I am so pleased all of my kids have memories of sitting behind the steering wheel, driving on backroads of dirt and gravel when they could barely see over the dashboard. I’m also glad they have memories of fishing poles, and trotlines and rabbit hounds. I’m glad they have memories of little country churches, of the smooth voices of folks like Ronnie Ramey as he strummed his guitar and belted out gospel tunes, of the powerful preaching of folks like Charlie Banks and Harold Auxier, of hard wooden pews, of worn hymnals, and of the cool mountain streams where they were baptized.

My girls, now grown, brought back many of those happy memories with the video, and I felt at least a little like the Apostle Paul when he told the Philippian Christians: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3-5).

I know you’re like me in that you think back on bygone years with nostalgia and with thankfulness to Almighty God. It’s a wonderful thing to get to grow up in America’s heartland. I hope you’ll take a few minutes right now and think back to happy times in your childhood, and offer thanks to God for those precious memories.

If you have any trouble remembering, there’s an old country doctor who may be able to help, if you can handle three drops of gasoline from Box 19.


Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at