Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man

By Loren Hardin - [email protected]



This is part two of a series about Jerry, my friend who “sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24). Jerry is an old hippie with a fear of being normal, a motorcycle enthusiast with “a need for speed”.

Jerry is a peculiar mixture of the north and the south. Jerry was born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, moved to Columbus, Georgia at age eight, back to Ft. Wayne at age eleven, to Roanoke, Alabama when he was twelve or thirteen and back to Ft. Wayne when he was fifteen, nearing sixteen.

Jerry and I have made memories to last us a lifetime, or perhaps the memories have made us. There was “the year of the concerts”, “Jerry and Goren’s Big Adventure”, our ten-day self-guided tour of Alaska, and our five-day, 1,700-mile motorcycle road trip through seven southern states. We traveled the back roads, the “blue highways”.

The most memorable stop on our motorcycle road trip was Roanoke, Alabama, where Jerry spent some of the most formative years of his life, (age twelve to fifteen). As we rode through town on our bikes Jerry pointed out the “Tasty Freeze” where he hung out with friends, the city jail, the road on which he escaped a police chase, the house he lived in, the segregated movie theatre, the school he attended and the cotton mill where his mother worked. Jerry shared story after story. Isn’t it funny how you can know someone for years and not really know them? Well, I got to know Jerry that day in a way I’d never known as he shared new parts of his life story.

When we stopped at the school that Jerry dropped out of in the seventh grade, Jerry reflected: “I got the measles when I was four years old. I’ll never forget the pain, the cups of pus coming out of my ear. When I was around six, I was walking across the yard with a windup clock. I held it up to one ear and I heard ‘tick-tock’, then a while later I held it up to the other ear and couldn’t hear a thing. I had no idea I was different. I thought I was the same as everybody else. When I started in school, they put me on the side of the class where my deaf ear faced the teacher and I couldn’t hear. When I daydreamed, they told me, “You need to pay attention.” I ended up flunking the first and third grade.

“When I moved to Georgia a teacher took interest in me. She taught me lip reading for a while but it didn’t do much good, but she tried. So, I dropped out of school when I was in the seventh grade, but nobody came after me. In Roanoke back then nobody cared. They may have said something to mom, but she worked at the cotton mill at night and I looked after my little sister, Lisa, while mom worked. Mom told me, years later, that one of my teachers had come to the house to apologize. I’m not going to complain though, because you usually have measles in both ears but I only had it in one. But I do wonder how different my life could have been if I’d gotten a good education?”

I’m reminded of the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz”. The Lion lamented, “If I only had courage,” the Scarecrow lamented, “If I only had a brain,” and the Tin Man lamented, “If I only had a heart.” So, they were “off to see the Wizard”. But isn’t it interesting that each one, along “The Yellow Brick Road”, manifested the very traits that they thought they lacked. It reminds me of the chorus from a popular seventies’ song, “Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn’t, didn’t already have,” (“Tin Man”, by America, 1974).

I don’t mean to minimize the value of education, but education is not a measure of a person’s intelligence, abilities or worth. And there are some things like “faith, hope and love,” (1 Corinthians 13:13), that cannot be taught; they are God-given. And you don’t need a college degree, a title, a position, or validation from others, to manifest what matters most. Who do I, with my Master’s Degree in Social Work, reach out to when I need someone to talk things over with? I reach out to Jerry, my friend, my brother in Christ Jesus, a retired truck driver, who dropped out of school in the seventh grade.

“For I say, through the grace given to me… Think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith…having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them,” (Roman’s 12: 1-8)).“For who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:6-7).


By Loren Hardin

[email protected]

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .