Day 10: Ray Scales (The Rev)

Ray Scales, back in the day when everyone knew him as the best television camera man in Arkansas.

Ray Scales, back in the day when everyone knew him as the best television camera man in Arkansas.

(Note: I first met Ray Scales in 1988 when I was a cub newspaper reporter and he was the lead camera person for the local television station. A few years later he followed a calling to ministry and still pastors at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Each year, he serves as chair of our local Martin Luther King Day Parade.)

Dear Rev:

If I could assemble a roomful of people to solve the world’s most challenging problems, I’d want you in that room. Truth is,  you’d have a seat on the front row. In fact, yesterday I took a few moments to think about some of the wisest, most experienced people I know, and you were high on the list.

I remember the conversations we’d have during trial breaks at the courthouse, or waiting on a political candidate to show up 30 minutes late, even surveying the damage from a storm the night before. If news was being made, you were there. And you were good at it, too.

By the way, do you know you have one of the most unique, special voices ever? It’s

Rev. has a big smile, and a bigger heart.

Rev. has a big smile, and a bigger heart.

calming, full of assurance and peace. I would speak with you for hours just to listen to your voice, Rev.

It caught me off guard a bit when you said you’d decided to leave the news business for the ministry. I knew I’d miss you out there. But you’re also one of the first people I know who left something comfortable to pursue a true calling. I did the same a few years later, and I thought about you.

The first time I attended church at New Mt. Zion, I guess you could call it work related, unfortunately. Politicians feel the need to be seen in certain places – you know how that game is played – and I was just taking care of the boss. But honestly, I tell you, being there was a thrill.

Thank you so much for welcoming me back in the times I came because I wanted to be there. Those times were nothing short of joyful. Now that I think about it, I’m way overdue for another visit.

An after-church photo of Ray and me a few years back.

An after-church photo of Ray and me a few years back.

Thank you for the wisdom you’ve shown and the contributions you’ve made to Jonesboro regarding race relations. The open, honest conversations we’ve shared helped me see things more clearly. “We all carry prejudice,” I remember you telling me. “It’s just a matter of what we do with it and how we think about the way God wants us to treat other people.”

Thank you for not getting mad at me early on the Saturday morning following Jack Hill’s death when I woke you with an early phone call and picked your brain for memories. I loved hearing those stories so much. You guys sure did some great work back in the day.

You’re one of my favorite people, and I wanted you to know it, Rev. May the Lord bless and keep you.

Your brother in Christ,

Steve Watkins




5 thoughts on “Day 10: Ray Scales (The Rev)

  1. Steve ~ another great post and another great personality. Thank you. Hope you don’t mind me showing up here most days, just want to encourage you. I find comments to be essential over at Caminoheads. Otherwise I think that I am just howling in the wind like I did on the Meseta. That has it’s place but the give and take is good here.

    I just wanted to get back to yesterday for a sec. I loved Bradley and I hope my comment wasn’t taken the wrong way. It is just that I am starting to see mentoring as a big process where culture gets passed down and improved. And individual mentors aren’t perfect people as you and I aren’t perfect nor Bradley. And I have had realizations in the past with my mentors where I saw that they were less than that perfect and maybe I caught up to them in whatever it is that seemed important. So, you may be slightly disillusioned and the mentor gets a little roughed up in the process. But he/she served as a bridge for you and needs to be recognized for that.

    We ourselves my be mentors to people that we don’t even know about and they may surpass us in the things that we have accomplished and that we were esteemed for. And ultimately that is a good thing and the process overall. It goes on from generation to generation.

    It is just reassuring for me to know that there is a process and that life has meaning in yet another way. Thank you Steve. Phil.


    • You’re so right, Phil. As a matter of fact, I’ll write a note about that very topic one day soon. (There are about 50 in the queue as of today. ha). But I have a note lined up to a man who was a mentor to me early on, and I later realized I was sort of holding him in a place where I had no business putting him. It wasn’t his fault at all. But it was a lesson learned. And, yes, at a certain time in life, it’s really important that we embrace the younger people in our lives and let them know how we’re cheering them on. Our cheerleader role is so important. Only 10 days into this process, I’m realizing how many role models I’ve had in 50 years. When you force yourself to think about it, it’s astonishing, really. Onward, sir.


  2. I like Keith, sort of an understated hero. He was just being a good himself and probably that is as far as it went. He wasn’t trying to be someone else. I think there are a lot of those if we were to think about it. You are inspiring me to write about one of my understated heros today.

    I find myself reading your daily post at breakfast. It is the right length and tone for that. Too much writing is too long these daze. Who has time? And too much writing seems a little too urgent. Really?

    Thanks Steve you are a good addition to my day. Phil.


  3. Understated hero, yes. Exactly. We often lose sight of the value of just being a good himself or herself. Glad to tag alongside your orange juice and bacon. Traveling soon, so getting some future posts scheduled today. More heroes just ahead.


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