Blessed Are the Poor

I did not grow up poor. We were an upper middle class family. My dad, our primary bread-winner, was an engineer in the chemical industry and we never went without anything.

Once when I asked my dad, “Daddy, are we rich?” he told me “Yes, because we are rich in LOVE.” And that was that. We were indeed rich, rich in love, and pretty much rich in material things, too.

The Talent Show

Fast forward to 1973. I am sitting in the dark multi-purpose room of my junior high school, watching the spring talent show.

On stage is a girl with a guitar. I don’t remember her name but I knew her to be one of my classmates and the daughter of our school janitor. She sang a beautiful song she had written herself, set in a minor key, and with a simple message: don’t judge based on appearances.

I remember as I sat there, I could feel her own personal pain being poured out into the words and music of the song. She must have had a tough road, attending the school at which her dad was employed. We weren’t overtly cruel to her, at least I don’t remember being cruel, but we must have been distant and judgmental. I could hear that in her song.

Even now, 40 years later, I remember every word of that song. I remember her pain, and how she turned it into beauty which she lavished on all of us that day in the darkened auditorium. Here is what I remember:

Hey Hey Simpson 

  1. When I was just eleven, there was a fat boy on our block.
    His name was Leonard Simpson, and we laughed at him a lot.

    Singin’ “Hey, hey, Simpson. Fatty, fatty, two by four.
    Hey, hey, Simpson. Saw you hug the ugly girl next door.”

  2. He wore torn and tattered clothes. His old man cut his hair.
    He wore high-topped army boots, and sleeveless underwear.

    Singin’ “Hey, hey, Simpson. Fatty, fatty, two by four.
    Hey, hey, Simpson. Saw you hug the ugly girl next door.”

  3. That was eighteen years ago. Now I’m twenty-nine.
    Simpson died a while ago, a hero of some kind.
    They say a small young colored boy was pestered by a gang.
    Simpson helped him get away and was beat to death by chains.

    Singin’ “Hey, hey, Simpson. Fatty, fatty, two by four.
    Hey, hey, Simpson. Saw you hug the ugly girl next door.”

  4. Funny  how the years go by, success so lit by loss
    Reminds me oh so long ago of a man, some blood, and a cross.

    Singin’ “Hey, hey, Simpson. Fatty, fatty, two by four.
    Hey, hey, Simpson. Saw you hug the ugly girl next door.”

Blessed are the Poor

So thank you to that long-ago singer/songwriter. Your song still echos in my memory.

More than that, thank you for showing me the truth about who was really poor, who was really rich, and who was truly blessed.

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12 thoughts on “Blessed Are the Poor

    • Hi @Debbie!!!

      The talent show was at John Adams Jr High in Charleston, WV. I never attended Eisenhower. We moved to Jersey in 1975, my Junior year of high school.

      Loved that song. Got to sing it tonight at my church. Really powerful.

      Like

  1. I so wish you could remember the name of the girl who wrote that song. I knew her when she was a counselor at my camp, and she would sing her song around the fire. The lyrics have stuck with me all these years and I would love to find her and thank her for being such a positive role model for me and I’m sure many others.

    Like

  2. A girl several years older than me at my church sang this once or twice to our Sunday School class. I’m not sure if she wrote the song or had just heard it somewhere, but her name is Dusty Dale, and she lives in Charlotte NC. She is still in contact with my mom. This song has haunted me since I first heard it back probably 35 years ago.

    Like

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