Stubborn Etta Sits on a Posthole

You are nothing more than a stubborn cow – so stubborn that I, the LORD,
cannot feed you like lambs in an open pasture.
Hosea 4:16 (CEV)

Great-Grandma Etta was an iron-willed, old German woman. She stood six-feet tall and, to put it politely, she had a sturdy build. When something upset Etta, nobody got in her way.

During the summer of 1900, the telephone company arrived to install wooden poles and string phone lines along Lake Avenue where Etta lived. She was eager to get a telephone, but Etta wasn’t thrilled when a workman came along with a posthole digger. He set the blade at a spot parallel to her front door and took a bite out of the grassy parkway.

Etta stormed out of the house. “Vat are you doing? You cannot put a post der!”

The workman was tall, like Etta, and just as broad. “Yeah, well, it’s goin’ there,” he said. “We put ‘em an equal distance apart, and this one goes here.”

Etta threw back her shoulders and raised her chin. “Not in my front yard,” she said.

The workman leaned on the handle of the digger. “Lady, this isn’t your front yard. This grassy strip here, along the street, it belongs to the city.”

“Den da city vil have to make udder plans,” Etta said. “Because I do NOT give my permission.”

The workman shook his head, snickered and plunged the digger’s blade into the ground. He may as well have stuck a knife into Etta’s heart. Thank goodness a neighbor came out just then and calmed her down. Etta stood with hands on hips watching the man dig. “You vil not put a post in dat hole,” she warned. “I vil not look out my front vindow at an ugly old post!”

The workman ignored her. He finished digging and quickly moved on.


All day long, Etta sat by her front window waiting for the post truck to arrive. When the truck finally rolled down Lake Avenue carrying poles and four workmen, Etta bolted out the front door and did the unthinkable. She sat down on top of the posthole. “Over my dead body!” she shouted to the men.

They tried to reason with Etta, but she wouldn’t listen. They even tried to pick her up and get her off the hole, but Etta dug in her heels and resisted. Finally, someone summoned the police.

Officer Mahoney walked the beat on Lake Avenue, and he’d spent many summer evenings sipping lemonade on Etta’s front porch. It worried him when he saw her plopped there on the posthole. “Etta! Why in the world are you sitting on the ground?” He reached for her hand, and she took it. Believe me, no one else could have gotten Etta off of that hole. You see, she trusted Mahoney’s judgment. After only a few gentle words, he convinced Etta to let the men set the post.

Are you stubborn like Etta? Are you resisting God? Then reach out, take His hand and let him pull you off your posthole. His Word says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

Dear Lord, Whenever I’m stubborn, speak gently to my heart and guide me toward your perfect will. Amen


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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Stubborn Etta Sits on a Posthole

  1. Beautiful. I think there's a little of Etta in all of us. Although, I'm with Etta on this one. I wouldn't have wanted a post to look at every time I walked out my front door. Thanks for sharing!Caroline Pointer

  2. Great post, Jean! I'm afraid stubborn is part of my genetic make-up, and something I have to (need to) fight all the time.

  3. I have my great-grandmother's stubborn gene, too. There are many more family stories about Etta, some of which I may write about here in the future. I didn't know her, but from what my grandmother told me she was an amazing woman.Thank you Caroline and Sherry for commenting.Jean

  4. Jean: We all have a smidgen of stubborness in us. A lot of us deal with the Ettas of our families. Thank you for reminding us that we all need to trust God a bit more than we do.

  5. Hi, quietspirit.A little bit of stubbornness might not be a bad thing. Grandma Etta was also stubborn about defending her Christian faith. I admire her strength and convictions. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :-)Jean

  6. Dee

    As I was reading this, I felt sorry for Etta. I understand why she wouldn't want to look at a post…I wonder if they would have allowed her to paint or decorate the post so it would be more appealing?

  7. Back in the day, they plopped those posts wherever the next one went without much thought to blocking the view. I can still remember that old telephone pole. When I was little, it was finally replaced, and the new one was NOT smack dab in the middle of the parkway. I wonder if someone remembered Grandma Etta sitting in the post hole.

  8. I was struck by the fact it took someone with a relationship to calm her down. She wouldn't listen to a demanding stranger. Wonderful story, Jean. Thank you.Blessings,Susan 🙂

  9. I like your insight, Susan. How often do we hear the inner voice of that demanding stranger and find ourselves calmed down by the still, small voice of our Heavenly Father?Thanks for commenting.Blessings,Jean

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