2015 Day 20: The Macarena Girls

Before retiring, I was a teacher, a curriculum coordinator, an assistant principal and a principal.  I have a lot of good memories from those 32 years of my life.  But one that stands out in bravery and sense of humor was my experience as a Macarena girl.

Every year, we did some kind of promotion for our reading program.  We wanted students to read A.L.O.T!! So we always had a “carrot” out there to encourage them in their reading.  And having a contest that students get to participate in is the easiest and best way.  One of our fifth grade teachers was  a real jewel and had a great sense of humor.  Her kids were always thinking of unusual things.  So when she proposed that they come up with the perfect reward for the school if they met their reading goals,  they set right to work.   When they finished, they had a doozy of an idea.  It was better than the time that the principal dressed up as Elvis and arrived in a limo to greet and thank children for their efforts.  The principal was a great sport and even wore an Elvis costume with exposed chest hair.  What a hoot!

Now for the new idea.  A really popular dance among children and teens was the Macarena.  The kids wanted the principal, assistant principal and the counselor to dance the Macarena in front of the school.  Well, that was fine with me. I didn’t know the Macrena but how hard could it be??  The second part of the idea was that we should wear swimsuits.

Swimsuits? We were all OLD-I had grandchildren.  And despite the fact that I am now a water fitness instructor and live in a swimsuit all year and have NO problem anymore with wearing it in front of adults at the Y, I am sure that I did NOT want to wear a swimsuit in front of the whole school. It would probably make the Atlanta news-not in a good way.

Well, adults can be sneaky, too.  The three of us talked and found a way we could wear swimsuits.  So we announced that we would do it at the end of the year IF they met the goals. THE DAY arrived.  Parents arrived.  Nothing like making a fool in front of everyone!!! The school was abuzz.  The dancing was scheduled for 1:45 in the gym.  We had a sound system all ready with the music.  We just smiled when kids asked us about our swimsuits.  It was close to THE TIME.  Children were seated in the gym. They were EXCITED! We strolled into the gym.  We were wearing raincoats. LONG raincoats. We were wearing hats from the 1950’s with feathers and veils. We wore long gloves.  The fifth grade teacher began to encourage the kids to tease us about the raincoats.  They wanted us to take them off.

So we did!  We were wearing turtlenecks, and leotards, and 1940’s swimsuits.  You know-the kind that Esther Williams wore in the movies. They were high cut and anyway we had on turtlenecks with long sleeves.  They were longer than some shorts that women wore then.  We were in swimsuits.  That was the deal.  We danced the Macarena and the fifth graders danced with us. It was a blast!

Today it is still a little scary that somewhere—out there—–is a video or two with us doing our performance!

2015 Day 19: Happy Birthday Mom!

Today was my Mother’s birthday. If she had lived until today, she would have been 90 years old.  Unfortunately, she lived the last years of her life with Alzheimer’s.  It is a terrible disease because it slowly kills you.  It takes away your ability to think, read, play with your grandchildren, dress yourself and connect words into sentences.  You die a little every day.  You say good-bye a thousand times.

The one thing that my Mom said she never wanted to happen to her was the one thing she had.  She never wanted to have Alzheimer’s.  She knew what it could do.  I was her guardian and primary caregiver for about 12 years.  It hurt to see her become dependent.  She had always been the “I can do that myself” person.  So today I am going to take you down some of the paths we traveled together.  First remember that this is a progressive disease. So what she did one month or a few months would then go away.  Forever.

My parents had been divorced many years.  So Mom was alone.  She was a quite lady. She would never do anything that might cause others to look at her.  But  Alzheimer’s took care of that!  We would be eating out at the Dwarf House-one of her favorite places to go-when a heavy person walked by. Mom would say something like “Does she know how fat she is?” Cringe.  Somehow her voice carried further when she made comments like that.  And trust me, she noticed every person who was large.  I had to just move on. There was no point in correcting her because it did no good.  Move on.

The other thing that Mom did that was totally unlike her former self was to notice men.  She really had a “thing” for men with silver hair.  Her favorite phrase was “That is one fine looking man!”  Yikes.  Y’all this was my Mother who was saying this.  She never approached a man but she sure could  comment on their handsomeness! This phrase lasted a lot longer than the “fat” stage!

Conversations became easier when I figured out how to talk to her.  I would just chat about what she was wearing or the trees (she had another thing for trees) and she would talk.  After we exhausted that topic, we would sit quietly for a few minutes and then she would ask the same question and we would talk again about the same thing.  And again.  And again.  And again.  I discovered that elaborating on the topic gave us something new to say and made our conversations last a little longer.  Every conversation was new to her.   She would ask about her neighbor at home-if I had seen her.  I always said yes and talked about her cooking.  Mom would nod and smile and then we would be silent for a few minutes.  Then she would ask again about her neighbor.  You don’t fuss-you just go with it.

Mom had never had her nails done. NEVER.  She was not a girlie person.  So I did her nails and she really liked that.  She could not understand how they became colored but she really liked that.  I had her hair done. I had it colored. I had her get a permanent.  She loved those girlie things. Then that was gone, too. We stopped painting the nails because she thought something was wrong with her nails and tried to pick them off.  Moving on again to another stage…..

I can never remember my Mom saying an “ugly” word.  Well, we went through that stage, too.  The first time it happened was at dinner one night.  One of the table members touched her rice and she swore at the lady and then decked her.  She had to eat alone for a bit after that.  She would become aggressive and swore like a sailor.  And she was strong! She could knock you right down.  Fortunately, that stage was short.

As you read, you are thinking that this was a pretty grim post.  Yes it is.  But we spend probably five or six years in these stages. You learn to just go with it.  You smile.  You hug. You smile some more. You hug.  Sometimes you just hold hands and watch television or watch the trees sway in the breeze. I learned a lot during this time.  And I learned to sometimes just watch the world go by and enjoy the moment.

Love you Mom!

2015 Day 18: The Lump

As you may be aware, the month of October focuses on breast cancer as well as breast health.  I volunteer with a breast advocate group at one of our local hospitals and really enjoy the opportunity to do health fairs and other events and have the chance to talk with women.  People generally think that the advocates have all had breast cancer.  That is not true. I have never had breast cancer. But what I have had are some oops along the way that made me well aware that it is important to have good care when bad things happen.  So-today I am writing about the first time I found a lump in my breast.  Perhaps my story will help someone else.

I was that person who always had a “call back” when I went in for a regular mammogram.  Maybe it wasn’t always but it was enough to feel like always.  In those days, the radiology department did not call you on the telephone. They sent a certified letter to your home. EEEKKK! You go to the mailbox and there is a notice to come to the downtown post office to pick up a certified letter.  I find that scary enough.  Generally it would be a full week after the mammogram. And it was always on a Saturday afternoon that I would receive the notice. That meant I had the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday to wonder why I had a certified letter.  The card did not give the sender’s name. If it had I would realize the reason for the letter.  I would pick up the letter Monday and it would be too late to call. So I am off another day but at least I knew WHO sent the letter.  The next day I would find out that my mammogram was “abnormal” which are scary words for any woman. I would make another appointment which generally took a week and go back for another one.  In a week, I would get another letter. Certified. Sometimes I would be done and have the “normal” thing.  Sometimes I had to go back for an ultrasound.  And then another week before I knew anything.  Stressed out is the operative word for me! One time when I was back for the third time, I refused to get off the table and get dressed until someone looked at my most recent test.  Guess what? That worked! I knew right away.

Then one night I was getting undressed for bed, removing all those unmentionables that women wear, and felt a lump in my left breast.  It was not the size of a golf ball but it sure felt like it was! I don’t think I slept any that night! The next day, I called my doctor who squeezed me in that afternoon.  I think I probably touched the lump 500 times that day before I even got to the doctor’s office.  I wore a cotton sweater set and you could even see a lump through the sweater.  My nurse at school took my blood pressure but then decided to not tell me what it was! I am guessing it was high.

Once at the doctor’s office, he came in and looked at my breast and said—“You have a lump.”  I hate to say this but I wanted to yell-“DUH of course I have a lump!” He sent me off to see a surgeon. So I was looking at another appointment in two weeks.  I am not sure how I made it two more weeks but I did.

The surgeon was great. He was so calm that I became calmer. He told me he would drain it because he thought it was a cyst. So don’t worry.  Then the nurse began to set up things for him. I laid down and he told me to shut my eyes. He said it will not hurt but he didn’t want me to see the needle and be frightened. When he was done, he told me not to worry. He would call when the lab work came back.  He also told me that sometimes these things come back. Yikes! Oh No!

And it did.  Come back that is.  The lab work was ok. Whew! In three weeks it was back again and BIGGER.  Rats.  So he told me he wanted to take it out because it was better to do that.  So we set that up.  In six months.  When I was out for the summer.

Six months later, I had the lump removed.  Before the surgery, the surgeon told me not to worry. It would be ok.  So when I woke up, the surgeon was standing beside my bed.  He smiled.  I asked if everything was fine.  He said, “Yes everything is fine and you still have your breast.”  You see you have to sign that they can take everything while you are asleep. Then he said, “Do you want to see your breast?” and I said, “Yes.” So he carefully unwrapped the bandage and showed me my breast.  I am still impressed by his compassion to me that day.  That he would let me actually see that it was still there.  He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to be there when I woke up.  But he was.  And I am thankful for him still to this day.

2015 Day 17: The Wedding Oops

Today, my husband and I were fortunate enough to witness the wedding of our youngest niece.  It was in a gorgeous setting outside. Wooden church pews marched down the slight slope to the altar.  Shade was provided by  ancient pecan trees that surrounded the outdoor church. The sky was the most amazing shade of blue! The grass provided a cushy green carpet for the bridesmaids and the bride to come down.  It was a perfect setting.  It was even more perfect because this couple has their focus on the Lord.

I am sure that something went awry at the wedding.  Things always do.  But generally, the guests have no idea of  the oops. I think that sometimes even the bride or groom have no idea what didn’t go right.  Weddings are happy times so those little oops just fade away.

Our son had a little oops at his wedding that everyone knew about.  A day before the wedding, he was playing racquet ball with the pastor who was going to marry him.  They were both pretty competitive players.  During the heat of play, my son hit the ball too hard and it managed to hit the pastor in the face-in the eye! Yikes.  He was fine except he had the most gorgeous black eye and face.  His actual eye was blood red.  Various shades of green and black were quite evident during the wedding and in all the pictures.  Everyone laughed and wedding and life went on!

My sister had a wedding oops when she married, too.  But I never told her about it.  I was a bridesmaid in one of those dresses that the bride always says—“I picked out something you can wear later. ”  Nope sis.  NO bridesmaid dress can be worn out again in a social setting.  No matter how may times you think it can, that dress looks like a bridesmaid dress.  Sorry!

The color was so nice-kind of an apricot which really really looks nice on me.  It was a dress that looked like it had a lace dress over a solid strapless dress. So you got the TWO dress look but only had to really wear one dress.  I had to have it altered and I was so happy with the fit.  Well, several weeks rocked along and then came the weekend for the wedding.  It was at a large church and the church employed a wedding planner to make sure that the facilities were used correctly and to just keep the ceremony on time.  The little lady probably was a drill sergeant in the Army in her previous life.  I say that because everything had a time and we stuck to it. Period.  End of dawdling and talking and just enjoying the moment.  Well, my sister had all the dresses.  I wanted to run into the ladies room and try mine on again just to make sure everything was fine. OH NO-the sergeant said.  That would take too much time.  SO I decided I would take it home.  OH NO she said.  The dresses had to STAY at the church. No discussion.  Well, I knew better than say anything but “Yes ma’am.”

The next day dawned beautiful and sunny and wonderful.  I arrived at the time the wedding planner said to arrive.  I got dressed.  I looked in the mirror and gasped. The dress was too big in the bust.  I must have lost a little or tightened up what I had playing ball with the church team .  Anyway, it was too big.  In fact, the lace overlay was stitched to the satin underdress and it folded over in my bust area. What was I going to do? We had some duct tape in the car-my hubby brought that to see if we could fix anything with that.  Nope that didn’t work.  No one-including the wedding planner-had needle or thread.  And she was so pushy trying to get me to figure out what to do. She was NO help but she should could tap her foot impatiently! I went into one of the bathroom stalls to wipe away some tears and thought about the toilet paper.  Could I stuff the strapless bra enough that it would hold up the front of the dress?  The answer is yes.  Of course I used THREE whole rolls of toilet paper because it had to be stuffed really full.  The dress fit but I sure looked like I had just had a breast implant. I didn’t do any deep breathing because I was afraid it would fall down.  That would be AWKWARD.

Well, the music started.  The planner shoved me through the door to the church and the wedding went on. It was awesome.  So Sis, you had an oops but everything ended up just fine.  And I had three extra rolls of toilet tissue wads in my car-use in case!

2015 Day 16: Wha-cha Have?

As I drove home tonight after having dinner with my husband and daughter,  I noticed that one of the “fast food” places had been torn down to make way for a—–ah, BLISS–a Krispy Kreme.  I have wanted one that made HOT doughnuts in my town for ages. Finally, we are getting one!  It also reminded me of all those fast food places that were in the town where I grew up. I though this would be a great post for tonight.

First, let me gather up the extensive list I have made of fast food restaurants in Marietta during the early 1950’s.  You see, there were none.  That’s right-NONE.  NOT.A.SINGLE.FAST.FOOD. PLACE. So you are probably wondering what in the world people did about feeding their family as they drove to ball practice or dance or cheerleading.  Well, that is easy.  They ate at home.  Or they ate when they got back home.  That’s it.  End of discussion. People just ate at home.

In 1955, that began to change. McDonald’s was born.  When one opened in Marietta, it was on the 4 Lane near the runway for Lockheed and the Naval Air Station.  Probably they got a good deal because it was not very quiet with planes zipping in and out all day.  It was a walk up.  You parked your car and you walked up to the window and ordered and paid.  Then you moved to the next window where you picked up your order.  They had cement picnic tables where you could sit down outside.  Lots of people just went back to their car and ate there.  They had the coolest sign that said how many burgers they had sold.  And it changed as they sold more.  They didn’t have a big variety of burgers.  They had hamburgers and cheeseburgers and sodas and French fries.  Those fries were something else.  They were HOT and SALTY and had the best flavor.  Much better than today.  And I can tell you the…shhhhh….secret.  Want to know? Really want to know?  L.A.R.D.  Yep. They fried those slender tater strips in lard.  Oh MY! Be still my heart as it is headed for cardiac arrest from all that lard.  They were amazing.

But my favorite fast food place in the world was not in Marietta. It was in Atlanta and was called the Varsity. The “legend” behind the start of the Varsity is that a Ga. Tech student flunked out and was told he would never be successful. So he went down a block and bought some land  and started the Varsity in 1928.  He sure showed Ga. Tech because tons of students eat there daily-still.  My Dad was a student there and that is about all the food he ever had—-Burgers and Hot Dogs with or without chili with onion rings or fries.  They were the best.  You could drive into the  parking lot and a waiter would jump onto your car and take your order when you parked.  Some of the waiters were legendary.  Or you could go inside the Varsity and order at one of the many order stations.  The person in charge would say-Wha-cha have? Wha-cha have? And you would tell him. Every day the main corridor of the Varsity looked like an ant hill.  People were everywhere-touching each other-holding their order-pushing through the crowd.  You could literally walk from one end to the other on the shoulders of customers. That is how many people where in there.  Once you got your food inside, you could sit in one of the rooms in wooden desks and watch TV.  What a great idea! Watching TV and eating at the same time.  Hmmm-sounds rather like today’s family dinner.

My favorite meal was a chili-mustard steak with onion rings and a Coca-Cola. Or I had a chili dog with rings. Sometimes I had a naked steak.  Love that terminology! To end the meal, I ALWAYS had a peach pie.  It was hand made and then fried to a crispy golden brown.  Oh it was heavenly.

To this day, I can still have those same foods at the Varsity.   Are they as good as when I was a child?  Nope.  There is ONE ingredient that is missing. It is LARD.  They fried everything in lard. And was it good! Those animals fats give a wonderful flavor to fried foods.   Please let me remind you that lard was a perfectly acceptable food ingredient in those days.

Today, fast food addicts can satisfy their hunger with a variety of foods. And these foods are lard free. Hallejah! We have seen the light!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Day 15: Happy Birthday Coffy

Hobart Carter Coffman was my father in law.  He was kind, funny, a hard worker, an awesome cook and loved his grandchildren beyond words.  Heaven is a better place with him there.

When I first met Coffy, he was fishing on the dock at the trailer.  The trailer was the summer home that he and Charlotte, my mother in law, escaped to every year.  It was heavily wooded and cool during the hottest of summer days.  And the lake was a stone’s throw away.  I had never dated anyone who had a home at the lake and I thought it was the best idea in the world.  Who wouldn’t like to live  right beside that huge lake filled with clear water that allowed you to swim ANY TIME you wanted? It was perfect!

While Coffy was fishing on the dock, Charlotte was inside making her “famous” potato salad.  It was the kind of potato salad that someone in the South might call—Slap your Momma potato salad.  I know that sounds awful but it MEANS that it is SO GOOD that NO ONE can describe it! What Charlotte did was teach ME to make it.  To this day, I am asked to bring potato salad to everything.  I never bring home a bowl with anything left. NEVER.

Later Charlotte and Coffy retired and  built a permanent house on the lake and my children LOVED to go spend a week with them.  Shoot. I loved to go spend any time with them. Charlotte knew everything about the family and told the funniest stories.  Coffy was an amazing gardener and cook.   He always sat at the head of the table. My daughter sat at one side and my son at the other.  He would start the dish passing after Grace.  He always dipped out the food for my children.  He would do David first. He would say, “David, would you like some broccoli?”  David would say, “No Granddaddy.”  Coffy would put a spoonful on his plate anyway. You see Coffy grew that broccoli and you always ate everything that he grew whether you liked it or not!  Then he would say, “Shell, would you like some broccoli” and she would reply,”Yes Granddaddy. Just a little.” So he put a little on her plate. It took David a little while to catch on to what to say.  Then Coffy would pick up the next bowl of homegrown veggies and it would start the same way.  It was hilarious to watch.

Shell loved to follow her granddaddy around in his enormous garden.  She would be sitting right beside him doing whatever he was doing.  David on the other hand, would be inside cleaning under the supervision of Charlotte.  He did not like to garden in the sun! Both of them got to go fishing with Coffy.  They loved being able to get in the boat with their Granddaddy and go fishing.

Whenever we left their house, Coffy always sent something home with us.  He had an extra refrigerator in his carport room.  It was really a frig that had once been inside the kitchen. Coffy never got rid of a single thing that still had use in it.  The top of the frig was filled with glass bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  He recycled the bottles, of course.  He never offered me one. I never saw him even tipsy. Never.  The rest of the frig was filled with veggies that he had not canned or frozen yet.  He would immediately begin filling a grocery bag with veggies to take home.  He was also a fisherman and we brought home the best fillets frozen in washed milk cartons and water.  How I wish I had his hush puppy knowledge!

Because of Coffy, I became a backyard gardener, too.  I learned to make sausage gravy from Coffy.  I learned to cook rabbit because he grew those, too.  I can still see him on his porch with a smile on his face, hugging my children and then me.  He taught me a LOT about being a grandparent. About having a kind voice. About being patient.  And he never even realized that he was doing that.  I miss him still.  But the lessons he taught me—-well they are with me still.  Love you Coffy.

2015 Day 14: Car Shopping-1950’s Style

I never went car shopping with my parents. Children were not considered necessary at that kind of event.  Frankly, no one cared what you thought about a new car. Or what color it should be. Or anything about it.  You were a kid.

The first car that I can remember my parents having was a Studebaker.  It was a coupe.  It was light gray.  I don’t remember riding in it or helping to wash it.  But I remember my best friend’s car.  She was from Michigan and they drove a Packard wagon.  I thought it was the coolest car ever made.  First of all, it was a station wagon.  You could lay down in the back of it!!  That was a first for me.  But what made it so special is the car had wood paneling on the outside.  Yep-the outside of the car.  Wow! I had never seen a car with wood paneling.  Her father would not let the kids help him wash it.  He said it required special attention because of the wood.  Somehow I think he just wanted to do it himself!

I remember when my father traded the Studebaker in for a car that was more family friendly.  He bought a Ford Fairlane Station Wagon.  Oh joy! It was so cool looking.  And it was BIG! It had four doors and the rear door made five.  You could roll the rear window down which was pretty cool.  And you could lay down in the back behind the rear seat. It was a kind of personal child bed.  And the car was a light olive green.  It was wonderful.

Back in the 50’s, there were NO safety features like we have today.  The dash in front was metal.  It was not coated nor covered with anything.  If you were sitting in the front seat and the driver slammed on the brakes, you hit the dash-BAM! And you probably smushed your nose against the dash or broke a tooth.  We had NO seat belts.  NONE.  No one had seat belts.  Ever.  WE had no baby seats.  You held your baby in your arms.  That was it.  We didn’t have air conditioning either.  Heaters were also optional on many cars.  No one cared if they drove in luxury. You drove to get somewhere. Period.  We stuck our heads out the back window of station wagons.  And trucks? They were the best.  You could sit in the bed of the truck-unsupervised-while your parents drove all over the place-even on the highway.  If you have never ridden in the back of a truck, you have missed a delightful time.

About this same time, my Dad bought a used 1949 Chevy sedan as a second car for us.  He paid $100 for it.  It was pretty cool, too.  It was black. And it had rust spots on the fenders.  You did not even need a key to start the car.  When Dad bought the car, the man gave him a key but Dad never used it.  The only trouble with the “keyless” Chevy was that someone could drive your car away without your permission.  That happened once or twice but the police always found the car-without any gas left in it.  Kids joyriding – they would say.

Oh and I forgot to mention—the RADIO.  HaHa.  What radio?  You had to pay extra for one and the chances were good that you could get no reception anyway inside the car.  There were no CD players or stereo sound or Pandora or movies.  When radios finally came out in all cars, they turned on and off and you used a knob to move from one station to another.  Antennas stuck up on the front fender of your car.  If they broke off, you could use a coat hanger as a substitute.  Cars were not automatic.  They had a clutch and you had to shift gears.  The gear shift was on the steering wheel.  In fact, when you took your driver test you had to drive a car with a clutch.  No options.

Wow!  You are saying.  That must have been awful.  Nope! It was just fine.  We were living and loving the 50’s.  We thought we had the very best.  NOTHING could be better!

 

2015 Day 13: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Let’s quickly flash back to another time-say 1964. I am in high school.  It is about October.  And I have created my “want” list for Christmas.  It was not long. It had ONE item on it.  I wanted an angora sweater.  They were SO popular!  They were made in gorgeous light colors-pastel pink, light blue, maybe light yellow.  I wanted a pink one.  A LOT. Why did I want one?  Well, everyone in high school wanted one.  Well-perhaps the seniors did not want one because they already had one.  I would give up everything (not really) for one of these sweaters.  Probably they were itchy. However, NO ONE would actually admit it might be scratchy.  I think that wanting this sweater was probably the only time that I might have been obsessed about a piece of clothing.  My Mom knew that I wanted one.  So I just left it in her hands.  That was the best thing to do.

One day in November, my Mom and I were at a department store in our town.  It was a wonderful store.  The main store was in Atlanta. They had everything anyone could EVER want.  The junior department was downstairs beside the bakery.  Yes-they had a bakery.  It was a wonderful bakery.  They made cream horns, for one thing.  Ahhh.  They also made the best coconut cake IN THE WORLD. I cried when they closed their bakery. We had coconut cake for every family dinner and holiday dinner.  Oh My, it was good!

Anyway-back to my story-Mom and I were riding the escalator to the second floor. As it moved upward, I was gazing in awe at the racks and racks of junior angora sweaters on sale for Christmas.  My Mom was gazing at a rack of coats. She knew I really needed a coat.  She tugged at my arm and said, “Look at that corduroy car coat. Isn’t it cute?” I took one look and said the unforgivable, “That’s so ugly.”  Mom didn’t say anything else and neither did I.  We continued on our ride to the second floor.

Fast forward now to Christmas Day.  Opening Presents. Being excited that I would have THAT sweater.  There was one large box left.  It was mine! Yay! Be still my heart! I ripped the paper off.  I pulled the top off! I tore the tissue paper away! It was……the ugly coat! My Mom gently said that she had already bought it because she knew I needed one.  Boy did I feel like a heel.  I put the coat on and fastened the buttons.  It fit perfectly.  The collar was this fake Sherpa kind of material that felt cozy and wonderful.  The pockets were roomy.  And it looked really really good on me!

Fast forward down the road–several years.  It is winter and I am wearing probably the best fitting and warmest car coat that I have ever had.  And I finally have my big feet out of my mouth.  Mom’s do know best!

 

2015 Day 12: The Tale of the Stove

Since I have already introduced Girl Scouts to you, I thought I would share another really great experience from my camping career!

After Brownies, I graduated to a Junior Troop. This meant I could put away those brown boxer shorts and striped brown and white shirt. I could stop wearing the brown uniform and the beanie. I was growing up! Yay! I now wore a green uniform and a fancy beret.  I had a sash that had my troop number on it. Soon it would have badges on it, too. I had already circled the ones I was most interested in doing in my Girl Scout Handbook. I was ready for the big time.

The big time also meant that we FINALLY went camping during the fall or winter or spring.  We still went to Scout Haven so I knew all about it.  Well, I was wrong-a little.  Scout Haven had added another area to the camp.  It had been undeveloped for a long time-well, except for latrines! But recently the council had added a winterized cabin for troops to use.  So what is a winterized cabin? Just what it says.  It was one large room and one smaller room that was set up as a kitchen. There was a huge rock fireplace in the large room.  We had a fire going and that was all the heat we had.  We put our air mattresses and sleeping bags out on the cement floor.  The first night we cooked our dinner in the coals in the fireplace.  My dad was in charge of that. It was yummy. We all made a packet of veggies and meat and wrapped it up in heavy duty foil and put it in the coals.  Dad made a peach cobbler in a cast iron dutch oven and put it in the coals for dessert.  We had no bathrooms so we had to bundle up and use our flashlights to trek to the latrines.  It made you careful about how much you decided to drink!

The next morning I had kitchen duty. The cabin’s kitchen had the most enormous stove I have ever seen.  It was huge. It had a warming box over the top and several doors on the front.  I had to butter bread for toast so I got busy with that.  The bacon cooker was looking at the stove and opening doors and seemed really puzzled.  She called over the leader who came over and did the same things-like open the doors and even look behind the stove.  Then I saw my dad.  He was smiling so big.  And the father next to him was doing the same. Finally the Scout turned around and said to everyone–“Where is the switch to turn on the stove?”  That is when my dad really lost it. He began to laugh out loud.  Finally he stopped laughing and said-“It is a wood stove! There is no electricity!” The Scout and the leader looked shocked.  Dad walked over and showed them the firebox and the kindling that was split beside the stove.  He showed them how to build a fire and breakfast was finally on its way. Of course, it was not speedy.  Wood stoves take a while to get going!

And so ends the tale of the stove.

2015 Day 11: First Churches in My Life

As I look back over my life, I have been a member of a number of churches.  I would be remiss in not noting their importance  in my life.  As a child, I attended First Baptist Church in M.  My parents were members. My father taught Sunday School in the Junior Department.  I was in Girl’s Auxiliary.  Sunday was an all church day.  I had Sunday School in the morning followed by church.  Sunday evenings were devoted to Training Union where we learned skills and Bible drills. I loved when they would line us up in two lines to do Bible drills.  I was pretty fast then! Wednesday night was family night supper and Girl’s Auxiliary.  I was really into GA’s.  I loved my leaders. They were terrific and wonderful examples of women who loved the Lord.

After my husband finished college, he was offered a job in D and we moved there.  We became members of First Baptist there.  It was a great church.  So friendly. So many young couples.  The pastor was amazing and his wife taught the Sunday School class we attended.  It was a great year.  We would have stayed forever except we bought a house in a nearby town and moved to C.

C was a nice little town.  Country folks.  Good schools. A house we could afford.  AND a First Baptist Church.  It was friendly and had a wonderful pastor.   We knew we were home—again.  We had a wonderful Sunday School class.  We had women’s Bible study.  Our kids played together and went to school together.  It was a great fit.

Then we moved to R.  In Rome, we joined a church that was close to our home.  Our neighbor invited us and we liked it.  The pastor was young and this was his first church.  I play the piano and organ and before you could count to ten, I was the organist and played for the choir.  We loved that church, too.  It was small-much smaller than any of our previous churches. Being small meant we missed out on some things-like a women’s Bible study or youth trips.  Then the leadership changed and I felt I needed to go elsewhere.  There was just too much discord there.  So we left and I became a pianist elsewhere.  Another small church.  The people were great but it really did not meet our spiritual needs. I was then caring for my mother who had Alzheimer’s and I was frazzled.

Fast forward to 18 months ago.  We were visiting churches and looking for “the one”.  A friend invited us to First Baptist.  We knew after the first service that it was the one for us.  It’s a large church with the friendliest bunch of Lord lovers that I have ever experienced. The pastor is awesome.  The music is extraordinary. Our Sunday School teacher is awesome. We have an incredible women’s Bible Study group.  We have a terrific Senior Program.  I have learned to play in the bell choir.  I could go on and on.  I COUNT on this group of believers to support me and for me to support them. First Baptist has filled every little part of me that had been stale or “closed for business”.

These “first” churches have made an impact on my entire life.  I would not be the person I am today without their love and guidance and support.  I thank the Lord every day for my church.  I hope you will do the same.