There were additional plusses in the church. Quite often people would go blank on their bible verses. Otis never got his right. David Spear was Madison’s early version of Hunter S. Thompson. He tried a piano recital piece sans music, and couldn’t hit note one. I lived for those moments. ***

I soon became quite adept at zoning out. I could look straight at my father, yet be on the baseball field, swinging on a vine at the river, or kicking shit out of Tuddy. I’d catch flies, stare at the one blue windowpane. I memorized the Broadman Hymnal (or song book).

If you eliminated the days that asthma kept me at home listening to mom’s piano students mangle our piano, I liked music.

“Jesus loves me this I know”. “Little hands be careful”. Joanie Mitchell and “Amazing Grace”. “Softly and Tenderly” from a Trip to Bountiful. Wow! Some of the words bothered me at age 7. “There is a fountain filled with blood”? “Such a wretch as me”? “Was it for sins that I had done he groaned upon the tree???” I hadn’t hurt Jesus. “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I wouldn’t hurt a friend, except Tuddy.

I learned all the words to the hymns. I hummed them silently, having been told I was a “talentless monotone.” A perception that remains accurate.

There were highlights being the preacher’s kid. We were held high in regard. A Mr. Mason bought my dad a lovely suit and that impressed me. Dinners on the grounds at the rural churches yielded great food.

The height of the year was the children’s five-pound paper bags at Christmas. Each child could walk up to the front and examine the treasures inside: apples,or anges, tangerines, raisins on the vine, candy—mostly peppermint and Three Musketeers. More than one year we got the “Book of Life Savers” (60 cents at McFall’s Drug Store.)

We also had family devotionals. (The family that prays together stays together). After breakfast we read from the Bible (or Dad did) and then he’d pray. An-other lesson in patience. Tuddy and Billy (and the gathering rest) learned to avoid my home in the a. m… I was both embarrassed and tickled when they got trapped into a ten-minute prayer.


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