Once again, it was time for my sister and me to share a classroom. Fourth and fifth grades were combined. Not only that, but I had the same teacher in fifth grade that I had had in fourth grade. Fortunately for me, I liked him. Going to such a small school meant that my classroom teacher taught everything: art, music, physical education, and all the academic areas as well. This year, the fourth and fifth grades had a spring concert. We sang groovy songs such as “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song.” Slow down, you move too fast… I learned how to pluck out a few notes on the bass and I played the recorder.
Music was an important part of our life. My sister and I took piano lessons from our teacher’s wife. Mom would have “opera days” where we could only sing, not talk! Dad, the pastor, would take the whole family to the nursing home to sing at the services he held there. After the service, he would encourage us to shake hands with the elderly residents, which I am embarrassed to admit that I hated. I was shy, and it was hard to go up to a stranger to shake hands, especially if that stranger was old, in a wheelchair, and not very responsive. Back then, the nursing homes we visited were not nice places to spend the last years of your life. Even as a child, I understood that this made our visits, and my father’s ministering, a very important task.
Being part of the pastor’s family in a small town also meant that we were invited to every baptism and every wedding. It seems like I went to hundreds of weddings when I was young. My sister and I had a box full of wedding napkins, printed with the names of the bride and groom, that we had collected. Weddings were not as fancy as they are now. Often the reception was in the gym at our school, otherwise known as the parish hall. Silver tarps were laid on the floor to protect the wood. Ham sandwiches, potato salad and butter mints were served.
Other weddings were held at the VFW hall, especially if there was going to be dancing. A large military airplane with a hole in the windshield was outside the hall, and we kids would tell stories about how the pilot was still in the airplane!
Life in a small town was good. And it was about to change.
You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting many pictures of my childhood. Most of my childhood pictures are at my father’s house, which is 350 miles away from where I live!
Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I will tell a story about my childhood as if I were telling it to my children. At the end of this project, I’ll have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.