Monday, November 9, 2009

Meandering memories, my family/ dance/church history

My mom was a stay-at-home mom, a church worker, a leader, a disciplined woman, with Christian character and Christian convictions. She had been raised in the Central Christian church--some Church of Christ denomination that was liberal. Her mother was into the occult, seances, ouija boards, etc. as some secular women were in those days. Then my mother went to the local Huntington College, a United Brethren college, during the depression, with no help from her father who opposed education for women. She was hired to work for the president, receiving and recording the donations. He introduced her to his son, who was the editor of the college newspaper. She wanted to study journalism and be a reporter. So she was on his staff and romance blossomed. They were a very handsome couple. Mom was beautiful by movie star standards. Dad played college basketball. Mom was a pianist and violinist --not advanced on either. Dad sang in the college quartet. I hear that he, a little rebellious, tried smoking in the family garage --but didn't get addicted. He and Mom went to Greenville College his senior year, her 2nd and final year. There she helped to type and edit Dr. Mae Tenney's book. She also made a group of Christian girlfriends who kept in touch all their lives through a Round Robin letter. I think it has stalled, however, as some have passed away. One of them was a missionary to the Phillippines. They had a reunion when I was in college out in Santa Cruz, CA. She really became a serious Christian while at G.C. She and Dad returned to Huntington, married (her father had nothing to do with the wedding) and became pillars of the college church there in Huntington--where I grew up and later married.

Our family went to church Sunday morning, evening, and to Wednesday night Christian Endeavor for kids and prayer meeting for adults. Every summer we went to Winona Lake where my grandparents built a retirement home, which was Free Methodist Headquarters. After being president of H.C., Grandpa was the headquarters pastor for a time at Winona Lake for the Free Methodists. He changed denominations because he believed in the 2nd work of grace. His wife, my grandmother, had been an FM. We also attended the summer conventions there for Youth for Christ, Moody Bible Week, Oriental Missionary Society, Jewish Evangelism, and the Free Methodist Youth Advance --as Winona was an international Bible Conference grounds with its famous Billy Sunday Tabernacle and home there. The music was professional; the preaching powerful.

We didn't dance, play cards, gamble, swim or fish on Sunday, drink, smoke or chew, --or run around with those who do. Except the dancing. Dancing was BIG in our teen culture. All my girlfriends danced --even at every slumber party. It was much bigger in our teen culture than in my children's. American Bandstand and rock and roll were all the rage. My Christian difference from worldliness was the fact that I decided to be a REAL Christian and not dance. Nor did I ever buy or receive a pop record. Evangelicals saw dancing as inappropriate unless a couple were married to each other, tempting people to get the cart before the horse after the dance! (Sure enough, we hear that proms today are occasions to get a motel room!) MOreover, dancing among adults WAS associated with drinking and temptation to infidelity among the married. I actually saw this going on at a dude ranch recreation barn in Colorado where our family once vacationed. I saw the father of one family dancing cheek to cheek with the mother of another family --and it sure didn't look right to me. They were the only 2 dancing --in the daytime --to a little record player in the recreation barn. My interest was the piano and the old sheet music there --including "Springtime in the Rockies" which I sang throughout the vacation in the car. Our family also did a Yellowstone trip, a Black Hills trip and Mackinac Island. My father planned these trips thoroughly, using a AAA guide. As I recall, Mom wasn't the best traveler --had to check the sheets in the motels to see if they looked clean.

Dancing in the late 50's, early 60's was the girls jitterbugging together while the left-footed boys sat around the room's perimeter and watched --and slow dances for those who were "going together" which, like today, meant 2 people embracing frontally and fully and scarcely moving to the music. They danced every noon hour at school in "inclement" weather --starting in the 5th grade. I danced THEN with my girlfriends, and later became "convicted" about it and never danced again.

I wish I DID know how to dance; what great calorie burning! My kids did theater choreography, (Rob was a successful bottle dancer in Fiddler on the Roof at BGSU! No velcro on the hats and bottles either! ) and learned how to move to music. Since my youth, Christian colleges have mellowed on the subject (this century) --after all, all the evangelical churches and professors' kids were going to their public school dances. And I became a fan of music theater and choreographed dancing as an art form --and my girls now direct such dance in the church! for the annual holiday musical.

But I digress...I meant to talk about Mom.

She let me and Ron completely turn over our living room--literally. We had the couch and chairs turned over and hung with blankets for our tent village in the living room. I remember vaguely her discomfort when her in-laws announced they were arriving soon. Otherwise, she was busy running the laundry and the kitchen with great OC. I ironed all the handkerchiefs and later did much of the family ironing, if memory serves me correctly. She would dampen the laundry and have it in a plastic bag for ironing. Except when she was busy in a church project, we had family dinner at the table every evening--as my father got home shortly after 5.

She was very practical about clothes and she and Dad were "Scotch" about money. She was a depression-era child and they only had one Saturday night bath, one outfit for church and one for school. So it was hard to get her to buy me more! And nothing ever fit me --the family curse of waist being smaller than hips than the usual. Straight skirts were the rage --I couldn't wear those and have them fit. Pants never fit. Not today, either!

Mom was president of the PTA; she and dad were youth leaders at church when I was small. I remember when we went out to make cider with the youth out of wormy apples. I remember them coming to our lake cottage at Winona Lake. I know that Mom and Dad's United Brethren Church had no convictions against Halloween --because they went to a Sunday School party in someone's garage (seems I was there) and dressed as ghosts in bed sheets with only holes for eyes. I know I got to be a witch for Halloween and Dad took us trick-or-treating --and we actually did tricks if someone wasn't home --like moving the porch mat off the porch. VANDALS! I wouldn't let MY kids do that. And I think we soaped windows --just a little. Just enough to say we had been there. My dad, the boy scout commissioner! The Jaycees' officer, the Lions' Club president. And he took us to the mansions in town --and made it suspenseful --he enjoyed Dracula movie and taught us to not be scared of scarey genre in movies and lit by finding them amusing and reminding us they were just "make-believe." Dad was the one who made life fun. Can't say Mom did that.

Mom was smart. She had done all the family books for her father's business --the first meat-packing/frozen-food storage locker plant in northern Indiana. She insisted that my brother take bookkeeping --and sure enough, he's a businessman/grad today. But I was in band and didn't have time for bookkeeping AND college prep. She started the church newspaper, the College Park Newsette and cut the mimeograph stencil for it and we ran it off together at the church. One 11 x 17 paper, both sides. Then they had to be addressed. She directed the VBS (Vacation Bible School) for many years - a 2 week VBS. And the Congressman's wife (democrat Ed Roush's wife) was usually our song leader; I loved the music and her voice --and that's where I learned the books of the Bible songs. VBS had recreation, music, crafts, and lesson time with booklets for all. Mom was irritated that the craft lady had us make ceramic "apple core dishes" pressed on maple leafs with handles added, one year -because they were glorified ash trays, in her opinion. But she held her tongue, apparently, as director. It's hard enough to get helpers. IN those days, the VBS had a picnic together near the end, behind the Huntington College Old Main bldg --and a final Friday night program --of singing and scripture recitations by the classes. Mom roped me into props --and I remember making a big paper ship --for our boating theme one year. "Sailing with Jesus," I think. We also had western theme one year, and various others. Soldiers, Pioneers --with a covered wagon prop.

Mom had NO tolerance for radio music in the car or house --it was all noise to her. But she would let me practice trumpet (and i was loud!) and piano to all hours with no complaint.

My first record player was one I earned when I got first place for selling magazines for my class trip fund. But I know I never had a "pop" or rock and roll record. I had Oklahoma and Christmas classics --and don't remember anything else.

Next installment: Mom's 2nd career --after homemaking

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Jeanette said...

It's strange how our upbringing was so similar and yet mine was with "substitute" parents.

The mother or mother figure is always the one to dish out the discipline because she's the one at home through the day when the kids get into trouble.

I have never thought it was right for a mother to tell her children to wait until their father got home for punishment because that made the father the ogre and the discipline had to be done immediately.

My kids have more fond memories of their father than of me for this very reason.

My husband worked two jobs once to take care of us and when he was home I wanted him to play with and enjoy our children. He's an excellent father, to say nothing about husband and grandfather. He was a great son to his mother and father and a good brother to his now dead brother.

We got married when I was a couple of months after turning 20 and we went to the clubs and danced. Neither of us was any good at the fast dances and crazy moves at the time so we usually waited until a waltz and I can tell you there was no sexual contact between us. We just enjoyed each other's company and holding each other in our arms.

I had pop records of my favorite singers, mostly Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, with a sprinkling of The Platters, Diana Ross and the Supremes etc.

The sixties were a wonderful time to be a growing teen! The music was clean, mostly about broken hearts and I would go to sock hops and request songs even before I met my husband. I never danced with a girl even though that was popular, but I felt uncomfortable with that. Nothing sexual, but almost as though I couldn't get a guy, and most of us couldn't because they were too shy.

Jeanette said...

You mentioned Wednesday night prayer meetings, and I really miss those now.

We would actually have a small Bible study given by the pastor and then would go into prayer.

The room would be silent for a few minutes and then someone would start to pray. Then your own heart was touched and you found yourself praying to the Lord for salvation for all, for the missionaries and when I was in my late twenties, for Karen Ann Quinlan, the first girl on life support whose parents wanted to disconnect her.

We prayed for Madeline Murray O'Hare and for her salvation, and for all the members of our church who were in need of prayer.

Now Wednesday night services are for GAs, RAs, Mission Friends and a bible teaching lesson from the pastor with an opening and closing prayer.

To be 17 again would be wonderful! All our loved ones still alive and all those sweet moments in our life.

You have a good mother. Enjoy her as long as she's alive. I lost mine way too early and appreciated her way too late.

Barb said...

what are GA's and RA's, I'm wondering...?

Jeanette said...

RAs are Royal Ambassadors and GAs are the same thing for girls. It's a step up from kindermusic etc. It's Bible lessons and teachings along with going out to do charitable work in the area.

mud_rake said...

Jeanette- is this last comment from the 'real' Jeanette or the 'fake' Jeanette? And, how do we know the difference in all of the delusion that happens on this blog?

Barb said...

Is that the best you can do to participate here, Denis Eble?

mud_rake said...

Then we might have to ask, was that the 'real' barb or that other one who writes delusional statements?

It is all quite confusing, but then, some people wallow in 24/7 confusion.

Wallow. Interesting word, wallow. My creative mind just flashed quite a disturbing scene wherein two wallowing...