My Religion Is a Lot Like the Game of Baseball
|Chapter 1||Early Years||Chapter 2||Patty||Chapter 3||1-room School|
|Chapter 4||Friends||Chapter 5||High School||Chapter 6||Grandpa|
|Chapter 7||Marianne||Chapter 8||Rookie||Chapter 9||At the Plate|
Chapter 4 - Developing Friendship
My favorite movies were Westerns. My favorite radio program was
The Lone Ranger.
If I listened to music, it was Country/Western.
A music teacher came to Mound school once a week. She led
“teaching games” in Music Appreciation. I didn’t realize the thrilling
theme music for The Lone Ranger
was Rossini’s William Tell Overture
or the music that called up pictures of dust clouds around horse’s hoofs
was from Liszt’s Les Preludes. The
teacher brought recordings of music by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms (The
Three “B’s). She used games as a way to help us identify and remember
what we were hearing.
Maybe she sensed our boredom, because one day she led a game on contemporary music. We were supposed to think of titles of songs having to do with seasons, children, flowers, etc. When the music teacher announced the subject, “trains,” I spouted off, “Wabash Cannon Ball,” and heard giggles and titters as a response. Joann gave the correct answer, “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Joann knew the latest songs because her sister, Doris, was in high school and could play them on piano. I began listening to Your Hit Parade on radio and bought the magazine with all of the printed words to the songs. It didn’t take long to find the words to Chattanooga Choo Choo.
People listened to the radio in those days the way people watch TV now. I don’t remember which night Your Hit Parade came on. I couldn’t wait to get home from school to listen to The Lone Ranger. Joann told me about Lum and Abner, and I became a devoted follower of that program. On Sunday evenings many families gathered around the radio to listen to their favorite programs. My dad had some hearing loss, so he usually read the newspaper or calculated lumber estimates while my mother and I listened. That is what we were doing on Sunday evening, December 7 when all programs were interrupted for President Roosevelt’s announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We turned up the volume so my dad could hear. A few weeks later my brother, Ben, was sent to New Guinea.
Our school music teacher also planned the Christmas program. She decided Joann and I had voices that blended and we could sing a song in the program. We began our practice on the way home on our bicycles. As we sang, Joann found places I sang do re when it should have been re do.
The school was filled to overflowing with families and neighbors the night of the Christmas program. People were sitting in the entrance where we hung our coats and our tin drinking cups. Besides singing the song with Joann, I had a lead role with Claudie in the play.
Claudie, Joann, Lois (a girl who had started first grade at the same time as Joann), Kenneth (who had a brother and sister in the school), Lloyd and I were in the sixth grade. Six of us. We were the largest class. One day when we were reading our history lesson, the name, Juan Ponce de Leon, struck me as having a wonderful meter. I had written poetry in third grade in the other school and that teacher had sent one of my poems to Wee Wisdom Magazine. I put the story of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the “Fountain of Youth” into a poem and turned it in with my lesson. The teacher read it for all to hear and I became the school poet.
The study of poetry came up in our Language class. The poem Joann wrote for that assignment was better than any poem I had ever written. I was proud and happy.
When Joann’s mom and dad took her to movies, I was invited to go with them. My mother always sent me with money to pay my way, but I never did. After the movie, Joann’s dad would suggest we go for ice cream. My mother intended for me to pay for that, too. But I couldn’t do it. I remember the uneasy feeling as I carried that money back home in my purse. But I was Joann’s friend. For my 11th birthday she gave me a framed poem by an anonymous writer. Except for my years in a dorm room, it has hung on a wall wherever I have lived in all the years since.
There’s a cozy little
corner in my heart all tucked away,
In the four years I attended Mound School, I may have gone to church 10 times. Dean’s grandfather held church in his house. Joann and her parents went there and they asked me to go with them. Grandfather Negley did the preaching in the living room and his daughter-in-law, Dean’s mother, taught a Sunday School class for kids about my age. Dean’s mother was a woman of love and tenderness. I liked going, but Sunday was family day at our house. My older brother and my sisters had children—some nearly my age. With Ben in New Guinea, I am sure they wanted to be with my mother and dad whenever possible.
One summer I spent a month with my older brother, Charlie. Charlie went to church every Sunday, so while I was staying at his house, I went to church and Sunday School. I did not like Sunday School because the kids knew all the answers. They got pins and other prizes for regular attendance. I don’t remember the preacher or any of the sermons. I liked the singing because I recognized the hymns. My brother believed in following rules, so his religion had “shoulds and oughts” that applied to him and others under his supervision. He told me baseball was “worldly” and that I should get my mind on something else.
It wasn’t baseball that caused me to do something I am shamed and sorry about. One Halloween Kenneth, a boy in my class at school, and his brother and some of their friends out of our school district decided to go out and do tricks. Those were the days before “Trick or Treat.” Young people went out and did tricks without asking for treats. We were out on our bicycles and rode past Grandfather Negley’s farm. He and his wife were not home. It was just beginning to get dark, but we had enough light to see to take off the gate to the yard, turn over some containers and leave some general “cleanup” for two old people who were extremely neat (and kind). The next day Joann said, “Why did you do tricks at Negleys?”
Of course, I denied it.