(I wrote this in 2007 just as I remembered it.)
We had another huge snowstorm the past two days. All the interstate roads are closed and people have been urged to stay in and not to travel. I was thinking today about another Winter past when I was about eight years old. We lived in government housing in the old Army barracks south of the city after my father returned from active duty with the United States Coast Guard in WWII. It was cold and blustery weather with ice and snow. Mother tucked a $20 bill in my mitten. It was her grocery money for the week. She carefully folded the bill until it was about the size of a nickel and put it inside the mitten. She asked me to go to the little grocery store a couple of blocks from our apartment. I was to get milk and a can of tomato soup–go to the store and come right back! She dressed me in a warm winter jacket with snow pants, boots and tied a scarf around my face. She made sure I had on the warm mittens. I think they were red with white snowflakes on them.
I was about to embark on an adventure. The weather had been bone-chilling and Mama was sending me on an important errand for her. Some other children were out in the frigid weather and they were throwing snowballs at each other. The snow was wet and heavy, so of course, I gave in to the temptation and joined in the snowball fight. Then, I stopped to watch the kids build a snowman near the ice skating pond. I have always been fascinated by ice skating. I don’t know how long I stood watching the skaters, but I finally realized I needed to get to the store and back home. When I arrived at the px, I told the elderly man what I needed and he brought the items up front for me. I took off my mitten and the $20 was gone. I was sure it was in the mitten, but try as I might, I couldn’t find the money. I told the storekeeper I would be back–I needed to go look for the $20 Mama had given me. I retraced my steps on the route I had taken. I looked all over the place where we were throwing snowballs. I went past the skaters and the snowman and finally went home to tell Mom what had happened. The tears were coming down now as I tried to explain I didn’t know how I had lost the money. A twenty dollar bill was a great deal of money in those days.
Mama kept her composure. Money was not plentiful in those days, but if she was disappointed in me for losing it, she didn’t show it. She dried my tears and said it was okay, God would provide and for me not to worry. I felt really awful and irresponsible. Mama could always depend on me and I had let her down. She found something else in the kitchen to cook and never mentioned it again. I deserved to be reprimanded for playing instead of doing the job Mom had entrusted me with. The wind was blowing so hard that day, it would have been impossible to find the money. It was gone forever.
Perhaps the wonder of all the Winter snow had distracted me; all the other children were having fun throwing snowballs at each other. Maybe the delight I felt at seeing the ice skaters on the pond caused me to not pay attention. And, of course, the snowman was really great. But there was no milk and no tomato soup. Worse than that, all the money was never to be seen again. I didn’t realize the magnitude of this event until much later in life. . .but the thing I remember the most was my mother’s sweet countenance and not a trace of condemnation towards me for losing something very important. Thank You, God, for a Christian mother who covered my disobedience to her instructions without a word of condemnation, loving and forgiving me when I didn’t deserve it.
Last night when the national news came on, I heard they are no longer recognizing the planet Pluto as a planet. Pluto has been demoted. It is now a mere “dwarf planet”. I checked it out on the internet today and sure enough, 2,500 scientists and astronomers voted at the International Astronomers Union General Assembly that Pluto, which has been called a planet since being discovered in 1930, has been reclassified!
Needlesstosay, my feathers were a bit ruffled. I guess you could say it got my dander up. Let me explain. My first realization of the reality of the planet Pluto was in the sixth grade when I was in elementary school. Basil Murray was one of the finest teachers around back in the l950’s. He was the first male teacher I ever had–young and full of energy–and he loved children. And we loved him. He made school exciting and learning an adventure. He was always helping the “less fortunate” kids feel welcome. He figured out right away who the good students were and put them to work helping the other kids fit in. So in his class, everybody was important and felt like they belonged.
When the Annual Science Fair came around, he presented a challenge to the class. We were told any class could submit an entry and somebody would win First Place and we could all attend the event. We would be competing with schools from all over the City. But first, we needed a project. We huddled together and came up with a plan. We would build a miniature Solar System, complete with all the planets hanging in Space. Somebody suggested a big box, like a freezer carton tipped on its side to stand up really tall! We’d have to paint the inside like Space (black!) and then we needed to make stars and all the planets in order. There were nine in all and the smallest one was–you guessed it–Pluto! What fun!
We read our Science books and the Encyclopedia and figured out to scale just how big the “planets” should be: we made each one out of papier-mache and painted the stars and planets to look like the real ones (at least the ones we’d seen in pictures). We hung the planets on fishing string from the top of the box and hung a curtain across the front of the “window” on the box we’d cut out so you could look into the Solar System. Everyone worked on the project for weeks, and when we finished we could hardly wait for the big event. What a special project! And Mr. Murray put a spotlight on the floor to shine up into the hanging orbs. Wow! And they were all in order, just the way they were supposed to be!
As time approached for the Science Fair, Mr. Murray cheered us on and just about the entire class wanted to go. Many of our parents went with us that night. We went from table to table looking over all the exhibits from different schools in the City. Our exhibit of the Solar System, complete with Pluto hanging there, won hands down! We were so proud of Mr. Murray and he was proud of us.
Years later, after graduation from high school, I was working at the Capitol Building and I saw Mr. Murray there one day. I’d know that smile anywhere. I walked up to him and said, “Do you remember me?” Of course, he did. He had moved to another state and had retired from teaching. We reminisced about the Science project that took First Place at the Science Fair. I was married with children but hadn’t forgotten the wonderful teacher God provided for me in the sixth grade. He helped to mold my character in positive ways and I will always remember his influence in my life.
Today, as I think about what man is doing with Pluto, I look to God who created Pluto and the entire Solar System. There is only one reference in the Bible to planets: 2 Kings 23:5. But Colossians 1:16 says: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. . .all things have been created by Him and for Him.”
Most days I have a song in my heart. Music appreciation began for me in the second grade when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Mrs. Schutt was the music teacher at the elementary school where I attended. She was elderly and her hair looked like a bird’s nest. She wore thick black shoes and she absolutely loved classical music. I guess you could say she had her ducks in a row because nobody got out of line in her class. We had assigned seats and you had to sit up straight and pay attention. She ran the class like a drill sargeant. The phonograph player sat in the corner of the room and she would write the name of the piece we were listening to on the board and after the needle hit the record, we were in another world. She would walk around the class with a short ruler in her hand and if you weren’t enraptured in the music, she would crack you across the knuckles with the ruler.
I learned about things I never knew existed in that class. This teacher was gifted and she taught us the names of all the instruments in an orhcestra. She drew music scores on the board and taught us about all the names of the notes and various music symbols. We had a short course in the different composers and heard wonderful strains of different kinds of classical music. We learned to read the music notes and to sing them. And some of us were chosen to play an instrument. I’ll never forget the day she presented me with the flute she wanted me to learn to play. For $3 a lesson, I could take the instrument home and learn to play the flute. One of my friends, Peter, played the tuba. And there was a clarinet and an oboe (reed instruments) and a trombone. Some other students were learning stringed instruments and my friend Judy played the accordian. Pretty soon we had a little orchestra going for school programs and on special days at school. I loved playing the flute! And Mrs. Schutt played the piano. She loved to play the piano. I never thought she was anything but wonderful because she introduced me to a whole new world of good music. I continued my lessons until junior high school where I laid down the flute and learned how to play the bell lyre and tympani drums for band and orchestra. In high school, I played the bass drum and the snare drum in the marching band. I also learned the cymbals. I think my ear for music is much better than my singing voice, but I do love to sing.
I still like classical music today and can identify the instruments playing. Edith Shaeffer in her book FOREVER MUSIC wrote of her love for music and the Steinway piano she owned and played. I read the book after becoming a Christian and it was very meaningful to me. The following quote is from her book:
“There is a continuity in the need of a piano to be tuned and regulated.
“It is correct to see a parallel between a concert piano needing constant regulating and believers, the children of the Heavenly Father needing constant help to be rid of harsh notes, ugly voices, of flat responses, of too sharp a blast.
“We need individual attention and cleansing of secret faults, as well as God’s strength given to us moment by moment if we are going to do what we have been prepared to do.”
I thank the Lord for Mrs. Schutt. I always loved her because I knew she was doing her best to teach children something important, something she herself believed in and loved. I feel she made a difference in my life. That was over sixty-five years ago. I wonder if I will see her in heaven. . .
When I think of childhood memories, I think of my paternal grandparents and their home. Charles and Bertha moved to this city from a small town where they were married to begin a new life. That was over 100 years ago, and they bought a modest house with a finished attic on two city lots. Grandad got a job as a baggage clerk working for the Railroad Company downtown. Grandma worked in a laundry for a large hotel.
Grandad went to bed in the evening about the same time as the chickens did who lived in the small red barn out back of the house, getting up at 3:00 a.m. or so when the rooster crowed to walk the three or four miles down the railroad tracks to the Railway Station. In those days, people travelled a lot by passenger trains. Grandma also got up early to ride the trolley car to work. From that marriage came three children, Blanche, Chesley and Verne. Verne was my father and the youngest of the three children.
Each of their children married and there were four girls from my aunt’s family in the early years, four girls from my uncle’s family and me. I was later to have a brother and two younger sisters. Because of all the girls in the family, I always had enough clothes because my mother knew how to sew, so I wore lots of my cousins’ clothes that Mama trimmed with lace, buttons and bows made over for me.
Often, two or three or more of the cousins would spend Saturday and Saturday night at Grandma’s house. She would take us to Mrs. Kerr’s Drugstore a few blocks up the street–we walked–and we were allowed to have a book of paperdolls for ten cents and a fountain drink or an iced cream cone for a nickel. Sometimes we got a piece of bubble gum which we saved for later so we could see who could blow the biggest bubble! I think it cost one penny back then, over 50 years ago. When we got back home, we would cut out all the paperdolls and we each had our own cigar box to keep them in.
Every Sunday after Church, we all gathered at Grandma’s house for dinner. Grandad would go out and find a chicken or two, get the hatchet or wring their necks. There they would be–chickens flopping all around the yard, headless–until they stopped flopping and Grandma would go and gather them up and take them downstairs to the basement to a wash tub of scalding hot water. Sometimes we would watch from the stairsteps as she carefully plucked out all of the pin feathers before boiling the chickens. She had already made noodles or dumplings on the kitchen counter and had plenty of fresh vegetables for dinner. There was a large dining room table where we all gathered around as Grandad prepared to thank the Lord for the family and the food and the adults ate at the table and the children scattered to the front porch or wherever they could find a place to sit down to eat. Grandad dipped with an old dipper from a large pot iced tea for everyone and we had chocolate cake with cooked white frosting for dessert. Every Sunday for many years, this was our family tradition. We didn’t have paper plates back then, so we ate our dinner on Jewel Tea dishes. Grandma must have had two sets, because she would carefully select each new piece she wanted every time the Jewel Tea man came. We had to sit down and be quiet when the Jewel Tea man was there. Grandma was counting her money to see what she could get with what she had in hand.
After dinner, everyone found something to do, especially the children. We were cousins and we loved our time together. There were hollyhocks in the back of the barn with beautiful spires of flowers waiting to be selected for the toothpick dolls we would make together.
A small bed of sweet smelling lillies of the valley adorned the side door of the old house and they were Grandma’s favorite flower. We picked the tiny little stems with bells drooping and took them to her with love from our hearts.
There were irises growing all along the fenceline between our house and the next one and we had to be careful to stay on our side of the fence.
In the front yard was a grand old catalpa tree. Straight up with thick branches, very suitable for climbing. We felt safe and would climb clear to the top of the tree. Mama taught me to put the little blossoms on each fingertip to look like lovely lacey gloves when they were in full bloom and some of the children used the long bean pods like swords. I loved that old tree and would climb clear to the top and sing as loud as I could the Bible School song I’d learned about “Zaccheus”, the wee little man who climbed up in the tree to see Jesus when He passed by in the story in the Bible.
Grandad kept a wonderful garden on the side lot, completely fenced in with a locked gate to keep the kids and critters out. But the little rabbits would almost always find a way in and so did the birds. Inside the fence were two cherry trees and we would climb the fence to reach the cherries if the birds or Grandma hadn’t gotten there first. There were also two green apple trees. I loved my Grandad and sometimes he let me walk to the feed store with him to get feed for the chickens. He sang beautiful old hymns to me as we walked hand-in-hand together. He took me to see the baby chicks at the feed store and the same family still owns the feed store today. But it isn’t the same without Grandad.
At Grandma’s house, we played hopscotch. We always had chalk and we could hop, skip and jump for hours. To win, you couldn’t step on any chalked lines. Then we played silly games like not stepping on any cracks on the sidewalk. Come to think of it, I can’t remember any of my children ever playing hopscotch. What has happened to hopscotch? We jumped rope. We loved to jump rope–big ones and little ones. We had roller skates. We played ball games in the backyard. Everyone played yard games: Mother, May I and Red Rover, Red Rover. As the evening wore on, it was hide-n-seek. And, at the first sign of dusk, the lightening bugs began to appear. What fun! We would catch them and put them in a jar with holes poked through the lid. Occasionally, we would find a stick bug, a walking stick on one of the window screens and what fun to capture a grasshelper [grasshopper]. A special treat was to trade marbles with cousins (we kept them in tin cans with lids) and someone had a baton and we would take turns trying to learn to twirl it and catch it after throwing it up into the air really high.
It the weather was rainy or bad, we played jacks on the linoleum floors in any room in the house. The walls were covered with big patterned wallpaper, ferns or flowers and I remember a small wooden plaque that said, “The Lord knoweth them that are His” hanging on the wall. There were other reminders throughout the house clearly showing that God’s people lived there. Often, young couples would come to the house to be married, and Grandma would keep all the children in the back bedroom while Grandad performed his ministerial duties. I remember peeking through the curtains to see what was going on. It was exciting!
Grandad went to bed as the chickens did before dark and would read his Bible and Smith’s Bible Dictionary every night. If we were really good, we would take turns sleeping over at Grandma’s house and we were allowed to go in and see Grandad reading and he would let us see the pictures in his Bible Dictionary and he would exlain some Bible truth to us. It didn’t matter how many of us stayed over, because Grandma always made pallets for us to sleep on the floor against any wall–plenty of quilts to lay on, a pillow and one quilt to cover up with–we thought we were in heaven. All lined up together against the wall of the living room or dining room, one right next to the other. Grandma would sing to us or say prayers with us or tell us a story or read to us and we knew we were cared for and dearly loved. If we were poor economically, we were rich spiritually. We grew up in a place where we learned to help each other and share with one another. We worked and prayed and played together. Love was spoken there.
I would say I had an old-fashioned childhood. I am 73 now and I haven’t forgotten it.
Pastor Bob asked me to write some posts about my life. My name is Sherry Goodwin and I am a Christian woman living in the Midwest in the USA. My stories been published in tract form and have been aired in many countries by Pacific Garden Mission’s radio ministry “Unshackled” in eight languages in over 60 countries around the world. My husband Jerry and I are retired and attend a small Baptist Church. We have been married for 59 years and have three grown children. We have ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. I am a caregiver for my husband who is in final stage renal failure. My interests include reading, writing and people.
Memories can be precious things. I remember my first visit to Galilee Baptist Church.
I was just four years old and my mother and I lived with my paternal grandparents while my father was serving in the United States Coast Guard in the 1940’s. My Granddad was Charlie Waterman and he was an old Baptist preacher. We lived at 1929 Claypool which was a few blocks from the Church. On Sundays, we walked together to Galilee for Church and Sunday School.
Granddad took me by the hand and in his other hand was his Bible. It was a precious book to him, brown leather, much read and greatly valued. All the way to Church, Granddad would sing old hymns or whistle the tunes. It made me happy and I felt loved and protected. We kept walking until we reached the Chapel doors with green and white stained-glass windows. I was led downstairs to the basement where the children gathered to hear God’s Word and learn about the LORD Jesus Christ.
There were many, many children in that place and ladies who helped us find seating so we could begin the lessons. That is where I first heard the words: “I will make you fishers of men. . .” It seemed the words were spoken just for me and I believe God wrote the words on my heart. I was skipping all the way home with Granddad’s hand in mine that beautiful sunny morning after church. “Fishers of men, fishers of men. . .” What did that mean?
Charlie Waterman worked as a baggage clerk for the railroad. He went to bed with the chickens—we DID have chickens in the backyard near a small barn–right next to the big garden he kept with fruit trees and a bounty of food for his family on an adjoining lot.
Granddad got up every morning at 3:30 a.m. to walk the railroad tracks to work. So he went to bed before dark. If we (myself and any cousins who were sleeping over on the weekend) were good, we were allowed to go in to see Granddad for a few minutes at bedtime. Grandma would open the door and there he was sitting up in his bed reading the old brown Bible and Smith’s Bible Dictionary which I called “the grasshopper book”. Granddad studied the Bible every night and he would show us pictures of the olive tree, a candlestick and other symbols and talk to us about God and His Word. The “grasshopper” was really a locust but I didn’t know it until I was much older.
Because he was a minister, Granddad often married young couples who came to call at his home. Grandma Waterman would shuffle all the youngsters into a bedroom where we would peek through the curtains to see the old leather book being held in well-worn hands and words being spoken from God’s Holy book. Then everybody would sign some papers and Granddad would pronounce them “Man and Wife”. It was all very official and exciting. The old brown Bible was something very important in all of this business.
After the war, life went on for our family. We moved many times and I was the oldest of three siblings. My grandparents passed but I have many memories of Charles and Bertha Waterman and their love for their family, their country, and God and His Word. The Waterman’s were hospitable people welcoming all who came to visit or lodge with them. Many relatives and friends sought refuge in their home throughout the years.
The prayers of the saints do follow them and I am sure my grandparents and parents prayed for me and for all those in our family. I would later receive Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and truly learn what the words “fishers of men” meant, sharing my faith in Christ with others and winning souls for Him. “And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
I returned to Galilee Baptist Church one day over 50 years later after viewing some old pictures of my granddad and me. When I entered the Church, I inquired as to whether they had a Sunday School class and I was invited into a room full of older people who welcomed me warmly. Most of them had gray or white hair and glasses. I thought they had put me in the wrong class until I went home and realized I, too, now have white hair and glasses!
Really, I felt like I had come home when I visited Galilee after so long a time. I began attending regularly and became a working member of the fellowship. I wanted to give back and serve and help where it all began for me as a child. The Church membership is smaller now, but we had a wonderful Time of Remembering last April when we celebrated our 100th Anniversary Celebration. I worked on the committee preparing for the event. Over 200 people from five different states attended. I learned Galilee was a missionary plant Church from Calvary Baptist and they had been a “sending church”, sending young people out all over the world after they were converted and discipled to share the gospel message with others. I am sure many of those believers became “fishers of men” also.
Thanks to my cousin, Cindy, I have Granddad’s old Bible. I took it to the Celebration and displayed it with a note saying it was the property of Charles Arthur Waterman, a man of God and my beloved grandfather who took his little granddaughter to Church and Sunday School at Galilee Baptist Church when I was just four years old. Thank You, LORD, for a giving me a godly heritage.