FRONT PORCH SWING

By: Darlene G. Snyder

 

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“Faster, faster!” I yelled. The sound of metal against metal screeched through the air. The chain that held the swing rubbed against the hook as we rocked back and forth in the swing. My sister and I sat in the swing, used our feet to push from the creaky wooden floor of the porch.

 Our squeals of delight turned into screams of fear as the swing’s chains broke. The swing was at the high end of our porch. When the chains broke, we were in the air and landed off the porch. Crashing to the ground, our screams turned to silence.

 That was the first time my breath had been knocked out of me. I couldn’t scream, cry or do anything except gasp for breath. It seemed an eternity had passed, but eventually I breathed again. My sister was OK too. Our tears were wiped away by the love and tenderness of our mother.

 That’s one of my earliest memories of a front porch swing.

 Front porch swings were on most every house back then. Usually it was at the end of the porch so the back of the swing had open space and wasn’t situated against the wall.

 As a teenager, I sat with boys in swings; sometimes holding hands, sometimes sneaking a kiss. Other times I would sit and daydream as the swings soft movement lulled me into a dreamlike state. Sometimes I used the time for prayer and reflection.

 As a young mother, I recall sitting in the swing watching my son run about in the yard as he played. Swinging gently in late evenings, I watched as he chased lightening bugs or stood staring up at the sky. The swing became a place of quiet rest after a busy day.

 One of the funniest times I recall about our front porch swing, is when Mike and my mother sat in the swing after church one Wednesday evening. I sat in a chair on the porch as we talked and shared time together. Mom and Mike were swinging easily. Mike had a terrible habit of chewing tobacco; a nasty habit, which required him to have a “spit cup.” He was chewing and spitting as they sat in the swing when suddenly the chain broke and they went crashing to the ground.

 The look of shock on their face brought out the giggles in me. The funniest thing was that Mike’s “spit” had landed down the front of mom’s crisp white blouse. Mike was so apologetic and the more he tried to apologize, the more I laughed. Thankfully, both of them weren’t hurt. It would have been all the same if they had been, as I couldn’t stop the laughter if I tried. They laughed too. We’ve shared that story many times and it never fails to bring smiles to our face as we recall it.

 We no longer have a porch swing. I didn’t realize until now just how much I miss having one. Do you have any front porch memories?

NOT JUST SISTERS, BEST FRIENDS

By Darlene G. Snyder

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Me and Sis

Me and Sis

 

 

 

“Stop  it!” I screamed as I looked down at the blood streaming from the wounds on my arms.  I began kicking franticly, she made me mad and I was determined she would not get in any more hits.

“Mama, make her stop kicking me,” she yelled as I grabbed a handful of hair and yanked.

“Girls, stop it right now!” mama hollered from the kitchen.  “If you have enough energy to fight, you have energy enough to help me.  Get in here – now!”

My sister and I were teenagers, fighting like children.  This day, the fight was over my wearing her shoes.  She hated it when I took them without asking.  She always insisted I mistreated her shoes and scuffed them.  I never admitted it, but she was right, I was hard on shoes.

Since our house wasn’t large enough for the four of us-my two brothers, my sister and I – to have a space of our own, the boys shared one room and we shared another.  Our rooms were located upstairs in the old farmhouse.

Later that same day, after we retired to our rooms for the night, Paulene and I grabbed a book and sat with our backs up against the headboard on our full size bed.  Both of us loved to read.  Before long, her foot touched mine. This didn’t sit well with me so I kicked her. She reached over and slapped my arm. Another fight ensued.

“Stay on your side of the bed,” she barked at me.

“I am on my side.  You are acting like a pig and hogging the whole bed,” I snapped back. “Keep your feet off me.”

We continued smacking at each other.  I kicked and crawled my way to the end of the bed, stood up and was about to jump on top of her when suddenly; she kicked me with both of her feet.  I went tumbling backwards onto the floor.  I hit it with a thud and felt the room shake from the impact.

“Are, are you alright?” she giggled.

Silence.

“Hey Darlene, are you ok? She asked I detected fear in her voice.

Motionless, I remained silent.  I clamped my hands over my mouth, holding in the laughter trying to escape. I heard her moving in the bed.  I knew she was crawling down the length of the bed to peep over at me.  I continued to allow the silence to worry her, waiting for just the right moment.

“Aargh!!” I yelled as I jumped up and scared her.  Laughing as I watched her fall backwards onto the bed.

“You crazy thing!” she laughed, “You scared me to death. I thought I had killed you.” We lay in bed and laughed until mama yelled up the stairs for us to be quiet.

She and I were not always fighting.  We loved teaming up against our older brother.  He was too serious about everything and nothing we did pleased him.  Our favorite pastime was making his life miserable. 

Danny was one year older than me. My sister was one year younger. Cecil Jr, was several years younger than the rest of us. All Jr. wanted to do was play. Danny on the other hand didn’t like anything Paulene and I did, and he especially hated it when we wore short skirts.  Without fail, every morning before leaving home for school, he fussed.

“Mama, make them put some clothes on.”

We pranced around the room as he fumed. 

Living out a long lane, we had to walk a ways to catch a ride on the bus. When we reached the end of the road, Paulene and I would roll our skirts up even shorter. We didn’t believe our skirts could be too short, but we didn’t want mama to see us even though we knew Danny would tell her.  We received double satisfaction knowing we disturbed Danny.  He would be furious by the time we got on the bus.  Ruffling his feathers always left us satisfied.

Popping gum as we chewed it was another thing Danny hated.  This was a wonderful discovery for Paulene and me.  Each Sunday when all of us were in the car headed to church, we would plop a piece of gum into our mouths and by the time that we were well on our way, we had Danny riled.

“Stop popping your gum in my ear!” Danny seethed.

“We ain’t popping our gum, we are just chewing it,” one of us would reply innocently.

“Mama, did you hear that?  They are popping their gum.  Make them stop!”

The fussing continued until we stopped aggravating him, mama made us spit the gum out or we arrived at church, whichever came first. On other occasions, we found something else to get him going.

We learned he despised the strong odor of perfume.  Of course, before we jumped into the car to go to church or anywhere else, we sprayed ourselves down in whatever cologne we had on hand.  Most usually, it was Avon-good stout Avon.  We smelled awful because she used one kind and I would use another. Mixing the two would choke anyone, but at least it served as a way to disturb Danny the most.

It’s a wonder Danny even speaks to us now.

I can’t say when it happened, but somewhere along the way, the fighting between my sister and I subsided. Our bickering slowed to almost non-existent.   We even stopped harassing Danny. Surprisingly we liked him.  We were all getting along; Paulene and I had become friends.

Soon we were shopping together, attending functions and sharing secrets about our boyfriends.  I desired her opinion on what I should wear, how to wear my make-up and whether my shoes matched my outfit or not.  I envied her having voluptuous breasts and long, thin, pretty, tanned legs.  I was skinny, pale, wiry, redheaded, and short. My ears were too big and my teeth slightly bucked.  I was very self-conscious of how I looked.

Danny soon married and moved away from home, I followed his lead and married a year after he did.  Paulene was my maid of honor in my wedding and when I moved from home, she was lost and miserable.  I missed her wretchedly.  Before long, she began to visit- spending the night with us.  She began staying with us more than she was living at home.

After she married and both of us had children of our own, our lives led us in different directions. Even so, we enjoy spending time with each other and love to reminisce about days gone by. As much as I love my brothers, there is just something about sharing with my sister.  She has become my best friend and confidante.  We continue to confide in each other, sharing our secrets.  I value her opinion and still find myself envious of her beauty. 

 

She is kind hearted, loving and encouraging.  She never fails to complement me when we visit.  My best friend is always just a phone call away.

Stories From a Country Church

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In every community, there are small country churches.  In most of those churches, there is abundant history.  Think about your own church.  Are there people who have been members for a long time?  Have you heard stories that have been passed down over the years?  If the church has been in existence for very long there probably are many.

Kirksville is a small community in Madison County Kentucky, sometimes referred to as a village.  Regardless of what one might call it, Kirksville is unique.  There are two subdivisions, a volunteer fire station, a country store serving homemade foods, a community center; formerly the local elementary school until a new one was built, four churches and a park.

In the early 1800’s one church building became the worship center for four separate congregations.  The Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian congregations took turns meeting one Sunday per month in the old church building.  Eventually the old building was condemned.  The Presbyterians built a new church across the road (they moved their congregation to Richmond a few years later).  The Christian church built a new church.  The Methodist eventually moved their congregation to Richmond and deeded their interest over to the Baptist. The Baptist built a new building on the original site of the old church.

 After becoming interested in our church history and eventually writing it,I decided they were too many cute stories begging to be shared.  Maybe you too will be motivated to dig into your church history. You never know what you might find.

 

 

 The Alarm Clock

 

In the 1940’s, we had a pastor  who was known for his lengthy sermons.  At least two young teenagers thought they were lengthy.  I suppose the two boys thought the service should end at 12:00 p.m. sharp.  One Sunday morning before church started, the boys placed an alarm clock under the pulpit.  It went undetected because the pulpit was tall with two doors that opened and closed underneath.  They placed the alarm clock inside and closed the doors.  The alarm was set to go off at noon. 

Shortly after the song service, the pastor began his sermon.  He was in the middle of his discourse when the alarm went off.  He became so alarmed (pun intended) and flustered all he could do was quit preaching.  The typical Baptist invitation was not typical that day amidst the smiles and muffled giggles.  After the service, the pastor vowed to kill whoever had done this terrible deed. 

As far as anyone knows, he never found out that one of those boys was his very own son.

 

 

Pigeons

 

 After waiting for the cover of the nighttime sky, boys from the community crept up to the old dilapidated deserted Presbyterian Church then located on the little hill across the road from the church.  A local farmer was using the building for storage of hay, tools and such.  Inside of the building were scores of pigeons.  The boys gathered several pigeons, took them down to the Baptist Church, opened the doors and threw them into the church.  They closed the doors and left them there, returning home undetected.

The pigeons stayed in the church until the janitor found them.  She was furious.  When word got to other church members, they too were seething with anger.  It took many hours to clean  the mess the pigeons made.  It has been said that the church people were very upset about this for many years.  The names of the individuals responsible were never divulged.  A well kept secret indeed.

 

Indoor Swimming Pool

 

Our church like most churches in the area went to creeks or ponds to baptize the newly saved convert.  In 1944, the just completed baptistery allowed for the baptizing of converts indoors.

Since there was no indoor plumbing in the church during this time, a truck delivered water to fill the baptistery.  The first baptizing scheduled for the following Sunday caused the need for water delivery that Saturday. 

The activity of filling the baptistery attracted several people.  Three boys were at the church when the water came.  The man who delivered the water made a remark as he was leaving.  He said, “Looks like a good place for a swim”.  The boys looked at each other with eyebrows raised. It sounded like a good idea to them too.

After everyone left the church, the boys came back with their shorts. Because they had only two pair of shorts, two of the boys jumped in first.  They splashed and played, the cold water felt great on that hot summer day.  Finally the first two boys got out of the water, gave the last boy a pair of the wet shorts, and left to go play elsewhere. The boy was having a ball splashing and jumping in the water.

 Suddenly, he heard the janitor coming in the church.  Quickly, he jumped out of the water, ran down the hallway into a Sunday school room and hid under a table.  She followed the wet footprints from the baptistery to the Sunday school room where she found him hiding.

These boys had made a major mess and she was mad!  She demanded to know who else had been there with him.  He was no snitch; he was not about to tell her anything.  She took him home and told his mother. 

The boy vividly remembers the smoke house experience he endured that afternoon.  The other two boys, one being his brother, was not found out about until many years later.

 

 

Broken Fingers

 

As in most churches, young friends usually sit together during the worship service.  Sometimes these young people get into trouble with their parents. Sometimes they cause distractions.

On a typical Sunday morning, a group of boys was sitting together on the front row.  They weren’t listening to the pastor that morning.   They were playing and picking on each other, twisting each other’s fingers, trying to get the other to cry out in pain.  As they whispered and giggled, and before anyone knew what happened, one of the boys grasped another boy’s finger and twisted it so hard he broken. 

This incident caused a lot of commotion in the church that morning, but services went on even after the interruption.