1 - "SHUG"
Part 2 - "SHE MADE HER BED - LET HER SLEEP IN IT"
Part 3 - "TOO WET TO PLOW"
Part 4 - "A HARD ROW TO HOE"
Part 5 - ALL DRESSED UP - FINALLY!
Back to What SDAs NEED to Know
The evangelist had been pleading with the audience for ten minutes already. He was groping for a fresh approach. I flipped the pages of the hymnal and modulated into E flat. "Just As I Am," a la Hammond organ, trembled through the Women's Club Building.
"Oh, yes, friends, just as you are!" The preacher responded to the music. "Just as you are, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt. Come just as you are!"
Four more minutes and I modulated again. "I Surrender All" gave him new ammunition.
"Surrender your all to God. Determine now to follow Him all the way, no matter what it may cost. Decide tonight to join with his last, His remnant people, and be a part of His only true church, which keep the ten commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath."
The going always gets rough when the "Sabbath issue" comes around. Few are anxious to cast their lot with a small, often ridiculed sect. Attendance drops drastically after this subject is presented.
Why was I, at age twenty-one, playing organ for such an organization rather than singing and dancing on a "worldly" stage?
* * * * *
Union County, in Southern Arkansas, had not suffered as drastically during the Great Depression as had most areas. It may have appeared somewhat depressed to the casual observer, but the shanties were not for poor; they were for hurry, as it was oil boom country. The roaring twenties had really roared in that region.
"Where on earth", I exclaimed to the patient lady at the Arkansas Oil and Brine Museum in Smackover, "did they put 30,000 people?"
Everywhere", she replied. "anywhere."
I had returned to the little town where my parents had lived and met in the mid-twenties: Smackover, "smack" in the center of the largest oil field in the world! The French called the area sumac couvert - "covered with sumac". Americans thought they were saying "Smackover" and thus came about the funny name. When I was a kid I thought it meant another kiss, since my uncles would say "Gimme a little smack right here," and point to their whiskery cheek.
The little Union County towns grew as the oil field development continued all around them and leases skyrocketed. "Companies organized overnight and the towns witnessed a massive drilling campaign," reported the Smackover journal. "All sections of land northeast of Smackover, in the original discovery field, were drilled with gusher after gusher resulting...The atmosphere of the Smackover village changed rapidly. When news of the oil discovery flashed around the world, 30,000 people descended upon the community. The good, bad and indifferent; oil field workers, speculators and spectators...they came by trains, automobile and on foot."1
They brought tents, sleeping gear and cooking supplies. They slept in the streets or the forests. You wouldn't kick a large cardboard box, because in cool weather there would most likely be a man in it. "The hum of the saw and the hammer became the music of the day as hundreds of houses of every description were under construction. In no time the rural village transformed itself into a bustling community.2 When the hard day was over in the field, the "City that God forgot, " as one journalist named it, took on an entirely different atmosphere. Beautiful women "young with painted lips sometimes, but nearly always just to the degree to look good, promenade the street."3 There were two dance halls, where a fellow could swing those beautiful women to "Ain't She Sweet?", "Charleston", "Bye, Bye, Blackbird", and waltz to "Memory Lane" and "If You Were the Only Girl In the World."
Movie marquees were giving top billing to the new "talkies". In 1926 the Warner Brothers were licensed to produce talking pictures. They released the first all-talking feature film in l928: "Lights of New York;" United Artists, M-G-M, Fox, Paramount, and others jumped quickly on the bandwagon as film after film hit the screens. "At last," the billboards blazed, "PICTURES that TALK like LIVING PEOPLE!"4 The four movie houses in Smackover were filled nightly as all but the most devoutly religious turned out to see the dozens and dozens of talkies and part-talkies of the late 20's.
Most nights two preachers stood at the ends of the two-block main street and warned the pleasure-seekers of hellfire and damnation if they didn't change their worldly ways. No doubt about it, the nights were lively! And mornings? "Why heck, it was nothing to pick up four and five dead people every morning behind these barrelhouses. (Dance halls were called barrelhouses because of the big barrels of beer from which they sold drinks). You wouldn't know who they was - I helped bury two or three - and they would decompose pretty bad and we just dug a hole alongside of them and take a shovel and roll them off in it and cover them up," one old-timer remembers.5
Organized crime didn't miss out on the action. More than once a body would be discovered in a side-tracked tank car, where he had been killed and dumped through the valve cover on top, into the thick, black oil inside.
Many of the strike-it-rich fortune hunters moved on as the wild and wooly oil boom eased. Refineries were popping up in the area, and those who had learned to admire the little communities of Smackover, Norphlet, and El Dorado decided to stay and build new lives for themselves and their families in South Arkansas.
El Dorado, the county seat, was named for the abundance and wealth the "black gold" would bring the city. The air in the little towns of the county smelled of crude oil, the sandy ground was dark with crude oil, and the huge black woodpecker-like monsters that strained up and down, up and down, pulling the oil out of the earth, filled one's ears day and night with the "thumps" and soft "booms" of their rhythms. Each "pumper" - a man assigned to service a pump - knew the unique sound of his pump, and if there was a change he would hurry out to check on it. If the pump nearest your home stopped in the night, the silence would jerk you straight up in bed, scared to death.
Flames around the countryside burned the untrapped natural gas around the clock. My uncle ran a pipe to his backyard and placed an oil drum in a position which kept the flame burning the trash which was thrown into the barrel. Can't beat an ever-burning trash bin, can you?
Everyday life in the late 20's and early 30's was simple little shotgun houses, some painted, some not, and some white-washed, with little porches front and back. Rockers and porch swings invited relaxation on the front porch which was accepted at least once a day, the time depending on what shift the man of the house was working at the refinery or in the field. Children played in the sandy yards, climbed in the chinaberry trees, yelling and laughing, and howling when they landed on a wicked sand burr.
Inside walls of the houses were upright boards, rough and unpainted in the real shacks, papered with bright, flowered wallpaper in most. Bare light bulbs with a dangling string attached, hung from the ceilings of the rooms in town, and "coal oil"- kerosene - lamps lit the rural homes.
Embroidered "God Bless Our Home" samplers were popular, and plaques with
Christ is the Head
of this house,
The unseen Guest at every meal,
The Silent Listener to every conversation.
Floors were unpainted, and many were covered with linoleum, at least in the kitchen, where the asphalt paper backing showed through black at areas of heaviest wear. Most living rooms and bedrooms had round or oval braided rugs of varying sizes on the floor, and the more affluent had Persian carpets for the parlor or sitting room.
Television was just a gleam in the eyes of the inventor, but radio was big. Housewives could laugh and cry with "The Romance of Helen Trent", and later "Ma Perkins"; they could "Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye", Guy Lombardo, and Wayne King; wiggle and jiggle to Herb Nacio Brown's "Doll Dance" and the million-copy seller, "Whispering", both performed by Paul Whiteman's orchestra; and they could shiver and shake as they and their families gathered in the evening to listen to the new, scary, radio dramas as they came along.
There were symphonies on Sunday afternoons, and the kids were threatened with their lives if they interrupted the staccato voice of Walter Winchell as he tried to "beat the little red hand around the clock" each Sunday night. I always thought the static on my grandpa's radio did a pretty good job of interruption all by itself!
By 1924 recording discs were being produced electrically, and those families who were lucky enough to possess a Victrola could listen to the great Caruso, Kreisler, Paderewski and Zimbalist, as well as the Big Band sounds. A handle on the side of the box was for winding it up. When it would wind no tighter, one would start up the turntable and gently set the heavy, twisted arm down until the needle touched the disk. As it "wound down" the music would get slower and slower, dropping in pitch, but if you were quick to start winding again it would raise in pitch and be accurate for another minute or two! I always enjoyed playing "The Whistler and His Dog", letting it slow and pick up in speed until Mother couldn't stand it any longer and would make me quit!
Eating was done in the kitchen. If there was a real fabric table cloth, it was often the beloved red and white checkered. Oilcloth - cotton material covered with a glossy, waterproof layer - usually covered the table top since it not only could be wiped clean and lasted a long time, but came in all kinds of bright colors. For special dinners, white damask and matching napkins, along with the silverplate flatware and maybe china, were brought from the sideboard.
Closets were few, and usually had curtains instead of doors. The chifforobe was often the only closet. Maybe four feet wide and six feet high, half of it was a closet, the other half was a dresser with mirror, drawers underneath. Nowadays we can't get enough closets. How did they manage?
Water was drawn in buckets from wells - big gaping mouths four feet across, hungering for little bodies (and even big ones, I was certain!) to fall into their horrible dark depths. To this day, an open well is one of the most frightening things on earth in my book!
Laundry day was a killer. A huge, black, three-legged cast-iron wash pot in the back yard was filled with water. The kids fed wood into a fire built underneath the pot while the women poked and stirred the boiling clothes with an old, clean broomstick. When the clothes had "cooked" to satisfaction, they were lifted out with the stick - carefully! - and dropped into a galvanized tub where they were rubbed on a rub board, a flat, soft-wood board with ridges for rubbing the clothes. The rubbing area was mounted on a frame which had a tray at the top to hold the P & G bar soap and stood on two legs which propped in the tub. The article of clothing was drawn up onto the board, the bar of soap rubbed over the fabric, then the fabric was rubbed clean on the ridges of the board, special attention being paid to the spots. The skin of one's knuckles often came off with the dirt. Ouch! Starch was cooked beforehand and diluted to the right consistency for the fabrics to be stiffened, and bluing sticks were stirred into the final rinse to combat "tattle-tale gray" in the white clothes. This weekly labor was murder not only on hands, nails and backs, but rough on the clothes, too, especially colors. Some of us oldies still won't wear faded, pre-washed and torn jeans, because they represent poor, worn, and hand-me-down!
Twice rinsed, the clothes were hung on the clothesline to dry. When the temperature fell below freezing, they would be brought from the line stiff as boards, able to stand alone, ready to thaw and iron. When a new baby came along, a family might have a woman from the colored community do the laundry for a few weeks. The more affluent had help on a regular basis.
Electric irons were scarce, so the ironing was done in the kitchen where two or three flatirons could be kept heating on the kitchen stove while one was in use, held with a pot holder.
Wicker furniture was popular. My grandma's old wicker rocker had a very special set of squeaks when she rocked me - so comforting! If the weather was hot, a noisy black electric fan might stir the air, but mostly one produced a slight breeze waving hand fans which had a pretty picture on one side and an advertisement for the local funeral home on the back. Open flame gas heaters warmed the winter drafts that boldly blew in through occasional cracks. Wood heaters kept folks busy day and night where the gas lines weren't nearby, and fireplaces gave the better homes a cozier atmosphere, although one could only warm one side at a time at either place. Lots of bathrobe backsides were scorched or burned at the little heaters, and not a few human backsides received a taste of the same treatment. Mother was terribly cold natured, so nearly every garment she owned showed scorch. More than one coat had to be altered to three-quarter length to remove the burned place. My brother still carries a scar where he fell into the heater while drying after a bath. Once when my aunt was visiting us her chenille bathrobe caught fire. The flames jumped up her back, reaching for her hair, when Mother grabbed the scissors and cut the belt which had been tied in a hard knot. Fortunately Mother was sewing in the room or we would have looked all day for the scissors. I hate to think what would have happened. I've never since tied anything around myself or my children in a hard knot.
The little houses always held the faint aroma of stale coffee and tobacco smoke. And could those ladies cook! I've never since tasted such wonderful fried fish as after a weekend on Grand Mere or Calion Lake, or such delicious cornbread dressing with the Christmas chicken (who ever had turkey?) as made by my grandma.
Pleasant weather found the old men sitting around outside the community store with its mingled odors - spices, pickles, tobacco, salt pork, freshly ground coffee - spitting tobacco juice and rolling their cigarettes, whittling on little pieces of wood while
they spun their favorite yarns. Winters were the same only they would be whittling and yarning around a pot-bellied stove on the inside, and spitting their snuff and tobacco juice in coffee cans and spittoons.
In 1930 there were sixteen telephones per 100 population in the United States. Those were mostly in the big cities. Small Southern towns had a switchboard in someone's house, and the lady of the house was the operator who handled calls from the few phones in the community, mostly businesses and the wealthy.
Phones in town were the tall black ones where the receiver hung on a hook on the side, or maybe one of the new one with the transmitter and receiver in one piece, making it possible to hold the instrument with one hand! Imagine! But the really neat phones were in the rural areas. Big wooden boxes mounted on the wall, they had two round black bells attached like breasts on the top front. Halfway down, the mouthpiece protruded from the box, and the receiving piece, held with the left hand, hung on a hook at the left side. On the right hand side was the crank. To contact the operator you had to turn the crank, which rang her bells, your bells, and the bells of the phones on your party line. To call someone on your party line, you cranked out their signal - one long and two short rings; two long rings; three shorts; or maybe one short and one long, depending on how many were on your line. Busybodies loved the old party lines. In truly remote areas it was expected that everyone would pick up the phone. There could be emergencies - a fire, a farm accident, bad weather coming - as well as the latest juicy bit of gossip!
Milk and ice were delivered to the door. Glass milk bottles were set out on the porch before bedtime. Instructions to the milkman were written on a piece of paper and rolled up and stuck in the mouth of one of the bottles. Ice boxes did a pretty good job, but would not keep milk fresh for an extended time. Daily door to door delivery was the answer. Families on the edge of town often had their own cow, which had to be milked morning and night, faithfully, or she would go dry. Did you ever milk a cow? First you set out food for Old Bossy, then while she eats you pull up your three-legged stool - on her right side - sit down, wash her udder, and start squeezing her teats. You "milk" two at a time, one with each hand. Remember, though, just squeezing isn't enough. You have to squeeze and hold the top (pointing) finger, then the next and the next, on down, or it won't work! One might say that you push the milk out of the teat. Be sure your fingernails are short - have a little mercy! How would you like to be the cow milked by someone with long nails?
If one wanted buttermilk, whole milk (milk which contains also the cream) was permitted to sour, then churned. Several methods were available. For larger amounts, a big crock was used. The lid had a hole in the middle through which the handle, about the size of a broomstick, fit. On the bottom of the handle was the paddle, four wooden blades. After the soured milk was poured in, the lid was slipped down over the handle and the work began. One then churned - up and down, up and down. I could do it at an early age, and soon learned to read a book at the same time, changing hands with book and churn handle as the churning arm tired. But my Aunt Billie took the prize. She could put my baby brother in the rocking chair, rock the chair with her foot, churn with one hand and hold the book she was reading with the other!
Smaller amounts of milk could be churned in a gallon with a paddle which was attached to the lid, and which turned as you cranked the knob/handle on the lid. I remember once, when Mother needed some butter for supper, she sent me with a quart jar three-fourths full of sour cream out to Daddy, who was standing by the fence visiting with a neighbor. He simply continued his conversation, all the while shaking the jar, and we had butter on our hot cornbread that night! How fresh can butter be?
The churning was finished when the pale golden lumps of butter formed on top of what was now buttermilk. The butter was skimmed off with a wooden paddle, rinsed in cool water, and packed into a butter mold and chilled. When the cold butter was pushed out of the mold onto the butter dish, the top, which had been the loose bottom of the mold, was lifted off, and there was left an imprint of a pretty design - a flower, butterfly or bird. The top of the butter dish, often of crystal or carnival glass, round with a knob, was placed over the butter to keep out flies and dirt.
We may not have had so many dishes in those days, but they were not dull, scratched plastic. Glasses may have been jelly jars, but they were glass! Plates were pottery or china, and sometimes depression glass. During the depression, to stimulate business, Mother's Oats, among other cereal and soap powder companies, began placing pretty glass dishes in their products. Each company had a different color of the daintily etched and cut glass: plates, bowls, cups and saucers hidden away in the contents of their boxes. It was fun to dig in and see what we had this time, always spilling part of the contents in the process, then trying to clean it up before Mother came in and found us digging! The grocery store would carry larger plates, serving dishes and extra pieces so one could round out her set.
A twelve inch square of white cardboard stood in the front window of the homes as a signal to the ice man. A large black "25" on one side, or "50" or "75" or "100" on the other three sides, was placed up according to how much ice was needed for the icebox that day. The ice man would check the window, pick up the right size block of ice with his tongs, throw it over his shoulder which was protected with a padded leather apron, and bring the ice right into the house and set it in the icebox. He didn't knock, just yelled and walked in, as he was expected. Iceboxes varied in size, but all had a large door across the top where the ice sat on a shelf, and two smaller doors underneath, opening to shelves for food items. I didn't like the feel of the galvanized iron lining in the boxes once it had aged awhile. It made me shiver like scratching fingernails on the blackboard!
The ice man saw more bathrobes and knew more secrets than anyone else in the community. Sometimes he was even a part of the gossip himself!
Refrigerators were beginning to show up here and there, but it would be many years before some women would have one, my grandma included. The first ones had round compressors sitting on their tops like hats. Don't laugh! It looked perfectly normal then!
Only the wealthy had indoor plumbing. The little wooden outhouse with its plank bench with a hole cut in it, was usually built over a hole, though some toilets were simply set on the ground with the back open to animals, fowl and elements. Often families built a two-seater - or should I say two-holer? Bathroom tissue was a luxury most folk couldn't afford, but last season's Sears and Wards catalogs, newspapers, unwanted mail and used gift wrapping filled the bill pretty well if one rubbed the paper between one's hands to soften it before use.
Brave people went out to the toilet at night, but enamel chamber pots, or slop jars, as the small-towners called them, were used at night and emptied in the morning. I hated the slop jars, but I was so scared of the lions, bears, snakes, and other monsters lurking in the darkness between the back porch and the out-house, that I had to resort to the safer of the two!
Water was heated in buckets or teakettles on the wood or gas cookstoves and poured into the galvanized washtub on the kitchen floor for family baths. Kids were bathed first, with Ivory's floating soap, "ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent pure", then the mother would add a teakettle of hot water and take her warm bath. The water would usually be changed for the daddy, who bathed with Lifebuoy soap. Lava was the cleanser of choice for dirty working hands.
* * * * * *
Daddy had had a difficult childhood. The second child and eldest son in a family of eight children, he early felt the responsibility of family, as the philandering, drinking, gambling father seemed to do a disappearing act about as regularly as another baby came along. Alcohol made him wild, and on one occasion Daddy and the next oldest brother together held the shotgun on their butcher-knife wielding father,chasing him away from their mother.
When he was only nine years old, he went to work for an uncle to help feed his family. When he should have been in the seventh grade, he was working on the farm. He often cried as he watched the kids come and go at the school across from where he worked. A sensitive, caring brother-in-law-to-be, a school teacher, gave him a report card for the seventh grade so he could attend in the eighth grade.
At age fourteen, hearing of the oil boom in Union County in South Arkansas, he hitched a ride on a freight train all the way from central Louisiana. It was an exceptionally cold winter for the South. The poor boy literally froze to the freight car on one leg of the trip. At last arriving in Smackover, he found the foreman of an oil company and told him he was looking for a job.
"You look starved. Could you eat?" Could he! The guys brought him three stacks of flapjacks and six eggs before he quit! Then the foreman asked him could he cook.
"You bet!" he lied. He broke every egg yolk at first, and when he decided that each man could eat a cup of rice at noon, he filled every pot in the entire kitchen by mealtime! But he had his start in the oil business!
Incredibly determined, he went to the Smackover High School often enough to graduate, all the while sending money home to help his mother at the same time buying himself a little shotgun house on a bit of land. He built a long chicken house and sold eggs and chickens. At times he sought solitude in the woods to practice speeches and correct some residual Scottish brogue, and his persistence paid off in debates won and singing contest honors. The life of the party, he loved a good practical joke, and his blue-blue eyes never lost their twinkle under the black brows and thick, dark hair.
Mother was attending the same high school. She had been close to death as an infant when struck with cholera infantum, which was possibly responsible for a weakened nervous system. Very competitive, she was a serious student, striving to excel not only for her own sake, but to please her parents, as she won medal after medal. Once she rode the train to the college where the State Spelling Competition was held, and the spell-down started. She prayed to win and to make her folks proud of her. She won! Next morning, after running from the depot down the middle of the tracks in her new white shoes and stockings, she found that her Dad had risen early to go for a paper to see if she had won, and the family already knew. Mixed emotions, yes?
Mother was talented with both pencil and paints. A pretty girl with a terrible inferiority complex, she had no idea of her own attractiveness. Long, dark, curly hair and a movie star figure attracted the boys, but they all feared she would "knock 'em winding" should they presume she would accept their attentions. Her parents, from the backwoods of the South Arkansas swamplands, with very little education, had no emotional support to offer a shy child. Consequently, she came up with little understanding of people and life in general.
"You are not to let any boy kiss you. Do you understand me?" her mother demanded.
"Yes, Ma'am," she replied.
One night after she and Daddy had been seeing each other for quite a long time, Daddy kissed her goodnight.
"Did you let that boy kiss you?" Her mother was boiling.
"Yes, ma'am," she whispered.
Her mother reached over and took the prop stick - a piece of old broomstick - out of the window and beat the poor sixteen-year-old down to the floor. Mother was afraid she might have become pregnant by that kiss! Next day, when Daddy saw the bruises on her arms, he paid her mother a visit. Mother never knew what was said between them, but her mother never scolded her in any way concerning her relationship with Daddy after that.
Daddy had suffered a lot himself. I have thought that he married Mother - at least partly - to rescue her. It was never a very happy union.
* * * * * *
Ultrasound was unheard of in 1931, but Daddy had known the baby was a girl from the minute he discovered Mother was pregnant with me. The Christmas day that I was born, he came into the hospital room with a new bottle of "Evening in Paris" perfume (remember the pretty blue glass tube with the tassel?), pulled a chair up to the bassinet and picked up his new baby girl. Placing her in the cradle he made by crossing his right ankle over his left knee, he performed his own brand of infant baptism right then and there, draining the dainty blue bottle of every last drop of its "holy water"! I was his little princess.
* * * * * *
When I was still an infant we moved to Norphlet, about 500 feet from the refinery which Daddy was helping to build. My parents had found a solid little house in need of some fixing up. Daddy could envision what the finished product would be, so he started working on it as he found time. It wasn't long until even the yard was looking like a little garden of Eden with evergreen shrubs, flowering bushes, and on the side next to the street, a lovely petrified wood and cactus display curving around a tiny, elegant goldfish pond. He kept me close beside him during all my waking hours. He sometimes worked "graveyard" shift, but when he worked days he would have Mother drive him to work just so I would be with him every possible minute.
Life was pretty good. Our little family was financially sound because Daddy had a good and secure job. Mother saw to it that we went to church regularly. She was Missionary Baptist and he had been raised Methodist, from a long line of Methodists which included a circuit-riding preacher grandfather. However, he had thought of baptism by immersion for a long time, so now that he was married to a Baptist, he was immersed and accompanied her to church, uniting the family.
Daddy was always singing or whistling. Mother didn't agree with the words to "Funiculi, funicula!" that he used to sing a lot: "Some think this world was made for fun and frolic, and so do I!" He enjoyed ballroom dancing, and Mother went with him for awhile, but reluctantly, as she was afraid Jesus would come while she was there and she would be lost. As with many Fundamentalist religions, most things that were fun were wrong.
Answer me this: If it's right and moral for a man and his wife to disrobe and make love together, how could it be wrong for the two of them, fully clothed, to dance together?
* * * * * *
Daddy always had a Ford pickup truck. Mama Miles had a gray Chevrolet sedan, which she cranked in front to start. Most cars in our area "ping"ed. I thought that was the normal sound of a moving vehicle. However, it was not legally normal, as it was the sound of an engine running on casinghead (called casin'head) gasoline. The casinghead is a fitting at the top of the casing of the oil well to allow separation of gas from oil, among other uses, and unprocessed, untaxed gasoline often trickled right out on the ground. Why not put a bucket underneath and catch and use it? After we moved to El Dorado some years later and Daddy would drive back out to the oil fields to hold Bible studies, someone would usually slip out, take his car to a nearby well, and fill it with gas before we left.
To my young mind, Fords were synonymous with light weight and speed. Chevrolets were heavy cars that sat back on their haunches like a big bull and growled and pulled. I once saw a Chrysler Airflow and nearly collapsed with laughter - it looked pregnant! That was many, many years before the VW Beetle.
I loved cars from a very early age. I would sit behind the wheel of Daddy's truck and make all the sounds of shifting gears, speeding and screeching brakes with my mouth as I "drove" all over the county. Daddy often set me in his lap, his hands over mine on the steering wheel as he went about his business, so I had the feel of driving at a very tender age.
* * * * * *
I was blessed with the two most special grandmas in the world. My maternal grandma, whom I called Mama, lived in Smackover. Papa Miles, my grandpa, was the section foreman on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. His job, along with his team of colored men, was to keep the track in good repair between Camden and El Dorado. It was a difficult job, as he was often called out in the middle of a stormy night to strengthen or repair a trestle - a railroad bridge - or a stretch of track washing out. Sometimes he and his men had to stand for hours waist deep in rushing water, guiding logs and brush between the pilings so the trestle didn't give way. It was the same in winter as in summer and it began to affect his health. By the time I was seven or eight years old his body was deforming with rheumatoid arthritis, and he was retired from his job of twenty-eight years.
Homes were provided for the section foreman. When Mother was little, they lived in a box-car by the side of the track. It wasn't too bad. A lean-to was built on the side for a kitchen, and Mama Miles fixed it up the best she could with a bit of curtains and braided rugs. By the time I came along, they had a nice two-story house by the tracks, just a few feet from the tracks, in fact. After two or three nights you quit jumping out of bed and through the window when the fast train to Dallas sped by! You might just roll over, but the kids don't even hear it anymore.
I thought my Mama Miles' house was a mansion. Like all section houses, it was a dull yellow color trimmed in brown. I loved to go there. I was the only grandchild on other's side for over six years, and to the grandparents, aunties and uncles, I was special, maybe even a little spoiled.
Since Christmas was my birthday, the holidays were exceptionally exciting. On my third birthday, my folks put a big tree on the front porch, and from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents came a life-sized baby doll, a pink wicker baby buggy, a little table with two matching chairs, a tricycle, wagon, carpet sweeper, gold-trimmed china dishes, and Annabelle, my favorite dolly of all time.
How I loved my Mama! I was always happy when Mother and Daddy needed a baby-sitter for me, and left me with her. She wore the prettiest high-heeled black patent leather sandals, and she would let me try them on and walk around in them a little while! My uncle always gave her a big beautiful royal blue box for her birthday, filled with Evening in Paris perfume, cologne, bath powder and other blue-encased toiletries nestled in pale blue silk. That delicate scent was my Mama. Never did I sneeze, wheeze or become nauseous as I do from many of the modern malodorous chemicals loosely called perfume.
"A lady puts a little perfume behind each ear. Folks shouldn't smell you until they're close enough to kiss you," she advised.
"A lady chews only half a stick of gum at a time." Even though the engineer threw a package of spearmint gum out every day the grandkids were visible, I would never chew more than half a stick at a time. My Mama was right. Always.
She was a pretty lady with long, dark, wavy hair, gentle brown eyes which could flash lightning when she had enough of anything. She was careful about her looks. As far back as I can remember, she always put Lady Esther cold cream on her face every night, thick, so she looked like a ghost, I thought, and left it on for an hour before she went to bed, when she would remove the excess and let her skin feed all night. She always used a little discreet makeup, even after she and Mother joined a church which permitted no makeup. She was a wonderful cook, a devoted grandmother, and as I matured, a fast friend.
Once when we were driving in to El Dorado I saw a field of little misty white things.
"Mama, what are those?"
She immediately pulled off onto the shoulder. We got out of the car, and she picked a dandelion and handed it to me.
"Blow on it," she directed, and smiled at my surprise as all the little seed-babies flew away across the field.
Riding the train with Mama Miles was the most fun! Because Papa worked for the Missouri Pacific, she had a pass for riding free, and we often rode the train up to Camden to visit my Aunt Marie. I would get so excited that the wait at the depot seemed interminable.
"Patience, my Sweet, patience," she would say. The conductor, "Uncle" Tom, gave us personal attention and a few jokes along the way. He once gave me a little bank, a replica of the Liberty Bell. There are no sounds on earth to rival the CHUH, chuh, chuh, chuh, CHUH, chuh, chuh, chuh, of the big old steam mastodons pulling out of the station, or the sad whistle - OO-OO-OOooo - the pitch starting high and dropping, like the wail of some pained phantom-woman in the middle of a cold night. Hank Williams knew. When he heard the whine of that midnight train he got so lonesome he could cry. Remembering the creosotey, moth-bally smell of the depots with their slippery contoured chairs with wrought-iron frames; the awkward-looking baggage carts with their big metal-rimmed wheels; the lulling rhythm of the steel covered wheels on steel tracks; the train "letting" off steam" at the depot - well, I guess if I could hear again that old whistle on a dark night, I'd feel so lonesome I might cry, myself!
* * * * * *
Daddy's little girl had brown hair, streaked with red and gold highlights, eyes more green than blue, with brown "tea leaves" and a mischievous twinkle in them. Thick, dark eyebrows "all over her face", Mother's friend said. Rosy cheeks, a space between front teeth, and bruises all up and down the tomboy legs. A "Pine" nose, like my dad's, and little "pugged", and full lips like both parents.
He was a proud and ambitious daddy. I was going to have all the chances he missed. I would be a star. I would study voice, piano, dance; I would even take "expression" - a combination of speech and drama.
Although Mother was afraid she would be eternally lost if she danced, she agreed to dance lessons for me. The entire family was competitive for me. When Shirley Temple got a permanent, Pat got a permanent. If Shirley Temple came out in Roman sandals, Pat got Roman sandals. The aunties swore Pat could out-dance Shirley!
I loved the dance lessons. Both of Mother's sisters were excellent pianists, and I would dance as they played "Glow Worm", "Your Feet's Too Big", "In the Mood", "Boo-Hoo", and "Beer Barrel Polka".
Daddy sang or whistled all the time, so between him and the Aunties, I learned all the new and old music. I was always with him except when he was at his job. He sang "That Little Boy of Mine", but he substituted the word "girl". I was surprised years later to discover the real title!
"Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams", he would sing, and "Dream Your Troubles Away"; "I Love My Baby", "A-Tisket, A-Tasket". And I never see the moon rising over one of our Arkansas hills that I don't hear him singing, "When The Moon Comes Over the Mountain". In my book, he is the one famous for that song, not the beloved Kate Smith!
* * * * * *
One day Mama Miles drove over from Smackover with news for Mother.
"There's a tent meeting right near our house," she announced. "The man is preaching straight from the Bible. I think you'll like it." That did it for Mother. She had been teaching Sunday School classes since her early teens, and worshipped the Lord with great fear and trembling. Joy was not part of the religious experience in any of the churches of my childhood and youth. Works were important. One studied to discover something else to do, which he may have missed before.
So off to Smackover, night after night, we went. Daddy went when he wasn't working. A big sign, BIBLE CHAUTAUQUA, hung over the entrance, and wood shavings covered the ground under the tent. I well remember sitting and playing in that sawdust during the lectures. I hated the way it felt on my backside and when it got in my shoes. I still do. The huge monsters from the books of Daniel and Revelation were frightening to a four-year-old. And not me only. I heard a little black lady say, "Ooo, me! That's a WHOMPUSCAT!" when she saw the chart of the nondescript beast.
And that was to be the end of life as I had known it.
* * * * * *
"We believe the writings of Ellen G. White to be inspired," the evangelist said near the end of the meetings. That didn't mean much to Mother, as many great writers and poets were labeled "inspired". However, in this case, inspiration comes from direct visions given by God, or is brought personally by His angel! As is common practice, the Seventh-day Adventists had not identified themselves with their BIBLE CHAUTAUQUA. They nearly always go incognito.
"You have to use guile, Sister," the evangelist later explained with a twinkle.
The "inspired" writings of Ellen White were the foundational doctrines of the church. By the close of the Chautauqua, Mother had discovered that Saturday is the true Sabbath, the "keeping" of which is the distinguishing sign of God's true church.6 The last great conflict on earth is to be a confrontation between the Roman Catholics who, according to Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and God's little "remnant" of Sabbath-keepers.7 The Catholic Church, she learned, is the woman of Revelation 17, clothed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold; the "great whore", the "Mother of harlots" who had committed fornication with the kings of the earth." The Protestant churches who still "keep" Sunday are her daughters, the prostitutes.8 The Sabbath "truth" was simple, or, should I say, simplistic: God made the world in six days and rested the seventh, making it holy; the commandment to rest on the seventh day was given to the Israelites in the wilderness; those who didn't revere the day were to be put to death, and Isaiah said one should not only refrain from work on that day, but should not do one's own pleasure or speak one's own words. Revelation 12:17 in the King James Version indicates to the Seventh-day Adventist that the remnant, the last small church of time, would keep the commandments - which to them is mainly the fourth commandment - and that they would have a special gift of prophecy, someone especially anointed to predict the future. So important to the church is the keeping of the fourth commandment that their prophetess had a "vision" of the stones on which God wrote the ten commandments in Heaven where she saw a special light shining around the fourth.9 Her interpretation of various prophecies set the stage for a unique paranoia in the church. A national, then international Sunday law will be promulgated by a combination of Church and State, and God's little group of Sabbath keepers will be persecuted by the entire Christian Church, and with government support, yet. They are taught to prepare for possible martyrdom as a result of following "The Truth", as they call their dogma.
"Soul sleep," the doctrine that there is no soul separate from the body, and that all there is of you after death is in that hole in the ground, is a "truth" of tremendous magnitude to the church. Most members will become extremely agitated, or even angry, when discussing the topic. They do, however, believe in a bodily resurrection, which, again, is the entire being, as body and soul are one entity. They go the Bible one better on resurrection, though. Where the Good Book tells of a first and a second resurrection, the Adventists have a third, "special resurrection,"10 it is termed. Ellen White said, as usual, "I saw," which is supposed to indicate a "vision" directly from Heaven, "The graves were opened, and those who had died in faith under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth from their dusty beds, glorified, to hear the covenant of peace that God was to make with those who had kept his law." Somehow Mother found it reasonable to follow a church founded and nurtured by a woman - an ill woman at that - and she convinced Daddy that they should be baptized, notwithstanding they had been baptized before. Mama Miles came in on profession of faith. With Mother it was "whole hog or none," so they went back into the water, giving up their God-given freedom on Independence Day, July 4, 1941. Daddy was somewhat reluctant. Mother always said he would not have joined had she not pushed him.
Trouble ensued immediately. When Daddy wouldn't take his turn at the weekend shift, he was fired from the job he had worked for nearly eight years. He was blackballed at the other refineries. They thought he'd lost his mind!
The Church of Christ minister tried to straighten my folks out. They invited us all over to dinner so they could show us that Jesus had fulfilled the law. Mother was just discovering Ellen White's writings and had found that "the drinking of tea and coffee are a sin,"11 so when the preacher's little son said,
"You didn't drink you tea," I had to say, "No, thank you."
"I c-c-can't," I stammered, embarrassed.
"Why can't you?" he demanded.
"It's a sin," I said softly.
"The Lord says so."
Sister White's words are equivalent to the Lord's. Adventist periodicals are full of: "Heaven sent a message;" "The servant of the Lord said;" "We have been told by our prophet;" "From the pen of inspiration;" and, "The Lord says through His servant."
Well, my little friend didn't think his family would be into sinning, so he picked up my glass of tea and poured it down the front of my dress, lemon slice and all. Neither of us, of course, really knew what it was all about. Just following our parents.
The Church of Christ folks didn't give up easily. Finally, after several months, two of the men left our house for the last time, shaking the dust from their feet at the front gate as they went out. I thought they were funny.
* * * * * *
Daddy's job loss was devastating to us. "Sister White" (the church's pope-ess?), had told her "little flock" that they should prepare for the end-of-time troubles soon to hit the world by moving out of the cities and begin survival preparation such as raising their own food.12 So my parents sold the pretty house in the "city" of several hundred population and moved to a little ten acre farm a mile out. As it turned out, it was probably a good idea, not from end-times standpoint, but because Daddy was without work, and the little farm would make it possible for him to eke out a living. It was a lot of hard physical work, but Daddy had never been afraid of work. A few chickens and several cows gave him milk, eggs and butter to sell, and he got a mule named Frieda. She was something! She could open any gate, so rounding her up for work was sometimes a chore. But she could pull a plow straight in Daddy's little truck garden. It was always a threesome - Frieda in front, Daddy behind the plow, and I brought up the rear, walking barefoot in the cool, freshly turned soil. It felt so good!
Daddy wasn't too proud to sell fresh vegetables or a load of manure along with the dairy products. He was the first in the area to produce and sell cultured buttermilk instead of churned. He delivered some to a colored lady raising a family of boys. As he went on down the street a little barefoot fellow came running after him.
"Mr. Pine! Mr. Pine! Mamma say dis here milk's spoilt!"
Daddy was a hard worker, always remembering his own counsel to me:
"Can't never could do nothin'!" He quoted from an old fable.
Some have said he was a workaholic, but from knowing his daughter intimately, I would say he just plain enjoyed working - creating, building, achieving. However, at that time in his life, he was fighting a battle. He really thought he was following truth. After
watching other husbands down through the years follow "truth" and join the church only upon retirement when their jobs were no longer threatened by Sabbath-keeping, I have two thoughts: admiration for my dad, and a tremendous lack of rejoicing over those other men's "salvation"!
* * * * * *
Daddy ran Heathcliff Huxtable a close second, if not a tie, for best father! He tried to keep difficult times light by singing silly songs and making jokes. Mother, on the other hand, felt we should follow Sister White who warns over a hundred times in her writings against joking, jesting, laughing.13 Most games were considered to be a form of idolatry.14 When Mrs. White's own sixteen-year-old son lay dying of pneumonia, he welcomed
death - the standards were so high he feared he could never make it in such a wicked world.15 In death he could escape - a sixteen-year-old boy! Give me songs and laughter in tough times!
* * * * * *
When I was just a toddler, Daddy would cross his legs, seat me on his shoe, and, bouncing me, would rap:
To market, to market
To buy a fat pig.
Home again, home again,
I loved it! So did my kiddies years later. I remember waking up one morning and finding a kaleidoscope in crystal all over the windows. I touched it tentatively.
"Daddy, look! What is it, Daddy?" I queried excitedly. He answered with a little song:
Jackie Frost, Jackie Frost, came in the night,
Left the meadows that he passed all gleaming white.
Painted with his silver brush
Ev'ry window pane!
Jackie Frost, Jackie Frost came in the night!
I can remember his sparkling blue eyes when I asked one day, "Daddy, if they say `brethren', why don't they say `sistern'?"
"Well, Shug (short for Sugar)," he laughed, "the way some of the sisters pack away the food, perhaps they should be called `cistern'," and I thought I saw a rather meaningful look in my direction.
At bedtime, when I procrastinated, he would say,
"To bed, to bed," said Sleepyhead.
"Time enough," said Slow.
"Put on a pot," said Greedy Gut,
"Let's have a snack before we go."
Mother made him drop Greedy's last name, but it was still a neat way to get me to bed.
I was still sucking my thumb at nearly four years of age. One day Daddy found potato bugs on the plants, and I watched as he sprinkled a white powder on them. Next day, when we went out to the garden, all the little bugs were lying on the ground, dead. When we went back into the house, Daddy took some white flour and put it on my thumbs.
"Now, Shug, if you put your thumb in your mouth you are going to end up just like those potato bugs. I mean it!" I don't know how I made it through my sleeping hours, but I never sucked my thumbs again.
I worried about the little dog as my Daddy sang,
Oh where, oh where is my little dog gone?
Oh where, oh where can he be?
With his ears cut short and his tail cut long,
Oh where, oh where can he be?
I was afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, and singing about him didn't help. Mother said when I was just a toddler I would look around the bedroom door, afraid of the darkened room, and say,
"Big Bad Wolf bother Baby!" Then there was a song Daddy sang that went:
When goin' my way along the highway,
Just to hear a baby cry,
Is like a melody from 'way up out of the sky!
Mother didn't like that one at all. She said a baby's crying wasn't any melody. Her two kids were not planned, and she often said she had never wanted any children.
Daddy's singing was the sweetest sound on earth. All was right with the world when the strains of "Beautiful Lady in Blue", "In Dreams I Kiss Your Hand, Madam", or "Alice Blue Gown" floated through the air.
Even when Daddy prayed it was in joy:
Smile upon us, dear Lord, and make us thankful for these and all Thy many blessings.
A lady wrote in to a TV Bible teacher and asked why her son, who was such a kind and gentle person, died so young. The teacher responded, "I really believe some people are just too good for this old world, and God reaches down and takes them home." Could be.
My brother and I didn't have him nearly long enough, but he was an A-number-one Daddy while he was here.
* * * * * *
The house on the little farm had been moved from another location, and from the whispers and giggles among the female members of the family I knew that a "house of ill repute" wasn't too good - even a house could have a bad reputation! The walls were paneled with beaverboard, badly warped due to the move. Gas pipes ran up the walls and across the ceiling to the gas lamps with their mantles, just like a camping lantern. Daddy took out the pipes, brought in electricity, and fixed the walls. Once there was new linoleum on the floors and paint on the walls, it was a homey little place. It had five little rooms and a tiny back porch which Daddy screened in. It must have been pretty sound, as it is still there and lived in. The roof was of corrugated metal. You could really hear the rain when it fell. But when it hailed - wow! Once my parents had gone to El Dorado to church and left me and my baby brother with a sitter and we had an Arkansas Special. When Mother got home I told her it had sounded like elephants on the roof!
Our well was just a few steps from the back door. We didn't have to pull the water up in a bucket! Daddy had put a shiny red hand pump on it. You've seen pumps like it at some of the backwoods State Parks. Sometimes it lost its "prime'" and we had to pour water down inside to "prime" it. Then we could pump the water up again. We washed our hair by the well in warm weather. Mother would bring a kettle of hot water from the stove in the house, a basin, soap and a halved lemon, or a little vinegar if we had no lemon. She would pump the water from the well into the basin, add enough hot water from the kettle to take the edge off the cold water, wash my hair, rinse it, then rinse it again with the lemon or vinegar added to the water to "cut" the soap and give my hair a sheen. Baths were taken on the screened back porch in a galvanized tub, with water from the well and the kettle. These ablutions had to be finished before sundown on Friday night. Sister White gave a lot more instruction concerning the Sabbath than the Bible does. One rule states, "The boots must be blacked," so I polished Daddy's Sabbath shoes every Friday afternoon. I liked doing that for him.
One Friday night I had the hiccups really bed. Daddy said, "Sis, what did I tell you to do today?"
"I did everything you told me to, Daddy."
"No you didn't. Think about it." I thought and thought. I said, "I polished your shoes. Really." I was getting worried. Then his eyes began to smile, and he said, "Where are your hiccups?"
I waited a moment, then laughed and ran to his lap. "They're all gone!"
* * * * * *
I always took good care of my things. I guess when I was six years old I had every dolly I had ever been given. The little gold-trimmed set of china was intact, as were my other toys, and Annabelle, my special baby.
One Sabbath afternoon we visited a blind piano tuner and his family. He had a daughter a little younger than I. After we came home Mother talked to me about sharing with her. I didn't mind sharing. I've always enjoyed giving gifts. But Mother insisted that Jesus would be pleased if I would give up my baby, my precious Annabelle. I can remember Daddy just stood and looked at us, saying nothing. I don't know what he thought about it. I gave her up, and at even that early age vowed never to do my child that way. What does God really require?
The Dixons entered our lives about this time. Their three daughters finished off many of my toys, chipping my dishes, tearing the cloth bodies of my dolls, and ripping a wheel off my doll carriage.
The three sisters were city children, and the farm was a succession of surprises for them. Once when Daddy had stacked peanuts in the hayloft to dry, we climbed up there and had our fill of green peanuts. We all had tummy-aches, and one of the girls got pretty sick. Then there was the time we were coming back through the barn-lot after a Sabbath afternoon walk, and one of the girls picked up a perfectly shaped little oblong dropping from Daddy's newly acquired goats.
"I bet they'd be good if you cooked 'em," she drawled. Everyone nearly cracked up.
* * * * * *
Mother was humiliated when the church gave her clothes and supplies for my baby brother, Barclay, who came along about that time. I was having my own problems. My life had centered around my calisthenic and dance classes. I had excellent rhythm, and a talent for music was inherited from both sides of the family, so dancing came easy for me. A big recital, my first, was planned at the Rialto theater just three weeks after Mother decided they would become Adventists. She had already bought the silky, apricot-colored fabric and yards of gold fringe with which to make my costume. To this day, no one has considered the trauma of a little five-year-old girl who lost her greatest joy because in this new church, members were disfellowshipped for dancing.16 A five-year-old? For tap dancing?
When Mother and Daddy would be out in the yard or garden, I would turn on the radio and dance, dance, dance! But one day I got caught! Out went the radio! I could sometimes get by with dancing at Mama's house while my Aunt Billie tickled the ivories - she sounded exactly like Frankie Carle, maybe better - and you had to be dead to sit still while she made music!
One day I got behind the door and was doing my version of the rhumba when Mother, whom I thought was safely involved in the kitchen, walked in. I was caught in the act and thoroughly thrashed. The Aunties were furious with Mother.
Daddy decided that if I could take piano lessons it would fill the musical void in my life, so even though he was still being black-balled by the oil refineries because he would not work on Saturday, he scraped up $20.00 and bought an old upright piano with most of the ivories missing. Mother found an excellent teacher, Miss Anna Smead, who had studied under the masters at the Paris Conservatoire in France. The training I received from her through the years was invaluable. Forty years later she was still considered to be the finest teacher in the State. Piano lessons filled the time, all right. I learned to play well, and made my parents proud by playing for the church services by my twelfth birthday. Those piano lessons paid off in a career which let me support my four children years later. But the void was never filled. Later, when I had my own home, I would grab up a baby and dance around and around to Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Dvorak. My toddlers would come running, arms up, lisping, "Dance, Mommie! Dance!" But I didn't dare to dance anymore in my parents' home.
Mother did her best to raise me by "the little red books" - the multitudinous writings of Ellen White, most of which were in red bindings. Girls were to learn to cook and bake; domestic duties were the richest blessings to girls. There should be no idleness, and useful labor was the best employment of their time. Their limbs needed exercise, but that could be obtained without jumping and playing ball or croquet; they should know how to use a saw and hammer, harness and drive a horse, use a rake and hoe, wash dishes, iron, stand over a washtub, as well as cut out clothes economically. These things were more important than painting, music, science, fancy needlework or cube root.17 Mother did digress by letting me stay with the piano lessons. It was less an evil than dancing, and besides, I could "serve" the church and maybe marry a preacher, or better yet, a missionary!
So my training was exacting. A switch was kept atop the piano, and if I didn't practice enough or correctly, I caught it. A white handkerchief was used to check out my dusting of the furniture, and if there was a dirty place on it, woe unto me! I made sure to "accidentally" knock the switch off the back side when I dusted the piano top, you may be sure! Daddy waited impatiently for me to learn to play. Several months before my ninth birthday he offered me a deal: if I would play ten hymns before Christmas, he would get me a bicycle. Oh, boy! That was hard work. I had only been studying two and a half years, and every musician knows that hymns are harder to play than classical music, as they are written for the four voices, not for the hands! But I really put in my time, and for my Christmas birthday I got a pretty blue bicycle. I never gave a thought to the fact that it was used. I thought it was wonderful, and after a few rough hours of practice in an uneven yard, I was a real cycling pro!
By now Daddy had planted a large peach orchard, and when they began to bear they were the best-tasting peaches ever. He had two varieties, Elbertas and a white-fleshed peach I've not seen since. The honey his bees made from those peach-blossoms was so delicate, almost clear.
Now those bees were something else. When my brother was just a toddler he lifted the lid on a hive to see what was inside and received over thirty stings. He had to be rushed to the clinic where it was touch and go for a while. He pulled through, but was left with a life-long sensitivity to bee and wasp stings.
One incident would have been hilarious had there bee no pain involved. A hive swarmed on a Friday. In the process of catching and placing them in a new hive, Daddy got a sting on the side of his face. A little later, Mother was bringing some clothes from the line, and was stung on the top of her head. Next morning when they went to church, everyone smiled knowingly when they insisted that the reason they each had a swollen, blackish eye was - bee stings!
* * * * * *
All our lives now centered around the Sabbath. If you think the Jews had burdened the Sabbath, you should read all the rules Ellen White laid down. She gave early 500 do's and don't's regarding Sabbath keeping. Adventists keep the Sabbath from sundown Friday night until Saturday night sundown. And the clothes for church must be ready before sundown Friday, all of the food cooked, the car serviced, the house vacuumed and dusted, all "worldly" magazines and newspapers put out of sight. There will be no radio (or television) during the 24-hour period. If your slip strap breaks, you will just pin it until after the Sabbath, if you are sincere. You are to guard even your thoughts. I can't judge how the average Seventh-day Adventist keeps from thinking his own thoughts, but I've certainly heard a lot of them - myself included - forget and "speak their own words." (Isaiah 58:14).18 Saturday afternoons get long for the youth, who look forward to "after sundown," when most churches plan social activities so the kids can release pent-up energy.
* * * * * *
One morning we were up very early to get on the road for camp meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed a number of little gray-brown balls in the chinaberry tree outside the window.
"What are those things in the tree?" I asked innocently.
"You know better than to ask a question when you know the answer. It's the same as lying," Mother said.
I was stunned, for I truly didn't know what was in the tree. Daddy went over and tapped on the window. A dozen tiny heads popped out from under wings, and the birds flew away.
Mother took me in the bedroom and tore me up for being deceitful. I had to be very careful what questions I asked. Mother was an excellent seamstress, and kept me looking great even when poor. One year she made me a beautiful bathrobe for my birthday, and let me invite two girls out from the church and town to spend the night. They had new bathrobes, also, and thinking I was being polite I said their robes were prettier than mine, and they reciprocated, insisting mine was the prettiest, as little girls will do. Mother overheard the conversation, and when we returned form taking them home next day, she gave my lovely new robe to the colored girl that walked by our place to work every day.
* * * * * *
When I first heard the song "Playmates" as recorded by Kay Kyser in 1940, I was reminded of only one person. Ione. The folks across the country road from us had several high school age children, and one child of their older age. Ione was two years older than I, tall and willowy, as opposed to my dumpiness - like dressing a cow, my mother said - but once we got over the terrible shyness with which we were both afflicted, we became inseparable. We played together from morning until dark when school was not in session; after school during the school year. I was the one who benefited most from the relationship. Ione went to the Norphlet school, but since Adventists couldn't let their children attend the schools of the world,18 I was taught in home school for three years. I'm sure there must be successful home schooling at times, but my experience has been that the child kept at home is missing exactly what he should be preparing for - learning to live harmoniously with other people. I was nearly incorrigible once I got into a school situation. I had no idea how to act with more than one person at a time. One of the church ladies said she had never seen a child who was better around her mother than around other people. I guess I was pretty scared of Mother, so I really let go when I was away from her.
Easy-going Ione was long-suffering with my bossiness, giving me my way most of the time. We straddled cane fishing poles and they were transformed into marvelous steeds. I would be Clark Gable (Did he ever ride a horse?), and she would be Gene Autry. Or we would go out to one of our wide driveways and draw the most magnificent mansion in the sand, and to scale! We seldom spent much time "living" in them, as the fun was mostly in the designing and creating. In good weather we would walk down the hill to the swampy area around the creeks which merged there and ran under the three little bridges. There we explored the secrets of tadpoles, frogs, and turtles. I still enjoy walking barefoot on damp sandy beaches.
We had good times. Once, when we were hungry we decided egg sandwiches were in order. We had egg sandwiches, all right, mostly right down the front of our clothes, since we had done our eggs over easy!
A third use for the Sears catalogs was for cutting out paper dolls.We had marvelous communities of people, and shoe boxes to store them in. We were both perfectionists, so ours were really neat. Back then, most of the models in to catalog were shown full-length, which made better dolls. We rejected any with the head or feet off.
Ione got even with my constant managing. One day she said, "I heard about a new game today. I'll show you, but you've got to shut your eyes and let me lead you."
Gullible Pat. She led me very carefully into the middle of the most beautiful, the freshest, soft and warm cow pie! Barefoot! I should have learned right then and there not to believe everything I heard, wouldn't you think?
* * * * * *
Daddy kept pushing, and moved along in business. Mother felt the blessings were the result of keeping the Sabbath. I think differently. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another,"19 and Paul said that love, and bearing on another's burdens is the fulfilling of the law. Daddy loved people, and didn't hesitate to put his money where his mouth was, so to speak.
One very cold Sabbath an elderly man in a ragged coat came up to the church. He only wanted some long johns in order to stay a little warmer in that unusually severe winter. The deacon went running to Daddy, as everyone did, now that he was the leader of the little church. Daddy talked with the old man and discovered that he had no home, no family, no job - nothing. We were still living on the little farm and had not much to offer. But just as Peter said to the crippled man at the temple gate, I don't have much, but what I do have I'll give to you, so Daddy took old Mr. McClandless to our home and gave him a pair of his own long johns. But that wasn't all. We had an unused chicken house which he and Mr. McClandless whitewashed inside and out (whitewash is lime mixed with water) to brighten it and kill all the germs. From somewhere Daddy came up with a little wood stove, an old chair and rickety table, and a cot. A kerosene lamp on the table completed the decor, and Mr. McClandless stayed cozy in his little hidey-hole until Spring's warm breezes, when he left. We never heard of him again. Even though it sometimes embarrassed Mother, Daddy never, to my knowledge, turned anyone away, regardless of race, color, or creed.
* * * * * *
Mother had a beautiful, full and frilly dancing dress which she no longer had need for, and she gave it to me to play in. I loved it, of course, and like any other little girl, delighted in dressing up in it and twirling and swirling the airy skirt. One day Daddy came home while I was decked out.
"My, aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" He smiled at me. "All dressed up, and no place to go!"
* * * * * *
When I was eight we moved to El Dorado into the most beautiful house I had ever seen. One of the two wealthy families of the little city had moved this old mansion down the hill (How do you move a two-story house down a steep hill?), then they built for themselves a huge brick house with formal gardens, pools, fountains, which with the greenhouses, filled the entire city block across from us.
Our house, the gingerbread-trimmed one, had been placed on a full-size concrete basement in which Mother and Daddy put three apartments; two one-bedroom units and a one-room efficiency. The largest basement area was a furniture refinishing and upholstery shop, with its smells of hot glue, paint remover and varnish. Daddy's brother and his new wife had "accepted the truth" - the Sabbath - and needed work which would leave Saturdays free. Both talented and quick learners, they were just what the business needed. The ladies were soon keeping the heavy-duty sewing machines purring, a background for the percussive sounds of the tack hammer which Uncle, with his mouth full of blue tacks, pounded with a continuous rhythm. Tack hammers have a magnetic end, and one moves a tack around in the mouth until the head is in the middle of a kiss, and touches the tack hammer to the head of the tack where it adheres - voila! A talented artisan can get that hammer to mouth to chair sequence going at an amazing tempo. I can remember some truly beautiful pieces coming out of that shop. I just wish I had a few of them now. They would be among the most expensive of antiques, I'm sure. Daddy did a bedroom suite for Mother. Big broad dresser with a large adjustable mirror, huge chest of drawers, and double bed. The top of the dresser and chest were dark oak, and the rest was finished in a rubbed antique white. The cushion-topped wrought-iron bench, finished out in the same antique white, was covered with deep aqua-blue velvet, the same fabric as the bed head-board. And you should have seen that headboard! Diagonal tufts ran up and down all the way across the full width of it, with a self-covered button in the cleavage of each tuft. It was the most beautiful thing my nine-year-old eyes had ever seen. And my Daddy had made it!
* * * * * *
My dad had produced a son about as smart as he was. The discovery was made one night when Barclay had been a bit difficult.
"You go outside and get me a switch, young man, and I'm going to clean yo' plow," he said to the three-year-old. The major part of the punishment was in having to bring in one's own switch. A few minutes later Barclay came in with a little chinaberry twig, ten or twelve inches long.
"Now that's no switch! I told you I was going to clean yo' plow, and I can't do it with that. You get back out there and get me a real switch!"
After a longer period of time Barclay came back in. I have no idea where he found it, but he was dragging a big limb. I was a little nervous, as I usually was when Barclay was on the receiving end of a punishment, but I noticed Daddy's eyes. They were laughing, although he was trying to be serious. Needless to say, Barclay didn't get the switch that night. He got off with a good scolding. Our Daddy didn't raise no dummies!
* * * * * *
My parents' combined talents produced another beautiful room -blue and sliver divan, peach-floral, wing-backed chair, and a small cane-bottom armless rocker that just fit Mother. The piano was the focal point of the living room, which was normal for our house. I spent an hour of my every day there - either a half hour morning and evening, or a full hour after school. Mother was usually close by, while I worked, and would pop me with a belt or switch if I had a problem with the music.
I didn't have to practice on Sabbath, but it was understood that I would play hymns for Friday and Sabbath (we were forbidden to use the word "Saturday") evening worship. Sister White had said the family should gather "before the setting of the sun"20 for singing, prayer, and Bible study. After worship Daddy would often ask me to play, and I would play all the hymns that I knew while he relaxed on the couch, usually falling asleep before I was through.
One bathroom sufficed on each of the three floors. Huge tubs had claw feet, sinks stood free on their own glazed enamel pedestals, and while some commodes had tanks like our modern ones, most were still high on the wall, with a knob on the end of a chain which one pulled to flush. That's why when someone really got to spouting off we would ask, "Who pulled your chain?"
Two and three apartments were a lot to be serviced by a single potty. Mother and Daddy kept an apartment free for the district pastor, whose territory extended from south of Monroe, Louisiana, where he lived, to Camden, Arkansas. He and his wife came up every four or five weeks, and it was convenient for them to have a base from which they could visit their flock in the area. One night, in the wee hours, I had to go to the bathroom. Brother K. had forgotten to lock the door, and I opened it and nearly died of embarrassment, as would any nine-year-old. Modestly covered by his pajamas, Brother K. sat like a king on his throne and said, with a grin, "I'll be out in a minute!"
I can't remember if I had the courage to try again. Even so, it beat the outhouse at night!
* * * * * *
The hill on which our house was situated was quite steep. Since traffic was not heavy, all we kids on the block felt free to skate, bike, and ride our scooters down the hill on the street as well as the sidewalk. Because of the hill we got echoes from the other side of town. Every fall there was a tent revival near a certain little church over there. We could hear the singing and shouting well up where we were. I heard my folks saying they talked in "tongues." I had no idea what it meant. Whatever it was, however, was bad. I heard them say Ellen White condemned it.
"Some people have exercises", she stated, "and call them gifts to the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver."21
The middle, main floor of the house was even with the lawn on the north side of the house, but separated from it by a one-story-deep concrete walk below the steep, landscaped bank, while the other side of the house was starkly bare all the way down to the driveway. The hill tapered off into low, lush pasture which was bounded on the south by a long, long warehouse by the railroad tracks. Across the street, bordering the rich man's gardens, was another long warehouse. For us kids, what went on under the warehouses was far more interesting than anything which may have happened on the inside. It was hobo haven. Drop-outs from life, for reasons known only to themselves, there were men under there at all times of the year. Used packing crates and cardboard boxes salvaged from the unloading of boxcars kept them off the bare dirt, and odds and ends needed for their life-style were collected from various places.
I remember one morning seeing a police car and hearse at the foot of the hill. Daddy said that one of the old men had died. An alcoholic, he had had his last can of "canned heat." Daddy told us that a drunk gets so bad off he will drink anything - even the contents of a can of Sterno strained through a slice of light bread! The police found empty rubbing alcohol bottles in the old man's "space," too. Poor fellow!
Daddy told us early on that our family couldn't "hold" its liquor, that we should never drink. His father abusing his mother, swindling the company he worked for, deserting eight children, their constant struggle to live - it was still too vivid in his memory. How does one forget stealing chickens as a little boy, so Mother could fix a meal for the children?
It was about this time that Daddy took us with him to Shreveport where he had a business, and where his sister lived. We pulled in the driveway and went to the back door. When my aunt opened the door, I heard some very low talk, but couldn't understand what was being said, although it sounded like soft anger and warning. A frail man sat at the table. It happened so fast that all I remember of it was my father's laughing blue eyes suddenly looking like the wrath of God. He shook his fist at the old man. "You'd better be glad I have become a Christian," he said through clenched teeth. "I swore I would kill you if I ever saw you again!" And he turned on his hell and herded us toward the car.
"Get in the car, Sis, and take your brother." Auntie followed Mother and Daddy to the door, and I could hear no more.
Daddy had suffered right beside his little mother, whom we called Mimi, and was fiercely loyal to her. When he was sixteen years old he sent her a check for seventy dollars from Smackover so that she could take the family to Mississippi from Louisiana. Mimi's family had decided the children should be divided up among the relatives since Mimi wasn't able to care for them. So they slipped around, built a one-horse wagon, cut and smoothed hickory poles to bend into a frame for the canvas top, and quietly left for Mississippi in the evening, so no one would know until they were well gone. After a long, cold and wet, difficult journey, they arrived at a place where there was a cannery, and all the children and Mimi found work. Mimi's father had been a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. She was sincere in her love for God and did her best to prepare her children for life. She was unique in her training. One day, the two eldest ones had been hurt by someone poking fun at their poverty. Mimi sent Daddy out to the barn for an old cowhide. Placing it over her lap, she said to them, "Now each of you get a handful of those dried peas in the kitchen."
As Daddy and Auntie ran back to their Mother's lap she instructed them, "Now, raise your arm up and drop those peas into this cowhide."
The children were amazed as every pea bounced right off the cowhide. "That's the way you're supposed to be when someone says things that hurt you. Just let their words bounce off like the peas bounced off the cowhide."
The children understood. Every now and then they would look at each other and say, "Peas on a cowhide!", grin, and go on.
I didn't have nearly enough time with my paternal grandmother. Daughters-in-law tend to stay closer to their own mothers than their husbands', and I guess that's natural. I've heard many a grandma grieve because they don't get the time they want with their son's children. It's unfortunate. The little bits of time I had with Mimi were grand. She told stories to my cousin Bobby and me, and once she took us into the woods and showed us how to find the pine nuts in the large cones which fell from the trees. In spite of such a physically and emotionally stressful life, she was always delightful with us.
* * * * * *
A large family of pigeons lived in the dusty attic of the great old house. I never ventured up there alone. The stairs were narrow and steep, and there were the same kind of cobwebs one sees in horror movies. There was even an old trunk there! All it lacked were the ghosts with spear-like fingernails on the end of scrawny fingers, ancient treasure maps in the trunk, and Bach's Tocatta in D Minor! As long as someone was at home in one of the apartments, everything was okay. But when Mother and Daddy left us at home alone at night while they went to prayer meeting, the gruntings and moanings of the pigeons became the sounds of the devils of which we heard in Sabbath School - the horrible one that appeared to the lady who wouldn't quit smoking; the evil spirit who took the missionary's baby; the apparition who stood at the foot of the bed of the student who had played with a Ouija board. The only thing that made sense to me in that situation was to take my little brother, crawl into the space behind the piano with pillows and a blanket, and scrunch there, shivering, listening, worrying, until I would hear the car in the driveway and hustle my brother to his bed and dash for my own before our parents could climb the long flight of stairs in back of the house.
In summer all of us would go to prayer meeting, walking the four blocks to the church. Our little Twerpie dog, my constant companion since I was six or seven, would walk along, too. During the service she would lie in the back of the church and snap at the June beetles which flew by her. At the close of the service there would be quite a pile of beetles to pick up. Twerpie always came and lay down under the bass section of the piano when it was time for me to practice. Whether it was love for music - which I doubt - or sympathy for me, I'll never know. But whenever I caught the strap she always rolled understanding eyes at me as I sat there crying.
Daddy had completely re-done my bicycle for my tenth Christmas birthday. It was now a brand new red with white stripes. I rode it to the church school every day, and across town for my piano lessons. Once, on the way home, my music fell out of the rack on the back without my knowledge. Fortunately, most everyone in town knew Daddy, and someone called and said they had found my music on the street and had collected it. I still have two books with tire marks where they were run over before some thoughtful person rescued them.
Piano recitals were held at the Y. W. C. A. auditorium each spring. Yellowing programs in Mother's scrapbook show Pat at age seven playing Thompson arrangements of Rubenstein's "Melody in F" and Haydn's" Gypsy Rondo"; at age eight, Koelling's "Fluttering Leaves"; and at nine the "Scarf Dance" by Chaminade, which I have hated ever since. I was so frightened that I could not remember the second part. Miss Smead said, " "Start back at the beginning, Pat." I did, and made it all the way through that time, but I felt humiliated, and I was sure Mother was disappointed in me. Mother wanted me to play like Rosetta Johnson, who had begun lessons at age two, and whose pale fingers could fairly fly over the keys. After Rosetta had a nervous breakdown at the age of eleven all the mothers stopped holding her up as our model.
Mother always made me pretty clothes, and recital dresses were no exception, though she complained that it was like dressing a cow when I had that little girl tummy. Once she said I looked like I was six months pregnant. I was only eight, and though I knew I shouldn't look that way, I didn't know what to do about it. I wanted a floor-length recital dresses, but Mother said I was too young. However, several of the other younger girls had short dresses, so it wasn't embarrassing. There were new patent leather shoes, and my Aunt Billie got me a carnation corsage. I still love the scent of carnations.
* * * * * *
Every year a goal is set for each member of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Originally called Harvest Ingathering, the campaign was to be a means of increasing church membership by preparing and distributing literature describing the foreign missions work of the church, and following it up with an appeal of for donations. Each member is expected to have his funds in by the end of the year. So every Christmas-time is full of "Ingathering" while everyone else is busy with Christmas preparation. In the late thirties we were "ingathering" in summer. Everyone, old and young, who could croak a note would climb into the back of a truck, and while we moved slowly down the street singing "In the Garden," "The Old Rugged Cross," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," and "Take the Name of Jesus with You," the solicitors ran from house to house requesting money for the church's mission program. There are changes in the destination of the funds, now, but the solicitors will still say "funds for welfare and uplift work."
Daddy would push me toward an unlit door, and I would approach reluctantly, knees knocking and heart pounding. If a dog barked I would run back to Daddy. He would laugh and usually send me back, and I wanted to die! One thing Daddy never seemed to understand was how difficult it was for me to Ingather.
* * * * * *
Daddy had gradually worked back into the oil business. He had started a business steam cleaning oil storage tanks on the big tank farms. It was a highly remunerative, extremely dirty, very dangerous job. Probably dangerous more ways than one . Gases could collect in the moat-like ditches around the tanks and explode. I've seen enormous towers of billowing black smoke rolling as high as the eye could see above the flames resulting from an explosion. We have wondered if wading thigh-high in that dirty oil contributed to the cancer which later caused his death.
One evening, while working near Shreveport, Louisiana, he was doing a few clean-up chores. Only his helper was with him; the other workers had already been sent home. Suddenly the air around him exploded. He took out running, harder, he said, than he ever had in his life. He had run completely out of his shoes when he remembered his helper.
"Charlie! Hey, Charlie!" From 'way up in front of him Charlie responded,
"Yes, Suh, Mr. Pine!"
As soon as Daddy realized they were both safe, he laughed and laughed at the speed with which Charlie moved out of that ditch!
When Daddy got home that Friday evening, we were surely glad that he was alive to come home! He had several teams working in South Arkansas, Louisiana, and East Texas, so we only saw him on weekends. We kids went wild with excitement when he came in. He would get right down on the floor and play with us, but it would be after sundown, and we would have to quit.
"It's the Sabbath, Lamar." So we would try to simmer down. The preachers were constantly reminding us that we were to call the Sabbath a delight, but it was never a delight to us kids.
We both thought our Daddy could do anything, and he just about could. Really! One day he came in with two new suits. It was high time, after all the poverty of his past. Mother could keep the rest of us looking good with her sewing machine, but you can't sew for a man. One of the suits was a pinstripe. It was nice, but I've never been fond of pinstripes. But the other one was a dark charcoal gray wool with the tiniest pink flecks. He wore a pink shirt with it, a silver, black and deep pink striped tie, and I thought he really looked spiffy!
* * * * * *
Mother wanted to finish her education, and couldn't conscientiously attend a "worldly" college. Sister White condemned it. So Daddy moved us up to Madison College, Tennessee, into an old house across from the campus. He returned to the oil field to work, coming up every weekend or two. That got old pretty fast, so he made a decision he was always to regret. He left the oil business. He and Mother found a cute little stone house, and Daddy began his usual beautification program.
Some leaders in the Adventist denomination considered accreditation of their schools to be giving in to the devil, so many schools were not accredited by the State. The Madison College location, along the banks of the Cumberland River, was said to have been chosen by the prophetess herself. The fine sanitarium was a big plus for the college connected to it. Adventist health organizations were "the right arm of the message,"22 their sole purpose, according to the "servant of the Lord," for the winning of souls - to the church, of course.23
I enjoyed living there. Never had there been so many kids with which to play, and so much freedom. All the parents felt their kids were safe anywhere in the neighborhood. And I guess we were. I never was in any danger. One kid I played with would swagger down the street singing, "I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle," at the top of his voice. My mother and his became friends. Sometime when Daddy was there, Lanny's folks would invite us up for Sabbath sundown worship. I hated to go because his father would read and read, then we knelt for prayer. I was sure he prayed for everyone in the State of Tennessee by name! My body would hurt when we were finally permitted to get up.
Meanwhile, Mother got me started in piano lessons. The lady who taught at the college was herself studying with a renowned concert pianist in Nashville. After only a few lessons, she told Mother that she didn't feel qualified to teach me, and I began studies with her instructor, Mr. Goodman. One of the triumphs of my musical life happened at Madison College. When spring recital time came, the more advanced students, the college kids, refused to have me play in their segment.
"She would show us up!" They protested.
On the other hand, Paderewski's Minuet certainly didn't belong in the category with John Thompson's Teaching Little Fingers to Play. However, it surely made my Paderewski sound fantastic! I was given a standing ovation. Mother was sitting by one of her teachers who leaned over and whispered, "I know who deserves most of the credit!"
Mrs. Christian, my teacher, pushed me back out on stage and said, "Go out and play `The Flight of the Bumblebee', Pat!" Mr. Goodman had marked the fingering for me, and because I loved the piece--what kid wouldn't?--I had worked hard on it. However, I was smart enough to know that the two or three weak spots could blow it for me, and besides, by now I was shaking from head to toe, so I made a little bow to the still applauding audience and rushed off the stage, where I sat with my hands covering my face, and cried buckets. Mother came back there, maybe to congratulate me, but she said, "What on earth are you crying for?"
My own nervous little Mother didn't understand. I didn't know until later that the audience had been standing. I didn't know what a standing ovation was, anyway, so it wouldn't have meant anything to me had I noticed! I was eleven years old.
* * * * * *
I could easily roll a tenth, and Mr. Goodman, a short man with chubby hands, would pace behind the bench as I played for him sighing,"Oh, what hands! She has ten thousand dollar hands!"
He gave me music with big chords to express, I imagine, his own pride in his student. Mr. Goodman very much wanted me to become a concert pianist, but Mother told me right away that it would not be possible, as there would be too many times I couldn't perform or travel to a performance because of the Sabbath. But that didn't keep me from dreaming of it! Mother took a carload of youngsters when we had a field trip into Nashville. We visited the Parthenon in Centennial Park, and then went to the Museum. I was wandering from ancients to antiques with a couple of my girl friends when Mother came over and said, "Come here, Pattie." I followed her to an old square piano with fat, bowed legs. A lady was unlocking the keyboard.
"We don't usually let people play on this piano," she explained, "but your teacher and your mother say you are an excellent pianist. Would you like to play something on the piano that used to be in Old Hickory's home? You know, don't you, that they used it for an operating table during the Civil War?"
"Play the Minuet, Pattie," Mother said. She tried not to look proud as I played Paderewski on the time-honored piano which had stood in the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, so long before.
Madison College was an interesting place. We had soy milk delivered to our door each morning! (How on earth does one milk a soybean?) Soy buttermilk, too! Sister White had said that "according to the light given me," which to the devout Seventh-day Adventist means sent straight from God, "it will not be very long before we shall have to give up," among other items, "milk."24 Although she continued to serve milk at her own table, those within the church who took (and take) a great deal of spiritual pride in "doing," dropped milk, cream, eggs and butter from their diets, in addition to meat. So the diligent ones invented soy milk! "Cheese," she said, "is wholly unfit for food."25 You should see all the foot notes and explanations of those who manage her writings as they endeavor to explain that one away by saying that cheese was made in such an unsanitary way in those days! That was so they can at least hang on to their cheese! (Soy cheese is awful!)
There was a friendly, slightly stooped man who walked back and forth to the college down our road. He always had a smile for us, as we passed him on our bikes. I discovered he was Elder Julius Gilbert White, who had complied recipes for Seventh-day Adventists into an attractive book with color plates of fresh fruits and vegetables. He didn't use any animal products at all - after all, he had known Sister White personally! We looked at him with great awe, this thin, kindly minister who had actually spoken to the prophetess who had given all the wonderful health rules. "Cancers, tumors, and pulmonary diseases are largely caused by meat eating," she warned. The degeneration of the human race -antediluvian, post-Noahic flood, B. C. and A. D. - is mostly due to the eating of meat.26 So we knew that Elder Julius Gilbert White should live just about forever. Not too long afterward, he died of cancer. Years later, when I told a fanatical sister about that, she said, "Well, maybe he ate meat, once."
* * * * * *
As October 22, 1941 approached, a sense of expectancy was discernable around the school. Elder Spaulding, another who had known Ellen White, was planning a celebration on the anniversary of the Great Disappointment, October 22, 1844. Wagons, pulled by horses, would arrive at the school to take the students and teachers to the Spaulding farm, where there would be early-Advent hymn singing talks, and prayer.
In the early nineteenth century, William Miller, farmer and converted skeptic, began to study the Bible earnestly, his only aid a Cruden's Concordance - no commentaries. The entire story is well-documented by various sources, including Adventist,27 but to a ten-year-old, it was like this: William Miller's research showed him that the end of the world, the Second Coming of Jesus, would be on October 22, 1844. He proved this with various texts in the Book of Daniel and substantiated it with texts from Revelation. As translation day approached, the little groups around the country who believed left their crops unharvested, quit jobs, gave away property. Some were arrested for being "a vagabond and idle person," "neglecting his employment," "not providing for his family."28 After all, Jesus was coming, and they would need none of this worldly stuff, right?
Well, Jesus didn't come, and they were desolated. Many left their ranks, embarrassed. But a stubborn nucleus hung in there, and another farmer, Hiram Edson, had a "vision" the next day which explained everything. Following a prayer session, he and a friend were walking through a corn field, and Mr. Edson "saw" heaven open, and there was a tabernacle just like the one in the Old Testament! There were two apartments, and two phases in Christ's heavenly ministry, as in the earthly. Eventually, this little group, most of them in their early twenties, not an educated person among them, only a King James Bible for their source material, worked out a fantastic cover for their "Great Disappointment": Jesus had moved form the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary to the second apartment, there to begin the "Investigative Judgment" - the going over of the records of the lives of every one who has lived from the beginning of time! So the test William Miller had built on - Daniel 8:14 - which says, "Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," did not mean the earth, as he had thought, but the heavenly sanctuary! (Miller never accepted this theory.) The Adventists believed, when I was a kid, that that generation would not die out before Jesus' return. In 1941 they were saying, "There's an old black man down at so-and-so who was alive then," and similar statements. We knew, on that October evening as we rode in the wagons, that we would never live to adulthood on this earth. Time was running out.
The big question posed to us in the sermon around the campfire was: Are you ready for Jesus to come? There were many, many things to do to become "perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,"29 for "higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children."30 Not just our diet, dress and actions, but even our thoughts! It always seemed hopeless to me. Since the great theologians were of the mainline churches (daughters of the great whore!), there was no one to show the early Adventists, or even us in1941, that we are saved by the grace of God, an undeserved gift manifested in the perfect life lived for us, the guilt lifted, and the unbelievable gift of eternal life given us - all done, finished, completed, at the death and resurrection of Jesus.
* * * * * *
World War II was going strong. Madison College was one of the very few places the Japanese residents were permitted to stay when most were being taken to camps. One pretty little college student who studied with my teacher rode to Nashville with us. One day she, Mother and I were shopping after lessons. Some G.I.'s were loitering on the street. One of them leered at our little friend and said, just loud enough for us to hear him, "There goes the reason we're havin' to go to war and get killed!"
We were all uneasy and didn't shop after lessons from then on.
Adventists are not permitted to "bear arms" in the military. During the Civil War, Sister White had stated that she "was shown" that God's people could not engage in that "perplexing" war. She felt they couldn't obey "the truth" and the requirements of their officers at the same time, bringing about a constant "violation of conscience."31
The denomination makes no allowance for self-defense, defense of the home, or of the nation; it does not recognize that the better translation of the word "kill" in the commandment would be "murder," as the Hebrew word means kill with criminal intent.32 In 1864 steps were taken to secure for the young men of the church the privilege of being assigned to noncombatant service. Most of them, consequently, are in the medical corps, and at least one young man made quite a name for himself as well as for the denomination during World War II.
In order to place the boys in the best possible light, the church formed the Medical Cadet Corps, which became a compact course for draft-aged men. Madison College was one of the training centers. The fellows were uniformed from head to toe, trained in drill and other military and first-aid procedures. I watched, fascinated, as the boys marched to the barked commands of their leader. I thought they were going to wear out the lush green lawns of the school, but they didn't.
We had black-outs. The citizenry of the United States had to be prepared in the event the war did move over here. I remember turning off every light so we could open the curtains and watch the "wardens" walking back and forth with their small red lights. One night I tried playing the piano in blackness. It wasn't easy, but fun trying!
* * * * * *
Camp meeting the year I was ten had been held in El Dorado. Daddy had really worked hard to prepare for all the meetings, children's classes, hotel rooms and food service. One of the speakers was Elder Frazee. When the appeal was made for those to make decisions for Christ, I went down the aisle. However, getting baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church is not that simple. One must study all the twenty-seven fundamental beliefs of the church and answer the thirteen questions of the Baptismal Vow in the affirmative, publicly,before baptism is permitted. In addition to expressing one's faith in the Trinity, Jesus as Savior, the Bible as God's Word, one must agree to keep the Saturday Sabbath from sundown to sundown, even if it means job loss; Believe that Ellen White is a prophetess whose words are as much from God as the prophets of the Bible35; that the Seventh-day Adventist Church comprises God's last, or remnant, church; agree to tithe (mandatory) and give offerings. One must abstain from the use or sale of alcohol and tobacco in all their forms, and from the eating of unclean foods - pork, catfish, seafood. The latter items call for church discipline.34 A far cry from Jesus' salvation requirements, yes?
Well, Mother didn't think I should be baptized since I still read the funny paper, and Elder Frazee agreed with her. So that took care of that!
Meanwhile, Daddy and Elder Frazee had become fast friends. Strange, when they were so different. Daddy, laughing at himself and everyone else, the Elder bound with hundreds of "works" trying to achieve his "perfection." Elder Frazee came to the college on some mission, and he and Daddy renewed their friendship.
"Come down to Wildwood to see us, see what we're doing," Elder Frazee said.
"Just might do that," Daddy replied. So before long we were driving down to Wildwood, Georgia, not far from Chattanooga.
The Frazees had started a self-supporting missionary work in the area. A large older home was functioning as a little sanitarium, and a couple of Registered Nurses and several practical nurses cared for the patients, using the water treatments so strongly urged by Ellen White. The church still believes these instructions to have come from the throne of God, or say they do. I doubt you could tell the difference in a visit to an Adventist doctor and any other AMA doctor, now. In actuality, most of the church's "health message" was copied from the lectures and writings of Sylvester Graham, Dr. Larkin B. Coles, Dr. James C. Jackson, and others.35 Following the "counsel of the Lord" - and I promise you, Mrs. White's counsel is referred to this way - the residents of Wildwood ate no meat, since "those who continue to eat meat will not be translated"36 (Hitler was a vegetarian - d'you reckon he was translated?); they ate no fish, no fowl, no dairy, no cheese, no eggs. They ate only two meals a day,37 at 6:30 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. There were no snacks, as "not one morsel should pass the lips between meals."38 No beverages were served with meals except occasional soy milk.39 No soda or baking powder was permitted in bread-making.40 Breakfast consisted of boiled soybeans, boiled whole grain wheat, heavy brown bread, and whatever fruits were in season. Lunch/dinner differed in that vegetables replaced the fruit. Fruit and vegetables were never served in the same meal.41 Sounds and odors constantly indicated that I was not the only person having problems digesting the heavy foods!
Daddy once talked the cook into baking him a birthday cake. He brought her some walnuts which he had shelled, and she made a pretty good cake, raised with yeast. After the meal he told her he had a birthday every Wednesday! She just twinkled at him, but we got some yeast raised cake occasionally after that. The women wore dresses nine inches from the floor.42 Sister White had recommended that length in an endeavor to get the skirts up, off the streets, but this didn't seem to affect Wildwood's interpretation. Slips were three inches shorter than the dresses. No half slips, as Sister White said all the clothing should hang from the shoulders.43 Hose were heavy cotton or cotton lisle, wool in winter. Sleeves were wrist length, but could be rolled to the elbow for work. The endeavor to relate the nineteenth-century codes to a late-twentieth-century lifestyle would be hilarious if it were not so sad. The Review, the official weekly paper of the church, carried a picture in the late 1970's of an outfit, a regular length dress over pants, which should satisfy the "reform dress" which was, according to Ellen White, "designed by God"44 a hundred years earlier. Pants suits were in vogue in the 1970's, so the outfit was not totally embarrassing. Tall, slender women would look good in it. The rest of us would surely look like blimps! Preachers (males, yes?) get all in a stew about women wearing men's clothing. Anyone who can read should know that the men were wearing skirts in Bible days! What Moses had to have in mind was cross-dressing for the purpose of perverted sexual activity. Furthermore, the great Apostle Paul said if one is going to insist on keeping part of the law, he is obligated to obey all of it,45 so read the rest of that twenty-second chapter of Deuteronomy. He must build parapets around the roof of his house; never wear blended fabrics or plant different seeds in his vineyard; if he sleeps with a married woman, kill him! Wow! Moses done stopped preachin' and gone to meddlin' now, ain't he? I bet we'd even lose a preacher or two that way! By the way, did you ever notice as I have down through the years that those preachers who harangue on women's dress often end up getting caught in an adulterous affair?
Since Sister White condemned the "bonnet which exposes the face" as immodest,46 the ladies of Wildwood wore large brimmed hats to church with their long dresses and flat-heeled shoes. Snapshots in my old albums look like a gathering of the poorer class in, maybe 1890. This, remember, is in the 1940's when slacks and two-piece bathing suits were normal for women! Oh, well, were we not to be a "peculiar" people? What a pleasant surprise I had when years later I discerned that God didn't mean we had to look like drowned, gray rats, but rather, that the word "peculiar" in both the Old and New Testaments meant special treasure; one's own; jewel! Hoo--ray! We don't have to be ugly to be saved!
I was in the room with one of the "sisters" who was receiving some fomentations - hot and cold water treatments - on her chest when her husband walked into the room. She jerked the covers up to her neck. I wondered about it. Later, I read where Sister White said a woman should not excite the "animal passions" of her husband as many "have no strength to expend in this direction."47
* * * * * *
I thought we were just visiting Wildwood, but Elder Frazee told Daddy that the Tennessee Valley Authority had given them all the lumber from a work camp near a dam they had built, but they had to dismantle and move it. Manual labor was completely out of his line, and he feared they would lose this opportunity. Daddy and Mother decided they would give the folks a hand in the demolition of the buildings and the erection of their new sanitarium, so the little house at the college was sold before we could even finish its beautification, and off we went to Copper Hill, Tennessee. Leaving the main road, we drove down a narrow, winding dirt road to the river. Or what used to be a river. Huge rocks lined the river bed, and only a stream of water ran around them. We kids spent hours jumping from rock to rock. We found Paul Bunyon's perfectly shaped shoe, among other things! The area was really remote, wild and beautiful.
We camped out in the simple, rough cabins, as the men tore the empty one down first, and the men started sleeping in tents and out in the open. The two families stayed in cabins till the very last.
On our Sabbath walks - walks are permitted, as nature is God's other book - we would see evidence of boar activity, as well as many small animals. One Sabbath afternoon we came upon a strange sight. A huge, and I mean HUGE, diamond-backed rattlesnake was neatly coiled in the middle of the path. Something was very odd about it, however. It looked like hamburger! Daddy laughed at my horror, then explained: "The deer come up on one of these big snakes and, aware of its death potential, they start walking around and around it, until it is coiled up, then they suddenly pounce on it and do a rapid dance on the snake until is chopped to smithereens!"
We saw a number of them like that in the short time we were there. When the men finally started loading the stacked lumber when the work was finished, they found smaller ground rattlers between the boards quite often. Ugh!
* * * * * *
Mother cooked for the strange crew of workers. Brother Willard, a big red-faced Irishman, not too well educated, hard worker; Brother French, thin and proper, with a thin line of a mustache; Brother Green, dapper, working only as much as required, as though it were a little beneath him; Elder Frazee, cheerfulness and willingness making up for any lack of know-how; Daddy the always pleasant, hardworking, intuitive supervisor. Brother Green's wife, who carried herself with a somewhat mistreated air, was with him, and their two pretty little girls.
The fellows were plenty hungry when they came in for lunch. And every day we had a little scenario played out at the table. Proper Brother French would start cleaning up the serving bowls. He would pick up a dish with the last bit of food in it, and pointing it in each person's direction would ask, "Do you want this? Do you want this?"
After everyone had politely said, "No, thank you," he would promptly finish it off. This went on for days. We kids had begun to look at each other with that here-we go-again look when Brother French started his little charade. One day we had some exceptionally good creamed string beans and new potatoes. Brother Willard liked them, too, and had apparently had enough of Brother French's self-appointed clean-up. When he passed the last delicious bit of beans and 'taters toward Brother Willard, he reached out and took the bowl so fast that Brother French was stunned.
"Yes, I do want it!" Brother Willard said, and continued with his meal as though nothing unusual had happened. Brother French never did his thing after that. We kids missed it.
* * * * * *
One by one the cabins had come down. The last night there we all slept under the stars. The truck was loaded for the last time, and we returned to Wildwood. It was almost time for school to start, and it was only natural that Mother was asked to teach. She was an excellent teacher, and there were several families in the outlying community who attended the Wildwood church and needed a school. The house we were to stay in was maybe three-quarters of a mile back in the woods, across the railroad tracks and down a narrow one-lane road, dark even in the daylight because of the thick and overhanging forest around it. It was pure torture when I had to walk it alone.
Ours was one of two houses back there under the mountain. A lovely waterfall could be heard in the silence. It was a neat little log house, but with no electricity or indoor plumbing. There was an inviting fireplace in the living room, and Daddy got a wire popcorn popper with a long handle to help fill the cool autumn evenings. Again, my brother and I were sometimes left alone at night while the folks attended a night meeting at the "San." The old stories, and new ones, too, came to mind, and we were as afraid as ever. My evil great-grandfather heard the devil coming around the corner of the house for him once, dragging a chain. I never heard how he was reprieved, or if I did, I was still so traumatized by the sound of the chain that I forgot. I would lie in terror until my parents got home. I tried to keep my brother awake. It was much worse all by myself. The Good Book says, "Comfort my people,"48 not scare the heck out of them!
We stayed at Wildwood only until Thanksgiving. One Sabbath Mother came out dressed for church in a new pink dress she had made. It had tiny rose and gray flowers in it, and she had done some special effects with the stitching. It was really pretty, BUT: it had three-quarter length sleeves, it was an inch or two longer than her dresses usually were, and she had on a wide-brimmed hat and low-heeled shoes. Daddy exploded. They quarreled all the way to church. Daddy said we were leaving Wildwood now!
"That does it! You are a good-looking woman, and I'm not going to stick around here and let you start looking like them!"
So they loaded up my brother, left me in the charge of Sister Alexis at the San, and took off back to Arkansas to find a new home for us. The Arkansas Conference president told them that a new medical work was starting in Hot Springs, so they went to look the situation over in that beautiful area. Following, "the counsel of the Lord," they went out along the country roads looking for property. Driving along one day, Daddy saw a picturesque hillside with a wide pasture behind it. In his mind, he erased the old house and crumbling barn, built a two-story white home, dammed the creek, making the dam the driveway, put up a new barn, and saw what the had always wanted. They drove up the lumpy drive. The farmer came out to meet him.
"Wouldn't be interested in selling your place, would you?" Daddy asked.
"Sell anything I got but my wife and kids," he grinned. So for $6500.00 Daddy bought one hundred and eighty of the most beautiful acres in that part of the state. A mountain on the south, with tall pines and immense lichen-spattered boulders, was a view in itself. Acres and acres of pasture up behind the place promised bushels of wheat and oats, and hundreds of bales of hay. Three well-placed, year-round springs augured well of plenty of the clearest of Arkansas water, as well as two stock ponds which Daddy would build. The well topped the springs for thirst-quenching water, however. Years later, with allergies so severe that I couldn't breathe through my nose for months at a time, I would wake from a dream wherein I was drawing up and drinking one bucketful after another of that wonderful water - but in my dream it wasn't wetting my throat!
There were milk cows, a team of horses and all the equipment to work them, chickens and (horrors!) pigs. There were winter greens ready to eat in the garden. Everything but the house was welcoming. It was so bad that when Daddy brought me down from Tennessee, he pulled off the read in front of an old deserted barn and said, "Well, Sis, here we are!"
I watched his face to see if he was teasing me. He laughed and drove on. Later, and closer, he pulled up beside another old place where only a chimney remained, and an old tilted, falling-down outhouse.
"Here yah go, Sis!" I watched his face. I knew this couldn't be the place, but there was always that slight chance. . . His eyes were already laughing; he couldn't hold back any longer. We had a good laugh. That was his way of helping me accept the run-down house to which we were headed. It couldn't possibly be as bad as those two places!
It was good to be back with my family. Now any problems would at least be familiar ones. Sister Alexis had known nothing of kids. I had been pretty sure, as I shared her sparse attic accommodations and listened to her legalistic religious musings, that she had never been a child herself. The one neat thing I remember about her was her heavy black hair. I had never seen such marvelous hair. Of course, to let it down would have been worse than worldly - maybe even sensual - so she kept it braided and pinned up.
One of the ladies had given me some cotton lisle hose which had immediately fallen apart. Sister Alexis told me, "Nobody ever gives away anything that is any good." I've thought about that blunt statement down through the years as the church members proudly fill out their "Missionary Report" every Sabbath:
Persons helped ______
Articles of clothing given away ______
I've wanted to say, Why did you give the clothes away in the first place? Were they any good? Worth wearing? Whom did you help, and why do you think you helped them? Maybe they didn't feel so helped. Maybe they didn't even want your kind of help.
* * * * * *
It was a cold, cold winter. We had more and deeper snow than anyone could remember - twelve inches, and much deeper in drifts. When we went for our Sabbath afternoon walks little Twerpie had to leap - the snow was deeper than she was tall! To say the old house was drafty would be a gross understatement. The morning of the big snow the entire foot of my bed was covered with a blanket of snow! The floors were such that we simply swept from crack to crack, and the dirt fell through to ground underneath. A wood heater in the living room and the wood cook stove in the kitchen were the only sources of heat. If you couldn't furnish your own heat between the covers of your bed, you were just plain cold all night! The natural gas line ran across the property a hundred and twenty feet from the house, but Farmer Cook and never bothered to make things easier for his wife by piping it in.
Daddy laid pipe for the gas, hooked it all up, went to town and asked the gas company to come connect us. After waiting three weeks with no action on the part of the company, he tapped into the gas line and got our stoves going. The gas company got on the stick then, even got a little huffy, but finally agreed to a deposit amount.
As soon as he was able, Daddy started collecting material to rebuild the house. In stripping it down to find some solid portion, he was surprised to find that what would become my bedroom was very solid - in fact, a solid log cabin! He was able to retain that part, and I had the best insulated room in the house, with window sills ten inches wide! We found out later that the drive down the hill, where we later built our barn, was the original old stage route and our farm a rest stop. Sometimes I would just sit and daydream of what it was like, so long ago, sitting outside the cabin waiting for the stage. Watering the horses while the ladies sat in the shade fanning themselves, the fellows exchanging notes on the weather, the horses, the latest politics. Those must have been the days!
* * * * * *
The little community of Magnet Cove was less than three miles away. It got its name from the large amount of iron ore underground which strongly influences anything magnetic - radio waves, compasses, etc. There have been lawsuits over property lines down through the years in places where the compass never reads the same way twice. One of our land boundaries was involved once. The story was told that if you stopped your car on the straight stretch of road near Magnet Cove, and put your car in neutral, it would start rolling up the hill. I never talked to anyone who had tried it.
The soil was full of minerals. Bauxite from massive deposits was processed into aluminum at Jones Mill, about two miles away. Titanium and soapstone were plentiful. But the one which zapped our imaginations was the fool's gold! Driving down the highway around Magnet Cove on a sunshiny day, flashes of brilliant gold tempts one to jump out of the car and run for the treasure! I still think someone should be able to make wonderful jewelry from that iron pyrite or mica or whatever it is, which could compete with the real stuff. I learned early on that all is not gold that glitters!
The rich, black dirt on our mountain would grow anything. And when Daddy loaded it down with his homemade compost, we had the most beautiful garden I've ever seen. Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts in addition to the less exotic collards, kale, turnip greens and other garden standards. It was also a sticky soil. Papa, my grandfather, was a great "cusser," and he hated that sticky dirt! He would say, "Every time you take a step you pick up a blankety-blank half acre of this blankety-blank dirt on your shoes!"
He didn't like the mountains, either. He said, "These blankety-blank hills are so steep even the hogs need breechin' to get down 'em!" Breeching is the part of a harness that helps a draft animal hold the wagon back when going downhill.
Daddy said there were some slang words we could legitimately use now that we were farmers. Since the dam he built to make an attractive little lake was also the drive to the highway, it was obviously a "dam road." We could say "Gee" because when we plowed we said "Gee" for "Go right" and "Haw" for "Go left." I never discovered who taught horses their own language. Several timbers fastened together, with railroad spikes driven through them so as to stick out the bottom was called a "gee-whiz." It was pulled along to smooth newly plowed ground. "Aw, shucks!" fit well at corn-husking time. Most hens kept their nest clean, but sometimes one didn't. Daddy used the statement, "He messed in his nest," in reference to someone who made a big goof. "He made his bed, let him sleep in it," we knew exactly what he was saying. He meant that person was going to have "a hard row to hoe." If he was warning us against doing something we shouldn't, he would say, "If you don't pay attention to me, it's goin' to be too wet to plow around here!"
Daddy loved his farm. Riding in the truck with him, listening to him singing "My Blue Heaven" was about as close to security as I ever came.
* * * * * *
The war continued. Mother's brother was "somewhere in the South Pacific." That was all we were permitted to know. Those little "V-mail" letters from him would have occasional slits cut out by the censors. Families were terrified just to see a Western Union boy riding down the street on his bike. You could tell which families had received "one of those" telegrams by the gold stars hanging in the windows of homes whose man would never be coming home.
My little cousin got all the different kinds of mail confused with the birds we were feeding that icy winter. Seeing the cardinal eating at the feeder, she said "Auntie, I see the mail, and the V-mail, but where's the air mail?" Precious!
* * * * * *
My idol, Aunt Billie, came to visit. She played all the latest music for me. I learned her versions of "It's Been a Long, Long Time" and the "Marine's Hymn." She introduced me to "Prisoner of Love," "It Might As Well Be Spring," and "'Til the End of Time"--all while Mother was out, of course. "Can you believe someone has written a song that just plays up the scale and back down?" she asked.
"No, I can't imagine such a thing!" Who loved scales? So Billie played "All of a Sudden My Heart Sings" for me, with its ninths, major sevenths, relative minors, and it sounded great! I wish I could have had more time with her. Work was the name of the game on the big farm. When we first moved there I was assigned most of the housecleaning. Fridays were always the worst. One Friday night we had all sat down for Sabbath worship and the hymnbooks were nowhere to be seen.
"Sis, did you dustmop the floor this afternoon?" Daddy asked.
"Did you get under the couch?"
With that he felt under the couch and pulled out the two books. I hadn't dusted under the couch that afternoon, true, but neither had I put those books under there, Daddy, dear! One day I had really gotten with it. The entire house sparkled, and it wasn't even Friday. Mother and Daddy had gone to town, and I took advantage of the time. When I finished, I put a note on the door:
THIS HOUSE IS CLEAN. DON'T MESS IT UP!
Signed, Pat Pine, Ass. Housekeeper.
I couldn't figure out what made it hilarious to Daddy, and Mother wouldn't tell me.
* * * * * *
Because of the war, farm help was hard to come by. I became Daddy's right hand man, and Mother and my seven-year-old brother were pressed into service. Hay was the worst job. Hot sticky August weather, and you couldn't keep the hay out of your clothes to save your neck. We took turns pitching the hay onto the wagon, with one of us on top to stomp it down. On the third day of this, as I was stomping the hay, I became faint. I didn't like to be ill, as Daddy had not a lot of sympathy with complainers, but shortly he saw and got me down. He told me to lie down under a little tree nearby, and he took my pulse. We seldom went to doctors. I was at work again the next day, but it was a long time before I had much energy.
Mama Miles even came to help. After all the hay was pitched into the barn loft, it was then dropped back down into the baler. A horse walking around and around in circles was the "motor" for the baler. Itching insanely from the hay particles sticking to our sweat, tired to the bone, Daddy yelling, "More hay!" when we slowed down - all I can say is that those were not the "good ole days"! When I first saw huge rolls of hay standing in the fields not long ago, I knew that there was now an easier way to do haying.
One day, when the fatigue and tension were especially high, Daddy pulled a bale out of the baler and there on the front end was my pretty blue and yellow straw coolie hat, its pointy top turning the bale of hay into some kind of weird-looking missile!
* * * * * *
I couldn't fault Mother for being miserable. It was tough going. But Daddy knew that we had to "Make hay while the sun shines." If we didn't get the hay in, we wouldn't feed the animals, and if we didn't get the oats and wheat in, we wouldn't feed the animals or us. Mama Miles Stepped through a hole in the loft floor and injured her leg. Fatigue was high, nerves were frayed. At the end of a long, hot, sticky day we kids would take pallets onto the floor near the door in the hall where the drafts pulled in the cool mountain night air. One of those nights my poor little brother rolled over in his sleep and cried, "More hay!"
But, as I have learned down through the years, "this too shall pass." Harvest finally ended, and we had hay and oats for the stock and dried ears of corn for the horses and chickens. Daddy took the whole oats to the mill and had them rolled for the family, and had the wheat cracked for cereal and ground into flour for bread. Some of the dried corn was ground into meal, and, again, there were all those wonderful winter greens in the garden.
That was the year I learned to harness and drive a team, but not because Sister White said I should.49 Daddy needed help. He also got me a five-gaited horse, Topsy, for my very own, which I could saddle and ride whenever I wanted. Exclusively mine! She would run up against the board fence and try to rub other riders off!
I had to take my turn at cleaning the barn lot. Square shovels were made with that job in mind, and slipped perfectly under the cow pies, which we threw on the compost heap. Daddy got our first compost heap too close to the barn. One hot summer day we looked out and saw smoke rising from the big pile. We rushed to the well and started drawing, pouring, running and tossing water onto it. We got it cooled down and the danger to the barn was removed. Daddy immediately started another compost heap in a safer location. Also, he rushed up his plans for an electric pump on the well.
One year we had a terribly dry summer. Daddy had planted a new field of popcorn. Preparing a field was hard work. First we picked up rocks - millions of them. Then Daddy plowed it. Again, we picked up rocks. I told Daddy that I thought each rain caused more rocks to grow, as there seemed always to be more. And he used the rocks as an automatic beau-discourager. Any time a boy came to the farm to visit, Daddy suddenly planned a rock-picking-up day! So much for the boyfriends!
Daddy had hoped to have a little extra income from the popcorn. He watched as it came up, looking good, and then the rains stopped. He tried to figure a way to water it, but the field was strictly the back forty.
One day, after walking in from the field, Daddy said, "Well, the mule died."
"What!" we chorused.
"Yep. I took her with me to check on the popcorn. It was so hot the corn started to pop. The mule thought it was snowing, and she stood right there and froze to death!"
"Oh, Daddy!" we yelled with delight. We forgot about all the work and hopes he had put into that field. We even forgot about the sweat we, too, had put into it. I think Daddy wanted us to forget that part.
* * * * * *
Daddy had a chance to buy some fine Nubian goats; registered, beautiful, intelligent, long-eared goats. Even in the forties a female of quality could sell for as high as $300.00. Daddy got $325.00 or our best doe, Cinderella. Rich auburn with tan spots, she had long ears like a cocker spaniel. Within a year I was milking fifteen to twenty goats every morning before we left to school eleven miles into Hot Springs. We couldn't go to the rural public school, of course, even though the school bus went right by our house. Seventh-day Adventists, as you know, "are to separate themselves from sinners, choosing their society only when there is opportunity to do them good."50 And everyone who doesn't keep the Sabbath is a sinner! So we drove into town every day.
When we got home in the evening, I did my hour of piano practice, then went to the milk house where the fire had already been lit under the big galvanized tubs where I washed the milk bottles. Daddy had rigged a bottle brush up to a motor, and I just picked up a bottle and pushed it up on a whirling brush. Often among the dozens of bottles in the tub one would break. After several really nasty cuts I learned to feel for each next bottle very gingerly. When all the bottles were clean and draining up-side-down in their wire racks, I either milked or bottled the milk, whatever Daddy said. When all the milking chores were completed, I went back to the house to prepare my clothes and fix the lunches for the next day.
* * * * * *
The next summer several neighbors got together and did the hay. A machine which baled right in the field came around to each farm, as did the men from the farms. It was easier that way. I was cook for the bunch when they came to our place. Mother would tell me what to prepare and how, and I would get it ready. I could bake a tasty loaf of whole wheat bread by the time I was fourteen. "It is a religious duty for every Christian girl and woman to learn at once to make good, sweet, light bread from unbolted wheat flour," Sister White said. "There is more religion in a good loaf of bread than many think."51
* * * * * *
Mother taught school in the back room of the church the first full year we were on the big farm. She had eight grades to teach and only about a dozen students, a thankless job which she handled well. In order to insure a certain standard, the General Conference had prepared examinations for all grades from seven on up. These were sealed, to be opened only in the presence of authorized persons. One of the tests,not required, was music. Mother just wanted to see what I would do with it. She was surprised, happily, when I wrote a perfect exam. She couldn't believe that I could sight-read the tunes and recognize them without playing them on a keyboard. After all those years of piano?
Mother wasn't planning to teach the following year. In order for us to attend school it was necessary for me to learn to drive. Arkansas permitted drivers to be licensed at age fourteen. I was thirteen. Daddy talked to the State Trooper who told him there was no problem as long as I didn't have a wreck. If I did, however, the responsibility would be Daddy's.
So I learned to drive. First, I had to change a tire. Daddy said it was important that I know how so I would never be stranded with a flat. Then we drove to town. Standard shift. Jerk, jerk, jerk.
"Pull over, Sis. Let's try that again."
Jerk, jerk, jerk. Again. And again. It was embarrassing. But each time was a little better, and before we got to town I could start up as smooth as skates on ice! Business done, we started home. I was still creeping along.
"Come on, Sis. Let's get home!" Now I don't, as a friend said, "Drive like a bat out of hell," but I've kept 'em rollin' ever since.
Our next trip to town was for good advice. "Brake before you get into a curve. When you see you're too fast inside a curve, don't brake or you will lose control. What you do then is give it more gas. That increases traction and you can maintain control."
"Now when you have a blow-out, don't brake. The car will fishtail and you'll lose control and end up in the ditch," Daddy instructed. "Just take your foot off the accelerator and very gently pump the brake a little at a time." That was before slow-out tires and power steering. His advice came in handy not long after when we were on a Louisiana gravel road. The tire blew on a down-hill curve. I followed the counsel he had given me and got the car onto the shoulder safely.
"When your right front tire goes off the pavement, don't jerk it back on. Wait until you see a smooth place and ease it back on." Excellent advice. I've seen many cars wrecked from that very happening.
My training was finished. From then on Daddy had me do a lot of errands for him. Every morning at family devotions he prayed for our protection, and God must have heard him. I know what you're thinking: "I'd never let a kid of mine do that!" But remember, there were not nearly so many cars on the road then as there are now.
* * * * * *
The war was finally over. Materials that had been going only into the war effort were now becoming available everywhere. Daddy got the first civilian jeep in the county. Would you believe that suddenly I was the most popular girl around? Boyfriends came out of the woodwork! Daddy thought it was hilarious, and he generously permitted the guys to drive the most popular vehicle of Work War II around the farm.
When Mother and Daddy had been holding Bible studies out around Smackover before we moved to Tennessee, a mother and two children joined the church. The older son had spent summers with us for two or three years, and Daddy invited him to stay and attend the new Hot Springs Junior Academy the coming year. Delmar was like a brother to Barclay and me - working beside us, quarreling and competing as kids so. Daddy taught him to drive, too. He did well except once in a while he would forget he had it in reverse. Once he backed over a bike, another time into a light pole, but he topped it off one day. There was a steep embankment near the house. I looked up one day to see Delmar sitting in the Jeep, all four wheels off the ground, and the Jeep rocking like a seesaw where he had backed the rear wheels off the embankment! "Daddy!" I screamed. Telling Delmar to sit very still, Daddy ran around below the back of the Jeep with some heavy boards, and propped the rear end up; He then instructed Delmar to put the gear in four-wheel drive and give it a little gas. The front wheels pulled it right up. I shook the rest of the evening.
* * * * * *
By now Daddy had us a lovely two-story house, hardwood floors, spacious eat-in kitchen, separate dining room. There were two bedrooms downstairs, four upstairs and a full-sized attic which could eventually be used as two more bedrooms, a hobby room, or whatever. The unusual crystal rocks Daddy had collected over many months, now embedded in the fireplace, had become the focal point of the long living room. All by herself Mother had designed, cut out and assembled some pretty fern boxes and end tables, and painted them a bright yellow. Dusty rose drapes with ivory and yellow roses finished of a house to be proud of.
* * * * * *
Fiction reading was forbidden to us. I could read Richard Halliburton and Osa Johnson, and I devoured everything they wrote. I was permitted "Little Women," as it was mostly true, but had to sneak "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys" while visiting my Aunt Hazel. When I was really into a book I would get under the cover with a flashlight, reading well into the wee hours. Once I found a book of espionage in an old house. I burned the batteries out on that one! I was hooked! From then one espionage and mystery intrigues me as I tried to outsmart the writer and unravel the plot before he did! I was smugly pleased recently, to discover that many scholars of the Biblical languages are notably avid detective and mystery readers. The day was to come when with every fiber of my being I would be struggling to resolve the greatest mystery of all time.
Ingathering still came around every year. Daddy, always the leader of any group, took the young people around town, some singing, some soliciting. We kids didn't think of it so much as the Lord's Work as a kind of competitive lark. Daddy was well known around town by now, so when he sent me up to certain doors he would say, "Shug, go to that brick house and tell them you're L. B. Pine's daughter."
One night that announcement got me a ten-dollar-bill. Of course I bragged. We always compared totals as we went along. Everyone lost heart for that evening. No one could top that. Daddy would let me hold hands with my boyfriend when we went Ingathering. That helped. One night while the carolers were singing it started snowing! Everyone who came to the door was excited by the Christmas Card scene, so we had a record offering that night.
Hot Springs was a gambling resort in those days. Some of the Elders got the idea that going into the clubs and casinos was a good place to raise funds, and, of course, the teenage girls of the church were chosen to go. The "brethren" would be there at all times, unobtrusively, to be certain of the girls' safety.
"No way will my girl go," my Daddy said. So I didn't. It's just as well. One night I was soliciting on the sidewalk downtown and stepped into a doorway of a beer joint that opened directly on the street. As I gave my little spiel to a man sitting at the bar I could see by his actions that he was very, very drunk. He pulled out his only bill, a twenty, and handed it to me. I didn't have the heart to take it. I was severely criticized by the others.
"He's just going to spend it on booze, anyway. You should have taken it." Well, I told you I wasn't a good Ingatherer!
* * * * * *
A goat farm was a lot of responsibility and hard work, but not without rewards. There were the early and late milkings, the chilling and bottling of the milk, cleanup in the milk preparation room as well as in the milking rooms. The joy of milking was the personalities of the goats. They lined up to be milked, fighting to be first to jump up on the concrete block which made them high enough for us to work with. Rarely did we have to lock their heads for milking, as they loved us so much. They would turn their heads back toward us and nibble at our ears, or in my case, grab a mouthful of my braid and give it a jerk, all the while whinnying softly. The Nubians were very picky eaters. If one of our little bantam chickens just ran through the manger the goats wouldn't touch the feed for which Daddy paid over $8.00 per 100-pound bag back then! So Daddy had to fence in the feeding area with chicken-wire, and he installed automatic watering cups, which solved the problems of clean feed and water.
In time our goat farm become a tourist attraction, even eleven miles out. The sightseers were not disappointed. A young doe would edge up to a lady absorbed in watching the milking process, and would ever-so-quietly nose under the hem of her dress, grab a mouthful of her slip and - jerk! - at which the poor lady would lunge for the nearest human being, shrieking in fear! Our babies could never resist satin or silk!
They had developed a taste for the crumbled chewing tobacco which Daddy had placed in a special feeder box in the barnyard as a vermicide. Dapper fellows in their gambling duds would get edgy when a goat began to nuzzle their pockets until one of us would laughingly say, "She wants a cigarette!"
The gingerly proffered gift, enthusiastically receiver, brought laughter from everyone. Often we were asked to sell a kid for butchering, but we could never do that.
"Would you eat your pet dog?" I demanded of one gentleman. He looked at me as if I were nuts. But those were my little rascals, from the creaky arthritic old lady we called Whiney to the tiny auburn male kid which I had nursed through the scours.
No, we would never eat a goat or any other meat, but Sabbath noon meal was the time we "dished up" the preacher, or anyone else that merited our criticism that week. Any religious organization held together by hundreds of rules rather than by love for God and concern for the welfare of the individual--well, the rules are going to dominate. Invariably, those members judge the other person by those rules, and not himself. I heard Daddy say more than once, "Look, I'm going to need the Lord to go easy on me. Let's take it easy on other people."
I have never known such cannibalism as in the church where I grew up. Someone came in with a feather in her hat. "Sister White says we shouldn't wear feathers!"52
One young mother discovered her child had just been given a bite of tuna sandwich at a church gathering. She yelled and stuck her finger down the baby's throat in a attempt to cause her to throw it up. Not only does Sister White say meat causes cramps, convulsions, apoplexy and sudden death,53 but it causes animalism!54 Who would want all that for her child?
One of the Elders sat on the aisle every Sabbath to better check hemlines and hose. One little lady, bringing up a houseful of kids by herself, seldom had money for hose. "Sister White says we're supposed to dress modestly," When seamless hose came out, they were sinful because they made the legs look naked. Thirty years later when seamed hose came back they were immodest because they attracted the eye to a woman's legs! The tiniest bit of lipstick was noticed and condemned. We had one little lady who just grinned and kept right on wearing her lipstick. All these years later she still wears it. She is the one who stayed by my Daddy when he was dying. She is the one who was awarded special recognition by the community for her compassion for the elderly. The unadorned, unpainted, hypocritically plain members are still bickering and criticizing each other.
Never, in all my life in the Adventist Church, did I hear a sermon preached on Galatians 6:2. That'll be the day!
* * * * * *
"You shouldn't celebrate Christmas. It's pagan!
"She used candles in church. That's Catholic!"
At fellowship dinners: "Does this bread contain oil? Sister White we should use oil only `as it is in the olive'."55 That was the big issue when I finally saw the light of grace and left the confusion (Babylon!) behind.
"Easter is a pagan holiday!" So the celebration of the resurrection of the Savior goes by, practically unnoticed. I don't remember ever hearing a sermon centered around the resurrection at any time, much less at Easter time.
"You shouldn't bring guitars into the church." Especially not drums. "Sister White condemns drums."56
I really had it out later with one aging fanatic. She insisted that I "swung" my music, that there was to much rhythm in my playing. It all started because she had seen my little daughter patting her foot. I said,
"So? I could pat my foot to the `Hallelujah Chorus'."
"Oh, my," she said primly. "That is absolutely sacrilegious!"
"No, it is not!" I insisted. "There is rhythm in everything God made. The entire universe moves in rhythm. I can sit by a waterfall and find a rhythm I can pat my foot to!"
I was wasting my time.
* * * * * *
Daddy's favorite book from Ellen White was The Desire of Ages. He didn't live to learn that she had plagiarized it from the writings of John Harris and William Hanna. It says something to me that for Daddy, Jesus had the importance, not the rules, regulations, and hundreds of "testimonies," often harsh, which were written to hundreds of people about hundreds of "sins"!
Daddy was an amicable fellow who never saw a stranger. Mother needed a man who was exclusively hers, so the marriage had always been an explosion waiting to happen, which it often did. Daddy enjoyed the church socials and other get-togethers. Mother was seldom at ease at such times, worrying about Daddy having too much fun and about how "the Lord," as the church would say, said we're not supposed to jest or joke. Ellen White, of course, said it many times. But "the Lord" said through the wise man that a merry heart does good like a medicine!57 Research has proven that, so take your choice--Ellen White or a merry heart!
* * * * * *
There was an Adventist family living out our way with whom we sometimes shared rides. The wife, with her long auburn hair and dancing black eyes had been a little sweet on Daddy for years, so there was bad blood aplenty between her and Mother. As far as I could tell, even at such a tender age, she was a little sweet on all the men. So maybe Mother shouldn't have worried so much. After all, no one can break up a strong marriage.
One Sabbath when I was fourteen, Delmar and another boy who was spending the summer on our farm, and I were permitted to stay in town for the afternoon Young People's Meeting with the understanding that we would come home with Juliette. As it happened, after the meeting the group got together and impulsively decided to have a social at the Pastor's house that night. Juliette never missed a party and assured us that since Mother and Daddy knew we were with her, everything would be all right.
We had a great time playing Last Couple Out, Three Deep, Drop the Hankie. Then we ate watermelon. When the evening came to a close, and Juliette took us home, I was a little uneasy, but the house was dark, so we all crept in on tiptoe so as not to awaken the folks, sleeping, we thought. The boys went up to their rooms and I to mine. I undressed and put on my two-piece "shorty" pajamas and crawled into bed, falling to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. A short time later the light suddenly came on. I sat up. My parents were standing there looking very grim. Daddy was holding six peach tree switches, each about five feet long. Mother said, "We've been looking for you for hours. Where have you been?"
"We were at the preacher's house with Juliette."
"You should have come home. You were supposed to come home right after Young People's Meeting."
"B-but." I was terrified. "Juliette said you wouldn't worry as long as you knew we were with her."
"You should have made her bring you home."
"You'll learn to mind," Daddy threatened, as he walked toward me with the switches. Oh, God! This wasn't my Daddy!
"No, Daddy! Please, no!" I begged.
He chose a switch and started in. I can't, to this day, tell you about it. You will just have to imagine. I was mostly bare-skinned in the popular shorts and halter p. j.'s. He wore out all those switches, one at a time, while Mother watched from the corner. It was nearly forty years before I realized that Mother was beating Juliette, Daddy was beating Mother. A long time after, Delmar said,
"Your screams tore me up. If you deserved that, then I deserved half of it." I still have scars from it on one of my shoulders.
The next day the kids from the church came out to take us swimming with them after our milking. They even brought a chaperone, as they knew Mother would never let me go without one, Of course, I had to refuse. The boys went, but I could never have let anyone see my body, bruised and bloody, some of the stripes having laid open the skin.
Mother said Daddy grieved on his death-bed about that beating. I wish he had talked to me about it, and I could have begun a healing process, as well as reassuring him that it no longer mattered. Mother, however, defended it.
"You were becoming rebellious and unmanageable. Something had to be done."
Rebellious? I rebelled against the quarreling that went on in our house. Once I had even gotten out Ellen White's Testimonies to prove to the folks that a home should be peaceful. I think they tried to hide the fights a little more. Unmanageable? I had sneaked an Easter egg dye tablet into my purse to smear on my lips away from home since I couldn't wear lipstick. And I wore some spike-heeled shoes handed down from my Aunt Billie. (Ooo, were they pretty--black suede sandals with a design cut into the wedge heel!)
I had tried to figure out how to run away on more than one occasion, but the only place I knew to go was to my Grandma's, and I wouldn't be allowed to stay, so I didn't run away. (Or did I? Marriage at the age of sixteen is certainly running away from home.)
Daddy never touched me again in a disciplinary way. Sometimes when we were riding to town and back, he would sing, "Have You Ever Been Lonely?" I cried inside as I listened to the words:
"Can't you see that I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made?
Can't you see that I've changed, dear,
Can't you see I've paid?
Be a little forgiving, Take me back in your heart,
How can I go on living, Now that we're apart?
If you knew what I've been through,
You would know why I ask you
Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever been blue?"
I knew he was sorry for that unspeakable beating, and I was sorry for him. But it was never discussed.
* * * * * *
My schoolmates enjoyed coming out and experiencing the differences in town and country living. Sometimes we would swim in one of the stock ponds, and we tried sleeping in the barn on the hay a time or two, but goats murmur and grunt with every breath when they're at repose, and visitors had a hard time sleeping with that unusual sound. Violet, a good friend, brought her cute, blond, blue-eyed cousin once. We hiked, picnicked by the lake, then kicked off our shoes and waded. It was a fun day. Later, Violet told me that her cousin said I had sexy feet. Sexy feet? What I knew of sex was only what I had seen on the farm, and I couldn't see how feet had anything to do with it.
The next year and a half were better. Mother and Daddy still quarreled, but less often. Daddy was not always well, though he kept going at a pretty good clip. He loved his farm, and one day he came in from the woods with his eyes twinkling.
"You'll never guess what I saw! A pileated woodpecker!" Back then they were very reclusive and seldom seen by the casual observer. The birds on our place were wonderful. On one of Mother's school programs the kids had sung a song entitled "Birds in May." Everyone else has probably forgotten it by now, but I never did:
Wake early some morning in May
To hear the chorus ringing;
The sun peeps up to say "Good Day,"
A rooster crows from far away
And the birds have started singing.
Tho' no one gives the signal to begin
This cheerful morning song,
Each bird can tell just when he should come in
And warbles clear and strong.
The wren will almost burst its tiny throat
To greet the rising sun;
The crow is sure to add a lusty note
(That is his only one!)
But each bird knows when to start his measure
Sings his tune by heart with pleasure.
What can be more glad and gay
Than the birds in May?
Many mornings I would go out early to the swing on the big old black walnut tree and listen to the birds of all kinds singing their own arrangement of the "Hallelujah Chorus"! It was a bit of heaven on earth!
It was a busy time. Daddy working hard, Mother teaching, three kids in the house who didn't want to miss a thing at the church, in addition to school and chores. My brother said, "All I hear is `hurry up' and `wait a minute'!" We were up at five-thirty each morning except Friday, when we got up at four-thirty, so that we would have time to chill and bottle the morning milk before Daddy delivered. We had to leave twice the quantity on Friday since we didn't deliver on Saturday.After milking and clean-up each day I ran in to wash up and comb and braid my long hair, eat breakfast, and drive to town to school. Spend only as much time as absolutely necessary studying so as not to interfere too much with our socializing, drive back home, practice my hour, milk goats, bottle the milk and wash up the bottling room. Then eat supper, make lunches, and off to bed. There was no TV. Folks were enjoying television in the big cities, but it would be quite a while before it could be brought in over our mountains. We had to come up with our own entertainment, and we did a pretty good job. All of us, including our foster brother Delmar, loved to read, so there were plenty of books, mostly Adventist. Delmar slipped off to a movie with friends once in a while, but I had never taken that chance since I had gone with some church members with whom I was spending the night years ago in El Dorado. It was a Roy Rogers movie, less than harmless by today's standards, but I got the switch anyway.
We got a new minister--tall, handsome, charismatic. But Elder Lieske's greatest asset, in my opinion, was his wife. She really knew how to play the piano. I watched very carefully everything she did and was soon embellishing my hymns and gospel songs with aplomb. I don't think she ever realized it, but she was a big part of my music education early on.
In our early teen years we were experimenting with life. The boys put mirrors on the floor of their cars, holes were drilled in the walls of the one rest room. I was horribly mortified when one of the boys said I looked like I had two baseballs in my sweater. My special girlfriend commiserated with me. I was having a problem I didn't know how to handle and couldn't talk to anyone but her about it. One of the school board members, a married man, was talking to me too often and too long about nothing, but with "that look" in his eyes. He started writing me little notes that were innocuous, but totally unnecessary. One rainy day during lunch hour I was standing at the door watching as my boyfriend left for the nearby drug store where the kids often bought lunch. The unnamed board member was at the school for some purpose unknown to me. He walked up behind me.
"Nasty day, yes?"
"Watching your boyfriend?"
"Um-hum." Maybe if I ignore him he'll go away. No such luck. He moved closer. And closer. He moved so close I could feel the pocketknife in his pocket. Or was it?
I was pretty dumb. Naive and innocent. But I knew I had to put some distance between that man and myself. I obviously avoided him and made it a point to stop and speak with his wife every time they were both present. I was proud of myself as he backed off. Even at that early age I seemed to realize that the one with the prestige, be it money, power or the ability to lie with a straight face, is the one believed. So I handled it by myself. I should have remembered that, later on.
The beautiful Army and Navy Hospital, built on the side of a mountain in downtown Hot Springs, was filling up with injured boys. We had occasional Adventist boys visiting the church. One nice-looking young man wanted to date me, but of course I was not permitted to go with him, even though I looked seventeen. I didn't think fourteen should be too young for a girl who was church pianist, could milk goats, bottle the milk, run the milk route if necessary, clean, iron, do the family wash, cook - but my folks knew that wasn't all there was to it.
Kenneth G, a grade ahead of me at the church school, was sweet on me. One night at a showing of Disney's Beaver Valley (Although feature films were forbidden, approved nature movies could be enjoyed), the boys were sitting on the pew in front of us girls. In the darkness I felt a hand on my leg. I had a freshly sharpened pencil in my purse. A few seconds later all the guys turned and looked when Kenneth yelled, "Ouch!" No one ever knew why.
The young man didn't give up easily. He went around singing, "Oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin' Pattie Pine," to the tune of "Clementine." I thought he was cute, and everyone got a kick out of his song. We had only the eight or nine of us in the little Junior Academy to choose from, so we all fell in and out of "love" with each other at an amazing pace.
* * * * * *
Daddy had a chance to buy a little health food store. No one was aware that he was failing in health. Reading everything he could get his hands on, his interest in natural methods of healing grew, so he sold his goat dairy and invested in a less strenuous business. He moved the little store uptown, right across from the famous Arlington Hotel. He built shelves along both sides which he filled with vitamins, minerals, and nut butters, fruit juices, other delectables. Half way back on one side the shelves stopped, and he built several booths. In the center he built a U-shaped juice bar. Attractively laid out on crushed ice under the glass were the carrots, celery, spinach, parsley; orange, grapefruits, lemons from which the customer could order a specially made drink. They enjoyed watching the oranges squeezed and the carrots and celery juiced. Or perhaps they ordered a colorful raw salad Daddy would make to order for them. In those days people came from all over the country to take the renowned baths and water treatments in our town. Hot water rises out of the ground all through the little valley, and it was piped into tiled pools in the bath houses which lined Central Avenue. It was a safe time, and pleasant. The war was over, life was normalizing, and we could walk down the street at any time. Once a week there were wonderful concerts in the elegant lobby of the Arlington Hotel featuring a cellist, a harpist, pianist, violinist or vocalist. Marvelous classical music and beautiful popular songs which in those days meant the hypnotic melodies and rich harmonies of Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Victor Herbert; Youmans, Cahn - the musical greats. The fellows who knew how to create more than a loud beat, three chords and a wah!
A fellow from Chicago began coming into the store for carrot juice. He was staying at the Arlington, so I knew he couldn't be poor. Seems he was a retired boxer. He listened to Daddy call me "Shug" and heard me call him "Daddy." After he had come in several days he leaned over the bar.
"Patsy, he's not your Daddy, is he?"
"Of course, he is!" I replied, laughing.
"Nah! I think he's your sugar-daddy." I had never heard the term but knew what it meant. I laughed, proud that I looked so sophisticated.
"Yes, he really is my father." Several visits later, Dugan ordered a salad. When I was not with a customer, he called me over to the booth.
"Patsy, I'm gonna marry you," he announced. I continued treating the entire matter as a joke.
"Dugan, I'm much too young to marry. I'm only fifteen," I finally admitted.
When the horse-racing season was over, Dugan told Daddy, "I'm gonna come back next year for Patsy. I'm gonna marry her."
Daddy's eyes twinkled at him and he laughed. "We'll see about that!"
What a difference a year can make!
* * * * * *
A couple of guys who worked for the Electric Company stopped in at the store for juice at lunch several times a week. Both were good-looking hunks, one dark and one blond. My girlfriend worked at the store some when we needed extra help, and the two of us would enjoy a bit of camaraderie with the fellows. I thought the black-haired one was about the best-looking man I had ever seen. He flirted and joked, and once when he boarded the city bus I was on he came over and sat by me. When I mentioned it to Mother she made the assumption that it was deliberate, and these little incidents convinced her that I should be sent away to an Adventist school so I wouldn't marry "one of these boys around here" or worse, a "worldly" fellow.
* * * * * *
I had been studying with Mr. Callahan since we left Tennessee. He, too, had wanted me to consider a concert career, but again Mother reminded me that it would be to hard to keep the Sabbath as a concert pianist. At my last recital in Hot Springs I played Palmgren's "May Night," Rubenstein's "Melodie in F," and the final recital number, Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in C-sharp Minor." It brought the house down, and that pleased me, as my heartthrob was out there. Mother had brought me a white taffeta formal with a sweetheart neckline and a center panel in the bodice which was shirred all the way to a point just below the waistline.
D.L., tall. soft-spoken, was truly my "first love," the one that stays forever a bittersweet soft spot in your heart - remember? But I was to be a minister's wife, a missionary's wife! The reason for all the piano lessons was to enhance my position in the church.
The night of my recital, dressed in the pretty white formal, D. L. was permitted by Daddy to walk me all the way down Bath House Row to the store, where the folks would be waiting for me. Daddy understood. D.L.'s eyes shown as I took his arm. We tried not to die laughing when a Yellow Cab pulled up and the driver leaned over and called, "Taxi?"
Next Sabbath as I was standing in the church parking lot visiting with my girl friend I saw Daddy and D.L. standing just outside the door looking my way. Daddy punched him in the arm.
"Whatcha doin', boy?"
"Just admirin' natural beauty," D.L. grinned. That tickled Daddy.
Sixteen credits were all that was required for high school graduation, and one could enter college with only fifteen. It was decided that I would go to the denominational academy/junior college near Ft. Worth in Texas, three hundred and thirty miles away from my home. Since I had taken eleven credits in two years I would be bale to finish high school in one year at Keene. I had mixed emotions. It seemed romantic to be leaving home, but in some ways I didn't want to go. Thanks to our religion, I had no choice.
Sunday before I was to leave, D.L. came by the store. "May I borrow your daughter for a while?" he asked Mother.
"How long is a while?"
"Oh, an hour or so," he grinned.
We drove up Tower Mountain, the romantic spot of downtown Hot Springs. Halfway up he stopped the car, and with his arm around me, we sat and talked. So young, so much in love, too shy to talk about it, and now to be separated. How could we have made any plans? He had a lot of hope, but I was to be caught up in a trap that would steal my youth, my joy, my health.
At last he kissed me on the forehead and took me back to Mother.
"Did that boy kiss you?" she demanded.
"Yes. Just on the forehead."
"I was afraid of that." I guess she figured she was getting me out just in the nick of time.
* * * * * *
Continue to Part 2 - "SHE MADE HER BED - LET HER SLEEP IN IT"
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1-3. Courtesy of Arkansas Oil and Brine Museum, Smackover, Arkansas.
4. Dan Blume, A Pictorial History of the TALKIES (Grossett & Dunlap,1958), page 9. 5. Courtesy of Arkansas Oil and Brine Museum, Smackover, Arkansas.
6. Ellen G. White, Manuscript 14, 1901.
7. Ellen G. White, Testimonies, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1900), Volume 6, page 352.
8. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1888), page 383.
9. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, (Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1882), Page 32.
10. Ibid., page 285.
11. Ellen G. White, Letter 44, 1896.
12. Ellen G. White, Manuscripts number 76, 1905; 85, 1908; Letter 90, 1897.
13. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 455; Testimonies to Ministers, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1923), page 83; The Youth's instructor, January 1, 1907.
14. See Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White: Amusements; Ball Playing; Card Playing; Checker Playing; Chess Playing; Cricket; Sports.
15. Robert D. Brinsmead, Judged By the Gospel, (Fallbrook, CA: Verdict Publications, 1980), page 178, footnote.
16. Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, page 148.
17. E. White, Education, Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903), pages 216, 217; 248, 249; Testimonies Volume 1, page 394; Volume 5, page 90.
18. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 6, page 193-205.
19. John 13:34
20. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 6, page 356. 21. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 412.
22. E. White, Review and Herald, March 23, 1905.
23. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 7, page 59.
24. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 369; Union Conference Record (Australian), July 28, 1899.
25. E. White, Ministry of Healing, page 302.
26. See E. White, Counsels on Diets and Foods, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, compiled 1938), pages 373-380.
27. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, page 317.
28. The Piscataquis Farmer, Dover, ME, March 7, 1845.
29. Matthew 5:48
30. E. White, Education, page 18.
31. E. White, Testimonies, Volume one, page 361.
32. See Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, "kill", in Exodus 20:13.33. See Robert W. Olson, ONE HUNDRED AND ONE QUESTIONS ON THE SANCTUARY AND ON ELLEN WHITE, Ellen G. White Estate, Washington, D.C., 1981.
34. See Church Manual, "Unclean Meats".
35. See Ronald L. Numbers' Prophetess of Health, New York, N.Y., Harper & Row, 1976).
36. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 352; Volume 9, page 381; Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene (out of print), quoted in Counsels on Diet and Foods, pages 380, 381.
37. E. White, Testimonies, Volume four, page 416, 417; 502.
38. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 373.
39. E. White, Review and Herald, February 21, 1888.
40. E. White, Ministry of Healing, (Mountain View, CA; Pacific Press Publishing Association, published 1905), pages 300-302; Review and Herald, May 8, 1883.
41. E. White, Ministry of Healing, page 299, 300.
42. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 521.
43. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 4, page 635.
44. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 4, page 639.
45. Galatians 5:3.
46. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 189.
47. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 477.
48. Isaiah 40:1
49. E. White, Education, 216, 217.
50. E. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1890), page 459.
51. E. White, Counsels on Health, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1923), page 119.
52. E. White, Messages to Young People, (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Association, 1930), page 346.
53. E. White, Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, 147, 148, quoted in Counsels on Diet and Food, page 386.
54. E. White, Review and Herald, May 27, 1902, quoted in Counsels on Diet and Food, page 382.
55. E. White, Ministry of Healing, page 298.
56. E. White, letter 132, 1900, quoted in Selected Messages, Book 2, page 36.
57. Proverbs 17:22.