Oh, the Places I've Lived--Part I

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 27) is Call Day for the fourth year seminarians at Concordia in St. Louis. My son-in-law is one of them. Pete and Caroline have been anxiously counting the days until they know where they will be placed for their first church.

Although Pete and Caroline were asked about their general preferences, the assignments are made by a committee that has to consider the available openings as well as the candidates and try to make the best matches overall. So Caroline and Pete can end up anywhere in the U.S. for their first church. (For subsequent churches it will be a more normal interview process where both Pete and the church will have a say.)

I know how they feel. My father got to choose his churches (as long as they also chose him), and I'm sure my mother had a part in the decision, but my brothers and I had no say. By the time I graduated from high school, I had lived in seven different places and attended four different schools.

So in honor of my future grandchildren, I have decided to reminisce about the places I've lived.

I don't remember the first two, though. I was born in the small town of Shelby, Michigan, and we moved to Elmira, Illinois when I was less than three months old. Elmira was a country church, and my only memory is a vague one of swinging in someone else's yard.

In the fall of 1953, when I was not quite two years old, we moved to LaPrairie, Illinois. The picture at the head of this post is one of the annual Easter photos that Daddy took of us in front of the bay window at the parsonage (or the manse, as we called it).

LaPrairie was another country church, and the land that came with the manse was perfect for my father. Until he heard the call to the ministry, his ambition was to be a poultry farmer.

Although I don't remember much about the people or the church life at LaPrairie, I have fond memories of the manse and our everyday life there. My father raised ducks and chickens that sometimes ended up on the dinner table, and I loved watching the chickens run around after Daddy chopped their heads off. (Yes, they really do. Even though the chicken is dead, its nervous system doesn't realize it yet.) We also had pet rabbits, a large garden, a grape arbor, and an old-fashioned outdoor pump that needed to be primed. (We did have regular running water inside. And electricity. And plumbing. All the modern conveniences of the 1950s.)

I also remember the bees. When a colony of bees swarmed around the light over the church door, my father decided to tame them and try his hand as a beekeeper. He succeeded, and beekeeping became his new hobby. If he had continued living in places where he had the space and no near neighbors (or at least none who would complain), he probably would have raised bees until he died.

It's a good thing none of us were allergic to bee stings, though. Honeybees are not aggressive and won't sting unless you bother them, but my brothers and I often ran around barefoot in the yard and sometimes stepped on Daddy's "pets." So of course they stung the bottom of our feet. Still, I was willing to live with the stings for the honey. And oh was it good, both in and out of the honeycomb.

The other thing I remember about LaPrairie is Daddy teaching me to read and write and do simple math. LaPrairie didn't have a kindergarten, and the cut-off date for first grade was December 31. My older brother and I were both born in January, and Daddy's efforts to get us in early were unavailing. (Probably one of the few things he didn't succeed at. But there is more to the story later.) So Daddy taught us the things we would have learned if we had gone when he wanted us to. Donald actually attended first and second grade at LaPrairie, so he may have been bored. But just when it was time for me to start school, Daddy decided to take a sabbatical.

Daddy and Mama loved LaPrairie, and they would have been happy to return. But Daddy didn't think it was fair to the church to leave it without a minister for a year, so he gave them a choice. They decided to look for someone else, and we began our next adventure.

You'll hear about that next week.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Loved your reminising, Kathryn! Good memories.

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