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

Monday, May 3, 2010

Call Day is past, and Caroline and Pete ended up in southwestern Illinois. The location is farther from the action than my city-girl daughter is used to, but the church itself sounds like a good fit.

Now on with my story.

Daddy's sabbatical took us to Amman, Jordan. We boarded a ship in New York, disembarked in England, and traveled through Europe on our way to Jordan. Our return trip was on the Queen Mary, which is now a tourist site in Long Beach, California. I was five when we left and six when we returned.

While living in Amman, Daddy taught English at the Bishop's School and Donald and I attended a private school for English-speaking children. (Gordon started school sometime after Christmas.) The classes were small, and King Hussein's sister, Basma, was one of my classmates.

Much of present-day Israel (including Bethlehem and the half of Jerusalem with most of the Christian sites) was in Jordan at the time, so we spent our weekends and holidays visiting Biblical sites. My father had been to Amman and worked at the Bishop's School while still a bachelor, but he wanted his family to experience the Holy Land. And it was a perfect place for a minister to go on sabbatical.

When we returned to the U.S., my father took a church in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. DeTour Village is the place I consider my home town, and it's where I spent most of my growing-up years.

My brother Donald was eight and had three years of school behind him. I was six and had one year of school behind me. But when Daddy went to enroll us at DeTour, he told them that Donald belonged in fifth grade and I belonged in third, so that's where they put us. We each did very well a grade ahead, and Daddy vindicated his failure to convince the LaPrairie school to let us enter a year early.

After three years at DeTour, Daddy decided to take another sabbatical. Again, he let the congregation decide whether it wanted to seek another minister or keep the position open for our return. This time, the church voted to wait for him.

The University of Edinburgh was something of a Mecca for Presbyterian ministers. (Scotland is the birthplace of the Presbyterian Church.) Although Daddy was not looking for another degree, he wanted to take theology classes at New College, and Mama wanted to take classes at the Reid School of Music (also part of the University of Edinburgh).

We sailed on the Queen Mary shortly after I would have entered sixth grade. The Edinburgh public schools placed me with children my own age. The British schools taught at a faster pace than the U.S. schools, however, so I was actually right on track with my class back at DeTour.

The return trip brought a thrill I never (at that point) thought I would experience. Daddy discovered that it was cheaper to fly from Glasgow, Scotland to Reykjavik, Iceland and from there to New York than it was to take the Queen Mary home. So not only did we fly, but we got to take a walk under the midnight sun.

Back at DeTour, I rejoined my classmates for junior high and the first two years of high school. Then Daddy announced that we were moving again.

My parents really liked DeTour, and Daddy loved watching the lake freighters go by his office window. But they were building a retirement home in Holland, Michigan, and Daddy wanted to be closer so that he could work on it during his days off.

What teenage girl wants to be uprooted in the middle of high school and moved somewhere she has to make friends all over again? I didn't. And I was shy in the bargain. But move we did.

Lake City, Michigan, was another small town, but it was close to Cadillac, so it was more built up than I was used to. And I managed to make friends and continued to do well in school, graduating with honors. But it never felt like home the way DeTour did.

The picture at the beginning of this post shows me, Daddy, and Mama dressed in our costumes for Lake City's 1968 centennial celebration. Yes, I know our 1890s dresses were too modern, but we couldn't find a pattern from the 1860s. We were still closer than the other women in town, who wore frontier dresses more suited to a bicentennial.

I should probably end my saga here, but we did move one more time before I graduated from college. During my sophmore year, my parents moved to Schoolcraft, Michigan, near Kalamazoo. They enjoyed the church and stayed until my father retired.

To my future grandchildren: being a preacher's kid has its disadvantages, but it has its good times, too.

So make great memories.

1 comment:

Project Journal said...

Great story, Kathryn! I've been waiting for this next part ; )


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