Friday, July 17, 2009

Come With Us! Ride the VBS Bus!

It was early summer of 1945. In Texas the temperature was blisteringly hot. For many years our home was "cooled" with an evaporative window cooler that recirculated water over pads in the window unit. On humid days, "cooler" was an oxymoron.

As a nine year old, barefooted child, I was limping or crawling around home. I could not stand a shoe or pressure on one foot, as the foot was swollen, looking like a chubby golf club.

The evening before, the family went to Dad's hobby farm (my terminology), about five miles out of town, to "feed the cows, chickens", also some cats and dogs we befriended. I and my barefooted siblings, engaged in various childhood outdoor activities, like softball, or tag as dusk settled over the farm.

The farm was a more foreboding place compared to our town home. The farm had creatures that could inflict discomfort or harm, like scorpions, tarantulas, black widow spiders, skunks, even angry bulls and flogging roosters.

This particular evening it was my misfortune to step on something which retaliated with a nasty, circular sting. Mother said a tarantula, although tarantula stings are rare . It didn't matter hurt. It probably was a foreboding of a lifetime or less common unhealthy events in my life where I seem to be the exception to every statistic.

With my foot wrapped in a wet towel, we piled into the old Plymouth and drove home, where I was subjected to multiple sessions of soaking in various substances from baking soda to turpentine-Yikes. [Old B/W photo was all I could find with a partial view of PLYMOUTH. That is my paternal grandfather holding my brother and me hogging on the picture as usual!]

Between soaks and aspirin I was determined not to miss daily adventures engaged in by my siblings, so I crawled, or limped everywhere. I probably exaggerated the extent of pain for some attention and sympathy..I was very good at that.

While crawling in our hallway, the phone rang. The ONLY phone was located in a little nook in the hallway. Mother answered and talk pleasantly with a voice on the other end. I eavesdropped, as I often did on adult conversations.

Often I could discern if some of my parents' friends were "tattling" some indiscretionary behavior of one or more siblings, usually me. Being forewarned prepared me for impending discipline. My parents did not tolerate us "embarrassing them in public" which they perceived reflected deficiency in parental skills.

However, this phone conversation seemed to be a future adventure for some or all of us siblings.

Terminating the conversation, Mother asked me if I would like to ride a bus to church for a 2-week Bible school, called Vacation Bible School. Of course, I was delighted, jumped up and down............OOPS! guess I could put weight on that foot after all. Mother took note of my regained mobility and her sympathy diminished.

This was my introduction to Vacation Bible School. The church bus came to our corner and all three of us rode to the church building and back home. In those days it was about half a day, and there are a recess break for Kool Aid and cookies. I loved recess and all the home-baked cookies.

The morning began with all age groups together, singing. It was like a pep rally. One of the songs was Come with Us! Ride the VBS Bus! Then we split in to classes grouped by age. Each age group attended two classes, a Bible class and a 'singing' class. I did well in the Bible class having been taught all the stories at home, long before VBS.

'Singing' was another story. Early in my VBS experience I had a lower voice than most girls, so singing in unison was not very harmonious when I was included. In subsequent VBS singing classes, I learned about 4-part harmony and do-re- mi, etc. which helped me fit in.

The last day of VBS we had an evening special service where classes displayed what they learned and singing classes sang new songs. Parents in attendance beamed with pride at their precious darlings' performances, while the VBS teachers, were thanking God it was over, chanting in unison , "Ill never do this again." Shy children sat like bumps on a log, not singing or participating. Not me, it was my moment to shine, singing out loud and clear..clearly off key...can't help if they didn't pick my key!

The crowning activity was the Saturday after VBS ended. A church picnic was held at the city park. More fun! Besides all the good food everybody brought, the park had merry-go-round, slides and swings.

VBS has changed a lot, but it still is a big event with children and parents who get a reprieve from summer vacation and bored kids fraying their nerves and patience.


Arkansas Patti said...

Loved the post. I was always curious about VBS but never went. Coolaid,cookies and stories can't be all bad.

Renie Burghardt said...

Hi Carol Ann,

Did that old cooler keeps things cool, back in the old days?

Nice memories of VBS. My youngest granddaughter, who is ten, is in VBS now, I hear. They live in Ohio.

The weather around here has turned wonderful and I am heading out, to enjoy it. Have a great day.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I remember those old "swamp" coolers very well -- for all the good they did. Mostly, they just raised the humidity. I've slept several nights on a quilt pallet on the floor underneath the air discharge. Better than nothing, I guess.

VBS was a staple in my growing up. When my mother deemed I was old enough, I was encouraged to
"assist" with the younger children.

Ah... memories of childhood!

Sweetie Pie said...

I always went to VBS as a child, and was a teacher as a young adult. It certainly changed over my "VBS lifespan," but the morning rally and the cookies and kool-aid were always there. Oh, and those were usually my favorite parts. :-)

Anonymous said...

Water coolers. I remember those. Your post had brought back a lot of old memories. They used to hang those bags on the outside of cars -- remember that? I had one when I lived in a tiny house in Tucson, Arizona and it worked. Surprised me as we didn't have anything like that in 1952 in Ohio. I mean when it got hot at home it was hot and stayed that way.

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