To sachet or not to sachet …

Droid camera photo

One Sunday evening in 1956, there was a TV show I desired to watch but being it was a church night, there was little chance this 12 year old boy would get to see it. I was extra good about getting out of bed and being ready to go to services that morning, paid attention in bible class, sang the hymns extra loud, and didn’t even fart on the hard and resounding pew while the preacher said his sermon. I even put my last personal dime in the collection plate instead of trying to sneak one out of it as was my usual labor. I was hoping my mom would soften and let me stay home to watch the first appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. I ate my chicken dinner and smiled and asked for seconds; I was a good boy. Promptly at four-thirty in the afternoon, my mom told me to get ready for church; I was devastated. I began all the whining and pleading tricks I knew, which were many, but she was unrelenting. Finally, a switch was applied to my legs all the while I listened to her say that some day I would appreciate what she was doing. Mom, I am 66 years old now, and I still do not appreciate what you were doing although I do not resent that you thought it was necessary. Anyway, I missed seeing Elvis; there were no VCRs in those days.

I missed a lot of good entertainment shows and many educational TV programs because of my mother’s beliefs; in particular I didn’t get to see the Davy Crockett series of shows on The Wonderful World of Disney, but all my chums did and that hurt worse than me not seeing them; Davy was one of my local and legendary heroes. I also loved good cartoons, and I still do. No Donald Duck animated shorts for me, though. I was God-fearing, but I was more mama-and-her-switch-fearing. My life seemed to me to have become a ‘go to church and go to school’ type of existence. Of course, my plight did have rewards. I always had more toys than did my pals, and more and better clothing, too. I had no older siblings so I didn’t wear worn hand-me-downs. Another thing I had which so many of my peers seemed not to have was a wild imagination. Every hollow stump was a space ship or a submarine. Other boys wanted to play shoot-em up western movies or war movies, but I was living in my sci-fi thoughts, saving Thuvia, the beautiful maiden of Barsoom and fighting space pirates in a far galaxy. My summers were spent mostly alone in the woods and fields, listening to tiny creatures sing their love songs and eavesdropping on trees as they gossiped among them selves.

Another Sunday morning rolled around in another year, 1960 I think it was. I was plenty disillusioned with being forced to do something which I was becoming to not believe in as I was being taught. My mom awakened me at the usual hour to get ready for church, but I decided it was time for me to quit being her little boy and to refuse to go. Physically, I was almost as big as she and the few whippings had become no more than a nuisance. That day, I told her I was not going to church and we were soon having an argument of which I am still ashamed. As she was threatening me with earthly mayhem and ever-lasting hell, I was smart-mouthing back to her and somehow she decided to slap me upside the head as she had done a few times before; it had become her unwritten exclamation point. However, this time she had a sachet cream jar in her hand and when it hit just at the top of my right ear I went to my knees, nearly unconscious and seeing stars. It scared her as much as it did me and there was a bit of blood on my ear to add to her angst. Well, I got my wish and I did not go to church that morning and neither did she, but until the day I turned 18 years old, I never missed or resisted going to church. I know she did not realize she had the sachet jar in her hand and I know she would not purposely have hurt me. In fact, up until her death in 2002, we both still got a big laugh out of the events of that long-past Sunday. I always chidingly blamed her for trying to kill me be cause I was refusing to go and worship a man who had been killed by the people he loved because he was being a rebel, same as I. Anytime I was at her house and she was displeased with something I was saying or doing, she would go the her bedroom, retrieve the very same sachet bottle which she had kept as a reminder, and hold it in front of my face without uttering a word.

Since the day I turned 18 in 1962, I have not been inside a church building except for an occasional wedding, for too many funerals, and to make a random photo. My fall from the foot of Jesus to the dark side of the force was complete.
Have a thoughtful Sunday, my friends.

Published in: on October 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ken, I think your Mom would be surprised if she could see your photos of churches. They are very beautiful. Maybe you are not inside the church building, but when you are making such photo you always know how to chose the best crop and the best light.
    I remember my grandmother loved different pictures of saints, and they were usually trashy. One day I remember I told her that actually we needed in our house only cross, the main sign of our faith. She couldn’t agree with me and for some time she treated me almost like a devil. I also would like to say: dear granny, I’m 48 years old, I respect tradition of my church and I admire sacred art and I still claim that the most important is cross.

    It’s interesting story, my friend. Thank you that you wrote it for us.

    • Thanks very much Jola.

      My mom for a long time believed that people who did not believe in God were devil worshipers. I had a long talk with her and told her that we were just like everyone else, and even more moral than most of her Christian friends. I told her some examples and she finally accepted that I was correct. There is good and bad in everything. She was the biggest fan of my writing, and liked my photos but could not understand why I shot in old fashioned black and white instead of color.

      That is interesting about your grandmother, and I found out a long time ago that religious people are pretty set in their ways and if you try to change them they consider you to be disrespectful and even mean. 🙂

  2. By the way, droid is really good camera. 🙂

    • This is the best photo my Droid has made, but at 100% resolution, it looks pretty bad. I boosted the color a lot. Thanks, my friend. 🙂

  3. It was nice for Jola to share with us her grandmother’s story too. sounds like back in the day when you were a kid there were 2 sorts of kid – the cowboy kind or the space kind. I like this word Jola tagged us with… pantheism (had to look it up). I’m thinking it applies to me. It has a Native American Indian feeling to it.. god is everything and everything is god.. I can live with it. Thanks Jola and by the way your pictures of trees, nature, and birds make me think you have a bit of that belief yourself, even if you are a devot Catholic. Ken you are a good storyteller, thanks for sharing.

  4. I wish I could have had more time with my maternal granddad. My dad’s dad was killed in a work accident a decade before I was born, and my fraternal grandmother remarried and moved to Ohio so I didn’t see her but maybe four times in my life. Grandparents are important.

    Pantheism is a quasi-religious view of the world but it is acceptable to most nature lovers. Even though I am plagued with something called rational thought, I still try to see our natural world as I think the other animals see it; I try to be one of them and one with them in my mind. Rationality always seems to get in the way, however.
    I think you are correct and that Jola is somewhat a pantheist; you can feel it when she tells of a little bird landing on her hand and when she writes of her love of her Podlasie countryside.

    You are obviously in tune with the creatures and your bloodline is that of a people who considered themselves brothers and sisters of all living things. You are fortunate that it is so.

    I am waiting on more of your stories.

    Thanks, Tammy.

  5. Like most kids I had to go to Sunday school. I really do not remember how old I was when I stopped going but I guess it was around the age of 12.

    My fathers side of the family is Catholic and my moms are all some type of evangelical Christians. Many on moms side are very religious and are preachers and so on. The thing was none of them ever preached to any of us about going to church even though it was the central theme of everyday life for them. So I never minded going to visit with them because it was just about being with family and I think that is rare amongst evangelicals.

  6. My mom figured at age twelve, I was just getting into the stage of teenage mayhem and was even more insistent that I go to church. God, she made my listen to Pat Boone records and read that damned teenager guidance book he wrote. After many years, she found out what a hypocrite he was and she was heart broken.
    All the preachers were on my dad’s side; Holiness or as he called them, Holy Rollers.

    Thanks, Mark.

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