Saturday, July 26, 2014

Skinned Knee with a Slice of White Bread

Outhouses only. Indoor bathrooms were off-limits. Basement only. Do not venture into the sanctuary--ever. 

Those were the rules for VBS when I was a kid. No elaborate skits put on by parents or the high school kids. Simple crafts. No masterpieces. No snacks because we got to bring our lunch.

Mom would pack mine in my Family Affair lunch pail. Baloney on white bread, plain with no mayo, butter, or mustard—nothin’ but meat. Potato chips. Kool-Aid. Maybe an apple or carrots. But always my favorite: chocolate pudding cups in the peel-back can. 

My lunch box. Pretty rusty inside now.
Ebenezer: my childhood church in South Dakota.

And we would eat lunch outside on the north sidewalk of our small country church in rural Doland, South Dakota.

After lunch, the big kids played baseball while us younger ones enjoyed organized games. Must have been competitive because during my first-ever VBS, I skinned up my knee. Bad enough they thought it deserved a picture at assembly time. Here I am after Mrs. Miller patched me up.

Mrs. Miller displaying my boo-boo. Second row: Jaimie Gross and Helen Enander. Last row: one of the Millers' daughters, Darcie Decker, and Peggy Tschetter. I have no idea about the boy in the striped pants. Maybe a visitor from another church?

Pastor Miller's daughters were ventriloquists, so I guess we got some fancy performances then. Ironically, if I remember correctly, our next pastor’s daughter had the same skill.
That preacher was Reverend Edwin Goosen (pronounced go-son) and his wife Laura. They served our church during most of my elementary days. At VBS, Reverend Goosen lead the singing and pitched during recess-time baseball. One year he taught us to sing in German, “Gott ist Liebe.” Translation: God is Love.

Edwin & Laura Goosen

Edwin Goosen was quite the character. My parents hired him to help remodel our house before my sister Brenda got married. For more on those wedding preparations, read the blog post entitled, Curlers, Bras, & an Airplane Ride.

Reverend Goosen's carpentry skills got us new cabinets in the bathroom, entryway, and bedroom. Laura's baking skills taught Mom how to make awesome croissant buns. I use this recipe too, but I can’t make 'em like Mom did, and Mom complained that hers weren’t quite like Laura’s. 

My attempt at these buns.
How they should all look. Slightly browned. Curved like a quarter moon.

Some of those winter days when I got off the school bus, we would have a fresh snowfall. Laura would play fox and goose in the snow with me. Oh, how I loved that game!

You see, my mom never ran except to get the clothes off the line when it was raining, and Dad rarely made time for that sort of thing, so I soaked up the attention and enjoyed having a playmate.

I can still picture Laura, not only playing fox and goose with me, but her heavy marching-type walk in church with her long dresses. And I still have the polished rocks her husband gave me. That was one of his hobbies--polishing rocks. 
But at some point during that winter remodeling, I got sick in my eyes and even missed school. Mom thought I had pink eye. Upon examination, the eye doctor said there was nothing wrong with my eyes except what was irritating them.


I had to stay away from wherever Reverend Goosen was working. I’m sure I was quite the pest. But he liked me.

How do I know? Because when summer came and my birthday rolled around, the Goosens sent me a card with a little gift in it.


All packaged up in a small baggie with a note attached to use it for my eyes. 

Like I said, he was a character.

Since this post evolved into a walk down memory lane of one of my childhood pastors, I'll have to save my other VBS stories for next year.

What are your vacation Bible school memories? Ever get in trouble there? Break a bone? Embarrass yourself at the program?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Seven Kids & Me

As a youngster with a married sister living out of state, late summer trips to Kansas were an annual affair. The 500 or so mile trip was tedious for me, but my Barbie dolls entertained me in the back seat of our Oldsmobile.

Don’t know how a kid stands a trip today with seat belt requirements, for I sat on the floor with Ken, Barbie, Tuesday Taylor (the doll whose hair could change color), and their entourage spread out on the back seat. I guess that’s why 21st century children get a personal DVD player.

I doubt Dad would ever purchased that for me though because I had to beg him when I was in high school to buy a VCR from the Sears catalog (back when those things cost over $500) so I could tape the NBA finals during the Lakers’ domination of league. But when it was all over, he returned it. I was so mad, but not too mad because I think he did that for me more than once. 

Anyway, for one Kansas trip, Mom and Dad decided to go see my cousin Wilmer and his wife Elaine and family who had moved to Meade, Kansas, where they lived in the country with all kinds of farm animals.

I remember it well because the next morning after I’d eaten some cereal, Cousin Jetta said, “You just drank goat’s milk.” I couldn’t believe it—don’t remember if I finished it, but Mom probably made me.

When we had arrived the night before, we learned that Elaine's sister, Georgiane's family, was also visiting.

Mom asked Elaine why she did not tell us they already had company. Elaine’s response was, “But then you wouldn’t have come!”

So there we all stayed. Six adults, my four Kleinsasser cousins and their three cousins, and me. Yes, technically, second cousins, but to me, cousins just the same.

I loved visiting my sister Brenda and then husband John in Kansas, but this was the best Kansas trip ever for a little girl who soaked up the chance at being around people her own age.

See, I lived in the country far from my school or church friends, so it seemed, but it was really back in the day when parents didn’t drop everything to go drive their kids around so they could have a social life.

Elaine cooked up a storm, no doubt, for a crew that size, and where I slept was probably a floor—I don’t remember.

Wilmer chauffeured us around on a buggy pulled by an old Shetland pony or some other beasts they called Thunder and Lightning—donkeys or something or other.

I just remember it was fun and I needed a bath.

I hope every child grows up to have a vacation memory like this—one in which love of family and hospitality abound.

What are some vacation memories of your younger days?
Seven Kids & Me. I am in back, second from left.             
Author's Note: This was part two of a tribute to my cousin Wilmer and his wife Elaine who will be married for 50 years this November. Part one was last week in the post entitled, Procrastination Pile Removed.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Procrastination Pile Removed

Fat Albert and the gang would have fit in just fine on our farm where I grew up. Embarrassment followed me every time the school bus dropped me off.

You see, a pile of junk, old metal, antique machinery, used tires, and other items Dad refused to send to the real junk pile way out in a field, set within a few yards of the one and only door to our farm house.

It resembled a Sanford and Son scene, only my dad wasn’t yelling, “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you,” (ironically my grandma’s name was Elizabeth and she was the original lady of the house before Mom and Dad got married and moved in with her in 1944), but rather, it was my mom occasionally pestering Dad, “When are you going to clean up that junk?”

Finally, because of Mom’s support of my desire to host my high school graduation party at home and not 12 miles away in Hitchcock, Dad instructed my cousin Wilmer, our hired man at the time, to clean up that junk pile.

And man oh man, after Wil was done with it, the place could have been featured as one of those before and after scenes in a magazine.

No, Wilmer’s transformation did not include laying sod, constructing an arbor, or creating a Zen garden, but just the fact that it was gone and one could see the clothes line and the road, and appreciate the tall trees shading the old wash house made the entire place refreshed. I guess now we'd call it de-cluttering.

Mom and I expressed immense gratitude to Wilmer because it took him awhile to haul off all that junk.

Graduation night came. And so did the guests. It was a grand time. But the next week day when Wilmer reported for duty, he sure was mad. He said to my mom, his Aunt Stella, “It was a nice party, but nobody said anything about that junk pile being gone!”

Author's Note: This was a tribute to my cousin Wilmer who will be married for 50 years this November. Next week's post will be a tribute to Elaine, his wife. Why post this now? We just had a family and friends anniversary celebration this weekend in honor of their marriage.