Everywhere was a Stage

Music and performing have been a part of my entire life. When I was young, everywhere was a stage. My sister and I had a small play piano in our play room. Jennifer and I pretended to have church services and lead songs. Then we performed shows. In our bedroom, we played Shawn Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Andy Gibbs, and ABBA on our small record player. Even to silly songs like, “One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater” and “Disco Duck,” we sang and danced to an audience in our dresser mirror.

Outside, our small front porch was the stage. We practiced cheerleading. Jennifer loved to cheer.  She could do cartwheels; when I tried, I landed on my head and flat on my back. Jen did splits and jumps, and I just yelled loudly. No matter what, we performed outside cheering our Macedonia Wildcats to “Gimme a V, dot the I, curve the C, T-O-R-Y!”

The best stage award goes to Grandma’s outside marble table. My Grandpa had bought the marble and built an outside picnic table about eight feet long and four feet high. Yes, we had picnics and lots of watermelons on the table. However, we utilized it mostly as the grandest stage ever!

We climbed up and performed the most magnificent shows: Disco-Saturday Night Fever, HeeHaw, Greatest Gospel Hymns, Alabama. We enjoyed all kinds of music. We made up entire shows with introductions, singing, and dancing. Sometimes, our cousins joined us. I loved singing, “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” by John Denver with them. That song personified our times there on Grandma’s farm. In my mind, “We are Family,” by Sister Sledge, became our anthem, often ending our shows. There on that marble table, I knew I wanted to be a rock star, or Dolly Parton, when I grew up!  

Church Pasture or Pastor?

Daddy told his preacher calling when I was around four years old. He told our home church the Lord had called him to be a preacher. I had no idea how this would change our lives or really what it all meant. I do not remember Daddy’s first time preaching. My first memories of his ministry began when a small church called Daddy to be their pastor; Daddy accepted. Daddy would be ordained as a full Baptist Minister.

The week before the ordination, Jennifer and I were riding to town with my Grandma. I was sitting in the front seat beside the door. Grandma asked me, “Well, what do you think of your daddy being a Pastor?”

As I looked out at some cows, all I could think of were cow pastures. I just could not put together Daddy and a cow pasture. I said something to Grandma like I thought a pasture was for the cows. Grandma laughed and said, “No, a church Pastor, you know, the Preacher of a church. Like our Preacher Harold.” I was relieved that Daddy would be going to a church as a preacher, not to a cow pasture. However, maybe the cows needed preached to?

Sunday Mornings

“Jubilee, Jubilee, You’re invited to that happy Jubilee.”

I wake up hearing this song and smelling sausage cooking. It’s Sunday morning! The night before Mama had washed my long hair, so I felt all clean and ready for day the ahead. I nudge Jennifer sleeping beside me as I got out of bed, saying, “It’s Sunday morning!” She just moans, “I know,” It took a while for Jennifer to wake in the mornings. I go in the kitchen to see Mama cooking our breakfast: sausage, biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs. Mama and Daddy had a Sunday morning routine. While Mama cooked our breakfast, Daddy showered and dressed (except his dress shirt and tie). Then after breakfast, Daddy cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes, while Mama dressed and helped us get ready. This was one of the many ways my parents worked as partners in their marriage.

Mama continues cooking, I watch the Gospel Singing Jubilee on our television, the theme song that woke me every Sunday morning. Gospel groups such as the Florida Boys, The Goodmans, the Inspirations, and the Nelons perform as I sing along. At last, Mama yells, “Breakfast is   ready!”

We sit down at the table. As we begin eating, I can’t wait to ask Daddy, “Where are we going to church?” When Daddy was not a pastor of a church, he would visit churches throughout Cherokee and Forsyth counties, sometimes further away into Pickens, Dawson, Hall; well, across North Georgia. Daddy prayed, studied, and mediated on Scripture in his King James Version of the Holy Bible throughout the week. The Lord would send him to a church to visit on Sunday morning. Most often, Daddy would preach the sermon there. I often did not know where we going to church until breakfast Sunday morning. That was exciting to me; awaiting the adventure of our Sunday.

When Daddy tells us where we were going, the next question was: What time are we leaving? We could be going to a church 15 minutes from our house or an hour and 15 minutes away. If it was a church where I knew I would see my friends, I was doubly excited. If it was a church I had never been to before, I would be nervous. Even though I viewed Sundays as an adventure, walking into a church as a visitor caused some anxiety.

Finally, we finish breakfast. Jennifer and I dress in our Sunday dresses, knee high white socks, and black patent shoes. Mama brushes my hair. She makes sure we are all ready to go. Meanwhile, Daddy cleans the kitchen, washing dishes and pans. Then he’s putting on his dress shirt and tie. I watch him tie his necktie and wondering, how does he do that? Daddy puts on his suit coat. Mama puts on her red lipstick. Daddy picks up his blue leather cover Bible. We all climb into our car. Jennifer and I settle into the back seat. We are off to church.

Our Sunday morning is coming to an end. Soon it will be church time. A time shared with other people. Sunday mornings were my family time. From the moment I heard, “Jubilee, Jubilee,” until the I saw a church parking lot, I was happily embraced in my family, anticipating our Sunday adventure.