I can see just about every inch of the Cameron Church. No, not the single story brick one standing there today. I mean the two story white one. The one with the killer basement steps, the steeple with the operational bell and my dad pulling the rope. I see the outside steps to the basement on the south side, the long kitchen tables and the coffee pot that looked like it came off a submarine and required a pilot’s license to operate. Mom’s beverage of choice was tea but she had the Cameron Coffee Pot Gift and churned out some gooood caffeine.
I loved the wooden pews mounted on the polished wood floor sloped gently toward the arched platform with the greek letter Alpha on the left, Omega on the right, and in the center, the Chi Rho
We kids would slide down that floor under the pews from the back. of the sanctuary down to the front in the dark, giggling, until the parents who had been downstairs for whatever banquet put the kabosh on it. We could hear them coming up the stairs, scolding all the way. They mentioned something about it being the sanctuary but then they lost me.
The windows were tall and narrow and opened in the good weather so bored children could look out at the boring same ol’ scenery which was suddenly fascinating because it was out there and we were in here.
Dresses were the rule of the day for girls. Dress pants weren’t acceptable yet. If it was a warm day, the accompanying crinolines became uncomfortable and little girls became fidgety. After church we would be doing cartwheels not remembering that even crinolines obeyed the laws of gravity.
Dad couldn’t hear a preacher unless he had a bass preachin’ voice that carried. So he and I would play finger games, distracting to everyone but the two of us. While my fidget factor was gaining strength, he would try to break me of swinging my feet by clamping that big ol’ hand on my knees and giving me that “dad look” which wasn’t as bone chilling as the “mom look” but was enough to stop me until those little stick legs kicked into automatic again. I think the problem was that as the legs got longer, the feet made contact with the back of the pew in front of me. Oops. By the time he’d corrected my behavior 2 or 3 times, he could be asleep, snoring, getting his own elbow jabs from the wife on the other side. The best part was when he would jerk his head up and ask “What!” I think everybody could pretty much set their watches by the Murphys. What were the sisters doing? Oh, probably whispering and rolling their eyes in eternal teen embarrassment forgetting that once upon a time Mom had to sit in between them and immobilize one with pinching and the other with an elbow quietly placed at the neck. No worries, she was padded.
Another fun thing to do was to read the paper handouts from Sunday School. Illustrated Bible stories, crosswords, quizzes, memory verses. Mom called it “rattling paper” which was bad. Funny, rattling dishes after supper was good. We could not make that woman happy.
All of these activities consistently annoyed the mother figure. Every week. But she did like it when I would lay my head on Dad’s lap and snooze. Hopefully I wouldn’t rattle the wooden pew with my totally disgusting, hateful saddle shoes.
That was a small church. But to a little kid, it could hold the whole world. And, typically, at Christmas and on Easter Sunday, the overflow chairs were set up in the room at the back and the heavy sliding doors were opened for the Holiday Christians.
Despite my wiggle status, I did learn many things there, memorized key scriptures, but most importantly was introduced to the Lord I learned to love later. That’s why parents drag little fidgets to church on mornings when they would dearly love to sleep in and relax over coffee (or tea) and the newspaper. Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad.