The pulpit stood on a raised platform at the north end of the church with the piano against the wall behind that. The pulpit platform was large enough for a choir to stand on behind the minister and on special occasions this did happen. The problem with this was that it left very few people as the congregation. Only those who admitted they couldn't carry a tune, and very few wanted to admit to this.
Mother was very active in the church, and taught Sunday school for years. She was a great story teller, and we little guys sat enthralled as she went in and out of the bull rushes, carpenter shops, and lion's dens.
Mother's was a hell fire and brimstone religion. She went strictly by the book (Bible that is). There was no gray area. Black and white ruled. The ten commandments came down from God himself and were to be followed to the letter.
I had to read some selected sections of the Bible each week and believe me compared to Tom Sawyer it was pretty heavy sledding. I'm sure it served me well in the long run though. I have followed the ten commandments carefully, especially the one that says "Thouw shall not admit adultery". That is sound advice indeed.
The Collection Plate and Acoustics
All the kids had a penny or two to put in the collection plate as it was passed, and carefully guarded, by an adult. Most of us tried to get the big-sized pennies.
I don't suppose many people remember those big pennies. They were about the size of today's quarter, but only worth one cent. Anyway as the collection plate went by someone's penny always managed to miss the plate and go rolling across the hardwood floor, singing its metal song, while being chased by a youngster on hands and knees.
There were always a few of these young contributors who had a change of heart at the last minute, and forgot to drop their penny while holding their hand over the beautiful silver dish with green felt lining. The piano was playing and we were all singing (at the top of our voices) - "See the pennies dropping hear them as they fall. All of them for Jesus he shall have them all."
The truth was that because of the green felt and singing no one could hear them fall, and those that Jesus missed Tom and Charlie got in exchange for a jaw breaker as soon as the young culprit could get uptown after Sunday school was let out.
Another vivid memory of mine about this church was its great acoustic qualities. Whenever the minister stopped for a breath, a chair would creak and reverberate, and when someone coughed, the sound would overpower even the minister. I used to sit and count the coughs, and I remember that there was never just one. Someone would give one and then a small epidemic often broke out. I don't remember any bouts of farting in the church, although I remember this one girl peed her pants while she was trying to keep from embarrassing herself by laughing.
The Roving Minister
Our congregation was so small that we had to use a roving minister (something like a circuit judge) who would drive like hell every Sunday to hold a service in as many towns as daylight would allow. I don't know what percentage of the take he got but it must have covered the gas at least because he kept coming back.
During summer vacation, church attendance dropped off quite a bit. That's the time the mother church headquarters sent out young apprentice ministers called lay ministers. I especially remember this one summer when they sent out this real good looking (lay) girl minister. She preached in our town and three or four others on "the Goose Lake Line" and word started to spread that she was indeed a good lay.
Mother was furious, as were most of the other women of the town and other towns. This young minister it seems was devoting most of her evenings to converting the young men of the town, after they had sinned with her, and they loved it.
It could be that the poor young trainee was falsely accused, but you know how small town church women can be. None of them were qualified to throw the first stone, but they all grabbed an armful and had the girl removed from the area anyway.
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