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    September 2017
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The True Story Behind “Bubby Beats Feet”

COMING SOON, WITH VIDEO!

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The Slippy Sunday Service

I love my little brother. Really, I do.  Even though, as soon as Wayne grew big enough to toss me around like a rag doll, he started exacting his revenge for all the times I had beat the socks off of him when we wrestled as kids. (One time, Wayne managed to pin my shoulders. Wanting to gloat, he yelled at Dad to come see. But, before Dad got there to see Wayne’s triumph. . .I flipped him. heh, heh.)

What? Oh, yes. Back to revenge. Once when I was about eighteen years old, I was relaxing on the couch, just minding my own business. Mom was in the kitchen basting a turkey for dinner, and Wayne was just hanging out, being a pest. As soon as Mom said, “Wayne, will you put the turkey back in the oven for me?” I knew he was coming after me. Picked me up. Carried me into the kitchen. Said to Mom, “This turkey? I don’t think she’ll fit.”

Ha. Ha.

What does this incident have to do with the Slippy Sunday Service? I can’t decide if the following is something Wayne did on purpose or not. I’m thinking not, because of the potential for disrupting the church service, and this is Wayne after all, not Mary Ellen. But the desire for revenge can be very strong.

At this time Wayne was in charge of cleaning the church. He did a good job—too good, if you ask me. This particular Sunday, when the congregational singing was finished, I turned on the piano bench, and started to slide to the edge so I could exit the podium as I did every Sunday morning. Little did I realize that my little brother had so thoroughly cleaned the church that he even polished the piano bench.

Yes, he did. And yes, I nearly did slide off the edge of the bench onto the floor in front of the entire congregation. Oooh, it was close. Probably the only thing that saved me was the lightening-fast reflexes I had developed in response to the brotherly revenge-taking.

So, innocent mistake or diabolical plot? Wayne says mistake, but then he laughs. And I still remember the look on his face when he got flipped just before Dad walked through the door.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers

Mom and the Chimney Sweep

I’ve hesitated about telling this story, not because I don’t like it—it is one of my favorites. But I’m not certain I can tell it coherently, since Dad is barely coherent when he tells it. It’s been over 45 years since Mom had this unfortunate run-in with the chimney sweep, but it still leaves Dad struggling for control when he talks about it.

Long ago, we lived in an old clapboard farmhouse set near the edge of a small town. I’m sure you can picture that house—two story, two front doors, tin roof, no central heating. There was a coal burning stove on the ground floor which kept an area about three feet on all sides of it warm, and no where else. The heat certainly didn’t make it up stairs to our bedrooms.

Anyway, one day Dad and Mom decided the chimney needed to be cleaned, and since I mentioned before that Dad is the one who fixed things around the house, Dad took on the role of chimney sweep. Mom was his helper.

Picture it: Dad on the roof with his tools; Mom down in the family room with a bag to catch the soot. (Oh, my goodness! I can hear my Dad starting to chuckle.) Dad yelled down through the chimney, “Ready, Rube!” (Rube, as in short for Ruby.) Mom leaned in close to the hole in the chimney where the stove pipe was attached in happier times, and yelled, “What?”

Actually, it was probably more like, “Wha? Augh! choke, cough, hack” because, of course, the soot was already on the way down as soon as Dad had said, “Ready, Rube!”

mamas eyes

Rube, apparently, was NOT ready

Dad said when he had climbed down off the roof and made it back inside the house, Mom was still just standing there, covered in soot, holding the empty, useless bag. Although, I can’t figure out how he noticed all those details since he was on his hands and knees, beating the floor with the palm of his hand, gasping for air as he laughed.

We’ve all enjoyed many laughs over this story through the years, including Mom. But she never again volunteered to be an assistant for this, or any other, chimney sweep.

And I can’t blame her.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

The Clown Car

You may be surprised to learn that my family was part of a circus act. We performed every Wednesday evening and twice on Sunday for a least a year back in 1973, then expanded our act in 1974.

This was the gig the congregation at our church would gather to watch after every service ended: My family of six people would all pile into the family car, a 1973 Ford Pinto (You see, it was a clown car before the act even got started.)

To begin, Wayne would get in and sit on the hump in the back. Kathy and I would fold ourselves in on either side of him, where I would balance Dad’s guitar case. The members of the Back Seat Crew weren’t little either. We were aged sixteen, twelve, and ten years old at the time. After the BSC were settled, the FSC would perform. Susie would climb in the front of the car and perch prettily on the console, and Dad and Mom would swoop gracefully in to take the spacious driver and passenger seats, respectively.

The bonus for the congregation was if they were outside to see the front end of our performance when we burst out of the car after arriving at church. I think some people came to church just to watch our performance, but it is not an evangelizing tool I would recommend.

And the expansion of our act? Mary Ellen was born. She, of course, immediately snagged a coveted spot with the FSC on Mom’s lap. The BSC, of course, was taxed with the responsibility for keeping up with her carry-on luggage filled with clothing, food, and burp cloths which the little princess demanded as her due. Such a prima donna!

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers.

Smoking in the. . .Sanctuary?!

WHO in the WORLD would be so disrespectful as to smoke in the sanctuary of a church?!

Let me introduce you to my youngest sister, Mary Ellen. You’d think that someone named after her sweet maternal grandmother (Ellen) and her totally loveable aunt (Mary Golden) would inherit some of their sweet, lovesble traits. You poor, naive readers—although, to be totally fair, Mary Ellen wasn’t exactly smoking in the sanctuary. Here’s what happened. . .

My Dad was pastoring a small, mission church in small town Ohio back in the mid-to-late ‘70’s. Mary Ellen was the only little one there for a while, so of course, she was the church baby. Spoiled. Rotten. The small congregation was more like an extended family, and Mary Ellen was at home with everyone. This particular Sunday morning, she slipped away from one of her admirers, but instead of going back to where Mom was sitting, Mary Ellen decided to put on a little show.

The next thing Mom knew, Dad was saying, (from the pulpit, mind you—where he was preaching) “Ruby, you need to come and get this baby.” Mom looked up from her Bible and there was Mary Ellen, standing in front of the step leading to the podium, a long piece of white chalk between her fingers, puffing away with the practiced ease of a 1940’s movie siren.

No one in our family even smokes! We have no idea where she got that—a remnant of her misspent babyhood, no doubt.

And that’s not the only time this precocious two-year-old disrupted a church service. But that is a story for another day.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!

Bubby Beats Feet

When we were small (14, 11, 9, and 3 years old—Mary Ellen had yet to make an appearance,) my brother Wayne loved picking on his little sister, Susie. Typical of big brothers and little sisters the world over, I’m sure. At this particular time, Wayne loved to hide behind the door that opened to the stairs leading up to our bedrooms, then jump out at Susie when she headed up to bed.

One evening when Dad told Susie to go on to bed, she said “No.” This was not the answer he was accustomed to hearing from his youngest. Susie then told Dad what Wayne had been doing. And here is where you get a glimpse into Dad and Mom’s parenting style. Dad walked quietly to the door, yanked it open (you know what’s coming, don’t you?) and yelled, “RAWR!!”

My brother quietly apologized. . .nah. He took off like a fireworks finale on the Fourth of July. What I am about to tell you is true. I’m an eyewitness. Wayne launched himself at least two steps from the top of the stairs, flew six feet through the air and didn’t touch down until he landed in the middle of his bed. The house was quiet after that. . .except for sound of Dad’s laughter.

That was the end of Wayne scaring Susie at the bottom of the stairs and is one of our favorite stories to tell. But I really wish you could hear my Dad tell it with the addition of his special sound effects. And his laughter.

Don’t miss the rest of the Stories My Family Tells as I Write 31 Days this October. Click here to check out the wide range of topics from a wide range of writers. Hey, it’s not too late for you to join us!