Church Trip to St. Louis

When my dad was preaching in Graves County, he was constantly planning outings for the young people.  On Sundays after church services, we would go to someone’s house for dinner and let me tell you, it was good eatin’ too.

After lunch, we sometimes would get up a softball game and more people would join us for that.  By the end of the afternoon, everybody was all hot and sweaty but we had loads of fun.  Sometimes we would sit out under the shade trees and play gin rummy – not for money of course.  I remember one time I called gin on my first hand, but I think I forgot to draw a card.  Needless to say, everybody was pretty unhappy with me because we had to start all over.

Some Sunday afternoons, we would go to area churches where they were having a singing.  If you don’t know what a singing is – well, everybody gathered in the auditorium and anyone who wanted to lead a song put his name on the list.  Each person whose name was on the list led at least one song and sometimes we would go through the list twice.  There were young boys who liked leading songs too but just didn’t have the courage to start the song.  My dad usually would help them with that. On the way back, we generally stopped at a drive-in to get cherry cokes.  We always had so much fun.

So, on to the trip.  One night after church, the men of the congregation got together and decided that a trip to the St. Louis Zoo would really be fun.  So it was announced that anyone who wanted to go could and the ladies were gonna bring snacks for us to eat on the way and stuff for lunch.  One Saturday morning, they rented a Greyhound bus and off we went.  That puppy was crammed full and you can just imagine the noise when all us kids got on there.

I don’t know if you remember or even have heard of this song, but “The Name Game” was very popular about that time.  As I said, the bus was totally full and we started in the back of the bus and sang everybody’s name, and I mean everybody, including the bus driver Fred.  We were worn out before we ever got to the zoo from singing all those names.

We made it there and found a big pavilion where the moms could get all the food put out so we could eat something before heading off in a gazillion different directions. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we walked all over that zoo, probably more than once.  And, since we had lived in St. Louis when I was younger, I felt right at home.  I have always loved animals; and at the zoo, there is every kind of animal imaginable to see.

Later that afternoon, we all got back on the bus and started home.  No, we didn’t sing “The Name Game” because we were totally beat.  I think we even slept most of the way back home.

It was a fun day for all of us but it was especially nice that we all had a good time together with family.

See ya next Wednesday.

Thriller at Mawdie’s

I think I have mentioned this before, but today I’m gonna tell you a little tale about when Cheryl and I took turns staying with Mawdie at night.  We did this year round unless Mawdie had company from out of town.

If you remember, Mawdie’s little house had four rooms which consisted of two bedrooms, living room and kitchen – no inside bathroom.  She had the coziest little house though; I always loved being there.  She had a big ole feather bed in her bedroom but we weren’t allowed to get on it.

One of my nights was Monday night and we had television shows that we watched every Monday night.  We didn’t miss very many of them either.  One television show in particular was Thriller with Boris Karloff.  It, of course, was shown in black and white and was a suspense and horror show.  I actually don’t remember many of the episodes; I just know that it was one of Mawdie’s and my favorite shows. I didn’t usually go over to her house before dark; but before I walked over there, I had to eat supper and get all my homework done.  That was one the rules at our house – we ate supper together and home work had to be finished before we could do anything else. But I digress.

Mawdie always kept a big supply of vanilla wafers and milk; and it didn’t matter if I had just gotten up from the supper table, I still looked forward to watching our show and having my favorite snack.  When I walked inside, she would have a big glass of milk and a bag of vanilla wafers waiting for me.  We turned out all of the lights before the show started; it just made the show more scary that the television was the only light in the room.  It made all the shadows around the room bigger and more scary too.

I would drink part of my milk but I loved to dip my vanilla wafers into the milk and make them soggy.  I tell ya, that was good eatin’.  I remember before that show was over, I would be scrunched down into the chair so far that it was hard to get back up. I was so sure that whatever monster was on the show that night would come straight through the television set and get me.  I was always scared to death by the time the show was over, but I couldn’t wait until the next Monday so we could do it all over again.

One other thing about Mawdie – she used to cook some of the best food you could ever eat.  Sometimes she would cook something that I wasn’t crazy about but she would talk me into taking at least one bite.  One time she stewed some okra – now I’m here to tell you that stuff is slimy and nasty looking.  But she talked me into trying it, and I swear that when I got that mess in my mouth, my throat closed completely and I could even swallow it.  We had a good laugh about it, but she never asked me to eat it again.

I still think about and miss Mawdie.  She was really a cool lady.

See ya next Wednesday.





Visiting My Little Sister

Well folks, I just don’t know where to begin on today’s tale because I visited my little sister last week and we just did so many fun things that I don’t know where to start.

I got down there on Wednesday afternoon and let me tell you that driving through Atlanta is not a picnic, but I made it okay.  We drove around Ringgold and I saw the devastation of the tornado that hit there about a year ago.  Most of the businesses are up and running but you can still see slabs and huge gaps where trees used to be standing.

Thursday afternoon, Cheryl and I drove to Cherokee, North Carolina.  It rained on us the biggest part of the way but it was still a pleasant drive.  I love the mountains so just going was a treat for me. It took us about three hours to get there. We passed a river where folks were rafting with the current; they had group-sized rafts and single rafts.

We finally got to Cherokee and went straight to the casino hotel to check in and I tell ya, it was absolutely beautiful. First, they showed me around the place and you wouldn’t believe how big that thing is.  There is a huge fountain just as you walk into the casino.  They also had this lighting fixture that looked like fishing line all tangled up (it was gorgeous), a beautiful fireplace and all kinds of restaurants.

We then went into the casino and I never saw so many slot machines in my life and they were singing because lots of people were already there.  So, Cheryl played a couple of them and then decided it was my turn. I was using Cheryl’s card so we took turns playing. Would you believe the first time I played, I won about $107. We kept playing and kept winning. We played until about 2:30 am Friday morning, then decided it was time to get a little sleep.

The next morning, Cheryl and I drove into the town and shopped.  Just a note here that our great-great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee Indian and we are very interested in tracing our roots as far back as we can.  So we talked to one vendor about it and he gave us a website to help us do just that.  The Cherokee are made up of seven clans so we are now trying to find the clan to which we belong.  After we finished shopping, we went back to the casino and played a little more but didn’t win anything.

On Saturday, we went to Chattanooga (one of my most favorite places) and visited the fresh water and salt water aquariums.  The salt water aquarium was nice but there weren’t many specimens to see; we saw the penguins, some butterflies, sharks and they also had some stingrays that you could touch.  Those little fellows liked that and they kept coming to the top of the water so someone would pet them.  The fresh water aquarium has every kind of species that you can imagine.  Later that evening, we went to Sugar’s for supper and that is the best barbecue you could ever taste.

On Sunday, Cheryl and I went back to Chattanooga to see the Delta Queen which is permanently docked there. Since most of the guests had checked out, we were allowed to walk through almost all of the boat. Some of the fixtures reminded me of the pictures I have seen of the Titanic.  We also found more evidence of the Cherokee clans while we were in Chattanooga. Hopefully, we will be able to find the clan we belong to and I can do a story on that.

But, I gotta say that visiting my little sister was the most fun of all.

See ya next Wednesday.

Sikeston Bootheel Rodeo

When my dad was preaching at Spring Creek Church of Christ, he and another guy at the church made plans for a couple of families and us to go to the Sikeston Bootheel Rodeo in Sikeston, Missouri.  This rodeo has been in existence for about 60 years and is held every August.

There were at least 10 of us going so we had to take more than one car and the trip would be about a 2-hour drive.  Now, as you know, the days are really hot in August and sometimes the nights cool down quite a bit. On this particular day, the temperatures dropped really low; we had to take coats.

I have to tell you about this one boy who was going.  You see, he was invited by his girlfriend (I’m not sure how much time he had been around her family) and I think he was a little afraid of her dad.  Her dad was a tough talker, but was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met.  His wife was so kind and good to everyone and the daughter was pretty much the same way.  So, since this was his little girl, he was gonna make sure this boy didn’t try anything foolish.  I think he knew the boy was afraid of him so he was going to make the most of that fear.

We all met at the church and loaded into the cars.  Our moms brought all kinds of snacks and sandwiches for us eat while we traveled. There just weren’t many places to stop back then so you took your own food and drinks with you.  Of course we knew they would have popcorn, hot dogs and soft drinks at the rodeo so we tried not to eat too much on the way.

I had never been to a real rodeo and I doubt many of them had either so everyone was really excited about seeing everything.  It was getting close to dark by the time we got there and had really cooled down.  Before the rodeo started, they had the grand entry of all the contestants, the invocation, and the national anthem.  There were dozens of clowns running around and acting goofy but we loved them.  We watched the barrel races, calf roping, steer wrestling and bull riding.

Between each event, the clowns would entertain everybody.  So, between one of the events, this boy offered to get hot coffee for the men to help them warm up.  They were all standing right behind the fence while we sat in the stands all scrunched together trying to keep warm.  Well, just about the time he handed the coffee to his girlfriend’s dad, one of the clowns shot off this canon and he poured that hot coffee all over him.  I’m sure his life passed right before his eyes but nothing happened to him. As a matter of fact, I think that was a signal that we should go home.  We all had a great time even though it was colder than crap.

And you know, those two eventually married.

See ya next Wednesday.


Cleaning Windows

When I was growing up, I used to spend a lot of time at my Aunt Edith and Uncle Chapel’s house in Reidland, Kentucky.  They owned an auto glass shop in downtown Paducah.  Aunt Edith was an elementary school teacher, and I guess she was the first one in the family to become a teacher.  Several of the Thomasson descendants, including my little sister, have since become teachers, principals and coaches.

Each summer, I would go to their house for a week and help Aunt Edith wash all the windows.  And, I’m here to tell you, their house had a million windows and they were those little square windows surrounded by wood. I would usually go down there on Sunday, go to church with them Sunday night and we would get up bright and early on Monday to start cleaning the windows.

I loved their house though; it was the neatest thing to me.  She had a bar in the kitchen and huge stools and one of my favorite things to do was sit on one of those stools and eat.  They also had a huge fireplace in the living room and I loved when it was cool enough to build a fire.  When I visited, I got to sleep in Phyllis’ room; she was their daughter who was off at nursing school. Aunt Edith had “Highlights for Children” books which had puzzles, stories, word games and pages to be colored.

On Saturday, before I got there, Uncle Chapel would take down all the storm windows and put them in the basement to be cleaned.  Aunt Edith would mix vinegar and water to clean the windows, and boy did that stuff stink. We didn’t use paper towels either; I don’t know if paper towels even existed back then. We used cotton rags; one we used to wash the windows and one to dry the windows. While it was still cool in the morning, we went out and cleaned the windows on the outside of the house; and once the sun came out, we moved to the basement to clean the storm windows.  And, it would take us all week to get those puppies washed.  Aunt Edith always checked to see if I had left streaks on any of the windows and I generally had to redo some of them. We took plenty of breaks while we washed the windows and she had good snacks too, snacks that we didn’t get at home.

And, during the week, we would go shopping for groceries and such; and, on Wednesday night, I would go to church with them.  Uncle Chapel would take us out to eat too.

So, by the end of the week, my fingers would be so sore from getting in all those little corners. But Aunt Edith always rewarded me for coming to her house and helping her with the windows.  She would either give me money or we would go to Paducah and she would buy me a new dress.  What she didn’t know was that I would have done it for nothing; I just loved going to her house.  Even after I grew up, I was always close to my Aunt Edith and I still miss her.

See ya next Wednesday.