Sunday, March 20, 2011

Red Wagons, Church Softball ("Eye for Eye") and Concession Stands

Children's Sunday School Songs:  The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock , The B-I-B-L-E

"That's cuter than a little red wagon" was a phrase I heard my Grandma (Mary) Jonas use a lot.  Little red wagons were common in the world of children and they did look cute.  Their history via the Radio Flyer Wagon manufacturer is here.

One of my childhood photos is four boys in a wooden wagon with the slats removed in front of Grandma Jonas house.  In back is Mike, then Bobby Whitaker, Bobby Ogle and me (about 18-24 months old) in the front.  It's not a red wagon, so maybe not so cute, but we guys were cute. (OK, I'll start scanning in some of these photos in a few weeks).

Church softball games were special treats as a boy.  Our church had a few families with lots of athletic men (the Schencks had 9 or so and the Whitakers had several, the Wolfs and Weavers had so many relatives they aren't countable- I go to the Wolf reunion now having married a Michael).  The dads would play and we kids could run around and get soft drinks such as Nehi Orange Soda or Cream Soda and Dreamsicles, Creamsicles, fudgesicles or popsicles.  There were also chewable or lickable items such as Double Bubble Gum, Tootsie Roll Pops and gummy things.  They played at Farmersville, I remember slow pitch softball there and fast pitch at New Lebanon, each one with a unique concession stand and play areas around and under the bleachers.  Once we got ball gloves with S & H Green Stamps, Mike and I could throw the ball around behind the bleachers.

It might have been church league softball but there were some intense disagreements at times caused by the Liberty players.  We apparently had some young men who had extra intensity and a low threshold to disagree with umpires or members of the other team.  I don't think trash talking was included, since that would have been un-Christian.  But "an eye for an eye" was more important than "turning the other cheek".  I don't know if we also pressed for "a tooth for a tooth", but older Liberty Church members and former members could tell the stories.  The important part was that all the players had to attend church to be able to play.  I wonder if any sermons focused on love and forgiveness in athletic endeavors.

My dad, "Scud" Jonas (see photo at left) was a unique player since he had no left hand.  He played right field and had a fast movement to catch a ball in the glove on his right hand, quickly trap the glove -which now includes the ball in its pocket- in the crook of his left arm, take the ball in right hand and throw it.  He batted left handed and was a "slap" hitter.  I don't remember him ever being in the fights mentioned above.  He also played for the Monarch Tags softball team through his work at the Monarch Marking System Company.

Many of you have similar memories about life in Liberty and  thereafter.  Feel free to comment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dogs, Cowboys and Ice Cream

Childhood at Liberty Church- More Sunday School songs:  Let the Son Shine In
Rise Shine- Children of the Lord
Play:  Many of us had a dog to play with.  Bobby Ogle's dog was Chi Chi, a brown mutt.  Bobby Whitaker had a small collie named Skippy .  Ours was Blackie, sister of Grandma Clayton's dog, Dixie, part Fox Terrier and part mutt.  Later dad got us a Pure Bred Boxer which was named Peanuts.  She had "papers".  She drooled a lot and occasionally blessed our home with aromatically unpleasant flatus.  But she was a good dog for kids who needed to wrestle and play "fetch" with the dog.

Mike and I played special rules football in the house at night when Mom and Dad were at the neighbors for a card game or whatever.  I don't remember exactly how it worked, but I do remember a broken lamp that got us into trouble.  On occasion, Mike, being the older brother by 2 years, would hold me down until I said uncle or gave him a toy or let him play with my six guns or toy rifle. Outdoor football consisted of one kicking off and the other running back trying to score.  This was full tackle, no pads football.

Since cowboys were so important in those days, we both had a double holster for our six guns that shot caps if we had any.  We got the toy rifles one year for Christmas, complete with rifle holster suitable for tying on our bikes just like Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey and Hopalong Cassidy did on their horses.  I remember playing on a dirt pile where Aunt Joy (Jonas Hoffman) and Uncle Jerry (Hoffman) were building their house, through our yard and Grandpa/ma Jonas back yard, still on Back Street.  One day, Mike and Bobby Whitaker were there and we had our toy rifles ( I loved mine) but somehow got into an altercation with Bobby as we threw dirt clods at each other.  I was excessively angry about the results of the dirt clod throwing and losing "King of the dirt pile" repeatedly and suddenly broke the stock of my toy rifle over Bobby's head.  I then began crying because I broke my rifle (no remorse apparently at trying to harm a friend).  I never got another toy rifle (consequences).

Brenda Lodge (Stone) baby sat for Mike and I, maybe to protect the lamps from our football, but certainly for safety and control purposes.  She was surprised when we announced that it was time for ice cream and Mike and I both reached in the refrigerator to get our personal pint of ice cream.   Yes, we were given too much ice cream, but it was great from the kids perspective.  I think it related to my Grandpa Jonas growing up in East Dayton with a very stern German-American father.  In their house, if you didn't eat all your food, you got it at the next meal.  Since there were 8 children or so, money was tight and food was scarce.  So Mike and Pat get some extra food and ice cream in their childhood to make up for Arthur Harry Jonas' life in East Dayton.  I can't remember if Brenda got ice cream, too.  Certainly we must have shared?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jesus, Loss, Death and a Goiter

More classic Sunday School songs from age 3-8:  Tell Me the Stories of Jesus   Zacchaeus

There was a woman in Liberty church with a huge goiter.  I stared at that a couple times, trying to figure out what was wrong with her neck.  "Don't stare at people, that's not nice," my Grandma Jonas would say.  That became a childhood rule since, "some people aren't as fortunate as we."

We had a parakeet and it flew away (I wasn't so good at closing doors) so we felt bad, getting our introduction to grief.  Then the neighbor man, Mr. (Tom) Atkins died and they had his viewing in his living room.  I remember walking down the street and into the Atkins home.  Suddenly, there he was lying in a casket, very still and peaceful.  Someone explained death to me once we got home (about 90 feet from Mr Atkins porch.)  I didn't understand the loss and grief part, yet.

I did understand the food part, though, at a young age.  "Wow, we're having pecan pie!" I would exclaim as I noticed a pecan pie (usually two) being made in our kitchen.  "No, it's not for us, it's for the so and so family, Mrs. so and so's mother  suddenly died last weekend."  We're making the food to take to the church after the funeral service is over so the women in the family don't have to cook.  When someone dies, there is a lot of food.   

We had a few hogs in a crumbling barn just behind our house, until the family had a big butchering session at Grandma Jonas house, next door.  I remember blood everywhere in Grandma's kitchen.  She had a favorite butcher knife that got a workout on those former hogs.  Whenever we had fried chicken, the killing of the chickens happened in Grandma and Grandpa Jonas' yard.  Someone like my Uncle Jerry (Hoffman) would tie the chickens on the clothes line, then quickly cut off their heads and get out of the way.  Mike and I would each get a chicken's foot to play around with.  It was interesting how you could pull on the tendons and see the claws move.  I have a vague memory of scaring girls by sitting the claws on their shoulder and pulling the tendon to make the claws contract.

The wishbone was the other prized item with butchering turkeys and chickens on special occasions.  Make a wish and pull.  It would come true, allegedly, for the person with the longest part of the bone.  One thing I prayed for with the wish bone and my birthday cake candles was for my Mom to get better.  She suddenly got polio and couldn't walk for a while.  She used to go to the hospital for therapy to get her legs strong again.  It worked.  (The prayer and the therapy).  I'll tell you later about Mike hitting me in the head with a baseball bat (accidentally) when Mom couldn't walk.

We'd learn about Jesus and sing about him and pray to his Father  in small town Liberty.  We felt safe.

We're working on some info about the Liberty town pump for another post on this site.  If you have stories about the town pump, get ready to comment, or send me a note about it.  Thanks.