It is Sunday morning and I hate getting out of bed, but I can hear Ma downstairs and the smell of coffee is coming up the stairway into the attic. I crawl out and look at the dresses hanging there. I hate wearing dresses. But I have to and no getting around it. My mother has decided that Curt and I should go to church every Sunday morning.
I finally find a dress that looks good enough, at least to my eyes, and go downstairs to find Curt already eating his Puffed Wheat cereal and Dad finishing up his coffee. Curt has on his brown shirt with his blue pants held up with suspenders. Ma has made sure his face is clean and his hair combed just right.
I ask why my older brother, Rex, doesn’t have to go and Ma tells me to never mind and eat my breakfast. I don’t think it is fair that Curt and I have to go, but it is not to the white church in Locke Mills. We are going to the hamlet of Rowe Hill and that is not so bad.
Our church is at Colby and Stella Ring’s farm house and they are lovely people. We call them Grammy and Grampa because they are just that to our cousins next door. I hear a car and I know it is the minister, Roland Lord, who is coming to pick us up. Ma thrusts a Bible in my hands and asks if I can remember the Bible verse given me last week. Yes, I can. I hope I can.
Curt and I get into the back seat and Mr. Lord drives us up the road and over the hill to Grammy and Grampa’s house. We are on our best behavior because after all he is a minister and I think most ministers are perfect and don’t do anything really bad.
We get out and are greeted by Grampa Ring. How I love his bushy mustache and his eyes twinkle as though there were little stars in them when he smiles. We enter the kitchen and of course, right away I smell their Sunday dinner cooking slowly in Grammy’s oven. Oh, the smells! We go to the left into the living room where the chairs are lined against the wall in three rows. A few of the neighbors come for the service as well. Grammy smiles at us from her perch on the piano bench in the corner.
Mr. Lord stands up in front of us in the middle of the living room and starts his sermon. He is a very nice man and speaks softly. Curt and I sit in the back row against the wall. Today I have a cold and hope I don’t start coughing. I am listening to the sermon, but I can also see by Mr. Lord and down in the valley is Indian Pond. Wouldn’t it be nice to be down there right now watching our fish, Egbert, on the bed swishing her tail in the bog water. Oh, well, I had better pay attention. Suddenly I realize I am chewing gum, so reach in my pocket for my clean hanky and slowly get it out of my mouth on to the hanky and back in my pocket. Ma gave me two hankies this morning and told me I probably would need them both. So far, so good.
Mr. Lord stops his sermon and announces a hymn we are going to sing. Grammy starts playing her piano and we all sing “Bringing in the Sheaves”. Curt doesn’t know all the words and he can’t read big words yet, so he thinks it is Bringing in the Sheep, but no one seems to notice. Those are the only words he knows anyway.
The song is done and now Mr. Lord announces it is time for the children to recite the Bible verses Grammy handed out to us last Sunday. A couple of the neighborhood kids recite and I know I have to wipe my nose. Oh, to get it done before my turn to recite. I grab the hanky from my pocket to wipe and Curt starts snickering. I turn to quiet him and he is looking at my nose. Oh, no, the gum I sneaked out of my mouth is now on my nose. Another hanky out of the pocket and the gum is gone from my nose. Curt wants to snicker some more, but I give him what he calls the evil eye. For seven years old, he sometimes gets himself and me into an awful lot of trouble. My name is called and I stand, reciting the verse correctly. I silently thank God for that and the fact I have not coughed. Now, Mr. Lord is making some announcements, but I cannot really focus on what he is saying because Grammy’s dinner is beginning to smell more delicious by the minute. I wonder if she has a roast in there. Probably they’ll have corn on the cob as well. New potatoes. The whole menu is stuck in my mind.
Suddenly I realize people are leaving their seats and it is time for us to get our next Bible verse from Grammy and climb into Mr. Lord’s car for the ride back to Greenwood. Curt and I walk through the kitchen to leave and he asks if I know what those good smells are. I shush him and tell him we will talk about it later.
Mr. Lord is very good about taking us to his church and bringing us home again. He drives right up to our door and we thank him properly as he tells us he will see us next week.
We walk into the kitchen and I give Ma back her Bible and she asks us if we behaved ourselves. She asks the same question every week and then tells us to sit ourselves at the table as dinner is ready.
It isn’t Grammy Ring’s secret oven dinner, but the brown trout all crispy and fried and the potatoes sure smell good. Curt and I agree that religion gives us an appetite.