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Memory of the Past

Often, as we get older, things of our childhood are recalled. Things that had no business being remembered suddenly come back into focus. The following is an example, but sixty-five-year-old memories may have blurred with age. Please accept this recollection with the fog of time included.

At the age of seventy-three, my old carcass is beginning to show signs of wear. I recently noticed that my vision was changing. My eye doctor discussed my “divergence” (double vision) that I have begun experiencing intermittently. It seemed to be worse while watching Jeopardy on TV.

The odd thing is that as we were discussing my problem, I was transported back to my eight-year-old self. I remembered sitting in a pew of Poplar Springs Church. My family has attended that church for generations. My grandmother and uncles were charter members in 1906.

Our family attended church every Sunday that services were held. Back in those days the minister was shared with another church, so regular services were every other week. On those occasions we usually attended Sunday evening services as well as Wednesday evening Prayer Meetings.

The church was a common structure for a country church with white siding, hanging ceiling lights and a Celetex ceiling. I spent more time staring at the Celetex ceiling imagining shapes and counting tiles than I did listening to preacher Fulton. I especially remember one exceptionally warm Sunday evening when there was a song service. My older cousin, Hoyt Johnson was conducting the service (he would later become a prominent minister in the area).

The old church had large side windows that were wide open and the double doors were standing opened as well to catch any hint of a breeze on that warm evening. The scent of the shrubs outside and the occasional wasp would come in, buzz around and leave.

Living next door to the church had some advantages, but there was one disadvantage. My cat made an appearance in the aisle of the church. The tabby cat walked down the middle of the aisle as though he owned the building. He casually strolled from pew to pew where he would stop, sniff, look around, scratch and continue up the aisle toward the front of the church. As he ambled along, he began to attract significant attention from our small congregation. Finally, when he had reached the front pew, he commanded the attention of the entire church including my cousin.

Hoyt felt it was time to remove the intruding cat and lunged for the cat planning to carefully remove it and continue the service. The cat had other ideas. He was just too quick for Hoyt and escaped back out the doors leaving an embarrassed Hoyt sprawled on the floor. On arising, the blushing young minister recovered by saying, “I guess Sammy’s cat is religious, but I don’t think he liked the chorus.” With that he resumed the song service with the complete and amused attention of the congregants.

Back to my depleting memory—one of my fascinations along with counting tiles on a warm evening was staring at the minister until I could make my vision see two images. Mom saw me staring and after she figured out that it was not just out of paying close attention. She told me not to cross my eyes because they may freeze that way and stay crossed forever. Of course, I didn’t believe her for a moment and continued the game to counter-act an eight-year-old’s boredom. A quick blink of my eyes would correct my double vision, but now, sixty-five years later, I’m beginning to think my mom was right. A quick blink still corrects the double vision (diplopia) but now that old quick blink is not as effective. It’s getting fixed, but perhaps I should have listened.

Poplar Springs Church of Christ photo from early 1950s. This may be church board or Men's Bible Class. Notice the hats on the back wall.


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