a happy wanderer

I was about eight years old at the time. Faith Community Church in Roslyn, PA had an old building behind its parking lot and that was my school. I attended a small Christian school and when I was in third grade, the school was moved to this facility. The attendance was small and probably half of the children and administration went to my church.

It happened that after school one day, Bonnie Black and I were waiting for my mother to pick us up. We waited and we waited and we waited.

Pretty soon we were waiting all alone.

Yep! Everyone left us. No one noticed we were still there. This was the 1950’s – pre-cellphones, pre-email, pre-stranger danger, etc.

Bonnie and I weren’t scared, just bored. So we decided to walk.

Actually it was my idea. I know, in the back of my mind,  my mother wanted me to wait, but it just seemed like a better idea at that moment.

I knew my mother was coming from my church a little over two miles away in Willow Grove and it was on the same main road as my school. I thought we’d walk and watch for her and then jump up and down so as to flag her down so she’d see us and pick us up.

Remember I was eight years old.

We headed out. It was a busy street and fortunately we didn’t need to cross the road until we got to my church. That’s right! We never saw my mother. We never had the opportunity to jump up and down so as to flag her down so she’d see us and pick us up. I was so sure, SO SURE it was a great plan!

After waiting for the light to change before crossing, we arrived at my church. No one was there!

So I decided we should go next door to my Pastor’s home. It was a big beautiful old home with a gorgeous back yard filled with amazing gardens. In the summer, Sunday evenings, we’d hold church in this backyard. Our organist would bring out a little portable organ and pump away as we sat on folding chairs singing hymns. I cannot imagine how many church weddings were held in those beautiful gardens.

Bonnie and I were pretty tired by this time but we had to find my mom! A touch of panic was beginning to set in. I rang the doorbell and, to my dismay, there was no answer. We went around back and climbed the deck stairs. There, thank goodness, was the Pastor’s son, an adult himself, painting the deck. He was quite surprised to see us and I was really relieved to see him. I didn’t have a third option!

Immediately he went inside and called his mom. Actually my Pastor showed up. I was a bit afraid by this time. I mean I was eight years old and my Pastor seemed like GOD to me, up behind that huge pulpit every Sunday, with the occasional pounding on that very pulpit to make his sacred point. He looked different though without his black suit and white shirt and tie on. I didn’t remember ever seeing him this way – in casual attire. It never occurred to me that he even owned casual attire! I had the feeling, judging by the frown on my Pastor’s face, that I was in a heap of trouble!

I played the sympathy card: my mom was lost, after all. But it didn’t fly so Bonnie and I were told to sit and wait while the Pastor drove back to my school.

And there was my mother, no doubt a wreck! She had arrived late, stuck in traffic and didn’t know what to do when she got there and we were not there! For a while mother waited and was contemplating driving to the police station when my Pastor showed up.

She drove back and picked us up. I was happy/relieved to see her, yet at the same time, fearing what was to come.

I don’t remember the punishment but, knowing my mother, I was probably grounded for a very, very, very long time.

Today, had that happened . . . a whole lot of folks would be in trouble and lawsuits would have ensued and jobs would have been lost, not to mention what could have transpired with Bonnie and me!Adventure

Back then – in the 1950’s – I had no fear, only a sense of adventure.

It’s a different world today. It’s a shame. But I hope we, along with our children and our grandchildren never lose our sense of adventure.

. . . but always, ALWAYS listen to your mother! 🙂



A Matter of Perspective


It was one of those ice-breaker questions at some event I attended several years ago.  “What is your earliest memory?”

I quickly and clearly (or so I thought) recalled a story from when I was the age of two!  Later, I recounted the tale to my mother.

ImageIt began when we were at a beach somewhere on the Jersey shore.  I was with my mother, my older brothers, my two aunts and my cousin.  As we were playing in the sand, all of a sudden I realized my mother was not around.  So I promptly took off – as only a two-year old could do – and set out to find her.  Well, I found myself wandering around a parking lot.  I don’t remember being afraid, merely on a mission.

I’m not sure how long I had been gone, but a lady noticed me obviously unattended, took me by the hand, and walked me to the ranger station.  (God’s angels were working overtime  that day!)   It was quite a treat!  The rangers showered me with cool aid, cookies and candy.

Eventually my mother showed up.  I don’t know how she did it but she showed anger and relief all in one face!  It never occurred to me that I was in trouble.  I just knew my mother was lost and I went to find her!

My mother’s version (and apparently the correct one as she was older than me and had a more accurate rendition than that of a two-year old) was slightly different.

Yes, I was two!  At least I got that right! 🙂

No, we weren’t at the Jersey shore.  We were at Montgomery County Park.  For those in the St. Louis area, this is comparable to Carlyle Lake in Illinois.  In my defense, a big lake with a sandy beach, to a two-year old, looks like the ocean!

No, we weren’t with my aunts.  We were with two of my mother’s best friends.

I’m guessing but probably those best friends never forgot that day.  They were supposed to keep an eye on me while my mother went to use the facilities.  When mother came back and asked where I was, suffice it to say, all hell broke loose.  There was frantic searching in the water and on the beach.  Lifeguards as well as the park rangers were alerted.

Obviously no one realized how far and fast a two-year old could travel.  I was clear across the parking lot before the lady found me.

The Rangers in the station notified the Rangers on the beach.  I was safe.  My mother was found.  All was right with the world.   I couldn’t shake the feeling of being “watched” the rest of the day, though. 🙂