It was only a stock Perfect Attendance pin, given out willy-nilly at Sunday Schools all across our land. It doesnít have my name on it. It doesnít have the year on it. Just PERFECT ATTENDANCE. But I know, having owned it for 60 years, that it is mine.
I touch it now and then, wistfully perhaps, because it refers to the child in me, who loved Sunday School, memory work and performing my recitations to anyone who would listen.
Iím sure my parentís pride at my memory ability came into play, but the ham in me loved to perform, too.
For a child with chronic bronchitis, to get perfect attendance in Sunday
School was a hallmark occasion. I spent every winter swathed in undershirts, over the ever present ĎMustard Plasterí smelling strongly of olive oil.
I marched down the aisle of First Baptist Church in my ribbed, long, cotton stockings and corduroy slacks. No other child I knew wore all that stuff to ward off doctor visits we could not afford in the Thirties.
Mother had great confidence in Vicks Vaporub and Mustard Plasters.
She made a makeshift tent over the kitchen table, draping my head with towels and making me lean over the old copper teakettleÖa vaporizer of sorts. I knew that Vicks was in there somewhere, and I breathed deeply of the menthol steam.
Our home was never Quarantined, like so many were, back then. Infantile
Paralysis (Polio), Pneumonia and Scarlet Fever never darkened our door.
Mother did not believe vaccinations. The premise of injection of a disease, to keep me from getting that disease did not set well with her. We were a family swathed in homeopathic remedies and prayer. Every Wednesday night I heard my name mentioned at Prayer Meeting by the Pastor who later baptized me in a handmade white dress.
I was in all the Christmas Plays at church. At Easter I was the one chosen to recite poems of springtime and the blessed hope of eternal life. Or scripture verses about our Lordís crucifixion and resurrection.
My elocution lessons from the school teacher next door, (in exchange for
sewing by my mother) had paid off. I had very little difficulty memorizing
anything. I had watched my mother give her readings at many church
functions. Her best one, The Prayer For Potatoes, (see your audio
tape of that reading) was even given at other churches and clubs.
She was very good at readings, and I copied her poise and never muffed
Sword Drills (so named for Godís Word being the sword of the Spirit) were practiced every week in Sunday school class and two weeks solid in Daily Vacation Bible School. It was a ritual where children sat quietly with closed Bible clasped edgewise in their laps. When the teacher called out a Bible reference, they scrambled against time to be the first to find it and raise their Bibles high above their heads shouting, "Iíve got it!" Of course, the pre-requisite for winning this game was to know all the books of the Bible in perfect order. Of course, I did!
I memorized everything. Even the backs of cereal boxes and the ingredients listed on the Sucrets Throat Lozenge cans! I could spell the word Hexylresorcinol, the main ingredient of Sucrets cough drops, correctly.
Not that Hexylresorcinol would ever be in a spelling bee at school, it just reminds me of the precocious child I was.
Navigators Scripture Memory program was a natural for me when I reached my teens. I memorized scads of Bible verses by carrying them on little printed cards tucked into the Navigator Pack, a small dual sided leather carrying case, similar to a manís wallet. When I had free time, or rode a bus, or stood in lines at the grocery store, my Navigator Pack came out of my pocket and I read the verses through, complete with scripture reference Ďfore and aftí. People were amazed when I progressed to the third pack, meaning hundreds of verses had been committed to memory. As I feel the cold, sharp edges of the Perfect Attendance pin in my wrinkled old hand, I remember that I truly believed that it was made of pure gold. Itís still shiny after 60 years of lying in my jewelry box. The Bible Stories and verses I learned at that tender young age have also stood the test of time.
I am still amazed at my memory of those years of the Dirty Thirties, but the details are vividly clear. Like it was yesterday when the pastor called out my name to come down the aisle to receive my Perfect Attendance pin.
Perfect attendance in Sunday School taught me to store Godís Word away
in my heart, and it was timely advice as lovely as gold apples in a silver basket (Proverbs 25:11). It taught me to be punctual, to be committed and to let my light shine before men. I just wasnít aware of it then.
Now, as I share my story with sixteen grandchildren, those 'golden
apples of timely advice' come tumbling out of the lips of a silver
haired old lady, who knows the value of learning the scriptures
at a young age.
"Iím confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me will complete it in the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 1:6, because, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11