Does What Happen in a Church Pew Stay in a Church Pew? Linda Knight Seccaspina
This morning as I attended Wednesday Morning Breakfast at St. James I looked at two names, E. Virtue and C. Mull, that were crudely scratched into the top of a pew. I had seen these faded names hundreds of times throughout the years but I never really gave it much thought.
Who were E. Virtue and C. Mull I asked myself?
What were their stories?
Had they used a geometry protractor as their artistic weapon?
It reminded me of my days being a nuisance in a church pew until my Mother and Grandmother decided I should join the church choir. You see, as a child, I didn’t have much use for a church congregation. My Grandmother, on the other hand, had every use for it, and I was going to be part of it.
My late mother who was tone deaf like myself thought I was born to sing like Deanna Durbin. Every week Reverend Brown would choose a soloist and my mother suggested to him one too many times that I participate. Finally exhausted by her phone calls he agreed to let me have the next solo.Sunday came way too fast and standing in front of the choir I began to sing the first verses of “Lead Me Lord”. There were no “bravos” in the congregation while I sang, and by verse three people were covering their mouths with their handkerchiefs. At the end of the hymn fellow school classmate Dickie Miner in the front pew broke out into a fit of laughter and fell off his seat.
I went back to the church pew and saw Reverend Brown look down at me through his bifocals in bewilderment. Miss Smith, the spinster church organist, stamped on the organ pedals and rolled into the next hymn at a death defying volume. My musical career ended after that, but my Mother kept saying it was fine, as she insisted they had stand-in-singers for Joan Crawford. I often wondered if people remembered the caterwauling that came out of me that day and actually gave it a second thought years later.
Of course the stories from the church pews didn’t end there…
My Grandmother once gossiped about quite a prankster in the good town of Cowansville.Trying to become a good Samaritan and rack up those brownie points he offered to help one of his friends pump the organ one Sunday at Trinity Anglican Church. In those days the organ was pumped by hand, as the electric motor was not in use then.
After the kind offer was accepted the do-gooder began to sprinkle sneezing powder in and around the organ. As the organ began to play the first hymn the powder began to waft through the air. First the choir began to sneeze, then the minister, and finally the congregation joined in. No mention of what kind of punishment our local lad got when he got home- or if it was from a higher power.
My Grandmother also repeated a story about a man that spent most of his days in the rotunda of the Cowansville Hotel. The gentleman had an artificial appendage, which in those days was nothing but a wooden leg.
The man loved to whittle, and folks loved to watch him. One Sunday, busy on the steps of the church, one of his whittling projects became unsuccessful. While folks were entering for Sunday service he crossed his legs, uttered some type of expression and drove the knife a couple of inches into his wooden leg. The knife was sticking straight up into the air and an elderly woman who was just entering the front doors screamed and fell into a heap.
The minister who heard the thump came out running and asked what was wrong. The whittler looked at him with deadpan eyes and said innocently.
“Heck if I know!”
As I looked at the two names again on the pews I imagined the children that carved their names on the pew had to be between 10 and 12. I assume their parents caught them and punishment was either the woodshed or sitting in the corner with a bar of soap between their teeth. Needless to say, the families probably remembered the event each time they sat in that very pew. Of course there was always the thought that maybe their parents committed “the crime of the century” and changed pews so as not to be reminded of their children’s misdeeds.
I love telling stories, but unlike my Grandmother I never gossip.I observe, I remember and then relay my memories to practically everyone! See you next week!.
Church Lady Memories by Linda Knight Seccaspina
The Emotional Crowded Houses– St. James