From My Memory File

There it sat, with an unusual combination of brown and tan stripes. The 1976 Ford van we were borrowing from a church was, unbelievably, still running. The interior was in remarkable shape after twenty-seven years of use. This was not the first time we had borrowed a church van like this. Why is it that churches have to make do with such old rattletraps? It was a Sunday in 2003, and we laughed and joked as we loaded our instruments and waited for Dad to appear. As Mom climbed in, my mind began to imagine what a typical Sunday morning in 1976 would have been like for my family. That was the year they began this ministry of evangelism. I would not have even been in existence at that time, so all I could do was pretend. Feeling a little impish, I asked, "Mom, did you see Pat?" I wasn't sure if she'd catch on or not. She did. "Yes, he was still getting ready." Pat Cassidy was a tall young man who showed up at the parsonage door the summer my family was preparing to start this ministry. He was in search of a friend of his, thinking we might be able to help locate this person. Only twenty-five at the time, he eventually became part of our traveling band, not knowing just exactly what he was getting himself into. Others got into the act. "Do you have to wear your hair like that, Deborah?" inquired Joanna. We had all seen the horror pictures of the hairstyles my sisters had worn back in the good old days. Deborah's wide, flat bangs and huge glasses had provided many a laugh of amusement for us cruel younger sisters. "Sharon, did you get the silverware to drop in the bucket?" I wondered. This had been her duty as a young girl during one of our famous puppet shows. The sound effect was supposed to resemble glass breaking. "Mom, are we doing Little Red Riding Hood or The Tongue today?" "The Tongue", Mom replied, at which point Joanna dissolved into laughter, her shoulders hunched over. Dad was finally ready after some difficulty loading his guitar and the printer into the back seat of the van where the instruments and P.A. were occupying space. Next came the job of moving the driver’s seat forward. He stepped out of the seat to locate the lever. As this was quite an ancient beast, the lever was not under the seat, as is usually the case. There was a button on the control panel that performed this duty, although the seat was refusing to budge. "Mon, help him out," instructed Sharon from the backseat. Sharon was always instructing from the backseat. Dad found the correct button and with Monica's help, the seat sprang forward, prompting another outburst of giggles from Joanna. Quickly Dad offered a prayer for safety and started the engine. We shifted into reverse, and the whole van gasped for air and died. This was too much. Again he started the engine and put it into reverse. Again the van croaked. On the third try he was able to get it into drive before it stalled. We tore out of the driveway. (One of his favorite pastimes.) What a bumpy ride! What memories! What fun!