When Grandpa John Was a Kid - The Family Car Was Missing

I remember one day when I was a young child that our car was no longer parked in the driveway. No one ever explained to me what happened. I suppose they thought that I was too young to understand why the car was missing. In the early 1930ís the depression had settled into almost every household in America. I now have surmised that the car was sold to buy groceries. My family could manage without an automobile because we could walk to a nearby grocery store with a drug store next door. For longer trips, the street car stopped on Classen, a block away from our house.

Prior to selling our car, my family attended the First Presbyterian church in downtown Oklahoma City which was three miles away. With no car, my mother soon looked for a church within walking distance so she could keep her three children actively involved in Sunday School. Two blocks from home was Wesley Methodist church. Even though my mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian preacher, she spent the rest of a long life as a hard working Methodist at Wesley.

I remember the short round tables with a cut out that placed the Wesley Sunday School teacher closer to the six or eight children. Seated at these tables, I heard bible stories, participated in fun activities, and felt the love of the teacher. Of course I had lots of love from my Mother and Daddy, but I began to feel that the rest of the world loved me too. I remember many dedicated Sunday school teachers and leaders who kept the same jobs forever. During the depression years, everything seemed to stand still.

Christmas was the most exciting time of the year at Wesley. In the basement of the church, I sat through a Christmas program about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men while waiting for the best part which followed the play. After the nativity story, Santa would enter with gifts for the children. The small knit sack which he gave each child was filled with hard ribbon candy, nuts, and an apple or orange.

Of course you wouldnít want Santa in the church today, but it seemed different then. Jesus said, "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me." At Wesley, Santa didnít add to a glut of gifts because his gift may have been one of only a few received amidst the depressed economy. As a kid I liked his gift a lot.

Copyright 1998 by John C. Westervelt

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