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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A SERPENT IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD

This story is not about my home church, Rose Hill Methodist, but a similar church with which I am familiar. The couple, friends of mine for over 70 years, will be referred to as Mr. and Mrs. C. They so enjoyed telling me this story that I wanted to share it with you.

Mr. and Mrs. C had a son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren living about three hours north of their home, and they planned to visit them this particular Sunday. The couple got up earlier than usual, did their chores and drove to meet the children at their church. They arrived shortly after the service had started and found a place to sit close to the front.

Mr. C was soon lulled to sleep by the hum of the air conditioner and the "swish-swish" of the ceiling fans. Mrs. C sat with her hands folded in her lap, holding her rather large black purse. Rural ladies don't change purses with the season, only when the old purse is worn out. Mrs. C's purse had several compartments--the larger one probably contained her billfold, checkbook, several pens and pencils, scratch pad, grocery list and several receipts, dry cleaning tickets, coupons for groceries, compact, mirror, lipstick, aspirin, several bottles of medicine for her husband, charge cards, drivers license, an unmailed letter, a book of stamps, a button from her husband's coat sleeve, a small kit with needles and thread, rubber bands, paper clips, safety pins, loose change, a package of flower seeds and other items. (Men, if you don't believe this--investigate your wife's purse when she isn't looking.)

Mrs. C had napped on the drive up and looked around as she listened to the service. Behind the pulpit was a picture of Christ praying in the garden. On the Communion table were two arrangements of fresh flowers. There were also fresh flowers on the organ and piano, not flower shop flowers but flowers that had been cut that morning by work-hardened hands. The men seated around Mrs. C had sunburned faces and necks but white foreheads that had been protected by a cap or hat, and the ladies had tanned shoulders from working and not from lounging around a swimming pool.

When the pastor had finished his sermon, the ushers came forward to take up the offering. Mrs. C opened her purse a little so no one could see inside it, but she could not remove the billfold so she opened it all the way...
Across the aisle about 20 feet from Mrs. C sat some of my relatives--let's call the boy Lad. He had brought to church, without his mother's knowledge, a toy snake. You know the kind--about 12 inches long, green, with a wire running through the snake permitting it to be shaped to look alive. Lad had previously shaped it to look like it was ready for attack. He now bent about one inch of the tail at a right angle.

As his mother was looking into her purse, he spun the snake faster and faster--and then, "Oops!" it happened. The snake slipped out of his hand, arched over the aisle, and fell into Mrs. C's purse just as she pulled out her billfold. She jumped up, let out a scream that woke her husband and everyone else that was sleeping, and threw her purse over her right shoulder. The purse turned over, scattering its contents over about three pews of worshippers. The ushers hesitated, and some people thought Mrs. C had had a seizure.

To be helpful, the young people started gathering up the scattered contents of the purse--and soon laughter spread through the church. The service was effectively over. The minister walked to the door to greet the people, and the organ and piano played the postlude.

I imagine that Lad ate his next two meals standing up.

1 comment:

May said...

Good for people to know.

Ben the Cook

Ben the Cook
Action shot from the 1970s

RECIPE CORNER

TUNA "SURPRISE"

I recently made Tuna Helper, following the instructions on the box and adding margine, milk, etc. Priscilla and I had generous portions for lunch. When she asked about my recipe, I pointed to the kitchen table where the box was sitting...and only then noticed the unopened can of tuna sitting next to the empty box.

Well, we enjoyed our macaroni & cheese lunch and already have the tuna on hand to make another box of Helper.


HONEY COOKIES

I watched the TV news show "The Eyes of Texas" for years. When in the mid 1980s they announced the publication of a Texas cookbook I wrote down my grandmother's honey cookie recipe. I asked Priscilla to type it, and she mailed it along with several of her personal favorites.

When the book was published Priscilla's recipes were not included but mine was, with a special mention in the cookbook's introduction. I was invited to the signing in Houston, where I got all three of the main Eyes of Texas contributors to sign the front and while standing in line got a number of contributing cooks to sign their recipe pages.


Some might consider the description "somewhat chewy" an understatement. For those who are dentally impaired, I recommend soaking a cookie in milk or hot coffee before trying to chew it. The good news is, these cookies will keep indefinitely.

Eyes of Texas Cookbook introduction:
My great-grandparents August and Caroline Weiss operated the first cotton gin operated by steam, near Salem in Washington County, Texas. They were among the first German settlers in that area. Money was scarce; however, they always had bees and native pecans...consequently, this recipe was a favorite.

1 1/2 pints honey, warmed
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1 tsp. baking powder
Enough flour for a very stiff dough

Mix all ingredients well. Roll dough out on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter, or drop the dough in a greased pan and flatten with a floured glass. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, with edges slightly darker. These cookies will be somewhat chewy.

Ben's Bio

I was born in Rose Hill, Texas in 1925 and at age 18 drafted into the Army. After my discharge I settled in Tomball, which although a small town had more opportunities than Rose Hill. I ran my own appliance installation and repair business for many years and in 1977 accepted a position as Plant Engineer and Director of Maintenance at Tomball Regional Hospital, where I worked until retirement in the late 1980s. In the 1970s I served two years on Tomball’s City Council, was elected mayor and served for six years during which major streets were paved and guttered, utility lines were extended, and a new jail and city hall were built. After retirement from the hospital I spent time on a genealogy project that included two trips to Germany to visit relatives and look up archival records. I have also gotten into writing, chronicling my WW II experiences and authoring Growing Up in Rose Hill, published by private press and sold as a fund-raiser for the Tomball Community Museum Center, where I have served as a volunteer, trustee and Chairman. I am still involved with the Tomball hospital as a weekly volunteer and serve as General Manager of Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM), a church-sponsored operation that provides food and other assistance to area families. I continue to be involved in writing about my childhood and personal interests, and I still enjoy woodworking and other handyman projects. My wife and I still live in Tomball and are not far from most of our 8 surviving children and 14 grandchildren.