Memories of Childhood
from the childhood of
Laura Estelle Denton Anthony
It was hot in Madisonville, Kentucky that summer afternoon. You could almost feel the heat and quietness around us, as my playmates and I sat in the back yard making clover chains. Suddenly we heard an airplane! In those days, an airplane was a BIG event!
We all ran toward the sound of the plane, looking up at the sky. I can still see it -- a biplane -- as it circled over our little town. I can see the pilot and his goggles and his white scarf blowing in the wind.
He was waving at us and we were jumping up and down and wildly waving back. Then he started dropping tiny objects. Oh, how we ran across the yards and fields to catch one! What a THRILL to grab a tiny parachute and find a 5 cent candy bar hanging below. I ate the candy bar right away. But I played with the little parachute until it was in shreds.
I was about 7 years old then and had lots of questions about airplanes. One moonlight night, I was sitting on the porch with my Dad (John H. Denton, Jr.) and he told me that one day, in my lifetime, man would walk on the moon! Of course I did not believe him. He lived long enough to see NASA preparing to go to the moon. How I wish he could have seen it.
When I was a child, the school and the church were the centers of our social activities. Each Sunday at 6 p.m. we had a Youth meeting at our church. Mine was called Christian Endeavor. Our pastor decided it would be good for all if we could take turns, visiting the other churches and their young people. Not only did we make new friends, but we learned about other religions.
One Sunday night, the pastor announced that he had a great treat for us. There was no Catholic Church in our town, but there was one nearby, and they had invited us to come visit them. We were all very excited, for none of us had ever been to a Catholic Church. Well, I was overwhelmed with all I saw, and couldn't wait to get home and tell my parents about it. But, unfortunately, while I was telling them, I decided to make fun of what I didn't understand including the statues, the candles, the incense and the pastor with his shirt on backwards!
Then when I looked up, I saw the look on my Daddy's face and knew I was in for a BIG sermon. He really blew his stack! He sat me down and proceeded to give me a verbal spanking. He told me I was to NEVER make fun of any religion, for there were many ways to worship God and there were many paths to God, and that the important thing was to choose your own path and worship Him in your own way.
By the time he was finished with me, I wished he had blistered my bottom instead! The more I look back in memory, the more I think my Daddy should have been a teacher or minister. He was something!
More Lessons from Dad
One evening, after supper, the neighbor kids and I were sitting on the front steps at my house. We gathered there each evening to play Red Rover until dark.
On this evening, coming down the street was this very old black lady. She looked so tired and looked as if each step she took was painful. She had worked up the street for a wealthy lawyer family -- often working 12 hours a day. As she got even with my house, one of the boys starting calling her names. And, as children will, we all joined in.
Then, BANG went the front screen door and my Daddy came storming out. all the kids scattered and Daddy grabbed me by the arm. Down the street we went after the old lady. Daddy stopped the tired little woman and said, "My daughter has something to say to you. Now, Estelle, you apologize and never let me ever hear those words from you again." The little woman took my Daddy's hand and said, "Mr. Denton, thank you and God bless you."
Again, he yanked me back to my front steps, turned me over his lap and proceeded to give me the only spanking I ever got in my life. As he was blistering my bottom, he was preaching a sermon -- "I am ashamed of you -- you should be ashamed of yourself -- we are ALL God's children -- He makes some of us black, or red, or yellow, or white -- He could have made YOU black -- how would you feel if someone mocked you the way you did that poor woman?"
When he got through with me, I don't know which hurt the most, my spanking or his sermon!