Wichita Falls, Texas, 1960: My cousins Bobby and Danny lived in this nearby city. Their father Pfeiffer sold insurance and had a fancy red Farmer’s Insurance sign painted on the doors of their white Studebaker. “It makes the car deductible,” he said.
His wife, formerly Rosemary Hurn, my mother’s older sister, was in fact the eldest of the Hurn children, and she was quite beautiful. As we remember that screen sirens of the 1940’s were somber-faced and dramatic explains a lot about how Rosemary and my mother dressed when they were dressing up. The difference between them was that my mother, a plump and cheery-natured woman, didn’t really fit in that picture, but Rosemary brought it off fairly well.
Rosemary, in my opinion as a child, rather put on airs. It was this snooty outlook which made Bobby’s first Communion so unfortunate for her.
For you see, Rosemary was the secretary to Dr. Hoggard, the smiling and pompous minister of Floral Height Methodist Church, which was lots snootier than the First Methodist Church of Henrietta which I was used to.
Floral Heights Methodist had a ceiling several stories high, and added a vast cathedral echo to the minister’s words. Perhaps that’s what made him pompous. Or perhaps I just imagined it as a child.
Bobby and Danny, and husband Pfeiffer, were expected to maintain a especially diligent decorum at Floral Heights Methodist Church, seeing as how Rosemary had such a position of importance there. So no whispering, and no fidgeting! The boys knew better.
When young Bobby was deemed old enough to attend Communion, he was anxious to do it right. Now, for the benefit of our heathen readers, in the Methodist Church, Communion is held but once per month, unlike the Catholics, who have Mass at most every service. The Catholics also have fancy wafers and red wine, but the Methodists just use crumbled pieces of Saltine Crackers and Welch’s grape juice, for as everybody knows the Catholics are a drunken, unruly lot, unlike the proper and sanctified Methodists.
Floral Heights Methodist being large and proper and sanctified, the Communion service takes a long time, for the congregation must trudge down to the great circle in crews. The ushers select a pewful of parishioners. Down in a line march these folks in their Sunday attire, to kneel upon the padded bench surrounding the low circular railing. Along come the priests- Oops I mean Ministerians, the first one offering to each worshipper a silver plate with the Saltine pieces, then the other guy offering tiny glasses of grape juice.
Bobby marched down behind Rosemary and Pfeiffer and knelt properly, craning his neck to see the silver platter approach. He took a piece of the holy Saltine, and the serving Ministerians moved on to Rosemary and Pfeiffer.
Suddenly the beauty of the service was marred. Bobby was crawling around on the carpet, scurrying in hasty circles on hands and knees.
“Oh my gawrsh!” he cried out, “I dropped my cracker!“