By Joe Rector
In another universe and another time, Sunday was a day of rest. It was a day that defined the end of a hard week of work and school. That Sabbath was filled with some of the most comfortable and reassuring things for every member of the family.
My parents took us to Sunday school and church all our lives. No, the church didn’t offer a nursery or a children’s alternate worship service. Dal, Jim, and I sat in church between grown-ups and kept our mouths shut.
When young twin boys are left to their devices long enough, trouble is on the way. We’d draw on bulletins as generations of young ‘uns have done. Paranoid feelings settled in at some point, and both of us felt sure that every choir member in the front of the sanctuary was staring at us. Then one of our “tickle boxes” would overturn, and we’d darn near choke to death on swallowed laughter. On a couple of occasions, Daddy promised to deliver sound thrashings unless we “straightened up.”
Once home, we boys were sent to change out of our Sunday clothes. Mother would finish cooking dinner, usually featuring fried chicken or a beef roast. Many Sunday mornings she would rise early to cook things so that we could gather round the kitchen table soon after returning from church. We boys grew fat on meals that also offered a basket of hot biscuits, gravy, and jelly.
After the meal we were sent packing. Sometimes we finished homework for Monday, but most of our time was spent playing outside. We stayed inside only during downpours. Mother and Daddy cleared the table and washed the dishes. In short order, the kitchen was spotless, and on the top of the stove were leftovers that would disappear by evening.
It was only after Mother worked like a servant that she trudged to her favorite chair in the living room. She and Daddy claimed the area as theirs. He sometimes moved to the bedroom to catch a few winks before leaving in the late evening for his shift at work. Mother poured over every article in the paper. In those days stories took up more room than ads. Eventually, she’d give in to her tired body and would curl into a ball like a dog and take a nap that might last half an hour or half an afternoon.
In the evenings we loaded up for church again since both parents served as MYF leaders. Then we’d drive that short couple of miles back home. We hurried to finish up any loose ends of homework and then squabbled about whose turn it was to take the first bath.
With all things completed, the five of us gathered in front of an old television with a screen no larger than fifteen inches. Before long Mother would disappear, but when that aroma traveled from the kitchen to the living room, we knew she was completing the last task of the day.
Mother would come back with a giant bowl of popcorn that she’d popped in a pot on the stove. The only rule was that we boys had to eat one kernel at a time. It was a difficult order, but if one of us cheated, the other two “tattle-taled.”
We sat as a family and watched “Bonanza.” On special September Sundays, Chevrolet previewed the newest models of their cars. When the show was over, it was time for bed. Regardless of how bright-eyed we were, our parents sent us to our rooms. We later learned they did so to steal just a few minutes of peace and quiet before another week began.
Families now have too many televisions, computers, video games, and cell phones. They don’t gather in one room unless a parent demands it, and then kids sulk until they can retreat to their rooms and toys again. I miss those Sunday nights with my family. It’s for sure that popcorn never tasted as good as it did back then.