"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I sat with my daddy last week at his computer.  Earlier, I had asked him who owned Andrew Hardware.  When I was a small child, it was the place all the men gathered around the pot-bellied stove and told their stories and solved the world's problems.  These were more the farmers.  At the other end of the block was the Coffee Cup where the businessmen met -- or so I seem to remember.  I also wanted to know about the empty parking lot next door to the hardware store.  Had it always been just that ... an empty lot?  He answered my questions and then disappeared for a while.  He had gone back to the computer room, (yes, my 82 year old parents have a computer room with their individual PCs), and found pictures of "old Perry."  My dad is somewhat Perry's un-official historian.  Thousands of pictures and stories are housed in both his brain as well as his computer.  He loves remembering and sharing them.  And I love hearing them.

As for my questions, there were actually two hardware stores downtown.  I always assumed Mr. Andrew owned Andrew Hardware, but this particular day I discovered that Mr. Talton owned Andrew Hardware and Mr. Andrew was the proprietor of Houston Hardware directly across the street.  There was no explanation on that one.  As for the empty lot, Daddy said that before even he could remember, a wooden house sat between the 2 buildings that are still standing, but it caught fire one night and burned to the ground.  An interesting piece of information is that Mr. Swanson, the man who lived across the street, ran out to see what was going on and got so excited, he died of a heart attack right there on the spot.  Hmm.  That, too, was interesting.

Living in the place where you grew up can take you down memory lane every time you walk out the door.  Just this week, I was taking my parents home from eating out, and my mother said, "This is where we used to play capture the flag.  Right here in the middle of the road.  And right up here at the top of the hill is where we used to go parking."  (That was beginning to border on TMI -- "too much information.")  I have traveled that little stretch of road literally thousands of times in my lifetime as it's less than a quarter of mile from where my parents have lived for 55 years, and I never knew that.  But she remembered.  And now I will, too.

But I'm constantly recalling my own memories as well.  

One day I stood downtown on the corner and took 4 pictures in 4 different directions.

The first is where it all began for me.  Dr. Gallemore's office.  This is where my brothers and I were born, where I had blood drawn for my marriage license, and everything that fell in between, including getting my ears pierced and warts removed.

Of course, I don't actually REMEMBER being born...

Rotating to my left and across the street is the Perry United Methodist Church.

Here I was baptized as an infant and where I came to love Jesus in the children's Sunday School department.  Where I first exercised my piano skills in worship and where I gave my first testimony in a pulpit.  It's where I married my husband and where we have said goodbye to generations of loved ones.

Across the street is this building.

Today it is the administration building for the church, but before that, it was the Bank of Perry.  The bank where my great-uncle was the president until he died and where my uncle's insurance company was housed.  Where I had free range after hours and even where I worked as a teller after graduating from high school.

And then one more quarter rotation finds this.

It's now The Swanson restaurant, but when I was little, it's where Mrs. Norine Jones lived, my babysitter on those rare occasions when Mom and Dad would go out.  (She was also the daughter of the aforementioned Mr. Swanson who gave way to the excitement of the fire.)  But most importantly, this is where both of my parents went to kindergarten ... with Mrs. Norine as their teacher. 

And this is just one corner!  

A quick stroll down the street and I remember Mr. Mac and Mrs. Ruth who owned the car dealership.  If he had 5 cars parked inside his showroom, that was a big deal.  When I got married, Mrs. Ruth gave me her monogrammed cocktail napkins that I have and use to this day.  After all, she had married a McLendon and I was about to do the same.

I remember my Uncle Smokie's men's clothing store like it was yesterday and sitting up on that very high counter while the adults visited (or shopped).  I picked out my wedding china at the 2 jewelry shops that sat directly across the street from each other.  I had my first "date" at the Coffee Cup.  (I rode my bike to meet him.)  I bought my first short-shorts at Tots and Teens, and I met Jimmy Carter and shook his hand at the entrance to the court house.  I was just going to the public library housed in the basement, but he stopped me and asked me to tell my parents to vote for him ... for governor.  Little did any of us know about that one.

Yes, and just across the street is the New Perry Hotel where I learned my social graces inside in the dining room and how to swim out back in the wrought-iron fenced pool. And, if I tried to list all the homes and  landmarks that I pass on a routine basis that hold memories of one kind or another, I could fill page upon page upon page.  Certainly I don't pretend that all of them are positive remembrances.  But these are the places God used to shape me.

Of course, we don't have to have landmarks to have a memory surface.  It can be a song on the radio.  A smell when we pass someone at the mall.  A picture that falls out of a book.  And then suddenly, there it is.  We remember

In one sense, the past is gone, never to be repeated.  But in another way, it's not gone at all.  We remember because it all lives and breathes somewhere deep within us.  It suddenly becomes as much a part of us now as it was back when.  These memories, they come unbidden.  Some with such force that we are startled by their abruptness.  Some so subtle that we hold tightly to them and yearn for more.

So what do we do with them?  Embrace them or hold them at bay?  Acknowledge or suppress them?  Maybe we ought to deliberately choose to see where God was alive and active in them, that His grace was sufficient whether we knew Him or not, and that without Him, WE WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED ... and then maybe we can be thankful.  Maybe THAT is as the heart of our remembering.

O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, tell of all His wonderful works.
Glory in in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually.
REMEMBER the wonderful works He has done...
1 Chronicles 16:8-12a

Just an ordinary moment...

1 comment:

Jody Watts Price said...

Nancy: I love this.....it was as if I was right there with you......I think all of us who grew up in Perry have these same memories to cherish....thanks for bringing back memories....