Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A single memory

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yesterday's reflection on Brookline Booksmith caused me to remember.

I was raised Roman Catholic. I went to Catholic school through eighth grade.

In Catholic school, we never read the Bible. We had catechism classes each day. Once a week, the priest came in and asked us questions from the catechism. But we never read the Bible.

We had an old gray book called Bible Study. I can still see that book clearly in my mind. That book retold the stories of the Bible. I didn't read those either except I can remember reading about the exodus and thinking what a silly story it was. I wondered why it mattered.

Now I see the story of the exodus as one of the most profound stories ever written.

In high school (public high school), I dated a Southern Baptist girl. I decided I wanted to read the Bible. So I went to the little local bookstore in my hometown (Nevada, Missouri). It was a combination office supply store and bookstore down the street from Chester Whitehead's barbershop. I told the older lady in there I wanted to buy a Saint James Bible.

She surely smiled. But she was able to sell me a faux-leather covered Bible which I kept until the fake leather covering fell off. I didn't read it either. Have you ever tried to read the King James Bible?

But my curiosity was strong enough that I ended up in a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seminary, spent three years studying the Bible, spent 30 years preaching, and then after retirement started attending a Unitarian-Universalist church.

Given my inclusive view of things (After all, I was raised on the grounds of a large state mental hospital), it was probably inevitable I'd end up UU, but I had to go through the Saint James Bible to do it.

Anyway, that bookstore is long gone. So is Chester's barbershop, so far as I know. The hospital where I grew up has been torn down. The small square with Coles' clothing store and Earl Stump's shoes is now mostly empty buildings or buildings filled with service activities (lawyers, doctors, whatnot shops).

My small town went the way of most small bookstores. It became the place where Wal-Mart lives. I'm not complaining, I guess, but I might still like it if there were a small town somewhere where I could buy a Saint James Bible.


Corey Wilde said...

I still have the faux-leather King James copy I got for perfect Sunday school attendance wa-aayyy back in the day. The cover is torn so the Pentateuch has to be held on with a rubber band, but I'll never forget the generosity of the lady who provided me the book. She taught Sunday school to the two of us kids who showed up in a non-denominational church conducted in an old theatre; she was disabled and worked at Goodwill Industries. And she used to sing 'I Am a Sunbeam.' A truly gentle soul.

Joe Barone said...

Aren't good memories of good people fun?

Corey Wilde said...

Yes, they are. Thanks for bringing this memory to the forefront today.

Anonymous said...


Nevada has Cavanaugh's Bookstore on the east side of the Nevada square. It is run by descendants of the Mosely family. I visited it a while back and was pleasantly surprised by the variety, quality, and number of volumes available. Someone I know from Nevada actually ordered your book from them. It is larger and more welcoming than the bookstore we once knew on Cherry.

I enjoy your blog.

Georgia (NHS Spanish teacher next door)

Joe Barone said...

It is wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for posting. --Joe.