Memories of Yesteryear
By DANNY MINTON
We moved into a small home on 21st Street in Plano in January of 1954. It was blue then, and the left side was a single-car garage. Plano had fewer than 2,000 residents. We were on the west side of town, and I could stand in my yard and overlook the fields where the North Central Expressway was still under construction a short distance away.
Down the street lived the Murrays, Stouts, and Dents. Across the alley lived the Smiths, Rapers, and Walls. Next door to us lived the Capellas. I remember his opening a convenience store in Dallas, calling it Capellas, buying a sign that looked like Cabells. Remember the old rainbow signs? This way, people would think that his store was a Cabells.
To a small child, our house was huge. As I look at it now, either I’ve gotten bigger or the house shrunk. The Mimosa tree (or maybe it’s a Bird of Paradise tree) in the front yard is still there, planted over 65 years ago by my mom. Toby Joe, my faithful Cocker Spaniel, and Mickey, our Parakeet, are buried in the backyard. We always thought Mickey was a male until we found eggs in the bottom of the cage one day.
I’d walk down the block, cross the railway tracks, and travel the back road to Mendenhall Elementary School. The daily stop was Skaggs’s grocery just over the tracks. My mom never seemed to be concerned that we had to cross the railway or old Highway 75 (Avenue K).
We had to be in by dark and spent many an evening running around catching fireflies in an old pickle jar in with a half dozen holes punched in the top with an old rusty nail. On a cool, fall evening, we could hear the sounds of the Plano High School Wildcat Band practicing before the games at Rice Field.
I parachuted from the tree a block over. We canvassed the entire neighborhood at Halloween, and I sold the neighbors “Grit” newspapers to make extra money in the summer. It was a simple time of youth, a time when life was carefree, and there were few worries in life. Growing up in a small town may not have had all the limelight of big city living, but the memories will stay with me forever.
Our memories find their existence by things we see and hear as we grow up. Sometimes they are happy memories like the ones I had in early Plano, while at other times, they are sad or hurtful memories that we’d like to forget but that keep creeping into our minds as we mature.
Another place that I remember in Plano was the little white church building which I believe stood around 14th Street. It was the typical white, small-town building with a side door where the men would step out to smoke between worship and class. The floors would creak as you passed through the small foyer, making your way to the hard non-padded wooden pews. We always sat on the right side about halfway up, although my little brother and I often sat a few rows in front of our parents.
I still remember the preacher’s name was Morris. The church leaders included men by the name of Shockey, Abbott, Burch, Kennedy, and Crane. I remember that in Bible class, I was one of the few boys and had to either do a prayer or lead a song, usually “Trust and Obey” or “Are You Sowing the Seed of the Kingdom Brother?” Unfortunately, some of the memories exist around negative comments I heard about the preacher or an elder at times. There always seemed to be someone unhappy about something or someone.
It’s a shame that many of my pre-teen memories of the church have so much negativity in them. For some reason, negative thoughts seem to outlast the good things that happened. There were area-wide singings and great VBS times, but these seem hard to bring to the surface. These negative memories probably keep many people away from the church when they get older. Instilled within their minds and hearts, are the negative comments heard in random conversations during their youth.
For the church to grow, we must steer away from negative language about people, what church people dislike and what we perceive as negative goings-on. We need to leave our children with a positive attitude about the church family. I guarantee they will remember the negative things they see or hear. The people who make up the church are not perfect. You and I are not perfect. The church is simply a lot of imperfect people who want to be better. Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB)
The memories of the past that we want to remember are the good times, those times that we would like to relive. Similarly, we want to remember what was good about the church as we grew over the years. Good lasting memories will help keep people on the right track, while on the other hand, selfish, negative memories can turn one away from the church and God altogether.
I’ll never forget the little house at 905 21st Street in Plano. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never forget the negative comments about the church on 14th street as well. The question is, what memories are we leaving for those we hope will be tomorrow’s leaders in kingdom work? Remember, people will watch the actions of our feet more than listen to the sound of our words.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:23-26 (NIV)
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ