After Mary Ellen and I spent a lazy morning lolling in her pool, we had time to hurry to the mall to get my hair fixed before Gerald was to return from his stress test. Back at her house, where we thought he would be waiting, we ate a sandwich and phoned him. As with most things, the test took much longer than expected, so Gerald barely had time for his quick sandwich before we left for Meadow Heights Baptist Church in Collinsville on the other side of the Mississippi River for the 16th Annual BSU Reunion. .
Since supper did not start until 5:30, we thought we had arrived early to set up the registration table. We had not factored in the early practice of the rejuvenated Chapel Singers. We were not only late but swamped with the entire choir needing to register at once to get back to practice some more. It is always fun to greet those you haven’t seen for a year and to answer, “Fine!” as they ask you how you are. We enjoyed hearing the Singers practice and looked forward to their concert the next day,
Registration kept us busy until time for the evening’s entertainment, but there was still plenty of food for us in the brightly decorated fellowship hall, which carried out the Nifty 50’s theme with a little bit of catsup flavoring in honor of our Collinsville locale,
Although there wasn’t time to visit the display table filled with memorabilia, we enjoyed the soup and hot cider and some visiting before the fun began. After group singing led by Jim and Rosie Robinson accompanied by our dear friend Helen Ruth Dillow, we were welcomed by Meadow Heights former pastor and 1950s friend Dale Clemens.
The walls of the room were covered with beautiful handmade quilts and a scrumptious collection of 1950s hats that our president Helen Green Galloway had inherited. That set the stage for the Hat Parade with Helen, Rinnie, Irma, Betty S., Becky, Ginger, Peggy, and Linda .wearing gorgeous hats with matching gloves and purses. For those nostalgic moments, I wished we still wore hats and gloves on the street and to church as we did in those more dignified times. (I really wouldn’t want the bother. Although I love hats, I only wear them now for sun protection at the ball park.)
One of the reunion highlights was the participation of Jim Cox, who just retired from Radio Station KEZK (102.5) in Missouri. Jim narrated the hat show as well as providing us with special music and some humorous anecdotes—some of which were told on him instead of by him. He conveniently claimed he did not remember imitating Dr. Taylor.
Seeing Jim at the end of his broadcasting career made me realize anew the best local television show I ever watched was The Hour when Channel 3 was still at Harrisburg. They don’t make shows like that anymore, which is a loss. Each afternoon down on the farm at 4 o’clock, I was able to hook up with the rest of the local world. Jim brought the most important personalities to our living room.
It was on his show that I learned about women shelters for abused women—probably the first shelter in our area. The person interviewed explained that the smallest woman at the shelter with nothing but moral authority could stand up to a big angry bully who had come to collect “his woman,” and the bully would slink away. That woman impressed on me an important principle about morality that every Christian needs to know. It was so great to visit with Jim again and to hear all the wonderful things his children have accomplished. In fact, since we are all slowing down, it was good to hear about everyone’s children and grandchildren’s work and worthwhile activities.
During registration, I saw and heard a slight woman in a red blouse being called The Tomato Lady. I told Gerald she must be going to do some comedy routine for us. Not so. Judy Demoisy, with the help of Mike Gassman showing slides, presented the history of the 170 foot tall water tower built in 1949 by the bottlers of Brooks Catsup. Located next to Route 159, just south of downtown Collinsville, the tower had not been maintained and was about to be torn down when DeMoisy came to town in 1993. She pitched in and a group of volunteers saved “The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle.” Although I thought we might go see it before we left town, that was not to be. I am still planning to visit that website.
Now wiser about fanciful water towers around the globe, we sang again before we were treated to Meadow Heights’ own southern gospel group called “The Messengers.” These men were foot-patting good, and we delighted in their message.. Amazingly, before they completed their part of the program, someone shouted: “Elvis is in the building!”
Only Helen Green Galloway could have imagined that our group of oldsters with an extremely high percentage of retired pastors, missionaries, church song directors, and lay leaders would want to rock with Elvis. But Helen was right. As he performed all the Elvis standards, the screams and claps were enthusiastic. By the time he got to “Love Me Tender” and started gifting ladies with the filmy scarves from his neck, we were taken away to the Nifty Fifties. With a new supply of scarves, he continued with “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” We were one mellow crowd when the lights came up for final announcements and goodbyes.
Not feeling well, I was hurried to our motel. Gerald wondered if we should not stop by the ER first. I dissuaded him because I just wanted to go to bed. As I fell asleep, I said a prayer that Gerald would not regret letting me have my way.
The next morning Gerald finished the remaining registration. I had quickly sat down at the nearest cafeteria table by the door. Paul and Beverly Davis were also there early, and and Beverly carried me orange juice. I had a fine visit with them and with my sister Rosemary and brother-in-law Phil’s friends Frank and Ione Kassner. While sitting down, I felt good. Although, I missed meeting up with some folks I had wanted to see, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with dear friends from our Johnson Hall days. Having Verona (Withrow) Highsmith come with a book to autograph—that her sister had sent her not knowing she knew me—was very neat since it had been over 50 years since Gerald and I had seen her and Darrell. They had been serving around the world in the military.
Gerald joined me and we walked to the auditorium for the day’s worship program, which we had been anticipating, He asked if we did not need to go ahead and leave. We already knew we had to skip the noon banquet and afternoon worship service with Nate Adams because Gerald had a routine 1 p.m. appointment made months ago with his cardiologist across the river in Saint Louis. We had been upset about this conflict when we realized it.
That morning, however, we intended to hear friend Bob Stuckey tell about Indonesia and listen to the Chapel Singers concert under the direction of Rayford Raby, a music hero of mine. Although I dreaded the breath-taking walk to the car, I quickly agreed that we needed to leave. Gerald’s cardiologist quickly agreed to work me in with Gerald’s appointment—early in fact. Fortunately, Gerald’s stress test had been good, so I got the serious attention. I was quickly sent to the hospital, where the cause of my breathing problems was quickly shown to be blood clots in my lungs.
Five days later I came home again forgetting all about wanting to see that water tower. I am feeling fine—even when I walk. Although we would have liked to linger longer at the reunion, perhaps God had a better plan when that cardiologist appointment was made six months ago.
Causes Sue Glasco Supports