Remember the Church Lady from the early days of “Saturday Night Live”? She definitely was a little strange. I do remember a couple of women at the church I grew up in resembling this character. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only strange thing about the church. As a young girl, I didn’t realize it. We had only attended this one, so it wasn’t until I was 19 and started going to a totally different style of church that I realized how different it was.
We started attending Park Ave Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Tucson, AZ right after my family moved there when I was 11 months old. Of course, I don’t remember much about it until I was about 5 years old. My first memory was sitting in the second-row pew with my parents and sister. The young kids had to wait until the singing, offering, and communion was completed before going off to our Sunday School class. On this day we had a “special music” time and two women in the congregation got up to sing. I have to be honest, as a kid, I thought the music and songs we sang were boring! I had high hopes that this would be different. The music began and it really wasn’t that bad. Then one of the ladies began to sing….she hit a high note that could break a glass and it was way off-key. By instinct, I threw my hands over my ears and my face cringed. My mother tried to pry them off, but I was determined that I would do anything to protect my ears from this noise. My mother was so embarrassed. I knew I was going to be in trouble, but I didn’t care. Those extreme high notes these women were singing literally hurt my ears.
The second memory was when I used to go with my Dad to the church on Saturdays. He did this for quite a while and as a 6-year-old I really didn’t care what he was doing, I just enjoyed being away from the house. I knew he was constructing a small building out of brick in the south parking lot, but I didn’t know the purpose of it. After a couple of months, we quit going on Saturdays. Each Sunday we would drive into the parking lot and see the little building just sitting there. We had been raised not to ask questions, so I never asked what it was for. One Sunday morning my mother woke us up early and said, “Go get in the car.” My sister asked her if we needed to change out of our pajamas and she told us no. My dad was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and my mother had on her housecoat and slippers. Bewildered, we just rode in the backseat watching for a sign as to where we were going. Imagine my surprise when we pulled into the church parking lot! We drove toward the little building and we saw that someone had installed polls with speakers on them, just like at the drive-in movies! We were going to church service in our car. When my dad placed the speaker in the car window I could hear the pastor talking through it. It was standing inside the building talking on a microphone. A man came around handing out hymnals and we sat in our car and sang to the music coming through the speakers. Then he came back around and took up the offering. We had a bag of coloring books and other things to keep us entertained in the back seat, so my sister and I pulled it out and began to play. I could hear the pastor talking but I didn’t pay attention. After he finished, they gathered up the hymnals and we drove home. We had been to the new Drive-in Church! From that day on we only went inside the church for services during our hot Arizona summers. The rest of the year we “went to the drive-in”. My parents loved it as they could smoke during service and I can tell you one thing, I got a lot of reading time in.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.