I was 13 years old when my family moved from the suburbs of San Francisco, California to Hazard, Kentucky. It was 1971 and, as you can imagine, I had quite a few culture shocks, the biggest of which was church.
My father was born in 1922 and raised on MacGilton Branch in Ary, Perry County Kentucky. He was brought up Primitive Baptist with an itinerant preacher. The preacher would visit their home once a month and stay with them for a few days. My father is legally blind, and after he graduated from the School for the Blind in Louisville, he went to Chicago and became a Physical Therapist. After working for the Detroit Lyons for three years, he followed his mother to San Francisco where she had moved for health reasons. .
My mother was born in 1930 and raised near Portland, Oregon. Her parents were working in the shipyards there during World War II and at 14 years old, she and her 4 year old twin sisters went to San Francisco to stay with their grandmother. They were raised Episcopalian.
My parents met through the YMCA/YWCA where they did a lot of outdoor activities together. They got married in 1952 and proceeded to have five children. I have the honor of being the middle child.
My siblings and I were all baptized as babies in the Episcopalian Church. My mom was a part time nurse, so, when she could, she took us to church. I asked her once, "Why doesn't Daddy have to go?" Her reply was, "He's read the Bible three times and doesn't feel he needs to go." .
For me, church was something that I was made to do. I didn't like getting dressed up in frilly dresses, wearing a lacy scarf on my head and having to be quiet. .
The church we attended was a huge cathedral. I remember the echoes as soon as we entered. We walked down the center aisle and curtsied before entering a pew. On the back of the pews were little cushioned stools that folded down for you to put your knees on when you prayed. There was also a shelf on the back, down the length of each pew, filled with hymnbooks.