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Over Here: 18 - Sundays For The Lord

...Sundays were set apart for the Lord. The two darlings actually had paid the money to import a Lutheran minister "from the old country" to preach in the small rented house they called "church."...

Ron Pataky continues his life story.

Grandma Pataky, as noted earlier, ran the extremely small "stall" across the way. Every morning, without fail, Grandpa would temporarily set aside his considerable farm work in order to drive her "to market" with that day's assortment of fresh goodies for her many faithful customers. He'd then return that evening to pick her up, after which they would repeat the exercise the following day, each and every day, six days a week. They had gone through this same grueling schedule for at least three decades that I knew of, always seeming somehow contented in their rigorous but apparently comfortable way of life.

Sundays were set apart for the Lord. The two darlings actually had paid the money to import a Lutheran minister "from the old country" to preach in the small rented house they called "church." The house and everything in it had several distinct features that would have proven instant and permanent anathema to any boy child of the species anywhere. It was essentially unfurnished, but for the "worship sanctum," a high-ceilinged former living room almost certainly retained from a Civil War decorator whose idea of comfort was a sparse, spotless barracks near a noisy wagon trail somewhere. Every syllabic tittle-jot uttered therein returned unexpectedly as an echo. Its single toilet was upstairs, immediately OVER the worship area, which, of course, meant that a boy's urination, other than merely pleasing the boy, served to remind worshippers of two things: (1) Visits, past, present or hoped for, to Niagara Falls, and-or (2) the probability that their bodies, too, were open to suggestion with regard to possible pending urination, or worse! Add to this the fact that the folding chairs were wooden, and utterly barren of any padding feature save for the human rump. And finally, the services were long, excessively beseeching, absolutely steeped in redundancy ... AND IN GERMAN!!

Americans were later to learn of torture endured by American prisoners in the hands of Japanese troops, e.g., the infamous Bataan Death March, and numerous other atrocities. But you can ask any American boy anywhere (even ex-prisoners!): Is there ANY torture worse than a boy's being forced to sit on hard wooden chairs in an overly-heated catacomb for up to three hours, while listening to the droning (in German yet!) of a preacher whose real calling in life had undoubtedly been as a hypnotist (or some other variety of professional Somnomletator!). I think you would find that most would emphatically think not. This son of a Mama thought not in blinking, florescent spades!

In any event, Grandpa and Grandma's finances eventually became such that, after receiving the blessing of their three sons, they paid the bulk of the tab for the construction of an entirely new, actual church building, constructed from the ground up! They were quite old by then, and Grandpa, that small, wiry farmer who'd alone dug out stubborn tree stumps with little more than an elongated crowbar, was now growing feebler by the day. They finally left the farm altogether, selling it to Uncle Christ (with the approval of the other two brothers), and moved into their own little cottage almost directly across the street from the new church, which by then had grown to more than a hundred souls.

(I almost wished I could have revealed God's one-time miracle on my behalf the one that had provided me with the cozy crate home that had served as my reading sanctuary at the market. But I thought it over, and decided it would ve been unwise to run the risk of opening old wounds. Uncle Christ at that time still suffered a kind of stressed metallic jowl-set that would materialize from time to time at the merest mention of my former career in produce).

But one thing I knew, and still know! Christian and Katerina have their own very special place today, perhaps on a quiet heavenly farm, but certainly in the presence of the Lord God they'd loved so completely and devotedly for all of their lives.


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