Going to Church

A glimpse into Saturday night when I was growing up as the son of an Old Order Amish Preacher. 

On Saturday night Mom started heating water. My sisters and I cleared the supper table and washed the dishes while the smell of starch and steam permeated the house. In between ironing and starching shirts, aprons, and dresses Mom pulled the little white bath tub out of the store room and set up the temporary curtain. Several pitchers of hot water from the kitchen stove and the tub was ready for baths.

My baby brother went first. My sister helped bathe him while I got the shoe polish out and polished everybody’s Sunday shoes and set them in a neat, black row on an old news paper. The stringent smell of the shoe polish mingled with the smell of starch, steam, and baby shampoo. I loved that smell. The work week was over and Sunday was coming.

Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful. Before breakfast Dad put the horse in the barn, fed and harnessed ready to take us to church. There was a small island of silence as we all bowed our heads around the breakfast table, but then the noise of preparation resumed. All of our Sunday clothes were laid out from the night before, freshly ironed and waiting for us.

The morning chores were quickly completed. Then faces were washed, hair was combed, Mom braided little girls’ hair, Sunday clothes were put on. Dad stepped out to the barn and a moment later Blaze was hitched to the buggy and brought around to the front door. Last minute adjustments were made to various articles of clothing, everybody made sure they had handkerchiefs, and then amidst a flurry of hats, bonnets, and shawls the family got in the buggy.

The familiar smells of early spring and the horse mingled with the special scent of Dad’s after shave from his Sunday morning shave. Dad’s humming accompanied by the sound of the horse hooves and the buggy wheels completed the familiar Sunday morning atmosphere.

We were going to church.


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