When I became a man, I put away childish things. Paul in I Corinthians 13:11.
Maybe Paul did, but I didn’t.
Well, some I did.
Paul was referring to childish understandings and utterances, of course. We do indeed put those away as we mature and grow in understanding, just as we laid aside the diapers and toddler’s costumes we needed as infants. As a five-year-old, I wore the army jacket with the flyer’s wings to school for picture-taking day. It’s still a favorite photo. However, I can still recall the tears when it became obvious I had outgrown that coat. I wanted to wear it forever.
A lot of things we outgrow. If we are wise and strong, the things we outgrow will be aspects of our lives we should indeed leave behind. Pity the adult who is still harboring his/her childish understandings, prejudices, pleasures.
But some wonderful things of childhood never leave us. Here are some that are still with me today…
One. I loved the comics as a child and I love them as an adult. I loved the western comics and what’s called “funny animal” comics. We took the newspaper all my years and I turned to the comics page first thing. I loved Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, and Oaky Doaks in particular.
And I still love comics. I have hundreds of comic books from the 1940s, what’s called “the golden age of comics,” have on display in my house original cartoon art from the great cartoonists of past years, and am a cartoonist of a sort myself.
Two. I loved church as a child, and still love it.
I loved to sing at the top of my lungs. I loved the pastors and my teachers. And I still do.
Three. I loved ball games as a child, and still do.
I come from a family of baseballers. My dad was catcher on his team when I was a child. My brother Glenn should have been a professional pitcher, he was that good. He pitched for his entire Air Force enlistment for Vandenberg’s AFB’s team, and then was told he was too old to try out for pro ball. I was small as a kid, so didn’t play much, but always loved baseball, and later football. Still do.
Four. I loved to draw and sketch as a child, and am still at it.
I was five when our Mom put little sis Carolyn and me at the kitchen table and handed us a tablet and pencils. “Now, sit there and draw!” she said sternly. What she meant was “stay busy and out of my way” so she could get her work done. I discovered that day in 1945 that I loved to draw. And I’ve been at it ever since.
Five. I loved to daydream as a kid, and that’s not left me.
It’s also called “thinking.” As a teen, I enjoyed those days when I plowed Toby, my slooooow mule, a mile from anyone else so I could be alone and think and talk out loud and whistle and sing to my heart’s content. Sweet memories.
Six. I loved to browse big stores as a child and I still enjoy it.
We were a coal miner’s family so those big stores were the company store near Nauvoo, Alabama and at Affinity, West Virginia, six miles from Beckley. Those bicycles, tricycles and sleds hanging from the ceiling were every bit as unreachable for us poor children as they appeared. But it was fun looking. To this day, I love to window shop.
Seven. I loved stories. I loved to read them, loved to hear them, and even loved to make them up. I had the same teacher for the third, fourth, and fifth grades–Margaret Meadows–and she was wonderful. Each day after lunch she would read a chapter of a book. That’s how I first heard Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. A fun memory is that in between books, she would sometimes invite students who had read a good story to tell the class. Violet Garten was especially good at that. And Joe? Well, I would stand in front of the class and make up a story on the spot. (To this day, I’m amazed that Mrs. Meadows would allow that. But as I say, she was wonderful.)
I’m still reading. Perhaps averaging a book a week. I love novels–whether westerns or those by Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and John Grisham. I’m happy that both my sons are readers. They probably devour twice the number of books annually that their dad does. Nice. .
Eight. I loved pretty girls as a kid. And well, I’m married to Bertha, so you know I’m still doing that.
Nine. I loved to pray. As a kid, walking up the mountain to the school, I would often talk to the Lord. And–my childish understanding on display here–I would not say a final ‘amen’ to the prayer, because to my mind that was like hanging up the phone and I wanted to stay in touch with the Lord all day long.
I still talk to the Lord all day long. And throughout the night.
Ten. I loved to listen to preachers and gospel singing. Now, I came by that honestly. My Mom and Dad would tune the radio to a station where a succession of preachers and gospel singer were featured.
As a kid in West Virginia, I would often come home for lunch–the only one of the six to do that–and while eating with Mom, we would listen to a preacher named Mont Carr and his singer Freddie Pittman. I still love to hear good preaching.
My wife says I’m still a child in many ways.
No argument there.