Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Living in Victory, Chapter 5

Copyright 2006 by Terry F. Phillips Sr.
All rights reserved

Chapter 5
A couple months later, the first Saturday for construction of the new Sunday school addition came around.
As everyone knew, the church treasury barely paid expenses from week to week. But when word spread around the little town of the new addition, the money came pouring in without further comment.
People wouldn’t tithe or give sacrificially just give for the sake of giving to the church, but they didn’t mind digging deep into their pockets and bank accounts when there was a real need.
One of the deacons drove his Ford tractor into Victory. Attached to the back was an auger to dig the footings. Someone had brought an end loader to dig the basement.
It had been decided the design would include a basement under both the church and the new wing. The basement would be used for children’s Sunday school classes and for fellowship dinners. It would also be used for dinners to raise money for the church, but few people had that in mind and fewer were speaking about it, for fear their more conservative brethren would oppose selling in the church. The reasoning expressed by a few revival preachers would spoke in the pre-Easter meetings was that Jesus cleansed the Temple by driving out the moneychangers; so, money shouldn’t be exchanged in the church either.
The logic escaped many of the brethren, but they chose their responses carefully, out of respect for the traveling ministers.
It was the first Saturday of construction and Luther Willis was helping dig out the basement, doing detail work the inexperienced equipment operator couldn’t perform, when he went into a swoon and began jerking from head to foot.
“Luther!” screamed his wife, who had been watching the men with the other women of the church.
She ran to him, understanding what was happening.
“Quick, someone get him a Coke,” she yelled.
One of the boys ran to the fire station, which was one vacant lot south of the church. He found Zellers in the general store and said between gulps of air, “Luther needs a Coke – quick!”
Frank understood. For years, Luther had worked hard in the community, ignoring the diabetes that threatened to take his life or limbs.
When he passed out, someone would get him a bottle of Coca-Cola" and pour it down his throat, if he was unable to swallow it himself.
Pretty soon, he would come around and go back to whatever was at hand.
Once again, Luther quickly revived and was soon back on the heavy equipment.
At noon, one of the women yelled, “Time to eat!”
It didn’t taker more than one call to get the men’s attention.
“Hey, Luther, come on!” one of the deacons yelled and swung his arm in an ark, beckoning Luther.
Everyone kept an eye on Luther as they passed fried chicken, deviled eggs, home made noodles and cooked deer meat as well as a wide variety of vegetables and macaroni and cheese (prepared according to different recipes). Pies and cakes loaded the dessert table and the meal was washed down with gallons of iced tea.
When it was obvious Luther was all right, Kent Rogers made a joke.
“I’ve got dibs on the Coke bottle,” he said.
Someone laughed and the tension caused by concern over Luther’s health lifted.
As predicted, the new addition didn’t take long to build at all. Some of the Methodists and Lutherans who had lost their churches helped out. They all felt that the community came first – even above denominational differences.
On the day the floor was laid over the basement, Rev. Pinckus took his Kodak Brownie camera to the church.
“Let’s have you all gather for a photo,” he said.
“But they’re not clean!” said one of the women, drawing laughs from the women and the men who weren’t too tired.
“That’s all right,” the reverend said. “You’ll be glad to have this photo for years to come.”
He was right, for 50 years later the photo still hung next to the bulletin board in the church sanctuary, until the storm of 2005.
The years went quickly by. The Indiana summer turned into autumn and harvest turned into winter and spring. Planting seasons came and went and the little town of Victory seemed to grow poorer instead of richer.
The schools in Victory, Waynetown, New Market, New Ross and Waveland were consolidated and the Victory community lost its elementary and high schools.
As drugs became part of America’s culture, drugs poisoned Victory. Poverty increased but the Masonic Lodge, the volunteer fire department and the church continued.