Archive for childhood

I Made a Lotta “Do” (Re, Mi) as a Kid

How did you learn to lead singing? Were you taught by someone?

 

My daddy, M. Roy Stevens, was widely known in the Churches of Christ for his voice, song leading, and his ability to teach others how to read music (do re mi fa sol la ti do).  We had a poster board with those shapes on them near our kitchen table. He would make Nancy and I sing the scale and intervals, with his idea that the scale is to music like the alphabet is to language.  I can still hear him saying, “Now remember, Do is shaped like a housetop, Re a bowl, Mi a baseball diamond, Fa a flag (or a pennant) Sol an egg, La a rectangle, Ti an ice cream cone…and then you’re all the way back to Do!”…..and then he’d make us sing it….over and over. We were being trained to sing when we were little, even though we didn’t appreciate until much later.

Brother Roy was in demand all over our brotherhood to teach singing schools, and his little son was right there with him, soaking it up by osmosis!   One of his famous quotes that was indelibly imprinted on my young brain was, “There’s nothing better than good acapella singing, and nothing worse than bad acapella singing!”.

The seventh grade was probably one of the most important years in my musical development. At 13 years old, my voice started changing and getting much deeper after I passed the squeaky stage.  Dad had an 8:00 Sunday morning “remote” radio broadcast from one of the classrooms at the 9th & Elm Church of Christ in Orange, Texas, and he needed help in the bass section of his live chorus.  Guess who? I felt pretty important!   Nancy, too…she was singing alto!  The older folks were amazed how these two ‘kids’ could read music They just didn’t  know how much of himself he had poured into us.

Another thing about the 7th grade was that I joined the junior high band, because I wanted to play the trombone like my hero brother, R J. He could literally make a trombone sing. Our band director (a legend in his own right) was a curly-headed Italian musician named Cermenaro. Everyone called him Mister C.! I never heard what his first name was…..but he was a great teacher! The first thing that each section had to do was to learn to play ‘scales’ on their instrument…. And, you guessed it….a light bulb went off in my young brain!  ‘This is just what my dad had been teaching me…Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do… “The alphabet of music…a language all its own!”

I can only imagine how thrilled Dad must have been when his young son came home from school that day so excited, because everything he’d been teaching me finally made sense. From that day till this, I’ve loved to sing, to lead singing, to write music. I like to think that, in all that, I’ve made a difference in lots if lives, just as dad did, RJ did…and now Tim, RJ’s son, is teaching singing schools and preaching in gospel meetings ‘full-time,’ just like his dad did until his death in 2012.

Probably one of my proudest moments as a dad was when our kids “Concord Road”, recorded those two CDs for our 66th birthdays! I hope I live long enough to see someone in our offspring put together a recording of Concord Road, their mother, their spouses, and all their children singing together…. Wow!, I’d even volunteer to lead singing one more time just to hear that group sing!  …..and, I have a feeling that the man who taught me to lead singing just might be ‘smiling’ down from Heaven.

I Surrendered to God…and the USAF!

What age were you when you decided to follow Christ?  What do you remember about that?

 

I guess I thought that, because God’s word was so much a part of everything that went on in our lives, that I was just a Christian by birth. But at one evening service, my little sister walked down the aisle to the front, made her confession to the church, and my dad baptized her.

I didn’t let Nancy beat me at anything, and lo and behold, she beat me at becoming a.Christian! I was 12 years old. My dad and I did some serious talking that week, and I was baptized a week later. I don’t think I understood real repentance and commitment until after I started preaching, and I think my real conversion took place one day down at Wilson Shoals on my mail route.  

It was during the Vietnam War, and fighter jets from Barksdale AFB would ‘fly that crooked Trinity River’ to practice before going to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Johnny Price’s mailbox, Rt. 2 Box 30, was right on the.riverbank, and one day one of those jets flew right at treetop level right over my little International Scout mail wagon!   It scared me so bad because Peter said whenever men are wondering “Where’s the promise of His coming?” And responds to his question with, “The heavens and earth which are now, will pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”  By then, I’d been preaching long enough that I was familiar with that scripture, and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is it!’  I really expected the fervent heat any moment, and I’d always hoped I’d have time to say one last little prayer to kinda ‘clean up’ anything I might’ve missed asking forgiveness for. You see, I really didn’t understand ‘grace’ back then. Anyway, I opened the door and fell out on the ground on my face, begging God to forgive me for all those unconfessed sins.  Not long after that, I had brother Gaylon Embry baptize me…as a man who still believes that I had “my road to Damascus experience” at Rt.2 Box 30!

I was far too immature at 12 to truly understand what real repentance and conversion is all about.

The Christmas Angel

Karen, I just had a memory flashback of Mama telling me about her first Christmas living with her sister Sallie when she came to Texas after her mom’s death when mom was just four. There were 9 Benton boys and 3 girls (First girl named Sallie, the second one named Hallie, and then the last two, Tamar and Bill). Mom said that first Christmas, Uncle Henry and Aunt Sallie were so poor that, with one eye open at night, she saw Sallie tiptoeing toward their beds with an apple and an orange for each kid. Sallie told them the next morning that Santa had brought them the night before. Mom said that, as she grew older, she often looked back on that so fondly–that Aunt Sallie had opened her home to take care of her three younger siblings after their parents died. Mom often told her memories of the train ride to take her daddy’s body back to Kentucky to be buried by his beloved Mary.

Granny Was the Spitting Image

Were your grandparents alive when you were small?

 

I only had one grandparent living during my childhood, and that was my Daddy’s mom, Nancy Stevens.

Mom’s parents died when she was a little girl.   Her mom passed away before the family came to Texas from Kentucky. She died in 1908, when little Hallie was just 4 years old.  Her daddy, William Benton, died in 1914 when mom was just 10.  He never got over the death of his wife when she was giving birth to their 12th child, William, who we all called him Uncle Bill.

My dad’s father, Texas Hulan Stevens passed away in 1932 at about the age of 60, if memory serves me well.

So my one grandparent was Granny, as we called her.  Aunt Myrt, Pawpaw’s sister, wanted us to call her Grance….but you’d have to have known Aunt Myrtle….she always tried to fancy everything up…but she was always just plain ol’ Granny to Nancy and me.

The thing I remember about her more than anything else was that she had this funny smell whenever she would kiss you. I didn’t know until I got older that the smell was because she dipped Garrett Snuff. When Daddy was aware that Nancy and I had figured it put, He started gift wrapping snuff bottles or tins for us to give her at Christmas or her birthday. She would have a fit when he would do it and oh, he’d get the biggest kick out of that!

I remember going to see her in San Antonio shortly before her death when I was a freshman at SFA in 1959.   It was a very sweet and special visit, and she assured me that she’d be waiting for me in Heaven!

I Get it Honest

How old were you when you started driving, and who taught you?

 

 I started driving when I was 13 years old when we lived in Orange, Texas and I was in the eighth grade. My dad was my teacher…and he was not famous for being the greatest driver in the world! We had a 1952 model Dodge, which was one of the first Dodges with an automatic transmission.   Up until 1952, you had to shift through the first two gears using the clutch with your left foot, and then the third gear was your running gear.  

The next year, Dad bought a 1953 model, which was Dodge’s first V-8 which also had an automatic transmission.  You would put your gearshift in the drive position, then accelerate to about 30 mph, then let up on the accelerator and the transmission would go ‘click’ and automatically shift into high gear, or your running gear.   (By the way, the reason we had a 1953 model so soon was because Daddy had wrecked the ’52 on the way to preach in a gospel meeting at Kirbyville, Texas. A cow stepped out on the highway and, when he swerved to miss her, he hit a tree and even turned over a couple of times… Oh, and by the way, he caught a ride on in to Kirbyville and still preached that night!)

So….I really had a great teacher!  And Uncle Bubba taught me how to drive a standard gearshift in his 1950 model 6 cylinder Ford pickup.

That’s why I’m so versatile, and such a good driver!….in spite of what your mother says!   :))

Music to My Ears

What’s your favorite memory of your mother when you were a child?

 

My earliest memories of my mother as a child are how she would hold Nancy and I in her lap as she rocked in her rocking chair.   She would sing spiritual songs and hymns very sweetly right into our ear.  She’d read to us from the Bible or a Bible story book and then The Houston Chronicle newspaper, especially the funnies.

I believe all of that was what enabled Nancy and me both to be early readers and able to recognize and want to sing the songs our mother had put into our hearts through her singing.

Her fried chicken, roast beef, fried salmon croquettes, pecan pies, and her red beans and cornbread were all our dietary staples.   When I was about 13 years old, she started making a dessert from shredded coconut and pineapple which our whole family loved.

Another memory I have is of Daddy teaching her to drive when we got a 1953 Dodge automobile with an automatic transmission.   She never felt safe driving a car with a standard transmission where she to manually shift gears.   She was usually so scared riding with Daddy that he often teased her about putting dents in the floorboard on her side, trying to “put on the brakes”.

Another memory that is special is that she never cut her hair, but always wore it in a bun.  I used to love standing behind her when she was brushing it, because it hung down below her waist.   No one ever saw that but her husband and her children.

She loved The Lord and her husband and her children with all her heart!

I Read About it in the Funny Papers…

Daddy,

Mom and I have our traditions…you know when the phone rings on Saturday morning who it is and why!

You’ve talked forever about how people say you should write a book.  I encouraged you to write a blog.  Neither has been done.  I saw an idea about a daughter emailing her mom a question every day.  I thought it might be neat to do that as a dad and daughter.  Are you game?

If so, here’s question #1.

What is the earliest childhood memory you have and who’s in it?

Love you ~ K.

 

bank_robber_clipartI’m game…had a problem with the blog thing, but I like this idea (I think)

 I remember that every night our mother would sit in her rocking chair reading the Houston Chronicle newspaper.  Nancy & I could hardly wait until she got to the part of the paper she called the ‘funnies’. It was one or two pages of comic strips like Donald Duck, Lil’ Abner, Pop Eye, etc….& one night, as she was reading,  a masked man with a gun stepped into the room and started pulling drawers out of the buffet after he told her he wanted money and she told him she didn’t have any….Mama took us both by the hand and fled out the front door running to our next door neighbors, the Kelly’s.        

I remember Mr. Kelly grabbing his pistol and heading toward our house, as he shouted to his wife to call the police!  What is etched in my memory is Mrs. Kelly screaming at the top of her lungs, “Kelllly–Kelllly! Come back, Kelly!”

Don’t know whatever happened to the robber.