Tag Archive for nancy

Halloween Fright Night

One very early, very scary moment I had forgotten about happened on Halloween in 1948. We were living on 4th Street in Freeport, Texas.

My dad certainly was anti-Halloween (as he was so many things), but he would not let us go trick or treating because it was “…too much like begging. If you want candy, then work for the money, so you can buy your candy! I don’t want my kids to beg!”

This particular Halloween he allowed us to dress up and go trick or treating–but the only house we could go to was our own house. We lived next door to the church, and he had mother take us there and use that as the ‘staging area’ for our big experience. We (me [age 7] and Nancy [age 6]) were so excited as we headed next door to trick or treat the parsonage. As we traipsed up the sidewalk to knock on the door, the front porch light was off, which was a little scary, and we were talking about how we were going to scare Daddy.

My costume consisted of a Lone Ranger mask and a holster for my cap gun, so I’d look like ‘the real thing’! We didn’t know our Daddy had gotten a big army blanket that Uncle Bubba brought us when he came home from WWII. He put the blanket over his head and hid behind the shrubs by the front porch. After we knocked on the door and no one answered, we turned around to go back down the walk, and this giant with the blanket over his head stood up and hollered and scared the living daylights out of both of us. I took off running, then heard him laughing–but I think he achieved his purpose.

I never did want to celebrate Halloween again–until I married Betty Jo Farris–and she (as you and your brothers know) celebrated EVERYTHING! :-))

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.

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!

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!

God Bless the Workin’ Man

You mentioned your Dad worked for the railroad in Wharton.  What jobs did he have when you were growing up?

 

beasley_txWhen Nancy & I were born (1941&42), Dad owned and operated a little drugstore with a soda fountain in the little town of Beasley, Texas.  Back in those days, pharmacists didn’t have to go to college to be certified to open up a pharmacy.   Dad had worked under the supervision of an old guy by the name of Slataper who owned a drug store in Rosenberg.   I think that’s where he was working when your Uncle Bubba and Uncle RJ were born. He moved out to Beasley and started his own business there, primarily because that’s where Mama’s sister (Aunt Sally) & her husband (Uncle Henry Ellison) lived.

Mamaw’s family all stated coming to Texas from Kentucky around 1910 and by 1914 at the death of her daddy, William Benton. Her mother had died in 1908 giving birth to her 12th child, uncle Bill. Mamaw was born in 1904, Aunt Tamar in 1906 and then Uncle Bill in 1908. 
     

My daddy’s dad, known to everyone as Brother Tex (Texas Hulan Stevens), was a circuit riding farmer/ preacher in the late 1800s until his death in 1932.   Instead of a horse, he would ride from town to town on a train called the Rock Island Line…..and his middle child, Roy Stevens (1899-1969), would travel with him and lead singing for him.   It was at one of their stops at Beasley or Rosenberg that a young lady named Hallie Mae Benton caught Roy’s eye (she was 14, he was 19), and in 1919 they got married.  He was 20 and she was 15.

They lived on a farm in a little community called Fordtran down between Halletsville and Victoria. Their first baby boy was born when she was 16 and only lived a few days…. Eldred was born when she was 17, Texas Hulan (Uncle Bubba) when she was 19, and Uncle RJ when she was 23.   I, Benton Lanier,  came along when mom was 37.  When I questioned her at her 75th birthday if I was kind of an accident or a surprise, she demurely replied that I was more of a disappointment:)) She then said, “Nancy (born not quite a year later in 1942) was the surprise. I would have never had another on purpose….you were my last shot at a little girl.”

When Granddaddy (Bro. Tex) died in 1932, my daddy began preaching at some of his daddy’s appointments in places like Beasley, Rosenberg, Wharton, and Rock Island.   Many said that he truly felt a calling, not only to preach, but to try to fill his father’s shoes. In 1942 after Nancy’s birth, the 26th & North Shepherd Church of Christ in Houston called Dad to be their preacher, and he became a “full-time preacher” for the rest  of his life.
    

He taught all of his children the value of hard work and I can’t tell you how many times I heard him quote the apostle Paul, “if any won’t work, neither shall he eat!”   I often heard him say, “Always remember who you are.  Number one, you’re a Christian and number two, you’re a Stevens–in that order, and don’t you ever forget that!”

He was good at anything (as far as work was concerned ) that he tried to do.  Businessman, construction work, and one thing that sticks in my memory is his typing.   He used his 2 huge forefingers to literally make his old Underwood (desktop) typewriter sing!   He used to say, “I’m a hunt and pecker, but I want you to learn to type the right way!”   …and he made sure that Nancy and I took all the typing courses that we could in school.

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.