Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A CATHOLIC BOYHOOD

Not many of us, these days, are attached to memories that recall religious faith and values. On the blog today it's just three quiet, deeply respectful memories from a Catholic boyhood, evocative pictures of moments in time and place, and of the men and women who inspired a young boy with values that he holds to this day. Thanks for these to Jules Lemelle, who writes that he is active with the San Antonio Museum Association as a docent, and "continues to explore color in painting and gardening." He adds: "My education began with Irish nuns who instilled an appreciation for the sacramentals in nature, i.e. glens, flowers & songs of devotion to the central, maternal figure of Christianity.  To this day I cannot pass by a rose without cherishing its form & fragrance."


OF OAK AND HONESTY
by Jules Lemelle


He moved into the new neighborhood just as Elvis moved onto the stage.  The young boy wasn't interested much in what other kids his age were into, except baseball; but that's another story for another time.  He was really taken with the burnished bronze face of the bread-winner next door, and how day after day of hauling appliances, brush, and other things, he'd come home to his wife and young daughter near sundown with a smile as big as a center cut of watermelon.  

His name was Porter, and he carried quite a burden being black in the late 50's. The boy was impressed by the positive attitude worn on the kakhi sleeves that sheathed his tireless arms from the season's haul. An obsidian grin reflected summer's amber rays at evening; tired eyes revealed nothing but care and generosity, searching for a place to rest. The old man had lots of friends that visited on holidays; sitting around a backyard fire pit, they'd chat & joke while Porter served up hospitality &  tumblers of iced tea. The boy savored the sweet air of oak and honest men relaxed on lawn chairs 'round the fragrant pit. A jolly mocking bird from the hood joined as the celebration fanned to a close, silencing cicadas as a full moon rose.  





TONY
by Jules Lemelle


The cool morning air between the front door of our house and the canary schoolbus pulled up at the
curb was distinctly spring-like. Tony, our driver smiled a welcome to the four alighting passengers making our way past the escaping fumes that wafted out from the engine, under the massive tire well. Tony presided with a  filtered cigarette wedged between two fingers, one hand resting on the burnished ebony steering wheel, while the other sealed the door behind.  

Turning past the stairwell, the youths beheld little brunette heads bobbing in excited chatter as the
standing-room only bus journeyed on. Clutched in their steady hands were blossoms pruned from
rose gardens where the children lived, along the foothills of the city's East side among the scattered fields of leaning mesquite and towering pecans. So intoxicating was the collective aroma of the bright reds, pinks and cream bouquets that for the duration of their ride, the four youths felt as pilgrims voyaging to a heavenly feast. Through the laughter and merriment, it was; classmates bringing homage to Mother Mary, rather than an apple for the teacher, in that merry, mirthful, month of May.

Roses forever!   



FATHER MacSHANE
by Jules Lemelle

He looked like Spencer Tracy, a shock of white, neatly buzz-cropped, a full head of halo.  Father MacShane was Irish, despite the spelling.  He guided the Parish's blue winged Impala curbside in front of the green house as a young caddy dumped his breakfast bowl into the kitchen sink.  Dashing out the back door and down the drive to the awaiting vehicle, the lad jumped in, proudly wearing his plaid collar polo shirt for the first time.  Not many people drove in the Texas heat using a terrycloth towel on the wheel, but it made perfect sense if you wanted to keep your grip dry.  Beads of water rolled down his forearms and brow, but the Catholic priest refused to run the A/C for economic reasons; he wouldn't want to take advantage of the parish. Golf was his only vice.  The Father never played more than nine holes at a time, and for good reason. Stacatto sprinklers cast cool relief along the fairways as around the course went the duo, making par on nearly every hole. Except the ninth.  Losing sight of the drive as it vanished from view, the boy had searched for the ball in vain, back & forth accross the green. Lost. Ashamed, he hung his head in defeat, thinking he had failed his patron. Until he heard Father ask: "Did you check the cup?"     

I'm attaching an image of Jules below. He says he's "the chap on the far left"...

       


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