Lots of Church
We attended church services four times a week – on Wednesday night, Saturday night, and twice on Sundays. If we had a revival, it wasn’t uncommon for them to last up to four weeks or longer, which meant that we went to church every night and twice on Sundays.
At our annual Thanksgiving meeting, we would attend church twice a day for four days straight. Many of those services stretched on for three to four hours, resulting in grumbling bellies and sleepiness.
No Television or Movies
I saw very little television before the age of 16. My dad did have a television once or twice, but it was always against my mother’s wishes and hidden in a back room. I was in high school when my dad purchased a set and put it in our spare bedroom. I’ve been a tv junkie ever since.
I had never been to a movie theater until I was in my late teens, and I loved the thrill of the big screen. I would sometimes see the same movie several times if I really liked it.
Our strict Pentecostal doctrine dictated that I had to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants – even in summer. My sister and mother never wore pants or cut their hair, and neither of my parents wore wedding bands or watches.
Sports & Games
While a game of softball or football was okay around the house, playing on the school team or attending ballgames was out of the question. My mother didn’t even allow us to play checkers or chess. No explanation was given beyond, “That’s how I was raised.”
After I had moved out on my own around the age of twenty, I finally purchased a set of checkers. I distinctly remember the look on my mother’s face when she found out about it.
No Devil Music
Anything not labeled “gospel” or “Christian” music by my mother was strictly forbidden. Well, “Happy Birthday” and secular Christmas songs were acceptable, which was something I never could figure out. Mom would constantly listen to southern gospel radio, something that I despise to this very day.
As I became a teenager and my friends started taking a real interest in pop music, my dad would sometimes let me listen to the radio while my mother was out of the house. I thoroughly enjoyed Prince’s “Kiss” and Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” and danced around like my panties were on fire (my mother always called underwear by that name, no matter which sex they were intended for).
My maternal grandmother, whom I love dearly, always used to remark that I should have been a girl and my sister should have been a boy. This was based on my interest in most things girly and my sister’s love of climbing trees and making mud pies. I, of course, participated in the traditionally masculine pastimes, too, but I suppose the non-traditional behavior was more noticeable.
One Christmas, my granny presented me, my sister, and my female cousin with matching baby dolls in strollers. I was delighted as she explained that she knew I would have been jealous if she hadn’t gotten one for me.
Chocolate Milk & Baby Cows
This same grandmother used to tell me that white women had white breast milk and black women had chocolate milk. I can remember longing for a black nanny who could quench my unending thirst for delicious chocolate milk.
She also once told me that if I would circle our house three times that there would be two calves following me. Being a die-hard animal lover, I ran around and around the house, stopping frequently to look behind me for the two baby cows that never appeared. When I brought this fact to her attention, she laughed until she almost cried and explained that there were two calves behind me… on my legs.