Postcard from the 1950s
Some of the Nebraska folks who read this blog may recognize the building on this postcard even though it no longer exists. It is the First Church of the Nazarene in Ainsworth, Nebraska. The photograph was probably taken in the 1950s. About 1960, this building was torn down and a larger, stone building took its place on the corner of Third and Elm.
The building in the photograph is where I formed my earliest memories of going to church. I think I was about 3 years old (definitely not more than 4 years old) when we started attending church there.
I don't remember Sunday School classes at all, though I am sure I attended them. I do remember the church basement -- how interesting! You could go down the steps in the church, walk through the basement hallways, climb the steps at the other end, and come out in the pastor's house.
I remember sitting with my parents in a big room in the basement and singing "This World Is Not My Home". Everyone sang, "The angels beckon me from heaven's open door..." and that reminded me of my Aunt Becky.
Outside this church, one night after prayer meeting, my brother Dwight punched a little boy who wouldn't let go of me. I was very thankful to be rescued. I asked Dwight about this a few years ago, and he still remembers it too.
Another time, one of the little church boys threw a tin can from the trash barrel at me. It cut my forehead between my eyebrows, and I have a small, faint scar from it to this day. I won't tell the names of those naughty little boys, but I still remember who they were.
At the Church of the Nazarene, people called each other "Brother" and "Sister". I believe I remember a Brother Roy Morrow who was the pastor when I was very young. (Hadn't my mother cautioned me that "roy" hamburger would make me sick? How odd that a man had that word for his name!)
After that, Brother James Tapley was the pastor. (Sister Tapley, his pretty, young wife, put a band-aid on my wounded forehead.) Later, as I recall, Brother Hiram Sanders was the pastor.* These pastors served in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The various parts of the worship service were planned and orderly, but there was always room for the Holy Spirit to move. People said "Amen!", "Hallelujah!", and "Praise the Lord!" whenever they especially liked the singing, praying, or preaching. Sometimes after the sermon, people went to the front of the church, knelt at the altar, prayed aloud, and cried, while the piano played softly on and on.
My mother was brought up in the Methodist church. My father was not brought up in any named church, but there were Holiness and Pentecostal influences in his childhood. I imagine that when he and my mom decided to start attending church, the Church of the Nazarene felt familiar and right to him.
My parents became members of the Ainsworth Church of the Nazarene about 1954 or 1955. We lived south of Johnstown, then. In 1957, we moved to the Duff Valley in southern Rock County. We still went to church in Ainsworth for a while, and then we began attending the little E.U.B. (Evangelical United Brethren) Church at Duff, just a few miles from our house.
The Ainsworth church was my parents' first Nazarene church. In the early 1980s, they helped to found a Church of the Nazarene in Wheatland, Missouri; it was their second Nazarene church. In other times and places, they attended various other churches, but they remained members of the Church of the Nazarene throughout their lives.
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*Brother Sanders was a pastor at the Ainsworth Nazarene Church after we moved to Rock County. He is remembered by my family for getting spectacularly stuck in the mud when he came to visit us one spring day.
Brother Sanders was from the East, and he had heard that, on the Sandhill ranches, a road might be nothing more than a faint trace of wheels. He was driving down our ranch road when he saw our house on the opposite side of a low, wet meadow. He decided he should leave the graded road and drive straight across the meadow to our house. He thought he could see a "road". Soon his car was buried in mud.
Brother Sanders walked to our house, but no one was there. He waited for a while, and still no one was around. Finally, he decided to start a tractor and pull his car out by himself. Soon he had the tractor stuck in the mud, too -- and then, another tractor. When we arrived home, he was thinking about starting the crawler.
My dad winched his car out and got him headed back to town before dark. The ruts in the meadow are probably still there!