If you needed another reason to dislike Texas, it hosts all 4 of the poisonous snakes, in addition to spiders and scorpions typical for the Southwest. East Texas was heavily wooded, compared to the near-desert conditions of West Texas, and in the leaves of those woods would hide Copperheads that blend in perfectly. This was freshly on my mind as they had killed one JUST outside of our cabin, and it was now the middle of the night, and I really needed to go to the bathroom…where they had killed scorpions the day before…
I grew up in Church through my youth, and the move to Tyler, TX was no different. The Methodist church welcomed us in right away, and it felt very much like all of the groups I had been in. It was the big church downtown, right off the Square. We would alternate our times to release our Sunday services JUST a little earlier than the Baptist church so we could get to the Luby’s cafeteria line first. Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) met Sunday evenings for a Vespers service with the congregation, dinner, choir, and a program.
The rhythm of those evenings would be a great renewal to start the week, where you would connect with friends in a different way than the normal school setting. Camp would simply take those relationships to another level. United in the discussion of the food, the crafts, the counselors, whatever, you could poke fun at all of that in good nature. Each evening we would gather to sing, and often have some great discussions around the campfire, which was required even in the heat of Texas 😉 And of course, as we were getting older, there was the sneaking around to catch a glimpse of the cute girls who were always way off from the boys’ cabins.
The storylines of The Partridge Family were mostly silly representations of what a family of 5 would look like in that era. They did pick up themes of Women’s Liberation, the war, and helped lead many of the fashion trends, to say nothing of the music they would provide. And one important theme in all the shows, was they did it all together. Even driving in their Magic Bus, they found a way to come back together and sing. At their peak, each show would introduce 2 new songs every week, and established David in particular as a legit star and teen idol. It was on Friday evenings right after The Brady Bunch, and they owned the time slot… until ABC decided to move them to Saturday night to compete against another new program about a very dysfunctional group – All in the Family. The Partridge Family happy smiles did poorly against that cynicism… and was canceled after that 4th season.
When I returned for a high school Reunion, it was interesting that the people I wanted to find and reconnect with were those that I knew through Church. While we all shared those years in Junior and Senior High, the special memories came back, as did those relationships. One of them reminded me of that night, and how they loaned me their flashlight… and actually “showed me how to use it”… by walking with me there and back. Not embarrassing me, no one knew that story but us. Those common bonds were reconnected as we renewed the old times.
Much is now being written about Healing, and coming together. Something interesting to consider is to Heal there is generally a wound… with sides… that come back together. And at least in cuts, the sides share common flesh. When we have spent so much time this year apart, how do we start to come together? What are the common bonds, and shared experiences we can build on? Or is it more like a snakebite, where the poison has been injected into you, and you have to get it out? It feels like those times in the ‘70s but with a focus on what is different than what could be stitched together.
The Partridge Family helped us get through some difficult times nearly 50 years ago,as did my friends from Church. Sure, it was just a TV program, and some of the backstories were not as clean as their characters portrayed. What can we learn from that time that will help us now? And how do we renew each other and start to Heal? I hope my sharing these stories of vulnerability, and uptempo music have encouraged you to laugh with me, and hopefully, review your own journey. For me, the renewal comes weekly with a return to my faith, and the opportunity to share both fellowship and a common call to Heal, renew, serve, and help each other. And while many find problems with the Church, I have always found that support to be vital. Give it a try -Come on, Get Happy!