It was Saturday night. My sister and I heard the high-pitched sound of insects being electrocuted as they were lured to their deaths by the hazy, yellow light of the bug-catcher in our carport. Occasionally one of us would swat at a mosquito who was more attracted to our tanned, bar arms than the bug-catcher’s eerie glow. Georgia should have made the mosquito its state bird instead of the Brown Thrasher, my character in the school play.
The two of us sat side-by-side on the scratchy bench of the picnic table Dad built last summer and hoped Mom would forget we were outside. Once inside it would be baths for everyone and Mom’s soft Southern drawl telling us to get our things ready for Sunday morning.
Sundays were a big deal in our home. It was an all-day family extravaganza that began the night before, sometimes even days before if there was shopping to be done or food to prepare for the frequent “dinners-on-the-ground.”
Tonight was “plain.” That’s what my sister and I called it when we didn’t have to do anything extra. We figured Mom might give us a little more time outside. It didn’t take us long to get ready when it was “plain.”
“Come on in girls.” Momma’s voice was soft, not soft like you couldn’t hear her, but soft and sweet. It made both of us want to make her happy. It was easy to make Mom happy. Anything we did, well almost anything, made her smile. She loved us. Even when we didn’t want to take the time to lay our little white gloves and black patent leather shoes, we did it because she so obviously enjoyed the fun of dressing us up.
Mom already had our matching pink chiffon dresses laid out on the toy box at the end of the bed. Each pile was placed in the order we were to put them on, starting with a clean pair of white panties. Depending on what dress we were wearing, a thin white cotton slip and maybe even a crinoline, would be next. Next was the dress. Tonight it was the pink chiffon. It was a very, very pale pink. There was a three-inch ruffle around the bottom and a matching ruffle around the bodice. The ruffles had two layers, thin enough to see through. And finally, the shrug. We loved our shrugs. There was pearl beading around the edges and short sleeves.
Black patent leather shoes were placed on the floor beside the toy box, with a pair of white lace trimmed sox inside.
Our white gloves and our ivory hats, not white, Momma liked ivory, were on the dresser. We each had a black patent clutch that held our Tithe Envelop. We each got four quarters to put inside. We felt very grown up when we sat in the pew between our parents and Momma would hold the collection plate down low enough so we could place our envelopes inside.
“Now we’re all ready for church,” Momma said beaming. “Let’s say our prayers together.” We all bowed our heads, steepled our hands and recited the words to the Lord’s Prayer as best we could. Sometimes Momma would stop and say a phrase over and we would repeat it again, knowing we hadn’t quite gotten it right.
We were ready. Our family would look grand when we walked down the aisle of The First Southern Baptist Church tomorrow morning.