I have learned many of life's most enduring lessons while enrolled at the University of "Knocksville" and I have several credits from the "School of Hard Knocks."
Most of those lessons were learned rather quickly and they are stored in my long-term memory not to be forgotten. The curriculum is rather broad and it is taught by some tough professors some who have little or no "schoolin'" but they have prodigious reservoirs of knowledge.
Amy was taught that honesty is the best policy. Who taught her? Her parents and Mrs. God. Amy's father made her a bank out of a can that once held peas. Her mother had fixed them for dinner. He soldered the lid back on and then made a slot in the top for coins. In those days Amy received an allowance of 15 cents per week. Per week! Imagine offering that amount to a child today. She could spend a nickel, give a nickel at Sunday School and save a nickel in the bank
Under the conditions of the allowance and the requisite dispersal of the monies, she could never have a dime on her person. I suppose that it is slightly possible but not likely. One Sunday her mother noted that she had a shiny dime. "How did you get a dime?" her mother asked. Amy was caught but fessed up. She said, "When the Sunday School box passed me, I put in my nickel and took out this dime. I thought it was all right." Her mother was livid. "You don't take money out of the Sunday School box; it is to help the needy. You will take it back next Sunday and apologize to Mrs. Scott."
Amy's Sunday School Class met upstairs in a typical old wooden frame building. It smelled of wood, furniture wax and varnish. It was not used often so the air was always a bit musty. She approached the wooden stairs that led to her room. Mrs. Scott always greeted the children at the top of the stairs. On this day Amy felt like a centipede with restless leg syndrome. The stairs looked like they were 600 feet high and there at the top was Mrs. Scott looking like Mrs. God. On trembling legs she climbed each creaky step getting closer to sure condemnation and doom. She reached the top, gave the dime to Mrs. God and said, "I'm sorry and I won't do that again." Mrs. Scott smiled, hugged her and thanked her for being honest.
Amy told the story and had a great laugh with us at her own expense. Then with a faraway look in her eyes, a softened face and a hoarse voice she said, "I was blessed to have parents who cared for me and taught me the right things to do. When dad said he was ashamed that one of his children felt it was all right to steal it broke my heart. At that moment I had a clear understanding of stealing. I miss them."
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville, graduated from Worthington High School and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168 or by phone at (317) 839-7656. He has written five books about his experiences.