I Was Saving Myself For Peggy.....
I guess so, anyway ... that's about the only thing I can think of that'd account for the expression on my face. See, this picture was taken May 12, 1942, at my 4th birthday party, when you'd think I'd be happy.
Oh .. wait .. I don't think 4-year old boys like girls. Yeh .. that must be it.
I had previously scanned in the thousands of pictures that my folks had accumulated over the years; since my brother had divorced and remarried, my mom wanted all the photos to stay in our family to be passed on to future generations. At least that's what she said. So, this evening, I've been scrolling through all the pictures and noticed this one. Mostly because I didn't look like I was very happy to be having a birthday. Or else I didn't like the girls.
In fairness to me, I think one of the little girls was Diane Broekema, who lived catty corner across the street. She seemed to like me, which she demonstrated by picking up dog "stuff" out of the yard and chasing me around with it.
Well, that's what they SAID 4-year-old girls did when they liked you. And we had a LOT of dogs in the neighborhood.
What a sweet, innocent time. We played in the streets ... we even played baseball out there at the corner, using the streetlight at the corner as a backstop and the strike-zone. And since folks didn't want us hitting the ball into their yards, we routinely learned to "place hit" into either right field (Waltham St.), or left field (Lincoln Street).
That was a great place to play ball, except for the fact that the baseball cover only lasted about two weeks before the concrete had completely shredded it.
When I look at this picture, and then in a mirror, I'm reminded of what God said (among lots of other things):
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6, NIV)
If I'd grown up just like the kid in the picture, I doubt I'd be of much use to anybody for anything except a bad example. But I didn't. Mom and Dad saw to it that I was trained up in lots of things, and more than just religion.
In fact, religion wasn't much on the radar screen other than taking us to Sunday School and summertime VBS. So, although it wasn't talked about or much in evidence in the home, VBS did lead to me trusting Jesus at a very early age.
But there are other things. All the things I recall about getting along with people ... that I remember learning, I remember my Mother teaching me. And as a world's most extreme Daddy's boy, I really paid attention to how my Dad behaved himself.
I couldn't have had a better example .. aside from the church thing .. in matters like honesty, work ethics, doing a job well, treasuring your family, loving your wife, many things like that. And Mom taught me to always say please and thank you, to open the door for ladies, to walk on the curb side when accompanying a lady, and to treat people with respect and dignity. Particularly those older than I, whom I was to address as Miss, Mister, Mrs., etc.
I was also a second son. So Art was the one who got to do the stuff I didn't, until 3 years later, which is an eternity when you're four.
In retrospect, I can see God's hand from even before the time of this photo. When I was about 19 months old, I contracted pneumonia and a mastoid infection (inner ear bones). I had a temperature of 106 and the doctor said just take him home .. there's nothing more they can do. So they called a friend who was Christian Science, who arranged for a "Reader" to come pray over me. She prayed several hours over me and then left, saying look for a change "tomorrow". Subsequently, I woke up from my comatose state and asked for ice cream.
Some time later, Dad told me all the things they'd done to try to get me to wake up and stay awake, and it wasn't really until then that I could identify with them as frightened young parents.
I was also painfully "grab mom's leg and not let go when she left me at kindergarten" kind of shy. They later detailed what all they'd done to bring me out of that shell. I mean, I'd cry walking down the street, in the grocery store, etc. if anyone even looked at me.
Dad later confessed they may have gone overboard on that part, judging by the results....
Several years later, after being the wallflower, the brain, the unpopular boy when girls were seemingly interested in athletic-types, we moved to Indianapolis, from the suburbs of Chicago. One boy named Bob White greeted me like a normal kid and I figured, since they didn't know how inferior I was, I'd act like a normal kid. And I did.
Then, many years later, after I'd gotten married, a neighbor invited us to Sunday School and the rest is history. It was as if God had taken me in when I trusted as much of me as I could manage, to as much of Jesus as I could comprehend; then, in that Sunday School, God said recess was over, and he reeled me in.
But it all started with the kid in the picture, miraculously saved from rampant infection, reared by parents who loved and cared, and exemplified the nuclear family.
It's not really a reflection on me, but rather on Jesus, which is why I can see the truth of this:
"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". (Philippians 1:6, NIV)