Monday, September 9, 2013

Memories of Days Long Ago

Thanks to all of you who visited my blog last week when Ann Gabhart so graciously visited with us about our love of books. The winner of Ann's book Small Town Girl is Jenny from New York. Congratulations, Jenny!


We are visiting this weekend in a church where my husband was pastor 50 years ago--Bogard, Missouri, near Kansas City where he was attending seminary. He was honored to be asked to bring the message at the church's 150th celebration of its beginning. So on Saturday we drove for five hours and Sunday we drove back home. That's no small task for people our age, but we are thankful for our health and ability to still travel (as long as it's daylight!)

This essay was written and posted on my blog in February, when our oldest son was here for a visit. I'm reposting it because it seems to fit today. We are back, remembering, and here are some of our memories.


Our home was never in one place. We lived in twelve different places, serving Baptist churches in Texas, Missouri, and Florida during our almost fifty-year ministry. Our children do not have a "home" where they all grew up. Our homes were parsonages in many different towns where we served.

Our son, Steve, is here for a visit from his home in Cologne, Germany, and he wanted to go back to a couple of those places and see where he grew up. So Monday morning we left early for a road trip to visit two of those places, Sedalia, and Bogard, Missouri.

We stopped first in Sedalia at the New Hope Baptist church. A man stepping out of his car immediately noticed that we were not regular church members, so he welcomed us, asking if he could help us find anything. My husband put out his hand and said, "I'm Marvin Nobles", and the man clapped him on the shoulder and yelled, "Charlie and Juanita!" as he enveloped him in a bear hug.

We discovered out that this 60-year-old man had been a teen-ager in that church when my husband was pastor there. His mother baby-sat our children, and both of us remembered his father's sweet smile. We went inside, visited with him and the pastor and secretary for a while, and had a great time of fellowship. Even though the church was meeting in a new building since the time we were there, we felt the sweet spirit that remained.

We drove around in Sedalia, recognizing schools and other places we remembered during our stay there: the home of the lady who taught Steve to play the piano, the State Fair grounds where we went many times during the summers, the houses of friends of our children, the local library where Steve began his love of knowledge, businesses-- just remembering.

We drove on to Bogard. We had not called ahead to see if anybody was at the church; we did not even know who the current pastor was, and when we got there, nobody was available at the place where we had lived from 1960 to 1965. So we drove around the town awhile, finally ending up talking to the postmistress, the only person we could find in this small town.

None of the stores and businesses we remembered were there, only the shells of the old buildings on Main Street, where we used to shop for groceries or do business at the bank. Even the body shop that did a lot of business when one of our church members ran it was shut down. Sometimes we saw open doors, but the old buildings were filled with trash. Not a soul could be seen anywhere. Even the school across from the church had been torn down. All that remained was the old ball field, the fence still intact around an overgrown plot of ground.

We saw vacant lots where houses used to stand, houses in which friends and church members had lived. The streets that we remembered as black-topped or paved were now dirt roads. Even the farm land around the town had eroded. It looked like Bogard had been forgotten. A loaf of bread or a jug of milk could not be purchased there. The postmistress told us the only thing you could buy would be a can of soda at the only gas station left in town, and you would have to stand outside to buy it.
We did not get to go into the church, since nobody was around, but we hope some people remain to worship there. We noticed the outside of the building had been recently refurbished, though, and it looked like people still cared about it.

We sadly drove away. Seeing that place reminded us of  the results of time. The population of the town had decreased to only 164, according to the roadside sign. The people left to get better jobs and better opportunities, and those who remained were left with nothing. Any kids living there were bussed to school in Carrollton, the county seat town about ten or fifteen miles away because the school our kids attended has been torn down.

Bogard's opportunity seems to be gone. Where there was once a thriving community, now there is only desolation. A church that used to have 100 or more in attendance now seems to have a dwindling congregation. People who live there have to go somewhere else to earn a living or to get things they need.

We passed an old, long-forgotten place where I used to buy gasoline. The Phillips sign was still on the side of the building, but the door was locked. The broken window showed years of neglect. The gas pumps were long gone, and the driveway was broken up and filled in with grass. I remember that station because it was there, during our stay back in the 1960s, when I first recognized that age was creeping up on me, just as age has crept up on that little town through the years.

Site of the old service station at Bogard
People always called me "Miss" in my younger days, but that day, with four little ones in the car, as I drove in to get gasoline, the attendant said, "What can I do for you, Ma'am?" I remember the shock when I heard that word. Only older women were called "Ma'am." I used that term in respect when talking to older women. Now I was the older woman, even though at that time I was still in my 30's. I thought, "This is the end of my youth. I'm a matron now!"

It is sad and shocking to see what time and change bring to a town or a person. But that day has come for the little town of Bogard, Missouri. What a difference fifty years has made.

Our family when we served in Bogard. Two of these children are now grandparents, which makes us great-grands to two sweet babies!


  1. I loved walking down memory lane with you. Although all change is not good at least we have our memories. My little down in mid Missouri is grown way past what I feel comfortable with. Some times I drive past a building and bring to mind what used to be there. I don't ever want to forget how my little town once was. I too remember when someone first called me ma'am. Oh it startled me at first but I got used to it. Now the youth are not trained to respect the elders in such a way. Oh those sweet by gone days! :)

  2. Thank you for your comments. It's so good to know someone is reading this. I spend a lot of time here and am glad to know you enjoyed reading it. I hope you will return to my blog on Mondays and Wednesdays to see what's new. And it's sweet to remember.