OF BONDAGE - Chapter 2
By Wayne Hamburger
TEENAGE YEARS, SPIRITUAL AND CHURCH EXPERIENCES
As Wayne moved into his teenage years, he deliberated over the events in his own life as well as those on the national scene. World War II had taken many teenagers right out of high school into the throes of a savagery never seen before. These young men returned to their schools from battles in far-off lands, maimed both in body and spirit. Wayne fully expected to be drafted into the military, because he had no idea how long the war was to last. He was impressed by the uniformed men who returned to the schools and spoke before school assemblies about military exploits. It appeared to the youth of the day that a certain destiny had already been laid out for them, and they had no means of changing it.
During the 1944-1945 school year, Wayne was in his last year of grammar school. He convinced his parents that he could maintain his job at the drug store and try out for the basketball team at school. With the store owner's permission to provide flexible hours at the store, Wayne anxiously prepared for the first basketball practice. Within the first hour of practice, he severely twisted his ankle and had to be carried off the playing floor. The coach took him home in an automobile and this was the end of school sports for Wayne. He walked with crutches for about three weeks and was still able to perform most of his duties at the store. The experience was a disappointment, but still a good character builder.
By this point in Wayne's life, his father, Dedrich, had recovered from his disablement to the point that he could perform work activity. The county relief administrator had decided that the best way to test Dedrich's rehabilitation was to assign him a job in the building housing the relief office and work projects. Dedrich was assigned the job as janitor for the building. The building was a short distance from the school that Wayne attended and so the two met every day for lunch in the janitor's quarters located in the building's furnace room. Lunch was carried from home and consisted of sandwiches and hot chocolate made with goat's milk. The lunch was kept warm by placing it near the heating pipes in the basement.
It was during these lunch periods that Wayne really became intimately acquainted with his father and felt some of the frustration Dedrich experienced with his disability. There was a light-hearted banter between them carried over from when Wayne was a preschooler. Dedrich had promised to make Wayne a toy wheelbarrow since Wayne had begged for one from the store. The family was unable to afford it. Every time Dedrich corrected his son's behavior, he would be reminded about the wheelbarrow that never materialized. It was during the lunch time together that Wayne finally realized the depth of his father's love and his hurt about not being able to provide for his family. The bonding of father and son was complete and no longer was the ungrateful son ashamed of his father's disability and poverty.
What Dedrich lacked in material things, he more than made up for with love toward his children. He was attentive to their needs in every way he could be. When Wayne arrived home late from his paper route or worked late at the drug store, he could always count on his father putting away food for him so that he could have a warm supper. His father sat at the table with his son and asked Wayne about his day at school and work. The family ate their meal earlier in the evening and Wayne would have eaten alone had it not been for his father's attentiveness.
Wayne's bedroom in the washhouse in back was unheated except on laundry days. A kerosene heater was used to take off the chill at bedtime and again in the morning when Wayne prepared for work and school. The little building was extremely cold during harsh winter months. A pan of water was placed on the wash stand each night so that Wayne could wash up in the morning. It was not uncommon for the water to freeze and Wayne would have to wait for it to thaw before he could wash his face. His father would slip into the room in the early morning hours and quietly ignite the kerosene heater. He then placed the pan of cold water or ice on top of the heater for it to warm up.
Father and son engaged in many talks on such mornings, waiting for the heater to take the chill from the room. It was not a pleasant thing to slip out of the warm coziness of the heavy comforters into cold clothing each morning. Dedrich used these times to tell his son about his own father and grandfather. He liked to talk about his youth prior to his disabling accident. His awkward attempts to inform Wayne about sexual development usually ended up going nowhere. By the time he could finally get the courage to be explicit, his son had already heard those things from older youth. After observing the animals on Grandpa's farm, Wayne was pretty well informed about reproduction. He did conclude that if he ever had a son of his own, he would be less hesitant to inform him about such matters. These moments of privacy between father and son form treasured memories of a childhood which passed too quickly.
In spite of the long hours Wayne spent in gainful employment, he still had time to complete his school work successfully. The Rotary Club of DuQuoin honored outstanding students from the fourth through eighth grades each year. The Rotary Club planned a huge dinner and entertainment for the honor roll students of each class. Wayne was privileged to attend the Rotary dinners five times while in grammar school. Wayne enjoyed school and liked all of his teachers. He was never disciplined for any reason because he was too scared to break the rules, and he liked school too much to jeopardize his good record. Since Wayne was the oldest child in his family, the teachers expected his siblings to act just like him in school. This was unfair to his sister and brothers who followed in the school system. Through the years, he gradually came to understand that intellectual ability is a gift. He learned that poverty need not hold back anyone who has the desire to become educated. Poverty is used as an excuse for failure, but it shouldn't be.
The year 1945 was a memorable one for Wayne for a number of reasons. The war in Europe ended. In a few more months, with the dropping of the atom bomb, the war in the Pacific ended. Wayne was able to put the concerns about participating in war out of his mind and concentrate on other things. He had seen so many teenagers enter the military and he had accepted the fact that he would volunteer in spite of the church position of pacifism. He had made up his mind that he would not be a conscientious objector or otherwise shirk his military obligation.
Wayne worked with a lady at the drug store whom he admired very much. She had graduated from high school and worked full time at the store. She had a fantastic smile and Wayne was smitten with her. She tolerated the fact that the young kid had a huge crush on her. She talked constantly about her older brother who was serving in the Military. Wayne listened to all these stories about her brother, Galen. On January 28, 1945, another son was born into the family of Dedrich and Thelma Hamburger. Wayne begged his mother to give the newborn son the name of "Galen." Surprisingly, Thelma agreed to it. Wayne's only bad memories of this event were the times he was stuck with washing some of the dirty diapers on the wash board. It was an exciting time for him, because he was allowed to name his baby brother. Wayne's sister, Esther, had been named by Dedrich in memory of his own sister who died in her youth. It is also a Biblical name and reflects the Hamburger's religious roots. The other boy in the family was named William Frank in regard for his two grandfathers, William Morrisey and Frank Hamburger.
After Galen's birth in 1945, the whole family attended church together. Thankfully, Thelma didn't trust Wayne to baby-sit with a newborn. Wayne developed a new interest in church and it wasn't long before he felt a need to get more involved. He had attended hundreds of church meetings with no inclination toward joining church, but then all of a sudden, things began to change. He felt an internal tugging that seemed to pull him toward accepting God in his life. He had been unmoved by the many altar calls given in church, even though many other young people had gone forward with the invitations. Like a magnet, he was pulled from his seat, and the next thing he knew, he was at the altar begging God to forgive his sins. He could not even remember leaving his seat in the rear of the church. No one had spoken to him or tried to coerce him in any way.
When he fell at the altar, he felt immensely burdened as if he had been guilty of wrongdoing. When he confessed to Christ that he was a sinner, the burden seemed to roll away and a wonderful feeling replaced it. This experience has been described by thousands of people over the years in various ways; however, no one can adequately relate the true essence. Some have described it as a heavy weight being lifted from one's shoulders while others describe it in terms of ecstasy. The sublimeness of the moment can only be a sample of what God has promised for His own in the Holy Bible. The sensibilities of man such as taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing cannot capture the workings of the Holy Spirit in such instances.
As the young man was kneeling there at the altar, rejoicing in his newfound relationship to God, one of the elders of the church knelt beside him and began to whisper in his ear. He told Wayne that he had experienced conversion, and there was more to come. The man began to coach the youth to pray for another experience. He explained that Christ had promised His followers that He would send them a Comforter and a gift following His ascension. He explained further that the gift Jesus had promised was called "The Baptism of the Holy Ghost." He said that it was promised and all it took to get it was to ask for it. Wayne continued to pray but then lost consciousness to his surroundings and has no memory of what happened next. When he regained consciousness, he was speaking in a foreign language. He was lying on his back speaking words that neither he nor anyone present could interpret. When he became aware of his surroundings, he was told that he had experienced Holy Ghost Baptism. The experiences of conversion and spirit baptism were so intermingled that it seemed to be all one process. It made a profound change in his life and embarked the start of a religious journey lasting a lifetime.
Although Wayne had attended the Pentecostal church where his parents belonged, he had absorbed little of the doctrine before his conversion experience. Now he became engrossed in it. He was told that the conversion process involving confession of sin and forgiveness is but the first step of the religious journey. The church doctrine insisted that the next step of spirit baptism has to happen in order to be born again. They insisted that the main evidence of a rebirth is the speaking in tongues. It was much later in life that Wayne learned these things were not true according to the Bible, but at that time he had no reason to doubt.
He had no reason to suspect that men's interpretation of the Bible cause divisions and the formation of religious sects. Had he studied the Bible for himself, he would have understood that Christ taught unity rather than division. His knowledge of the Bible was gained through the eyes of the leader of his religious sect, James Sowders. This Pentecostal group defined certain fundamental doctrines that set them apart from others, and claimed that they are God's only chosen people. Practically all Christian denominations are guilty of the same thing; otherwise there would be no division. Members of denominations tend to accept only those things in the Bible that agree with their concept of truth. Wayne's youth and inexperience would lend itself to the wily and devious mind-altering teachings of men bent upon their self-gratification and not the will of God.
Wayne's conversion took place on a Sunday night, March 18, 1945. The following morning he walked to school with his best friends, Bob and Tom Moss. He was feeling wonderful, but his friends weren't impressed. Their parents attended the same church and they knew that joining the church meant the end of movies, basketball games, carnivals, etc. They wanted no part of it. At that point, Wayne was happy to give up all the fun things and concentrate on church activities. He also realized that he could no longer maintain the closeness to his friends who were not church members because the church considered them worldly.
Wayne plunged into the church activities with all his ability. He sent his Uncle Clifford a post card telling him that he had been saved. He also asked his uncle to assist him in purchasing a trombone so he could play in the church orchestra. The preacher had announced that a new orchestra was being formed and all the youth of the church were encouraged to join it. At that time, Clifford was the only Hamburger who was full- time employed. He was a member of Sowders' church in Murphysboro and Wayne was positive that his uncle would help him purchase an instrument. Clifford retained the post card for many years and finally gave it to Wayne as verification of the date he had joined the church.
Following Wayne's graduation from grammar school in June 1945, he found a full-time job on a chicken farm, so he gave up the part-time job at the drug store. Part of the decision to quit the drug store job was due to the fact that he wanted to attend a church camp meeting in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The camp meeting was held during the first part of June and when Wayne returned home, he went to work for the chicken farmer.
The work was intensive, requiring his presence at the farm six days a week, and lasting from eight to nine hours per day. The work was enjoyable because the farmer gave Wayne the responsibility of performing his duties without supervision. The farmer was employed at a local coal mine, so he turned the daily operation of the chicken farm over to Wayne. The poultry business first received baby chicks that were a few days old and they were then raised to a size suitable for frying. The adult fryers ranged from three to four pounds, so there were always chickens at various stages of development. Wayne's work required him to feed and water the chickens daily, in addition to cleaning out the pens. There were also many other tasks around the poultry barn such as repairing equipment, mowing grass around the property, and painting fences and the barn.
The most formidable chore was that of cleaning out the manure from the pens. The pens were actually wire mesh cages that allowed the droppings from the chickens to fall into a receiving tray below. The trays could then be pulled out to easily remove the manure. The manure was scraped from the metal trays into a wheelbarrow and hauled a quarter of a mile to fields where it could be spread as fertilizer for the soil. The load of manure was piled up in the wheelbarrow as high as possible to reduce the number of trips made to the dumping area. The stench was a little overwhelming at times and the work was back-breaking. Still yet, Wayne enjoyed the work. He thought he had become immune to the aroma of the barn until one day he opened the lunch that his mother had packed for him and discovered a scrambled egg sandwich. The sight of the egg in the sandwich and the manure in the trays was too closely related to make the sandwich appetizing. It was just better to go hungry that day.
The poultry farm was approximately five miles from the Hamburger home and Wayne rode his bicycle to the work site each day. At about the midpoint in the trip, there was a small rural grocery store. It proved to be a good place to stop and rest a bit in mid-journey. One day, when he had stopped for a soft drink, he noticed that something didn't taste quite right. In his haste to quench his thirst, he ingested a green fly that had been bottled in the soft drink. After crunching the fly in his teeth, he spat it out. Needless to say, he didn't finish the drink, and for years thereafter refused to drink that brand of cola. Thereafter, he started a ritual of inspecting every soda bottle before drinking. With the introduction of aluminum cans for soda, the ritual stopped, but the concern over what may be in the bottom of the can did not.
Wayne used part of his earnings from the poultry farm to purchase a second-hand trombone. It was dented and discolored from lack of proper care, but to him it was a beautiful instrument. This opened up a whole new world. Music became an obsession. He didn't know at first how he was going to learn to play the trombone, yet in a short while, a way was opened. He was not allowed to participate in the school band due to the requirement of marching in parades and playing at sports events. The church did not allow its members to participate in such activities. Reverend Sowders decided that members of his church could only be taught to play instruments by other church members. The problem was that only one individual in the church could read music and he was only able to play the piano.
Sowders had planted a new church in Murphysboro (Illinois) and this church had a music teacher. This young man from the new church was willing to give music lessons on the instruments. The teacher had learned to read music in the school system prior to joining the church. Sowders was anxious to form a church band in DuQuoin. Wayne was just as anxious to be a part of it. Several young people in DuQuoin, who had joined the church during the period just prior to Wayne's conversion, also obtained instruments in order to participate. The group included Wayne's sister, Esther, who somehow managed to purchase a used trumpet.
The music teacher decided that the quickest way to get the group to play was to teach each member to play his instrument by ear. No one was taught to read music. In this manner, the students were introduced to the musical scales for each instrument. Simple tunes were assigned to the students to practice individually before being brought together as a group. The young teacher had a keen ear for music and his ability to play several different instruments proved to be a real asset for the church. The youngsters in the church band learned quickly from the hand-drawn diagrams given to them by their teacher. All members were so dedicated to the task that they practiced many hours alone to master the instruments. The piano player also proved to be very helpful to the students. He could help in the tuning of the instruments and direct the young musicians when they were attempting to play in the wrong key. James Sowders was proud of his unorthodox band musicians. He transported them to various churches throughout Southern Illinois to show what they had accomplished.
As more and more difficult music was mastered, it increased the confidence of band members to try even more advanced music. The best description of the music performed in the church in those early days is that it would be a cross between country music and jazz. Recordings of church music in those days were made on wire recorders or a little later on the large-reel tape recorders. Those recordings that have been preserved clearly indicate the music was pure American jazz. Had the church leaders recognized that the church band was playing the same music as that played on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, they would have been appalled. The band members took the liberty of improvising musical runs and deviations that mimicked the jazz bands of that day. The musical freedom to play as he pleased was an inspiration to Wayne. The only thing that he regretted about the whole experience was that he never learned to read music. The church band has been an institution in that church since those days in the 1940's; however, in the 1950's, the church leaders recognized the need to read music. All the church orchestras in that church affiliation now consist of accomplished musicians. Perhaps a spiritual miracle took place in the 1940's, because most of the members of that first band are now in their fifties and sixties and few are able to play any instrument.
Music in the church attended by the Hamburgers prior to 1945 was provided by a piano, guitar and mandolin. James Sowders played the guitar and Dedrich Hamburger played the mandolin. Very few church members had ever been taught to read music. Song books were practically nonexistent for a couple of reasons. First of all, the church didn't have the money to purchase books, and secondly, church leaders believed that song books interfered with spiritual worship. New members learned the songs by listening to the words sung by the established members. New songs were introduced by someone who would have to get used to singing the song by himself until the other members learned it. Song books were only used to introduce new songs or to assist special singing.
Anyone who took a notion could start a song at any point in the service. This produced some very strange singing at times, but it was encouraged by the preacher. The musicians often searched and searched to find the key the people were singing in and all to no avail. It was not uncommon for the musicians to play in one key and the singers sing in another. The worship services didn't appear to be hindered by these circumstances. Exuberant singing, shouting, dancing and speaking in tongues were common to the church services, regardless of the degree of professionalism of the musicians. Very seldom were the verses of songs memorized. The choruses were sung dozens of times. This would go on from 15 to 30 minutes, depending upon the church's response to the "Spirit."
Church members were encouraged to compose choruses for worship services. Those who had no musical ability at all were just as enthusiastic about composing music as the others. A favorite testimony of the faithful was about how God had given them songs. A member would launch into a song and continue to sing it until the others joined in. Listening to the words of these old songs in the 1990's is amusing. An old lady from that early era composed a song that had these words: "Jesus brought me out of nothing and set me down in something, right in the middle of it all."
As long as church members reacted to the "Spirit," the music and singing continued. Sometimes it would take many songs and much effort on the part of the singers and musicians to get the "Spirit" to move in a church service. When this happened, members expressed their disappointment by saying the service was "dry." A dry service irritated the preacher. He was sure that some individual either had failed to confess a sin or had a bad spirit. The preacher himself never took responsibility for a dry service. It was much easier to sing and play music when the "Spirit" was present, so everyone worked hard to prime it. On those occasions when the "Spirit" never did move in a service, all the members left the meeting with long faces and a dejected mood. On the contrary, when the "Spirit" did move in a service, the members laughed and heartily greeted one another. That service was a success. A dry service was a failure.
The loose-knit fellowship of preachers who associated with William Sowders met frequently in camp meetings and in preachers' meetings called, "The School of the Prophets." A number of preachers associated with William Sowders were expanding their influence throughout Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. It was in these meetings that James compared his ministry to others and developed a competitive attitude about expanding his influence. A young preacher from Eldorado, Illinois named Thomas Miles Jolly was enveloping a number of churches around that community. The tremendous ego of James Sowders would not allow him to sit back and see others surpass him. James jealously decided to surpass the young upstart. James also developed a distrust and a barely veiled dislike for Thomas jolly, whom everyone referred to as "Bro. Tommy."
It was in this competitive atmosphere that James launched his church in Murphysboro, Illinois. When James Sowders established a church in Murphysboro, Illinois it created quite an uproar in DuQuoin. The church members in DuQuoin felt as though they were being neglected when Sowders established a second church. He was ambitious and anxious to prove to his father, William Sowders, that he could plant churches in many locations.
It didn't take James long to find a group of people who welcomed him to Murphysboro. Although Jolly was a much better Bible teacher, no one surpassed the preaching ability of James Sowders. His dynamic preaching inspired listeners wherever he went. The little group in Murphysboro soon outgrew the store building that had been rented for church services. Within a matter of months, a new church building was constructed on Minton Street in the northwestern section of Murphysboro.
As the crowds grew, Sowders' enthusiasm matched the church growth. He began looking around for other sites for churches and soon found them in DeSoto, Illinois and in Herrin, Illinois. Sowders believed that God approved each of the expansions and he took on a heady arrogance of one intoxicated by power and influence. Some of his fellow preachers claimed that he often became intoxicated with alcoholic spirits as well, but this was never obvious to members of his congregation.
Even though Sowders continued to hold church services in his first church in DuQuoin, he established his home in Murphysboro. As a result of this, many church members in DuQuoin packed their belongings and moved to Murphysboro to be near the preacher. Wayne was a teenager during this period, and was very much aware of the consternation of both his parents and other church members over the turn of events. Church elders kept saying that "the ark" had moved to Murphysboro. This was in reference to the story of the Hebrews (in the Old Testament of the Bible) concerning the ark of the covenant with God.
As Dedrich and Thelma saw their friends and neighbors selling their homes and leaving town, they began to pray for guidance. They realized that it would not be possible for them to relocate to Murphysboro, but yet they wanted to be with James Sowders. Dedrich's brother, Clifford, had always made his home with his parents; however the emotional appeal of the church and ready employment in Murphysboro drew him away from DuQuoin. Clifford had been the spiritual mainstay of the Hamburger clan and his moving compounded the anxiety of the rest of the family over church matters.
Clifford had always been a sickly child and Dedrich had been protective of him. Dedrich and Thelma took Clifford into their home in DuQuoin during one of Clifford's serious illnesses, so he would be close to medical care. Thelma nursed and cared for Clifford several months as he shared their home. It was during this time that Wayne developed a deep and loving trust for his Uncle Clifford. Clifford accompanied the family to James Sowders' church and joined the family when they all went to a camp meeting in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. It was during one of these camp meetings that Clifford became permanently involved with the Pentecostal movement.
Clifford was standing outside the tabernacle on the grounds of the Gospel of the Kingdom Campgrounds when a phenomenal experience took place. He was casually watching the church activities in the open building. All at once, something hit him and knocked him down. He began speaking in tongues and jumping all around. He ran inside the tabernacle and marched to the front of the congregation. He preached in a foreign language that he did not understand to the many hundreds gathered. Some in the audience, who had knowledge of the language, later explained to him what he had said.
This was the beginning of many fervent messages in tongues delivered by Uncle Cliff. In his home church in DuQuoin and later in Murphysboro, he frequently delivered such messages. Very often, it was the preacher's wife, Clara Sowders, who interpreted the message even though she had no knowledge of any foreign language. These incidents were ultra frightening at times. Some of the messages gave warnings about future events while others were meant to be words of encouragement. Wayne never understood the significance of these messages. Yet, he trusted and respected his uncle and never questioned the relevance of such things in church worship. Cliff became a big brother.
Wayne's companionship with Uncle Clifford, who was fourteen years older than Wayne, was enjoyable. At one point when he was living in the household, Thelma bought an old, secondhand couch for Clifford to sleep on. He kept complaining that something was crawling upon him. Finally, about midnight, it became unbearable and he called for Dedrich to come with his flashlight and check on the bites. The light revealed thousands of bedbugs in the old couch. Thelma dragged the couch out the front door and set it on fire in the yard. The family went to Grandpa Hamburger's farm for several days while the house was closed and fumigated with sulphur candles.
With the preacher, fellow church members, and Clifford all moving to Murphysboro, it seemed likely that the church in DuQuoin was destined to close. Ultimately, James Sowders realized that his church in DuQuoin was being torn apart and he stopped the exodus. He woke up to the fact that the movement of the people from DuQuoin to Murphysboro was defeating his purpose of building numerous churches. He decided to make the DuQuoin church the meeting place for all of his churches on Sunday afternoon before returning to their home churches for Sunday night services. This move calmed the people in DuQuoin. Eventually, all of the church members who had relocated to Murphysboro moved back to DuQuoin and this even included Uncle Clifford. Wayne's big brother was back home.
Sunday afternoon always seemed like a peculiar time to have church services, in view of the fact that all other denominations had church on Sunday morning. Members were never given a clear reason for this, but it was a common practice of all churches affiliating with William Sowders to have Sunday afternoon worship services. Perhaps this was designed to proselytize members from other churches. Sowders did want his church to be different from all others. He told the people that they were a special group called by God to perform a specific purpose on earth. He tried to prove this by prophesying from the Bible. He quoted from the Bible, indicating that God's people would be a peculiar people. Sowders' group was certainly peculiar and this part of his prophecy was true. Church members were peculiar in dress, actions, personal relationships and in the interpretation of the Bible.
Sowders was opposed to children attending public school beyond the elementary grades. When Wayne started to enroll in high school, Fall, 1945, James Sowders tried to discourage him from doing so. Thankfully, the law in Illinois required all children to attend school until their sixteenth birthday. Dedrich and Thelma were fearful of defying the preacher, but they had more fear and respect for the law and the truant officer than they did for church rules. Wayne was allowed to attend and complete high school. His sister, Esther, was not as fortunate. She dropped out with the approval of the preacher and her parents. She later earned her high school equivalency and the whole family was especially proud of her.
It is hard to speculate some fifty years after the fact as to why the church leaders opposed education. Both William and James Sowders had limited education. Perhaps they were threatened by followers who were more educated than themselves. They rationalized their thinking by preaching that Jesus would return to earth in the early 1950's and education would be a waste of time. Perchance their reasoning was more sinister.
During the summer of 1945, Wayne experienced his first romance, which turned out to be a bad case of puppy love. The object of his affection was a high school sophomore. She and her family were new members of the church. She became a church band member along with Wayne and Esther Hamburger. Esther and the new girl became friends and stayed overnight at each other's homes. Wayne was smitten with this cute blond girl who was so much older and wiser than himself. He thought she was wise and sophisticated and her nice smile helped to captivate him. A few months later, a tall brunette from the Murphysboro church caught his eye and the blond was forgotten.
That relationship was conducted from long distance. She was a member of her church's band which practiced together periodically with the DuQuoin band. The romance consisted of a few moments of eye contact at church with an occasional note across the aisle. Holding hands, kissing, or touching was strictly taboo. This so-called romance lasted until Wayne was a senior in high school. At that time, the love of his life entered his world and has continued to the present. Puppy love was no more, because now he had experienced the real thing with a beautiful girl named Amanda.
A great deal of boy-girl interest developed among the large group of teenagers in the church. The church leaders frowned on such behavior and everything possible was done to discourage contact between the sexes. They could not thwart human nature. Segregation of the sexes only served to alienate the teenagers from the church and the preacher. James Sowders used scripture from the Bible to drive home his point. I Corinthians 7: 1, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman;" I Corinthians 7: 8,9, "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I; but if they cannot contain let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn;" were used to stop the young people from dating. When this failed, the Sowderses came up with the idea that all sexual contact was sinning against God. They convinced the followers that the original sin of Adam and Eve was sexual contact.
Adam and Eve were forever damned by their sin; thereafter, every person who engaged in sex was damned unless he obtained forgiveness for it. According to James Sowders, no one could go to Heaven who continued to engage in sexual intercourse. Some of the young married couples in the church were nearly driven insane trying to comply with that foolish doctrine. Most of them tried to follow the teaching of Sowders, but few could abstain. After a few years, Sowders realized that he was driving young married couples from his congregation. He eventually softened his harsh commandments, but by that time, many lives were damaged beyond repair. All were harmed by Sowders' teaching and some never recovered from the devastating experience of trying to live up to it. Sowders followed this by almost demanding that young church members refrain from marriage. James Sowders cautioned Wayne dozens of times about the evils of marriage.
It is significant to note that both James and William Sowders married twice during their lives. James tried to convince the congregation that he and his wife were living together, chaste and celibate. Their actions proved otherwise. As mentioned, James often isolated young men to tell them how evil sex was. He told them that they should follow the example of the Apostle Paul who remained celibate. He tried his best to keep the girls and boys apart. He cautioned the boys that girls would take their minds off the Bible and God's work. His was a case of "do as I say and not as I do." James was overly absorbed by the subject of sex and he repeatedly discussed it with the young men of the church. Most finally realized that he was frustrated by the fact he could not live up to his own teaching. His wife, Clara, frequently asked the married women of the church about physical changes and behavior when one became pregnant. When her menstrual cycle became irregular, she rushed from one woman to another, trying to get some reassurance that she wasn't pregnant. Pregnancy, of course, would prove that her husband had been lying to the people all along. Celibate couples need not worry about pregnancy. If it had not been so seriously taken by the congregation, it would have been amusing to see the preacher and his wife engaging in normal marital activities, while trying to convince everyone they weren't.
Wayne's parents were certainly affected by all this, but it was hard for him to recognize it at the time. Dedrich and Thelma had two children after Sowders' arrival in DuQuoin; however, there were very few external signs of affection toward one another. Occasionally, Dedrich would try to snuggle up to his wife, but she routinely shrugged off his advances. Thelma was not affectionate toward her husband or her children. They felt her love, although she never verbally expressed it. Many years after the children had all married and left home, she was reminded by a preacher that every parent should tell their children that they are loved.
It was extremely difficult for her to tell her three sons and her daughter that she loved them, and she was relieved when she was finally able to say it. Wayne was both shocked and overjoyed when she came to him and conveyed that message. She had not hugged her children prior to that time. Once the initial contact was made, she found it rewarding to hug her grown children. It is sad to conclude that maybe some of her early religious training had robbed her and her children of affectionate contact. It is probably safe to conclude that her own mother related to her in a similar fashion.
Another incident succinctly describes Thelma's aversion to intimacy. A few years after her husband's death, the family gathered at her home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of the younger family members started a discussion on husband and wife relationships. She voiced her disapproval by relating an incident that she had witnessed at the senior citizen's day care center. She had observed an elderly gentleman bringing in his wheelchair-bound wife into the center each day. She stated that he never failed to bend down and kiss his wife on the lips. She grimaced her face in disapproval and stated that the man actually kissed his wife on the lips. It was obvious to everyone that this was a disgusting display of affection as far as Thelma was concerned. One of the younger family members then asked her if she hadn't kissed her husband like that. She said that her husband had never kissed her on the lips during their marriage because she wouldn't allow it. She continued to relate how repulsive she thought it was. When Wayne asked her how she ever got intimate enough to conceive four children, she changed the subject.
Although Dedrich remained partially disabled during his lifetime, he did work for his church. He swept the floor, dusted the seats, tended the coal heater and performed a myriad of other tasks requested by the preacher. Wayne was never quite comfortable with the reality that his father could work hard around the church, but could not be gainfully employed. Dedrich did not receive a salary for his work, yet, once a year an offering was taken to show the congregation's appreciation for the work he did. The preacher assumed responsibility for initiating the offering. This offering followed one taken for the preacher's expenses. James Sowders never failed to attend a meeting of the "School of the Prophets" held by his father each Christmas in Louisville, Kentucky. The church was expected to pay his expenses each year at that meeting. The procedure was for a church elder to take the preacher's offering, and then the preacher followed that with an offering for the church janitor. If the elder didn't get enough for the preacher, he would stand at the pulpit and beg the people to give more. Dedrich's offering consisted of the few remaining coins that members hadn't given earlier. They usually gave folding money to the preacher and change to the janitor. The whole family was shocked one year, when Dedrich's offering actually amounted to $25.00.
Dedrich never owned an automobile in his lifetime. He either walked to the church each day or rode his bicycle. Trying to get through the ice and snow to church, one mile from his home, was especially difficult for him. Angina pain was a constant companion and frigid air worsened it. He felt that he was doing God's work at the church and never complained about it. He received his tiny Christmas offering each year and graciously thanked everyone for their generosity. It bothered Wayne to see the preacher take advantage of his father, but he did not express this to his parents.
The thing that upset Wayne the most was the way that James Sowders repeatedly criticized Dedrich publicly. The building was never the right temperature to suit the preacher. It was either too hot or too cold and Dedrich was responsible. He took the criticism without complaint and never let it interfere with his loyalty to his church and to his God. The irony of the matter was that James Sowders had no more education nor was as intelligent as Dedrich. Sowders seemed to take a spiteful delight in exercising his authority over the janitor and others who assisted him in the church. Although the Bible teaches that we are to turn the other cheek when we are smitten, only a few are examples of this teaching. Dedrich was actually able to live by this teaching. Wayne was raised with the precept that the preacher had the authority of God and no one could question that authority.
As a child growing up in the Hamburger household, Wayne looked forward to the summer months when the family always managed (somehow) to get to at least one of the camp meetings at Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Although there was never any extra money in the household, a way was always made possible for the family to make the trip. Wayne, along with a number of other boys and men, were assigned tents along the side of the mountain for sleeping quarters. A bale of straw was issued to each family for bedding. Wash cloths, towels, soap, and a pan for washing were brought from home. It was usual to wake up from a night's sleep to find individuals who had rolled out of their tents due to the steep incline of the mountain. It mattered little to any of the worshipers that they lacked indoor bathrooms or washing facilities. Most didn't have them at home, anyway. Cold water was drawn from a well, cistern, or the spring that erupted from the side of the mountain. A sponge bath in cold water was a welcome relief from the straw and dust of the campground. The worshipers shook the straw from their wrinkled clothing and headed for the tabernacle to early worship each morning.
Getting to and from Shepherdsville was an adventure. It is approximately 250 miles from DuQuoin to the Shepherdsville Campground. The Hamburger family took whatever transportation that was offered to them. On a number of occasions, a man from Tilden, Illinois, who operated a fleet of school buses, took worshipers from DuQuoin in one of the school buses. He picked up passengers throughout Southern Illinois until he packed his bus. The bumpy rides and the ferry crossings at Shawneetown, Illinois, across the Ohio River were things a young boy like Wayne would remember clearly. The bus sat at the top of the ferry landing, poised above the river. Everyone held their breath and many closed their eyes while the bus maneuvered the steep descent to the ferry. Everyone prayed that the brakes held to prevent the bus and its passengers from plunging across the ferry and into the river.
Sometimes the trip to the camp meeting was made in the back of an open dump truck which was normally used for hauling coal. The ferry crossing seemed even more hazardous as the brakes on the coal truck squealed and ground hot on the way down to the river ferry. Maneuvering through the narrow mountain roads of central Kentucky was not easy for a school bus nor a coal truck. In some places, it was not possible for two vehicles to pass one another. One would have to find a wide space in the road and wait there while the other vehicle passed. The excitement of peering down into the valleys from the perilous mountain roads was something the children enjoyed. It can be compared to the feeling one has from the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago or the Empire State Building observation tower in New York City. The tickling of the insides, the labored breathing, and the heart racing uncontrollably are indicators that most humans are not comfortable with excessive height.
The mountain journey was complicated even more by the long lines of military vehicles during World War II. Fort Knox was not too far from the campground, so the military operations were a familiar sight to worshipers. A bee hive of activity emanated from the camps as the soldiers prepared to go into battle in foreign lands. Sometimes it was evident that the soldiers had no patience with these civilians who thought the most important thing in the world was to attend a camp meeting.
In retrospect, it is amazing that the church members were able to purchase enough rationed gasoline to make the long trips to the camp meetings two to three times a year. Most of the extra gasoline rationing stamps were given to the preacher so that he could make trips across the country. The shortage of gasoline meant nothing to the Hamburgers or their extended family, since no one owned a car. As noted earlier, Dedrich never owned or learned how to drive a car. He died at age 73 in 1981 without ever having that experience. He either walked or rode his bicycle because the only public transportation was a taxicab and this was beyond his means.
Wayne was too young to realize the impact of the global war on the country at large. School and church were at the center of everything. He had no close relatives in the conflict. Soldiers and sailors home on furlough often visited the grammar schools to tell the students about their experiences. Many prayer requests were made at church for those fighting in the war. Families sent in handkerchiefs for James Sowders to pray over. These were then forwarded to the loved ones to carry with them into battle. It was believed that these prayer handkerchiefs protected the ones carrying them. A few families in the church did lose loved ones in the war.
James Sowders frequently stated that he was more concerned about the pimple on his nose than he was the war in Europe. It was meant to convey the idea that humans are more concerned about themselves than they are others. He had no close relative or friend in the fighting and it was easy for him to make such a statement. James had obtained a deferment from the army because of his ministry. He also coached young men of the church ways to avoid the draft. When members returned from physical exams classified as 4F or unfit for service, there was much rejoicing in the church.
There was never a sign of patriotism in the church services. There was neither an American flag nor church flag in the building. Sowders believed that exhibiting the American flag was exalting government above God. He thought that saluting the flag was showing disrespect for God. It is noteworthy that Wayne did not embrace that evil concept. His patriotism was established in spite of the preacher's influence. He showed his rejection of the preacher later on by enlisting in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Wayne found it appalling that church leaders would hide behind religious beliefs during times of crisis, but still expect their country to protect them from harm and assure their freedom to do as they please. Wayne vowed to himself that he would always love and respect his country and his flag. Whenever he had a home of his own, he would fly the American flag in front of it every day.
Prior to Wayne's conversion, church had been extremely boring. Children's Sunday School was eliminated by Sowders. The preacher felt that children should attend the adult services, sit quietly, and observe but not participate. Sunday church services started at 1:00 P.M. and continued until 5:00 P.M. or even 6:00 P.M. when Sowders was especially inspired by a subject. One of his favorite subjects was denouncing women for wearing open-toed shoes or wearing revealing dresses. He could talk for hours about that subject, supposedly using the Bible to confirm his diatribe. Naturally, this was very boring for young children. They were forbidden to go outside to the outdoor toilet except for dire emergencies. James and Clara Sowders were childless and they exhibited no emotional concern or attachment to any children. Their childlessness was probably a biological happenstance rather than as a matter of choice. For whatever reason, the fact of the matter was that they had no patience with normal child behavior. Overactive children were just not tolerated. If a baby cried during one of Sowders' sermons, he turned to the mother and rebuked her as if it were her fault. He would order the mother to remove the child from the building until it learned to be quiet in church. He was particularly harsh on one young mother, but she kept coming back in spite of the criticism. Nothing pleased Sowders any more than to have a child sleep for an entire service.
Sowders met his match with one old gentleman who openly defied him. No one else was ever able to confront Sowders and get away with it. The old man carried a pint of whiskey or wine in his hip pocket. Just before entering the front door of the church, the old man drank one last, long, enduring swig from his bottle before returning it to his pocket. This long drink capped his regularly intoxicated state to the point that nothing bothered him. He slowly made his way up the church aisle to the second row from the front and then plopped down in the aisle seat. This put him directly in line with the preacher's vision at all times. No one dared sit in the old man's seat.
Whenever Sowders preached something with which the old man disagreed, he shuffled his feet and grumbled loudly. Sowders would get so angry that he could not control it. He would preach directly to the old fellow. The more he preached, the louder the grumbling grew. Sowders never dared to have the man removed. It is possible that he enjoyed this cat-and-mouse game as much as the old man did. The children loved these sequences because it livened up the meetings.
In spite of Sowders' peculiar beliefs, there was a side of him that reached out to other humans. Both William and James Sowders refused to practice or show any type of prejudice toward people of different races. William had a large following of African-Americans in his church in Louisville, Kentucky. James shared his father's lead regarding their dark-skinned brothers. There was never any prejudice expressed in church or in Wayne's home toward this minority group. When he entered high school in 1945, he had never been close enough to an African-American to establish a relationship due to segregation in the school system. Some black families visited the church in DuQuoin and Sowders took his congregation to a black church at various times, but none of the families became close. The main reason for this was that the minority families lived on the far west side of DuQuoin and most of Sowders' church members lived on the far east side of town.
During Wayne's freshman year in school, all the black students were required to sit in the back of the classrooms and the assembly hall. This segregation occurred even though the black students provided some of the best athletes in the school. Many were academically superior as well. In Wayne's sophomore year of 1946, the school was totally integrated. His seat-mate in the assembly hall was an African-American of whom Wayne was very fond. His name was Curtis and he was an outstanding performer in all sports. Wayne was never allowed to see him play football or basketball because of the church rules against this worldly thing.
The only expressed prejudice that Wayne was aware of in his own family was that of his father's toward Italians. The Italians were viewed by Dedrich as the enemy because some Italian families were involved in bootlegging liquor during Prohibition. Another reason for part of his prejudice was due to the fact that many Italian families were large, and he feared they would soak up the county welfare benefits and leave none for him. It is ironic that there was prejudice in the community toward Italians, yet they were the ones that seemed to harbor the most prejudice toward the African-Americans. In spite of all this, Wayne never shared his father's prejudice. Dedrich eventually overcame his own prejudice. Wayne has good memories of visiting Brother Gillespie's black church on the west side of town. When Gillespie visited Sowders' church, he always brought his guitar so that he could entertain the congregation with his singing and playing. The two congregations worshiped comfortably together, but did not entertain any ideas of joining to make one church. Wayne just remembered that it was an awfully long walk back home from Gillespie's church.
At the time Wayne entered high school, he was the only male student from Sowders' church. It was rather lonely at times because church rules forbid participation in any extracurricular school activities. Eventually, he became friends with a young man who was making plans to become a Methodist minister. The two of them became close friends. Their religious beliefs were similar in some respects. When the gym teacher taught the girls and boys to dance the latest dance steps, these two young men sat on the sidelines and watched. They were excused from that activity due to religious beliefs.
The friendship continued through the high school year. Wayne attended some of the church meetings at the Methodist Church, even though Sowders frowned on that. His friend was reluctant to visit a Pentecostal church, but eventually Wayne convinced him to attend a service at Sowders' church in DeSoto, Illinois. This proved to be a big mistake and the friendship waned, thereafter. They arrived late for the church service. When they entered the building, the worshipers had already begun to dance, shout and speak in tongues. Wayne's friend did not say anything, but it was obvious that he was frightened by the expression of the people. There was no more visiting at each other's church after that night.
Wayne did accompany his friend to McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, for a youth retreat. This was a prelude to the friend's entry into that college. He later graduated from a Methodist Seminary and became a minister. After Wayne had served four years in the military, he went to hear his friend preach a revival service. The friend barely acknowledged him. Some years later, there was a chance meeting of the old high school pals in a restaurant, with the same results. He had moved into an administrative role with the Methodist Church and was accompanied by a group of ministers. He was in no mood to discuss his past in front of his subordinates, so after a few words of greeting, Wayne left.
Later, Wayne's job at the chicken farm ended when he returned to school in the fall of 1945. It wasn't long until he found a new job at Jones' Pharmacy. The work included a number of tasks at the owner's place of business as well as his home. A wallpaper/paint store was a part of the business, and it was located on the second level above the drug store. There was also a restaurant in one side of the drug store. The owner's father-in-law managed the wallpaper store upstairs, while the owner's mother-in-law managed the restaurant. The two families lived in a large, two-story house on east Main Street about two blocks from the place of business.
Wayne especially liked working with the old gentleman who operated the wallpaper store. It was fun to stock the paint shelves, stack the wallpaper in the bins, and trim the wallpaper on the old-fashioned trim machines. The old man's name was Val. He usually chewed on a big cigar which he never bothered to light. It served as sort of a pacifier. He was afflicted with stomach ulcers, and he frequently sneaked out the back stairway to a tavern located off the alley. He claimed that the cold draft beer soothed his aching stomach. He was careful to hide his visits to the tavern from his wife and son-in-law. He usually returned from the tavern in a good mood. His beer breaks put him in a good frame of mind for storytelling. He loved to describe his youthful exploits and Wayne listened to the stories intently. Neither one bothered working during storytelling time.
Val's favorite story was about the time he purchased a coal mine and became rich. He later lost all his money in the Great Depression, so he went to a pharmaceutical school to become a pharmacist. He repeated the story over and over hundreds of times. Wayne knew every phrase of it by memory. Sometimes, it was hard for Wayne to laugh at the appropriate times when he knew the line before it was uttered. Wayne never wanted to hurt Val's feelings and always paid close attention to everything that was said.
Val's wife, Gertrude, ran the restaurant. She cooked all the food, supervised the waitresses, and purchased the supplies. Even though Gertrude expected Wayne to work hard, she liked him and was protective of him. She insisted that he accompany her to St. Louis to purchase supplies. He was supposed to carry purchases and assist in case of car trouble. She gave them both a scare one time, when she went the wrong way down a one-way street in St. Louis. A policeman ordered her to back the car the length of the street. In addition to running the restaurant, Gertrude raised canaries commercially for profit and as a hobby. Several hundred birds were kept in the attic of their home on Main Street. Although canaries were her main interest, she also raised parakeets and exotic birds from the tropics. Some were kept in bird cages, while others flew free in the attic. It was amazing how Gerty could snatch a canary out of the air in full flight, blow on its underbelly, tell a customer its sex, and do it all in a matter of seconds. Wayne never did learn how to tell male canaries from female canaries, even though Gerty patiently tried to teach him many times. The trick was to blow the feathers away so the sex organs would be visible. Gerty could guarantee her customers that the pair of canaries she sold them would mate and produce eggs for hatching chicks.
When Wayne finished his chores at the businesses, he was sent to the house to work. He cut grass, painted the house, washed dishes, swept the floors, etc. During one summer, he completely stripped the old paint from a walnut staircase and refinished it. His employers were very proud of the results, but the union painters who patronized their business were terribly unhappy about the situation. They also strongly objected when Wayne painted walls and shelving in the stores.
During the school year, Gertrude made a pact with Wayne. She agreed to furnish him a free lunch if he would wash the dirty pots and pans during the school lunch hour. The high school was just a block away, so it was easy to get to the restaurant within five minutes. Wayne washed pots and pans for about 30 to 40 minutes each noon hour. He then spent about 10 minutes eating lunch and hurried back to school for afternoon classes. He received a good wholesome meal and Gerty got her pots and pans cleaned in exchange.
Gerty was an excellent cook, however, she wasn't the cleanest or tidiest person in the restaurant business. Many of her customers called her "Dirty Gerty" behind her back. In spite of this, her restaurant business thrived, as tasty meals won out over cleanliness. By 1990's standards, she would have been closed down by the health department, but by 1940's rules she was a successful business woman. Although Wayne was a finicky eater, he closed his eyes to the things he didn't like. One of these was a pet monkey Gerty kept in her home. The monkey made a habit of dragging its tail across the dining table.
During the summer of 1946, Wayne had planned to go to a 10-day camp meeting at Shepherdsville, Kentucky, but his employer had other ideas. James Sowders expected all of his church members to go to the meetings and everyone was anxious to go. The preacher advised Wayne to go to the meeting and look for another job when he returned. Following that counsel, Wayne quit his job and went to the meeting. The owner of the pharmacy was not able to understand the urgency of attending a church meeting and became extremely upset about the whole matter.
When Wayne returned from Kentucky, a new job turned up just as the preacher had predicted. One of the Moss boys had obtained employment at the local ice cream plant and he recommended Wayne to his boss. Wayne went to work immediately. He carried finished ice cream products from the assembly line to the freezer where they were hardened and stored for shipment. The flow of ice cream bars and other ice cream products was endless and Wayne ran himself ragged that summer, trying to keep up. The most rewarding part of the job was the two ten-minute breaks the crew took each day. During those periods, the employees could rest and also eat all the ice cream they wanted. The favorite thing to do was to get a cup of the soft ice cream from the mixer and top it with chocolate sauce and fresh pecans. These were used for specialty items and the employees never tired of eating the various concoctions of ice cream and toppings.
The least favorite job assignment that summer was the cleaning of the ice cream and sherbet mixing vats. The vats were huge tanks that one had to climb in from the top to proceed with the cleaning. Employees had to remove their shoes and socks and climb in the tanks barefooted. A long-handled brush and soapy water were used to scrub the interior of the tank before it was flushed with clean, hot water. There was always an odor of sour milk in the ice cream vats. The sherbert tank was the worst of all, though. The residue in that tank looked like green vomit. It smelled just about like that as well, and Wayne refrained from eating sherbert for several years. He did enjoy the wages from the job and the fringe benefits during that summer. Surprisingly, when that job ended and Wayne returned to school, he was contacted by his former employer at the drug store. Val, Gerty and their son-in-law all begged him to come back to work, promising that they would never again interfere with his attendance at church services. The work was never any easier, but just knowing that he was wanted and needed made Wayne grateful for the job. Even though the job required him to work late on Saturdays and miss the start of church services at 7:30 P.M., Wayne did not request a special concession.
A special memory from high school days involves getting to see the President of the United States. President Truman ran for election after filling the unexpired term of President Roosevelt. The President scheduled a speaking engagement at Shryock Auditorium on the campus of Southern Illinois University as part of his campaign for the Presidency. The principal of the high school excused those students who desired to go see the President. A friend invited Wayne to go along and off they went to Carbondale. There were throngs of people around the campus, but somehow Wayne and his friend worked their way to the auditorium where the President had already started speaking. The auditorium was packed, however, the doors were left open so that those standing outside could hear the speech.
Wayne and his friend had just about given up the idea of seeing the President, when all at once he emerged from the side door on the north side of the building and walked within a few feet of where they were. The President was close enough to reach out and touch, but it would not have been a good idea since he was surrounded with secret service men. The two high school kids got a closer view of the President than any of those packed inside. Classmates could hardly believe it when they heard the story.
In May 1948, the Moss boys' grandfather passed away and shortly afterward their grandmother started attending church where Wayne and his parents attended. The grandmother was accompanied by her 13-year- old daughter, who just happened to be a classmate of Wayne's sister. Although his sister and the girl had been friends, Wayne had taken little notice until she started attending church. The assumption was that she was too young for Wayne, but he couldn't help noticing how beautiful she was. He couldn't help himself. He fell helplessly in love with this gorgeous brown-eyed beauty. She began her freshman year in high school when Wayne was a senior. She was assigned a seat in the assembly hall far to the back, yet Wayne managed to turn around and make eye contact with her on a regular basis. Wayne decided then and there that this would be his future bride. On her 14th birthday, August 13, 1948, he gave her a box of chocolates from the store where he worked. Except for one short breakup, the romance blossomed.
In a way, it was strange that he had fallen for the aunt of one of his best friends, the Moss boys. It seemed as though Amanda Ellen Dennis just mysteriously emerged; when, in fact, she had been close by all of Wayne's life. She returned his love with the same intensity he felt for her. The courtship continued with love notes, long talks, and being together every possible moment (That togetherness has now endured life's ups and downs for 43 years and the love is richer than ever).
Amanda's father had passed away as a result of an injury suffered in the coal mines. Over a period of many months, his condition had deteriorated slowly, which resulted in almost constant pain and suffering. Amanda loved her father very much and she could do nothing to ease the pain. Losing her father at such a young age had caused her to look for spiritual comfort. When she and her mother began attending church, they found that comfort in serving God.
Amanda's two brothers ran a small, neighborhood grocery, which was located about one-half block from the church. This became a regular meeting place for Wayne and Amanda. Wayne rode his bicycle to work and school with the Dennis Brothers' Grocery the main stop-off. The grocery also served as a refreshment center for those attending church. The preacher had to admonish children and adults alike for sneaking off during church service to purchase a soft drink or ice cream bar. After sitting for hours in church service, a visit to the grocery was a welcome respite.
Wayne gave Amanda a nickname early in their relationship and he has continued to call her by that name ever since. Her mother named her Amanda Ellen and always used both her names when addressing her. Wayne found this to be too much of a mouthful and shortened it to "Mandel." James Sowders did not want members of his congregation using nicknames and did not approve of Wayne using one for his girlfriend. She did not mind one bit because all of her family, except her mom, called her Mandy. She preferred Mandel to Mandy.
Wayne's senior year of high school was an enjoyable one. He had a steady girlfriend and was fascinated by his school work. He enrolled in a journalism class taught by Mr. Peter Notaras. This teacher had a great deal of influence on Wayne. He pushed his student to explore his writing skills and express his thoughts and feelings. Wayne then became a feature editor of the school newspaper, The Magnavox. Writing for the newspaper, Wayne found that he enjoyed putting his thoughts on paper. Numerous feature articles as well as a number of poems by Wayne were printed in the weekly paper. He found that when he could not find the right words to express himself in speech, it was easy for him to reduce his thoughts to writing. The experience with the school newspaper would serve Wayne well for the rest of his life. The following poem was written during the 1948-1949 school year and reflects the religious influence:
The sun will rise, and the sun will set;
The blades of grass are gleaming wet,
The roofs are damp from dew above;
All fowl are awakening in God's own love.
The souls of men are sleeping still,
In the deep rich soil of yonder hill.
Here in the valley it is time to wake;
For dawn is here and day will break.
The sun is rising beyond the trees;
The hives are busy with buzzing bees.
The sheep are grazing; the roosters crowing;
The cattle stir with a gentle lowing.
The sky is clear and the air is cool;
The dew has dropped in a thousand pools.
All are awakened, for in one hour,
The songs will begin in the village choir.
From the top of the steeple in its lofty perch
Comes the donging of the bell in the village church.
The streets are noisy with bubbling laughter;
The children are shouting with dogs running after.
Folks are decked out in a colorful array,
For this is the beginning of Sabbath day.
The stillness of the night has drifted afar,
Only to settle again under an evening star.
The hymns have begun and the organ is playing;
"Blessed Father above, we have need to be blest;
I know Ye are willing to answer our quest."
Our service is ending and our hearts do rejoice;
Shall we rise and thank Him, all in one voice.
When dinner is over and the dishes are done,
The young folks go hiking in the bright warm sun.
The women sit and rest and begin to talk,
While the men see the harvest in an afternoon walk.
The children are at play in the big front yard;
And all are happy on this day of the Lord.
The afternoon sun-rays are growing long;
Cows move constantly in their stanchion;
The horses are impatient for their evening meal;
The hogs grunt steadily and often squeal;
The chickens chatter as they snatch their food;
And the full moon appearing is clearly viewed.
Supper is finished, and the day is over;
The insects have settled in the vast fields of clover.
The windows are glowing with kerosene light;
Peace is prevalent, and forever will be found
On Sundays like this in our little town.
Wayne finished high school in the top 10 percent of his class and was offered a scholarship to a state university. Since his family was dependent and could not give any support toward education, it was not used. Once again, James Sowders strongly influenced the decision to not attend college. A businessman, who had become acquainted with Wayne when he worked at the drug store, offered to give him a loan for college expenses, but he reluctantly turned it down.
Soon after graduation, a position opened up at the F. W. Woolworth in DuQuoin. Wayne started employment with that company in the summer of 1949 and had plans to enter the management training program offered by the company. The plan was for him to start at the bottom as a stock clerk and learn all aspects of the business. The starting pay was $35.00 per week. Wayne enthusiastically plunged into the job and tried to soak up every bit of information the store manager could offer him. Everything was moving right along schedule, until an event occurred a half-continent away that would change Wayne's life drastically.