My old neighborhood in Linda, that’s where I’ll go Sunday.
I search on Google Maps for Hammonton-Smartville Rd. and Dunning Ave. When the map comes up I drag and drop the little orange guy (Pegman) at the corner and head west on Hammonton-Smartville Rd. until I come to McLaughlin Way. I take Pegman down McLaughlin a short distance to a building where I used to attend church as a young teenager. It’s still a church, but it’s a Romanian Pentecostal Church now, whereas I guess it was just a regular Pentecostal Church when I attended nearly fifty years ago with my friend Joey and his brothers. We always went on Wednesday nights because that was the shortest service. If we didn’t go once a week, we couldn’t play on the church’s softball team. (Unless you were a really good baseball player, and then the pastor/coach would bend the rules a bit.)
A lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ went on in that church, often referred dismissively as a holy-roller church. I never could quite figure out what all the commotion was about. Pastor Booth would sweat profusely when he preached in that small non-air-conditioned building. During every sermon he’d have an altar call and ask for volunteers to step up to the front of the church. Since there weren’t many congregants it wasn’t long before I quickly noticed the same people were going to the altar again and again. I had been attending services for a short while when an elderly lady in the pew in front of me turned around and glared at me when the call came. I never did take that walk, death stares or not. I just didn’t want to take part in something I did not understand.
I did however take part in a Harvest Festival Celebration at the church. I dressed up as a girl and since I had long red hair nearly everyone thought I looked like Margaret from Dennis the Menace. I even won a prize. That was the first and last time I ever wore a dress.
I’d love to attend service at the Romanian Pentecostal Church, but I’m not sure if the service will be in English. I’ll have to phone to find out.
There’s another church nearby on Hammonton Rd. near Dunning Avenue. It wasn’t a church when I was growing up. It was the Linda Community Hall, a meeting place for the citizens of Linda. Now it’s the Abundant Life Church. Most of the words on the church sign are in Spanish, so I’ll have to phone to find out if they have an English-speaking service.
I drag Pegman east on Hammonton-Smartville Rd. past Alberta Avenue and soon I stop at 2422 Hammonton Rd. That’s where the Jehovah Witnesses Kingdom Hall sits.
When I was a kid, it was an open field. Sometimes I would cut across where the church now stands and head over to the Peach Tree Golf and Country Club to take some oranges off the trees during the winter or in the summer to meet up with Joey and some friends to go swimming.
The golf course was a wonderful place for exercise and recreational activities. Best of all, we didn’t even have to pay membership fees. Swimming in the pool on moonlit nights was especially exhilarating, even more so when we had to hide from the security guard.
Our daylight recreational pursuits at the golf course often took place near a putting green that was close to a small pond. Joey and I would hide in the pond and run out and grab the golf balls that were hit near us. One day we almost got caught.
“Did you see those kids?” One of the golfers shouted as they drove up and jumped out of their golf cart.
“Yeah!” the other golfer shouted. “They stole our balls!”
We almost drowned trying to suppress our laughter as we lay motionless, our faces above the water, breathing, but barely visible, covered by the loose pond reeds. They never did find us.
Joey eventually joined the navy. He didn’t even try to be a Navy Seal, which was too bad. He might have been a good one since he already had some training.
I check the hours for church service at the Kingdom Hall. The public service takes place at 3:00 P.M. I’m taking part in a Lenten Book Study Group at the Episcopal Church in Wheatland Sunday evenings, so the Jehovah Witnesses will have to wait.
I give Pegman a rest because I know there’s a church on North Beale Rd. I can attend next Sunday. That’s where I’ll go; Bible Baptist Church.