Friday, October 10, 2014

Poetry and Red Onions

My father was a minister of the gospel, which I have mentioned numerous times on this blog.  Thus, when I was a lad, I got acquainted with many preachers.  Some of them made a lasting impression, most of those for all the right reasons.

A memorable individual in my life was Rev. Mr. Howard K. Busby of Lamont, Kansas.  Mr. Busby was a dear friend of my father.  He was six years older than Dad and in addition to their profession, they had much in common.  Though both men were pastors, and each served the church in administrative capacities at various times in their lives, they both conducted revival meetings on occasion.  One year when I was in my late teens, a camp meeting in New York State scheduled both men as the evangelists for the ten-day meeting.  Dad took his family with him for that meeting. This did not happen often.  Usually, Mom stayed home with the kids, the kids went to school, life lived much as usual.

The trip across country, New York State, and meeting new people were all interesting.  The camp meeting itself was run in the more-or-less typical pattern of such camps in that day. There were "preaching" services morning, afternoon, and evening with the preachers alternating pulpit duties.  So it was that if Dad preached an evening service, Busby would be on the next morning, and that evening, with Dad speaking in the afternoon.

Brother Busby (all the church people were known to one another as "Brother" or "Sister") had a routine whereby he eschewed the evening meal on those nights he was scheduled to preach.  But after the meeting we would meet with him in our cottage, or in his, and it was in this setting that he introduced me to one of his favorite after-service snacks.  Oh, salivating now, just remembering!  Mr. Busby would make himself a sandwich, and one for me, since no one else in the set cared to partake.  He would slice one of those big, sweet red onions, slather a generous portion of butter on the bread, and enclose the onion slice between two pieces of said bread.  What deliciousness!  What wonderful memories of munching and talking late in the evening!

Mr. Busby committed to memory vast amounts of scripture and many, many poems as well.  He sprinkled these gems liberally throughout his sermons, a technique which my father also used.  All these memories came back in a flood when I espied a book on my shelves entitled "The Busby Scrapbook of Poems that Touch the Heart."  It is a compilation of poetry he collected and loved, and finally had published.  I can still hear him quoting "The Touch of the Master's Hand" or "The World is Mine."

Mr. Busby died at age 93, just two years before my father passed away.

Sadly, I can no longer eat raw onions in the evening, nor any other time, for that matter.

Here is a short poem from Busby's collection:


When as a child I laughed and wept                      
    time crept.
When as a youth I dreamed and talked
    time walked.
When I became a full-grown man
    time ran.
Soon I shall find in traveling on
    time gone.


Vee said...

This poem accurately describes time. Time runs for me.

I remember Howard Busby well. I don't think he ever forgot the name of a person he met, and he even acknowledged and talked with children.

I like those red onions, but not as a sandwich. They, however, do not like me.

Sharkbytes said...

Great little poem. Of course, I want to know where in NY, and what year. How close to me were you? Might our paths have crossed?

Secondary Roads said...

Oh the joy of simple pleasures.
Onion sandwich or poetry both nourish.
One the body the other the soul.

vanilla said...

Vee, even as a boy I recognized Mr. Busby as a good and kind man. I liked to hear him preach, too.

Grace, it was in the early 50s, Binghamton. So we spent ten days in the Tri-Cities area, then Dad proposed that we had a few days to "vacation" before heading home. Would we prefer the scenic wonders of the Adirondacks and so on, or the City? I think he may have guided our choice to the one he had in mind, so we wound up doing Lake Placid, Saranac, and on north almost to the international border. I had four children of my own before I saw your fair city, I think in 1970 the first time.

Chuck, true pleasures they were, too. (I nearly wrote "are," but like Vee, I find the onion doesn't like me so much anymore. BBBH cooks with them a lot, and I can handle that okay. But not raw.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, I replied to your question and mistakenly addressed it to Grace. Sorry about that.