The funeral was well done, though long (Charlie was a Baptist). But there were things said about Uncle Charlie that I didn't know, and I'm glad I got the chance to hear them.
Uncle Charlie was in vaudeville. He was at one time a professional dancer and instructor. He was active in the drama ministry of his church.
What I knew was that he had a tendency, especially in his young adult days, for irresponsible living. And that he had a conversion experience that stuck, transforming his life. He died a much honored and well loved man.
Among the family stories I heard was one that I had long since forgotten. I knew, of course, that my family left the Spencer Methodist Church over the election of 1964; however, I had forgotten the exact time and manner of our departure, which Claire recalled vividly.
The minister was offering the pastoral prayer, with all eyes closed and every head bowed. When he got around to asking God that our country be spared the war-mongering of Barry Goldwater as President, all those closed-eyes-but-very-open-ears heard my mother get up from her seat in the choir, step around to the front of the chancel, open the little gate in the communion rail, and start to step very steadily down the aisle toward the front door. My father looked up, turned to us kids, and said we had to go. I'm sure if he hadn't, my mother would have kept on walking, anyway. There are probably several folks in Spencer yet today who remember (as I do not) the day the Collinses walked out of the church in the middle of the pastoral prayer.
Why I don't remember this, I can't tell. But I remember Margaret Collins, and the story does not surprise me in the least. She was a hoot, and I am my mother's son.