Monday, March 06, 2006

Green Kool-Aid [CCR]

Someone who had not lived in western Colbert County when I was growing up might claim there wasn’t much for a teenager to do around Cherokee. You couldn’t find the fun only if you didn’t look. In my case I was heavily involved in our youth activities at our church. And I understand that even today quite a few churches around home have some great activities for the youth.

We were very fortunate to have Doug and Mary Hester teaching our Training Union class. Now for those of you not familiar with the Baptist church, Training Union was our Sunday night youth group before the evening sermon. Mr. and Mrs. Hester were very appropriate teachers for our class because they had special energy and the desire to work with a group of overzealous teens. But the most fun came after the evening sermon. The Hesters would allow us all to gather in the church van and we would head to Muscle Shoals for pizza. Now folks contrary to what my sister, the doctor, would say, to this day I know for a fact that pizza is a necessity on the list of growth foods for teens. We used those evenings to cast away a little stress, bond with our friends, and prepare ourselves for the upcoming school week. I don’t know how the Hesters managed, but I never remember coming home disappointed or too late for being out on a night before school.

But with the bonds in that group also came many other great times that would build our characters and provide the adhesive for our ability to get through the years. We often had group outings, lock-ins, volley ball, and even some trips out of town. Mr. Windsor was brave enough to carry us to Birmingham for a group trip and I will never forget staying at the Holiday Inn, gathering at Samford University, or the window falling out of the van on the way home. It was a fun trip. But most people would find my most enjoyable memory strange at best.

Our parents were always kind to provide food and munchies for our gatherings. And at one fateful event Mrs. Wallace brought green Kool-Aid. Now folks, it is hard today to find green Kool-Aid. In fact I believe it was actually off the market for a short while. And I don’t think they provide it in any of those presweetened or diet concoctions. I’m not sure if the flavor was actually lime but it was good. And for some reason thereafter I always asked Mrs. Wallace if she was bringing green Kool-Aid. It actually became a running joke just between us for a long time.

Eventually I left for college, left the group, and moved away. But I still haven’t forgot the green Kool-Aid. I made a trip to our local grocery store the other day. I stumbled across the shelf with all the drink mixes. And there it was, packets of green Kool-Aid. It was a flashback moment. Not a bad moment. A good moment. Trips to Pizza Hut. Summers in Vacation Bible School. Singing in the youth choir. Learning what it was like to care for one another. And in the end we developed life long memories. Memories that I hope have helped carry many of my old friends through the bumps in life.

During those years I happened to have a camera that I carried with me. My daughter now uses it for her college photography class and is proud of her “manual” camera. But I love that camera and I took quite a few pictures of our gatherings. Many of those pictures are slides that are stored away in my basement. Its Friday and I’m about to head home. I think I will pull out the slide projector, wipe off the dust, pull out the slides, and show my teens what having a good time was all about in our little town of Cherokee. I might even order pizza and mix up a pitcher of green Kool-Aid.