Sparky

A few years ago I posted a short observation that Melanie later included in her book Listening For His Voice:

Why do a VBS (alias Vacation Bible School)? This story is to encourage you, the reader, to make sure your kids KNOW about Jesus the Truth, this summer.

After a brief tour at church with VBS children, looking at the stained glass windows in the nave, one came up next to me so he could ask a question.

“Why was Jesus on a cross?”

Before I could answer, another child explained in an authoritative voice, “He didn’t die there. He was smothered after they came to his house and kidnapped him…!” And they both hurried off to their next activity.

“Non-churched,” someone said to me. But we had a few moments during the week to introduce new information into those curious minds. We took the opportunity.

Sooo, that’s why we do vacation Bible school.

I’m thinking about this because of something I found online the other day. At least 60 years ago, my mother bought a children’s record for my brothers and me. The album had pictures to illustrate the story that was recorded on two 78 RPM shellac records. (Yes, grandpa remembers when records could play at 78 RPM. Grandpa remembers record players. Grandpa can even remember shiny compact discs. Can you?)

The story was about a little boy named Sparky who had found an orchestra conductor’s magic baton. Trying to find the owner, Sparky went around tapping various musical instruments, causing them to be able to talk to him. The hidden educational purpose of the story was to introduce young readers to all the different instruments in an orchestra. When the baton was finally returned to the conductor who had lost it, the conductor invited Sparky to a concert to hear all the instruments play together.

This was a favorite record for us and we played it a lot. I especially liked listening to the short “concert” piece at the end of the story. I was also intrigued by how they had gotten the different instruments to “talk.” At five years old, I couldn’t imagine how that had been done by the mysterious “Sonovox” system that was credited on the album cover. (Since then I have found pictures of the simple device with the help of Wikipedia.)

I also have discovered where somebody uploaded the whole story, complete with pictures, online. Watching and listening to it again after half a century was an interesting experience. I didn’t really remember all the details of the pictures and voices and music. But they were all instantly familiar to me.

I emailed the link to my two brothers. One wrote back, “You don’t know how often snippets of this have gone through my head during these last few decades!”

My other brother wrote, “For me what’s interesting is that I hadn’t thought about the Sparky thing for decades, probably not since my teens I would guess. And yet as I watched it, I remembered the pictures and could sing along with the music. These memories are packed away in some dark place, I don’t remember that they are there, and yet only need a little prod to come back out!”

This brother, who now has a doctorate and works as a consultant to pharmaceutical companies, also noticed something else in the pictures.

“I was horrified to see Sparky’s face and I said, OMG, Sparky’s got lupus! (Google “lupus butterfly rash”)”

Childhood memories don’t always survive intact.

But they do survive. Which brings me back to my starting thought about VBS.

Some memories are bound to stick. The kids will need the ones they can get at VBS, even if they seem to forget them for a while. Get your children enrolled this summer.

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About Deacon Rick

I am a retired Deacon in Lakeland Florida.
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