Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
From the Fortress of Solitude
Today we celebrated the blessing of Elliana Wilson, Afton Delgrosso and Zack Wilson's first born in American Fork. Elliana is another beautiful great grandchild of Charles and Luella Williamson.
I am a Back of the Bus Mormon, meaning I find myself most comfortable with other Back of the Bus Mormon's like me who find the back few rows of chairs in the meeting house the most comfortable. We 'Back of the Bus' Mormons tend to chat a bit more, sleep, text, daydream, read and on occasion - when things get really 'deep and dry' - find an easy and less distracting escape route into the hall. These escapes are well orchestrated. We've mastered the ability to silently disappear, as if caught up in the Rapture. We vacate the building in all directions, using every exit, like billiard balls on the first strike of a new game. Some go home, others find a roost to chat on the foyer couch and cushioned chairs while others gather at the local Quickie Mart for a refreshing 32 ounce soda of something brimming with caffeine.
The baby blessing was beautiful, although difficult to hear. Families with the loudest children tend to be members of the Back of the Bus sub congregation. Getting hit in the face by flying Cheerios makes it even more difficult to concentrate on what's happening at the front of the chapel. Back of the Bus Mormon moms keep tupperware containers full of Cheerios and animal crackers in their church survival bags. The treats are used to distract the children and keep them as quiet as possible.
Today's baby blessing brought our family together from near and far. Seeing them all at the front of the chapel made me think about how it all began in 1957. I dug through a few of Luella's old things and found the documents which brought Mormonism to this family. These are the original documents drawn by the LDS missionaries as they presented the discussions to Luella and Charles.
Elder Paulson and Elder Hamilton lived in Lead. They hitchhiked once a week to Sturgis to teach Charles and Luella the investigator lessons. Grandma and Grandpa Mattson were taking the lessons at the same time in Spearfish. In fact, the first question Luella asked when she realized Mormon missionaries were standing on her doorstep was, "Did my mother send you?" Luella and Charles fed the missionaries supper after each discussion. The discussions were taught at the kitchen table. The missionaries drew pictures (see them below) while they covered the lesson material.
Charles and Luella were baptized on 21 December 1957 at the Rapid City Chapel. They attended the small Sturgis branch. The Sturgis Mormon Branch held their meetings in the Boy Scout Hall. Charles would go to church early on a Sunday morning to sweep up the cigarette butts (the Knights of Columbus met there also). Six to ten people showed up on a good Sunday. Charles and the missionaries were the only men present.
Charles and Luella moved to Montana for a brief period where I was born. A year or so later they moved to Rapid City. Charles was called to become the Dependent Branch President of Sturgis. He was 24 years old. Charles, Luella, Kim and I drove to Sturgis (29 miles each way) every Sunday for Sunday School (the only meeting held). There were still only females attending. Charles blessed the sacrament, passed the sacrament, ran the meeting and taught the Sunday School class. Luella played the piano. She would set me beside her on a chair while she played. Once I fell off the chair. It made for an interesting meeting.
Below are the original drawings and outlines created on the Williamson kitchen table in Sturgis, South Dakota that started this religious pebble which has grown into a full scale avalanche down the mountainside of faith. (click to enlarge)