Friday, August 17, 2007
The Early Years--John
It is Conversations with Bob! Bob and I are sharing our faith/life stories. Invite the neighbors! You don't want to miss one episode!
I was born in 1961 in Dayton, Ohio where my mother's parents lived. I was baptized in a Methodist church in Jackson Center where they attended at that time. I was only there for a couple of months. From 1961, the year of my birth until the summer of 1968 the Shucks lived between Winthrop and Twisp in Washington state along the Methow River. My parents owned a 1400 acre ranch with 300 head of cattle. It was pretty stressful work for my parents and siblings. But since I was just a little kid, I had fun.
My first memories are planting corn in the garden and singing hymns with my mother in the truck as my father unloaded hay from the back to feed the cattle. I was a real mama's boy. She even called me her "Little Samuel" from this text in the Bible. I think for her I was a gift through the hardships of ranch life. By the way, my full name is John Andrew Shuck. I am still known as "Andy" to my family.
My mother and I attended the Assembly of God church in Winthrop. I loved it. It was a chance to meet others, sing songs, and learn stories. We even had an opportunity to request hymns in worship. I always chose "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." I would come home and set up worship in which I would lead the choir and "preach."
The only Sunday School teacher I remember was Mrs. Longnecker. She gave me a King James Bible in which she wrote the words to a song we would sing:
Dare to be a Daniel;
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known.
My mother made a leather cover for it in which she inscribed an image of Jesus sitting with the children. I have that Bible on my bookshelf.
Winthrop was a small town at that time, with about 300 population. This was before the Cascades highway was built and turned Winthrop into a vacation paradise for Seattle folks. There was no official kindergarten and Mrs. Longnecker also taught kindergarten in her home. She was tough. You had to be able to sing your ABCs backwards. I flunked out. It was one of the best decisions my parents made to hold me back. I received private tutoring then tackled her class the next year and passed with flying colors.
After seven years of ranching, my father decided that he had had enough of the cowboy life and went back into teaching. He landed a job teaching Chemistry at the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology (Montana Tech) in Butte. We became city folks then living in Butte. My sister had already graduated high school, declared that she had changed her last sprinkler pipe and moved out east to live first with my grandmother in Ohio and then my mother's brother in New York State.
My mother and I attended the Assembly of God church in Butte. Again, it was a lot of fun for me. I did really well in Sunday School. At the age of eight, during a Sunday service after repeated choruses of Just As I Am, I decided my sins were too heavy to bear and went forward to be saved. I accepted Christ and was soon baptized in the big tank in the front of the church. It was pretty overwhelming. The preacher asked me questions and I just stared at him. Finally, he asked if I loved Jesus and I said, "Yes." I took the plunge.
I remember once wanting to go to the movies with my best friend Tommy Holter who lived next door. The Holters were Catholics and they went to movies. But my mother to become a member of the church had to sign a pledge that she would not drink, smoke, dance, or attend picture shows among other things. It was distressing for her to allow me to go to the movies. I can still picture her in my mind standing on the front porch crying as the pagan Holters led me off to see a Walt Disney film starring Don Knotts. Since then she watches movies, but she still doesn't drink or smoke!
After three years of city life, we moved across the Continental Divide to Whitehall, Montana where my parents bought a small farm, 80 acres or so. My father drove over the mountain every day to teach at Tech.
More on life on the farm, adolescence, and my third baptism to come.