Which is more important, things or people? This reminds me of a visit last Saturday afternoon. Brad Fuqua texted and asked if I had time for a visit. Brad is the son of Steve Fuqua from Sugar Land that many of you have met. Angie, Brad’s wife, also came along for the visit.
We often laugh about how we are related. Steve’s grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. If we throw in some other relatives, it’s a tangled mess. We are related, we love each other very much, but we can’t tell you how it all came about.
The conversation started because Brad and Angie are beginning to downsize, but not with their house as their children, Steven and Kate, still want to come home to their bedrooms.
The discussion was about what is really important to all of us, and how to decide what we should keep. This reminded me of a piano stool, but first let’s back up a minute.
It is June, 1967, and a bishop in the United Methodist Church had announced that Wayne Jones would be moving to Wharton to pastor First United Methodist Church located on Fulton. The usual method of moving to a new congregation, at that time, was that appointments were made on a Thursday. Three days later, you would be saying goodbye to a congregation which in this case was Beaumont, and the following week you would be meeting the new congregation.
This brings me to several weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, when I passed what is now New Hope Community Church. Several were standing outside in front and I pulled over and rolled down my window. One man started walking toward me and I asked, “Do you happen to be the pastor of this church?” He said, “Yes, I am.” As we started chatting, I immediately thought of the basement of this church. We had a great story-telling time.
When the new Methodist church building was being built out on Boling Highway, things disappeared from the basement of the church on Fulton. There was a mirror in a small bathroom in the basement. It was old and had a beautiful frame. I said to Wayne, “I would love to have that mirror.” And he said, “Billie, you can’t take the mirror from the church.” By the next Sunday, when I went to look at the mirror again, the wall was blank.
There was also this piano stool at the church on Fulton. I had been eyeing it with its brown, wooden seat and four legs that turn into eagle’s feet holding marble balls as the base. On a Sunday evening, as we were leaving the basement, I told Wayne I’d like to have the piano stool. He said, “No Billie, you can’t steal from the church.” I reminded him that the mirror I had wanted was gone and soon that piano stool would be gone as well. So, I made a deal with him. I would take the piano stool home, and if anyone ever asked for it and could prove ownership, I would give it to them. I have treasured it all these years.
A few years ago, I began to think of things I can pass on to other people who will love them as much as I have over the years. I remembered the church being a busy place on Sunday evenings, with a large group of young people. I might add that one of those young people in the group is now Wharton’s top elected official who was probably the biggest rowdy-maker. Anyway, on that first evening of being in Wharton, when I walked into the basement of the church on Fulton, Christine Schulz Berry, was sitting on this particular stool playing on an upright piano. If Wayne were writing this, he would continue to say, Billie Jones stole the piano stool from the basement of the former First United Methodist Church of Wharton.
A few years ago, I mentioned this stool to Christine and asked if she would like to have it. She was excited. Sorry folks, this already belongs to Christine. However, the memories of this stool and the various places it has lived, will remain with me.
But let me ask a question, could you put a dollar mark on the stool and the memories? I know that it will continue to make memories, as Christine and George will probably pass it on to their children.
So, we should all ask ourselves, what is more important, people or things?
Billie Jones is a longtime resident who writes a weekly column on items of interest in this community. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org