AM I A STRANGE PEOPLE?

I think I already told this story on one of my blogs – but so be it. It made an indelible impression on my young mind.

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Yesterday I wrote that being a pastor’s wife gives you access to strange people.

Well, actually we’re all a little strange, but trust me, I wasn’t talking about YOU!

I was talking about people like the Jenkins family who started attending my dad’s church when I was about three or four.

Actually, they seemed very unstrange at first. They had three teenaged boys and a little girl, Janny, who was about my age. Immediately, they began getting involved in church activities and seemed very anxious to be friends with my parents.  Since they lived in the country, they had a garden and often brought my parents fresh vegetables and eggs.

OK, nothing more than neighborly kindness. Right? They seemed like a nice, normal family.

But then they started giving me clothes. Cute dresses and play outfits. These weren’t hand-me-downs from Janny, but new clothes.  If it had been one dress on my birthday and one at Christmas, that would’ve been one thing, but they continued giving stuff to our family.  The stuff started getting more expensive – like a beautiful quilt they gave to my mom one Sunday.

When Dad decided he wanted to have a church picnic, the Jenkins said we should all come out to their house.

Which we did – they had a huge yard and a pond. A picture taken that day shows me and Janny sitting in a field of wildflowers, the sun shining on our curls – so precious.  (OK, I was three!)

Shortly after the picnic, however, one of the Jenkin’s boys was arrested – and then another. Seems as if the family had quite a shoplifting ring going. The parents and the boys would take stuff.  Sweet, innocent, four-year-old Janny would be the lookout, letting her older siblings and parents know when someone was coming. The stuff they gave to us (except for the vegetables and eggs) was stolen merchandise.

They soon disappeared from church, but not from the police reports in the newspaper. One or the other or all of them were in and out of jail as regularly as clockwork.

Many years later, after we had moved to Illinois (actually probably about 15 years later), we went back to see my grandmother in New Jersey.  On the way, we stayed overnight with some friends from our Pennsylvania church. As we were sitting around enjoying a piece of pie. Our host showed my parents an article in the day’s newspaper.

Not surprisingly, two Jenkins boys had been arrested for stealing.

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