Facebook asks boldly, “Do you want to post this on your wall?” meaning do you want this information available to your Facebook friends? Obviously, walls in the 1950s were not electronic. The only walls we knew then were made of plaster. But more on that later!
The John Longenecker homestead sits just across the road from Bossler Mennonite Church. The scene is bucolic, farms and land extending as far as the eye can see in this quiet niche of western Lancaster County. Poles that once attached electrical wiring to this house are gone, so I assume a plainer family, probably Amish, now lives in the house and farms the acreage.
Apparently the family is not bashful about proclaiming their convictions, broadcasting from their mailbox on both sides two biblical admonitions, one from John 8:11, words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman.
Usually painted scenes and pretty art adorn the walls of modern homes, but “back in the day” wall hangings we called mottoes were intended to exhort and encourage. Above the door leading from my Grandma’s kitchen to the sitting room is this stern commandment:
Upstairs in Grandma’s Victorian-style bedroom is a poem with a much softer touch, embroidered for her mother by my aunt, Ruth Longenecker:
In our own home was this fixture from Proverbs 3:6 in the little walkway between our living and dining rooms. There it was from childhood to adulthood imprinting our minds and hearts until it eventually became invisible to us.
The wall hanging that made the biggest impression on me was Rudyard Kipling’s “If, for Men” adapted into an the idealized version for women or girls. I never tried to memorize the whole poem, but the words “If you can hear the whispering about you . . . ” keep chiming in my mind even now:
IF – for Girls
If you can hear the whispering about you
And never yield to deal in whispers, too;
If you can bravely smile when loved ones doubt you
And never doubt, in turn, what loved ones do;
If you can keep a sweet and gentle spirit
In spite of fame or fortune, rank or place,
And though you win your goal or only near it,
Can win with poise or lose with equal grace;
If you can meet with Unbelief, believing,
And hallow in your heart, a simple creed,
If you can meet Deception, undeceiving,
And learn to look to God for all you need;
If you can be what girls should be to mothers:
Chums in joy and comrades in distress,
And be unto others as you’d have the others
Be unto you – – no more, and yet no less;
If you can keep within your heart the power
To say that firm, unconquerable “No,”
If you can brave a present shadowed hour
Rather than yield to build a future woe;
If you can love, yet not let loving master,
But keep yourself within your own self’s clasp,
And not let Dreaming lead you to disaster
Nor Pity’s fascination loose your grasp;
If you can lock your heart on confidences
Nor ever needlessly in turn confide;
If you can put behind you all pretenses
Of mock humility or foolish pride;
If you can keep the simple, homely virtue
Of walking right with God – – then have no fear
That anything in all the world can hurt you – –
And – – which is more – – you’ll be a Woman, dear.
by Elizabeth Lincoln Otis
We want to know. What was/is hanging on the walls of your home, past or present?
By the way, it’s not too late to enter the book giveaway contest for a chance to win a copy of Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s book The Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels.
Click HERE to post a comment and a chance to win. The contest closes on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at noon. Only comments logged into this website can be honored. The winner will be announced here on this blog and in an email.