The latest incidents of a SWAT team being mislead into breaking into the home of innocent citizens calls to mind an analogous incident in DrHGuy’s youth. While this episode took place in the pre-SWAT era, the potential for trauma was, at least in my mind, no less significant.
At 16, I became custodian of the Diamond, Missouri Christian Church (not to be confused with the Diamond, Missouri Church of Christ, the Diamond, Missouri Church Of God, the Diamond, Missouri Church of God in Christ, the Diamond, Missouri Baptist Church, the Diamond, Missouri Christ Baptist Church, the Diamond, Missouri Methodist Church…).
One of my tasks was preparing the trays of bread and wine for communion.
Now, scattering store-bought unleavened bread wafers from a 500 count box onto silver-plated trays took less than ten minutes, but pouring Welch’s Grape Juice (we were brand-loyal re communion wine) into 300-400 tiny communion cups could be time consuming – even with my then disruptive innovation of employing a turkey baster to fill the cups – requiring an hour or more to complete.
So, when an atypically prolonged and, not coincidentally, successful Saturday night date extended into the wee hours of Sunday, I calculated that the smart move would be to stop at the church on my drive, home to prepare communion, thus giving myself an extra hour of sleep before worship services began. Consequently, I found myself in the church’s kitchen at 2 AM, dispensing, with the nonchalant skillfulness of a seasoned professional, grape juice into cups while reliving the past hot and sweaty hours spent with a delightful young lady.
Then, in mid-squirt, I suddenly realized I was surrounded by a half-dozen members of the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, some in khaki uniforms and some in civilian clothes ranging from jeans and Sears Better polyester slacks to overalls. Each of them, however, was welding a firearm.
Alerted by the 20 or so lights I had turned on in the Fellowship Hall, they had descended upon the church to arrest the miscreant (that would be me) who had broken into the (never locked) holy site to steal – well, it’s not clear what was potentially being stolen since the most expensive, easily transported goods were the communion trays (where one would fence a communion tray is one on those sacred mysteries about which one reads in theological treatises). In any case, I was encircled with multiple guns aimed at me.
It was at this point that sheriff paused, and pointing his revolver at me, said, “You’re Ray’s boy, aintcha?”
OK, it would have made a better story if he had delivered a line like “Just step away from that baster, son, and no one has to get hurt,” but …
Anyway, I nodded in agreement that I was indeed the son of Ray Showalter, and that was that. The police dispersed. I put away the communion trays and went home to sleep, perchance to dream.
Just a perk of growing up in a small town in the Ozarks in the 1960s.