Sunday, January 13, 2013

Confirmation and Oscar Mikkelson

Fran Pixley sent along a copy of the church bulletin from the Confirmation Services at First Lutheran Church on May 17, 1959.  I don't know that I can recall very much about that day but the legend of Oscar Mikkelson is lasting.

I'm not sure how Mom and Dad swung it, but Pastor Mikkelson was an honored guest at our home that day, and sat across the dining room table when we had our Confirmation Dinner.  It's a bit like having the Pope stop by, as I recall it.  And if I'm not mistaken it was the second time he had come for Sunday Dinner.

The first was following the Baptism of my sister in 1952.  That's in my head, anyway, so for purposes of the story, so be it.  Mikkelsons had just moved to town and we were honored, for the first time, with his presence, and like a good politician he was out and about mixing with the Congregation.  We moved outdoors to the woods near the house where Dad had set up a horseshoe pit, and the Reverend O was an eager participant.  Beyond that, he was glad to accept a cigar or two, which presumably were purchased to celebrate Kathy's birth.

Somewhere in his life he had spent time in Kentucky and had learned the virtues of a fine cigar so he was more than happy to partake.  He may not have liked the cigars that much but he endeared himself to the several Congregants in attendance by doing so and that's what it's all about.

Where that story may fall apart is the timeline of the events.  To be outside pitching horseshoes would have meant at least an April or even May event, which might stretch things given Kathy's birth in February. But like I say, I'm the writer, and so be it.

My most memorable interaction with this fine fellow was the Saturday morning Bible class when someone brought along a couple of white mice.  Bill Roberts would seem to be the correct culprit for this but he was a Methodist, I think, so I don't know why I think of him to do so except that's the way he would be.  Or maybe it was Mike Olson.  In any event, they wound up in my possession.  I thought they were pretty cool and was enjoying how they were sneaking up my sleeves - unaware of how ghastly quiet the room had suddenly become.

If you're guessing the Reverend O had noticed them, you are correct.  He was not at all amused by this provoking disruption of the class, expressing his anger to the point of banishing me to a room nearby.  Sitting there in isolation, I promised God I would read the Bible daily, never again partake of such silliness, or even further never sin again, all promises that lasted probably a week.  Maybe.

I don't know how long I sat there, several days it seemed, until he opened the door to beckon me back.  In truth, I think Reverend O was a bit embarrassed by his anger because when he did invite me back to the classroom he had a smile on his face to let me know all was forgiven.  So to speak.  And I don't think that story ever made it home.

One of the tasks of the Confirmands was to act as a candle lighter for the regular church services.  On some occasions I was hooked up with Arlo Severson to perform this duty, and what I remember the most is that through the task Arlo learned where they kept a supply of matches - and we accessed and used them for something that fortunately does not come to mind but was likely nefarious.  I just recall that Arlo was pretty enthused about having that access.

The most daunting part of the Confirmation process was the Questioning Sunday, when we stood alone in front of the Alter, parents and Congregation who dared to attend while we were theoretically grilled about our learnings and belief.  I can imagine no minister would ever want to display his failure to educate and most of the questions were pretty softball, some more than others.  Think of questions that might be answered with, say, the names of three books in the Old Testament.  Like Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Lambeau.  Or maybe it was Leviticus.  Let's face it, some members of the class who were confirmed had not been as, shall we say, studious as they could or should have been.

The late Jerry Pixley was indeed one of the confirmands, and his likeness is included in this photo of the class, second from the right in the front row.  The date must have been important enough for Jerry, or his mother, to have kept the Church Program, and thanks to Fran for passing it along!

1 comment:

  1. I feel left out as I cannot remember little details that happened in my life. Maybe it's better that way. Anyway all I remember about confirmation is a blurred vision of the "questioning" and that my aunt & uncle and my 2 other sponsors attended. Nothing else.


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