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DON'T PLAY ANGELS


"Please, please let us be in the church Christmas play, Mother Winters," we begged of the matron at the orphanage where we lived.

"The way you little brats act most of the time, I don't know if I should let you play the part of angels," she said laughing out loud.

"Please, please?" begged several of the boys with eyes as big as saucers.

The room was totally silent as we waited for her reply.

"Okay, here's what I'll do. If you boys will do your work all week long and stay out of trouble, I will let you be in the Christmas play?

"Oh, thank you Mother Winters, yelled one of the boys.

Almost the entire group of boys ran up to her and gave her a big hug. Robert, Wayne, Bill and myself just stood there in total disbelief. There was no way she was going to allow us to do something like that and we knew it. There was not a child on the face of this earth that this mean woman cared about and we knew it. Nevertheless, all week we minded real, real good and we did our chores as she instructed.

Early Sunday morning, we were loaded onto the church bus and taken to Swain Memorial Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. We were very careful to sit straight in our seats and not make any sounds, whatsoever.

After Sunday school was over, the teacher lined us up and assigned us our part(s) in the play. For the next three weeks, we practiced our parts every day after school in the television room. The Sunday school teacher even called the orphanage and told the office what good kids we were. Still, several of us boys were rather surprised that Mrs. Winters had not found a reason to pull us from the play.

The night of the play, we children were loaded onto the bus and carried to the church to attend MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). After the fellowship meeting, we walked to the Sunday school classroom and put on our angel costumes. Mrs. Winters came walking into the room, stopped and put her hands on her hips.

"Didn't I tell you boys that you were not playing little angels?" she said.

"That's what the teacher told us we had to be," said Bill Stroud.

"Not a damn one of you is a little angel and you are not going to wear those damn angel wings," she replied.

"I told you, said Wayne Evers.

The Sunday school teacher came walking into the room.

"Okay boys, let's get a move on, she said.

No one moved a muscle. All 10 of us just stood there staring at Mrs. Winters.

"Come on boys. Were about ready to start. Let's move," she said.

Still no one moved.

"What's the problem here?" asked the teacher.

"These boys were told more than two weeks ago that they could not be angels in the play. I made that very clear to them when they first asked me," said Mrs. Winters.

"What's the problem with them playing angels?" asked the teacher.

"It's sacrilegious to have these orphan boys play angels, she answered.

"That is totally ridiculous! the teacher responded.

Mrs. Winters walked over to one of the boys and ripped his paper wings off his back.

"GET OUT OF THOSE ANGEL COSTUMES, NOW!" she screamed. "You boys are not going to disgrace God, if I have anything to say about it."

We were herded out of the church and loaded onto the small bus. There was not a word spoken by anyone all the way back to the orphanage, except Wayne Evers. In a very low whisper, I think I heard him say, "I told you so."


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