People and Places I Remember

People and Places I Remember

A Story by Shelley Warner

If you've moved around a lot, or if you've been married to a pastor, you might find this book interesting. In this chapter, unexpected circumstances take us from Idaho to Arkansas.

Places & People I Remember
By Shelley Warner
I dedicate these stories, inspired by a Beatles song, to my late husband, Tom Warner, and all the people who loved him. The stories tell about the places we lived, the people, the food, and how those places touched our lives.
There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
(In My Life, John Lennon, Paul McCartney,

Chapter 1 From Idaho to Arkansas
Tom and I started our life together in Boise, Idaho in January 1971. We rented an apartment in the upstairs of an elderly woman’s house; it had pinnacles and reminded me of a castle. It was a pleasant apartment�"a nice living room, a kitchen with a walk-in pantry, a bathroom, and a bedroom. I remember visiting the owner of the house one day near Christmas. She was making candy for family and friends. On her kitchen counter, little mounds of chocolate covered coconut waited to cool and be packaged.
One morning, in that apartment, Tom woke me up. “We’ve overslept!” he exclaimed. We jumped out of bed and hurriedly got ready for work. He was working as a delivery van driver for a small business and I was working in an office. When we got ready, Tom looked at his watch again. “Oh man! I looked at my watch wrong! It’s really the middle of the night.” We climbed back into bed to get a few more hours of sleep.
We often spent Sunday afternoons with Tom’s family. As I sat around the dinner table with them, I sensed a close family unit. There were Tom’s parents, Jim and Joanne, and five siblings counting Tom.
Tom’s job was stressful. He’d be driving around town to make his deliveries when the voice of his boss would come on a speaker yelling at him for not getting to his destinations quickly enough. Finally, there was a day when the roads were icy. Tom hit a slick spot and braked suddenly. A potted plant in the back of the van fell over and broke. His employer demanded that he pay for it. Tom quit.
Days later, he got an unexpected phone call:

“Hi Tom, I met you at a church camp in Idaho and enjoyed hearing your story of music, drugs, and coming to faith. I’m a youth director in Conway, Arkansas and wondered if you’d like to come speak to our teens here.”
Tom wanted to be in ministry and was very interested. He accepted the invitation and the offer of a plane ticket. While there, he learned about a small Baptist college in Conway, Arkansas. He called me and told me about it. “Would you be interested in moving here so I can attend this school? I’ll send you the other half of my plane ticket.”
With the help of Tom’s brother, Kevin, I packed up our belongings and put them on a train to our new place and I followed Tom to Arkansas.
Our new home was an apartment in a house with a big front porch. The front door opened to our place. It consisted of a kitchenette/living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The kitchen had no stove but it had a refrigerator. I made use of small electrical appliances. One was a fryer; I remember dipping chunks of chicken in batter and frying them to make home style chicken nuggets. I also used that appliance to melt Velveeta cheese, mixed with a can of Rotel diced tomatoes, a popular southern dip for tortilla chips.
Through our bedroom wall, we could hear our neighboring couple. No, it was not amorous. But we could hear the woman singing “Country roads take me home to the place I belong”. And in the mornings, we could hear a thwacking sound. What on earth? We heard one thwack, two thwacks, and three. We finally figured out they were cooking breakfast and opening one of those tubes of biscuits. People in the south loved biscuits.
Tom began school. We had no income. Fortunately, through the college, he began receiving invitations to speak in churches for a small stipend. This usually included an invitation to Sunday dinner with a hospitable family. Dinner was a southern feast; it often included tender roast, potatoes, black-eyed peas, cornbread, greens, and dessert. One Sunday, there was not a dinner invitation or an offer of money. We came home and ate a piece of bread with a bit of sandwich spread. I was downcast. We couldn’t even buy groceries.
That night, Tom accepted an invitation to speak at Rose City Immanuel Baptist Church in nearby North Little Rock. By the time the service ended, I felt weak and shaky. Pastor Brown expressed concern to Tom and Tom explained our situation. Immediately, the pastor went to a soda machine in the youth center and purchased me a cold, sparkling coke. It was so refreshing and delicious. Then we hung out with the youth group. There were cookies and chips and dip. We ate. And Tom accepted an invitation as the church’s youth pastor.
Within weeks, we moved into a new apartment, built onto the home of a couple in the church. The home was set back from a country road and surrounded by trees. I liked the kitchen with a stove, the living room where Tom scattered his books, and the carpeted bedroom that adjoined the bathroom. Tom enjoyed his work with the church and his classes at the Bible College. I worked for a family, providing care for their elderly parents.
We enjoyed the many friendships with the church and the college. A couple named Jackie and Linda befriended us. We had many fun times together. Jackie loved to playfully tease his wife, calling her a “wild heifer”.
We sang in the youth choir, led by the music minister at Rose City. I remember singing:
Till the storm passes over
Till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold my hand, let me stand in the hollow of thy hand
Keep me safe, till the storm passes by
(Songwriter: Tommy Mosie Lister)
We had not had many storms in life yet; but, like all other humans, we would.
In time, we were saddened to learn that our loving church would not allow black people into the services. We asked the pastor about it. He defended the church’s position with some Bible verses. We loved the church, but we could not stay.

About that time, we met a missionary couple, on leave from Nicaragua. “Why don’t you come work with us?” they suggested, “We’ll provide a place for you to stay.”
This seemed timely. Tom resigned his position and we left to go back home to visit our families and prepare to go to Nicaragua.

Next chapter--an earthquake derails our plans.

© 2024 Shelley Warner

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I love these remembrances of yours, and this one, with your coming to Arkansas (my state) I was especially drawn in. As you experienced, there is something good about southern living, but also the bad. When stationed in Mississippi, I encountered the same problem with a church there. Honestly, I don't get it. How can racism so easily find its' way into Christianity? Mahatma Ghandi once said words to the effect, "I like Jesus, but his followers are so unlike him." Although I love Arkansas, it could certainly be better.
You and Tom had some great and rewarding years together, and I enjoy reading about them.

Posted 1 Month Ago

Shelley Warner

1 Month Ago

Thank you Samuel, I really appreciate your review. I'm glad you're from Arkansas and felt a connecti.. read more

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1 Review
Added on March 25, 2024
Last Updated on March 25, 2024


Shelley Warner
Shelley Warner

Camas, WA

I like to write about my life. Sounds a little narcissistic, right? But it's the challenges, the griefs, the joys, the faith struggles, and the enjoyment of nature that inspires me. I have published t.. more..