. . . And Horse Manure
What a combination !
In the dim recesses of an aging mind, there are stories that pop up in the middle of a sound sleep and this one that broke through this morning's sound doze is an odorous one.
There's a cast of characters to be introduced, all of whom but me are now deceased. First is Father Michael J. O'Reilly, the pastor of the now-disbanded Immaculate Conception Church in Taunton, Massachusetts, my old hometown.
Next comes Dick and Jim Powers, owners of Powers Riding School and Stables and their sister, May Powers, a local school teacher. My mother, Annie, was in the lineup too.
And then there were bunches of church parishioners. The cast winds up with me, a faithful altarboy of about nine or ten years of age.
It was Sunday morning. I overslept and was late for my daily job of the time, mucking out the stalls occupied by the steeds used by Dick and Jim as they gave riding lessons to the city's debutantes every Sunday.
I threw on my work clothes and my grubby boots and headed out the backyard of my 5 Pleadwell Street home to the stables across the back lots.
I got to work fast with my shovel and wheelbarrow but soon found the horses must have had a big feed the day before and had deposited much more . . . er . . . stuff . . . than I usually had to shovel on a Sunday morning.
I knew I had to work fast but I wasn't fast enough. Mother phoned to May and asked her to have Dick tell me I had to get to church for the nine o'clock Mass and it was getting late.
I was just about finished when Dick told me what time it was.
Church time was in six minutes and the church was a quarter mile away.
No time to run home and change clothes. I ran and puffed all the way to Alger Street and ducked into the vestry, pulling on my black cassock and white surplice just as Father O'Reilly was heading out to the altar.
He waited a few seconds and the Mass commenced. Father O'Reilly glanced at me a couple of times as I recited my Latin responses and then it came time for the Consecration and Holy Communion.
I dutifully took my place beside the priest, holding the Communion plate under the chins of the Host recipients, noting funny glances by everyone as we served at the Communion rail.
Father O'Reilly was a jolly old Irishman. Communion services over, he exhibited unusual grinning smiles as he performed his other priestly duties before time for his sermon.
Sermon time began differently then on other Sundays
Father O'Reilly solemnly announced "Before I begin I would like to tell you that next week we will be making a small change as we transfer our altarboy here - - - pointing directly at me --- to the ten o'clock Mass so he will have time to change his manure job clothes before arriving at church."
"And now, today's lesson . . . well, I guess we've had enough for today. God Bless Us All."
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