Crazy for God

Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frank Schaeffer
but to stay with me. And she did, much to the Keyswaters’ annoyance, who declared me spoiled and said that they would have to cancel their dinner reservations as a result.
    Old Mrs. Johnson lived on a family estate on Long Island near Smithtown. There were mantraps made of tripwires and spikes to discourage the poachers who came to steal trout from a fish pond in the woods. The gardener gave Dad and me a guided tour while apologizing for the condition of the estate, saying that he was the only person who “she hires to take care of it,” so the most he could do was mow the lawns and do some watering. As for the rest of the grounds and the formerly well-stocked fish ponds, well, as we could see, they had “all gone to hell.” I glanced at Dad when the man cursed, but Dad didn’t seem to care. I knew Mom would have given the man a stern look.
    John Sandri and Priscilla came to live with us during their summer break from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. John built a raft for me and floated it down the small tidal river that ran through the property. I discovered gnats and black flies, something shocking to a boy raised in the Alps, where, except
for an occasional horsefly, there are no biting insects. We got incredibly muddy as we made our way up a marshy bank onto some swanky estate’s lawn. A woman in a blue striped dress was very nice and let us hose off and telephoned our hostess to come and get us. John had struggled to keep my cast out of the water and mud, but it had gotten filthy. Debby cleaned it off before Mom saw it. I was sure the single stitch was done for.
    At dinner, old Mrs. Johnson would treat Mom like a social equal—but only after Mom cooked dinner and served it and then sat down to join us. When we arrived, Mrs. Johnson had let her maid go, since she was going to let the missionaries staying with her provide the domestic help. Mom, Debby, and Priscilla were treated like servants. We were guests but feeling like a family of illegal immigrants stuck without a car, money, or a means to do anything more than work off the room and board. (Susan, barely eighteen, had been left in charge of L’Abri, an experience she described later as frightening.)
    “She has oodles of money and could get new dish towels instead of making us use these old rags, and all the sheets have holes in them!” Mom would say. “It’s the way with old money, very stingy,” said Dad.
    “She could really do something for the Lord, but this is all she does, lets us live here as her servants! She has enough money so she could buy a whole new chalet for the work if she wanted, and keep her maid while we’re here so we could get a real rest from the Lord’s work!”
    One afternoon my mother asked Mrs. Johnson why there was only one peeler in the drawer after she had tried to find a second one so Debby could help peel potatoes. “Because,” Mrs. Johnson answered, “servants always lose everything and if you have two of anything it just gives them an excuse!” The
summer was broiling. It was my first taste of East Coast humidity, and there was no air conditioning. My cast came up to my hip. The skin began to itch. “Something died in there,” I said after I noticed that when I’d itch my leg—with a knitting needle—I’d stir up quite a stench. At one point, it itched so badly that I tried to scratch my leg by feeding a fish hook into the cast. Debby spent her summer covering up what I was doing to the cast, taping up the heel I’d broken down walking on it and trying to get the fish hook out and worrying about what the doctor would say when he cut the cast off and saw all the added layers of tape.
    Debby would also read to me out loud for hours and hold my legs so I could “swim” in the pool by dunking my head and shoulders into the water up to my waist while keeping my legs out. My one great sorrow was that pool. We had a swimming pool at last, and I couldn’t swim in it!
    Dad went away on several speaking trips. For

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