Convention “Highlights” - bwhahaha!
"Dinner" always served in the massive tents they set up and cost 65 cents. Some cheap-ass cola as part of the meal. "Tables constructed of pieces of plywood. You stood when you ate. Pioneers ate free. The smell of the steam cleaning they used to clean the trays.
My very first convention memory was at an International assembly, where food was served in the large tents and you stood at makeshift plywood tables. Sawdust on the ground. The smell of bulk cooked food, plywood and sawdust all intermingled together under those huge tents. I was so young, I could not reach the table top, I had to hold my plate and try to negotiate holding it and eating with out spilling on my little boy suit. And then reach up to the table top to get my drink, without spilling it.
It's a memory seared into my mind, and now as we describe those memories, it doesn't sound like we're describing part of a Worldwide Brotherhood meal experience, it sounds more like a refugee camp.
I always took notes. I'd notebooks and notebooks of notes.
However, usually Sunday afternoon's I'd run out of steam and take few if any. Especially the last talk.
Here's another food service related memory:
One of the things that was offered for "sale" during the mornings was something called a "muff-n-egg" (yes, that is how it was spelled on the menu). If you are familiar with McDonald's Egg McMuffin, it was the same idea - English Muffin, disk of processed egg, disk of "Canadian bacon". Don't remember if the JW version had cheese - I think not.
Anyway, one year apparently the procurement department had a lack of communication and ordered way too many of the "egg disks" that were to be inserted into the English muffins. There were way more eggs than muffins or bacon.
At the end of each day's session, but especially after Sunday's session, we were given lots of "surplus" items to try to push on the "friends" as they left the arena heading for their cars. As you can imagine, the push became a lot harder on Sunday. Last chance to get rid of this stuff before tossing it in the trash.
So anyway, on this particular Sunday, someone had the brilliant idea to stuff 12 of these egg-disk-thingies into a plastic baggie and try to sell them to the departing convention-goers.
There is nothing more sad and unappetizing than a dozen grayish-yellow congealed egg-disk-thingies in a plastic bag sitting in the sun. There is no more hopeless task than assigning a couple of teenaged cutups to try to move this product.
One elderly sister ambled by, looked at the wilted baggy with 12 disks of [something], and asked us "What are those - cookies?"
[Dramatic pause as my cohort and I exchange glances]
"Yes! Yes sister, these are cookies! Why don't you take a dozen home for the kids!"
I can't remember if she took them or not. Part of me hopes she did, I like to imagine the faces of her grandkids biting down into one of those squidgy gray-yellow disks and thinking "what the f## kind of cookie is this?"
I liked the cheese danish and vanilla pudding. I did not like Shasta cola at all.
When I was a kid, all that mattered was getting back to the hotel pool.
OK, here's one more.
Remember back when cans of pop (soda for you heathens) had actual pop-tops? Not the [lift-up-and-push-down] apparatus that has been in place for the past 20-30 years, but little rings attached to a tab that would be completely pulled back & removed?
OK, so one of my teenaged cohorts got a can of pop at lunch. But instead of throwing the can & pop top away when finished, he saved them both.
He spent (literally) the entire afternoon assembly session slowly, carefully, assiduously, straightening out the curled pop-top so it would fit back in place on the can. After many hours of effort, he achieved perfection. He could place the pop-top back on the can, apply a little pressure around the edges, and the can appeared brand new.
Was that the end of the matter? Of course not!
Next step was to go to the drinking fountain and fill the can with water. Then, carefully, re-apply the pop-top to the can.
We teenaged boys thought it was the coolest thing ever.
OK, so fast forward to the end of day [push the surplus food on the exiting conventioneers] session. Today there are cases & cases of pop to sell.
"Hey, we should put Kenny's can in with the rest - I bet no one would ever notice!"
"Ha ha, yeah - let's do it!"
So in the can went.
The final prayer is said, the very first conventioneer leaves the building, and wants a Shasta lemon-lime for his ride home. He stops, and plucks, out of 48 or so cans available, the very one that has the modified pop-top, full of water.
We are all in shock & disbelief as he starts to walk away.
Of course - as he walks along, he holds the can upside down.
Of course - the seal on the rejiggered pop-top is not strong enough to withstand the pressure.
Water is splashing down all over the ground as the brother walks along swinging the can - oblivious.
One of us with a conscience runs after him with a real can, muttering something about "you must have picked a defective can" and exchanging it for the one he took.
Oh man, we laughed about that one for years.
Okay, another Dodger Stadium survivor here. I distinctly recall having strep throat and being made to sit until the sessions ended at 9PM. Also the Padre Stadium 1984 Temple of Doom Assembly. It was beyond hot, then thunderstorms, then people literally passing out due to the heat and humidity.
Can't recall any spiritual "nuggets" that meant a damn. I do recall being made to load an 18 wheeler full of cantaloupes so that they could sell the half canataloupe filled with vanilla ice cream. Actually, that was the best thing about the whole sorry event.
I also remember the tents at Yankee Stadium in the 60's with the trays and standing up to eat, as a kid that was something to look forward too. I remember the Snow Cones and the bags of fruit
But the assembly that stands out the most to me was the summer of either 1967 or 1968 when the NY area had their DC in Washington,DC at the Stadium where the Washington Senators (name of the baseball club) used to play. I'm sure this wouldn't be allowed today at any venue because of health reasons, but all four days of the assembly the toilets were not working. The restrooms were open, but they were all filled to the brim . . Like I said I was just 8 or 9, so no big deal to me, but for women and kids and changing diapers. I don't know how they did it, but keep in mind food was still served ! and of course the Uber sickening Dubs like my mother were saying on the bus ride back home to NYC, "only with Jah's spirit would we able to endure four days without a toilet". . . .
Girls girls girls , that was the only reason to go until I got married.
But seriously that last convention I went to I was in major need of a pick me up. I was thousands of miles away from my wife and kids trying to get a new job going so I could support my family and nothing was going right. But instead of a pick me up I got a wake me up moment from GB Lett.
He admitted during his talk that almost everyone at bethel thought the world was going come to an end in 1975.
I must have been getting near the end of my tether with the religion at a convention in Lang Park in Qld Aust., to go to a pub and watch the Grand final of an AFL match while my wife & children were with "friends" still at the convention.
It must have been my early awakenings without my realizing it.
I certainly consider it a highlight now.
Are circuit assembly` s included in this post ? Anyway I was assigned to making the tea and coffee at C.A`s
as a MS with an Elder.
One time we made coffee with milk and we burnt it of course we still dished it out and only few complained others thought it was the best coffee ever.
I also got known by one Elder as The "T" man
For any Australian who might be interested this Elder was featured in a TV show called "Whose Life is it Anyway"
on ABC TV. a few years back (nothing to do with the religion but I thought very interesting since I know him personally)
If anybody is interested PM me.