A Little Boys Fascination with Fans
Maddox and His Fans
Little boys never cease to amaze me with the things that bring bewilderment and fascination to those young minds so eager to discover and learn. Some time ago my wife went to a yard sale and purchased a plastic bag that held 4 or 5 little fans. I'm sure you're quite familiar with the little fans a lot of women folk carried in their purse just in case they get stuck sitting in church, theater or some other crowed venue that was hot and stuffy. They could easily be pulled out and the ladies could find relief and cool themselves in a most dignified manner.
My grandson soon found the bag of fans and, although they were petite and lady like amenities, Maddox became so fascinated with them. He would take one out while sitting with his grandma in a recliner and fan himself. The fans were very pretty and most likely had been hand painted and could possibly have held some value to collectors as antiques but in the hands of a five year old, they were no more than a "play purty" as the old folks used to say or a toy. One by one the fans were destroyed in his playtime.
One day not long after my wife had gotten the fans, I picked up Maddox at his Wee School and after securely buckling him into his car seat, we started for home. He always tells me about his day at school but on this day he seemed to be preoccupied and out of the blue he asked, "Paw-paw where is China, I want to go there." "Why" I ask. "So I can get me some more of those fans. I told him China was far far away and maybe sometime he could go there. I further explained that China, is a huge place with millions of people, more than any other country in the world. There is also a huge wall there built centuries ago which can been seen from outer space. My dialog about China soon changed to less academic subjects but I did tell Maddy,"We can make some of those little fans when we get home and it might be a fun project. I knew my wife who has so many artistic skills could soon teach him how to make a fan.
When we got home my wife showed Maddox how to fold a piece of copying paper and make a fan of his own. It wasn't long before we had fans of all sizes lying around our living room. Making fans isn't rocket science and when he had learned to make his own fan he would come downstairs to get paper from my computer printer for more fans. Both of my grandsons love to watch videos on my computer. Most of the time they enjoy watching monster trucks or the Duke Boys and the General Lee. One day when he came down to get a piece of paper for another fan he asked me to look up China. I did and he was so happy, smiling with those big, blue eyes beaming, he now knew where China was and saw it on a map. His next question surprised me. "Paw-paw could you look up fans on youtube." "Sure can. I told him.
We spent the the few minutes looking at videos about fans. There are many videos on youtube with plenty of instructions telling how to construct simple fans, all are relatively easy craft ideas using paper, glue and Popsicle sticks. It wasn't long before we had a fan factory! As I thought about Maddox and his fascination with fans, it gave me the idea for this article. When I was a boy attending small Baptist church here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, funeral homes often supplied churches with small hand held fans. Most were only tokens with a picture of Jesus or some scene of quietude or maybe a verse from the Bible that might bring comfort to those mourning the passing of a loved one. Most had the funeral home logo discreetly located somewhere on the fan.
The fans would be placed in the song book holders by the funeral directors and as a boy I remember seeing some of the women taking a fan out on a hot summer day and fan themselves;especially, if the Reverend was long winded and the clock had ticked past noon. Churches here were small and none had any modern day conveniences like central air. Most churches had windows and in the summer the windows most often were raised and any breeze that filtered in was a welcome event. Since the churches were in rural communities, outside noise was minimal and relegated to the sounds of nature.
It was not uncommon especially, during those hot summer months for Wasps to get inside the church building or occasionally a bird might fly inside to the delight of all the young strapping boys. A friend of mine who is now in heaven once told me when he was a boy sitting in his church on on hot summer day after a rather lengthy sermon, an old deacon was called on to dismiss in prayer. He said the wasps were really numerous in the church house that day, flying in the open windows possibly looking for a place where they might build a nest.He said everybody saw them and if the truth were to be known, hoped that old deacon might not pray too long and they could soon vacate the building. Those little demons that were flying around were armed with stingers that hurt so bad if the wasp decided to attack.
My friend said he was a teenager and in those days the youth were expected to keep quiet and not create or bring attention to themselves. He said as the old deacon who was seated directly in-front of him commenced to pray, one of those Wasps dropped down from the ceiling and lit on the back of his neck. Feeling the crawling sensation and knowing full well a Wasp was on his neck,he reached back to swipe it off but not before the Wasp dug in with a fury! My friend told me he knew it wasn't proper and he really felt sorry for the deacon but he just had to laugh out loud because the old deacon said a rather loud "Amen' and pulled the Wasp around to where he could eyeball it and promptly "cursed the gentleman." Having been stung many times by a Wasp, I know how that old deacon must have felt and am sure the benediction and sudden demise of that Wasp must have felt good.
The fans placed in churches were a nice gesture by the local funeral homes which sometimes also loaned tents as shelter for church homecomings. The fans brought a measure of comfort to ladies who were grieving and might suddenly be overcome with the vapors. Fretful babies could be fanned and ladies whose corsets had grown a might tight could find relief simply by fanning themselves with a funeral home fan.
For now, Maddox is content to make his own fans. My printer paper is rapidly diminishing but his creativity is growing. He has made fans from newspapers, torn page from magazines and even used a cash register receipt recently from CVS. He is still fascinated with China and is even now making up his own little songs, singing,"There was a little boy from China......
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