Courtney T. Ball

Sunday Lunch at the Knouse House

These are stories about my great grandpa and grandma Knouse. My dad shared these with me when I visited with him last week.

Wallace Hines was not a well-educated man. Most of his book learning came from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which he read religiously and memorized sections of. He ran a strict house, and by the time his daughter Daisy became a teenager, she was ready to be free from his discipline. She gained that freedom when she married Simon Knouse at age fifteen.

“She didn’t rush into it because she was pregnant or anything like that,” my father told me. “She just wanted to get out of the house.”Simon had a reputation for his rowdiness, and Daisy quickly took up with him in his wild adventures. The two of them had a lot of fun until the day of Daisy’s conversion.
In her early thirties, Daisy went to a revival and while there she found Jesus. This necessitated a change in certain behaviors. By the time my dad knew her as Grandma Knouse, she had adopted more of her father’s strictness. And though her book of choice was the Bible rather than the Almanac, she was just as prone to memorize and repeat what she read.

Still, every now and then fragments of their old life would resurface and hint to the grandchildren of wilder times. My dad recalled two such instances when I visited with him last week. The first was a time when he was a child visiting his grandmother. He and his brother Lynn decided to sit down and play cards. Grandma Knouse supposed this was okay, since they weren’t playing for money. The boys, not being very practiced at shuffling and dealing, were having some trouble with the cards. Seeing this, Grandma sat down to help them out. Their mouths dropped open when she picked up the deck and worked it through a series of maneuvers with the agility of a Vegas dealer.

The second story Dad recounted was when he got one of his first preaching jobs at a church in Milo, where Grandpa and Grandma Knouse lived. Every Sunday Grandma invited him and mom over to Sunday dinner after church so they could visit and talk about his sermon.

“That sounds like fun,” I said sarcastically when Dad told me the story. Who wants to have his grandma critique his sermon each week after church? I thought.

“No, it was fine,” he said. “We enjoyed visiting with her. By that time, though, Grandpa was pretty far gone. One Sunday we were there, discussing the sermon, and all of a sudden Grandpa breaks in and says to me, ‘Lyle! What I want to know is when are you gonna get that whore on a buckboard and ride her on outta town?’”

Grandma Knouse was mortified. “Simon! Don’t say that! He didn’t mean it, Lyle. Trudy, he doesn’t know what he’s saying!”

She was worried that my parents would be offended by such bald language and the assault on my mother’s character, but of course they weren’t. In fact, it was hard for them to contain their laughter.

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Courtney Ball

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