Growing up in a strict Southern Baptist household, where we went to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening, not to mention “Visitation” on Tuesday nights (where we would dress up, grab our Bibles and go knocking door to door in different neighborhoods to spread the gospel), it’s reasonably redundant to say rock music was forbidden. But when you have a home filled with eight children aged from five to eighteen-years old, some of the devil’s beatbox is inevitably going to slip thru the Christ-enforced cracks.
I was the second youngest of the eight kids, four of them being my step-sisters from my step-father’s first marriage. My step-sisters were a lot more rough and tumble than my real brother and sisters, having grown up in West Virginia, bouncing around semi-unsupervised for years before they moved in with us. They had a dangerous, rebellious air about them that was very appealing to my ten-year old psyche.
It was no surprise when they hit their teens that they started introducing the rock into our happy, Christian home. Looking back, their tastes were fairly benign, but at the time bringing Kiss’s “Love Gun” or Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell” (it says “HELL!” Gasp!
) into our holiest of holy homes was incredibly revolutionary and not appreciated by my parents in the very least.
It usually went this way – a step-sister would bring a verboten 45 or LP into the house, play it a bit, my mother would discover it, tell my step-father, who would then seize and quite literally destroy said 45 or LP, either by smashing it to bits, or by my favorite means of cleansing, burning it in our trash barrel in the backyard. Vive le art.
So imagine the younger kids’ shock with second-oldest kid Donna waltzed into the dining room one evening after a trip to the Midway Mall wearing a Van Halen “flying VH” logo baseball t-shirt.
It was a white, three-quarter sleeve baseball t-shirt with a powder blue collar and sleeves and the VH logo smack dab in the middle.
It was so hot. I was insanely jealous.
Donna had thought this through. Since it only had the VH logo and not “Van Halen” or any other words on it, she figured Mom wouldn’t be hip enough to catch on that it was a rock t-shirt. Maybe she’d think it was some new fashion designer or jeans company, a la Jordache. So Donna brazenly flaunted her new purchase on her teenaged chest, right at our dining room table during supper.
Ah, but good ‘ol Mom was hipper than we thought. She was keeping up on rock music trends courtesy of “Rock is the Tool of Satan” slideshows at our church. She knew exactly what Donna was wearing, and she was not about to let it slide.
“You’re not fooling me!” Mom announced confidently, just as Donna sat down at the table. “I know exactly what’s on that shirt!
"That’s that Van Heflin!
25 years later, that story still comes up every Thanksgiving.