"We'll be having the singing tonight" Daddy announced one Sunday on the way home from church. John, David, and I looked at each other in the back seat and smiled. It was always special to have the singing at our house. The families in our district took turns opening our home to the youth to spend an evening singing German hymns. Since the only time there were singings was on the Sundays we had church our turn to host came only once a year.
Once we got home we had our usual after church lunch and once the dishes had been cleared away we all went to take a nap so that Mom and Daddy would hopefully let us stay up until the singing was over.
As evening approached Mom made a simple supper. Daddy went to the attic to find our backless bench and set it behind the table that had been opened to it's full length. Mom spread a table cloth over it and set out one of her pretty water sets and several salt shakers. Before long we could hear buggies drive into the lane, the girls came inside while the boys unhitched their horses and then stood visiting in the barn until it was time for the singing to start.
Once seven o'clock arrived everyone came and found a seat at the table. John, David, and I sat on our own little chairs a little distance from the table with Mom and Daddy. For the next two hours there would be no talking as one song after the other was announced and sung. After an hour or so they would pass the salt shakers and who ever was feeling a little hoarse would make a little pile of salt next to their songbook or in the palm of their hand. They would moisten their fingertips and then lick the salt which seemed to do the trick and they continued singing.
I loved singing and was always sad when after two hours the closing hymn was announced. As the boys went to hitch up the horses again and the girls stood chattering until their ride drove up to the house I looked forward to the time I would be old enough to go to the singings every time, but I made up my mind I would never lick any salt.