Flannelgraph stories

Flannelgraph storiesI made the PowerPoint presentation for Sunday morning’s service. When I asked our pastor about PowerPoint for the sermon, he explained that he didn’t have one this week.

Since our screen looks awfully strange with nothing projected on it, I asked him if he had anything I could use. He said that he was starting a series in the Old Testament and that he wanted to give a survey of that part of the Bible before getting into the series.

If I could find anything, he said the sermon title would be “Piecing Together the Flannelgraph.” Those of us who grew up in evangelical/fundamentalist churches saw our Sunday school lessons displayed as flannelgraph pictures each week.

My mother was an avid supporter of Child Evangelism Fellowship and bought about every flannelgraph book they had. I got to cut out the figures. I loved doing that. The smell of the fresh paper and the flocking on the back (CEF in fuzzy block letters stepped and repeated like wallpaper). I was extremely meticulous about my cutting, although I did draw the line at cutting out the eyelashes. That was a bit much to ask.

She had wonderful flannel backgrounds, too. She had painted most of them and they were pretty good. Oddly enough, although she was an expert at every craft she had ever tried, I never saw my mother paint any other pictures than those on the flannelgraph board.

I was secretly amused at her flannelgraph presentations. Of course, by the time I saw the live presentation, I’d sat through or at least heard numerous practices. My mother did not leave anything to chance. And, as a very avid reader, I’d already read the entire story and stage directions in her book. So, instead of listening to the story, I paid attention how my mother told the story.

She was a good presenter and her presentations were polished. But the voice she used was very different from her normal speaking voice. I never could pinpoint the difference, even to myself, but it was definitely different. I called it her “Flannelgraph Voice.” And it amused me.

Until today, I hadn’t thought about cutting out flannelgraph books for years, but thinking about it makes me nostalgic. Looking back, I see that cutting out my mother’s flannelgraph figures was my introduction to paper crafts. I still find cutting paper to be a very relaxing activity. I just wish I could hear my mother’s voice again, even if it was her “Flannelgraph Voice.”
Picture comes from the blog Stuff Fundies Like.

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