Kate's remembrances about her snotty Church of Latter Day Saints neighbors telling her red was the color of the Devil (see the comment section for Day Twelve) made me think about some of our neighbors when I was growing up. Apart from the fact that it was all white (not by design but by the times), our street was fairly mixed with regards to ancestory, class and religion. We had working class families, hippies, college professors, and lawyers all living on the same street. There were Protestants, Catholics and Jews on the block. Everyone got along, or rather, when they didn't get along, it was because of personality conflicts rather than religion or class.
One of the families that lived on the street was the Schultz family. In general they didn't mingle with the rest of the neighborhood, having moved onto a street where families had lived for years and had gone through the common experience of a flood (Old Testament sounding as that may be). They were working class and seemed to have the innate "toughness" that implies. As a child I steered clear of their sons who I imagined would do me harm "just because" if given half the chance. I would pedal past their house just a little faster and feel relief when I got to the end of the street.
To be honest, the Schultz boys never even talked to, let alone bothered, me. The talker of the family was their teenage daughter Lottie. I can remember being spellbound one summer night at Lottie's monologue about "the demons coming to get you." People had been sleeping when suddenly their mattress would flip over and throw them to the floor. The victim would get up, groggy, wondering what had happened. It was demons, Lottie explained. Coming to get you. Her talk kept the group of younger children around her enthralled. She obviously knew much more about the subject than any of us. In addition to their reserve and their toughness, the Schultzes had something else that added to their aura of mystery. They were Jehovah's Witnesses.
I didn't know much about Jehovah's Witnesses and my mother wasn't too much help. "They believe in the end of the world. They believe the world is going to end soon and they'll be the only ones saved. If they want to talk to you about religion, don't. They always want to convert people." Had my mother mentioned that Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate holidays - which means no Christmas or birthday presents - then she wouldn't have had to worry about any possibility of my converting.
Lottie's belief in a crazy religion only added to her appeal as an authority on demons. But those were the times. The occult and strange beliefs were big in pop culture in the early seventies. The success of "The Exorcist" had inspired lots of tv movies and books about demons and occult happenings. It seemed everyone believed in something crazy. It was fertile ground that inspired the imagination of a child like myself, brought up in a religion that fascinated and terrified him.
As it turns out, the snotty Church of Latter Day Saints kids were right. Red is the color of the Devil. Everybody knows that.