In childhood, there's often a central figure who leaves a strong impression that lasts a lifetime. For cousins Cherie Johnson and James Ransom, that person was Lizzy Divine. They look back with laughter at the Sunday school teacher whom they both feared and loved.
Johnson remembers "Ms. Divine" as stern but not mean. "When she said something, she meant exactly what she said."
Johnson and Ransom reminisce about time spent at their grandparents' house in Bradenton, Fla., where the extended family would gather on weekends and holidays. For the children, these visits included Sunday school at the local Methodist church.
"In our family, the only thing that would keep you from going to Sunday school, you had to have one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave," Johnson says.
"You had to go," Ransom says.
Johnson adds, "One of the things you prayed for when you were in Ms. Divine's class was, 'Lord, please let me get old enough to get out of this class!'"
Ransom remembers that he would do just about anything to avoid going to Sunday school. But no excuse would pass muster with Ms. Divine. And one of them proved embarrassingly unforgettable for Ransom.