In past conversations, if I've said, "Well, I grew up at Hall Street Baptist Church," I almost meant exactly that.

When we were kids, my family and I were involved in TONS of church activities. We'd especially be there throughout the week during the Christmas season.

But it was a hoppin' joint the rest of the year, too.

There were choir practices and services and...one of my all-time favorite activities...the PUPPET MINISTRY.

I never knew how our minister of music at the time, Bill Hart, came upon the idea of adding puppets to the church's youth activities, but it was an absolute home run.

And I gotta tell ya, when they started coming in, us kids were blown away at how closely they resembled the actual puppets we'd seen on Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. Of course, they weren't THOSE puppets and Muppets (still don't exactly know why there was a difference, but whatever), but we didn't care. I've always thought it had to be the same company who made the ones for TV.

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Anyway, we had to learn how to operate hand puppets. And there is a specific technique that, honestly, isn't easy for everyone, we discovered. The secret is in the thumb because that is the only part of the hand you move when working a puppet, as demonstrated below.

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I loved it. What a blast.

By the way, our biggest request was the pop classic "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens. We had a big lion puppet, so...

Anyway, one huge memory for me is the 1976 Owensboro Christmas Parade. Four of us, including my sister, were tasked with "performing" Christmas carols with the puppets throughout the entire route. And I'll tell you something, even a 10-year-old needed Ben Gay after that experience. But it was worth it.

When the puppet ministry wound down, and Bill left, the room where the puppets were stored had been locked and no one had the key. So we have no idea how long those puppets sat back there, likely dry-rotting. And that's a shame.

I'm CLEARLY a lot older now, so I don't know how long I'd hold up anymore.

But, at least, I still know how to do it.

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