A Drink of Ice Tea In the Summer of “66”


It was a typical hot, muggy Maryland August afternoon in 1966 when my friends and I, all about 10 years old, got together at the Wieneke’s “ballpark” to play baseball. All the regulars were there, Rich, Dave, Darrel, Harold, Chip, Brian and many others. We had been playing for a number of hours when Mrs. Wieneke called to us, telling us that she had cold drinks for us and that she would put them on the back porch table. We soon stopped playing ball and made our way to the back of the house. There on the table was what appeared to be lemonade. The glasses were filled to the brim with ice and my thirst was ravenous. As I picked up one of the glasses, it became apparent to me that it wasn’t lemonade after all but cold ice tea. I don’t know what came over me. I guess you could say the spirit was strong but my young flesh was weak. I gulped down the delicious drink like a dying man stranded in the desert. Nothing was said at the time, but I knew the other boys were very much aware that drinking tea was against my Mormon religion. We went back to playing baseball and the day became, in history, like any other day in the life of a ten-year-old boy. It was uneventful and soon to be forgotten…or was it?

I had never forgotten that day in my mind, because it was the only time that I had knowingly broken the “Word of Wisdom”, my religious health code of honor. I had long since placed the “Ice Tea Incident” in the Siberian outskirts of my memory. The memory of my breach was still there in my mind, but best banished to the cobwebs of my remembrance. Nine years later I sat in my living room enjoying the last night at home with family before leaving the next morning for my full-time church mission to Argentina. Suddenly the doorbell rang and when I opened the door, it was a number of my childhood friends that I had grown up along with other high school friends.  I invited them in and we sat around talking about my upcoming mission. They were supportive and asked a lot of questions. After a while, we started reminiscing about the “good old times”, about lost loves, high school teachers, sports etc. As we talked about childhood experiences, one of my friends, I can’t remember which, said, “Hey Scott, do you remember the time you drank that glass of ice tea at the Wienekes?” He didn’t say it accusingly; he just said it! A couple of the guys laughed. I don’t know if it was noticeable, but my face felt like it went beet red and I quickly changed the subject. Nothing more was said about the “tea” incident. I guess that one sentence said it all.

Eventually my friends departed and I was left with the haunting evidence that I had failed as an example that summer day so many years before. Yes, it was only a glass of ice tea; nothing too serious. And after all, I was only ten years old! Still, I learned a very valuable lesson that night. Nine years had come and gone. Nothing was said at the time I drank the ice tea; no nothing at all until that night. But it is still remarkable to me that another kid would see me drink that tea and remember it nine years later! What does that say about the power of example?

Christ said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) Indeed, I learned that last night home that people closely watch our actions. If we have high standards, they expect that we will uphold them. May we remember who we are at all times and in all places! You wouldn’t think that a ten-year-old boy, drinking one glass of ice tea, would have any real significance in anyone’s life. Apparently it did for at least one of my friends. He clearly remembered a “slip” I had made, on a long ago hot humid afternoon in the summer of “66”.


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