Remembering Sunday School with Ms. Devine Cousins Cherie Johnson and James Ransom remember Lizzy Devine, the Sunday school teacher and neighbor whom they both feared and loved.
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Remembering Sunday School with Ms. Devine

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Remembering Sunday School with Ms. Devine

Remembering Sunday School with Ms. Devine

Remembering Sunday School with Ms. Devine

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Update: This story was updated on Feb. 15, 2018 with the animated video from StoryCorps.

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 Devine. They look back with laughter at the Sunday school teacher whom they both feared and loved.

Johnson remembers "Ms. Devine" 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.

Cousins Cherie Johnson and James Ransom recorded their StoryCorps conversation in Sarasota, Fla. Courtesy of StoryCorps hide caption

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Courtesy of StoryCorps

Cousins Cherie Johnson and James Ransom recorded their StoryCorps conversation in Sarasota, Fla.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

"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. Devine'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. Devine. And one of them proved embarrassingly unforgettable for Ransom.

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Correction Feb. 16, 2018

In a previous version of this story, Lizzy Devine's last name was misspelled as Divine.