The Circus Fence

Mom had always wanted a white house, with a white picket fence. We had the white house, on a huge corner lot, but there was no fence. As children we knew that it was Mom’s dream to one day have that white picket fence. As I think about it now, I don’t think I had ever seen a fence that wasn’t white. It was most certainly the norm.

As our custom was, Mom took my young sisters and I to Vancouver to visit her father, leaving Dad at home as he had to work. While we were gone, in his spare time, Dad managed to build a picket fence around the front portion of the yard. Then he also managed to paint it.

Though it was at least 60 years ago, I still remember the look on Mom’s face when we rounded the corner and could see our house from a block away. I still remember the gasp of horror that accompanied that look. Dad had painted the fence blue, not a pastel blue, but a bright royal blue; yellow, not a pastel yellow, but a brilliant sunshiny yellow; and red, a very bright red. It really did look like the circus had come to town.

Actually, the neighbours often referred to it as the “circus fence” and would use it as a landmark when giving friends directions to their house. Because it was such a large corner lot, there were others that wondered if it was going to be a used car lot.

Although Mom and Dad never quarrelled in front of us kids, I remember one day overhearing Mom ask Dad if we couldn’t repaint the fence white. Usually Dad was very easy going, and he would generally do whatever he could to please her. But that day his answer was “I have lived under those colours all my life, and I’m not about to change now”. So the coloured fence remained for several years until Dad passed away and the house was sold.

Whenever someone asked Dad about the fence, he would share his testimony, as those are the colours displayed by The Salvation Army –

  • RED – for the blood of Jesus that was shed to take away our sin
  • YELLOW – for the fire of the Holy Spirit
  • BLUE – for holiness


What memories do you have of your home and neighbourhood growing up? Are there any special ways you shared your Christian experience with your neighbours?