Thursday, March 31, 2011
In the 1930's our nation suffered a horrible depression. If we think things are challenging now, it was worse then. Our family was lucky - Dad always had a job, although it may have changed most every year. One year here - another year there and it meant moves to every job location. The scene above reflects the village we settled in. At first a mile out of town - and then into the village itself. and what a village it was! A little more than a mile each way to a two-room school - come sun or rain, warm or cold...it was quite a hike for little kids. And a village divided to some degree by church denominations. It was a really nice way to grow up. One could go to the Methodist store for candy and goodies (and nails for the little-kid cabin I built upstream from the house). Or one could go to the Presbyterian store for hunting and fishing gear and (believe it or not) roll-your-own cigarette materials. Of course we used corn silk for our pre-teen cigarettes - yes we did - and got sick when we did it. But the focal point of the village was the Presbyterian church. It had more children, it had great church suppers, and it was the place to go for traditional Christmas eve services. And it had the village cemetery. Everything about St. Peter's Church was a drawing card. But for us young people the main attraction was dusk and nightime hide-and-go-seek games in the cemetery. There were a number of really old and big gravestones that were great hiding places. Great fun. The church is still there - at least the last I heard. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. That was because the congregation was formed in the mid-1700's and the church was built (less the steeple) in 1771 - several years before the national Declaration of Independence. Early on the building was moved across the street and it has, for the most part, flourished ever since. It still is the signature building of the village. But what about the Methodist Church? The last time I was in town it was still there but not as a church. The congregation disbanded early in the 1940's - not enough Methodists in town, I guess, but that is the church we attended as long as it lasted. My memories include the pastor's wife (Mrs. Montrose) teaching Sunday school and giving awards to children who completed reading the entire Bible from cover to cover. They had a long shed in back of the church for horses and carriages. Mrs. Nielsen played the pump organ and we could not understand how she know anyone was fooling around in the childrens choir, but when she sensed something was going on she could reach back and swat the misbehavor and never missed. I had a running problem with one of the other boys over who would carry the Christian flag and who would carry the American flag. After the congregation was disbanded the building stood idle for a while and then became the Grange Hall and later a dance hall. The last time I was back it town it had become an antique shop. So there you have it, a tale of two churches - and a focus on the churches in what I like to call, My Home Town.