In contrast to Monroe’s ongoing political and all too often personal machinations, I would like to focus on a lighter and more pleasant topic this week.
I’m speaking of the role of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the lives of its parishioners.
My family’s association with St. Peter’s began around 1941 (It just occurred to me. That’s 70 years ago!) My particular experience began with my baptism there in the spring of 1943. My grandfather who was an Episcopal minister performed the ceremony.
My next recollections don’t really begin until several years later. Our family routine and that of many other families in those days was to get up early, go to church and have our main meal of the day Sunday afternoon at around three o’clock.
There was usually Sunday school for the kids and I recall having to stay for classes on how to be an altar boy or acolyte as we sometimes called it.
If I recall, there were two of us for each service. We didn’t have to do it every Sunday since in those days there were only two services — one very early for a few people and the main one later in the morning. Altar boys only worked the mid morning service and since there were a few of us, we could take an occasional Sunday off.
I remember I had two big fears. The first was that I would get the long handle of the pole the cross was mounted on tangled up in my gown as I was walking down the center aisle and fall on my face. The second was that I wouldn’t be able to get the candles lit with the long pole I had to use to reach the higher ones.
After that was done we could sit down — except for singing hymns of course — and just wait for the minister to get through his sermon.
I used to love to sit there not really listening too much of what was being said, but watching the various parishioners. Sometimes Mr. Swendsen or Mr. Beardsley — two men who played an important part in the church’s history — would nod off and start to snore. An elbow in the ribs ended that, but not before there were several stifled chuckles from various quarters — mine included.
Oddly enough one of my most vivid memories was of the boys Sunday school class. I don’t know why girls weren’t included, but they weren’t. There were about eight of us and we would gather for these classes in Reverend Martin’s kitchen in the church rectory.
Just before the start of the service Mrs. Martin would put a roast in the oven to be ready for their main meal. So here we were, eight hungry boys, trying to concentrate on whatever was being said, while a few feet away we could hear the sizzle of meat juices in a roaster and the aroma of roast beef or pork or lamb. The only other thing we could hear was the rumble of all of our stomachs as we waited anxiously for when we could go home and have our dinner.
There were many more things. Father/son breakfasts, Young People’s Fellowship, my wedding there which brings us now to 1967. Then there was the baptism of our two children in 1973 and 1975.
With the start of our family and living in Newtown by then my association with St. Peter’s pretty much ended.
But the memories are certainly there and good memories they are. Thank you, St. Peter’s.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting hungry.
Life in Monroe, small town America.
Those were the days.