A History Minute
(#19 in a series)
These "History Minutes" have caused parishioners to recall stories of their experiences at Grace. Last week Connie Conn shared her vivid (and charming) memories of that "different time". Before proceeding to the events of Rev. Robert Woodroofe's rectorship in 1945 after World War II, we haveremembrancesfrom John Halfrey who was born into Grace Church, where his grandfather had served as the Sexton:
"When my grandfather died, Iwas about four years old and will never forget seeing his dead bodybeing waked in the living room. This was common practice in those days, among both Protestants and Catholics. How marvelous the human brain is...when you can not only remember events but picture them as well, more than seventy years later. It outperforms any computer hard drive by leaps and bounds.
"I can never forget the kindness of Grace Church when we had no coal to heatour house. One time my Dad had to tear down the cellar stairs to burn inour furnace, so that we wouldn't freeze. After thatwe had toclimb downa ladder to use the only toilet, which was located in the basement. Grace Church sent several tons of coal to help us out. Saturday night was bath night, so that we would be clean going to church the next morning. Newspapers were spread on the kitchen floor under the galvanized steeltub, filled with a mixture of hot water heated on the stove and cold water from the sink. It was a science to get theblend just right. On other occasions Grace sent us a complete Thanksgiving dinner from S.S. Pierce, from soup to nuts. What a special treat, and something I shall never forget. We had no telephone and no automobile. This is the way life was for many people during and after the Great Depression. We didn't have much of anything except our Christian faith and trust in God. In tough times you lean more heavily on that, and that we did, thanks to my parents and Grace Church.
"Sunday was exclusively devoted to church, Sunday dinner, and family, far different from many today. I was baptized bythe RectorH. Robert Smith in 1937...when Rev. Smith was coming to our house to visit, my mother would clean the entire house as much as if it was the President of the United States. Later, I wasconfirmed by Rector Robert Woodroofe in 1946. We looked forward to church on Sunday; it was a ritual. I remember walking to Grace Church from West Newton, a two-mile walk each way, and almost never missed attendance. In ten or twleve years of Sunday School, I missed a total of about two Sundays. We had no car and no money for the bus, which cost five cents.What terrific church and Sunday School teachers I had! So many really great people to set fine examples of inspiration and life values. I can never forget Bernice and Charlie Olton, Mary and Fitz Perkins, and Mother Teresa, Isabel Coleman. Many others, too!
"All the important events in my life are connectedwith Grace Church...my baptism, confirmation, wedding, and family funerals. I used to think that having one's health was the most important quality; now I realize that the love with which my family and Grace Church surrounded me, has been the most important factor in my life. My faith in God and Jesus Christ have been a special blessing, and thanks to my church upbringing have allowed me to live the American Dream. For that I always willbe grateful. In 1952, when I served inthe Army during the Korean War as a Forward Observer, I always carried my Soldiers and Sailors Prayerbook and Episcopal Service Cross, both of which Grace Church gave to me. I still have and cherish them. They carried me safely through dangerous times."
Grace Church and American society were changing. In the next "History Minute" we will learn how Elvis began to rock America.
Don Kennedy, Parish Historian