Monday, January 25, 2010

TWO POINTS OF VIEW

We were at Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand deciding what way to experience the Southern Alps, the rocky spine of the South Island. The range extends from north to south along the west coast.

Betty suggested, "Why don't we take the train to Christchurch?"

"That is a long trip," I pointed out. "It would mean that we would have to stay overnight when we arrived and take the train back the following day."

"We could break the journey up if we could get off about half way and join the unit heading back to Greymouth later in the day," was Betty's solution. *That way we could avoid the overnight accommodation cost at Christchurch."

"Great idea if the train schedules permit it." I agreed.

At the station we found that there was a forty-five minute interlude between trains at Arthur's Pass, just over the summit. We purchased tickets for the next day. Early to bed was our choice as rain was coming down copiously and we hoped it would cease before dawn.

I awakened early, my eyes still blurry from sleep. Betty dutifully started to join me, climbing out of our bag on the tent floor. Suddenly she was awake.

"What time do you think it is?" she demanded.

I stared at my watch by the beam of a flashlight. "It's 3:30 am" I stammered.

"Come back to bed. We can sleep almost three more hours," she counseled me.

Rising promptly at 5:45 got us off to a good start for the day with breezes scattering the rain clouds. After finding the free parking place for the Daihatsu, we claimed our seats promptly at 8:05 and the train started for Arthur's Pass.

We had traveled the highway over Arthur's Pass several times on previous occasions and had found the trip challenging. The western side was curvier with multiple switchbacks keeping the driver alert. On the occasions where the road was very narrow, uphill traffic was given preference over downhill traffic to give the vehicle coming up the advantage of momentum. Too, the raining down of pebbles onto the pavement made the vehicle skid if the normal speed were maintained and collisions were more likely.

All along the canyon walls were outstanding displays of rata and rhododendron, a magnificent crimson sight to behold. Had we not already seen them, no way would the train trip have lured us away from that panorama. We also knew that the places to stop and view the canyon on the way to the summit were extremely limited.

As we left the station, Betty looked at the car's limited size. "This is a lot smaller than the ones we are used to back in the States," was her opinion.

"You're right," I agreed. *But the size is dictated by the width of the carriage axels
or gauge. This is a narrow-gauge railroad like the early trains in the United States."

At first the railway led through the lush valleys where sheep and cattle were grazing. Pastoral scenes rolled past as the modest speed of the train provided ample time to examine the moving picture. As we crossed a river we were not surprised to find the railroad joining the highway and sharing the bridge before separating again when we reached the opposite side.

"I'll guess that this arrangement is unique to the western side of South Island," I
ventured.

"I wonder how many accidents have been caused by their frugality in bridge building," Betty wondered. "Using the same bridge for both vehicles and the train was carrying economy to an extreme."

As we reached higher elevations, the train halted at the town of Otira, Just a cluster of houses around the railroad yards gave away its purpose. It was the point at which the train switched to electric power to haul the cars through the tunnel which was renowned as the third longest in their rail system, 5.3 miles. Opened in 1923, it had the Importance of carrying coal from the west coast to Christchurch on the east. With no means of blowing air through the five-mile tunnel, the electric engines provided clean power.

"Are you hungry now, or could you wait until we get to Arthur's Pass?" I asked Betty.

Her response was, "Let's wait until we arrive. We can get better food there than at the window," that had opened momentarily.

We whiled away our time as they switched and prepared to take off. The tunnel was dark as there was no illumination other than the headlight's beam. The tunnel speed was slow, exaggerating the time it took to reach daylight at the Arthur's Pass depot. There a lively group of youngsters was waiting to take the train back to Christchurch after their Outdoor Education class.

Hungry now, we made a beeline for the hike up to the village tearoom. The air was chilly as fresh snow up on the surrounding peaks belied the bright sunshine.
We thoroughly enjoyed the mugs of tea and hot milo, the hot minced pies and the apricot squares.

Across the street we visited the Arthur's Pass National Park headquarters. We had expected something grander. Our view of the tiny campground with only three spaces had the unimpressive amenities of toilets and a sink with cold water
housed in a dingy utility building. We did not put this on our list of campgrounds.

It was time to hasten back to the train that was on time. Erupting from the cars was another group of students, eager for their Outdoor Education experience. Our ride down from the mountain was a treat to the eyes with distant vistas once we had emerged from the tunnel. All went well until we reached Lake Brunner. There we halted while the crew sought a way to get around another train that was too long to pass. It took over an hour and a half to work this out. The crew was relaxed and amiable, considering this had been a fairly normal trip. We had gone up the mountain on February 18th and had gotten back to our waiting Daihatsu van by 3:30.

Now we wanted to see the range from a different perspective. On March 1, 1987 we arrived at the headquarters of Mt. Cook National Park. At 12,349 feet, Mt. Cook is the tallest peak in New Zealand.

Unlike the US National Parks, the facilities for camping in the NZ National Parks are limited. Instead of extensive sites with tables and fire pits, there are simply areas where one can set up a tent or similar accommodations. Sanitary facilities consist of wooden privies, often at some distance from the sites. On the other hand, there are plush facilities like the Hermitage to house the non-camper. These are at some distance from the camping area. In this regard, nothing had changed from our l979 trip.

I was surprised to find the place well occupied. I asked Betty if she had heard of any reason for the increased traffic.

She said, "There is to be an ascent of Mt. Cook during a meeting of international climbers from around the globe. We'd better select a spot right away."

After looking at possible locations, I finally noticed a concrete slab that looked like it had been left from a former building. Jokingly, I made the comment, "That will get us high enough in case it rains. Let's set up the tent there."

At that point in the late afternoon, rain didn't appear imminent. We drove out to the miniscule airport to find out the prospects for getting a flight over Mt. Cook. With all the interest in the international climb, the manager said that there would be no openings that week. The price quoted was way beyond our means for a mere jaunt to give us a view of the mountain. We returned to camp and had a delicious supper of sausages, kumara, green beans and potatoes served up on a slab of concrete in front of our tent.

Rain developed overnight so we awoke to a dreary world. We put on our wet gear and managed breakfast in the van, although space was very limited to the front seat. The remaining part was literally full with our stuff. The space just behind the driver's seat held the tiny stove on which we brewed coffee.

"What do we do now?" was Betty's question. "We can't even see the mountain due to the fog."

"We can read," I suggested. "At least we'll be dry in the cab."

We both had books that we needed to peruse. Interspersed by trips to the privies, we busied ourselves until noon. Around a lunch of sandwiches, we noticed a pair of Paradise Shell ducks who didn't seem to be bothered by the rain. They paddled in the puddle next to our tent and enjoyed the lettuce trimmings from making sandwiches. Watching them gave us some diversion.

Then I had another idea. "Let's see if there is a laundry facility at the inn," was my solution of what to do. "When it clears we can be free to tackle other things."

Since Betty concurred with that thought, we drove the mile or two to the inn. There we received the disappointing report. No laundry facilities were available to campers. We did get a newspaper but its timeliness left much to be desired. The weather report for the mountain gave no indication that the rain would quit. We did get reports of some climbers who were holed up in their tents part way up the peak. We returned to our tent and found the campground to have been deserted by other campers in our absence. We thought it to be an omen of what to expect. Water puddles had filled in the vacated spots.

By supper time the rain had diminished to a misty drizzle. I lit the lantern to warm the tent as we prepared supper. Our new friends, the Paradise Shell ducks, were there ready for their handout. The coolness of the air signaled that snow was now falling up above at the higher altitudes. We went to bed early, dry, warm, and hopeful that morning would bring better weather.

During the night the rain resumed in copious measure. I awoke to the realization that water was making its way along the tent floor. The sleeping bags were getting wet, as I had failed to caulk the seams. This was a new tent and I had neglected to apply waterproofing to the seams, that up to this time had not given us a problem.

Betty sighed: "We can't possibly stay here another night."

"Let's get this wet tent and our stuff packed up and move on," I assented.

It didn't take long to stow the wet tent and sleeping bags. We bade our ducks goodbye and soon were on our way out of the park. Pausing for breakfast at Peter's View restaurant, we found there was still no view of the mountain.

At Twizel we located a cabin that had heat and beds - nothing more. We could get dried out there and wait for a more auspicious time to see the mountain.

Over one month later, after being delayed by a flood at the Haast, we were attempting to see Mt. Cook from the Tasman coast. From prior experience we knew that great views were possible of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers proceeding down to the sea. Again the panorama of these famous glaciers was limited to the lower reaches of their respective peaks.

The heavy clouds still clung to the crags but sunshine had begun to return to the coast. We decided to stay at Hokatika for a day, hoping against hope that the clearing we had so strongly desired would occur. Time was running out for the South Island. We had appointments to make the ferry back to Wellington. There was no lack of places to see but it bothered me that what I had so hoped for was not materializing.

Sunday morning, April 5th came off quite clear. Betty and I had decided to attend the Union Church. As we left camp that morning, we could see the summits of the Alps crystal clear against the blue sky. But the distance was too far to go on the twisty roads along the coast. The church was well filled for the worshipful sermon followed by Communion. Afterwards we were invited to the Parish Hall for a time of fellowship.

In visiting with the pastor, I found that he had been an attorney for ten years. Then he had felt the call to help people in a different dimension of their lives and had gone to seminary to prepare for that ministry. While expressing my keen disappointment at missing the clear view of the mountains, he had a suggestion. At Greymouth, the next town up the coast, a Flying Club had an airplane. It could be chartered if a club member were available to fly it.

"Can you get me the number to call?" I inquired.

"Surely can" he rejoined. "Wait here and I'll get it for you."

He returned from his office with the information. I hesitantly dialed the number. To my great surprise the person answering expressed willingness and told me to meet him at the airport within the hour. The Daihatsu fairly "flew" as we speeded up the coast to the appointed meeting place where we found him checking out the plane. It was a Cessna with room for three persons plus the pilot, David Knight. The space was ample for taking pictures. As I signed the charter, he wanted to know what we wished to see.
I told him, "We want to get pictures of Mts. Cook and Tasman and some shots along the way."

"I don't know if I can urge the plane to fly that high but we'll try to do it. We're at sea level to start so it will mean climbing over 13,000 feet to clear the peaks," he explained.

"Just do the best you can," I agreed.

The Cessna took off and we started south along the coast, covering in minutes the miles we had laboriously traveled with the van. Gradually gaining height, we could look down on the town hall at Hokitea and the church where we had so recently worshipped. Then veering inland as we gained height we began to see the glaciers and ice fields that sprawled like fingers down the slopes. Noting the gathering clouds offshore, we were glad we had started the flight early enough to see the landscape below us.

Angling further inland, the plane took us first to Mt. Tasman with its gleaming stretches of snow and ice extending down to the sea. And finally we were right on top of Mt. Cook, the 12,349 foot giant of New Zealand mountains. We could see the Hermitage, looking wee in the valley below and the tiny airport and its midget runways from which the planes appeared to be fleas crawling around. All three cameras were clicking with regularity.

Looking down into crevasses made the mind skip a beat as the plane dropped suddenly and then rose again on the updraft. We circled the mountain to glimpse all sides. Then the pilot repeated the circle. We viewed Lake Pukaki and Tekapo
as blue-green sheets of glass, their waters colored by the melting ice. Every feature bore the crystal clear stamp sunlight. All up and down the range we could view every feature with clarity - even to Mt. Aspiring in the distance. Glimpsing the images of the climbers viewed through binoculars gave the feeling of unreality to the entire scene.

"Anything else you want to photograph?" David Knight inquired.

"That's all I can picture," Betty responded.

"My cameras have had a workout," I answered. "I'd like to catch Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and Lake Matheson on the way back."

"Okay. We're starting back," David said as he turned the plane north towards home.

We saw again the unique features we had viewed on the way out. I wanted to record in my memory the fascinating experience that we had been privileged to enjoy. As the plane descended, I asked our pilot, David Knight, what his occupation in daily life was.

His response surprised me. "I am a railroad engineer,"" was his answer.

"This isn't what I expected," was my comment. "You certainly did a masterful job of handling the plane today."

Back on the ground, I prepared to pay him for the flight.

"That will be $300.00 New Zealand, $150,00 US," was his answer. "Just what I agreed. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip."

For him, it seemed a delightful Sunday afternoon jaunt, doing what he enjoyed best. Tomorrow he would go back to the train.

By this time we were starved.

"Betty, where do you want to eat?" I asked.

"Surely do," was her response. "Let's go to Cobb & Company."

While enjoying the good meal, we recalled these two great experiences, the railroad trip to Arthur's Pass and the plane flight to Mt. Cook. We had savored both trips, with the camping interlude at Mt. Cook to emphasize God's great providence in permitting them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

HOW TO - IN ONE EASY LESSON

We had arrived at the Ohanopecosh Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park late in the afternoon. The scene was dark, as the tall trees cast their tall shadows over the whole area. The mountain lay to the west and the campground was in a narrow slot cut by the creek. As usual, Dan had been busy helping me get everything in order for our campout. He had collected a pile of wood and brought water from the pump after helping me set up our tent.

"Good job." was my commendation as we began to relax. The day had been hot and humid along the creek. It seemed great to just take it easy. Betty and our daughters were busy preparing the evening meal.

Shortly after, we noticed a couple of Park Rangers in full uniform driving along our loop. "They appear to be looking for a place to camp," Dan observed.
The second time around the loop they halted and proceeded to unload. Sure enough, they took the site directly across from us. Danny noticed that the pile of their equipment included a tent that they decided to erect first.

They laid the canvas out on the ground. Puzzled at how it was to be supported, they eventually found poles. Ranger One had Ranger Two get inside the limp canvas to hold up the pole. The pole was too short. The fellow inside complained of the heat and wanted a longer pole. The outside fellow couldn't find a longer pole and tried to hold up the canvas. Not realizing how the tent was constructed, they took turns trying to prop up the canvas. As their efforts came to naught, their frustrations grew.

Danny watched their fruitless efforts. "Should I go over to see if I can help them?"
he wanted to know.

"Don't try to tell them what to do," I cautioned him.

Slowly the boy ambled over. After watching their efforts he asked, "Have you tried fitting this piece to the big one to make it longer," he suggested. They tried and it fitted into place.

"Now try the second pole with the extension," he added. That also worked.

After inquiring what direction they wanted the tent to face, he encouraged them to turn the canvas around. Indicating the tent stakes, he noted where the tent stakes should be driven to hold the tent up. As the various pieces gradually were gradually assembled, the tent took shape.

It turned out that the men were summer employees who were recently arrived and had never tented. This was their first experience with tent camping. They were extremely thankful for the "expert" advice provided by a five year old boy. To show their gratitude, they gave him a giant candy bar along with their thanks.

Two years later I was taking the children camping with me to the West Coast while Betty was taking a course at Northfield College in Minnesota. I was ill as we were driving into Glacier National Park in Montana. Arriving in the late afternoon, I drove to St. Marys Campground, not anticipating a problem. At the very entrance I was halted by the ranger, Jim Wilt, who said that there was too much snow for camping. I recognized him from the trip two years prior.

Greeting Jim by name, I explained my situation. No way could I drive farther to find a place to stay. He said, "Don't worry. I'll show you where to go after I send these others away."

True to his word, he directed us to a spot near a rest room. Dan and his sisters quickly set up the Apache. Then Jim showed Danny where he had stowed dry wood for a fire. He took pride in instructing Danny in the art of fire building under unfavorable circumstances. For the next two days while we remained there, he took Danny under his personal guidance. He even showed him the place where he stayed and the various artifacts he had collected.

Now, after over fifty years have elapsed, Danny is quick to build a wood fire. He is a quick learner as well as a good teacher.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WILD NIGHT AT RED CLOUD

Have you ever heard of the main celebration of the Fourth of July a day early? Neither have I. That would seem to be inappropriate. Why would this actually be done? I'll tell you how it came to pass.

While prairie-hopping across the United States in l984, it seemed neglectful to pass up the Willa Cather Prairie. She had written a number of books which included "Oh Pioneers", "My Antonio", "Shadows on the Rock" and others. I wanted to see what grew in the area about which she had written. That morning we had departed Niobrara Reservation in the north of Nebraska and crossed almost the entire state to reach Red Cloud, the writer's home town near the Kansas border.

The heat and the terrain left much to be desired. We made several stops along the way to sample flora but found little to lure us. It may have been the off-time viewing season or the tight fences that kept us going until we reached the sign that proclaimed: HOME OF WILLA CATHER, RED CLOUD, NEBRASKA. The town was small, 1,131 inhabitants, so finding the museum was no problem. After picking up mail at 4:30, we hurried to the museum to get what information we could before it closed for the holiday. Stopping at a store, we acquired a supply of basic groceries while inquiring where we could get accommodations for the night.

******************

*We don't have a motel here," stated the lady who answered the door. "We just have a half-dozen sites for mobile homes."

"Do you have an empty space where we can set up a tent?" I asked pleadingly.

"We do have one that is empty," acknowledged the woman. "I can let you have it for one night."

"We'll take it," I said, counting out the money.

As I located the spot to place the tent, Betty counseled, "Why don't we take a run out to the prairie. It's only five miles out there. We can get the lay of the land and be ready to explore it in the morning."

"Let's do that now. I'm not too hungry yet," I responded.

Our rather cursory view of the reserved portion yielded one new plant, purple poppy mallow. By now it was really getting dark. We hurried back to fix supper and finish setting up camp by the light of the Coleman lantern. By then we were almost too tired to care about anything but sleep.

*******************

With a boom and a whoosh the thunder announced its arrival. The tent shook and collapsed down to the level of the sleeping bags and straightway bounced back to the full limit before taking another nosedive.

"What is going on?" Betty demanded.

"I think we are being hit by a thunderstorm or tornado," I muttered.

Again and again the tent went through its gyrations, twisting first this way and that as the wind veered, first in one direction and then with an opposite thrust.

My thoughts clustered around remaining attached to the tent, our only shelter.
If we could keep it fastened to the ground, the chances of survival would be improved. But how could we do that? Then an idea flashed into my mind.

"Betty, get on all fours," I instructed. "Put one hand on the corner nearest you and the second hand on the next corner. Now place your right foot on the third corner."

She obeyed promptly. "Now I'll do the same on my side." The tent, being hexagonal, had all the corners held down.

"What's to keep it from blowing away?" she wanted to know as the plastic bows bent almost double as the gusts continued to beat and the tent draped over our backs before springing aloft.

"If we can keep the base on the ground and the bows hold, we may make it." I responded.

There was no letup as the wind continued to buffet us around. The rain fell in torrents and some hail began to be part of the gusts. Would it keep on attacking us? Why won't it call it quits?

Suddenly Betty turned to me and shouted over the storm, "Why aren't you holding down your corner? It'll blow away if you let up all."

I was holding two corners with my feet. That freed my one hand to rub her back, as I noticed how tense she was becoming. Then I reassured her, "I'm holding three corners too, so don't be afraid."

The ground here was level, permitting the water to run over the threshold. Gradually it began to seep into the tent. The sleeping bags began to take on water. At last I noted a reduction in the wind although the rain continued to fall less savagely.

"Let go now." I told Betty. "I think the worst is over. Let's get some sleep if we can. We won't try to do anything until morning."

The bedraggled mess that met our view was discouraging. Water stood everywhere. Where do we start?

"Let's garbage bag the mess and sort it out later" was my solution. "We can't get breakfast here." Not a soul appeared to offer assistance or a cup of coffee.

With all the wet things collected in the car, we headed south into Kansas. About twenty miles later I noted a spot where the road had been straightened, The sun had come out strong, making the discontinued arc of blacktop an ideal drying place. We unloaded the tent, sleeping bags and our wet paraphernalia, spreading it to dry. While that was taking place, we fixed breakfast.

It was amazing to see the truck traffic slow to gaze at the unfamiliar sight. The hot asphalt quickly dried the soggy mess to a state of usefulness again. We decided that Red Cloud was a lost cause. We would look for other prairies that would create for us better memories.

Monday, January 4, 2010

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Although home has physical and geographical parameters, the term embraces much broader connotations. I would liken home to the basic scene or stage upon which many of life’s activities were acted out. To varying degrees, the material setting influenced the perceptions and reactions of the occupants. In looking back over more than eight decades of life, I note that the various structures that were home to me remain inseparable from the events that transpired in or around them. It is my intent here to look back at these places and review some of the salient memories that for me have attached themselves to these dwellings.

PARSONAGES I HAVE KNOWN

East Otto, NY

On March 29, 1922 I was born in the front bedroom of the Free Methodist parsonage in rural Brooklyn valley, three miles east of East Otto village in Western New York. At this early age, having just been born, I have no particular recollections of this house at that point in time. My parents were on their first appointment to a pastorate and I was their first offspring. My impressions of this dwelling will await our arrival there the next time around by the will of the appointment committee.

Belfast, NY

In this era of the Free Methodist denomination, it was common practice to move the pastors about every two years. My father was next appointed to the church in Belfast in Allegany County. Here the parsonage was located on Chestnut Street adjacent to the church.

The house was attractive with a large veranda across the front. A main feature in the front yard was a large American chestnut tree that regularly bore clusters of the burred fruit. Beating the squirrels to this bounty in the fall was a contest of timing. The sweetness and texture of these nuts were superb, making the remembrance one of unique gustatory delight.

The house was illuminated by gas lights, a great improvement over the kerosene lamps and lanterns previously in use. My brother Irving joined the family after mother lost a second son at birth. Our age difference did not make for the usual bonding between brothers. There were few children in the neighborhood. Helen Hurley, a girl two or three years older than I, was my regular playmate at that time.


The editor of The Belfast Blaze, the local newspaper, presented me with a shiny new tricycle. Around and around that big porch in rainy weather I made it go like at a race track. How I rode that tricycle until the axle wore completely through! I liked to go “lickity-cut”. Where I went was always in a hurry.

My favorite pastime was to go with mother to the town park at the center of the small business section. It was the site of the village croquet tournament that sported lights for night playing. The playing surface was not grass but hard-packed dirt. At night the court was for adult teams who were very competitive.

The library had become a special place for me. Although I was not able to read books, I had listened to grandma reading to me. It was then that my interest in books blossomed. When the two years were up and it was moving time again, I was sorry to leave Belfast but excited by the move to a different home.

Cattaraugus, NY

This time the move was to Cattaraugus and the timing coincided with the start of the Great Depression. The significance of this economic woe was practically lost on me. What I do recall with clarity was the departing pastor discussing with father his sadness about his dismissal. It seems that he had been involved with stock market transactions that had taken the savings of a number of local people.

The house was located on Waverly Street that ran steeply downhill and over the wooden bridge next to the old cheese factory. My worn-out tricycle was replaced by a scooter. The marvel of electricity came in the form of a single plug in the kitchen from which several extension cords ran to provide light wherever desired. It was a marvel to us who did not share an awareness of the fire hazard it presented.

Winter brought some excitement to Waverly Street. Where it began from Main Street at the top of the hill, it descended past South Street and then on down to the plank bridge over the creek. When it was snow covered, it made a great ride down on a sled or bobsled. Although my parents deemed me too young to handle a sled on such a slope, eagerly I watched the older boys or even men take the swift descent.

My first two years of formal education took place here. I was enrolled in Kindergarten and the following year First Grade at Cattaraugus. It was an exciting time as I relished the world opened up for me. My assignment at Christmas was to learn the two-line couplet from ”T’was the night before Christmas.” I learned the whole thing. I learned to read myself. No longer was I dependent on someone else to read to me. Although my grandmother was willing to do so, I didn’t want to take the time.

My world was largely up and down the street with a used wagon and scooter. The problem was getting them up and down the concrete steps to the sidewalk. Braces were such a nuisance that I managed without them much of the time. Hobbling around at my own awkward gait went better than trying to use them. The way I walked was clumsy but did get me around.

By the second summer my parents let me go up to the sawdust pile behind the mill to play with Donald Madison, the owner’s grandson. We enjoyed burrowing in the fresh sawdust that felt hot to the touch. When I arrived home mother tried to extract the sawdust from my clothing. It literally stuck to everything. Mother decided that a full bath was needed to rid me of its hold.

My only brother, Irving, was about five years younger than myself. He contracted scarlet fever and was seriously ill with it. Quarantine was the answer then to controlling its spread. Father was not allowed to go out and was forced to order groceries from the store. He had to put money on a plate and heat it in the oven to kill the germs before offering it to the delivery boy for the food we purchased.

Irving did not respond to treatment and became unable to digest food. Grandma Willis devoted her time to scraping an apple to provide him with some nourishment. For a period of time it was the only thing he could eat. We began to crave ice cream. When the nights turned bitterly cold, mother prepared the mixture that each one of us took turns going out in the frigid air to keep stirred. I welcomed each turn as it gave me an opportunity to sample its progress. When topped with real maple syrup, it became a super treat. Even Irving displayed interest in it.

East Otto, NY

Since the standard two-year stint was up, it was time to move again. At the annual conference it seemed that no one was willing to go to a rural place where annual income was low and there didn’t seem to be hope for growth. Father always had a soft spot in his heart, for this was where he had begun his ministry. He indicated to the stationing committee his willingness to take the appointment, as it looked like it would be left vacant.
He would try to resurrect the ten acres of farmland that went with the parsonage.

The portion of land on the north side of the road contained the parsonage and small plots around the house. Directly across the road a small frame barn with room for an auto and space for four stanchions completed the layout. The second floor of the barn held the hay supply for the cows. Just west of the barn stood a stately elm tree where orioles built their distinctive nests. East of the barn the land sloped down to the creek with enough pasture area for the cows. The balance of the land to the west of the barn was available for crops.


The farmer’s truck containing our household goods arrived and was unloaded. This was no Mayflower Van. All of our worldly possessions were placed helter-skelter so the farmer could get back to milk his cows. Mother and father with grandma’s help got the things in order for the evening meal and beds set up for us all to sleep. We had arrived home for the next seven years.

Significant details of that time period are included in my book, OF A BOY AND HIS VALLEY, published 1991, and illustrated by Sylvia Sprowl Duttweiler, daughter of my best friend of those days, Donald A. Sprowl. This comprehensive story of my next seven years would give the reader all of the highlights of what made it my best remembered home.

Gowanda, NY

The final parsonage that I counted as home was on 156 West Main Street in the town that enjoyed the distinction of being half in Cattaraugus County and the other half in Erie County. The arrival of our goods heaped on a farm truck attracted the attention of our neighbors. The stairway to the bedrooms was extremely narrow with a right-angle turn at the top. As a consequence, all of the larger items such as the mattresses had to be hoisted up the outside of the house and maneuvered through a window. The bedroom for my brother Irving and me had a slanted ceiling that required caution when standing up. A lot of my time was spent studying at the small desk by the window.

The superiority of this dwelling became apparent to me when I found
its heating did not require wood. Electricity was indeed a relief from the care of oil lamps and the pumping of water for washing. The gas hot water heater and the Servel refrigerator were blessings for mother. A vacuum cleaner replaced my spring and fall choking stints with the rug beater.

Father’s trip to the local car agency was blessed with a 1933 Chrysler 6 that sported not only a front seat heater but also one for the rear. In those days any heater was optional. For me, the right to drive stretched out another two years. But I shined up my old Elgin bike and equipped it with knee-action springs like the Chevrolets of that vintage.