Possibly the Church of the Ascension, Mount Vernon, New York
Our church, the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, New York, early occupied an important place in my life. Both parents were active workers, my father as a vestryman and my mother as a member of the Ladies Aid and other church societies, and of course, we children attended Sunday School regularly. From this same church my father was buried with a big Masonic funeral, later my mother, and here also I was married and most of my children were baptized.
The big church event of the year from my boyish standpoint was the annual Sunday School Picnic. On the day appointed, Mother put up a box lunch, took along some blankets, extra jackets and sweaters, and we all assembled at the church where trolley cars, in sufficient number, were waiting to transport the whole group to some seaside vacation, usually not more than an hour’s ride away. Games of all sorts were played, sack races, three-legged races, high and broad jumps and regular foot races. From one of these I proudly brought home a bronze medal for winning a foot race. Then, tired but happy, the trolley took us home.
I had measles in 1893 at the age of nine. I remember the year distinctly because while I was in bed the postman delivered a copy of Harper’s Young People, which I preferred to Youths Companion, and on the front cover was an interesting illustration and story about the Chicago World’s Fair, then in full swing in Chicago. I was tired of staying in bed and this was something interesting to occupy my mind, but my mother mercilessly pulled down the window shades in spite of violent protests, so that it was too dark to read, which she said had to be because “it was bad for my eyes”, until I recovered from the measles
The interval between moving out of the Lincoln Avenue house and carpentry work on the renovated Dell Avenue house was finished, we spent in a rented house, and while there I contracted Scarlet Fever. The day before I was sick enough to have a Doctor, I felt extremely tired and listless, and that night I had a horrible dream. The facts of themselves were not so bad but the realism was terrifying. I was on a very large globe, the service of which was so slippery I continually fell down each time I started to stand up. No matter how many times I tried it was no use in the prospect of never being able to regain standing position was horrifying.
The house, of course, was quarantined, and my patient mother was my nurse. The only after-effects, which sometimes are quite serious following the disease, were, in my case, severe earaches which apparently left no permanent injury. Even now at age 75 my hearing is normal.
While I failed to realize it at the time, my father’s death put an end to carefree boyhood days in made me take a more serious view of life. The idea gradually grew in my mind that as the only “man” in the family, it was my duty to do what I could do to support it. Soon I was to leave my childhood spent in the old Lincoln Avenue house to start a new chapter in the Dell Avenue house where I spent my teens and early manhood. How little anyone event, large as it looms at the time, really matters much when viewed from the long stretch of a person’s years.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the first of section of Grandpa’s story at the Dell Avenue house in Mount Vernon, New York.
On Saturday, another excerpt from the Voyage to California by John Jackson Lewis, about his trip from New York to San Jose, California in 1851.
On Sunday another segment of My Ancestors about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion. The Rev. Elijah, as an Army Chaplain, has been transferred to the Presidio, in San Francisco, and eventually all four daughters, with their families, moved to the San Francisco Bay area.
On Monday, I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1943 when Lad and Marian’s lives are becoming more entwined.