Yesterday's Magazette

13 – Country Church

Our Old Country Church 

By Richard L. Emery 

Recalling life In central illinois in the 1930’s I’m reminded of our old country church where I attended with my grandparents. 

We hitched Teddy, the horse, up to the four-wheeled buggy and rode the four miles on the gravel road to church. As we drew near, we could hear the bell tolling in the belfry, summoning the worshipers to church.

The church always glistened in the sunlight with its coat of white paint applied during the week by some of our neighbors who volunteered. The stained glass windows reflected the white clouds in the blue sky. The tall spire reached skyward into the green leaves of the elm and maple trees surrounding it.

 

Our pastor greeted us at the door with a smile and a hearty handshake. He welcomed us along with our friends and neighbors. After we got seated the pastor offered a prayer. Then we sang our hearts out to The Church in the Wildwood, my Grandpa’s favorite hymn. 

The pastor always held us spellbound with his oratory in delivering a fine sermon. The organist added beauty to the service as she played the hymns. When we got quite warm there on those summer days we cooled ourselves with cardboard fans donated by the local funeral director. 

As the service drew to a close I dreamed of the fried chicken dinner we would have back at my grandparents’ house. We would have mashed potatoes and gravy, sliced tomatoes and a piece of Grandma’s apple pie with ice cream. When we arrived back at the farm my dream came true. 

After the meal we retired to the front room where Grandpa read the newspaper and Grandma did some fancy stitchery. Meanwhile, I took a nap in the upstairs bedroom. 

I recall a beautiful wedding in our old country church when uncle Jim and Camilla were married. She looked so fine in her white wedding gown when her father escorted her down the aisle. Then she and uncle Jim held hands while our pastor performed the ceremony. 

We attended some sad funerals there too. When my Grandpa died it was my first experience attending a funeral. I was comforted by how peaceful he looked in his coffin. He was buried in the churchyard cemetery among some of the early pioneers in that area. 

When Grandma died a few years later the church was packed with family, friends and neighbors. By now I was getting past some of my sadness, but I still felt lonely with her gone. After the service she joined Grandpa as she was laid to rest beside him. 

In the fall our harvest celebration was held in the churchyard. We got to see many of our friends and neighbors and spent the day talking over old times. We enjoyed a band concert and musical performances. We topped off the day with a delicious meal in the church basement. 

I love that old country church. Every time I drive by it I see it as more than just a building. It represents peace and contentment and is a lasting symbol of hope for the future. 

*Richard Emery lives with his wife, Helen, in Madison, Wisconsin, He authored a biography of Sam Cowley, an FBI agent who led the fight against John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson in the 1930s. And, in addition to a short mystery, he also penned a work about Abraham Lincoln.

Vol. 38 No. 2 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette


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