A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby

On Christmas Day 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida, the temperature stood at 85, at least twenty degrees above the normal daytime thermometer reading for this time of year.

Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees
Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees

Over most of the USA, Christmas day was warmer than usual, the forecasters predicting a near record-breaking temperature of 62 degrees for Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, once my hometown.

ElizabethtownPAweather60ChristmasWarmChristmasLancOnline2015

Years ago when our young family left Florida’s palm trees and beachy sand during the Christmas holiday, we hoped for Pennsylvania snow, praying for enough inches for sledding and making a snowman.

One Christmas (1973) my husband Cliff and brother-in-law Bill sculpted an Easter Bunny from snow, a photo that made it into the now defunct Elizabethtown Chronicle.

SnowBunny1973

Snow slows everything down.

Snow descends from the skies in soothing swirls, no two flakes alike. The morning after a snowfall is quiet – traffic slows, the earth sits snug in silence, wrapped in beauty.

German Carols about snow are soothing too. Grandma Longenecker sang the first verse of Stille Nacht in German to us as tots, a carol of three stanzas we learned well enough to sing for Christmas programs at Rheems Elementary School. Now in my memory a warm spot remains where I hear Grandma’s voice singing the words to “Stile, Stile, Stile,” a lullaby that evokes the image of gently falling snow in the still of the night.


Whether the weather is dull or delightful, songs from the olden days can help carry us through.

Credit: Weather.com
Credit: Weather.com    12.26.15

How was your weather during this holiday week? Weather stories during a childhood Christmas or Hanukkah celebration may have popped into your mind too. There’s always more to the story when you join in.

Coming next: My Word, It’s 2016!

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Souper Meals with Sabah and Mom

“I have always relied on the kindness of strangers,” admits Blanche DuBois, an aging belle in Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche has had the props knocked from under her and has nowhere to turn except to her sister Stella, also living in reduced circumstances.

Sabah’s Story

In a far, far different context and definitely not because they have the slightest desire to do so, refugees from all over the world have been forced to rely on the kindness of strangers as they flee terrifying conditions in their homelands.

Such has been the case of Sabah Jabri, who with her husband and children left bomb-scarred Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 with just identification documents and the clothes on their backs and fled to Syria, ironically back then a peaceful respite from warfare.

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online
Photo of Sabah and her soup courtesy of Lancaster Online

Sabah, an accountant, and her husband Alaa, a civil engineer, fled Baghdad when fighting between Sunni and Shiite militias made daily life unbearable. They ended up in Syria for a year, cared for by a family whose home – and whose soup – they shared, a dish they called “yakhni.”

Syrian2ChickenSoup

After a year in Syria, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees assigned the family to emigrate again to Ephrata in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch County.

Currently, Sabah is manager of the Café at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, where you can be sure this soup is on the menu. The article in Lancaster Online did not include the recipe (Of course not!) but the ingredients were listed: chunks of chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, onions and chickpeas in a hearty broth. Incidentally, Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata offers fair trade items worldwide for sale.

More than sixty years ago, a visionary named Edna Ruth Byler worked through the Mennonite Central Committee to begin an enterprise which has mushroomed into Ten Thousand Villages.

. . . [She] believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America. She began a grassroots campaign among her family and friends in the United States by selling handcrafted products out of the trunk of her car. Byler made a concerted effort to educate her community about the lives of artisans around the world.

Ten thousand Villages is the result, an undertaking that has grown well beyond the tiny house of its inception and offers for sale baskets, jewelry scarves, bags, kitchen & dining articles, toys and other items from artisans, particularly women, around the world.

Mom’s Soup

Mother also knew the nutritional heartiness of soup and often had vegetable soup waiting for us when we drove or flew up from Florida at Christmastime. Within five minutes of our arrival, one of us would fly into the kitchen and open the Frigidaire to see whether there was a ceramic pull-out drawer full of soup in the bottom left.

MomVegSoupRecipe2_layers_4x3_300


Chicken corn soup was also her specialty, with hard-boiled eggs and rivels, doughy droplets made from flour  . . .

Mom's Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels
Mom’s Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels

 

Author, editor, and cookbook writer Melodie Davis has recently featured savory Spanish lentil soup on her website where the recipe for the dish below appears.

SpanishLentilSoupMelodie

 

Quotes about Soup

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.         ~ Marge Kennedy

 

Only the pure of heart can make good soup.                ~ Beethoven

 

And finally, Bennet Cerf defines good manners as “The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.”

 

 

How has soup enhanced your life? Do you think Beethoven is right in the quote attributed to him? Do you have a choice recipe to share?

 

Coming next: A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby

 

Moments of Discovery # 8: What’s Inside Mom’s Buffet?

Mother’s house on Anchor Road has been sold. We sold it last fall, just a year ago. After more than seventy years, the Longeneckers do not own this house.

Blizzard of 1966 in front of the house on Anchor Road, Pennsylvania
Blizzard of 1966 in front of the house on Anchor Road, Pennsylvania

But that doesn’t mean there are no memories or longings for home. The Welsh have a word for such a feeling, hiraeth

(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

* * *

So, memories and photographs remain.

Mother’s dining room buffet sat at the center of our house, yes at the heart of the first floor. On top of this piece of furniture you could even hear the heart beating where the clock ticked and chimed every fifteen minutes.

Mother’s hands must have removed the white crocheted doilies and dusted the buffet top with lemon Pledge and an oily rag many times. I don’t remember her doing it, but I do remember that I did every Friday.

BuffetMomInside the buffet were treasures: the good china and table linens, her silverware arranged in a blond, wooden box in the middle to bottom drawers. With the crystal in her china closet, Mother had all the accoutrements to entertain friends or relatives with an elegant Sunday dinner every month or two.

WeddingSilver

At the top right of the buffet was a drawer that we opened/shut several times every single day. The partitioned drawer made of mahogany wood and lined on the bottom with maroon velveteen was always arranged the same.

* The keys to the buffet & china closet sat inside a shot glass, scored at the lip, an odd object in a plain, Mennonite household.

* Scotch tape, matches and stamps

* Scissors

Mom had no scissors in a knife block. In fact, she had no knife block. The scissors in the dining room buffet was her all-purpose go-to, cutting fabric, gift wrap,or curling crinkly ribbon.

The scissors was rather fancy with engraved ornamentation with a provenance from England hinted at by the letters E-N-G and a faint letter L remaining. It is probably made of steel, but since it is so tarnished, perhaps silver.

Photo by Jean Longenecker Fairfield, curator of Mother's scissors
Photo by Jean Longenecker Fairfield, now curator of Mother’s scissors

Mother drew the scissors’ blade along the length of crinkly ribbon, gathering several strands to make bows of blue, yellow, pink, or lavender for birthdays or a baby gift.

RibbonCURLED

During this season of the year, the fluffy bows made of bunched up strands would all be brilliant red or forest green.

On the top left drawer of the buffet, Mom kept stationery, little notes to say thank you, send well wishes or remind the receiver of her strong faith.

MomChristmasCardinside

From her store of plenty, I pass on this Christmas wish to you, pictured here front and back

Peace on earth and good will toward men, women, and children everywhere.


Is there a special object or piece of furniture in your family you want to hold onto? One you plan to pass on to the next generation?

Coming next: A Souper Winter Meal

 

Friends from Faraway and Long Ago: Kitsa and Lydia

Kitsa and Lydia were among the very few women in my graduating class at Eastern Mennonite College who did not wear a prayer veiling atop their heads. Why? Because they were not Mennonite.

Lydia Mattar from Jerusalem, Jordan and Kitsa Adamidou from Salonika, Greece were international students and my good friends when I attended EMC. Their origins both have a biblical stamp: Kitsa’s hometown was originally known as Thessalonika, the name of two New Testaments books (Thessalonians I and II) and Kitsa’s father from Jerusalem was the Keeper of the Garden Tomb, the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. (Photos from 1963 Shenandoah yearbook)

KitsaYearbookPortrait

Always on the look-out for fun!
Kitsa, always on the look-out for fun!

And then Lydia . . .

LydiaYearbook Portrait

Lydia in Dr. Daniel Suter's Anatomy class
Lydia in Dr. Daniel Suter’s Anatomy class with lab assistant

I was drawn to Kitsa and Lydia during my freshman year because I have always been curious about other cultures. In fact, one year Lydia was my roommate. It appears this inclination has run deep in my DNA. Now as I hold in my hand one of my Grandma Fannie Longenecker’s letters from college I can sense her keen interest in my “foreign” friends and a deep longing to know them better.

In this letter dated December 1, 1960, she insists that she would like both girls to spend Christmas at her home. Born in 1892, Grandma Fannie Longenecker was 68 when she wrote these words to me:

Dear Marian – Guess you’ll be surprised to hear from me, I sure wanted to write before, just didn’t get at it – (Reason) older and slower . . . . Ruth was looking for a letter from you so be sure and bring Lydia & Kitsa along home over Christmas, and forget all about paint etc, two of you can stay here & we’ll have a good time that’s the thing that really matters, I think I’ll be Kitsa’s Grandma of America – Do you know what she needs or wants for Christmas? Forgot to say I’ll pay her way up & we really want them to come, so make it strong, times soon here!

Later in the letter, Grandma admonishes:

Be sure and get arrangements to come home early & if possible bring the girls along. I’ll pay Kitsa’s fare on arrival & find out what she would like for Christmas. This $ 5.00 spot is for you, maybe you need a little for odds and ends or transportation home. Tell us what you are hungry for, that you don’t get at school.

Mark tells me ‘Marian will soon come home’ and his face lights up, so we are all looking forward to that day. Hope your old toe is better.

Grandma’s interest in Kitsa persisted through most of my college years. In her letter of March 8, 1962, she referred to Kitsa and her roommate pictured on the front page of Christian Living magazine (February 1962).

For over 25 years, my Grandma and Aunt Ruthie practiced peace and goodwill toward all, as they opened their home to refugee and immigrant families, beginning with Phuong (pictured below), a young woman who arrived by boat from Vietnam. Their home was a warm cushion absorbing the cultural shock of leaving home and family; it was a safe haven, welcoming refugees from a colláge of countries including Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Russia—anywhere there was political upheaval.

1979Grandma,Ruthie, Phuong_small

Although she graciously accepted the Salt of the Earth Award from Lutheran Social Services in the 1990s, Aunt Ruthie never bragged about her benevolence. From her perspective, she was merely sharing the love of Christ and fulfilling the statement of Menno Simons, founder of the Mennonite faith:

Framed print on the wall of Grandma and Aunt Ruthie's sitting room, 1996
Framed illustration on the wall of Grandma and Aunt Ruthie’s sitting room, 1996

In a noisy world where some speak of building tall walls and wish to spread terror and violence, I am thankful for my heritage including an education at an institution, now Eastern Mennonite University, where the language of peace is preached and modeled. In fact, it is now possible to earn both under-graduate and graduate degrees in justice and peace-building at the University.

EMUJusticPeaceQuote

 

Regrettably, the contact information I have currently for both Kitsa and Lydia has not yielded any results, so I don’t know what paths their lives have taken. But I do know that their lives, like mine, have been imprinted with the power of peace, a message this world could stand a good dose of in these troubled times.

Postcript:

Just this morning, December 11, 2015, I had a long phone conversation with Kitsa, her smooth, alto voice music to my ears. She now lives with her husband in North Carolina and is very active at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church where she is head of the Hellenic Culture initiative. She also gives private Greek language lessons.


 

How have international friendships affected your life? Have you connected with long-lost friends recently?

Help! Vintage Photo Needs Caption

Every week, The New Yorker magazine features a Cartoon Caption Contest, inviting readers to submit a caption for consideration. After three finalists are chosen, readers vote for the winning caption.

Recently, in my cache of Kodak carousels I found a slide from the 1960s in dire need of a caption. Clearly, the season is autumn, and the family including Grandma Longenecker, my mother, brother Mark, and my dad are on a Sunday afternoon outing, judging by their dress. No one’s expression conveys a feeling of alarm over the possibility of Grandma’s imminent slide down the steep hill.

“What was going on here?” I ask. Everyone in the photograph registers a different band-width on the emotional scale, but most seem clueless about Grandma’s precarious position.

Help me solve the puzzle with a winning caption here.

LongeneckersMarkGmaDitch

Think free for all, not free fall!

* * *

If you would rather not submit a caption, you might speculate about what is going on here, who the photographer may have been, or offer a story about a memorable family outing you recall.

Pictures don’t lie, or do they?


Coming next: Signs & a Wonder in St. Mary’s, Georgia

Quiet Lives Matter: My Brother Mark

My brother Mark was my first baby. He was born when I was 12, and I soon became a mother to him. I even have a picture to prove it, a blurry movie still from one of Aunt Ruthie’s 16 millimeter camera shoots.

Holding brother Mark as my sister (age 7) Jean zooms on by
Holding brother Mark as my youngest sister Jean (age 7) happily zooms on by

I most certainly bottle fed him and changed his diapers. When he was a few months old, my sisters and I made up a little ditty often chanted repeatedly when we played with him:

De honey and de sweetie and de hon-ey boy

De hon, de hon, de hon-ey boy . . .

Practicing our Latin, we would refer to him as “Marcus -a -um” when he got a little older. Looking back, I wonder now how much the age difference and his being our longed-for brother played a role in such playfulness.

Mark passed through the usual boyhood stages, going to school at Rheems Elementary (here pictured at age 8) and learning to ride a bike.

Mark8yearsOld

MarkBikeFence

Like most boys this age, he climbed trees and played with his beloved dog, Skippy, butterscotch colored and 3-legged.

Mark handing walnuts to his sister Janice, 1964
Mark handing walnuts to his sister Janice, 1964

MarkDogMailbox

In the doggy photo, Mark is already wearing shop overalls and shop shoes ready for work at Longenecker Farm Supply, our family business in Rheems, Pennsylvania.

Eventually, his work at the shop translated into industrial arts credit at Elizabethtown High School, where he earned a certificate of attendance.

Here painted and sealed in polyurethane is a cartoon of Mark on a Deutz tractor which certified his skill at the wheel and gave a nod to his service with the Rheems Fire Department.

Stool art courtesy of Cliff-Toon Stools by Cliff Beaman, 1985
Stool art courtesy of Cliff-Toon Stools by Artist Cliff Beaman, 1985

Later, he worked at our dad’s shop full time, from where he was often sent out to fix machinery when farmers were stuck needing repairs in the field.

Mark in front of shop beside soybean extruder, 1984
Mark in front of shop beside soybean extruder, 1984

As family members aged, he kept the home-fires burning at the two houses on Anchor Road, first ministering to our Aunt Ruthie’s increasing needs as her memory loss progressed. Because of Mark’s care, Ruthie was able to stay in her own home at the bottom of the hill for four years longer than would have been feasible otherwise. He occasionally took her dog Fritzie IV for walks, a dog variously dubbed vicious, feisty or protective depending on whom you asked. Out of respect for Ruthie and her devotion to her Schnauzer, he took care of a dog he didn’t particularly like and certainly didn’t love.

MarkFritzieWoods

Simultaneously, he helped take our Mother Ruth to doctor and dentist appointments and often shopped for groceries, enabling our mother to stay in her own home at the top of the hill until she died last year at age 96.

When we realized we would be selling Mother’s house, Mark’s contacts from the shop along with his extended group of friends in the area enabled us to sell the property without a realtor’s assistance and accompanying fees.

Every Sunday now he takes Pearl Longenecker in her nineties to church at Bossler Mennonite Church.

Mark continues to live in Aunt Ruthie’s house with his daughter Shakeeta (Kiki) who moved in recently, caretakers of the Longenecker homestead we hold dear.

MarkKiKi

* * *

From my point of view, Mark does not suffer from the effects of striving, the bane of modern existence. It’s safe to say he has never slavishly checked off items on a to-do list or reached for the benchmarks of fame and fortune as many do. In other words, he hasn’t made a big splash in this world. But my brother Mark is a helper, living a quiet life that matters.

Stephen Post, Hidden Gifts of Helping

We eat because it keeps us alive, and we help others because it keeps us human.  (29)

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water . . . , verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.     Matthew 10:42   King James Version


Are there unsung heroes in your family or among your group of friends and acquaintances? Thank you for spicing up our conversation here with your story!

Coming next: Help! A Vintage Photo in Need of a Caption

Halloween Advice from my Good Witch of the North

MY STORY

Dorothy had the Good Witch of the North to give her “magical protection from fatal harm” on her journey to the land of Oz and back. Yet she followed an uneven path, using her brain, sometimes thinking with her heart, and slowly but surely developing courage.

I had my own Good Witch, Aunt Ruthie Longenecker from Pennsylvania, not Kansas. As a plain Mennonite, she never gave me glittering red shoes. I had to buy them on my own after I turned from plain to fancy. But she gave me plenty of golden advice, none more emotionally charged than the time she perceived I was veering off course at college and falling for a young man she imagined would be my downfall.

The advice arrived in a 4-cent envelope written in her flowing, left-handed cursive:

Envelope_note-to-Marian_layers

The Gibson greeting card is a cute pop-up.

HalloweenCardRuthie

Enclosed with the card was a terse note written on the back of a deposit slip from the First National Bank of Marietta, a curious choice of stationery. (You can read this note or the text below it in print.)

RuthieNoteMarianHalloween

Here is her message in print form, directing me to forsake that boyfriend (aka “opera singer”) at the top of the hill:

Tell that opera singer on the top of the hill he has already sung his “swan song” and that you have decided to contribute more to this world than dishpan hands and another case for the marital appeasement courts. Think for yourself and your own future and let him produce positive evidence of his greatness. Call his bluff. – Don’t be licked. If he doesn’t understand English there’s always the possibility of a second semester transfer to Millersville, E-town or Goshen – Halloween is a good time to get rid of all ghosts and apparitions, so good luck to the Little Witch in Peachey House.

 

Added to this note was a “Hazel” cartoon clipping to reinforce her words:

Hazel-cartoon_Ruthies-note-to-Marian_layers

The ink jotting has become almost indecipherable over the years, but she notes:

Hazel never went to High School, but she sure is a graduate student of human nature – by the length of the unwritten line the word must be “nuts” – or maybe it’s “yellow.”

At the time (my sophomore year at Eastern Mennonite College), I was trying to keep my life on track academically despite romantic upsets and did not then realize the full force of Aunt Ruthie’s words or the depth of feeling behind then. Squinting back through the telescope of years as a much older adult, I do now.

MY REFLECTION:

In Aunt Ruthie’s day, women usually chose either the single life and a career or motherhood and maintaining a household. Hardly ever both.

I was beginning to see from the models emerging in the 1960s that one could answer the call of both vocations, professional and domestic. Choices did not have to be an either-or proposition, and they didn’t have to happen simultaneously either.


How about you?

Did you ever benefit from unsolicited advice?

What models of vocational choice made an impression on you growing up? How did these influence you?

Ray & Ruth: A Sparkling 40th Wedding Anniversary

True Love

This month would be the 75th wedding anniversary of my parents, Ray and Ruth Longenecker had they lived. True, they bickered from time to time, but I knew their love was deep and abiding. I rested in the assurance that they would never divorce. There were signs: Before Daddy left for work down at his shop after the noon meal, he often played a little game with Mom, chasing her around the house to get his hug and kiss, as she pretended wanting to escape him. Daddy dried dishes once a week, on a Sunday somewhat unusual for a culture with strict divisions of labor between husband and wife.

They celebrated their 25th anniversary with the attendants at their wedding, Howard and Pearl Longenecker, also married twenty-five years.

When their 40th came along, we had a big shindig in early November, a week after their actual anniversary date of October 26, 1940. My sister Jean sent out fancy invitations:

40thAnnivCardFront

The table was set just so with the “tulip” design wedding silverware, a florist’s bouquet, and finger food with cake the grand finale.

40thAnnivTable

All four of us, my sisters and brother chipped in money to buy a chiming clock that sat for years on top of Mother’s buffet in the dining room, the ticking heart of the home. Our son Joel has inherited this clock.

40thAnnivClock

And there were sparklers – and smiling faces on this happy day when I heard Daddy say, “I could never have found a better wife!

40thAnnivCandle

How It All Began

October was a favored month for weddings, at least among Mennonite couples in the 1940s-1960s. Farmers had harvested their corn, wheat, and sweet potatoes. The sowing-hoeing-harvesting cycle was slowing down. The land was preparing to lie fallow for the winter. Thus, plain weddings were often celebrated amid the riotous colors of fall.

I was born in July — 9 months, almost to the day, from my parents’ honeymoon night the previous October. When I got older and could figure out such things, my mother simply said, “Nothing happened before we were married.” Because she said it, it must be true, I reasoned. In those days, abstinence was the professed norm for engaged couples, and a white dress almost certainly meant the bride was a virgin. A couple whose first child arrived too soon after the wedding date had to appear in front of the congregation and confess their sin of fornication before they could be restored to church fellowship. I saw it happen once.

That was not the case for my parents, of course. I was born right on time, a honeymoon baby, possibly conceived right here within this idyllic, stone cottage.

HoneymoonNiagaraCottage

My parents were married by the bishop of Hernley’s Mennonite Church and then returned to the bride’s home on Charlotte Street in Manheim, Pennsylvania where these pictures were taken. My father was wearing a plain, Mennonite “frock” coat with bow-tie paired with a natty fedora hat on his honeymoon. My mother too sneaked in some fancy touches on her dress. Another, of course, a large, fancy bouquet on the lawn.

WeddingMomDadFlowers

And though Mother wore covering strings attached to her prayer veiling and her dress was plain with no collar or lace, tiny buttons covered in white crépe traced a vertical line on the snug cuff of her sleeves. They don’t show on the photograph, but as a child I remember seeing them all in a row, sewn on her dress then draped on a hanger and pushed to the back of her clothes closet. Were there five? Seven? I don’t know or remember, but in my mind’s eye I can see them attached there. And I thought they looked pretty!

I liked her wedding shoes too, black suede with a vamp that reached almost to her ankle, very modish, I thought. When I saw Nine West with a similar vintage shoe and a button on the strap, I knew they had to be mine.

ShoesVintage9West

When we cleared out Mother’s house after her death, we discovered a saucer I had never seen before with a charming pink & blue imprint, a prophecy of things to come. They would have a baby, a girl, in fact three daughters and then a son.

NIagaraFallsSaucerNiagaraFallsSaucerDetail

Marian_as baby_5x5_72 19-05-17

Sparkling or not, what anniversaries (or other milestones) can you recall?

Coming next: Halloween Advice from My Good Witch of the North, Aunt Ruthie

Grace Notes: Mary Grace Martin & her Pump Organ

Great Aunt Mary Grace would turn 117 this week on October 14 if she were still alive. When I was young, the Longenecker family visited Mary Grace Martin at her cottage at Mt. Gretna, PA. What I remember most about her appearance was her pleasant aura and a gap-toothed smile. To my childish eyes, her teeth looked like widely spaced ivory pegs.

MaryGraceFace

Mary Grace Martin, the only child of a Church of the Brethren pastor, A. L. B. Martin, and my Great-Grandpa Sam Martin’s niece, traveled with her parents all around the country from Long Beach, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland moving from one pastorate to another.

MaryGraceArticle

At a time when few women led a professional life and fewer still held advanced degrees, Mary Grace was in the vanguard:

  • A graduate of Goucher College (1921), she taught high school boys, who “thought they knew more than their teacher.” The stint lasted just one year.
  • Mary Grace returned to Goucher College and taught physics to college students – pay $ 75.00/month.
  • Then she earned a master of arts in education degree from Boston University in 1928. A master’s of religious education followed in 1935 from Hartford Seminary Foundation with postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Later she became national children’s editor for the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Illinois.
  • And finally she wrote two books: “Teaching Primary Children” In 1937 and an inter-denominational guide “We Worship Together” in 1948.

Mary Grace vividly remembers the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the end of World War I in 1918. In the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal article, she mentioned that her dad taught her to drive, but chuckled as she remarked she’d rather have a chauffeur. She also preferred cruise ships to air travel.

Years ago, when our family visited Mary Grace in Mt. Gretna, PA, I loved tramping around the fairyland–like ferns and mosses leading up to the steps of her cottage in the dell. Inside, amid plain plank floors and piney furnishings was a gorgeous pump organ that enjoyed pride of place in her tiny living room. That old instrument was the first thing I looked for when I stepped through the screen door. It was an ornate wooden instrument that looked much like this:

Image courtesy of Pump Organ Restorations
Image courtesy of Pump Organ Restorations

From top to bottom, her wheezy pump organ required energy to operate. As I slid onto the swirly seat, I would put my feet on the two pedals each carpeted with a faded, fraying floral design, my knees touching wooden paddles that would make the volume swell or fade, and finally my fingers pulling out or pushing in stops to adjust the tone. It was thrilling to experiment with more than a dozen timbres engraved in Old English Script on the ceramic tags identifying each wooden stop: “Vox Humana,” “Bass Koppler” and “Celeste” which to me sounded like a pretty girl’s name. My favorite pull stop was the fancy word “Diapason” which emitted a majestic, thunderous roll as my knees fanned out to amplify a few bars of “Here Comes the Bride.”

Here two young men enjoy the charms of a vintage pump organ:

 

“I didn’t expect to live into my 90s, “ Miss Martin said. “Mom lived to be 93 1/2 , but I didn’t think I would repeat that. But God planned otherwise. I’ve had a rich life with travels and many friends. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

 

Mary Grace Martin lived a full life enriched with books, music, and friends. I remember her gentle spirit. Of course, through the years her example has been reflected in my own life, though I certainly didn’t recognize this until now.

 

Your story fits here: memories of a special relative, maybe an old pump organ, something else this post has sparked in your memory.

 

Coming next: A Sparkling 40th Wedding Anniversary

 

A Touch of Amish: Busy-Day Recipe

JanHeadShot

My sister Jan (“Janice,” growing up) is easily the best cook in our family. One of my birthday presents from her last year was a cookbook entitled Amish Cooking.

AmishCover

In the head-line this week, I say “A Touch of Amish” because the recipes are quick and easy and many contain shortcuts with ingredients like commercially prepared soup mixes, an item not usually associated with authentic Amish cooking. Still, when we’re pressed for time, quick and easy may be the way to go. Besides, as temps grow cooler, who doesn’t welcome a warmer kitchen made fragrant with an herbal mix from the oven.

Used by Permission: Publications International, Ltd.
Used by Permission: Publications International, Ltd.

Barring any need to skip off to the grocery store first, ten minutes is a short prep time, but extend the time just a bit so you don’t feel rushed.

If you are a purist, and prefer making recipes from scratch, you can substitute these herbs and spices for the mix: finely chopped onion or onion salt, diced garlic, chicken broth thickened slightly with one tsp. corn starch, chopped parsley

About the vegetables: To make sure the veggies are soft enough by the end of the baking time, I microwave them for 2-3 minutes before baking. Also, I use more potatoes and carrots than called for in the recipe and add an onion too.

OvenReadyRecipe

Plated, a savory dish for harvest time this fall!

Plated Recipe

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

Busy day recipe or fall favorites – all are welcome here!

Coming next: Grace Notes: Mary Grace Martin & Her Pump Organ