Carolyn’s Online Magazine
AN AUTUMN WALK IN
I looked up at the Jamestown United Methodist Church bell tower and saw the face of a man, a carney (carnival worker), who swore if he entered the church it would collapse. Late one evening I enticed him to enter the church, where, at 10:30 p. m. he rang the church bell.
The church survived.
This bell-ringing occurred about 1994.
Thursday, September 30 (2015), my husband Monte and I drove three hours to the church’s 26th annual chicken pie dinner. We arrived early because Monte, pastor there 1990-1995, wanted to visit with church members he knew and to help them prepare the dinner.
Meanwhile, I spent time editing a chapter of my novel and walking around town.
As I walked by the parsonage I pictured the group of troubled people sitting on the porch on summer Sunday mornings, people who felt uncomfortable entering the church for Bible classes or services. Another porch event my daughter Sandy, and my brother, his partner, and their two children helped celebrate Monte’s birthday. Other times I simply relaxed in a chair with the newspaper, my Bible, or a book.
The Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department was next. They supported Sandy in becoming an emergency medical technician. Later she became a paramedic, and is now a renal dialysis technician studying to become a nurse. I’m proud of her dedication.
I was the town’s freelance reporter for both the Greenville Record Argus and the Meadville Tribune, so when the VFD whistle blew I stopped whatever I was doing to listen to the monitor. Did I need to follow the emergency vehicles? I stood at the foyer window, watching the emergency vehicles go before I left to get my news story. If I were in a counseling session my counselees chose to either wait for me, to ride along and sit in the car, or to reschedule. If I were at a meeting or a church service I’d get up and leave. I grew to admire and appreciate the sacrifices of emergency workers while chasing their vehicles.
Being the start of autumn I shuffled through colorful crackling leaves that decorated the sidewalk, recalling the leaf burning that covered the town in a cloud of smoke that was visible a distance away from the town’s borders.
Approaching the blue-roofed veterinarian clinic I thought about an abandoned three-legged homeless kitten. The article I wrote seeking a home for him wasn’t needed: the office adopted him as a clinic cat.
The huge white house in front of me was Randall’s Funeral Home. We visited there twice in recent years, saying final goodbyes to Russ Roy in May, 2013, and later Pat Roy.
Following Russ’s funeral we joined the Roy family at a nice little restaurant in the Mark Twain Manor (Gibson House). It was at this historic structure that I met another friend, Maryanne Hoffman, at a play. It’s sad that the place looks somewhat abandoned, although its sign indicates it’s being used for a library and other activities.
Virginia Boertz urged me to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary in Jamestown. She was a non-attending church member I was encouraging to attend church. We agreed that if she attended, say six services, I would join the VFW. I’ve been a member, though inactive, ever since.
Next to the VFW building is the Jamestown Community Veteran’s Memorial, constructed in 2013. This was the first time I saw it. Very impressive.
Carini’s Family Style Restaurant served me many fine meals, mostly Italian. The last time we ate there we met a church member who, after the meal, insisted on paying the bill. Hmm…I’d ordered a large calzone (it was huge) so I could make two meals of it. It became a double treat.
Jamestown’s new dining spot, The 215 Restaurant, was closed, but has a nice outside eating area. Maybe next visit…
I spent many hours at Steadman’s, now Band A Café. It is pretty much the same except for décor and booths that were on half of one side being replaced with tables. I recall taking pictures in Steadman’s of a woman with cancer and her new grandchild. For one shot I removed my shoes and stood on a booth seat so I could shoot downward. I didn’t know that a couple who had just returned to town asked who I was, and were amazed to hear I was their pastor’s wife. We soon became great friends.
Another time I was meeting a suicide specialist from Ohio, for breakfast. We didn’t know each other well. When I arrived Paul was sitting at a table and several church women were sitting in a booth. As I passed Paul I instructed him to follow my lead. After greeting the women I said, loud enough for Paul to hear, “I think I’ll find a man to buy my breakfast.” Approaching Paul I said “Sir, will you buy me breakfast?” His response? “Yes, did you find the quarter I left on the sink at the motel?” Everyone laughed at the start of our one-upmanship prank-pulling competition.
Walking back to the church I saw the grassy parking lot filled with cars. Years ago there was a house and shed there, which was torn down to enlarge the lot. Shortly after our arrival in Jamestown I was hanging curtains in the foyer when emergency vehicles arrived at Herm’s house. It was on fire, which was put out quickly. Later, Herm allowed me to spend many hours working in his very neat shed workshop, cutting out parts to make 44 piano key dolls.
At the church Monte and I joined others entering the basement. I’d forgotten how good the chicken pie dinners and the ice cream sundae bar were. While there we talked to people and did my usual—shot pictures.
While I was out walking Monte was looking at a photo album.
“I was reminded of the Valentine’s Day dinner the youth put on to raise money for a camping trip,” he said. “They went all out. They included a takeoff on the Newlyweds Game. It was very creative.”
There are times to revisit the past, to review how events of the past have affected your life, to enjoy reacquainting yourself with people and friends from the past. At the same time it’s important to stay in the present, to nurture the new relationships that enter your life. For those persons who live in the same community their past generations have lived, revisiting the past may involve re-meeting persons like us who return for a moment in time. For those of us who live a nomadic life there are many communities and relationships to integrate into our experience, often too many to experience in depth. For us, Jamestown was a point in time, a five-year stretch. We were pleased to look back, but the time had come to return to our current life, to the present, in our town three-hours away.
A picturesque sunset greeted us as we left the church after a gratifying dinner and renewal of friendships. It was a perfect ending for a great experience.