Religious and Moral Issues
Part 3: High School Church
As I moved into high school age, I was active in S. S. , attended morning and evening church. I was in Epworth League (now the MYF or UMYF) and I was in the choir.
Florence Wright Schouten was choir director, and a voice teacher. She mothered me and accepted my uneducated ear into her top notch choir. She mothered me to the extent of sewing me a pretty voile dress for the 9th grade party, and urging me to attend. She even tried to guide me in the sex maze of those days when all that was hush, hush.
She was probably one of the church adults who fought for me at the close of a revival week. A Rev Nafstger? Held nightly services for a week or maybe two weeks. We tried to have a choir for each service. He told the first congregation that he would give a song book to those who attended every night. I was able to pick out soprano & alto notes on a big old square piano at home and dearly loved song books, so I made special effort to attend and thus earn a book. I don’t remember if others than I were there every night, but he declined to give me a book! When prevailed upon, by probably Florence Schouten and others, with rather poor grace (as I remember) he picked out a dirty worn paper back song book for me! That rather soured me on evangelists!
The adults of Trinity Methodist were really kind to me in many ways. One time I was given the church magazine subscription job (was that called the Advocate?) Memory has a foggy idea that that job was a mixed blessing. I was due a certain commission on each subscription. But I was so very penniless I had quite a struggle to turn in to the minister or other official the money required to be sent away. I think I stayed honorable and solvent but it was an effort!
The Ladies Aid of the Church paid my way, twice I think, to “Epworth League Institute” (summer camp) on Iowa Wesleyan campus in Mt. Pleasant. That meant a lot to me even tho I was never a popular mixer with my peer group.
Several stories come to mind as I write this book. Our sessions – especially some evenings were intended to present “Mountain top experiences” – to lead us to feel very near to God. The problem to “loner” me was that we then returned to our sleeping quarters – which in the case of the girls was in the college dorm with 3 or 4 girls to a room. My room mates were very noisy and chatty (the whole dorm, for that matter)
I appealed to our counselor: could I take my blankets and pillow and go by myself outside by a big boulder where I would have quiet and could see the stars as I communed with God. Poor Counselor was surprised, concerned, sympatric, but sorry. Maybe I would be unafraid -- but the church was responsible for my safety and so could not let me do that!
Another memory: I signed up for a nature walk and discovered the college girl guide – leader knew very little more than I did. She did introduce two sorts of dandelion. One had dark color seed, the other a lighter brighter color seed. As I try to remember back, I think one was the common lawn dandelion; the other the tall goats’ beard.
Epworth League Institute was also one of the very few times I actually had a “boy Friend.” A quiet Edward Ayers from Columbus Junction walked from class to class with me or across the college campus. We were teased. I think he was the only boy anyone ever took a snapshot of with me. He was a Boy Scout and appeared unannounced at the house to see me when he came down to attend Camp Eastman. We were so poor and my parents not prepared to help me do the right hospitality with him. I felt awkward.
A Robert Cooper and I in Keokuk High School shared an interest in rocks and geology. But that never did ripen into a date. I have a hunch my Mother was so afraid I’d turn “boy crazy” that she stifled any hints of “Puppy Love”. Robert became a foreign missionary.
One nice thing Mother did do for me. One year of Institute was to have as theme “The Source” and made use of a story by Henry Van Dyke (?). She carefully copied with pen and ink that complete story into a sewn note book for me.
As I remember, it was a beautiful allegory of a village watered by a stream of the purest mountain water, but the stream dried or became polluted. One man (Jesus) sacrificed himself to go to the Source (God) and clean and restore the stream (God’s Mercy).
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