After Twenty-five Years

Samuel S. Cook

          In trying to look back to accurately place the year that witnessed the close of my active participation as a member of Grace Church Vested Choir, I am forced to admit failure.  The only accurate thing I can say is, that it was more than twenty-five years since I held my last position of trust there—being responsible for having sufficient air pressure at the command of the organist at the proper time.

          My length of service in Grace Church Choir was such that it embraced the position of Chorister, Crucifer and Organ Pumper and a term as president of the Choir Club.  As nearly as I can locate it on life’s calendar, the time extended from 1900 to 1905 approximately.

          Immediately upon high school graduation in 1906, I left Clinton for a period of ten years.  During 1905 and 1906 I imagine I attended church services occasionally, but it is not clear in my mind that I did.  What accounted for my absenting myself after the ten year period is beside the point, but after twenty-five years, approximately, I attended the eleven o’clock service February 9th.  With me were one wife and three children, boys of twelve and ten, a girl of eight.  For the children it was their first Episcopal service—for me, my first for a quarter century.  Perhaps it was the persistency of Leon Wulf that brought me there.  Perhaps, because of a request of a friend, I had just completed a series of six letters, designed to bring a local Church congregation to regular services.  Anyhow, I tried out the thing that I had preached to this local congregation in that letter.  We went and received a real welcome.  The children, rushed from another Sunday School, were interested and impressed by a service so different—particularly by the youngsters in the choir.  And during that service I experienced the entire gamut of emotions, based on re-living those choir years of a quarter century in the past.

          From the viewpoint one attains with age and experience, I was impressed particularly with the stability of the Church as an institution for good, and with the importance of the choir in the Episcopal scheme of things.  I appreciated the more, the real contribution that those responsible for that choir back through the years, have made to the individuals who have made to the individuals who have composed its ranks, and what that contribution has meant to the community.  In looking back upon my religious life I can locate but one source of inspiration that really stands out, and that is the choir, and particularly the choirmaster of my time, Mr. A. L. Holmes.

          Few at the age of forty can look back upon a career free from criticism.  If we could, we would not be average Americans.  But many of us can take a bit of pardonable pride somewhere along the line—we would have been much worse, bad as we may have been, if it had not been for choir training.

          And what memories last Sunday’s service brought back-memories of individuals, memories of things.  Impressions gained in youth are largely details of play and amusement rather than doctrines of life’s teachings.

          And with the seriousness of the thoughts of the adult mind returned the memories of boyhood play.  What matters it not that many of us were barred from further football play because Earl Mayer broke his leg in a game at the South School?  What does it mean now that the choir team had a full-back weighing 150 when “yours truly” weighing 69 played center and Harry H. Waters at 71 was placed at tackle because he was a good tackler.  We consistently won from the Main Street Scouts at the old Fair Grounds.

          Franklin Manz’ home run on the Ringwood diamond—Bob Gage stopping the baseball with his Adam’s apple—choir picnics at Scott’s Landing—Twelfth Night Parties at the Odeon and Odd Fellows Hall.

          All these things passed in review as Processional and Recessional occurred, but more important, the faces of twenty-five years ago came back in those same vestments, headed by that same Cross from identical choir stalls through vestry doors.

          Memories which leave their stamp—a source of inspiration to all who ever participated in any degree in the affairs of Grace Church Vested Choir.  May that organization prosper and continue to be the source of good that it has been since 1889—the year of its founding, and likewise the year of my birth.

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