My big brother in Florida reminded me that Memorial Day was important in the life of our childhood church, Marion Mennonite Church, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. May 30 was an annual all-day Sunday School Meeting. Sunday School was new to the church, so gifted speakers were brought from churches outside the county to support it. They taught and preached in the forenoon, afternoon and evening sessions. This day marked our church as progressive.
Many families brought picnic lunches to eat at noon in sanctified tail gate fashion. At supper time we went home to care for our animals. I recall that we went to the strawberry patch to find the first ripe berries. Then we returned to the church for another session.
I don’t know about my brother, but I was expected to attend every session. The church was crowded with standing room attendance only. Other boys could stay outside and hang around the cars, and talk about girls, but not me. This preacher’s son was expected on the inside.
In 2013 our Indiana family has a tradition of its own. On Memorial Day we annually gather at the Ox Bow County Park to celebrate the arrival of Conrad’s children, Diana and Zack, from Florida for the summer. But this year a cool Indiana rain interfered with the tradition. Although we had reserved a park pavilion for shelter we chickened-out and went indoors to Eldon and Rachel’s house.
The invitation to the picnic is open to all relatives and their friends. Eldon activited his grill, so at 1:00 p.m. we were served hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, chips, rhubarb crunch, shoo-fly pie, and other delicacies. My “Joy” and her daughter from South Bend were first time guests to the delight of everyone. My “Joy” brought deviled eggs and a green salad to add to the meal.
We circled the kitchen filling trays with food and then we scattered over the house to eat. The children went upstairs to play games with their toys, and we adults filled the parlor to talk and to display our own toys called ipads, iphones and tablets. We all agreed that it was the best picnic yet. Nary a mosquito to annoy.