Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blessing the Lawn with Song

Lord have mercy! Why in the world would anybody belong to any church but Holy Nativity! I’m not talking about the hamburgers this time either, it’s the music, we have a fantasticalistical music program. As well as every Sunday morning and special music series events some Sunday afternoons, there’s Wednesday evenings, which is what ignites this post. Last night was a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Inside, Tracey Holliday at the piano for fun songs in worship, I’m talking fun.

After worship we had hamburgers and hotdogs, then -- repaired may be the old word -- outside to the lawn for music on the green. Weather, the perfect evening, cool and pleasant, clear sky with the crescent moon over the church, sinking in the west. Sharon Carroll with her supercombo, singing and Mia singing a song or two with her mom. Sara Nicole Dick sang two songs, accompanying herself at the keyboard as she does at The Little Village in St. Andrews some evenings. Everyone with their own lawn chair and sipping their Episcopal beverages. Our new lawn was truly blessed! 

Closing with everybody jigging to “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and Lori leading a congo line, it was two hours outside for the most enjoyable July evening of music I remember since singing round the campfire two lifetimes ago. Why was the weather so nice? Because Father Steve knows somebody.

Our parish superevent for July! Watch the calendar, life at Holy Nativity just keeps getting better and better.

My prayer this morning is for Robert’s granddaughter Emily. She’s 19. Hear us, Lord, for your mercy is great.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014



Why? His last post was February 7, 2013. Why? What happened? Kit Foster’s CarPort is a favorite site that is becoming the final 1957 Hudson on his frontpage, rusted out, tires flat, disintegrating into the earth. 

My morningly temptation is to join him.   

The WWW is Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, abandoned blogs, websites and unfinished business. I understand Kit Foster: retiring from St. Thomas by the Sea I walked away from a blog set up in May 2005 and posted weekly with parish events, last post 2008, still sitting there in cyberspace. How long? ‘til the stars wink out, I reckon. Or Hell freezes over.

The Hudson Hornet was the hottest car on the racing circuit for a while in the early 1950s, I’m saying Hudson, alone before American Motors, didn’t have the capital in 1951 for a new body, or for a new V8 engine to replace their tame pre-war flathead sixes and eights, so they gave us the Hornet flathead six. 

My mother’s brother had one, my Uncle Wilbur, I never rode in it but in my mind it's still sitting on the grassy area in front of the house at 1317 E. Strong Steet.

That Hudson dead outside of Kit Foster’s CarPort would have been the last Hornet, 1957. Did it stop backing in and wouldn't crank back up, or did he start to the store one morning and it died there? Out back in the garage of my mind there’s a car from 1957, but it isn’t a Hudson. 

But to the point, why not, who reads My Nonsense? The old men who look eagerly for my name in the PCNH obits every morning don’t read my blog, I know who you are, forget it, I'll be here when you are gone. There are a few kind folks who check that I’m still alive and start worrying me if I don't post by nine o’clock. Some are, as they say, checking my mood and temperament, across spring and into summer a bit odd, why? The Shadow knows. The rest, observing the devolving sanity, read +Time to see if it’s time to suspend my faculties and call the paddy wagon. What except some egotistical drive keeps one from just leaving the door swinging wide and walking away? I could be reading a book. 

Or driving that Hudson Hornet.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ya-akov yisra-el

I love this summer of Bible stories, it just keeps getting better and better. In our story for this coming Sunday, Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob struggles all night long with a being who is alluded to be God, or at least an angel of God, representing God. At the end of the night,
 as dawn is breaking, Jacob’s wrestling partner asks him his name, and when he says “Jacob” the being tells him that his name will be “Israel” from now on, because he has struggled with God and man and not been defeated. 

Any number of threads may be pulled out of the story for discussion. One I especially like is the Hebrew tradition that naming something symbolizes your power over it.

The next day after this happens in the story, Jacob meets up with Esau. Jacob has been avoiding his brother for years because he is afraid Esau will kill him in revenge for all the wrongs he did to Esau while they were growing up. But Esau loves his brother and instead of fighting, they have an affectionate reunion and go their ways in peace.

The prayer this morning is for the Peace of Jerusalem, that Israel and Esau, and Isaac and Ishmael, would love each other again. But it seems that even the angel with whom Jacob wrestled cannot bring this peace. As long as Ishmael and Esau tunnel into modern day Israel to murder Jacob’s children, peace cannot come by love, but only by force, and talk of a truce is not only naive, but folly.

Lord, have mercy. For the children.


Monday, July 28, 2014

O Come Let Us Sing

Who and what are we, or specifically, what and who am I; or was I? It has been clear to me for as long as I’ve been aware of being an Episcopalian, an Anglican Christian, which predates my consciousness. There was a time when to me Anglicanism was a sound, a sound in worship, precisely and uniquely the sound of Anglican Chant, the four-part harmony we raised in worship every Sunday morning in the years of my life. 

Anglican Chant was lost to parish worship life in the liturgical reform of the second half of the twentieth century when the Roman Church sank into banal liturgy, and we morphed into plain vanilla. Anglican Chant has been forgotten and lost, and we seem incapable of recovering it. Or not interested. I tried at more than one church that I served and the musicians, not raised with it, could never “get it” or hear the magical wonder of it. Even if they could muster the SATB choir voices to lead it, they couldn’t grasp not observing standard metronomic counting, which does not go in Anglican Chant, where a note is held over several words here and skipped lightly there, and they couldn’t match words to notes. It’s the timing, isn’t it. Of timing and times, there are times when I think the grasp of it must have been genetic. Eventually I always gave it up. What brings this to mind? 

The Collect for next Sunday, actually:

Proper 13    The Sunday closest to August 3
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect for the Church dates to 6th/7th/8th century Gelasian and Gregorian liturgies and is in the medieval Sarum missal. With what is, I reckon, my myopic point of view, I cannot always tell that what happens in the Church and to the Church is in answer to it. Maybe God has a different point of view to mine. God usually does.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

surprise, surprise, surprise

Genesis 29:15-28 The Voice (VOICE)

15 ... Laban spoke one day to Jacob.

Laban: Just because you are my relative, that doesn’t mean you should be working for me for nothing! Tell me what I can pay you.

16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older was Leah, and her younger sister was Rachel. 17 There was no brightness to Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful shape and was lovely to look at. 18 Jacob truly loved Rachel.

Since Jacob has no money to pay a bride-price, he offers a creative solution to the problem.

Jacob: I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll serve you for seven years in exchange for the hand of your younger daughter Rachel in marriage.

Laban: 19 Agreed. I’d rather you have her than any other man I know. You may stay here and work.

20 So Jacob served Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel. The years went by quickly and seemed to him to be only a few days because of the immense love he had for her.

21 When the time came, Jacob approached Laban.

Jacob: I have now completed seven years of work for you. I ask you now to give me my wife so that I may consummate my marriage.

22 So Laban gathered together all of the people in the area and prepared a great feast. 23 But in the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob slept with her thinking she was Rachel. 24 Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant. 25 When morning came, Jacob realized Leah was the one with him in the marriage bed.

Jacob: What have you done to me? Did we not have a deal—seven years of labor in exchange for your daughter 

Rachel? Why have you deceived me?

Laban: 26 That isn’t something we do here in this country—giving the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn. 27 If you complete this wedding week with Leah, then I will also give you Rachel. But in return, you must serve me another seven years.

Wedding celebrations last seven days, plenty of time for Leah to become pregnant with Laban’s first grandchild.

28 Jacob agreed and completed his week with Leah. And then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel in marriage.

The Voice (VOICE)
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Above, our much loved Sunday School Bible Story for today, in the presentation style of The Voice. Strictly speaking, it’s not a translation but tells the story like a play script, and has illuminating side comments imbedded in the text, highlighted in light orange, much as the storyteller around a campfire might ad lib. 

At this much too early hour to do serious brainwork, it occurs to me that The Voice offers an interesting possibility for understanding something of the art of textual criticism. How did this story originally read? Well, it's very old and is not unlikely to have suffered some "corruption" over the years, eh? Some scholars say the ancient campfire stories of the Patriarchs were written down during the Babylonian exile, which would date their literary origin to the 500s B.C.E. But they are about an earlier time in history that many scholars have placed historically at about 2000 B.C.E. or 4,000 years ago -- though see the Wikipedia reference below, that says, quote “The Bible's internal chronology places Abraham around 2000 BCE, but ‘it is now generally recognized that there is nothing specific in the Genesis stories that can be definitively related to known history in or around Canaan in the early second millennium B.C.E. ...(and)...’it is now widely agreed that the so-called “patriarchal/ancestral period” is a later literary construct, not a period in the actual history of the ancient world’ 
(Professor Paula McNutt)” unquote. That will drive some up the wall, eh, but also check the other references below. 

Anyway, textual criticism sometimes uncovers places in the Bible where a scribe’s marginal notes were incorporated into the text by a scribe transcribing a century or so later, and thus became part of the text itself. What occurs to me, thankfully now growing too late to expand on it right now, is that the illuminating side comments of The Voice that are imbedded in their presentation of text, could, by a scribe a generation or two later, who didn’t especially notice or understand the orange highlighting, have been simply copied straight through as though they were part of the original redactor’s text, and thus come down to later generations as part of the divinely inspired original.  

Some will say “what difference does it make?” It may make no difference if one only wants to read the Bible holistically; but if one loves it enough to love pursuing every possible avenue of study for enlightenment, it makes all the difference in the world.

That’s all for this morning, I guess. This wonderful Bible story is an opportunity, which I missed because of time wandering down some path, for chortling with the ancient Israelites round the campfire about how Laban really put a good one over on Jacob, 

which serves him right for the cheating tricks he played on Esau, that bumbling ginger-hairy Edomite ape. 

Modern day lawyers would have been able to weasel Jacob out of the marriage, have it annulled in court and lots of billing hours. But in Jacob’s day and age, honor was more important than it is anymore today. Besides, it’s too late: he’s spent the night with the ugly one and she’s pregnant with Reuben. From this story comes the custom of having the lights on for the wedding night.


Saturday, July 26, 2014


Those of us clustered around the television watching the Twin Towers fall that morning knew that everything was changed forever. At least for our lifetimes. As I stood there staring in horror, came to mind Friday, December 7, 1962, our professor lecturing his American government course at UMichigan reminiscing about his thoughts on the peaceful Sunday twenty-one years earlier as he listened to the radio thinking, “How different it will all be tomorrow.” It was. Comes round.

We had a pax interregnum of sorts, didn’t we, after the Vietnam War until 9/11, what, thirty-five years? Even paxier those twenty years from the end of the Cold War until 9/11. Peace and prosperity. Wary trust. Buicks in China.

What a mess. Soviet Union sneaking back under the tent. Romney was right, it is Russia? Barry’s chance to be as stupid a war criminal as Dubya: dust off those silos and make sure the hot phones work. Fingers itch to press red buttons. War is triggered by the itchy trigger finger of a megalomaniac. MH17.

Gaza, Left Bank, Israel: only blind fools see black & white, there is no right or wrong, only feelings, points of view, convictions, not shades of gray but all colors of the rainbow. Where to draw the line in prehistory? Canaanites were there first, Israel never conquered Palestine, whose land is it, they will fight it out forever. It was given to Abraham? All sides claim Abraham. But be sure your sins will find you out: The Sin is the world’s pitiless concentration of residents of the land instead of resettling them. Too late: only way to peace is war, stronger side obliterate the threat regardless of cost. Neither side favors a naive ceasefire followed by endless decades of the same. Bunker Busters will take out the tunnels. But it becomes global, shall we go there? We already are there, the bubble burst on 9/11, we are there. My Lai redux, we have to destroy the village in order to save it. 

Whose side am I on? 

I'm not one of the moronic demonizers damning everyone who isn't on the same side I'm on. 

I'm not on a side. 

I’m just watching, sick to my stomach.


Friday, July 25, 2014

You Just Never Know

“What are you doing in my dream?” is not a thought that I recall ever having before. I don’t remember ever realizing during a dream that it was a dream. Dreams are a sleeping reality as real as an awake reality when the instant passes, as every instant does, and both become simply memory. 

But there it was, a black International Harvester woody wagon, bright, shiny, new and clear as the 1940s day in which we both were being

That’s it. That's it exactly except that it did not have the wsw tires, but that’s it exactly. I was standing on the corner as it drove past and turned the corner right in front of me. The longest view I had of it was rearview and taillight. It drove on beyond and away as I shouted or dreamed “wait, I want to go.” Come back. 

What was that all about? Who knows! You just don't never know. Spring 2008 I attended Credo, an 8-day retreat for Episcopal clergy, and while there, it was at an Episcopal diocesan camp and conference center near Orlando, I participated in a “dream workshop.” And read a couple of books about dream interpretation, thinking to offer the ministry of a dream reflection group after retiring from St. Thomas, Laguna Beach. I never offered that, instead did another Grief Support Group, more years of EfM, and midweek Bible study groups, but never got round to the dream interpretation group. And don’t mean to start now, so don’t bother asking. 

The dream? It’s now a memory that I can call back as readily as other memories, dreams -- and cars. 

Am I OK? Well, it seems to be a very long allergy season, with this odd sneezing and runny nose. But no. When I have to fight off the urge to eat ice cream I know I’m not alright. Vanilla, frozen very hard, with chocolate syrup dribbled on, and milk poured over so as to form a crunchy crust. But I will not do, and the answer is “no.” 

Reading? Three books. One fiction, The Orphan Master’s Son and a couple other. The Complete Gospels by Robert J. Miller of The Jesus Seminar; it has “New translations of the Bible’s four Gospels plus the Gospels of Thomas and Mary, the Sayings Gospel Q, the Secret Gospel of Mark, and twelve other Gospels from the first three centuries.” At the moment I’m reading about Q. And I’m going to read again about Secret Mark because I’ve offered to study it with the Adult Sunday School during our fall 2014 season. Secret Mark is like finding a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. If we do it in Sunday School it will only be one session. The orphan master’s son is a North Korean living an unenviable life in an appalling society. My other book just arrived by UPS about dark last evening but I’m well into it, The Text Of The New Testament - Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Fourth Edition, by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman. Everybody knows Metzger, Ehrman is one of my favorites; plus, my favorite local Bible scholar gave it five stars on Facebook, so here I am into it, and she’s right, it’s first class.

What Else and What Now ? Without searching frantically, I’m keeping an eye out for a book of poems by a Scandinavian poet I like, one poem in particular, but several really. The book is around here somewhere. The house is too damn big and I have books from one end to the other, half of them only half-read. What Now? Maybe visit a dream or a memory. Or go for a walk. I'll go for a walk while Linda does her mercy ministry of taking an elderly friend to the Eye Clinic.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Annie & Jennie, Bay Fisheries, St. Andrews, Florida

At least in their beginnings there was rivalry of sorts between St. Andrews and Panama City (Harrison as it originally was called), physical separation with rivalry. I might visualize it like the sense of rivalry we had in sporting events between Cove School and Millville School in the 1940s, or between Panama Grammar and St. Andrews Elementary, when all the schools went through eighth grade, before the early 1950s when the junior high schools (grades 7, 8, 9) were established and Bay High changed from grades 9-12 to 10-12. That started Fall 1950 actually, my Bay High class of 1953 having two consecutive years as the lowest grade. That break may have been what stopped the tradition of the “frosh cap” when freshman had to wear the little red and white beanie cap and were subjected to some mild degree of hazing, taunting. 

The school system has been changed again since then to the middle school system (6, 7, 8) and the high schools back to grades 9-12, and there is strong rivalry of all kinds including academics and sports between the high schools. That’s the kind of inter-city rivalry there was before the merger of St. Andrews and Panama City. My grandfather always carried a sense of the tension, and I remember Pop telling me that Panama City should have merged to become part of St. Andrews instead of vice versa. Going from St. Andrews to Panama City was “going up to Panama” not unlike “going across the bridge” is today for the drive between Panama City and Panama City Beach.

A better local history buff than I will know, but seems to me the divide between St. Andrews and Panama City was Balboa Avenue. Or it may have been Lake Caroline. Regardless, the division was both physical and emotional, even a bit testy. The house where I live now, dating from 1912, was solid in St. Andrews, as was my grandfather’s seafood business, Bay Fisheries just across the street and a block to the east, just west of Frankford Avenue where Landmark Condominiums is today. 

Exactly at the SW corner foot of Frankford Avenue in my early growing up years stood a large tin building, which was the old ice plant, by then abandoned and a haven to drunks. I remember a Sunday afternoon in the 1940s going to the jetty there to go swimming, the ice plant office door was standing open, seeing a man lying under a cot. I pointed him out to my father, who said "leave him alone, he's sleeping off his drunk." In the PCNH the next day was an article saying that he was found there dead.

I remember the stone jetty jutting out into the Bay at the foot of Frankford: we used to swim there, but on the west side only for some reason. It was deep enough for a shallow dive off the jetty. In earlier days there was the pier that stretched out there, pictured below, with Bay Fisheries at the end of it and a railway spur going out to it. Bay Fisheries began as Pop’s business about 1908, but my father told me maybe seventy years ago, that he had learned his lesson about control of a private enterprise when, to raise capital, Pop had sold partial ownership shares of Bay Fisheries and inadvertently lost control.

Where am I going with this? To wrap up my Alfred Story, actually. Dr. McKenzie sent me four pictures that show the pier and Bay Fisheries, and the Annie & Jennie. I had seen at least one of them in local area history publications, but all together they complete the story for me, and my mental image, and with gratitude to Mike, I’m posting the four pictures here this morning.

Bay Fisheries with the fishing smacks at pier. I can't read the name on stern of the boat.

A 1920 shot of Bay Fisheries and the pier showing the railway spur

A portside view of the Annie & Jennie

Annie & Jennie under full sail, 1912

Thank you, Mike.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

For Love Of

Not Bubba, not Tom, not Carroll Junior

It’s difficult to take anything seriously in life, myself especially; how could I read the news and still take myself seriously. A long-retired Episcopal priest with a Lutheran education, I have no idea WTH I’m talking about, nor does anybody else have any idea what I’m talking about, including sometimes I climb into the pulpit figuring nobody will get it, self included. My idea of a good time anymore is not to paint the town red but a glass and a box of red wine facetiously marked “shiraz” and “Australia” and a package of delicioso cheddar cheese that my Belovedy brought me from Trader Joe’s. Oh, and a clock that says it’s five o’clock somewhere, anywhere. Speak, clock, ve haf vays to make you tock, say "five," say it. Night out on the town? Couldn’t care less about it. Why? When you live in paradise, why --- what I've got in mind ...

One glass, one only. Preferable to a box of it would be an unopened bottle of Australian shiraz, aged, maybe Wolf Blass, or a Durif, darker than dark, bring out the ladder, climb up, it's that one in the corner, pick it from the top shelf of the open-air pub in Adelaide, whoof the dust off because it’s been up there for years, and where’s the corkscrew -- but I’m good. Sniff: so's the cork. Darker than any plum. Forty years ago, BTDT, a Biblical long time, but I’m good. 

MLP, My Laughing Place, what about it? My haven against the warps of life. Has been and is. Of the women in my early life, before age fifteen let’s say, deeply beloved was Mom, my paternal grandmother Mom. Does anyone but me know how much little boys love their grandmother! At last the story can be told. She had my heart, and I always felt I was the most special to her. Mom with her dress and apron, always the apron. One of her movements was drying her hands on the apron. Did that house have running water, or wasn't there a hand pump in the kitchen and always there beside it a pitcher of water to prime it --

From what has been going on this past week or so, with the developing Story of Alfred, I think I had Mom’s heart too. I wonder this morning how she might feel had she known that ninety-six years on, the Story of Alfred would still bring heartache to a boy who loved her? She told me the story over and over again, at my insistence as a small boy. I was loving the stories, how was Mom feeling, constantly reminded, "Mom! tell me about Alfred!" and she would. I never thought about how she was feeling, small boys are like that. It was less than twenty years after, how was she feeling? As if it was ever far from her mind. I hope she loved telling about as much as I loved hearing about. 

Reading the story again now, and remembering, and writing about, has sent me to MLP many times in the past few days, mentally and physically, because it's not possible to tell a story and stay out of it, to tell a story you have to go there, be there. Be inside, you can't remember and tell a story from the outside. Like those cars in the garage of my mind, peering in the window isn't enough, now and then, from time to time I have to go sit in one, start it up, take a ride across the heavens. MLP, what’s that? My Laughing Place, as Brer Rabbit said, everybody's got one. It’s not really for laughing though, although like Brer Rabbit I suppose one could laugh there, maybe so someday. But I haven’t, not yet. An open-air cave beside the sea, in shock, I spent hours there the excruciating evening Norman died until God showed up. Or until I realized who/what had been standing beside all along. July 12, 2012 the evening Bill died, I was so enraged at God that it yet abides like a rumbling volcano, fury barely beneath the surface. My refuge, MLP. Who knows what anger lurks in the heart of a priest? De Shadow do.  

For storms, in life and at sea, and the incompetence of human bravado, I leave the anger to my grandfather, Pop, A. D. Weller, the boy’s father. No one deserves to see their son’s casket carried to the train for transport to the grave beside a sister he never knew. Pop can be angry at Captain Caton for incompetence: only a fool tries to bluff an angry sea. My feelings are not anger but other, sadness a century on. Caton also died that night, and MLP is the place again. If Mom had known that in 2014 minus 1918 = 96 years the grandson who loved her so dearly would be reading and rehearsing again the Story of Alfred and seeking refuge at MLP would she have been comforted? I remember Mom. She might have looked at me and thought I should have been given another name in honor. I think so too.

Here’s what I remember. I am maybe three years old, maybe four no older than four, but I could be two years old, I reckon. It’s 1938, maybe 1939, eh? 1937, maybe, I don’t know. Regardless, it’s wee hours. My father has brought me, only me, with him from Pensacola where we left my mother and maybe my sister with my Gentry grandparents, my mother’s parents. If Gina was there, it was 1938 or early 1939. We drive through the night from 1317 E. Strong Street, East Hill to St. Andrews, Florida. Along the coast. There is no burning glow over the horizon from German U-boats torpedoing ships, because the war is still two or three years away and those dead people are still alive. My name is Bubba, I doze in the car, a 1935 Chevrolet coach. I knew the car would show up in the memory, there's always a car.  Yep, that's it

except ours had WSW tires and yellow spoke wheels. We do not go to our house but to Mom’s house, to Mom and Pop’s house on Baker Court because my father has to go to work in the morning. It’s not 2308, not this house that was Alfred’s house, but the house where Mom and Pop lived ten years later when they moved back to St. Andrews after all. Why did they move back, and why after all? Because you cannot run away from your heart, or walk away. 

My father opens the front door and we go inside. Even at this age I notice that the door isn’t locked, why, why isn’t the front door locked? Because they didn’t do that, this is not now, this is then, before. My mother, and in her family, they lock the door, but not here in old time St. Andrews, just as Donald and Sybil Totman never locked the door in old Apalachicola which held on another half century. 

We go inside, my father puts me in the large double bed in the front bedroom and off I go. Morning comes, I wake and my father is gone, to work. Perfectly at home, in a place where little boys are deeply loved, I get up and toddle into the kitchen. Mom is making -- what? I don’t remember, but there she is at the kerosene stove. Simultaneously she sees me and I hug her tight around the legs. She says, “I thought I heard someone come in the front door last night.”

Pop has gone to work too. His 1937 Chevrolet in the garage out back, as usual, because that's his "Sunday car," he's gone in his work car, the Plymouth. With the huge circular speedometer in the center of the dashboard --

Boys remember strangely. I am a boy, with a boyhood ahead of me, yet to be lived: how did I get here, older than Pop?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thanks, Mike!

What a happy thing to have been working down in the lower part of my front yard the day Dr. & Mrs. Michael McKenzie happened to drive by, and we exchanged our family histories with this old house! It’s long distance yet, but I feel I’ve found a new friend -- or a new friend has found me! Mike has corresponded by mail and email, sending me parts of the St. Andrews Bay News, the local newspaper here in the early part of the twentieth century, with its news about the loss of my father’s brother Alfred in the wreck of the fishing smack, a twin-masted schooner, the Annie & Jennie. More news arrived yesterday, which is published below. We look forward to having Dr. & Mrs. McKenzie visit us their next trip to Panama City, so he can look around this old house that his family owned and where he lived for awhile as a boy.

At church Sunday morning a friend commented to me that my blog has been sad lately. I can see that, but it has not been meant so, as I’ve gratefully received and eagerly published bits of my family history that are so dear to me. Things have come out that I did not know, adding to what I did know that was told me by my grandparents, my father, and my aunts in my growing up years, and correcting some things. Here in the house at the time, besides Mom and Pop were my father, age 6 1/2, his older sisters Evalyn Godfrey (whom we called E.G., who I think was twelve at the time) and Ruth, and his baby sister Marguerite. All but my father are buried in the same plot in St. John’s Cemetery and I will look at their tombstones when in Pensacola for a day next month, to remind myself how old each one was at the time.

St. Andrews Bay News
Vol. 3 St. Andrews, Florida, February 5, 1918 No. 36


Mrs. Acker,of Nova Scotia, in a
letter to Mrs. A. D. Weller, received
last night, asked that her gratitude
be expressed to the good people here
for their kindness and the Christian
spirit manifested by them in the
search for and care of the remains of 
her son, Charles, who was lost on the
ill-fated Annie & Jennie.
The search yet continues for the
body of Leonard Stephens, nor will it
be abandoned while there exists the
slightest chance to recover the re-


Remains of Alfred Weller, Jr. Re-
covered. Burial in Pensacola

On Wednesday afternoon last the
new spread quickly thruout the town
that the Nancy Lee was again com
ing up the Bay with her flag at half-
mast, and those who gathered at the 
ice plant wharf learned upon her ar’
rival, that the body of Alfred Weller,
Jr., had been recovered, having been
found on the shore of Crooked Island
by Odom Melvin, one of the survivirs
of the wreck in which Alfred was lost.
As it was desired that interment
be made in Pensacola, services were
held at the Weller home, conducted
by Rev. James Lapsley, after which
the casket was borne to the railway
by friends of the deeply-mourned
young man.

The services at the home were at’
tended by many of Alfred’s friends,
and those of the family, who came
to pay a last tribute to the lovable
lad who had claimed so large a share
of the friendship of them all.
Mr. and Mrs. Weller and the child-
ren and Bert Ware accompanied the 
remains to Pensacola, where the bur-
ial service was conducted by an Epis-
copal clergyman the following after-

It has previously been recorded here in my blog that one evening a couple of years after Alfred’s death, my grandparents loaded up their two automobiles, a Model T Ford and a Hudson touring car, and moved away from the sea, trying to escape from their desolating grief by starting life anew in another place. Pop drove the Hudson, in which he, Mom and Marguerite rode, and E.G. drove the Model T. Both cars were loaded with belongings, cages with Mom’s chickens strapped to the running boards. They headed north on winding dirt roads, two ruts through the woods, some only marked with signs nailed to trees. It was the first of several futile relocations over the next few years, futile because you cannot walk or run away from your heart. That first stop was Ocilla, Georgia, where my grandfather was a Ford dealer for a few years.

In other news from that edition of February 5, 1918,

The W.C.T.U will meet at the
Baptist church on Tuesday, the 12th
instant, at 2:30 o’clock p.m.  All inter-
ested in the work are earnestly in-
vited to be present and help the work
along. A special message from the
State President will be laid before
the meeting. 

Tom+ in +Time 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Thunderstorm

Interesting weather we’re having these few days, predawn storms announcing themselves with thunder. Hearing from the family room in the back of the house, I head out to get Linda’s PCNH before it’s soaked, greeted by broad, intimidating flashes of lightning out over the Gulf of Mexico and covering half of the southern horizon, and already raining lightly. We don’t get a choice, but I like these better than the summer afternoon thunderstorms, which generally pass to the north of us, blessing Lynn Haven, North Bay and Southport but not St. Andrews. Sometimes even Lowe’s or as slightly north as Sam’s but still doesn’t rain on Beach Drive. 

This too pleasant to miss, I’m on the downstairs front screen porch. Light rain here and increasing as I enjoy, lightning and thunder beyond Shell Island south of me. From my chair, navigation lights: I can see one green flashing. For some reason, the green lights are easier to see than the red.

Suddenly it’s not all that far south. Incoming. And stirring from dead still to a cool breeze. This is good, really fine. And following the flashes that are closing in on me, are no longer rumbles, but sharp claps. A good morning, very good indeed; so good I’m switching from Helvetica to Wunderlich just for the excitement of it.

As well as current events and political slant, people like newspapers for intellectual enjoyment, sometimes to learn things. The New York Times is especially good for that, all week long but particularly Sunday. And Saturday, Saturday too, Linda handed me a couple of articles from the Saturday NYT, from the religion section I think, second below is a link to one of them, if it opens. 

The first link below is to a short NYT piece that caught my eye on the cellphone yesterday while relaxing between services in Battin Hall at church. It’s about happiness and unhappiness,  which has been bumping me lately, one stirred by activity in the right cerebral cortex, the other in the left, I didn’t know that. Left and right, the sheep and the goats again -- which for some of us will stir up Jesus and his parables; for others of us, Bill Weeks and the wonder of him as our teacher at Bay High eons ago. Further, for the longterm, according to the NYT piece, happiness responding more to intrinsic values in life, like relationships; unhappiness to extrinsic things, hopes, wants, disappointments of wealth, fame, position not satisfying. But it goes back and forth, doesn’t it: looking back and longing for a past relationship, or a deeper one, or one that has outgrown you and moved on with its own life, also can stir either happiness or deep melancholy, or back and forth: is that extrinsic or intrinsic, left or right? As in peering in the window of the garage out back, there’s a car there that I wish I hadn’t traded away, or the saying “a child is someone who moves through your life on the way to becoming an adult” -- you just have to agonize your way through it. Nobody belongs to you but yourself, and we can keep stirring the pot or turn off that light and move on.   

Less than one second between that flash and its clap, close. But both sight and sound are more to the east than a few minutes ago, so easy to tell which way the storm is moving. And the rain, which had gone heavy, suddenly lightens, lessens. I’m glad I came out here to enjoy. 

The second NYT link is to an article about SBNR, which is becoming a religious category of its own, its own church. Not to castigate, but my early experience of “spiritual but not religious” was folks who would rather be up the river fishing than in church on Sunday morning, telling me they find God better there. Or walking on the beach. Or on the golf course. God at the Bridge Table? I used to be skeptical, but I’m no longer so, although my spirituality is more likely to stir in a room full of people and where every now an then a child lets out a loud, happy shriek. Church is for crowded and noisy, but whoever or whatever God is also shows up here in the darkness of my porch, and moving in the fiery storm. It’s all good.

Rain has stopped. Tops of my pine and cedar trees are moving. Distant rumble to the east: wake up PSJ and Apalach. 

TW+ in +Time