Just before the Second World War my father purchased a 1939 Buick. That car would not be replaced until the war was over. Now as good as American automobiles are today, they usually did not last that long back in the thirties and forties. An automobile was often replaced every two or three years. With the production of automobiles discontinued for armaments of war my dad’s Buick was to have to last for seven years.
During that time a part became worn out and a part could not be found to replace it for several weeks, perhaps even a month or more. After all, my memory is good but going back that many years I do not remember just how long we were without a vehicle. But when our car was running and when we had enough rationed gasoline, we would go out on a Sunday afternoon drive. Imagine, I am one of seven children, which meant that nine people rode in that Buick for our Sunday drive. Back then there were not seat belts nor was there as much room as there are in SUV’s today. We children fought over who was to have a window and who was to sit in the little gray chair we placed in the car for there were not enough room on the seats for all of us. My mother held my youngest brother in her arms and the rest of us were jammed into the back seat and floor space. We complained but my father always settled the arguments and we were actually happy to be going to Buttricks Ice Cream stand in Arlington, Massachusetts, a few towns over from Melrose. They made the most delicious sundaes ever.
On some Sunday drives we went to Howard Johnsons. There were occasions when my father limited us to our choice of ice cream because we could not decide what flavor we wished. Back then I liked pistachio or orange sherbet best of all.
On a very hot summer Sunday we might drive to Nahant for a cooling swim and a wonderful picnic. We all helped our mother pack the lunch by making peanut butter and jelly or marshmallow sandwiches. Sometimes we had tuna fish or ham sandwiches and we always had potato chips or potato salad and of course hardboiled eggs. Those were a favorite sprinkled with salt and pepper. We would stay until the evening came and a cool breeze would tell us it was time to go home. Once more all nine people would be packed like sardines in that old Buick and home we would go. Probably when we got into bed if we had not bathed our feet, part of the beach sand would be deposited, uncomfortably on our sheets.
All of this is brought up because not long-ago Dale and Molly and I returned from a Sunday drive. During this pandemic one of the things we have learned to enjoy again is the old time Sunday drive. That drive, where the church is not opened for worship, gets you out from your home and into God’s world here in New Hampshire. But even if you do not live in New Hampshire a Sunday drive can bring back wonderful memories, memories to carry home for the week.
Dale and I drove from Hopkinton, New Hampshire, over route four to Barrington, New Hampshire. We went to the country store called Calef’s on route 125. If you have never been there it should be on your list of things to do if you travel to New Hampshire. When Dale went into the store Molly and I sat outside – me at a picnic table, Molly comfortably lying at my feet. A woman with her nephew sat at a table not far away and we talked about Calef’s and how her nephew loved that store. Indeed, when they were to leave, he did not wish to go.
Sitting at that table how memories flooded back to me. There were memories of my grandfather and father’s farm; memories of logging and building a road up Greenhill; memories of my uncle Warren and the home where he lived; memories of Bradford who now is remembered by a small stone bench in Barrington not far from where my grandfather and grandmother are buried. There are new memories there for Dale and for me as we have shared where we grew up. As memories come back to me on a Sunday drive to Barrington so childhood memories fly back to Dale when we are visiting South Portland, Maine. Our memories are important to us both and they flood back at special times. We share memories of our childhoods often.
I would like to suggest a Sunday drive to you on this walk. We are isolated at this time and we need to occasionally get out of our houses. It is good to drive were there are good memories and let those emotions of a time ago flood into your present self. Where we are separated from each other we can still drive by a church, a home, a park, a beach where we have happy memories. Yes, we all have to shut out some of the sad memories, yet even sad memories looked upon after time has passed recede and the happy ones return.
Talking with my oldest sister this week she told me she had experienced a rather difficult day. She and her husband Bill, now in their nineties, have been very separated from family events. Her son and daughter-in-law, their two grandchildren and their life partners and the birth of a great granddaughter were all together in Florida and they were on facetime. My sister said she started to weep when she saw her family together and she and her husband were not there. We used to be such a close family she said, we should have all been together there. It’s true my sister and her husband often flew to the west coast to be with their family. They would have flown to Florida to be there to greet the great granddaughter. But Mil and I could share happy memories of growing up and how wonderful our family gatherings had been.
I think the Sunday drive has new meaning. It can bring back happy times in the past to hold us over until those happy family gatherings are once more. As a pastor I believe our God sorrows with us that we are facing such tumultuous times. I believe God watches over us and gives us courage to face each day amid this pandemic. Even in a dark time there is light for the darkness can never overcome the power of God.
Take a simple step this week and if you cannot drive to where your family is living be grateful for modern technology that allows us to visit each other not just as a voice but as a person you can see and with whom you can build new memories. My sister Mil might not have been able to be physically present with her family, it might indeed be a sadness – Yet she could see her new great granddaughter and her family even with eyes dimmed with tears. But we often have tears at physical family gatherings for love, true caring love has times of tears as well as times of joy.
Sunday drive, facetime, family, tears, joy, love a powerful loving, compassionate God. Stated much to simply, “LIFE IS GOOD.”
My walks have been not every week on time for I am in the midst of a home project that takes my time and saps my energy, but you are not forgotten. I love having you walk with me.
There is a change now made with comments back to me on our website. We do live in times that greatly concern us. The pandemic and politics are difficult to live with and there is much division in our nation. For this reason, comments back to me which I appreciate and look forward to will now come to me privately on my email. This means you still have a pastor who always welcomes your thoughts and words, but they should be kept confidential between you and me. That has always been a strong part of my ministry to listen to the words of God’s children and to hold them only within my heart.
Until we meet again – “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”
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