On behalf of the committee, Judith DuBois, Joan Paterson, and myself (Mary Flamm), and the entire Centennial Committee, we would like to welcome you to Nostalgia Night. Following the presentation, feel free to view all the articles displayed, at your leisure. Refreshments will also be served after the program.
So now let us take you down memory lane and share with you some of the memories of those who shared their thoughts with us.
"Remember is a lovely word, and telescopes the years.
When sliding on time's avenue, Memory appears.
To bring to life for inner eyes, The pages of the past
Where tears and joy have merged to form, Rainbows that will last.
And that's what we'd like to do tonite - to remember. If in case we have not been entirely accurate in our memories, please keep in mind that we are using material submitted by a variety of people, and each person views the past in different ways. The events we describe are the personal opinions of those interviewed.
Catholic priests have said Mass in Cobden since Father Eishoff in 1861. These Masses were held in private homes with adult servers such as Matthaws Clemmons. Baptisms, however, were a different matter. It is recalled that a Mr. O'Conners who worked for the railroad, would load babies and their parents onto a section car and take them to Anna to be baptised. Nine other priests from Anna, Mounds and Cairo also served us until our first church opened in 1879, and our parish of St. Joseph's was formed. Father J. Herlitz performed our recorded baptisms. From 1881 until 1893 Benedictine Fathers supervised parish activities, but it wasn't until 1894 that Father Christopher Goelz became our first resident paster.
During his time the parish school was built in 1905 to be served by the Benedictine nuns from Little Rock, Arkansas. Father Goelz is remembered as being strict in Catechism, but very well liked. The story goes that Father had problems with birds in the church steeple, and after rectifying the situation with a shotgun, blamed the resulting holes on woodpeckers. Some of the memories of those days are plays at Miller Hall, shows and youth card parties. The summer ice cream socials had their beginning at this time.
In 1908 Father Goelz was succeeded by Father Fisher, who was pastor when the Benedictine nuns left in 1912. The school was then supervised by the Notre Dame Sisters from St. Louis. Sister Benvenuta had the lower grades, and Sister Aurelia the upper. St. Joseph's school consisted of two large rooms separated by a hallway with stairs leading to the convent on the upper floor. The duties of the priest in those days were varied in that he ministered to the people in Anna. Was Chaplain at the State Hospital, and had a mission at Wetaug one Sunday a month. The only transportation available was the train or a horse from the livery stable. He was known to have walked from Cobden to Anna and back for Mass.
Father Fisher remained in Cobden until 1919 when Father Eppman joined our parish. He was followed in June of 1922 by Father Charles Brumleve who remained our pastor for 19 years. In the year 1925 the existing frame church was replaced by our present brick building. Dedication was held May 31st, 1925 and the following day Margaret Basler became the bride of Lee Brumleve. Memories of Father Brumleve certainly leave rainbows that will last. He had a wonderful kind way with children. He is remembered for his white hair and big smile, and bouncey walk. His rewards of candy bars for jobs such as carrying ashes from the school and church, running errands, and doing favors, bring back sweet memories. He would load the boys in the back of his Chevy coupe, on seats that he had built, and off to the lake at Shawneetown they would go for camping and swimming. Father Brumleve, being handy with tools, built a merry-go-round in the side yard of the school for the children to play on. He always had a new, shiny pocket knife or a box of cherry chocolates for the alter boys after the 6AM Mass on Christmas.
First Communion was very special. After long, hard preparation for first Confession and Communion, a breakfast was given by the Sisters upstairs in the convent for just the First Communicants, dressed in their Sunday best. They then returned to school downstairs, but were again invited up to the convent for lunch. Father Brumleve would arrive with all these rosaries dangling from his hand, and each child chose his or her own. In the words of one communicant who was interviewed, "Truly it was our day."
One of the things the girls remembered was, all the children bringing food at Christastime for all the Sisters. They would hide the things in the basement: Sacks of sweet potatoes, buckets of lard, even live chickens. Later they were put on the stairway to the convent and the children would ring the bell to surprise the Sisters with their gifts. They can also remember when the clematis bloomed at the beginning of the school year. The boys would draw a bucket of drinking water, to set on the school porch, and the petals would fall into the bucket and sweeten the water.
Among the best remembered nuns are Sister Baldwin, who was strict, but a very good teacher. When she got excited, she would speak in German, and they never knew whether she was blessing them or cursing them. The snap of the rubber band on her prayer book got everyone's attention. Sister Donata was the Cool Sister, whose cookies are known to have sailed through the air better then they chewed.
Sister Theaphana is remembered by some as a truly saintly and unforgettable person who would relate the adventures of Jack Armstrong at the end of the school day. The parochial school and the sisters who taught added a togetherness to parish life.
About that time the parish had three "home-made" ice-cream socials each summer, some with a band and bingo. In the fall, a chicken pie dinner and bazaar was held in the Lawrence Box and Basket Mill, where the Post-Office is now. The dinner was later moved from town to the church basement. Several remember making ice-cream in large wooden freezers, eating delicious chicken salad sandwiches, and big tubs filled with ice and soda pop in bottles.
Father Brumleve left the parish in 1941 to be replaced by Father Driscoll who is remembered for his dry sense of humor and his zest for long and frequent walks. Following Father Driscoll, Father Frankevitch arrived in 1942. During his ministry to our parish, the rectory burned in 1946 and he lived in the church basement while the new rectory was under construction.
Around 1950 Father Victor Sulkowski came to our parish. He devoted a lot of time and energy to the success of the ice-cream socials. In 1954, to the relief of everyone, the old organ so many children and adults had pumped, was replaced by the modern electric one we are still using.
The summer socials ceased in 1961 with the departure of Father Victor. Father Joseph Orford was assigned to our parish that September and the following June, due to low enrollment and lack of teaching sisters, the Bishop decided to close our school. For several years the convent remained in use for the Precious Blood Sisters who conducted C.C.D classes for Cobden and surrounding communities. Near the end of this period we began to use our first lay teachers.
During the time that Father Orford was here we saw drastic changes in the church liturgy, and in the church itself. The Mass was now said in English and the congregation stood to receive the Eucharist. Some of us had trouble adjusting to the changes, and the sound of our own voices the first time we sang was strange to our ears. About that time a poem was published in a popular magazine that even today seems to sum up the confusion some of us felt. It was entitled "The Conservative Lament".
Latins gone Peace is too. Sin and shouting from every pew.
Altar's turned round, Priest is too.
Commentator's yelling "Page 221"
Communion rail's going, stand up straight. Kneeling is suddenly out of date.
Processions are forming in every aisle Salvation is organized, single file.
Rosary out, Psalms are in. Hardly ever hear a word against sin.
Listen to the Lector, hear how he reads. Please, stop rattling those Rosary beads.
Padre is looking puzzled, doesn't know his part. Used to know the whole deal in Latin by heart.
Hope all the changes are just about gone, and they don't drop bingo before I've won.
This poem could have been written by any of us here tonight.
Father Drone was our pastor from June 1967 till sometime in 1970, at which time Father Robert Keating was appointed administrator. On August 26, 1970 he formed our first parish council. In June of 1971, Father Steve Humphrey was invested as our pastor. The first men's smoker was held that October and the first wiener roast one year later. The old school building was torn down, and the new parish Hall was started in July of 1973 and completed in 1974. The Blessing of the Hall and the first pot-luck were held in June.
The love and concern that Father Steve had for his parish, and all members of the Community, gave a feeling of warmth and togetherness that we shall long remember. Because of his love for his fellow man, he accepted the Bishop's request that he ministers to the needs of the people in E. St. Louis, and left us in June of 1977.
Father Ted then joined our parish after having served several years as administrator of St. John's Children Home in Belleville. He has indeed had his work cut out for him, in his first position as Pastor, since this year found him in the midst of re-decorating and the beginning of our Centennial Year. The celebration began in March, and many activities are planned for the coming year.
April the 9th of 1978, Father Ted announced that Garth Gillan had been selected to start his training as a permanent Deacon, a practice brought back from the tenth century.
In looking back over the last 100 years of our parish life, we are pleased to recall that Fred and Mae Flamm are the longest married couple in our parish, while Karl and Anita Sweitzer are the most recent. Lizzie Cerny's baptism, Sept. 4, 1892, makes her the oldest living member baptised in our parish, and the baptism of Sushannah Gillan Sept. 18, 1978 makes her our youngest.
What better way to end our program than with some shared memories of the oldest attending member of our parish. I would like to give you a brief account of my visit with Mayme Johnson, and the stories which she told.
Mayme was twelve years old when she moved to Cobden in 1902. Father Goeltz was the Priest and she remembers him as being very young and well educated. He was very good with young people and visited a lot in the homes of the parishioners. His uncle was a Monsignor in St. Louis. His mother served as his housekeeper.
One of the things that stand out in Mayme's mind about Father Goelz was his public debate which he and a Baptist minister held in the town Hall. This came about due to a book written by an ex-priest called "30 years in Hell". The minister had read the book and was giving sermons on the text. We cannot report on the outcome of the debate, but thought this a very bit of information.
She also told me that the Altar Sodality was formed by Ann Clemens Petsch, and the Sodality was named St. Ann's in honor of her.
Mr. Franz Petsch was from Germany. He had married his Mother's maid and was dis-owned by his family, and came to this country with his wife. She died and is buried at Mt. Glenn. He then married Ann Clemens, who was Mayme's aunt. Mr. Petsch was wealthy and in addition to loaning money to people he also was a musician and taxidermist. He was reported to be an atheist and even published a book in 1899 entitled "The True Experience of a Skeptic". They donated a large part of the land for our cemetery and Mr. Petsch's ashes are scattered there under a large oak tree.
She then remembers Father Fisher, who was from Germany, as being very friendly, and also visited in the homes a lot.
She related that Father Eppman was nice but very strict. She can remember the lecture she received when one of her children was baptised. She had waited until the baby was a few weeks old and he asked her why she waited so long. Mayme said, "I wanted to be here". To which Father replied, "We didn't need you", and Mayme said "I thought you did". She remembers him as being very stylish.
When I asked her about her favorite nun she answered "I loved them all".
When we talked about the changes in the church, she told me how she regretted seeing the altar gone and some of the solemnity seems to be missing from the Mass today. But she likes the church today because of the friendliness of the people, and likes to see the priest mix with the people.
We hope you have enjoyed hearing these accounts, as much as we enjoyed being given the opportunity to present them to you. We pay a special tribute to all those who have gone before us, for it is thru their devotion and labors that we are all able to be here tonight celebrating this Centennial Year. It is our prayer that in the next 100 years, we, our children and theirs may continue to strive to make this Parish truly a family to be proud of. And when they reflect back in years to come, we only hope they can point with pride to some of the things which we have accomplished.