Historical Articles

The Warrior Run Presbyterian Church in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Colonial Articles, Historical Articles | 14 comments

The colonial historical fiction novel I’m currently writing is set in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1777. Because I want my book to accurately reflect the Scot-Irish Presbyterians who lived in that area during the colonial time period, I have visited a number of local historical sites. Come along with me as we visit the 179-year-old Warrior Run Presbyterian Church and learn about Pennsylvania’s Scot-Irish settlers.

 

By the early 1700s, large numbers of Scot-Irish Presbyterians began emigrating from Northern Ireland to the American Colonies. Many of those who arrived at Philadelphia or several ports in Delaware began moving into Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In addition to building homes there for themselves, they established Presbyterian churches which remain to this day.

 

In June, 1769, land in Northumberland County was made available for purchase. Many of the Scot-Irish sold their Lancaster County properties and bought land in this new area – then the unsettled frontier of the colonies. And being a godly people, they brought their Presbyterian faith with them.

 

IMG_1357

 

The original Warrior Run Church was built about 1775. It was a log building situated next to where the Warrior Run Creek emptied into the Susquehanna River near present day Watsontown, Pennsylvania. In 1779, British-allied Seneca Indians burned down the log structure during the “Great Runaway” – a terrifying time in central Pennsylvania when settlers ran away from the area to escape marauding Indian war parties.

 

Once the threat of Indian attacks in Northumberland County had passed, the congregation rebuilt the church, but on land farther away from the creek and the river. This second building, also a log structure, was large enough to hold 300 worshippers. It burned to the ground in 1833, cause unknown.

 

Two years later, the congregation built the current building just feet away from where the second structure had stood. The congregants meant for their third building to last. Constructed with a limestone foundation and red brick walls, the one-story building is in the Greek Revival style.

 

IMG_1358

 

Each of the church’s 13 windows contains 28 individual panes of original glass – a lavish expense when the rural church was built in 1835. As I looked through the windows, I noted the delightful bubbles and waves found in old glass.

 

IMG_1370

 

The exterior shutters are functional. They were designed to be opened during warm weather to help cool the sanctuary and closed during winter to help keep the building warm.

 

IMG_1374

 

The floor of the four-columned front portico is made from bricks and edged with limestone blocks.

 

IMG_1371

 

 

Notice the herringbone pattern on the portico’s floor. Because limestone is plentiful in this section of Northumberland County, it was used as a base for the church’s foundation and porch.

 

IMG_1367

 

 

On Sunday mornings, the congregants entered the large church via the two front doors.

 

IMG_1359

 

The interiors of the old Presbyterian churches are austere. Because Presbyterians wanted to focus on worshipping God, their sanctuaries were devoid of “decorations” that could distract the people sitting in the pews.

 

IMG_1365

 

Notice the lack of lighting inside the sanctuary. The Warrior Run Church never had electricity—or heat—installed. While the church is still used for special occasions, services are mostly held during the daytime in warmer months.

 

IMG_1366

 

During the early 1800s, many members of rural Presbyterian churches actually paid rent in order to have their own pews. One of my Scot-Irish ancestors, Colonel John Kelly – a Revolutionary War officer from Northumberland County, rented Pew 33 in the nearby Buffalo Crossroads Presbyterian Church.

 

The main characters in my novel are Scot-Irish Presbyterians who purchased land in Northumberland County after leaving their home in Lancaster County. Their lives on the Pennsylvania frontier were fraught with danger. At times, it was difficult to distinguish a friend from an enemy. In such a sparsely populated area, the lines between right and wrong, good and evil could easily have been blurred. When the Indians massacred their families and friends, no settler would have been criticized had they decided to quit and leave. But along with their unwavering Presbyterian faith, the determination to succeed that had accompanied their fathers from Scotland to Northern Ireland had traveled with the sons across the Atlantic. These new Americans brought that same persevering spirit with them when they moved into Pennsylvania’s wilderness –  and when they chose to fight for American independence from Britain. During that dangerous and frightening era, the Scot-Irish Presbyterians set an exemplary example for us to follow in today’s unsettling times.

 

As we leave Warrior Run Presbyterian Church, please look in the background of the final photograph for a glimpse of the adjacent cemetery. In August, I will discuss how I found the names for the characters in my novel by walking through this cemetery.

 

IMG_1368

 

Photographs ©Cynthia Howerter 

 

Historic Warrior Run Presbyterian Church is located at 246 Warrior Run Boulevard, Turbotville, Pennsylvania.

Read More

Life in a 1779 Pennsylvania Farmhouse

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Colonial Articles, Historical Articles | 12 comments

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a house built during colonial times? For over 60 years, my aunt and uncle and their children lived in a brick farmhouse built in 1779 in Pennsylvania. As a frequent guest, I had a unique view of the old house and its history.

 

Acquiring the Land –

In 1773, John Montgomery acquired farm land in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Located near the center of the state, this area was part of the American frontier. After choosing a site for his house, John and his sons began clearing the land, using some of the cut trees to build a log cabin. A spring located about 80 feet away from the house provided the family with fresh water.

89099510

 

The Scary Summer of 1779 – 

During the summer of 1779, British troops, allied Indians, and Tories terrorized this area, burning settlers’ cabins and barns and massacring those who resisted. Hearing spirited gunfire from nearby Fort Freeland on July 28, three miles distant, John sent two sons to investigate. Upon their return, the boys reported that the small fort was under siege by a large group of Indians, British, and Tories. John promptly loaded his wife and children into the wagon along with the few possessions they could grab and fled to the safety of Fort Augusta, some 25 miles away.

 

A New Beginning – 

When peace was restored to the area, John and his family returned to their farm and found their cabin in ashes, the British and Indians having burned it the same day of the Fort Freeland attack. Close to the site of the log cabin, John built a two-story brick home. As a child, I marveled at the 1779 date carved into one of the house’s foundation stones.

 

A Wedding Gift –

When my aunt and uncle married in 1944, they were given the farmhouse and adjoining farm as a wedding present from the groom’s parents. This generous gift provided over 60 years of incredible experiences for my aunt and uncle, their children, and their extended family.

 

The Kitchen – 

The house’s original source of heat was a large brick cooking fireplace in the kitchen. During the bitter Pennsylvania winters, heat produced in such fireplaces went straight up the chimney and left the room cold and drafty. At some point, possibly in the 1800s, a wood burning cook stove was installed to the right of the fireplace, replacing the hearth cooking. After 20th century renovations, an electric stove replaced the wood burning cook stove.

106465788

 

The Pantry – 

Food was stored in the pantry, a large room separate from the kitchen. Along three walls, numerous ten-foot tall doors covered ceiling-to-floor shelves of home-made canned goods, dry goods, and kitchen equipment. My aunt’s delicious homemade cookies were kept in a cookie jar on the counter. I accompanied my older cousins on many daring cookie raids while Auntie was occupied elsewhere in the large house.

 

Heat and Light Come to the Old House –

During the early 1940s, electricity was installed throughout the farmhouse and a coal-fired furnace was set up in the basement, providing heat for the first floor only. The second floor was never heated.

 

Running Water – 

Until the mid-1960s, the only indoor plumbing consisted of a small metal hand pump and sink in the kitchen that had been installed around 1900. Because its water source was the natural spring close to the house, the water was c-o-l-d year round. In order to get water for drinking or chores, one had to prime the pump (pump the handle numerous times) until water traveled through the pipe from the spring to the pump in the kitchen where it poured out of the spigot. The water drained from the sink into a pipe that exited the house and ran above the ground to a nearby muddy leech bed, a trap for the shoes of unsuspecting city cousins.

 

The Secrets in the Wood Paneling – 

The kitchen wall containing the fireplace was covered with wood paneling, but a close inspection revealed two doors cleverly hidden in the wood work to the left of the fireplace.

 

The Necessary Room – 

Behind the small hidden door next to the fireplace was a tiny walk-in room, about 4-feet wide x 4-feet deep x 4-feet high. Due to its low ceiling, a child could easily stand while an adult had to bend. Coat hooks protruded from a wood strip along its three walls. Because no plumbing had been installed in the house when I was a little girl, a chamber pot sat in the middle of the floor. As a toddler, this “necessary room” was my first introduction to colonial life. And hardship. During winter, a person could choose whether they used the chamber pot in the cramped room or braved the bitter cold in the small unheated privy that stood in a corner of the rear yard, about 200 feet from the house. As a small child who lived in a house with modern conveniences, neither choice looked good to me during a visit on a severely cold Christmas Day, nor was I anxious to return until warm weather arrived.

 

The Hidden Staircase – 

To the left of the necessary room, another door concealed a narrow curved staircase which led to the master bedroom directly above the kitchen. This room received heat from the brick kitchen chimney, although in the middle of winter, the lack of insulation in the house walls, basement, and attic still made the room unbearably cold.

 

Unheated Bedrooms – 

Because no heat had been installed on the second floor where all of the bedrooms were located during the 60 years my aunt and uncle lived in the house, people only went into their bedrooms to sleep. As one of my cousins explained, “Before going to bed at night, you laid out the next day’s clothing so you could jump out of bed the next morning and dress as quickly as possible before hurrying downstairs.” After one teeth-chattering over-nighter during the winter, I saved my long visits for summer months.

 

Wavy-glass Windows – 

Single-paned wavy-glass windows were equally spaced in each room on the first and second floors. In winter, heavy curtains vainly attempted to stop cold from entering through the thin glass and wood frames.

 

The Secret Ingredient in the Plaster Walls – 

Original plaster containing protruding horse-hair covered the interior walls.

 

Priceless Handmade Chestnut Flooring – 

The floors were made of wide chestnut planks, burnished to a honey-gold patina through the years. Due to shrinkage, there were gaps between the floor boards. Square nails held the boards to large beams in the basement that still carried axe marks.

 

A Time to Say Goodbye – 

Several years after my uncle passed, the house, then 228-years old, was sold. While I’m no longer able to spend time there, I’m grateful for my many memories.

 

Please note: the photographs are not of my aunt and uncle’s house, but of houses similar to theirs.

 

Read More

How Can Tea Cause Such A Stir?

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Colonial Articles, Historical Articles | 7 comments

During the French and Indian War (1756-1763) and Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763-1766), England’s national debt skyrocketed—in part, from the high cost of supplying its military to the American colonies to fight these two wars. After these wars ended, England recognized a need for the continued defense of its colony and kept an army on American soil.

Red-coated British soldiers

Red-coated British soldiers

 

Faced with paying for an astronomical national debt as well as the cost of keeping an army in America, Parliament needed to raise income. Because the British government believed the colonists should shoulder a considerable amount of the cost of their defense, Parliament created revenue-raising taxes for the American colonies. Lacking representation, the American colonists had no say in the taxes that Britain forced on them.

 

In June 1767, the British imposed the Townshend Revenue Acts on the colonies. These Acts imposed taxes for necessities such as glass, lead (used in bullet-making), paper, and tea. Unfortunately, the colonies were experiencing economic hardships as a result of the two recent wars, and these new taxes did not sit well with the Americans.

 

Provoked colonists began purchasing imported tea from sources other than England’s East India Company. The ripple effect was that East India Company’s tea sales plummeted, and the company asked the British government for help.

Loose black tea

Loose black tea

 

The British government’s response was the establishment of the Tea Act of 1773.  This Act did not raise taxes on the colonists, but gave the East India Company a monopoly to trade tea in the American colonies and prevented other tea importers from doing business in the colonies. It also allowed East India Company agents to sell directly to the American colonies which meant that tea sales bypassed Colonial merchants and caused them severe financial distress.

 

The colonists saw this Act as yet another means of England trying to control the American colonies. The result was that colonists refused to unload tea from East India Company ships in the harbors of New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

 

Colonists in Boston took things one step further. On December 16, 1773, Patriots boarded the East India Company’s ships anchored in Boston Harbor and threw thousands of pounds of tea—costing about $1,000,000 in today’s money—into the water.  We know this action as “The Boston Tea Party.”

 

Outraged at The Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774 which were specifically designed to punish the citizens of Massachusetts for their role in ruining the tea in Boston Harbor. Incensed, the Americans renamed these “The Intolerable Acts.” These Intolerable Coercive Acts removed Massachusetts’ self-governing rights, prompting the start of a colony-wide revolt that began the American Revolutionary War.

Men of all ages fought for their American independence

Men of all ages fought for their American independence

 

After refreshing my memory with the role tea played in our country’s history, I’ll never again be able to enjoy this beverage without acknowledging its part in my American citizenship. What about you?

 

IMG_1330

 

Cynthia Howerter is a descendant of Colonel John Kelly, an American Patriot. Kelly fought in a Pennsylvania militia unit at the 1776 and 1777 Battles of Trenton and the 1777 Battle of Princeton. Promoted from Major to Colonel after the Princeton battle, Kelly returned home to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania where he led a Militia in the defense of Pennsylvania’s frontier.

Photographs ©Cynthia Howerter 

 

Read More

My Favorite Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookie Recipe

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Colonial Articles, Historical Articles | 4 comments

IMG_1198

I recently attended a Christmas tea party at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. One of the dining room decorations used gingerbread men, and these sweet little cookies reminded me of the gingerbread men that I’ve made with my son and daughter ever since they were toddlers. I’d love to share my recipe with you!

 

 

Gingerbread Cut-out Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup solid shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses (I use either Grandma’s or Brer Rabbit mild flavor molasses)

Combine flour, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream shortening, sugar, and egg until fluffy. Add molasses; beat well. Stir in half of flour mixture, mixing until smooth. Add remainder of flour mixture, mixing with wooden spoon or hands until dough is all one color. Shape into two balls, wrap each in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Remove one package of dough from the refrigerator. Allow dough to stand until the dough is easy to work with – about 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out dough about 1/4-inch thick. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out the men. Place on prepared cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack.

After gingerbread men have cooled completely, ice and decorate. You can use either buttercream or royal icing and cinnamon candies, raisins, gumdrops, and thin licorice for edible decorations.

IMG_1197

A wall shelf with gingerbread men at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg

Photographs ©Cynthia Howerter

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern is an historic tavern located in Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Read More

Thanksgiving Lessons from My Grandparents’ Farm

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Historical Articles, My Grandparents' Farm | 5 comments

115824008Through the lace curtains at my kitchen window, I watch the first snowflakes—as big as goose feathers—fall from the gray November sky. Scents of cinnamon and pumpkin waft through the room when I open the oven, and when my eyes catch sight of the oil lamp on the cherry farmhouse table, my thoughts follow the curving lane to the old farmhouse where Alice and Ed, my maternal grandparents, raised their children during the Great Depression.

 

Although my parents moved hundreds of miles away after their marriage, my mother’s thoughts frequently traveled to her childhood home. She loved nothing better than to gather my siblings and me next to her as she told us about her childhood on the farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania—stories I treasured and passed on to my own little ones.

 

Mother spoke of a life filled with an abundance of indoor and outdoor chores and of nearby relatives who frequently stopped by on Sunday afternoons to visit.

 

When harsh winds rattled the shuttered windows and blew swirling snow across the barren fields, it was the kitchen that was the center of Mother’s family’s life, mostly because it was the only room in the house that was heated. Family and guests gathered there, the old single-pane windows covered with condensation as much from conversation as from the heat of the wood burning cook stove where a chicken roasted in the oven.

 

The old farmhouse, which originally belonged to Ed’s parents, had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heat. Bathtubs, toilets, and even a kitchen sink were non-existent. Things weren’t any better outside. Three Belgian work horses—Fred, Maude, and Prince—pulled the plow and heavy wagons. Faith and a person’s own strength and determination kept the farm going when the economy and adverse weather interfered. Although parents and children worked hard from early morning to evening, my mother’s stories were never ones of complaining.

 

The day before Thanksgiving, Grandma Alice bundled up against the raw wind, then killed and dressed well-fed turkeys for customers from town who had given their orders weeks in advance. Once the poultry orders were filled, Alice killed the turkey she would cook for her own family. After Grandpa Ed finished the outdoor chores, he opened the old dovetailed chest in the guest bedroom and pulled out his hunting clothes. After dinner, he sharpened his knife on a stone and cleaned his gun. The days immediately after Thanksgiving were hunting days and Ed needed to hunt game to help supplement his family’s food supply.

 

The Great Depression was in full force and money was scarce for my mother’s family. Mother often said that while she and her siblings were growing up, they never realized how primitively they lived on the farm. A person can’t miss what they don’t know, she explained.

 

Something inside my heart was soothed when Mother spoke of the contentment that was felt at the end of each day when the family gathered at the dinner table and her father thanked the Lord for His generous provisions. Grandpa Ed and Grandma Alice made it clear to their children that, but for the Lord’s benevolence, their harvests would be small and their needs large.

 

152027355

My grandparents have long since gone to be with the Lord, and their farm has changed hands several times since they sold it. But my mother’s stories taught me that when a family realizes that they’re dependent upon the Lord to provide for all of their needs—as well as their blessings—every day is thanksgiving day.

 

May your Thanksgiving Day be joyous, may you be surrounded by your loved ones, and may you give thanks and praise to the One who provides for your every need.

 

Read More

Henry’s Visits To My Grandparents’ Farm

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Historical Articles, My Grandparents' Farm | 24 comments

Through the years, my husband and I have acquired possessions that have both a function and a history. For example, the tall case clock in our dining room not only informs us of the time in fifteen minute intervals, but also reminds us of my father-in-law who built the clock in his workshop. Even small items have a large capacity to resurrect special memories. That’s true of one of my favorite kitchen tools—a microplane grater. Each time I hold it in my hand to grate nutmeg or chocolate, treasured memories return to me.

177101440

As a highly curious ten-year-old, I wondered what country my mother’s family originated from. Neither my mother nor grandmother knew the answer. But it was a question I couldn’t forget, and I knew that someday, somehow I would find the answer.

Twenty-five years later, my husband and I moved our family to a new city, and I had an abundance of free time on my hands—time to search for the answer to my long-held ancestral question. Although it wasn’t easy acquiring information about people no longer living, genealogy became my passion, and my inquisitiveness expanded from learning my family’s origination to when and why they immigrated to America.

On a historical society website, I found a query from a man named Henry who had genealogical information on Philip and Sarah Snyder, my great-great-grandparents—whose information I couldn’t find. I quickly penned a letter to Henry that explained my relationship to Philip and Sarah and offered to swap research.

He wrote back and asked me to phone. I called and learned that not only were we distant cousins, but Henry had known my long-deceased maternal grandparents, Alice and Ed, whose farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania had been near his parents’ farm. We’d only talked for several minutes when he paused and said that my voice sounded like my grandmother’s.

My heart caught in my throat. No one had ever told me that.

83113669Henry confided a great concern. For over 40 years, he’d spent every vacation traveling to court houses, historical societies, churches, and cemeteries to locate important but hard-to-find genealogical information, and he had recorded all of it in meticulous, highly detailed handwritten notes. Now in his eighties and in poor health, Henry knew his children saw no value in their father’s painstaking research—information that proved their family history back to the 1600s in Europe. Henry believed his children would throw away his papers once he passed.

He asked if I had any suggestions as to how his research could be preserved and enjoyed by others. Having recently compiled and printed several genealogical books, I offered to record his information and have it printed. Henry asked what I would charge.

“Ten dollars per hour.”

A long silence followed. “I’m not sure I can afford that.”

“I can work with you on the price.”

I could hear the whistle in Henry’s breath as he thought it over. “Well, all right. This is my life’s work, and I know if it’s not printed in a book, my kids will just throw it out once I’m dead. The thought of that happening is more than I can bear.”

I told Henry that I’d keep track of the hours I spent typing his work into my computer program. We’d settle the bill when I completed the project.

A week later, I received a box that contained 300 research pages, information in tiny print covering the front and back of each page. I assumed this was Henry’s entire collection. I shuffled through the papers like they were a long-awaited Christmas gift, squealing with delight as I perused the family history that my cousin had uncovered. Henry had no formal education beyond high school, but he researched like an accomplished academician.

I began typing Henry’s brilliant research into my genealogy program. After two long days spent tapping the keyboard as fast as I could, my fingertips were inflamed; I’d only recorded twenty pages.

The following week, a second box containing an additional 400 pages arrived. As I looked through the research, tears pricked my eyes. My third cousin once removed had found the answers to my questions. The papers shook in my hands as the lives of relatives who had lived before me unfolded—ancestors who as young adults in their teens and early twenties had left their parents in Germany’s Palatinate to escape the ravages of war.

They survived treacherous ocean crossings on small disease-ridden ships only to arrive in Philadelphia to discover that they were despised because they could not “Englisch sprechen.”

These young people were forced to claim and clear forests on Pennsylvania’s dangerous frontier because there was no other land available. They married and had families—only to have their wives and children massacred by Indians or killed by wild animals. Some lost all of their children in less than a week to illness.

But they persevered, thanks to their deep faith in God and the fact that they had no financial means to move elsewhere. These were my ancestors—people who, generation by generation, paved the way for my children and me to have a better life.

I almost cried when additional boxes containing hundreds of new pages arrived weekly for the next six weeks. Now I understood why Henry was so worried about his research.

Because I wanted to be certain that I was accurately reading Henry’s handwriting, we spoke almost daily on the phone for many months. Each call furnished glimpses into family members and ancestors.

Henry told me that he used to visit my maternal grandparents’ farm when he was a young man. Because I had grown up in another state and wasn’t able to spend more than a week or two each year with my grandparents, Henry provided a precious perspective of them.

I learned that Grandpa Ed had been a godly man who treated everyone respectfully and had always been quick to help someone in need. Grandma Alice made visitors to the farm feel welcome and special. “Visit often and stay long,” Henry said she would say.

Each time we spoke, Henry asked if I had finished. The disappointment in his voice was palpable when I explained that many more hours were required. As the weeks stretched into months, I heard something else in Henry’s voice, something I couldn’t identify.

One day, Henry told me that he and his father had owned the only threshing machine in the rural area during the 1930s. Local farmers paid them to bring the machine to their farms to thresh their grain crops so they wouldn’t have to thresh by hand, a slow and labor-intensive process.

He went on to tell me about a summer during the Great Depression when my grandparents didn’t have enough money to pay for threshing, but Henry and his dad threshed anyway, knowing that Ed and Alice risked losing the farm if they couldn’t thresh their grain.

As we got to know each other, Henry talked about himself. After serving in the Army during World War II, he’d worked as a laborer, never earning much, but providing for his family the best he could. And always, always seeking answers to his burning questions of who had come before him and what were they like.

Finally, after ten months, I completed recording Henry’s research and printed several books.

It was time for Henry to pay me. Listening to his voice as he asked what he owed, I finally understood what I’d heard each time I’d explained that many more hours were needed to complete his project: fear. The same fear he must have heard in my grandparents’ voices that long ago summer.

I crumpled the three thousand dollar invoice in my hand. “Henry, you owe me nothing. You’ve already paid me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, it’s simple. Your research answered my questions about my mother’s ancestors and gave me the heritage that I never knew. My throat tight, my voice came out in a whisper. “Without you, I wouldn’t know my voice sounds just like Grandma Alice’s.”

“It truly does.” Henry replied with that distinctive whistle in his voice.

“And had you and your dad not threshed my grandparents’ grain without pay that one summer, they probably would have lost their farm.”

I could hear Henry breathe hard through his mouth.

“I have a saying that I tell my children: ‘Be kind to others and that kindness will be returned to you.’ Henry, your kindness to my grandparents sixty-seven years ago just came back to you. It’s been a privilege to help you finish your life’s work. And I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know you.”

Henry tried to say something, but couldn’t. Sometimes, it’s just hard for a man to speak.

A week later, a check for fourteen dollars arrived in the mail. Henry’s handwritten note said it was all he could afford, but he wanted to pay me something for my work. I knew I would insult Henry by returning his payment, so, because I love to cook, I went to the cooking store and bought a tool that I really needed—a microplane grater. Every time I use it, I like to think it helps make the food I’m preparing extra special. But more than its function, it has a history—and it always makes me think of Henry and what he did for me.

Henry Snyder, 1918-2004

Henry, you are loved and greatly missed, and your life’s work has a special place in my heart and my bookcase.

 

Read More

Page 2 of 3123

Pin It on Pinterest