Church, we did that

Perceptions were that things were a bit on the wacky side in Fairfield. Not much good came out of there. I can safely say I don't recall anyone having been murdered in the town. Chicago can't boast the same.

Most of us went to church. If we didn't go to church, we meant to, and our absence was noticed. Fairfield Methodist was the center of social life for most of us, and later, for a small congregation at the Church of the Nazarene, which came to town in the late 50s.

The Methodist church was on the south side of town. The big white church didn't have much parking; most people could walk to services. My recollection is that about 200 could be seated comfortably in the pews, either in the center section or one of two side sections. When you faced the pulpit, to the right was the choir section. Twenty seats, maybe. I sang in the choir. You didn't need talent.

In the rear, two rooms, one on either side of the podium, used for Sunday school classes and Bible school programs. I think the place had a furnace. A bit of trivia clipped from the Reifel county history about the church, from around 1915.

On Sundays, the kids got to ring the bell, and we all took turns if we were tall enough to reach the rope and pull it. The rope went up into a hole and ... well, you just tugged on it until the bell rang. Seven rings.

The church

Church, 1954 ... thanks Bertie!

Sunday School, 1947!

Here's the bell being removed from the church in preparation for the razing of the building. I have no idea who moved the bell or where it went. Lately, the rumor is that it went to Old Franklin. If you know, write me.

Write me

For awhile, we lived next door to the church and, my brother and I -- being ballplayers -- were usually inches away from breaking one of the windows. We were lucky most of the time. Danny Alvey, one of the other chief culprits, says we did actually break a window or two.

I recall the names of two pastors -- Glenn McGuire and Bill Cooney. There were others, Rev. Lowe, and one named Ray Hart, according to my brother Joel. The minister shared a charge with Blooming Grove Methodist, preaching in Fairfield early, then driving over there to preach again. The minister didn't make much money. He did better in Blooming Grove.

The Fairfield church merged with the Old Franklin congregation east of town.

Sermons were low-key. Stella Buckley played the organ. Hazel Klein filled in at times and also played the old piano. We had both.

Average Sunday attendance: 30-50. Average collection: Dollars were scarce.

At one point in the late 50s, the town set up a church-painting campaign, and folks chipped in a buck here and there to buy the paint. We pulled it off, somehow.

Linda Bowers Taylor sends us a couple of pages from an old church brochure that illustrate a little about life at the Fairfield Methodist. These are classics!

Photo 1: Rev. McGuire is baptizing a Stelle child (Mark or Wanda?) with Nelson and Blanche Stelle on hand. And Mrs. Buckley (nee McMahon) put on a raucous show for the congregation!

Photo 2: An image of the church from the middle 1960s with some members of the congregation involved in a planning session. Margaret Linegar, Hazel Glaub and Marilyn Davis are faces I recognize. The others? Help me.

And note the financial figures. These may be for the quarter, not the week or the month.

The parsonage was on the far south edge of town, at the old James Maurice Thompson birthplace. Thompson was a famous author who wrote "Alice of Old Vincennes." The novel has been done as a theatrical production. Here's a 2010 review from the Evansville media. HERE

The church being demolished, around 1968. At right is the parsonage.