PA 1972 – 1973

Back to the Pa. suburbs at Beverly Hills.  We did make a trip in December to spend time with Marge’s sister Pat and her family in Penn Yan, NY. The weather was cold for December, but reasonable for January though still in the teens.  We attended a pleasant New Year party with friends and I made my celebrated potato salad and that PA Dutch specialty, funnel cakes.  I  made these with pancake batter drizzled into hot fat using a funnel to obtain variety in shape.  Hot, greasy, and sugary, food heaven! 

In January, friends of ours were moving away and we had a light buffet at our house, including home-made ice cream.  A little cool for January but tasty. Ice cream was requested, and tastes better freshly made than with a lot of preservatives and artificial flavors.  Not too wild a party but very nice. 

I went to a class in November to refresh my skills in my areas of work.  I did well and things learned before came back quickly.  Slowly but surely, I made progress on my woodworking projects.  Marge had bought me a very nice radial arm saw as a present and by taking my time I could do a pretty good job at basic cabinet making.

We were in reasonable health in 72.  Marge was still taking injections in her back from a doctor I didn’t trust.  I can’t remember the name of it now, but it involves injecting some sort of finely ground slurry into her back somewhere.  I really didn’t think it was helping her and it might have adverse effects later, but at least she was only going once a month now. i can’t remember how this got started, probably some friend told her about this guy.

Work was doing well and I had finished a big work project on time and was satisfied with that accomplishment. February 73 provided a work related opportunity to take a trip to Los Angles . I was disappointed at the weather as it was wet and rainy.  A not so sunny CA, but I realize now that winters there are rainy in winter, at least for us as we get only a few inches total per year.  In fact January was mild in PA, no snow that lasted.

To recap a bit for myself, I had not darkened the interior of a church from the time I graduated from High school in 1954 until we had Ingrid baptized in 1962 when I came home from active duty. We did go to an old like Presbyterian church when we moved to Binghamton in 1964 and to a new young church when we bought the house in Vestal. We fit in better with the other suburbanites and I was even a church officer for a few years.  The pastor was new, recently graduated from seminary and didn’t exactly seem sure that this was his real calling.  Nice enough guy and his wife was also, they just didn’t seem really comfortable in this role.  His name was Walt, can’t remember the last name and after we moved to PA in 69, heard that he had left the ministry.

 When we moved to PA, we joined a nearby Lutheran church and that was a BIG mistake as the membership was very insular and the pastor rather cold. We quit a short while after joining and agreed not to join any church.  “Once burned, twice shy” as the saying goes. We did attend a very small church near us that was home to two congregations meeting on alternate Sundays. The Lutheran pastor was a full-time professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. He was Dutch or German as I recall. I actually felt I was learning worthwhile information from his sermons. Marge and I went to a Bible study group often, and I really thought it worthwhile, big surprise.

I finished my bedroom cabinet making with two bedside stands and we put up new drapes. So much for home improvements for a while. Too bad personal improvements were not so straight forward.  We sort of drifted along.  I was never very religious myself, had nothing against it, but really was not a true believer, and a deist more than a theist.  

Its pretty well accepted from the time of Albert Schweitzer’ monumental opus that there was a historical Jesus, and he certainly seemed  an exceptional and an enlightened being. Many religious institutions teach people to be good, but don’t help them to become self-aware.  When I grew up, we went shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday. That was just the pattern of life. Something you did, but really to me church had no special meaning, it was just another regular activity in life.

 What is “God”? Depends on who you ask. Even Christianity had to invent the Trinity to remotely try to explain what God meant. This did and does still, using terms that are not very helpful, as they also are not externally defined.  

Marge’s mother was, in her way spiritual, but not a believer in organized religion.  She was a follower of a man whose name was Browne Landone and she had boxes of his writings, and I still have two of them.  Her Dad, Col. Alex Sutherland was an atheist who said he had looked into religion and it was a bunch of “hooey.” Perhaps the atrocities of WWII were part of his conclusion.

My Mom went to the little Methodist  churches in the hamlets where we lived.  My Dad went as well, I think to support her in our family.  Methodists don’t celebrate communion as do the RC church, Lutheran and Episcopal, but Methodists have a monthly remembrance ceremony. I don’t remember whatever the Methodists named the service, but Dad would never go to church on those days. Obviously he was not Christian.

Moving along, in Vestal Marge had decided she had messed up her life and made a personal acceptance of Christ.  Prior to that, I think the reason she went to church was so she could sing in the choir, something she was good at, and welcomed for her singing ability. She became involved in what was then known as the Charismatic Christian movement.  I don’t think it exists in any form today. Through this though, Marge made friends in Binghamton and somehow through them met people with similar beliefs in Coopersburg, the village about 3 miles from us.  For her this was a growth experience.  She did become easier to live with and I told her so.

“Quoting from Marge’s biography “I became involved in a group that met in the new friends home. It was a house church, and after initial discomfort and on my part (no one ever does things exactly the way you are used to, in a new place.), I dived right in. I was still my basically conservative self; there is always a part of me that stands to one side looking on and sort of checking things out.  

I was developing my relationship with the Lord, but I still was struggling with lots of feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.  In some ways I was no doubt, arrogant, and not everyone saw me as I saw myself, as thoughtful and willing.  I had various personality conflicts with certain people in the group.

 One of the characteristics of that movement was an emphasis on worship, and worship was usually an audible expression of love and adoration poured out to Him, both in the group and when one was alone. This was very often in the form of singing.  The songs we sang were either choruses, or Bible verses set to music, sometimes old hymns or new songs we learned.

The other kind of singing we did was called singing in the Spirit, where the words and the melody were spontaneous.  sometimes the whole group would sing together, everyone singing their own song to the Lord.  You would think it would be just noise, but it blended together, and was incredibly lovely. Sometimes one person would sing alone.  I did that.

It was sort of like gathering up what everyone wanted to express to God, and pouring it out in one voice and song.  It is difficult to express what this meant to me, but you can understand that this was a very emotional thing, and in some ways very fulfilling.

 I have always been reluctant to express my emotions very freely, and yet I could do it there, almost publicly.  This gave a richness to my life that I had longed for and been frightened of for many years.”

In PA,  I worked for the power company as a manager. I enjoyed my work had good people in my department  working for a first-rate company. The company was  PA Power and Light.  It was not a state company, but regulated by the state. To me, Public Utility  companies are fulfilling a social need.  They were not turning out needless junk that would be obsolete in a year or two.

I liked our new home, and developed friends in the community. Marge had found a new faith and supportive friends.  The girls were doing well in school.  Time to bring this post to a close.



About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in 1970-1980, Coopersburg PA, Marital difficulties, Pennsylvania and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to PA 1972 – 1973

  1. Louise says:

    Thanks for the window into the past. I actually find it fascinating how you and Mom each found your own paths spiritually. Getting to hear in her own words is bittersweet.

    • R. Johann says:

      Yes and pulling the blinds open is not easy but though timestaking I think worth it for me. There is no one way in life for anything and hopefully by the time life it over, I will understand a bit better both my own and ours together.

  2. Kathilyn Bigler says:

    I loved reading this!!! Thank you for writing!!!!! Your home is beautiful and you continue to express yourself so well!!! Keep writing!!! God Bless!!!! Kathilyn Bigler

    • R. Johann says:

      Thanks again for your enthusiastic support, that means a lot to me, especially when I am having sort of a writers block. I hope you and your furry friends are well and you are making progress in selling that house.

  3. Allan T says:

    Hello Robert, I or should I say neither Janice or I are at all religious! I was Bar Mitizvah’d, was not married in a Temple, in fact the Rabbi that married us, did not have a Temple, he made documentary movies on Indians. Of course this was LA, and most folks were “in the business” one way or another.
    Interesting read.

    • R. Johann says:

      Hi Allan T, I think that a lot more people are secular than identify themselves as such. Church is something many do for their children to have some direction other than the parents, as well as the social aspects. Organized religion doesn’t have the hold on people that it once did. By the way, did you ever get a part, maybe with a bit of makeup?

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