St. John’s Congregational Church
210 King Street
November 21, 1945
It’s Thanksgiving eve…Doris is out to the Ballet with Mrs. DeBerry. We were planning to go but some of my folks are trying to organize a “Community Council of Negroes” and they called a meeting for tonight and I thought I’d better be there to see that nothing was pulled off… and when I arrived on time (for once) there was nobody present but me and another po’ cold Negro… and eventually two or three more showed up…but not the man with the key to the building so we adjourned without a meeting. It was just as well that a way since I am interested in organizing a “similar” Council under the N.A.A.C.P. sponsorship…and that can’t be accomplished until the new president takes office December 1st.
Everything goes along…Our kitchen is now furnished except for the Frigidaire…The Ladies Progressive League finally got the “Breakfast set” in…and another lady contributed an electric wall clock..and other little nick nacks for the kitchen. The guest-room is furnished with a bed and dresser…and the rest of the equipment is “on the way”. Before Louis gets here and reports…I’d better mention that the house is still as empty as a barn….The living room has nothing in it….and the rest of the house has the uncoordinated look which a house has without curtains … drapes … pictures … n’ that … but its livable … and our credit is exhausted … The treasurer hands me my check and I hand it to the white-folks. I guess I mentioned the couch we bought for the dining room … It’s “light oak” … modern’ n’ that … and sort of goes with our dinning-room outfit … we went down-town to get a studio couch that could be used as a bed for company … but saw this marked down from $129.00 to $89.00 … and it being what we wanted (and couldn’t afford) we couldn’t resist a bargain … and put a nickle down on it.
The church is going along nicely. Sunday morning attendance is holding up … and quite a few visitors are dropping in. We have seven new members waiting to be fellowshipped in. I’m trying to get fifteen before having an “in-gathering”. The members are trying to make us fat with their Turkey dinner invitations … We ate out twice last week … great BIG ELEGANT dinners from soup to nuts n’ that. We are also eating two Thanksgiving dinners out this week. One tomorrow, Thanksgiving … and another Saturday with a family who have all their celebrations on Saturday when the father can be home from work. We are still “ORGANIZING CRAZY” … We are organizing the entire church into “activity-groups ” of eighteen members each…About 25 or more groups. These groups will meet monthly…The group leaders will “encourage the participation” of their members…check up on financial obligations (collect back dues) etc. and will raise their group-financial quota of $100.00. They will, at least make it possible for more people to actively participate in the church program. We are also organizing a Men’s Brotherhood consisting of all the men in the church. They, too, will meet once a month with a Forum or banquet. or something “interesting”. I’m trying to gradually get everybody DOING SOMETHING…and they seem to like the activity. We had a recital at the church last Friday. It was sponsored by the Choir. The girl is studying at Julliard in New York and use to sing in the Choir. Her father is on the Standing-Committee n’ that. The admission was $1.20 which made me fearful… but a goodly crowd was out…and the girl got her $100.00 and the church cleared about $100.00 so everybody was happy. (See enclosed Program)
We went down to hear Hazel Scott Monday night at the Civic auditorium. It was jammed and packed … and she rocked them. All of my members were out in a body … I didn’t recognize the scoundrels in them furs and diamonds..all sitting in the five dollar seats. AND IT WAS RAINING CATS AND DOGS. Doris is taking a class in “Make-up” at the Springfield Playhouse … and I had to go by for her … and we had to run about ten blocks in the rain to the auditorium. A sailor and his girl sat next to us … During the first half of the program he sat with his head down on his knees … I thought the music was just too much for him … Just as she got to the Modern music … he heaved once or twice … and turned out the balcony … (I was sitting next to him) … The woman sitting in front of him liked to died … and she came just that close to being drowned … it was a sorry mess … His girl friend was LOYAL … and I do mean LOYAL … she stuck right with him … as we good neighbors fled in wild panic … wiped his face and helped his stinking hulk from the room … We enjoyed the program, however … The critic here was a little critical … she played too fast … had too heavy a hand … etc. with which I agreed … but anyhow … she sho’ rocked Springfield one time! The Negro “Ministerial council” asked me to preach their Thanksgiving Sermon … But I had already agreed to say the Benediction for the White Folks at a city-wide Unity service at the civic auditorium. Negroes do love to have their own little affairs. They were all invited to participate in the downtown service … but they preferred to have their own “segregated service”.
The women’s missionary division of the State Congregational Conference is going to meet at St. John’s Church next week … to learn of our great work … and to consider possible expansions. We are getting ready to receive them with open arms … and dreams of a parish house for them to chew on …
Church Choirs from here, there and everywhere are holding forth at our church next Sunday afternoon … at a Thanksgiving Vespers … Should be quite an affair.
Tell Louis and Hugh the girls having been notified of their coming are champing at the bit…with impatience. One little girl said she’d hold up announcing her engagement until she had a chance to look them over … ’cause after all. We are EXPECTING THEM on the morning of December 1st. the last dinner party we went to (last Sunday afternoon) … had places for them all set-up … The good lady understood they were coming that week-end.