At Uncle Monroe's funeral this weekend, I heard many family stories. This entry, from April 13, 2009, illuminates one bit of Hawley history I did not hear until I was grown up.
I am finding myself increasingly nostalgic as we near the April 15th, one year anniversary of Dad's death. Today, I remembered that one year ago this afternoon, Dad ate his last and fittingly, it was communion. A few minutes ago, I tried to read through the updates on his last days and could not make myself do it. I'm not sure if Mom's recent passing has made dealing with the memories of Dad easier or more difficult. People keep telling me they mourned their parents for years...and I believe them.
In the middle of February, a manila envelope arrived in my mailbox. It was from an elderly couple, Dan and Wini, who live in Tyler, Texas. But, in their much younger days, they were friends and fellow church workers with my folks in Brooklyn. In a three page, hand written letter, they told of the history of my parents in New York. I learned how Mom and Dad, with the Fryers, another husband and wife team they knew from college, were sent from a small church in Arkansas to minister in what has been called The Melting Pot Of The World. The letter chronicled how the church had no permanent meeting place and moved around from a hotel to a ballroom to the basement of a denominational congregation. Finally, Dad and Bill Fryer made trips to Arkansas and Texas to raise funds and a lot was purchased for a new building in Brooklyn. There was a problem, though, with the completion of construction. The church was integrated while the neighborhood was not. At the opening service, picketers showed up to protest and voice their displeasure. Guess who went out and reasoned with them? My father, the honorable Roger W. Hawley. The letter went on to state that, "he would have made a great diplomat!" Dave and I had never heard that story but it made me proud. Most of the very little I remember about New York is church related. I remember that the congregation was made up of three groups of Christians: the Italians, the African-Americans, and the Hawleys. In fact, there were several pictures included in the packet verifying the ethnic makeup of the group. And in one, there is a very pretty lady from a little town in Arkansas holding a very little baby boy in America's largest metroplis. I always knew who my parents were. Amazingly, I'm still discovering what they were.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the top photo, Dad is holding Sarah Bryant, daughter of friends of my folks, at New York's LaGuardia Airport. In the middle shot, Mom and Dad stand in front of our house in Brooklyn. (The chubby boy in the door is me.) In the bottom picture, our congregation is having evening worship. (I'm in the apple box and Dave is at the right bottom of the shot, smiling in a grey shirt with blue shoulder stripes. Dad is checking his watch and Mom is praising the Lord in song, almost covered by a corsage!)
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