One of the finest, most eloquent ministers of this generation of liberal Quakers, William J. “Bill” Kreidler, of Beacon Hill Meeting in Boston, died on June 10, 2000. That was a time to mourn, and also a time to remember, and to pay tribute. And today, more than a decade-plus later, remembrance and tribute are what I want to do here.
Of Bill’s biography, I know only a few scattered facts: He was from a farm community in western New York, and grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church. He began college in Buffalo and finished in Boston, where he became a public school teacher. He was gay. He wrote books about conflict resolution in schools, and did consulting with school systems on violence prevention. Where and how he came to Friends I don’t know; but he was a founding member of Beacon Hill Meeting.
[NOTE: This is the first in a series of “summer reading” posts, for the “dog days” of August. Taking a break from current politics, religion, and other disasters, most are personal reminiscences, mainly true.]
When I was a boy, it seemed like I was always outgrowing things, especially shoes and pants. Even though I was pretty hard on clothes, scuffing up shoes and wearing holes in the knees of my jeans, sometimes there was still some wear in the clothes when I outgrew them.
Then my mother would sigh and say, “Well, at least we can still get some use out of them,” and hand the shirt or the pants down to one of my brothers.
Since I was the oldest, though, there was no one to hand clothes down to me. I liked that. It meant my new clothes would really be new.
Often enough, when I needed new clothes my mother would bring out a thick catalog from Sears of Montgomery Ward and order them by mail. To do this she unrolled the measuring tape from her sewing box and measured my arm and chest and the length of my leg. To figure out my new shoe size, she had me stand with one foot on a piece of paper, while she placed the side of a knife against my big toe, my heel and on both sides where my foot was widest, and then made a mark at each spot with a pencil. Continue reading Dog Days Stories: Who Needs A Machine Gun?→
Brahms’ music is not only beautiful, often profound, and richly enjoyable. It also saves lives:
The author William Styron is one example. Deep in the pit of depression in 1985, Styron came to the point of carefully planning to kill himself, with a shotgun, in a secluded spot near his home. But when he was driving there, Brahms’**Alto Rhapsody came on the radio.
[**Note to grammar cops: I KNOW it’s supposed to be “Brahms’s”; but that construction both looks and sounds dumb to me, and I choose to ignore it here.]
The first thing I noticed when we drove into my grandparents’ front yard in St. Paul. Kansas was not their small frame house, not the field behind it, nor the barn at the other end of the yard. The first thing I noticed was the outhouse. And I can still remember it clearly after more than sixty years.