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The TALES you probably never heard about

HOWARD FRETZ MEMORY

19 August 1904-10 May 1988

It is Easter Morning, wonderful day of hope and assurance for all people. As the sun is slowly rising in the east, our family is stirring, Father, Mother, my younger sister and baby brother. Someone, likely Mother, softly singing, “Low in the grave He lays, Jesus my Saviour, Waiting the coming day. Jesus my Lord.”

We all join in, even baby brother. Father who cannot sing alone except when rocking the baby, then he has a quaint little lullaby all his own.

I hear Father open the door of the big airtight heater and with the poker stir the coals, likely a large elm knot fitted in the night before or possibly maple or beech, and with a small fire shovel he takes coals to the kitchen stove while colored sparks fly, he lays on the kindling prepared the night before.

By now the crackling of the fire has created a warm cozy atmosphere and whetted appetites.

We thank God for the food. Mother brings a steaming plate of pancakes and with liverwurst or perhaps bacon and eggs, all produced and processed on the farm. Soon the Bible is read and we have family worship with everyone kneeling in prayer. I go to the barn with Father to feed the stock, milk the cows, separate the milk and feed the calves, hogs and chickens.

Before Church we children eagerly search for small berry baskets lined with soft green moss gathered the day before on and beneath a nearby rail fence.

The boxes are covered with bright colored paper and tied with ribbon. They usually contained two eggs which had been wrapped in onion skins and boiled which gave a soft brown color, also small candy eggs of the jelly bean variety.

We hitch the team and start for the nearby Dunkard Church, later the brethren in Christ. We ride in a two seated democrat wagon with covered top and side curtains.

As we enter, the children go to a room for Sunday School, then to the sanctuary where the men sit on the right, the women on the left.

There is a raised platform at front used as a mourner’s bench where the very young and sometimes very old, bow to make their peace with God during the Revival Meeting.

On the platform is the long pulpit or desk and back of it the bench for the ministers, usually two or three in number.

One minister lines the song and calls for someone to raise the tune, today it will be “Christ Arose,” and likely the inspiring Coronation Hymn of the Church, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”

The second minister reads one of the profound resurrection scriptures followed by a sermon of one hour and all experience edification of spirit thereby.

On Easter Sunday we go to Grandpa Shafers for dinner. No one could cook like Grandma or my Mother, as they are Pennsylvania Dutch, so on this day there is a large platter of fried eggs, roast chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes and all that goes with a German Easter Dinner. Very appealing to an eight year old boy.

Grandpa asks the blessing sometimes in German. In our home the musical instruments consisted of Mother’s accordion and the children’ mouth organ. And, oh we loved to sing!!!

At Grandpa’s there is Uncle John, Mother’s younger brother, who had that marvelous invention, the gramophone with “His Master’s Voice.” Trademark, a cute little dog with turned head peering into the purple horn as he hears his Master’s voice.

Shy, likeable Uncle John, one of a kind, born in a sod house in Nebraska. When Grandpa took his family from Pennsylvania, he lived in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska and while some settlers became wealthy, the locust, hail, prairie fires and drought drove them from State to State and to Canada in 1900 to farm. They first lost their cattle in a T.B. test and their barn by fire, but with a strong faith in God, they never quit.

Uncle John never married, and at seventy years of age sat on his bed and died with heart failure.

Part of his estate built a fine Medical Clinic at the Montreal Lake Indian Children’s Home, housing sixty-four native children, Timber Bay Indian Reserve, Sask.

Again we hear the appropriate “Christ Arose” and others pertaining to the resurrection and our hearts are lifted in Praise to God for his unspeakable gift to mankind.

At home, Mother would sing the beautiful “America” never “The Star Spangled Banner” and she taught us in German “Stille Nacht Meilige Nacht” and Gott ist die Leibe.”

The sun is sinking in the west and we return home and the chores of the morning are repeated. As we snuggle down in our warm feather beds, we thank God for our parents, family love, our home and that “THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.” Luke 24:34