An occasional series of reflections from parishioners on Emmanuel Church
My first memories of Emmanuel Church are decidedly unspiritual. On Sunday mornings in the summer, my aunts, uncles and cousins at Royal Orchard on Afton Mountain all vied to get a seat in the Pierce Arrow, circa 1914, that in the 1950’s was used only weekly for the drive to Emmanuel for Sunday services. If we hadn’t found a seat in the Pierce Arrow, my family, the Bococks, would sometimes take our car.
Inside the church it was hot and sticky with humidity. We waved the heat away with hand fans that had a backlit Jesus on one side and a funeral home on the other. We often sat right behind the Gibson family, and as a teenager I can remember my mind straying as I admired the Gibson boys, just about my age, whose blond hair curled over their pink Oxford shirts.
On our way home if we were in our car, Mother would take a vote whether or not we should stop to visit one of several homebound old ladies on the way home. She would be outvoted 4 to 1, but hers was the only vote that counted. Two of these women were Irene Gibson, the famed “Gibson Girl” so admired in the first half of the 20th century, who lived in a cottage at Ramsey in her old age. The second lady was Mariska Owlsley, whom I remember in a wheelchair in a dimly lit and scarcely furnished huge drawing room at Tiverton. It was always a relief to get back up to Royal Orchard.
Decades went by and Fred and I lived our life in West Africa, Washington D.C., Alexandria and Princeton. Post 9/11 we moved to Charlottesville, and it was at this point that Emmanuel reentered our lives.