Tuesday, July 31, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Holiness consists in this: Showing up.  Listening.  Speaking truth without blame or judgement.  And being open to the outcome."  The Rev. John Loya


P.V. sent in an article HERE about why Chief Sitting Bull wore a crucifix.

From the same person two more stories:  What went wrong with the sexual revolution HERE and an article on why so many persons quit the production of a movie on Roe vs Wade HERE.  Thanks.

Eric Armusik's work (often mentioned here) was in the news again.  Go HERE and scroll down to page 17 fo the story.

M.K. sent in THIS article about the difficulty of buying a house in Akron as they are flying off of the shelves (so to speak.)  A couple of our parishioners are mentioned in the article.

This week's video is HERE.  It made me laugh - and it is SOOOOO soon.

Monday, July 30, 2018


Me thinking about cars when I was little and trying to impress Mom with what I thought was cool:
She liked things simple.  The more complicated they got the more complicated (not to mention expensive) things became when those things stopped functioning properly.  I think that is why I like mechanical clocks so much.  You can always oil them or something and get them running again.  Other clocks are throw away clocks - once they stop working it is too expensive to bother getting them fixed.

SOOOO we move on to the NEW sound system at St. Sebastian.  It promised to clean up all of our problems and, I will admit, when it works, which has been most days except Sunday, it is pretty great.  The problem is that the sound guys come in on Friday to make changes and that means we don't really get to try it out until Sunday Masses.  So last week this happened:
Needless to say I was not a happy camper.  THIS WEEK everything was supposed to be fixed (with some minor tuning yet to come for those hard to hear areas.)  Then we had a power surge on Sunday morning and our fancy shmancy computers all went rogue.  The air conditioning went down because the programming was lost and the sound went out because the system lost its brain.  There was nothing we could do - no switches to touch - no slides to slide - no buttons to punch - NOTHING AT LEAST TO KICK!

Finally half way through the Mass I just unplugged the (darn) thing and plugged it back in.  It kind of worked then but the computer screen was all wacky (all wacky?) and we could not make any adjustments or turn things on and off.
Ah!  The wisdom and cleverness of Mom.  I may not have fully appreciated it back then but how could I have ever doubted?

Friday, July 27, 2018


That is not to say that the way the pastor had the rectory set up is wrong.  It was right for him.  He is of the type of gentleman that gets his energy from being around people.  My first pastor was like that.  Fr. Hilkert of St. Ambrose Parish (God rest him) loved being around people and he didn’t have a lot of boundaries.  His suite was off the first landing on the stairs and easily visible from the front offices.  It was not unusual for him (he was in his mid-80s when I was with him) to be in his pajamas by 8PM.  The secretary might phone up and say that someone stopped by to see him and, putting the phone down would holler down the steps, “Just come on up.  I’m in my chair and have no intention of getting up.”  It would be unheard of today in our litigious society to greet somebody in your pajamas but back then it was a funny quirk.  

Once, getting back to the St. Ambrose rectory late the secretary stopped me and said, “Would you please go up and see if Father is alright?  A couple of big young men stopped by to talk to a priest and he told me to send them up and they have there has been a lot of yelling coming from up there.”

I ran up the stairs, knocked, and went in.  There were two rather beefy young men with Father and they were all holding Bibles and talking over each other.  It turns out that they were Protestants and one of them was getting married to a Catholic and wanted the straight story “from the horse’s mouth” exactly what Catholic believe.  Greatly relieved I said, “Hold on, I’ll get my Bible,” and so joined in on the conversation.

In many ways, though I think we had the relationship I had with that pastor was that of Grandpa and Grandson, Fr. Hilkert and I were polar opposites.  But it was his rectory and whatever he wanted went.  That is, until he decided he was going to put a deacon’s office on the second floor where the living quarters were, directly across the hall from my bedroom.  This house was built in the ‘50s when there was no need for as many offices as a modern parish needs and so, as happened at St. Sebastian, offices crept further and further into this house until there was only one spot left un-invaded by office workers – the guest room directly across the hall from my bedroom.

Sometimes I worry that I am a little too private or picky.  But the idea of taking a shower and changing my clothes and hearing a meeting going on out in the hall with only an inch thick door separating us was more than I could bear.  So I went to Fr. Hilkert’s office, with whom never an ill word passed, and said, “This is your house, and you may do whatever you want with it and I will support you.  But I just want you to know that if you put an office across from my bedroom, I will move out.”  I said it in a very calm and matter of fact way – or at least that is the way I remember it.  There I times that I think I am being very calm about things and friends will say, “Boy, could we tell you were loaded for bear.”  I am always amazed by this.

“They aren’t gonna be coming in your room!” he grumbled back, perhaps sensing an underlying feeling of petulancy.  

“I didn’t say they were.  I am just saying that if there is an office up there, I will not be.”

“I can put offices anywhere I want to.”

“I know that.  I didn’t say you couldn’t.  I just said that I would be moving out.”  

That was the closest we had ever come to fighting in the seven years we were together.  He finally gave in and I apologized.  Looking back I know I was bull headed enough to carry out my threat but I have no idea where I would have gone.  Living in the rectory, after all, is part of our compensation.  One night in a hotel is more than a priest makes in a weekend of Masses.  And the food isn’t as good.

Priests who are extraverts are few and far between.  At least of the ones I know.  This is a good thing.  If you put 5 introverts in a room with a bowl of peanuts, come back in an hour and they all will have found something to read.  Put 5 extroverts in a room together with a bowl of peanuts, come back in an hour and at least one will have to go to the hospital to have the bowl of peanuts removed from his nostril.  So considering we end up living together in situations not far removed from arranged marriages, it is good that so many of us so inclined to some amount of passivity.

There are ways, however, in which it is far easier to be extroverted priest than one that is introverted.  One would be in the arrangements of the rectory.  It is easy to open up your house and invite everybody and their pet cat to roam through at will, dropping in on your breakfast to get a cup of coffee and make idle chatter, taking a short cut to the church when you have company, popping in at night to “get some things done” while you are sitting in the living room in sweats, eating popcorn and watching the game.  True extroverts love this.  “No!  You’re not interrupting!  Sit down and talk for a few minutes.”

Woe for the introverted priest whose assignment as pastor follows that of the extroverted priest.  While the extravert gets his energy by being around people and the more the merrier, the introvert (such as myself) gets his energy by being alone.  And we know from experience that when we try to fashion our home as is befitting an introvert after an extrovert has been there, we seem territorial and mean spirited.  Maybe we are.

So at first you try to live with it, silently crushing your newspaper when someone interrupts breakfast to catch up.  Or scuttling out of the kitchen late at night not wanting to be seen on your PJs when an unexpected visitor with keys comes in the back door to work on a project for the morning.  First we try polite explanations such as, “Could you please not come in to the rectory late at night without warning me?  Sometimes I like to come down from my bedroom for a late snack and am not dressed for visitors.”

Inevitably will come the reply, “Oh but Father, I don’t mind seeing you in your PJs.”  Which may be very true.  But the problem stems from not wanting to be seen in my PJs.  So then the introverted priest starts laying down rules such as “Nobody in the rectory after office hours!”  Maybe that’s it.  We stuff it down until we are upset and then it comes out a bit harsh.  So you feel guilty and so maybe you bake a little something and leave it on the kitchen counter to try to make up for it.  It is best to be a good baker in times like these.


Baking only ingratiates one for so long.  Soon the complaints of ruined diets start marring the positive effects that the initial baking created.  But there was a perennial favorite: my mother’s apple strudel.  It always appeared around the fall and would disappear like a freed helium balloon on a windy day – more of a flash of sweet memory than anything lasting.  

(As copied from an ancient piece of notebook paper, written in her own hand and covered with grease spots.)

¼ cup of water
3 eggs
2 Tbsps. of vinegar
2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter (½ pound)
9 (Mom always used half Macintosh and half Jonathon)
1 cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of lemon juice
1 cup crushed cornflakes
(I add a little vanilla to the dough.)

Mix together the water, vinegar, and 3 egg yolks (& vanilla.)  (Save the whites for later.)

In another bowl, cut the butter into the flour as you for pie dough.  When the butter is “pea size” add the liquid ingredients and knead until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.  A good amount of flour may need to be added as you knead.  Let the dough sit covered in a bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour or even overnight.

The Filling:
Peel, cut and slice the apples to a size of your taste
Add to the apples the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and 1 cup crushed cornflakes.

Preheat oven between 325-350

Divide dough into four to six balls and roll out a thinly as possible into a large rectangle.
Place apples along one edge.  Place a row of cornflakes alongside.
Roll the dough, folding over the ends and sealing all with the egg whites.
Paint the rolled loaves with egg whites or melted butter, sprinkle with sugar bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.


Instead of slicing up the apples, peel and core depending and size, about 10 of them.  
Roll out dough into as many squares.
Place apple in the middle of the square and fill the now empty core with sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a pad of butter at the top.
Fold the dough up and around the apple securing with the eggs whites like glue.
Coat with egg whites or butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.

In a double boiler melt some red cinnamon candy.

Put dumplings in a bowl with ice cream and pour to cinnamon mixture over.  Serve piping hot.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


This is the logo for the 185th anniversary of the first known Mass celebrated within the city limits of Akron.  On September 27th at 7PM, the Feast of St. Vincent, there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Vincent Parish, the mother church of Catholic Akron, and you are invited.  At your parishes of the greater Akron area the weekend before and after you should see this logo.  

The purpose of this celebration is to give thanks for and celebrate our blessings and heritage, to ask for God's blessing for the future, to make people more aware of the Catholic presence in Akron, and to keep this event in mind as we approach the 190th and 200th anniversary.  If you can, please come participate in this event

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "Never seen a lawyer yet that could ask for butter without describing the cow."  from Jim Thompson's, "Heed the Thunder" with apologies to my lawyer friends but I loved this saying as it could be applied to so many people!

QUOTE II:  "But being scared doesn't need to paralyze a man unless he lets it.  Being scared is about the best way I know of being healthy."  from Jim Thomson's, "South of Heaven"

QUOTE III:  "You loved someone and they loved you, just as each of you was - good, bad and indifferent - the only way to love.  Because you were people, not gods, and you didn't make demands that it wasn't in the other fellow to meet.  And you were richer for having loved, for even a little while . . . "  same source


We had our annual staff outing yesterday and here is our captain hard at work:
 And we had a special guest for lunch:

P. V. sent in THIS article entitle, "The Problem of Sexually Active Priests."  Thanks.

S. S. sent in this new video in the Pivotal Players Series with Bishop Barron.

Saturday, July 21, 2018


This is probably not something about which priests should be concerned but over and above being men of God we are also just men and, you know, we don't mind looking passingly good.  But what is an obstacle to that?  Clery shirts!  The enemy within the walls!  Black is supposed to be slimming.  Right?  But what about when you are wearing three extra yards of it?

Go on to ANY clergy shirt website and look at the pictures.  The priests all look thin in their well tailored shirts:
It is a lie worthy of the confessional!  A guy may look like a clerical fashionista in a catalogue but something happens in the mail - the shirt turns into a circus tent.

At least some of the them are honest.  Nest to the sports model in the picture they will say something like, "generous cut for comfort."  How having tons of extra material tucked into your pants is supposed to be comforting I don't know.

It reminds of when I used to shop for regular clothing and would see how good it looked on the manikin and think that I too would like to look like that.  So I put it one and - well - it did not look the same on me and eventually I realized it was because of THIS:
You know, if your shirts sell better because you make them look like another shirt that people really want . . . then why not just make them like that in the first place?  GRRRR!

But, then again, it is partially my fault - or maybe the fault of my parents.  I have an odd body.  Tall, somewhat not fat, and monkey arms.
And unfortunately WHEREVER YOU GO TO THE TALL SECTION IT IS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BIG AND TALL.  Apparently the United States does not have people who are tall and not so big.  It just now occurs to me maybe I am deformed.

Of course there are places and tailors that will make a shirt for people with alien bodies like mine.
And maybe that much money for a shirt isn't bad for a lot of our Protestant brothers and sisters - or even those who use such shirts as dress shirts.  But THESE ARE CATHOLIC PRIESTS EVERY DAY SHIRTS!  I might be hearing confessions one moment and folding up chairs in the hall the next - meeting with a couple to be married one minute, running with the kids on the playground the next.  An expensive shirt might be nice for visiting the Bishop or Sunday Mass, but I selfishly want to be comfortable ALL THE TIME and it is not affordable.

When priests get together and someone has on a half way decent shirt - this happens:
This took place at the Jazz and Wine Festival here at St. Sebastian on Thursday.  My shirt a priest sent me from Korea and there is no way to find them on line.  One has to go to the monastery where they are made.  Fr. Mertzwieler's shirt was from Poland and despite both of searching we cannot find it online.  Favorite shirts bound to disappear from wear.

. . . because, of course, God will only let us in to heaven if we look good.


Friday, July 20, 2018


After an hour or so of chatting, Father asked me if I wouldn’t like a tour of the house in which I was to take ups residence in two weeks.  My enthusiasm must have shown through at the offer.  Until this very day I was officially not even allowed to drive past the parish.  Until everything had been worked out officially and all proper personages informed in proper order, I was to keep well away so as to not let the cat out of the bag before those most affected would know who the new pastor would be.

But today the cat was allowed to roam about freely.  The rectory, which was nearly empty when I arrived filled with people.  With our meeting finished, it was time to greet the world openly.  We walked out of his suite into a dark hallway made gloomy by a wall that had been constructed to separate his room from offices that had slowly taken over the rest of the bedroom floor.  A sign on the door in this wall read, “KEEP OUT!  PRIEST’S SLEEPING QUARTERS!

The remaining suites on this floor and the two guest rooms were offices containing busily working employees; the music director and her assistant, the Director of Religious Education and the liturgical coordinator.  They greeted me warmly and showed me about the rooms.  

The suites were very nice if not somewhat small.  Each c

onsisted of a dorm sized sitting room with a fireplace and built in bookcases.  The bedrooms themselves were even tinier, but as my dad would say, “All you do is sleep in there anyway.”  Each suite also had a private bathroom decorated in a different color of Victrolite, an opaque pigmented glass manufactured by Pilkington Brothers in the United Kingdom.  The floors had correspondingly matched tile floors of different designs.  Despite the number of bathrooms in the house being more than there were on the whole block where I grew up, there were only two bathtubs, one for the pastor, and one for the live-ins.  Everyone else did with showers.  If truth be told, they probably did make better offices than bedrooms.

The tour continued down the steps after passing through a door in another retrofitted wall that had been constructed at the top of the stairs when the rash of offices had spread deeper into the house.  The addition of these walls dividing up the house made it darker and seemingly more confusing and larger than it actually was.

A half flight of stairs brought us to the landing of the west wing of the house which consisted of two large suites and some storage closets.  Parish history tells us that this part of the building was a later addition built on to the house for the founding pastor’s sister who also acted as major duomo in her day.  The quality of the construction is not quite what the rest of the house is, but it was very serviceable.  The rooms lacked the fireplaces, built in shelving and tile work of the original house, but the rooms were larger and best of all: air-conditioned.

Ensconced in these rooms now were the business manager, the development director, and a couple of bookkeepers.  The rooms were large enough to hold conferences and meetings and, on the weekends, the Sunday collection was counted on the large table in the development director’s offices.  Prior to them becoming offices at least one pastor had lived in these rooms forsaking the pastor’s suite to the pastor emeritus, Monsignor Zwisler, who still lived in residence at the time of his retirement.

The original occupant of these rooms was the founding pastor’s sister, Marie Zwisler.  A quick story might shed some light on her personality.  It is one of the more famous rectory stories in the diocese and used to be told regularly by diocesan historian Fr. Thomas Tift as part of his History of the Diocese class at the seminary.  On a very cold day, one of the associates started his car in the garages that were right underneath the rooms occupied by Monsignor’s sister.  Wanting to give his car a chance to warm up he let it idle and dashed over to the school for a little while only to find police officers at his garage upon returning.  Marie, whose room was over the garages, accused him of trying to murder her by letting his car run.

As we walked around, the rest of the house revealed a similar fate.  On every floor there were former living spaces that had now been turned into working space.  In the basement was the deacon’s office.  It too may have been air conditioned but there was nothing else unbasementy about it.  Large cement blocks made up his walls and pipes ran across the ceiling.  Apparently a number of people made use of the shelving that ran across his walls making the room half storage, half deacon’s office.

On the main floor was the secretary’s office, the volunteer’s office, the pastoral assistant’s office which took up the entire live-in’s suite, the copy room, and pastor’s office which once served as the living room.  It was all nice and efficient, close, and very communal.  And there was no way I would be able to live like this.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Today's guest blogger is 13 year old David Beatty of St. Sebastian who gave this presentation when we unveiled the new icon of St. Sebastian written by Sr. Iliana of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, in Burton, OH, to help us celebrate our 90th anniversary:

The Creation and Spirituality of Icons

The Panel
The panel is traditionally of wood. Plywood or MDF (medium density fibre board) is often used as cheaper options, especially for large panels, but the longevity of these as a support is unknown. We know that icons on wood have survived many centuries but MDF and plywood are inventions of the twentieth century so only time will tell. The board is sized with an animal based glue and allowed to dry.
The Ground
This is made of gesso, which is the Italian word for gypsum, or calcium sulphate. The gesso is made by mixing the gypsum, or whiting powder, in an animal based glue such as rabbit skin glue or gelatin. Several coats of gesso are then applied with a brush and allowed to dry between coats. Usually at least 8 coats of gesso are needed to make a good ground.
The ground is then smoothed with an abrasive paper or scraper. The resulting surface is white and smooth and is the only suitable surface for painting in egg tempera.
The Drawing
A line drawing is made of the icon to be painted and this is transferred to the gessoed panel by coating the back of the drawing with a powder pigment and tracing with a suitable instrument. The drawing is then brushed over with ink to make it more stable for painting.
The Gilding
Usually the haloes and (if required) the background are then gilded. This may be oil gilded (using transfer gold) or water gilded using layers of bole (a type of red clay) and gold leaf. In either case real gold is used. Water gilding allows tooling (embossing) of the gold and finishing with olipha. If oil gilding is used then the icon may be finished with shellac or a proprietary varnish.
The Painting
The icon is painted with pure powdered pigments, mainly earth colours, which are mixed (tempered) with egg yolk. The dark colours are painted first and then the lighter colours are added. Any very small gold details are then added. Finally the face and hands are painted – this brings the whole icon to life.
The icon is then allowed to dry for a few weeks and is then be coated with a varnish for protection. The varnish is usually olipha, which is a mixture of refined linseed oil and stand oil.

An icon can be viewed as just a piece of art or it can be viewed as a spiritual work of grace created for the glory of God. The simple creation of an icon is not complete without constant prayer during the creation and finishing of an icon. It’s not just art and it should be viewed as such; a symbol of love for our lord.
Icons have had a place in Christian worship as early as we can establish. In the broader sense, icons may be found in basic wall paintings, graffiti of crosses and symbols on ancient tombs, to magnificent frescos, icons and stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals.
“In the beginning was the Word,” wrote St John. “He is the image [ikon in Greek] of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” wrote St. Paul. We meet him still in both word and image. Icons may be beautiful, but they do not exist just to add a little color or a special atmosphere to the rooms they happen to be in. They’re there to help us pray. An icon that isn’t being used in prayer is like a musical instrument not being played or a cookbook that never gives birth to a meal.
Praying before an Icon is just the same as praying before anything else like a crucifix or an altar. Although with the icon the preferred position of prayer is known as the Orant. This is to expose your body in heart mind and soul to the spirituality of the icon.
No icon is ever prayed the same way. As the icon is created different prayers are used specific to what the icon is an image of. The wood base is used to symbolize the cross and crucifixion of our Lord, the simple earthly colors display the pain and plainness during the time he was dead, and the gold symbolizes his glorious resurrection.
No less than the written

word, an icon is an instrument for the transmission of Christian tradition and faith. Through sacred imagery, the Holy Spirit speaks to the believer, revealing truths that may not be evident to those using only the tools of reason. And this is one of the most important aspects of the spirituality of icons, that they teach us that dogma, which is the revealed knowledge of God, is first and foremost beautiful. The icon gives us the sight of the saints, and reveals Christian dogma, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, as being extremely beautiful.
The ecumenical council of 787 AD stated that the Icon was equal with Scripture, since it instructs with shape and colour in the same way as Scripture with words. Thus, icons do not simply attempt to instruct us about the life of Christ or the saints depicted, but they instruct us in the Theology of the Church. And the eyes, posture, colour and gesture come together to point to Theological truths.
The spirituality of icons also results from the fact that the icon is silent. No mouths are open, nor are there any other physical details which suggest sound. But the silence is not empty. St Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, made the comment: “He who possesses in truth the word of Jesus, can hear even its silence.”

The above was prepared for St. Sebastian Parish by Mr. David Beatty, age 13, for the dedication of the 90th anniversary St. Sebastian icon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "It does not seem reasonable to describe the young man who shot twenty chided and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 as a religious person.  This is equally true for the Colorado gunman and the Columbine High School killers.  But these murderous individuals had a problem with reality that existed at a religious depth."  from Jordan Peterson's, "12 Rules for Life"

QUOTE II:  ". . . you should not overlook the guidelines of your culture.  Life is short, and you don't have time to figure everything our on your own.  The wisdom of the past was hard-earned, and your dead ancestors may have sorting useful to tell you."  same source.

THE BRICK STREET JAZZ AND WINE FESTIVAL is this coming Thursday!  Music provided by NEO Jazz.  Here is a taste of this years band:

SPIRIT JUICE STUDIOS will also be present to film a little bit as part of a project on which they are working (I really don't know the details.)  See more about Sprit Juice HERE.

Deacon David Stavarz spoke at Theology on the Rocks last night!

Our seminarian is starting a new blog about St. Joseph.  See more HERE.

As part of our 90th anniversary celebrations seminarian Joseph Robinson will be displaying our relics in the church this weekend:

Friday, July 13, 2018


Today there begins a new series.  I wrote these notes on the history of the St. Sebastian rectory some time ago.  There are rooms in the rectory that nobody knows any stories about and there are almost no pictures of what the interior of the house looked like originally.  (We have a glimpse of what the curtains might have looked like from a picture of a wedding that took place in the rectory during WWII and that's about it.)   So as a hobby like project I started writing down these musings concerning the rectory.  I hope that you enjoy.

The house to which I was being introduced had been built for me about two and a half decades before I was born.  Well, it is a bit much to say that it was built for me, but rather, men like me.  The Catholics of West Akron sacrificed and overcame nay sayers and built this sturdy rectory about ten years after their parish of St. Sebastian was founded, in the hopes that a priest would always live among them and minister to the community,

About two weeks previously to this, I received a call from the Bishop’s office asking if I would  consider becoming the next pastor of St. Sebastian in Akron.  I had never even heard of the parish before and request the opportunity to go have a look at the place first, to which I was giving a resounding, “No!”  Furthermore (for various and good reasons) there was a directive forbidding me to set foot anywhere near the grounds until more official decisions had been made and the necessary people informed.  This of course meant a disguise of sorts would have to be donned and a drive to Akron taken.  But that was two weeks ago, I had since been named administrator and I was able to visit the parish openly.

The current resident of the rectory and pastor of the parish, the Rev. William Karg, took me to his sitting room on the second floor of the house.  Fr. Karg is a gracious but eminently practical, German man and the room was set up for efficiency, with filing cabinets and folding banquet tables and an eye toward getting work done.  Despite this, the attractiveness of the room shone through.  With bumpy, heavily plastered walls and candle sconces, the pastor’s suite is the most true to the building's Mission Revival architecture.  It is not the grandest room in the world, not even among its peers in rectory architecture, but to me, a poor Barberton boy, it was splendid.

Barberton, the Magic City, is a smaller city nestled against Akron; a fiercely independent relative of sorts.  My father built the house in which I grew up in Barberton’s north west neighborhood near Sacred Heart Slovenian Parish.  He chose a do-it-yourself kit out of a catalogue to build in the 1950s.  We have a picture of him picking up the pieces of the house off of a freight train to be hauled to, what was then, a tree filled lot on a dusty road.  The joists in the attic still have markings on them giving instructions exactly where they were to be placed.  In the catalogue (which we still have) the house is given the grand name, "The Belleview" though it is a very modest home.

As the story goes, after changing their minds about moving to southern California (Dad had discovered snow skiing), Mom and Dad and my two older sisters decided to settle down in Barberton where most of the rest of the family lived, buy a piece of land, and build a house.  Mother was rather flexible in her requirements.  As long as she got a dining room and a front porch she would be happy.  Of course the house that was built has no dining room and only an undersized stoop just about large enough for one standing person and a freshly delivered newspaper to inhabit simultaneously.  This was because Dad was enamored with the floor plan of "The Belleview" which had eleven corners.  It was going to be a challenge to build and that appealed to his adventurous spirit.

I think a lot of my father for giving the whole thing a go.  He was not a trained carpenter, roofer, plumber, or electrician (which we found out in spades after his death when we had the house inspected) but he had lots of self-esteem and energy and he built something that kept the family warm and dry for over fifty years.  That's not to say that it isn't without its quirks.  Much of the woodwork does not quite line up, the occasional hot and cold water faucets are reversed from those that most of the rest of the civilized world enjoys, and there are many features of the house that come with the paternal instruction, "All you have to do is . . ." as in, "The door's fine.  All you have to do to shut it is lift up the whole door by the handle and lean into it with your shoulder and it will close properly."

My father also did not believe in having things fixed.  He was sure that the world was out to swindle him out of his hard earned wages and so would "fix" things himself.  (Notice the quotation marks.)  Once, when the clothes dryer stopped tumbling Mom came upstairs and proclaimed that she had had it, the dryer was truly dead and that it was finally time to replace the forty year old beast.  Proclaiming that he could fix it Dad went into the basement and after some banging, cursing, and a run or two to the hardware store, emerged from the basement to announce that the darn thing had been resurrected.  "All you have to do to get it going is keep your hand on the start button, push the tumbler to start it spinning with the other and slam the door shut quickly with your knee.”  This was not met with the joy, awe, and gratitude he had expected and from that day forward, if any "fix" was accompanied by the sentence, "All you have to do is . . ." it was no longer deemed by Mom as fixed by any means.  Dad having to start the dryer every time it was now needed, a new one miraculously appeared in the basement.

Previous "repairs" that were still operating under the "All you have to do is" mandate were grandfathered in.  For example, the basement would flood if more than two loads of laundry were washed in any given 24 hour period.  The fix for this was in the form of a large squeegee, a half round rubber dam on a long stick that would enable the offending launderer to steer errant water into other available drains.  Years later when my sister purchased the house (only she and God know why) we called in a plumber to fix the basement drains.  It cost $30.

"THIRTY DOLLARS!?" I exclaimed, the heat rising in my ears.

The plumber was nonplussed and began to sputter, "Well . . . well, you don't understand . . . part of that is the house call and part. . ."

I interrupted him.  He was on the wrong track entirely.  "No.  YOU don't understand.  If I had known this would only cost $30 dollars I would have taken it out of my allowance and snuck you in here when I was twelve instead squeegeeing the basement for an hour every week for thirty years!"

The point is that I did not grow up in Downton Abbey, neither as an heir apparent nor the footman.  So in comparison with the lifestyle to which I had been accustomed, the pastor's sitting room in the St. Sebastian Rectory was swell indeed.

Not that even I wouldn't notice that it needed some help.  Not much, but some.  The whole house seemed to be an apology for being such a nice rectory and the pastor's sitting room was no exception.  I respect the former pastor as a very holy, loving, and intelligent man.  He was always mindful of the limited means of his parishioners at his previous assignment and desired to live no better off than they, though he could.  It was a mentality that he forwarded to his tenure at St. Sebastian.  The house was reduced to German efficiency and very little was allowed by way of ornamentation or excess comfort.  The house, once consisting of six suites, two guest rooms, and live-in quarters, now only had three suites left to living purposes.  To step our of your room meant you had to be dressed and presentable even if all you wanted was to run downstairs and get a glass of water.  Every other space had been turned into offices or meeting spaces.  The basement, the two floors of the main house, the west wing all contained metal desks and filing cabinets, ailing office plants, inspirational posters, staff’s family portraits, and worst of all: people.a