St. Thomas Episcopal Church | Medina


Thoughts and Happenings

Sharing Our Stories: Thursday Edition (11/12)

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Sharing Our Stories: Thursday Edition (11/12)

This was an email originally sent out to the parish on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Hi friends:

Here are the latest group of stories we have collected. This is a wonderful way for us to stay connected with one another and to accompany one another on this journey. We would love to have YOUR story. Check out the broad guidelines HERE.  And if you have already submitted a story, please let us have another one!

Reflection by Colin Radford

Before St Thomas

This 2020 pandemic has a lot of us walking the neighborhood.

One daughter, Barbara, and her daughter Felicia, and I reminisced as we walked this week:
Dwight Russell’s memories of the post-depression years reminds us of life Medina in the 1941-75 era.  Seemingly star treks from gated long driveways and big houses. In the 40’s my family and neighbors did stoke wood stoves each morning, draw water from wells or windmills, live in snow suits through the dark winter months. Once, when I forgot to wake up and heat the water for weekly baths, my dad marched his 4 children down to the lakeshore over grass white with frost to bathe al fresco. And there were always chores. My daughter says life at our first home she grew up in on NE 10th reminds her that my life lessons affected her.

My dad’s father, Colin Orme Radford, and his family had helped found Trinity church in Seattle, so to attend church for communion in the early 40’s, at least once a month we would take the Aeriel foot ferry from a nearby county dock or the Lincoln car ferry from Kirkland to Madison Park, and the trolly up Madison St, then walk south the few blocks to Trinity, where we would be hugged and warmed by family, parishioners and Rev Vincent Gowan. The moms of my Medina and later Bay Schools (now both schools long gone), often led church services in their living rooms, and then in the Duthie boat house, or at Fred Ostendorf’s at the top of NE 12th street. Fred was a director of the Seattle YMCA and keen on swimming, which was a major activity around here. Fred’s interest led to several years of swimming classes on Evergreen, Hunts and Yarrow Points, as volunteer families cycled responsibilities for the villages that raised us kids. Many of the mothers remained dear to my generation our whole lives through. We were blessed to have so many of them interested. Dozens of them looked after us as their own. They also looked after any citizens in need of outreach, raised money for Overlake Hospital and the schools, participated in neighborhood clean-up days, and all manner of great fun, food and activities. 

Boats were our vehicles of choice. Everything was oriented to the water. As swimmers, we kids would swim from house to friends’ houses from point to point, even after dark sometimes, if we had no boat at the moment.

The dads were great, also, of course, but most worked long hours, more than one job, and volunteered in their ‘spare time’ to build the amenities and institutions we take for granted and even expect nowadays. They would not have appreciated the more sedentary life we share. There was so much fun in ‘the chores’ done together.  During WW2, several volunteered to take second and third jobs at the Skinner Eddy shipyard in Kirkland (now Carillon Point) to support the war effort. Mr Dyer on Clyde Hill had a windmill where we watched for Japanese attacks in the 40’s, and I ‘earned’ a CD metal hat.

Because the parents were busy, we kids grew up busy with daily chores: from mowing lawns to baby sitting to working at YMCA Camp Orkila as head dining hall mess sergeant to putting in greens at Overlake Golf Course, to cutting fire trails for Weyerhauser, to mending fences and bathing cattle at a friend’s Ellensburg ranch, to Fuller Brush sales, I remember being pleased to find I could earn a little money working for others. My siblings and I all had at least 3 outside jobs from the time we were about ten years old. Some of those chores are vestigial on our Medina walks. Barbara and Felicia have had their own similar experiences. I realize our faith has much to do with our appreciation of God and of those who in Christ’s footsteps have made our journeys special to us. Each story makes us think of and give thanks for special people who made differences in our lives. They are alive in our memories and in the stories we live and share.

It was with lots of thanks that we welcomed as a community the Rev Fred Kepler as a circuit riding minister when I was 10. He lived on West Mercer Way on Mercer Island. I learned the catechism at his feet in his little living room. He began his Sunday services in a small chapel next door, then ferried to Medina Dock on the Leschi (The Medina terminal is now the City Hall. At least one Sunday, he set the altar communion service on the pool table there), and then on to Kirkland.  So he actually served what became St Emmanuel, St Thomas and St John Episcopal churches. Fred was small and wiry and high energy and fought fiercely for his faith and opinions. Several dads, including mine, found a CCC chapel on Forestry land being surplused and hauled it to a lot just south of the present church, gifted by Norton Clapp. Fr Kepler trained several of us to be acolytes, including Mathew Clapp and Bob Helsell; and Lottie Croasdill sewed us some surpluses. We looked sort of official, but I am sure looking back that Fr Kepler must have had his faith tested sometimes by the free range stock of acolytes he trained.

Bishop Huston gave us a great consecration. It was a wet morning, and the gathering overflowed the chapel by at least half. But everybody was beaming. I just remember the joy of it all. I can still feel that warm, positive togetherness… and we didn’t have to travel to Trinity anymore unless we wanted to get those family hugs.

A walk and talk is refreshing. Thanks, Dwight, for the reminder.
Thanks to all of you who have been sharing stories. You are in our hearts.