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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Gretna Christmases Past and the Shropshires

It's the day before Christmas, and we're putting the final touches on our Christmas decorations and thinking about this evening's Christmas Eve service at the New Gretna Presbyterian Church. Every Christmas Eve, as I sit in the beautiful sanctuary, my mind wanders for a time . . . back to all those saints who worshiped here, together, throughout the years. 

First Presbyterian Church of New Gretna, Christmas Eve, 2006. (Photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The 1940 Christmas bulletin below brings back bittersweet memories of those who are no longer with us. Thankfully, many of those listed on the program are still here. I'm sure that those of you who were born in and grew up in New Gretna would have fond memories of many of those who took part in the 1940 Christmas Service.

As I read the Shropshire names above, I am reminded of the early 1970's when Jackie and I moved to New Gretna, just across the street from the Presbyterian Church. Our neighbor was Minnie Shropshire. She introduced us to her daughter, Jean, and her son-in-law, Murray Harris. They were to become our dearest friends. 

My first New Gretna Christmas memory was Minnie Shropshire inviting Jackie and I to her home to sample her delicious Christmas fruit cake and enjoy some good old fashioned Christmas music. Minnie loved music and delighted in playing an excellent repertoire of Christmas music on her parlor organ. And her fruit cake was out of this world! She said her secret was soaking it in plenty of rum. I can believe it, as the singing flowed rather easily and got progressively louder as the fruit cake consumption grew. 

Over the next few Christmas seasons we got to meet and enjoy the rest of the Shropshire clan and their extended families. Unfortunately, Fred had passed away before we moved to New Gretna.

(l-r) Fred and Minnie Shropshire, granddaughter Jean Felsberg, Murray Harris, Jean Shropshire Harris, Lewis Shropshire (front), and Joe Shropshire (back) in 1951. (Photo courtesy of Jean Shropshire Harris.)

Jackie and I quickly learned to love our life here in New Gretna through the love of the Shropshire family and many of the New Gretna natives who welcomed us and became our friends over the years. We sure have a lot to be thankful for here in New Gretna.

Pete S.

1 comment:

  1. At New Gretna Presbyterian church we decorate our tree with wooden angels, painted gold and dipped in gold glitter. On the back of the angels are the names of many members who have passed away. We made these angels in 2001 after a fellowship luncheon at church. Elaine Allen, sisters Peg McAnney, Almira Steele & Ervie Enslin rattled off the names of many of those members quicker than we could write them. As we decorate the tree each year, Carol Kauflin Nicklow, who recognizes most of the names that she places the angels on the tree, hangs them with great deliberation. Almira, Peg & Ervie's angels are all on the tree. It is a great time for us to hear and/or remember stories about these "angels of the past". Thankfully, we have no new angels to add this year. When we do have new angels of the past, we have a remembrance of them at our service, and either a family member or Carol does the honor of placing the angel onto the tree to join the others. We hope this special tradition will continue for many years to come.
    Jackie Stemmer