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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rev. Uncle's Double 15 Minutes of Fame

Yesterday, the Blog featured John Q. Post who served as pastor of the New Gretna Methodist church in 1915. That got me to thinking about another Methodist Preacher, Rev. Joseph Uncle, who served in New Gretna from 1952 through 1956.

Tuckerton Beacon - October 16, 1952

Rev. Uncle quickly became active in the community, including serving as the New Gretna Volunteer Fire Company Chief. As Chief he earned his first 15 minutes of Fame Award for being instrumental in putting out a 1954 fire in his own church.

The fire was first spotted by a driver passing by the church early in the morning. Thinking it odd to have a light on in the back of the church at this hour, he turned around and went back to investigate the source of the “red glow” in the church. The driver knocked on the door of the Parsonage, next door to the church, and woke up Rev. Uncle who quickly called in the alarm. It's not often that the Chief calls in a fire.

Rev. Uncle, was credited with saving the church. He would not let the firemen go in through the front of the church but directed them to cut through the roof to draw the fire up instead of spreading throughout the interior of the church. This quick thinking minimized the damage and destruction. The original pipe organ and organ loft was destroyed and there was damage to the front of the sanctuary and back wall of the church, but the damage would have been far worse if not for the quick thinking and leadership of Rev. Uncle.

It was during the repairs and reconstruction that the new Fellowship Hall and kitchen were added to the back of the church.

Rev. Uncle preaching in 1952. The pipe organ that was destroyed in the 1954 fire can be seen in the background. (Photo courtesy of Naomi Post Maurer.)

It is for Rev. Uncle's quick thinking and decisive action during the 1954 New Gretna Methodist Church Fire that he is awarded the Blog's 15 minutes of Fame Award; however, we are not through. While it is an honor to receive the coveted trophy, today, we are making Rev. Uncle its only double recipient.

Rev. Uncle's two 15 Minutes of Fame Awards.

Rev. Uncle's second 15 minutes of Fame Award is made for his inventive genius which led to his being the recipient of an award from Mechanics Illustrated, a National Magazine. During his stay in New Gretna, Rev. Uncle became quite the farmer with a sizable vegetable patch behind the Parsonage. Inspired by the task of cultivating and weeding the large garden, Rev. Uncle rose to the challenge by inventingand buildin a riding cultivator. I bet he turned quite a few passer-byer's heads with the sight of a smiling black suited farmer with a backwards collar on a strange looking contraption travelling up and down the rows of the garden.

Rev. Uncle riding his garden cultivator. No one will mistake him for a Hell's Angel with that collar.

Following is a copy of the Mechanics Illustrated Award won by Rev. Uncle for his riding cultivator garden project.

I'm sure that Rev. Uncle made left many more memories in the New Gretna Community during his five years as Pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church. How about some of you New Gretna old timers out there in the Blog-O-Sphere who knew Rev. Uncle, dropping us an email with a story or two about him. Let's hear from you!

Pete S

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