Remembrances and Recollections
As Trinity looks ahead to its 150th year anniversary, we’d like to take some time to look back at some of the memories parishioners have of parish life. Begin your stroll down memory lane as you scroll through some reminiscences shared. Just a few lines about an event, long forgotten, may be enough to open the door to many more.
Please read some of the recollections compiled and send in some reflections of your own. We’d like to add new ones through the coming months as we move toward our 150th celebration year.
Coffee Hour – Sunday, March 27, 2022
A visit to coffee hour after the 10 o’clock service this past Sunday provided the opportunity to sit down in person, with fellow parishioners, both children and adults, and ask the tough questions:
“How did you enjoy going to Virtual Church in your own Zoom Room?”
And, “Do you prefer the Views From the Pews?”
After being assured that no names would be used, the children spoke freely. They enjoyed being able to eat breakfast at home while attending church in their comfortable clothes in comfortable surroundings. Not having to wear a mask was another plus for going to Zoom Church during the pandemic. All agreed that they were happy nonetheless to be back inside the church, seeing things in person, including their friends.
In no time, the children had polished off the baked treats offered during Coffee Hour, another good thing about being back as far as they were concerned. And then, with chocolate fingers and powdered sugar faces, they left the tables to find and play with every size ball imaginable. Half of Sherlock Hall became the playground for pre-teens and toddlers, clearly enjoying one another’s company.
A visit to several adult tables, offering them the same anonymity, brought some similar responses to the questions posed. For one, you could turn off the camera and wear your comfortable pj’s to church. Several adults observed that you could still attend church if you were not feeling well or if the weather wasn’t cooperating. Others were clearly grateful and delighted to recall that Zoom Church allowed friends and family from Kentucky, California, and yes, no surprise, even South Africa to join in services and participate in the chat rooms afterward.
For many, being back in the church building itself, to celebrate the eucharist, to hear the choir, the organ, the bells, to see the faces of fellow parishioners once again, and to see their priest up close and personal, brought a long anticipated sense of peace and long awaited joy. Much of that joy came from unexpected surprises as parishioners observed “I didn’t know they’re expecting another baby…in TWO weeks!” or, “I can’t believe how much he/she has grown since I saw him/her last,” and “I missed seeing them every Sunday.”
The final stop was at a table with long time parishioners Mary Cheress and Ruth Uhde seated across from Linda Goheen, a Cranford resident who had decided to return to Trinity for a second time after having been given a warm reception the week before (all agreed to be named here). The three were lingering over coffee and conversation as I joined them. Mary and Ruth, from Linden and Elizabeth respectively, were much happier being back in person for Sunday services and Coffee Hour; however, they also recognized the benefits of being able to attend morning and evening prayer and Compline on Zoom and hoped that the opportunity would continue.
At one point, Ruth recalled that years ago when she been searching for a church to join, she looked in a phone book and found Trinity in the listings. She attended church that Sunday and when it came time for the Lord’s Prayer she recalled, “Clint Miller, who was sitting in the pew in front of me, turned around to hold my hand. At that moment, I knew Trinity would be my church.” She went on wistfully to say that every time it comes to pray the “Lord’s Prayer,” she thinks of Clint, the stranger, unknown, who offered his hand.
Zoom? Being present in church in person? What do you think?
Sherlock Hall Memories
Ahh…..if only the walls could talk (and smell), what would the walls of Sherlock Hall tell us? A recent visit to the Hall on a Sandwich Saturday provided the volunteers a chance to speak in their stead as thoughts of smells triggered memories, or was it the other way around?
The smell of pancakes and sausages came quickly to mind for young and old(er) who attended bazaars, ”Breakfast(s) With Santa” and pancake suppers. For Holly Ives, it was the scent of fir trees as she helped prepare wreaths for sale at the Christmas Bazaars. Recalling the smell of shortcake being baked in the kitchen for the Strawberry Festivals prompted several wistful comments along the lines of “We should do that again.”
The aroma of freshly baked scones was cited by those who prepared for or attended Trinity High Teas. Nancy Noonan recalled cooking the food and refreshments for joyful wedding receptions and more somber repasts. She smiled as she thought about the smell of shrimp spread out on brown paper for the tables at Mardi Gras parties.
The smell of apple pies baking in our ovens after the youth group returned from apple-picking lingered on for the participants, pickers and eaters. Volunteers who were working in Sherlock Hall on the Saturdays before the Trinity High Teas recall the smells of homemade pizzas coming from the kitchen at lunchtime. While those aromas may have lasted only a day, the odor of fish and chips lingered through the weekend after the Fish Fries.
Many of us had no trouble remembering the more recent dinner held in the Hall to herald the re-opening of the church upon the completion of the restoration. The builders, craftsmen, and their families joined parishioners who had prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
Nancy Noonan was pleased to tell us that the ovens in the kitchen are back in business and expects groups to reschedule events interrupted by the pandemic. That means we’ll have more opportunities to create memories to recall. The walls may not talk, but Holly, Nancy, Tom, Marion, Susan, Sarah, Maureen, and Fran graciously shared the memories that appear here.
What do you remember?
Many of us can recall "oohing and aahing" in past years as Trinity's new parents proudly bought their babies and toddlers to Sunday mass. Every week thereafter, we could continue to watch them grow into maturity through their parish lives, and in some cases, to marry and have children of their own.
Although the recent pandemic restrictions changed a lot of things, we can still look on, adoringly, as the cycle continues. The biggest difference? We haven't seen them in person, rather, through the wonders of technology. We have been able to view them virtually for they have become Baby Zoomers.
Here are some updates from the parents of our Zoomers:
Edward Kruger, son of Heather and Father Andy.
Edward is 1 year old now! He recently learned to walk and he loves toddling around the room holding various toys in his hands. He also has a strong affinity for the dog food bowls (which make an excellent noise when thrown on the floor) and the vacuum cleaner. Edward has his two bottom teeth but no sign of his top teeth yet. He uses "Dada" to refer to both Andy and the dogs and we are working on "Mama". Edward's favorite food is definitely cheese. His favorite toy is anything that is not actually a toy, the more dangerous the better. He enjoys climbing up the back of the couch to look out of the window. His favorite books are ones with flaps or touch-and-feel books.
He started daycare in April and he has adjusted well and started reaching for his teacher in the morning. He has led the other children there in a few nap rebellions and brought home and generously shared various dreaded daycare lurgies with his parents (we are not sure if the dreaded lurgy is a phrase used in the US but if not, it should be).
We have really enjoyed watching Edward become more aware of our families in video calls. He is interacting with them more and starting to wave, which his grandparents love! We are looking forward to when they can travel here to meet him in person!
Maeve, daughter of Piper Ferriter and Patrick Milas
Maeve will be two at the end of July—ahh!! She has grown like a weed. We surpassed three feet some time ago and neither of us could believe it except for of course she’s able to commandeer a whole new shelf of things on the bookcases and that is hard to miss. She started sprouting teeth rather early so has been eating real food for a while now. We’ve tried all sorts of foods and she has yet to reject a sample. She’s especially fond of avocado, cottage cheese, salmon, cinnamon cookies, and whatever you’reeating.
It might not be obvious in zoom church since she gets a bit stunned by the Brady Bunch screen and all the overlapping voices when everyone shares the peace, but Maeve is very talkative. She started with the word “shoe” and hasn’t stopped but to ask “what’s that!” and add a new word to her vocabulary. So she is definitely her mother’s daughter.
Thank goodness she sleeps. Besides talking and sleeping, Maeve also enjoys books, swimming, the tunnel slide at the playground, dancing to music, and terrorizing our kitty Ernest who exhibits a level of patience with her I never knew was possible. Please keep him in your prayers. Her favorite book probably changes every week but because I’m a curator I’m going to say it’s one of two beautiful board books I found on art and emotions that include works from Klimt to Kehinde Wiley and everyone in between.
The greatest silver lining to the horror that has been this pandemic is the extra time we’ve spent with Maeve. Working from home with flexible hours has allowed us both to witness all her firsts... and seconds, and thirds, and 79ths. Hey, the more laps she takes around the house the earlier bedtime is so run baby run!
Phoebe, daughter of Brandon Frumolt and Samantha Kaplan
P hoebe is nearly 10 months old now, still no teeth, but we're expecting them to pop up any day now. She’s currently in the 90th percentile for height, so she’s on track to be tall just like her parents.
She LOVES oranges and avocados. She’ll eat pretty much anything we put in front of her (including things that are not supposed to go in her mouth).
She’s a very talkative little lady - no real words but lots of mama baba gaga... and lots of high shrieks. I think she’s exercising her soprano register!
She loves story time - especially Goodnight Moon, Time for Bed, and Little Owl’s Night.
She’s crawling now, and wants to stand/walk more than anything! She does this half crawl/half crab walk scoot on one knee and one foot.
She loves to jump - on mommy/daddy, in her bouncer, onto the cat (much to his chagrin).
She also loves to be outside. We take her for walks in her stroller (weather permitting) and she loves to play in the grass.
We can’t wait to share her with our Trinity family in person!
March 2, 2021 - Memories from Art Patchett, recalled in March 2020
Shortly before the pandemic, when we were still enjoying coffee hours after Sunday eucharist, JoAnn Lehmkuhl and Fran Witherington had a chance to sit down with Dr. Arthur Patchett and talk about some of his remembrances of earlier times he and his wife Lois spent at Trinity. Some of those reflections follow.
Once Art and Lois Patchett joined Trinity in 1963, it didn’t take long for Lois to donate her time and considerable talents to the various organizations and programs offered to congregants. Benefitting from her involvement were the ECW and all their undertakings, the children in Sunday School, and the Bazaar Workshop to name a few. He recalls how much Lois enjoyed working behind the scenes in the kitchen in Sherlock Hall. Art has fond memories of their special friendships with the Frickes and the Cornells as they socialized with other families at Trinity clambakes, progressive dinners, wedding receptions, ice-cream socials and Mardi Gras dances.
It would take Art a bit longer to become fully involved in the business of the church. In their early years here, Art was still invested in putting the education he received at Princeton (undergraduate), Cambridge (Fullbright Scholar), and Harvard (PhD) to good use working for the National Institute of Health in Washington and then as a scientist inventor for Merck (43 years). If you are taking a drug to lower cholesterol, you might want to send a thank you note to Art and his research team at Merck Research Laboratories who discovered Mevacor, the first statin drug to be marketed to address the problem. He would be inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990 in recognition of his remarkable career which includes co-authorship of 182 papers and 183 issued US patents. While Art will not be the one to tell you, don’t be surprised to see a building at Merck with his name on it or to learn that there is a professorship in organic chemistry offered in the name of Arthur Allan Patchett at Princeton University. What Art is happy to tell you is that he met Lois at Merck. And yes, she is the “Lois” lovingly remembered in the plaque that hangs above “Lois’s Kitchen” in Sherlock Hall.
When Art was able to turn more attention to Trinity, he made his mark here, too. He was elected to and served on the Vestry several times. Art remembers Father Bizarro as priest in charge when he joined the church, and speaks fondly of Father Petitt, Father Witherington and Mother Gina. In talking with Art, it is clear that he looks back on his involvement in the renovation of the church and in the formation of TEDS as truly rewarding achievements.
Our time together passed too swiftly and it’s hard to believe that our conversation was held more than a year ago and I’m just writing about it now.
Seeing one another in boxes on Zoom and writing in chat rooms are just some ways we have to make connections these days, but how about sharing some remembrances of “old” days in an “old” way. And until we can once again comfortably reminisce over a cup of coffee or tea at coffee hour, how about writing a line or two about something you remember about Trinity that we can include in our 150th Anniversary Remembrances and Recollections? There is no age requirement for sharing memories. We’d love to have all generations represented here.
More memories….from Lynn Kiamie-Bianchini - March 2, 2021
In a recent phone conversation, Lynn Kiamie-Bianchini and Fran recalled the ECW hosting wedding receptions in Sherlock Hall. Lynn remembered that Joan Cornell sewed all the lace chair covers for her daughter Nancy’s wedding to match the lace canopy that was lowered from the ceiling on special occasions. She still remembers one time when Arlene Fricke attempted to cut the wedding cake only to have the card table fold in, the cake heading for disaster. Never fear. Arlene caught it in mid-air and saved the day!
During that conversation, Lynn also recounted the time Arlene’s high heel was caught in that pesky grate we all struggle to avoid when walking in the church aisle. Semi-shoeless, Arlene just continued walking out the door returning to retrieve the “lost sole” once everyone else had gone. After reading this, John Witherington related another encounter with a church grate as told in a Reader’s Digest story. Imagine Pachelbel’s Canon playing in the background.
As the lovely bridesmaid was making her way down the aisle of the church, her high heel was caught in the grate. She gracefully stepped out of her shoe and continued walking. The gallant groomsman following her bent down to pick up the shoe only to have the grate come up with it. The innocent bride followed unaware—and promptly fell into the hole.
"Breakfast with Santa" - Bonnie Gentesse. January 18, 2021
Our first “Breakfast with Santa” was held 15 years ago ( 2005 – 2019). Arlene Fricke. Bonnie Gentesse, Debbie Bulli and Linda Kurdilla were the coordinators.
It was a Church activity for everyone in the parish and open to the community. It just kept growing each year. Our Trinity family cooked and served delicious pancakes and sausage. All kinds of juice, coffee, tea, breakfast cakes and bagels were plentiful for all.
Santa Bob was a perfect Santa and photos were available to purchase or take on your own with the beautifully decorated stage as a backdrop.
Over 100 baskets, made and donated by parishioners, comprised the tricky tray available for winning, plus a 50/50. There was face painting for the kids, and lovely jewelry and decorated wreaths available for purchase. The children received crayons to color their Christmas placemats while the Cranford High School choir sang wonderful Christmas carols and enjoyed breakfast with us.
More than 30 volunteers helped run the breakfast. Hundreds of people of all ages attended, many of whom came back every year.
Over the 15 years, we contributed a total profit of $60,503.00 to the operating fund of Trinity.
It was a morning of fun, excitement and hard work that everyone enjoyed.
Trinity High Tea - December 26, 2020
The idea of a High Tea at Trinity was born over a pot of tea shared
by JoAnn Lehmkuhl, Kristin and Diane Baldwin on the English
In 1995 we invited potential committee members to a tea in our home. We served
homemade, scones, tea sandwiches and desserts, but no clotted cream. We
proposed having a High Tea at Trinity and our guests, Fran Witherington,
Joan Cornell, Evie Schafer, Jane Michael and Arlene Fricke joined JoAnn Lehmkuhl,
Kristin Baldwin and Diane Baldwin to form the Trinity High Tea Committee.
On a Saturday in March, 1995 we met in Trinity's kitchen to prepare for the tea the
following day. We baked 200 scones, set up the tables with lace tablecloths and
Trinity's "India Tree" fine china. On Sunday, after the 10 A.M. service with the
tea scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. , we made the fillings for four different types
of sandwiches and prepared 100 sandwiches which were served along with the
desserts that we had prepared in our homes. We accomplished all these tasks
by 3:55 p.m. just before the firsts guests arrived.
At 4:00 p.m. the committee members also were guests at the Trinity High Tea
because the famous Trinity Men Waiters began their service. Al Lehmkuhl
recruited the men of the parish to be waiters. Al set strict standards for
the waiters requiring them to wear a black bow tie, white shirt, black pants
and to have a black and white striped towel draped over their arm. Their job
description included plating and serving the sandwiches, scones, desserts,
and most importantly keeping the tea pots full of hot water. At the
conclusion of the tea, they were responsible for dish washing, and clean up.
All of this work and their only compensation was a bottle of beer when the
work was done.
It was decided that we would need two tea pots per table and an
appeal for the loan of tea pots was made to the parish. The
tea pots when lined up on the counter made a pretty picture with
their various designs, patterns and colors.
At the tea, we also introduced Themed Gift Baskets that were raffled off.
A tradition that developed was to include a handmade counted cross-stitched item in each basket.
Our guests also started a tradition of "dressing up" by
wearing decorative hats, gloves, and fancy dresses which made
for a more formal High Tea. To add to this elegance, James Lenny,
our choir master and organist, suggested that music be included.
He arranged for a string trio to play while the ladies sipped their tea.
At our post tea meeting we decided that since the tea was such
a huge success, we would continue with some changes to the
schedule. Hence, Scone Saturday, the week before the tea
became the day we baked and froze two varieties of scones
per guest. Sandwich Saturday, of the tea weekend, was the
day we made the sandwiches, prepared the fresh fruit, cooked
the lemon curd, and set up the tables. The women of the
parish became our dessert bakers.
Over the years our planning meeting was
where we sampled new recipes, changed the menu,
refined procedures, and most importantly formed great
friendships. In "true disclosure" we admit that our only
failure was to make clotted cream. We learned that
clotted cream is a purely English delicacy. So, whipped
heavy cream became our substitute served at the tea.
The Trinity High Tea was held from 1995 to 2009. During
these fifteen years we served 1,958 ladies endless cups of
tea and raised over $22,000.00 for Trinity, A surprise to us
as it wasn't intended to be a fund raiser. More importantly
we have served many from outside our church community.
We have met our parishioner's Grandmothers, Mothers,
Aunts, Sisters, Daughters, Granddaughters, Nieces and
friends. The Famous Trinity Waiters have enjoyed the
camaraderie of working together even when the dishwasher
was broken and the committee members have become
more than friends.
Nancy and Clint Miller - December 1, 2020
In thinking back over her years at Trinity, parishioner and oft times lay reader, leader, and preacher extraordinaire, Nancy Miller had many fond memories of the experiences she and husband Clint shared as part of their parish life.
Here are a few:
Under Father Pettit’s tenure, (not yet a bishop), “ Wednesdays during Lent brought everyone together for family potluck dinners and family services. Sometimes they included speakers and programs, often with separate activities for the children.” Nancy recalls that she was studying for a Master of Theological Studies at Drew University at the time and drew upon her connections with the theological school and the Diocese for inspiration in planning for these events. (She received her degree in 1988).
Nancy goes on to say, “Prayer and Praise night with Father Pettit and his wife, Virginia was held during the week. It included singing with Father Pettit’s guitar interspersed with prayers and culminating in Rite III Eucharist. It was distributed person to person around our circle.”
Clint and Nancy enjoyed leading an eight week series “Life in the Spirit” seminar twice. Nancy observes, “It was very life affirming and was approved by Father Pettit and published by the Catholic Charismatic Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
While at Trinity, Nancy started a small women’s prayer group that included Ethel Halsey, Janet Randall, and Carol Storz. They met weekly, taking turns at one another’s homes, and prayed for people in need and for Trinity Church. Nancy imagines that their group was the seed from which the Women’s Bible Study group grew.
During Father Witherington’s interim ministry, Nancy “organized an elementary student children’s choir, who met weekly for singing and hearing lessons in a circle. It was accompanied by our son, Ken Miller (high school) with his guitar. Father Witherington held a Sunday Morning Children’s Service in the old music room in the education building. The children’s choir sang there during each service, fully robed, just as in Trinity church.” In writing about her memories in a letter to Fran and John Witherington, Nancy writes, “Your father and our Father had great little talks as sermons.”
During Father Wylie’s tenure, as well as those of Reverend Pat and Mother Gina, Nancy writes, “I enjoyed giving sermons as a licensed lay preacher in the diocese. Father Wylie conferred about the sermon each week that I was speaking.”
There are numerous additional memories of the ways in which Nancy and Clint served Trinity at the local and diocesan levels. More to come.
Dawn Bunting Watson - Trinity Church member from ~1967 - 1985
Looking back from age 54, I can see the soul saving influence of the people of Cranford’s Trinity Episcopal Church on my life. Many faithful servants poured into me throughout my childhood molding me into a woman of God. My first encounter with the living God was during a Trinity youth group retreat to Vermont.
It was morning meditation time and I was bored of the required assignment. I put my workbook down and just decided to soak in the present moment. Sitting there on a large rock, I took in the smells, sounds, and sights of the cool Vermont mountainside. I tuned in to the silence of the forest music. I felt the warmth of the sun on one knee where the rays managed to make it past the dense treetop cover. My breathing slowed down long enough to enjoy the pungent earthy smells of the moss and decaying foliage, mixed with the fragrance of the lake on my hair. Next to my rock was a pair of adolescent trees each small enough for my index finger and thumb to wrap around them. What caught my attention was the way they grew in parallel like the supports of a hobbit ladder. Three quarters of the way up, the slightly larger of the two stretched it’s arm over toward the other one but before it made contact, it branched into a “V” and straddled the slightly smaller tree as if to guide its growth. I heard a crystal clear voice coming from inside my head say, “I am the larger tree and you are the smaller. I am beside you making sure that you grow up straight and true.” Still stunned with the strangeness of the voice, I felt a rush of joy fill my body. I knew that Jesus had spoken to me even though he skipped the introductions. Without thinking, I leapt off my rock and started jumping and shouting for joy, shattering the stillness of the forest and undoubtedly disturbing my fellow students.
So many moments at Trinity had been woven together to prepare me for that moment; each hymn I harmonized as a member of Mr. Heyer’s choir and every sermon I heard from Father Pettit and Father Witherington. Many thanks to all my Sunday school teachers who taught me that Jesus loves me just the way I am. That is the mustard seed that rooted me to the Rock of my salvation and allowed my tree to bend but not break despite violent storms. The friendships I treasure from childhood were forged while putting on the countless skits and musicals led by Mr. and Mrs. Cornell. I can’t thank them enough. Finally, I very special thanks to Arlene Fricke for being my mentor and role model. She showed me the love of Jesus and now that I have a Master of Arts in Christian Ministries, I pray that I can do the same for the people I touch in my ministries.
I have heard the voice of God only two other times in my life since that first time on a Vermont mountain. Once in response to my prayer seeking instruction for a new leadership role in the corporate world, Jesus’ advice was simply, “Love them.” The only other time I heard from God was after praying and seeking His direction for my life. God didn’t say a word. He had a children’s choir sing the song “Feed My Lambs” inside my head with amazing clarity, love, and purity. This song conveyed more than mere words could. It was my favorite song from Mr. Heyer’s childrens choir. I loved singing it because looking back now; I realize that the Holy Spirit stirred within me when we sang it. I am eternally indebted to the people of Trinity church for making me into a child of God.
“Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, over all a vigil keep
In my Name lead them forth, gently as a shepherd.”
Fran Witherington - October 25, 2020:
Not being able to get into Sherlock Hall for fellowship prompted me to remember the first time I entered that space.
It was back in the late 60’s and a luncheon was being sponsored by area newspapers to bring together a variety of potential writers who would be sending in future news, editorials or advertising copy. As a new teacher and advisor to the Cranford High School student newspaper, I was invited to attend. There were over a hundred guests seated at the long tables in Sherlock Hall with Trinity Episcopal Church Women helping out as servers and hostesses.
Recognizing no one as I arrived, I looked for the friendliest face and sat down next to her. “She” turned out to be our table hostess and introduced herself as Anne Witherington. As we talked effortlessly, she asked if I knew her son who happened to be a history teacher at Cranford High School. I told her that I did and she went on to tell delightful tales about him “outside of school.” She sent me back with an extra favor—a box of truffles to share with him.
Two years later, her son John and I started dating and were married within the year. I tell everyone that I am blessed to have picked my own mother-in-law.
Little did I know that first time in Sherlock Hall that I would be back many times for events ranging from costume parties, to sit-down wedding reception dinners, to interim church. Lots of interesting events were held in Sherlock Hall. Which ones do you remember?
August 26, 2020:
Arlene Fricke, chairperson for Trinity’s 125th year anniversary in 1997, writes:
“The large project for the Celebration of the 125th was the Parish Quilt which has been preserved and is hung on the wall in Witherington Hall. We had classes in preparing the squares and each one is unique on its own. These squares were then given to Ann Pettit (daughter of Bishop Pettit) who sewed them together to form this quilt. This quilt was used as the Altar Frontal for our Celebration Service which was taken from the 1892 prayer book.”
Lynn Solecki remembers church on Sunday and this event from the 1950’s:
“My dad went to 8 am service and then to work. Carol and I went with Mom to a later service. Many of my school friends were there each Sunday also making church a welcoming place to be.
As a member of the Trinity Choir we went to NYC and went on the “Strike It Rich” show to try to win money to purchase new choir robes. We came on stage singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” We were all so proud that day to be members of Trinity’s choir. We won and were able to purchase new choir robes.”
John Witherington also remembers his early years as a member of the Men’s/Boys’ church choir, sheepishly admitting,
“We got paid for our services while the Women’s/Girls’ choir did not.”