Early Memories by Susan Welsh Wright

I remember so many things about my life at Francis Street 1st United Methodist Church that I don’t know where to begin. My parents and I joined the church in 1954-wow! – 65 years ago, how time flies. We were a very large church here in downtown St. Joseph at that time. I always loved this beautiful church-I think it’s the most beautiful in town.
At that time, we had so many young people our MYF was always full of Middle school and High School youth. We did so much as a group.
At the time Dr. Powell was the pastor and he had four boys and one daughter. Zoey was her name. His son James, who was a couple of years older than I was, had an old blue Chevy convertible and he always took some of us home after MYF. Of course, we always had to go to Wades Indian Grill on Mitchell Avenue. He always had a BRAIN sandwich and we would all go “OH YUCK” how can you eat that. James said because I like them, and that made sense. We needed money for our MYF, so we had paper drives. At that time paper paid really well to recycle so we would announce in church that we were going to have a paper drive the next Saturday. Then we would drive by members’ homes and pick up their papers. We would take James’ old Chevy and by the time we were finished collecting papers that poor car was loaded down so much that we almost bottomed out in the rear end. We had such great times and I wish the youth of today could experience that kind of simple joy! I believe all 4 of the Powell boys became ministers-not sure about Zoey.
When I was in High school, I was so blessed to be in this church. One of those years I was chosen to go on the Missionary Education Tour. We went East to Boston, New York, Maine and so many other places on our trip there and back. We had 32 girls from around the area and 2 adult women and George, the bus driver. He was a hoot and we all loved him. He went everywhere we did and had a great time. We got to eat lobster in an Old Cape Code restaurant. The table was huge, and George and the Chef showed us how to eat giant lobsters. We had our crackers (I think that is what they were called), and a pick to take the meat from the shells. Then we dipped the pieces into a bow of real butter! First time eating lobster and what a great time we had.
We, of course, did not stay in motels or hotels but slept in the basements of Methodist Churches along the way. I remember in Boston we were in the basement of the church and around 1:00 in the morning the organ began to play upstairs. You don’t think that wasn’t a frightening experience?? The ladies told us all to go back to bed. We found out the next morning that sometimes the organist practiced at night, since he worked someplace else during the day. We all laughed about that many times.
We went on to New York and stayed in the basement of another Methodist church there. It was raining the next morning and when we went to get back on the bus there was a DRUNK lying in the gutter passed out! We had to jump over him to get inside the bus. That is when I decided I didn’t want to drink and end up in the gutter. As we drove through skid row, that awful part of New York, we saw dirty drunks passed out on the sidewalk. Other drunks would take off their shoes, coats, or whatever they had to run down the street to buy more liquor. What an eye-opening experience that was!
When in New York we went to the UNITED NATIONS and received a guided tour explaining everything to us. Also, we got to go see the Radio City Rockettes perform on stage! It was a beautiful performance.
We visited the Methodist Missionary offices in all the cities that we visited. We were gone 14 days and were very tired when we got home but what experiences we had.
I hope that God will bless this wonderful church and the people in it and let it grow again as it has in years gone by.

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