Greetings, friends! - and farewell!
As the lion roared into camp last night - to lap up the fresh puddles of water, and scare away the gentle lamb of the past week - he shook the house with his fury, and shock me into the sudden realization that, if I am to write to you for the March 15 issue, I'll have to do it before I leave Saltsburg. Where shall I begin? And what shall I say? I am literally too full for utterance; to full of chicken and turkey and steak dinners - and ice-cream and cherry pie and plum pudding. Yes, this week has been the gourmand's delight. I'll have to go home before I die of over-eating. But this week has been much more than that. Every lovely lunch or dinner has been a symbol of friendship. Every warm hand-shake has been that, too. In some ways it's wonderful to grow old. Because the passing years enhance old friendships - and make you grateful for the new. The little barbs and feline scratches do not penetrate a tough old hide. But that same "epidermis" does soak up the sunshine of kindness and good-will. How right Robert Browning was when he said "Grow old along with me; The best is yet to be."
To give public acknowledgment of all the kindnesses heaped upon me this week would take up too much space, and perhaps embarrass my benefactors. I am already in disfavor with one of them for praising her too much. Then may I mention a few outstanding impressions? The first is the loneliness of Titian Rose. "Loneliness" is not the word - for he's never alone - nor wanting for the best of care. But there is the hunger for companionship - the communion with old friends and acquaintances. Titian was an omniverous reader in the days when he had his eyesight. Now Mrs. McLaughlin, his faithful nurse, reads to him by the hour. If you have some good "westerns" by Zane Grey, or other good authors (Miss Rupert will advise you), pass them along to Titian. And don't forget the words of the Master, "I was sick, and ye visited me ..."
The week was far too short for all there was to do and learn. It was not until yesterday that I sought out Harold Robinson and learned some of the rock-bound and heartening facts about the Memorial that is to be. How there is no chance for "politics" - because every contributor is a stockholder, and will have a vote in selecting the board of directors comprised of fifteen members. I understand that every church and civic group will be represented in that first board. Each year three directors will step out and three new ones come in, thus keeping new blood pouring in, and averting a coagulating clique. The money that is coming in (and it is pouring and trickling in - from every corner) will be held in trust until building materials are available - at stable prices. This building - a memorial to our gallant service men and women - will be as large and as complete as you make it. As soon as I got to Saltsburg I heard that some people were knocking the Memorial project - with the arguments that it was going to cost too much money, and that it wasn't necessary. It's funny how some people measure all civic or cultural projects in terms of money.
The lack of a good community hall in this town is costing too much already - in the strain on young people's reputation and morals. Young people love a good time. God put that love of fun and fellowship into every normal young person. If their need is recognized and fostered by parents and civic leaders, then their social instincts are not perverted into illicit channels. If you read the history of every town or city which turns out superior young citizens, you will find that town or city provided wholesome recreation. The new club rooms will be the best investment this town ever made. If you have nothing personal at stake - no son or young friend whose service to his country is a matter of pride to you; if you do not care about the Community building because you have no son or daughter who will benefit - then I say "Shame on you!" You might as well lie down and die - for YOU ARE DEAD.
Just one more word - for the Red Cross - and then, like Amos of old, I'll go back home and tend to my "Sycamore trees." I heard some dreadful tales - from the lips of Service men and women - of how the Red Cross has desecrated its own good name in certain quarters by corrupt practices: the favoring of officers; the charging a price to the needy soldier and sailor and flyer and marine for all the little things that were to be given him entirely free. Just remember that every world-wide, or even nation-wide organization has its rotten branches. These branches should be cut off and cast into the fire of oblivion. But the great, sheltering tree - the Red Cross - is sound at the roots - and should be supported and nourished, and made to grow.
With heartfelt gratitude to my dear home town and its warm-hearted citizens, I say good-bye in person. But I shall return every week with renewed interest.
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 3/22/46 - Travelling Companions. New Minister
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