Tag Archives: Molly Charboneau

Christ the King Church #AtoZChallenge

C is for Christ the King Church: Third of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Researching an ancestor’s religion is a good way to find valuable family history information — and during my childhood Christ the King Catholic Church in Endwell, N.Y., was both a house of worship and a social gathering place for my family and the other catholic households in our neighborhood.

Christ the King church

Christ the King was walking distance from our house — and my mom, a music education graduate of SUNY Potsdam, was the choir director for many years. The Sundays I spent at mass were a formative part of  my childhood — but not in the way the church or my parents expected.

Christ the King Church in 1993. The church is now used for non-denominational services. But during my childhood Christ the King was a Catholic church — where my mom directed the choir — and it bustled with activity each Sunday. Photo: Molly Charboneau

In the years before ecumenism, we had a fire-and-brimstone priest and his sermons were sometimes disturbing — especially his constant exhortations to urge our Jewish and Protestant friends to convert to Catholicism so they would not perish in hell. Yikes! I felt this was unfair and told my parents as much — and thus were sown my first doubts about the church.

Lives of the saints

Other times, his sermons were just boring,  so I would turn to my Daily Missal — with my name embossed in gold on its white leather cover — and read the inspiring lives of the saints, which sparked my interest in social reform.

Christ the King Church interior in 1993. When I went to this church as a child, the interior and exterior were as dark as the beams shown here. I was amazed to the new, light interior when I visited during a high school reunion. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Eventually, my favorite service became Good Friday — when the altar was stripped of ornamentation and all the usual pomp and circumstance was replaced by a simpler celebration of mass.

In this way,  week by week as the 1960s unfolded, I began to move away from the church and seek progressive social change in the secular world.

The Infant of Prague

1993: Infant of Prague statue in Endwell’s Christ the King Church. Photo: Molly Charboneau

One unique feature of Christ the King — different from St. Madeline Sophie Church where we went when we lived on the farm — was a gilded statue of the Infant of Prague.

Endwell and the surrounding area had many residents of Czech descent. So a statue of the Infant of Prague was a feature in many of my neighbors’ homes, too — sometimes sitting atop the TV or on a curio cabinet in their living room.

Not only that, but the statue was dressed in various homemade outfits throughout the year — such as for Easter or Christmas.

I was fascinated by the intricate craftsmanship with which these tiny outfits were sewn — a tribute to Czech cultural heritage — and I am still reminded of my years in Endwell when I see a statue of the Infant of Prague.

Up next: D is for Darn: I change fifth grade classes. Please stop back!

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Brothers and Boondoggle #AtoZChallenge

B is for Brothers and Boondoggle: Second of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Genealogists are always thinking about those ancestors who came before us, but family history is also about those who come after — and for me, the first two additions to my family were my younger brothers Mark and Jeff.

Brothers

My brothers arrived two years apart, Mark when I was four and Jeff when I was six — during the years when my family lived on a farm with my maternal grandparents.

Then we moved together to Endwell, west of Binghamton, N.Y., and became the three new kids on a block that had 52 children at the height of the Baby Boom.

Me and my brothers right before our move to Endwell. My younger brothers were boon companions during my elementary years — team players for getting around our parents for this and that, and great fun on long car trips to visit family or vacation on Cape Cod. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Many of our Endwell neighbors had local roots and extended family who lived nearby. But my brothers and I had only one another and our parents — with our nearest extended family living several hours drive away. So we were thrown together at home and at play — and that helped mold my personality in positive ways.

For one thing, I was not a girly girl — partly because I had brothers. I could catch toads and garter snakes or skewer a worm onto a fish hook without flinching — unlike some of my sisters-only playmates who screamed at the mere idea.

Growing up with brothers, I saw their tough and tender sides, which helped me relate to male classmates and colleagues throughout life. Something my sisters-only friends never seemed to grasp.

But most of all, my brothers were fun! They were endlessly amusing and great team players when it came to working around our parents for this and that — or helping me survive long car trips to visit relatives or vacation on Cape Cod.  (Never mind the fights we had over our lone TV set because the Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan shows aired at exactly the same time on Sunday nights!)

Boondoggle

One diversion available to my brothers and me was summer day camp at Hooper Elementary School. The school was a 1930s brick structure with a flat, cement playground — which was fun during the school year but broiling hot in the summer.

Woven whistle chains. In my elementary years, I learned to make boondoggle whistle chains, weaving contrasting plastic into intricate patterns that presaged my later interest in knitting and crochet.

Nevertheless, it was walking distance from our house. So to give our moms a summer break, the kids from our street were trundled off to Hooper School to do arts and crafts at long tables set up in what little shade the school building offered.

At Hooper School summer camp I learned to make boondoggle whistle chains, weaving contrasting plastic into intricate patterns that presaged my later interest in knitting and crochet.

Do children still do this, I wonder? It certainly was relaxing — and a great way to pass summer days and evenings when we weren’t busy running around the street, riding our bikes, catching fireflies in mayonnaise jars or wandering down to the creek that trickled past our street’s dead end.

Up next: C is for Christ the King ChurchPlease stop back!

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Arriving in Endwell, my second childhood home #AtoZChallenge

A is for Arriving: First of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

The last post of my A to Z Challenge 2017 series on my early childhood had me Zooming off to Endwell with my parents and younger brothers to my second childhood home.

This series picks up my story of Arriving in Endwell, N.Y. and moving into the tiny house where I would live with my family through the end of high school.

A Baby Boom bonanza

My first childhood home Whispering Chimneys was an 1850s farmhouse near Albany, N.Y., where I lived with my parents, maternal grandparents and younger brothers until I was seven.

My second childhood home. My second childhood  home on Malverne Rd. in Endwell, N.Y., was much smaller than my first. But on the dead-end street bustling with Baby Boom children, we kids were rarely inside. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

I had friends at school, but the nearest neighbor children were Kathy and Carol Ann — who lived across Route 20, a highway I was forbidden to cross without an adult. So I was used to a certain amount of solitude.

Our new Malverne Road neighborhood, however, was the polar opposite. It was a dead end street with no through traffic, which meant we were free to cross or even play in the road. Even more amazing, there were dozens of children — a Baby Boom bonanza that took some getting used to!

My moving day injury

I made an early trip to Endwell with my dad so he could do some indoor painting to get our new home ready. We slept on Army cots in the empty, echoey house — and I met some of my future playmates when showed up in the front yard to look me over.

https://pixabay.com/photos/red-bike-vintage-bicycle-bicycle-3498606/
Red vintage bike. I learned to ride a bike like this on the farm where I spent my early childhood. But it was a bit trickier to manoeuver on the dirt-and-tar street where our second house was located. Photo: Jill Wellington/pixabay

After that came moving day, when the whole family — my grandparents included — drove along behind our moving van on the three-hour trip to our new house.

One of the first things the movers unloaded was my vintage bicycle from the farm — and I hopped on to give it a whirl on the dirt-and-tar covered street (pavement and curbs were still in the future).

I’m not sure if it was the excitement of moving or the stickiness of the tar, but next thing I knew I was head over heels on the ground with a gash on my right forearm — made by my bike’s gripless silver handlebars. Ouch!

Luckily, the movers never missed a beat. They set down the furniture, rummaged in their huge truck, brought out a first-aid kit — and before you know it, I was all patched up and back on my bike.

I was also left with a lasting memento of that fateful day. Even today all I have to do is look down at the small, faded scar on my forearm to fondly remember Arriving in Endwell as if it was yesterday!

Up next: B is for Brothers and BoondoglePlease stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin