The Venerable Sydney E. Grant (1941-1945)
When I was ordained deacon in June of 1940, I was assigned as curate to Canon George Dawson who had oversight of five missions in Paterson, Passaic, Totawa and Delawana. Then, on March 17, 1941, I was ordained priest and sent to Palisades Park and South Englewood. Late in May of that same year, Bishop Washburn called me into his office to tell me that as of July 1, 1941, I would be Vicar of St. James, Hackettstown, Christ Church, Stanhope and St. Peter's, Mt. Arlington. I did not even know where these places were and neither did my fiancee!
I moved out to Hackettstown at the appointed time and, together with Minerva, met some of my new parishioners. They were a most warm and understanding group, as was all of the congregation. Minerva and I were married in September and thus began four of the happiest and most rewarding years we ever had. There were times of joy and times of tears and even some despair, but, when all was completed and the Grants moved on, we were congratulated by Bishop Washburn, and that alone was no Small thing.
One Sunday in December as we were having lunch, we heard the announcement regarding Pearl Harbor. The congregation and their friends poured into the church. We were at war! Our boys were going off to battle.
Those years were a test for us all. We did all the things a parish could do. We worked and prayed. We got the church painted -- this time, all white. We had the parish hall painted and built a garage. Canon Leslie came out one night for a special celebration meeting to assist in the burning of our mortgage.
We could never properly heat the vicarage during winter months. One morning we came down to discover the water in the flower vases had frozen solid! We removed the old black coal stove in the kitchen and installed an electric, second-hand stove, much to the dismay of some people. The cellar was also impossible. When it rained, the cellar flooded and we actually once found a row boat down there. The furnace and hot water pot stove went out when it rained due to the flooding.
Minerva became the center of the coffee hours that were frequently held. In fact, the coffee pot was always on the stove. In 1942, our son Charles was born. What love and attention he caused! We were overwhelmed! Grandma Harris up on her farm on Schooley's Mountain sent butter and sausage and lots of goodies, as did Mrs. Blake and her daughter Lou Blake. Then there were the Vilets, the Pickles, the Hankinsons, the Stickneys and the Rosenbaums (who lived next door and became the official baby-sitters together with Shirley Carswell), the Shaws, and who could forget "Uncle" Bill Redding the retired cowboy. I'm sure I've offended too many by leaving them out, but my memory has slipped a notch.
Can you imagine two young people from the city flying up to the ceiling of the bedroom when the fire whistle sounded? It was pointed directly at our window. We got our revenge on "D Day" when we woke up the valley ringing the bells in the tower for about a half an hour. Then, in 1945, I was down in Newark in St. Barnabas Hospital when horns and bells and whistles sounded to tell me that not only was our second son, John, born, but that Japan had surrendered. A month later, we moved to Bloomfield.
Some years passed; then, in 1960, Bishop Stark appointed me Archdeacon of Missions. Can you imagine how I felt on my return visits to St. James as a Diocesan official! A dear friend, however, helped me keep my head on straight. Andy Hazelton (who had been one of my first acolytes) served on the Department of Missions. He helped keep memories alive, and the rnemories are still alive and warm.
Could I write a book!
Acknowledgments The Ven. Sydney E. Grant The Rev. Arthur Wing III