Ede Thomas’s Pathway to All Souls Church
I became a Unitarian when I married my husband Tommy in 1953. We got married in my own church which was Presbyterian. But when we went to the rehearsal the night before the wedding, Tommy objected to the minister’s text. He said “I can’t get married to that.” The minister found another text in the back of of his book that Tommy agreed to and my mother and I were greatly relieved.
My mother thought Unitarianism was a cult. Perhaps this was because Marinette, Wisconsin had the distinction of having more taverns and churches than any other place in the United States except Washington DC according to Bob Ripley. But they had no Unitarian church in Marinette.
We were active in the UU Church in Hartford, Connecticut. When we retired, we moved to Marlboro and started going to All Souls. That church wanted a choir but they had no director. I had been teaching music in the Hartford public schools. They asked me to take over as their choir director. There was very little choir music in the church at that time. This is how I got the music for the choir. I would go to the church in Hartford and look through their files to find anthems I thought we could sing at All Souls I did this several times until we had enough good anthems for several years. Sometimes I would find something I really liked from the collection of the Western Wind.
When Nancy and Jack Reed retired to Newfane, they started coming to All Souls too. Nancy was a pianist and wanted a part in directing the choir also. We ended up taking turns directing. Nancy chose pieces that she could accompany and I did all the a cappella pieces. After Nancy left, Charles Butterfield did a lot of the accompaniment. For some years, I also had a children’s choir at All Souls. I led the adult choir for about 30 years.
Once in the late 1990’s, I put on an operetta called “The Happy Prince.” It had been composed by Lolly Barton, the wife of one of Tommy’s friends. Our production was the one and only time it was ever performed which made Lolly very happy. Orion Barber sang the role of the prince. Bob Hancock had a big role too, wearing a blue velvet suit made by his wife Chris. Carol Carlson, our minister, was the bird that held the story together. She was a marvelous performer.
Bob is one of the great people I have met at All Souls. He and his wife moved to Alaska a few years ago, but I get wonderful letters from him. Other dear friends include Esta Smith and Ruth Lane. I love stories about Linda Hay who used to go hiking in the British Isles every summer. I remember Richard Marshall for his beautiful photography books. I have always loved hearing poetry from Charles Butterfield and Maisie Crowther and owning her beautiful water color pictures. I own five of them.
I also am impressed by Christina and Peter Gibbons. I love to hear him play his viola and Christina and her quiet confidence in everything she does. I know I have others who have influenced me: Janet Athens, Becky Cameron, Daniel Kasnitz, Shirley Ridgway. I think it is these friendships that have kept me involved with the Church in later years.