Earl Funk

From time to time we all find it interesting to reflect on the "good old days." I hope you may find this little article of some interest. It happened before I was born, and was told to me by my mother, Blanche (Wyckoff) Funk, many, many times. It proved to be a learning experience. Thank you for reading it.

A little background information is necessary ... So, here is that information. My grandfather, Stephen Douglas Wyckoff, married Minerva Francis Vail on Feb. 20, 1890. (I have their marriage certificate, framed and on my living room wall!)

They lived west of Effingham, on the West Fayette Avenue road … through the river bottom, over the Little Wabash River, then the first road (the Toothaker hill) and the first and only farmstead on the right. It was a 150 acre farm. Their children consisted of Clarence Wyckoff, Minnie Wyckoff and my mother, Blanche Wyckoff.

My grandmother Minerva died on July 2, 1926 in the farmhouse. By this time, my parents, Blanche and Edgar Funk, had purchased 13 lots here in Effingham at 1300 South 4th Street (at that time it was simply known as "South 4th St. Road.") The property consisted of a large home (this house is still kept in excellent repair) along with a garage, barn and a hog lot just east of the house. They also had a vegetable garden out back.

My dad was employed as a machinist on the Pennsylvania Railroad and my mother had decided to discontinue teaching school in order to take care of the house and family.

Arrangements were made for Grampa Steve and Minnie to move into town and live with my parents. This was a perfect arrangement for everyone. Grampa Steve enjoyed keeping the garden tended along with doing the yard work, etc. Thanks to Gramma Minerva, my mother was raised in a rather strict Southern Baptist environment … many restrictions!

Weather permitting, Gramma Minerva and mom would drive a horse and buggy up to the Blue Point Baptist Church for Sunday morning worship. After moving to Effingham, mom attended the baptist church here in town, but later decided to make a change. Friends gave her a special invitation to attend services at the First Presbyterian Church here in town.

Her first Sunday there was a delightful experience! One of the greeters that day was a young attorney by the name of Harry S. Parker. Mr. Parker escorted mom to her Sunday school room and made all the proper introductions. Mr. Parker was a wonderful Christian gentleman and many, many years later I had the honor of attending Noon Rotary with him along with his son, Howard. We met for lunch in the Benwood Hotel … great family!

After all of that "background information," please allow me to share an event as told to me by my mother.

A neighbor lady, who was a close friend to mom, invited her to attend mass one Sunday morning at the St. Anthony Catholic Church here in town. Mom accepted the invitation. On this given Sunday morning, mom was all dressed and ready for her friend to pick her up. She was standing at the kitchen window watching for the car to drive in. The car arrived and at the same time, there was a soft knock on the door. Mom opened the door and a young gentleman, around 19- or 20-years-old, removed his hat, smiled, and asked if he could split some wood on the large woodpile in appreciation for something to eat. He was hungry. This was in the year 1926, and already the economy was strugling ... just before the Great Depression of 1929.

My mom smiled and told the young gentleman that she was just leaving and did not have time to fix him a plate of food. He smiled, thanked her, and walked on the sidewalk back to the street.

The two ladies were on their way to church. My Grampa Steve was sitting at the kitchen table having a second cup of coffee. He overheard the conversation between mom and the young gentleman. He left the table, walked out to the street, put his hand up to his mouth in order to be heard and called, "Hey young feller, come on back."

The young "feller" came back to where Grampa Steve was standing … introductions were made, along with handshakes, and the two men walked back to the kitchen.

While the young man was getting freshioned up, Grampa Steve put the fresh biscuits back into the oven of the wood range, at a low degree. He also reheated the sausage gravy, fried some ham and made fresh coffee. The young man offered a quiet, beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and they both enjoyed a meal, along with pleasant conversation.

This young fellow was traveling on boxcars from the east, heading west looking for work. He had relatives in the west. About an hour or so later, the fellow thanked Grampa Steve for his hospitality, they shook hands and he was on his way.

Soon after, my mom returned from mass and told her dad what a beautiful service it was. After this, Grampa Steve said, "Blanche, let me explain before Edgar gets home from work … I know he will be tired and hungry … but the biscuits and gravy are gone … I sent food along with that young man, who was hungry."

Mom was overjoyed that her dad had taken care of the situation and said, "I will whip up a new batch of biscuits and make more gravy and it will be fresh and hot when Edgar arrives."

As i mentioned earlier, my mother, Blanche, related this event many, many times and always said: "I enjoyed mass at the beautiful St. Anthony Catholic Church. But it was really my dad who delivered the sermon that Sunday morning."

Grampa Steve Wyckoff died on Feb. 4, 1928 at the age of 66. I was born on Oct.31, 1929.

We all have our own way of sharing the gospel … Grampa Steve shared his love by serving a plate of hot biscuits covered with sausage gravy, a slice of ham and a cup of coffee … and pleasant conversation.

Thank you, Grampa Steve for the greatest gift anyone can give or receive … the beautiful gift of love

Your grandson,