by Nan Ganyard
As the youngest member of the Taylor family, I grew up in what was probably an upper middle class culture in Worcester, MA. The city was highly diversified. The Protestants, Jews, Swedes and Scots lived in one area and we went to North High School. The Catholics, Italians, Armenians, etc. went to South High School. We did not feel entitled; it’s just the way it was. I had a loving family of parents and 3 girls, but life was overshadowed by our father’s suffering from TB as a result of service in WWI. For a full year, my mother, in an early 1930s car, drove 10 miles round trip to see our father in the veterans hospital. He was a Professor of Civil Engineering and the Alumni Director at Worcester Tech and was fortunate to keep his editing job while in the hospital. When he was at home, we had a quiet family life, but he designed and created a basement rec room for serious ping pong games and parties. We were never at a loss for dates because, as faculty children, we always had free tickets to sports events.
We were all baptized by immersion (at 12, “the age of reason”) at the first Baptist Church by Doctor Roy. We learned our Bible verses and stories, sang in the junior choir, led Girl Scouts, went to Sunday evening meetings for young people, and tried to live by the rules. I felt deeply about my faith, not very questioning as a young person, and very comfortable in my church. Every year, when I was 10-14, I got to play the Virgin Mary in the Christmas pageant. During one memorable performance, holding a life-size doll, I was seated on crates inside the baptismal (dry) pool. As the 3 kings (friends with beards) came down the aisle, I almost lost it but remained calm. Then, in the bright lights, my nose started to run, so I sort of bowed my head. Seems this was the signal for the pageant to close down. Shortened version that year!
By June 1949, I had just graduated from Drury College, magna cum laude like my mother, and was ready to take on the world. I had assumed I would become either an international airline stewardess or a Foreign Service officer so I spent the summer studying for the exams. First, I was rejected for flying because I wore reading glasses, and second, I failed the Economics/Statistics part of the exam. So I just sort of hung around, worked with church groups and Girl Scouts until my widowed mother suggested I might look for a job. Through an acquaintance, I got that job during Christmas sales with the Telechron Clock Factory in Worcester. The first day I dressed up nicely to make a good impression, wincing a bit as I punched in a time clock. I was quite embarrassed when they put me on the assembly line with women who were dressed in old jeans and sneakers. Sitting at rows of benches, we were arranged in a line. I didn’t say much, but they chatted all day, throwing in innuendos about certain subjects I had never heard discussed, then they would all roar with laughter. For 8 hours, with 2 coffee breaks, I examined hands of clocks to see whether any of the gilt had rubbed off, assigning them to the yes pile or the no pile. The ladies suggested I was being a bit too precise. After 3 weeks, I was so good they put me on testing alarms by beating the clock on my palm to see if it rang a bell. Then, after 6 weeks I was laid off. I was incensed! How could they! With my education?
All of a sudden, I recall stopping and looking around. There were the ladies happily working and chatting, grateful for the employment and the small paycheck. It was not exactly an epiphany, but something in me had suddenly shifted, and I took a pretty severe look at myself, realizing what I had learned from the ladies and from their chance to have a job of any kind. I did not know whether they had a church faith, but they had something more; they were sisters who shared their joys and sorrows and always had someone to count on. I knew I would have to find this again in my own life. I did get an advanced degree and did get one of those jobs, but after 68 years, that attitude-changing moment is still with me. Peter and I were married in 1953 in the First Baptist Church. The only difficult moment in the service was the Lord’s Prayer. He said something about “trespasses” while I was saying “debts.” We shopped around for churches wherever we lived, and I almost committed to the Episcopal Church in Albuquerque but was stopped at “the bishop had to lay hands on me.” Why?
We did have our three children baptized before moves to New Jersey, Winnipeg, and finally Boca Raton. Still shopping, one Easter we stopped in at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach Florida. Known as the ‘Wow!” factor, I somehow knew this was the place where we would meet people who had already found that spiritual joy and who were putting it to work through service to others. It became our church home where we have been involved for 20 years, literally following in the steps of Saint Paul, serving on committees and at conferences, participating in outreach for seekers, and then two years on the Vestry. With some classes and gentle encouragement from now Bishop Chip Stokes, Peter and I were welcomed on March 17, 2002. When Bishop Frade laid his hands on my shoulders, he suddenly started to laugh and decided to tell a funny incident, hands still on my shoulders.. It was as if he wanted to be sure I was thoroughly committed this time!