Meeting History: A child's memories of the 80s

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{Editor's note: Elizabeth wrote this at the time of our 1999 celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Meeting's founding in 1924. She was living in Australia at the time.}

From Elizabeth Walmsley:

I have many fond memories of growing up in Chestnut Hill Meeting. As I sit here with a cold two days before a difficult exam, I'd rather remain in complete denial by basking in my memories, than facing up to any study!

One of the very first things that ever happened when I arrived at Chestnut Hill was to do with a stuffed frog that I owned, which was designed to be signed and drawn on. I was six years old, and when we went to meeting, my frog would come with me. One of the first people I met at meeting was Karen Cromley, and to my delight she signed my frog. My heart was won, and our subsequent visit to Plymouth Meeting Friends did not stand a chance. I was firmly set on going to Chestnut Hill.

There were only two kids who were around the same age as me: Kathryn and Elizabeth Gable. We spent many happy hours playing together, watching Steve start the fire in winter, and sitting in meeting reading books - under Steve's watchful eye of course! Soon I began to get to know other people in meeting, like Ben and Becca Newlin, who were also my age, and other people like Trudy Hubben, Hertha Reineman, and Trude Fuchs. I started my First Day School education in a class of two - me and my teacher. Sometimes Barbara Buonocore would be with me, and other times my father, but it is Phil Anthony about whom I could write a book! My class expanded as Ben and Becca Newlin joined me under Phil's "friendly presence", and before long Joe Richardson as well.

Outside of meeting there were happy hours spent with the Lesnick-Schodts and the Newlins, and coffee hour Sundays were always the best days, because of all the food on the table just waiting to be eaten. Christmas breakfast was always a wonderful time, as there were mountains of food, the Christmas pageant, which was always directed by Jim Alexander, and carol singing. One particular year I was involved in a special performance of the carol "Christmas Candle", and another year there was also a very memorable pageant because the star nearly failed to appear. At the very last minute, everyone turned to see Nicky Putter-George, with a shaky looking star strapped to his back, saying "wait! wait!", and climbing through the crowds of people at the back of the meeting room.

I also remember my time with the Worship and Ministry committee which always met at Mary Lou Hurwitz's house, and the time that Ben Newlin and I gave forum after meeting about Young Friends. Listing the numbers of people who I remember spending happy times with would involve something the size of the meeting directory! In my current bedroom, here in Australia, there is a gorgeous picture of Paper White flowers, painted by Sharli Land. Stuart and Sharli are also people with whom I remember spending happy times.

I was involved with Chestnut Hill Meeting for 10 years, from November 1984 to November 1994; however I am still involved because while my parents have transferred their membership to our meeting in Australia, I have chosen to keep my Chestnut Hill Meeting membership! My mother has pointed out that I am probably the Chestnut Hill Meeting Member who is located the farthest away.

I hope that the birthday celebrations are lots of fun - I am there in spirit if not in body!

With much love from Elizabeth Walmsley