The first theme in our nine month PG Library series was about grounding ourselves in this piney paradise. In this week’s column, Patricia Hamilton reflects back on how she and her family arrived in our beloved “Last Hometown.” This story originally appeared in the Keepers of Our Culture column in the 9-23-2016 issue of the Cedar Street Times.
California was the Wild West in 1890 when my great great grandparents, the Reverend Sylvanus Gale, his wife Jane, and seven of their eight children moved from Michigan to Pacific Grove to begin their two-year residence as the itinerant Methodist ministers, just as the original resplendent church was completed. The Reverend and his sons built the first parsonage. Like the original church, the old parsonage is now gone.
I relocated here in 1990 to visit my aged aunt, Charlotte Berry, who lived in my late Grandfather Harry Murray’s house at 562 Park Place. I’m still here!
As a child visiting in PG I loved following scuttling hermit crabs and splashing in the cool waters at Lovers Point. As a teen I ordered bacon waffles when breakfasting with Grandpa Murray at Alioti’s Victorian Corner, his favorite restaurant. As an adult my eyes were opened to the serenity and beauty of the entire area. And maybe it’s also a little “blood memory,” as I felt completely at home the instant I arrived and was welcomed by Aunt Charlotte.
The old Methodist church was torn down in the 1960s. Grandpa, raised Methodist but ever the seeker, sat through Sunday sermons with the Baptists, the Congregationalists, and the Evangelicals. He finally committed himself and some hefty tithing to the Catholics. Shocking! Cousin Dave says he gave money to them all, though, trying to cover all the bases to ensure his salvation. What a wonderful idea!
Aunt Charlotte was a Seventh Day Adventist. She urged me to join her every Saturday, “The Bible says God rested on the seventh day, the week begins on Sundays, so that’s why it’s right.” Members of her church called her “Charlie,” and she loved that nickname. In memoriam, I purchased a brick etched with her name to support the purchase and planting of the commemorative evergreen tree that’s lit every Christmas, with community singing and celebration in Jewell Park. I sometimes stop by the brick wall around the tree to see her name.
Grandpa carved his house into three apartments. He lived in the upstairs apartment facing Jewell Park, and rented out the other top floor apartment facing Grand Avenue, with a peek of the blue waters of Monterey Bay. Charlotte and I lived in Grandpa’s place and I often sat on the front porch, watching Pagrovians enjoying the park. It was a short walk to the Pill Box Pharmacy (now Central Avenue Pharmacy) for Auntie’s prescriptions and to Charlie Higuera’s Grove Market (still here!) for all our groceries.
Grandpa’s tenant invited me to attend the Rev. Bill Little’s Pacific Coast Church, which was meeting in the auditorium at Robert Down School on Pine Street. Today their much bigger congregation has found a home in the old Christian Science church on Fountain and Central avenues. That’s where my Uncle Clyde and Aunt Frances worshipped when they came to town. Charline, my mother and Charlotte’s triplet sister, sent us kids to a variety of Holy Roller churches, including the Assembly of God and Church of the Nazarene. Seekers all!
I digress. Dr. Bill’s message was inclusive of all the world’s great religions—Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and others. There, I was “saved” from damnation merely listening to the first sermon I heard him deliver. Apropo that I was seated in a back row in a grade school auditorium.
But that’s another story.
Contribute Stories to Benefit the PG Library
Everyone is welcome to contribute a story to Life in Pacific Grove, California, but to enhance your experience we invite you to participate in the FREE monthly memoir classes sponsored by Park Place Publications and the Pacific Grove Public Library. The next session is Thursday, Oct. 20, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Little House in Jewell Park. More information at keepersofourculture.com
To learn more about the writing and publishing services offered by Park Place Publications, and for a free consultation, contact Patricia Hamilton at 831/649-6640, firstname.lastname@example.org.