One man of my childhood—Bruce Thompson—has always been associated in my mind with Christmas and the Sanford Methodist Church.
He and his wife, Helen, owned a dairy farm at a sharp curve in the road. The buildings are gone now except in my memory, but I never drive around that corner without thinking of Bruce.
He was a man of God. He spoke kindly to and about everyone he met.
On a Sunday morning, he rose early to milk his cows and do his necessary chores. Our church often started at 9:00. In the winter time, he wouldn’t have those chores completed. No matter. He quit work, went into his house, cleaned up and donned his brown sharkskin suit. The chores waited until later.
Bruce worked very hard. I think the church service offered him a time to himself to think, contemplate, and sometimes to drift off. His head would nod for a few minutes, then come up straight, only to nod again.
After the worship service, Bruce stayed at church. He was Sunday school superintendent for as long as I knew him. He led a worship service for the children attending Sunday school, and taught one of the classes.
As part of being superintendent, he was the announcer for the annual Christmas program. I attended a one room school near the church. For many years (long before the present emphasis on separation of church and state) the school presented their Christmas program in the church. Bruce, wearing the same brown sharkskin suit, sat on the far side of the front pew. As participants we waited for him to stand. In his clear, resonant voice he would announce our name and the title of the piece we would be giving, the actors in the plays, or singers of songs.
When the program was finished, he called for everyone to join in singing Jingle Bells to bring in Santa Claus.
I was visiting my parents, when the telephone rang early on Christmas morning. The news was startling to us. Bruce was preparing for Church, when he quietly died. A true gentleman was greatly missed.