Lessons from the past

Council Bluffs, IA. 1931

Council Bluffs, IA. 1931

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, I do not know who said that, but the more I delve into the past, the more I realize the truthfulness in those words.

I have been saying for years that it is going to  be hard to take all of the bad that has been happening in the world and make our world a more innocent place. I keep hoping that somehow, someway, future generations will not have to be faced with so much, in-your-face, death, destruction and promiscuity. Sometimes I see the light of hope but for the most part, I think that the future has a lot to be desired. And then….I see something from the past that makes me think, “The more things change…”

Eighty-two years ago this year, my grandmother graduated from high school. The year was 1931 and the United States was in a depression. Thomas Edison died, and Pearl Buck‘s “The Good Earth” was the best-seller of the year. While times were not easy, I often think that things were much simpler and the world didn’t have near the problems of today. Maybe I should say that I thought things were much easier until I started going through my grandmother’s things.

When she died twenty years ago, I was the recipient of all of her cookbooks (probably 500) and when my grandfather died seven years ago, I received all of the photographs to archive and any other papers, books,  and magazines of interest.Scan10066

One of the things that I just recently reviewed was my grandmother’s graduation journal. There wasn’t much in it, a few names, a couple of photos and a couple of newspaper articles. I found out that her class colors were red and gold. The class flower was the American Beauty Rose and the class motto was: “They conquer who believe they can.” There was nothing on the pages for ‘dances and parties’ or ‘clubs and societies’. So that will remain a mystery to me.

One of the articles was about the Baccalaureate ceremony that was held in her town of Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday, May 31. Grandma wrote that Martha Klotz was her partner for walking down the aisle to be seated for the address. The headline of the newspaper article was “COOPER PREACHES TO A.L. SENIORS” Under the headline, the drop-headline read, “DECLARES WORLD IS CALLING FOR PURITY, CONSECRATION, SACRIFICE.” Below that headline there was a third headline “CITES BIBLE EXAMPLES”.

(As a clarification in case you do not know, a baccalaureate address is a church service for the graduating seniors and their families. When I graduated our baccalaureate was for the four high schools in my community. I do know that my community, where I live now, does not offer a baccalaureate address. I do not know if it is held in any communities anymore with all of this political correctness and separating schools and churches.)

“The world is calling for separation, purity, consecration and sacrifice as portrayed by Abraham, Joseph, Saul of Tarsus and Jesus, more loudly than it did in biblical times, Rev. Francis E Cooper, pastor of the First Baptist church told members of the Abraham Lincoln high school graduating class at the baccalaureate services held at the Broadway theater Sunday morning.

‘Our worth in life will be measured not by our personal happiness but by our personal service, he said.'”

Rev. Cooper went on to compare the above mentioned men of the Bible to the character traits also mentioned above: Abraham with separation, Joseph with purity, Saul (Apostle Paul) consecrated to service and Jesus to sacrifice.

The end of the article has Cooper urging students, “You students are going out in the world with your soul in your hands. Remember the law of Christ.”

While I understand that we are not a world of Christians, I think we can all agree that there are lessons that come from a faith/religion that apply to all people’s no matter what their faith. Can we all agree that the premise of the Ten Commandments is good? Do we not want to teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to kill, etc…? I think if we look passed the fact that the laws came from Moses, who received them from God, we should be able to agree that they are good rules in which to live.

Reverend Cooper did not go into details as to why he felt he needed to deliver the words that he did. I can only imagine that he felt that there was too much promiscuity and too many other things happening that broke the Laws of Moses. I have to think that he felt our world was “going to hell in a hand basket”.

I wish I would have seen this book when my grandmother was alive so I would have had the chance to ask her about it. I wish I would have taken the time to get to know more about her when she was in high school; what was her life like? What challenges did her generation face? Sadly, all of the members of my family from that generation are dead. There is so much that I will never know.

While I still wonder what life is going to be like in the future. While I still worry that we have taken so many steps towards a life without following the Ten Commandments. I can rest assured that Rev. Cooper probably felt the same way that I felt. Because of this, I have hope.

I know that my husband and I are raising our children to follow the Ten Commandments and grow to be great adults, just like my grandparents raised my parents and the way my parents raised me. I pray that my children do the same, so that there is hope in this world, that in the end, goodness wins out.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” There are challenges in every generation to test the character of individuals. And while there are some that fail, it is obvious that over three generations of my family history, goodness has won and we walk in the confidence that we are living our lives with personal service in mind, which gives us great happiness.

While she was not Baptist, I think Rev. Cooper would have been pleased with how Jessie Fogle (maiden name) lived her life and taught service to the future generations of her family.

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