Out of the Past: gate that was built for one


Now the story behind how this gate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church came to be should give anyone a smile.


By Richard Dillard Dixon

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Former Editor’s note: This vignette that recently appeared in St. Paul’s weekly newsletter was too good not to share. This missive, originally written by Richard Dillard Dixon and published from the St. Paul’s Messenger in March of 1943, explains why there is that small gateway in the fence at the historic church. Small details like that abound in Chowan County, which is why this is a special place to live. 

We have heard of the bicycle that was built for two, but this is the story of a gate that was built for one.

In the year 1876 when Dr. Drane came to Old St. Paul's, he found an accomplished musician presiding over the organ, the former Emma Hudgins, who, a few years before, had married Henry Bond.

Came to them, as was the custom in those days, a great abundance of children, more or less in rapid succession, until five little girls and one boy had put in their appearance at the Bond household on upper Main Street, two blocks from the Church.

Now I doubt that very many of these have had the actual experience, but we can readily visualize that it takes considerable moving around for a mother to start any Sunday morning off by seeing that six children are properly provided with fires to dress by, given breakfast, prepared fro Sunday school, with every pigtail and flounce and bow of the girls exactly in place, to see that dinner was arranged for and lastly, but not unimportant, to snugly ensconced in his favorite chair near the fire and made comfortable for a quiet day of reading or dozing, as the case may be.

So we can easily imagine that occasionally, Miss Emma was last for the morning service, perhaps just a minute or two. The good Rector, just 26, as we all can easily conjecture, was just as much a stickler for promptness then as later.

“Emma,” he said, as she raced into Church one morning at 11:03, “Emma, er...”

“Yes, Robert, I know what you are going to say, buy have you stopped to think...”

And then she suddenly recounted some of the things she had done since getting up that Sunday morning.

“And besides,” she said with the bright little twinkle we remember so well in her eye, “I am exactly one day older than you and should not receive orders from you.”

That ended that, but Robert went into meditation with himself and as a result, the gate on Main Street was made and the precious minute or so around Church Street was saved and Miss Emma, although somewhat out of breath, would reach the choir loft in time.