NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 GARFIELD NEWSLETTER
Dick and I apologize for being so tardy with this newsletter. His wife was in the hospital, and he has been extremely busy catching up since returning to Florida. I was in the hospital for a couple days as well (reaction to medication). These are two very busy months for all as we have much to do, and we certainly don’t move as quickly as we did when we were much younger. I don’t think our readers realize that Dick Garfield is 80……..please correct me if I am wrong Dick! Dick has asked me to publish this newsletter, so I am combining both months. November was an important month, as we all celebrated Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Thinking about these two special days, I suddenly realized they really do belong in the same month giving us all a chance to thank our troops, veterans, and wounded warriors. I want to start with a story on Thanksgiving, ending with one on Christmas………
Jayne Pawlisa: Assistant Editor and Garfield Website Historian
MESSAGE FROM HISTORIAN:
If you need help or assistance please contact me (email@example.com) or Dick Garfield. We need, and greatly appreciateyour comments, suggestions, contributions, input, and corrections if our News-
letter is to be useful, entertaining, interesting and successful. If anyone has family pictures, stories, or heirlooms we would like you to share those with us so that we might use them in future Newsletters. The Garfield Website is not only about providing valuable information that Dick has gleaned over many years of research, but it is also about sharing all of the above with your Garfield Family.
1. Jason Czerny is working on a membership to the Winthrop Society.
2. Let’s keep Nancy Garfield (Dick’s wife), Susan Schmidt (battling breast cancer)
and Anne Weyers (so many personal losses in the last 2 years and now her mother’s health is declining) in
our thoughts. I am also having surgery on 12/18.
THOUGHT FOR VETERANS DAY:
“If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in the time of peace.”…Hamilton fish III, American Congressman (1888-1991)
THOUGHT FOR NOVEMBER/DECEMBER:
“Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.”…..Adella Rogers St. Johns, American journalist (1894-1988)
FIRST THANKSGIVING FOLLOWED HARDSHIPS
The pilgrims sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in December 1620. The pilgrims lived off of their provisions through the hard New England winter.
They planted a communal garden in the summer, but the settlers didn’t know how to plant Indian corn and the crop was small. In November 1621, more pilgrims arrived without pro-visions. Governor William Bradford was worried when he calculated that the food would only last six months at half ration per person. After the second hard winter, another ship arrived in May 1622 with seven more pilgrims, some letters, but no food. The food supply was almost gone, and these early settlers were starving.
In the summer of 1622 another ship brought some food. The ration was now a quarter of a pound of bread each day. Because of their hunger, settlers were going to the community garden and stealing the food. The thieves were whipped when caught. The communal garden idea wasn’t working, so in early 1623 the settlers decided to parcel out the land to individual families; letting all families tend their crops. Governor Bradford wrote that everyone worked harder under this plan. In his words, “The women now went willingly into ye field and took their little-ones with them to set corn which before would allege weak-ness, and disabilities; whom to have compelled would have been through great tyranny and oppression.”
The settlers, after planting their seeds in the spring of 1623, were deeply concerned whether the crops would grow. Governor Bradford noted that all families really meant it when they prayed, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” When the next ship arrived in the summer of 1623, the passengers were shocked and frightened by the look of the starving pilgrims. In the autumn of 1623, the harvest of the pilgrim’s private gardens was a great success.
In this spirit of deep gratitude to God, Governor Bradford declared a day of thanks giving. This is his Thanksgiving Proclamation:
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedowm to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth Roxk, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Ye Governor of Ye Colony
***Harvests were plentiful in years to come, but the pilgrims put five kernels of corn by their plates on Thanksgiving to remind them of the great suffering endured by the first settlers. You might want to put five kernels of corn by your Thanksgiving plates too! Each of us always has the opportunity to remember those who sacrificed for us and to give thanks for our many blessings. We also have the opportunity to reach out and help the less fortunate. May God bless us all with a spirit of gratitude that brightens our world.
CHRISTMAS EVE 1881; Wonderful Christmas in Pioneer Days….Author Unknown
Christmas Eve 1881
Pa never had much compassion for lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible,instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Some-thing was up, but I didn’t know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on,but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain,and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a
year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what? Yeah,” I said, “Why?”
“I rode by just today, “ Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying
to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned
and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded
the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa
called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big
ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and
wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller
sack of something in his left hand. ‘What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out
of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in
the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christ-
mas without a little candy.”
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through
what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a
big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would
have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so
we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them
shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neigh-
bors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as
possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door
opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son,
Matt, could we come in for a bit?”
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her
shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fire-
place by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with
a match and finally lit the lamp.
“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the
meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it
hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one
for each of the children….sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her
carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and the tears filled her eyes and
started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something,
but it wouldn’t come out.
“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go
bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I
wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in
my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind
I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing
There with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul. I had
given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.
I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when
Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that
probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless
you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that
he would send one of his angels to spare us.”
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes
again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen
mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa
had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his
way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa
insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit
and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an
errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took
each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want
us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine. At the
door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. Wanted me to invite you and the
children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of
us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals.
We’ll be by to get you around eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again.
Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and
two sisters had all married and had moved away.
Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the
Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”
Out on the sled I felt warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the
cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know
somethisomething. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t quite have enough. Then yesterday a man
who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma
and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into
town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the
woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son,
I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was
so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had
given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant
smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen’s, or split a block of wood, I
remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa
that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.
“If your contribution has been vital, there will always be somebody to pick up
Where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality.”—Walter Gropius, German-American
FROM DICK GARFIELD AND MYSELF TO ALL MEMBERS OF OUR GARFIELD FAMILY:
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles
will be out of sight. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas; make the yuletide gay. From
now on our troubles will be far away. Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of
yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more. Through the years
we all will be together if the fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough, and
have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now. (Songwriters Martin/Blane Ralph EMI Music Publishing)
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Jayne Pawlisa and Dick Garfield