Minnie Shoults Hutchings
at Richwoods, Missouri
ST. STEPHENS CHURCH FROM 1922 to 1942
When I was growing up in the 1920's and 30's, our transportation to church was the family wagon. Dad (John Richard Shoults) would hitch up the horses, and we would wrap ourselves in layers of quilts and make the hour and a half trip to St. Stephen's Church to attend mass. If the weather was raining or too bad, then we had to stay at home.
At that time, if we wanted to take communion at mass, we were required to fast from midnight until we received communion. Masses were at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sundays, which made a long fast. Mother, (Sadie Elizabeth Shoults) would put a towel over the water bucket at midnight so that we wouldn't forget and take a drink. We didn't go to communion very often because the fasting was for such a long time and the distance and time it took us to travel to church.
There came a time when my father had a personal disagreement with a church leader; and he fell away from attending church. He wasn't inclined to make arrangements for any of us to attend church; but Mom or my eldest brother, Charley, would take one of the horses and ride to church. When Dad got over his aggravation, he decided to go to confession and return to attending church. My brothers, Charley and John, were elected to drive him to confession. By this time, we had a car, which Charley & John drove; but, times were hard and the tires on the car were in very bad shape. On the trip, where they were taking Dad in to St. Stephens Church so that he could go to confession, the tires went flat seven times in about a mile and they had to fix and then inflate the tires by hand pump. They came home before getting Dad to confession. We were afraid that Dad would change his mind about going to confession-the moment having passed, so to speak. The boys ordered new tires for the car; and, Dad didn't change his mind about going back to church. When the new tires arrived, he went to confession and made peace with his nemesis. We were all very happy!
When Father Dempsey was the pastor at St. Stephens, he would not allow us to have any dances. Therefore, the parents and neighbors formed their "social group" and let the young people dance at their homes on a rotating basis. We might have to clear out a room in order to dance; but we did it cheerfully! I remember having a dance once on our back porch. My two brothers, Charley and John played the music along with some of the other young people. In the summer time, we would play ball instead of having a dance.
A tradition of St. Stephen's Church was Picnic Day. It was a very special day and we all looked forward to it. Dad would have a couple of beers, and coming home from the picnic, he would drive the horse drawn wagon and sing songs.
When my older sister, Marge, was dating Jim Anders, he bought me so much soda and ice cream, that I thought I would "pop"!
We went to Catechism class between masses and two weeks in the summer. One Sunday I thought I would be smart and not go to Catechism. The next week, we went to confession and Father Dempsey asked me if I had gone to Catechism. I said, "No". He said, "I refuse to give you absolution." I asked Mom, "Can't I go to communion anyway?" She said, "NO"! That was the worse penitence I was ever given. I never missed Catechism after that and he never asked me again!
When Father Dempsey died and Father Lyons came to St. Stephens, we were able to have dances in the parish hall on Sunday nights. At midnight, Father Lyons would blink the lights three times, then leave them on long enough for us to get our things and get out.
Father Lyons married Paul Hutchings and I. He told us, "When I do this, it's got to last!" We both agreed. It lasted 36 years until the Lord called Paul home in 1978.
I can remember when gas was .16 cents a gallon, coffee was .19 cents a pound; but, I also remember, that we got .05 cents a dozen for our eggs. If you had a job, you were ok regardless of how much you made. However, if you didn't have a job, there was none to be found!