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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      Mother and Dad had no church activity, keeping their childhood memberships. We boys were shipped off to the Roland Park Presbyterian Church, down by the “Park” and car barns.  We started, of course, with Mrs. Burger’s Kindergarten, and so on up through the different departments.  When I was in the Junior Department, the pastor, Dr. John W. Douglas, came out of his study and walked through our classes in his pulpit robes and white bands toward the sanctuary for worship.  Could this impressive sight been my first impulse toward the ministry?  When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I was one of a dozen rambunctious boys which were a problem in the school The Church School Super finally found a young man who could command our respect. His orders were,” I don't care what you teach them, keep that gang quiet.” Which he proceeded to do.  He talked sports, his experience as a painter on the bottom of the "Leviathan" America’s largest steamship, etc.   

      The only other contact with church was Dad's occasional visit to Franklin Street Presbyterian Church to hear Dr. Harris E. Kirk, a fine scholarly preacher whose reputation was national, who often preached in England in St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, or other famed pulpits.  (This I know for I knew him in Baltimore when I was at Brown Memorial.)  I don't recollect that Mother went with him often.  Sometimes he might have taken Eddie Brown or Ed Russell with him.  Otherwise, when we got back from Sunday School, the family were still sitting at the dining room table with a last sugar buns from the New System Bakery in Hamden and coffee, reading the Sunday Baltimore Sun and the New York Herald-Tribune.  (Only Grandpa Ames read the New York Times, which Dad referred to as that Democratic rag.  The Herald-Tribune was orthodox Republican, and I thought it a better paper because it had funnies while the Times did not.)  

      There came a Sunday in May 1929 when I rebelled.  I didn’t want to go to Sunday school. I wasn't learning anything.  I didn't know any of the other boys.  They were Roland Park Public School and I was the only Gilman Lower school kid there.  I wasn’t interested in the stuff the teacher brought up.  I didn't want to go. So Dad said, “ I won’t make any child of mine go to Sunday school if he doesn't want to. You don’t have to go.  Would you like to go down town to church with me? “ That sounded great to me so we got dressed and took off.  I said, "I suppose we are going to hear Dr, Kirk?"  Dad said, "We’ll go wherever you want to go.  If you want to hear Dr. Kirk, that’s fine.  But a new minister has come to town that I haven't seen since 1912. He is at Brown Memorial.  He was also a hammer thrower for Princeton.  In the Yale-Princeton Track meet in 1912, I had a very good day, and he had a very bad day and I beat him by eight inches.  That gave me my major Y in my junior year.  I'd like to hear him, but you make the decision.”  Of course the idea of a minister who had been an athlete impressed me, and I agreed that we would go to Brown Memorial to hear this new minister who had been a Princeton Hammer Thrower.  His name was Thomas Guthrie Speers.     

      The sermon was terrific.  It was on the subject of worship.  I can remember some of it now.  Dad was completely moved. As we left the church we had to wait to speak to the minister.  When Dad came up to him. Guthrie said, “now don't say anything, don’t tell me who you are.  Let me think, Yale, track meet, 1912, Pickett isn’t it?"

      That fall, as soon as we got back from camp, we started to go to church as a whole family.  Soon we were in Sunday school before church, and we filled a pew on the left aisle of the church.  I began going to Intermediate Christian Endeavor in the evening, going down and back by streetcar. The Speers soon moved to the new Manse at 4 St. Johns’ road, just down the hill from Gilman.  The two couples began doing many things together, and the Saturday night bridge games began, alternating houses, stopping promptly at ten.  Dad was soon teaching a Sunday school Class, and Guthrie took us down town in the Ford sedan the church provided him for his work.   And so it went.  But this was a real turning point in our family life style.  More and more the Church was the center of our interest and shaped our life.

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