A Sunday From the Past

Remember when I posted this picture of my childhood church called Upper Flat Evangelical Free Church?

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Our home farm was one half mile north and has fallen in such disrepair, we don’t drive by anymore. This little country church sits on land given by my great grandfather and the piano was given in memory of my Grandmother in 1960. I remember the day it arrived because I was the church pianist.

Today Becky and I went back to Upper Flat to provide the music for their service. The congregation has dwindled to a handful of faithful members but we were happy to be there.

There are only 6 pews on each side yet whenever I had to walk to the piano as a kid, it looked a block long and I walked as fast as I could. Mom always scolded me and told me to slow down. Seeing it today I realize how small it is.

Every kid who ever went to Sunday School, put their feet up here and also turned this wooden ball – there are three of them in the front and who could possibly resist?

The best food came out of this simple little kitchen.

I’ve been cleaning this weekend. Primitive furniture is hard to clean – it’s rough and crusty – you can’t dust that stuff! And the orioles are back or maybe just passing through? They may have had a nest close by and are just now bringing the young birds to the feeder. Are any of you seeing them again?

Remember those two red tropical print shirts? The quilt is finished and I hope to put it on the quilting machine today.

Sugar Maple pattern is still available for $3.00 plus an address label. A stamped envelope is optional. Send to Country Threads, 2345 Palm Ave. Garner, IA 50438.

Reed was here and we think his old hens, Debbie and Delores, still remember him.

JB, the cat, wanted in on the action.

It’s a rainy Sunday in North Iowa – a good day to hit the quilting machine. Thanks to any of you for closing the ads!

38 thoughts on “A Sunday From the Past

  1. Vicki Kahlstorf

    Hi Mary-
    This is Gary and Vicki Kahlstorf. We live 2 miles south of the Church and was the Church Gary went to growing up. You probably remember him as he remembers you playing the piano. He remembers everything you talked about and especially recalls turning the round balls on the railing when having to recite for church programs! The pictures were wonderful and brought back reminders of the many Sundays spent in that beautiful Country Church! He wanted me to thank-you!
    Gary and our daughter Kelle painted that church a few years ago and I redid the sign out front. Such wonderful neighbors are brought to mind from years ago.
    Love your Blog

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Vickie Kahlstorf – yes, of course I remember Gary! He was one of those kids who turned that wooden ball on the railing, huh? Everybody did -haha! I wish more people went to Upper Flat and could revive it – I hope I don’t see it torn down in my lifetime. Gary was just a year or so older than me – Keith and I were the same age and probably in the same confirmation class. Please tell Gary HI!

  2. Linda

    Mary – My grandparents attended Upper Flat, so I have some faint memories of attending autumn festivals there as a child. It’s nice to see it being cared for. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  3. Cheryl

    Mary–Loved the pictures of your church that you grew up with. I go ,since I was a baby , to the same country church north of Garner. I love going there and I also play the piano for the congregation when our organist is gone. It is like a big family and I know I would be very sad if our church had to close. Love all the pictures of your farm, your animal family and of course the quilts. Reed and his family are lucky to have you to teach and go on adventures with. Keep up the good work.

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          That’s another beautiful country church – I was there for Laura’s funeral.

  4. Carol

    Mary, have you every visited The Quilted Steeple in Lone Rock, Iowa? It is an old country church that is now a quilt retreat. It also has a very interesting story as to how it became a retreat center. Just thought you might enjoy a road trip some day. Because you live fairly close you may have already been there.

  5. MartyCae

    Your church looks like my grandparent’s church. Thanks for sharing the picture – it brings back lots of great memories.

  6. Kathy Zuehl

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, Mary! Even though I grew up just 3 miles north of the church, I have never been inside it. Its beautiful!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy – where exactly did you live? Why didn’t I know you as a kid????

  7. Winnie

    Love the story of your church! I could tell from the pictures that it is well loved and maintained!

  8. Kathy Schwartz

    Enjoyed the church pictures and information. Very nice. It is sad so many churches are closing. I plan on going to a church auction on Monday in Avoca, Minnesota. It is a Lutheran church; the newspaper article quoted one of the members who said, ” First there was no choir, then no SS, then no confirmation, then not enough people to support the church.” They had two years to prepare for this sad day. At one time they had average attendance of 125 each week. Very sad.

    1. Sandy

      Hi to my Mankato State College roommate! I agree it is sad to see country churches dwindle and close, but I feel even worse when it’s a farmstead like yous, Mary, which has become abandoned. I always picture children running in the yard and all the love that was shown there. I’m forever grateful that our family’s homestead, after being sold three times, now has a young, local family who is making improvements and seems to plan to stay.

      1. CountryThreads Post author

        Sandy – our home place has had many owners and nobody took pride in it like we did. You’re lucky to have someone making those improvements.

  9. Kathy

    What a nice post to read on a peaceful Sunday. It’s funny cause this morning in my little church I was thinking how small it truly is when I see some large cathedrals for services of friends loved ones who pass and here I go to such a small Presbyterian Church with its orginal altar. But it’s humble and it’s safe and I like that feeling. Very excited to see your new quilt. I am looking forward to starting my sugar maple pattern. Fall fabrics seem to be my weakness when I am out fabric shopping.

  10. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Hi Mary, I enjoyed looking at your childhood church. The church in the village where I grew up, was also small, and built of stone (sometime between 1066 when there was a wooden church in the village and 1086 when the stone one is first mentioned in the records). It is a lovely building and although I don’t live nearby any more, it still holds some special memoreis: it was the hub of the community in those days, and most village life revolved around the church is some way.

  11. Beryl

    What a beautiful little church! It is sad to see it not taken care of. Have all of the local people moved away or do they not know the need of a Savior?
    I go to a small church also…we have 18 pews in our sanctuary. They sit next to the wall so you can’t walk on both side like this little church. We were just about full today!! We have an old pump organ that is from the very early 1900′. It is played once in a while by man who lives about 25 miles away. He happened to be there today. I think I have heard the little addition we have for SS was an old school house and moved to the property years ago. We finally had some cupboards built for our addition, so it serves as our ‘kitchen’! We always have potlucks b/c we don’t have a stove. We are a ranching community in Montana.
    I just received my Sugar Maple pattern!! I can’t wait to get to it!
    Thanks for your posts, I love reading about your days and young Reed.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Beryl – I didn’t mean to give the impression that my church is not taken care of. It was clean as a whistle, the lawn was newly mown and there were fresh flowers on the altar. The lay pastor is a full time schoolteacher as is his wife and the folks who attend services on Sunday are older with brown children. I wish I had taken a picture of my confirmation class picture that hangs with many others. When I was young, farms were small and everyone in the immediate neighborhood went to this church. Every occasion was celebrated and we were all farm families. Farms are now huge compared to 75 years ago which means no more farm kids living on 80 – 160 acres. Our school buses were full of farm kids. Reed’s bus has fewer than a dozen kids today. And there you have the reason that small country churches are closing. When we were kids Harvest Festival was held one Sunday each fall – a fall celebration which included a huge pot luck noon meal and another service at 2:00 with coffee and bars to follow. Such great memories in that little church. I started playing for services there at age 9 which means I’ve been a church pianist off and on, mostly on, for 60 years! I also own an old pump organ in my home – it’s a novelty for visiting kids.

  12. Launa

    Nice to see your photos today, Mary. Sweet to see Reed with the chickens, too.
    I looked out down by our pond and there is company. A big black 🐻 bear…think my husband said it weighs about 350 pounds. It has been here a few times eating grass n I hope not any of the chipmunks!
    There has been a smaller bear here, too…but not at same time this week. There are no Huckleberry bushes down here.

  13. Kandy

    We still attend a small church in the country not much larger than this one… It is a great way to worship… everyone knows and cares about everyone… we also eat many meals together as a congregation… lots of good recipes come from small country churches… nice you shared your memories…

  14. Donna Sproston

    What special memories of your childhood, and now you are creating wonderful memories for Reed. I open the ads even when I have no plans to order. Today I opened Barkley’s of New York. There is a Valentino dress marked from $9900 to $2499. No, I did not omit the decimal points. Think how much fabric I can buy for 2499!

  15. Ellie

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and memories from your church. I wish I could have heard you play!

  16. Linda Hale

    Mary, As s long time antiques lover, owner, and dealer I also have found it hard, if not impossible, to dust or clean primitive pieces. I have learned through trial and error that a dry paint brush was the answer for the outside and the small brush on your vacuum cleaner for the inside of furniture and smalls. It may not be as easy or quick as a dust cloth but it does work for me and hope it does for you too! Love your postings! Keep them coming! Linda H.

    1. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

      Thanks for the tip about the paintbrush, Linda. I have a few pieces that are too rough for a duster, and I think a pintbrush will work!

  17. diane matthews

    I went to a little church like that in Chatsworth, CA. It is now considered an historical site and has been moved to the local cemetery along with other buildings from the 1800’s including an old farmhouse that belonged to a lady who used to ride her mule in the Rose Parade every year until she reached an age where they wouldn’t allow her to ride any more – in her 90’s I believe. Your church is charming and I hope it can be preserved, too. Not that I am in my 80’s I am still enchanted by old buildings and imagine the people who used them. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    1. Sandra

      Thanks for sharing the pictures .The old quiet church was a perfect reminder of Sunday in the past.I hate to see the old small churches disappear .The old roses bushes still had the wonderful smell.What has happened to the roses that smelled?I have just started my leaf quilt.I hope,you will share most seasonal quilt patterns.Take care.Sandra

  18. Kathy Hanson

    What wonderful memories, Mary! Your church is still there looking as it once did. The church that I grew up in, on the south shore of Lake Superior, closed a long time ago. I went to the last mass there many years ago. My grandfather was part of the beginning of the church there so the changes have been good but a bit sad as well. A couple bought it and they were doing pottery for awhile, then made it their residence. Believe it or not – it is now a quilt shop in this little town of only about 380 people. We are going up there this week and I will stop there, enjoy the fact that it is a quilt shop but remember playing the very old organ there when I was a teenager.
    Reed looks to be enjoying the kitty and his chickens! What a special young man!!

  19. Carla J

    Country church, memories of a few years ago when my cousins and I trekked back to northern Minnesota and visited the country church our great grandparents had been charter members. The balcony was built from wood from the homestead, logs are still visible as you exit the stairs to the balcony. Their kitchen alslo is in the basement , which was dug a few years after the church was erected while power and water were installed in the last 20 years or so. Small cemetary is on both the east and west sides and services are still held regularly.

  20. Dee Dee Peterson

    Those churches of small nature seem to be fading. Where you mentioned about closing the ads…does that help you? I usually scroll past them. Happy quilting today. That is my goal too today.

  21. Catherine Dorsey

    It is sad to see. We have several churches in neighboring villages that have empty churches. More people are e need to move to the country to raise their families.

  22. Marcia Rocheleau

    What is it about a country church? Complete nostalgia I suppose. Regardless, I just love seeing them. Thanks, Mary

    Marcia, Eagan

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