Next Sunday the building where my grandparents were superintendents of a children’s home will officially be re-named The Sauder House in their honor.
They would never have admitted to being pleased at the re-naming of the building and they would certainly not have been proud.
Near the turn of the century Grandpa Levi Sauder married a beautiful, stylish young lady named Molly Ann Snyder. In July of 1902 Molly gave birth to a baby boy. Levi’s elation quickly turned to grief when Molly developed an infection and died.
The sorrowing husband gave the baby to relatives and struggled to go on with his life. Several years later he met a devout woman named Lydia and the two married and reclaimed the child, who by now was four years old.
My favorite story about Lydia was that one Sunday as she walked to the mission where she “helped out”, she began expressing her concern to the Lord that she had nothing to put in the offering. She looked down at the dirt path and there was a coin – a penny, I believe. She picked it up, rejoicing that she now had something to give to the Lord.
Levi and Lydia had a son John and then later adopted a boy from the children’s home. His name was Richard. My father was the first child and when he was married with four small children, he moved his family to Tampa, Florida where he was involved in mission work.
Driving from Tampa to Millersville Pennsylvania was difficult and so we did not see Grandpa and Grandma Sauder very often.
We owned a Model A Ford which Dad had to drive slowly for the thousand mile trip. The tires kept “blowing out.” We carried an inner tube kit with us and when a tire “blew out” we piled out of the car to wait beside the road until the tube patching set.
During the trip my brothers and I stood in the back of the car and often quarreled. This prompted Dad to warn that if we kept it up, he would put us out of the car. He did this on occasion until one brother hid behind a tree as Dad chugged on slowly. When Dad backed up to retrieve his son, Johnny was nowhere to be found. I don’t think anyone was ever put out of the car again.
The difficulty of the long trip north may be one reason why we seldom saw Grandpa and Grandma Sauder. One would think, judging from the pictures of that time, that we always sat on the steps with Grandma, holding bunches of elderberries for the photographer. My cousin, a cute little blondie named Fay, was sitting with me and we smiled and proudly held up a bunch of elderberries. Perhaps we only made one trip north?
Another story from that time was when Grandpa and Grandma came down from Pennsylvania to Florida to see us. Dad had butchered a large turtle and made soup from it. Mother served the soup from a tureen. Grandma took her first bite and complimented the cook, who was my father.
“This soup is delicious!” she exclaimed. “I just can’t place the flavor, though. What is the meat?”
“It’s turtle,” said Dad happily. Of course it had been free meat – a turtle found slowly making its way along the road. Grandma put down her spoon and refused to eat another bite. Oh, well, she at least had that first delicious spoonful.
I never learned to know Grandpa very well, but I remember that Grandma had deep pockets in her dresses and in those pockets were pink peppermints.
The Sauders worked hard and their lives were useful. We were never in and out of their house , but we had deep respect for Grandpa and Grandma. Dad said his father was an old man in his fifties when he died. No wonder! Sadness, responsibility and hard work age a person.
He would be astonished to know of the honor given him so many years after his death.He would probably say he just did what needed to be done. Nevertheless, we will honor Grandpa and Grandma’s memories. It will make us feel good. J. Paul, John and Richard are gone, as well as their spouses and some of their children. But there will still be plenty of us left to reminisce and pose for the pictures that are sure to come. No elderberries this time, just a pleased group of relatives of Levi and Lydia Sauder. The Sauder House! It sounds good to me.