Friday, 8 June 2018

More on Newark in the 1960s

Here is another piece written by my grandfather and typed up by my grandmother on 9 June 2010.

MY BIT OF HISTORY
by Rev. Harold W. Story

In the years of the 1960s, the racial prejudice and discrimination here in the United States of America was to be faced in turbulent and highly explosive events.

I was serving as Pastor of the Memorial West Presbyterian Church, 7th Avenue and South Orange Avenue, Newark, New Jersey, from 1962 to 1969. Racial riots broke out in cities across the country. Tensions increased in Newark also, and in the mostly black populated neighborhood where the church was located. White vs. Black. For example, I was elected to be a Trustee of Area #3 Community Center. At our first meeting blacks took over in our place.

There were threats to invade the church and disrupt worship. I was told that they could use our church building to better serve their community. I had tried to make our congregation do that by being a more inclusive and welcoming church to all persons from the area.

I used the word “inclusive” rather than integrated as I believe this was the meaning of Jesus Christ for us; for example, Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” who came to help someone—a Jew, perhaps—as they discriminated against the Samaritans (much like Jew vs. Arab today). Two persons went by without helping the man, but finally one not of his race or religion came to his rescue.

In a society where segregation was so widespread, I tried to make a difference—hoping that members of our church would work at change among the races of our society. Many black people had moved from the South up to the North seeking better treatment—only to find the same racial problems there.

Martin Luther King was spokesman for racial equality as a challenge to the nation. The Greater Newark Council of Churches members were asked to go to Alabama to join Dr. King in the March from Selma to Montgomery that was held on March 21-25, 1965. I was on my way and met a woman member of my Church. She asked where I was going; I told her I was going to go with a group from Newark to march with Dr. King in Alabama. She told me I should not go; my work was in Newark. I told her I needed to help ease the racial problems in both places.

We flew to an airport in Alabama close to where we joined the march for the final two days. There were many protesters to meet us. The newspapers claimed we were trouble-makers, socialists/communists who came to stir up trouble. As we walked behind Dr. King, I saw both black and white persons along the route watching our peaceful march. Fortunately, our group did not face the attacks as some had, although we were shouted at by angry protestors in the crowds.

Governor George Wallace had called in police to block the protesters. In contrast, we assembled en masse to hear Dr. Martin Luther King give one of his deeply moving speeches. (Also, earlier, in 1963, I went to Washington, D.C., to hear Rev. Dr. King give another great speech, “I Have a Dream,” at our nation’s capitol.) Sadly, though, Martin Luther King was killed on April 4, 1968. His dream is still alive as some of us are trying to make it a reality—for all persons regardless of race—in our American society.

***

Just one experience I had during the time of the inter-racial troubles in Newark in 1967. I was down the street from my Church, walking as other clergy were to help ease the tension in the City. I saw a group of people gathered in front of a Chinese laundry, looking into the windows of the store. Two dogs were barking inside. I asked why the people were there and was told that they were concerned about the owner, whether he was alright—dead or alive.

I then saw a convoy of the National Guard trucks coming—called then to restore order within Newark. I motioned to the men in the first jeep to stop. Two came over to us and asked what I wanted. I told them the people were concerned about the safety of the Chinese owner—whether or not he was in the store and alright. Also, whether his dogs should be fed. Two of the soldiers drew their rifles ready to shoot, but I stopped them, I stopped them—we only were concerned to help the man. They lowered their guns.

I asked them to wait; I went to the corner candy store to use the phone … I had been told that the laundry man’s name was Mr. Lee. I knew there were Lees who were members of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark on Broad Street. So I scanned the Lees until I found one at an address near the church. I phoned and asked the person if a Mr. Lee who owned the laundry on South Orange Avenue in Newark was there. He answered, “I am his cousin; he is here with us and is alright.” How about that!

I went back to tell the crowd and the soldiers that Mr. Lee was alright safe with his cousin. The National Guardsmen left. A day later I walked by the laundry store and saw that bullets had shattered the windows, and bullet holes were in the laundry upon the shelves.

***

I tell this to say that the caring for others can be done by and for anyone regardless of their race or religion, thus to make real the hope of Dr. Martin Luther King and the teaching of Jesus Christ in their speeches and sermons.

Remembering Harold W. Story

A remembrance written by my grandfather on 9 July 2010. He passed away on 8 June 2018 at the age of 91. This was typed by my grandmother; the ellipses are in the original.

MY SERVICE TO GOD AND COUNTRY
by Rev. Harold W. Story

I had begun studies for the Presbyterian Ministry at Bloomfield College and Seminary, Bloomfield, New Jersey, in 1944. I had an exemption from the military draft as a student preparing for church ministry. I received a draft notice, so I volunteered to go into military service (choosing the Navy) during World War II, serving from 1945 to 1949. I became a Photographer’s Mate 3/C—had served at Camp Detrick (Chemical Warfare), Frederick, Maryland, after training at Boot Camp, Bainbridge, Maryland. Trained at Naval Photo School, Pensacola, Florida. I then served at Naval Air Field at Jacksonville, Florida. Assigned to the Naval Photographic Center, Washington, D.C. I worked on printing machines doing reels of film—top secret motion pictures, including atomic tests and missile tests.

I resumed study at Bloomfield College before summer of 1950, when I was recalled into the Navy. I reported to the Brooklyn, N.Y., Navy Yard. We boarded a train at Hoboken, New Jersey, taking us across the country to San Francisco, California. There, we went onto a transport ship taking us over the Pacific Ocean to Yokosuka, Japan. We rode by train across Japan to an as-yet-unknown destination. During that train ride, we crossed the city of Hiroshima. I looked out the window to see the horrible destruction that had been caused by one of the atomic bomb blasts. (The other was at Nagasaki.) I shall never forget those sights—reminding me of some of the most extreme kinds of human warfare. Will we never learn from war that peace is so much finer?

In 1950, we were taken to report aboard the USS Eldorado—a communications ship (Admiral’s Flag Ship of that fleet of ships). We still were not told where we were going … I was below decks as we crossed the waters … finally, we were one of many ships joined in the amphibious attack against the Communists. I was in a war! This was the invasion by our forces at Inchon, Korea.

I could not see the war, being below decks … but I had fear as I heard the sounds of gunfire from the battleship and other ships as the troops went ashore.

I just had to see what was happening, so I went up the ladder to the main deck above. I prayed for those who were directly fighting the enemy and for the support of the other military men engaged in the war. I attended services held by the Chaplain. I was thankful that I had faith in God to help me.

Later, I was sent ashore to photograph landing craft, the many homeless refugees, the destruction. As I walked on the shore a man yelled to me, “Watch out!” There was a mine wire sticking up out of the mud a few feet away from me. I owe him for saving me. I went into a courtyard of an orphanage which was surrounded by buildings. I stood there alone when suddenly many children were looking at me from the windows. They were laughing at me … I was told they had never seen a red-headed person like me before.

Back at the photo lab aboard the Eldorado, I processed, developed and printed many pictures. One most interesting thing we did—a South Korean spy came back from the headquarters of the North Korean enemy with microfilm pictures which gave information, including numbers of troops, ships in North Korea and China. We processed these. General Douglas MacArthur wanted the U.S.A. to attack within China. President Harry Truman called MacArthur back home, refusing to attack China—although many Chinese had killed and wounded our American military personnel.

One day I became very sick. Yellow jaundice had colored my skin…I had acute hepatitis. I was put on a stretcher, put onto a line from our ship taking me across to another ship. I was taken to a Naval Hospital in Japan…near death. I was brought back to health and life with good care and a time of rest and recuperation at a small camp in the Japanese countryside.

In 1951, the war was over for me, as we left by ship for return to the U.S.A. We were at San Diego where I served at the Naval Air Station until my medical discharge on December 6, 1951.

***

After my experiences, good and bad, in the Navy, I was granted a discharge from the Naval Reserve to resume my ministerial studies at Bloomfield College and Seminary.

I graduated from Bloomfield College in 1954. And best of all, on September 11, 1954, I was married to Ruth Haycock. I chose her to be my wife. She has been so good to me for these years, 56 years this September 2010, we have been together.

I was graduated from Bloomfield Seminary in 1958 and ordained to the Gospel Ministry of the United Presbyterian Church on my birthday, July 1, 1958.

I have been honored to serve as a Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittston, Pennsylvania (April 13, 1958 – June 24, 1962); the Memorial Presbyterian Church (after a merger, becoming the Memorial-West Presbyterian Church) of Newark, New Jersey (June 24, 1962 – May 27, 1969); and the Burlington Presbyterian Church of Burlington, New Jersey (May 27, 1969 – June 3, 1979). Clergy member of Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Newark and West Jersey, New Jersey; and Long Island, New York, Presbyteries, respectively.

I received a call to become a Chaplain at the United Presbyterian Residence at Woodbury (Long Island), New York in the spring of 1979, starting in June of that year. This was a Geriatric Medical Care facility. Then I was a Protestant Chaplain at A. Holly Patterson Home for the Aged at Uniondale (Long Island), New York (November 1, 1989 – January 1, 1992). I last served as a Protestant Chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Northport (Long Island), New York (August 2, 1993 – January 31, 2001). Active member of Long Island Presbytery, New York, now retired.

These were some of my experiences serving God and Country.

Goodbye, Granddad

My grandfather, Rev. Harold W. Story, has passed away this morning at the age of nearly 92.

He was many things in his life. He enlisted in the Navy at the end of World War II and served as a photographer during the Korean War. He became a Presbyterian minister and served in Newark during the riots. He always found the good in the world. Everyone could laugh, and he was just as fearless dressed in a clown costume as he was in Newark and Korea. He always wanted to share joy, but was just as adept at dealing with serious situations. You might say that his real battlefield experience came in Newark during the riots, protecting people of color in his church and community, and flying to Washington and Alabama to march with Dr. King. He was no radical; he was just trying to be decent to his fellow humans. Clowning was a way of getting people to laugh, regardless of their language or background, and maybe come together in that laughter. “Will we never learn from war,” he once said, “that peace is so much finer?”

Raise a mug of coffee for Hal today, and tell your worst jokes. Make someone laugh. The world will still be a better place for it.