The Pugilistic Preacher

by Izzie Hayes

          Before my dad was Rev. Charles A. Dayton, or even a DAD, his dreams were fairly simple. Like most teenagers, he wanted to complete his schooling, find a beautiful, loving companion, support his church, hunt and fish, and enjoy whatever came along. Abruptly, at sixteen, he found it necessary to drop out of  high school and assist his family with unexpected medical expenses. His father had been seriously injured at work in the mill in their isolated Upstate New York town. Situated on the Hudson River, the mill, the International Paper Company, had the river as an easily accessible power source for their industry and had become the chief employer for the men living in the nearby Adirondack Mountains area.

          As the oldest son of five children, Charles began his own brief career as a mill worker. Already a rugged young man, over six feet tall, handsome, affable, and ready for action, he quickly became known for his quick wit and “brute strength,” which he was happy to share whenever needed. Every lunchtime, after setting aside their metal lunch buckets, the men gathered to let off a little steam before returning to their presses.

Charles Dayton (left) c.1920

          Modesty dominated the Dayton genes in that generation, and bragging was a definite no-no, so I am not certain how he acquired his skill as a boxer in that circle of mill workers, nor how proficient his opponents were. It’s human nature to cheer on the newcomer, and I think those seasoned mill workers probably looked forward to lunch hour and a chance to see “the kid” pummel the current top contender! I did hear that he at one time unseated the highly touted “top man to beat.”  I doubt there was a ring—with ropes, and I think he only fought bare-fisted, without the protection of gloves. I can visualize a pan and a hammer for the bell and a “dead serious expression” on the faces of the timer and the “crowd,” as they cheered on the newcomer.

          In my childhood memories, there were times when the threat of being pummeled by our resident “Jack Dempsey,” was my biggest nightmare. He knew the moves, and he was 6 feet, 4 inches tall. His were playful jabs, but I never developed any skill in “parrying” to his playful thrusts.

          When a higher calling drew him out of the ring, he became involved in the educational training for the ministry, and abandoned the draw of boxing.

My theory is that you can “take the man out of boxing, but you can never take the boxing out of the man.” My sister Doris and I, and often my mother too, were reduced to assuming the fetal position whenever Dad took the stance and said ,“Put up your dukes!”

          Years later, televisions screamed from the neighbors’ houses, as the excitement of the Monday Night Fights blasted through the open windows.

I sensed my dad leaned into the sound. It may be a bit sad to realize that his promise as a boxer never materialized into a reality. Boxing is “a sport,” of course, but  in my adolescent mind, knowing how useless I was as a competitor, and that all of his strength and agility and thoughtful approach to every challenge seemed wasted to never have had a chance to be proved!!!!

I always surmised ,i.e., a  thought without any strong evidence on which to base it at all, that Dad would have loved to be pushed into a situation in which the only honorable solution would be for him to step up and PASTE THE VILLAIN ONE!  For the Gipper, maybe!!!

         

This conclusion was a part of my psyche so much so that when I was working a swing shift in a small hosiery mill in Cohoes, N.Y., for some much needed college money in the mid 1940’s, one of the regular crew became  determined  to plant a kiss on the college kid. I thought he was slimy, and I was equally determined that he wouldn’t. My mistake was in telling my dad that he had!! I think Dad went berserk. He was insistent that he be at the gate when my next shift was over. “Just point him out to me!” I don’t know if it was my mother’s tears or my suggestion that the headlines would surely be amazing the next day: “Local Minister Mauls Mill Worker.”  Something prevailed;  a crisis was averted. And poor old dad never got to plaster a sleaze-ball! It’s my story—— “HE COULD HAVE!!”

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Challenge On The Hudson River

Today’s post find’s two characters, Chip and Chop Dayton, daring each other to cross the Hudson River by walking across pulp wood blocks which filled the river. I’ll leave it up to you to decide the outcome. These brothers were the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn of the Hudson River. If I had to guess, about 90% of you chose the correct outcome of the story. It’s always fun to listen to Chip, the master story teller, recount the event.

The “Dayton Twins” Reunited

After 70+ years, the “Dayton Twins” reunited in the hills of eastern North Carolina at the wedding of Alexis Dayton Luckey (daughter of Jack and Camilla Dayton Lucky; granddaughter of Charles Dayton) to Ryan Carey in late October, 2019.  Several members of the Dayton and Luckey clans were in attendance but it was the presence of “the twins” that was most noticeable, at least to those two.  Deane Dayton (son of Wilbur & Donna Dayton) and David Hayes (son of Quentin and Isabelle Dayton Hayes; grandson of Charles Dayton) were born in Marion, Indiana, two days apart in May, 1949.  David was born on May 22nd and Deane was born on May 24th.  David’s father, Kent, was a student and student-pastor at Marion College in Marion, Indiana.  Dean’s father, Wilbur (Uncle Wib) was on the faculty there.  When the boys were born, their moms shared a hospital room as well.  Both boys were robust and healthy and were welcomed into their families with great joy.  David was the first child for Kent and Izzie and Deane was the 3rd child in his family with an older brother and sister already at home.  Their lives would briefly intersect later in life but their initial entry into the world would be their first “sustained interaction.”  [An interesting sidelight: five of the people at the table at the wedding reception were born in Marion General Hospital: Deane & wife Carol, Janet (Deane’s sister) Dayton Manley, and David & Keith Hayes.

            Two years later, David’s family moved to Springfield, Mass., (by now, with brother, Keith, two years younger) where Kent pastored and help build the sanctuary of the Wesleyan Church there. After, two years, Kent and family went south to Wilmore, KY, where he attended Asbury Seminary for 3 years.  Feeling called to the chaplaincy, Kent also attended Chaplain School in NY during the summer and became an Army Chaplain in the summer of 1957.  That same summer, before the move to the first assignment, Fort Hood, TX, the Wilbur Dayton family also moved to Wilmore where Uncle Wib took a position on the faculty of the seminary and Aunt Donna served on the faculty of Asbury College and as a public school librarian.  Deane & David played together that summer before the move once again separated them. 

            Fast forward 15 years, past many other relocations and experiences, Dave & Deane, now young adults, met briefly when Deane came to visit Dave’s parents in Phoenixville, PA, while he was stationed at Fort Dix, NJ. He had joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1971 and was sent to Fort Dix for Basic Training and training as a Radio Operator.  While there, Deane used a week-end pass to visit Cousin Izzie & family.  One of his memories of the visit is when, arriving by train, he was told that the nearby movie theater was used as a set for “The Blob” movie.  He also remembered spending a few hours in the basement working on a case for an electronics project he was building.

            At the time, Dave had just graduated from Houghton College and had started his teaching career in a nearby school district while living at home with his folks.  He became engaged to Kathy Harpp at Christmastime, 1972, and they were married the following July.  Dave continued  to teach while he and Kathy both earned Masters degrees (Dave in school counseling and Kathy in elementary education).  The family grew: daughter Heather was born in 1974, son Jeremy in 1977, daughter Emily in 1982 and son Ben in 1983.  In 1979, Dave switched school districts and became an elementary school counselor.  Over his career in education, he taught 5th & 6th grade for 10 years and was a school counselor for 26 years, retiring in 2007.  Twelve years into his counseling career, Dave was invited to be an adjunct professor in the same counseling department he had attended.  He continued to teach part-time at the graduate counseling department at West Chester University for the next 16 years and then for 8 years after he retired from public school.  Meanwhile, Kathy had returned to the classroom, teaching 3rd grade for almost 20 years in a small town with an urban setting, retiring in 2012.      

Meanwhile, Deane’s educational and professional careers were beginning.  He and Carol were married on June 2, 1969, in a roof-top chapel in Louisville in a 17-story building which now bears a huge picture of Colonel Sanders that can be seen from I-65.  They both attended Marion College and then returned to Kentucky as teachers in Nicholasville, a few miles from Wilmore.  While there, Carol earned a masters from Eastern Kentucky University and Deane spent his summers at Randolph-Macon Women’s College where he earned a master’s degree in Science Teaching in a National Science Foundation Summer Science Institute. 

In 1973, Deane & Carol moved to Bloomington, IN, where Carol taught in a nearby school system while he worked on his PhD.  Deane then served on facilities of the University of Virginia and Indiana University.  Their son, Chris, was born there in Bloomington in 1975.  In 1983, they moved to Charlotte, NC, where Deane worked for a company that developed Computer-Based Training.  In 1985 they again moved to Huntsville where Deane worked for Intergraph Corporation (a computer graphics company) to coordinate the development of their end-user technical documentation. In 1998, they moved to Princeton where he worked for Berlitz in their language translation division which had offices in over twenty countries.  During that time, Carol and Deane were able to travel to many of those offices & nearby tourist sites.  From 2002 until 2004, Deane commuted to the office in Washington, DC, where he led the team that provided interpreters for the U. S. Immigration Courts.  In 2005, they returned to Huntsville to work for Intergraph deploying Computer-Aided Dispatch systems for 911 Centers. 

Deane retired in 2013 and have been doing volunteer work archiving local history materials.  Currently, there are more than one million digital images stored on a server in my closet that is accessible to anyone at http://dkdayton.net .

As Deane and Dave were growing up, their mothers reminded them of how “the twins” had shared hospital experience. Deane had only been to Corinth a few times since his childhood while  Dave had lived there for a year while in elementary school and visited when the family traveled between Army assignments.  Carol & Deane passed through on their honeymoon and he and Dave both attended Charles’ funeral in Corinth—another “twin sighting”.   Deane was there for the 1998 Dayton Reunion and he has particularly fond memories of these last two visits.

It would seem that Deane & Dave were destined to see each other infrequently and, due to geography, would be separated, perhaps, forever.  But that didn’t happen thanks to the Dayton wedding in Hot Springs, NC, last fall.  Until they arrived individually, they didn’t know of their impending reunion so the surprise was doubly pleasant.  They reconnected immediately and spent much of their time reminiscing, catching up on each other’s lives and comparing family notes.  They exchanged home and email addresses and phone numbers just to make sure the bonds reestablished in the Appalachians would remain strong.  Along with Deane’s wife, Carol and Dave’s wife, Kathy, it was an extra treat to have Deane’s sister, Janet (and husband, Mike), and Dave’s brother, Keith (and wife, Leslie), share in the celebration along with cousin/aunt Cammie Dayton Luckey—an unexpected Dayton family reunion that will long be remembered.

Deane Dayton, Keith Hayes, Cammie Luckey, Dave Hayes, Jan Manley

 So when someone separates “twins” at birth, don’t be sure that they won’t find each other in the future and reconnect in stronger, more meaningful ways.  That’s just what happened to the Marion Dayton “Twins”—Deane and Dave!

The Cigar Cutter

Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton, my Uncle Chop, was a man who was bigger than life.  He was the Paul Bunyan of Upstate New York country pastors.  But in his younger days he was the Huckleberry Finn of the upper-Hudson River. Todays story is a tale of a childhood prank gone bad as told by his younger brother Chip [Chester]….the master story teller.

Faith of Our Fathers

Doreen McCutcheon, my cousin Doris Lamos’ daughter asked me, a couple months ago, what I knew about the faith of our Dayton fathers.  I believe we Daytons have a rich heritage of the Christian faith.  I’ll tell you what I know of it, and you can decide.  Christian faith is difficult to judge because no one can know the heart of others.  I will have to base my opinion mainly on outward appearance, about which the Bible cautions us.  I believe that most of the time this definition works.  I would also add that Dayton females often live their Christian service vicariously through their spouses and their actual teamwork.  Christian women are often active as nurses, teachers, supporters of missions and missionaries, Sunday School and VBS directors and teachers, organists, pianists, choir leaders, Bible Study leaders, etc.  I KNOW, I know….I’m stereotyping.  We have several Dayton female pastors and church lay leaders.

Generosity (births and deaths spanning the years from 1905 to 2009)

The number one Christian trait in the Dayton family is the generosity in both service and finances. There is evidence of this everywhere we look. For example, among Wilber and Jessie’s offspring:

Flossie, the oldest child, was a schoolteacher and faithful member of the Free Methodist Church in Corinth where she was a part-time Adult Sunday School teacher.  In her later years, she read her Bible daily in foreign languages: English, Spanish, French and probably German.  Her favorite was Spanish. She had daily devotions with the children. She would play hymns on the pump organ while the family sang.  Then she and George would pray.  What she lacked in formal church activities she more than made up for in a sweet, loving and gentle spirit that oozed her love of Christ from every pore of her being.  She was a fine example of the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 (The wife of noble character).

Charles was a Wesleyan Methodist pastor and church administrator, including terms as President of the Champlain Conference and later District Superintendent of the Champlain District of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  He was the epitome of aid of all sorts to the underprivileged.  From his own personal resources, he assisted with shelter, food, personal visitation, transportation, friend and counseling of all types.  He often met their needs for sustenance by any means possible, including solicitating help from the likeminded.  He also had a vision and passion for planting new churches.  He wanted to spread the word as far as he could within the bounds of wise financing.   Chop’s generosity was frequently rewarded by the gifts of possession that were repeatedly left to him because the deceased knew he would do good with them.

He was pastor of churches in upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Following retirement, he assisted wherever an opportunity arose at the Wesleyan Retirement Village in Brooksville FL.   

Chester was a lay preacher, held numerous church offices and was much more than a nominal tither at the suggested 10% level. I know, for a fact, that one year he tithed and gifted 32%.  Other years could have been even more, but he shunned the public eye in such matters.  Chip stood tall in various pulpits as an active Gideon as he shared the importance of distributing Bibles.  He was a Sunday School teacher and lay leader of his local Wesleyan Church in Corinth, New York.  After his second wife, Elizabeth died, he married Marjean Chapman, who was an ordained evangelist in the Wesleyan Church.

Wilber Jr. was a pastor, a seminary professor, Christian college President and prolific Christian author.  He travelled extensively and internationally to lecture, teach and preach.  He was renowned on a worldwide scale. He was an active participant on the team of scholars who translated the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) from the original Greek into English.  He was affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, was a benchmark for scholarly endeavors and was highly respected and admired by his peers.  His wife Donna held post graduate degrees and was employed in various University capacities including Librarian, and assistant Professor at several Colleges and Universities.

Paul probably held more church offices and performed more gifts of service than anyone in the entire Wesleyan denomination.  Besides official church offices, many building projects leadership, fund raising responsibilities, Sunday School teaching and administration, and youth leadership, he did more behind the scenes physical work than even I, his son, can remember.  For example, he was electrician, plumber, carpenter, snow plower, infrastructure planner and repairer, vehicle mechanic, bus driver, transportation director, orchestra founder, and conductor, etc. Beyond all that, he was a passionate financial backer to the extent that church donations trumped his own needs. Paul annually contributed much more than the nominal 10% tithe.  I believe it was more than double, as, I believe, his brothers might have done also.

So how could poorly educated and poorly financially endowed parents like Wilber and Jessie Dayton raise children who were such stellar members of the Christian faith.  It was because of their example and their consistency in rearing their children.  Click here to hear what Chip had to say on this subject.  Younger generations, please heed Chip’s advice!

My conclusion is that this characteristic of generosity is still at the forefront of Wilber’s grandchildren’s Christian experience, as well as their own descendants.  Generosity “rocks” in the Dayton family.

Wilber and Jessie’s Faith (Wilber 1870-1957)  (Jessie Belle (1880-1958)

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Jessie Belle [White] Dayton, wife of Wilber, wore the spiritual leadership pants in Wilber and Jessie’s marriage.  Wilber loved the Lord and was born again, but his shy disposition and backward social skills left the family training largely to Jessie. I am in possession of Wilber and Jessie’s tithe can (see photo).  We know they tithed. Despite their poverty, they still gave at least 10% to the church and did it before anything else was paid for. Jessie read to her children from the Hulbert Bible story book, an 800-page illustrated book with beautiful black and white etchings, now in the possession of Stephen Dayton.  Family altar was the first priority every day.  Family altar was a time when the family got together for a time of Bible reading and prayer.  It lasted 30 minutes or more.  In Paul’s family, the tradition continued.  After a Bible passage or story, each family member knelt and prayed, from the eldest to youngest, and the session was completed with the Lord’s prayer.  I imagine family altar was practiced in all the Dayton families.   On Sunday, Jessie, Wilber and their children attended the Corinth Sunday School, morning service, “class meeting”, a time of testimony and witnessing, evening prayer service and evening worship.  In the afternoon, they attended Hadley Wesleyan Methodist church, where Jessie was Sunday School Superintendent.  I doubt they had time to eat until after Corinth’s evening service.  They didn’t set aside Sunday as a day of physical rest.  They practiced spiritual rest.

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Jessie’s mother, Anna [Flansburg] [White] [Ramsey] Dingman (1855-1935)

We know nothing of Jessie’s father’s faith (Alexander White Sr), but her mother, Anna Maria [Flansburg] White, was a Wesleyan Methodist preacher’s kid.  Her faith was strong, and she was a devout saint. I personally know little about her specific spiritual attributes, although Wilber and Jessie’s children all knew her since she lived until 1935. She was a member of the Hadley Wesleyan Methodist Church.  This could have been the reason Jessie’s family attended there in addition to Corinth.  Hadley certainly would have been the church both Wilber and Jessie called their own.

Rev. William Flansburg, Jessie’s grandfather (1809-1897)

Anna’s, father, Rev. William Flansburg (Jessie’s grandfather) became a “born-again” Christian farmer in the mid-1840’s,  when he was in his early 30’s.  He started his first pastorate just a couple of years later in the Free Will Baptist Church in Johnsburg, New York.  In the mid ‘50s, he joined the Wesleyan Methodist church, and thereafter was a pastor in Vermont, and in Hamilton, Warren and Saratoga counties in New York state.  O.D. Putnam, his friend and colleague, wrote a wonderful tribute which will appear in next month’s newsletter.

Charles and Nancy Dayton (1832 – 1882)

Charles and Nancy were the parents of Wilber Sr.  They died when Wilber was only thirteen, and he never talked about his parents, so we know nothing about them.  Charles was a sheep rancher.  All that we know of Charles’ faith was inferred in a comical folklore story that Chip tells.  Click here to hear that story.  That’s all we know about Charles.

Henry Dayton, grandfather of Wilber Sr (1792-1849)

Henry Dayton was the father of Charles.  The primary spiritual declaration and affirmation of Henry’s faith is engraved on his gravestone.  It reads, “Why stand you weeping round my tomb Wilst I with Jesus rest in peace.  When God has called and took me home prepare my friend to follow soon”   Obviously, he was a Christ lover and follower.  He claimed, with confidence, the presumption that he would be taken to heaven.  He challenged all who read his stone to get their own lives “right with God” so that they too could inherit eternal life.  Regarding church denomination, we know that he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal denomination.  Today, the denomination is known as United Methodist.

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David Dayton Jr, father of Henry  (1766-1807)

We know very little of David Jr.’s spiritual situation.  He raised several Christian believer children who were all Methodist Episcopal, so it stands to reason that he too was a Methodist Episcopal believer. I base this opinion on the truth of the adage, “Like father, like son”.  The closest church was across the Hudson River on the road from Luzerne to Buttermilk Falls.  We suspect that David may have used his buckboard to ford the river at a shallow point just upriver from the church.

David Dayton Sr, father of David Jr (Between 1737 and 1739 – 1782)

We also know very little of David Sr.’s spiritual testimony.  In writing our book, Our Long Island Ancestors, The first six generations of Daytons in America 1639-1807, Steve and I have reason to believe that when David and Anne moved to Setauket [Brookhaven] from Egg Harbor, NJ, they attended the Setauket Presbyterian church for a short period of time.  However, the pastor, Rev Elam Potter, was an abolitionist;  David owned a slave, so we suspect David was not welcome in that church.

Henry Dayton, father of David Sr (1706-1759)

He was a member of the Setauket Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York.  I have a family transcript of the members (including Henry) of that church about 1750.  Curiously, his wife, Abigail, is not listed as a member.  For many of the male members, the roll reads “and wife,” so it isn’t clear why she wasn’t listed.

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Abraham Dayton, father of Henry (about 1654 – after 1726)

Records were found of Abraham being a Setauket NY Presbyterian financial pledger both for the salary of a pastor, and the building of a new “meeting house” for the new pastor.  These were all within the Town of Brookhaven (Long Island).  Being a big donor (there’s that Dayton generosity again), it stands to reason that he was a regular attender and probably at some point was a lay elder.

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Samuel Dayton, father of Abraham (1624 – 1690)

Steve and I believe, without direct confirmation and primary sources, that Samuel was a Puritan.  We know more about Samuel’s life than any other early ancestor, but there is no mention of a religious choice.  He was a Puritan by baptism (in England) rather than through practice.

Ralph Dayton, father of Samuel (about 1588 – 1658)

Ralph was a Puritan.  Steve and I have a record of his assignment of seating at the meeting house in East Hampton, NY.  (Yes, even way back then, people sat in the same pew every Sunday). Prior to coming to America, he worshiped at St Mary’s the Virgin in Ashford, Kent County, England.  He was a dissident Puritan, meaning that he openly opposed the Church of England and the King.  These dissidents experienced much persecution, but it is unclear whether Ralph experienced it.  It may have been the reason he, and most of his family, sailed to the New World.

Hey Doreen, below is the real answer

Letter to the Editor

DFH Volume 1 Issue 25

From time to time I receive a comment to an article which must be shared with you.  This month’s is a doozer.  My proofer, Izzie, is on the verge of insubordination and being fired for her telling it like it is.  She didn’t suck up to the boss like so many employees do, and what the bosses expect.  However, I thought maybe her courage might also get your juices flowing, and you may want to join in the insanity and controversary.  Come on people!  Let me hear from you on this and future articles.  What follows is the letter which started all this baloney.

IZZIE HAYES WRITES:

Dearest Editor,

I would never say you’re “doing it all wrong,” but this sweet old lady-of-93-Christmases  cherishes this glorious holiday, with all its rituals and traditions, more than most and has perfected a sequence for taking the work out of decorating the tree!!!

  1. Starting with “The Nutcracker suite” to get the creative Christmas juices flowing is a fine choice. (I personally favor Handel’s “Messiah”—at full volume—including “The Hallelujah chorus.”)  Anything but the perennial “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”   In any case, it just isn’t Christmas until someone yells,  “Can you crank that thing down?!?”
  1. You wrote,  “First came the ornaments. . . next came the lights.”  No, no, no, Mr. Editor!  Decorating your tree that way is a make work project and a sure-fire disaster There’s a much easier choice. If you eschew the cut-your-own tree farm or consider the pricey-but-puny offerings at the lot by your gas station beyond your consideration, you might go to Lowes or Home Depot or even Wal-Mart.  There you will find stunning artificial trees with built-in light systems, either all white or all colored or alternating between the two.  None of the annual struggle with tangled strands of half functional lights!!

If traditional is your thing, step #2 still comes after “The Nutcracker!”  Get the strings of lights out of storage (preferably some new ones). Wrap them throughout the tree—high and low—some close to the trunk of the tree and some out on the branches.  Then sit back and admire the gloriously festive tree before you.

  1. O.K.—Now! Bring out your precious ornaments for the final step.  No more getting them messed up by the removal of strings of lights!

Christmas season is my time for excesses, but putting strings of lights on my tree after the tree has my choice ornaments in place is not one of them.  Two choruses

of “Deck the Halls”… “ and a very Merry Christmas to all of you.

I am not Scrooge!!!!

I love you.  Izzie 

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Reply To my favorite employee:

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I’m not so sure you’re a sweet old lady yet…you’ve still got a lot of fabulous and mischievous kid, and spunk, left in you. Please accept that as a compliment!  Don’t ever lose your youthful spirit.

Alas, we’ve (Jim Dayton household) had an artificial tree for as long as I can remember.  Even the Paul Dayton family had an artificial tree after about 1975.  Anyway, my family has had an artificial from about 1980 to present.   The description of decorating the tree dates from about 1976 till they left home.  Viva la tinsel! Viva la “bubbly” candles!  It’s a less glitzy celebration when the kids are gone.

I bet we did the sequence of decorating it your way on points 2 and 3.  It was so long ago I can no longer remember.  One thing I do remember.  It was a very joyous occasion for each member of our family.  We looked forward to it year after year.  One of my kids has carried on the tradition (partially).  She has an artificial 10’ tree and prefers that each family member participates in decorating it.  She’s partial to good taste now, and the tree is beautiful. 

Now the Jim and Judy family has a new tradition. Judy buys a Hallmark ornament for each of the grandchildren each year, something very personalized to symbolize an important event in their life that year.  For example, my granddaughter, who won on the National Cheerleading Championship team, gets a cheerleader figurine this year.  Judy has another tradition we as a family love.  She writes a poem for each family member for their main gift, which the recipient reads when they open their present.  Each poem is personalized to fit the gift and/or the person. I have a book of her poems.  And don’t forget to add the mistletoe and holly.   And most importantly… we never forget why we have this season. God fulfilled his promise to send a Messiah to be the ultimate sin sacrifice for all humankind.  “Happy holidays” is not in my vocabulary;  “Merry Christmas” is!

Merry Christmas, Your boss.

There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

By Dave Hayes (Grandson of Charles Dayton)

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         Living the life of a nomadic military family had its ups and downs.  Sure, we got to see so much of the country and even sampled some life overseas.  But when it came to the holidays, we were more aware than ever of being far from the “North Country” and the family we loved.  The other service families were in the same position, so we became a sort of “surrogate family” for each other.  Still, we missed seeing grandparents, aunts & uncles and lots of cousins!

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          Enter Grampa Charles Dayton!  No matter where we lived, Grampa, Gramma Jo and Cammie always came to visit us.  I remember their visit to Killeen, Texas, accompanied by Rev. Floyd Tyler & his wife, Helen, where they continued south to Mexico and returned with a large bull whip which they enthusiastically demonstrated in the front yard.  It’s a wonder no one was hurt!  They also visited us in California.  We ushered them to the redwoods, the seashore, the town wharf with its stores and restaurants, one of the string of California missions, and many other local sites of interest.  And they even came to Italy, where Grampa helped Dad to lead the Easter Sunrise Service on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  We made a quick trip to Rome to see the Sistine Chapel and several other monuments and sites, and they even got a bonus trip up through Germany to see the windmills and tulips in Holland and the lovely gardens in Belgium.  Now that was a whirlwind trip!

          For us, these visits were a crucial tie to the family we had left behind!  But it was also a reminder that we were loved and cherished and certainly not forgotten.  My father’s devotion and patriotic service to his country as well as our family’s sacrifice of a life surrounded by our extended loved ones were honored with each remote stay.  Cammie became more than our aunt…she became a friend and a remembrance that, even as kids, Keith and I had roots deep in the hills of upstate New York.  Grampa & Gramma Jo brought news from the home front and dived into the local culture and customs wherever we were, fully enjoying themselves in a distant or foreign locale.  It tied us together more strongly, and that lasting bond is still unbroken.  What a gift it was to greet my grandparents at my house and to know that they were bringing the love and caring of a family we loved so much, there in the Adirondacks! 

          Thanks, Grampa & Gramma Jo & Cammie for those treasured times!