John’s Memorial Service and graveside burial were captured on video. To view them click Here. To view a musical-photo tribute, Click Here
Good Afternoon, I’m John’s brother Jim, from Byron Center Michigan. I moved away from Corinth when John was thirteen, so my contacts with John were infrequent. We never spent much time together, but as I reflect on John’s life, I realize that I know a lot more about him than I thought I did.
Less than three weeks before John passed away , Judy and I were in Corinth, and had the privilege of spending a full day with him and his wife Lori. It was a happy occasion for all of us, a day I’ll always cherish. That day, it really struck home what an intricate, complex and giving man John was. As the day progressed, it became apparent what made John tick
his love for Jesus
his love for Lori
and his love for his family.
John’s frequent mention of his love of God in the year before his death, thrilled us, his brothers and sisters.
During his last year, when he faced his own mortality head on, John recognized how soon he could be in the presence of his Heavenly Father, and it was obvious that he had made his peace and was looking forward to his eternal homecoming.
John and Lori had a passion for teaching and working with kids. On that inspirational day we spent with them, conversation frequently returned to children’s ministry, and the crafts that were such an important part of it. Crafts don’t just happen. Many loving hours were spent making each piece of each unit. John’s last craft was an eight-piece wooden frog. He admired those frogs as if they were his masterpieces. Come to think of it, they were. All 90 of them. He invented and produced different equally creative crafts for those children year after year.
I’ve shared only one example of John’s generosity. His was not only a generosity of time; it was also a generosity of money. Once, in this very church you were part way into a fund-raising campaign for a building maintenance project. You were still a stretch from meeting the goal. John told the fund raisers, “Don’t worry about covering the gap to the goal. I’ll make up the difference.” He told me the amount and it was impressive. That speaks to three noble traits he possessed;
1. His Generosity.
2. His faith that God would help him achieve his commitment.
3. His love for his community of faith… this local church.
On that special day we spent together, his number one priority, by far, even if he didn’t get anything else accomplished, was to give us a tour of his church and to introduce us to his pastor. The rest of the day was secondary.
One day, within the last four years, I received a lengthy email from John. That was most unusual. He had never written more than one or two sentences. Judy and I read it together and just looked at each other. We asked, “John wrote that?” I don’t remember the contents, but I remember that it was the most eloquent email that I had read in a long, long time. I remember saying to Judy, “Wow, I wish I could write that well.” I’ve come to realize over the years just how intelligent John was. He lacked self-confidence, and that masked a lot of what he was capable of.
John was a mechanical genius. He took wrist watches apart and put them back together just for fun. He made a wooden clock which kept accurate time. Rubics cubes and other 3-dimensional puzzles were no challenge at all. The man was brilliant.
John was fanatical about his New York Mets. He wore Mets clothing wherever he went. Years ago, he had a chance encounter with Howard Johnson, who was 3rd baseman for the Mets in the 1980’s. The way John carried on you’d have thought he met the pope. He was far more impressed with his oncologist’s passion for the Mets than for his ability to save John’s life. You knew he was a true fan because he even watched the west coast games till 1:30 in the morning.
John loved puttering of any kind. His creations were classics of clever and unusual design. He had one of the best equipped workshops anywhere in Corinth.
Well, That’s just a small peek into what my brother was all about.
Hey John… keep the lights on up there. I’ll be visiting you again soon, and I’ll be staying quite a long-time the next time we get together. We will bow in awe before the face of God forever.
Last week I asked you if you remembered this building. I think probably only those born before 1960 would remember it. The tabernacle was rebuilt by the time that most of us attended there, but it was similar enough to the old one that most of us knew what it is. It is the West Chazy Champlain District Tabernacle located in West Chazy, New York. The following description of the campground came from the Sun, Jan. 12, 2008, WEST CHAZY “Since the turn of the last century, the Wesleyan Bible Camp has been a fixture in West Chazy. However, mounting finances and decreasing revenue have put the camp in danger of closing permanently. The camp, which was first established in its current location in 1901, consists of 145 private cottage sites, three dormitories, a tabernacle, dining hall, 16-room motel, maintenance directors residence, and 24 campsites spread over nearly 35 acres off West Church Street.” I’m nearly certain that the campground actually dates to about the 1870’s. Most of you attended there summer after summer but have amnesia when it comes to remembrances which others would enjoy hearing about. Three of you have sent me some of your fond memories. Here are some of the favorites.
standing by the open window in the girls’ dorm bathroom and hearing Keith play the piano in the nearby Youth Tabernacle. I remembered how he played the previous year and very distinctly remember thinking, “Hmm.. the Tyler boy is coming along pretty well with his playing…must’ve practiced a lot this year.” I had no idea we would end up together. (Keith and Priscilla were married in 1979. Keith passed away in 2007).
wondering if Dorrie Lamos ever did anything else at West Chazy besides play the organ or piano for services. She was so faithful, always there to play for EVERY service. I’m sure her husband was there, too, but mostly I remember her always in position.
me trying not to touch anything in the ladies’ shower- it looked so gross from age and many months of non-use between camps although I know someone spent time scrubbing for the next season.
watching for UFOs because it seemed like such a logical place for one to be.
trying desperately to keep my eyes open during marathon meetings.
trying to get away with something—anything…!
hearing a little camper excitedly shout, “Look at the birdie!” as Robin Mattoon and I (Crusaders counselors) laughed and pulled the blankets over our heads because the bird was a bat and was flying around the dormitory.
wondering if the world was going to end when I went to bed… 1967, the 6-day War—is this IT?!
being on the 2nd floor of the Crusader dorm when a huge airplane skimmed the top of the trees. It was deafening!.
checking out the merchandise at the “book store” in the tabernacle (now I manage a Christian book store at church).
the day Dad was trapped under a lumber pile at the sawmill and The Hayes family came to the rescue…. I could go on and on, but I guess I have already.
Judy Dayton recalls
Listening to the metal box springs at night.
Peeking through the knot holes into the room next door.
Best hot dogs ever.
Listening to an etiquette “sermon” by Aunt Jo in the missionary tabernacle.
Having to wear dresses all the time (no gym wear).
Walking the back lanes of the camp grounds where there was no lighting holding hands.
Sleeping over the dining hall….wondering what to do if there was a fire.
Listening for the dinner bell…Pavlov’s dog training.
Looking over my shoulder to see what relative was watching me and reporting to my parents.
Going to the mail window to get any cards from home.
Jim Dayton recalls
Good, Good memories. Memories that, in a small way, gave me some spiritual roots I have cherished for my lifetime. I wouldn’t trade these memories. I suspect you feel this way too. Why not join in the conversation? After all, they’re our memories too.
Taking up residence in the unfinished boy’s dorm; the walls were half finished concrete block walls (about four feet high) and the roof was the starry sky.
Marching from the West Chazy tabernacle to the West Chazy church to attend bible school [see photo above]
“Dating” girls and holding hands during the evening service. Then buying them a hot dog and coke at the snack bar— with sticky fly paper everywhere above the food and ice cream
Going to St. Armand beach and hoping we would see a French Canadian in a bikini (this was the 1950’s).
What counselor, in his or her “right mind” would take 50 to 100 kids on a mountain climb to a summit, where, if you walked a very short distance, to the eastern side, you could climb back down the mountain with one step?
US Air Force 8-engine B-52 strategic bombers [armed with a nuclear payload] flew directly over the tabernacle in the direct flight path to Plattsburgh Air Base. They were flying at perhaps 500 ft over the tree tops. It was cool when it would disrupt the evening evangelistic service with a sound so deafening it had the potential to permanently damage your hearing.
Trying to find a dark place after the evening service where you could attempt to kiss your date. The campground had a militia that walked around with flashlights to prevent that very thing. Rev. “stubby fingers” led the posse, and Rev. Ed “the peeker” Elliott was a pretty good hunter too. I don’t remember the rest, but they had so many hunters that we kids didn’t stand a chance.
One year, rumors started to circulate among the younger kids that I had signed a contract with the New York Mets.
Trying to “score a date” with the coolest of the camp meeting girls.
Jackie Tyler and Mary Jane Murray wearing baseball gloves on their heads to the evening evangelistic service.
Dorrie Lamos playing the organ.
Carl Timpson playing a musical solo on the saw.
The bookstore in the tabernacle
Getting your meal ticket punched by Rev. “Stubby fingers” Chapman
Fund raising by uncle Chop during the service with public financial pledge commitments from the floor. “Dayton Brothers will give $1,000” brought gasps all over the congregation.
Saturday night was “Sunday School night” during the evening service. It was “Statistics evening” and I loved stats…I still do. (Glens Falls had highest average attendance at X, with Corinth finishing at Y….rats, we’ll beat ‘em next year)
Sneaking out during the Sunday Ordination service to be first in the outrageously long dining hall line (always Turkey).
Buttering the toast with a paint brush.
Gary Tyler, Rich Cook, Dwight Hayes and a fourth, in a very good quartet singing Down by the River Side.
Roger Rounds, a teen evangelist with muscles bulging from one end of the platform to the other end— (A “wannabe” Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Don Klob – a pastor with a heart for youth and a very good man.
Rev. Ed “the Peeker” Elliott who never shut his eyes during prayer.
Rev. Howard Chapman’s VW pickup, the envy of all young boys
My heart throbbing over Judy Potter who was too popular (and uppity) to date me. She’s been my soul mate for 55 years and my wife for 51 years. Thank you, West Chazy, for Judy Potter.
Teens vs. Preachers softball games in a cow pasture.
Dirt poor, dedicated pastors with hearts of gold.
“thou shalt not’s” seemed to be the theme of every camp meeting.
Sword Drills…a race to be the first to find a bible verse and read it.
Praise ye, the lord, hallelujah. During the evening service we played calisthenics. Now that I look back on it, I cannot believe that grownups, did that during a church service. It certainly seems like trivializing worship.
Shouts of “Amen” or “Praise the Lord” or “well, glory” during the service.
Scary altar calls with “tarrying”, “just one more verse”, “with every eye closed raise your hand.” Altar call theme songs: ”Just as I am” and “Lord, I’m Coming home”.
Dirt floors, with wood shavings over the dirt to keep down the dust and dirtiness, and you were still expected to kneel.
Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton standing tall in the pulpit.
Trying 24×7 to get away with something.
“I’m in the Lord’s Army” with hand and body motions.
Good food in the dining hall.
Bare naked men in the public restroom…there were two shower’s which were just shower heads mounted on the wall…no curtains or anything. We boys stayed dirty for two weeks.
My dad ‘s largest cottage located on “Board walk” (near Mediterranean Ave).
Doc Steven’s “mansion” including a TV.
Missionaries displaying poison dart blow guns, and 20-foot snake skins.
You knew you were at the end of a missionary slideshow because the sunset picture appears on the screen (sometimes you were glad and sometimes you wanted more)
“chalk artists” drawing the abracadabra black light sunset scenes during the offertory.
Youth night choir and youth dress up. I got to wear my red sports jacket!
Dormitory pillow fights.
A knot hole in the floor of the boy’s dorm. We poured sand on the bunk bed below.
Pauline Streeter…the camp meeting nurse dressed in her nurses’ uniform and staying in the infirmary near the tabernacle.
Cammie Luckey had a different perspective on Camp Meeting life because her father [my uncle Chop AKA Rev. Charles Dayton] oversaw the Camp Meeting facilities, its conference meetings, the overall administration and much of the physical labor for keeping the camp meeting apparatus functioning properly and dynamically. Chop was “the glue that held the thing together.” He did the job well, and Cammie had an eyewitness view of the “goings on.” Here some of her remembrances:
That West Chazy tabernacle roof was a lot higher and steeper than it appears from the photograph’s perspective.
I was up there on the upper roof, once to shovel off the heavy snow that threatened to bring down the entire structure, and at least once to shutter tight (slide- and wing-bolts) those square roof vents, not visible in this front-on photo, that ran along below the soffit on both sides of that upper roof and were only open during the campmeeting season.
These were just two chores unseen by typical camp-goers. Most campers left West Chazy on Sunday to return to their 9-5 lives in Watervliet or Glens Falls or Springfield or wherever, oblivious to what happened on the WC grounds the rest of the year. Only a few, mostly clergy, for whom 9-5 lifestyles were rare, waited till Monday to pack and leave.
So what may have been the camp season’s most holy moment, an annual sacred rite even if the participants would probably be appalled at that four-letter “r” word, was never experienced except by a relative few. Most people remaining on the grounds late Sunday night, the hour of that sacred rite, were scrambling to pack or were saying sentimental farewells or, if they were of a certain age, trying to catch one last canoodle behind some bush as far away as they could get from the tabernacle.
The rite was not begun until after the final “seeker” arose from the altar bench (originally sort of like a chopped-off saw horse and only eventually a genuine, polished rail) but before the lights went out for another year. Then, a circle was formed. Shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand, the circle followed the inside perimeter of the tabernacle. The circle stretched across the entire front, between the altar benches and front pew, from side door to side door. It went along both sides to the rear, actually the front, the main-entrance wall as shown in the photograph, where one corner held Rev. Ross’ Bible shop full of enticing biblical toy paraphernalia effective at keeping little kids quiet during long sermons. A personal favorite was the 2×2” flat square on which you slid little squares the size of Chiclets until you formed the verse John 3:16. Today it would be Rubic’s Cube.
Anyway, the circle closed ranks and stood still, waiting at attention. These were the league’s team captains, so to speak. This was end-of-season wrap. A few solemn words were given by “names of note” such as Ray Smith of Watervliet, who regularly delayed his own 9-5 electric utility job for this higher, holy priority. Or he drove home to Watervliet in the wee hours of Monday morning. Sometimes these were words of victory, sometimes triumphant resolve. Often they included knowing phrases of foreboding, experience having taught that the circle would never be exactly the same twice. Who would fall?
After a few shared memories of sad moments and spiritual highlights, someone, such as John Lamos, husband of Dorrie Dayton Lamos, sounded the first note of the two songs traditionally sung. “Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by?” Everybody knew the answer when it came to the matter of this earthly tabernacle circle; but everyone in this holiness circle also was well aware of other ways to fall. They usually had to deal with a fall or two every year at the “annual conference” that preceded the campmeeting.
The final song was always “God Be With You ‘til We Meet Again.”
These lines sound like something straight from John Boy Walton, a family-values TV icon circa 1970. But I could also reminisce about other “nearby structures,” as Jim referred to in his request for recollections. I recollect the Sunday afternoon I, the conference president’s (aka district superintendent) daughter spent “making out” with Steve in the Special Speaker cottage behind the tabernacle while Steve’s dad stood a few dozen yards away, at the pulpit.
(In those days there were three services daily. Typically only the evening and Sunday services featured the altar-calls that perhaps unfortunately defined the campmeeting experience. The other services were for those who wanted to “go deeper,” for folks such as Ray Smith and various little old ladies, the unappreciated, anonymous spiritual powerhouses.)
“From the person to whom much is given, much will be required.” At the time and for many decades I resented that I was not among those who packed up and pulled out on Sunday to a life far distant from West Chazy. I did not appreciate the feast table at which I was feeding despite myself, reluctantly living fifty-two weeks of the year in the three-century house known as the “President’s Home” (burnt to the ground by a hair dryer) adjacent to the campgrounds. I regret how long it took me to realize the rare, rich and eternal significance of those acappella voices rising to the rafters and roof vents and way beyond.
Last week I asked you to identify the building and tell a story about it. It was the old Corinth Wesleyan Methodist Church located at 292 River St. in Corinth, NY. The church was built around 1900 and was last used in 1968 when it was bulldozed, burnt and buried. For me that church brings back a flood of memories. I attended there from birth (in 1948) until it was destroyed in 1968. I meant to include a photo of the new church too, so most of us could participate. Therefore, next week we’ll do the new church. Let me tell you a few of my memories about the old church.
My first memory ever in my life was when Rev. Howard Chapman picked me up and deposited me on the hat rack high above the coat rack. I was amazed at how strong he must have been to do that—and—incidentally, how far away from the floor I was!
When I was about 6, I used to rush to Bob and Cora Flanders before every service. I’d check to see if they had a toy for me from the cereal box. Now as I look back on it, the quantity and variety of toys was such that they must have dumped the cereal into the trash or ate it with every meal. They were elderly and childless and they were an unusually sweet and dignified couple.
When we were teens, my friends and I sometimes sat behind “Buggy” Bosford, and we counted the number of lice in her hair for entertainment. I can’t even remember her given name because one of us called her “Buggy” and the name stuck.
Our family faithfully attended prayer meeting on Wednesday evening. We always had a long “season of prayer,” and we always knelt in our pew on the hard oak floor during prayer. That could get kids into all kinds of mischief. When transistor radios came out, they were the perfect size to fit snuggly in a pocket. Jim Elliott and I used to put in an earbud and listen to a New York Mets baseball game during what seemed an interminable time on our knees.
And who can forget sharing in a summertime march, nearly 100 kids—2×2—singing a rousing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and following the Christian flag into Daily Vacation Bible School under the watchful eye of our pastor’s wife as the trusty Drill Sergeant? It was a really a cool thing that we kids enjoyed.
My best friend was Jim Elliott. He was the preacher’s kid, and his dad didn’t want him to get into mischief, an ever present danger. So Jim sat on the front pew, left side of the church. We teens usually sat in the back right corner of the church. During one service, Bruce Madison and I had a bad case of a stomach cramps that produced noxious fumes but no accompanying sounds, which are especially disruptive in church. We were somewhat proud of our creation. All of a sudden, the pressure became unbearable, and the attendant noise rang out through the church. Jim Elliott started laughing uncontrollably. His mother kept poking him in the ribs, which only made him laugh harder. I suppose the beautiful moment ended with a hymn.
My sister Priscilla remembers “bursting through the front doors as soon as the last hymn had been sung, the concluding prayer had been said, and running ecstatically around the church and through the parking lot. Pent-up exuberance!!!”
But above all else, and in spite of the preceding casual remarks, it’s where I got my spiritual wings. I thank God for the training I got in that little church. All of the wonderful teachers and leaders that helped shape the spiritual man I am today. My parents, Paul and Ruth Dayton, Florence Timpson, Dora Washburn, Jo Dayton, Charles Dayton, Nina Madison, Laura Bolton, Harold Smith. Lela Smith, Madeline Gilbert, Chester Dayton, Elizabeth Dayton, Everett Elliott, Sarabel Elliott and a score more.