Ecumenism was not a term we were familiar with back in the mid 50's, and perhaps back then, we weren't ready for the concept.
Mary Ann Allmendinger and her family lived next door to the Werners at 217. But hers was a very big property and several families had apartments there. I don't know if it was her family who owned it, or really
anything much about her family. She was the only child as far as we
She was Judy's age, but as she was a Lutheran, she didn't go to our school, but rather to one called Richolt - about five blocks northeast of
our street. She was a shy quiet girl, rather mousy in appearance,
blond hair, thin and rather pretty.
One of our favourite games was called Lemonade. This is how it goes. You divide into two teams which face each other acorss a space – in this case, Mary Ann's front yard, which was larger than ours, and paved, at
least in part. The teams were inevitably Judy and Lois on one side,
and Mary Ann, Sharon and me on the other.
The rhyme went thus:
HERE WE COME (one team advances holding hands towards the other)
WHAT'S YOUR TRADE?
GET TO WORK AND SHOW US SOME, IF YOU'RE NOT AFRAID.
Then the advancing team had to mime some trade – like bricklaying or
painting. The other side had five guesses, and if they got it, they won a point. If not, the other side got a point and got to do the same thing again. It sounds a bit odd, but it was fun, and the points were distributed fairly evenly.
One summer day, our relationship with Mary Ann went to a new level. As with the Werners, we had never been invited into her house, and I can't
remember if she was ever in ours. But now, we were invited to a sleep
over at her house.
This was exciting for us – as we had no relatives who lived nearby, and had never had a night away from home other than with relatives when we went very occasionally to our uncles and aunts in Jamestown, 100
Our mother gave us permission, and we packed out pajames, spare clothes and toothbrushes. I can't remember having a meal with her, so I am assuming we went to stay after supper. Her room was large enough for both of us, and I think the bed was big enough that we slept three
together without too much problem. Well, I say that, but I expect
there wasn't much sleep that night, because there was a big problem.
Judy and I were Catholics, and in those days we were indoctrinated in the idea that ours was the one true religion, and all other denominations were in error, sadly. Mary Ann had other ideas.
Before we got into bed, we knelt down to say our prayers. But Mary Ann went one better, she got out her bible to read it.
“Aren't you going to read your bibles too? she asked.
“We don't have one with us,” said Judy.
“But don't you always read from the Bible before you go to bed at night?”
“No, we just say our prayers. That's good enough,” said Judy with a a real challenge in her tone.
“You do have a bible, don't you?” asked Mary Ann, rising to the challenge.
“We have missals,” I said. “They have lots of bible stories in them.”
“And do you read those every night?” she asked.
“No, but we go to church every day during school time. I don't suppose you do that?”
“Do you have to go?” she asked.
“No, but almost everybody does,” I said, and added, “After church we all
get chocolate milk and doughnuts.”
“You aren't even Christians,” said Mary Ann.
“WHAT?” put in Judy. “Of course we are. We are the real Christians. We are the only church that stayed faithful. Martin Luther broke off because
he couldn't stand not being married.”
“He broke off because the Catholic church was corrupt and nobody could understand what went on anyway, because it all had to be in a secret language.”
“It's not a secret language. It's Latin, and our missals give us the
English translation so we can read along and know what is being
“It should all be in English, like ours is.”
Our voices were sufficiently raised by this time, that Mary Ann's mother came to check that all was in order and asked us to be quiet. So we stopped our discussion, and went to sleep, but things were never the same with Mary Ann and us after that.
In researching this I found out from Lorraine Allmendinger's obituary,
that Mary Ann was her step-daughter, and she now lives in Florida.