Suitcases, Suitcases, and more Suitcases,
Large, small, heavy, light, square, round, dark, bright.
Suitcases of every shape, size, color, and texture met the eyes.
Yes, anyone riding past First Prot. Ref. church on Monday, August 21, was assured that some great venture was underway, even though he saw no people. The people, you see, were inside the church receiving last minute instructions as to the itinerary to Chicago. And then, those suitcases had to be packed, jammed, twisted, shoved, squeezed – and finally pleaded with before the trunks of ten cars could be closed.
Arriving at South Holland Church, we waited nervously for two cars. Our schedule from this point on was tight and it was imperative that these cars pull in soon.
A tasty lunch having been served by the friendly women of South Holland Church, bermudas having been changed to more suitable traveling apparel, two more people having received tickets the last minute, and last, last minute instructions having been given, a comfortable bus took us through the heavy Chicago traffic to Union Depot. But, since we had taken so many suitcases, they had to go by a special truck to the depot. And, as you can well imagine, 60 people waited anxiously at the depot for suitcases that were not there. Fifteen minutes and the Denver Zephyr would leave for Denver and 60 people planned to be on this sleek, silver, stream-lined train . . . But, evidently they must go without suitcases.
The truck arrived.
A mad scramble to get suitcases endued – especially by the girls who carried two of their own and then had to find an eligible, friendly-looking, kindly natured young fellow to carry their remaining “necessary” luggage. We found a leader who led the way to our car dodging myriads of nonchalant, accustomed travelers who didn’t care in the least whether or not we made our train.
We were scared. We had a quarter of a mile to walk to our couch knowing that trains have a nasty habit of leaving on schedule. Trudging doggedly to our destination, we didn’t smile at porters waiting servilely at other cars, we didn’t make glib remarks to each other; even complaints of the long walk were silenced by the din of 60 people scurrying to make the train.
We made it . . . three seconds before the train pulled out. No one talked, everyone just flopped into a seat and breathed ten relaxed breaths. And now that we reflect on this period of quietude, we appreciate it because it was one of the few of its kind.
The train ride, sixteen hours of it, was noisy and I dare say, at times, a mite wearisome. We enjoyed friendly and not so friendly porters and we tipped them for services whether friendly or unfriendly. The not so friendly ones were especially put out with the members of our party with large feet. These fellows heard such comments as “Hey der baby, ah, git youh a feet out a’ de aisle der.” But feet in the aisle wasn’t half as troublesome as five to ten people sitting in the aisle on a suitcase to play games with their friends.
Night and day became merged on the train. The din kept up; the wise cracks still came; gales of laughter still reverberated. Shrieks, roars, howls characterized both day and night.
When the train came to a halt in the Denver Depot, representatives from Loveland were there to greet 60 weary, yet eager young people.
Again we had to board a bus to ride 65 miles to Loveland. Tire of riding? Yes. Tire? No. The noise kept on. No one seemed to be in the least bit fatigued.
But once we arrived in Loveland we could appreciate all the riding we had survived. For in Loveland we walked, and walked, and walked. 60 people you know, all minus their dependable cars.
We were thankful for the little red and white bus with the memorable words on its side, “Standale Hi Tone Cleaners.” For this mighty little bus hauled as many as 18 people at a time, and four or five loads of such, from one place to another . . . And all free of charge and without tipping!
After registration, at which time the delegates and visitors received clever badges depicting the nickname of Loveland, and after each of us had received a place to rest his weary bones, the young people read, rested, shopped or swam until the Mass Meeting.
The Mass Meeting per usual was impressive. This was Rev. H. Hoeksema’s first appearance in Loveland, and besides the intense interest displayed by the natives of Loveland, the out-of-towners also were captivated by the speech. He spoke on the topic, “The Beauty of Holiness as God’s Perfection.” Clarity plus Colorado combined to make an evening of pure enjoyment. It is to be observed at this meeting and throughout the entire convention the complete sense of unity which prevailed. There were few cliques and few wall flowers. Everyone seemed to mix and in the true sense of the term, enjoy each other’s fellowship. This was distinctive of the 1961 convention.
After the meeting it was indeed amusing to watch the “steadies” and the new friends bargain and beg for the few priceless cars to be had at this convention. But this major hindrance didn’t seem to discourage. Pedes (not a model of a car) proved to serve the purpose as well. The usually quiet sidewalks of lulled Loveland were being scuffed by the stroll of contented couples conversing easily in the cool, exhilarating breezes of mountainous Colorado . . . Or being hushed by the mellow moonlight.
The day of the outing, however, dawned hot. Just plain hot. Not sweltering, not humid, simply hot. After a brief, but well attended business meeting, two buses, and the few cars, set out for the much heard of Estes Park. After stopping en route to glimpse gigantic rock formations and swirling, gushing streams of water, some members of our party rode horseback up mountain trails while others hiked for a distance up the jagged mountain side. Then with ears popping because of the high altitude, we once again resumed our trip up to Estes Park. At such a high altitude many would have preferred to flop on the ground and rest, since nearly everyone found it extremely difficult to breathe. Nevertheless, the more energetic played a strenuous game of horseshoes or swim in an aqua colored pool. Even the ball fans attempted to play the annual game of softball East-West. The West had the advantage of being used to this strange air; the East, the record of a two-year victory. The game waxed breathless. Runners on first were only too glad to have a fellow team member run the remaining bases for them. Although the game was close, the East will face the West next year with a three-year victory – and hopefully with fewer airs but with more airs. However, this exciting victory won’t be remembered as well as will the thrill of playing a soft ball game in the mountains, with peaks towering on four sides, massive cliffs extending everywhere, and mere midget man in the middle.
The ball game being over, most of us decided to take the aerial tramway ride up the steep mountainside. One cable, vouchsafed to hold us, served as the support, and if one didn’t look up at the cable, nor down at the passing rocks, trees, and cliffs, it was an enjoyable ride. By the time everyone had ridden the tram, supper was again served. Per usual, it was country style and delicious. It seemed as if we spent a great deal of time eating; but we know that we spent less of our time eating than the time we used of Miss Hulda Kuiper and the other women of Loveland. From morning ‘til evening those women were busy preparing good, wholesome meals for us to devour.
Gathered in an open amphitheater, the picturesque scene of the second convention speech, each of us had a moment to reflect the day’s activities, and to view at dusk the stately pines standing lonesome on the mountain side like sentinels at their post while a thick haze settled over the mountains changing them from colorful, spiry peaks and jagged precipices to a somber outline of deep grayish purple. And each of us could not help but respond, though not as poetically,
My God how wonderful thou art Thy Majesty, how great!
Wrapped in blankets beach towels, and every other available piece of clothing, we sh-sh-shivered and ch-ch-chattered until the meeting closed with a song fest around a bonfire directed by Gerald Kuiper. Rev. H.D. Hoeksema, with the distinct disadvantage of a c-cold c-climate, still orated a powerful speech on “The Beauty of Holiness As the Church’s Distinction,” and thus kept our c-closest attention.
We were tired when this day was over. Nearly everyone kept curfew. One had no choice.
On Thursday, August 24, we met rather glumly at Loveland park for the annual pancake breakfast. Why glumly? This was the last day of the much anticipated convention. The breakfast was tremendous – food aplenty, smiles aplenty, talk aplenty.
The business meeting which followed was one of the longest ever. It met until 4:30 p.m. It was also one of the best. Vehement discussion plus super attendance prompted satisfying results. After the meeting there wasn’t much time to get ready for the banquet. However, everyone made it looking his best in spite of little rest during the last three days, and in spite of insufficient facilities with which to get ready. But, the insufficient facilities were cheerfully overcome. The twenty young people who stayed at one house with only one bathroom overcame theirs by sending all the fellows to the irrigation ditches to bathe. They looked clean to us.
The Swiss Steak dinner served at the banquet was as delightful as the company one kept. And as we stepped upstairs to hear Rev. H. Veldman give the final convention address, a certain soberness settled over us. This solemnity was soon lifted when we grasped Rev. Veldman’s sense of humor in his dynamic speech. We even enjoyed his slight irritation when a wailing siren gave him such steady competition.
And with the closing of prayer by the new Vice president, Gerald Kuiper, the seemingly shortest convention ever was over.
We lingered for a while afterwards to try to express to the Lovelanders what a well-planned, well-executed convention this was. We told them that some day we would come back to visit these fine people and this peaceful, colorful country. No one noticed the moistened eyes, the few dispensed tears, or the choked up throats which accompanied the words. Everyone was only glad that no one could see the dull ache each had in the area near his heart. You see, all were attempting to communicate to these people and to each other not only that the convention was successful but the reason why it was successful. That reason being that each of us had felt throughout the entire convention a deep awareness of the Beauty of Holiness as perfected through a mighty God, a majestic creation, and fellowship with his chosen people, young and old.
And so parents and friends won’t you agree with the young people that this convention was successful?