Calling on Mrs. Wirt and God

Dec 22, 2019 | 0 comments

The Oldest H.A. Espy Children – Medora and Albert, 1904

At noon as we sat at the dining room table, there was a fearsome clucking and crowing just outside the south windows.  When I looked to see the problem, there was the rooster, Big Red, making his way across the lawn toward the fence — not hurrying mind you, but scolding vociferously as he walked.  A glance toward the church revealed the reason for his distress.  His Rhode Island Red sister, “Gladys,” was waddling briskly down the walkway of the church, homeward bound.

My immediate and irreverently ridiculous thought was, “Well, at least she closed the church doors when she left which is better than lots of our non-feathered visitors do…”   And hard on the heels of that thought came another… the family story of my mother’s oldest brother, Albert.   I always heard it just as my uncle Willard wrote it in Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village:
 At three, Albert once dashed out the door — he was always dashing — explaining over his shoulder that he was off  “to call on Mrs. Wirt and God.”  The second call followed the first by only a few months; he died in a Portland hospital of an undiagnosed stomach ailment.

Wirt House, 1939

Mrs. Wirt was our across-the-lane neighbor.  God, of course, lived across the street in the church…  Today I wondered if Gladys had gone to call on God but had found the door closed.  Would she have hung out and waited for someone to open it had Big Red not scolded?   I asked, but neither the rooster nor the hen was forthcoming with an answer.  That’s often the way it is with chickens.

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