Getting to Sunday church service has been interrupted a few times. Not since last March have I been to church — the same with my gym routine.
I guess I could go now but things have changed so much I just don’t go. Goodness, I grew up going to Sunday church and I kept it up until recently.
Thinking back to my military days, we often didn’t have a church to go to. Sometimes, very rarely, we held a service in the field.
A priest would set up an altar on the back of a Jeep and we would all kneel on the ground around it. But that didn’t happen very often.
While we were in England prior to the invasion, there was no church, but Salisbury (England) was nearby and there was a huge cathedral there to visit. I had the occasion once to see it, but there was no service going on at the time. It was beautiful to see, though.
Maybe a little over a month after the invasion of France, Gen. Patton came in. When he came in, my outfit joined him.
It didn't take him very long to bust through the stalemate in the back of the beach. We hooked up with the 4th Armored Division. We moved quickly until the early fall of 1944. We settled in a gun position in Nancy, France, for a couple of months or more.
We needed supplies and luckily there was a large railyard nearby. The Germans wanted to disrupt the supplies so our outfit spread out around to shoot at enemy planes.
We slept in a pop tent near our guns because cold weather had arrived. At night, the Germans would uncover a huge railroad gun to fire at the railyard.
We would lay in our tents and watch the sky. A large, bright light would go off, then we would hear the loud bang. All we could do was lay there and listen.
Soon, we’d hear this loud hum passing over our head. There was no need to hit the foxholes, since they wouldn’t protect us from that big gun any more than our tents.
Luckily, they would hit behind us – but boy, the ground would shake. Finally, after a week or so, our troops were able to knock that gun out.
There was a church not far from our post and one Sunday, I got permission to go there. It was a strange experience.
As I recall, the church resembled the Immaculate Conception in Newburyport, but larger. Inside, there were no pews, just rows of wooden chairs set up on top of a hard slate floor.
Everyone sat in these tall-back wooden chairs. When it came time to kneel, they all stood up. The chairs would be turned around.
Under each seat was a wooden kneeler. What a racket went on while doing so. This was OK until it was time to sit, then another big roar. That was my only experience there but I cannot forget it.
Nearby, there was a French bakery with tall stacks of white bread, all unwrapped and standing in a container. Of course, I had to have one.
On the walk back to my gun, I ate that loaf of bread like an ice cream cone. Now that was a treat, believe me.
It was in Nancy that I celebrated my 21st birthday, just before my first Christmas away. My birthday was never a big deal because it was so close to Christmas.
So missing church these days doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. At the age of 97, who cares anyway?
Bob "Boots" Chouinard lives in Salisbury.