Interview with Robert Erbele: (RE)
Interviewed by Homer Rudolf (HR)
Lehr, North Dakota
18 October 2004
Transcribed by Amanda Swenson
Proofreading plus transcription and translation of German expressions by Marvin L. Hartmann
Prairie Public Collection
HR:We will start with you by giving your name, where you were born, and where your family came from in Russia.
RE:Okay, my name is Robert Erbele, and I was born here in the Lehr area and I lived here all my life, except for the years I had been away to college. My parents are John and Florence Erbele, and my dad was a son of a homesteader. My grandfathers name was Heinrich, and he came from Teplitz, South Russia, in 1889 in May. Actually six months before North Dakota became a state. He came with his parents and three other brothers, so there was four sons and his parents that came, and he was 17 years old at the time. And they all took up homesteads, about twelve, thirteen miles north of Lehr.
HR:Do you have a first musical memory that sticks in your mind at all?
RE:Well, I think music has always been a part of our lives. I was the youngest in our family, so of course there was a lot of activity around me growing up. I remember the old tube radio, you had to wait for it to warm up, and of course listening to the radio programs on there. And then had a little old wind up record player of my own, and would listen to some of the records and, so music has always been a very integral part of our life and our family. We’d have you know, the sing alongs around the piano at home. My sister was taking piano lessons, and we’d gather around and sing. And of course my brothers, being older than myself were in different groups and so we’d follow those, and just became apart of all of our activities.
HR:How large was your family?
RE:I have two brothers and a sister that are older, and I was a tag along that came along about ten years after everyone else.
HR:If you look back at your ancestors, were they all musical also?
RE:Yes they were, there was the occasional one, who we call tone deaf, who couldn’t sing. But yes, within the family structure, there’s been music going back as far as I could remember. My father was a very high tenor. And in fact, when they were in the rural country churches, and they have church choirs, being he had such a higher voice, they wanted him to sing some of the upper alto parts, and seconds and he was a little insulted, that he had to sing a woman’s part, that he actually quit singing for a while. But as he got older, then his brother had a strong bass voice, they’d actually do some duets together. He could play the pump organ by ear, so the two of them I remember within the family tradition stories. “Star of the East” was one of their Christmas duets that they sang.
HR:Did you play the pump organ, or did your sister play the piano?
RE:We had all played instruments. My brothers were tuba players and I played various brass instruments, and also played the piano myself.
HR:What about your parents and grandparents?
RE:My mother had a few lessons, and could play a little bit, but the rest of them didn’t play instruments. Basically, because we didn’t have them. Within the family history stories, they did buy a pump organ in the '20’s and some of my dad’s sisters, did play that. But never had a lot of lessons, so they relied on picking out the melody and trying to chord a little bit with the left.
HR:So they all played by ear then?
RE:Pretty much, yeah.
HR:What is the first piece of music that you remember learning?
RE:I suppose the little Sunday School Songs, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loved the Little Children of the World”. I remember being fascinated by the lyrics sang. “The Red, the Yellow, the Black and White” you know, I couldn’t picture yellow children, and that sort of thing, you know. It was childhood memory, it would be the Sunday School songs I guess.
HR:Did you grow up with German at all?
RE:Um, German was a integral part of our family conversation. My parents spoke it quite often, in the home. My older siblings didn’t know any English until they went to the country school, but being I was younger they were pretty well integrated into the English language. For them English is their second language, and for me German is my second language. You know, so, I never did speak it as fluently as the rest of the family, but I sure understood everything.
HR:Do you remember German in church at all?
RE:Yes I do. We had periodically we had German services yet. I remember in our church services, we had an adult Sunday school that was conducted in German, up through my high school years in fact. And that continued on, and I remember listening in on those lessons, because the Sunday schools were kind of dispersed throughout the sanctuary in the morning. You know, one group meeting in one corner, one group meeting in the other, so you could always listen in on what one group was doing. So I would always kind of tune a ear to the German group once and a while and hear what they were saying. But, then of course we had revival meetings within our churches. Every fall and every spring, we actually had a week long meetings. And during the course of the evening, some of the, we were away from the German preaching at that time, but occasionally for special music, or just a congregational song they would still sing a German song now and then.
HR:What German church did you attend?
RE:At that time, there was it was known as the EUB Church, the Evangelical United Brethern, and that had just come through a merger, in about 1946 I believe, with a merger of the Evangelical Church, and the United Bretheran Church which became EUB. Prior to that, my family had all been a part of the Evangelical Church. If you want to go further back, even into their days in Russia. It was an Evangelical Lutheran Church denomination is what they were in the old country. But when they came here, there was a strong movement of Evangelical pastors, a lot of the old preachers coming out of Germany, started their circuit ministries here in the prairies, and so we just became Evangelicals, and of course like I said, that merge with the United Brotheran, and then later on in 1968 the EUB Church had a merger with the Methodist church, and so then became the United Methodist, which is still my heritage today.
HR:How did you become a musician?
RE:By bribery. I became a musician by... let me start over, repeat the question.
HR:How was it that you became a musician? You are still very active as a musician.
RE:Music was such a part of our home and our family. As I had mention we would have the Saturday evening sing alongs around the piano. Apart of our family tradition too, was to go through the Sunday School part lesson, Saturday nights after our baths and everything’s to get ready for Sunday. So, we all as children had to take piano lessons. My brothers didn’t last with it as long as I did, I actually took it for, lessons for about 8 years. I started with my sister, and that was not a good plan at all. I wound up hiding my books in the closet, and so they finally broke down and hauled me into town to the Baptist ministers wife and so I took lessons from her for a good number of years, that was in Streeter. Then they moved to Wishek and so I followed them to Wishek. And so every Saturday morning were my piano lessons, and so my father would take me to Wishek, and then go to the sale barn. And sometimes forget about me, so sometimes I would be sitting there at the parsonage for about 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon after my half hour lesson. But that was my piano background, and of course as we got into school, I was apart of the high school choir, and high school choruses. And then on into college, I’d been apart of the concert choirs, and the Madrigal singers, and after we returned to the farm, we remained active. Here at the camp meeting and at the church, singing specials, putting together various quartets, and last recent years, I’ve became a part of the Community choir called “Alive,” which is made up of six different communities, within our south central area here in North Dakota. And we’d been singing together now for 15 years. And that is really kind of kept me in music and has been a real soul satisfying experience for both my wife and I.
HR:How often did you have your services after church?
RE:When I was a child we had the Sunday morning services in our church, and of course Sunday evening, and the Wednesday night prayer meetings, that was always a part of the weekly church calendar. I remember just being furious with the Sunday evening services, because we were always leaving about the same time the Theme song “Bonanza” came on. So I really didn’t get to watch a lot of Bonanza until it came on in reruns in later years. But that was one of my frustrations with Sunday evening services. But we had a very active youth group when I was in the Streeter church, by the time I was in high school we had 40 young people within the youth group, and one of our obligations was that one Sunday a month, the youth did the church service, and so we were in charge of a topic, and addition to a lot of music. And in that we had a lot of mixed quartets, double quartets, octets, duets, different combinations of young people doing music for those services.
HR:When you think of special events like weddings, or a funerals. Is there certain music you associate with those things?
RE:With the funeral music I remember the German song for some of the elderly that was sung and Nimm Den Meine Haende (O Take My Hand Dear Father) or the other title would be So Nimm Den Meine Haende and it was kind of a benediction type of song. My father always said that it was a song that they would sing for the close of the service as well as for the benediction, but I remember that song, as a benediction, in a person's life too, is a funeral song. Weddings, I remember, oh just the wedding prayers and some of the, I really don’t remember any of those, as old music.
HR:Did you ever go to wedding receptions when you were younger?
RE:Oh yes, yes we did.
HR:Was music apart of that?
RE:As part of the wedding receptions that I attended as a child, there’s really not a lot of music at those. It was only in later years that within our family and within our church structure, that you would have a wedding reception with a dance and so on, afterwards. As a child I remember very few weddings that there were dances. It was just usually a time of eating and fellowshipping together.
HR:You’re probably too young to be going to barn dances, but do you remember dances when you were growing up and how likely that was as a tradition?
RE:Well being I was the youngest one in the family, the thing that I remember about dances, was when we first got there was the electric phonograph. This was in the late 50’s when Elvis was getting big, and my older brothers had done some work in the basement, they had tiled the floor and build a nice wall around the old wood furnace, so that wasn’t visible, and they had high school kids come out, and we had sock hops in our basement. And that’d be my really first memory of dances. I know my father talks often about the barn dances, and he’d laugh about... you know, paying a guy a quarter to fiddle all night you know. And talk about a bad weather that had lined up after a dance, and going home in the snow storm, and the horses finding the way because they’d go across country, and drop the fences, because they went through the neighboring farm and he talked about how the horses would just find their way back home, they’d find the exact spot in the fence that they had left down and everything, and they couldn’t see where they were going. And of course they talked about the fights that would break out at these various barn dances. And someone falling down through the holes where you poke the hay down into the mangers. Or where the fight would keep going to where they’d get pushed out the hay loft door. So it made for exciting listening, but it wasn’t anything that I actually experienced first hand. But great stories though.
HR:Did you go to neighboring towns for dances? I did that a lot when I was little.
RE:Um, there were some. Yes, in the legion halls, various community centers, there was always some little band coming along or some little made up band that somebody thought were going to make it big, and were trying it out on our small towns. And so, anywhere from Venturia to Wishek to Streeter, Gackle, you try to make it around once and a while.
HR:Do you remember anything about the bands, as far as size, or the instruments?
RE:I really don’t. I really don’t. I just remember them being awfully loud.
RE:The Tabernacle was built in 1922, and has been in continuous operation since then. This was built by the Evangelicals in the area, the Evangelicals church had a real strong presence in the south half of North Dakota, and the north half of South Dakota. And the District Superintendants in the Conference leaders had tried a series of meetings at other points like Bismarck and Jamestown, McLaughlin, evangelistic meetings in the early teens, late teens and on into 1920, and it determined that Lehr was about the center of German Russian Evangelical congregations within.... There were 80 Evangelical churches within a 50 mile radius of Lehr. Most of the city churches had country church satellites. For example the church in Lehr here had the Evangelical church in town which was known as the Friedens Church, but they had four satellite churches you know, one at each corner of their communities so to speak. And my family was apart of the Emmanuel Evangelical church with was 12 miles north of Lehr, and there was the Ebeneezer, the Zion, and there was a Tabor church, and Streeter had a similar situation with the rural churches. And so there was a real sense of continuing the evangelistic revival meetings and in 1921 they had their first meeting here in Lehr, they held it in town beside the church, and the speaker's platform at that time was a huge pack of shingles that the speaker stood on. And they conducted those meetings for a period of two weeks. And in May of 1922, they build this Tabernacle, all the plans and structure for it, came from Reverend Ermel, and he was a pastor directly from Germany, and he brought the plans with him. And they talked about the structure being and the design of the bridge, and if you look at the rafters, you can kind of see the way the truss is running in an octagon shaped building is a bridge truss, and so there was.... The church was such a social center for the homesteaders. And as I reflect back on the homesteader's life, I’m amazed at what loneliness they must of felt when they first got here, because of their homeland in south Russia, everybody lived in the village. And would go out into the fields to farm, but at night they would always come back home, so there was always this sense of community. When they came to the Dakota Prairies, within the Homestead Act, you had to live on that piece of land that you homestead on for five years you know, before you got titled to it. So they were out there by themselves, so when you think of leaving a village in that sense of community and coming out to these wide open prairies living miles from your neighbors, there must have been a tremendous sense of loneliness and isolation and so the church then really became a point of gathering for them. It was not only a place for spiritual renewal and revival, but it was also a definite social gathering for them.
HR:What types of events took place here at the tabernacle?
RE:The tabernacle was built solely for evangelistic meetings and that was for the renewing of people spirits and their souls. You know they came from the old country, really fleeing persecution. Things had changed there. The Russian army was inducting their young people, and the tone and the climate politically was changing. So they came here. Let me back up again, repeat the question again.
HR:What types of events took place here at the tabernacle?
RE:Okay, the tabernacle was built solely for evangelistic meetings. Back in 1922 when they built this, they were actually forward thinking enough to put electricity in here and was run with a gas generator. And they set it several hundred yards out behind the building so that it wouldn’t interfere with the services. And the services would continue for a two week period, occasionally if the Spirit was moving, they’d move into a third week. They’d just come and stay. People would come with their horses, wagons, buggies, of course this was the beginning of the Model T’s as well. But they would stay on the grounds, they would set up tents, and stay in tents on the ground. The cook tent were the tent structures where they would serve meals, but there would actually be people that would bring a milk cow along, and maybe actually a crate of chickens and just camp down at the south end of the camp grounds, and milk the cow and gather a few eggs, and do their own cooking on the camp grounds as well. At that time families were quite large, and so, many times, one or two of the older children, and one of the parents and one of the older children would stay home and do the chores for the first week, and then the second week, they would get to come to the camp, and then someone else would go home, just to maintain the milking and the gathering of the eggs at home, or whatever, other chores but they were very conscience about getting their work done and being here, for those meetings. It was a priority in their lives.
HR:Were the Evangelists local people?
RE:The Evangelists were generally brought in from outside the area. They were usually a District Superintendent from another Conference. I know they had speakers from Illinois and Minneapolis and so on coming in. They would have morning evangelistic services, and afternoon evangelistic services, and evening evangelistic services. There were three preaching events throughout the course of the day, and those during the day in the mornings and in the afternoons, were usually conducted by area pastors. And then the evening service was reserved for the guest evangelist. In the back of the tabernacle here you see two doors leading in to a wing or a shed type structure behind the tabernacle. There used to be four doors, and you can still see the outline there where the other two used to be, and so that was dividing where the four rooms were, where the speakers were housed and that was their private quarters for the times that they were here.
HR:How many time would each tabernacle accommodate?
RE:At the time, that it was built, the tabernackle would seat about 700 people. The benches were continuous all the way through the building, there was just a side aisle. There is one bench on the north wall of the tabernacle yet that is original from that period. They weren’t very wide, they weren’t very comfortable. The benches that are in here now, are from old country churches that dissolved and moved into the town church. They gave their furnishings to the camp, and so these benches are maybe now pews from the old country churches. But at that time it was just a plank bench, but the floor in here was just a dirt floor but they covered it with straw, every year. Every spring they’d come in with a fresh load of straw and spread it out among the floor, just to keep the dust down, was the main intent. It was in the late ‘60’s that they actually put the concrete floor in here so I remember very vividly the straw floor and in fact referred to it the straw church. When I was a child and I remember playing under the benches and breaking the straw up and sticking it together and doing all kinds of things with the straw.
HR:Other than the two week, sort of camp meetings, the evangelist church, did they hold any special events here too?
HR:So I was asking about other events that the evangelist church held?
RE:The camp was, the Tabernacle evangelistic meetings were its primary focus, in probably the first fifteen years of its exsistence. Then as we got into the early 40’s they started building dorms and wooden kitchens, and they started adding some youth camps. And from that point on, there has been junior high camps, senior high camps, and that continued on in through the 90’s, quite effectively.
HR:I remember reading about special music services that were done, with choirs coming in from the other areas, do you remember anything about that?
RE:Yes, they had a lot of music, it was apart of services here at the camp ground. They had what they call the mass choir, where everybody, local churches would bring their choirs and join up here on the platform. And one of the gifted pastors who had the directing abilities and so on would lead that mass choir. As times have changed, part of the camp meetings, they would cease the evangelistic services on the Saturdays, and the Saturday night would just be dedicated to music, and at that point they would bring in special groups from outside the area, and have just a concert for the people, and then continue on Sunday morning again with their worship services.
HR:All of that music, would that be religious as well or was that more like folk music?
RE:All the music that has been here has always been a religious or a gospel theme.
HR:I remember reading that quite often evangelists when they came would also bring someone that was song leader, was that something you would remember?
RE:Yes, the evangelists would either bring a song leader, or else someone who was gifted as a song leader, would be invited to come and lead the music for the week.
HR:You have that hymnal there that was used, would you talk about that?
RE:Yes, the Gebeten Danklieder, (Prayer and Thanksgiving Songs) it’s the German song book that was the main song book of the camp meeting for many years. The German language preaching ceased in the late 40’s and then they converted it to English evangelism, that was a hard time. But the songs remained in German for many years, up to my growing up years. As I moved into adulthood, these got put away, and the “Showers to Blessing” songbook was now the songbook of the camp meeting. But and even today, we still have one German service a year, the second Thursday in June is our German service, the German books are brought out and the German songs are sung. And this book is really where I learned to read German. Because I never took German formally in school, but I’d sit down with this book and my father, and we’d go through the words so I’m actually able to read most of the German script because of this German Gebeten Danklieder book. And know a lot of the pages by heart. I know number 14 is Gott Ist Die Liebe and number 68 is O Gott, Sei Gelobt and so this is been a real treasure.
HR:Can you sing any of those songs for us?
RE:Can I sing any of these now?
Tape 2 with Robert Erbele
HR:So we’ll start talking about the hymnal again.
RE:This hymnal, Gebeten Danklieder is really the book that I learned to read German from. My father would, I’d actually bug him until he sat down with me. And we’d go through the words of the song, and so I was able to learn to read the script, through reading the songs here in this book. I still remember a lot of the songs, and a lot of the page numbers page 14 being good Gott Ist Die Liebe (God is Love) and 68 being O Gott, Sei Gelobt ( O God Be Praised) and number 4, Im Schumke Der Heligkeit (In The Beauty of Holiness). There is one song that we sang a lot in this camp that is not in this book, and people would just sing it. I’m sure it’s in some book somewhere, but I don’t remember the whole phrase of it. Von Der Erde Reiss Mich Los, (Release Me From This World) from the world, from this earth, tear me loose. And I just remember being really enthralled by that song.
HR:Can you sing a little bit?
RE:Singing "Von der Erde reiss mich los, Mach mich dein in Glauben gross." (Release me from this world, make my yours in deeper faith." That’s kind of one of the melody line of it.
HR:What’s the first song you think you remember singing from the book you have in front of you?
RE:Well I think the all time favorite song of the German Russian has to be Gott Ist Die Liebe (God is Love). Singing "Gott ist die Liebe, lass mich erloesen, Gott ist die Liebe, er liebt auch mich. Drum sag' ich noch ein mal, Gott ist die Liebe, Gott ist die Liebe, er liebt auch mich." (God is love, let me declare it, God is love, he loves me so. Therefore I say once more, God is love, God is love, he loves me so.) That has to be the favorite. It is one that has survived the longest, you know. Even into the generations who no longer speak the German. They can still sing Gott is die Liebe because Grandma taught them, you know.
HR:You were mentioning that the singing was in German, now were they preaching in German anytime?
RE:Yeah, the preaching was in German, up until somewhere in the 40’s, about the time the merger happened with the United Bretheran, and probably a little bit before that too. They had to appease the older folks and do a little of both for a number of years. But it, most of them were convinced that God only understood German.
HR:Is it your sense that in the early days these preachers who were brought in were sort of these fire and brimstone, sort of guys, were they up there, you know, casting out the devil, that type of thing?
RE:The early pastors definately were men of fire. The fire and brimstone message was preached. I mean, you came to fear hell. (laughs) When you listen to their messages. The evangelistic services at that time, were very confrontational, it was known as confrontational evangelism. Very pointed, very direct saying “Will you make a decision for Christ? You need to make a decision for Christ, will you come now?” We have moved in the church now to more relational evangelism, building a trust relationship in a person and showing them, that by your relationship with the heavenly father, what life is like as a Christian, rather than scaring them into believing. But the thing that, was really important though, in the evangelistic services was that you had a commitment to your faith. And you see this so often, we see it here within the tabernacle. The first generation built this place out of a sense of conviction. They came from the persecuted background, they came from poverty, they came from a point in their lives, where God was all they had. And that wasn’t bad because when God was all that you have, you realize that, that is all that you need. And so it was out of that sense of conviction that they built this place and wanted to pass that on to someone else. The sad thing is, is that as you go through the generation, the first generation of conviction for the second generation then becomes a tradition. So you know, you came because mom and dad came, and because grandpa came. And then as you move through the cycle, the third generation becomes a matter of opinion. Where I may go if I want to, or not, you know, it’s kind of up to me. And the goal of evangelism is to make everyone a first generation Christian, to be a people of conviction.
HR:Was there (unclear) that took place as part of the services?
RE:Yes there were, there was many examples of the move of God here. They actually in one of the, when we had our 75th anniversary for the camp. We compiled a booklet of camp memories. And it had sawed out some of the people who attended years ago, and it talked about within the building, within the rafters that there was just kind of a cloud, like a presence of the holy spirit here. In that area, which is through Evangelical, and even today in some type of pentecostal circle the vision of the actual sighting of the presence of a cloud is still quite common.
HR:How about baptisms, was that taken place here?
RE:No, there were no baptisms taken place here. It was all just kind of renewing of peoples lives and spirits. The object of a place like this is not to be a church, but to supplement the work of the church.
HR:What do you think is the largest amount of people that were here for the services.
RE:The largest amount of people that have ever been here for services, numbered in the 2000’s. Somewhere around the 2200. The building as you see it now, at that time seated about 700 people, but as you see the building there is windows all around, on ropes and pullys. And these windows opened inwards and up into the roof and so you could completely open it up. So the air flowed through, but people would at that time. When there was the story of the 2000 being here. They were lined up five deep, around the windows around the tabernackle.
HR:And when do you think that happened?
RE:It happened around the 40’s, was kind of the peak for that. We did have kind of a little taste of it this summer. We had a special music group in, in August. And we had anticipated we’d have a large crowd, so we got a set of bleachers. And set them along one of the back window walls and set those up. And we did, we had over 500 people in here, plus we filled the bleachers on the outside with about 70 or 80 people. So we just had a little taste of what that might have been like.
HR:So the tabernacle’s still active today?
RE:The tabernacle’s still active today. It is no longer affiliated with the EUB or the United Methodist Church. The Conference, didn’t want to maintain this place as a camp anymore so. A private board was developed and took over the ownership of the camp, and is now run as a non-denominational camp, and we’re reaching out to all denominations in the community. Saying what can we do to enhance your ministries, and kind of breaking down some of the walls, of the denomination title that separate us, and saying what can we do today to enhance the kingdom of God.
HR:Do people come back, people that were here, do they come back to the tabernacle?
RE:Oh, we have visitors all the time that come back. For so many it became a sacred place for them, it is a place of their beginnings with their spiritual walk. And so they’re, for many people it’s a bench mark place in their lives.
HR:Do you feel that this place is still for more than the just people who live in Lehr, ND?
RE:Yes, this place is for people that, anyone who wants to come from anywhere. And even at the services we have now, Aberdeen, Jamestown, Bismarck, Fargo, there are people that come. We now have RV hookups here, and dorms, a couple of them that we put bathrooms into and so we’re moving more now into the direction of family camps. Trying to bring families together, we moved away from youth camps because every denomination has a youth camp somewhere, and we don’t want to compete with that. Senior citizens like this place, they have their own camp here. Senior Citizens Camp, and we’re emphasizing families. And strengthening the families and go back to your own church, and whatever that denomination is and let your light shine there, but we try to provide for families now. I’d love to see again, where we have tents on the ground, and campers full of people and we are moving in that direction, and I think we’ll see more of that. The camping season here at the campground here, runs from the first of June, to about the middle of September. Various camps here. It’s become a big placet for family reunions, a lot of families just rent it for the weekend, and have their own worship services here, in as a family on the Sundays, and usually come in on a Friday and do their registration on Saturday, they have their family activities, and close with Sunday worship service and go home. And so, next summer we have five different family reunions already scheduled for the camp. So that takes care of five weekends right there, in the summer.
HR:Are there any significance in the shape of the building?
RE:I think it was just so you could, it’s octagon shaped, the building, and I think it’d just so people can see. If you take the square footage, and put it into an elongated building, your too far back to see, and this gets you up close and to the front.
HR:And what is the significance of the names on the walls?
RE:The names on the walls is a memorial row. And the names in the center are the pastors that have passed away. A lot of those are the very first pastors they had in the area. And some of them are the very first evangelists that were here. The center part was pulled out of pastors so, if there is a memorial for a pastor on the board now so, there is a little cross inside their name, and that would indicate that they were a pastor.
HR:And are names still being added?
RE:Names are still being added, to the board.
HR:How about, would you know which one of those would be the first people to speak here?
RE:The top row of names would be among the first. Reverend C.A. Bremer, was the District Superintendent at the time, that the camp was built. The Reverend Goehring was the local pastor here at the time it was built. And the Reverend R.E. Strutts, was one of the founding pastors of the satellite churches here, back in the 1890’s, when he was one of the first circuit riders, so. ...
HR:What is that banner pointing towards us in the northeast side center.
RE:The banner in the center of the board is Yesus Christus, Gestern, Heute Und In Alle Ewigkeit, it’s the Bible verse, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever,” and I guess that’s what we want to continue on in the theme of the camp as well. Times have changed, and technology has changed our lives tremendously, but the basic need of man kind does not change.
HR:How about the signs on the center of the (unclear).
RE:There’s also a sign up in the center of the tabernacle in the rafters. And that used to be a cloth banner, and that deteriorated with time, and was transferred to a wood board, and that verses from Psalms, and “Lord, your word will stand forever,” "Herr, die Wort bleibt in Ewigkeit."
HR:And that would have been here from the beginning?
RE:That was here from day one.
HR:Once again, the names on this memorial board, are these people that contributed or why are they recognized on that board?
RE:These are people that were attenders of the camp meeting, and that had supported it through their lifetime. And as they passed on, it was just a way of the families saying, you know, we want to remember mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa for their service or dedication, not only to the camp meeting, but to the Christian life that they have passed... to the heritage that they passed on to their family.
HR:If you look at the board you really see, its such a slice of the German Russian names that you won’t see again here in the U.S.
RE:Definately, yeah, 90 percent of the names could be in a German phone book.
HR:I have one more question, you were talking about your family, you said you were gathering around the piano and sing. What type of songs would you sing as the night went on.
RE:Oh, it would be the gospel songs. Once in a while, we’d slip in one of the pop songs of the day if we could play it. But usually those rhythms were a little more difficult than the strict chordal hymns. But when mom and dad were there, it was hymns to be sing.
HR:What do you mean by gospel songs?
RE:Gospel songs, are anything that would share the good news of Jesus Christ, I guess. That’s what they say the word “Gospel” literally means, is “Good News”. And gospel music would have as it’s theme, something that would lift you to the Lord, you know.
HR:Do they sound different from olden German hymns? If you heard something right away, would you know it was a gospel hymn?
RE:I think in any song, it’s the words that make it a gospel song. It is not necessarily the music or the style of music, that makes it a gospel song. What makes the gospel is it’s words, you can take any style of music and make it a gospel song, depending on what the lyrics were, the power is in the words and in the lyrics.