What is it like to be a life long Quaker? Most of us come to Quakerism later in life. Carolyn was born into it. Carolyn’s mother came from many generations of Friends; Carolyn’s father was a convinced Friend.
Romance at CPS Camp
Carolyn’s parents met at CPS camp – Civilian Public Service. (These camps operated from 1941 to 1947 to provide “work of national importance” for conscientious objectors. After time spent in base camps, many men opted to perform Detached Service, where they volunteered for special project work in units within public health, state mental hospitals, state training schools, dairy testing or other farm work, smoke jumping, government research, human guinea pig research, or with the National Service Board for Religious Objectors [NSBRO] and related agencies on relief and other projects.)
Carolyn’s parents had 3 children: Carolyn’s older brother, Carolyn and her younger brother.
Move to East Coast
After living in Illinois where her father taught at University of Illinois in Champagne, Carolyn moved to the Philadelphia area where her father got a job with the American Friends Service Committee. Carolyn entered Lansdowne Friends School in fifth grade.
Carolyn grew up with the activities of activist Quakers: wearing arm bands and participating in vigils against the war. In high school, Carolyn read about war and began to question organized religion. She went to Wilmington College, where she met her husband, and then graduated from Michigan State College. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Special Education.
Return to Midwest
David and Carolyn settled in Barnesville, Ohio, where she worked as a teacher of children with learning disabilities. They bought a 55-acre farm and were “back to the landers”. They built their first home after camping in tent trailers. The house did not have central heat, and they went to laundromat to wash their clothes. Their next house was built by contractors and they saved the original house as a guest house and shop. “We were flower children of the 70’s”, Carolyn laughs.
Carolyn was encountered a different form of Quakerism at Barnesville where she attended a conservative branch of Quakerism with an unprogrammed meeting. “They thought AFSC was communistic.” Ohio had three forms of Quakerism: conservative unprogrammed, liberal unprogrammed and liberal programmed. Carolyn grew up with liberal unprogrammed meetings in the Philadelphia area.
A trip to South America – how exciting. A student where David was teaching invited them to come to Ecuador to meet her family. Their only cost was going to be a plane ticket. Then David’s brother who was an airline steward was able to get them tickets so their 25th wedding anniversary was planned around an inexpensive trip to Ecuador.
Once in Ecuador, the trip involved a big hike to get to the girl’s family home. They met an Ecuadorian family with a girl who came to live with Carolyn and David for 2 years during high school and became like a daughter to them. Carolyn and David’s lives have become intertwined with another Ecuadorian family with 5 children are helping to support this family. If Carolyn moved anywhere it would be to Ecuador. She loves being outdoors there and is spending the month of August in Ecuador.
Most of Carolyn’s adult life she has been on a quest questioning her spirituality. She does not know who or what God is and conceives God as energy that connects us all with animals and plants. She came to Fort Myers Monthly Meeting out of curiosity and to meet like-minded people. She questions the peace testimony – is it pie in the sky to believe that the world can come to peace? Would it be ever possible to have peace?
Carolyn is drawn to the concept of listening and of the light in every person as one of the components of Quakerism.
Carolyn and David are also drawn to teaching and music. They play at the Listening Room at the All Faith Universalist Church. Having sold their Ohio home, they are now year-round Florida residents.
Interview by Pat Iyer