Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

A Westminster Social Gathering

In Fellowship, J. Gresham Machen, Westminster Theological Seminary on 28/05/2011 at 20:41

It’s an old joke, but one of the real pleasures of the archivist’s job is reading other people’s mail.  Here transcribed is a letter that Allan A. MacRae, one of Westminster’s founding faculty, wrote to his parents in 1933.  It tells mainly of a social gathering of the early Westminster Seminary faculty and their friends and on that level alone, it is a wonderful glimpse into the lives of some dear saints. We see here bits of both their humanity and their love of the Lord.
But the letter also serves as an object lesson that each of us should take to heart, as it displays the value of preserving something of the story of how the Lord has been at work in our own lives, even noting perhaps something of the otherwise small and insignificant moments, for the reality of Christ in our lives shines there too. 

Allan A. MacRae writing to his parents,

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct.22, 1933.

Dear Folks,

Another week has passed by, and how it has flown. It was quite a busy week. There was the regular school work, there were the first classes of the year in the University and there were two special things. These latter were the tea at the Allises last Wednesday afternoon and the party at the Wallaces on Friday evening. Both these events were particularly pleasant. The Allises gave a tea in honor of the Kuipers. They invited over a hundred people. They asked me, and the others of our faculty to stay most of the time from four to six to help entertain the visitors. It was a very friendly reception. Everyone was so cordial and harmonious. Most of those who came knew most of the others.

On Friday evening the Misses Wallace, two maiden ladies who have been friends of the Seminary and have been present at most of our functions right from the start, entertained the faculty of the Seminary at their apartment in one of the suburbs. They asked Dr.Machen to speak on mountain climbing. He gave a very interesting talk indeed. Then Jimmie Blackstone, who was also invited, sang several numbers for us, and one of the Misses Wallace read some poems she had written. Dr.Kuiper was asked for a few remarks. After that we had a spelling bee. Most of those on the side on which I happened to be chosen were spelled down rather soon, and for a long time I was the lone survivor on our side, while the opposing team still had three standing. These three were Dr. Machen, Paul Woolley and John Murray. Then I put one ‘m’ too few in the word persimmon, and left the three of them alone. So their side was victorious in the contest. After that ice cream was served. When we all came to leave, some one happened to look at a watch, and we could hardly believe it was actually past midnight, the evening had been so pleasant. The only people invited who were not members of our faculty, beside Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone, were Mr. and Mrs.Freeman, whom I mentioned to you recently. They took John Murray and me with them in their car, which was pleasant and also a great convenience for us.

H.M. Griffiths is having quite an unpleasant experience. A week ago yesterday he developed a severe case of acute appendicitis, and that afternoon he was operated on. They think the appendix might have ruptured soon if they had not taken it out. Early this week some infection set in, so he had a disagreeable week. I think they feel that that is pretty well over now, I saw him yesterday. He was quite uncomfortable, but is now getting along well, I believe.

Yesterday after faculty meeting John Murray and I went out to Germantown together and visited Griffiths. Then John and I ate together in the neighborhood. John had to come back to the city, as he was going right out to Oxford, Pa. to spend the week-end with one of our graduates. I walked across Germantown to the Woolleys’ home. I had a nice visit with Paul, and then had supper with both of them. After supper I played a bit with Edward, who is very friendly. Paul sat over in the corner, and seemed to have a great time, watching me playing hide and seek with Edward. I took the train home early, leaving just as soon as I had said goodnight to Edward, so as to get a real good night’s sleep myself.

I am enjoying my beginning Hebrew classes again as much as anything I do. I am presenting the material in a somewhat different order, and am surely enjoying it. Early in the week my eyes bothered me a bit. I stopped in at an optician’s and he spent a long time adjusting the glasses and the way they hung on my nose and ears. They were hurting my nose. Since that time, they do not hurt my nose at all, and the eyes have been very greatly improved. Evidently they were not hanging right on my face. I hope you are both well and happy as I am. I will close, very lovingly,

/s/ [Allan A. MacRae]

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