NOVEMBER 20, 1969
SOME ZIP-ZONE SERENDIPITIES
by Lawrence E. Nelson Ph.D.
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public
Biography of the Author
Born July 25, 1893, at Clinton, Missouri, third of five
children of Thomas Lee and Mary Ellen (Cowan) Nelson. Lived at Stockton, Missouri, until
1906, when he removed to Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Attended Bacone (Indian) College (though non-Indian),
William Jewell College, Universities of Kansas as, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and
Stanford. B. A., Jewell; M. A., Kansas, Ph.D., Stanford (English).
Taught as Graduate Assistant, William Jewell, one year;
as head of Department of English at Sioux Falls College (South Dakota) for seven years; at
University of Redlands as head of the Department of English, Director of Division of
Humanities, and Dean of Graduate Studies-- a cumulative total of thirty six years at
Redlands and following retirement has been Director of the Division of Humanities at
California Baptist College (Riverside), in ninth year in 1969, having also taught the
previous year (1968-69) as Acting Head of the Department of English at Judson College,
Author or co-author of approximately a score of full
length books and pamphlets, those of widest sale being Our Roving Bible, and Studying
Civilisation. Those of greatest local interest are Redlands: Biography of a College,
Only One Redlands, and Prospect Park.
Some Zip-zone Serendipities--- chancing upon interesting things
one wasn't looking for (from Walpoles The Three Princes of Serendip shows
sketchily how the religious background of one city in each of the ten postal zip cones
affected¾ or failed to affect¾ the future of that and other American cities.
Zip Zone Zero: Boston, founded by intolerant
Puritanism is now primarily Unitarian-universalist, Roman Catholic and Christian
Zip Zone 1: Quaker Philadelphia with its
right-angled streets numbered in one direction and tree-named in the other, set the
pattern for almost half the towns in America, including parts of Redlands.
Zip Zone 2: Baltimore, late sprung in a state
which pioneered freedom, though hedged about by enemies Or its youthful Catholic founder.
Zip Zone 3: as Baptist-dominant Atlanta saw the
beginning and end of Martin Luther King's race-conscious Career.
Zip Zone 4: Cincinnatis German and Irish
immigrants gave it religious tolerance as antidote to its rampant Presbyterianism.
Zip Zone 5: St. Paul, a Catholic capital in a
dominantly Protestant state, and some reasons therefor.
Zip Zone 6: Chicago, foremost in sin and
Zip Zone 7: New Orleans--- its split personality
and some reasons therefore
Zip Zone 8: Salt Lake City--- God-given
Zip Zone 9: Los Angeles ---so-called city of
Some zip-zone serendipities
Last month, Redlands Plymouth Village at one of its always
colorful guest days, featured, among other attractions, a serendipity booth, utilizing a
useful word invented by Horace Walpole in his tale of Ceylon, The Three Princes of
Serendip, serendipity being the chancing upon interesting things you werent
When the Government Printing Office issued its huge tome, giving
the Zip Code number for every town and every street in every city in those United States
it unwittingly established a vast reservoir of serendipities of American history,
triggering for me, at least, searches which uncovered interesting tidbits for which I had
not been looking.
Take for example the ten basic zip-zones, zero to nine, shown by
the first figure in the five-figure number characteristic of all zip numberings; take one
city from each zone, zero to nine, and study that city from whatever angle may be your
particular interest, and see if your appreciation of the forces shaping American history
is not sharpened. Watch for surprising serendipities.
My own thing is the widely formative force of
historical Christianity, and I have selected Boston as representative of Zone Zero,
remembering that Eldridge S. Brooks in Great Cities of the World said, eighty years
Boston has reason to be proud of her churches and her
theologians. She has been a teacher of preaching as well as of teaching the rest of the
country¾ the theological seminary for the United States
Boston has been the kettle
in which the theological molasses has been seething and boiling for the last two or three
generations at least, and all the other places have been the plates on which it has been
poured at the proper minute and set away to cool
Boston deserves to be called the
"Paradise of Ministers."
Serendipity #1 theological tuggings as taffy pulls.
The prenatal influence of Puritanism upon unborn Boston was
Even while the eleven ships of the second wave of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony, some of whose seven hundred passengers were to be founders of
Boston, were slogging across the Atlantic their lawyerly-layman leader, John Winthrop,
preached a shipboard sermon.
"We shall be as a City upon a Hill,'' he cried foreshadowing
from Matthews Gospel the future eminence of Boston as the so-called Hub of the
Universe, and voicing the sublime self-confidence which placed on the Colony Seal an
Indian with a scroll bearing the Macedonian
Call, "Come Over and Help Us," and upon the City Seal, "Sicut Patribus Sit
Deus Nobis," God be with us as He was with our fathers!
It was this self-appreciative spirit which led a
modern Serendipic matron to say, "Do you know that all lilies that grow north of
Boston point south and all lilies south of Boston point north."
Misliking two-year-old Salem, even though it bore
half the sacred name of Jeru-salem itself, the newcomers drifted southward and founded
Charleston, which lacked good water. Sickness ensued, so William Blackston, retired
Episcopal minister, sole occupant of the neck of land across the river, hospitably rowed
over and invited them to come and share the present site of Boston, where there was a good
Before doing so, they organized themselves into a
church which their host declined to join, so he had to sell out and join Roger Williams in
the wilderness of Rhode Island, as did their own brilliant, dearly beloved, deeply
religious Anne Hutchinson. The anathema pronounced against her is terrible in its
In the Name of our Lord Jes[us] Ch[rist] and in the
name of the Church ... I doe cast yow out ... I doe deliverr you up to Sathan ... I doe
account yow from this time forth to be Hethen and a Publican .. I comman Yow in the name
of Ch[rist] Je[sus] and of this Church as a Leper to withdrawe your selfe.
She was followed to Rhode Island by her family and
eighteen of her fed-up neighbors, including Mary Dyer, who there became a Quaker, for
which she was ultimately hanged on Boston Common, a civic holiday being declared, that al
mgith attend the festivity, a really Serendipic word for a hanging.
Small wonder that an English traveller described
Boston in 1699 as, "The buildings, like their women, being neat and handsome. And
their streets, like the hearts of their male inhabitants, being paved with pebbles."
After three and a half centuries the city so
hopefully predicted as set on a hill has achieved at least three popular fames: baked
beans, banned books, and the Hold God.
The early Puritans are responsible for only the
first. Having an active antagonism to cook9ing on Sundayy, they made Saturday night
fragrant with a well-seasoned beanpot wherein gently simmered their Sunday sustenance.
Boston's much-publicized banning of books is now a
matter of decency rather than of orthodoxy, for even before the American Revolution,
Puritan intolerance had fallen of its own weight, and other denominations were endured.
Indeed, Episcopalians had akread become the socially elite, a fact which must have given
the departed soul of banished host Blackston a certain serendipic satisfaction. Following
the Revolution, c;ame a cataclysmic development. In breaking away from the Church of
England the Rector of King's Chapel in Boston dared revise the Prayer Book, omitting all
reference to the Trinity. for this, two bishops refused to ordain him, whereupon his
congregation, infected with Bostonian Congregationalism, itself ordained him, thereby
repudiating the treasured doctrine of the Apostolic Succession, as well as countenancing
denial of the Deity of Jesus. Continuously since then Boston has been national
headquarters for the Unitarian Universalist movement.
A century later, a descendant of one of the original
Boston Bay colonists returned to Boston, wrote a new Scripture and made her book the
actual co-pastor of a world-wide religion.
I, Mary Baker Eddy, ordain the bible and Science and
Health with Key to the Scriptures, Pastor over the Mother Chgurch --- The First Church of
Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., --- and they will continue to preach for this church
and the world.
Boston, intended to be a city set upon a hill, with
faith pure, undefiled and undivided, that faith Puritanic Congregationalism, eating baked
beans on Sunday serendipically, turned out to be nation headquarters for
Unitarian-Universalis, world headquarters for Christian Science, and the second largest
Catholic archdiocese in America, devoutly dining on fish on Fridays until the recent
Zip-zoning faithfully records at least a portion of
such shiftings. In 1847, when human feet had been treading the crooked streets of Boston
for 217 years, there was still therein no street named for a saint; and the Holy God,
already suspended in the State House, was a commercial, not a sectarian symbol.
Now, however, three- fourths of Boston is at least
nominally Catholic, and the plodding postmen commonplacely carry mail to and from Father
Carney Drive, Father Matignon Road, Father Songin Way, Father Tomo Street, Monsignor
O'Brien Highway, Monsignor reynolds Street, Rev. Nazareno Properzi Way, Rev. Richard A.
Burke Street, and SIXTY roads, streets, terraces, courts, avenues named for saints,
including one for whom --- irony of ironies --- the saint-hating Puritans had all
unwittingly named their town; for Boston in England, for which Boston in America was
affectionately named, was originally St. Botolph's Town, so-named for St. Botolph's
monastery around which it had been built. The monastery had perished and been forgotten,
as had the saint, and by careless pronunciation St. Botolph's Town had become Boston.
In now shifitng to Philadelphia, as representative of Zip-Zone One, let us keep in mind Lawrence Lafore and Sarah Lee Lippincott's
comment in Philadelphia, the Unexpected City:
The Quakers, avoiding all forms of Idolatry, named
their streets and houses for native trees and fruits and so set a fashion for half the
place names in the nation, incluind of course the original street-naming plan of Redlands.
Philadelphia was the first carefully pre-planned city iin America.
William Penn's high hopes for it fairly blaze in the
shipboard letter he wrote en route back to England after getting it started:
And thou, POhiladelphia, the virgin settlement of
this province, named before thou wert born, what love what care, what service and what
travail has there been to bring thee forth and preserve thee from such as would abuse thee
and defile thee. Oh! that thou mayst be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee; that
faithful to the God of thy mercies in the life of righteousness thou mayst be preserved to
the end. My soul prays to God for thee, that thou mayst stand in the day of trial, that
thy children may be blessed of the Lord, and thy people saved by his power. My love to
them has been great, the remembrance of thee affects my heart and mine eye! The God of
eternal strength keep and preserve thee to his glory and they peace.
Boston had been m;named rather casually for a town
in the English area from which many of the Puritans had come; A classical scholar, Penn
knew of that city in Asia named for a king who loved his brother. A biblical scholar, he
knew that it was praised in Revelation. And he knw how Pual had used the word in Romans: "Be kindly affectionate on to another with brotherly love."
So Philadelphia his town must be.
With what seems almost another echo of Revelation
[as George R. Stewart puts it]., Philadelphia was laid off four-square, like the heavenly
Jerusalem. With Quaker honesty, the streets crossed at right angles, and since they were
fiexed and regular from the beginning, they called for names. ... so matters stood
officially unitl Penn himself came there in 1682.
Already many houses had been built, and since most
of the streets had no official names, people had naturally begun calling each after the
most important person who lived there and had built the largest house. But this would
never do in a Quaker town, where there was to be no repecting of persons. Thereupon Penn
established a system of nameing which was to sweep across the continent.
Beginning at the eastern boundary he simply called
the first street, First Street ... in harmony with the customs of the Quakers who even
called Sunday, First Day.
To distinguish the other streets, Penn chose a
system of naming which also avoided reference to persons and accorded with the Quaker love
of botany. He took ... "the things that spontaneiously grow in the country."
... Thus in 1682 was established the basis of the
most far-reaching and typical habit of American naming. Philadelphia became not only a
city, but the mother of many ciites. The Americans ... loved th orderly system of streets
intersecting at right angles, and they carried it everywhere ... Along with the plan went
the naming so that most American towns show numbered streets in one direction, and named
streets in the other. Vry often also the names are tree names ...
Bu tPenn's plans encompassed far more than street
patterns and names. For twenty years, in jail and out, this high born son of an admiral
had dreamed stubbornly of a city and state where every man should be free to believe as he
would. Perhaps he could achieve it in America.
I purpose that which is extraordinary, and to leave
myselkf and successors no power of doing mischief, that th will of one man may not hinder
the good of an whole country.
His dream of democracy was so drastic that he dared
not tell even his settlers about it at first. How it would turn out he could not foresee,
but it was worth taking a chance upon.
For my country, I eyed the Lord in the obtaining of
it, and more was I drawn inward to look to Him and to owe it to His hand and power than to
any other way. I have so obtained it, and desire that I may ... do that which may answere
His kind providence, and servbe His truth and people; that an example may be set up to the
nations; there may be room there, though not here, for such an holy experiment.
Penn's ecstatic vision of the unspotted future of
his newly founded city was never achieved .. could not possibly have been achieved except
upon a perfect earth ... and while he today would be heartbroken at the greeat gulf fixed
between the splendor of his dreamings and the drabness of the current reality, yet his
dreaming did much, and still does much, to mold life.
When the national constitution was being considered,
it was a Philadelphia Jew who pointed out the disenfranchisement of his people by the
requirement that both Old and new Testaments be considered divinely inspired. Accordingly
Article Six exacted an oath to support the Constitution, "but no religious Test shall
ever be required as a Qualification to any Office of public Trust under the United
For a time "Philadelphia was the only place in
the British Empire where Mass could be publicly celebrated. It was a scandal to the
righteous, and only the constant protection of the Quakers, who had suffered too from the
righteous, kept the persecution at bay. On one occasion it is said eighty Quakers actually
patrolled St. Joseph's themselves to prevent a mob from sacking it."
Perhaps it is a fitting symbol tha that the Liberty
Bell itself, pride of America, though cracked and marred, still shows forth its mighty
message, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants
thereof," (Leviticus XXV:10), a mesage which was ordered during a Philadelphia
physician's Speakership of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
Penn was an aredent religionist, but freedom of
religion must include also the right not to be religious, or to be religious in unorthodox
ways, so for more than a century Philadelphia has managed to protect Girard College,
fettered with its famous founder's odd ultimatum:
I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic,
missionary, or minister of any sect whatsoever shall ever hold or exercise any station or
duty whatever in the said college, Nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any
purpose, or as a visitor within the premises .. In making this restriciton I do not mean
to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever; but as tere is such a diversity
of opinion amonst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans [poor, whit,
male, aged 8 to 16] ... free from the exitements which clashing doctrines are so apt to
They are to be taught morality so tthat when mature
they may adopt whatever religious beliefs they choose.
Daniel Webster was paid $50,000 to upset this queer
will, but two Philadelphia lawyers successfully defended a man's right to make the sort of
will he wished.
And now when under new laws the courts threaten to
break the will since a publicly administered college is not open to black orphans or to
female orphans, Philadelphia calmly divests itself of property worth millions of dollars,
placing it in a private corporation, not because it thinks Stephen Girard was right, but
because it defends his right to differ.
"It is probalby the only American city in which
has been commemorated --- in a college, an important avenue, a bridge, a leading bank, and
a hotel --- the name of a militant ateheist." Philadelphia is crammed with
For Zip-Zone Two I have selected Baltimore,
As one turns from Quaker Pennsylvania to Catholic
Maryland, he experiences a stifling sense of semi-suffocation; and this is strange, for
you (he was buty twenty-seven) Lord Baltimore, though himself solidly Catholic, and though
given more autocratic control over his colony than was granted the organizers of any
other, peremptorily established freedom of religion in Maryland at the vry time Puritan
Bston was exiling or hanging dissenters, a full half century before Penn had been granted
No one could possibly misunderstand the orders he
issued in November, 1633, to his brother and other agents before they boarded the two
Biblically named ships, the Ark and the Dove, with the first tow hundred
Imprimis: His Lordship requires his said Govrnor and
Commissioners that in their voyage to Mary Land they be very carefull to preserve unity
and peace amonst all the pasengers on Shipp-board, and that they suffer no scandall nor
offence to be given any of the Protestants, whereby any just complaint may heereafter be
made, by them, in Virginea or in England, and that for that end, they cause all Acts of
Romane Catholique Religion to be done as privately as may be, and that they instruct all
the Romane Catholiques to be silent upon all occasions of discourse concerning matters of
Religion; and that the said Governor and Commissioners treate the Protestants with as much
mildness and favor as Justice will Permitt. And this to be observed at Land as well as at
Why then the brooding sense of un-ease?
Because these instructions, with their edgy
sharpness, are the words of a man afraid, knowing himself surrounded by bitter enemeies,
and leaning over backward to give no cause for complaint, as ;his further instructions
make shiveringly clear.
While at sea his Governor-brother and his
Commissioners were zealously to worm out of passengers and sailors the names of all Lord
Baltimore's enemies in England who had sought to sabotage the project, securing detailed
signed depositions wherever possible. Those unwilling to give evidence were to be put
under oath after landing, and grilled.
The Governor and Commissioners were utterly
forbidden, unless the ship were in imminent danger of sinking, to let the captain land at
Jamestown, nor were they to permit him to anchor within range of the guns of any
Protestant fort. Before landing they were to check to learn whether the Virginians had
stirred up the Indians to resist their settling.
The pioneer Maryland Jesuit priests in reports to
their superiors in Rome and elsewhere used assumed names, sending by other letters the key
to their real identities.
It was in this cloak and dagger spy thriller
atmosphere that religious freedom was introduced into Maryland, and there is evidence that
some of it was justified. When English Roundheads beheaded Charles, Lord Baltimore took
swift defensive action, appointing as his Lieutenant, Governor William Stone, a Protestant
and a friend of the new parliament, and reorganizing the Council so that one-half were
Governor Stone, needing to be briefly in Virginia,
appointed as his deputy the preceding Governor, Catholic and Royalist, who immediately
proclaimed the exiled son of the decapitated king as King Charles II. Stone rushed back
and angrily fired his insubordinate substitute, but the damage was done.
Prince Charles, convinced that Lord Baltimore was
harboring in Maryland a hotbed of Puritans, revoked his authority but not his ownership.
Puritan parliament, convinced that Maryland was
royalist, put local Puritans in control, who placed Anglicans, Catholics, Jews and all
other dissenters under rigid disabilities.
Decades later, when Catholicism in England became an
acute political problem, the then Lord Baltimore's restoration was accomplished only on
condition that his own and the colony's official religion be Episcopalian, although, as he
testified, Catholics and Episcopalians together would not constitute a fourth of the
population. In 1723 Catholics were disfranchised in their own state and remained repressed
until the American Revolution.
From all these maneuverings one strange serendipity
tidbit remains --- in Mayland no clergyman is eligible to sit in the legislature.
Baltimore was not a pre-planned city. Indeed, its
actual site was not settled by Anglo-Saxons until 1682, forty-eight years after arrival of
the Ark and the Dove, and it was not incorporated as Baltimore for
foty-seven years more. On Baltimore's first birthday Boston was a century old, and
Philadelphia nearly half a century. Even yet, though it contains about thirty per cent of
the state's population, and most of its administrative offices, it is not the state
capital. Here, however, Washington was made Commander-in-Chief of the continental Army;
here, during the bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, was written "The Star-Spangled Banner," from the last stanza of whic, serendipists will
note, has come the motto for our coinage, "In God we trust."
It has been said that Baltimore's greatness rests
upon two things, tolerance and tobacco. Its footsore letter carriers may occasionally be
inclined wryly to add a third --- a bountiful supply of saint-named streets: Sts. Agnes,
Albans, Ambrose, Andrews, Ann's, Augustine, Barnabas, Benedict, Boniface, Bridget, and so
on through the alphabet, complicated by similarly saintly Ways, Roads, Avenues, Courts,
DRives and Garths --- enough to make a saint-bedevilled postman possibly wonder whether,
after all, he desires ultimately to emigrate to Heaven's metropolis if its streets,
avenues and alleyways are so monotonously named. Besides the saints there are church names
derived from church names galore on Baltimorean streets --- Cathedral, Christian, Church,
Evans Chaperl road, Kirk Hill Court ---each with varied and vivid tales to tell are such
Baltimorean thoroughfares as Ascenscion, Berea, Bethel, Bethlehem, Bishop, Blackfriars,
Canterbury, Cardinal, Carrmel, Cross Keys Road, Ebenezer, Eden, Epworth, Fenchurch Road,
Glastonbury Road, Hly Cross road, Joppa Road, Loyola Drive, Maryknoll road --- all the way
down the alphabet to Wycliffe Avenue.
Last on the Zip-code list is the way we all
(including saint-sickened postment) doubtless hope to travel at the last --- Zion road.
Quite different from Baltimore is our representative
of Zip-Zone Three --- Atlanta, Georgia.
When you say the word "Atlanta" to the
average Amrican, the image conjured up ... may be that of a wide, dreamy street named
"Peachtree" ... On one square is a giant factory turning out millions of bottles
of Coca-Cola. On the opposite square "the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech" is
practising football ... The big house in the background could be none other than Scarlett
O'Hara's Tara. The children on the lawn are listening to Br'er Rabbit tale from the lips
of Uncle Remus.
And there should be a large and well attended
Baptist church prominently in the foreground; for this is the so-called Bible Belt.
Geographically Atlanta is a natural distributive
center for the South, so during the War between the States, General Sherman ruthlessly
burned it, lending grim poignancy to the bold and laugh-laden sally of Atlanta's adopted
son, Henry W. Grady, speaking two short decades later, on "The New South," to
the New England Society, The first Southerner ever asked to address it, he neither evaded
nor berated. "I want to say to General Sherman --- who is considered an able man in
our parts, though some people think he is a kind of careless man about fire --- that from
the ashes he left us in 1864 we have raised a brave and beautiful city."
Our own Redlands resident, Edwin Gaustad, in his
monumental Historical Atlas of Religion in America, has succinctlyu sketched the
religious background of Atlanta:
In the southeastern portion of the United States the
Baptists far outnumber all othr religious groups. And while it is true that four out of
every five negro church members are Baptists, this dominance in the southeast obtains even
from the preponderance of negro Baptist ... Baptist lead ... in every county in Georgia
(and there are 159 of them) except fifteen.
Atlanta follows the state pattern.
A study made in 1933 ... revealed tha while negroes
made up one third of the population of Atlanta, they had mre than one-half the city's
churches. Of the mre than 1,000 negro churches then in Atlanta, 661 were Baptist, 209 were
Methodist, 95 were Holiness; there were 17 Caholic, 16 Episcopal, 12 Presbyterian, 11
Congregational, 6 Disciples, 6 Seventh Day Adventist and 5 Lutheran.
When that study was made in 1933, playing on one of
the better known negro streets of Atlanta was four year old Baptist preacher's kid,
beginning to notice things.
From before I was born my father had refused to ride
the city buses, after witnessing a brutal attack on a load of negro passengers. He had led
the fight in Atlanta to equalize teachers' salaries, and had been instrumental in the
elimination of Jim Crow elevators in the courthouse. As pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist
Church, where he still prresides over a congregaton of four thousand, he had wielded great
influence on the negro community and had perhaps the grudging respect of the whites. At
any rate, they had never attacked him physically, a fact that filled my brother and sister
and me with wonder as we grew up in this tension-filled atmosphere.
The boy bgan to dream a dream, formless at first,
but gradually clarifying. It sent him into the ministry, as it had sent his father and one
of his grandfathers before him. It sent him through Atlanta's negro college for men ---
Morehouse. It sent him 'up north' to predominantly white Crozer Theological Seminary,
where he met mind-stretching books --- Walter Rauschenbusch's Christianity and the
Social Crisis, Reinhold Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society, and the
ideas of non-violent force which had been so fruitfully exerted by India's Mahatma Gandhi.
Being Crozer's Valedictorian and scholarship winner
gave him choice of any theological seminary in the United States for his doctoral degree,
and he selected Boston University, going to that city set upon a hill, where theological
molasses were said to boil so furiously. And in Boston --- shades of John Winthrop ---
this budding Baptist preacher with a Lutheran Bapismal name, lived at first on
Catholic-named St. Botolph Street!
At cl;ose of his graduate work three colleges
offered him jobs, one as a teacher, one as a dean, one as a non-teaching administrator.
Three churches --- one in Massachusetts, one in New York, and one in Alabama -- offered
He and his bride fatefully chose Alabama, because
their need seemed greatest, a decision which quite unexpectedly led him first to local,
then national, and soon to international prominence, to a Nobel Prize for Peace, and to a
Back to Ebenezer Church in Atlanta came the stricken
body in an airplane chartered by Robert Kennedy, himself to be the next victim. To
Ebenezer's 800 seats came 50,000 mourners including 23 Senators, 47 Congressmen and 3
Governors. 120,000,000 people listened in, or watched on television and Telstar, the
outdoor service at orehouse College, his first alma mater, whither the polished African
mahognay coffin had been brought on a ramshackle farm wagon drawn by two aged Georgia
Next day Atlanta' postmen continued their rounds,
delivering mail to Adams Alley, Antioch, Berean Avenue, Bethel, Cain's Hill, Canaan Court,
Christmas Lane and all the rest.
But something had changed in Atlanta, and in the
world. Those were tragically wrong who expected a suddenm miracle; but a seed had been
sown; in Atlanta, over much of America, and in many parts of the world there was a Word on
the Wind, a word from a rich baritone voice now stilled in death, yet hauntingly heard:
"I have a dream ... I have a dream that one day
on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners
iwll be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood ... I have a dream that one
day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough
places will be made plane, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of
the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Zone Four.-- Cincinnati
Legend reports that Arthur St. Clair, Territorial
Governor of Ohio, and officer of the Revolution, visiting Losantville, disliked the
incipient town's name.
"Losantville! What an awful name! God damn it,
call it Cincinnati!"
Thus a man with a saintly name and an unsaintly
tongue reputedly named for the first patriotic society in America our type city for
One biographer for the city has noted that
had you wandered through the Mohawk in 1843 ... you
would have seen the community in its prime. Also, you would have seen hordes of men, women
and children --- all wearing frightened looks and white muslin --- heading for Brighton
Hill ... These people were the Millerites, their destination a hatily constructed wooden
platform on the hillside, and --- at sunset --- eternity. It was Doomsday, the Second
Coming predicted by William Miller, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The idea captured the
imagination of many Cincinnatians.
But Doomsday faild to arrive on schedule, and the
crestfallen Cincinnatians, already white-robed for heaven, had to drag their bedraggled
muslin back toward the waterfront, which has aptly been described as the Devils
Disneyland, though its hectic gayety had no hint of the primal innocence of Walt Disney's
Gaudy Land of Make Believe. The crim-and-disease-ridden dives of early Cincinnati were not
glamrous, and were not make-believe.
And yet there was an infectious gayety and good
nature about Cincinnati which other cities lacked; t has been described as conservatively
gay. Conservatively gay! Has that ever been said of Boston, of Philadelphia, of Baltimore,
A glance at Cincinnati's population n 1850 is
illuminating: foreign-born, 51,171; native born, 55,468; origin unknown (mostly native),
8,799. Sicty percent of the native born were from Ohio itself, 5,000 from Pennsylvania,
3,300 from New York, 2,300 from Virginia, 2,200 from Kentucky ... one from Florida.
Of the foreign-born, 30,628 were from Germany,
13,616 from Ireland, 3,690 from England,820 from France, 771 from Scotland, 444 from
Wales, 338 from Canada, ... 20 from Sweden, 18 from Denmark, ... 5 from Greece, one from
Occupational lists in 1850 are equally illuminating:
7,964 laborers, 1,1569 boot and shoe makers; 950 boatmen but only 4 boatbuilders; 809
brick-lyers and plasterers; 713 blacksmiths, 18 goldsmiths, and 3 whitesmiths; 162
students, 146 teachers, 11 professors, 8 in language, 2 in chemistry, one in math; 97
clergymen, 95 coachmakers, 3 coffin makers; 2 fortune tellers; 11 gentlemen; one hod
carrier; one loafer; 9 nurses; one organist; 12 organ builders; 42 thieves!
What a treasure trove for serendips this
refreshingly frank list is.
809 bricklayers and plasteres; one hod carrier!
One orgnaist, 12 organ builders!
162 students; 146 teachers plus 11 professors!
One loafer, 11 gentlemen and 46 thieves!
At least the inhabitants of Cincinnati, including
its thieves, were predominatly industrious.
A free-state town alive with active abolitionists,
just across the river from a slave state upon whoe trade its commercial life depended,
necessarily had its problems.
Lyman Beecher, for example, famous preacher and
President of Presbyterian Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati found himself caught
between the refusal of his backers in the east to finance the abolitionist radicalism of
his students, and the angry departure of his entire senior class to Oberline when he asked
them to temper their zeal.
His famous son, Henry Ward Beecher, acting editor of
the Cincinnati Journal, wrote scathing articles against the mobs which dumped
James Birney's abolitionist press into the Ohio River, then stuck a pistol in his clerical
belt and became a special deputy to protect local negroes. Harriet Beecher married
Professor Stowe, went east and wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Out of differences came a striking tolerance.
The German and Irish ... refugees from political and
economic persecution in Europe brought a fresh, liberal point of view that tempered the
Pesbyterian stringency on the one hand and the boom-town irregularity on the other. They
set up strong religious institutions and endowed them with a tolerance that is distinctly
noticeable in Cincinnati today ... Protestants, Catholics, and Jews normally participate
in one another's festivals, lawn fetes, church upppers, and even ritual.
Cincinnati has expanded to take in many former
suburbs; its postmen leave parcels and letters at Angel-nook, Beecher, Charing Cross,
Crusader Drive, Devil's Back Bone Road, Epworth Avenue, Madonna Drive, Mystical Rose, Penn
avenue, Quaker AHill Drive, and a host of other assorted reliosities.
How would yuou like to live on Devil's Back Bone
For Zip-Zone Five comes now German-Irish-Catholic St. Paul,
Minnesota, paired with Scandinavian Lutheran Minneapolis to form the famous Twin Cities.
For the sake of Serendipists I mention that St. Paul
narrowly escaped being named Pig's Eye. The first settler, scoundrally, whiskey-selling
French Canadian Pierre Parrant was nicknamed Pig's Eye, and the settlement about him
acquired and kep the name until in 1841 Father Lucian Galtier, Jesuit priest, built and
consecreated a little log chapel to St. Paul, which the tiny community took over as its
name, while Pig's Eye Parrant moved downstream to an island which still bears his
St. Paul also escaped being called St. Peter,
because Father Galtier dwelt at a neighboring hamlet name St. Peter, and the St. Peter
River ran nearby. Two St. Peters in the vicinity were enough. Later, the town of St. Peter
bacame Mendota, and Congress renamed St. Peter's river the Minnesota.
St. Paul, Catholic capital of a Protestant state,
was incorporated in 1849, the newspaper started there six months earlier having finally
been prosaically called the Minnesota Pioneer, instead of its originally
suggested Serendipic title, The Epistle of St. Paul.
How does it happen that a predominately Lutheran
state has a Catholic capital? Theanswer lies in part with the railroads. St. Paul
railroader James J. Hill was not Cahtolic but his wife was, and Hill contributed liberally
to Catholicism on the business basis that the Catholic church was the only organization
which could bring cohesiveness to the multitudes of unskilled European workers being
brought in to work on the railroads.
"Between 1876 and 1871 Bishop John Ireland of
St. Paul was the most conspicuously successful organizer and colonizer as he negotiated
with the railroad companies, served as land agent, provided religious succour to reckless
immigrants and in general made Minnesota 'the cneter of Catholic culture for the entire
With its church-rooted population Minnesota has
remained largely a church-going state. In 1950 more than three-fifths of the people
maintained active affiliation with some religious group; 60% of these being Protestant,
37% Catholic, and only 3% Jewish. Almost half of all Protestants were Lutherans.
This religious diversity can be sensed even in the
street anmes of St. Paul, where one finds Asbury, Cathedral, Luther, Mary Knoll, a dozen
saints --- largely English and French --- Seminary Avenue, Steeple View Road, Temple
Court, Westminster, Wyclif.
The rmapant Americanism of these children and
grandchildren of immigrants may well be epitomized in one not vry usual street name ---
Yankee Doodle Road!
For Zip-Zone Six ---
Who founded Chicago, and when?
Ask these basic questions concerning almost an
American city and the answer comes quickly and clearly. But Chicago ...
One nineteenth century novelist placed the onus
directly upon diety:
When Providnece shoved a line of great lakes into
the heart f the grandest farm He ever laid out, and then put a harbor at the farthest
point in the line, He didn't leave much for men to do.
An Englishjournalist, on the othr hand, visiting the
raucous, roistering beginning village of 1833, strongly suspected the Devil as ancestor.
Others suggest as ancestor Father Marquette, who
wintered alongside the Chicago River in 1674-75, then moved on. Or John the Baptist, ot
the sturdy New Testament diner on locusts and wild honey, but poor, colored Jean Bapitiste
Point Au Sable, fugitive from San Domingo, who reared alongside the river his crude cabin
in 1790 and dined delicately on deer and fish, and at times perhaps less regally on wild
onions and skunks.
Of one thing we can be reasonably certain --- that
somehow Chicago did get started, although Don Marquis in 1932 doubted even that, saying:
"Nobody can think of Chicago as actually
existing; a person would go mad if he did; it is a grotesque nightmare and easily
recognizable as such."
One aspecto fo the seeming unreality of Chicago
perhaps lies in the unexpected origins of her gleams of greatness. Who would have dramed
that an illiterate shoe salesman would become a world famous evangelist and start Moody
Bible Insititute, Sir Wilfrid Grenfell's mission to the Labrador Fisherman, and,
indirectly, the quick-forzen food industry!
Or that by one impromptu address in Chicago in 1888
Mary Baker Eddy would catapult herself and her religion into national and ultimately world
And there was the unexpected metamorphosis of a
fast-footed fielder for the Colts into Evangelist Billy Sunday. Out of the rattle of the
McCormick reaper grew release of manpower which spelled victory for the north in the civil
war, and release of dollars which founded another great thrological seminary. Out of the
stench of the stockyards grew immigration which made Chicago the largest Catholic
archdiocese in the nation.
The midway at the Columbian Exposition brought to
Chicag the scandalous sex-dancing of Little Egypt; it brought also a scale model of St.
Peter's at Rome; and an Auxiliary Exposition which featured a World Parliament of
Religons, forerunner of the ecumenical conferences so hopefully being developed in our
To the Exposition came also crusading London Editor
William T. Stead, with his book If Christ Came to Chicago, spotlighting the
unspeakable sins and degradations of chicag. "Mothers begged their children not to
read it," but they formed a Civic Federtion for reform.
While the buildings for the Exposition were rising,
a more enduring institution was being quietly built. Why did John D. Rockefeller select
Chicago for his university when all his friends and trusted denominational leaders urged
New York or Washington? Because careful studies showed that here it would have greater
chance of innovative success and wide leadership.
But it was not John who was Chicago's greatest
benefactor, but Jane. Nobody ever called John D. "St. John," but Jane Addams has
been called "St. jane." The acclaim of the women of the world was here, and the
Novel Peace Prize, too.
The challenging names of streets in Chicago must
have sounded to here like bugle calls --- Cabrini, Dante, Goethe, Know, La Salle, Las
Casas, Loyola, Luther, Marquette, Moody, Wesley. With her particular sad optimism I think
she would have liked particularly Sunrise Lane!
A close friend once chided her: "Jane, if the
devil himself came riding down Halstead Street with his tail wagging behind him, you'd
say, "What a beautiful curve he has in his tail." To which Jane replied
serenely, "Well, if he had a beautiful curve in his tail I hopeI should be able to
For Zip-Zone Seven, New
It has been called the least American of all
American cities; a glance at the flags which have fluttered from its flagpoles mayu help
explain why. There was first the beloved white silk flag of France, with its three golden
fleurs-de-lis, frequent symbol of the Trinity, followed by the less-loved red and gold
banner of Spain, with its castles of Castile, and rampant lions of Leon; then a new French
flag of the Republic, the Tricolor, combining the flags of three glorious saints of
France, Joan of the burned body, Denis of the severed head, and Marting of the shared
Three weeks it flew; then up went the Stars and
Stripes, for Napoleon had cynically sold all Louisiana, then extending to the Rockies and
to Canada, for four cents an acre.
With statehood came the state flag, a pelican in its
piety, feeding its young wiht blood from its own breast, a favorite symbol of Christ and
His shed blood. When the Civil War appeared, there appeared also fleetingly the banner of
the Independent State of Louisiana, four blue, six white, three red stripes, a square
field with a singl yellow star, symbolically blending the diverse cultures from France,
Spaing and America. Then came, also briefly, the blue St. Andrew's cross of the
Confederacy, ad once agin the Stars and Stripes.
Out of this kaledoscopic background, small wonder
that New Orleans has a split personality, being simulteously supremely saintly and
scandalouly sinful, and adjusting comfortably to both aspects.
Of one thing New Orleans has never been accused ---
of being Puritanic in the matter of food and drink. Its favorite food is not baked
As soon as a creole enters into heaven, it is said,
he waves a hand to Saint Peter: "Comment ca va, M'sieur?" Then he turns to the
nearest angel: "Where's the pot of jambalaya? If he finds there is none of
that strongly accented comination of shrimp, oysters, tomatoes, rice ad other items, he
rubshis chin, sidles over, and inquires about the fod customs of the other place.
And the Al;tars of St. Joseph --- what
conglomerations of faith, flowrs and food!
To ... Catholic Italians throughout the city, March
19, St. Joseph's Day, is one of the outstanding holidays of the year ... Elaborate altars
are erected and statures of saints or holy picutres are placed here amidst a profusion of
flowers, shrubs, and lighted candles. The larger shrines are built in tiers but large or
small, they are always decked with all manner of foodstuffs. In the background of each are
small disks of bread and toasted beans which are distributed to visitors, it being said
that preservation of these will ward off poverty. Table covered with food stand about the
room. visitors stroll from house to house making wishes and leaving silver coins to hasten
And this in the middle of Len! An appetizing enten
serendipity indeed! Preceding Lent is Madi Gras, Fat Tuesday, on which all pantries must
be denuded of fats in preparation for the ashes-symboled grief of Ash Wednesdy and the
sparse-dieted days of Lent, the days of Carni Vale, Farewell to Flesh.
Mardi Gras ... comes from france, a celebration that
goes back to the pagan rites of spring, which the Christian church took over ... Sop Mardi
Gras? Most Orleanians would think it worse than abolishing Santa Claus.
In New Orleans one may suit his theology (or lack of
it) to his street address if he so desires --- living on Babylon Street, Calvin Avenue,
Friar Tuck Drive, Lourdes Street, Marquette Place, Pere Antoine Alley, Roger Williams
Street, or Rosary Drive. But he may no longer indulge in a free lunch at his favorite bar.
The idea, invented by the manager of New Orleans St. Louis Hotel Bar in 1837, spread all
over the nation for nearly a century, but was destroyed by prohibition.
A decided change comes when we flit to Zip-Zone Eight, Salt Lake City, Utah.
According to the U. S. News and World Report of Septeber 26, 1966,
In Salt Lake City, a Mormon is likely to get his
news from the Church-owned daily. He can watch network television on a Church-owned
station. Downtown, he may work in a new office building put up by the Church, park his car
in a Church-owned garage. His home may have been financed through a bank owned in part by
the Church, and his insurance may be carried by a Church-owned corporation.
Probably he was graduated from Brigham Young
University at Provo, "the largest church-operated school in the nation," orsome
other Mormon school; for Utah leads the nation in the proportion of young people who
graduate from high school, the enter college or prepare for a scientfic career.
Probably, too, in his youth he was one of the six
thousand young men and women who go each year to posts around the world and spend two
years as missionaries at the expense of themselves or their families.
Presumably he is an energetic worker, for the state
rates high in industrial productivity and low on absenteeism. If misfortune strikes him he
can get food, clothing, medicine and cash through his church's welfare program, for which
he must owrk to the limit of his physical ability; if he proves lazy h may be sent to a
psychiatirst at church expense to clear up that ailment.
In his prevouysl cited book, page 159, Gaustad says:
For geographical "control" the Mormons are
without peer. In every single county of the state of Utah, the Church of the Latter Day
Saints accounts for at least 60% of the total religious membership of the county. In only
three counties is the percentage less than 90! And in six counties the percentae is 100!
There is nothing comparable to this elswhere in the nation. In adjoingin Idaho 21 of the
state's 44 counties are predominantly Mormon. The same is true of four counties in Nevada
and Wyoming, of two counties in Oregon. But that is virtually the full sweep. Except for
Decatur County, Iowa, the Curch of the Latter Day Saints does not lead in any other county
in the country.
Philadelphia was a pre-planned city; Salt Lake City
was both foretold and pre-planned. When hurriedly and harriedly the Mormons left Nauvoo in
twelve below zero weather they headed westward they knew not whither -- whether to Utah
(then a part of Mexixo), to Califonia, to Oregon, or to Vancouver Island, they must decide
Wherever they settled was to be founded Zion, The
New Jerusalem --- had not Hoseph Smith early prophesied, "And from this place ye
shall go forth into the regions westward ... until the time when it shall be revealed to
you from on high, where the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared that ye may be
gathered in one."
And two years before that founding prophet's murder
had he not confidently written, "We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and
... that Zion will be built upon this continent." And had he not given the divine
pattern in the eastern cities he had so disastrously started?
Nine days after Brigham Young reached the Great Salt
Lake Valley he started surveying Salt Lake City ad selected its Temple site. Penn had
visioned a democracy for Pennsylvania; such was not the ideal for Utah.
Had not God the Father, God the Son, angel Moroni,
apostles Peter, james, john and foreunner John the Baptist unitedly and divinely selected
Joseph Smith and conferred upon him the priesthood of Aaron and of Melchizedek?
Had not Brigham Young, as oldest member of
Mormondom's ruling twelve apostles succeeded Joseph Smith as Apostle and Prophet also?
Overlordship bestowed by the Most High God and his chiefest angels and apostles could not
be delegated. Brigham and his fellow apostles were building not alone a city but an
empire, with themselves as the divinely directing cernter.
And thus it remains.
In the first decade not only Salt Lake City but 95
other Mormon towns were established; in the second decade, 135; in the third, 127 --- all
under guidance of Brigham and the Twelve. Salt Lake City was the divinely appointed head
of all, and was laid out imperially, as well as imperiously:
The President [Brigham] then said, we shall have a
committee to lay out the city, and also to apportion the inheritances, and who shall it
be? It was unanimously resolved that the Twelve should be the committee. Says the
Presidnet, "We propose to have the Temple lot contain forty acres to include the
ground we are now on ... all right? ... that the streets will be 88 feet wide, sidewalks
20 feet, the lots to contain 1 1/4 acre, 8 lkots in a block, the houses invariably set in
the center of the lot, 20 feet back from the street, with no shops or other buildings in
the corners o the street, for they will have yards and places appropriate for recreation,
ad we will have a city clean and in order ...
A man may live with us and worship what God he
pleases or none at all, but he must not blaspheme the God of Israel nor damn old Jo Smith
or his religion, for we will salt him down in the lake. We do not intend to have any trade
or commerce with the gentile world ... The Kingdom of God cannot rise independent of the
gentile nations until we produce, manufacture and make every article of use, convenience
or necessity among our own people ... I am determined to cut every thread of this kind and
live free and independent, untrammeled by any of their detestable customs and practices.
But not even the Lion of the Lord, as Brigham was
called, could keep his people isolated. Railroads, automobiles, airplanes, steel mills,
sugar beets, world wars, depressions would see to that.
But much remains Still stands the mighty temple,
with trumpeting angel Moroni atop. Still sings the Tabernacle Choir and is heard the world
over. The Twelve still meet, carefully spending (but under no compulson for a public
accounting) the multi-millions of dollars annually accruing from the Church's varied and
far-flung investments and from her still carefully garnered tithes.
Las come Zip-Zone Nine
--- and The City of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Little Portion, more
familiarly known as L. A. Spaniards and Yankees differed
markedly in the place names they foisted upon California scenery, as serendipists my
joyously observe. Spanish-founded were San Francisco, Sacramento, La Purisima Concepcion;
Yankee-christened were Jackass Gulch, Whiskey Diggins, Chicken Tief Flat, Ground Hog's
Glory, Hell's Delight, Devil's Wood, Git Up and Git, Rat Trap Slide and Viscera Springs.
Reminiscent of L. A.'s Spanish days is Olvera
Street, called El Paseo de Los Angeles (the Walk of the Angels) by the Spaniards. Here
each year in December is held Las Posadas, telling of Mary's search for a birthplace for
Jesus. Here too on the Saturday before Easter comes the Blessing of the Animals.
The rest of America has not always fully appreciated
the transcendent virtues of the City of Our Lady Queen of the Angels. In the days of Upton
Sinclair's EPIC plan and Townsend's money every Thursday mirage, Westbrook Pegler
It is hereby earnestly proposed that the U. S. A.
would be much better off if that big, sprawling, incoherent, shapeless, slobbering civic
idiot in the family of American communities, the City of Los Angeles, could be declared
incompetent and placed in charge of a guardian like any individual mental defective.
He forgot in his spleen that in 1938 Los Angeles'
population consisted principally of immigrants from the rest of the United States, so much
so that Lost Angeles was frequently described as "Iowas, with palm trees."
Mr. Pegler might conceivably have profited by
visiting the movie studios as they filmed some of the great religious epics, or the
Hollywood Bowl on Easter morning, or accompanied the Los Angeles postment as they deliverd
mail to a multitude of religion fostered private hospitals: California Lutheran, Cedars of
Lebanon, Good Samaritan, Hollywood Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, Queen of Angels, Saint
Anne's, Saint Vincent's Santa Marta, San Vicente, Shriners, White Meorial.
Perhaps then he would have sought a home on the Los
Angeles street along-side of which we all need to dwell --- Gramercy (God Grant Mercy)