Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, California, Arizona – from all over they came. By car, bus, or train they arrived at Oaklawn, Illinois, scene of the 19th Annual P.R.Y.P. Convention. There they found a friendly welcoming committee to greet them, register them, give them their badges and tickets, and assign them to their place of lodging.
Thirty-three conventioneers had ridden down from Grand Rapids in air-conditioned comfort. They had met at First Church on Tuesday morning, paid their fare to the officials in charge, stowed away their luggage, and climbed aboard. Promptly at 9 o’clock our jovial North Star bus driver, Mate Heislop, had swung the door shut and headed from the Furniture City to the outskirts of the Windy City.
The convention got under way officially Tuesday evening, with Federation President Dave Engelsma welcoming the visitors and delegates at the inspirational mass meeting, held in Oaklawn Christian Reformed Church. Following a program and a stirring message by our traditional opening-night speaker, Rev. H. Hoeksema, refreshments were served in the church basement by the host society, who got an assist from our bus driver.
Wednesday morning those who could, rubbed their sleepy eyes, straggled out of bed, and went to Oaklawn Church for an early (8 a.m.) business meeting. Shortly after nine o’clock the chartered busses arrived to take us to the outing. On a first-come-first-serve basis, there was a mad scramble for the comfortable, cool, and smooth-riding North Star bus. Most of us, however, found ourselves cramped between school-bus seats, bouncing along to we knew not where. As it turned out, the drivers knew not where either, and proceeded to get somewhat lost. But we finally arrived at Pottawatomie Park, in St. Charles, Illinois.
We found plenty to do. Volleyball, softball, tennis, badminton, and swimming were on the sports menu. There was a paddle-wheel boat ride for everyone and speed boat rides for those whose finances equaled their desires. Some strolled along the green banks of an even greener river. Keeping cool was the biggest problem of the day. The refreshment stand did a booming business. (An independent researcher figured out that the average Michigander, who didn’t like St. Charles’ water, spent between $1.50 and $2.00 for cold drinks. For those who didn’t have girls it was only half that much, but, as you know, the average Michigander has a girl. At least at conventions.) The hose society made sure we were well-fed. We received an excellent box lunch at noon and feasted on first-rate barbecues and chips at supper-tome.
After supper we seated ourselves on the grassy banks of a hill in the park. From the bandstand below us, we heard special music and a powerful speech by Rev. A. Mulder. He was somewhat handicapped in that he had to hold a microphone; the audience, however, had both hands free to slap at mosquitoes. (The same researcher mentioned above also figured out that the average person in the audience slapped fifty times, killing six or seven mosquitoes, and thoroughly frightening two or three others.) After another mad dash to the busses, we were on our way back to Oaklawn.
Golden brown pancakes swimming in syrup and butter, bacon, sausages, orange juice, coffee, milk, donuts – sound good? It should, because it really was! That was the menu of the Thursday morning pancake breakfast. It was served outdoors at the Elim School for Handicapped Children, where some twenty convention girls were staying in the dormitory. (By the way, our researcher figured out their average sleep to be 2 hours, 49 minutes, and 17 seconds per night.) The host society had really come up with a hats-off idea for this breakfast. Instead of having to wait for food in a line that always seemed endless to a hungry stomach, one person from each table was delegated to pick up a tray containing the food not already on the table.
After breakfast we went to Oaklawn Church for an interesting program and business meeting. At noon we were served another good lunch, and shortly after noon we concluded ou business.
We met again at 5:30, this time at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Oaklawn. The group picture was taken outside and then we went in for the banquet, the climaxing event of the convention. After filling our stomachs, mainly with cold water, and enjoying a brief recess, we listened to some more fine special music and the concluding speech, delivered with power and conviction by Rev. H. Hanko to an attentive audience. The Federation President then introduced the newly elected officers. We closed by singing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.”
The 1959 Convention had come and gone…but not from the memory of those who had attended it. This convention again showed that a good time, Christian fellowship, songs of praise to our God and inspiration from His Word make convention days the most worthwhile days of anyone’s summer.
See you next year at First Church, in Grand Rapids, D.V.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 6 August-September 1959