From Ship-Yard to pulpit.
While viewing the ship now building beside the Mystic
below Wellington bridge, we have recalled the distant views of those building in our boyhood days, as we saw them from the Lowell railroad, and have wished in vain that some one had written more fully of the vanished industry of Medford
But here is an incident of eighty years ago, gathered from the same source as the preceding and from the pen of Rev. W. P. Tilden
When about twenty-three, I married a noble woman I had known and loved from childhood, and we moved to Medford, whose Ship street, now desolate, was alive with ship-building.
It was not long after this when working with my dear ship-carpenter, classmate and orthodox friend, Rev. W. T. Briggs, we discussed, almost fiercely, the high themes of fore-knowledge, free — will and fate, and I hammered away on the hard side of Calvinism.
One day when I was about twenty-five, while at work in the ship-yard [p. 64] at Medford I saw my portly pastor coming, looking through his glasses, first one side and then the other, as was his wont going up the broad aisle.
I dropped my axe to welcome him, and soon found he had a gospel of hope for me. He had taken counsel, and came to tell me he thought I might—yes, I might—enter the ministry.
That spot of ground is still sacred.
I have been to it as to the Mecca of my first hope.
All signs of the old ship-yard, to a stranger's eye, were gone; but I knew the old landmarks, and found the spot where I dropped the broad axe to hear the glad tidings that opened to me a new life.
I was glad to stand there and feel something of that hour come back to me through the vista of half a century.
The ‘portly pastor’ was Rev. Caleb Stetson
, the Unitarian
minister of Medford
, and the young workman probably attended his ministrations in the old third meeting-house.
If old Ship street was alive then, it was more so ten years later, when another clergyman of Medford
made his observations and compiled his wonderful list of Medford
No wonder that Mr. Tilden
thought it ‘desolate’ at his return as he contrasted it with the times when two hundred and fifty men were there employed.