When I started collecting the stories of First Methodist earlier this year, I never knew what I might discover or where these stories would lead. I never expected to hear tales of cowboys and cattle drives, model Ts and firefighters, lions and monkeys in Beaumont, and POWs at Tyrrell Park. Bob Brandes at 91, is full of memories and he gave me a time traveler’s glimpse into the past.
His family has been a part of First Methodist for generations with membership in its steeple, dome, and spire churches. Bob was baptized in the dome church in 1929 and married there several decades later. He has been a part of this community for most of his life, and I couldn't help but think of the sermons we have heard these past few Sundays because Bob's journey has included lots of good food shared with many of God's people. These people grew up together, played together, and became God's people together, sharing their stories and their lives along the way.
There are accounts of beach trips and badminton, coffee club and cake, young love and marriage, of children, work, church and growing older together. The experiences in life that make us who we are, the things that bring us joy and the events that make us sad, the collective memories that make up the narrative of our lives.
Bob spends time in the archive room upstairs at least once a week, and if you haven’t experienced that room, you really should plan a visit. It reminds me of a case file room like the police have on tv. There are boxes on top of boxes all neatly organized and cataloged with their contents, each box a witness to the history and story of our community, a tribute to the people that the Spirit brought together.
Bob and I talked most of the morning, and he said there really wasn’t anything exciting or unusual about his life, it was just living each day the best that he could. I thought about all that he told me and all that I learned that morning and I realized that each day may not seem exciting, but when you add up the days that make up your life, you understand that each day is another chapter in your journey. A journey as one of God's people, and being a part of that story, well that is about as exciting as it gets.
By Michelle Holland
Listen in as Michelle sits down with Bob and he tells stories of growing up here in Beaumont.