I hope no one saw me. No one wants to see a two-hundred fifty pound man dancing
solo in public. But I had to, as my Mom in heaven was dancing, too. Can’t let a lady
dance alone.
It was 9:50 this past Sunday morning, and the chimes of St James, the chimes of my
too-active imagination for 65 years, silenced for the past 25-ish years, were once
again pealing out welcome and invitation to the Feast. I’d heard their story very
Mom graduated at 17 in 1945, and she and her friend hopped a bus and came to
Kansas City to find work. Knocking on doors around our crossroads neighborhood,
they found a room to let, and Mom found St James, her church home for the next
She was quite taken with the dynamo of a pastor, Monsignor Keyes. There were
many stories, but the one she told me was of his chutzpah in acquiring the chimes
he wanted so badly. No way could a working-class parish come up with the needed
$30,000 required, so he worked his relationships with Catholic, Protestant, and
Jewish leaders.
It was in the day that checks were blank, and the writer filled in the name of
his/her bank. So, Monsignor filled out three checks for $10,000 and sent them to
Democratic party boss Tom Pendergast (Catholic), cigar magnate Arthur Mag
(Jewish), and a Protestant civic leader whose name I’ve forgotten. All three checks
came back signed.
I was so disappointed when I joined St James to learn that the chimes were broken.
So, you can imagine my gratitude for engineer Ben Babaran (Catholic) for
employing his professional knowledge and repairing them. The music is as sweet
today as it was in those now-dim days of the first half of the last century when they
first made the people of St James dance.