The culture that benefitted me

by Edmund E. Train

The town of Lindsborg, Kansas was home to me until age 21. A town that can well speak for itself, Lindsborg nonetheless deserves many accolades for its contribution to my culture. There were difficult years, including the premature death of my father, Fritz Train, in 1929. We then experienced the Great Depression, the drought and the dust bowl years of the 1930s.

I speak now from my perspective in retirement. Looking back at those years I see fulfillment both culturally and spiritually. The Lutheran parish from Sweden that immigrated to America and founded this town brought both religion and culture. They founded both a church and a college. Although the population is only approximately 3,000, the town has earned a reputation way beyond its size.

It is not my intention here to write history, but to acknowledge the culture that benefitted me. In spite of the limited resources of my family after 1929, I can reflect on many ways that my community contributed to my welfare. I was given a free education through high school. The academics included music and art that deeply influenced me.

Bethany College had a strong influence upon lower education, providing college students as practice teachers in the public schools as well as providing the community with musical opportunities. As a high school student I was privileged to participate in glee club, band and orchestra, singing and playing musical instruments. At another level I was privileged to sing in the Messiah Chorus each Holy Week, a community of people from all walks of life. The annual event was well known through the Midwest. Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion were performed during that week under the leadership of outstanding choral and instrumental conductors.

The Lindsborg community was unique in that there were many local artists, woodcarvers, craftsmen, and painters who demonstrated their gifts in stores and museums. I cherish a woodcarving by Anton Pearson, a woodcut by Birger Sandzen, a water color by Alba Malm, and a college course taught by Dr. Emory Lindquist on World Civilizations. He also wrote “Smoky Valley People,” a history of the community. Included in his book is a picture of the “Terrible Swedes,” the Bethany football team of 1902!

The church became a center of my life. Not only worship services, but youth and other organizations helped to form my Christian faith and prepare me for my calling into ministry. The “Young People’s Society” (including people of all ages) conducted Sunday evening services in which we teenagers were taught and counseled by unpaid counselors how to conduct services, including talks (mini sermons) and provide the music. This is not to overlook the pastors who faithfully ministered to our spiritual needs, in-season and out-of-season.

I am grateful to God for the privilege of growing up in Lindsborg, this little town on the Smoky Hill River and U.S. Highway 81.

Edmund Train lives in Northbrook, Ill. He is a retired Covenant Pastor.

See all articles by Edmund E. Train