Miss Myra’s Ministry

by Sarah Sharpe
Reprinted from Anglican Life Newfoundland, October 2014

Smith Myra

Myra Langdon-Smith

Myra Langdon-Smith reflects on the Girls’ Sanctuary Guild

Earlier in July, I made a visit to a dear friend Myra Langdon-Smith of Hodges Cove. My purpose was purely selfish. I had heard Miss Myra tell stories about the Girls Guild and wondered what it was?

We sat at the dining room table and I asked, “When were you born and who were your parents?”

Myra replied, “I was born on 23 July 1929, and my father was James Langdon, and my mother was Mariah Smith. I married Norman Smith of Island Cove and we had one son Ron who lives in Toronto.”

“Now tell me about the Girls’ Guild?” I asked.

Myra began, “I was twelve year old when I joined St. Mary the Virgin Girls’ Guild on 4 February 1941. Meetings were held at the local school on Thursday of each week. Each sister was responsible for bringing the ‘fire’ in turn. Meetings always opened and closed with a prayer which, of course, was led by the Minister. The weekly fee was 5 cents. The money was given to the treasurer, and your name was recorded in the book as being paid.”

At her first meeting as per her Minute Book it states that $1,300.00 was cash on hand. There was $5.00 paid for church fees and $100.50 paid for lamps. The page is signed by Incumbent, The Rev. James Pike, and Secretary Nellie Peddle. The old red faded book with its words fading off the pages has a special place in Myra’s heart! She tells me that, “Sometimes when I am going to bed I will find the book and have a read; sometimes I get such a chuckle out of it. It beings back many a good memory.”

Maybe it is the names of her friends or the things they did together, or perhaps it could be the times they shared. Myra goes on and lists the name of the membership from 4 February 1941 until January 1949.

“There was”, she says, “ Marjorie Peddle, Delilah Smith, Myra Peddle, Ella Thomas, Minnie Drover, Minnie Peddle, Flossie Butt, Alice Peddle, Blanche Peddle, Annie Boone, Myra Langdon…Oops! That’s me! Laura Smith, Mary Hiscock, Kathleen Drover, Winnie Spurrell, Jean Peddle, Nellie Peddle, Albina Drover, and Frances Butt.”

Myra looks up at me and says, ”Sadly they are all gone now, all but four members: Albina Drover-Bursey, Winnie Cooper, Nellie Peddle-Martin, and me.”

I asked her, “What did you have to do to become a member of the Girls Guild?”Myra replied, “Well now, the correct name was the Girls’ Sanctuary Guild, and one had to be a communicant and attend church on a regular basis. As Rev. Pike stated: is was an honourable role to work on the Sanctuary area.”

She recalls Rev. Pike teaching the girls how the altar clothes should be folded in order to avoid any creases. Taking the altar cloth in hand, he spread it out on the altar and began to roll it. Then he showed it to the girls telling them this is how you fold the clothes. Myra gave a chuckle, “The cloth was not folded at all! It was rolled and laid in the storage closet.”

With that evening’s lesson over, the meeting adjourned with prayer and a hymn.

“Another entry was around the issue of lamp oil,” Myra says, “There was no oil for the lamps for the meeting, so me and Nellie Martin-Peddle wanting to save the evening meeting, went along to Mrs. Andrew Peddle’s home out the road, and asked her for a drop of oil ’. Aunt Vertue Peddle gave us a pint of oil and told us, ‘Mind you have to bring the oil back to me, and if you don’t; you will have to pay me 5 cents to replace it.’ We agreed, and off we went back to the school, lit the lamps and continued on with the meeting.

“At another meeting in December 1941 Rev. Pike suggested that the Treasurer give him the money to purchase 2 lbs. of sugar and a half pound of tea for our use while at meetings. Mr. Pike also required some money to purchase silks so we could finish our needle work.

At another meeting, Myra stated, “We noticed we were out of Brasso, so I was asked to walk to J. Frost’s Store in Long Beach to pick up two tins of Brasso. The Brasso cost 10 cents a tin, I was given 20 cents to make the purchase.”

In December 1943, with the arrival of Rev. Batten, Myra was once again informed what being a member of the Girls Sanctuary Guild meant, and was told by Rev. Batten that, “being a member of the Guild was a privilege and an opportunity to serve.

Servers in the Guild should be regular communicants, attend church regularly, and pay one’s dues which was 5 cents per week.”

In March 1946, the Incumbent was M.C.M. Jones, and some new members joined the Guild. Those were: Mary Hiscock, Kathleen Drover, Minnie Spurrell, Jean Peddle, and Mable Peddle. Officers for the upcoming years were: Nellie Peddle, President; Blanche Peddle, Vice President; Mable Peddle, Secretary; Kathleen Drover, Treasurer, and Mrs. Jones Honorary President. Each member was tasked with the job of cleaning the church or lighting lamps, bringing wood for the re and lighting it. These positions rotated on a regular basis.

The year 1949 was a sad one for the Girls Sanctuary Guild, because it had to be closed due to so many sisters of the Guild moving out of the area.

Myra recalls, “We were informed that the altar would be looked after by the C. E. W. A. with Mrs. Jones as superintendent. The remaining money on hand, $94.98 would be used to purchase carpet for the Chancel. There had been a leak on the spiritual prayer cards, and they were no longer useful. Meeting closed.”

This is the last entry in the book, and I can only surmise that the women left behind were devastated for their loss, because it was at those meetings where the social activities, fund-raisers, and having a ‘time’ was made. It was there the women did their works, made their crafts, and prepared for the upcoming events. It was there where they shared an hour or two and a cup of tea.

In 1961 Myra Langdon-Smith joined St. Mary the Virgin ACW under the guidance of Mrs. Ethridge. Myra served in many roles during her tenure, but it was in fundraising she found her niche. Myra had two women she worked with throughout the years. One was Mrs. Effie Peddle and the other was Mrs. Ivy Baird. It was Myra and her partners who were given a letter by the Incumbent of the day, granting them the right to represent St. Mary’s Church in any current. Fundraising Business at that time.

Myra is an amazing woman she has always put her Church and others ahead of herself. However, she had to overcome two battles of breast cancer and continues to be a survivor of that dreaded disease. Today she is still an active member of the Hodge’s Cove ACW and continues to support it as best she can. Her age and arthritis no longer permit her body to work the way it once did but she continues to help out wherever and whenever she can.


Transcribed by Wanda Garrett, April 2015

Transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.