Similarities to the First Silent Night
An eminent birth in a stable one Christmas Eve was somewhat similar to a time centuries ago. It was during the early 1960s when Joyce Lundy Rhodes made the 200 mile trip from Washington D.C. home to Hughesville to spend the holiday with parents Emily and Dr. Don Lundy.
She recalled the many Christmas Eves her family attended and the candle light services at Bethany United Methodist Church with the anticipation of others singing “Silent Night” in a sanctuary filled with glowing candlelight.
The phone rang just as Joyce put on her coat to travel to the traditional service. “In those days, it wasn’t unusual as our phone rang any hour of the day or night, for dad was a country veterinarian. I heard his gentle voice speak into the phone that he’d be right over to assist a cow in birthing a calf. It was 10:30 p.m. and never would he return in time for service,” the daughter said.
Preparing to head for the farm, he offered a breif explaination that he needed to hurry. Joyce heard herself saying, “Wait, I’ll go with you,” and jumped in his car.
“Standing in high heels in a barn instead of a church, I watched a calf being born. I saw candles that night; not the man-made ones of wax and wick which flicker, melt and are gone, but a sky full of God’s candles glittering as we walked into the barn,” she said.
Joyce also noted, “There were no poinsettias gracing an altar, but the sweet smell of golden hay carpeted the stall.” Following the event, sounds were not the choir, but of a grateful farmer whose voice and eyes were full of compassion as he said to the weary vet, “Thanks for coming, Doc.”
That was a Christmas Eve Joyce didn’t keep with tradition. “Then again, maybe I did, for centuries ago, wasn’t it in a stable under the stars, in the hay among the lowly beasts, where a birth took place and Christmas came to be?”
For nearly 35 years, Joyce pondered these things in her heart, yet delayed writing them down. She finally did, gifting them to her dad before his passing in 1999.
In a tribute to her late parents, Joyce shared occurrences she defines as miraculous, especially those about her father.
In 1914, Donald Lundy was born in Warrensville and in 1918 the Spanish influenza claimed his father, a sister and almost Don as well. Surviving were a sister and his mother, who couldn’t support two children on her teacher’s salary, so Don was sent to live with an uncle.
Later another brush with death resulted when the uncle took Don to pick up a bicycle. Strapping the bike to the passenger side of the car, the duo stopped for gas. While filling the tank, a spark ignited and the car burst into flames. The uncle was burned while extracting Don from the car but the youngster was unharmed.
“That’s when dad’s grandfather decided it was time for him to take over and dad went to live with him. This all happened in Warrensville,” Joyce said.
Dr. Dan Super, the grandfather, was a veterinarian and when young Don neared the end of his schooling, was aked what he wanted to do. “Working with you is all I know,” was the reply passed down through the years.
“Going to veterinary school in Philadelphia connected Don with Emily Worley, my mother a native there. She loved coming to Hughesville and knew nearly everyone in town while dad was well known throughout the countryside,” Joyce said.
The couple made an excellent team. Emily had been a secretary and her organizational skills made her proficient in raising two children, keeping house, remaining active in church and community, in addition to answering the phone (remember no cells) plus receiving small animals to be kenneled. “Just the business aspect would require two or three assistants now,” Joyce said.
The practice spanned 43 years from the 1930’s to 1979 serving areas from Dewart, Elimsport and Jersey Shore, to Benton, Eagles Mere, Opp and Pine Summit.
Dr. Lundy entered his field when horses were the predominant patients which soon changed to cattle. “Dairy farming was an essential part of the history of this area during those decades my father practiced. Many agree he was a master at the art of bovine veterinary medicine, his skill known and respected by those he served,” Joyce said.
Through the eyes of a loving daughter and knowing the challenges of her dad’s youth, Joyce senses it’s a miracle he survived. She also believes those circumstances may account for his friendly, gentle, unassuming, laid back personality.
“He was a friend to all, especially the working man whose hands were thick and dirty, the farmer with 20 cows and almost as many children. On the car seat, Dad kept a supply of gum and candy for the farmer’s kids who often met the car coming up their lane,” she said.
Some of the preceding sentiments were forwarded to artist Michael Pilato who in turn painted Doc Lundy’s likeness on the murals in Williamsport, along with other county heros.
Each Christmas Eve, Joyce recalls her experience. It’s a perfect time to be grateful for all miracles both great and small.