Abide with me

Hi everybody da harv here and if you will im gonna tell you a little story about somebody I knew way back when I was in the fourth grade. Mrs. O’Shay was one of the more erstwhile teachers any young student might be lucky enough to glean information from as a life experience. Before becoming a full time grammar school teacher, Mrs. O’Shay was an extremely accomplished pianist who struggled along with many to make a living as a professional musician in New York City. And now, my mother and father met her at a “Parent Teachers” open house meeting at our school. Apparently dad picked up on what an accomplished musician Mrs. O’Shay was and they hit it off right away. It also became apparent they had a mutual interest in music in general and hymns in particular. What really amused my father was here was Mrs. O’Shay. This Irish, Catholic, Sunday School teacher, teaching a music class to a group of predominantly Jewish students at Public School 233. I remember the very first hymn Mrs. O’Shay taught us; It was “Abide With Me”. When she asked us if anyone would like to be the first to learn, I was the only student to raise my hand. She had a unique way of teaching beginners. She’d play the music that went with each phrase, then she’d sing it for us, and we would try emulating what she had demonstrated. Here is the first line she played for me to sing: “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide”. When I sang the second phrase (fast falls the eventide) my voice cracked. The class broke out laughing at the sound I made. Without hesitation, Mrs. O’Shay played and sang it for me again. This time I actually got some applause 

Well one day, when dad came home from work. The first thing he wanted to know is if I would be willing to ask Mrs. O’Shay to explain the meaning of the saying: Practice what you preach. “OK”, I responded immediately. Of course I did so, knowing my Father had some sort of learning experience up his sleeve. My dad was a very self-taught learned man. To this day it remains hard for me to fathom, Charles Kalmenson didn’t attend school after the fourth grade. So you know and might just get an understanding of what a bright man he happened to be. And though my dad is long gone, his ability to survive life’s oftentimes deliverance of its unexpected changes, remains one of the more gospel significances of who he really was. 

The very next day, Mrs. O’Shay explained to our entire class the meaning and values of the bible quote: “Practice what you preach”. What it has in common with the human attainment of success in almost all walks of life as it may affect us in order to benefit all people regardless of their religion or color. From that moment on, I was able to grasp hold of why it was Mrs. O’Shay and Mr. and Mrs. Kalmenson were able to hit it off regardless of the testament. Be it old or new.

One of my favorite songs became: “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”. “Sure they’ll steal your hearts away…”. And you know what? They still do.

A day in May, eighty years hence… 

Thank you all much,

Harvey Kalmenson 

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