Day 17 Sunday on Alchibah:
Jules Parker Sr. had put stone markers out on one of the three dozen surveyed city lots south of the Community Building in order to mark the corners of the church he, and a number of others, intended to build. The lots were on either side of what would come to be known as Liberty street, half overlooking the river, the others, larger, crowded the roads west side. The church lot was sited just where Les Reye had originally figured to build his mansion. That seemed like ancient history now. But it was on that spot, an hour after sunrise and before breakfast, Jules presided over a nondenominational service that attracted about a third of the colonists.
Janie and I attended, not because either of us were particularly devout, but as a show of solidarity and respect. Jules wasn’t the only speaker and his words of hope and grace were sincere and heartfelt. No one spoke for more than five minutes or so and all followed Jules lead. Jack Seaworth.’s death wasn‘t mentioned. With his widow Michelle and daughter Laura sitting there it would have been far to painful.
We closed the service by singing one hymn, Martin Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 46.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
It was an eerily powerful experience, hearing all of the unaccompanied voices, clear and strong, in the still morning air. . . As the last words faded, the analogies with our present circumstances escaped none of us.
We sat at one of the longer tables in the mess tent and talked about the plans for Liberty City. Eight of the lots surveyed were already spoken for. Every colonist was entitled to one lot, but the Council had voted to assign them, and necessary building materials, on the basis of relative importance to the community, as best determined by the city planning commission. The planning commission’s choices were subject to vote but they had all been rubber stamped thus far.
The first structures would be the church, a general store, a woodworking and furniture shop, Sabbu’s electronic repair shed, a textile and clothing setup for Rajnar Singe, a combination mechanical repair and blacksmiths shop, a place to begin making glass and ceramics and a building to house and maintain the robots. Out on the north end of Windmill Hill we planned two large storage buildings. One was slated for food stuffs, as they became available, and the other, larger one, for anything that needed to be stored or worked on out of the weather. There were requests for other definite purpose commercial buildings, but for now at least their construction would have to be totally private in nature.
The Council had given priority to the materials use but except for the two large buildings all construction labor would be private in nature and so would ownership. It was an unfortunate but, undeniable fact, that we didn’t have enough people to manage or do the work required for all of the trades and services we knew we would want.
I had made a deal with the Spacers aboard the Mayflower. In return for bearings, shafting, and two circular blades, one three foot in diameter and one six, and miscellaneous hardware items, I‘d take care of the finishing materials for their dirt side building projects. The Town Council had already promised the basics. Gene Washburn, Joe Fortson, and I, had also begun laying aside, on our own time, beams and other materials for a private mill, but except for the largest structural pieces it seemed, in return for help in the future, we were passing most of it out as fast as we could get it cut. I guess we would just have to get the roof up and finish the rest later. That was something we would come to hear over and over again.
But today was Sunday, and except for two hours on camp guard right after breakfast, a favor to Joe and Karl Nash, and good experience for Janie, we would do as we pleased.
There were fish in the river, and having made a few modifications to my Caddis Alchibus, the day ahead seemed all too short.