Charles McGlynn has, sadly, been deceased for many years. According to my fellow LRY’er Dick Hood, he was “a victim of his bad habit of two packs of Herbert Tarreytons a day.”
Charlie McGlynn had a very good influence on me, Dick Hood, and countless New England members of Liberal Religious Youth (LRY).
I remember numerous outstanding advisors, ministers and lay persons, and it seems that only in retrospect can l begin to really appreciate what an important influence they had on us adolescents in LRY; how dediacated they were; and how well suited they were for their work as advisors, for which I believe they received very little by the way of rewards and — I would suspect in most cases — remuneration.
Charles McGlynn, Mrs. Eileeen Day, Rev. John Coffee, Rev. Carl Scovel, Rev. Jack Hammon, Rev. C. Leon Hopper, Jr., Rev. Bill Moors, John Eartha, Rev. Elmer Stelley, Rev. Bill DeWolfe, and Rev. Orloff Miller were among the advisors I personally knew the best and admired the most, but there were many others.
Charlie McGlynn, a lay advisor, was close to being the best, if not the best, advisor in New England, which was a center of LRY activity.
I first became aware of Charlie unexpectedly.
He was involved in a program to help prisoners reform, get out of jail, and adjust to life outside of prison. He came to a meeting of our local LRY group in Canton, Massachusetts in around 1962 for a lecture/presentation. With him and one other adult who I think was some sort of probation officer was a recently released prisoner named George. George was well dressed and groomed and his shoes were shined. He was articulate. I noticed that Charlie was supportive but not intrusive and that he was soft spoken.
Charlie was from Medfield, Massachusetts, where there was a strong and active Unitarian parish led by a dynamic, liberal minister, Bill Moors. Charlie worked for the Massachusetts bureau of motor vehicles in some capacity. He got involved with LRY and in 1963 was elected by the members of the New England Regional Committee (NERC) of LRY as an advisor.
His election, and that of his fellow advisor, Eileen Day, came at a time of great contention among various factions over issues concerning youth autonomy and what were regarded by some adults, a conservative faction of the Unitarian ministry and church membership, as transgressions of morals, either real or suspected, by LRY’ers.
Charlie was a voice of reason and sanity in the midst of these disputes. He leaned towards the liberal, rather permissive side, but he was not a zealot.
We LRY’ers used to sing an improvised refrain from an LRY song: “Oh, it’s Charles McGlynn who justifies the sin, in the halls of LRY!” We sang it all the way on a round trip bus ride to Continental Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina in the summer of 1964. Charlie found this amusing. The best way to put it is to say that he was bemused.
He went to the March on Washington and — afterward one evening when we were getting ready to bed down in our sleeping bags in a church hall during a NERC meeting — he told us how powerful Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech was, especially the peroration.
At that time, this was something new to me. I hadn’t read about the speech.
Charlie was very liberal on issues such as civil rights. Yet, despite his strong feelings, he never lost his equanimity or sense of humor. He told us a story once about a black acquaintance of his who was a graduate of Howard University. He said that when people asked his friend where he had gone to college, his friend would reply, “H—-ward,” deliberately slurring it, hoping his interlocutor might think it was HARVARD.
Kids were always eager to talk with Charlie during recesses, and he was always willing.
Charlie once told us a story from his World War II service. I don’t recall it precisely, but basically what occurred, according to Charlie, was that he was on guard or patrol duty with some other soldiers at night, and they observed a Japanese soldier walking close by, in their view, probably in an area where you could shoot at the enemy. He said they decided not to shoot and to act as if they hadn’t observed the Japanese soldier.
Charlie testified at a hearing of mine before my draft board in 1968 when I was applying for conscientious objector status, which was granted. He was very convincing. He spoke in his usual humble, soft spoken, sincere, and non-confrontational fashion.
I had a lot of trouble with cars back in those days. I had one particularly bad second hand car, a station wagon, for about two months which I bought in my senior year in college. It was a real lemon and was always leaking oil.
One Sunday, I was on Route 128 and, as usual, was having serious car problems. I had to pull over and was on the shoulder of the highway with the hood up.
Who should come along but Charlie McGlynn? He recognized me right away, pulled over, and helped me.
What else would you expect from Charlie?
— Roger W. Smith