In 1979 the Reverend Dana Greeley and the Reverend Jim Robinson recorded an interview with a parishioner named Mr. Elmer Joslin. Mr. Joslin was nine years old when he and his family and many others watched the conflagration that destroyed the First Parish Meeting House in April of 1900. Mr. Joslin became emotional as he described the fire and how everyone was crying.
The cassette recording of Mr. Joslin disappeared in the early 1990s and was thought to have been lost for over thirty years, but it has recently resurfaced.
The recording of Mr. Joslin was made over a used tape and was recorded using a non-professional recorder. Thanks to the good help of Stoney Ballard, who “cleaned up” the cassette tape and copied it to the First Parish website, you can listen to the 23 minute interview.
Mr. Elmer Joslin was 88 years old when the interview was taped and his voice is rather weak at times. If when you listen to the recording and have any trouble with Mr. Joslin’s articulation, try listening using earbuds.
This recording of Mr. Joslin is a rare and extremely valuable part of First Parish’s oral history. This cassette taped interview will eventually be given to the Concord Library and placed in the First Parish archives.
Interview with Elmer Joslin
by Doug Baker
When Diana and I arrived at First Parish in 1980, we lived at #1 Church Green. Roger Fenn was living at #25 Church Green, and a widower for several years. We tried to have him up to #1, at least once a week, for a home-cooked meal. In 1984, when we had him to our apartment for one of those meals, I recorded an interview of him about his life, on a cassette tape.
During the interview, Roger described his brothers and sisters and how they lived on the Harvard Campus because his father was a professor of religion. Roger recalled a funny story about playing football during a lecture that was taking place next to where they were playing. He also described his experiences while serving in the Army during World War One. And, most importantly, how he and is wife conceived of starting a school and how they would present a philosophy of teaching. He also explained how they raised the funds to purchase land and the sources of financing for such a large endeavor as Fenn School. Roger also described his own personal concepts and practices related to the Christian Religion, Unitarianism and his thoughts about the teachings of Jesus.
It is a delightful tape with Roger’s dry sense of humor and an important oral history of Concord and Fenn School. The tape runs for both sides of the cassette tape, about two hours.
Interview with Roger Fenn, recorded Jan. 7, 1984