November 17 - November 17

Doug Wilson's Retirement Party!
Rowe Party Dec. 16

Doug Wilson to Retire December 21, 2012

Doug’s Retirement Party at Rowe

Sunday - December 16th - 4 pm on
Tickets in advance -  $40 per person  

This program has already happened. Please see our current schedule.

Catered by Chef Emerita Alice Cozzolino


Donations in honor of Doug and Prue can be made to the Wilson-Berry Pavilion to be built at Rowe Camp and Conference Center. All donations to this fund are tax-deductible.

A personal Non-tax-deductible Gift towards Doug’s Retirement Mini Cooper may be made by sending a check made out to Douglas Wilson c/o Rowe Camp and Conference Center, PO Box 273, Rowe, MA 01367 or bring it along to one of the events.

The Tee Shirts at My Funeral

by the Reverend Douglas Wilson

                 Tom Sawyer went to his own funeral.  Ever since, folks have dreamed of going to their own funerals, and I’m no exception. I’m more interested in funerals than most people are, since I’m in the marrying and burying business, a.k.a., the ministry.  I don’t have any data about a “normal” person’s interest in funerals, but I’d guess it’s a few steps down from going to the dentist, which they 'd rather not think about at all.  But if they have to go, they want it to be over as quickly and painlessly as possible.  With funerals, especially one’s own, one hopes it will be far in the future. 

                   Being an odd chap, I’ve designed my own funeral, though I’m in no hurry to get it on the schedule.  Whatever the date, you’re invited.  I expect my funeral to take place in the beautiful old stone Unitarian chapel in the center of the town of Rowe. 


              What will make this gathering special is the decorations: I want my tee shirts to cover the walls.  I have a lot of tee shirts, including some favorites over thirty years old that I can’t bear to turn into rags, though they seem to be doing that all by themselves. 

            I worked at Camp Jolly Roger for three summers when I was in college and divinity school, taking care of twelve four and five year olds boys.  My boss was a tough old bird, a high school vice-principal when it wasn’t summertime, and he taught me a lot about what it means to have a job.  Every day I wore my Camp Jolly Roger tee shirt, with a picture of a jaunty old pirate with skull and crossbones on his hat and a patch over one eye. I still have it tucked away in a box, and when I take it out, the memories come wandering back.

            In the summertime, when my tee shirts are in plain view, I’m pretty picky about the ones I wear.  When the weather gets cold and tee shirts become undershirts, I retire my favorites and wear my second stringers.  But you won’t find me plugging Schlitz or Pepsi, even on the second string. Paughlleezze!  I might end up in a hot room and have to take off my top shirt.  It’s like the old story about having clean underpants on in case the undertaker sees you unexpectedly…

            My tastes run towards the political, or cultural, or both together.  One favorite is from Zippy the Pinhead’s 1984 Presidential Campaign, where he promises to invade downtown Duluth if elected.  Another favorite is red with black ink showing Vladimir I. Lenin in profile wearing a Mohawk haircut.  I wore it with a white dinner coat when I was being honored for working the same job for twenty years.  Yet another favorite contains a quote from Groucho Marx: “outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”  I could go on, but you’ll have to come to my funeral to see the rest, while I rest in peace.

            A couple of years ago I was in the big city with some time to kill and wandered into a large record store.  There were lots of shirts of rock bands on the wall, and the one that caught my eye had a picture of an angel on the front and the word Ministry on the back. I asked the clerk what kind of band Ministry was, and he said he didn’t think I really wanted to know – pretty horrible thrash and death stuff.  So I shelled out my fifteen dollars without hesitation, not for the music, but for the tee shirt.  I can just see myself wearing that MINISTRY tee shirt striding though a tense crowd.  The SWAT teams are wearing jackets that say POLICE on the back in big yellow letters, just like in the movies.  All eyes are on the jumper on the thirteenth floor.  The POLICE teams part as I enter.  Of course, I talk the jumper out of jumping, and when I come down, the POLICE and crowd applaud and part like the Red Sea, and I drive off with my babe Prudence in a way cool car.

            Many of my shirts have symbols, designs, or slogans I happen to like: U.S. Out of North America.  Earth First.  Seva.  Food First.  Peace. Justice.  Peace & Justice.  Keep the dream alive.  Another Skinhead for Peace (Gandhi’s picture).  The Consumer Society has Consumption.  Lost in the RoweZone Again.  Support Your Local Micro-brewery. 

             I still remember one I didn’t buy at the Vancouver Folk Festival; a beautiful yellow Free Tibet that I thought was overpriced because I hadn’t adjusted to Canadian dollars.  I still regret not buying it, but not nearly as much as I regret the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

            Recently a young friend had his fortieth-birthday party, with a Seventies costume theme.  I’ve always considered the Seventies a pale reflection of the Sixties, but what do these younger fellows know?  I heard Abbie Hoffman say the only good thing to come out of the Seventies was Bruce Springsteen, so I said, “What about Doonesbury?”  Anyway, on my third expedition into the deeper reaches of my closet, I finally found the one I was looking for—it’s yellow with a big black star on the front; on the back, a picture of Mt. Rushmore with the slogan Even the Best Get Stoned.  I got it in the Seventies, and it might not see the light of day again until I turn to stone myself.  It, too, now lives in the box with Camp Jolly Roger and a few other tattered antiques awaiting resurrection at my death.   I’ve already briefed my pal Jeff Sandler about where to find the shirts, but it’s secret knowledge.  Let the thieves take our hi-fi and lawn mower, but spare the tee shirts, kind sirs…

            I offer instructions about my funeral not just because I have a vision. I know how to make weddings and funerals work, by “bringing the person to life,” by telling stories that share the heart and soul of the person.  My tee shirts will help bring me to life.  Since I will be at the center of the festivities, even in my absence, I want the service to be great.  The floor with be open to everyone.  I’ll be listening, somewhere, and hope it goes on a long time.  Since I’m a bit of a character, people will have stories to tell, which is where the humor will come in, in spades—just before the spades are used in their more traditional role. 

            And what will I be wearing?  A Douglas fir planted in my navel, to start the East Coast Doug Fir Forest.

            My beloved wife, Prue, looking so fabulous all in black, will have a chance to earmark the tees she wants to keep before the service.  After, you’ll be invited to take a tee shirt that speaks to you, to remember me by.  On the way to the pot-luck reception in the Rec Hall, you can change in to your new/ancient shirt and get ready to boogie on down.  A keg of MacNeil’s Special Bitter and a keg of Berkshire Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale will help the party on its way, augmented by infinite chips and salsa.  And mixed nuts, an apt description.  My friends Annie Hassett, Court Dorsey, and their fabulous band Gangly Heart can play live music till the cows come home.  Bring your sleeping bag so you won’t need a designated driver, and have a great party!  On dudes!  On King!  On, you husky!


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