For most of his life, Garfield Chivers has lived quietly and almost always in Brooklyn where he migrated in 1946 after receiving an honorable discharge from the Army. During World War II, Chivers saw action in Algiers, Casablanca, Marseille, Paris and Germany. Mr. Chivers, a twin, is the last remaining of twelve siblings born in the tiny rural town of Elkhart, Texas (current population: approximately 1100). His birth date is March 4, 1915. That makes him 90.
Together with his late wife, Louise, there were ten children. All of whom were born in Brooklyn and living in New York, Baltimore and Texas. In 1971, after 23 years, Mr. Chivers retired from Phelps Dodge, a copper factory located in West Maspeth, Queens. For a time, Mr. Chivers managed a nearby laundromat, but not for long. His preretirement work was sufficient enough labor.
Today, he spends each day observing from his front yard, talking with neighbors and contemplating life. Once or twice year, long visits to Texas strengthen him and allow him to reconnect with his roots. But come rain, shine, sleet or snow, every Sunday Mr. Chivers will be found among the pews at Wayside Baptist Church. There, the preacher’s sermon is what he looks forward to most. The habit of regular church attendance, however, Mr. Chivers acquired very early. It was taught by his father, a preacher himself, sometimes “the hard way.”
In his full, well-traveled life there was little in the way of schooling available for Mr. Chivers. As a boy, there was mostly work and more work on the family farm. Later, there was the responsibility of raising his own family. Somewhere, learning to read got lost.
If there is one single piece of advice Garfield Chivers offers any young person, it is to get an education. Get all you can. And no matter what you do on the other six days of the week, on Sunday-get yourself to church!