AROMA PARK — Churches hold different memories for different people. For 93-year-old Beaulah “Boots” Miller, the Aroma Park United Methodist Church holds a lifetime of them.
Born in Minnesota in 1926, Boots and her family moved to Aroma Park when she was just 3 years old.
That’s when she and her family started attending church at the original Aroma Park United Methodist Church, which was located one lot down from where the new church (210 W. Third St.) has stood since 1966.
“I literally grew up here,” Boots said. “This has always been my church. I remember coming here with my mom when I was little, and they’d have a quilting bee. She’d put me in a pew and let me take my nap.”
Boots got her first kiss at United Methodist.
“Not from our dad either!” said Boots’ daughter, Sandy.
She got her first kiss at 5 years old from a childhood friend.
Boots holds the original church so dear to her heart she took the time to crochet an afghan from a picture of it.
Her other daughter, Sharon, drew a picture of the original church from a photo, and Boots wanted her to paint a picture of it as well. Then it was decided Boots would crochet an afghan from the painted picture.
The afghan has more than 34,000 stitches. That’s not counting the ones she had to rip out and stitch all over again. The entire process took her two months to complete.
“I’ll never do it again,” Boots said.
“It was a humongous job,” Sandy said.
“The drawn picture is how I remember the church,” Sharon said. “I used to slide down the banister when I was little girl, just like she [Boots] did.”
Sandy got married in the original church.
“She was one of the last ones to be married in that church before it came down,” Sharon recalled.
“When I used to work at an ice cream parlor downtown, I’d get off at 9 o’ clock, and my dog, Nippy, would wait for me at the corner of the church to walk me home the rest of the way,” Boots said.
Now, her new dog, Jack, a 4-year-old lab mastiff mix, sat by her side as she took the time to crochet the afghan.
“I crochet a lot, and I also love reading and doing crossword puzzles,” Boots said.
Boots and her family moved out from Aroma Park to Joliet in 1969, then moved to Bradley where she now lives with Sharon.
“She still comes to church here,” Sharon said.
Currently, Boots is the oldest active member of the church.
“I love this church,” Boots said.
And why do people call her Boots?
“When I was born, my sister, Anne, who was a year and half older than me couldn’t pronounce Beaulah, so she called me ‘Bootie.’ From then on, I was Boots.”