Jeff’s Corner: Peace Pilgrim’s Sister

香蕉视频app安卓Helene Young, now 105, joyfully rode her bike 10 miles a day until she was over 100 years old.

香蕉视频app安卓On January 1, 1953, when Peace Pilgrim started her pilgrimage, she had entrusted her younger sister, Helene Young, who she described as her “friend,” to protect her anonymity. For more than 28 years, Peace regularly sent updates so Helene would know where she was going to be and then Helene faithfully forwarded all the mail Peace received at a Cologne, NJ, post office box which Peace gave as her “address” to those she met across the country. (All these years later, letters still periodically arrive at the post office for the beloved pilgrim.)

Helene is now 105 years old and still lives in the same house she did in 1953, a converted feed depot that her brother Alfred redesigned and rebuilt into a small but attractive home.

香蕉视频app安卓We have held the annual Friends of Peace Pilgrim board meeting at Helene’s house the last few years but unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to meet online this year. We truly missed her hospitality, her neat-as-a-pin home and especially the times Helene, an accomplished pianist, would spontaneously perform for the board members during a break. 

香蕉视频app安卓I visited her in 1992 and met her late husband Eugene, an avid historian who compiled what has become a treasured scrapbook of Peace Pilgrim’s 28-plus years of walking for peace. The scrapbook is now housed at the historical museum in their birth town of Egg Harbor City, NJ.  

At the time of my visit, Helene was riding her bike 10 miles a day for exercise. I had the pleasure on two different days to ride with her in the countryside for her 10 miles. We visited Peace Pilgrim's grave as well as the winery where Helene worked until she retired. Mildred (the future Peace Pilgrim) had also worked there and gotten her little sister the job. Helene often says with a smile, “I’m very lucky because I got my job through my sister and my husband through my brother” (who introduced the pair.)

Nearly two decades later, when Helene was 97 years old, we again rode 10 miles in the countryside around Cologne and Egg Harbor City. We stopped at the nearby community of Germania Gardens and visited with a man who knew Mildred before the pilgrimage and described a party that she had attended. He never met her as Peace Pilgrim.

During her pilgrimage, Peace Pilgrim would occasionally stay with Helene for a few days if she was passing through New Jersey. Helene told me that the woman who was Peace Pilgrim was not the sister she remembered. Peace Pilgrim herself had said she “died to her old self.” It was evident to Helene that “Mildred” was gone and she couldn’t resurrect her. She said Peace Pilgrim used the time during her stays responding to the many letters she received and to do some speaking engagements in the area.

Helene continued her practice of riding her bike 10 miles a day until she was 101 years old. When she was 99 and 100 she participated in an annual 12-14 mile bike ride fundraiser. While training for the next bike ride she fell off her bike and reluctantly made the decision to stop biking.
Different as their paths may have been, both siblings shared a deep desire to live peaceably. Helene has done much on her own and through her sister’s legacy to promote peace. She is quite a remarkable woman and we’ll share some more of her story in future blog posts!