“Where is our little Orville?” That was the anxious question Ben Fuiten asked of his wife Hattie as he came into the farm house after doing chores. Orville was their first born child and was their pride and joy – a charming lad of just 4 ½ years old. On that 19th day of March, 1915 Hattie had bundled little Orville up with his warm winter clothes, boots, and his hand-knitted mittens that Great Grandmother Carolina Albert had given him for Christmas he was ready to go out in the snow.
Benjamin Henry Fuiten and Hattie Carolina Kruschke had been married for 5 ½ years, and besides little Orville, a second child, Anna Catherine was14 months old. They had just discovered that a third child was on the way. The Fuiten farm was located between New Richmond and Star Prairie, Wisconsin on the road known as Wall Street. It was a one hundred acre farm, a new, modern farmhouse had just been completed prior to their wedding on August 25, 1909. It was complete with a coal-fired heating system, electric wiring and indoor plumbing. Very few farmhouses were so well equipped at that time.
But where was little Orville? Hattie replied, “I thought he was with you in the barn and chicken house helping with the chores.” So immediately a search began as they called out, “Orville, where are you?” There was no answer so they frantically searched the place, but to no avail. Then they discovered tracks in the snow showing his boot prints and sled tracks heading north toward the only hill on the farm. Orville had been there before with his flexible flyer sled that he had gotten for Christmas.
Early in March there had been a warm spell and a lot of snow had melted. With the ground frozen a foot or more deep, the water from the melted snow would not soak into the ground. Instead it would collect in a low spot and stay there until the frost was out of the ground. At the bottom of the hill where Orville had been sliding down with his sled, a pond of water developed. Then came a cold spell again and the pond froze over. To the horror of Ben Fuiten the tracks led to the pond and the ice was broken. Frantically he broke the ice more and waded into the frigid water. The flexible flyer sled was floating on the icy surface. Finally he found the body of his beloved son. It was cold and lifeless, beyond hope of resuscitation. With tears streaming down his face he carried the body of little Orville to the house. Together the broken hearted parents proceeded to do what was necessary in this tragic circumstance. The community responded with great sympathy and compassion as the tiny casket was finally place in the New Richmond cemetery.
Life goes on. For the farmer with cattle, pigs and chickens to care for, it is seven long days a week. The cows have to be milked twice a day. In the winter the animals are in the barn a good deal of the time, so there is more to do to clean the barn. The rest of the year there is plenty to do with the planting of the crops and the harvesting to provide feed for the livestock.
Ben Fuiten had attended the University of Wisconsin Agricultural College. His goal was to produce prize-winning Chester White hogs and White Plymouth Rock chickens. He was very successful at it and he accumulated a trunk full of ribbons from County and State Fairs where he had shown his animals. People from neighboring states as well as locals came to the farm on Wall Street to purchase pedigreed stock.
The buildings on the farm consisted of the dairy barn for the cows and horses. Then there was a wide garage and machine shed so that all the farm equipment was parked inside when not in use. Beyond that was a long building. On the front part was the chicken house. There was a large floor area that was usually covered with straw. Then there was a series of poles across the upper part of the area by the back wall where the chickens roosted at night. A series of nests in the area below the roost gave the hens a private place to lay their eggs.
As each hen completed her laying the egg, there was an announcement made as she went pa pa patat. It was such a pleasant experience to go into the hen house on a winter day and stand perfectly still for a-while to observe the chickens scratching in the straw looking for grain as they sang their happy song, caw, caw, caw. They seemed so happy and content.
On the backside of the same long building was the hog house. It was a long room divided by pipe partitions so that on either side of the middle walkway were farrowing pens for the brood sows. Each sow had her own pen with an exit door so they were free to come and go whenever they wanted to. It was amazing to see how clean they kept their quarters. They always went out into the barnyard to relieve themselves. Each sow knew which pen she belonged in. There was a feeding trough in each pen. When the piglets were born, it was such an interesting sight to see the lineup of eight to ten little white piglets all taking nourishment as the sow lay quietly on her side in the straw bed and utter an occasional contented grunt. She is designed to nourish the whole litter at the same time.
Hogs have sometimes taken a bad rap for wallowing in the mud on a hot day. But when you consider that they do not have a cooling system like humans and horses that sweat as a means of cooling, it is understandable why the hog finds relief from the heat in a mud wallow.
The Fuiten farm would hardly be called a dairy farm. There were a number of cows, but the milk was run through a separator. The skim milk was used as feed for the pigs and chickens. Only the cream was taken to the creamery in New Richmond to be made into butter. I remember going with Dad to the creamery where we would usually get a drink of buttermilk.
In the fall following Orville’s passing, Dr. Epley made his third trip to the Fuiten farm to assist in the arrival of little George Wilson Fuiten. The name came from Hattie’s brother, George, and from President Woodrow Wilson. Then two years later on Halloween of 1917, the fourth child made his debut. I was given the name John Harold Fuiten. The John came from my Great Grandfather on the Fuiten side who migrated from Germany in 1847, and the name Harold was from Hattie’s other brother. During my first winter I developed whooping cough and it looked for a while like I was not going to make it. But the Lord was merciful. I believe that my life was spared for a purpose.
It was on July 29, 1919, when the fifth child was born and given the name Robert Lester. Then twenty three months later James Benjamin arrived on the scene. Somewhere during the family increasing, the farming operation was given a name:”B. H. Fuiten & Sons”. It was Dad’s dream that his boys be a vital part of a successful family farming operation. Because of this, he had a brochure prepared with the “& Sons” listed.
The Fuiten family frequently attended the Methodist Church in New Richmond. I remember the primary teacher, Elva Toal. Her class was in an upstairs room. We participated in a Children’s Day program. The song we sang is etched in my memory still today.
When we see the roses sweet, Nodding as we pass
When beneath our dancing feet, Waves the soft new grass
Then we know that summers come, With her greetings gay
Time for flowers, sunny hours, Time for Children’s Day,
It seemed we were always late for church. But when you consider all the chores that had to be taken care of on the farm, it is understandable. In church the Fuiten family took up most of the pew. We sat so that Dad had two of his sons on each side of himself. That made it convenient; so that he could reach our ears to signal us to quit swinging our legs or whispering to one another.
In the church was a stained glass window that depicted Jesus healing the daughter of Jarius. I loved to gaze at that window, and I never forgot it. When the art work for the Chapel of the Resurrection in Bothell, Washington was in the making, I requested my cousin in Wisconsin to get a picture of the window which I gave to the artist with a request that a similar picture be a part of the artwork for the Chapel. She agreed and secured the services of Dr. Marshall Flowers and his wife, Linda and daughter, Lindsay, to model the characters.
Wintertime in Wisconsin brought a change in lifestyle. Country roads were not plowed out, so there was no vehicle traffic except for a few modified cars with a type of ski on the front and two sets of wheels on the back with a track between them like those used on a crawler tractor. Some of the mail carriers used this type of vehicle. Dr. Epley needed one also. During this time, if the family went anywhere, it was with the bobsled which had a seat on the front where Mother and Dad sat. Behind the seat was a flat area covered with straw where we children were either nestled under the buffalo robe, or where we could get off and run alongside the sled, hanging on so we could keep up. On a cold day, the telephone and electric wires would give off a humming sound as the wind blew. That provided music to harmonize with the jingling of the bells attached to the horses’ harnesses. The bobsled was pulled by two horses. When one or two people were going somewhere, Dad took the cutter which was pulled by one horse.
When we went to town with the horse we called Bill, we got there and back in a hurry. But when we hitched up old Dan, it was slow going getting to town. However, when we headed home, Dan showed new life the last mile of the trip.
During the weeks when the roads were impassible for regular cars, Dad had our car up on blocks so that the tires were off the floor of the garage. That was so that when he went to use the car again there would not be the bump, bump of the flattened area. It was a welcome sound in the early spring when we heard the sound of the tractor snow plow coming down Wall Street. Then it was our job to shovel the driveway out and we could travel by car again. Dad bought a 1922 Buick which had jump seats between the front and back seat. It was regarded as a seven passenger vehicle and was a fine vehicle for that time. It had a hard top and glass slider windows. It was the first car that we owned that used a gear shift, so the clutch operation was opposite to the Ford that Dad had previously driven. The first time he went to put it in the garage he got confused and the car pushed the end of the garage out and the front wheels dropped over the edge and had to be jacked up before it could be backed up.
The Wall Street school was just a block from our house. It was on the next property adjacent to our farm. All eight grades were in the one room. It was heated by a coal stove surrounded by a circular metal jacket to circulate the heat. There was no water, so the teacher would send two of the older boys with the three gallon pail to the next neighbor’s farm where there was a pump outside the house. The boys would pump the water from the well and carry it back to the schoolhouse and pour it into the receptacle with a spigot where we got water when we needed a drink. There were two outside toilets in the back yard.
I attended the Wall Street School my first three years. The teacher was Miss Erna Sette.
She was barely twenty years old when she started, and she taught all eight grades with around twenty students. Those three years was the extent of her teaching career. After that she went into banking and ultimately became the head cashier at the bank. Every time I visited Wisconsin through the years, I always went to see Erna Sette who remained single and lived to almost one hundred years old. Besides the four Fuiten children, I remember the five from the Asp family, two Hemingways, two Emersons, two Skifstads, and four or five Francois children that went to the school.
When it came threshing time on the farm, it was a thrill when we saw Art Larson coming down the road with his steam engine pulling the threshing machine. He would blow the shrill steam whistle as he pulled into our driveway. Then he would set up his machine where the straw stack would be located. The neighbors who were exchanging work came with their wagons and headed for the grain field where the grain was in shocks. Instead of combines that are now used, the grain had been cut with a binder that tied the grain in bundles. The bundles were then put into a shock until time to be picked up and hauled to the threshing machine. The bundles were pitched into the threshing machine and the grain was separated from the straw and hauled to the granary.
Another important event on the farm was haying time. At the time I was growing up there were no bailing machines in our area. The hay field was mowed with a mower drawn by two horses. When the hay was dried sufficiently it was raked into windrows with a side-delivery rake. Then a hay-loader was attached to the back of the wagon. To pick up the hay, the horses and wagon straddled the windrow of hay and the loader picked it up and lifted the hay to the wagon. As a boy I drove the horses during the loading process while Dad spread the hay on the wagon until it was fully loaded. Then we would head for the barn to unload. In the barn was a track attached under the peak of the roof. The large hay fork would be lowered from the track to the load of hay. The fork had two tines about three feet long and about three feet apart with a lever near the tip of each tine. The fork is pressed down into the hay and the lever set so that the hay will be lifted from the load. A rope system pulls the hay fork up to the track where it then rolls to the hay mow. This is drawn by a single horse, and when the hay reaches where it is to be dropped Dad would yell “whoa” and would pull the trip rope and the hay would drop. Then the helper would bring the horse back and prepare to pull the next fork load up from the wagon.
My wife Florence has an interesting story in this regard. On the farm where she grew up, the track under the peak of the barn roof needed attention due to the nuts and bolts holding the track coming loose. It was out of reach for ladders, so her father wanted her older brother, Lloyd, to agree to be tied to the hay fork and be lifted up to the track and move to the area that was loose and to tighten the nuts with a wrench. Lloyd was afraid, so little Florence who was about nine years old was willing to do the job. So she was securely tied to the hay fork and was lifted up to the track where she tightened the nuts and the job was done. BRAVO!!
Being raised on a farm is a great advantage. I have often said that if you were not raised on a farm, you have missed half your life. There is a lot of work to be done on a farm, but there is a lot of satisfaction also. It is so interesting to observe the hens go through a change where they start clucking and then they set on a nest of fertilized eggs for 21 days until the eggs hatch and the baby chicks appear. Besides keeping the eggs warm, the hen turns them regularly which is necessary. Then to watch the mother hen as she looks after her flock of chicks, calling them together if she finds food for them, and sounding a warning if a hawk might be flying overhead looking for a chicken lunch. If danger is lurking, she beckons them to run for cover under her protective feathers. I wonder Who taught her all these skills?
On the farm during the summer we boys went barefoot. I remember taking the oil can used to oil the mower, and putting oil between my toes to see if that would enable me to run faster. And speaking about running reminds me of the time Bob came puffing into the house saying “The old ugly cow got after me when I was in the barnyard, and I had to wun for my wife (run for my life)”. Another time Bob and I were to take the cows down the lane to the back forty to graze during the day. On the way back from the field we got the dumb idea to see who could walk with our eyes closed the longest. It wasn’t long until I heard a cry. Bob had run into the barbed wire fence and had an ugly cut on his upper lip. This left a scar that he had for the rest of his life. Whenever I saw that scar through the years, I was reminded of the foolish stunts kids are prone to do. Our older brother George was climbing a tree one day, and fell out of the tree and broke both of his arms. As a result of the injury, it was discovered that he had Sugar Diabetes. Insulin had only been discovered not long before and was very expensive. Dad had to borrow money and mortgage the farm in order to provide the necessary treatment.
The family consisted of four boys and two girls when Mary Jane arrived on March 23, 1923. In 1925 the eighth child was still-born. I was not aware of it at the time. Then on the morning of January 19, 1927 I came down the stairs into the kitchen, expecting to find my Mother there preparing breakfast. To my surprise, my Aunt Ardys Kruschke was there in her place. She broke the news to me that I had a new baby brother, and took me into the bedroom to show me the new arrival. He was given the name, David Calvin. I was so excited I could hardly wait to get to school to share the news with the neighborhood. The kids at school wouldn’t believe me, so I challenged them to come out into the road in front of the schoolhouse, and I would show them Dr. Epley’s snowmobile tracks to prove that I had a new brother.
All of us children slept in the upstairs bedrooms while our parents’ bedroom was downstairs. We also were aware that after we went to bed, it was time for Mother to fill Dad in on the activities of the day. There was a heat register in the ceiling near their bedroom door that allowed heat to go through to the hallway upstairs. We discovered that by putting our ear to the register in the hall we could hear the report. That was especially of interest if we had misbehaved that day. Dad did the disciplining, and his favorite means was with the razor strap that hung in the bathroom just off from the kitchen. We all got our share of treatments with that strap. We deserved it. I have the utmost respect for Dad. He was a good, honest, hard working man and fair with us.
Something else was going on at this time. The folks were talking with Bill Davis. Bill was planning to get married, and he wanted to buy the Fuiten farm for his bride Kate to occupy with him. It must have been the lovely house that he was particularly interested in. I remember Bill offering $17,000.00 for the property, and saying with a big cut of tobacco in his mouth, “Cash deal, Ben.” It must have been a very difficult decision for the folks, but apparently the debt had piled up for insulin, and they didn’t see any other way. So they agreed to sell and set the moving date for April 1, 1927. That would give Mother a couple of months following David’s birth to recover before the move. During that time an auction was held and all the livestock and equipment was sold. It must have been traumatic to think about leaving this place that had been such a vital part of their dream. They didn’t know when they made the move that it would be eleven years to the day before they would again live in a house with an. indoor bathroom. It was also the end of the prize- winning hogs and poultry.
Chapter 2 The Star Prairie Farm
The farm to which we moved was located at the west edge of the village of Star Prairie.
The folks purchased it from Hilbert Wenstad who was a mail carrier for the area, and who was married to Mother’s cousin, Mabel Krueger. They made a down payment of $2,000.00 on the property. Then Dad bought a team of horses and other necessary equipment to start farming on a lesser scale. One of the horses was blind, so he got a good deal on them. The horses were both black, and the one that could see was pretty smart. He would lag back whenever possible to let the blind one do most of the pulling. So we had to keep prodding Felix so that Prince didn’t have the heavy load.
The Apple River runs through Star Prairie, and bordered the farm. It was convenient for us to take our fishing pole and try our luck at fishing from time to time. The first perch fish that I caught was hooked by the tail instead of the mouth. I don’t know how that happened. I would take my coaster wagon with a large can on it and go down along the river to catch frogs. These we sold for bait. The largest ones were sold to restaurants.
When we five started school in Star Prairie, we were all outfitted with four buckle overshoes in case of snow. I remember a blizzard in mid-April that made traveling impossible. Anyway, because we all had these new boots, we told the kids that we were “bootleggers” We were not too smart about the ways of the world. Those were the days when prohibition was in effect, so there were bootleggers around. It was about a half of a mile to the school – a straight line from our driveway through the village and up the hill to the schoolhouse. In the winter time we took our sleds to school and would slide down that hill, sometimes going as far as Main Street. There were five classrooms in the school. So the classes were divided so there were two grades in each classroom, including the 9th and l0th grades. In the lower floor was the gymnasium with a low ceiling, so it was not the greatest for basketball.
I remember the day when the farmers came to the school with their horses and scrapers
and cleared out an area for a ball field. That was great, but the area beyond 2nd base was down-hill, so that if you hit the ball past 2nd base, it could roll quite a distance. Home plate was right next to the woods. Athletics was not my forte. When recess time came, the leader type person called out ”First Chooser” and they would choose up sides for teams. Needless to say, I wasn’t the first one chosen, even when I was in the 9th and 10th grade.
The house on the Star Prairie farm had a parlor that was off from the living room and separated by large double pocket doors so that it opened up to make a large living space. It also had a fireplace. In cold weather we closed off the parlor so that the rest of the house could be heated easier with the wood stove in the living room. Just outside the back door was the water pump over the well. And of course, the outhouse was in the back yard. When the snow would blow into it, and it was necessary to take the broom to sweep off the seat. It makes me shiver to think about it.
The next winter after we moved to Star Prairie, George’s diabetes got worse and he went into a coma. The doctor came and spent hours trying to revive him, but was unable to help him. He passed away on February 28, 1928. The undertaker brought the body back to the house after the embalming, and the casket was in the parlor until the funeral, which was held in our house. It was an emotional time, and I was so embarrassed because I got the giggles when the house was filled with relatives and friends.
After the funeral, George’s teacher brought his things from school. Among them was an
article that he had written about a dream that he had. In the dream he had died and the devil was taking him to a place where he saw the flames and felt the heat. In his desperation he called out to Jesus to rescue him, and He came and rescued him. Then he woke up and found that he had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace. George had also written an interesting article entitled, “ An Imaginary Trip To The Moon.” In it he described the rocket that took him on the journey, and what he encountered when he got there.
After selling the Wall Street farm, Dad invested $700 in Foshay stock. The W.B. Foshay Company was building a high rise office building in Minneapolis. Some months later the salesman who sold him the stock came by and offered to buy it back. Dad decided to not sell it because it had been paying good dividends. But not long after that the Foshay company went bankrupt and the stock was worthless. The memory of that loss could be the reason I have never invested in the stock market.
In order to supplement the income from the farm, Dad sold insurance. He primarily sold hail insurance to farmers, so that if a hail storm were to destroy the crops, they would be reimbursed by the insurance. He often took me with him when he went out calling on prospects. I recall the stories he told of people who suffered losses from hail storm damage, and what it meant to them financially. Dad also bid on school bus routes to provide transportation for students. The Buick was great for that purpose. He could pack quite a few children into it. Another person had a route, and he built a cover on the back of his flat bed truck with a ladder on the back, and benches on each side, a vast difference from modern school buses. I can remember that Dad would get the team of horses hitched to the plow, and I would do the plowing while he went on the bus route. Then, when he returned he would take over the plowing and I would be on my way walking to school.
When I was in the l0th grade, Dad bid on a route. The School Board Directors were hesitant to accept his bid because he did not have the reputation of being a good driver. But the Directors said that they would accept the bid if I would be the driver.
One day we discovered that a badger had taken up residence in our hay field. The badger holes were a danger to the horses. If the horse happened to step into the hole, it could easily break a leg. So we asked a trapper to try and catch the badger. So he set the traps. When he came back to check the traps, I went with him. As we neared the location where one of the traps was set, I ran ahead to get the first look at the trap. To my surprise, there was a live animal in the trap, and I excitedly announced, “We got one – a black and white one”. It was a skunk. Fortunately, I didn’t get sprayed.
In addition to our hay crops, we raised cucumbers for the Friday Canning Corp. That provided a cash crop, but it wasn’t enough. We raised popcorn, dried the ears in the attic of the house, and shelled the corn by hand, trying to make a living. Finally, Hilbert Wenstad offered to give back the down payment so that the folks could try something else. That was incredibly generous of him. He didn’t need to do that, but he did.
The next move was into the village of Star Prairie. Dad bought an old house at the south end of Main Street. It was a corner lot, and a good location to build a service station. So he had a building built. It was about twelve feet by twenty feet, and provided a room with a counter where pop and candy and tobacco were sold, a room for oil and equipment such as air compressor were kept, and a toilet with a single seat over the pit. There was no water in the building. Behind the building was a grease pit where we would do lubrication and oil changes. There were two gas pumps – the style where there was a ten gallon glass globe on the top that you pumped the gas by hand to fill. Then you could dispense the gas by the hose, stopping at whatever mark the customer wanted. Some people would only have money for one or two gallons, but usually it was five. If they wanted more that ten gallons, the globe was refilled and then delivered. That was rare, hardly ever did anyone say, “fill it up.” It was the usual procedure that the attendant would wash the windshield, check the oil and the water, and see if the tires were properly inflated. It was truly a service station. I remember the first customer when we opened the station was Lawrence Estenson, one of our neighbors when we lived on Wall Street. I was on hand to wait on him. I was thirteen years old at the time, and for the next five years I waited on thousands of customers.
When we left the farm, all the equipment and livestock was sold. At the new location Dad fenced in a brush patch on the back of the property and we got some milk goats. So all during the five years that we were there, we enjoyed drinking goat’s milk. It was usually my job to go to the goat pen twice a day, get the nanny up on a ledge to eat some grain while I milked her. We borrowed a billy goat so we could raise some kids. One nanny had twin male kids that we had fixed, with the idea that they would make good eating some day. So when they were big enough, I made harnesses for them and hitched them up to our flexible flyer sled in the winter and drove them around the village. In the spring dad said that it was time to butcher Billy & Willie. He had a friend pick them up and do the butchering. The first time mother served us the goat meat, none of us children were able to eat it, because that was Billy & Willie that we would be eating. So mother canned the meat, and we didn’t know when we ate it.
Now I would like to take you on a tour of the village of Star Prairie. You will remember that our service station was on the inside corner at the south end of main street. If you were to go straight ahead at the end of main street, you would be in Ole Everson’s blacksmith shop. Ole did a lot of work for the farmers like rebuilding wagon wheels. He would lay out the hub and spokes, and then heat the steel band in an open fire until it was real hot. Then with tongs he would lift it from the fire and place it over the parts he had laid out and then put it into water to cool the steel rim so it would reduce in circumference and fit tightly in place. We could hear the ringing sound at our place as he took metal from the forge and beat it on the anvil. Or we watched as he did horse-shoeing.
Next we will take the right hand turn, and just one block on the next curve was the tavern that Herman Lau built immediately after prohibition ended in 1932. Herman had a trout farm on his property where he raised trout. He had a man name Tuffy Larson who worked for him, feeding the fish and cleaning the ponds. I don’t know his real name, but he was a hard worker, doing a very difficult job that required wading in the ponds a great deal of time. Herman was an entrepreneur, and decided to raise chickens too. When he was building the chicken house, he hired me to help on the building. That was my first experience doing building.
Next we will visit the cheese factory just to the right of the Lau operation. I spent many hours here on Sunday mornings, because I was there to sell Sunday papers to the farmers as they brought their milk to the cheese factory. The daily papers were delivered by mail.
So each Sunday morning I got up early, drove five miles to New Richmond to the train depot to pick up the papers – The St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Tribune, and the Minneapolis Journal, and then hurry back to be there at the cheese factory by 6:00 a.m. when the first of the farmers would arrive. Usually by 8:30 they had all been there and then I would make my deliveries around town before returning home. As each farmer pulled up to unload his cans of milk, Glen Rundhammer the cheese-maker would dump the milk into a large vat on a scales, weigh it and take a sample and put it into a bottle with the farmers name on it. Periodically he would determine the butter-fat content from the sample. These two factors determined how much the farmer would be paid at the end of the month. After unloading the milk, many of the farmers went around to the rear of the factory to pick up whey which was left from the cheese making process to feed to their pigs.
While we are here at the back of the cheese factory, I want to show you what we have in the river right behind the cheese factory. Wayne Irle, my brother Bob and I have constructed a cage made from hardware cloth where we keep minnows. At the service station we have a sign “minnows for sale”. So when someone wants to buy some minnows for fish bait, we take them down here behind the cheese factory and dip out whatever they need. We charged fifty cents a dozen. Of course, we spent a lot of time going around to lakes and streams searching for and seining the minnows. It took the three of us to do that. Two would hold the net and the third one would drive the minnows toward the net. Then we would put our catch into milk cans and bring them back and empty them into our cage in the Apple River ready for sale.
Next to the cheese factory is the feed mill. Here the farmers bring their grain to be ground up for livestock feed. The mill is powered by water from the Apple River. Behind the mill is an old dam build out of timbers to dam up the river to provide the power to turn the grinding equipment. Across the dam was a walkway made of lumber that was about three feet wide without a guard rail. On one side was the water and on the other side the spillway. It took courage to walk across the dam. It wasn’t the safest thing. When the gate is opened to let the water run the mill, the whole building shakes. The mill is owned by Leland Ash. He was a banker in Roberts before buying the mill. When the bank holiday occurred and all the banks closed, he made the change. In 1935 when I graduated from High School, Mr. Ash offered me a job driving his 1934 Dodge truck. I was paid fifteen cents and hour and worked ten hours a day, six days a week. With the truck I picked up cattle or hogs and took them to the stock yards in South St. Paul. After washing out the truck I would drive to Minneapolis to pick up a load of feed to be sold to the farmers. I did other kinds of trucking, including helping people move. Occasionally I would go seventy miles north to Danbury. There I would pick up lumber that had been freshly sawn from logs that had lain at the bottom of the river for forty years. The area had been logged at that time, and these logs were butt cuts that sank and were left there. Now when lumber was harder to come by, these logs were located and raised, then sawn up. We took it right from the mill without it having time to dry. It was heavy, and I loaded it one piece at a time. The lumber was several feet longer that the truck bed, and on one trip Mr. Ash decided to drive the loaded truck. Going up one hill he stalled the truck because he wasn’t used to double clutching. When he tried to get going again, the front of the truck raised up off the road because of the long load. After that he let me do all the driving. Upon arrival back at the mill, we had to stack the lumber so that it would dry in the stack. That was hard work, but I loved it.
Now lets go back to Main Street. On the left is the garage operated by Oliver Johnson and Hank Krueger. They had two gas pumps also and were the principal competition to our service station. Hank was the principal mechanic in the repair facility. He and his wife Ethel lived across the street from the garage.
Next on the right as we go north is the New Department Store operated by the Bottolfson family. They had groceries, some hardware, a mortuary and other miscellaneous items. They also had a gas pump in front of the store.
Then on one corner at the center of town was the office and residence of Dr, Perrin. During my High School years I occasionally was called on to chauffeur the Dr. somewhere. He did not drive by himself anymore. On several occasions I took him to St. Paul presumably to see a patient. On the way back he needed to stop at taverns in Stillwater and Somerset. I being underage waited in the car for him. On one occasion we stopped in White Bear, MN where there was a cock fight. Only persons of age were permitted because there was gambling going on, so again I waited patiently in the car. On another occasion I took him to see a patient in his home. When Dr. returned to the car, I asked him how Mr. Johnson was doing. Old Doc looked over his half glasses, and said of the 93 year old Mr. Johnson, “Too mean to die, Too mean to die”. Needless to say, Doc Perrin was not our family physician.
On the other corner in the center of Star Prairie was the bank. The banker, Olaf Olson, was a tall man about six foot five tall. He had a son, Le Roy who was Bob’s age. LeRoy had a pony to ride as well as a bicycle. I never owned a bicycle of my own, so I guess I was a bit envious of Le Roy. He was a good student in school. But when I inquired about him forty years later, he had a job candling eggs in a produce house. Alcohol had been his downfall. He had been the one the most likely to succeed.
On the other corner in mid-town was the post office. Otto Olson was the Postmaster. After Bob graduated from High School in 1936, he started working in the Post Office. When the rest of the family left to move west in September 1936, Bob decided to stay because he didn’t want to leave his job that paid him $20 per month. A year later he re-considered and hopped a freight train and headed for Oregon to join the rest of the family.
Next to the bank was Pete Horgan’s cobbler shop. Pete’s youngest daughter was in the same grade of school with me. She got the best grades in the class. I tried, but couldn’t do as good as she did. When we graduated from the eighth grade, she was the valedictorian and I was the salutatorian. Yes, there were more than two of us in the class. There were about twelve of us. Getting back to Pete, the cobbler, we did have our shoes fixed there sometimes. Yesterday, I called my only remaining sibling, Mary, and asked her of her recollection of life in Star Prairie after being gone for seventy years. One thing she mentioned was wearing shoes with the soles worn through, so she cut pieces of cardboard to fit in the shoe. Yes, Pete was ready, willing and able to fix them, but we must not have had the money to pay the cobbler.
Next, let’s drop in to Anderson’s grocery store. When we were on the farm, we would take eggs to the store to trade for sugar, flour or whatever was needed. That is why it was referred to as going to town to do the trading. Now we go shopping instead of trading. Anderson’s was also a family operated store.
Then the next building was the Hanson’s restaurant, the only one in town. We never did go to the restaurant for a meal. It just was not in our budget to dine out.
Now we are at the end of main street where on the corner is Shurtz’s Hotel. I don’t have any idea how many rooms it had, but it was a small building. Then, beyond was a wooded area known as Shurtz’s Grove. It was in this area that the carnivals would set up when they came to town with their sideshows and medicine men who offered bottles of medicine that would cure you of whatever may be ailing you.
Well, that is about the extent of what was downtown Star Prairie in the early 1930’s. I guess I missed the two barber shops. One was operated by Alfred Howe and the other by Pete Jerdee. At our house, Dad was the one who cut the hair of his boys with a hand clippers, not an electric clippers. When it came to shaving, Dad complained that he had difficulty seeing well enough to shave himself, so for many years prior to the time that I left home, I shaved Dad whenever he needed a shave. That meant steaming his face with a hot towel, then applying the lather and shaving with a safety razor. He had used a straight edge razor in earlier years, but I never tried using that. The razor strap also fell into disuse as we grew older and other forms of discipline were used.
There were two Norwegian Lutheran church buildings in town. One was on the hill above our goat pasture. The other was between main street and the farm where we used to live. Rev. Haaland was the pastor and used both facilities. He had two daughters about my age. I remember the day he came to our service station, and after being served he spoke some lines in Norwegian. Then he laughed and gave the interpretation that went something like this: “Thank you very much, married you shall be. If you can’t find another, you can have my daughter”. I didn’t take him up on his offer. His daughters, Inez and Helen were both fine girls, though.
Now back at home on the south end of town, our house was next to the service station. I spent many hours standing just inside the front door that faced the station looking out the glass window watching for someone to drive in. When someone stopped by, I would then hurry out to take care of them. One day as I was standing there by the window, my brother Bob came in from hunting rabbits. He set his 22 caliber rifle down. Not long after that, little David, now about seven years old, picked up the rifle and pointed it at me and pulled the trigger. Bob had failed to remove the shell from the barrel, so the gun fired and the bullet went into the wall just above my head. If I had been as tall as Bob or Jim were, it could have been fatal. There is some advantage to being the shortest of us boys. Really, I am grateful to God for sparing my life. It is another indication to me that God had a purpose and a plan in mind.
At the service station, I took notice of license plates as cars drove in. One day a Pontiac stopped in bearing Oregon plates. The driver got out and introduced himself as my mother’s cousin, Howard Rex from Salem, Oregon. Along with him was his vivacious wife, Veva. So we invited them to the house and we had a good visit. I was anxious to learn more about Oregon, especially since one of the girls in our age group had been to Oregon and had talked about it on several occasions. I was fascinated about the west and had a desire to visit there or better yet, to live there.
On Sunday afternoon and evening, we had a different group of customers stop by the station. They were people from the twin cities who had residences on the lakes that are everywhere in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They needed gas to get them back to the cities. One customer that stopped by frequently said to me one time that he owned a hardware store in Minneapolis, and that if I ever wanted to make a change and move to the city, he would like to have me work for him. I thanked him, but never felt that I wanted to take him up on his offer.
After graduating from the 10th grade in Star Prairie, we had to go to New Richmond to finish high school. Here again the Buick served well to provide transportation. Another student, Earle Nelson, also drove a Buick, and between us we took the students from Star Prairie to NRHS. Somewhere along the line Dad found a good buy on a 1926 Studebaker which was also a seven passenger vehicle. It had cost $2800 new and only had about 20,000 miles on it. Other cars sold for under $1,000 new at that time. So he sold the Buick and upgraded to this later model. It was plush with mohair upholstering, windows that rolled up and down, and was comfortable and easy to drive. It also had a light with a cord on a reel so that one could pull it out and have a light to change a tire or check the engine.
In High School, I was involved with music, being in the marching band, orchestra, playing the tuba, Glee Club and Mixed Chorus. In band we practiced before school, marching up and down main street. That street was paved with brick, so it made a good place to march. History was not my favorite subject. But in my senior year I took bookkeeping. I loved it, and the teacher, Conrad Somers, used my work as an example for the other students in the class. What I learned in that class has been beneficial to me throughout my life.
When I was junior in high school, there was an activity at the school that I was planning to attend. My cousin, Carl also wanted to attend. I already had a date with a girl, but Carl didn’t have a date. He suggested that I ask another senior if she would go with us. She accepted and everything was fine. But afterward she confided in me that she was of the impression that I was asking for myself when I invited her. Kind of like when Miles Standish requested his friend John Alden to ask Priscilla Wayne if she would marry Miles. Priscilla replied, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” She ultimately became Mrs. Alden. Well, anyway, for the balance of my junior year I dated Katherine, a senior. I guess that I always appreciated maturity. She went the following year to a college in the east, and ultimately became a college professor, and we never corresponded after she went away to school.
Our group of students from Star Prairie had a good relationship. We would have a party at one or other of the homes periodically, and just had fun as a group. The home we liked best was the Dorings, because they had a player piano to provide music. There was never any alcohol at these events. We never heard of anyone using drugs to get high. In the New Richmond High School there was an element that drank at school events, but our group from Star Prairie were not part of that crowd.
I mentioned about the minnow business. To get around we needed a vehicle for that purpose. I found a 1917 model T Ford for sale, so I bought it for $5.00. It was painted yellow, and the former owner lived on the Goose Lake farm, so I called my Ford the Yellow Goose. The box on the back was suitable to haul the cans we put our minnows in. In the winter time we would tie ropes to it and I would tow skiers along the country roads. A while back at the bank I saw a replica of a 1918 Ford that reminded me of the Yellow Goose, so I bought it and paid $25 for the replica.
It was in January 1936 that I got up one morning and looked at the thermometer. It was 54 below zero. I looked in the tea kettle on the kitchen stove before starting the fire, and there was ice in it. Then I tried to start the Studebaker, and it wouldn’t budge. That was before the use of multi-viscosity oil. That morning I told the folks that before the snow flies this fall, I am heading for Oregon. I was serious about that, and as the year went on the folks thought that they would like to do the same. It was something they had thought of doing for some time. So on September 1st, after leasing the service station and house to another individual, we were ready to leave. We had sold the Studebaker and bought a 1929 Dodge Victory sedan from Mr. Ash. We found a home-made trailer house that was built on a car chassis, and decided that would be a good thing to travel with, so we bought it and put what things we needed to take in the trailer. We sold a lot of things and put other items in storage with relatives. So we bid farewell to friends and relatives, and took off on our journey west.
On To Oregon
We were packed tightly in the Dodge. There was mother and dad, Jim, Mary, David and myself. I was 18 years old at the time, and did all the driving. We headed south from the twin cities into Iowa and then west on highway 30 through Nebraska, and got along fine. When we got to Wyoming and started over the continental divide, we noticed a big difference. If we faced a head wind in addition to the climb, we had to go down to second gear. Sometimes we gave up and looked for a place to park and wait for the wind to die down. Early morning proved the best time to travel. There wasn’t room in the trailer for all to sleep, so the folks and Mary slept in the trailer while we three boys slept in the car. The back of the front seat would lay back so we could have a fairly comfortable sleep.
When we got to Idaho, it was potato harvest time, so we tried picking up potatoes. One day was enough for us. We decided that it was getting fall like and we didn’t know what was ahead as far as road conditions on mountain passes was concerned, so we better be on our way. Finally we saw the sign that we looked forward to seeing: “Welcome to Oregon”. But it wasn’t long after we entered Oregon that we were involved in an accident. A car with a small trailer attempted to pass us. The driver cut back in too soon and his trailer hit the front part of our car. That caused our car and trailer to be pushed toward the ditch. In the process the trailer tipped dangerously to the right but didn’t tip over. When we attempted to get into the trailer after stopping, we found our things were strewn around and it was hard to open the door because of all the things on the floor. But we were better off than the other driver. After the trailer cleared our car, it swung so far to the right that it pulled his car around and he landed upside down in the ditch on the left side of the road, heading back toward the direction from which he came. He had picked up a woman hitch-hiker that we had seen going through North Powder, and she was in the back seat. She had an ugly cut on her face. The driver had a broken leg and his wife fared the best. People that witnessed the accident thought for sure that our trailer was going to tip over, but we thank the Lord that we came through that accident with very little damage. Our next stop was in La Grande where we reported the accident. Then the trek over Cabbage Hill was memorable. I recall the illusion that we were still climbing, but the car was no longer lugging with the load of the trailer, and we were actually going down hill. Mountain travel was a new adventure to us, because Wisconsin and Minnesota are not mountainous.
Traveling down the Columbia Gorge was spectacular. Arriving at the Vista House on Highway 30 was breath-taking as we stopped to feast on the view. Climbing the hills on the old highway with all the curves was slow traveling. Finally we made it to Salem where we stayed for the first week with Arthur & Matilda Rex. The first Mrs. Rex was Mother’s Aunt Emma, but she had been gone for a number of years, and Arthur had remarried. We also got to see Howard and Veva Rex again. In fact, the first Sunday we were in Oregon, they took us four young Fuiten’s to the coast. It was at Agate Beach that I filled my pockets with agates that I picked up on the beach. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to see the coastal sites of Lincoln County.
While in the Salem area, we started looking for work. Nothing seemed to be open. It was October and harvesting was completed. So we went to Portland and visited a family with relatives in Star Prairie, and also mother’s cousin, Raymond Rex. Then we went down to 3rd and Burnside where there were hundreds of men looking for work. There we got in contact with a Mr. Schmidke who was looking for wood cutters. He hired us to go up to Corbett about 28 miles east of Portland to cut wood. So we purchased a 7 foot cross-cut saw, a sledge and two wedges, and a double-bitted axe and headed out. Mr. Schmidke told us of a cabin that was available near the project, so we moved in. The location where we were cutting wood was along the new road to Larch Mountain. The trees that we were to cut were a certain distance on both sides of the road. It was in old growth fir, and some of the trees were too large for our 7 foot saw. All the trees that we had cut in Wisconsin were cut down with an axe, and loaded as poles onto a sled to be hauled home and cut up with a buzz saw into stovewood lengths. Now we were facing something entirely different. We had no hard hats or rain clothes either. The trees were cut down and sawn into four foot lengths, then split and stacked. A cord of wood was eight feet long and four feet, four inches high. For each cord that we cut, split and stacked, and swamped out a trail so that the truck could get to the pile, we were paid ONE DOLLAR. It took the three of us, that is Dad, James and I, working long days and six days a week to earn enough to buy groceries and gas to go back and forth to work We worked every day whether it rained or not. Often we came back to the cabin soaking wet at the end of the day. But Dad didn’t lose his song. He made up a song that he sang to the tune of “The Old Gray Mare”. “ We went out west to Corbett, Oregon. Corbett, Oregon. Corbett, Oregon
We went out west to Corbett, Oregon. In the wild and wooley west.
We lived among the tall trees and rippling streams, 3x
In the wild and wooley west”.
Among the wood cutters were those using splitting guns. It was like a piece of pipe that they would drive into the end of the log after cutting it into the four foot length. The end of the pipe was solid and there was a small hole in the top of the part of the pipe that was exposed. Into that hole they poured gun powder and then inserted a fuse that would be lit. When the fire reached the gun powder it would explode and split the log in two. From there on, the wedges would work well in doing the splitting. Other crews used a drag saw. This was before chain saws were in use. The drag saw had a gasoline engine mounted on a wood frame that would lean against the log. An arm mounted on the motor shaft would drive the saw blade back and forth through the log until the cut was complete. That was only practical in the old growth timber like we were working in at the time.
Among the workers we met on the job was the Cain family that had migrated from Missouri. There was Lendo and Lil and their four children. We enjoyed visiting with them. But they soon moved on to another area where they could get $1.50 per cord. When they arrived at the new site, they wrote back and encouraged us to join them, which we did.
The new location was on Mount Richmond, about five miles northwest of Yamhill, Oregon. The cutting was in oak trees which was entirely different from the old growth fir. It was a lot more work cutting the oak, so we still had to really push to keep food on the table. Jim, now 15 years old, worked with Dad and I instead of going to school that first winter. We were provided a one room cabin to live in. The siding was just rough boards on the exterior and no finish on the inside. It was air-conditioned because when the wind blew, we could feel it in the cabin. The floor was just planks as well. There were pack rats that shared the quarters with us. We got our water from a nearby spring. The Cain family had a similar cabin nearby, and we enjoyed their fellowship.
Our employer was a Mormon family. There was two brothers, Wayne and Lester Jones who were single young men, along with their father and step mother who had a house on top of the hill with a view of the coastal mountains. The Jones boys had a small saw mill where they cut railroad ties. So eventually we worked with them cutting and sawing ties in addition to cutting cord wood. We would fall and buck the trees one day. Then another day we would set chokers while they dragged the logs to the mill site. Then we would work in the mill pulling the green chain and stacking the railroad ties as they came from the saw. It was all heavy work and we developed our muscles.
We did our grocery shopping in McMinnville most of the time. Yamhill had two grocery stores also. The city of McMinnville had an ordinance that no margarine could be sold in the city limits, so we drove to a small store on the opposite side of town beyond the city limits to buy margarine because we didn’t feel we could afford butter. The oleo margarine was uncolored, but included a packet of yellow coloring, so if you wanted it to look like butter, it had to be put into a bowl and the coloring mixed in. The city ordinance was undoubtedly made to protect the interest of the dairy farmers. But we had to watch the pennies. I remember one week when we didn’t have much besides potatoes and flour. So we had pancakes for breakfast, potatoes for dinner, and potato pancakes for supper. Another time one of the Cain boys shot a deer (out of season) and shared some of the venison with us.
In the spring of 1937 the Cains moved to Sumner, Washington and we moved to Independence, Oregon to work in the hop yards. We went to work for Sam Hoover, the owner of Rio Vista hop yards. He provided a campsite near Independence where there was a long building with cubicles for workers to live in. Each one was about ten feet square with a dirt floor and a small flat top stove in the middle. On one wall were bunks with straw for a mattress. There was just a single layer of boards separating the cubicles, so there wasn’t much privacy. Water was carried from a spigot in the yard, and there were outhouses also. There was a community shower as well.
We started with hoeing the hops as part of a work crew of 20 men. The foreman, Mr. Stalnaker had his brother as the lead man who could really hustle, and we were all expected to keep up with him. Then as the hop vines started growing, we tied strings to a stake by the plant and to the wire system over each row, and then trained the hops to climb the string. Between jobs in the hop yard, we worked at picking cherries or whatever we could get. On one job in West Salem, I got extra pay for picking the cherries in the highest trees. Then back at the hop yards, before picking time we stripped the lower four feet of leaves from the vine because the wires were lowered so the pickers could reach the hops and put them into large baskets. It took lots of pickers to do the job. My job was to lower the wires to a support until picking was done and then move the wires up again.
One day while we were in the camp at Rio Vista, we saw a young man come in the driveway. It was our brother Robert. He looked rather forlorn and gaunt, but it was so good to see him again. He left his job at the Post Office in Star Prairie, and signed on to go with a group of magazine salesmen. They were taken to South Dakota where they were to make house to house calls. He soon decided that selling magazines was not his cup of tea, so he hopped a freight train that was heading west. Riding the rods and hitch-hiking ultimately got him to Independence, Oregon and reunion with the family.
Our older sister, Anna, had moved to St. Paul to live and work prior to our leaving Star Prairie. She dropped the “a” from her name, and was Ann for the rest of her life. She later became Mrs. Robert Hanold. They had one daughter, Sara. Ann and Sara ultimately moved to Oregon also.
When the hop picking was finished, a couple of the men working there talked of all the opportunities in California for fruit pickers. They were twin brothers whose last name was Nutter. So Bob and I decided to check it out. The Nutter twins, along with us, took the family car and headed for California. At the state border inspection station I was asked about the car registration, which was in Dad’s name. Then the inspector asked me if I had permission to take the car out of state. I told him that I did not have anything in writing, but that I had permission to do so. His reply to me was, “I can tell by your homely but honest face that it is alright.” So we were on our way to the Sacramento valley. We checked out some orchards. What we saw there did not appeal to us. The workers were mostly Mexican, and little kids were running around naked. So Bob and I headed back to Oregon, and the Nutter twins stayed there. I guess what they really wanted was a free ride to California, which they got.
Back in Oregon with the family, we decided to return to Yamhill. The cabin we had occupied the previous winter was available to us, so we moved in again. We found work at Wapato Lake harvesting onions for a brief time. Then I sharpened the cross-cut saw and we went back to cutting wood and working in the tie mill for the Jones brothers. This time it was Bob, Dad and I working, Jim went into Yamhill to work on a dairy and finish High School. He stayed with the Mallory family and milked cows before going to school, and again in the evening after school. We did take off a few days to go to Sumner, Washington to visit the Cain family, and also to Darrington, Washington to visit the Price family that the folks had known in Wisconsin.
In the spring of 1938, we purchased a team of horses, a wagon, plow, disc and drag from Dad Jones, and I went five miles down to Gaston and plowed gardens for the residents, It was too far to go back and forth with the horses and wagon each day, so I found a barn that was available in Gaston and kept the horses there until the jobs were completed. Meanwhile, Dad found a seven acre farm for rent in Forest Grove, so we moved there and started to work the land for planting crops. The previous resident had worked all winter with a shovel when it was wet, turning over the soil. That made it more difficult to work the soil, but we finally got it into shape. Dad bought a cow and some chickens, so we were back at farming. The house was an old house, but it did have indoor plumbing, a luxury that we had not enjoyed since leaving the farm on Wall Street eleven years before. Robert and I found some work in hay fields in the area.
Near Forest Grove was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and young men from the camp came to town on Saturday. I became acquainted with some of them. I had also visited a camp in Wisconsin where my former schoolmate, Alvin Giese, was enrolled. It was a program to provide employment during the depression era for young men. It sounded interesting to me, so one day I signed up for the program. I had not talked it over with the folks. When the call came for me to enter the CCC’s, Dad was very disappointed. He had not given up the idea of “B. H. Fuiten & Sons”. I had anticipated that I would serve in the camp at Timber near Forest Grove, but when I reported for enrollment, I was sent to a camp near Heppner, Oregon instead. So on July 13, 1938 I was put aboard a train that was heading east up the Columbia Gorge and to Eastern Oregon. At Heppner Junction, we disembarked and boarded trucks with benches fastened to the floor of the flat bed truck and headed up Willow Creek. It was a hot day, and the breeze felt good. Finally we arrived at the camp just outside the city of Heppner after riding the 47 miles up the canyon. What a change from Western Oregon. My first letter home stated,” there is nothing but rocks, hills, and sage brush. I’m not going to stay a minute longer than I have to”.
Camp Heppner was under the Army, with the Commanding Officer and his assistant being Army Officers. The work projects were under the Department of Agriculture or Department of Interior. This camp was Camp 2945, and was made up of 200 enrollees besides the staff of overhead from the Soil Conservation Service of the USDA. The Commanding Officer was Lt. Murius P. Hanford, a fine gentleman about thirty five years old. The Top Sgt. was a small, wrinkled old man about sixty years old. Each enrollee was paid $30.00 per month, of which either $22.50 or $25.00 was sent to the family, and the balance of the compensation was paid once a month in cash. The $25 per month that I sent home was enough to pay the rent on the seven acre place where the folks were living. That was some consolation to them. They received that check regularly for the 27 months that I was in the camp..
The camp was made up of four barracks, each having space for fifty bunks, with a locker by each bunk. Between barracks one and two was a bath house, and between three and four was another bath house. In each bath house there was a long, metal urinal, stools, a shower room, and a long tray for washing rather than individual sinks. There was a wood fired stove to heat the water in each bath house. So, when the bugler made his wake up call, there soon was a line up as a hundred men waited their turn in each bath facility. The next bugle sounded for breakfast and everyone lined up in the center of the compound until all were accounted for. Then we would march into the mess hall and fill each table as they came to it and remain standing until all were in place. Then the mess sergeant would take over and give the signal by saying “Seats” The men would then sit down and start reaching for the food that had been placed on each table. When a bowl was emptied, one of the fellows on the end of the bench would take the bowl to the kitchen counter which was at the center for refills. There were times that problems would arise over the food, so it was clearly understood if a fight should arise, the two persons involved were required to put on a set of heavy boxing gloves and have it out in a specific location. There were a few times that it happened, and the meal was postponed for a few minutes for those who wanted to witness the encounter, and then they would return to finish the meal. It was very rare that anything like that occurred. It was amazing that there were so few problems of discipline in the camp.
The work projects that we were involved in were in cooperation with the farmers. We developed springs in the Blue Mountains above Heppner for livestock watering. In an area that was evidently a spring, we dug a half moon shaped trench and built a rock and cement wall with a pipe protruding from the wall. At the end of the pipe a log was placed that had been hollowed out to make a trough where the livestock and game could drink. Another project was building fences for the farmers, or doing flood control work. Heppner had suffered a devastating flash flood in 1903 in which two hundred fifty two people lost their lives. Again in 1934 a smaller flash flood swept though the town again, but there was no loss of life. My wife was a witness to that flood. The valleys where the streams flowed were usually planted to alfalfa hay. Often the stream would cut a deep trench in the field. The CCC boys would build rock dams a distance apart so that the water would drop down in steps, thus preventing the trench being cut. That way the hay could be grown where the stream would flow, and the water table would be closer to the surface.
After a few days on work crews I was given the job of driving one of the crew trucks hauling crews to the projects. Later I drove the crawler tractor in the rock quarry; digging out the rock and pushing it to the loading chute and onto the dump trucks under the chute. I enjoyed the work. Then one day Lt. Hanford asked me if I would be interested in the job of mess sergeant. I sought the advice of my foreman, Mr. Thoen. He advised me to take the job as mess sergeant because the average life of a cat operator was about 10 years due to the jarring and back problems they experience, so I took his advice.
As mess sergeant it was my responsibility to plan the menus, order the supplies, and supervise the kitchen force of cooks and kitchen police (k.p.’s). It was an area that I was totally unfamiliar with, but Lt. Hanford promised to train me, which he did. It meant a great deal to me to have someone put confidence in me. The years of cutting wood and being a fruit tramp had been devastating. Being in this camp under Lt. Hanford and Sgt. Maginn helped me regain self confidence again, and I will be forever grateful for what this experience did for me. By the way, the ration allowance changed from month to month. It was usually around forty cents per day per person. With that allowance we purchased all the food. Most of the supplies were ordered from the commissary in Vancouver, WA. We would send a truck there to pick up supplies. Very little was purchased from local grocers. Fresh fruit and vegetables were purchased from suppliers that came by each week from Pendleton or Walla Walla. Eggs and milk we purchased from local farmers. We were able to feed the men three square meals a day and save money for special events like holidays on that ration allowance. Lt. Hanford stressed the fact that I should take note of what went into the garbage can. That would be the key to a successful operation if the waste was kept to a minimum. The cooks were responsible to pack a lot of lunches for the work crews who were scattered in all directions on work days The kitchen crew included two shifts that would alternate schedules, with a first and second cook on each shift.
One day Sgt. Maginn came to the kitchen and asked if I had a chunk of meat that he could have. He took what I gave him and hung it in a tree so that the blow flies would lay eggs in it. Then before the eggs hatched and became maggots, he put it into the septic tank because he was having trouble with the system being overloaded with sludge. That was his unique way of solving a problem without using chemicals. A novel idea, it seemed to me.
The first Sunday I was in camp, the man in the bunk next to mine invited me to go to church with him. His name was Spencer Fish. He was from Massachusetts, and had been in the camp for some time and attended the Methodist Church in Heppner. It had been years since I had been to Church.I thought that would be a way to get acquainted with some of the local people, so I accepted his invitation. The pastor, Rev. Carl Young and his wife Nody made me feel welcome, so I made it a regular habit of going to church. Soon I was singing in the choir and attending a Sunday school class taught by Neva Cochell who later became Neva Wells after marrying Tom Wells. Neva headed the county tax department under Sheriff C. J. D. Bauman. Also in the church I became acquainted with Leon W. Briggs, the county treasurer, an elderly man in his eighties and still serving in the office. By the way, Heppner is the county seat for Morrow County. Mr. Briggs’ daughter, Opal Briggs was manager for the local telephone exchange. Before the dial system was in use, all calls went through an operator who would plug in the party line you were calling and ring the phone being called using long or short rings in various combinations so the people on the party line would know when the call was for them. Opal had a burden for the boys in the camp, and had a real desire to reach them for Christ. She gave me a gospel of John one day. I put it in my locker and forgot about it. Also at church I met M.L.Case who owned a furniture store and mortuary. Each of these individuals would have an important part in my life.
I remember the evening I went to the parsonage for choir practice. The house was dark, but the radio was on. The door was not locked, so I went in. One girl, Wilma, was already there, but she had not discovered in the dark living room that our pastor was dead, sitting in his chair. Wilma had assumed that he was asleep, but when we turned on the light, it was evident that he was lifeless. It was a shock to us to lose our beloved pastor. We immediately notified the authorities. They came and took over. His wife was in Portland at the time. At the funeral of Pastor Young, his wife went about providing solace to the grieving congregation. Having hope in Christ means so very much at a time like that.
One day when I got up and looked in the mirror, I noticed my eyes and skin were yellow, and I wasn’t feeling well, so I checked in to the infirmary. When Dr. McMurdo came out from town, he diagnosed my illness as Yellow Jaundice, so I was confined to the infirmary. It was during this confinement that I remembered the gospel of John that Opal Briggs had given me, so I gave one of my buddies the key to my locker and told him to get that little booklet for me, which he did. I opened it to the back page first, and there read the words of the song, What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief’s to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. As I read the words of that song, God spoke to my young heart, and said, “Son, you have been missing the best in life”. That is totally true. So that day, at the age of twenty one, I read from the Bible for the first time in my life. How beautiful it was to learn of the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. And to learn that He is the way, the truth and the life; that He is the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the True Vine, and many other revealing things concerning our Jesus. What a discovery it was for me. And to think that I had left this treasury of Truth lie hidden in my locker for a while As a result, it has been my practice to tell people who are not familiar with the Bible to read the Gospel of John through three times before reading anything else just to become acquainted with Jesus. Then the rest of the scriptures will have greater meaning.
Not long after my infirmary experience, the Chaplain came to our camp and showed the film, ”The King of Kings”. The graphic depiction of the crucifixion gave me a better understanding of the purpose of Christ’s coming and atoning sacrifice. I was so moved that I was speechless. I slipped out of the recreation hall where the film had been shown, and went to my office in the mess hall to be by myself and pray. It was a revelation to me that Jesus not only was crucified long ago, but that it was for me that He died in order to atone for MY sins. What a debt of gratitude we owe to Him and to the Father Who so loved us that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but hath everlasting life. Jesus came into the world with this purpose in mind. I shall be eternally grateful for these encounters that changed my life and my destiny.
The majority of the men in camp were from the Portland area. There were a few that were a carryover from the time when most were from New York and Massachusetts. We were not permitted to have cars, but there were a few that did have a car which they would keep hidden in a rented garage somewhere in the Heppner area. Of course, all of us welcomed the opportunity to go home for a visit on a week end occasionally. One guy, Vic Jablonski, had a 1937 Ford coupe, a small vehicle with a 60 hp engine. On a couple of occasions I rode with him to the Portland area to visit my folks. In the vehicle were three in the front seat, one on the shelf behind the seat, two were huddled under the shelf and behind the seat, and three were in the trunk. You have heard of people seeing how many could crowd into a telephone booth. Well, when the nine of us piled out of that small car, it was a sight to behold. And it was a challenge for the car to make it over the Rowena Loops and up the mountain to the Vista House as well. But we were all anxious to get home once in a while, so we were willing to put up with the discomfort for that eight hour trip. I did quite a little hitch-hiking those days also.
One of my best friends, George Sturgill, was the first cook on one shift. On one occasion we went to Portland at the same time. George had a date with Leola, the girl he ultimately married and spent his life with. Since we were together, Leola arranged for a friend of hers to go with us on a blind date. Anyway, the four of us went to a restaurant to get some refreshments. I ordered a coke first, and this gal ordered a beer. That didn’t set too well with me, because in my family there was never any liquor of any kind. Needless to say, I was not interested in that gal after that. It was after we returned to Heppner from that trip that I remember walking out to camp from town and looking up into the star filled sky and saying to the Lord, “God, I want a good christian wife”. I had no idea how He was going to answer that prayer. While we are thinking about my friend, George, I want to tell you about our lifelong friendship. George went to work for Cromwell Tailors in Portland after leaving the CCC’s. He ultimately became the owner of the business, particularly providing formal wear for men. It so happened that we both wore the same size clothes, and during the years he provided me with a number of suits and shirts for which I was very grateful. Being in the clothing business, he always wore the finest.
I mentioned previously about Opal Briggs and the Gospel of John that she gave me. Her father served as the Morrow County Treasurer even though he was well up in his eighties. In August of 1940, he was planning a vacation trip to the Oregon coast. He did not feel comfortable driving that distance, so he asked if I would go with them and do the driving. He had rented a cottage at Tolovana Park near Seaside. It sounded like a good idea for a vacation, so I agreed to go. Mr. Briggs and his spinster daughter, Opal, would be going. Opal was the local manager of the telephone exchange, and was not particularly adept at household duties, so she asked Florence Moyer to also accompany them to help with the cooking. Florence was pastoring a small church in Ione, and would regularly take the train to Heppner to help with the housework in the Briggs home. It was Opal who had sponsored Florence’s Bible School education because Florence had worked for her sister for several years while attending high school and for a year after graduating. The sister, Loa Taylor, had three boys born during that period that Florence assisted her, in addition to the two boys she already had. By the way, the tuition, board and room the first year at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, MO was $150.00. The next two years it went up to $165.00 per year. After graduating in May, 1939, Florence returned to Oregon and was soon involved in the ministry as a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.
I first met Florence about a year earlier when Opal took a group of young people from the Methodist Church to a youth meeting in Hermiston. Florence took the opportunity to go along so she could visit her family in Hermiston while the rest of the group attended the rally. At the rally I met Florence’s sister, Lillie, and we struck up a friendship and started corresponding. Sometimes the youngest sister, Emma Belle, would also send a note to me. So for almost a year I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the Moyer family. I had no idea that the beautiful young minister with the auburn braids neatly pinned across her head would take a second look at a Methodist. But as we shared the time together while helping the elderly Briggs’, sparks began to fly. Florence shared her dreams of possibly being a missionary in Africa. She had guys that were interested in her in Bible School, but she never felt that they were the one for her, so she returned home without an Mrs. Degree. Before the week was over, I had proposed to her and she had accepted. WOW!!! Had God answered my simple prayer for a good christian wife so soon by giving me an A/G minister to fill that role? That was more than I ever dreamed of. I am forever grateful to the Lord .
On the way back to Heppner from the coast, we stopped in Forest Grove to visit my folks and shock them with the news of our engagement. Mother was concerned, and she had to find out about these Assemblies of God folks. I might add that I attended a service in the A/G church in Heppner with one of my CCC buddies, Jack Klocko, some time before. When we left the service, I told Jack that they would never get me in a service like that again. But I had a deep respect for Florence, and I learned to love the ways Pentecostals worship. It was different from what I had experienced in the Methodist Church.
Back at camp I shared the good news with the officers and with my co-workers. The old top Sgt. was particularly helpful. He had raised a lot of roses, and whenever I checked out to go to see Florence, he saw to it that I had a rose to take to her. I realized that I could not continue at the camp as a married man, so that meant that I needed to seek employment elsewhere. It wasn’t long before Mr. Case offered me a job in the furniture store doing deliveries and installing linoleum on floors and counter tops. He also offered us an apartment over the furniture store where he had a small hotel with about nine rooms which we were to manage. I was glad to accept the position and we set about preparing for the wedding scheduled for October 20, 1940. Florence ordered the material from Montgomery Ward for her wedding dress and Lela Curran did the sewing for her. Lela oiled her sewing machine so it would sew well, but got oil stains on the material that was crepe backed satin. So to remove the oil stains she washed the dress, which changed the texture of the material considerably. Florence didn’t have another $15 to replace it, so she had to accept the fact that it would not be the way she had hoped it would be. I didn’t know the difference. She just couldn’t have been more beautiful.
The wedding was held at the Methodist Church at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 20, 1940. Officiating were both the Methodist minister and the Assembly of God minister. Pastor Spiesz gave the first part of the ceremony speaking about the significance of the occasion. Then Pastor Wilkins presided for the exchange of vows. He got mixed up by saying, “I, John, take you Florence to be my wedded husband” I caught the error and said it right. Then he made the same mistake with Florence, saying “I, Florence, take you John, to be my wedded wife,” but she also said it correctly. The maid of honor was Florence’s sister, Lillie, and the best man was her brother, Elmer. The bridesmaid was my sister, Mary, and my brother Robert was groomsman. The decorations were a simple arch with flowers attached, and Florence carried a beautiful bouquet of flowers, all made up by Mary Nikander, the daughter of Mr. Case. It was all very simple, but I couldn’t have been happier.
There was no honeymoon for us. Neither of us had a car, nor any money for even a hotel room. Mr. Case was thoughtful enough to offer us a room in the mortuary that he had for guests. We gladly accepted his offer, and that was our bridal chamber. The apartment that we were to occupy over the furniture store was still occupied, so we didn’t get to move into it until later. But spending our first night together in the mortuary wasn’t a problem to us. Not many people have a story like that to tell to their children and grand children.
One of the first jobs I was involved in with Mr. Case was to assist him on a call where a man had committed suicide by cutting his wrists and throat in a local rooming house. That was quite an initiation as I assisted him in picking up the body and the preparation of the body in the mortuary. There was only one such case during my time working with him.
When I received my first pay check for the first week of work, I cashed the check at the furniture store and brought the $20 home to my bride. It was then that she suggested that we pay tithes on it. I had never heard about tithing, but it sounded like a good idea to me, so we established a plan whereby we put the tithe aside in a tithe purse When we received any income, and on Sunday when we went to Church that first Sunday, we had two dollars to put in the offering. That became our regular practice and God has blest us abundantly, so that on one occasion, instead of $2 to give, we gave $32,000.00 tithes and found real pleasure in doing so.
We moved into the hotel apartment the first week following the wedding. Florence did most of the work cleaning the rooms. We usually made the beds together. Customers come at all hours of the night to rent a room. Often they were sheep-herders in town for a break. Sometimes there were drunks that needed to be quieted down. There were two toilet stalls that served all the rooms and our apartment as well. There was one bath tub also which all shared including us. In each room was a wash sink with hot and cold water. Three of the rooms had no window. Ventilation was through a transom window over the entry door to the room. Very undesirable quarters, but rented for seventy five cents a night. On one occasion, a drunk set his mattress on fire. Florence was there by herself to handle the situation. She woke the fellow up and got some water to put the fire out. Mr. Case also got in on the action when he heard the commotion from down in the furniture store.
Before I left the CCC camp, I had taken a Civil Service examination for work with the Post Office. About a year after I started working for Mr. Case, there was an opening for a part time worker in the Heppner Post Office. It was for evening and Sunday morning work, so I talked it over with Mr. Case and re-arranged my work schedule and started working after 5:00 p.m. each evening doing the evening dispatch at the Post Office. The train went out every week day evening about 8:00 p.m. so it was my job to get the mail out and turn it over to Creed Owens who had the contract to shuttle the mail to the train. Creed was from Virginia, and had some interesting stories to tell. To him, there was nothing as tasty as roast possum and “taters” that were baked in the oven under the possum so the grease dripped on them while they baked. He was in interesting character.
On Sunday mornings I would be on hand when the train came in and Creed delivered the mail to the Post Office. Then I would hastily sort the first class mail and put it in the boxes, then be off and on my way to Sunday School and Church. We started by attending the Assembly in the morning, and the Methodist Church in the evening. That seemed to work out fine for a while, and Florence was made to feel welcome in the Methodist Church. But then the Methodist Church was having special meetings with Evangelist Sam Palovina, also known as Methodist Sam. In his message one evening he made the statement that the Pentecostal people were of the devil. That didn’t set very well with me, so I confronted him at the close of the service and let him know that my wife was one of those Pentecostals, and she wasn’t of the devil. That settled it with me. We didn’t go back to the Methodist Church except on special occasions. It didn’t make any difference to me that the Assembly folks met in a converted barn in Ray and Loa Taylor’s back yard, while the Methodist Church was more uptown. I got involved teaching a class of junior boys and loved it.
How well I remember the Sunday morning of December 7th, 1941 when we heard the news after church that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. We turned on the radio and followed the reports of the disaster. There was a somber cloud that seemed to hang heavy that day as we realized the consequences that we were at war. Life would change dramatically for every American, and particularly for young men like me. Florence was pregnant for the first time and I would wrestle with the matter of what my responsibility would be. My brother Jim was in the National Guard, and would immediately be dispatched to guard the coastal region against a possible invasion. I concluded that if I waited until being drafted, then I would have less responsibility than if I volunteered, if it came to my taking another human being’s life in the course of military action.
One evening when I was on duty at the Post Office, my former Sunday School teacher at the Methodist Church , Neva Cochell Wells, came by with the mail from the Court House. She was the Sheriff’s Deputy in charge of the county tax department. She just happened to mention that Deputy Bryant, who had been working with her, had just resigned. I jokingly made the remark that I guess that I should come up and help her. But the more I thought about it, the more interested I became in making the change. So I went to see Sheriff C.J.D.Bauman about the position, and he hired me. So I resigned my position at the Post Office and the furniture store, and became a deputy sheriff, particularly to work in the tax department. We continued to manage the Case hotel for a time. The work in the tax department was challenging. The tax statements were hand written for every piece of property in the county. One person would read the information from the tax roll, and the other would write it on the statement to be mailed to the tax payer. Then as the taxes were collected, there would be discounts and interest to be figured. All the funds collected were turned over to the County Treasurer, designating the amount collected for each taxing body in the county. I thrived on that, because accounting had been my favorite subject in high school. Neva was very efficient and a good teacher.
There was a war going on. My brother Robert enlisted in the Air Force, so I purchased his 1936 Ford V8. This was the first car that we owned since we were married. Then about nine months after I started working as a Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff Bauman enlisted in the Navy Shore Patrol. To fill the vacancy, the Court appointed me as Sheriff pro tem. Then a few months later Nova was offered more money to work for the Morrow County Grain Growers, so she left the tax department. That left me with the full responsibility for that department as well as the other duties as sheriff. It was quite a challenge for a twenty-four year old. It is not likely that there was a younger sheriff in the country, nor an older County Treasurer than Mr. Briggs who was in the office next to mine. I hired the Heppner chief of police, Pat Mollahan as my principal field deputy for the law enforcement. He was a fine officer, a cool headed Irishman, but firm, and a joy to work with. I also hired the daughter of our congressman to work with me in the tax department. She just couldn’t seem to learn the work, so I hired a sheep-herders daughter, and she did a fine job.
On the fourth of July 1942 a storm blew in, causing crop damage. I took my pregnant wife out for a drive to survey the damage. We hadn’t gone far until she announced that labor pains were starting, so we headed back to our apartment, and then to Mother Aikens Maternity Home. Finally, after an all night session, at 5:25 a.m. on July 5th our first born arrived, and it was a boy! Those days we didn’t have advance information to know whether it would be a boy or a girl. So we were delighted to welcome Wayne Ernest Fuiten to this world. Florence stayed in the maternity home for 10 days. That was customary those days. Then her mother came and helped out for a couple of weeks. Wayne had colic for the first two months of his life. He was uncomfortable and cried much of the night. It was finally determined to be caused by an infection that his mother had. Many a night I walked the floor with him, and he would finally settle down around 7:00 a.m., and then it was time for me to get ready to go to work. What a relief when that ordeal was over and we could get a good nights rest again.
There was a great deal of uncertainty about the future because of the war. So many things were rationed. Gasoline was rationed, and tires were a premium because the Japanese had conquered the part of the world that produced rubber. Synthetic rubber had to be used, and it was not very satisfactory. The speed limit nationally was thirty five miles per hour in order to conserve tires. The ration board issued stickers to put on the windshield that said, “Is this trip really necessary?” One person that worked for the State Forestry concluded that he would be putting his car up on blocks in storage, so he might as well sell it. It was a 1941 Chevrolet coupe with 19,000 miles on it. So I bought it from him for $950.00. Two months later he decided he better have a car again, so he bought a 1939 Chevrolet and paid the same amount for it as he got for his former vehicle. I made good use of my Chevrolet in the police work. My deputy, Pat, also used it a great deal because he only had a Ford pickup. There were no markings on the vehicle to indicate that it was a police car. A siren that was activated by a foot switch would wind up and really scream. I also had a light that was operated by hand with the words, “Sheriff – Stop” on it, but I seldom used it because we rarely needed it. We didn’t have traffic problems.
Not long after I took over the Sheriff’s position, a State Police officer that served the area came by my office with a proposition. He had a friend that owned slot machines – the kind we referred to as “one armed bandits.” This friend wanted to put his machines in businesses in the two small towns on the north end of the county that were on the Columbia River Highway. My predecessor, Sheriff Bauman, believed in enforcing the law, so he would not allow them, even though the machines were in Pendleton, the nearest large city. The machine owners were willing to pay me an amount equal to my salary each month if I would just overlook them. It didn’t take me long to let him know that I wasn’t the least bit interested. I would enforce the law that was clearly on the books. I am so glad that I made the right decision that day. A clear conscience is a constant source of peace and joy.
You might wonder what the salary of a Sheriff would be. Salaries of all county officials were set by the State Legislature. The salary at the time I took the office was $166.66 per month, or $2,000.00 per year. In our county, the County Clerk was paid the same amount, and the other officials received a lesser amount. While I was in the office, the Legislature approved a bill that raised the Sheriff and Clerk to $200.00 per month. Because we furnished our own vehicle, we were paid mileage for its use. There were other Sheriffs in Oregon that received less than we received in Morrow County. How much would a candidate for such an office spend in order to be elected? By the way, Sheriff Bauman was re-elected to the office while I was serving in that capacity, and he was still in the Navy So when he would return, the position was waiting for him.
One Saturday evening I was up town for something when I was approached by a farmer who was in town doing his shopping. His name was Otis Biddle, and he told me about having a young man working for him. The young man needed money, so Otis paid him ahead. Then the young fellow took off, owing him money. I made a note of the situation, not knowing the person that was involved. Then on Monday morning I got a call in my office from the banker. He said he had a couple of checks that looked suspicious to him. I told him I would be right down. The bank is only a block from the Court House, so I walked to the bank. The banker was busy at his desk with a customer, so I stepped to the window where his son was, and told him that his Dad had called me about some checks. So he found the checks, and I noticed immediately that they were on the account of Otis Biddle. Then I remembered my encounter with Otis on Saturday, and made the connection. Then I became curious about the man at the desk with the banker. I was told that he was cashing some bonds. I told the teller that I suspect that the young man there was the one who forged the checks. He did not think so. As soon as he left, I made the same suggestion to the banker also, and he also questioned whether that was the man. Because time was the essence, I said I’m going to check him out, and I hurried out of the bank just in time to see that he turned left at the end of the block. I arrived at the intersection just as he turned right on the next intersection, so I hurried to that corner, but couldn’t see him, but I kept going. In the middle of the block, I spotted him going through an Implement store and turn left. I hurried through the Implement store and back on Main Street heading north, but no sight of him. As I approached the next block, he stepped out from a doorway, and started down the street where I caught up with him. I introduced myself, and told him that I had a problem that I was trying to solve. Would he please accompany me to the drug store where the checks had been cashed. He agreed to go, so we went to see Mr. Humphrey at the drug store. Mr. Humphrey positively identified the young man as the one who cashed the checks. He vowed that he had never been in the store, but Mr. Humphrey was sure he was the one. So I took him to the Court House, and booked him for the crime of forgery. He had cut the blank checks from the back of Biddle’s check book. At the bank he was cashing bonds and planned to head for Utah. But I apprehended him and changed those plans for him. Not every case was solved like that one was, though.
As sheriff, I did not wear a uniform. I carried my 38 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in a shoulder holster, and my sap and handcuffs in my suit coat pocket. My sheriff’s badge was worn on the inside of my coat, to be displayed only when needed. I often went to Church with my equipment on, ready for a call if needed. One noon I was at the Lions Club luncheon when I got a call from Pat. He had let a prisoner out of the jail to carry some wood in for the cook stove, and the prisoner took off. He was a deserter from the army, and we had already notified the army that he was in custody, and they were on the way to pick him up. So I immediately left the meeting and joined the search for Billie. I knew where his mother lived, and expected that he would head that way. Sure enough, I spotted him walking along Willow Creek through town. We had a foot race and I won, and Billie was soon on his way to the brig.
Our jail was a one room addition to the Court House with heavy stone walls. In that room were two cells made of steel where incorrigibles were confined. We did not provide meals for the inmates, but there was a cook stove and some utensils, so we let them do their own cooking. The City of Heppner police also used the jail, as did the State Police on occasion. The sheriff and his deputies were the jailers. The tax department office was next to the jail. On one occasion, we had a couple of fellows in jail, and they had a guitar with them. One evening I needed to do something in the tax office, so when I went into the office I heard loud singing in the jail. But another sound caught my attention. There was a single window in the jail with bars across the window. The sound I heard was a hack saw being used on the bars. They were hoping to drown out the sound of the sawing with loud music, but it didn’t work. I surprised them when I suddenly opened the jail door and walked in on them.
On another occasion, the State Police apprehended three young black men in a stolen car. Because they were arrested in our county, they were brought to our jail. When I got their rap sheet, the two older fellows had a good record, but the younger one who was still in his teens did not have a good record. When it came time for their case before the Circuit Judge, the two fellows that were in their early twenties were given a two year sentence in the State Prison, and the young one was given probation and released. I was not pleased with the Judges decision, but there was nothing for me to do but take the two men to Salem to the prison. One of them was the son of a druggist in St. Louis. They were so much fun to watch, as they rolled their dice in the jail and carried on. So when it came time to head for Salem, I took my wife along and put the two fellows in the back seat without any restraint of any kind. I had confidence in the guys that they would not give me a problem, and I showed them respect. It was a nine hour trip from Heppner to Salem those days. As we were nearing our destination, I noticed in the mirror that they were getting restless, so I said, “Fellows, I’m going to buy you a steak dinner before I take you in to the prison.” So when we got to Salem, I found a restaurant, and the four of us walked together into the restaurant and had a meal. When we were finished, the four of us walked out and got back into the car and we proceeded to the prison. We wouldn’t think of doing such a thing today, but I trusted them, showed them respect, and they did not disappoint me. I often think of those young men and wonder what happened to them. The son of the druggist was Floyd Arnold Glasby. I don’t remember the name of the other one.
On one occasion when I took a prisoner in, I took time to tour the place. I even sat in the chair where a prisoner that was to be executed would be strapped in and a gas pellet would be dropped through a tube into the bucket under the chair and his life would be ended. Yes, I have been in jail many times, but I always had the keys when I was in.
I mentioned the steel cells in our jail. On one occasion, the Heppner police put a man who had delirious tremens in the cell. He was an alcoholic, a big strapping logger, and now was a raging maniac, filled with fear. I had the doctor give him a shot, hoping to quiet him down, but even the largest dose the doctor dared to give him did not phase him. So the people from Pendleton came and put him in a straight jacket and took him to the mental hospital for treatment. I had another such case to deal with. He was a man who for a month did not eat, but just drank wine. He wound up in a similar condition. I knew him well because he used to stay at the Case Hotel when we were there. I often wished that I could have locked up some young people who thought it was smart to drink alcohol with these poor people tormented by delirious tremens, commonly called snakes, so they could see the results of their indulgence and what it could lead to.
In addition to my duties as sheriff, I took over the Boy Scout troop when the Christian Church minister gave it up. I had never belonged to the Boy Scouts as a boy. I did belong to the 4-H club when I was on the farm in Star Prairie. But now I had a challenge to learn what Scouting was all about. We had a successful troop, taking camping trips in the Blue Mountains, and seeing boys learn important things about life. I taught them that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. He is reverent toward God, faithful in his religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion. That is the teaching of the scouting program, and I supported those principals.
Not long after Wayne was born we purchased our first home. The house was located on Church Street near the Methodist Church and next door to the Episcopal parsonage occupied by Rev. Neville Blunt and his wife, a godly couple from Canada. We paid Mattie Gentry $3,600.00 for the two bedroom house that had only recently been remodeled, enclosing the porch on the rear of the house. The kitchen had a wood cook stove, and in the living room an oil heater. It was a delightful place. Our two daughters were born there. Carolyn Louise arrived on October 9, 1943 at around 3 a.m., the only brown eyed one of our children, and Dorothy Lucille made her debut a year and a week later, October 16, 1944 at 7 a.m. On both occasions, Mrs. Pat Mollahan, the wife of my deputy, who was a nurse, took care of Florence and each of the babies in turn. Dr. Tibbles was our physician. When Dorothy was born, the Dr. barely got there in time. I had a good fire going in the cook stove so he could sterilize his instruments. In his haste he took the lid off the boiler and put it on the range top. Before he discovered his error, all the solder in the lid melted and had to be re-soldered later. Other than that everything went fine, and we now had three children in diapers. There were no disposable diapers then, so there was a lot of washing to do. Our Maytag wringer washer was on the enclosed porch. The washing process required two wash tubs for rinsing. Florence was able to fill the machine and the tubs with a hose from the sink. Washing had to be done often, and during inclement weather when it wasn’t practical to use the clothes lines in the back yard, there were clothes racks in the living room by the oil heater.
The Heppner Assembly that we attended re-located. We constructed a building in the business part of town just off Main Street. Pastor Spiesz was a builder, and did most of the work on the building. It was a vast improvement over the “Glory Barn” down on the Taylor place. It was in January 1945 that the Church had special meetings with Evangelist Katherine Rueck. It was during those meetings that most of the junior boys in my Sunday School class received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But I had not received that experience. So I earnestly sought the Lord, and on the last Sunday night of the meetings the Lord gave me that priceless gift also. At the altar as I was worshipping the Lord in other tongues for the first time in my life, the Lord revealed to me that a change was ahead for me, and that I would be going into the Navy. That was the farthest thing from my mind because I had been getting deferments because of the position I had as sheriff. But four days later, on Thursday, I received the notice from the draft board that I was re-classified, and was now 1-A, which meant I was eligible to be called at any time. It wasn’t long before the next notice came and I was to report for a physical. I passed the physical and waited for orders to report for military duty. I was so glad that the Lord had revealed to me that the change was coming. It made all the difference in the world to know that He knew all about it, and that He must have a plan in mind.
As I prepared to leave the sheriff’s office, I knew that the lady I had trained for the tax department was capable enough, and deputy Pat was well able to handle the law enforcement part of the job. So we had some tearful farewells. I turned over my “Sheriff of Morrow County” badge and equipment to my successor. Leaving the court house was not difficult, but to think of leaving my wife with the three little tykes was heart wrenching for both of us. Wayne was not yet three years old, Carolyn was eighteen months and Dorothy six months old when I left to answer the call to duty.
As I left on the train, I was in charge of the group that was to report in at Fort Lewis, WA. When we were processed in to the military, we were each given the opportunity to express our choice of the branch of the service that we preferred to serve in. Most of the fellows seemed to be choosing the navy, and about one in ten was getting their choice. When my turn came for interview, I requested the navy. I was asked for the reason, and I stated that I did not have any particular reason, I just wanted to be in the Navy Hospital Corps. That was all there was to it. I was put into the Navy and was soon on the train for San Diego where I went through basic training. The best part of it was that I knew that the Lord knew all about it, and that there was something that He had for me to do there. The basic training involved a lot of marching on the grinder. I thought that didn’t seem necessary until I realized that we were learning to respond to commands without giving it a second thought. That would be important in times of military action. Our schedule was full with the duties that we had. I was named Captain of the Guard, so I didn’t have to take turns doing guard duty. I did the assigning of the duties to the other trainees for their scheduled duty.
As we marched on the grinder day after day, there would be a rest period periodically when we would sit on the curb for a break. Many of the fellows took this time to reach in their shirt pocket and pull out a cigarette for a smoke. I would reach in my pocket and take out the Gideon New Testament that had been given me so I could get in some Bible reading. When we had liberty and were free to go into San Diego, I found a Servicemen’s Home that was operated by Irvin Rattan and his wife up on 22nd St. Every Sunday afternoon there would be a service at the home just for servicemen. I would help invite fellows to the service, and cars were waiting to transport them to the home. Many of these fellows were facing an uncertain future and would be going to the battlefield soon. They responded to the invitation to receive the Lord by the dozens. It was a joy to have a part in this important ministry that was sponsored by the Assemblies of God. Many of the servicemen that I became acquainted with at the Mother Laynes Hospitality Home later became Assemblies of God ministers.
After completing basic training, I attended corps school in San Diego. It was held in the Exposition grounds. The hall that we occupied for sleeping quarters accommodated a thousand bunks in one room. They were double decked, and a person needed to be sober to find his bunk. I loved the Corps school. It thrilled me to learn how wonderfully our bodies were made, and how they function. I could hardly restrain myself from shouting “Hallelujah” in some of the classes. It was clear to me that we didn’t evolve to become what we are, but we had a wise Creator who designed these bodies of ours. The corpsmen that were in the top ten per cent in their grades were given an upgrade in their rank. I was in the group that made it, and was advanced to Hospital Assistant 1st Class.
The war ended while I was in Corps School. That was a great cause for celebration, and a big relief to everyone. Before leaving the sheriff’s office, I was assured by the County Commissioners that there would be a job waiting for me as the head of the tax department. The sheriff’s position would be reserved for my predecessor. The County Judge wrote the following request on Sept.7, 1945:
To whom it may concern:
State of Oregon,
County of Morrow, ss.
I, Bert Johnson, being first duly sworn, depose and say: that I am the duly elected, qualified and acting County Judge of Morrow County, State of Oregon; that I am well and personally acquainted with John H. Fuiten, S 2/c 8915677, U. S Naval Hosp. Corps School Co 6-4; that John Fuiten (we call him “Johnnie” here) went to work in the tax department under Sheriff C.J.D. Bauman in April, 1942; that in March, 1943 Sheriff C.J.D. Bauman joined the armed forces of the United States and is still in the navy; that the Morrow County Court appointed John H. Fuiten, sheriff pro tem, of this county until the return of Sheriff Bauman; that John H. Fuiten served as sheriff of this county until April, l945, when he joined the armed forces of his country; that in April, 1945, this court appointed Pat Mollahan to serve as sheriff pro tem and he is still in office.
When Johnnie joined the armed forces this Court assured him and promised him that his position in the tax department would be open to him when he returned, this promise is still good and binding. Johnnie is badly needed in the tax department right now, tax collecting will be on immediately and we have two inexperienced lady deputies in the tax office now, both of whom have been in the office less than two months. These ladies, nor anyone else unless they are expert accountants, are able to understand and master the intricacies of the system in the tax department in any two months or six months. Neither Pat Mollahan nor Sheriff Bauman, if he were to return tomorrow, are able to do the work in the tax department and there is no one else in this county who is obtainable to do this work. Johnnie has the experience required in the tax office, he thoroughly understands the work and is one of the most efficient men we ever had in that office. There will be no costly mistakes, arguments or suits if Johnnie is on the job. The job is here waiting for Johnnie; we sure need him.
It is true that Johnnie has been in the armed forces only a short time while many others have served a much longer period and should be released from service, but it is also true that there are many young men who can fill Johnnie’s place in the armed service while there are no men or women in this territory who can handle Johnnie’s job in our tax department. The questions of returning to normalcy are acute and serious and especially so when great amounts of the taxpayer’s money is concerned.
I am respectfully requesting and urging that serious and thoughtful consideration be given to this matter and that Johnnie may soon be allowed to return to his responsible position here.
( Signed: Bert Johnson)
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 7th day of September, 1945.
(Signed: C. W, Barlow)
To be sure it was a difficult decision that I faced. To be home with my wife and children was what I earnestly desired. The work in the tax department was enjoyable to me as well, and to work under Sheriff Bauman was great. But the thing I desired more than anything else was to be where God wanted me to be. I really felt that I was in the right place in the navy, and I didn’t want to miss God’s purpose for my life. So I did not submit the request of Judge Johnson to the navy.
Upon graduation from Corps School, I was assigned to Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland, California. There I did ward duty, caring for the men who were now being brought in from the Japanese Prison Camps. We would take a fleet of ambulances to the airport to meet the planes coming in with loads of the newly released prisoners. They were truly a sorry looking lot. Many had to be transported by ambulance because of their weakened condition. Those that were in better condition were transported by bus to the hospital where they were processed and treated if necessary.
I was on night duty for a while. The buildings had been in use for many years. I remember that whenever I went into the kitchen to get something, when I turned on the lights, the floor and counters were alive with cockroaches. In just a few moments they would all be out of sight. In caring for the patients I gave quite a few shots as prescribed by the doctors. On one occasion the patient I was caring for was critically ill, and was struggling to get his breath. I called the doctor that was on duty that night to see if something could be done for the patient. The doctor seemed to resent being bothered, but he reluctantly came out and prescribed a shot. Another corpsman that had not given many shots was with me, so I suggested that since the patient was unconscious, it might be a good time for him to get some experience. He finally agreed, and gave the patient a shot. The patient expired soon thereafter, and I made the mistake of saying to the young corpsman, “See what you did”. The poor kid was traumatized. I don’t know if he ever gave another shot. But I was upset with the indifference of the doctor, and didn’t have much respect for him after that.
In October, it was announced that any father with three or more children would be given preference for being discharged. This time I sought counsel from people I respected, and they all advised me to put in for a discharge. So I put in my request and was discharged on October 21, 1945, the day after our 5th wedding anniversary, at Bremerton. I took a plane from Seattle to Pendleton, got a ride to Hermiston where Florence’s family lived. Then some of them took me to Heppner and I was home again with my lovely wife and children. What a happy reunion!
Before checking in at the court house to report for duty, we decided the first thing we wanted to do was visit my folks in Forest Grove. It was the week end, so we headed out for the eight hour trip so my parents could see their grandchildren. On Sunday I tuned in the Lutheran Hour with Dr. Walter Meier the speaker. I always enjoyed his challenging messages. This time I was shocked by the statistics that he was giving. He told of the per cent of ministers filling pulpits that did not believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ; that did not believe in His Virgin Birth; that did not believe the fundamental truths of the Bible. I really had not given serious consideration to going into the ministry until I heard Dr. Meier. I responded by saying to God, “I believe these things with all my heart. If you can use me, I am available.” The next day, Monday, we attended a Fellowship Meeting in Hillsboro. The District Superintendent of the Oregon Assemblies of God, Atwood Foster, was at the meeting, so we met with him and told him of our interest in the ministry. He knew us, and had been in our home in Heppner a couple of times. And, of course, Florence had ministerial credentials. Brother Foster told us of a church on the coast, Bay City, that was looking for a pastor, and he suggested that we go down and look into it. He stated that the Postmaster and his wife were leaders in the church, and would be the ones to contact. I had never preached a sermon. In high school I didn’t take public speaking because I just knew that I couldn’t get up and make a speech. However, since receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was aware that dependence on the Lord was the most important thing, and with His help we can be more than conquerors.
The next day we drove to Bay City, which is a few miles north of Tillamook. When I walked into the lobby of the Post Office, God spoke to the Postmaster, Mark Hill, and told him that there was their next pastor. He had not seen me before, and I hadn’t introduced myself yet. (He told me about this some months later) We met some of the leaders of the congregation, and they unanimously agreed to invite us to become their pastors. Interesting enough, the first house I visited when we moved to Bay City, I saw on the piano a picture of a sailor that went through basic training in the same company as I was in. When they wrote and told him who their new pastor was, he responded by saying, “Yes, I remember that guy. He was always reading his Bible”.
We returned to Heppner on Wednesday to prepare to sell our house and pack up and make the move. We had not told anyone that we were leaving because we had not planned to do so. But we found out when we returned, that a woman had been looking through the windows of our house while we were gone, and she wanted to buy it. She paid us for our equity in full. We bid farewell to friends, neighbors and church family, rented a truck and loaded our accumulated possessions and headed for our new adventure. One month from the day I was discharged, we were settled in our new location.
The church facility in Bay City was located on the coast highway, and across the street from Tillamook Bay. The auditorium was the whole upper floor of the building. The parsonage was the lower floor under part of the building. The only indoor plumbing was the kitchen sink. A wood cook stove was in the kitchen and an oil heater in the living room. There was an outhouse in back of the building. One of the first things I did was to build a septic tank and put in a bathroom under the stairway that led to the auditorium. Our tithes from the sale of our house in Heppner came in handy for that purpose.
The coast was quite a change from arid Eastern Oregon. The frequent storms were a particular problem because whenever the southwesters blew in, the chimney arrangement caused a down draft in the oil heater chimney. That would blow out the fire in the oil heater and fill the room with oil fumes. So we were frequently without heat in the living room. The driving rain would come through the windows and water would run across the floor. Fortunately, the wood stove in the kitchen provided good heat for that part of the house. The annual rainfall was about 120 inches per year. When the heavy rains came, the Kilchis River flooded the highway between Bay City and Tillamook. On one occasion my car stalled while going through the water, which was about a foot deep. Fortunately my battery was strong enough, so I put it in gear and cranked the starter until I got to the other side of the flooded area.
The tide changes twice every day made the bay interesting because of the constant change. One day one of the men who had a boat took me clam digging out in the bay. I waded across from one area to another, wading though water up to my ankles. After a while I saw Mr. Pike waving for me to came back to where the boat was. By now the same stream was up to my waist, and it was difficult to make it through. I learned a lesson that day about tides.
On another occasion, my sister Ann came for a visit. We took her to the ocean beach above Garibaldi. Florence and I had Wayne and Carolyn, and were near the breakers, while Ann was a considerable distance back from the surf with little Dorothy. Suddenly we were aware of a large wave approaching. I grabbed Wayne’s hand and started running as fast as we could to get away from the wave. But Florence and Carolyn got caught in the breaker. When I saw their plight, Wayne and I went back to rescue them. Fortunately, we survived, but we were soaking wet. Ann and Dorothy who were far from the breakers even got wet from that huge wave. That was the end of that trip to the beach. We headed for home to get some dry clothes and get warm again.
The church families welcomed us with open arms. They put up with my lack of experience in this new role in my life. They indicated that it had been their lot as a small church body to give pastors their initial experience in the ministry. One dear sister, Edith Homan, was like a mother to me. She was a woman of great faith, living a day at a time with cancer. Yet she was so optimistic, depending on the Lord daily for her sustenance. I accepted her counsel and valued her suggestions.
Then there was the Carter family. Les was sincere, but not tactful. His wife Edith was a prayer warrior. In fact, when she passed away some fifty years after we left Bay City, we attended her funeral. Her husband told us at that time that Edith had prayed for the Fuiten’s every day since we first became their pastors.
Postmaster Mark Hill and his wife Medina were an inspiration to us. Mark made some real progress in his christian walk . I remember the Sunday morning when he requested prayer for a severe headache following the service. We anointed him with oil and prayed for him. He came back for the evening service just glowing. In his testimony that evening he told of the struggle that he had been having. He had been away from the Lord for some years, and when he came back to the Lord, he never seemed to have a real assurance. After being prayed for that morning, the Lord healed him, and on the basis of James 5:14 & 15, he now knew that his sins were forgiven. Those verses were a blessing to him, for he read:
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
In the summer Mark took a vacation from the Post Office and re-shingled houses. He hired me to remove the old shingles for him. That provided some extra income for me.
Dear Sister Bessie Williams taught the class that our children were in. She loved the children, and was a blessing to us in many ways. She was one of the old-timers in the area, and told stories of how the Indians would drive the deer into the bay with fires, and kill the deer as they swam in the water. She lived on a farm along with her husband, George, and a young man, Tom Gilman, who she nurtured and helped to mature spiritually.
Then there was the Lundy family & the Pike family. Mr. Pike spent his life searching on Neacarni Mountain for a buried treasure that an Indian legend stated that was buried there by people from a ship. Whenever Mr. Pike had opportunity when he wasn’t fishing, he searched for the treasure, but never found it.
The first summer we had a vacation bible school for three weeks. The subject of our study was the tabernacle in the wilderness. A model was constructed on a sheet of plywood, complete with the fence and the furnishings. It became a project that involved many adults. One lady made a figure of the High Priest with his attire as described in the scriptures. After the VBS was over, I took the model to the Tillamook County Fair and went every day of the fair to be on hand to explain the features and significance of each part, and how it depicted the Lord Jesus Christ.
Florence and I shared the pulpit ministry. In Bible School she had studied under Meyer Pearlman, a converted Jew. That gave her a rich understanding of the relation of the Old Testament to Jesus Christ, and her favorite texts were from the book of Hebrews. She was such a blessing and help to me as I studied hard week after week to have something to share with the congregation on Sunday. I remember how I would struggle, desperate to settle on a message. Then I would take a shower, which would relax me enough until inspiration would flow, and I would get out and start writing.
After serving for twenty one months, I felt that I needed to take advantage of the GI benefits that I was eligible to receive, and attend Bible School. It was difficult for me to tender our resignation, because we loved the people of the congregation. One of the pastors who later pastored the Bay City congregation told me years later that when he was there he did research into the history of the church. He found that during our time there, the attendance was the highest than at any other time. We were grateful to the Lord for His blessing and help.
On to Bible School
We built a trailer about 6×8 with sides 3 ft. high, and loaded it with our belongings that we thought we would need, and scattered our other things among the family to store for us. In August we headed for Springfield, Missouri. Florence had attended Central Bible Institute there, so I decided that I wanted to attend there also. We loaded our three children in the back seat of the ’41 Chevrolet that I had when I was sheriff, and headed out. In Idaho we noticed that the trailer tongue was breaking, so I found a man that could reinforce it. He went to the junk yard and found a piece of angle iron to weld on. To pay him, I gave him one of the cribs from our load, and we were on our way. We stopped in parks along the way to rest, get a tub out and give the children a bath. Traveling at night was the best as the children slept.
Our first stop was in Albuquerque to visit my grandmother, Anna Kruschke, who was living with her daughter, Ardys Ryan. There we met Ardys’ husband, Moody Ryan and their daughter, Julia.. After a brief visit, we headed East on Route 66 that would take us to Springfield. We would have to begin a search for housing when we arrived there, because we did not have any arrangements made ahead of time. When we pulled into Springfield, our first stop was at a service station to pick up a map so that we could find our way around the city. As we did so, another car pulled into the station and the driver got out of his car. Florence immediately recognized the gentleman as someone that she had known in Bible School eight years before. It was Loine Honderick who was now working for the National Sunday School Department. In the course of our conversation, Loine asked us if we would house sit for him as he was just preparing a trip about the country that would take him about six weeks, and his family was already away for that time. We didn’t have to ponder long on that decision. We were delighted to accept his offer. This was an evident arrangement of the Lord, and we were grateful to the Lord for His guidance and provision. Again we had the sense that we where the Lord wanted us to be. The Honderick home was a lovely two story house in a fine residential area.. There were large oak and maple trees in the area, and the music of the katydids singing their song filled the air. September is a lovely time of the year in the Ozarks. Springfield uses the slogan, “The Queen City of the Ozarks”.
Wayne and I began school together. Wayne was enrolled in the Kindergarten at CBI, and I enrolled as a special student, taking the course of study that would benefit me most. In my consultation with W.I. Evans, the godly Dean, he advised me to take Old and New Testament under Hardy Steinberg. That was good advice, because Hardy was the greatest as a teacher. Other classes that were especially meaningful to me were Bible Doctrines taught by W.I Evans and Prophecy Glenn Reed. Professor Reed emphasized the importance of maintaining a prophetic relationship if we were to have a prophetic ministry.
My GI eligibility was for only one year, and I didn’t have funds for additional studies, that is why we only planned on one year.
It was interesting to see so many former servicemen enrolled. Among those that I had met in San Diego was Ellsworth Kennedy. He was building a house a few blocks from CBI. He was putting two apartments in the basement. He offered one of them for us to occupy if I would help him with the construction. I took him up on his offer. When the Hondericks returned and we ended the house sitting arrangement, we moved into the basement apartment, even though it was unfinished. It was a while before it was finished. In fact, there was still work to be done when the school year ended. Ellsworth and his wife Sylvia along with their little daughter, Evangeline, occupied the upper floor. The Bob Nehilla family were in the other basement apartment.
In addition to my studies at Central Bible Institute, I got involved in the project that was going on at the time. The General Council was building houses across the street from CBI that were to be occupied by the executive families of the Assemblies of God. Students were hired to work on the houses, and were paid seventy five cents per hour for their labor. I laid linoleum on the floors of the kitchens and bathrooms, and also did the counter tops with linoleum. For this I was paid a dollar an hour. In the process of selecting the patterns, I met each of the executives and their wives. In one case, the wife wasn’t pleased with the bathroom linoleum, so I had to take it up and replace it. When she found out that I was a student at CBI, she was embarrassed and apologetic. All in all, it was a pleasure to get acquainted with our top leaders at the time.
Another involvement we had was working with a group of students in outstation ministry. We worked with Ellsworth Kennedy and others in an outreach in Everton, MO. This small town was in the Ozarks some twenty miles from Springfield. At first services were held in an army tent. Then a small cinder block building was built. The rafters were cut from oak wood, and I remember how heavy they were compared to rafters cut from fir or hemlock, and how difficult it was to drive nails into the oak. But we managed to erect a structure that served well for the time being. The local men that attended wore bib overalls and a white shirt. That was being dressed up for these mountain folk. It was an interesting experience.
On occasions we drove to Ozark, a small town south of Springfield, to a restaurant that served a chicken dinner with all the trimmings for twenty five cents per person. That was worth driving a ways to take advantage of. It was a relief for Florence, because she only had a two burner hot plate to cook on at the apartment.
The end of the school year came all too soon. We have fond memories of the Chapel services, and the moving of the Spirit in the classroom. On one occasion, the whole class sang in the Spirit in beautiful unison. When the school year was over we loaded our trailer again and headed north.
Our first stop on the homeward journey was in Chicago. There we visited the zoo. It just happened that we were there at the same time that Frank Buck was there. Frank was known as “bring them back alive” Buck because he was famous for bringing wildlife from around the world to the zoos. There was a huge gorilla in a cage, and we were admiring it when Frank came in. It had been twelve years since he had last seen the gorilla. When the gorilla saw Frank, immediately he became very excited. The gorilla recognized Frank and seemed ecstatic to see him again after all that time. This zoo experience was in stark contrast to our visit to a small zoo in Springfield. A lion in a cage was not pleased with how Wayne was taunting him, so the lion turned his back to Wayne, lifted up his tail and sprayed him. We had to go right home and give him a bath after that.
After leaving Chicago, our next stop was in Beloit, Wisconsin. I had never visited this part of the state, or the relative that we looked up there, Catherine Propst. She and her husband had a furniture store in Beloit. Cassie as she was known was a grand-daughter of John Fuiten, my great grandfather. There in her home I saw for the first time the family heirloom, a chest that was made by an uncle of John Fuiten. It has carvings on the front showing the German eagle and mermaids, and his name as it is in German, Johann Fuiten. On the posts that frame the back is carved “ANNO” on one post, and “1841” on the other. That is the year it was made. John migrated to the United States six years later in 1847. Cassie promised to ship the chest to me when she was ready to part with it. This she did a few years later. I was delighted to inherit this prized possession. It was promised to the first person to name a descendant Johann or John Fuiten. Wayne named his son “Johann”, so Wayne will likely be the next one to inherit the heirloom.
From Beloit, we made our way up to St. Croix County, New Richmond & Star Prairie. There I introduced my wife and children to my roots, visiting the relatives and friends. It was my first trip back to where I grew up in almost twelve years. Uncle Alvin and Aunt Louisa Kruschke took a special interest in our three tykes, outfitting them with new clothes. They did not have any children of their own. Louisa had been a school teacher, and they married late in life. I visited my first grade teacher, Erna Sette, and lots of relatives and friends, and showed Florence the places that I described earlier in this story of my life.
Now we were ready for the final leg of our journey. We went through the Black Hills of South Dakota, stopped at Mount Rushmore and then Yellowstone Park. It was June and there was still snow around the park, but it was very enjoyable seeing the geysers and the wildlife for the first time. Our next stop was in Hermiston, OR where we spent a few days with Florence’s family. Then we made our way to Forest Grove to visit my folks. It was good to be back in Oregon safe and sound. We pulled the trailer around 4,500 miles in all, and got along fine with it.
It was Camp Meeting time when we arrived in western Oregon, so we headed for Brooks to attend the camp. The camp grounds was a wooded area that was purchased by the Oregon District of the Assemblies of God located just north of Brooks on Highway 99. We were involved with the camp from the time it was acquired about 1942. To help in the acquisition, we leased Lot 3. When the main administration building was built, I helped with dismantling a theater building at Camp Adair near Corvallis to salvage materials. Then I also volunteered to help in the construction of the building on the camp grounds. This I did during our time at Bay City. In the early years we camped in a tent when we went to camp. One year we had a trailer house to camp in. The camp was for nearly two weeks those days, beginning the last of June and continuing over the 4th of July. We looked forward to the times of spiritual refreshing, and the wonderful time of fellowship with fellow believers from all over the state. For a number of years I was in charge of the camp police whose main job was to patrol the grounds and keep the preachers kids in line. (chuckle) That is what you get for being an ex-sheriff. Some of the rascals that we kept our eyes on, later became some of our most effective pastors.
One of the first things I wanted to do at camp was to meet with the District Superintendent, Atwood Foster, regarding another pastorate. When I met with him and told him that I was ready for my next assignment, he laid his black book on the desk open to a page with a list of ten churches that were in the process of making a change at that time. He told me that it was up to me to contact any of the churches that I felt led to apply for the position of pastor. I wrote the list on a 3×5 card, put it in my pocket and went to the tabernacle to find a place to pray about this. The tabernacle is a large building that seats around 3,500 people with a large area behind the platform for prayer. There was not a single person in the tabernacle at the time. It was between services. I found a place to kneel on the sawdust and shavings, and prayed a simple prayer; “Lord, I want you to show me where you want me to go” Then a voice spoke “Butte Falls”. I pulled the card from my pocket and there was no Butte Falls on the list. I had never heard of the place. I made inquiry about such a place, and found out that there was a place like that in southern Oregon between Medford and Crater Lake. Then I located the Presbyter for that area, L.D. Hall from Grants Pass, and inquired about what was at Butte Falls. He replied that there were a couple of young single men trying to pioneer a church there, but he understood that they were wanting to leave. So I got their name and address and wrote to them. I received a letter right back stating that they had been praying for three months for the Lord to send a married couple to take their place. I knew then what the Lord wanted for us to do. There was no question in my mind about it.
My Dad went with Florence and I to Butte Falls to look over the proposition. There we found a logging community of around 370 people. The two men, Alexander Gianopulos and Jimmy Wright, were graduates of Southern California Bible College. They had purchased an old store building with a board sidewalk in front. They put a curtain across the middle, built some rough benches in the front half. The back half was an open room with a sink and a cold water faucet. There were no cupboards, stove or refrigerator. Sleeping quarters were upstairs, with rooms partitioned with rough boards. There was a path out back that led to the outhouse. When we told Alex and Jimmy that we would move down and relieve them, my Dad shook his head. He could hardly believe that we would do that. He thought we should be entitled to a better situation than that. But there wasn’t any doubt in my mind about it. I wanted to be where the Lord wanted me to be more than anything else. During the course of the nine years that we were there, Brother Foster on two occasions told me that there were other opportunities elsewhere if I wanted to change, but I assured him that I felt that I was where the Lord wanted me to be at the time.
We returned to Forest Grove with Dad Fuiten, hooked up our trailer again and made the move. Jimmy had returned to California, but Alex stayed around for a few days to help us get acquainted with the place. The first Sunday only two boys showed up for Sunday School. For the morning service six adults showed up and we had church. The District had spent $400 to purchase a lot on which to build a church building. It was on Main Street and across from the city park. Superintendent Foster talked with me about what he would suggest we build for a starter unit. He drew out on a newspaper his ideas, and I concurred that the first unit would provide living quarters as well as a space for holding services. There was very little support financially from the local community, and the District did not have funds to support the work, so we were on our own. We did borrow a total of$1,500.00 from the District for the building materials, and started to build. In the ten years after WWII ended, the Oregon District went from 80 churches to 180 churches. So it was obvious that there would not be assistance for all those projects.
We were there only a few weeks when there was a knock on our door. There we met six loggers who introduced themselves. They lived in the valley and attended churches there, but they worked in the woods above Butte Falls and stayed in the hotel here during the week and went home only for the week-ends. They were tired of eating restaurant food, and wondered if Florence would cook for them. They would buy all the food. All that Florence had to cook on was a two burner gasoline camp stove, but she agreed to take on the task of rising early, packing six large lunches, prepare breakfast for them, and have a meal ready for them when they returned from the woods. One of them later brought us a wood burning cook stove that he had at home, having replaced it with an electric range. Florence never complained about her lot in all the difficult circumstances that we faced during the years. Well, I’ll tell you, we never ate so good as we did that first winter in Butte Falls.
One evening Florence was playing the piano in the building we were occupying. A group of young people were walking by on the board walk in front of the building and heard the music. They decided to come in and sing along. Two of them were Johnny Belle Wood and her sister, Olga Lee Wood. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Both of them came to our 65th wedding anniversary celebration. Then there was Sally Walker who operated a small grocery store. She attended as often as she could get away, and was a faithful contributor. One by one people started attending the services.
We decided that if we were going to have a Sunday School, that we should order materials from the Gospel Publishing House. So we took the last $10 that we had in our savings and sent off the order to Springfield. The same day we received a letter from some people that had visited the church. It had $10 in it. We thanked the Lord for His provision, and believed that He was going to provide for our needs. We looked for a means of reaching young people. I started a Boy Scout troop. It proved to be an effective means of giving us contact with many families. The troop flourished, and the regional leaders were amazed at the success of a troop in the type of community like we were in. We went on camping trips to the mountain lakes, built packboards from yew wood that we found in the forest.
As we began construction of the first unit, I hauled sand for mixing the cement from a sand pit about nine miles above town. My trailer got a lot of usage. We hauled sacks of cement from Medford, and mixed the cement on the job. The sub floor was complete by January 1949, and then snow came. I remember shoveling the snow off several times so we could proceed with putting up the walls. There was as much as 30 inches of snow on the ground that winter. The lumber for the framing was purchased from the Dalton Brothers mill about five miles from town. The studs were rough 2×4’s and the joists and rafters were all rough lumber. The siding was rough boards covered with tar paper. Since we planned to stucco the exterior, we applied the mesh wire using nails with fiber washers to hold the wire a small space from the tar paper so the stucco would adhere. Brother Spiesz, our former pastor in Heppner, came down and did the stuccoing. In the finish coat he added green coloring. The other church in town was referred to as the brown church, so ours was then called the green church. When one person appeared surprised that our church was not white as she expected it would be, I made the suggestion that green was the color of something that was alive and growing. That seemed to satisfy her.
We bought used windows from Camp White near Medford that was being dismantled. The flooring for the first building was special. I asked the Dalton’s to select vertical grain Douglas fir 2×4’s at their mill for me. Then we brought it to Bill Edmondson’s place just a block from the church. Bill was a steam buff, and had a steam engine and a little mill. Together, we ran the 2×4’s through his saws and made 1×4’s. Then we stacked it up to dry during the summer months. Before rains came we ran the boards through his planer. He got equipment to make the tongue and groove; and the flooring was finished. It was quite a process, a lot of work, but we had the most beautiful flooring with the natural oils retained by not going through kiln drying.
When I was putting the roofing on, the tavern operator, Floyd Price, saw me up there alone, so he got someone to tend bar for him and he joined me installing the asphalt shingles on the roof.
The six loggers were with us through that first winter in Butte Falls. We enjoyed their fellowship. Then one day they announced that this was their last week to be with us because they were going to another area to work. Their being with us was such a blessing, and we were grateful to them and to the Lord for His provision. The same week I met Forest Ranger Bob Beeman on the street. In our conversation I mentioned that I heard that his Clerk & Fire Dispatcher at the Ranger Station was being transferred to Alaska, which he acknowledged was true. So I asked him if there was any chance that I could be considered for that position. He asked if I thought I could handle it. I replied that I would sure like to try. So he hired me and I started work the next week. The Ranger Station was just two blocks from the church. A small house on the compound was made available to us also, so we moved out of the old store building where we still were having church services, and into the one bedroom house at the Ranger Station. That was a bit crowded for sleeping space, but Florence had a kitchen that was far more convenient. She deserved that relief after the busy winter schedule with the loggers. Besides that, she was pregnant again with our fourth child.
As the Clerk and Fire Dispatcher, I was responsible for office work, timekeeping, filing, typing, keeping weather records, and during fire season keeping in touch with the fire lookouts and fire guards stationed throughout the Butte Falls District of the Rogue River National Forest. When a fire occurred, I would dispatch the necessary firefighters to the fire. Our district was the area from Crater Lake National Park south to Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake, and from the Rogue Valley across the Cascades to the Klamath District. At that time there were lookouts on Rustler Peak, Bessie Rock, Blue Rock and Devil’s Peak. There were three guard stations where smoke chasers lived during fire season: Lodgepole, Imnaha, and Camp Two. The first two stations kept pack and saddle animals. Bessie Rock and Devil’s Peak were only accessible by trail, so all supplies were taken in by pack horses or mules, a round trip of about sixteen miles of trail. In 1949, the only means of communication was by telephone. We had no radios at that time. The telephone line was a single wire grounded line that went from tree to tree or pole where trees were not available. Since this was the only means of communication, it was understood that if they couldn’t get through on the phone, their first responsibility was to walk or drive the line to find out if the line was broken. Without communication, they had no purpose for being there. A grounded line had to have a ground wire that ended in a water source like a spring. One time the Blue Rock Lookout must have had a direct lightning strike at some time when it was not occupied, because the grounding wire was melted into short pieces about six inches long all along from the lookout tower to the spring where it was grounded. Lightning does strange things. The story is told that years before, the Forest Service had a lookout station on top of Mt. McLoughlin, or Mt.Pitt as the locals call it. The lookout was manned by a Frenchman who had an interest in electricity, so he had a coil set up so that when lightning was in the area, sparks would jump across a gap. He found that to be entertaining until one day he got a direct strike that melted his coils. That scared him so badly that he took off from the mountain and never went back.
One job that I did on a regular basis was to take weather readings three times a day during fire season. This was to determine the fire danger on the forest. Readings were taken at 8 a.m., noon and 4:30 p.m. We recorded the temperature, wind direction and velocity, cloud type if any, and relative humidity. The humidity was determined by using two thermometers. One was a dry bulb and the other had a wick that drew water from a jar, so it was wet in the bulb area. Then by cranking a fan for a couple of minutes, readings were taken showing the difference between the wet and dry bulb. When the difference was the greatest due to rapid evaporation on the wet bulb, that meant the humidity was low. When the humidity was high, there would be less evaporation, and consequently less difference between the two thermometers. When the humidity was low, the fire danger was high. We also kept record of any rainfall. One summer I remember recording 110 days without any measurable rain.
In June each year a fire school was conducted to train the employees that would man the lookouts and the guard stations. I attended the first year to become familiar with the procedures. Then when the first lookout was being manned, I accompanied the Ranger, Bob Beeman and the District Guard, John Henshaw, along with the couple that would man the Rustler Peak Lookout, Manley and Hyacinth Bryant to the lookout. Due to snow on the road in places, the vehicles were left at Parker Meadows, and a pack horse was loaded with the supplies. Then the five of us walked the two miles up to Rustler Peak, and I was shown the tower and the equipment that would be used to spot and locate fires. To pin point the location of a fire, readings from two lookouts is a great advantage when the azimuth readings cross. After a time of orientation, we left the Bryants in the new home for the summer and started back down the hill to the vehicles. John Henshaw was leading the pack horse and Ranger Beeman and I were following about 50 feet behind when all of a sudden Henshaw yelled “watch out” and we saw a large dead tree falling in our direction. The Ranger and I scrambled to get out of the way as the snag came crashing to the ground by the side of the road. The first words Henshaw spoke after the crash was “Have you paid your tithes?” That brought a good laugh, coming from John, because he never attended church that we knew of, while Bob and I did. We were glad that we escaped that accident. Apparently the horse’s treading triggered the tree falling.
At the ranger station there was a complete set of aerial photos of the whole district. When the lookouts report a fire, and the dispatcher locates it on his map, the nearest smoke chaser is dispatched, giving the location and the route to take. The first fire I dealt with was located on the map and I referred to the aerial photo. It looked to me like a meadow with no trees for quite an area, so I instructed the smoke chaser to go down the trail to given area, and the take a compass and go a certain direction to reach the fire. It turned out that what looked like a meadow was an impassable brush field. The Ranger later took me out for me to see that area. It was a learning experience for me.
I got to visit the Bessie Rock lookout by riding horseback the eight miles from the Imnaha station. The lookout house is on top of a rock accessible by a ladder with 125 steps straight up the side of the rock. On the other side of the rock the drop off is three times that distance. That lookout was manned the first year by Jim Forbes, a forestry student. It takes a special person to endure the isolation of a place like that. Bessie Rock overlooked the Prospect area and the south part of the Crater Lake Park. I also got to visit Devil’s Peak lookout, which was near the summit of the Cascade Mountains and overlooks the seven lakes basin. I made that trip by horseback too. It was manned by Bennett Rush that first fire season, and was the first to be closed in the fall.
The Imnaha Guard station was manned several years in a row by Harold Von Stein, a saved and sanctified Nazarene brother. I remember the time I sent Harold on a fire several miles up the trail toward Devil’s Peak. At this time we had walkie talkie radios for the smoke chasers to carry. The radios weighed several pounds, so they could be taken with them when they went by horseback. On this occasion, there was a long spell between the time Harold checked in at the scene of the fire and was given instructions to fall the snag that was burning. We became quite concerned and were about to send someone to the area to check up on Harold. Finally we got a radio communication from him and he reported that when he fell the snag, it barber-chaired on him and it fell on his leg. Fortunately he was able to cut his boot and get free so he could reach his radio to report in. That was a close call for him, and we heaved a sigh of relief to know that he was alive and well. In case of an accident of this nature, a complete investigation is conducted. In the report, the question arose as to the timing of his going to the fire. Why did it take him as long as it did to go the distance that he traveled? The answer turned out to be that he shot a bear on the way to the fire and took time to dress it out. That wasn’t regular procedure for a smoke chaser going to a fire. But he survived the accident and the incident.
Another employee that I learned to appreciate very much was a forestry student from Fort Collins, Colorado, Dick Bower. He started as the Camp Two guard, and then worked at various other positions, ultimately taking the place of John Henshaw in charge of fire control. Dick became a real friend of the family, and was a lot of fun. He attended our church some. One Wednesday I encouraged Dick to attend church that evening. We were in the process of having Vacation Bible School at the time in cooperation with the other church in town. We had secured the services of two young ladies that were working under Village Missions, Erma Stolk and Sunny Baugh to conduct the VBS. Dick accepted the invitation to attend the service that evening, and met the two young VBS workers. He took the opportunity after the service to show the ladies around the area. A friendship developed between Dick and Erma that ultimately resulted in marriage. Dick later taught in the Beaverton High School, and then they went to Africa as missionaries. They retired and returned to live in Hillsboro, OR. Erma developed an illness that left her completely helpless. Dick cared for her faithfully for years until her passing. Then he later married a missionary co-worker who had never been married, and they are a very happy couple. Our friendship that began in Butte Falls has continued through all these fifty some years.
I really enjoyed the years working for the Forest Service. After the fire season was over, there were a variety of things that I was involved in, such as clear-cut burning and re-planting the clear-cuts with seedlings. We did some tree pruning in one area where the pine trees grew rapidly. We used a small electric chain saw powered by a generator. We climbed the tree to a height of eighteen feet and then sawed the branches off as we worked our way down the tree. The result ultimately would be a sixteen foot log that would be free of knots.
Another job that I enjoyed in the winter was hunting porcupine. Our ranger did a study that concluded that every porcupine did $2,000.00 worth of damage to the timber by peeling the bark near the top of the tree, causing the top to die and the tree to be deformed. As a result of the study, Medford Corporation, the primary timber owner in the Butte Falls area paid a bounty of twenty-five cents for each one killed. We would take a 22 caliber rifle and walk on snow shoes in areas of young timber. When snow was on the ground, the porcupine spent most of the time in the trees. On a bright sunny day, the area where they had pealed and eaten the tender bark near the top of the tree would show up clearly. Where there was fresh work there was usually a porcupine nearby, and they were easy to spot in the tree. Whenever I traveled the forest roads at night, I carried a baseball bat so that if I spotted a porcupine in the road, I would stop the car, get out and run after it with the bat. On one occasion, Wayne was with me. He got out of the car and ran after the porcupine with me. He caught up with it and tried to kick it. The porcupine responded by switching its tail at Wayne, and leaving him with several quills sticking to his leg. He never did that again.
We were glad for the day when we moved from the old store building to our new quarters. The portion that was used for church services would seat around fifty people. Sunday School classes were held in the living room and in the kitchen. The bedrooms were all upstairs and classes were held there also. The congregation was growing steadily. A majority of the school teachers from the elementary and the high school attended the services. One Sunday evening, Florence brought the message and gave an altar call. One of the teachers, Emma Moore, responded and came forward to be prayed for. We assumed that she already was a Christian because she often referred to her belonging to the Church of Christ while her husband, Claude Moore, would attend the Methodist Church. But after that trip to the altar, she was all out for the Lord. Her comment was that before that experience at the altar, she would begrudge the quarter that she gave in the offering, but now she enjoyed paying her tithes. Prior to their coming to Butte Falls, they had never attended church together. But now they enjoyed being in church together. Emma’s sister, Tincye Murray was also one of the teachers that attended faithfully and tithed. Claude, a full blood Chickasaw Indian, was janitor at the school. Other school teachers that attended were Mary Schubert, Virginia Slaney and Georgia Curtis. I’m not sure if it made any difference, but in addition to my work as pastor and at the Forest Service, I was asked to serve as the School Clerk. It was my job to handle the school finances, so I did the payroll for the school, and paid all the other bills as well. As school clerk I pursued a program under Public Law 815 and 874 that provided assistance to schools that were Federally impacted. Since there was considerable National Forest in the area, and no tax revenue was derived from it, this program was to offset the lack of tax revenue. That proved to be a real benefit to the Butte Falls school district.
Another concern of mine was the summer camping program. We had participated in a camp that was held at Camp Wyeth in the Columbia Gorge. I was not pleased with the facilities there, and especially the abundance of mosquitoes there. On our Ranger District was an abandoned Civilian Conservation Camp similar to Camp Heppner where I spent 27 months. This camp on our district was used only once a year for the fire school. So I sought permission to utilize what we called Camp Two for our Southern Oregon Youth Camps. We were successful in getting the use of the camp. We needed a building for assembly hall, so we requested permission to construct a chapel. The Forest Service required that it be a portable building, so I designed a building with sections of walls that were bolted together. The roof was also built in sections with sheet metal roofing, and it worked out great. Two weeks of the summer the churches of Southern Oregon held first a boys and girls camp, and then a youth camp for the teenagers. That proved to be very successful.
The churches of the area that included what now is the Rogue Valley Section and the Klamath Section was then referred to as Section Six of the Oregon Assemblies of God. The section reached from Lakeview to Cave Junction, and from Ashland on the south to Grants Pass area on the north. I was amazed when they elected me as their Presbyter. I was the pastor of a small pioneer work in Butte Falls, and there were good churches and pastors in Klamath Falls, Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass. That meant that I was in charge of the monthly Fellowship Meetings that were held in the afternoon and evening on a certain Monday each month. I also had regular District Presbyter meeting to attend. Somehow we managed to cover all the bases. I had a full schedule. I could have used a secretary, but I didn’t have one available.
In our effort to reach our community, I decided to get a bulk mailing permit and mail a bulletin occasionally. The permit required a mailing of at least 200 pieces. There weren’t that many families in our community, so I made up a mailing list that included a few friends and relatives in addition to all of the families I knew of in the Butte Falls area. Our fellow pastor in Medford, Wildon Colbaugh, was a good communicator, so he helped me get set up to do the mailing. To start with, I would cut the stencil and Florence would take it down to Medford and have Wildon run it off on his mimeograph. Later he helped us get our own mimeograph and we were in business. Each time we did a mailing, I addressed all 200 pieces individually. Now you can peel off labels and stick them on, but then it was a laborious task writing 200 addresses.
Early one Palm Sunday I received a phone call from Charlie Pennington. He was wanting a minister to come out to his place about nine miles above Butte Falls. His wife, Laura, was wanting to be baptized before she died. I had met Charlie in the barber shop some time before, and noted what a filthy mouth he had. He was probably the most uncouth individuals in those hills. Anyway, I told Charlie that I would be right out. He had driven to the nearest phone to make the call, so he waited to show me the way to his cabin. When I got there, I led his wife to the Lord. Then I asked for some water to baptize her by sprinkling. Her background was in a church that practiced sprinkling instead of immersion. Then I said to Charlie, “This is what you need, too.” His response was simply, “I know it.” So I asked him to kneel there in his kitchen, and he started to pray, “God, I’ve been an awful sinner. I want you to save me.” I prayed with him, and before I left to get back to my service, I anointed Laura with oil and prayed that God would raise her up, and then I hurried back home. I got there in time for the morning service. I had missed the Sunday School hour. After our noon meal, I decided to go back out to Penningtons. When I got there she was out of bed and doing her housework. God had raised her up. The next Sunday and every Sunday the Pennington vehicle, a weapons carrier that everyone recognized, was parked in front of the Church. That was a real break-through, because Charlie was well known in the community, and now he was a changed man.
One day Florence and I visited Charlie and Laura. They gave us a live chicken from their flock to take and butcher. As we drove away, I remembered that I hadn’t thanked them for the chicken, so we turned around and went back to thank them. In that interval, Laura had gotten out a secret project that she was working on. So she revealed to us what it was. Florence had mentioned on a previous visit about seeing a crocheted work of the Last Supper. Laura already had the pattern and thread, so that very day she began that laborious task of crocheting that scene for us. When it was completed, she brought it to us, and it is one of our prized possessions that hangs on our family room wall near our dining table.
One day Charlie stopped by to tell us that he was on his way to Medford where he was to undergo prostate surgery. We had prayer with him and he went on his way. In the surgery the Surgeon was unable to stop the bleeding, and Charlie went to be with the Lord. Laura lived sixteen years from the time she accepted the Lord and was baptized by sprinkling. She was the only one that I ever sprinkled.
One of the families that attended our church, the Elmer Leathermans, had acreage where they lived on the Obenchain road. They talked to us about their desire for the disposition of their property following their demise. Their desire was that it be used for some type of youth work. So they made their wills out so that the Southern Oregon Assemblies of God churches would inherit their farm. Sometime after we left Butte Falls and went to our next pastorate, the Leathermans took a trip to California. On their return trip they had an accident in which both of them were killed. As a result, the churches inherited the farm. About the same time, the Pennington place became available. The Pennington site was ideal for a youth camp with a beautiful view of the mountain. The newly formed Willow Lake resulting from the construction of a dam on the stream that was nearby made a great place to go swimming, so a trade was arranged. The Leatherman property was better suited for raising cattle as the owner of the Pennington place at the time planned to do. We did not get to have a part in the construction of the camp because we were now in another part of the state. But the portable tabernacle was moved the two miles from Camp Two, and barracks were erected. A very fine facility was developed that was a tremendous blessing to the churches of Southern Oregon. After many years of use, the City of Medford put pressure on the churches to discontinue the use of the facility because of the location of the camp to the Medford water shed. Their water source was Big Butte Springs where a literal river flows out of the ground to supply the Medford area with all its water. The camp was near that water source, so they were worried about contamination. The property was finally sold to the city and the camp demolished.
We soon outgrew the area that we used for the church services, so we began the second unit that would provide a sanctuary, rest rooms, and classrooms. We built the forms to pour the foundation. I did not have a transit level, so we devised a means of determining the level for the foundation in relation to the first unit. We filled a garden hose with water. Florence was on one end to observe when the water level was exactly at the level of the first foundation. Then I would mark on the forms that level, and then we knew where the cement foundation top would be. We built duct work for a heating system. Since wood was readily available, we put in a large wood furnace. The furnace that I bought had been used in Camp White, and the man I bought it from had it in his field a ways from his house. It was large enough and heavy enough that he thought it would be a good air raid shelter that he could climb into for protection in case of war. I talked him out of his shelter, and it made a very good heating system. To provide fuel, I would have a load of logs brought in that were unsuitable for lumber. There were plenty of loggers who would willingly cut up the logs for the church, so fuel cost was very reasonable.
I built the trusses for the sanctuary out of 2×10’s, 2×8’s and 2×6’s bolted together. They were heavy, very different from the flimsy trusses that are held together by glue that are now used. To put the trusses in place, we set up a gin pole with pulleys and rope, and pulled them up in place with a car. The finish on the outside was stucco the same as the first unit, but the flooring came from Medford Corporation this time. We bought all the flooring that we would need at one time. Medco put it on a rail car and spotted it near Butte Falls where we unloaded it and hauled it to our site. We had piles of flooring in each room where it would be needed. Florence became quite proficient at laying flooring. She would need a classroom space, and would be tired of that pile of flooring in her way, so she would just go at it and put the flooring down.
While we were still living in the small Forest Service house, Joseph Benjamin arrived on the scene. He was born in the hospital in Medford on November 21st, 1949 and we brought him home on Thanksgiving day. Ernestine Beeman, the Rangers wife took Wayne, Carolyn and Dorothy to spend the day with them. She also sent across the street the Thanksgiving dinner for us to enjoy when we returned from the hospital. Having been born in mid-November became somewhat of a problem when it came time for Joe to start the first grade. He was ready to start when he was five, but the cut-off date was November 15th, six days prior to his sixth birthday, so Joe did not get to start school that year. The principal and first grade teacher recognized the problem, but felt that since they both attended our church, that to make an exception for Joe would not set well with some, so we let their decision stand because we did not want to cause any problem. As a result, I am sure that it turned out to be the best decision, because that made Joe always about the oldest one in his classes, It was likely a factor in becoming a leader. He has proven to be an outstanding leader throughout his life.
Joe’s first grade teacher, Mary Schubert was the daughter of a Methodist missionary to China and later to Japan. Mary tells the story of giving Joe a spanking for something he did, and in the process broke her paddle. The next day Joe brought her a replacement paddle that he had talked his mother out of because Florence happened to have two on hand. From a father’s point of view, I don’t know why either of them needed a paddle. Joe got the least spankings of the four. I realize that I overdid the spankings with our first-born. I have learned that discipline should not be administered during the heat of anger over some issue. I often told the children that if they would exercise self-discipline, then I would never need to spank them again. But the person administering discipline must set the example by not administering punishment until they have first brought their self under control. Otherwise punishment can result in damage rather than being beneficial. The problem I had with Dorothy was that when I spanked her she cried so loud that she could be heard throughout the neighborhood, and that wasn’t good coming from the parsonage. On one occasion when we first arrived in Butte Falls and were living in the old store building, that Carolyn and Dorothy got a mouthful of water in the drinking fountain and when a person walked by on the board walk in front, they would spit the water on them. When we found out about it, I didn’t know if we should leave town or what to do. I made them sit on chairs in a corner for a good long time as punishment. But as it has turned out, we raised four children that we are proud of.
One day in about 1954 we decided to take a trip to the coast for an outing. We chose to visit Brookings, Oregon, the southern-most city on the Oregon coast. The pastor of the Assembly Church there was a good friend of ours. We had been down to the wharf to see the sights, and when we were returning to town, we stopped at the stop sign on Highway 101, the coast highway. As I pulled out onto the highway, I hadn’t noticed an approaching vehicle due to having a coat hanging on the right side. (I never have made that mistake again.) I pulled right in front of a car that was north bound resulting in a collision that was my fault. The driver of the other car was a soldier who was being transferred from California to Fort Lewis in Washington. Our vehicles were not severely damaged. It was principally a fender-bender, but we needed to make a report of the accident. So we went together to the police station to make the report and to exchange information regarding insurance. Before we parted, I gave a gospel tract to the soldier, Reed von Isom. The tract entitled “Here’s How” was produced by Life Messengers of Seattle. I had given a lot of them away because I found them to be very effective. Then we both went on our way.
Seventeen years after the accident I received a letter from Reed. I had been gone from Butte Falls for at least fourteen years, but the Postmistress remembered that I had a brother that was Postmaster at Forest Grove, so she forwarded the letter to my brother David, and he passed it on to me. In the letter he told the story about how three months after the accident he found the tract in his glove compartment in the car and read it. He decided after reading it that he wanted to become a Christian. So he attended an Assembly of God Church and accepted the Lord Jesus as his Saviour. Then he attended the same Bible School that Florence and I both attended in Springfield, Missouri. After that he became involved in tract distribution. He published tracts of his own and for rest of his life that was his passion. He lived in Kentucky and attended Assembly of God Churches. At the time of our brief meeting in Brookings nothing was mentioned of what denomination I was involved in. Another thing I have wondered about is if there was any connection between Reed von Isom and Colonel Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame because Colonel Sanders attended Assemblies of God Churches in Kentucky in his later years and was also involved in tract distribution. A couple that had been our Youth Leaders when we pastored in Aloha later attended the same Church as Col. Sanders and told us about his tract ministry. I have often referred to the accident in Brookings as an accident that wasn’t an accident, but a providential encounter.
Back again to Butte Falls and my work with the Forest Service. One of the jobs that I was involved in was scaling logs as they were being trucked through town on the way to the mill. This involved recording the length, the diameter on the small end, the species, and the condition of each log, noting if there was any rot in it. It was a simple matter when a load came through with just one log on it as was the case occasionally with the Sugar Pine logs. This species of tree is only found in the area south of Roseburg, Oregon and into northern California, and in one other area in the middle east. It is referred to as sugar pine because of the sweet smell that exudes when it is being cut. There is a sweet odor from the pitch that is under the cambian layer. The cones from this species are usually around a foot or more in length and five inches in diameter when open. To scale a load of twenty or more poles poses another problem. Determining which is the small end of each log and its length when there are varied lengths on a load was a challenge. I was granted the privilege of scaling the loads in front of the church at times. This gave me the opportunity to work on the building between loads, which I appreciated very much.
Ranger Beeman told me one time that when I left they would probably need three persons to take my place. When I went back for a visit a couple of years after leaving, sure enough there were three individuals doing the jobs that I had been doing. All in all, those nine years we spent in Butte Falls were very enjoyable. We have pleasant memories of those days so filled with activities. It was very rewarding to see the response of the people to our ministry and service to the community.
In the summer of 1957 we had to do some serious evaluation of our children’s welfare as far as their education was concerned. The small High School had not been the best for our eldest son Wayne. We sent him to Canyonville Bible Academy the last semester of his freshman year. Our two daughters were next to enter High School, so for the sake of our children’s education we decided that we needed to make a change. So as we placed the matter before the Lord we left it in His hands. It wasn’t long until we learned of an opening in Aloha, Oregon for a pastor. We submitted our resume and were given the opportunity to present our ministry there. As a result we were invited by the Aloha congregation to be their pastor. So just in time for the new school year we moved on to our next assignment where our children would attend one of the best schools in the state.
The Aloha Chapter of our Lives
The Aloha Assembly had just been through a disruption. Their pastor had embraced a teaching that was not in line with Assemblies of God doctrine. He was attempting to take the congregation out of the Assemblies and become independent. Some of the congregation were not in agreement with the idea, so they took the matter to the District Superintendent. So when the time came when there was to be a vote on whether or not to withdraw from the Assemblies of God, the Superintendent walked in. The result was the Church voted to remain in the A/G and the pastor surrendered his credentials. He took a small group of the congregation and started holding services in Beaverton. That ultimately fizzled out and he moved on to Idaho.
The Aloha congregation was meeting in a small building just 25 feet wide on a 28 foot wide lot.
It was right next to the Grange Hall that towered over our small facility. The only parking was on the street, and there was an outhouse in the back yard. On the side street next to the Grange Hall was the small two bedroom parsonage that was also used for Sunday School classes. There were only two small cubicles in the main building for classrooms. For our family of six to fit into the small parsonage was a challenge, so we put a pull-down stairway to the attic space and fixed a place for the two boys to bunk. On the opposite side of the street from the Church and Grange was a lumber yard. The church had purchased a one acre property three blocks away, and on the other side of the Tualatin Highway for re-locating. This was urgent due to the size of the congregation. Packing 125 people into that cracker-box of a building was a challenge, so we sold the property to the owner of the lumber yard. Actually, we traded the property for lumber to start building with.
An architect was engaged and plans for the first unit were formulated and submitted for approval. When the permit process was complete, we were ready to start building. Clyde Maggard came with his tractor and dug the hole for the basement. The first unit was a two story building with the entrance and foyer mid-level. The upper floor had the larger space for church services, a small kitchen and a nursery room that had the only toilet facilities. The lower floor had a smaller assembly room and a couple of classrooms. This unit was built entirely with volunteer labor. Harold Simmons, an excellent carpenter took the lead role, and the rest of us pitched in to do what we could. I did most of the wiring. Every Saturday was a work day, and Florence would organize the food for the hungry workers. The project went very well, and the total cost of the first unit was only $3.25 per square foot – an unbelievable low cost. One problem we had not anticipated was that we put in the footing drain line to the ditch by the street. All went well until one time during a very heavy rain the culvert became plugged resulting in a foot of water coming into our lower floor. That only happened on one occasion in the nearly sixty years the building has been in use.
The move to Aloha was a blessing because of the close proximity to Forest Grove where my parents and brothers lived. Dad and Mother were still living on the small farm near Forest Grove where we moved to nineteen years before. Dad was 77 years old so it was good that we could be closer to them during their remaining years here.
I think this would be a good time to give an update on my family. Robert, the brother next to me, enlisted in the Air Force and did service in Europe. He flew 90 missions over Germany in the P-51 Mustang doing tactical reconnaissance. His job was to take pictures of areas to be bombed and then get a picture of the results. He often returned from these assignments with bullet holes in his plane, but we thank the Lord that he returned safely. After leaving the military he returned to Forest Grove and went to work for a plumber. He learned the trade and eventually took over the business when his mentor retired. During the Korean conflict he was called back to duty with the Air Force and flew planes back and forth to Korea. Then he returned to the plumbing business and did business all over the state doing commercial plumbing mostly. One unique type of job that he was successful with was to install heat pumps in the area of Silver Creek Falls with pipes in the road on a bridge where there was frequent ice that made driving hazardous. When the temperature dropped to the freezing level, the heat pump would kick in and pump heated water through the piping installed in the roadbed, thus preventing accidents. Bob did the heating, plumbing and air conditioning in many public school buildings, as well as installing sewers. He installed chlorinating systems for city water supplies. On one sewer installation in SW Washington, engineering had failed to identify soil conditions properly, and during the installation he ran into rock that was not anticipated. This resulted in a cost over run of several hundred thousand dollars, but he completed the project and bore the loss. He was noted for being a man of integrity.
My next brother, James, was in the National Guard when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. Jim was immediately called to active duty. He served first on the Washington coast and then in the South Pacific. He received training as an officer in Australia, and then served in various places until the war was over. As an officer, he had a total of five companies – 200 men – killed or wounded under him, but the only wound he received was when he cut his knuckle with his own bayonet. However, when he was on the return voyage when the war was over, he stopped taking quinine and he became seriously ill with malaria and was hospitalized in San Francisco when he arrived there. After being discharged from the service, Jim went to school to become a mortician. His first job was in Lebanon, Oregon. Then he went into business in Forest Grove. Ultimately he had mortuaries in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Vernonia also. In addition, he had an ambulance business in Washington County.
Next in line is my sister, Mary, who worked in an aircraft factory in Portland during the war to earn money for college. She worked 60 hours a week besides taking classes to become a nurse. Then she joined a cadet program for nurses training. She graduated in 1946 and became an RN. A close friend and schoolmate was from Southern California, so Mary chose to move to California to live and work. Most of her service was in Administration and Education, serving in hospitals in Pasadena and Santa Cruz. She presently lives in San Diego near one of her two daughters.
The youngest in the family, David, enlisted in the Coast Guard and served in California. After being discharged, he returned to Forest Grove where he went to work for the Post Office as a mail carrier. He ultimately became the Postmaster of Forest Grove, and later the Postmaster of Vancouver, Washington. Dave was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt with the bow and arrow. He built several houses, and raised nursery plants. Although he had a stuttering problem all his life, he never stuttered when he sang. He sang in choirs and men’s groups as well as solos. Unfortunately, he developed a brain tumor and passed away at the age of fifty.
Our older sister, Ann, spent most of her life in Minneapolis where she went right after completing High School. She was employed as a secretary for many years. After retiring, she joined the family in Forest Grove, and spent her remaining years there.
Now, to get back to our ministry in Aloha, the Church was growing and things were going well. Finances were a little short for us, so prior to Christmas I took a temporary job at the Beaverton Post Office helping during the Christmas rush. The following year I did the same thing, but this time I continued to work a part time schedule. Ultimately, I was given a Civil Service appointment and my duties consisted of auditing the previous days business and posting the information. This worked out very well for me because I could go in on my own schedule, and leave when my work was done. I did this for nine years. It was something that I enjoyed doing, and it gave me a contact with people outside the Church, and provided additional income.
In 1960 we purchased a lot on the street behind the Church for our personal residence. We borrowed money as a veteran to construct a three bedroom house. To start, I hired a contractor to put in the foundation. The garage area that he laid out was not square, creating a problem all the way to the roof. The foundation was too low, so the installation of plumbing and heat ducts under the floor was a challenge, and to get around in the limited space was very difficult. We decided on a heat pump for heating and air conditioning. They were quite new at the time, so I studied up on the installation and operation of the system, and helped with the installation. As a result, my brother Bob had me man a booth at the county fair for him where he was advertising the heat pump. It was a great day when we were able to move from the tiny parsonage into our own home.
The elderly lady that I bought the lot from had a house and five duplexes immediately behind the Church. She decided that she needed to dispose of the property due to her age, so I presented the proposal to the Church body, recommending that we purchase the property for future expansion. I said that I would manage the units for the Church if they were to buy it. There was some opposition to the proposal, and they voted to not make the purchase. Then I asked for their approval of my purchasing the property as a retirement provision for me, to which they agreed. So I began negotiations with the owner who was a single lady with no children. I felt that the price that she was asking was about $10,000 more than the value. So I suggested that I would give her the price that she was asking if she would put in her will that when she passed on I would be the recipient of $10,000. She agreed to that and we closed the deal, drawing up a contract sale, making monthly payments to her. Prior to her demise, a mutual friend of ours saw the will, and she had made the provision that we had agreed on. But when she passed away, her purse and important papers were sent to her two sisters in Florida, who were not the principal beneficiaries of her estate. Most of her estate was willed to a school that she had attended as a child. The will was never located, so the two sisters inherited the estate. Then they wanted to cash out the contract she had with me. I offered them $10,000 less than the balance due, and they accepted my offer. I am sure that they knew that I deserved that consideration. I borrowed the money from a friend and paid them off. The duplexes proved to be an excellent investment. When the Church needed to expand, I sold the portion next to the Church to them for a pittance.
In 1963 we started phase two, constructing an auditorium with an office and prayer room. Again, Harold Simmons was the lead man on the job. It was every Saturday again, when volunteers were on hand to get the project finished. Over forty years later when Harold passed away, his widow told me that those years in Aloha when we were building seemed to be the happiest years of his life, because he spoke so much about those years. The building was built with a sloping floor, and the roof was supported with laminated arches. The decking used for the roof was stained and the natural wood finish made for a beautiful sanctuary. The office and the prayer room located on either side of the platform were heated by electric wires in the concrete floor which made it practical to heat separate from the rest of the building, and to make it comfortable for kneeling as well.
One thing that the Aloha congregation became noted for during the years that we ministered there was the canning of fruit and nuts for missionaries. One favorite of the missionaries was the walnuts. We would glean in the walnut orchard, dry the nuts and crack them. The nut meats were processed in tin cans and sealed. This kept them fresh for years, and were a delight to the missionaries that were on the field for five years at a time.
In addition to our pastoral duties, I served as presbyter for the Portland A/G churches, directed youth camps for our section during the summer while my wife was involved in cooking for the camps. I was also involved with the Greater Portland Full Gospel Fellowship, The Washington County Association of Evangelicals, and was on the executive committee for the Oregon Association of Evangelicals. For a while I was the Director of Home Missions for the Oregon Assemblies. On one occasion, we of the Full Gospel Fellowship had engaged Nicky Cruz for a series of meetings. We had rented Benson High School which seats 1,800 persons. In preparation for the meeting we bought 8,000 copies of the book, Run, Baby Run, by David Wilkerson which tells the story of Nicky Cruz. We distributed these free to the high school students of the Portland area. Because there was so much interest on the part of the students, we decided that Benson High would be too small, so we rented the Memorial Coliseum. When I called Nicky and told him, he about had a heart attack. But it worked out very well. There were crowds of up to 5,500 at a time for the meetings, and there was an excellent response.
During the time I was Home Missions Director for Oregon A/G, I realized that the metropolitan area of Portland was a needy mission field. I made an effort to establish a church that ministered principally to the black community, with a black minister. That didn’t work out too well, but we tried.
The congregation in Aloha grew steadily through the years. We were pleased to see a number of men start attending with their wives that had not attended previously. I was privileged to join a group of the fellows in deer hunting on a number of occasions. They were very helpful to me as a rookie in the sport. They took me out to Moore’s Valley where the Wirth family owns extensive acreage. Then they instructed me to take a position and wait. The rest of the group would fan out in the area below and flush out any deer that were in the brush, knowing that their retreat would be in my direction. Sure enough, a four point buck came my way, and I fired at it as it went by. But it kept on going and I thought that I had missed it. But when the fellows got up there, we followed the direction the buck had gone. Just over the crest of the hill we found the buck lying there. I was pretty excited as this was a first for me. Then, to top it off, there was a doctor in the group and he went to work performing the “operation” of removing the entrails which I had never done. Though I wasn’t much of a hunter, I enjoyed getting out with the men..
On one occasion, two of the older gentlemen went elk hunting near Seaside, Oregon. They were successful in getting a bull elk early in the day. The problem was then what were they to do with it. One of the men walked to their car and drove to a phone where they called me for help. So Joe and I rounded up pack boards and went out to help pack the meat out. Joe was in good shape from football practice and was raring to go. They strapped a quarter on each pack board, and we were set to make the trek out of the woods. When Joe stood up after putting the pack on his back, he stood up straight and the weight pulled him over backwards. So there he was lying on his back with the load beneath him. We had to release him so he could get up and reload. He learned quickly how to balance a pack on his back.
Two years after moving into our own home, the older three children married and left home. There were three weddings in seven months. Wayne married Ruth Lindahl, one of the young ladies of the church. Carolyn married Roy Crow, a young man she met at George Fox College where she was attending. Dorothy married Rocky Losli, a young man who attended a Baptist Church. That just left us with Joe in the house. However, shortly after the three “flew the coop” a need arose with Florence’s cousin, Lucille Moyer Owens. She was afflicted with multiple sclerosis and was needing care, so she came to live with us for a year. On one occasion when Florence and I were away, she fell and Joe was there with her alone. So as he prepared to help her to her feet, he said, “Let’s figure this out scientifically”. That tickled Lucille so much that they had a good laugh amid their trauma. He was successful in helping her to her feet. At the end of the year, Lucille’s sister, Caroline Moyer, retired from her teaching career and cared for Lucille the rest of her life.
When Joe was in Junior High, he charted a course for his life. He first wanted to be Student Body President of his Junior High. Then he wanted to be Student Body President of his Senior High, which was Beaverton HS. Then he wanted to attend Willamette University, be the Student Body President of the University and get a degree in Political Science and ultimately be the President of the United States in the year 2004. He readily achieved all of his goals during his years obtaining his education. However, during his junior year at the University, he had an encounter with the Lord, and he was called to the ministry. He became involved in outreaches on campus as well as in the community, and following graduation traveled, ministering to youth throughout the state. Then he joined the staff at Aloha, and was my associate. He married one of the young ladies of our congregation, Linda Vanden Bos.
Wayne was in the military, serving in the Special Forces of the Air Force referred to as the Gray Berets. He served in the Southeast Asia area for six years. For a Christmas present in 1971, he gave Florence and I tickets for a trip around the world which would include a stop in the area where he was serving at the time, which was Thailand and Laos. So Joe and Linda were married on December 31, 1971, and following a brief honeymoon they moved into our house on Jan. 10, 1972, and we took off on the trip of a lifetime for the next 66 days. Joe took care of the rentals in our absence, and had some experience with frozen and broken water pipes in the process.
Our first stop was Honolulu where we spent a day sight-seeing and visiting with Elmer and Kay Trygg. The next day we flew to Tokyo where we were met by Judy Foster who was involved in missionary endeavors there. Judy is the daughter of the District Superintendent who was serving when I entered the ministry. Judy went with us as we took a trip into the mountains to visit Will and Katherine Schubert, the parents of Joe’s First Grade teacher who broke a paddle on Joe – remember? Will Schubert was a Methodist missionary who had spent many years in China, and now he was in Japan interceding for China and Japan. He was truly a man of the Word and of the Spirit. He would rejoice to see what is happening in China today. When he left China in 1949, there were around one million Christians. Today it is estimated that there are over sixty million. Anyway, it was a joy to spend a little time with the Schuberts. We were impressed with the efficiency of the transportation system in Japan. In Tokyo the throngs of people were traveling on the trains and buses. Where Judy lived was beyond the end of a bus line, and she walked several blocks to her residence. She felt no fear of walking that distance even late in the evening.
From Tokyo we flew to Seoul, Korea for a visit with Charles & Linda Butterfield. It was mid-winter and COLD. I attended one of their early morning prayer meetings at 5 a.m. in a building with no heat. There were lots of people there praying up a storm, kneeling on the benches rather than the floor because of the cold. We attended a Sunday Service at a church where there were around 200 in attendance, and the only car there was that of the missionary. All of those attending either walked or came by bus. We did not attend Dr. Cho’s Church which is now the largest Church in the world, but we did have lunch with Pastor Cho and the Butterfields. He told about people almost being trampled to death in the rush to get a seat as one group was leaving and the next group was scrambling to get a seat.
Our next stop was in Taipei, Taiwan where we visited missionaries Garland & Florence Benintendi who we had known for thirty years. It was mid-week so we did not attend Church services there. It was a joy to travel around to see the sights, and how the Chinese live there. A road building project was particularly interesting where everything was done by hand. The rocks were transported by carriers born on the shoulders of the men, and water carried in buckets. Here we would use dump trucks and tank trucks.
From Taipei we went to Hong Kong. We visited missionaries Walker & Nell Hall there, and were impressed by the school system that they operated. How is it possible to pack so many people in such a small area as is done in Hong Kong? There were huge apartment complexes where people lived and made a living making items to sell right in their homes. The school facility would be part of the same building. We missed an opportunity to go with the Halls to the home of a new convert where they would help them dispose of items relating to their former life before becoming a Christian. I spoke at a Church service using an interpreter while there.
Our next stop was in Manila. Getting off the plane we were suddenly aware of the heat. There had been a devastating fire at the airport a couple of days earlier, so we were processed in a warehouse where there was no air conditioning. We had reservations to stay at a Christian and Missionary Alliance guest house. We visited the Bible School in Manila, as well as the studios of Far East Broadcasting Co. where Bob Bowman was a key figure. We got around by riding in the Jeepneys which were used as taxis.. They were dressed up with all kinds of fancy trinkets, but they were still the Jeeps that were used in World War II.
In Singapore we stayed at a missionary residence. We saw Les Martin while there. Les followed us in the Butte Falls church before going to the mission field. The house where we stayed had openings for windows, but there was no glass or screen. It was interesting to see the little creatures crawling up the walls. They were your friends because they ate the insects. One of the things we enjoyed was a visit to a rubber plantation, and to see the trees from which rubber comes from. Singapore is a beautiful city with lots of tropical flowers.
When we landed in Djakarta, Indonesia, Morris Devin was there to greet us. He had driven 600 miles across the Island of Java to pick us up. The drive back to Malang was spectacular! Seeing the people with their street vending, and transporting produce to market on their backs, bathing in the river, all was most interesting. Our first stop was in Bandung where we stayed overnight with the William Willis’. The next day we drove to Jogjakarta, a distance of 270 miles; a ten hour drive where there were no restaurants or service stations with rest rooms available. Bandung is a college town with around 100,000 students. We attended a Sunday morning service in Surakarta, then on to Malang where the Devins were stationed. Morris and Joyce were in charge of the Bible School there. I spoke in the Chapel services. We spent five very enjoyable days there before flying to our next destination.
We arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on February 3rd. Wayne had made reservations for us at the hotel. He arrived in the evening along with his second wife, Nouhak, and their 2 month old daughter Helen. The next morning we all got into a jeep and headed for Udorn where Wayne was living at the time. The next morning when we awoke and looked out of the window we saw a long line of monks in their orange garments, each carrying a bowl and going from house to house to get their food donations for the day. Women would dish out whatever they fixed for the monks into the bowl and they would proceed to the next house to collect more food. The monks were careful not to touch any of the women, because if they did so they would be defiled, yet they would accept the food from them. Soon after our arrival at Udorn, two men came by and offered to show us around. We were naïve, and accepted their offer. Not long after we were on the way they asked questions about our name. Then they had to stop and make a phone call and then they took us back to Wayne’s. We learned that they were just wanting to get information on Wayne. They were undercover agents from Bagdad, so Wayne had to report immediately his blown cover. It was a different world we were in and a war was on, so we were more careful from then on.
We went by Jeep to a place by the Mekong River. There we boarded a Huey chopper for a flight to Savannakhet, Laos where we stayed at the American Embassy. In the basement was a lot of communication equipment. This was the nerve center for the operations going on. At night we could hear the shelling in the hills thirty miles away. We visited a refuge camp where people were living in plastic shelters. Savannakhet is the second largest city in Laos, yet their water system was a cart with 12 five gallon cans delivering water to the homes. We spent a couple of days there before boarding another chopper for a flight back to Udorn. Then we boarded a train for an overnight trip to Bangkok and on to our next destination.
Our next stop was in Calcutta, India. I thought I was prepared for what we would see there, but it was a shock to see the multitudes that are living on the street in poverty, and the skinny cows everywhere. Then when the driver from the mission turned into the mission compound, it was like another world. Mark and Huldah Buntain were likely the greatest missionaries of the 20th century. The work they accomplished is phenomenal. On the mission compound was a school with 2,000 students all in uniform. Today there are many times that number. Now they have the finest hospital in Calcutta and a nursing school as well. Mother Teresa and her workers used our facilities when they had need of medical treatment. There is a feeding program every day where thousands of people get a hot meal. Our son Joe has had a vital part in developing the work there in Calcutta and now in other parts of the world. He helped establish the Calcutta Mission of Mercy that raised millions of dollars for the work there. It is now reaching out to other parts of the world in its ministry and is called Mission of Mercy.
While in Calcutta the driver from the mission took us down to the Hoogli river. There we saw cremations taking place. We approached a shelter where there were some figures. A man approached us and started to explain how these gods were placed in the waters of the river on occasions for purification. Soon we were surrounded by a group of young men, and the driver told us to get to the car as soon as we can, so we made our way to the car. He later explained to us that if those fellows were to rob us, the police would not do anything about it. The fellow that had been explaining things to us then wanted to be paid, so I gave him a tip, even though the driver said I didn’t need to. I guess we didn’t have sense enough to be aware of the danger that we were in.
Esther Olson had come down from Purulia to help us make our way to the girls orphanage that she was operating. She took us shopping in Calcutta first. Everywhere were beggars, peddlers, illegal money changers, and cows. I didn’t have the heart to even take pictures there. Esther took us by train to Asansol where we met the Longs. They took us by jeep to Purulia and the orphanage. There were six of us in the jeep and an Indian boy rode in the trailer that was being towed. When we arrived the orphans greeted us with welcome songs and lei’s. They were thrilled to have guests come. Esther took us to visit a family of one of the graduates from their program.The lady was married and had children. She also had a small cow. Esther explained to us that the cow gave a small amount of milk each day, but the children didn’t get to drink any of it because she had to sell the milk to buy feed for the cow. Why then did she keep the cow? She kept the cow so she could have something to cook their rice with – the cow manure was dried and used for fuel for cooking. Often we saw houses with the cow pies plastered against the side of the house to dry for fuel.
At the edge of Purulia was a retirement home for cows. Each morning they opened the gates and the cows would fan out to wander the fields. Traffic was obstructed as a result, and in the evening the cows would return and again hinder traffic. We also visited a leper colony and hospital nearby and were amazed at the unsanitary conditions. On a better note, at the orphanage was a room where an elderly gentlemen lived. What a gracious man he was, and he could be heard worshipping the Lord and praying throughout the day. He just seemed to bask in the Presence of the Lord, and radiate the Glory of the Lord. The girls at the orphanage were an inspiration as well. We watched them as they went about their tasks, like grinding fresh curry with a rock. It was a fun time for us, and we were glad we made that side trip. On the return trip we took the train and were by ourselves. We were in a reserved seating area, but a group of six rowdy young fellows got on and it was kind of scary. I doubt that they were even paying passengers. From their conversation we concluded that they were Communists. When we got back to Calcutta we went to the airport. I remember the heat and the mosquitoes. The only place I could find refuge was beneath a fan, so I stood there as we waited for our flight.
We had a short night stopover in Delhi, so we didn’t see much there. We had an early morning flight to Teheran. We had been in touch with Mark and Gladys Bliss, missionaries working there. I had sent him one of our Church brochures with our picture in it. So when we disembarked, there they were with the picture, watching for us. Mark and Gladys had been through a traumatic experience some months earlier. They had a horrible accident at night when they crashed into some farm equipment on the road with no illumination or reflectors. All three of their children were killed, as well as an Iranian child. Gladys was seriously injured and was still suffering from the effects. There was also the uncertainty of whether there would be charges filed against them, and he be sent to prison because of the death of the Iranian child. We visited museums and saw the displays of crown jewels. Mark was not able to go with us, so he recorded instructions for the taxi drivers on my small port able recorder. The drivers got a charge out of that when I would turn on the recorder and play the instructions to them. It worked out fine. I was able to get a picture of a Mullah with Mark. He had wanted to get a picture of a Mullah for some time. Also the picture I took of the Church, the Filadelphia Evangelistic Center, was later used in the Pentecostal Evangel. We spent Sunday there, but there were no morning services. Meetings were held on Friday instead.
Early Monday, February 21st we flew to Beirut, Lebanon. We did not have any reservations there or contact with a missionary. I had studied the instruction book from Pan Am, and noted that there would be a bus at the airport to take passengers to the hotels. When we got our luggage a group of taxi drivers grabbed it and started toward the waiting taxis. I told them I was looking for the bus to take us in. They said, “We are the bus”. We finally settled the issue by having one of the drivers that spoke English agree to take us to a hotel. That worked out alright. We got a nice room overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We found in the phone book about the Bible School located there, so we visited that and met missionaries there. We visited the youth center at the American University, and also the offices of the A/G International Correspondence Institute. We learned that they had an active enrollment of 75,000 students in 22 Arab countries, and that the previous year there were 4,500 students who received Christ as their Saviour. ICI continues to be an effective outreach throughout the world to this day.
The next day we took a flight to Cyprus, and then to Tel Aviv. There are no direct flights to Israel from their enemy nations. Israel doesn’t stamp our passports either, because if they did so, those same nations would not allow you to enter. From Tel Aviv we took a bus to Jerusalem and checked in at the YMCA. We engaged a private guide, Walking Michael, who spent the whole next day with Florence and I, showing us the old city of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, and then by bus he took us Bethlehem. That was a great way to see the sights. He was a Christian and very knowledgeable. His fee for the day was only $17.00, a real bargain. We joined tour groups the following days and traveled to Mt. Hebron, Bethany, Jericho, the Dead Sea and Galilee. We took a boat ride to Capernaum where we had lunch – St. Peters fish –not the greatest meal when you are used to salmon.
Back in Jerusalem we were told about a restaurant by some Americans that they liked, so we decided to check it out. The menu was in Hebrew, so we couldn’t read it, and none of the waiters spoke English. So they sat us at a table with an Englishman, and he tried to tell us what was available. Nothing seemed to click, so I asked him what he ordered. He said, liver and spaghetti. I said, that’s fine, order us some too. So when our order came, I had never tasted liver like that before. It was very soft. Then the Englishman said, “Oh, I think I made a mistake. That is lungs.” Florence couldn’t eat any more of it. It had a delicious barbecue sauce on it and I tried to finish it. When we left the restaurant I was feeling a bit uncertain, but it stayed down.
The trip to Masada was probably the most fascinating as the guide told the history of the place developed as a refuge for King Herod, and how it was used by the Jews that held out there against the Romans. As we conclude our week spent in Israel, we were delighted to have had the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked, recall the accounts of His thirty three years on this earth as we visited the various sites, from His birthplace in Bethlehem to His crucifixion and ascension from the Mount of Olives. It was an unforgettable experience that we shall cherish for the rest of our lives.
Our next stop was in Athens, Greece where we took bus tours of the city and to Corinth. The thing most impressive about Athens is the ancient architecture, like the Acropolis. The precision work of those structures was amazing. It staggers your imagination to think of how those buildings were constructed without the use of modern equipment like cranes that are now used. In Athens we met with Missionary Everett Stenhouse, who was ministering there at the time, to learn of the work going on in Greece for the Lord.
Leaving Athens our plane was three hours late in departure time, so when we arrived in Rome we were behind schedule. As soon as we got to our hotel I called the missionary, Alfred Perna, to tell him that we had arrived. He told me that there was a church service starting at 6 p.m., so I said that I would get a taxi and get there. When we arrived at the church which looked more like a warehouse we walked in and noticed that the men sat on one side and the women on the other. Not knowing quite what to do, we sat down together. Brother Perna came over and introduced himself. It was then that I learned that he had scheduled me to speak. So I looked hurriedly in my Bible and found notes from a sermon I had preached in Hong Kong, so I did a re-run. After the service he showed me their bulletin for the week showing the emphasis or theme for the week, and the subject I spoke on was identical to their planned theme.
We visited the Vatican and found the Basilica of St. Peter to be interesting. We went to the top, climbing 300 steps in the dome after by-passing 400 steps by using the elevator. From the top of the dome we enjoyed the view of the city. The art work in the Cathedral was tremendous. I noted that the statue of St. Peter had so many people rub the big toe of his foot that it was completely worn off. But it is most amazing that after four centuries of time this facility is still in such fine condition.
From Rome we flew to Munich where we got out the book that we carried around the world, “How to see Europe on $5 a day”. It had helpful information on sites worth seeing. One place that was recommended near Munich was the former Nazi prison camp at Dachau, so we took a bus to see it. It was overwhelming to learn the story of what took place there during WW II. I took notice of the fact that barracks nine was reserved for ministers. Only God knows how many ministers were exterminated in the furnaces we saw there because they did not agree with Hitler. When I left Dachau, I determined that I would never again acknowledge that I was of German descent. But on our next stop in Berlin, we stayed at a pension, which is like our Bed & Breakfast houses here. I mentioned to the hostess that we had visited Dachau and told her of my feelings. She got me straightened out right away by assuring me that Hitler was not a German. He was an Austrian. So I felt better about it now. From West Berlin where we were staying we took a tour bus to Communist controlled East Berlin. Passing through Check Point Charley we had our belongings checked to make sure that we did not have any magazines or information that might corrupt the people of East Berlin. It was almost amusing to see the effort our guide went through to tell how wonderful life was there, but it was an obvious contrast to the way of life in West Berlin. Then as we completed the tour and returned to West Berlin, they checked the bus carefully, even using mirrors on wheels to look under the bus to insure that there were no persons trying to escape their paradise. We took note of the abandoned churches in East Berlin. The only one that was in good condition was being used as a museum..
Our next stop was in Oslo, Norway where we visited Eivend and Judy Clausen who had attended our Church in Aloha and were now living in Norway where Eivend was raised. We arrived there on March 7th. They had just received 31 inches of snow. It was a good place for the world ski jumping competition which is held nearby. We enjoyed making a “pastoral call” on the Clausen’s and their son Rodney. They were very hospitable.
From Oslo we flew to London where we were guests of Jim & Donna Chapman. Donna’s parents were long time friends of ours from Hillsboro. Their apartment was a tall, narrow three story unit. We visited the London Museum and the Tower of London. The visit to Westminster Abbey intrigued me most as I saw the burial place of Missionary David Livingstone and other great people of history. The Chapman’s took us for a ride in the countryside where we saw the typical old England narrow roads, hedges, pastures, brick houses with multiple chimneys, and Windsor Castle too. We didn’t get to see the Queen though.
The last stop on our trip of a lifetime was in Wisconsin to visit relatives and friends. We spent four days making the rounds. Many we would see for the last time. One evening we showed slides of the places we had visited. It was most enjoyable to see so many I had known 36 years before.
After being gone for two months and five days, it was good to be back in Aloha and in our own bed. Joe and Linda had taken good care of our house and the rental units in our absence. He even was initiated in the ministry as he did his first funeral while we were gone. They moved into their first apartment. Joe continued to speak at Youth Services around the District until the annual business meeting in May, l972 when we obtained approval of the congregation for him to join our staff. He was aggressive and innovative, and things started to move ahead. He set a goal for Sunday School attendance with the commitment that he would swallow a live goldfish if we achieved the goal. John Monahan, a young man in the congregation, went to work rounding up new recruits and the goal was exceeded. Joe kept his promise regarding the goldfish, but his Mother couldn’t stand to see him do it. He survived OK. But as so often is the case, not everyone in the Church was excited about what was happening. I found myself having to take anti-acid pills when I went to Board meetings. Now after twenty eight years of ministry without a ripple, I was sensing what so many of my ministering brethren have faced. The winds of adversity do not make for smooth sailing. I have always been grateful to the Lord for that experience, because it has given me a better understanding of what others have gone through, and will be experiencing. I believe I am richer for having had that one testing time in the sixty two years of ministry.
It was July, 1973 that Joe came to me one day and told me that the Lord had shown him that he would be having another ministry for him before the end of the year, and that I should be looking for a replacement for him. He had no idea where it would be that he would be going. Then in September he reminded me of the revelation, and asked me if I had been looking for a replacement. I told him that I was not looking for someone, and that I didn’t want to either. But he was assured that it would happen. Then in November he got the call from Fulton Buntain of Life Center in Tacoma, WA; offering him a position on staff there. It was exactly what the Lord had shown him in July, so I couldn’t argue with the Lord, and knew it was the right thing to do. There he would learn an entirely different concept of ministry. I had a small church mentality, while Pastor Buntain had a large church mentality where you delegate responsibilities, and employ talented individuals, and not feel threatened. I have learned that ministers have a feeling of insecurity that becomes an albatross to them. In the midst of my trial I learned a valuable lesson, and that was that my security must be in my relation to the Lord, and not in my ability to manage, maneuver, manipulate or master every situation. A great scriptural admonition is to trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
As time drew near for the annual business meeting in the spring of 1974, I sensed a buildup of opposition. In all the seventeen years that we pastored the Aloha congregation, I had tried to get them to change the practice of voting every year on the pastor. They seemed more secure in having the opportunity each year to vote on whether the pastor should continue for another year or not. In the Assemblies of God, each church is a sovereign entity, and have the responsibility of selecting their own pastor, rather than having someone assigned to that position. The majority of our churches call their pastors for an indefinite term. I was not looking forward to the upcoming business meeting. In fact I started looking for other employment, because I was considering giving up the ministry. It was a time of inward struggle, but I tried to rest my case with the Lord. An unusual thing happened during that period. It seemed that every time I went to prayer, that my prayers came out in poetic form. I had never experienced anything like that before or since.
It was during this time of going though the valley that I attended Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts seminar in Portland. There I met Judy Foster from the Turner church. Judy was the person we referred to in our visit to Japan. Judy was now attending the church that her Grandmother, Ethel Gutekundst had pastored for forty two years in Turner, and she mentioned that her Pastor, Jay Morgan had resigned the previous day. Something seemed to click in my mind when I heard that. So the next day I drove to Turner to visit with Pastor Morgan. As a result I submitted my resume, and was invited to present my ministry. When the church voted, we were elected and called to be their pastor. This was on Sunday night prior to the Aloha business meeting on Tuesday evening. I didn’t tell a soul until at the meeting. Following the devotional we were ready for the first order of business. It was then that I read my resignation. It was a shock to the congregation, and especially to the group that had been leading the opposition. I have no idea how a vote might have turned out if there would have been a vote. But I know that if a congregation is divided and not all pulling in the same direction, it is a serious handicap and a severe hindrance to the work of the Lord. That old song that we used to sing about , “When we all pull together, how happy we’ll be” is so very true.
We prepared to move from our home in Aloha. Our daughter Dorothy and her husband Rocky Losli purchased it from us and Rocky took over the management of my rentals. For twenty nine years he faithfully took care of them, never charging us a penny for his services, and he did a fine job of keeping them up. What a tremendous blessing this was to us financially and in every way. I did not have to be involved in any other than to pay income taxes.
The move to Turner was a liberating experience for me. There was a good spirit of unity in the congregation, and they accepted us wholeheartedly. There were some unique features about this group as a result of the leadership of Pastor Ethel Gutekundst. She had a great heart for the cause of missions. Also under her leadership they never passed an offering plate. There was a box on the wall, and folks just dropped their offering into that box. Pastor Morgan had attempted to do things more conventional, but it didn’t go over that well. So the first thing I did was to get a large picture of Sister Gutekundst and hung it in the entrance to the church. Then we revived the offering box on the wall. During all the eleven years we were pasturing there, we never passed an offering plate. The system worked as we will describe later.
Pastor Morgan had attended a Schuller seminar in Garden Grove, California. There he learned the importance of having a church located where they have good visibility and plenty of parking. With those guidelines he had led the congregation in purchasing a choice piece of property by the Interstate Five freeway. A subdivision had been developed on part of the land called Freeway Estates, and the remainder of the land reserved for relocating the church. The facility that they were occupying had been built in 1891 in downtown Turner. It had seen its best days. To Pastor Morgan the task of building a new facility seemed quite overwhelming, and he had the wisdom to know that that was not his calling, so he tendered his resignation.
We purchased the lot in the subdivision that was nearest to the proposed church location.
We drilled the first well and got excellent and adequate water. Then we hired a man in the church to build a house for us. We had a beautiful view of the valley and of Mt. Jefferson from our house. Behind our house we had an excellent garden spot as well. From the garden I had produce to share with the congregation. On one occasion a visitor saw the vegetables on a table just outside the front door of the church and assuming that it was for the pastor from the congregants, he commented that the folks took good care of us. I assured that it was the other way around.
The church had a building fund of $7,000.00 in 1975 when the devastating earthquake took place in Guatemala, so we took most of it and sent it to rebuild a church in San Ramondo, Guatemala. My wife and I had the privilege of attending the dedication service for that church. Then we started to re-build the fund. We had plans drawn up for the new facility and we applied for a loan at a Savings and Loan Co. in Albany. They turned us down with what seemed to me to be a feeble excuse. They said that they had several A/G churches already on their books and did not want to have more. I had the feeling that God must have something else in mind, so with only $5,000.00 in our building fund we started to build a building that would be valued at nearly a million dollars. When the $5,000.00 was gone, one elderly sister offered to loan us what she had in a savings account – $1,300.00. When that was gone another family offered $3,000.00. Then another family loaned us $3,500.00. I prepared notes for the loans with interest at 9.00%. I decided that I should check with the Securities and Exchange Commission to see if this was legal. They informed me that it was not, and suggested that I write letters offering to return the funds to the lenders. Then they suggested a program where we could solicit funds from no more that ten persons in a year. I said we will go with that program, and we presented it to the congregation. In all of the 21 months that we were building, we never solicited from anyone. Yet every month we were able to meet the obligations on time. It had been suggested that when we went into a building program, that we would probably have to reduce our missionary obligations. The position that I took was that if we would keep our priorities straight, God would provide for the church. So instead of decreasing our pledges to missionary projects, we increased them and were contributing support to sixty missionaries every month. This became the priority item each month, and then the building material was next. We did not have any large contributors or lenders. But God was faithful month after month as we built with mostly volunteer labor. We had grandmothers tying steel for the foundation walls, children helping where they could, and a volunteer, John Monahan, installed the seven heat pumps that provided the air conditioning. Two plumbers, Art London and Gene Farrell shared the load. Art also left his back-hoe at the church whenever he wasn’t using it. We built a platform and bolted it to the bucket and used it in place of scaffold for installing siding.
In the old church in Turner was a large, beautiful stained glass window. We hoped to incorporate it somewhere in future building projects. When I did some measuring, I found that the window would just barely fit in the back of the auditorium between the floor and the peak of the ceiling. So we build a false wall a couple of feet from the back wall and put lights behind it. That way the window would not be exposed to the wind and rain any more. But how would we finish the wall on the sides of the window? Well, it happened that I had ordered cedar t & g boards for the two gable ends of the building where we mounted a cross. I miscalculated the amount of lumber and ordered twice as much as needed and had it pre-stained, so I couldn’t return it. One day I experimented by putting brown stain over the white on the rough side of the board. The when it was dry, sanded it lightly. The result was beautiful, showing the grain of the wood. So we used this material to finish the wall surrounding the window. It was a perfect match, and exactly the amount needed without a piece left over. Praise the Lord!! My daily prayer was “Please, Lord, help me keep from making mistakes”.
I had an interesting experience when installing the septic drain field. While digging the trench one day, I ran into a yellow jacket nest in the ground. Immediately a swarm of them came out and surrounded me. It was on the side hill, so I had to put the pads down and get the backhoe safe and swing my arms to keep them from stinging me. I was successful in getting the machine stopped and get off without getting stung. The next morning I got up before daylight and took a can of gasoline and poured it down the hole where their nest was and baptized them. It worked and I was able to proceed with the project.
One of my associates and youth pastor, Steve Benintendi, was an experienced dry wall finisher, so that was a big help. He was a big help in placing the 93,000 pounds of tile on the roof also. I cut the strips and nailed them down for the tile to hook on. Compared to the trusses I built in Butte Falls, the trusswork of this building seemed so light to hold so much weight, but the designer, John Seaders, assured me it was adequate.
What a great day for the Turner Church when we could move to the new facility. It is a real landmark on top of the hill overlooking the I-5 freeway. The church voted to take a new name – The Turner-Freeway Assembly of God. We put a fence below the church on the freeway side and attached large letters to it – ASSEMBLY OF GOD. I have always wanted to identify clearly with our denomination rather than disguise who we were affiliated with. By doing so I feel that we have made a substantial contribution to this movement which came into being one year before my wife was born and is now a leading group among Christian denominations worldwide.
The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 primarily for the purpose of working together in missionary endeavors. The missions emphasis has continued from the beginning, and remains a major factor in our growth. Steve Benintendi went on from being my associate to heading a children’s ministry throughout the orient and now worldwide by means of cartoon characters.
Evaleen Sapp was operating a Kindergarten in Turner, so we invited her to move to our facilities so that there would be room for growth. That was the beginning of what is now a private school operating in the church facility. It became apparent that we needed more classroom space, so we launched a second building program that would add more classrooms and also provide an apartment for a caretaker. Because of the location and the need for security, we felt the need for this addition. It went along very well and was completed without difficulty. Our congregation worked together as a team, and seemed to enjoy seeing what was being accomplished.
Being a public speaker just was not my thing. When I would listen to a taped presentation that I recorded, I marveled that people would put up with what they did. Besides, in nearby Salem were three outstanding pastors that drew large crowds. But I refused to let that hinder me. I felt that God had called me, and that my ministry as a caring pastor was meeting the need in many lives, and that I was not in competition with other churches and ministries. Feeling a sense of security in the Lord meant everything to me. So we plodded on in our feeble effort to make a difference in the world.
A dramatic change took place in our lives on Florence’s 65th birthday. We took on a new role when we welcomed our grandchildren, Helen and Johann to our home. It was a choice. If we did not take them they would have been put in a foster home due to a breakup in the family and the inability of our son to care for them while in the military. Helen was almost nine years old and Johann was seven. Their younger half-brother remained with his mother for a while. But the time came when DSHS needed to find a place for him, so we offered to take him for a while so the three of them could be together. Little Jackson was in kindergarten when he joined us, and it worked out so well that we were given the foster parent status and he became part of our family from then on.
Meanwhile, our son Joseph was elected to a District position in Washington where he served two years prior to being elected as pastor of a Kirkland A/G church. The church soon outgrew their quarters and they were facing the task of re-locating. Not having had any experience with building, Joe called me saying, “Dad, I need you”. After several of these calls, I made the very difficult decision to resign the Turner Church and move to Washington. The Church people were reluctant to see us leave, but I felt it was the right thing to do. One primary concern to me was the people who had loaned the money to finance the building. I had heard the horror stories of people losing their savings that way, so I sought for a way to protect the investment the investors had made. I felt a personal responsibility to each of them. So I went again to the Securities & Exchange Commission. My proposal was to name a trustee who would hold title to the property until lenders were repaid. The trustee that I had in mind was a Christian attorney. At the Commission they stated that when that particular attorney wrote a program, they did not question it. He had a reputation for integrity, so I presented it to the church body, and it was adopted. It proved to be the right thing to do, and I felt a great sense of relief. The pastor that followed me had a concept of the ministry that was the opposite of that which I hold, which is to be a servant. Jesus set the example for us when He girded himself with a towel and washed the disciples feet.
I was sixty seven years old when we made the move. That is the time that many people retire. For me it was a welcome change. To get to work with our son again was a privilege. He was very considerate of me, and sought my advice often. Many times during the twenty two years that I was associated with him I commented that I just couldn’t think of a better way to spend your retirement years than to do what I was doing. There was no more sermon preparation, except on rare occasions. This was a big relief to me because I was not the greatest student, never a fast reader. Final decisions were up to Joe, and I was part of the support team. I kept regular office hours, except that I took a longer lunch hour, and often took a nap before returning to the office. If I didn’t get my nap at home, I was prone to get sleepy at the office. The secretaries would catch me napping and would quietly close the door and put a sign on it to alert people. They took pleasure in looking out for the old man in the office, especially in the later years of my service there.
My title was Director of Development. The Church had purchased eleven acres of land by the I-405 freeway. It first had to be cleared of the brush and timber before we could start building. Both my wife and I got to help with this, along with other volunteers. The old house on the property was demolished and became kindling for the big fire. A huge pile of stumps were piled on the rubble, and set on fire. Then the earth-moving equipment went to work getting the ground ready for the first building and the parking area surrounding it. The initial building was designed by a Canadian architect, Vern Delgatty. It was an elongated octagonal building with the center portion under a fabric roof. The surrounding portion was a metal roof. The fabric roof was the largest one piece the company had installed at the time. It was Teflon coated fiberglass which covered the 1,200 seat sanctuary and the gymnasium. Between the outer cover and the inner material was angel-hair insulation. This provided this portion of the building with daylight inside during the day. The roof material was strong enough to walk on, and in the twenty years since installation has not needed any maintenance and has shown no sign of deterioration.
Included in my portfolio as Director of Development was the responsibility for the finances. We started a program similar to what we did in Turner to finance the building. To begin with we were offering interest rates of 10 to 12 per cent compounded quarterly. The higher rate was for notes for the longer period, and a graduated scale down to 10% for demand notes. Then we entered into a program where we handled self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s). At first this was done through Merrill-Lynch, and later through American Church Trust Co. This program worked out very well. As interest rates dropped, we were faced with the problem on the long term notes. So we offered the investors a choice of accepting a lower rate or have their note paid off early. Every one accepted our proposal and took the lower rate. Before I left, all of the notes were paid off completely, and I was greatly relieved. An example of the growth of an investment, one person invested $7,900 in an IRA early on in the program. When we closed out the program, his investment had grown to over $67,000. Compound interest is good for the investor. I calculated that if a person started at the age of 20 to save $3.30 a day and invested it at 10% compounded interest, by the time he was 65 years old, he would have a million dollars accumulated on an investment of less than $60,000. Think about that the next time you go to Starbucks! I am concerned about the lack of willingness on the part of the younger generation to save for the future. There will come a time when they will lament their spending habits and wish that they had done differently. Today is the best day to start saving for the future.
One of the things our son, Pastor Joe, had in mind when he became pastor of Cedar Park Assembly was to have a school. So he started with seven children in a kindergarten class. Then they added grades as they went along until ultimately there were the full twelve grades. It was necessary to build classrooms, so two fine classroom building were constructed, and finally a High School building with a triple gym. This past year there was an enrollment of around 1,800 students in our schools with branches in Bellevue, Everett and Totem Lake. Of course, that meant a large staff as well. When Joe started as pastor, there was one part time secretary on the payroll besides himself. This past year there were over 360 persons on the payroll. I signed the checks for years until there were 270 on the payroll. Then we went with a payroll company, and I was relieved of that responsibility. The school accounted for the largest number of employees. The demand for the type of quality education was so great that in our area it was difficult for us to build accommodations fast enough to meet that demand.
The development of the mausoleum and funeral home was an interesting project. A beautiful building was constructed with a chapel that seats just under 200 persons. There is nothing inside to indicate that it is a mausoleum. The crypts and niches are in the walls with entrance on the exterior. A large stained glass window depicting the second coming of Jesus is in the wall behind the pulpit, and large paintings of Biblical scenes are on the side walls. These were done by an artist, Jeanette Haley, who worked in the church foyer for several months on the project. People in the church served as models for the artist. One painting was done at my request. As a boy growing up in Wisconsin, I remembered a stained glass window in the Methodist Church in New Richmond where we attended that depicted Jesus raising the daughter of Jarius. That scene had fascinated me, so I asked my cousin, Janet Knutson, if she could get me a picture of that window. From that picture the artist did the painting. She used our granddaughter’s husband, Pastor Craig Gorc, as model for Jesus. Then she chose Dr. Marshall Flowers, his wife Linda, and daughter Lindsay as models for Jarius and family. An interesting sidelight is that the Flowers family have a cousin that pastors the A/G church in New Richmond, and on a recent visit there they visited the Methodist Church and saw the window that had inspired thepainting that they had modeled for.
The front of the mausoleum has large Corinthian columns, and two panels of painted tiles that were a replica of a tile floor in a church on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem that dates back to the fourth century. This artwork was done by Euretta Shirley, a member of the congregation.
The mausoleum chapel is a popular place for weddings as well. It is used every Sunday for one of the branch churches that conduct a neoclassical type of service that is preferred by some people. Also, the latest outreach is an Iranian service on Sunday afternoons. Through the years two other groups were started as an outreach to other areas nearby. Both of them are now independent of Cedar Park. Pastor Joe has initiated what he calls the Cathedral Church concept. The idea is that branch churches are established in areas nearby where services are held. The pastors are part of the staff of Cedar Park and finances are handled by Cedar Park. This involves a considerable investment on the part of the mother church, but has proven an effective way to expand the work of the Lord.
Now, a bit about our personal lives. The second family that we took on when we were still at Turner, Helen, Johann and Jackson Fuiten, completed their education and are on their own. Both of the boys were active in sports, so we made the rounds of ball games. That kept us young at heart. But I began to have health problems. After a series of tests, the diagnosis was that I had Myasthenia Gravis. It became progressively worse until early in 1994 I thought that I was all done. We disposed of our motor home and started making plans to wind things up. M/G is a neuro-muscular disease where the immune system goes awry and destroys the receptors between the nerve and muscles. The result is that the muscles do not function properly. There is no known cure for it. I was forced to wear a neck brace to hold my head up and also tape my eyelids up in order to see where I was going. At times I would try to talk and was unable to speak. If I fell down, there was not strength in my arms to enable me to get up by myself. I gave up driving because I could not depend on my legs to move when it was needed. I wound up backing into the brush on one occasion.
It was on Mother’s Day in 1994 when one of the ladies of the Church organized a prayer vigil in my behalf. 118 people signed up to participate. She had read in the Book of Esther how Esther organized prayer for the Jewish nation when they were threatened with extinction, setting aside three days for prayer. So she made a schedule starting at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday and running through until 6:00a.m. Saturday. Someone would be in prayer for me constantly during that period. But on Monday before the vigil began, I went to the hospital with a blocked bowel. I was unable to eat or drink anything or take medications for four days. Then in the middle of the prayer vigil on Thursday I had respiratory arrest and was unable to breathe. Fortunately, Florence was by my side and recognized that I was in trouble. She ran to summon a nurse. The Doctor happened to be on the floor at the time, and between them they got oxygen to me and were able to bring me through that episode. On Saturday when I was released from the hospital, and to this day I have not had a drooping eye lid, weak neck, arm or leg or throat muscle. I am grateful to God, to friends who know how to pray, and to the medical staff who were there when I needed them.
There are so many things that I could write about regarding the development of the Cedar Park Church over the period of time I was associated with the Church. Hopefully this can be added at a later date. But for now I would like to reflect on our decision to make a major change in our lives.
As my 90th birthday approached, we felt it was the prudent thing to do to resign my position that I enjoyed so much, and return to Oregon to be near our daughters. We had looked at a number of Senior Facilities in the Bothell – Woodinville area and in Seattle. None of them seemed to be what we felt comfortable with. Then we looked at a facility in Salem just a few blocks from where our nurse daughter, Carolyn, works. When we checked out The Springs at Sunnyview, it seemed to have the right feel. It is a retirement facility with around 80 residents. It is owned by a Christian and there are Bible studies, Church services, Bible Jeopardy game, and a prayer offered at the evening meal. We feel very comfortable here in these surroundings. It was the right decision, but it was difficult to bid farewell to all our friends, family and associates at Cedar Park.
When our departure was announced, a farewell service was planned for Sunday evening, June 24th. They went all out, including a brass band and the bell choir with special music written for the occasion by Dr. Daniel Perrin. And of course, the organ was played by Sue Timpe. A quartet with me singing bass was done to fulfill Florence’s desire to have a recording of my singing. The brass band was special because of my playing the tuba during high school days. Then individuals were given opportunity to express what was on their hearts. One person who spoke was Mary Barnett Aune who was a teen age girl in the Church that Florence served as pastor in Ione, Oregon before I met her. Mary has been a lifelong friend. It was special to have her come to the service. Another was Paul Cowles, the branch manager of Frontier Bank in Bothell. I went to the bank almost every day for a number of years with the deposits. It was a joy for me because of the warm and friendly treatment they gave. They presented me with a replica of my first car, a 1917 Model T Ford, with each one of the bank staff signing their names in gold on it. There were a lot of fond memories spoken of during that session. The family groups and individuals posed for pictures with us, which we now have in an album. This is a cherished reminder of that special event and the twenty-two wonderful years that we spent in Bothell working with our son, Pastor Joe, and the staff and congregation at Cedar Park. I don’t think it is possible to find a better way to spend retirement years than what I was privileged to do. There is much satisfaction in being useful and involved in something that you thoroughly enjoy. One person that followed my example was Jim Woodford, a retired Customs Officer. Jim worked as a volunteer with me every Monday and Friday for ten years, and continues to work following my departure, rendering a valuable service in the finance department.
Facing the challenge of moving to an apartment was the dilemma we faced. With the accumulation of 66 years of saving things, what are we going to do with all the stuff? Selling the house went well. It was sold before it was listed with a realtor. Joe happened to talk to a missionary who was returning to the states and wanting to locate in the area. We got together and made a deal that they were thrilled with and we were too. Then our two daughters came up from Oregon and helped us load out what we felt would fit into our apartment on the day before the farewell service at the Church. So on Monday morning we were on our way. Then Carolyn and Dorothy began preparing for an estate sale. They allowed family members to come in and choose items that they would like to have or could use. What was left was put on display in a very professional way since Carolyn is experienced in doing this sort of thing. When the sale was over, the truck from the Church’s Thrift Store came and loaded out the remaining items. They tell us that the 20 foot truck was packed. What a relief to us that we did not have to deal with that aspect.
This reminds me of a quote that I read recently from Patrick Henry. It was, “I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them one shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.”