Huntington, West Virginia
The new year sprang hope eternal for our family. 1955 began with heavy snows, something we were unaccustomed to in Huntington.
Snow enveloped the entire city and neighborhoods, shutting down bus service, businesses and most importantly, school. The
kids in the neighborhood all made sleds out of cardboard boxes and discarded plastic curtains that everyone had in their attics.
The many hills and slopes around our house were alive with the joyful shouts of happiness. I had never been sledding before
and this was the most fun I had ever had. Life was good!
In the meantime, my Father had an appointment to take his State Exam for a Dentistry License, something he had been looking
forward to for many years. He and I sat for many hours at the kitchen table rehearsing and studying questions and answers.
I had not seen my Father so happy. At last he had the opportunity to provide for his large family and earn real money in legitimate
employment. Father had lived his life scraping out a meager living and the thought of having a real job seemed like a dream
The telephone rang and my Father hurriedly picked it up. He had been sitting by the phone, it seemed, for months, waiting
to hear from the State Board about his License exam. In a exhalation of glee he threw the phone into the air and began dancing
around the living room. “ Pauline..Pauline” he shouted as he danced, “ I passed. I passed the exam...can
you believe it?” My Mother ran into the living room and we all danced around like crazed fans at a Little Richard concert.
In the month to follow Father went to work at the largest Dental Lab in Huntington, specializing in making dentures and
partial plates. From that point on, we had meat for dinner, kool-aid in the refrigerator and new shoes for school. Life was
As Father settled into his job he also began studying his bible with great devotion. He began holding bible studies with
anyone who was interested. Once he traveled the mountains looking for customers to make teeth for. Now he traveled those lonely
roads looking for anyone who would join him in learning of Jehovah God. Within a year, he had a dozen studies that
he would faithfully tend to and he began to give discourses at the small congregational meetings . Soon Father became
the " Company Servant" for the congregation and because of a shortage of brothers, would give the hour long talks
nearly every Sunday and often conduct the Watchtower study as well. When brothers would come from other areas,
he was always so happy and would try his best to get them to stay as long as possible.
I heard him, in prayer, often thanking God for allowing him to escape the past corruption of his youth and to
now be able to spread the good news of the Kingdom to all who would listen. I thanked God as well, for giving me such an excellent
The Holy War
In 1956 we attended a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in Bluefield, West Virginia.
There were several thousand witnesses from around the state who traveled to Bluefield for the occasion. The elders
had rented the American Legion Hall for a two day gathering, much to the displeasure of the townsfolk. Our relegious beleifs
did not accept the concept of war, of human being killing human being over polictical struggle or greed. We were sure there
were other ways to work out our disgreements other than through violence and killing and were admonished by Jesus " not to
be part of this world." The townsfolk were not of the same mindset.
None the less, all was going well until the last day of the convention when the local residents began to gather by the
front entrance of the hall. The crowds grew larger as the day wore on and an hour or so before the end of the convention,
some of the unruly crowd began to shout obscenities and to press against the front doors. The local police were called earlier
but were no where in sight. My Father was giving a talk at that moment. Nervously, we sat and listened to Fathers
talk when suddenly a large steel trash can was slammed into the door of the hall. As several of the male members of the audience
rushed to the door, the crowd outside began to push through the double glass doors. It was a very scary scene. My Father,
seeing what was going on, suddenly called out to the congregation “ Call out the righteous in the name of
I had never seen such a commotion. Immediately all the men, and many of the women got up and rushed toward the front doors.
My Father jumped from the stage and flew by me like a man obsessed. “Those people outside are in big trouble now”
I thought as Father and the others opened the doors and poured out into the parking lot.
The malady lasted about ten minutes before the police came into the hall and announced that the convention was over
and it was time to leave.
As we walked out into the shinning day, there was a large number of people gathered on one side of the parking lot, some
bleeding, some laying on the grass, some holding handkerchiefs on their bloody noses. On the other side of the line was
Father, his clothes blood splattered, his suit nearly torn off him. He was smiling ear to ear. Everyone began to sing
as we exited the hall and walked toward our cars. The police were holding back the lines of the neighborhood residents, but
it didn’t look like they had much fight left in them anyway.
The drive home was quiet. My Mother was writing of the experience in her daily journal, I was in the back seat watching
the countryside pass by and Father was driving, a large smile still apparent on his face.