Chapter 3: 1928 - 1941
3.1 1933 - Third Anointing
Towards the end of 1928, Pastor A. S. Maxwell came to visit us and offered me work in the office at Stanborough Press. I was delighted to accept and went on 2nd January 1929. He also asked my father if he would like to be the caretaker of the Northern European Division Offices, which were going to be moved from Berne, Switzerland, to Edgware. On 7th April 1930, they moved to Edgware and remained there for fifteen years.
After working happily for three of the fifteen years, Dada was taken ill again. This time he had such acute pain in his legs that he was unable to work. His doctor sent him to three different London hospitals where he received treatment, injections, etc. but to no avail. The severity of the pain increased and he prayed to the Lord for guidance. He had been miraculously healed before and he wondered whether it would be presumptuous to ask for healing a second time. He discussed this with the ministers at the Division and after much prayer and heart searching, he asked Pastor W. H. Meredith to come from Stanborough Park and anoint him. Three of the Division ministers were present at the service, which took place on Sunday afternoon. Now I was older and realised the seriousness and sacredness of such a service. After the closing prayer our friends got up from their knees and quietly left.
Pastor Meredith was the last to go. Before leaving the bedroom he got hold of my Dada's hand with a firm grip and said, "Hold on, Walter!" Dada was in terrible pain and he asked Mama and me to get down on our knees again and pray for God's will to be done. He was sure that the Devil was having his last fling. We knelt there praying audibly and silently until ten p.m. when I got up and made a hot drink for the three of us. He was still in severe pain. We then continued praying for another four hours. As the clock in the kitchen chimed 2 a.m. Dada said, "Go to bed now, God has answered our prayers." The pain had left him. Mama joined Dada, and I went to my room to sleep.
At six o’clock in the morning, my parents got up to clean the offices. They both did their morning duties and then came in for breakfast. After worship, Dada took the mowing machine and started cutting the lawns, which had been neglected for weeks. When the office staff saw him doing this, Pastor L. H. Christian said they could all stop work. Miss J. Wharrie was asked to phone all the wives and invite them to come to the office for a thanksgiving service. We never knew what was wrong with my Dada but the pain never returned. We have often wondered what would have happened if we had given up praying when the anointing service was over. I am sure that a war had been waged between our Heavenly Father and the ruler of this world. Do you wonder that I believe and know that God is in His heaven and is interested in each individual case brought before Him?
3.2 1929 - Stanborough Press
I am now going back to when I came to the Press in 1929. On my first Sabbath at Stanborough Park Church, I was so happy to meet the minister and his wife, Pastor and Mrs McAvoy. They had been so kind to me as a child that it was wonderful to be living near them again. Their home at the Villa was a haven for me to visit. He passed away 14th January 1931. The burial service was held in the Park Church and then, with others, I walked behind his coffin to his grave in the grounds of Garston Parish Church in Horseshoe Lane. During those years, most of our members were buried there.
My work at the Press was that of receptionist▫. As members, colporteurs or travellers came into the building I attended to their needs. I also manned the switchboard and did lots and lots of typing. Accommodation had been provided for me. My wage for the first year was £1 per week. Of this, I paid *2/- tithe and 18/- board. This meant that I did not have any money for myself, which was not as devastating as it sounds. I had grown up having very little or no money but much love.
We worked from 7.30 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. It was often much later for me as the office staff remained to finish the day's work and then I had to go to Watford Post Office to hand in the letters, the invoices and any small packets. We also worked on Sunday. It was a forty-eight hour week for the factory workers but the office staff did overtime at no extra pay. We were a happy band and delighted to be employed in the Lord's service.
I became friends with Dorothy Hawkins, my predecessor in the job. This has lasted to the present day. She treated me to a *2d bar of Bourneville chocolate every week and also slipped a *copper into my hand for the collection at the Young People's Meeting which was held in the College Chapel.
One day I had very painful toothache. With Stan Bevan's permission I took five 'Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories' by A. S. Maxwell at one shilling each and sold them along St Albans Road. I then walked down to Watford Junction where, close by, Mr Allbright had his dental surgery. Fortunately, I got there before he closed in the evening. He took the tooth out and asked me where I came from. I told him I came from Yorkshire but was now working on Stanborough Park.
"Oh, you are one of those folk, are you?"
I answered, "Yes."
"Well then, there is no charge."
I was very happy. Out of the *5/- from selling the books I had 2/6 for myself and so I decided to catch the bus back to the Park. The fare was 4d. The conductors always used to shout out, "▫Any more for Heaven?" when we reached the stop at the Park gates. The next morning I put the 2/6 in the till and had 2/2 for myself. I was rich indeed.
When Christmas came, I was able to go home to Southampton for Christmas Day and Boxing Day through the generosity of brothers Jack and Alf Dutton who were travelling home to Bournemouth. They paid the return fare for me and also accompanied me on the journey.
January came and I received *2/6 rise. I went to live with Pastor and Mrs Harker. Oh, how good they were to me! I shall never forget their kindness.
3.3 1931 – A True Christian Gentleman
In 1931, I was appointed leader of the Junior Sabbath School. The tiny tots met in the tower and the juniors in the Press Chapel. We organised concerts in which the children acted Bible scenes or missionary experiences, sang, played musical instruments or recited. All the proceeds went to Missions overseas. These were held in the Garston School Assembly Hall. This is now demolished and a nursing home stands in its place.
During Easter 1931, I went to some organised games that were held on the lawns outside the Stanborough Hydro. A young man by the name of Matthew was my partner in ‘Chasing the Fox', a game we all enjoyed. He and his sister Connie had been working there for a few years, Connie as a nurse and Matthew in the office. We chatted and sometime later arranged to meet at the end of the Young People's Meeting on Friday evening.
In those days, young men and women were kept apart. They even had to use different staircases in the College. Matthew walked me home. As we approached Pastor Harker's house, we saw him standing by the gate. He said he was watching for me, as he did not like my being out after dark. When I got in, he put his arm on my shoulder and said, "You have my permission to be friends with Matthew Marriner. I have known him a long time and he is a true Christian gentleman." As is often said - we fell in love. Most of our spare time was spent together. We joined the St John Ambulance Brigade, passed yearly exams and were members during our active years.
One of the jobs that Matthew did not enjoy while at the Stanboroughs was pushing, after midnight, a wheelchair with the body of someone who had died. It had to be taken to the only mortuary then available. This was in the grounds of the Garston Policeman's House, which was on St Albans Road opposite the entrance to Garston Park. A few years later a mortuary was built at the back of the Stanboroughs, so that ordeal was discontinued.
In 1932, I went to live with Mr and Mrs Throssell and their family for some months. I immediately felt at home with them and still enjoy the friendship of Elsie Bull, one of their daughters.
In the early thirties, Pastor R. A. Anderson and his brother came from Australia as evangelists to work in London. Matthew and I were in the Stanborough Park choir and we went up each Sunday to assist in the service. I well remember one Sunday in particular. We both were returning to Watford in Pastor Maxwell's car and as we approached Mill Hill, we ran into dense fog. Matthew got out of the car and walked in front of it right back to the Park. This was necessary as there were no lights, no houses and only ditches at the side of the road to London. The A41 has certainly improved since then.
3.4 1937 - Our New Arrival
On 2nd April, 1934 Matthew and I were married▫ in the Stanborough Park Church by Pastor A. S. Maxwell, and the reception was held in the N.E.D. Offices at Edgware by the kind permission of Pastor L. H. Christian.
When I married Matthew, I realised there was something wrong with his speech but I assumed it was caused by nerves. I continued working in the Press as Mr A. Warren's secretary until the end of August 1937. Our daughter, Adina, was born on the 21st October 1937 in the Stanboroughs Maternity Wing.
Adina was badly burnt at birth, which caused us much suffering. The flesh came away from her thighbone so we had to wait months for it to heal before skin, taken from Matthew's thighs, could be grafted. We took the matter to the Lord and comfort and guidance were given to us. Through this experience, we learned dependence on God.
During 1938, I started a First Aid Class, in conjunction with the St John Ambulance Brigade, at Stanborough Park. H. Bull, A. Cannon, A. Clement, I. Conroy, R. Hamblin, C. Richter, A.G. Rodgers, F. Spearing, E. Trace and E. Warren plus fourteen ladies joined. All passed their exams and most did faithful ambulance duty during the war years. A few of the above mentioned joined the Fire Service; some did full-time Ambulance duty; and others were allowed to stay at their work because it was considered of national importance. This meant that Matthew could continue at the Stanboroughs.
When Adina was nine months old, the Division asked me if I would go over to Edgware and work one day a week for Mr E. R. Colson, who was the treasurer at the time. This gave us some extra money and also brought Mama and Dada much joy looking after their little grandchild.
At the age of four Adina went, for mornings only, to Stanborough Primary School, which was held in the Villa. She loved it and was most faithful in doing her small amount of homework. While she was at school, I worked for Pastor E. R. Warland and Pastor A. C. Vine, who were at the South England Conference Offices in St Albans Road.
One afternoon, when she was not yet five, Adina came running down the garden path into the kitchen with a dead white butterfly in the palm of her hand. With tears running down her cheeks, she asked me to pray to Jesus that He would make the butterfly better. Looking at it with its wings shattered and no life in it, I became troubled. Here was my daughter asking for a miracle to take place. I knew she, in her childish faith, believed this would happen. I prayed silently that the Lord would honour her trust in Him. I then took her into the front room in order to gather my thoughts together. We closed our eyes and I began to pray. "Mummy," Adina said, "You have no faith." I questioned her about this and her reply was, "You haven't opened the window for it to fly out." I immediately did this and then prayed that God would heal the butterfly and would also bless Adina and me.
We opened our eyes to behold a butterfly with wings completely restored. One flutter and away it flew, around the room and then out of the window. We both stood and watched it fly into the distance and then said thank you to Jesus. Why did God answer that prayer? A cabbage white is a menace to any gardener. As we look back we realise that Adina's future, with its ill health, operations, hurts and disappointments, was known to God.
He strengthened her faith so that as the years went by she would be certain that her Saviour would answer when she called. As she has said many times, "Sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes wait."