That summer, Dad came home looking rather cheerful. He was carrying a live chicken!
“Charles!” Mother squealed. “Get that animal out of my house!” Mother worked very hard to keep her house spotless, and a dirty chicken was not going to ruin it. Marilyn ran over and looked more closely at the chicken. It was a brown chicken with bulging eyes. It looked scared.
“How did you get him, Dad?” Marilyn asked.
“Brother Richards gave it to me,” Dad replied. Because cash was scarce during the war, people often tithed of their fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, and even live animals. Dad took the chicken outside, put it in a crate, and came back in.
“Getting that chicken was not the only exciting thing that happened at the meeting today,” he said, still smiling.
“What happened, Dad?” Marilyn called.
“The church purchased the lot on the west side of town!” Dad said. “We’re going to move out of the storefront!” Marilyn jumped happily. She liked the storefront, but it got really crowded on Sunday nights.
“That’s fine news, Charles,” Mother said.
“If it’s fine with you, Mabel, I want to work at the property as many days as I can this summer. I’m asking all of the men to volunteer in order to cut down on building expenses,” Dad said.
“Oh, certainly, Charles,” Mother said. “As long as you take your shoes off before you come into the house!”
One day, Dad came home from working and sat down for supper. After he blessed the food, he said, “Guess what happened today.”
“What?” Marilyn asked.
“I was digging a ditch and some Catholics came walking by. They saw me,” Dad said, “and they asked, ‘Why are you digging? Our priest doesn’t dig ditches!'” But Marilyn knew her dad was eager to serve.
For the next three months, if Dad wasn’t preparing a sermon or visiting the sick, he was working on the church with the other men. He was not good with a hammer or a saw, but he did anything else that needed to be done. Marilyn was proud of her dad’s hard work.
When the new church was completed, they moved out of the storefront. Marilyn liked the new, bigger church. Dad invited an evangelist to do a week of revival services. Marilyn was excited about that. Mother suggested that they have a fellowship dinner on Saturday night so that the people could meet the evangelist before he began the week of services on Sunday. Everyone would bring food to the fellowship hall in the basement. Marilyn was excited. She loved food.
The fellowship dinner went well. Someone had brought spaghetti. Marilyn loved spaghetti; she requested it every year for her birthday. When she had eaten her fill of all the delicious food, she listened to the delightful sounds of chatter in the new fellowship hall. Everyone enjoyed getting to know the evangelist. They were all excited for the week of revival services to begin.
After the song service the next morning, Dad introduced the evangelist. The evangelist boomed, “Thank you all for coming. I enjoyed the fellowship dinner, but I must know who made those cream puffs. They were musty!” Marilyn turned to see Mother gasp and shrink in her seat. Marilyn was sure that Mother felt sorry for Sister Stauffer, the lady who had made the cream puffs. After all, it was Mother’s idea to have the fellowship dinner. Marilyn knew that the evangelist should not have made such a rude comment.
Silence was broken as someone called out, “Sister Stauffer made the cream puffs!”
The evangelist boldly responded, “Thank you, dear sister, for making such musty cream puffs. I must have some more!” Mother heaved a sigh of relief. He was not being rude; he was only joking! Some people laughed. Some people sighed. The revival services went well.
Months passed and cold weather settled in again. One November day Marilyn came cheerfully home from school and saw her parents sitting together at the kitchen table. “Hello!” she greeted.
“Hello, Marilyn,” Mother said in her matter-of-fact way.
“Marilyn, there is something you need to know,” Dad said with a serious look. “I got an offer for a pastoral position in Cumberland, Maryland. I have decided to accept the offer.”
“We are going to move?” Marilyn said, totally surprised.
“Yes, honey, we are,” Dad said. Marilyn started to cry.
“Don’t cry, dear,” Mother soothed, hugging the little girl. “You will like Cumberland.” But Marilyn continued to cry. It was tearing her heart to think of leaving Mum and Pa.
“I know, honey,” Dad said as Marilyn flopped into his arms. “I know it will be hard to leave your grandparents, but we need to. This church in Cumberland needs me. The Holy Spirit has prepared me for this task. I knew our time here in Greensburg was coming to an end. I am certain it is God’s will for us to move to Cumberland. Do not worry, Marilyn. You will get to visit Mum and Pa in the summer.” Marilyn’s sobs slowly subsided as her dad held her closely.
Weeks later, after Marilyn had finished the first half of kindergarten, they moved eighty miles away to Cumberland, Maryland, and settled in the parsonage on Elder Street, to the east of South Cumberland Assembly of God Church. Cecil and Ruth Cogill and their son Delbert lived west of the church, on the corner of Elder Street and Virginia Avenue. To the east of the parsonage was the Settles, the Wetzels, and the Reckleys.
Ken and Elmira Reckley had four children. Rosetta was six years old. Alvin, who was called “Bud,” was five years old, just like Marilyn. Gladys was three years old, and Joe was one year old. Marilyn loved playing with the Reckleys. She went to school with them and played with them after school. They had lots of fun times together.
Past the Reckley’s house, on the far corner of Elder Street and Ella Avenue, was Joe Lewis’s Grocery store. On the block north of the grocery store, there was a soda fountain shop. Three blocks south of the grocery store was the elementary school that Marilyn and her friends attended.
One day the Potomac District Assemblies of God called Dad and asked if they could nominate him for sectional presbyter. He allowed them to let his name run, and he was subsequently elected to the position. He helped many of the churches that were around the Cumberland area. One certain church in the city of Oakland kept firing pastors. Dad would travel over an hour to preach at their church services until a new pastor was hired.
People from the Assembly of God churches under Dad’s care came together one Monday a month at one of the churches. They would have an afternoon service, an evening meal which the host church provided, and an evening service. Mother’s aunt and uncle, Edwin and Cora Sailor, were scheduled to be in town one such Monday. They were considering a move to Maryland, as Uncle Edwin was a Baptist pastor and a position was available there. Aunt Cora was a professionally trained singer, and Dad asked her if she would sing at the afternoon meeting. Aunt Cora graciously accepted the offer, and Uncle Edwin attended the service as well. Marilyn sat properly beside Aunt Cora. When it was time, Aunt Cora rose and walked to the front. She sang “The Stranger of Galilee.” Marilyn was thrilled to hear her aunt sing. Then a man in the congregation spoke loudly in a different language. Marilyn had heard this happen before. The Holy Spirit often directed people to speak in languages they did not know. Then the Holy Spirit would give another individual the interpretation. It was Dad who was given the interpretation this particular time; he loudly proclaimed what the foreign words meant in English. But Uncle Edwin and Aunt Cora had never heard such a thing. Uncle Edwin went over to Dad after the service and said, “That man was speaking Greek. I know Greek. How did you know exactly what he was saying, Charles? You don’t know Greek!”
“The Holy Spirit revealed to me what he was saying,” Dad said.
“Well, I told William (Edwin’s brother-in-law, who was Marilyn’s Pa) that he should not get involved in this. It’s false doctrine. But he told me I was too late. He had already experienced it. And now I know for myself that this is certainly no cult. The Holy Spirit does reveal things to people.”
Uncle Edwin ended up taking a pastoral position at a Baptist church outside Baltimore. He and Aunt Cora never moved to Cumberland but Marilyn was glad that they had visited and learned more about the Holy Spirit.