Peter W Stoner:
B.S. Kansas Christian College 1908
M.S. University of California (Berkeley) 1910
Resident work for Doctorate, U.C. 1910-1912
Chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy .
Pasadena City College, until 1953.
Chairman of the Science Division, Westmont College. 1953-1957
Professor Emeritus of Science, Westmont College.
Also Author of From Science to Souls 1944, Moody Press, and Science Speaks 1952 Van Kampen Press, 1958 Moody Press. Last Revision of Science Speaks 1976, with Coauthor Robert C. Newman PhD., Physics Cornell, 1967
Acknowledgments: Katherine Stoner, my son Willis’s wife has done the typing. I have outlined the material, put it on tape, and Katherine has typed it from the tape. I have then revised it and she has typed it a second time. Some parts have been typed three times. I am just recovering from a long siege of illness, and without Katherine’s help, writing a book would have been totally impossible. My son Willis and my daughters Lois GARDNER and Mildred BARKER, have read the manuscript and have made valuable suggestions.
One of the great difficulties in the life of a Christian is to know God’s leading. As the time of making important decisions approaches, how do we know which way God wants us to go? A great crisis descends upon us; is it by God’s permissive or directive will? The author of this book firmly believes that God’s guiding hand is on each of his children. He is also the first to admit that the pattern of that leading is easier to discern by hindsight than when faced with an immediate problem. This is a hindsight book. It shows how a life was hammered and beaten and sharpened into a tool to accomplish a unique mission in Christian apologetics.
I have know and loved Peter Stoner for almost four decades. I observing him through the years one principle of God’s leading is illustrated over ad over -- that God guides by deflecting the course of his children who are already underway rather than boosting the indolent into orbit of His choosing. Peter’s life has been characterized by movement determined by the best light he had at the moment and God veered him this way and that -- which is the subject of this book. -- F. Alton Everest
Seventy or eighty years ago much of the literature the church had on any scientific part of the scriptures was very poor. It was unscientific and unscriptural. Many young people who were taught this material by the church, claiming it to be scriptural, found in college that it could not possibly be true. These teachings were give to tens of thousands of young Christian young people while in the church. They believe them to be scriptural, but, later fining them to be false, lost their faith or had it badly shaken. God’s search for a man who could correct these errors and develop true and accurate literature that could be used by the church and the ministry seemed to lead him to a young boy, who he could develop into such a man. Our book is going to deal very largely with this boy: how God directed his development, chose his chose his church surroundings, chose what college he would attend, what courses he should take and forced him into opportunities where he would see the power of scientific Christian evidences. He was given the opportunity of teaching several classes in scientific Christian evidences and finally God literally drove him against his will, to right Science Speaks. This little book has led many atheists to Christ and has reestablished the faith of many hundreds of Christian students who lost their faith through erroneous Church teachings. God moves in mysterious ways. More than 350,000 English copies of Science Speaks are in circulation. It has been translated and published into five other languages. I have no record of the numbers.
My Children and I
My Children and I
My Children and I
When I was young, much of the literature of the Church on scientific Christian evidences was in very bad condition. Christian books and literature were often written by people who had good intentions, but were poorly prepared to write on the subject. Many of these writings were contrary to what was known from science, and there was great need for correction.
It appears to me that God considered this literature, and he looked around for a man who could be used to correct this erroneous material. I do not know what good God could have seen in me. I was a small boy and very retiring. Yet I believe God choose to develop me into one of the men he could guide to correct some of the erring literature of the Christian church.
Now as I look back, I can see God’s hand leading me into the life he had planned for me. At a young age, I had planned to become a minister. My parents were very strongly religious people, and my grandfather was a noted minister in Indiana. My parents went to church very regularly and took me along, not merely to church but to prayer meetings and all the other services of the church. Our church did not have a resident pastor, but a minister came to us from a neighboring district. He would drive in Saturday night, perhaps stay at our place that night, and preach the next Sunday at the local church. We had a very close relationship with the minister and with the church.
About the age of eight, I became very interested in sermons. I would follow the sermon carefully and take mental notes of the ministers points. Then I would take my time and consider the points. I would say that this point and that point were established very completely; he used either scriptural quotations, scientific evidences or historical information. When he got through he had established these points so that anyone would believe them. But this point and that other point the did not establish well, leaving doubts in the minds of those who heard him.
I kept the fact that I planned to be a minister a secret, but I resolved that I would develop my sermons so that every point would be completely proven and the hearer would be forced to accept the message.
I seemed to have a desire to improve things. My parents told me that I used to beat up other children in the neighborhood when I was three or four years old. I didn’t like thinking of myself as a bully.
Then one day I visited my older sister Ella and her husband Henry. There were two boys nearby yelling some very rude things about their mother. Henry seemed to think that I should take care of the situation. He explained that when I was three or four years old I did not allow other children to do things they shouldn’t. I can still remember a time when I must have been between three or four. Our neighbor had had a load of corn cobs brought and dumped in his back yard, and a neighbor’s little by came and began to throw the cobs all over the lot. I went over and told him that they did not want to have their cobs scattered that way. He would not stop so I pulled him off the pile of cobs, hit him a few times, and he went home crying. Apparently I was trying the neighborhood’s child policeman. ??? This made me feel better about myself. For as a very young child I had not really been a bully.
At the age of ten I had developed a reputation for honesty. On the school playground, if the children had a disagreement as to what had happened, I would be called and asked, “Peter, what happened?” (I would tell them what I had seen, and never was that report challenged.
Although I seemed to be practicing Christian principles, I had never mad a profession of Christian faith. The local church at this time did not teach salvation by faith; it taught salvation by works. So much so, that in prayer meetings, practically every testimony was of this general nature: “I have tried very hard to live a perfect Christian life, to treat my neighbors honestly, but I know I have failed. I know I have sinned along the way and am hoping that when the day of resurrection comes, the Lord may see enough good in me to allow me to enter heaven.” What a terrible condition!
I had sat through many invitations in church to come forward, accept Christ and join the church. But knowing that I had not lived a perfect Christian live, and thinking, therefore, that I could not qualify as a Christian, I held onto the seat of my chair to keep from accepting the invitation. This continued until I was about fifteen years old.
During some of these years my grandfather, Peter Winebrenner (pictured on right) visited us from Indiana. He preached several times in the local church and conducted evangelistic services. But through all the invitations, I held onto my chair ad refused to go forward. I had a terrible conviction that I had sinned and the fear of Hell was heightened by nightmares which I think God must have sent. They were frequent night visions of Satan, a dark man, two stories high, with chains hanging from all over his body. In these night experiences, Satan would rush through the apple orchards joining our house, with a great jangling noise. I would awake terrified. These visions continued frequently until the fifteen year break.
I had in those years an uncanny memory. In fact, just as a pastime, I memorized the whole United States Constitution. I knew at what location any subject was treated and I could quote the Constitution on any subject. I did this for my own amusement. With my fear of Hell prompting me, I started to memorize the whole Bible. I thought if I memorized it and knew all the things it told me to do and not to do, I might have some chance of reaching Heaven. This lasted until I entered college.
At that time I gave my life to God and would have become a minister. But in college I realized my use of English and my public speaking ability were not what they should be; so I looked for another way to serve God. Since I was not to become a minister, God was preparing me in His schoolhouse for his own plan for my life.
My country school was a one-room, one-teacher elementary school. This one teacher was usually a high school graduate, although some had even less preparation. This one teacher, each day, had to cover all the work which we now list as first through eighth grade. The task was extreme, and she was never able to do an adequate teaching job. For lack of time she was not even able to give an examination and grade it. In fact, I cannot understand how any girl eighteen years old, or so, could step into such a classroom and handle the responsibility that was laid on her shoulders.
I was good in arithmetic, so the teacher put me in a class by myself, and let me go as fast as I wanted to. After some time I ran across a problem which I did not know how to solve; so I took it up to the teacher. She told me that she had not gotten that far yet and could not help me. Then I realized this poor girl had to do much work to keep ahead of most of the classes that she was teaching. Such information gave me great sympathy for teachers.
Neighboring schools would collect a group of their better arithmetic students and come over to our school to challenge us to a ciphering match. I was always put on the tail end of our team with the hope that when the match reached me I would be able to cipher down those left on the other side, and thus would win the match.
I though I had done good work in school and knew the subjects thoroughly. So when I reached the age of fourteen, the teacher and I both thought I knew enough about the subject to take the county examination which would qualify me for high school.
The county seat, Concordia, Kansas, was twelve miles from our place; so I went there and took a three day written examination on all of the subjects. I had never taken a test before; I had only been given a list from which to choose a subject and write a story. So when I was given the test, I chose one or two questions out of each subject and wrote about them. I turned in my paper and thought I had done a good job on the test, but when the results came back I found that I had failed every subject. This was quite a shock to me, and I think, a worse shock to my parents. They went to the examiner and talked to her about the examination. She showed them my papers and showed them how I had only answered one or two questions in every subject. That, of course, did not constitute a passing grade.
I did not qualify for high school, but neither was I much help at home on the farm. I was a frail boy, having been extremely Ill at the age of four with scarlet fever and double pneumonia simultaneously. The doctor said it would be impossible for me to recover, but I recovered. However, I did not gain size, weight or strength as most young people do. In fact, when I was fifteen years old, I was only five feet two inches tall and weighed only about eighty pounds. At this time I had already spent five years in the field with a team of horses, trying to work like other “men.” But I was unable to do such work well.
At harvest time in Kansas, the temperature was frequently around 110 degrees. I struggled to shock as much, or nearly as much wheat as my brother who was four years older and hand matured much earlier than I. At thirteen he was about six feet tall and weighed one hundred and sixty pounds. (He became the center on his high school football team.) So my competition was very stiff!
My father looked on me, I suppose, with pity but also with deep regrets that I had not developed into a stronger person. He was faced now with a problem -- what to do with Peter? He couldn’t go to high school. Should he return him to elementary school? That didn’t seem profitable. Perhaps he should leave school entirely to work on the farm with nothing else for a future.
But there was a little Christian college in Lincoln, Kansas operated by the Christian Church. I had a president by the name of O.B. Whitaker, and in the summertime Professor Whitaker would visit the churches in the area to solicit students and to collect funds. He came to our house, and my father told him his troubles with Peter, how he didn’t know what to do with him. Professor Whitaker very kindly offered to take Peter and put him into their preparatory department which was equivalent to a high school, and perhaps he would thus get a high school education.
My brother had already been at this little college for a year and had done excellent work. So my father told Professor Whitaker, “You should not expect from Peter what you have found in George; Peter does not have the ability.” Professor Whitaker replied that, of course, he would not; there could only be one member of a family as bright as George. I was too embarrassed to explain to my parents why I had made such a poor grade on the county examination or why I had only answered only one or two questions on each examination. I had heard all this conversation between my father and Professor Whitaker; so I gritted my teeth and said to myself, “I’ll show ‘em!”
Yes, God had a plan for my life. So far it was not very clear. But God soon revealed His plan, through this little college, I was soon to enter.
You may think God has no plan for your life, but He has a great plan. Just trust Him. He will reveal it.
When the Civil War was over my father left the army and returned to Indiana. There he married my mother Rachel A. Winebrenner, daughter of Peter Winebrenner, a noted minister and evangelist of Indiana. My father bought a homestead in Cloud County, Kansas, from a man who had homesteaded it, but was unable to prove up on it. (Or fill his homestead contract.) This farm of one hundred sixty acres was twelve miles from Concordia and very close to the Twin Hills, which was a landmark in that part of the country.
My father took his wife and his parents, and moved to the homestead. It had a house and a little of the sod broken. When they arrived they found that the house was a one room structure made out of a rough local limestone. It had no ceiling and no roof, only the four walls. Here they were, the four of them in this house to live in. My mother broke down and cried. My father, as fast as possible, quarried additional stone and added two rooms to the house and put on a ceiling and roof. There was a cellar under the kitchen addition.
The soil was good, but it was covered with buffalo grass which made a heavy sod that had to be broken before any crops could be planted. A wooded creek ran across the corner of the place supplying firewood and a place where my brother and I learned to skate in the winter time. This is where my sister, Ella, was born in 1874, my brother, George, in 1884, and I in 1888. (Pictured left to right: Christian, Peter, George, Ella, and Rachel.)
C.C. Stoner was born in Pennsylvania in 1844. He enlisted in the Civil War December 1863, age 19. He was in General Sherman’s Army, Company B, 88th Indian Volunteers Infantry, 14th Army Corps. Was in the Atlanta campaign, four months, from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Atlanta, Georgia. As the war was ending, march through Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, through Richmond to Washington D.C. Was at the Grand Review of General Grant and Sherman’s Armies. Mustered out in July 1865. His older brother David was killed in the last skirmish of the Civil War after going through the whole war. Peter Winebrenner took a part in his funeral services back in Indiana.
Christian C. Stoner and Rachel A. Winebrenner were married August 29, 1867.
C.C. Stoner became Justice of the Peace in the Nelson Center district soon after moving to Kansas, where he brought his father and mother to care for him. He taught the Nelson Center country school while Ella was attending the school. He was elected Probate Judge of Cloud County in about 1888. He rented the farm and moved to Concordia for about four years. When the boys became old enough to help with the farm work C.C. Stoner was elected to the State Legislature in Topeka. The legislature met only in the winters, so while father was in Topeka, the rest of us were able to care for the farm. In 1903 we moved to Lincoln, Kansas, where George and I were to attend the Kansas Christian College. My father bought the Lincoln Sentinel, a weekly newspaper. So we learned much about the newspaper business as a extra.
Considering the bad climate of Kansas, farm life was hard for the family. To often crops would be promising; then we would get no rain, and crops would dry up in the fields. Or a hailstorm would come in and beat everything into the ground. Father often had to borrow money to make it through the year. My father was a well educated man. He had many books. I remember a long shelf of law books. He got his teaching credential purely by examination. He taught at the local school; was admitted to the bar to practice law; was elected Probate Jude of Cloud County; and was elected to the state legislature of Kansas. After he moved to California, he became City Judge of Orange, California, where he served until he retired.
George went to high school in Concordia, and then to Kansas Christian college. He later served as president of that college for two years. He had a masters degree from the University of California, Berkeley and taught English for many years in Orange High School. George was an ordained minister of the Christian Church. This was my family. In 1903 my parents moved to Lincoln, Kansas, in order that they might put their two sons through Kansas Christian College. The move was one of substantial magnitude. My father had to find a tenant for the farm, to take care of it and to operate it in his absence. He went to Lincoln and purchased a house just a short distance from the college. My father and Henry, my brother-in-law, who was a carpenter, went to Lincoln and remodeled the house. It was a one-story house with a second story over one part. They added the rest of the second story; so it made a complete two-story house. There was a good well. The property consisted of about ten acres with an orchard, a large garden, pasture for a cow and a horse, and a barn to house them. When the remodeling was complete, my father returned to the farm and made plans to move. He covered a wagon and put our household goods in it, took our team and cow and proceeded to move the eighty miles to Lincoln.
The family could not live on the income from the farm alone. So my father purchased the local newspaper, the Lincoln Sentinel, which was a weekly paper with about one thousand subscribers. I learned a great amount about the newspaper business. I learned type-setting, how to run the linotype and all of the presses. I collected news and wrote news items, collected bills and learned many things which came in handy many times in the years to come. I was very good at the press work; so when it came time to print the newspaper, my father would call home and ask Peter to come down and run the press. They were always a little behind time in getting the paper printed. So I went down, ran the press, and helped get the newspaper in the mail.
Our house had three bedrooms upstairs. My parents had quarters downstairs. My brother and I occupied one of the upstairs rooms. The other two were rented. So we had four renters and my mother took them as boarders. So with the joint income from the boarders, the newspaper, and what income we got from the farm, we were able to live and George and I were able to attend Kansas Christian College.
I did the work on the ten acres and took care of the orchard which had a variety of fruit trees. I picked the fruit and helped market what was marketable. We canned much of the fruit. The garden patch was a place where I raised a great supply of garden materials which were very helpful in feeding the borders and in supplying food for the family. The cow, of course, supplied milk and butter for the family and boarders. The horse supplied the only means of transportation. This was well before the day of the automobile. This was our situation for the next five years.
At Lincoln, although I had very strong religious convictions, I made no profession of faith. Although I was now taught salvation by faith, I still hesitated. I don’t know why. But one day while evangelistic services were being held, my mother spoke to me and said, “Peter, don’t you think that it is time that you made a profession, accepting Christ and joining the church?” I told her that I did and that I was going to do that the very next evening. That I did, and I must say that the whole world changed for me. The flowers were a much brighter color, the sky was bluer, and I was part of it-- a joy which I think that no non-Christian ever experiences.
The college building was a two-story stone building with a basement. The Christian Church of the community met in the college building and continued to do so for several years. It was a very faithful church with true teachings. Professor Whitaker, the president of the college, was usually the minister who spoke each Sunday.
Professor Whitaker was a man of very unusual abilities. He was a speaker of great competence. I have never known a man who could articulate as clearly as he, and apparently without any effort. I heard him speak for two hours in a debate with another minister, and I thought he was speaking very slowly and carefully. When the court stenographer transcribed his notes, Professor Whitaker had spoken more than two hundred words a minute, on the average, for two hours. He was also a carpenter and built his own house next to the campus. It was very artistic. He was able to drive a nail with eHither his right or left hand or to move a hammer from one hand to the other as the position required. He would also saw accurately with either the right or left hand. He raised thoroughbred cattle, on the side, to help run the college and make his own living. I had the highest regard for Professor Whitaker. In my contact with men throughout the years, I would not rate any man above him in basic abilities. He was inspiring teacher and could hold a class spellbound.
The church started a Chrisian Endeavor Society and, of course, I was a member. I was a very timid person. I well remember the first meeting I attended. The leader of the society passed out slips with a reference for each to read. I received one and carefully located the passage in my Bible, practiced reading it to myself, and waited to be called on. When I was called on, I arose with my knees shaking. I started to read the verse, read halfway through, and my voice failed; so I sat down embarrassed without ever finishing the passage. It is likely that many people today wish that I had kept that timidity.
What parents do with their children has a tremendous influence on them. I recall one time when my wife and I moved to a new community. We joined the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church almost immediately. In the formality of joining we both stood before the altar. I held Mildred, about two and one-half years old, and Edith held Willis, just a few months old. A few years later in the child evangelism services, Willis made a decision for Christ and joined the church, but Mildred showed no Her mother finally said to her, “Mildred, are you not interested in joining the church?” Mildred answered, “Mother, do you not remember that we all joined the church together?” Mildred thought she had been a member of the church ever since she was two and one-half years old. Only when it was explained to her that only her parents joined the church at that time was she anxious to profess her faith in Christ and join the church.
Christian parents, do not hesitate to discuss Christian things with your children, their commitment to Christ, and their relation to the church. You never know what influence this might have on them.
Looking back, it is easy to understand why God blocked my entrance to the high school in Concordia, and why He took me out of the poor religious teachings of the local church and opened the door to the preparatory department of Kansas Christian College, with the advantages it provided in my training for future work in scientific Christian evidences.
Yes, in 1903 I entered Kansas Christian College literally on trial. On trial in many ways: On trial on my ability as a student, for I had failed the county examinations in every elementary school subject. On trial because if I did not succeed here, there would not be a high school or college in the country that would accept me. On trial because the only other possibility from here on seemed to be the farm. I had alreadyspent five years on the farm with rather disastrous results. I was so weak that it was practically impossible for me to do the work of the farm. I was so small that it was hard to harness my own team. I had to take a wheelbarrow, put it under the peg where the harness hung, and climb in the wheeelbarrow in order to get the harness off the hook. Then I would move the wheelbarrow in beside the horse, climb up in the wheelbarrow, laboriously shove the harness up onto the horse’s back, and get down and fasten it.
One of the first jobs given me was to plow twenty acres of oat stubble that had been overgrown with wild morning glories. I used a heavy walking plow with a disc well up on the tongue that was supposed to cut the morning glories, but I was not large enough and did not have the strength to keep the plow in the ground. Consequently, the disc would not always cut the vines ahead of the plow. As soon as it failed, the morning glories would choke the plow and throw it out of the ground. Then I had to drag the heavy plow back, clean out the morning glories, get the plow into the furrow again, and start off for another short run. Soon it would again be clogged, and the process would be repeated. So I failed at this job and was unable to plow the twenty acres. My father had to come to the rescue and plow the field.
Each spring there was a pile of fertilizer coming from cleaning out the stalls during the whole winter. This had lain out in the rain and had compacted with straw so that it was tightly bound together. In order to haul the fertilizer out to the field, it was necessary to take a pitchfork to pull out a heavy forkful of the fertilizer and throw it onto the wagon. When the wagon was full, I would drive out into the field where it was to be scattered and again get the forkful and with great effort throw it hard enough so it would scatter over the ground.
In the summer at harvest time, my brother and I were to follow the binder and shock the wheat. My brother was to take five rows of sheaves and I was to take four. These were the days that I could not sweat, and I strove to do my four while George did his five. I was working all the time very close to the sunstroke stage with chills running up and down my back. Farming was evidently not the life for me. So succeeding or failing here at Kansas Christian College was really a matter of life and deathas well as a matter of an education or not.
The building occupied by Kansas Christian College was made of native dark stone. It was a two-story building with a basement. The basement was used for the housing of students and the upper floors were used for classrooms, a library, and related school purposes. It was a very small school with attendance of only about forty students and a faculty of three or four teachers for both the preparatory and the college work. It awarded both the A.B. and B.S. degrees.It was short in upper division work, but gave a rich choice of subjects in the lower division and the preparatory work. Its finances were very meager. Lack of funds was partly responsible for the shortness of its class periods, which ranged from ten to fifteen minutes depending on the subject. This length of period provided little time for class teaching.
At the start of a mathematics class, the teacher would ask if there were any questions on the home assignment, and there probably be a few. Then the teacher would work one or two of the problems, perhaps illustrate a problem or two with the principles involved, then make the assignment for the next day. With only ten to fifteen minutes per class period, the time spent in actual instruction was very short. The student could get all of his classes in a matter of an hour or an hour and a half, and this gave him a great deal of time for his homework. The teachers fully realized this, and they made their assignments to correspond. I remember our algebra classes. We did two years of algebra in one semester. The assignments, of course, were long, and I spent as much as ten hours ona single assignment. Yet our work was thorough and we covered the subject.
We had a philosophy among the students that no student would accept help from another student. That, to us, would be cheating. So every student worked all the problems that he possibly could and was graded on what he alone accomplished. The morals among the students were very high and cheating was practically unknown.
When my first year started, I found that the school had a philosophy that every student must make a schedule of his time. He must schedule a time for each subject so that each class had sufficient time for preparation. The schedule was to be made so that the time allotted to the various subjects took up the day. I made such a schedule for my own subjects and tried to follow it, but found myself in difficulty as I was not completing the assignments in many of the subjects. So I threw out my old schedule and made a new philosophy and schedule for myself. I would start with the subject that I liked best, which was mathematics, and I would complete the assignment thoroughly. Then I would take the next subject and work until I completed it, and so on, until I had all the assignments properly prepared. Thus the time per subject was not limited. I had my alarm set for five o’clock in the morning and that was never changed through the school year, nor through any of my five years at Kansas Christian My regular bedtime was ten o’clock at night, but often much later. When I received my grades at the end of the first semester, I was very much pleased because I had received an A in every one of my subjects.
At this time Professor Whitaker and my father again had a conference and my father asked, “Professor Whitaker, how is Peter doing?” Professor Whitaker told him that Peter was doing better than George had ever done. This broke the ice between my father and me, and my father’s attitude towards me changed.
In my first year I grew from five feet two inches to five feet eight inches, and from eighty pounds to one hundred forty-five pounds. At the end of that year I had a near-normal height and normal weight, and I had developed a normal strength. I was now ready to take my plade inlife, whether it be in physical work or in mental work at college. I now started learning the carpenter's trade, working in summers and vacations. This was most valuable to me, as I was a good carpenter and could always get a job at good wages. I built many homes for myself and other members of the family, and always at very substantial savings.
God saw me well through the trials at Kansas Christian College and started me on my way
Yes, the first year passed, a year of trial, a year of testing, a year of proving myself and adjusting to the life of a Christian college. The years following were years of hard work and long hours, but much was accomplished. It appeared that God had gone to great lengths in getting me into this school and now things might move along smoothly and with very little disturbance,but that was not the case.
My plans were for the ministry, but those were not God’s plans. It was necessary for God to move me out of the preparation for the ministry over into the field of science, in which God wanted me to work. So how did He accomplish this move? It was a very simple one, in a way. I took English and my English papers came back butchered. This word belonged over there; that word belonged over in this place; the adjectives were in the wrong place. Sometimes these would be corrected, with parts rewritten as they should have been, but still, when I read the corrected manuscripts, they didn't seem any better than the originals. I knew as a minister I must have very good control of the English languages, so it took the teachers of English to prove that I was not a man for the ministry. However, my work in the sciences went along very easily and smoothly. My results were excellent along these lines, so I changed from the ministry to a science-mathematics major. God had definitely blocked the old field and opened a new one, so I entered this field with much enthusiasm. I enjoyed the mathematics; it was easy for me, and I proceeded in the course with a great deal of accomplishment. The sciences likewise were simple. These went well because I was working in the field where God wanted me. Now things did appear to move smoothly for a long period of time.
My years in the ministerial course were not completely wasted. In the Bible study courses I learned quite thoroughly the organization of the first chapter of Genesis: its scientific material, when it was written, and what the conditions were at the time of writing. Now as I progressed with the sciences, I was able to see geology almost pre-written. The days of creation in Genesis and the findings and reported records of geology all seemed to fit together like hand and glove. Yet the material in Genesis was written before there was any geology, before men had dug into the bowels of the earth and found the order of the fossils. The question arose in my mind: How was it possible for man to have written the first chapter of Genesis thirty-five hundred years ago and have the order of the appearance of life perfect to the last detail?
In the minister’s course we had studied prophecies. We studied the history of the times in which the prophecies were written, the conditions under which they had been written, and their fulfillment. I was astonished at the completeness of their fulfillment--complete in every minor detail. I was very greatly impressed with these great degrees of accuracy as we studied prophecy after prophecy.
It is evident that the two years I spent in preparation for the ministry were not lost. God was merely laying a foundation upon which my scientific training would have its applications. God looks into the future and guides where we do not know the course. God had given me a little glimpse into the future and into the type of work He would have me do. The details were not too clear, but as I look back, things now seem to be quite clear and definite as He guided me step by step.
I knew that my major subjects must now be mathematics and science. I must know the best and most recent developments of geology in order tobe sure that my work would be correct and valid. I must know my history and my archeology in order to properly interpret the fulfillment of the prophecies. I must know astronomy and all the developments in this modern age in order to better understand the passages in the early part of Genesis. Generation after generation had stumbled over the second verse of Genesis and thought it to be absurd and impossible. Today, we know the second verse to be one of the greates evidences of inspiration that the Bible holds. I needed to know the mathematics of probability very thoroughly in order that I might put into mathematical terms these things that had come out of the realm of evidence and over into the field of proof, proof so positive that there can be no doubt that God, indeed, is the Creator of the universe, and that He inspired and gave the Bible to man.
As the years at Kansas Christian College went by, I found much to do. I joined the debating society and, in so doing, I sharpened by knowledge of argument. This skill was of value to me in later years in presenting Christian evidences. The school had no athletic program, so we, the boys of the school, formed our own program. We met in little groups on campus or out on the street. We ran races and competed in the high jump and the broad jump, and kept our bodies in reasonably good shape.
The friends and acquaintances that I made at the college were to be lifelong friends. My college chum, Ira Forrey, was to be perhaps my closest lifelong friends. We worked side by side in many organizations of the college, and later we were together in the University of California in graduate work. Still later, his sister Edith became my girlfriend, and later my wife. She and I walked happily side by side for forty-nine years until cancer took her away.
My education at Kansas Christian College was very broad. It covered preministerial work, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping. While I was a student, I taught shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping. Two of my students left Kansas Christian College and went to Kansas City to teach in one of the greatest business colleges that America had in that day, and they were successful teachers. I am proud of those students.
So I finished my work at Kansas Christian College with an excellent scholastic record. I had one B in history, with A's in all of the other classes. I completed eight years of high school and college work in five years. There was, however, a question in my mind: Did I really get an excellent education in a small school with such short periods, or was it faulty? God seemed to say to me, “You are short in upper division work. Go to the University of Kansas and strengthenthat work before you tackle graduate school.”
I came from Kansas Christian College with enough units for a Bachelor of Science degree and the coverage of my high school work. I came to round out the work in my major and to find out whether or not I really had a good college education.
Kansas University also had doubts about my college. Kansas was full of small church colleges and the university looked down on all of them. It took the number of units brought to it from any of these little colleges and discounted them twenty percent. Therefore, when I came with enough units to cover both high school and college, the whole was discounted twenty percent. I found myself not as a graduate student, but somewhere in the junior year. This did not bother me because I was coming here just to round out my upper division work. I already had a degree, so what did it matter if I was only a junior here at the University? Wbat was worse of me was that Kansas University did not allow any new student to take more than sixteen units. I objected to the sixteen units, but they were adamant.
I scheduled my mathematics and my physics with classes in the engineering field so that I should get excellent courses. I also took courses in astronomy and entomology. The university had a very good reputation for its work in entomology, perhaps the best in country.
Professor Miller, head of the department of mathematics and astronomy, was seventy years old and apparently becoming senile. At any rate,he selected me as his pet student. Woe to any student who becomes the pet of his professor. In the calculus class, he would open each session with the question, “Were there any problems that gave trouble?” Since there were always several, he would pick out one of them and call a member of the class to put it on the blackboard. Usually that student would say that he was unable to get that problem. So the professor would go to the second and third students and receive the same answer. He He seemed to know on whom to call. Then he would straighten up to a couple inches taller, throw out his chest, and announce, without asking me, “Well, now we will have Mr. Stoner put the problem on the board.” This was the most embarassing thing that could happen and I felt belittled before the whole class. So one time when I was alone with one of the popular students, I started to apologize to him, saying that it was not my idea being selected that way. He told me I needn’t worry because the classmates realized what was happening and were just as sorry for me as I was for myself.
The inventory of astronomical instruments was very meager, so much so that the only instrument that I was able to obtain the use of was a navigator’s sextant. With this instrument and a basin of mercury, as an artificial horizon, I had the privilege of obtaining the latitude of the university. This was my only experience with astronomical instruments during my work at Kansas University, so my work in practical astronomy profited me very little.
I was not familiar with the grading system of the university, so at the end of the first semester, I was very much concerned about what kind of grades I might receive. The university had announced a soecial place on the campus, where one of the professors would have the semester's grades for anyone desiring them. I went to this location and got in line, and when I gave the professor my name, he pulled my card and showed me that my grades were all A’s.
Yes, I had found the work extremely easy, much easier than the work at Kansas Christian College. The assignments were shorter, the work was easier, and I got A’s loafing on the job. So my self-confidence was boosted and I went on, willing to undertake any task God set out for me.
When I came to the second semester, I gave the registrar a list of twenty-one units I wished to take. He made every effort he could to dissuade me, saying that I was already ahead of my grade in number of units and there was no use in my taking such a heavy load, but I considered the matter and thought there was no benefit in taking fewer units. The work of the second semester seemed as easy as that of the first I had no difficulty making A’s in all the subjects.
I took several courses dealing with insects and found the work to be very well taught and very interesting. In one of my lab courses I was required to draw what I saw through a microscope and write a complete description of it. The insect was drawn in outline and stippled in for shading so that the drawings became about as good as you found in many of the textbooks. I prized these notebooks and later, when my older daughter became interested in biological things, I gave her the two laboratory books. I think she still has them among her prized possessions.
I registered for a course in the evolution of insects. I think God must have prompted this because I had no great interest in the evolution of anything, but I soon observed that I had no interest in this subject whatsoever. I talked to the professor and I transferred over into a course in the anatomy of insects. ***Check the last sentence on page 39 because the last line is too faint for me to read. He reminded me that their final examination came the next day. He told me that since I had not gone through the final dropping of the course, through the office, I was still on the class roll and he would have to turn in a grade for me, so I should take the examination. The examinatin asked, how did this insect develop from that insect? How did that insect come from its ancestor, etc.? I had not read a single page on the subject, and knew nothing about what had been taught in the course, so I just wrote a nice fairy story. I could imagine from their anatomy how this insect might have come from the other one. When I recived my grade, I had an A for the course, so I felt the theory of evolution had only been built from the imagination of men, and had no positive foundation. With this background I was prepared totake the theory of evolution and not let it interfere with the facts of creation.
The faculty were so pleased with my work on insects that they appointed me to be the immediate assistant to the state entomologist. So I was to have spent the summer working with him, inspecting orchards throughout the state, to find if they were infested by certain scale insects. If they were infested by the San Jose Scale, the trees of the orchard were to be chopped down and burned. I would not have enjoyed this type of work, and as it was, I never accepted the job. I left Kansas at the end of the year and followed my parents to California.
My brother, George, and I were to take over a tract of land, twenty-seven acres. Five acres were already in oranges, and the other twenty-two acres were a barley field. (The oranges were a job just waiting for me in insect control. The five acres had a house, or rather a combination of a house and two shacks. The shacks had been moved tothe property and shoved up against the house and doors cut through connecting them. It was quite a mess and I spent the summer rebuilding. I tore down the two shacks and, with their material, enlarged and remodeled the house so that it made a respectable home. I painted it and got it ready for my parents to occupy before I left for the University of California. I also got the house ready for my brother and his family when they came to live here later in the year.
I applied to the University of California for admission as a graduate student in 1909, and I made the mistake of presenting the records from two schools as grounds for the application. One was from Kansas Christian College, where I had graduated the year before (in 1908??) with a B.S. degree. But the other transcript was from Kansas University, where I had left in the spring of 1909 somewhere in the senior year. I assume that if I had presented only the record from Kansas Christian College, there would have been no difficulty. (The University of California was not discounting these little colleges on the material they submitted for admission.) Now they were faced with a dilemma. What were they to do with this applicant? Was he a graduate student, or was he a senior? The record at both schools was very good and the transcript from Kansas University was accompanied by letters with high recommendations. Yet the people in charge of admissions debated. Should we accept this student as a graduate student or should we reject him. I tried to explain that at Kansas University I was only strenghthening my upper division work, and already had my degree. While they debated the issue, they came back to my name, Peter W. Stoner, and asked, “What does the W stand for?” I would say it doesn’t stand for anything; it is merely my middle initial. They said, “No, it has to stand for something.” Then they would go back over the two conflicting records and debate the issue and repeat: What does that W stand for? This went back and forth, back and forth, until it appeared that I was not going to be admitted to the university. So I said, “All right, I’ll explain that W. When I was named, I had a grandfather back in Indiana, Peter Winebrenner, who was a noted minister and evangelist. I was named after him and given the understanding that as soon as I was old enough, I could choose whether my middle name would be Winebrenner or just a W. Now I am old enough to make that choice and I have chosen the W to be my middle initial. To my astonishment the admissions officer said, “Oh, are you a grandson of Peter Winebrenner? Why we knew him well. He was a noted man in Indiana. Any grandson of Peter Winebrenner’s can enter this university. ” So the door was swung wide open and I was welcomed to the University of California.
In registering a new problem came: What did I want to take in the university? I told them I had come to the university to obtain my master’s degree in science and get my general secondary credential in one year. The counselors told me that was impossible. It would take two yers to do that. I told them I was very industrious and would work hard and I was sure I could accomplish this in one year. They said, “The students who have been with us all the time, and good students, are required to take two years, one to get their master’s degree and another to get their teaching credential.“ So in desperation,I said, “ All right, just give me my guiding committee and let us make outa list of subjects that I will need to complete the job.” They did this and we made a required list for a master’s in mathematics and astronomy, majoring in mathematics. Then we made another list of the required subjects for the teaching credential. Berkeley always gave its students the right to make their own programs, to shop around for two weeks, and decide what sections they would select; so I took my list of subjects for the master’s degree and the teaching credential and scheduled myself for half of each in the first semester and the other half in the second semester.
So I was in the University of California. I got in not because of my grades at Kansas Christian College or because of my letters of recommendation from Kansas University, but because my middle initial stood for the name of my grandfather and my grandfather had a remarkable reputation--a reputation that carried down not only to the first, but also the second generation. Now I was registered in the University as Peter Winebrenner Stoner, and that name stuck; it was also on my teaching credential. Therefore, it appeared on every paycheck that I received for many years of teaching. My grandfather’s name means much more to me now because it had been instrumental in making me a full graduate student at the University of California. I had always been opposed to the use of alcoholic beverages and the name Winebrenner sounded to me like the distiller of wines. I had rather shunned that name for that reason. Now it had a different meaning. It referred to a magnificent old man who had influenced more lives than I could expect to influence over my years working in the college field. God bless him.
Yes, God was still on the job. He had just now put me into the college He had chosen by the use of my middle initial. As I look back, I can begin to see how the blocks of the quilt begin to fit together. I can see that God was preparing me for work in scientific Christian evidences. I can see that if I were to help in correcting the errors in the “scientific materials” the church used, I must know what the church was teaching and why it was teaching them.
There were deeply devout men in the early days who said,“We must take what the Bible says literally.”In the first chapter of Genesis, when it sas “day,” it means a twenty-four-hour day. When they were confronted with the geological ages in which different forms of life appeared, they still said that the days of Genesis must be six twenty-four-hour days and they must be consecutive, for they are numbered: day one, day two, etc.
These men apparently said, “We will rewrite Genesis one, so people will understand it better.” So they rewrote the first part of it something like this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth perfect, ready for the habitation of man. Then He created all the life upon the earth. There were two creations. (Since the Bible specifies no time for this first creation we do not object to the evolutionary process being taught nor to all the geological ages being placed in this first creation.) Then Satan sinned and was cast out of Heaven to the Earth and destroyed the Earth and the Earth became without form and void and dark. Then God recreated the Earth and all the life upon it in six twenty-four-hour consecutive days.”
The Reconstruction Theory was devised for the purpose of making the days of Genesis six twenty-four-hour consecutive days. But these men forgot all of the basic principles of interpretation, such as: You shall not add to any of the Scriptures or take any thing from them; you shall not change any Scriptural statement; you shall not take any passage out of its context and ***last line on page 45 is nearly illegible. The authors of the Reconstruction Theory violatd all of these principles and some others.
The first chapter of Genesis, as God wrote it, agrees perfectly with science, but as man rewrote it, science proves it false. Nearly every conservative Christian church in America, in an earlier day, taught the Reconstruction Theory. Young people by the hundreds of thousands were taught this theory as if it were the Scriptures. Theywent to college and had it proven to them that this was totally impossible. Tens of thousands of them lost their faith. The church charged the colleges with atheistic teachings and in some cases this was true. [I know of one college teacher who asserted that, if there was one student left in his class at the end of the semester, who was still a Christian, he, the teacher, had failed.] But most of the trouble lay at the door of the church. There are many other errors the church has taught. Let us of the church wash our own dirty linen; then we can easily care for the college’s. I knew this was one of the tasks for which God was preparing me.
I had come to Berkeley a total stranger, so I made my way to the university. I found a bulletin board reserved for church use, and on the bulletin board, various advertisements were posted asking for Christian young people to live as part of a family and receive board and room. I went over the list and found one not far from the campus, which was asking for Christian young men, and the prices were very reasonable. I took the address and immediately looked it up. The lady, Mrs. Chapman, was a very gracious lady, and we talked at some length. I learned that her husband was a college professor, that he was teaching in a church college some distance away, and that she was at home keeping the family together, a family of three boys, two of whom were students at the university. This home looked ideal to me, so I immediately engaged a room and started taking my meals there. One of the boys, Earnest Chapman, was preparing for the ministry. He later became a foreign missionary, and I kept track of him for several years. I soon got a roommate, Royal Wilke, and if I had been given the whole university to choose a student for a roommate, I could not have done better. God evidently had chosen for me a young man who would be an inspiration. We became very good friends. I told him my background and experiance and he told me his. Our backgrounds were as different as day and night. I came from a Christian family and Christian surroundings. He came from just the opposite. He told me that his father was a saloon keeper in Barbary Coast and his mother operated a house of ill fame, also in Barbary Coast. This young man, with this background, was preparing for the ministry. He told me that his father on Friday nights always gave him a jug of Dego red whisky, and sent him to the mountains, for the weekend. He would go to the mountains, drink the whisky, and be drunk through the whole weekend. Then he would stagger back home on Sunday ready to start school again Monday morning. He told me how fearful he was lest the blood of his father and mother which flowed through his veins would someday lead him into trouble. He was afraid that the experience that he had had with liquor in his younger years might someday crop out against him in his ministry. He might even become drunk and wreck his entire career. He worried a great deal about his background and the effect that it might have upon him.
We talked and we shared our prayer hours together, and became very close friends. He told me that his father had died sometime earlier, but that his mother was still alive. A little later, his mother died, and the courts ordered the contents of her safety deposit box sent to this son. I remember how anxiously he opened each paper and examined it. Then one turned out to be his adoption papers. He was so excited and overjoyed that he could hardly contain himself. He knew now that the blood of his adoptive parents did not flow through his veins and that he need not worry about heredity. He now imagined his parents as having been Christians.
He went on and finished his ministerial preparation. He went to New York City and became the pastor of one of the largest churches there. He was a very successful young minister and he was an inspiration to me. His faith and the consistency with which he worked and prayed were very real.
The Chapman family were very active in the Berkeley Presbyterian Church, which was close to the university. The family introduced me to the church and its activities. I became acquainted with its pastor, Lapsley A. McAffee, who was to play quite a part in my early years at Berkeley. The church had a remarkable Christian Endeavor Society made up primarily of university students. It was extremely active, and I felt quite at home. In Kansas I had been state president of the Christian Endeavor Society of the Christian Church. The Berkeley Christian Endeavor had a very active social life which I very thoroughly enjoyed. It also was very active in the evangelistic field. It joined with the Seaman’s Rest mission work and held meetings on both the commercial and military ships in the harbor. Lester Ready, another boarder at the Chapmans’, and I both played coronets. We volunteered to go with the groups on board ships, and we would play our coronets for the singing during their meetings. This we did for severl months, and our meetings aboard ships were very interesting to me, although very few invitations to accept Christ as Savior were accepted by the sailors. However, one night at the close of the meeting, the captain requested that we go with him to his cabin. We went, and he told us that he was leaving the next morning to go to a port up North, where several ships in succession had gone to the bottom and lost all aboard. He asked our prayers that he might be guided and might enter the harbor safely. (Later we heard that they entered the harbor safely.) As we went home, I said to our director that this seemed more worthwhile than anything we had seen before. He said that if you had the time, I (he?) would take you to my (his?) office and show you a large bunch of letters that I (he?) have (has?) received this year from mothers of seamen who were saved in meetings which we held on shipboard. Our meetings had been successful, men had been saved, and I received a blessing and inspiration from the meetings.
At the Chapmans’ after supper, we all gathered in the living room around the piano. Earnest would play, and we would all sing gospel and popular songs. We would always close with the same song, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” This was my home life the first year at Berkeley, but I am getting off the subject. Let’s go back to the university.
Everything went well with my courses. My transcript from Kansas University showed that I had completed a course in practical astronomy, so I registered for a course in advanced practical astronomy. The professor, thinking that I was quite experienced with the use of instruments, assigned me to adjust every instrument on the campus. They had been used by last year’s freshmen and were badly out of adjustment. It was my job to put into adjustment every instrument on the campus of the University of California, and this university was well equipped with instruments for practical astronomy. There were instruments for micrometer work, instruments to record time to the one-hundredth of a second, instruments to do extremely accurate surveying, refracting telescopes, and reflecting telescopes. They were all new to me, and I knew nothing about the adjustment of them and little about their workings. Berkeley had a very good library, however, and I got books on the adjustment of the various instruments and studied them. So I went to work.
The first job was to adjust a photographic instrument, composed of two photograhic telescopes of different focal lengths, with a visual guiding telescope in between. I first had to line up the guiding telescope with the photographic telescopes so they were all working in the same field, then get the photographic telescopes into very accurate focus. That was done by focusing each on a sheet of ground glass and examining the image with a microscope. Then the focus was refined by taking photographs of stars, photographs varying a little in focal lengths, until I found which focal length gave the sharpest image of the stars. This, of course, was the adjustment for the photographic telescopes. I showed the photographs to the professor and indicated which settings I had used for the instruments. He pronounced them very good, and I went to the next instrument. I was engaged this way, instrument after instrument, and it took me a good part of the year to get every instrument in the best kind of adjustment.
It was the spring of the year, and it was the year, 1910, when Halley’s Comet came into the morning sky. I got up every morning before daylight, went to the observatory, and pointed my instrument at the spot where the head of the comet was to appear. Then, as soon as the head was above the horizon, I took two or three photographs. This continued morning after morning as the comet moved up in the sky, and its large brilliant tail finally reached the zenith. It was the most spectacular object I hope to see. I have seen many comets since, but I have never seen one which equaled Halley's Comet. The Earth was schedule to pass through the tail of Halley's Comet, and this raised a great deal of interest among all people on the Earth. Some of them were frightened, lest there be poison in the tail of the comet that would wipe life off the Earth. Others were looking forward to a great shower of meteors, a spectacular display in the sky. So the two sides waited, one expectantly and the other fearfully. I was on my way home at the very time the Earth was to pass through the tail of the comet. I spent the time at the window on the train taking every chance I got to look eastward to see if there was a shower of meteors from the tail of Halley’s;s Comet. Time went on and Isaw nothing. It became time for us to be in the center of the tail; I looked toward the south, and there was the tail of Halley’s Comet directly in the south. Apparently we had not passed through the tail. Apparently the Earth has a repelling force for the tail just like the Sun. But it was not as strong, yet strong enough that it diverted the tail and swung it around the Earth so that we did not go through it. (The tail was in the west the next evening.) I seem to have been the only one making this observation, which is extremely strange, because the astronomers throughout the world announced that we had gone through the tail of Halley’s Comet and nothing had happened. It was, therefore, too rare to even cause a shower of meteors, so one of us was wrong.
I completed all of my courses at the University of California. I received my master’s degree and my teaching credential, and made plans to find a job. My brother and I had land near Orange, California. I decided to get a job near Orange so I could do work on the ranch, but the university officials came to me and said, “We don’t want you to quit; we want you to go on and get your doctor’s degree.” I told them that such was impossible, as I had only enough money for one year and that was gone. I would have to get a teaching job. They said, “We have a scholarship held jointly by the departments of Mathematics and Astronomy, and we will award you that scholarhip in order that youcan go and get your doctor’s degree.” However, they notified me almost immediately that the student who had held that scholarship had failed to graduate and that he would need that scholarship for another year, but they would give me a student teaching job. I could teach about half-time and spend the rest of the time in graduate work. This would pay me six hundred dollars a year while the scholarship would have paid only four hundred. I accepted this job gladly. I went home to my parents on the ranch where I would during the summer, returning the next fall to take up my work for the doctor’s degree.
God, indeed, seems to have taken complete control. Nothing that I did and no plans that I made seemed to have any effect on the turn of things for the future. God knew that I would need more education for the job that Hehad for me to do, so He had already made all the arrangements for it. All I needed to do was to accept. Thank you God.
You have seen in Chapter 7 my regular work for the first year at Berkeley; how I completed what was supposed to be two years’ work in the one; how I did the work on Halley’s Comet; how I had the inspiring experience with my roommate, and in all, I am sure you will conclude that I had a profitable year. But I have save the most important part for a special chapter--a special chapter because I think it deserved a special place. It is, perhaps, the most important Christian experience that I have had, so far, in my whole fire, and I want it to be presented in its proper setting. Dr. Lapsley A. McAffee, pastor of the Berkeley Presbyterian Church, sent word to me that he would like to see me in his office, so as soon as possible, I went to his office. He told me that there were twelve Government Chinese students in the university, and they had come to him saying that they would like him to make a Sunday School class just for them. “Oh, we do not want to become Christians; we are perfectly satisfied with our own religion, but we believe your religion has influenced your development, your educational system, and perhaps your government. So we would like to know what Christianity is to better understand its impact on the life of your people.”
Dr. McAffee asked if I would teach the class. I thought a minute and God seemed to say to me, “Peter, this is what I have been preparing you for. Accept the job.” So I told Dr. McAffee that I would accept the class and do all that I could with it.
Why did Dr. McAffee ask me to take this class? He was the pastor of a large church full of excellent Bible teachers--teachers with long experience. Why did Dr. McAffee ask me, who had never taught a class in his church, who only just a member? I cannot answer my own question, but reading between the lines, I think God also spoke to Dr. McAffee and said, “Ask Mr. Stoner to take the class.” I went home and then wondered why I had said yes. I now know why: God was going to reveal the job he had for me. Oh, I had taught many Sunday School classes, but they were all classes of Christians. They all believed the Bible. It looked like I could as well take a Mother Goose story to read to these students. They might have accepted it as readily as a lesson from the Bible. The problem seemed to be of tremendous magnitude. I was not interested really in teaching a class that would just accomplish the purpose of these students. I was concerned about accomplishing that purpose, yes, but also in reaching them for Christ.
What was I to do with this challenge? Well, I think the Lord spoke to me and said, “Find out what their majors are in college.” I did and found out that they were all science majors. Then I remembered that when I was a student at Kansas Christian College and was studying Bible subjects, we spent a great deal of time on the first chapter of Genesis and found a great amount of material that was scientifically accurate, although it was written thousands of years before any man knew anything about science. Maybe here was a place where I could start. Maybe here was a place where I could interest them in the Bible. So the Lord helped me lay my plans. as I would take the class, and I would go through the first chapter of Genesis with them. I would give them assignments covering each branch of science that I would use as evidence in the first chapter. Then I would discuss the chapter with them in light of their library reports. I started the course with the first verse of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But I had to say to the class that this is not in agreement with what science is teaching today. Astronomy is saying that the universe had no beginning and was always here. It had no beginning; it will have no ending; it is perpetual; and I said to my class,“Now this is ridiculous. We know the Sun is a great power plant, that it is turning out energy, billions of horsepower continuously, and we know that any engine that is turning out energy is using up fuel, and eventually that fuel will be used up and the engine will stop. We know also that the engine had a beginning, that sometime in the past, not infinite past, fuel was put into that engine. If the fuel was put in at a time infinitely past, the Sun continuing to give off energy for an infinite period of time would have had to fill all space, leaving no room for the other stars.” So I said to my class “We will have to ignore science on this first verse and use a little common sense and a little judgment and say that we know the universe had a beginningand we know that man did not create it; we will accept the first verse as it is: God created the heavens and the earth.” Why does it say heavens and the earth? Why is not the heavens sufficient to include everything in the universe? Oh no, that would not do. When Genesis was written, everyone believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that everything went around the earth. The Sun and the Moon and all of the stars went across overhead during the twenty-four-hour day, then set in the ocean in the west, and floated around to the east to come up again and go across the next day. Yes, God had to single out the earth. The universe at this time was the earth and the heavens. The heavens were the smaller part.
Then we come to the second verse: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” What kind of astronomical body is the second verse talking about? We asked astronomy and the astronomers answered, “We do not know. We do not think there is such an astronomical body in existence. We think your second verse is in gross error. We know where the earth came from. We have the nebular hypothesis that says the whole solar system came from a spiral nebula, and we have photographs of these spiral nebulae, photographs by the dozens. They all show the solar system in formation: a spiral nebula with a large lump in the center which, evidently, is going to make a sun. Then spiral groups of material, scattered throughout the remaining part of the nebula, and these, of course, will make the planets. Yes, we know how the earth was formed. We have had the nebular hypothesis for, perhaps, one hundred and fifty years, and everyone believes that it is true. We can see it forming in dozens of these photographs. Without question they are spiral and rotating. Without question they will end up as they cool off, and condense still further, with a sun in the center and planets rotating (should be revolving) about it, just like our solar system. Your second verse should be rejected.” Yet there is some agreement. The science report says that the earth was a nebula. The Scriptures say it was void. An object that is void or very rare has to be a gaseous body; it has to be a nebula too. So both are agreed in that the earth, in its first stage, was a nebula. Oh yes, they disagree; science says it was a spiral nebula. The Scripture says it was without shape, “form.” Science says it was a nebula giving off great amounts of light, the Bible says it was dark. They agree in the most essetial part: it was a nebula. So we may start with the earth as a nebula, a teaching of both science and the Scripture, and we proceed from that basis.
We may call upon common sense to help us here a little. We know that if the earth started out as a nebula, whether bright or dark, for the earth to be produced from it, cerain things had to happen. The nebula must be collected because it has to make a dense body, the Earth. Whenever you take a gas and compress it, the gas becomes very much hotter. Every boy who has ever pumped up an automobile tire, by hand, knows this very well. He knows that his pump starts out cold and the pump gets hotter and hotter until he can not hold onto the cylinder anymore because the heat from the air is still in the air, but the air is compressed. Therefore, its temperature rises drastically. Therefore, as this nebula was collected to make the Earth, its temperature must have risen. In the first stages of the Earth, when it became a solid body, it must have been very hot. No, not hot enough to be a star, not hot enough to shine. Science has taught us, very positively, that stars vary from one hundred times the mass of the Sun down to one percent of it. If they have more mass than that, so much energy develops in the interior that they blow themselves up and make more than one star. So the star cannot be larger than one hundred times the mass of the Sun. It cannot be smaller than one percent of the mass of the Sun and be a star. The earth is only one hundred thirty-three-thousandth the mass of the Sun. Therefore, the earth never was hot enough to give off light of its own, but it, no doubt, did become hot enough to evaporate all the free water on the earth and put it into the atmosphere, producing an atmosphere that was very dense, humid, and hot.
Our third verse of Genesis reads, “God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.” Why, from the Sun, of course, because the earth was too small to give off light. Not only that, but in the fifth verse we have day and night. Now if the earth was giving off light, no side would be dark and there could be no night.
The sixth verse reads, “Let there be a firmament (or space) in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Our references in physics told us that as the earth cooled down beyond a certain stage, there would not have been enough heat in the surface of the earth to hold all of the water in the atmosphere. So some of the water fell upon the earth. Since the earth was still plastic and nearly a perfect sphere, the water, no doubt, covered the earth completely. Our geology references told us that this was exactly what happened, that there appeared to have been an early stage when the earth was completely covered with water. So we went on, item by item, comparing the Scriptures with the sciences, finding nearly complete agreement.
In the eleventh verse, “God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass and herb.'” In other words, here is the advent of vegetation on the earth. So we turned to geology and said,“Tell us if vegetation appeared on the earth before any other kind of life.” Geology went through, in rapid succession,the order in which different forms of life appeared upon the earth. We followed them throughout the first chapter of Genesis, finding agreement in the order to be one hundred percent!
But there were still some problems unanswered, problems like the fourteenth verse: “God said, 'let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years'” Many have thought that this verse refersto the creation of the Sun, Moon, and stars, not so; the word used here is not “created.” That was used in the first verse. The King James Version says, “Let there be.” This is also translated to let them shine upon the earth. At any rate, it involves “Let them function,” not be created. Suppose today were a heavily clouded day and you were to take me out and ask me to tell you the time of day by the Sun. I would look east and west, north and south, and not see any Sun, and I would have to say to you that I cannot tell you whether it’s forenoon or afternoon. Then you would ask me to tell you the season of the year by observing if the Sun is high overhead for summer or if it is low for winter. I would have to answer that I cannot tell. Suppose you were to say to me tomorrow, that you were going to make the Sun so you could tell the time of day and the seasons by it. Would you expect me to say that I didn’ believe you could create a new Sun and put it up in the sky? I would think you were only talking about breaking the clouds so the Sun could shine through. Similarly, this verse means the breaking of the clouds.
The fourteenth verse of Genesis says that after this happens, you can determine days and years, signs and seasons, and certainly we use them so today. When we examine the context of this verse, we find that it is located between the creation of vegetation and the creation of fish. Going back to geology, it tells us that this is exactly when the clouds broke over the earth and the Sun shone down through upon it.
So we spent the whole winter going through this first chapter, comparing it item by item with the statements from the various sciences, and finding everything to fit nearly perfectly. I I felt I had giventhese students very strong evidence that this chapter, which was written probably 3500 years ago, and long before there was any science to guide, had recorded, item by item, facts which no man knew until very modern times. Let’s look at the second verse today. In 1910 its claim was that the Earth had come from a dark, nebulous material. Science had claimed that no such astronomical body existed, so the verse was impossible. I told my class of Chinese students that I believed that science would further develop and solve the problem, as it had done so often. Much later, around 1945, Dr. Hubble, using the 100-inch telescope, photographed a so-called “dark hole” in the sky. His photograph turned out to show the first known dark nebula. Now we know the second verse as the perfect description of a dark nebula, and that new astronomical objects such as stars and planets come from them. This great change came from one photograph. Everything in Genesis and the sciences matches, item for item, from beginning to end. They were in almost complete agreement at the time of our study with the Chinese students--so much so that we hoped we had convinced the students that indeed the first chapter of Genesis was true and that there must be real divine inspiration here--a God-given chapter, as no man could have described all this material at that time and have it be accurate today.
I don’t think you can imagine my surprise when Dr. McAffee called me and said, “I want you to come and see before you leave for your summer vacation,” I hurried over to see him. He said, “Sit down; I have something very important to tell you. Your twelve Chinese students have come to me and said, 'It has been proven to us that your Bible is the inspired word of God and we believe it. We know our religious books are full of errors. We want to become Christians.' I have dealt with each one individually, and each has accepted Christ as his Savior. Next Sunday your twelve Chinese students will join this church as a body”
Somehow, I began to understand the power of the evidence that one could get by combining science with the Scriptures. Now I look back and understand for the first time why God had directed me as He did; why He turned me away from the ministry into Scientific Christian Evidences; and why I spent two years in the ministerial course, evidently just to get a foundation, from a religious angle, of just what the Bible taught, so that I might correlate it with the sciences. I could see that I was obtaining a tool in these two subjects that was a mighty tool and could be used to a great advantage, particularly in the job that God had chosen for me--a job of correcting the great errors that existed in the Church’s literature which had contradicted the sciences, got the student into trouble, and caused thousands of them who had become Christians in the church to lose their faith when they went to college. It was becoming clear that one of the jobs God had set for me was to produce literature for the church that would strengthen, not weaken, the faith of the Christian students.
It was a tremendous job. I could not be expected to do the job alone. I must know that God would produce men who would join me in the effort and together we might correct some of the difficulties that were wrecking so many young Christians’ faith. I later found that He was doing this in the American Scientific Affiliation. (See Chapter 17.) I also began to understand the magnitude of the scientific material one might need and to appreciate the fact that God had already arranged for me to spend two more years at the University and complete the work for my doctor’s degree in science.
God knew the need for a thorough foundation, both in science and the Scriptures, for any man if he were to help show the inspiration of His Word. It was like doing research work. I never knew what foundations I would be called upon to use.
Starting my second year, the committee which had worked so effectively with me, the first year, came into service again and helped me develop an outline of courses which would meet the qualifications for a Ph. D. degree, majoring in mathematics and minoring in astronomy. The committee assure me that my master’s thesis could be expanded to make my Ph. D. thesis. This made that part of my work very simple.
The program for my student teacher work, this second year, involved a schedule of trigonometry, analytical geometry, and calculus. In the same periods in which I had my three classes, two other sections of the same subject were scheduled and taught by members of the regular faculty. All the university students were given two weeks to shop around, visiting in different sections of a subject, then turn in their programs. Nearly all of the students in each of my three periods turned in their programs scheduled for my section. So all of the other sections were closed and all of the students in these periods were put in my classes. Thus each class that I taught had more than fifty students in attendance.
The university policy for student teachers was to give no reader help. to assign no desk in the faculty room, and to permit no attendance at faculty meetings. But as a result of my large classes, the university officials reconsidered and gave me a desk in the faculty room, and they invited me to attend and participate in all of the faculty meetings. Thus this year of student teaching proved more valuable than I had expected.
I had done quite a lot of student teaching at Kansas Christian College, and had developed a philosophy of teaching. It involved the stating clearly of the mathematical principles that were involved in our work, showing that they were simple and practically self-evident. I showed that the application of a very few principles made it possible to do all of the work in most mathematical subjects. This made the work both easy and simple for the student. I used this philosophy in each of my classes and the results were so gratifying that I continued to use it throughout my many years of teaching. This will be enlarged upon in Chapter 13.Ira Forrey, my college chum from Kansas Christian College, now came to the University of California and became my roommate, renewig our friendship after two years of separation. We came together as two lost friends, and were very close to each other. We each played the cornet. So we teamed up and went to work with the Seaman’s Rest playing our cornets for meetings on the ships in the harbor. These meetings usually would involve several evenings in a week. We became quite familiar with the routine procedures, and enjoyed every meeting that we were in. These experiences made the Lord seem closer to both of us.
We started playing tennis and practiced on the university courts. We often practiced with the tennis teams that went out in competition with other schools. We were never of the same ability as these teams, but we could play well enough to give the teams competition, and that competition was more valuable to us than to the teams.
The pressure of schoolwork was not so heavy these two years. I spent moretime on church work, social activities, and physical exercise. Everything went smoothly at school. My committee approved all of my courses and my grades, and at the end, my thesis for my Ph. D. degree.
But shortly before graduation, the chairman of the committee called me and said, “We have made a serious mistake. Your thesis is in your minor, and we have just discovered that the University requires your thesis to be in your major for a Ph. D. degree. This is our mistake, not yours, so if you will make us a model of a certain projective geometry figure, which had never been made before, we will take it instead of the thesis and give you your Ph. D. degree.”
I was an expert carpenter and cabinet maker at this time, so I figured that I could make the model in the school shops in about a day, or at most, two days. I thought that this on my records would be belittling to me and an insult to my committee. So I told them I did not care to take my degree that way. I would write a thesis in mathematics later, then take the degree.
I have never done it; I have always had two or more other jobs. Some of the jobs have produced materials which might have been used for the degree, but I never submitted any of them. One of these came when I developed a mechanism, a computing gunsight, which followed a target, such as a plane. It computed the distance ahead that a shell must be fired in order to meet the plane or be just ahead of it, and moved the gun into position, correcting for both velocity and acceleration. Previous gunsights corrected for velocity only (or for motion in a straight line). The pilots, therefore, had learned that in order to avoid fire from a computing gunsight (from any “director” if you wish to use that name), it was only necessary for the plane to wheel off to a side. Then the following bursts of shell would proceed in a straight line out on the plane’s former course and the plane would be entirely safe.
I wrote directly to the Ordinance Department and told them what I had and what it would do. They answered immediately that they would have a man at my door in a very few days to see my plans and discuss the invention with me. In a very few days their representative knoced at my door. When he came in, he said that he wanted to see my drawings. I showed him the drawings. He just took one quick glance at them and said, “No, these will not correct for acceeration.”
I said, “Why do you say that?”
He answered, “I know that this will not correct for acceleration for I hae been head of the research group in Washington that has been working for two years trying to invent a device that would correct for velocity and acceleration. We finally succeeded, but the device was so complex that the probable error was greater than what we were trying to find. Therefore, I know how much mechanism is necessary to correct for acceleration and it is not here in your drawings.”
After discussions he finally said, “Well as long as I am with you, you can convince me that it will correct for acceleration, but I don’t believe it. I want to take your plans home with me and I am sure when I study them at my leisure, I will find their error.”
Later I went to his office and he said to me, “All right, I will agree that your invention will correct for accceleration but we don’t need it.” When I reached my hotel room, I examined a booklistg that the man’s assistant had given me. I found that it was the invention that I had given him. The drawings were changed to look more professional and the wording changed to be his own wording, but the invention and its details were what I had given him that day in my home. I wrote him a letter and told him that he had not had time, and I was sure he had tested the device, and I would like to know the results of the test. He answered that they had tested the device, but the results were a military secret and he could not give me a report on the details. He said, “Suffice it to say that we have made great advancement.” I learned later from an officer, John Stoner, on a destroyer in the combat zone during World War II, that this was the device which had proen more effective in destroying enemy planes and enemy ships than any other device that they had ever used. This was the only device which corrected for velocity and acceleration of a target.
I did not receive any payment or any credit for the invention; however,I had not made the invention for money or reputation. I had made it to save the lives of our men on the battlefield, and that had been accomplished. As I look back, the Lord seemed to say to me, “This invention was just a by-product of the training I have directed you into. Let it be used to save the lives of our military. You must go back to the jobs yet to be done in Scientific Christian Evidences.” God’s guidings are wondrous to receive.
When I was looking for a job, the University of California’s Placement Bureau was very kind to me. I received good offers from coast to coast. In mathematics, Princeton offered me a full instructorship; California State College at San Luis Obispo offered me the chairmanship of their mathematics department; Lick Observatory and Mount Wilson Observatory offered me research jobs in astronomy; and many high scools offered me teaching positions. Pasadena High School offered me a teaching position at $1,300 a year. This was within one hundred dollars of their maximum, though today it seems extremely low. In that day, it was an excellent salary, and I accepted it because of the salary and because of its nearness to the twenty-seven acres of land which my brother and I were developing into an orange grove. I needed to be nearby so that I could do Saturday and vacation work on the ranch whenever possible. I also chose Pasadena because the IQ of its students was about ten points above the IQ of students at other high schools, and I was especially interested in high scholarship.
The high schools of Los Angeles County were conducting competitions of the type that we used to kow in the elementary schools as ciphering matches. It was exactly the same thing, except that our problems were algebra problems instead of arithmetic problems. Each school developed two teams and had contests with other schools. We sent one team to the other school, and they sent one team to us. The contests were always held in the school’s auditorium with all students in attendance. Large blackboards were placed on the auditorium platform and one contestant from each schoo was sent to a board. The problem was read and the one who obtained the correct answer first was the winner. These contests were as exciting to the students as the athletic games on the field. I was the coach of the Pasadena team, and we won all of the contests that year.
I stayed in Pasadena forty-one years, teaching in the high school, and then seeing the high school develop into a junior college. This happened gradually. We dropped off one year of the high school work and added one year of the junior college work. In the transition, I was given the first class of mathematics in the junior college. I was responsible for organizing the course, choosing the textbook, establishing the standards, and teaching the class. Then, when we added the second year, another teacher taught that subject and I taught another beginning subject. This was repeated until all of the mathematics subjects were covered and I saw Pasadena High School change into a junior college. As far as mathematics was concerned, I had a key position setting the standards for the new junior college in mathematics.
As we introduced astronomy, we followed the same procedures. I was the chairman of the department of mathematics, astronomy, and engineering. Later, we added the fields of architecture and meteorology. I had a strong voice in the selection of teachers and the development of standards, and thus, I literally developed the mathematics department of Pasadena City College. I later started courses in carpentry and airplane building. These soon became the start of the technology department. I soon was responsible for the building of the observatory, one of the very best of college observatories.
Pasadena High School had been a very strong high school with high standards of scholarship, so I inherited from the high school the best of their facuty and obtained an excellent teaching department for the whole field under my jurisdiction.
Now let’s back up a little. There is a romance which we nearly missed. During my second year at Berkeley, my roommate, Ira Forrey, had a younger sister, Edith, to whom he wrote regularly. He sometimes shared her letters with me and I found them very interesting. Having known the whole Forrey family for many years and Edith as a little girl, I finally wrote her a letter. She answered my letter and an occasional correspondence for the rest of that year became regular after I started teaching in Pasadena. Edith was teaching school in Kansas, and at the end of her school year she was coming to California to visit her sister, my brother’s wife, in Orange, California. Just accidentally, of course, her train was arriving in Los Angeles on a Friday afternoon, just about the same time that I would be coming down from my teaching job to do work on the ranch that weekend. Edith’s sister, Ethel, wrote to me and told me the situation of the country girl who was coming to the big city, and she wanted me to meet her there and bring her down to Orange. Of course I met Edith; I took her to dinner and then down to Orange. One Saturday I took her up the incline road on Mount Lowe, and we hiked to the top of the mountain. On another day we went over to Catalina Island and spent the day there, and there was developing a love between us.
Edith soon had to go to Kuna, Idaho, to live with her mother and her brother Ira. The next summer I visited Idaho to see my old friend Ira and, of course, his sister. I worked in the field with Ira, helping him with his work in the daytime, and in the evenings Edith and I took long walks i the countryside. We talked and we embraced as lovers will. Eventually I proposed and told her not to answer right away, but to think it over and talk it over with her mother. Two or three days passed, and I received no response. So when I asked her if she had talked it over with her mother, she said that she didn’t think it was her mother’s business; she thought it was her affair and it was to be her decision. So I went with her, and we did talk it over with her mother and asked the mother’s approval. Edith’s mother said she had no objections. I told her that we wanted more than that; we wanted her blessings. That she gave us. We decided we would be married the next winter at Christmas time, when I had my vacation. Before I left to go back to California, we spent a great deal of time planning the house we would build in Pasadena. It would be close to my school so things would always be convenient and I could always come home for lunch. I returned home to California, and, needless to say, from this time unti the next Christmas, the mails were busy carrying love letters back and forth. As in my boyhood days, it seemed that Christmas would never come.
But it did come, and I prepared to go to Kuna, Idaho, where Edith and I were to be married. It happened that the worst storm in several winters was raging and my train was delayed. It was snowbound in many places, and we had to wait for a snowplow to clear the road before we could proceed. Consequently, we were about two days late in getting to Kuna. I supposed that my friends, and wife-to-be in Kuna, knew the condition of the roads and the train as well as I did. I supposed that the Kuna station kept informed as to the location of all trains coming their way, but this was not the case. The only word that my friends could receive about the train was simply that the next train would be at such a time. So for two days, Ira and Edith had met all of the trains coming in from my direcrtion. I was not on any of them. At the end of two days, they decided that I must not be coming as they had heard no word from me. They did not know that my train was tied up many miles away in a snowstorm. Edith thought I had deserted her. When the train did get to Kuna, it was so late that the conductor refused to stop and let me off. He went straight through, saying that he would stop at the next station, Caldwell, and I could get off there. In Caldwell I went to the livery stable and asked for a man to drive me out to Kuna. The manager said that he did not know whether he had a man who would care to make that trip. He would go and talk to his drivers and let me know. He came back in a few minutes and said, “Yes, I have one man who is willing to make that trip.” So I went back and watched the driver dress. He put on woolen underwear, two pairs of woolen pants, and a pair of leather pants on top of that. He put on all of the heavy coats that he could find, and an overcoat, and he was ready for the trip. I almost got cold feet myself, being dressed only in my California summer suit. However, he had plenty of lap robes and materials. So I wrapped myself up and kept warm, and we made the trip to Kuna without any difficulty.
On arriving, we found a very surprised bride-to-be. She thought that I had decided not to come. She thought that I had decided not to get married and had stood her up, but then she (break for pictures) found the difficulties that I had in arriving. I was forgiven and welcomed with loving arms. Due to the weather conditions, we had a private wedding, made our preparation to leave, and went back to Pasadena and a new apartment that I had rented, ready for Edith’s arrival. The love which had blossomed between us grew into a great love. It seems that God had chosen us for each other. We both had the same background and the same strong Christian faith, and we spent many happy years together with a love growing still greater.
Willis had graduated from Caltech in Mechanical Engineering and takena job with Eastern Air in Florida. This was in the bottom of the Depression and jobs were scarce. Willis was put on the job of scraping the paint off the planes, getting them ready to repaint. The Sun was hot and the work was hard, but in about six months, he had advanced to a position inthe engineering department.
Willis was always interested in shps, so when Charleston South Carolina advertised for engineers to test new destroyers built on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Willis quit his job with Eastern Air and took the job at Charleston testing destroyers. This work proved to be interesteng, but there were some difficulties; the administrators in this civil service work received salaries related to the number of engineers working under them. So they tended to engage more engineers than were needed. Many of the young engineers spent their time reading and playing games to keep from being too badlhy bored. When a ship came in to be tested, they drew straws to see which of the engineers would have the opportunity to help with the tests.
Willis learned that there were ships being built on the Pacific coast and that they were badly in need of test engineers at San Pedro. He asked his draft board to transfer him out to his home in Pasadena so he could get a job in San Pedro, where there was work to be done testing ships. They refused. He asked them what they would do if he walked off his job in Charleston and took a testing job in San Pedro. They said: We’ll slap you into the Army as a foot soldier.
Willis stayed with his job in Charleston a little longer, but things got worse. The test engineers at Charleston wrote letters to the War and Navy departments complaining about their lack of work and asking for relief. Their answer was that no more complaints could go out without the approval of their commanding officer. So this ended the complaints. Willis did soon walk off the job at Charleston, came to Pasadena, and immediately applied for a testing job at San Pedro. The supervisors told him that they could not employ him until his draft board in Charleston released him. He tried to enlist in the Navy three times and was rejected each time because one eye would not test up to 20/20.
Willis finally got a job at Northrop Aircraft in Hawthorne working on the development of an aircraft gas turbine engine. This work was enjoyable and was an exceptional opportunity. He worked directly for W. D. Rannie, who spent much of his time teaching Willis the aerodynamics that he needed for the work. This work continued for one year before the draft board canceled his deferment.
At this time, tha NACA at Clevand (Cleveland?) offered him a job. He took it but was there for only two months; then the draft board did draft him and send him to Boot Camp. Boot Camp was rough and when it was over, he was not sent overseas, but to Oak Ridge, Tenn. Here he was engaged as a private working the separation of isotopes for the atomic bomb. He worked here for nearly a year and then was transferred to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where they were doing the theoretical work and construction of the atomic bomb. Here he was put in the group making the range table for the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb was about ready to use, but it could not be used until its range table was completed, so they would know where it would land when it was dropped from a plane.
Willis was sent to Caltech and other places working on the range tables, trying to coordinate and speed up the work. For two months, he got little sleep but worked on the range tables under great pressure, seven days a week and long hours. When the atomic bomb was tested by exploding it on the top of a steel tower in New Mexico, at night, nearly everyone in Los Alamos stayed up to see what would happen. Willis was so worn out that he went to bed and slept through it.
Willis came home on leave and went with us to the beach houses to check on things there. We We had rented our two houses during the war. Houses were scarce and we neither had the gas nor the time to use them. So we needed to go to the beach and check on the houses. On the way back Willis was driving with the radio on when the report came over the radio telling of the droppoing of the first atomic bomb. I could see that Willis seemed excited, but he said nothing. When we got home there was a telegram hanging on our doorknob telling willis that he could now tell his folks what he had been working on. Before this there was great secrecy about any atomic bomb. When Willis had come to Caltech to check on work being done on the range tables he was required to wear civilian clothes, and elsewhere, he could appear only in uniform. Evidently Los Alamos did not want it to be known that Caltech was working on the atomic bomb. His uniform would probably have given that away.
Los Alamos was a well-run organization and a pleasant place to work. Dr. Oppenheimer, who led the tecnical work, believed in keeping his people well informed and giving them every possible opportunity to learn and improve their ability to make contributions (a policy quite different from the one Willis experienced in Oak Ridge).However, after the end of the war, there was a period when the Army personnel were primarily interested in going home, while the people responsible for deciding when they could leave seemed more interested in continuing to use this cheap source of help. This resulted in some strained relations. Willis was discharged about six months after the end of the war and returned to Northrop to continue the job he had left there earlier.
In the First World War when the Germans began dropping bombs on our soldiers, I invented a computing gunsight which would correct for the velocity of the plane. I gave this invention to the military and asked them to use it, thinking it would save many lives. Its use would place exploding shells in the face of attacking planes. At that time they had nothing but handguns to shoot at the attacking planes, and that was very ineffective. My invention was not used until after the war was over and Sperry Gyroscope Company began manufacturing them and selling them to the government for $35,000 per unit. I had no complaint for I had given the invention to the military without any strings attached. This was the only device our military had against airplanes or any rapidly moving tank or ship. Our military had no better type of defense until the Second World War, when I added an improvement to my device so that it corrected for both velocity and acceleration of the target.
With this device, which uses the distance to the target as put in by a range finder, the angular velocity and acceleration both in the line of flight of the plane and perpendicular to it were put in from the movements of the gunsight. This device will put a shell in the path of the plane, whether it is flying in a straight line or a curve, so the shell and the plane will collide just when the shell explodes.
This device was also rejectied until I finally sent a letter to the ordinance department telling them about the invention. I immediately received an answer, saying that in a few days, a man would be at my door to see the drawings and discuss the invention with me. In a few days a man did appear at my door and ask to see my drawings. When I showed them to him, he just glanced at them and saie: “This will not correct for acceleration. I can not waste any more time here.ୁ I asked him why he had said that for he had notgone over the drawings carefully enough to have any idea of what the device would do. He answered that he had been the head of a research group whose job had been to invent such a device. They had worked two years and finally developed the device, but it was so complicated that when it was tested, the probable error proved tobe greater than what they were trying to find. So he knew that my small number of parts could not possibly correct for acceleration. I persuaded him to go over the drawings with me, when I showed him the device that did correct for acceleration and how it did. He leaned back in his chair and dug his fingers into his eyes as if he would dig them out of their sockets, then he said no, here is the trouble and pointed to one item in the drawings, saying, this is your error. I went through the drawings with him again and then through the differential equations which proved that the device did correct for velocity and acceleration. Then he said, “All right, as long as I am with you you can convince me that it corrects for velocity and acceleration, but I don’t believe it. I will take your materials home where I will examine them at my leisure. I am sure that I will find the error.”
Later we communicated several times with no definite results. Finally I went back East to the department representative’s suite of offices. His assistant let me in and handed me a small publication. I did not have time to look it before the representative opened his office door and asked me to come in. As soon as I entered he said, “I will admit that your invention will correct for acceleration, but we don’t need it.” This was very shocking. Since he had worked two years trying to invent such a device, then his saying he did not needit did not make sense. But when I got to my hotel room and examined the booklet, I found that he had taken the material I had given him, in my home in Pasadena, and just redrawn the figures so they looked more professional and reworded some of the descriptions. But the basic principles seemed to have been taken bodily from my invention, using the same mechanisms.
After a while I wrote the representative that I was sure that he had had time now and had tried out the invention and that I would like to know the results of the tests. He answered that they had run the tests but the results were military secrets and he could not reveal them. But he did say: Suffice it to say, we have made great advancements. I understood this to imply that the device either was now in use or very soon would be.
Soon after this my nephew, John Stoner, who was stationed on a destroyer in the combat zone, was home on furlough. We talked about his work on the destroyer. He said that he had charge of the computing gun sights. So I asked him if one of them had a member which pointed at the target, another that showed the direction of the gun, and a third that bisected the angle between the first two. He said he did but he never knew what the bisecting member was for. I told him that he was using my invention and that the bisecting member was the part that made the device correct for the acceleration of the target. John said that the device was effective in destroying more planes and ships than any other device that they (Who is this they?) had.
while I was working on this invention, Willis, an engineering graduate from Caltech, looked my drawings over and said that it looked to him like it would correct for twice the acceeration. I went through my differential equations and found that it would correct for twice the acceleration. This is when I introduced the bisecting line and fed its velocity back into the mechanism in place of the velocity of the gun. This made it correct for acceleration, just once. I also found from the differential equations that by moving this bisector a little toward the target, it would correct for the velocity, the acceleration, and the rate of change of acceleration. By moving it still a little further, it will correct for another derivative with only a negligible error in the velocity and acceleration correction. In other words, the device will correct for nearly any kind of curve the target might be moving in.
I had tried to protect the invention by having two engineers sign a statement that they had studied the drawings, read the claims and descriptions, and understood the material and knew that I was the inventor. A little later I applied for a patent, using a patent attorney. After many questions from the patent office, which we answered in detail, I received an answer from them saying, “We have given the patent to your invention to (and named a third parry).” My patent attorney said, they can’t do that; we’ll sue them. But I did not have the finances to sue an agent of the federal government. They would bankrupt me before we got through the suit process. But I did not feel too bad. I had made the inventions to save the lives of our soldiers and that was being
While the above inventive work was going on, I was head of the Department of Mathematics, Astronomy and Engineering at Pasadena City College. I thought I should also be doing something for the war effort,so I went over to Caltech and applied for a part-time job, working after school and on Saturdays. I was accepted and put in what they called their Technical Staff. This was really their troubleshooting group. Whenever a research group became stuck, the problem was referred to one of their Technical Staff. He was supposed to solve the problem and get the research group back on the track. This was very interesting work and there was something important to be done. This continued until about two months before the end of the war.
Then a group of about 30 men associated with Caltech were called into the conference room by Dr. Fowler. We were told that Caltech had twelve five-inch spinning rockets ready to use, but they could not be used until range tables were made for them. We were told that this project was of major importance. The rockets covered everything involved in the war, and when they all went into service the war would end. They told the men conducting the test firing ranges that when the request for firings came in from this program, they should put everything else away and run these tests. They went through every phase of the work this same way, and when they had told everyone what his job was and its importance, they turned to me and said, “AND YOU WILL HAVE CHARGE OF THE PROJECT. You will tell the firing ranges just what rockets you want fired and what information you want from each firing.” And so on it went for all of my connections. And I would be responsible for computing the range tables from the data so obtained. The Caltech person said, “We are giving you Jim Follin to help you (Jim is a young man with a Ph. D. in Physics from MIT), and you can draft anyone from the Caltech faculty that you may need to help. We will give you all of the girls as computers (Something missing here?) that you may need. But the job must be completed in two months” Jim Follin proved to be all of the technical help that I needed. Jim determined the information we would need from the firings and developed rapid methods of computing the tables. He was thorough and efficient. I asked Caltech what units they wanted used in making the tables. They said to ask the ordinance department. So I was fool enough to write the ordinance department and ask them what units they wanted to be used in the tables for angles, degrees, mills, radians, etc., and likewise for distances. They answered that they wanted them all. So I was stuck. This meant each range table needed 32 columns. And we were trying to do a rush job. Caltech could not supply enough computers, so I went back to PCC and requested some of the girls who had straight A grades in all their mathematics up through Differential Equations to apply for computer jobs at Caltech. Three applied and they ran circles around the other computing girls.
The first three tables we completed involved rockets with three different ranges, like short, medium, and long. They were used to clear a beachhead for landing troops. These rockets went to the front at once by plane. The first launching ship used the short-range rockets and cleared everything of the actual beach. The second launching ship used the medium-range rockets and the third used long-range. All laid down nearly a solid sheet of flame.
Then they (Who?--need an antecedent for this) landed an ary on the beach and did not lose a man. They told us that on a similar island, without the rockets, they landed a similar army and lost half of the men. They took moving pictures of the whole procedure, and brought them back to show this group making range tables. So we saw what our work was accomplishing. It was a real stimulation.
The two months ended when we had about eight of the tables in service. The two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and the war was over. There was no further rush to on the range tables, so I left Jim Follin to finish them and I went back to PCC and my apartments.
When the war was ended Caltech officials told me that when they first planned to make these range tables, they decided to put both Willis and me on the range table for the atomic bomb, then decided that that would be putting too much responsibility on one family, so they put Willis on the atomic bomb and gave me the spinning rockets. I think that this decision was made before the first atomic bomb was exploded and some had doubts about its working. I guess that they were rushing both of these methods of ending the war, so that if the atomic bomb failed, they would have the spinning rockets to fall back on. They had been tested and they knew they would work. So for at least one two-month period, the Stoner family held a most important place in American history.
Henry and Ella came to California in about the year 1906. Ella had become gravely affected by the electrical storms in Kansas. In an electrical storm (even when one was in the distance) we would have to take her to a cave and put her in a chair insulated from the ground by large glass insulators. Then it would still take her several hours to recover from the effects. Henry and Ella bought an orange ranch and moved onto it. Here there were no electrical storms, and Ella got along very well.
My father and mother came out in 1907 and wrote back to George and me that there was an orange ranch near Henry’s that they could but for a good price. It had five acres of bearing oranges with a house, barn, and outbuildings, plus a cistern. It had a 22-acre barley field for dry farming. The price was $12,000. My father would advance the down payment. I answered to buy the field and George answered not to buy. My father misunderstood George’s answer, thinking he also meant to buy, so my father bought the place.
My father had quite an experience in buying the place. He paid $2,000 down and agreed to pay the other $10,000 on a certain day. My father had sold his farm in Kansas and had the money in a bank back there. The day for the payment of the $10,000 came and both parties met at the bank in Orange. The Kansas bank was to telegraph the $10,000 to the Orange bank but it did not arrive. My father’s contract stated that he was to forfeit the $2,000 if he did not make this payment. So he went to the president of the bank and told him his situation. The banker said he could take care of it. So he wrote a personal note for the $10,000, and my father signed it, and asked when he would be able to draw on it. He was told, right away, go back and complete your transaction.(Break for pictures)
My father went back to the banker and asked him what he owed him. The banker said nothing. Then my father told the banker that he could not afford to loan money to a stranger without any security. The banker told him that he was not a stranger, he had had a case before him when he was a judge in Kansas, and he knew he was an honest man. The banker told my father he was not taking any chance at all. This did my father a lot of good.
I came to California in 1909. I found the 27 acres as my father had described them but the house was terrible. It was really thre buildings just shoved up against one another and a door cut between them. None of the buildings had a foundation. The front part had once been a possible building, but now it hardly looked as if people had ever lived in it. It had never been painted and it was full of descarded clothing and junk. The other two buildings were very small and what we called, at that time, California houses. They had no studs, but were just boarded up and down. We might now call them Mexican type. These were so poor that I just tore them down and used what lumber I could salvage to repair the front house. I repaired the first house, including the roof, and painted it, cleaned it up, and made it possible for my parents to live in it, and ready for George and his family who came out the next year. George was president of Kansas Christian College this year. He resigned at the end of the year to come out to Orange. He went to UC Berkeley to get his general secondary teaching credential. He took his famiy with him, and Ira and I boarded with them for the one semester. George came back to Orange, where he became the teacher of English at Orange High School. He held this position until he retired. George and his family lived on the ranch, where he could oversee the ranch work and be convenient to his teaching work. During the summers George and I both worked on the ranch. When I started teaching in Pasadena in 1912, I came down to Orange on Saturdays and we both worked on the ranch.
When we took possession of the ranch, only one or two acres of the entire 22 acres had been irrigated, and it was a garden patch. The rest was not supposed to be irrigatable. I had a substitute surveyor’s level out of a little $1 telescope that I had, and the bubble out of my carpenter’s level. It was more accurate than could be expected. A test showed that I could run a level line 200 feet with an error not to exceed 1/8 of an inch. We staked the 22 acres out in 100-foot squares, then with my improvised level, we determined the level at each stake. We found a ridge running diagonally through the 22 acres from the source of the irrigating water. By putting a pipeline on the ridge and running the row of trees perpendicular to it, we found that the place would irrigate perfectly. So the 27 acres had a financial future. We had a seed bed of more than 10,000 little orange trees about four inches high. By taking our garden patch and making an orange nursery out of it, we could raise 10,000 orange trees ready to set out in the future orchard. These trees would set out all of all of our vacant ground and have many thousands of trees over, which could be sold at a profit. During these years, George and I were both teaching, so we both contributed to the cost of the place. When the trees were small, we raised vegetables between the trees. George hired Mexicans to pick them and there was a good market. So we managed to get through these early years, knowing all the time that an orchard, when starting to bear, would sell for $4,000 an acre. This was a great incentive for us.
After our wedding, we found it increasingly difficult to go down to Orange to do work on the ranch on weekends and in the summers. Within a few years we sold our interest in the orange ranch, owned my my brother and myself. The trees had now come into bearing, and the property was easily sold. Edith and I took our money from this sale and bought twelve acres of oranges in Altadena, north of Pasadena, and easily accessible to us. These trees were a little older than the trees in Orange, so they were in pretty good bearing condition. I built a small California house on the orange ranch and the family moved in, thinking that the ranch would be our permanent home for many, many years.
Yes, and we sold our home at 1630 Rose Villa Place in Pasadena, and combined this with the money from our interest in the grove in Orange, California. Our new grove went all the way from Lincoln Ave. to Casitas Ave. on the west. Our irrigation water came from the city of Pasadena, and we could get the water any time we wanted it. In fact we could turn it on and off at any time and did not have to make previous arrangements, because it was metered as it came out of the city line.
At first we irrigated from an open ditch running the whole length of the orchard. Then we installed a cement pipeline with standpipes at each row and little gates to open for each furrow. This simplified the work of irrigating greatly. I could now irrigate the whole ranch on any weekend, and just when the trees needed it.
In the summers when Willis got a little older, Edith put playsuits on the children, and when I irrigated, the children would have lots of fun playing in the mud in the furrows. At times, the neighbor’s childrean would join ours.Our orchard was a navel orange orchard, but there were many other trees which made a family orchard out of it. There was a large walnut tree which supplied all of the walnuts that we could use. The orchard had a couple trees of different kinds of oranges, giving us oranges throughout the year. There were also peach trees and other deciduous trees.
Mr. Gandy lived on Casitas Ave., just across from the ranch. He had a team and did the team work for us. We planted the orchard to Vetch, a ground cover, each fall. It made a heavy growth and each spring, Mr. Gandy would disc it in thoroughly, making a good mulch and fertilizer. We had to hire cheap labor then, to hoe out under all of the trees. We found that Americans would do the work for a fraction of what we had to pay Mexicans.
Right after we moved into the Altadena ranch house, we joined the local church, the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church. Again God seemed to be on the job, guiding us to this particular church. Its pastor, Dr. J. R. Pratt, was an unusual minister. His sermons were all Bible studies. Dr. Pratt would take a subject, then marshal what appeared to be all of the Scriptures which had a bearing on that particular subject. When he had finished his sermon, we felt that we had learned everything that there was to kow about that subject. He drew his congregation from many miles around. The members drove great distances to hear Dr. Pratt’s messages on a Sunday. Dr. Pratt was the best Bible student that I had ever known. You could ask him about any scriptural subject and he would answer you with an array of scriptural references, and give a discussion of them, at which anyone would marvel. Whenever I visited him in his office, I would see a stack of worn-our Bibles piled from the floor to the top of his desck. They wera all worn in one particular place--the Gospels and the Epistles. The Epistles seemed to be his special field. It appeared that he could quote any of them from beginning to end.
During this stay at the church, my wife and I dedicated ourselves to Christian service, not forgetting my former dedication to scientific Christian evidences. We both became very active in the church, and I was an elder and treasurer of the church. The pastor’s son, Alden, was a missionary from the church to China. As treasurer of the church, I was impressed with the fact that on the average, for each five dollars that we sent to this mission field, the report came back of another Chinese person being saved by Christ. Our missionary money was a good investment. Edith was president of the Ladies’ Missionary Society.
The church was very short of young married people, and the pastor talked to a friend of ours, Leslie Lippiatt, and me, about building up a Sunday School class of young married people. As a result, Leslie and I put aside one evening a week to visit young married couples in the vicinity, and try to interest them in a new Sunday School class at Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church. We would pick about three couples, suggested by our pastor, and visit them in one evening. The next week we would visit the same three couples again, and usually, by this time, at least one of the couples would come and attend the class. Then we would add a new couple to the list that we were calling on. We continued this until the Sunday School class of young married people had built up from the original four to over fifty, and we bult a little building just for our own use on the grounds of the church.
Alden Pratt and his wife Hazel, with two children, came home from the mission field on furlough, and rented a house adjacent to our orange ranch. Our two families soon became close friends and we spent much time hearing reports from the mission field, and discussing the work and the problems that were involved. They were ub a dustruct where there were many robber gangs. As Alden traveld from place to place to hold meetings, he could travel through any of these districts and never be molested. In fact, the robber gangs all seemed to respect him and his work, and let him pass without any difficulty. One time a robber gang visited his people and robbed members of his congregation. Alden visited the gang of robbers immediately, and told them what they had done and and the effect it had on his congregation. The robbers immediately returned everything that they had taken.
The Pratts had a mission field of one million Chinese. Alden told us of the devotion and faith of the Chinese Christians, telling us that the officers of his church seemed to have more faith than he himself. In the district there were people possessed of devils, showing all of the symptoms that we have in the Scriptures, and the officers of Alden’s church would meet together and pary for the casting out of those devils. Their prayers were always answered and each afflicted person was restored to his or her right mind.
Alden told us of his attempts to develop educational work in his district and that the problems were difficult. He found impossible to getmen who were strong Christian teachers he could trust with the work he gave them to do. He invited my wife and me to join him in the work and to take charge of the educational part of the project. This appealed to both of us very much; we had dedicated our lives to Christian service and here apparently was an opportunity, a field that God was opening for us. We applied to the Presbyterian Board for this position and, to our surprise, we were accepted unconditionally after a little investigation. We started studying Chinese in preparation for our work in the field. There was a young Chinese from the same mission field who was in our city studying in America. We took this young man as our teacher and spent several days working with him as a start of learning the language, and proceeded to make preparations to leave for China.
These apparently were our ownplans, but we were running ahead of God. Our going to China was definitely blocked, and it became totally impossible. Edith’s health broke and her physical condition became such that our doing missionary work in China was entirely out of the question. In China, civil war was developing. Conditions were becoming harder and harder for the missionaries. This mission field was in the center of the war district, and the Pratts, after having gone back to field, were not a ble to leave their house in safety unless they pushed a baby buggy, which was a guarantee that they were Americans. Then they were not molested by either army. They could even pass between soldiers firing at each other and the soldiers would hold their fire. The missionary field was soon closed and the missionaries brought back to America. God had saved us the trouble and disappointment of going to the mission field and immediately returning home again.
In my work with the twelve Chinese Government students back when I was a student at Berkeley, God had shown me what He would have me to do and He had not changed his mind. So I worked on the orange ranch. I always did enjoy working among the orange trees. Were enjoying our work. I was carrying on my work at Pasadena City College and doing the ranch work on the side. At first, I hired some help so that it was not too much of a burden.
As time went on, the Depression came upon us. Times became quite hard, as it was difficult to sell our oranges. Oranges, which we usually shipped to New Yor, now could not be shipped profitably. The expense of having the oranges picked, packed, and shipped to New York was more than the price that they brought. So every carload we sent brought back a bill for expenses, not a check for the oranges. We finally sold our oranges by putting them in small boxes on a table out on the street, asking a quarter per box. This worked very well and, as far as I ever knew, no one ever took a box of oranges without leaving his quarter in the five-gallon can that we provided.
I had to spend more and more time doing the work on the ranch myself. WhenI irrigatd, I would get the water on a Friday evening, and irrigate all Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night, and go back to teaching my class at eight o’clock Monday morning. This continued forsome time. No my faith in God was not affected, but my work in the church was. More and more time was spent on the ranch, and less and less was spent in Christian work. God evidently was not pleased with the way I was spending my time or the way I was ignoring my duty to the church and its work. He decided to take rather drastic means to bring me back to my former dedication.
Yes I had become so busy working in the orchard that I had practically forgotten the work that God had given me to do. The work that He had given me involved writing on the subject of scientific Christian evidences. He wanted me to write a book which would be very accurate, and cover the subject as far as my ability went. I was doing very little work for the Lord, so He was not pleased. I can imagine the Lord thinking, “I will have to send him a message--a message in a language he will understand and will not soon forget.” Apparently, He took a group of pocket gophers and said to them, “I want you to go over to Mr. Stoner’s orchard. I want you to select several trees very close to his house so that he ca not overlook them. I want you to go in the ground under each tree, burrow up to the trunk and all the around it; and then eat to your satisfaction on the bark of that orange tree until it is completely girdled and the tree is turning yellow.” The gophers were faithful to their job and did exactly that. One morning when I went out of the house, I saw several trees turning yellow and dropping the fruit that had been newly set on. I examined the trees and saw piles of dirt that the pocket gophers had made underneath the trees. I dug close to the tree, found the bark eaten off, and knew what had happened, but this didn’t worry me too much.
When I was a boy, I had earned ny spending money by catehing the pocket gophers from the alfalfa field. I would take off their pockets and send them to the county seat whenever my father went. He would collect the bounty, offered by the state, of ten cents on each pair of pockets. I developed a very high efficiency at catching gophers and boasted that in setting twenty traps, I would catch nineteen gophers. I think I lived up to that claim.
At the orange grove in Orange, Californinia, owned by my brother and me, I once found that gophers had infested the entire twenty-two acres. I had four traps, which I set as I irrigated, and when I checked the traps, nearly every trap had caught a gopher. I was rather busy just setting gopher traps and emptying them. In three days of irrigation, I had cleaned the place out of gophers.
So the presence of gophers here in my twelve-acre orchard did not worry me too much. I thought, I’ll fix those little rascals. I had four gopher traps so I went out and set the traps very carefully. I set each trap the correct distance from the runway, then covered each with dirt and left a little hole where light would come in. The gopher would see the light and immediately decide to close up that hole. He would fill his pockets with dirt and, in getting to the light, would trip the trap and the heavy spring would kill him instantly. I set four traps and waited until the next morning. I went the round of the traps and instead of finding gophers, I found every trap filled with dirt, and not a gopher caught in any of them. I was astonished at this. I went down to the Pasadena Hardware store and bought all the traps that were in stock. Now I had twenty gopher traps, and I set these traps around the affected trees. I went back, expecting to find nineteen gophers, but no, not a single gopher! The gophers had been there and the traps were stuffed with dirt. Some of them were tripped and the heavy spring had gone off, but the gophers were safe. Not a single one of them seemed to have been injured. I was astonished. For three days I did nothing but set gopher traps. The last of the thre days was Thanksgiving Day. My wife put on a pot roast so we would have something cooked for Thanksgiving dinner, and went with me around the traps. It was the same, not one gopher, not a trap that had not been filled with dirt; the gophers had been working around the traps; there was no question about that. I, the expert, who could catch nineteen gophers out of twenty traps, had set at least sixty traps and had not caught a single gopher!
My wife and I went back to the house and found the dinner burned to a crisp. I said to my wife, “There is something wrong here. I have alwas been able to catch gophers. Why is it that I can not catch gophers now? We have always been able to leave a pot roast to cook, why not now?” We decided that we had not lived up to our dedication, so we had a little prayer meeting. We rededicated ourselves to Christian service, and the Lord was pleased with the dedication
The next day I set my gopher traps as usual, and when I went the rounds of the traps, not one trap had veen filled with dirt; not one trap had been sprung. I set the traps again, and still no gophers had molested the traps. Evidently God had said to these same gophers, ”You have completed your job that I gave you to do. Now pack your bags and get out of this orchard at once, for if you do not, you will find yourselves victims of the gopher traps. I am not going to protect you any longer.” I collected my gopher traps and left the holes open to the air and light. I went back several times and checked on them, but not one hole had been filled. The gophers had left overnight--the night of our rededication.
You can think what you wish about this story, but I cannot doubt. I was there; I set the traps; I saw the results; and today I can catch gophers as easily as I could before. It was no accident; God had indeed sent a message to me--a message in a language that I could and did understand. I reestablished my connections with the church.
Another result of the gophers’ message was that I became active in the Released Time Program, a program where local churches and schools work together in giving religious education to elementary school children by parental consent. I did a great deal of work getting this organization on its feet. Six different religious groups cooperated in this movement, establishing their classes in their own churches or in community buildings near the schools. Representatives from each group met together once a month to make plans, so that everything would move smoothly without conflict between the different religious groups. While I was president of this group, I became acquainted with many ministers of Pasadena and a personal friend of most of them. This friendship proved very valuable through the years as I worked with Christian activities at Pasadena City College. Never think that the gophers’ message went unheeded.(Break for pictures)
We now planned a house on a lot 100 by 200 feet, adjacent to Jackson Elementary School--a place where we could raise and educate our children. We wanted the house and grounds to be large so that we could have plenty of room and be able to entertain.
Our finances seemed to be in good shape. We had ample money to build,and several thousand at interest, and a good permanent job, Chairman of the Department of Mathematics, Astronomy, Engineering and Architecture at Pasadena City College.
We had Mr. Lippiatt, an architect friend, help design the house. The front floor contained a large kitchen, a breakfast room, a large dining room with a sun room at one at one end and which could be joined to the dining room (living room??) to hold an extra long table for large groups, and a spacious living room, which extended beyond the upstairs as did the sun room. The front door opened onto a small central hall which connected the first-floor rooms with a stairway to the second floor. There was also a one-half bath near the back door and kitchen. From the kitchen we entered the stairs to be basement, where there was storage space for many things, such as canned fruit, wood for the fireplace, and an elevetor to send the wood up to the fireplace. There was also room for a small rifle-practice range.
The second floor had four bedrooms and a large bath. One of the bedrooms for Julia Forrey, Edith’s mother. We had always built a room for her in every house that we had built. We wanted her to know that she was always welcome at our place and that a room was always reserved for her.
We built a double garage with a workshop along one side. At the side of the garage were a chicken house and a bird hose. Behind the garage were a grapearbor, a playhouse for the children, and a garden. The driveway was covered from our back door to the garage.
The house was set back about fifty feet from the street. The yard was completely fenced and the house was surrounded by a lawn with a complete sprinkling system. The back yard contained a fish pond and a large barbecue which was used to cook for large garden parties. The tennis court was used by all our friends and neighbors and, of course, it was used by large church parties.
When we sold the orange ranch in Altadena, we had to give immediate possession, so we rented a place while we built. The last six months, or more, we rented a house just across the street from our building. Willis was seven (born in 1917, right?) years old now. We gave him a little hammer and a sack of small nails. He spent many days going over the building, looking for spots where there were no nails, and driving a nail into the place.
We hired Mr. Gandy, who had done the teamwork on the orchard to come with his team and scraper, and excavate for the basement. He also hauled the sand and gravel for the concrete. I also hired two neighbors to help me put in the foundation and cement the basement.
Then I hired two men to help me frame the house and garage, lay the rough floors, and shingle the roof. When were ready for the stucco, I let my two helpers go and undertook the job of finishing the house alone. The kitchen, breakfast room, and baths had a paint finish. For the rest of the finish, I took the fir wood, put it on the bench, and thoroughly wet it with a sponge and water, let it soak, then dug out the soft parts of the grain with a steel brush. When it was thoroughly dry, I stained it with a penetrating stain. I then filled it with a thick filler, retaining the level of the wood, and making the grain very prominent. It then got two coats of varnish and was ready to be built into the house and get its final coat of shellac. This made an extremely durable finish, but was a very slow way to finish a house, especialy since my school job was going on all the time. I got up at five each morning and worked until I had to leave for school. After school, I worked until ten at night. As soon as I had the kitchen, a bath and a bedroom, we moved in. THis was about Christmastime in 1923. The house was completely finished just before the next Christmas. It was really an elegant house for its time. It served the family for eighteen years and cost us $2 per square foot.
When we finished the house, Willis was about seven and Mildred about nine years old. They both attended the Jackson School next door, then through Washington Junior High School. Then they were at Pasadena Junior College with me. It had not yet becaome a City College. Lois was born in 1930, but went to most of the same schools, then to Westmont for her degree, and then to Occidental for a teaching credential. Mildred went to Berkeley, then to San Anselmo Theological Seminary. She then taught one year at a mission school in New Mexico, and afterward, became a laboratory technician in Oakland’s largest hospital. Willis took his first two years of engineering at Pasadena Junior College and his last two years at Caltech. When he graduated from Caltech, he took a job with Eastern Air in Florida.
At the time I started teaching, mathematics textbooks were very poor. The textbooks for elementary algebra taught that the problems on page one hundred should be worked this way and those on page one hundred one should be worked that way, etc. Thus, a student was to identify the problem as one of those on a certain page and then know how to solve it--an absurd way to teach mathematics. I can hardly call it mathematics, as it was more of a memory test. So I wrote a text material for elementary algebra using the basic principles of algebra, the law of signs, the law of exponents, the order of operations, and the solution of equations by doing the same thing to both sides. The material was sent to a prominent publisher, getting the response, “We don’t want a text that teaches mathematical principles. We want a text that teaches the student to work problems like those on page one hundred this way and like those on page one hundred two this other way.”
Evidently my day had not arrived yet, so we used the standard textbooks until I became chairman of the department. When I presented the problem of the textboos to the administration, I received their approval to revise them. I presented the subject of rewriting to the teachers of the junior and senior high schools, as well as the city college, and they too approved the revision of the texts. So a comittee was formed for each subject, representing all of the schools concerned. Since I had a secretary, I dictated the text materials for each course and sent them to the committee to revise, so the (Break for pictures) subjects could be more easily taught. The committee(?, who's the "They"?) supplied the problems, and I then reviewed the finished product. If I found any change that I thought needed to be made, I consulted the committee and we made a minor revision. I did this with each subject through the junior highs and the high school. These materials were then mimeographed and put in shape for a temporary textbook trial. In each case the books proved to be very efficient, far more so, in fact, than any textbok we had ever used before. Our students came out better prepared in every subject and were able to take up the following subject with greater understanding and more thorough accomplishment than was previously possible. We also supplied the text with practical problems in fields where the student would naturally meet them, whether it be in the home, in a trade, in science, or wherever. We tried tocover the general field with illustrated examples so that, as the student progressed and encountered these problems in life or in practice, he would be prepared to solve them.
But when we came to city college, the problem was more complicated. The standard organization was one semester of analytic geometry, one semester of differential calculus, two semesters of integral calculus, and two semesters of differential equations and miscellaneous subjects not otherwise covered, all in two years.
Up to this time, all colleges were very careful in their science and engineering classes during the freshman and sophomore years to require no mathematics above trigonometry. We thought that the physics class, as normally taught in the freshman year, would be greatly enriched if the college mathematics were available. Our physics teacher agreed, but he could not adjust his course to the mathematics courses. He wanted the material in different order. We had to let him teach as he wished, and the results, at first, were almost disastrous. He started applying whatever was necessary, whether it was from analytics, calculus, or differential equations, and the students were hopelessly lost. I talked with the instructor and asked him if he could not adjust the order of the material that he was teaching so that the student would have become familiar with the mathematics that he needed before he applied it. He assured me that his was not possible and he did not care whether the student had his mathematics before or not. He could just as well teach it in the physics class. This notion proved to be very ineffective, so in desperation, we were forced to rebuild our mathematics course to coordinate with the physics course. We found it necessary to introduce in the first six weeks all of the different subjects of mathematics that the physics class was going to use. First, we introduced a parabola with its equation and graph so that the physics teacher could start his work with projectiles. We introduced derivatives, the rate of change of distance with respect to time, so it could be used for determining velocities in the path. Before the six weeks were up, we had also introduced integration, differential equations, and how to use them all in the applications to physics, and in engineering problems. Before we made any change, our calculus students would say to us that they understood the work that they were doing, but did not understand what use they were going to make of it. That problem was now eliminated. We had practical applications with every subject that we introduced. Not only that, but every student knew that tomorrow he was going to apply it in his physics class.
We extended our mathematics work during the two years, but always kept the whole field operating, always doing work in analytics, integral calculus, and differential equations. In the first presentation of these subjects, we used only the simplest applications and the easiest processes of differentiation and integration. Later, they were built up and strengthened to gradually keep each subject active through the whole two years and cover the most difficult material. Therefore, when the student had finished his three years of the mathematics course, he had a thorough course in analytics, differential calculus, integral calculus, and differential equations, and had had the application of all of them through the two-year period. When our students reached their junior year in college, therefore, they had a great advantage over the students who had not had experience in applying their mathematics to practical applications.
I had obtained the textbooks and the outline of the mathematics courses of every major college in the country, and I built our courses in content so that they covered everything the student received in whatever school he attended. Therefore, our students could go to the best schools in the country and equal or excel all other students in their scholarship,
I had a reputation at Caltech for producing the best prepared students of all schools,the four- year colleges as well as the city colleges. I already had a student who entered Caltech as a junior and made an all-time scholastic record for the year. Later, another student of mine entered the sophomore year and made an all-time record in the sophomore year. (This included not only new students, but also those who had been at Caltech during their freshman and sophomore years.) It didn’t matter whether our students decided to go to MIT, Texas A & M, Berkeley, Stanford, or wherever, they were prepared for whatever they were required to do in those places. Our students held a better average grade at Caltech than those who had been at Caltech for the whole period of time. Many students applying at Caltech for admission were told that they were deficient in their preparation subjects. When they asked where they should go to make up their deficiencies, they were usually referred to Pasadena City College because it prepared students better than any other school in the country. Thus, the mathematics in the whole Pasadena district was revised and our students received the benefits by being able to enter any school in the country.
I went to Pasadena High School in 1912. I had completed the work for my Ph.D. at Berkeley, majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Astronomy. At Pasadena, I found a nine-inch reflecting telescope on a tripod, housed in the Biology apartment. The persons in charge immediately gave me complete use of the instrument. I took it out with a group of students and looked at many objects which were available. The instrument was of good quality, having been made by Dr. Ritchie, the man who designed and made the 60-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson. I took many groups up Mt. Wilson on Friday evenings, when the observatory had open house, and the interest grew. I had two of the legs sawed off the tripod and had it mounted in an equatorial position. It had no drive clock, but the objects were easy to follow. I had a little housing made for the telescope and put it on a track so it could be rolled on and off the instrument. One observation per week was planned and the students were so interested that they were anxious to get in an observing period. We therefore had to schedule three periods each night, even though the last period ran long after midnight. Each class got a trip up Mount Wilson.
As soon as the school became a Junior College, we began to make plans for an observatory. The astronomers on Mt. Wilson were very cooperative. Dr. Pease and Dr. Anderson designed a 20-inch reflector. We planned an observatory with two domes, one for the 9-inch telescope and one for the 20-inch one. All were excellently mounted and accessories for the 20-inch one were obtained so it could do photographic, spectroscopical, and micrometer work. In fact, it could work in many research fields.
In 1931, the observatory was dedicated by Dr. Albert Einstein. This was quite an affair, and many noted people were present. The observatory had expanded until today it is one of the best student observatories in the country.
Perhaps you thought, in the last chapter, that I was getting off my subject, but not really. The background just makes this chapter possible. God was just putting me through one of His preparatory schools.
Pasadena City College was pioneering in the religious field. It sponsored any religious group having a number of students who wished to organize, but each group had to have a faculty member as its advisor. Some of the organizations were these: Liberal Christian, Conservative Christian, Catholic, Christian Science, and Jewish. Each group set its own goal and policy, and chose its own advisor. The Conservative Christian group of five chose me as their advisor. The advisors of the Catholic group and the Jewish group both came from my department. (I had a very high percentage of Christian teachers in my department, and these groups chose Christian teachers.)
At the first meeting of my group, I asked them why they had chosen me as their advisor, and what they wanted to gain from their organzation. Their answer was that I was the head of the mathematics department and a well-known Christian man. I had done work in the scientific Christian field, and they wanted me to prove to them that the Bible was the inspired word of God. That was their first objective. I told them that I would do just that, provided that they would do something in return. I wanted each of them to study each portion of the prophecies with me and give me what he considered were conservative estimates of the probability of their fulfillment, just as if the prophecies were written by men with only human knowledge. They agreed to the condition and we started out with prophecies referring to geographical places where their fulfillment could be easily established.
The students were to look at the problem through the eyes of a man standing by, observing the conditions under which the prophecy was being made, and the difficulty of its fulfillment, then estimate the chance that this particular item of the prophecy would be fulfilled. The students studied the prophecy, looked up all the information that could get on it, looked up the historical fulfillment, and then made the predictions for each individual item, in each prophecy, and gave their presentation to me. I compiled the probabilities for each item and then took the middle value as representing what the class as a whole thought the probability was. We continued this the whole first year, meeting once every week.
The second year, our number increased to seven and we continued our study of various propehecies throughout this year also. By the time I retired, the membership in our group had grown to three hundred fifty. It was a group of consecrated Christian people, who often held a prayer meeting in an empty classroom and sometimes forgot to close the door. As the numbers numbers grew, we had one or more of our members in nearly every class in school. If any faculty member made a critical comment about the Bible, there would be cammittee in my office with five minutes after the end of the class, reporting the criticism that was made, and asking what should they answer. I would suggest an answer for them, and I heard no more of that indcident. Incidences of the same type kept recurring over a long period of time. Eventually, incidents concerning the theory of evolution came up. Before I left the school, every teacher there who was teaching the theory of evolution began as if the theory were a proven fact, and then said: but there is another explanation of all these changes of life and the order of their apperance, and that is in the first chapter of Genesis. The first chapter of Genesis explains all we know about the early life upon the earth, just as well as the theory of evolution does. I felt that this change in the teaching of evolution had made a great change in the students’ respect for the Bible.
Dr. DeLaubenfells, one of the outstanding teachers in biology, had been teaching the theory of evolution as a fact and would not allow any of his students to criticize or raise questions about the authenticity of the theory. One day after my little book, Science Speaks, came out, Dr. DeLaubenfells walked into my office carrying one of the books. I thought, here’s where the fur will fly. He sat down in a chair by my desk and didn’t say a word for a minute or two, then he held up the little book and said, “All I can say is, (single quote)Thank God that someone has finally written a book that we, in the science fieldm can agree with.(close single quote)” Dr. DeLaubenfells became the greatest publicity agent that I ever had. He asked his classes to get the book and give a review of it to the class. When a teacher from another school visited him, he would tell the visitor about the book and recommend it as one of the leading books to consider on the subject.
The reports that I had received from the students on the probability of prophecy being fulfilled became the foundation of Chapter II in Science Speaks. I expanded my contacts with this kind of probability to my growing group of Christian students at Pasadena City College and to students from the Sunday School classes. Later, the contacts on probability were extended to Westmont College, where I taught a course of scientific Christian evidences. In it, I gave a foundation of mathematical probability so the student could make his own computations. I gave the basic fundamentals of the various sciences which would be used inthe course. This class produced more of the material in the second chapter of Science Speaks.
Today, it involves the results, not of a dozen students, but of about seven hundred students. The medians of their estimates are used today in this book. The use of medians of the estimates chops off the extreme values at both ends--the radical values, both too large and too small. The values used represent very well how the college student evaluates the fulfillment of prophecy. Science Speaks has been revised about every five years since it was originally written back in 1944. The scientific part has been kept up-to-date.
My experience with the twelve Chinese students while at Berkeley supplied the main material for the first chapter of this book. The scientific material has increased and gradually, science gave us more material to make the book as we know it, Science Speaks today, with a one hundred percent agreement between science and the Scriptures.
The Stevens family and my family were close friends. Mr. Stevens, the prinipal of a junior high school, died very suddenly of a heart attack, leaving a wife, three daughters, and a son. The middle daughter had a boyfriend who had bought a new car, and he came to show is car to his girl, and to take her and her younger sister for a ride. The boyfriend was evidently very anxious to show what his car could do, and started off in a hurry. At the first corner, he failed to make the curve and ran head-on into a tree. The car was completely wrecked, and both the boyfriend and his girl were killed instantly. The younger daughter, Hildreth, was crushed and maimed, apparently fatally. The doctors examined her and reported that it was impossible for her to recover. Many bones were broken, and her skull was fractured, both in front and in the back. If a miracle should happen and she would live, she would be like a vegetable, unable to walk or talk. She would have no control over any of her bodily functions. I felt extremely sympathetic for the family that was left.
Both our family and the remaining Stevens family members were in church the next Sunday, with only an aisle separating us. I felt moved that day to pray for Hildreth to recover. I prayed all through the morning service.I know nothing of what happened in the service, but and the end of the service, it seemed that a man stood beside me and told me that Hildreth would recover. For an instant, I was very excited with this good news. Then I remembered what the doctor had said, “if a miracle should happen.” Then, with my heart almost failing me, I remembered the rest of the doctor’s statement and started to go back to prayer. I didn’t get the words formed in my mind until the answer came, this time not from the man who seemed to be standing beside me, but directly from Heaven, just like a great beam of light as big as the diameter of my body came down from Heaven and enveloped me. A very critical voice in the beam said,“What kind of a God do you think I am, anyway?” I did not answer God’s question. I was thoroughly embarrassed that I had doubted His power and paid attention to the doctor’s statement.
The oldest daughter was in the church too, but sat aside from her mother and brother. This daughter was not a Christian. I thought that if I told her the answer to prayer that I had, it might effect her decision to accept Christ, so I went to her as soon as the benediction was pronounced, and asked her how her sister was. She said, “We don’ know whether she’s alive now or not. Mother has lost all hope.” I told her that I would have had the same opinion an hour earlier, but I prayed for Hildreth’s recovery and received the answer that she would live and be all right. The next day, I called the family. They said that the doctor had just called and said that there had been a sudden change. “It is a change for the better. We do not understand how it is possible, but it is evident that there is a change.” I kept in contact with the family morning after morning, and each answer was that there was a little improvement. As the days and weeks went past, her improvement continued. Hildreth had to learn to talk, learn to walk, and do practically everything over again, but she accomplished them. She went back to school and finished elementary school. She went through junior high and senior high school and graduated. She also graduated from Pasadena City College, so she was certainly not an idiot, nor a total invalid who could not take care of her own bodily functions. She was a normal person. Later she married and raised a family--all of this in spite of the doctor’s positive predictins. Yes, these were miracles, miracles upon miracles. Her recovery is still a miracle. It was a miracle the God would hear my prayer and answer it. I do not think that God raised Hildreth up because I prayed; I think that He had decided to do that before my prayer, but I do think it was a miracle that He answered and told me that He was going toraise her up, that she was going to be all right. This was a miracle on top of a miracle. Do you wonder that I should have a strong faith in God? What kind of fool would I be if I doubted for a minute the power of God after seeing, as I have seen, His hand in so many different things, in so many different ways, all toward one purpose?
During several of my years at Pasadena City College, I taught a Sunday School class, mainly of college-age students at Lake Avenue Congregational Church. I had each group for two years; then they moved on to another class, and I had a new group for another two years. I now had more experience with the Christian evidence work, so I decided on a plan which would take four or five months, or even more, teaching scientific Christian evidences. I would be very thorough and take all the time necessary to convince every student that the Bible was indeed the inspired word of God, as much as if it came directly from God and had no intermediaries like prophets or kings to write the different books. The rest of the two years was spent on Christian doctrines such as: Salvation, how to obtain it; Sin, who had sinned and how to be forgiven; What God expects of the Christian; Heaven, how to be sure of reaching it; Hell, how to be certain of avoiding it; and Death and the hereafter. Edith, my wife, and I made a team. She took care of the social life of the class and I did the teaching. We usually had thirty or forty in the class.
A few years after we left Pasadena, I went over a list of the missionaries of the Lake Avenue Church, and found that thirty-three of them had come from our Sunday School class. Two of the members, Marshal Wells and Helen Antisdale, had married and become missionaries to China. Marshal Wells was a doctor and Helen Antisdale a nurse. So they made a missionary team. They went to China and established a hospital. Marshal was the main doctor and trained other men to assist him. Helen was the head nurse and trained Chinese women as nurses to help her. They had a very prosperous work in this hospital. When Japan invaded China in World War II, they were caught by Japan in the Philippines and interned for four years. I will not dwell on their hardships, which you can imagine because they certainly suffered them. Their liberation, though, was most spectacular. General MacArthur returned, as he had promised, and in the group of soldiers that were sent in to liberate the internment camp, two soldiers were picked from Lake Avenue Congregational Church. These young men were to find Marshal Wells and his family and escort them to freedom. Helen and Marshal had not known of General MacArthur’s return until the two soldiers found them. The two soldiers were well known to the Wellses. I know nothing of the greetings that took place, but I am sure that you can fill that in.
So Marshal and Helen and their children returned home to recuperate. After their recuperation, they were sent to Bangkok, where Marshal headed a large hospital. During this period, he built a hospital addition of three hundred beds. This made the hospital one of the largest in the whole district. During one of his furloughs, Marshal told me that his Sunday School class with me had meant more to him than anything else in his whole preparation for the missionary field.
No, I do not think that I influenced thirty-three young people to go into the mission field. I was only trying to give them a faith which could ot be shaken, a faith founded on evidence, evidence so strong that it is impossible for the human mind to fathom the strength of that evidence. It seemed absolute. Perhaps faith is not the right word; perhaps I should say that it seemed that the matter had been proven mathematically to sucha definiteness that the probablity could not be represented even when we used the whole physical universe to try to do so.
I have a granddaughter, Martha Stoner, who is planning to be a medical missionary, so we thought it would be helpful for her to talk with Marshal Wells, who had been a medical missionary all his life. We made an appointment to take Martha to Lake Avenue Church, to meet him in conjunction with the church services. We met Marshal before the service and the two had a long talk. Martha reported that the talk had been very profitable to her. She had learned a great deal about the medical missionary work that she had not known before. We went into the church service, and before I could reach my seat, I was welcomed by several of my old Sunday School class members. Some of them were missionaries returned from the field. Some of them I didn’t recognize until they told me their names. Then with a rush of memories, I felt as if I had done my whole life’s work right here at the Lake Avenue Church, though I had left that church to go to Santa Barbara and teach at Westmont College twenty-five years ago.
Oh, yes, Dr. Hutchins was there, too, and we saw Hutchins Hall, which had been built as a memorial to him. He seemed to have an instinct which told him when something was happening to the faily for which he should be present. Whenever one of my family was to have a minor operation, like the removal of tonsils, we never told Dr. Hutchins, but he was always there ready to have prayer with the family before the operation. Just before my first wife passed away, I received a card from him saying that he was on a trip in Europe making contacts with missionaries he had known, so I was feeling sorry for myself that the friend that I had known so long could not be there for the funeral. But during the funeral, my daughter Lois returned form Europe ahead of his card. He had heard of the deathof Edith and brought a load of friends from Pasadena up to the funeral. I cannot tell you of me feelings in meeting him under those circumstances. At the suggestion of the local minister, Dr. Hutchins was asked to take charge of the service at the grave. Yes, though it has been twenty-five years since I left Lake Avenue, Dr. Hutchins has never missed a year of sending a birthday card and a Christmas greeting. I had been quite active in his church, and had been a member of the building committee that had just completed a new structure, and was chairman of the board of deacons which organized the deacons for the first communion service. I have in my letter file the prized communication from the board of deacons telling me of their pleasure in the years that I had served with them, and of their best wishes in my work at Westmont College. I still have the letter and prize it very highly.
God knew He needed other men too, to work on the subject of scientific Christian evidences, so sometime before the Second World War, an anonymous man gave the Moody Bible Institute a sum of money to use to form an organization of Christian men of science, who would write good and accurate scientific materials which could safely be used by ministers. Moody invited two men from the Atlantic coast; Harold Hartzler from Goshen College, Indiana; F. Alton Everest from Oregon State College, head of Electrical Engineering; and me from Pasadena City College. Dr. Houghton, President of Moody Bible Institute,invited us to come to Chicago at a given date to consult with the Moody Bible Institute to form the organization and write its bylaws and purposes. Alton Everest and I met in Los Angeles and went together. We all met with Dr. Houghton, who made it clear to us just what we were expected to do. We spent some days in constant attendance writing bylaws, establishing the purpose, and setting up a workable organization. We elected its first officers. Everest was the first president, and I was the secretary. Thus the organization was started with just five members, and has grown and prospered until today it has more than two thousand members and its work is well accepted.
I challenged Dr. Houghton to invite me to teach a class at Moody on scientific Christian evidences. Later, I was invited to teach a four-week summer course. I had a wonderful class of two hundred ministerial students and several members of the ministries from Chicago. The Dean of Moody Bible Institute opposed my coming. I guess he had seen too much of the scientific men and their opposition to what the church was teaching, So I visited his class which was dealing with philosophical Christian evidences. He used a passage that I also had used, but I used it from the scientific viewpoint. I invited him to visit my class the next day. He came reluctantly, sat in the back row turned sideways, but as I proceeded with my lesson, he began to turn, and soon was on the edge of his chair. He later approved the scientific approach and we became good friends.
Two weeks before the end of the course, I thought that perhaps there might be a few students who had a question that they wanted to ask privately, one that wasn’t interesting to the whole class, so I invited anyone who had such a question to come to my room anytime between six in the morning and eleven in the evening. I thought there might be a total of half a dozen of these students. The first morning, there was a rap on my door. When I opened it, there was a line of students starting at my door and stretching away down the hall, waiting to ask me their personal questions. The first one in line said, “I have finished my preparation for the ministry and I take charge of my church next Sunday. I am sure there will be college students who will come to me and say, ‘I was taught so and so in the church and I have now been taught this other thing in college. What book can I use to answer these questions? ’” Student after student came into my room and they all had practically the same question. Oh, there were different periods of time before they took charge of their churches, but all wanted the same question answered: What book can we use to answer these questions? Ihad to tell them I did not know of such a book. There were many books written on the subject, but to my knowledge, they all had some very good material in them and some very bad material, material that was not at all scientific and not at all true. If they gave that book to a science student who was looking for an answer to his question, he would only be driven away from the Bible instead of to it, because he would say, if this is the only evidence that they have for their Christianity, I cannot accept it. No thank you, I am not interested. So they began to bring me books written on the subject of Christian evidences. Can I use this book; can I use that book? This continued for the whole of two weeks.
I knew that God had wanted me to write a book on this subject, but I did not want to write. I was not a good writer. Writing was hard work; the language did not flow easily. It took a great deal of work to get the material arranged and presented as I would like to present it. But now, after two weeks of hearing this same question over and over again, so that I did not have a total of thirty minutes of free time in one day, I was finally persuaded, no, driven to go home and write, From Science to Souls. I had already written several articles for the “Sunday School Times” and for “Moody Monthly,” and to my surprise, all of my articles on scientific Christian evidences had been accepted and the “Religious Digest” had republished practically every article. This was greatly encouraging. The public seemed to like my material. I knew that it was accurate and had great impact. The evidences were practically out of the realm of evidence and into the realm of positive proof. I had found its power with the twelve Chinese students at the University of California, and with the students and faculty at Pasadena City College. It had proven its power in the Sunday School class at Lake Avenue, and now I am driven by the students’ statement: “I have finished my preparation for the ministry. At such a date I take charge of my church. I know college students in my church are goingto come to me and say that they have been taught so and so in the church. Now I am overwhelmed by the opposing scientific evidence. If what the church had given them is not true, what book can I give them to answer these questions? Can I use this book which pictures the earth at the time of creation as covered with concentric shells of various materials, one shell of coal, one shell of iron, one shell of this material and that, one shell of ice, one shell of water. This book says that when the shell of coal broke, it formed the coal deposits on the earth and the same with the iron. When it came to the ice, the breaking of that shell made the flood at the time of Noah. Can I use this book?”
“Oh no, you don’t! You can not use that book either; it tries to prove that the days of Genesis are all twenty-four-hour consecutive days; it takes the first chapter of Genesis and rewrites it. It changes the wording. It brings in expressions from late in the Bible even to the book of Revelation and tucks them in betwen the first and second verse. Then coming to the second verse, it says Satan sinned and was cast out of heaven to the earth and destroyed the earth, and the earth ‘became,’ not ‘was,’ but ‘became,’ without form and void and dark. And God recreated all life upon the earth in six twenty-four-hour consecutive days,”
“Can I use that?”
“No, please don’t! That will wreck your students. they will know that if that is what the Bible says that the Bible is false. They will lose their Christian faith. Don’t use any of these books. They will only increase doubts. Students will surely find the fallacy and say, ‘So this is their kind of evidence,’ and the students’ doubts will only be increased.”
We of the American Scientific Affiliation are devoting our lives to writing scientific Christian evidences which are true to the Bible and true to the sciences. You will find it a useful and powerful tool in correcting the doubts of the student.
In 1942, Mildred met Robert Barker, a chemist at the Shell Oil Company in Oakland, California. Bob grew up in the Bronx, where both of his parents came from Russia to escape pogroms against the Jews. In 1944, Mildred wrote home, asking advice about marrying Bob. I wrote her, discussing some of the problems of mixed marriages. Mildred was working at the time as a laboratory technician at Oakland General Hospital. Her mother went up to try to help her, found that they were already married, visited them, and came home.Soon afterwards, Bob, who had a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, decided that he needed a Ph. D. They moved to Indiana, where he was offered a fellowship involving research on antimalarial drugs, at Purdue University, well known for its chemistry department.
Mildred worked as a lab technician and taught bacteriology to nursing school students at a hospital in Lafayette, Indiana. She also graded English papers and did other temporary jobs at Purdue University, while Bob was working on his Ph.D.
When Bob received his degree, he was hired as a research chemist by the du Pont Company, and the family moved to Wilmington, Delaware.
When Bob changed jobs to American Cyanamid, there was a move to New Brunswick, New Jersey. Home here was the rented upstairs of a private home: the bathtub, a sink in the kitchen, and the refrigerator, out in the hall. In less than a year, with help from Mildred’s parents, the Barkers bought a spacious old house with bay windows and a front porch--the children had a sand box under the maple trees--in Plainfield, New Jersey. Bob added a blacktop driveway and built a dry wall, which Mildred used for rock-garden plants.
Bob decided that there are more opportunitiesfor promotion in small companies. When he found work with Scientific Design Company in Port Washington, New York, he rented a room there in Long Island, overlooking the Sound, and was away much of the time.
later, the Plainfield house was sold and a new house bought in Port Washington. The house, part of a housing development, took longer to complete than anticipated. Meanwhile, the family stayed at three different places, house-sitting and taking care of cats for people who were away on vacation. The Port Washington house, on a street appropriately called Sandy Hollow Road, was on the rim of a pit from which sand had been removed and taken by barge across the Sound to Manhattan to build skyscrapers and sidewalks. Bob ordered truckloads of topsoil, which washed downhill every time it rained, so he rented a tractor and graded the yard into two levels, separated by a wall of railroad ties. The wall cost him two broken ribs. Finally, he got the lawn started and trees and shrubs planted. Soon afterwards, Scientific Design moved to New Jersey. Bob rented a room in New Jersey and came home to Port Washington for weekends.
Eventually, Mildred and Bob sold their house and went separate ways. Bob is now living and working in New Jersey. Mildred lives in Manhattan and works on the seventy-second floor of the World Trade Center, where she writes job guidebooks and brochures for the Department of Labor. She enjoys ocean and wilderness trips and spent one vacation going down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a raft.
Willis went through boot camp, and while the soldiers were lined up to take a train which would take them to the ship for the trip overseas, a messenger came to the line and called Willis out of line, and he was sent to Oak Ridge, Tenn., where government employees (is this the "they"/) were preparing the radioactive materials for the atomic bomb. He worked there for some time, and met Katherine, with whom a love affair developed. Willis was soon sent to Los Alamos, where the final work on the bomb was being done. He was given great responsiblilty in building the range table for the atomic bomb. He was under great pressure to get the range table completed so that the bomb could be used. During the last month, or more, the pressure was even greater. (See Chapter 11.)
When the war was over, Willis had not yet been discharged from military service, but he went to Northrop, where he had worked earlier, to see if he could get something to do. They gave him work computing tables which were needed in airplane design. Working on these tables relieved his being bored with unemployment.
After Willis was discharged, he soon became a partner in an engineering company. Katherine flew out to see him and, I guess, to see what kind of a family she might be getting into. Willis had bought a lot on a corner of Treasure Island before the war, so Katherine saw the place where her house would be built. A date was set for the wedding, so Willis went back to Tennessee, and they were married on June 8, 1946. The house had bee planned with the help of an architct friend, Norman Entwistle. This was at the time when a veteran could get lumber for a house, but a definitely limited amount, so the house had to fit the available lumber.
We put in the foundation and the floor slab before Willis went East for the wedding, which was on June 8, 1946. There was a pheasant house on the property, used by a neighbor. We cleaned it up and moved a cot in, so I could stay there, to be readily available for the work and protect the building materials. Lumber was scarce and much was stolen if left unguarded.
Katherine and Willis came home and rented a room in the hotel that stood in the circle where the fountain now stands. Willis worked at his engineering and helped with the house evenings and Saturdays. I would put together some of the walls during the day, then Willis would halp me raise them, fasten them in place, and brace them after he got home. Katherine also helped, by nailing down much of the rough flooring and doing most of the painting. When school started, I went back to my teaching job. The house was far enough along that Katherine and Willis moved in. I came back Saturdays, and all together we finished the house. Years later, they enlarged the house to its present size.
Lois did two years of college work at Pasadena City College, then transferred to Westmont to finish her undergraduate work. She was now playing the Vibraharp very well and had won some contests.
She renewed an acquaintance at Westmont with a student named Willian E. Gardner, whom she knew at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena. He was helpful in driving her car and transporting the Vibraharp for her engagements. After graduating from Westmont, Lois spent a year doing typing for the telephone companhy and taking classes at Occidental College to get her teaching credential.
Her first year’s teaching was at Blythe. Coming back she taught at the beach. In the meantime, Bill had also become a teacher and their paths crossed again. Their relationship developed into a love affair and they married. The wedding, which Dr. Hutchins conducted, was a very nice affair at Lake Avenue Congregational Church, where they were both members.
Soon they moved to Santa Barbara, where they both taught school.
I was at the La Ronda Apartments at that time, so when they bought a lot on West Mason Street which adjoined the La Ronda complex, I took charge of building a six-unit apartment house for them. They lived in the front, first floor apartment, so they took care of the apartments as well as their teaching jobs.
So I went home after teaching a class at Moody Bible Institute with the question ringing in my ears. Can I use this book? Can I use that book? It echoed as if it were a stuck phonograph record not able to say anything else. Dr. Houghton had also encouraged me and said that he thought the name From Science to Souls would be a good title. I agreed with him, went home, and wrote From Science to Souls. I used my experience with the twelve Chinese students, back at Berkeley, for the first chapter, except that now science had advanced to a point where the agreement was one hundred percent.
It was no longer necessary to say that science disagrees with this today, but I am sure that the day is soon coming when the agreement will be better. Astronomy had advanced and, in consideration of the first verse, science had studied the age of different things. The age of rivers was estimated by measuring their deltas and dividing their volume by the rate at which the river was bringing sediment down and depositing it, but the ages obtained from different rivers disagreed drastically and resulted in different ages for the earth. Geologists later determined ages from radioactive material and got better estimates of the ages of the earth’s layers. Now astronomy was working on the velocities of stars in our galaxy and finding remarkable relationships. No matter where they started, astronomers found the stars separating, drifting apart; and when they measurd velocities and the distance the stars had drifted, they came up with an age of about six billion years. It didn’t matter what part of the galaxy the stars were in, the age turned out to be about the same. So astronomers went back to the church and said, “Yes, of course, there ws a creation and we will hang a date tag on it and tell you when it happened. The creation took place about six billion years ago.” Now we had a perfect agreement with the first verse of Genesis. It even could be used as evidence for the inspiration of the Scriptures.
And the second verse follows; “The earth was without form and void and dark... And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” We no longer had to ask astronomy what the second verse was talking about, becase as soon as the one-hundred-inch telescope on Mount Wilson was brought into service, Dr. Hubble began to examine certain features in the sky. Some of these were spots which were known as black holes, tunnels, it seemed, going through the stars to outer space. He photographed one of these with the shortest focus of the one-hundred-inch telescope and exposed his plate for three consecutive nights. Then he developed the plate and, I think, to the surprise of the world, the hole was not a dark hole; it was a dark nebula. Dr. Hubble was able to measure its density and found it less dense that the best vacuum we could make on earth. He measured its size and it was very large, many light years across. He even found a few stars some distance from the nebula, measured their velocities with respect to the nebula, and found that evidently, a certain number of years back, each had been a part of the dark nebula and now was a star. In other words. here was the birthplace of new astronomical objects.
Previous to this, I had asked Nathan Stone for a detailed translation of the second verse of Genesis. I told him I did not want to know what he thought it meant, I wanted to know the exact meaning of each word in the verse. He said, “Come back in three days and I will have it ready for you.” I went back, and he had his desk piled with lexicons and dictionaries, all of Bible words, and he went over those with me. When he had finished, the verse read like this: “And the earth was without shape, it was very rare, of unmeasurable magnitude, in great commotion and dark. (Then it went on) and the Spirit of God brooded...” (no not moved). That Hebrew word is not translated “moved” any other place in the Bible or in literature; it is translated as representing a dove sitting on her eggs to develop the germ of life, or it is used for an eagle hovering over her nest and beating her wings to drive off a weasel that would harm her young, but it is never used just for the word “moved” it is always used with the meaning of developing and protecting early life. So we had the second part of the verse, “and the Spirit of God brooded on the face of the watrs developing and protecting early life.” We didn’t have to ask the astronomer what this verse was talking about. He told us and it agreed with Nathan Stone’s translation down to the last detail. No one could ask for a better description of a dark nebula and for the probability that the earth, like these stars, came from a dark nebula. Yes, I was able to use in the book, From Science to Souls a much more powerful argument than I had been able to use with the twelve Chinese students, hence today the first chapter of Genesis stands unchallenged. It can be used by scientists as an absolute proof of the inspriation of the Scriptures.
After the first edition of Fron Science to Souls had been sold out, I decided to change the title. I changed the title to the subject Science Speaks. Perhaps the title From Science to souls would drive non-Christian people away from the book while Science Speaks would attract them and we would have more readers. The Second World War was no on, and Moody was unable to get paper to print the book. Hence it went to Van Kampen Press, who took over the next edition entitled Science Speaks. It did seem to be more popular, but at the end of a certain length of time, Van Kampen Press ceased publishing all religious books and Science Speaks went back to its original publishers. The Moody Press changed it from a hard-cover book which sold for something like $1.75 to a paperback which sold for fifty cents, and the book did indeed become more popular. The number of sales drastically increased.
Scientific parts of the book have been kept up-to-date. About every five years, we have revisd the book so as to keep up with the development of science. I now have Dr. Robert C. Newman, who has a recent Ph.D. in astrophysics, as a partner under the title of co-author, taking the main responsibilty for the scientific accuracy. The circulation of the book has increased to about three hundred fifty thousand copies in English. The book today is widely accepted by ministers and is used as reference material for scientific relationships with the Scriptures, and for easy access to information on the fulfillment of many prophecies. It is now published in six different languages.
When I went to Westmont College in 1952, I taught a course which I called “Science Survey,” in which I taught mathematics in the elementary forms up through calculus, with special emphasis on the theory of probability and its application. My students were assigned many problems which clarified in their minds the use of probability and the meaning of large probabilities. I taught geology, paleontology, and the scientific materials that I would need in teaching the course, “Science Survey,” In studying the first chaptr of Genesis, the student learned the scarcity of the scientific information thirty-five hundred years ago, when the chapter was written. Nearly all of the science in Genesis had been recently developed. What chance would a person have had of stating all the claims in the first chapter and having them all found true today?
Each student was requird to set his own probabilities for each item, and then take every part of the geographic prophecies and examine how they had been fulfilled in the minutest details. I requested that every student be conservative in his estimates and then compute what the evidence of the inspration of the Bible was from his own estimates, not somebody else’s. His study alone would show how definitely he felt the Bible is indeed the inspired word of God.
One of the students taking this course at Westmont went to the University of California at Santa Barbara, and later returned and said to me, “If I had not had your course, I would have lost my faith while at the university. As it was, I had all the answersand I had no difficulty. My faith held firm.”
The estimates now used in Science Speaks came from the median values for each item. We have cut off all the extremes in both directions, and I believe that these values are reasonable. Yet I ask no man to accept them. I ask him to set his own values and compute his own results. Then he will also find that the evidence is overwhelming. There can be no question. The Bible is God’s inspired message to us; let us take it and use it as such.
In 1939, the Depression was still on; Mildred was in school at San Anselmo and Willis at Caltech, The money that we had saved was mostly used up and Lois was yet to enter high school. We needed more income and the Spaulding place was now too big, so we decided to sell it and but income property. Income property was relatively cheap; three and one-half times the annual income would buy any income property. Now when it came to selling it, we found that $4,000 was the most we could get for it, and that with a down payment of $35 (about one month’s low rent). But then it came back twice, and each time, it required a lot of repair and refinishing before we could sell it again.
We bought ten units on Hill Avenue, a short block from my school work. These units rented for $25 per month. We went through rent control here and learned all the bad angles of it. We paid $12,000 for the ten units, which were in poor repair. They needed new roofs and complete repainting, so I made a deal with the tenants; although we knew that rent control was coming and everyone was raising the rents on his apartments, I would fix up the places and not raise the rents, if the tenants would put up with the mess until I had made it well worth their time.
When rent control came, the officials came and inspected my places, then went up and down the street and made other apartments reduce their rents to agree with mine. I tried to explain to the officials the deal I had made with my tenants, but the officials were not interested.Pictures
I hald the property until about 1946. The war was over and the property had paid off the indebtedness. I had raised the duplex in the rear and enlarged our apartment. We put two bedrooms, a storage room, and five garages under the duplex.
While I was building for Willis at the beach, a real estate man came to the apartments and said to Edith: What will you take for the place? She told him that we did not want to sell. He then asked: If you did want to sell, what would you take? She thought for a moment and said $50,000. The next day, the agent returned with another man and said: Here is your $50,000. We did sell immediately after finishing the building for Willis and Katherine. It was an all-cash sale.
We bought the Norman Villa Apartments on the first block of North Catalina Avenue, paying $60,000 for them. We put the $50,000 from the previous apartments into escrow, and the sale was required by the escrow instructions to be completed before a stated date. The escrow bank was either careless or crooked, as the personnel gave both buyer and seller free access for the escrow file. The seller was in the import business. We found that the seller had borrowed on our money in escrow and that the date required for the close of the escrow had been removed from the file. Now the seller refused to let his wife sign the deed, so he was in a nice position. He collected all the rents from the apartments and had the use of our money in escrow to run his import business.
Finally, the seller went East on his business. The bank let me take the deed out to his wife to see if she would sign it, which she was glad to do. When the seller came back, we were collecting the rents and his $50,000 security was gone. But there was still trouble, as he had insisted in the transaction that many of the small items not be included in the escrow. He would pay some of the small items and I would pay certain others, but without any discussion, he filed suit against me for one of the items. I paid it, but told him that if he tried another, I would counter. He immediately sued again and I countered, using the real estate agent as a witness. I won and collected several thousand dollars, so the business part was over and things went smoothly for a while. The apartments were large: two bedrooms, two stories with an open mahogany stairway, a bath and a half, a living room, kitchen, and breakfast room. The rent was $32.50 with a garage. The war had been over for a year and we all expected rent control to end at once, but it did not.
Labor and materials went up drastically until the income from the rents was exceeded by the expenses by $5,000 year year. Then Congress passeda law stating that any property owner who was losing money would be allowed to raise his rents. I got a lawyer, took my books, and went over to the rent control office. The lawyer told the story, showed my books, and quoted the law. However, the rent control officials said that they did not care if I was losing money and did not care what laws Congress passed. They made their own laws and were only interested in keeping rents down.
Congresss now did pass a law that was observed, and it stated that any owner who wants to occupy a rented place himself can evict the tenant. We engaged a lawyer who developed a plan to sell the apartments to persons who needed a place to live. We engaged two real estate men, put up a big sign at the street saing that the apartments would be sold to persons who wanted to live in their apartments. The sign said that the apartments could be seen starting at 10:00 AM the next day. At six the next morning, buyers got out of bed as they wanted to see an apartment then. In one week, we sold every apartment for a total price of $110,000, so instead of losing badly on the property, we made an excellent profit. Each buyer signed his purchase contract and then signed the eviction notice for the tenant, stating that he wantd to occupy the apartment himself. My wife, my daughter, and I showed the apartments. Meanwhile, the two real estate men were busy writing sales contracts and eviction notices.
There was great demand for the apartments, and one illustration will show the eagerness of the buyers. One buyer came to me and asked to see an apartment. I said, I think this one on our right had not sold yet; I will show it to you. I met the wife just coming out with a prospect. I asked her if the apartment was sold. She did not answer; the prospect answered for her. She said, “ Yes it has. I just bought it and I am going over now to sign up.” I said, well here is one on the left that am sure has not sold yet; I will show it to you. He said: No, please don’t; I’ll buy it. The prospects not only got me out of bed at six in the mornings; at ten at night I had to ask them to please go home and come back the next day as I had to get some sleep.
When this was over, we thought we would like to have a private home again, so I bought a 150 by 150 foot lot up on Glen Canyon Road. The lot had thriteen big live oaks and I bought a very nice home here. We were in this place three or four years when it was time to retire from Pasadena City College. Retirement salaries were very small at that time, so we needed to increase our income again.
We therefore bought a twelve-unit court across the arroyo on Avenue 64. There were several buildings here with two or three units in each building. We picked one of the two-unit buildings for the office and our retirement home. We enlarged the living room, and added two bedrooms and a bath. Lois was still at home and we wanted room to take care of our children who might drop in. We just had these alterations going well when Dr. Voskuyl, President of Westmont College, came down and insisted that I come up to Westmont and teach mathematics. This was because the teacher who had been engaged for the job had let the department personnel down just before school was to start. I told Dr. Voskuyl that it would be impossible for me to leave that apartment with a whole side wide open. On his third call, he said that it was impossible to get anybody else, so he offered to put all of my classes in the first three days of the week, enabling me to finish the remodeling job. I accepted this offer. Each Monday morning, we got up at five. Edith drove, and we got to Santa Barbara, where we got breakfast and I started an eight o’clock class. I taught nearly- solid day classes and some classes at night. We then spent Wednesday evenings driving back to Pasadena, and we finished the remodeling .
I had thought that my work at Westmont would be very nice, with no serious responsibities, just a few mathematics classes that I was entirely familiar with, and nice Christian students to work with.
But I had not been there more than a couple of weeks when Dr. Voskuyl notified me that he had made me head of all of the science work, so when the first year ended, I was quite involved in a program of improving the whole scholarship. The teachers(?) had given their seniors the standardized tests every year, but had never had a mathematician to interpret them, so they turned the tests over to me to give the analysis. To my horror, Westmont was only in the thritieth percentile, meaning that Westmont was only thirty percent of the way up from the bottom among all colleges in America. The faculty were concerned too, and worked for an increase in scholarship. At the end of four years, we were up to the sixtieth percentile, so we were all pleased, but I said that, as we are a Christian college, we cannot stop here and must go up to at least the ninetieth percentile. I left the school for a while but hope that they made it.
Let’ go back to the end of our first year at Westmont. By the end of the first summer, we had traded our Avenue 64 property for the La Ronda Apartments in Santa Barbara, at 111 Chapala Street. This was an excellent building with Spanish architecture, and one of the nicest apartment buildings in Santa Barbara. We moved up and were now ready to spend full time at Westmont.
Here I introduced the first two years of engineering, built an excellent observatory, and raised the standards for all work in the science field.
At the end of the fourth year, my wife’s health was failing, so I resigned from Westmont to take care of Edith and the apartments. Mrs. Kerr, President of the Westmont Board, contacted me and requested my return to Westmont, saying that my work there was so important that I could not be replaced, but I felt that my greatest responsiblity was to Edith.
Edith had abdominal cancer, so the doctors operated, but reported that the cancers were too large and too numerous to be removed. The doctors gave her just two weeks to live. We had just finished our retirement home on Shoreline Drive. I took her home and she enjoyed the house for seven months and two weeks. Also, Mildred came out from New York and spent a few days with her.
Edith went into a coma and I took her back to the hospital. Willis came up and with Lois, someone was with Edith all the time, day and night. When she passed away, she seemed to have no pain. She had been suffering severe pain so she was kept under sedation. At her death, the head nurse said that she had never seen such devotion to a wife and mother.
In the first months after her operation, Edith was determined to live. She would welcome any treatment that might help, no matter how painful. Near the end, however, she knew that there was no hope. Her mind turned to those that she was leaving. She made me promise to marry again and not live alone the rest of my life. She gave me a list of three women, any one of whom, in her thinking, would be a good wife for me and able to take her place. I have not seen such devotion either.
I married Grace, one of the three, and she was a wonderful wife. A terminal illness took first her mind, then her life. Leisure World is aas good a place as I could hope to find. Willis goes all out to see that I have everything that I need.
In 1952, I retired from Pasadena City College, having taught there for forty-one years. I bought income property in Pasadena on Aveune 64, intended to be our retirement home, so I started remodeling one of the apartments to suit it to our family: I enlarged the living room, added a bedroom and a bath, getting it ready for our real retirement. Lois was still at home and needed a bedroom.
But God still had a job for me. Westmont College had a mathematics teacher resign just before time for school to start. This left Westmont short one Mathematics teacher. Dr. Voskuyl, President of Westmont, visited me and said that I would have to come up and take the Mathematics job. I told him that I could not do it, as I had my apartment ripped wide open making the changes. I could not go off and leave the apartment in that condition. He made a couple of visits to me and each time said that he had been unable to find a replacement teacher. Finally, he came back with a compromise: He would put all of my classes in the first three days of the week so that I could teachall of my classes, and then come home and complete the work on my apartments during the rest of the week. We agreed upon this deal, and each Monday morning at five o’clock, I left my home in Pasadena. My wife drove the 100 mile to Westmont College,and I started an eight o’clock class. We rented an apartment near Westmont so I could get to work easily.Break for pictures
I thought that my work would be simple. I would just teach a few courses in mathematics and astronomy, with no further obligations. But soon I found some of Dr. Voskuyl’s mail in my box. I returned them to Dr. Voskuyl, apologizing for someone’s error in putting them in my box. He said, “That was not an error. I have decided to make you chairman of the science work here at Westmont. I am too busy and I thing you can handle it better than I.” Hence my job didn’t prove so easy after all. I had additional responsibilities now and those responsibilities grew. I found weak spots in the various courses that needed to be strengthened. It took a great deal of time to accomplish this. Standards and scholarship were greatly increased and I was pleased with the results.
At the end of the first year, we traded our apartments on Avenue 64 for the La Ronda Apartments in Santa Barbara. We moved into the new apartments just in time for the opening of school. I now had full time to spend at Westmont. Astronomy and Engineering were added to the work. An observatory was built to take care of the astronomy work. It was built by contract, but the contractor failed on his job, so I took over the job of overseeing the completion of the observatory. Some subcontractors were still working but others had quit. Those that were left had to be assured that they would be paid, and they had to be directed in the work. Some new subcontractors were engaged to help with the work. The observatory included two domes, a circular stairway and the like, and the carpenters had difficulty in laying these out. I found that I had to lay out much of this work for the carpenters before they could build it. Mr. Carol donated excellent equipment to the observatory, including a six-inch refracting telescope and a sixteen-inch reflecting telescope, equipped very well for photographic, micrometer, and spectroscopic work. After I was at Westmont for four years, the 1956 Yearbook was dedicated to me and I felt greatly honored.
My wife’s health had broken, so it was impossible for her to care for the apartments during the day as she had done. It was therefore necessary for me to resign from my position. The president of the Board of Trustes of Westmont, Mrs. Kerr, came to me and tried to get me to reconsider. She said that my work there had just started and that the school could not get along without me. I assured her that there were many people who could take my place. I felt that my duties were first to my family, so my retirement was effective, and for a few years, I took care of the apartments and my wife. Then I sold the apartments and built a retirement home on Shoreline Drive overlooking the ocean. I had just completed the house and my wife and I moved in, when we found that she had a case of terminal cancer, and the doctors, after an operation, gave her only two weeks to live. I took her home, where she enjoyed the new house and lived not just two weeks, but seven months and two weeks. She passed away on October 21, 1961, and her death was a great shock to me. We had lived together for forty-nine hyears, and worked through all of the difficulties that either of us had experienced, and the love between us had grown.
In 1962, I married Grace Berch, Edith’s niece. I returned to Westmont College and taught part-time for a couple more years, making my final retirement late in 1963 after fifty years of teaching.
We lived in the new house on Shoreline Drive No. 1645. It was an interesting place to live, with plate glass windows on the ocean side. We could sit in our living room or dining room and watch everything on the ocean. The whales migrated past twice a year in plain view. Seals came up on the sand below our place and barked. Ground squirrels seemed to be our friends. They had a nest in the bank below our place, the adults would come up to the house for food, I would take a pan of food out for them, and while they were eating, I could walk around and step over them and they would not run. If the young came up to far from the bank, one of the parents would give them a trouncing and send them back to the nest.
May visited us and we went up to Solvang, a Danish (not Swedish) settlement north of Santa Barbara. This was an interesting place to visit. The businesses catered to the public with rich Danish food. The buildings and surroundings were all Danish.
Grace’s children, brothers, and sisters visited us often while we were in Santa Barbara. We took many trips up and down the coast. The teachers’ retirement home was not far from us inland. It made an interesting place to take visitors.
Grace thought that the climate was a little too damp for her, so Lois and Bill took over this property and we moved down to Leisure World. We made several trips and finally puchased an apartment under construction. I still live in the same apartment.
We purchased the apartment at 13310 Twin Hills, Apt. 47L, in Seal Beach (? I, Kent, vaguely remember a Leisure World in Seal Beach). It was under construction and was supposed to take several months to complete, but the builders sped it up and it was soon ready. We thought we would sell the place on Shoreline Drive before we moved, but found that Lois and Bill would take it over, so we moved to Leisure World in the early spring of 1964.
This move brought Grace near her children and relatives. This, I am sure, pleased her. Leisure World was a pleasant place, with everyone being friendly. There were several churches. Grace had belonged to the Methodist Church and she favored it. It was called the Community Church. Its senior pastor was a Methodist, but the four assistant pastors were all from different denominations and the membership came from 29 different denominations. Thus it was really interdenominational. I have never heard a denominational sermon here. Missionary money is divided and goes to the four main denominations. I have been either an elder or a deacon in three of these four denominations, so I feel quite at home.
I have taught several classes in Scientific Christian Evidences. Grace was an officer in one of the ladies’ circles and gave the Bible studies for a year in her circle. Grace had many friends and we visited her relatives frequently, and they often came to see us.
Leisure World has many activities. It has a nice little nine-hole golf course with more hazards than many public courses. It also has a good swimming pool, bowling facilities, shuffleboard areas, croquet, etc., plus over two hundred clubs, and four clubhouses scheduled solid with club and church activities. I belong to Toastmasters, Retired teachers, and the Leisure World National Geographic Society. Most residents belong to a greater number of clubs.
We have a very good medical center where you can select your family doctor or choose one from the outside. Many specialists come here for a day a week, or on some regular schedule. In an emergency, we can phone and have a doctor at the door in five minutes, day or night.
While we were still in Santa Barbara, Jean and Leslie Lippiatt had moved to Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Leslie worked as an architect in San Francisco. (My family and the Lippiatts had been very close for many years. We were together at Dr. Pratt’s church in Pasadena. We played tennis together; their daughter Margaret, Mildred and Willis had a little club house on the Spaulding Place property and they played together often.) Leslie was the architect on the Spaulding Place house. Jean and Leslie were building a duplex in Sausalito when he passed away. They had finisted the upper unit and were living in it. This left Jean with the lower unit wide open, with no doors or windows. Tramps or anyone else could move in with their bed rolls and be at home.
Hence I took my tools, and Grace and I went up and spent about ten days with Jean. I hung the doors and windows and built some of the cabinets. The whole place could now be locked up and Jean could easily get someone to finish the lower apartment so it could be rented.
Also, we went to church at the Berkeley Presbyterian Church, where I had taught the Sunday School class of twelve Chinese students mentioned in Chapter 8.
The Trip Back East, in 1965
We planned an extensive trip. We would visit the national parks, see all of our relatives and our hold home places, hit the coast around Boston, go up into northern New York tosee the fall foliage and Niagara Falls, stop in New York to see Mildred and the World’s Fair, see Steve in Phoenix, and enjoy everything of interest along the way.
We had planned that I would drive the first 100 miles, then Pat would drive the next 200 miles, followed by Grace’s 100 miles, then Pat with 200 again. I started out and drove my 100 miles, then Pat took over and never released the wheel until we got back to Phoenix.
Our first stop on the road was Zion National Park. A river flows through the park and the cliffs on the sides of the river are magnificent. We did not do any hiking, as Grace was not up to it. I pointed out the trails where my family had hiked and what was seen. I showed them Angel’s Landing, where I had carried Lois up when she was too small to hike, and we drove all through Zion.
We left Zion and went over to the Grand Canyon. Pat and I walked very short distances with Grace so she could get different views of the canyon. We left her where she had a good view of many different things in the canyon. Then we hiked a little further to see what the trail was like as it went down the canyon. The trail is good, but the summer heat at the bottom of the canyon is nearly unbearable.
The Grand Canyon is incomprehensible in its magnitude; of course (pictures), all the geological layers are laid bare; it must be a geologist’s paradise. You can see the Colorado River as a thin line at the bottom. I can understand why some say that such a small stream could not possibly have cut away all of the material to make this great canyon.
We went on to Bryce Canyon, also a canyon of erosion, but how different. It is a field of great pinnacles rising abruptly from the floor of the canyon. A little river runs through about the middle of Bryce. It must have changed course almost infinitely in order to move all of the material between these pinnacles. Each pinnacle again shows all of the original layers, so it is easy to see what the territory must have been before there was a river. The road runs around the rim of Bryce Canyon, so it is easy to get different angles of view of the pinnacles.
We traveled up along the Colorado River until we cam to Glen Canyon. Here a dam had been built across the river and a large lake was being formed. A suspension bridge crossed the canyon just below the dam. We crossed it and headed for Grand Junction, where Grace’s sister Ruth Powell lived.
When we got to Grand Junction, we hunted for 1415 Texas Avenue. We found Texas Avenue and searched it from one end to the other with no success. We finally inquired and learned that the Colorado River cut a little canyon through the city. Ruth lived on the other side of the canyon. We finally found a bridge across, found the Powells, and united the two sisters, Grace and Ruth. The Powellshad a few acres of ground and the Colorado River made a U-turn around their place. You could see the Colorado Rier far below from their front yard. We spent the night here and headed east for Hardy, Nebraska. Grace’s brother, Donald Van Ornam, lives on a farm in Kansas near Hardy.
We found Don and Ruby without any trouble. They had a small, irrigated farm growing corn. They were gettng about 150 bushels per acre. We used to think that 40 bushels was an excellent crop. Donald was also the supplier of irrigatio equipment for the district. He also had about a five-acre garden patch, and had a mostrous watermelon that he had been saving for our vist. We stayed here a few days and visited relatives.
In Kansas, we went past the place where Grace and her family used to live. It was in the dust bowl district and most of the houses were vacant and deserted, with weeds growing up tight against the houses. It looked as if the dust storms might have just stopped blowing the dust. (At our home in Kansas, I had see dust storms so bad that we could not see the barn and dust would pile up in drifts three feet deep.) Here, several farms had been put together and they were farmed by one owner. The house where the Bercks had lived seemed to be in good repair and occupied.
We went to Aurora to inquire where the Goernandts lived. Grace had had William as a teacher at Kansas Christian College, had thought the world of him, and wanted to see him again. We arrived at the worst possible time. Five of the brothers had been living together and running a farm. One had died and the funeral had just been held. The house was a mess and they were all very blue. Carl and William had both been students at KCC and had roomed and boarded at our place,. so I considered them very good friends. We soon left and started on east.
We stopped in St. Louis and called on Mac’s parents. They had a nice place with room for a large garden. We had a pleasant visit here, then headed on east. We were impressed with the farms through Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. The farms and buildings looked prosperous.
We reached the coast at Boston, visited a couple historical places, and headed north. We wanted to see the trees with the fall colors. At the edge of Boston, there was a Y in the highway with no signs. We took the branch headed in the general direction we wanted to go. We soon found that it was on a curve turning back. We saw a policeman standing at a corner, pulled over, and asked him if this was the road to so and so. He said yes: Just go straight ahead to the first signal, turn left, go to the first signal again and make another left turn and you will be right on your road. I have never forgotten the principle he used (Emphasize the positive; avoid the negative). He could have said: You’re going the wrong way, turn around and go back. We took the other branch of the Y and everything was all right. As we went into northern Maine, the leaves soon began to turn gold, and we again saw what a real fall looked like. We swung around by Niagara Falls. The falls are always impressive no matter how often you see them.
We came back down the coast, stopping at places of iterest. We were headed for New York City, Mildred, and the World’s Fair. We came down the coast on the toll roads. They are not freeways in the East. There are gates every so often, where you are stopped and must pay a toll before you go on. (Another advantage of living out West.) We had no trouble coming through New York and out into Long Island, where Mildred and Bob lived. They took us all over Long Island to the signts. Larry instructed us on the best way to get to the World’s Fair and what we should see there. Larry had just won a large cash award for writing the best description of the scientific exhibits at the World’s Fair, so he was well qualified to instruct us. Lynn was most interested in what college she should attend.
We came back through Tennessee, intending to stopand see Katherine’s relatives, but when we got near, it was raining sohard that we did not turn of and try to find them. We then headed for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where Clarice was supposed to be. We wanted to find her and try to be some help to her.
When we got to Eureka Springs, which is north of Little Rock, we had trouble trying to find her. We could find where she had been. But finally, we were sent to a dairyman, who told us that he and Clarice had gone together and were to be married. They had gone and gotten their marriage licenses, he in his car and she in hers. They always went places that way. He said that he told her that day that there seemed to be a little trouble with her mind and that as soon as they were married, he would get the best medical help for her that could be found. The next morning, Clarice was gone, with no forwarding address being left anywhere. Hence we had missed her by just a few days, but she was lost to us again.
We came on to the Grand Canyon area, and visited Indian ruins and dwellings and defenses that seemed to be quite recent. The dwellings were under an overhanging ledge, so the people had no trouble with rain. The entrances were some distance above the ground and small, so that anyone entering would have to stoop way over, exposing himself to an ax or other weapon. This seemed to be a good defense arrangement. The walls were built of stone so there was little danger of fire. Most of the places were badly smoked, showing that they had used fire in their dwellings.
We came to Phoenix, where Steve had a factory for electronic parts. He took us to the surrounding country, including Superstition Mountain, and told us many stories about the mountain. Mac flew out to Phoenix, joined us there, and drove back for us.It was a great trip, about 8,000 miles with no car trouble. Pat drove nearly all of the way to Phoenix.
Grace and I with a group from Leisure World, took a two-week trip to Hawaii. We saw five islands, with the active volcanoes and the Grand Canyon of the islands, the landing place of Captain Cook, many historical places, and the cliff where one army pushed another army over the cliff to their deaths. We saw much of the agriculture of the islands and how it varied from island to island.
The climate was delightful, but perhaps a little warmer than one might like permanently. The windows had screens but no glass. Also, there were shutters to close and keep the rain out.
The Canadian Rockies, 1969
This again was for a group of just Leisure World people. We knew everyone on the trip. We flew to Seattle, where a woman from our group tried to go up an escalator with a suitcase in each hand. She fell and broke a leg, then left the trip long enough to get the leg set and put in a walking cast. The rest of us took a bus at Seattle, which stayed with us through the rest of the trip. When we ferried, the bus ferried too, and was ready to pick us up at the landing.
Our first stop was Victoria, where were treated extravagantly. We could choose the most expensive items on the menu, as the meals were all on the trip. Our bus took us all around Victoria for sightseeing, including the Butchart Gardens. These are world-famous gardens built in a deep excavation made to get gravel for the roads.
We ferried over to Vancouver and spent a day sightseeing. Then our bus driver loaded us in, including the woman with the broken leg. She was on crutches and she got along well with the walking cast. She was given the rear seat on the bus, where she could lie down and rest. We stopped at Banff for sightseeing trips, and were in the Rockies now, and there were lakes and craggy mountains all around.
The next day, we headed north through a valley between two ranges of the Rockies. We went for hundreds of miles up this valley, making numerous stops and excursions to the side to see things of special interest. Glaciers came down between the mountains, stopping just short of the highway.
Lake Louise is probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is close to the highway, with just room for a grand old hotel, built in an earlier day to care for railroad passengers. The The lake is on the left of the highway as you go up. Our bus took us out to the right, were we went up the mountain on a ski lift. From here, we could look down on Lake Louise and everything around it. Whe we came back to the highway, we went off to the left before reaching Lake Louise, and back a little ways into the mountains, where we found another lake. I believe it was Lake Moraine, but I am not sure of the name. It was south of Lake Louise. It was a very long lake with tall peaks rising from the lake, including seven peaks with glaciers coming down between them and emptying into the lake. From here we went to Lake Louise. Most of the time, it was like a great mirror reflecting the mountains and glaciers. Behind the lake were glaciers and a great glacier field covering many square miles, and many glaciers entered the lake from it. I think that we were here two days, then went up the road to Jasper, and enjoyed wonderful scenery all the way. We stayed here three days and the bus took on a number of sightseeing trips. My ulcer hemorrhaged here, so I used most of the time to recuperate.
From here, we headed back toward Banff, but we did make some stops along the way. At one place, a glacier stopped just off the highway. The bus stopped and the driver arranged for all who desired to take snowmobiles and go up on top of the glacier and drive in the snowmobiles around over the glacier. Grace was tired and I was afraid of my hemorrhage, so neither one of us went up on the glacier. We really missed something. The managers of the trip allowed plenty of time for everyone to take side trips and get the most out of the trip. They were the most considerate, by the way, of any trip I have ever been on.
We stopped at Banff and retraced some of the steps we had taken on the way in. Then we started for Seattle and our return home, but stopped at Radium Hot Springs for the first night. It was quite a popular resort, really a health resort. We went on down through Spokane and on to Seattle. Here the lady with the broken leg was now only using a cane, and when she got to Seattle, she joined another group who were going to Europe. She had arranged for both trips and was surely trying to miss othing. From Seattle, we flew down to the International Airport and were met by a bus from Leisure World. We were glad to get home and rest.
This was a totally different trip. No one was looking out for our comfort, but at every place, people were trying to shortchange us. We were to fly to Mexico City, then go to various places from there. The trip spanned both Christmas and New Year’s, which I think added to our troubles. We were to leave Los Angeles around noon and get to Mexico City in the afternoon. We went to Los Angeles about 10 AM, wanting to be sure to get our plane. However, we were kept waiting until about midnight, when we finally took off. We arrived just before daylight and were sent to our roms. We were then told that we had gotten so late that the personnel would cancel our engagements for the next day so we could sleep in. (By flying us down in the middle of the night, they got a cheaper plane fare, and by canceling the activities for the next day,they save the cost of at least two side trips. We were cold that first night and asked for ore blankets. The answer was, ”Coming right up,” but regardless of several phone calls, we got no blankets. We finally put on all of the sweaters and coats we had, cuddled up in bed, got warm, and had some sleep.) We were given medicine to take regularly, starting about a week before were to leave, to avoid getting dysentery. We were also told to eat no raw fruit or vegetables and drink nothing but bottled water. We were told, though, that the regular hotels that we would be taken to were perfectly safe. We must observe these instructions only when we ate at other places.
We all got dysentery. The maid brought a bottle of water to each room and told us that the water was all right to drink. We think she bottled it at a faucet in the bathroom.
I got a big bottle of Kaopectate for Grace and me, and gave some to others who needed it. They had tried to call me Dr. Stoner before and I had objected. After they got the Kaopectate, they sang out “Dr. Stoner” in unison. “Well now we can call you Dr. Stoner,”
We stopped at several places coming up the coast. At the first place, the personnel claimed that rooms were reserved for us and payment had been made for them. Other persons came along and offered the personnel more for the rooms. They took the money and the other people were occupying the rooms. The people conducting our group went out through the town and found individual rooms for us. Grace and I did not get to bed until midnight. I talked the manager of the trip into scheduling a side tripto the pyramids from Mexico City, but when the trip came off, I was too sick to go along.
I saw a couple of houses being built and was astonished at the backwardness of the methods. At one stony lot where persons were getting ready to build, the lot was practically covered with men, digging rocks out of the ground and using them to build the foundation and a stone wall all around the outer edge of the lot. At another place, the house was completed, and five men were putting in a slab for a small front porch. The materials were all on the ground. One man would shovel a little pile of sand, gravel and cement, then shovel them around a while to mix them, then get them piled into a neat little pile again and make hole in the top and pour some water into and out of his bucket, remake the nice little pile with a hole for some water and more mixing. This was all outside my hotel window, so I watched the men and it took them all day to lay a slab about six by eight feet.
I found that the employers paid their men about one-tenth of what we do, yet the houses there and here seemed to be about the same price. They were using methods somewhat similar to what we used seventy years ago, only doing the work much slower.
When it came to coming home, there was quite a rush to get on the plane. I knew that the airline personnel never sold more tickets than they had seats, so we were in no hurry. Grace got the last seat on the plane and I was left. They solved the problem, though, by putting me up with the pilot. That was excellent, the pilot was friendly, he talked to me, and he explained everything he did. Hence I gained that time, by not crowding ahead of someone. We got home safe and sound, and learned not to go to Mexico over Christmas and New Year’s. We hope another time would be better.
My Life with Grace
I married Grace on June 16, 1961. I had known her before she was married to Herman Berck. Now she had six children and I had three. She had been a widow for a number of years. Her mother, Ella Van Ornam, was a sister of my first wife Edith, so Grace’s children and my children are cousins. They often visited each other. Grace and I visited each other while she lived in Hawthorne and I in Santa Barbara. A loved developed between us and we married with the approval of the children on both sides.
Our marriage was a happy marriage. Grace was as good a wife as any man could want. She was loving and cooperative in all ways. We were both active in the church, the retired teachers’ organization, etc. She had hardening of the arteries, wich began to show signs soon after we came to Leisure World in 1964. The first sign was forgetting her name, then her address, then getting lost, and finally becoming childish, then infantile. I had to finally put her in a convalescent home, where I spent three or four hours with her each day, taking her about the hospital in a wheelchair and visiting different patients. Her children visited her faithfully, and Pat was most helpful. Grace not did ot seem to know me or her children. She seemed to know Steve better than any of us. He had always been her favored child.
The hardening of the arteries finally started on her joints. Her knees were bound into an acute angle. Doctors say that this continues until the patient is tied up in a fetal position. Grace did not seem to suffer with this trouble.
Finally, on January 8, when I entered the hospital, a nurse called me and said to come quickly as Grace had taken a turn for the worse. There were four nurses around the bed, monitoring her breathing and her heartbeat. I tried to talk to her and put my hand on her forehead, but there was no response. She seemed to be unconscious. The nurse said that Grace was eating her lunch when she just suddenly keeled over and never seemed to gain consciousness again.
The nurse had phoned Pat, but Grace passed away a few minutes before Pat arrived. Pat and I spent some time together recovering from the shock.
I have been alone now for three years and I have greatly missed Grace. A very peculiar thing happened after her death. Whether it was a dream of a vision I can not say, but it was vivid enough to put it in the vision class. I will call it a vision.
Each night after I went to bed, either Grace or Edith would come and sit down in the chair beside my bed and we would talk until I got sleepy; then they would get up and go around my bed toward theirs. The next morning, I would have to look over at the other bed to see if it had been used. The next night, the other would come and do exactly the same things. For one solid year, this continued. Neither one ever missed her turn and they were never there together.
Finally, Grace and I talked about people wondering what we talked about, and we decided on what we would tell them. After this, Grace never came back. Edith came back irregularly for a long time. But what Grace and I decided to tell people, I have not the slightest idea.