The fall of 1947 was to be a very important time in my life. I had thought it was going to be “just a stop along the way” to use up time while I waited for nurses’ training to start. That would be February of the next year at the Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Dorothy Uhlig, a good friend who had gone to school with my sister, Violet, at Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and who also attended the Figueroa Blvd. Christian Church in Los Angeles, had talked to me about entering nurses’ training at the same school where she planned to go. So I had some time to fill while waiting to go there, not realizing that time would change my whole life.
There was a guy named Don Cole that went to our church who was a friend of mine. He seemed to be kind of floundering in his life at that time, so I talked him into going to school at Northwest Christian College starting that fall. I wanted to go along with him and visit my old friends up there. He would start right away. So when he drove up, I went along with him. Meanwhile, we found out there was going to be an opening day rally at San Jose Bible College, which was on our way up to Eugene. We decided to stop there for the day. It was great. I loved the singing and the good fellowship we had there, and it seemed like it was a great school.
The last speaker of the evening was Don DeWelt, one of the professors there, and he was the best of the whole day. It seemed like I should stay there and go to school just in the interim time I would be waiting to go to nurses’ training, so I went to tell that to Don Cole. At the same time, he was hunting for me after that service, because he wanted to tell me he had decided not to go on to Eugene, after all. He, too, wanted to go to San Jose Bible College (SJBC) now.Well, that was great. When we saw the president of the school, William Jessup, we asked if we could join their school and find a dormitory for the night, too.
He got me into a dormitory not far from the school, (Herbert Dorm), and after that service, I found it and got situated with a roommate and everything. I hadn’t met anyone there as far as I knew, but went to bed that night feeling I had done the right thing. The next morning, as I was waking up, I heard some girls talking down the hall, and it seemed like their voices were familiar. I went out to see who it was, and sure enough, there were Bonnie Lou Green and Jean Thompson, girls I had known at NCC. Well, when I went into their room, it was just like old times again. We were so thrilled to see each other, we almost cried. To think that they were going to school here now, and so was I! That morning we went to school together, and the three of us sat in the back pew of the small meeting hall of the Bible College. They were singing such good songs and they were so full of life and the Spirit that all three of us just sat there, trying to sing, but crying because we were so happy to be in such good surroundings. NCC was a good school, but it didn’t have the Spirit this school had, and we were really thankful to be here.
Bonnie Lou Green was a tremendous piano player. She could play anything, and she was very much desired as a pianist for evangelistic meetings. One day she was practicing in a front room of San Jose Bible College, and I went in to sing with her.We were singing songs of the faith and enjoying it tremendously when all of a sudden two guys came in. They began choosing songs and singing along with us. Bonnie was an alto and I was soprano, Dean Boulton was tenor and Chuck Richards was a bass. We really sounded great together. Of course, we got the idea that we should get together and form a mixed quartet! Then we could go out with the professors when they went out to represent the school at churches in the area. I’m not sure whose idea that was, but we all agreed it was a terrific idea, so that’s what we did.
We had met the boys previously. In fact, it wasn’t long before that, Brother Bill had asked the students to give blood for a man in the hospital who needed it. Some of the boys had won the man to the Lord when they were downtown holding street meetings. Now he needed blood. Brother Bill suggested that those who were able should go to the blood bank and give blood. He told us to hold up our hands if we were able to give blood, so I raised my hand. Chuck raised his hand, too, as we both had given blood in the past in our own home towns. He told us to look around at the others holding up their hands and to get together with someone so we could go together.
After the service was over, Chuck came to me and asked if I would step out the back door for a moment. I wondered what that was all about, but I did it. He asked me if I would like to go to the blood bank to give blood with him since he had a car, and he could take me. I agreed, and we had our first date to go to the blood bank. I had seen this young man sitting in a place we called the “pickle-shelf,” a place to the left side of the platform where there were about three or four rows of chairs set up. I had thought to myself he was a fairly good-looking young man, and I wouldn’t mind meeting him. Now here was my chance. We were to go and give blood for the man in need.
We got together and went to the little house that was the blood bank. Chuck got out of the car and started up the walk to go into the house. I just sat there waiting for him to open the door for me, thinking surely he would do that. He looked around, but I was still in the car, so he came back and opened the door for me. I thanked him and we went in to give our blood. He tells me now that he thought I was just waiting to see if he would do that, and if he did, then he would be the right man for me. Well, I’m not sure if that was what was on my mind or not, but that’s what he said I told him later on that I was thinking. (Chuck here. My version: Mickey told me later she was thinking that she didn’t know what this might develop into, but just in case, she wanted to train me right from the start.)
Several days later, Bonnie and I were singing in that little room and Chuck and Dean came in to sing with us. We had many more practices after that, and we got so that we used a special hymnbook called Favorite Songs and Hymns which was compiled by Homer F. Morris, Virgil O. Stamps, J. R. Baxter, Jr. and W. W. Combs. It was put out by Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Co., Inc., copyright 1939. We went out with some of the professors on Sundays or even Saturdays and Sundays to help in programs on behalf of San Jose Bible College, and since we were one of very few such groups, we often went along on those trips.
One day, we were in a church about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, either at San Luis Obispo or Atascadero, and we had a wonderful set of services. After the morning service on Sunday, the ladies served a lovely potluck dinner. It was delightful, and to show his appreciation, Chuck volunteered to help with the dishes.
The ladies wouldn’t hear of this, but he insisted, so they let him go ahead, and the rest of us helped him. He tells me that afterward I said that if this was a man who wasn’t afraid to put his hands in dishwater, then he would be a man to get a hold of.
I found out from these trips to the churches that Chuck was an excellent preacher. I really enjoyed hearing him, and it seemed to me that he was the best of the men I had heard at that school or NCC. In fact, one of the things I had decided long since was that the man I married would have to be the best preacher and really know his Bible. He needed to have the same approximate background as I had, and I found out Chuck had come from Omaha, Nebraska, a large city, and his family was very active in their home church. His mother was a wonderful teacher for the adults there, though she taught in Vacation Bible School, too, and she served the Lord every time she had an opportunity. She only had two children compared to my mom who had six. He had been a Christian since he was seven years old when he was first baptized.
Also, he had the same beliefs that I did as far as the way of salvation and his ideas about serving the Lord. He had a beautiful singing voice, and we had a lot in common in just about everything I could think of. Of course, I didn’t know all these things then, but over time, I learned about them. I had the feeling that some day I was going to marry this man, although at the time, I didn’t like the idea and was very incensed that this was what I was going to have to do. I remember punching my pillow on my bed in the dorm and saying out loud, “I won’t marry you! I won’t marry you!” He hadn’t even asked me, and he didn’t have that same feeling for me at that time, anyhow, as far as I know.
While at San Jose, I needed to get a job, so I decided to sell Avon Products. I never was very good in doing this because I had never been one to know or really care about such things, and I was no saleswoman. If people did not have the money to pay me when it was time to get their products they had ordered, I couldn’t be an ogre and not let them have what they had wanted to purchase. I’m not really sure how I got by, but the Lord must have been with me to give me just the right amount of money I needed at the right time. Bonnie did a good job of selling Avon that year, but that wasn’t my forte. They put me in a district with mostly poor people, and that didn’t help, but since I was the last one to be hired, then naturally, I got the worst place to work. I did enjoy calling on ladies, though, and was able to share the gospel with many of them along the way. Also, I enjoyed using the samples later on, and years later, when my cousin gave me a lot of Avon samples of lipsticks and other things to bring to the mission field, I really appreciated it and knew the ladies in the Philippines would surely enjoy them, too.
Our time was going very fast at San Jose. I would not be able to finish the school semester because I had to get ready to go to nurses training in Portland. I went home for Christmas vacation and was enjoying my time there when on Christmas day, who should come to visit us but Chuck Richards. He was really tired, and he told me this story. He, Dean, one of the girls from San Jose Bible College and her mother, had been driving around the night before, looking at Christmas decorations in San Jose. They stopped at one place and the car lights got dim. Chuck said, “We’ll have to get out and drive a ways on a highway to charge the battery.” As they were driving along, the girl and her mother said, “Why don’t we drive down to L. A. for Christmas?” After thinking it over, Dean and Chuck decided that that was a good idea, so they took turns driving, and they drove all night to get there. Chuck took the ladies to their brother’s/son’s house and Dean to his uncle’s home in Pasadena. Then he came to my house.
Fortunately, we were still at home because usually, we went to my aunt’s home on Christmas for the big Dawson Family reunion. We decided that he should go with us. My mother was a member of the Thomas Dawson Family, and was one of eleven children, so our family reunions were always huge, and we had a wonderful time. Each family brought their specialty food for the day, and then we had such a feast as we didn’t have any other time of the year. At night, we had a program, and every family had to have a part in the program.
Chuck wasn’t really a member of our family, but he was called upon to give his recitation of “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” a very long poem. This was very appropriate because of the line that said, “On a Christmas day, we were mushing our way over the Dawson Trail.”
What a hit he made. I like the place where he says, “And I stuffed in Sam McGee.” But the end of it is always the best conclusion possible when he opens the door where Sam McGee is roasting in the fire, and he says,
“And there sat Sam looking cool and calm in the heart of the furnace roar, And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said,
‘Please close that door.
It’s nice in here and I greatly fear
You’ll let in the cold and storm.
Since I left Plumtree down in Tennessee,
This is the first time I’ve been warm!’ ”
He put all the emphasis and feeling into it that was just right to make you almost literally see Sam sitting up there saying that to you. The whole recital was terrific, and everyone appreciated it fully. Chuck had made his place in the Dawson family that night, that’s for sure. What an ending for a perfect day. For Chuck it wasn’t the end, since he had to drive all the way back to San Jose that night, about 400 miles before I-5 or four lanes on Hwy 101. He had to get back to work the next day. It was good that Dean and he could take turns driving so they could make it and not fall asleep, not having had any sleep the night before or that night.
Before they left to go back, however, we had to go down to Christmas Tree Lane at the Coliseum to see the lights. By the time they left to go back to San Jose, it was around midnight. But that was a night long to be remembered by us all, probably me most of all. That was my last time to see them for a long time. About a year and a half later, Chuck and Dean came up to see me when I was in nurses’ training.