Chapter 6: Burlington

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Transcribed by Michael A. O’Neill in Mar/Apr 2014

Transcribers note: This is a transcription of Mabel’s book, not an upload of the original of the document she created. It was transcribed using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software, which will result in capitalization errors; misspellings of proper names; odd usage of prepositions or common words; and incorrect homophones. For true fidelity, you can request the book via Interlibrary Loan from the Greenville College or Azusa Pacific University libraries.

After Knoxville, father was sent to Burlington, North Hill church. There were two churches in Burlington. Burlington was an interesting town; like Rome, it was built on seven hills. Sections of the city were designated by hills. After living in small towns, Burlington seemed like a big modern city. Streetcars traveled on the city’s paved streets, which were mostly brick.

The city had been settled mostly by Germans. Until father came, the entire service, including the sermon, was spoken to the North Hilt Church in German. North Hill was the most affluent part of the city. The members of the congregation were nearly all German or of German descent, and for the most part they were cultured people. They were interested in music and art, and were quite well educated for the time. There were private German schools there that were attended part-time or full-time by some of my friends. I begged my parents to send me to one of those German schools. They couldn’t see the wisdom of that and besides there was no money available.

The Berg family belong to our church, at least the mother and two daughters. The father, who had passed away sometime before, was the manufacturer of the Berg-Wagon. Its big competitor was the Studebaker Wagon, of course, the forerunner of the Studebaker automobile.

Father Berg had left a generous gift in his will for that little church, but his two sons were angry about it and went to court to try to break the will. Adina Berg, the younger daughter, defended the will in court and one. The two brothers never forgave her, and as far as I know never visited again their mother and sisters.

We were often invited to visit the mother and daughters in their beautiful Victorian home. It was filled with beautiful rugs, furniture and paintings. Adina Berg was a graduate of Chicago Art Institute, and I was fascinated with her paintings. She asked me to come to her house on Saturday mornings and for some time she gave me drawing lessons in her kitchen. That really was the beginning of my interest in painting. Schools also introduced us to great art.

I was sent to represent my seventh grade at an exhibit at the YMCA. The exhibit was of great paintings in black-and-white reproductions. I was one of the students who conducted visitors around the exhibit and explain some of the paintings.

The parsonage at North Hill was part of the church building and faced on a side street. While we lived there, one of the members of the church who worked at the Berg Wagon Works made a sled for Ernest and painted his name on it. Weston was still a baby. That year I remember we had scarlet fever and were quarantined. Father was allowed to go outside to live, but the rest of us were kept in for what seemed an endless six weeks.

In winter the greatest sport, for people of all ages was Bob-sledding down those hills. It wouldn’t be possible now with modern traffic, but there weren’t any automobiles then. I don’t know who owns a big sleds, but everybody wrote on them and then walked up the hill. In the winter there was also skating on the Mississippi River, but I never learn to skate.

After a year at North Hill, father was elected District elder and someone else was sent to North Hill. The South Hill Church, not so affluent as North Hill, needed a pastor and mother was appointed there as supply. Many of the wives of the ministers preached sermons and did very well. The church made use of them, usually just helping their husbands, taking turns and revival meetings, or filling in without remuneration, of course. They were never given licenses as evangelists. I’ve often thought of those women when I hear all the controversy about the ordination of women these days. Anyway, mother held that pastorate for a year.

It was while we lived at South Hill, Burlington that Weston, then three years old, began to give them trouble by running away. There is a fence around the house, but he went right over that. He just started out to go, go, go, anywhere at all. Whenever he disappeared we gave the alarm and all the children in the neighborhood would fan out in all directions until somebody found him. One time while mother and father were doing the family wash, he disappeared. But we didn’t find him for a while. There wasn’t much traffic in those days, a few horse-drawn vehicles and once in a while a streetcar. Nevertheless a lost child was a worry. Everyone in the neighborhood without searching. Finally father saw a woman in the distance caring child. Then he saw Weston’s little red hood over her arm. He went very fast and finally caught up with her. She was German and could not speak English. She didn’t want to give him up, and father had quite an argument with her.

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