My very first vivid memory was from when our family was living at 575 S. Lincoln in Denver. This was a two-story house, and my brothers and slept in the bedrooms upstairs. This first memory is of looking out the upstairs front window. It had just finished raining—the lawn a lush green giving me a feeling of contentment that is still with me when I remember.
Little did my parents realize just how spiritually significant it was that they decided to move to this house on Lincoln. Living next door was A.J. Rhodes, the preacher for the Sherman Street Church of Christ.
Part of my memories is about when my father was still drinking. He was, in fact, very close to being an alcoholic and frankly, he really wasn’t being much of a husband or father at that time. I didn’t know it back then, but my parent’s marriage was close to coming to an end.
Religion played a very small role in our lives. We were attending an Episcopalian group. My only memories of that group were that we had fun. In fact, I have a clear memory of one of their dinners when I was standing on the stage in their building and I sang, “Barnacle Bill, The Sailor.” I also remember that this embarrassed my mother. One part of the lyrics said, “He was all lit up like a Christmas tree.”
From time to time, my father and A.J. Rhodes would talk to each other over the backyard fence. Several things helped to make these conversations fruitful. As I said, my parents marriage was in trouble, so, without really knowing it, they were searching for something. My dad enjoyed singing and in spite of his injured right arm, he was able to play the guitar. A.J. knew about dad’s singing and one evening he used this knowledge to work in his evangelistic favor.
Sherman Street was going to have a Gospel Meeting, the speaker was a brother Cook, but I don’t remember his first name. Anyway, back in those days congregations would prepare for their Gospel Meetings by practicing their congregational singing. During the course of their conversation, brother Rhodes asked my dad if he would like to come to the singing, which was going to take place on the following evening. My parents did attend and that was the beginning.
In addition to brother and sister Rhodes, there were other families who more or less adopted our family. We lived across the street from the Hoagland family. The Rhodes, the Hoaglands, Homer and Suzie Ward, Dan and Mary Ward, Jay and Maxine Selby, John and Ellen Brown, John and Mildred Lewis, Marvin and Vylabelle Crowe and many others I am probably forgetting. Two weeks later, during the Gospel Meeting, both of my parents were baptized into the Body of Christ. So, someday, when I get to heaven, I am going to find A.J. Rhodes and thank him for helping to change our family. Little did he know that he was helping to start and kind of dynasty. Even though me and my brothers and sister were not happy to make this change, eventually all four of us became Christians; all of our children are Christians, as are their children. All three of dad’s sons became preachers, also serving as elders as well. In the next generation there are three preachers, one elder and two deacons. Of course, none of the females held any official position, the spiritual leadership they provide is obvious to those who know these women.
Dad’s great-grandchildren have continued the legacy, every one of them becoming Christians and totally involved in the Lord’s work. His great, great-grandchildren are being trained in the same direction.
I can’t help but point out that because of dad’s decision, literally thousands of others have been brought to Christ during the past 70 years. This, of course, is counting the ones that Jack, Dave and I have taught as well as those in the following generations who are continuing to teach and convert others.
It is interesting to note that the friends and family members who criticized dad when he was drinking, etc. were the same ones who were critical when he changed, calling him a religious fanatic, etc. He was never able to convert any of his brothers or sisters.
If my dad were still alive he would be embarrassed that I talked about his drinking, etc. But with what he was able to accomplish after he became a Christian, he had no reason to be embarrassed. Except maybe that his real name was Ippie, and that wasn’t his fault.
Now, back to more of the trivial memories.