We also had a Bible class every day. I’m really glad I learned so much about God when I was little. It really made me want to get to know Him. I still remember some of the songs we sang at Lockhaven that I’ve never heard anywhere else. Here’s one I bet Sara and Marilyn remembered too:
“I’m so happy, and here’s the reason why:
Jesus took my burdens all away.
Now I’m singing as the days go by:
Jesus took my bur…He took my burdens all away.
Once my heart was heavy with a load of sin.
Jesus took my load, and gave me
wonderful peace within my heart,
and now I’m singing as the days go by:
Jesus took my burdens all away.”
I was now nine years old. Although this really-not-nice teacher named Miss Newman wanted every kid in her class to get baptized before the end of the year, I would not do it. I didn’t want to yield to Miss Newman’s pressure tactics. It was too important and personal a decision for me to do it out of fear or guilt. She tried to scare kids into believing they were facing the fires of hell if they didn’t get baptized. I wanted it to happen when I felt like it was the right time for me. I waited till the summer after sixth grade.
I missed the first half of sixth grade at Lockhaven because another dramatic, life-changing decision was made by my parents. It was a mere twelve years since they had returned from their missionary stint in Europe. Pepperdine was a growing institution, and Norvel Young felt it would be a prestigious thing for the college to add a Year in Europe program to our offerings, as so many other colleges and universities did. Who would be more natural than my parents to lead the initial year? My folks could speak German (somewhat), Germany was a central location in Europe which would promote ease of student travel, and my dad had experience doing business in Europe, unlike most other Pepperdine faculty members. So although neither of my parents were teachers, they were elected to lead the first Year in Europe program for Pepperdine. My dad would teach European history and economics, and my mom would teach English literature.
So it was September, 1963 and I had just turned ten. Somebody gave me a red journal titled Travels Abroad which I wrote in sporadically. There’s a black and white photo of Mom and me standing with all the Nashville relatives at the old airport there, waiting to get on the plane to London. I wrote in my journal that when we went to visit Paul and Marian and the kids at the lake house, they made me sleep with Ronny, while Bonnie Kay slept with Suzanne. I didn’t feel good about that, but I wrote that Ronny was really sweet to me. I also wrote that I had to go in the lake in Suzanne’s swimsuit.
Daddy joined us in London, but then he would be making a different trip. Norvel sent him to Ethiopia on his way to Heidelberg, trying to make a connection for the school with Emperor Haile Selassie. (He must have succeeded to some degree, because one of the Emperor’s daughters later attended Pepperdine as a student. She was a gorgeous and gentle girl.) Daddy gave me some Ethiopian coins to begin my collection when we met him again in Heidelberg.
1. The Magna Carta
2. The 500 clay Biblical tablets
3. Famous handwritings
4. Ancient books and manuscripts”
The room was heated by its own little radiator which stood under the window. The traditional bedclothes were called a “Decke” which was an overstuffed featherbed encased in a sheet-like bag, something like a giant pillowcase, the German version of a what we now call a duvet. You stuffed the Decke inside the case and buttoned it in. The Decke led to a great deal of discomfort for me. The radiator would go on and off during the night. Since the fall weather quickly turned into a cold winter, I either froze or sweated, alternating, throughout the night. The Decke would get too hot, then I would throw it off and freeze, then put it back on, then the radiator would come on and the process would start all over again.
When my mother and dad finally appeared in the doorway of the restaurant, an hour or two later, I ran up to them and probably grabbed them, though I can’t recall.
I said, “Why didn’t you come home when the Whites did?”
Even though I was only ten years old, I had a growing consciousness of world events, of political changes, of the threat of war, of the impact of this moment on the world, and my concerns were highly dramatic, while their tendency was to block out anything that they felt didn’t directly affect their lives. I didn’t understand that at the time. I just felt alone, and I felt I was being mocked.