I would like to start with my parents because both of them where wonderful God fearing people who raised 6 of us children (Five Boys and one girl).
My youngest brother Nathan (after my parents had five healthy children) was born mentally challenged to the point where he had his own language which we all understood and he was loved by all of us unconditionally. Nathan is a year younger than I and he was always a part of my childhood. His personal needs and inabilities became a way of life that we all accepted even though he never matured mentally to an adult.
Both of my Parents were hard working individuals who never once argued or raised their voices at each other in front of me; even though I’m sure they had their differences to contend with like every normal parent or adult experiences.
My father was one of thirteen children. He told me his real father, Theodore James Cook was a real cowboy although he never recalled meeting him because he was too young to remember.
My Dad became an orphan child at age four and recalled how he would cry for his real Mom (Ohpa Dicy Stowers Cook) after he was taken away from her by the welfare department. He went through several Foster homes until he was officially adopted.
His adopted Dad(Frank Phenicie), was a railroader in Illinois who one day while helping to lay railroad ties was accidentally struck in the head with a a spike maul while securing the steel spikes into the wood railroad ties under the tracks on the Nickel Plate railroad.Bleeding and head wrapped in bandages, he was picked up and carried home on a stretcher to be with his family. He eventually recovered to a point where he was able to do less strenuous work. He wasn't physically fit to work on the section gang after his injury but his new job as a watchman was less demanding but against his will he was forced to relocate from Illinois to Indiana because his seniority would not let him hold a job any closer to home.
According to my Dad, his adopted Mom was a kind hearted heavy set lady who loved and always cared for others. She died of a sudden heart attack while washing dishes at the kitchen sink. She called out to my Dad for help while he was at home in the living room when she slumped to the floor. He came into the kitchen and found her lying on the floor under the white cast iron sink but she couldn’t be revived no matter how much he tried. He was only thirteen when she took her last breath.
My Dad eventually joined the Navy at age 17 and became veteran of WW- 2. He served in the pacific theater on the “U.S.S. Wake Island” as a steamfitter. His ship nearly sank twice as it was hit by the Japanese kamikaze war planes. He told how he could see his own personal foot locker floating out to sea as his compartment was completely destroyed. In his voyages at sea my Dad traveled to Bombay and Calcutta India, and Cape Town South Africa, Morocco, Casablanca, and through the straights of Gibraltar and Spain.
Many times when I would sit at the table with my Dad and discuss things that concerned me about events in this world, he would reassure me not to worry because as he would say, “God cares for us and is still on the throne”. He always told me how “God was faithful and how he always provided and protected him throughout his life”.
One thing that I am confidant about my Dad was that he prayed for me and my family every day of my life.
One time I went up stairs into his bed room and saw him kneeling at the side of his bed praying. When he sensed that someone was in his presents, he quietly stood up and went about his business as though he didn’t want to take any praise for praying so others could see him.
On the floor next to his bed were two well worn spots in the finish on the floor where it actually dipped into the finish of the hardwood oak floor. It was the pattern of my Dads knees from kneeling over the years while he prayed.
While I was a young lad my Dad had became a pastor after attending Moody Bible institute in Chicago Illinois where he also met my Mom.
My Mom was also an example of being determined to serve the Lord and to keep our family in order. She never seemed to wear out even though we as kids put her through every possible test.
In the summer time when I was young we had lots of kids that would come over to play in our back yard. My Mom decided to turn this opportunity into a “good News vacation Bible school” to tell them the good news of Jesus. Many years’ later people would reminisce with her and recall her efforts in evangelism and they were grateful to her for exposing them to the truth about who Jesus was.
I’m not sure how she keep up with our family and all of it’s demands, such as feeding us three times a day, the mounds of laundry, demands of school, a large garden, teaching Sunday School, church events and keeping our home clean will always be a mystery unless you first consider the fact that Christ gave her real purpose and strength to carry on. To this day she has the pure white hair of an angel all of which she rightfully earned.
Together my Mom and Dad had dreams of serving the Lord through full time Christian service. They wanted to be missionaries to Africa or India but those doors never seem to open. Instead my Dad eventually took a position as a pastor at a church in Michigan where they lived in a small log cabin. As time progressed they moved to Bremen Indiana where I was born. Later we moved to Huntington Indiana where the next 16 years were spent on Swan Street which should have been called “liquid Lane” because of all the alcohol abuse and self induced poverty which was common. The night we arrived in Huntington someone had busted out the windows in our house. My Dad notified the police and asked what kind of a neighborhood was Swan Street to which they replied, “It’s what ever you want to make of it”. Little did we know what to expect in the years to follow.
Most of the neighbors worked in factories such as the Majestic Company, Orton Crane and Schact Rubber(which went out of business), Caswell Runyon(which burned to the ground in 1962), the Erie railroad(which went out of business, or the Wabash rail road.
Swan Street and surrounding neighborhoods were areas where you couldn’t help but become street wise because of the way of life and culture in a menial class of society.