A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker


     Every time I think I will begin to write this, a huge interruption causes me to stop, so finally I have the chance to start on it and maybe I can get a paragraph written before another something has to take center stage. I believe I can count on at least half an hour before Frank will call me to come to the table!

      Those who have the book, Under the Gooseberry Bush,will probably remember a picture of me with Jo’s husband, Charlie Elgin, Sr.  I was 8 at the time, and from that day, on through the years, I had a close relationship with him, through his marriage to Jo, and their home was like a second home to me.

       Jo’s first pregnancy made her deathly ill, and she was in the hospital for weeks.  They kept trying to save the baby and she almost lost her life.  They had to keep her until she had gained up to 78 pounds before they would allow her to be discharged, so she stayed under Mother’s care from Jan. until Memorial Day.  Charlie came down on the weekends and visited with her until she had gained strength and she was going to go to her own home at that time.

     At that time my school year was finished and she asked Mother to let me go home with her to be there to run errands for her, to the store, etc.  Mother gladly spared me and so I went to Jo’s home and was there a year.  During that year, C.W. received a much better opportunity with another coal company located in Kingston, WV which was 80 miles from the Clay County mine where he was then employed. Therefore when the school year began, I was enrolled at the Kingston Elementary which was right across the street from Jo’s home!  When Charlie had night shift, he had to sleep in day, so Jo tried to keep everything quiet for him.

      When they were engaged, Charlie ordered her diamond and wedding ring from Tiffany’s in NY, and when they were married, he gave her a wedding gift of a gorgeous clock from that famous jeweler.  I dearly loved being allowed to use this precious alarm.  It was made of nickel and crystal sides so you could see all of the lovely mechanism as it worked.  You simply wound it and set it, and the “alarm” was a music box which played a melody called, On the Waves.  Not the OVER the waves that we are familiar with, but another beautiful tune that played softly and beautifully.  I could get up on my own, fix myself a breakfast, then go on off to school.  I only had to walk around the fence to the gate and there I was at school. 

     This is to be continued later, for Frank has called me to dinner.    Now I am back, and this is the following day. 

      I tell the above to show how my association with the Elgin family is close and dates back to an early eight- year old, and now at 6th grade level, I was at her home. 

     About the clock, when Dwight was a baby, he loved this music box and to keep him quiet so Charlie could sleep, she allowed him to have it to play, for he had learned early on to wind it and make it play, and he was just a baby!   You can see why he grew up to be an electronics engineer, with a career assured him at Boeing.

     Now we go on from here.  I hardly need to say, that one day he wound it too tight and broke the spring!  Jo had to put it away, for she never did live in a city that had the type of jewelry store that she needed for such a clock, and she waited for the opportune time to get it repaired.  What with having six children to care for and train, as well as all that is entailed in such a housekeeping challenge, plus being a wife and mother, this was given the proper care in keeping it put away safely until she could find a suitable repair that is found in the large jewelry stores.

      As many of my readers do not know, Josephine was stricken with breast cancer and although she took every treatment known at that time, she did succumb and the full story is told in her book, A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, which I co-authored and published for her at her request.   After her death, we visited Charlie as we always had, and at one of the visits I asked him to let me have the clock and I knew an antique clock repair man who would fix it for me.  Charlie said, “As you know, Jo loved this clock because it was my wedding gift to her,  and I know that she loved you, so I do not believe there is anyone she would rather have it than you, and I am sure that goes for me too.”  So, I brought it home and took it to the repair man at once. He opened it and showed me the broken spring and said, “This is a very valuable 1920’s clock.  It was made in Germany.”  I said, “It was handled in America by Tiffany’s in NY.”  He said that he could contact them and see what the situation was with such a spring, and that if he could obtain it he would repair and the sum he mentioned was beyond what I thought I could pay, so I thought that I would save my little honorariums from the workshops and finally get it fixed without using anything from the household budget.  Therefore, the clock was on my bedside table.  You see, I never charged for my storytelling nor the workshops.  People often gave me a little bit toward the gas money, they would say, and I always saved it for my missions gifts.

      There it was when, as time went on, Charlie’s health grew poor, and the Lord took him home to be with his dear Jo whom he adored.  On the day of his funeral, I had a temperature of 103 degrees, and was unable to attend.  This must have been a Saturday, because Frank was at home, and because I was sick, he was with me.

      Early in the morning, I was awake and bawling my head off.  I wanted to be there, for Jo’s children are all so dear to me and I knew they needed me to be there with them. This was another deep cause for grief, besides the loss of my dear Charlie, so I was completely wiped out with grief, Suddenly, OUT OF THE BLUE, THE LITTLE MUSIC BOX BEGAN TO PLAY AND FRANK EXCLAIMED, “OH, YOU HAD THE CLOCK FIXED!”  I WHISPERED, “NO! LISTEN! IT’S THE LORD!” AND HE LISTENED WHILE IT PLAYED ON AND ON THROUGH THAT ENTIRE MELODY AND STOPPED JUST AS IF IT HAD BEEN WOUND AND SET.

      Now Frank was familiar with the whole story of my having the clock and so he said, “The spring was wound too tight and it finally just loosened up on its own.”  I said, “No, honey, the repair man opened the clock and showed me that the spring was broken and would have to be replaced, and he is not sure he can get a spring that will be comparable at this time.”  So then Frank satisfied himself that the spring was BROKEN.  He then said, “Why in the world did you not use the savings and have it fixed.  I thought you knew that the savings is yours if you need it.  Now you take this clock to the man as soon as you are better, and get it fixed!” 

      I did that, and the man was upset when I told him the story of the playing—he thought that I was trying to tell him that he had given me false information to try to collect a big fee, so he said, “You saw the broken spring when you brought it in.  You know that I was telling the truth, so there is NO WAY POSSIBLE FOR YOUR STORY TO BE TRUE AND I MUST SAY I DO NOT BELIEVE IT.”  I SAID, “My husband also heard it and it really played the entire melody all the way through.  I am not accusing you of anything.  I just wanted you to understand that this clock is very special and to know that the Lord is a Great God who knows our sorrows and He knew the Love that existed between my sister and her husband. I am most anxious to have it repaired and I am willing to pay whatever it costs to do it.” 

       The upshot of this story is that Tiffany’s was able to supply him with a spring that was perfectly fine for this mechanism and he was able to get it and fix the clock.  I kept it for quite a while, intending to give it to Dwight at an opportune time, and sure enough it did come about that I could give it to him. He is happy to have this wonderful, supernatural and tangible evidence of a father and mother who were in love all of their married life and into eternity where they now have unfettered joy in praising the Lord in the company of all the angels, and I am sure there is one angel who knows the whole story– for it was no doubt he that brought the music box to life and comforted me with the comfort that ONLY THE LORD CAN GIVE IN SUCH TIMES. HOW WELL I KNOW THAT THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH.       FOR MOTHER’S DAY, I WISH FOR EVERYONE WHO IS A MOTHER, THE KIND OF FAMILY LIFE THAT SISTER JO AND HER HUSBAND, CHARLIE, WERE ABLE TO GIVE AND ALL OF THEIR CHILDREN ARE REFLECTIONS OF THAT LOVE!  EVERYONE OF THEIR CHILDREN MADE PROFESSIONS OF FAITH IN CHILDHOOD, AND WE MAY LOOK AT THEIR LIVES TO SEE THAT THEY ALL LOVE EACH OTHER, AND ALL ARE GOD HONORING FAMILIES.  I WISH THAT ALL MOTHERS COULD BE AS MINE WHO WAS ABLE TO BEAR UP UNDER EVERY IMAGINABLE HUMAN SUFFERING AND GRIEF, AND YET SHE CLUNG TO JESUS THROUGH IT ALL AND HER LIFE WAS A SHINING LIGHT TO ALL OF US IN THE FAMILY. JOSEPHINE WAS HER FIRST- BORN CHILD AND NEVER STRAYED FROM THE TEACHING SHE RECEIVED FROM HER MOTHER.  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

~ Max

One Response to “BELATED BLOG FOR MAY 2020”

  1. Bonnie Northen says:

    I love this story, reminding me of the special love of sisters. God arranged these times for you and Aunt Jo even though some of it was hard, God showed himself strong and blessed all involved. Love you.

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