1968: A Year for Change in Our Family
None of you great-grandchildren were born when Aunt
Viola and Uncle John went as missionaries to Africa so I’ll
tell you how it happened.
Your great-grandfather, Wilbur and I bought a Travel Queen
Camper just before we retired and planned to travel over
the United States in it. We had also decided we wanted to
see more of our California children and grandchildren so
we planned to spend the winter in that state and in Arizona.
Our first big trip was to visit them in early 1968 and then
drive on to New Orleans to visit your Uncle Roger and Aunt
Ann who were living there while working for Boeing. One event
on our way to New Orleans stands out. On the morning of April
5, 1968, when we got up and went outside we could tell something
was wrong, something had happened.
We were told that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated
the day before. There was a dreadful feeling of suspense
and fear in the campground there in Louisiana. It was frightening.
When we got to our son’s we were cautioned about walking
about on the streets.
A day or two after we arrived at Roger’s and Ann’s
we received the shock of our lives.
A letter from Viola and John told us they had sent an application
to the Baptist
headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to go as missionaries
to the Democratic Republic of Congo which is now called Zaire.
Reading that was almost the same as reading that one of them
was dying. Why hadn’t they told us when we were visiting
them? Because they had just been talking about it then.
Just before we arrived in Anaheim John had attended a Baptist
Men’s Retreat in Redlands. One of the men from Valley
Forge told of the urgent need of a man to go to Africa to
take the place of one of the missionaries. Preferably this
person should be a college graduate, be proficient in auto
mechanics and electrical work. At this time John was teaching
math and auto mechanics in a high school so he fitted the
requirements. John spoke with the man and gave him his name
and address and had heard nothing up to the time we were
there. Because John was needed so
badly everything was rushed through and the usual red tape
matters were dispensed with.
By late May, when we were visiting my cousin Frieda Franquiz
and Tonin her husband in West Virginia, they were assured
they would be going to Africa and they would be commissioned
in Boston at the National Convention. So we drove to Boston
to meet them there. One of the opportunities we had there
was going to a Boston Baked Bean dinner. We really looked
forward to that, but what were we served? Campbell’s
The time between June and August when the Allans left for
Africa was a hectic time. Physicals had to be taken by all
the family, passports and visas obtained, a six-week preparation
period at a college in Newark, New Jersey. Everything but
what you really needed had to be gotten rid of. The house
had to be ready to rent or sell: new carpeting, painting,
a garage sale, dinner every
night with friends who hated to see them go.
Wilbur and I decided to drive to California to help them
out. We wanted to see as much of them as possible before
they left. We took two of our granddaughters with us, Cara,
age 10 and Gloria, age 7.
Two things I remember about the trip. At a country store
in Oregon, off the highway, where we had stopped for gas,
we bought our first kiwi fruit, 40c each. When we were camped
at Canyon Creek in Oregon we walked to the river in the evening
and struck up a conversation with a man who was walking his
dog. In the course of the conversation he said, “Seattle
took the best pastor and neighbor we ever had. His family
lived next to us and our boys grew up together.” He
asked if we had ever heard of Max Morgan. Yes we had. He
was our pastor.
We had quite a time convincing Cara and Gloria that it was
safe to take a shower even if the stalls had no curtains
and there was no lock on the outside door. I had to stand
out side to ward off any strangers.
Missionaries pack and ship everything in empty oil drums.
One company in California supplies these. Every item in the
drum had to be listed, even rags if there were any, and a
notation had to be made if the item was new or used as well
as estimated cost.
After a drum was packed Viola would stand on it so that
John could get the cover clamped on and locked.
Nancy, Viola’s youngest, was a little jealous that
her grandparents had brought two other grandchildren to share
their affection. The three didn’t get very friendly
during that visit.
While we were there, Wilbur and I celebrated our 40th anniversary
but in all the turmoil Viola had forgotten. We were too
tired to do any celebrating anyway. But Cara remembered,
or probably heard me mention it. She and Gloria tried to
persuade us to go out for dinner and they would stay home
by themselves for the Allans had been invited out for dinner.
At dinner that night they surprised us by decorating the
table and giving us a present they had purchased at the drug
store not very far away.
At midnight of the day before the family flew to Zaire we
were still painting and packing. When they left the house
Viola had curlers in her hair and was carrying her best shoes.
Wilbur and I hadn’t had time to clean up so stayed
home trying to finish getting the house ready for the renters.
I would have cried anyway. As it was no one had time for
that. Verna and Hans and the three boys had driven from Seattle
to say goodbye taking Cara and Gloria home with them and
leaving Peter and John for us to take home. That story will
be in the next chapter.