I made mailboxes longer than I did anything else in my life. When I started in the Apple Barn we depended entirely on the mailbox business for money. That changed a few years after my accident when the mail order companies stopped buying from us. It was also when the business moved to a new building that had a dry, well lit office that was heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer. A toilet and sink were in a small room connected to the office. There was another toilet and sink in the shop area. With additional comfort came additional expense. After a few years the business no longer supported itself, or us, and at the same time we started getting money from dead relatives. We lived on that money, and against the best professional advice kept the business going.
Instead of going into the facts of the situation with my children which would only lead them to think I was quite insane I told them I had the capacity to wash dishes, and cook dandelion greens. In light of what was going on I was secretly convinced my individual problems were nothing.
Again and again things seemed to take care of themselves. We got a letter from the tax people saying we owed a rather large sum of money in back taxes. There was no way we could pay it, and if we divided it into twelve installments we would have no money left each month. We put the letter in a pile of other bills. I had no idea what we were going to do. That same week we got another letter from the Government. It said the disability application Jenny sent a year earlier had been approved, and we would get money each month. When that money arrived we turned it right around, and sent it back to the Government. The whole tax bill got paid that way.
Legally I was classified as an unemployed disabled person. I got to like that status, because when you have nothing you find out who your friends are. The telephone rang, and it was a person from a collection agency trying to get more of the money I owed in Missouri. I said I had no money or a job. I said I was an unemployed disabled person. He asked, “How are you getting by?”
I said my wife brings home a check, and added, “I guess I am just a kept man.” He never called back. When the business was still earning money as a legal matter the paycheck had to be in Jenny’s name not mine.
The first year I went to a district convention of Jehovah’ Witnesses our congregation was assigned to the one in Louisville, Kentucky. Nearly fifteen thousand people were there. District conventions happen the best time of year in the country where they are. A yearbook told about a person in a remote part of the world who paddled a canoe two days to get to one.
In the Bible Christ says you can recognize a tree by its fruit. The convention was in a large indoor arena in Louisville, Kentucky. The place was filled with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I never saw so many.
A wheel chair bound person wheeled himself into one of the men’s rooms when I was in there. I was facing the other way, but I heard someone ask him by name if he needed help.
The convention lasted three days and dealt with how to cope with the problems of life using Bible based information. When it was over there was a puddle of green engine coolant on the pavement under a van belonging to a family in our congregation. Someone walking past stopped. He lived in Louisville, and had never met the family. When he learned what the situation was he told one of them where to get a new pump. He said he would go home to get his toolbox and overalls. The man with the tools worked right there in the parking lot three hours into the night.
No one acted like anything unusual was happening. There were half a dozen of us standing around, and when everything about bolting on the new pump was going right we enjoyed being there. I got back to the house late. I explained to Jenny more about why I was late and what happened. She said it would be that way with any church group.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are one worldwide group without national boundaries. There has never been anything like that. A traveling district overseer said the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was like a multi-faceted diamond, and from the podium he pleaded, “Don’t smash the diamond.” Many times, many ways the Bible warns about the danger of contentions developing between brothers. Personality conflicts are a threat to the unity. The word brother in the Bible and among Jehovah’s Witnesses refers to everyone who shares in the knowledge of Jehovah and acts accordingly.
A brother and his wife in our congregation went to Australia. When they got back many members of our congregation went to a banquet hall to hear about the trip, see slides, and have a good time. The photographs were projected on a large screen. It showed brothers and sisters who lived on the other side of the world.
After looking at the pictures everyone ate dinner and danced. When it was over I helped tidy up the place. I put the paper tablecloth on our table in a garbage bag. There were paper plates, empty paper cups, plastic cups, plastic knives, forks and spoons rolled up inside the tablecloth. Apparently, there was also somebody’s cake. A sister very different from me (skin color and all) was outright cross at me when she returned and saw her cake was gone. Later that week after the Sunday meeting (it isn’t called a service like in churches) the woman came up to me and said, “I hope you’re not mad at me.”
I said, “Heavens no. Why would I be mad at you?” At first I didn’t remember the incident.
Then she said with a curious and embarrassed look, “It was my cake you through away.” That is what he was talking about when he said don’t smash the diamond.
Each year the program at the district convention is outlined at the world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Everything about the Jehovah’s Witness organization is like neat rows of army tents. Branches are divided into districts, and districts, are divided into circuits. Circuits are divided into congregations.
Meetings on every level, even the district one, have the same purpose. First, it is what the Bible says. “…Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine work, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together…” The “us” refers to a spiritual brother or sister, or people “in the Truth”. There are many expressions like “in the Truth” which have special meaning to one of us.
Moments before Jesus Christ endured a long tortuous execution he told a governor who was questioning him, “for this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” The governor said back to him, “What is truth?” When someone says they are in the truth it means they are certain about Christ.
Secondly, the district meeting is designed to keep people “spiritually awake”. That is the goal of every meeting. Over and over the Bible stresses the need to stay spiritually awake, and it warns about the “spirit of the world”. The Bible says the spirit of the world is passing away. That “spirit of the world” is the conglomeration of people entirely absorbed in themselves and in getting what they want for themselves. A spiritual person knows the truth, and that makes them selfless.
In the United States there are numerous district conventions every year. The one I went to lasted Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Jenny and the children never got past the way we all felt during the first one. I heard from them about sitting in one place all day, and how tiresome it was. I suppose at first I also felt that way, but as time went by things were getting clearer. Everything didn’t have to be so mystifying. I was being moved in more ways than one.
One of the ways was by Holy Spirit. That is difficult to explain, because it cannot be proved. For someone who has some, or is on the receiving end of it, it is unmistakable. Holy Spirit is defined at the very beginning of the Bible by the words “active Force”, “…and God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters…” Different translators may use different words. Maybe they unknowingly lean toward a certain doctrine, but if a person lists all the references to Holy Spirit they will come to understand what the Holy Spirit is. Knowing what it is, is nothing compared to knowing its effect.
It was not possible that I discontinue my interest for any thing or anyone. There were days when I went to Louisville alone. Forcing the issue at home, insisting that everyone do this or that was blowing us apart. If it was better we remain one family it was better left alone. Many families stayed in Louisville all three days. They got special lodging rates that were determined by a person in Brooklyn and someone at the hotel or motel near the convention site. Others went back and forth each day. I was one of those. One year, early in the morning several of us met in the kingdom hall parking lot. We filled two cars.
That morning in the parking lot we waited for everyone to arrive. It was starting to be another hot day. Some people were drinking coffee from paper cups. There was an old man from another congregation. I had not met him. We talked. I didn’t think he would mind so I asked him how old he was. He said he was 92-years old. We talked some more about the price of eggs and the hot weather. He was much shorter than I was. He sparkled, smiled often, and moved about agilely. At the same time most of us still had sleep in our eyes. I sat next to him on the way down there.
Occasionally the driver talked to the other person in the front seat. It was always a conversation just the two of them were having. I didn’t talk and neither did the old man. When we crossed the Ohio River Bridge I began to think maybe I should try to strike up a conversation with him. Sometimes idle talk had its purpose. He seemed content to sit there without saying a word. I asked him how he got to be a Jehovah’s Witness. What he said wasn’t ordinary.
He said he lived in Adams County, which is a rural area East of Cincinnati. He said it was “un-assigned territory”, and some “brothers” came up from Portsmouth, Ohio. He said they stayed over night at his house and left some books. He looked at me, smiled, and said it was eight years before they did a return visit. In the meantime his family became the only Jehovah’s Witnesses in Adams County. As far as he was concerned that was the answer to my question, but oh no, there were many more questions. It was a good thing we in a moving car. He couldn’t leave. There was nothing frivolous about him.
It was 1920 when the books were left at his house. At that time, and until 1935 the Jehovah’s Witnesses went by the name, “Bible Students”. It began in 1870 when a small group of people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, got together to find out if widespread popular Christian ideas were in the Bible. If those ideas weren’t in the Bible, where did they come from, and why? What they found out led them to quit their jobs and dedicate their lives to spreading the truth. Their effort snowballed into what today is known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses with 93,000 congregations in 235 lands.
In the following years our circuit assembly was in London, Ohio. Several times I saw two of the old man’s grown children with him. The three of them always sat together. Years before on the way to the district convention in Louisville he told me when they lived in Adams County more than once his children had to walk home from school after the morning assembly. He said they were sent home because they did not pledge allegiance to the flag. As grown men sitting with their father. I mentioned this on two different occasions a year apart and both times they looked at their “Dad” without saying anything to confirm or deny that it happened.
In the car going to Louisville I kept asking him questions. He realized my interest, and started to say more. He told me the official in charge of the school wanted him ruled unfit as a father, and tried to have his children taken away from him. He said they moved to another county where the school superintendent was more tolerant. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not salute flags.
Bible education and applying Bible principal to present day life is the subject of reams of literature made available to us. The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses prepares it. They do it the same way someone builds a house. They don’t hammer every nail. They have help. The governing body is comprised of between ten and twenty men. The number changes. Among us they are the “faithful and discreet slave”. One piece of literature refers to them as “fallible people teaching the infallible word of God.”
The Bible asks, “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?” The master is Christ. The domestics are people. The faithful and discreet slave provides spiritual food. They help us apply Bible principal to present-day life. Exclusive devotion to God, not pledging allegiance to a flag, anything, or anyone, that is a Bible principal. Just like the Beroeans in Bible times, we are encouraged to verify what is being taught with the Bible.
A good example of how this works happened in what for a short time was Nazi Germany. Half a century after the fact most people, or those who are not the same way, regard the person who formed that government as a totally evil person, but back then the man who oversaw the branch office in that country wanted to know what to do. He was told to do what his conscious dictates. Having a good Bible based conscious comes from absorbing the literature. Everybody was told to follow their conscious. Meanwhile that government outlawed Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Bible teaches people to obey human governments, and while God didn’t create those governments, according to the Bible they exist because God lets them exist. It doesn’t specify that the Nazi government was an exception. The Bible also says, “We must obey God rather than men”. Add to that Christ’s comment, “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God”, and altogether there are some principals. A good Christian pays taxes honestly, and obeys the government where they live, but that will only go so far.
With the Nazi government it wasn’t very far. When a government expects an individual to violate God’s law that is going too far. Jehovah’s Witnesses would not involve themselves in the nationalistic fever. Like the Vietnamese rice farmer all they wanted to do was brush their water buffalo.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will not directly or indirectly go around and kill people, not even people who are from a different race, have a different religion, ethnic background, or are from a different nation. The Nazi leader couldn’t deal with that, and as a result during the years he was in power Jehovah’s Witnesses were beheaded, shot, transported to Nazi concentration camps, and in general treated as undesirable human beings, all because they wouldn’t do what the Nazi government wanted. To express loyalty to the Government they only had to sign something, do an act of obeisance to the leader, or to a flag. Their only loyalty was to Jehovah. Many of them did what we call, “endure to the end”. The Bible principals they expressed by the way they lived are defined again in the Bible this way, “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to the ground, in that day his thoughts do perish.”
Wherever Jehovah’s Witnesses live, in whatever country it is, they explicitly obey the laws and rules of that government, but do not get involved in any sort of political activity. In a country like this one where the population votes to elect a government authority the prevailing attitude toward a person who doesn’t vote is that they are getting a free ride, they are un-American, they are unappreciative, or all of the above. One angry lady said this, “Your Jehovah’s Witnesses? My best friend’s son died for this country.”
The lady didn’t want anything to do with us, but the person standing beside me got a few words out. He said something about tragedy, and as she shut the door he said, “Your friend’s son wasn’t killed by a Jehovah’s Witness.”
When I first started studying the Bible with the Jehovah’s Witness lady I clearly remember thinking I could never be a Jehovah’s Witness. I had seen people die for their country. I kept an American flag folded a special way for no other reason than to hang it against the front side of the farm house one day a year when American war dead were honored. Doing that made me think about moments in the past, and Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t vote. I told the Jehovah’s Witness lady their approach to the Bible was a good one. I wanted to keep the Bible study going, but I said I could never be one of them. She didn’t try to talk me in or out of anything. I was adamant about voting. Not voting seemed like urinating on their grave. There was a swift current all around me and my attitude resulted more from that than from any clear thinking on my part.
What about all the other mother’s children who were blown to kingdom come? The ones on the other side, what about them? Soldiers do “search and destroy” missions in the dark. A village is “pacified”. A long time ago an English poet said the political leaders should slug it out to see who gets what. A Jehovah’s Witness magazine quoted someone who said of all the “ism” the one that has caused the most human suffering, misery, and death is nationalism.
Today two nations struggle against each other, and each one thinks God is on their side. The truth is, if any super natural being is on their side, it is Satan. That wasn’t always the case. Again and again the Bible describes how Jehovah helped ancient Israel in a big way. Jehovah made a promise with them, and the “greater fulfillment” of that promise was Jesus Christ who was to come from them. Jehovah was like a parent to a child.
One of the times ancient Israel was helped by Jehovah is in the book of Judges chapters six and seven. First it says, “ Then the sons of Israel began to do what is bad in the eyes of Jehovah. So Jehovah gave them into the hands of Midian for seven years”.
The Midianites would set up camp next to the Israelites. Verse five and six says, “They would come as numerous as the locusts, and they and their camels were without number; and they would come into the land and ruin it. And Israel became greatly impoverished due to Midian; and the sons of Israel began to call to Jehovah for aid.”
They were helped. Verse 12 says, “Then Jehovah’s angel appeared to him (Gideon) and said to him: ‘Jehovah is with you, you valiant mighty one.'” At this Gideon said to him: “‘Excuse me, my lord, but if Jehovah is with us, then why has all this come upon us, and where are all those wonderful acts that our fathers related to us, saying, was it not out of Egypt that Jehovah brought us up? And now Jehovah has deserted us, and he gives us into the palm of Midian.’ Upon that Jehovah faced him” (faced him by proxy through the angel. No one has seen Jehovah and lives), “and said, ‘Go in this power of yours, and you will certainly save Israel out of Midian’s palm.'” Gideon is human. In verse 15 he asks what to him is a highly relevant question. “Excuse me Jehovah, with what shall I save Israel?” Then Jehovah replies, “Because I shall prove to be with you, and you shall certainly strike down Midian as if one man.”
That conversation took place while Gideon was sitting under a big shade tree in Ophra. Quite naturally he wants more to go on. After all how many times does an angel sit down under a tree with you? Saving Israel involved others, possibly others who would die. Gideon might have considered that he had some screws loose, or something of that sort. So Gideon says, “If, now, I have found favor in your eyes, you must also perform a sign for me that you are the one speaking with me.”
Here is the sign, “Then Gideon said to the (true) God: ‘If you are saving Israel by means of me just as you have promised, here I am keeping a fleece of wool exposed on the threshing floor. If dew comes to be on the fleece alone but on all the earth there is dryness, then I must know that you are saving Israel by means of me, just as you have promised.’ And it turned out to be that way. When he rose up early the next day and wrung the fleece, he got to drain off enough dew from the fleece to fill a large banquet bowl with water. However Gideon said to the (true) God: ‘Do not let your anger blaze against me, but let me speak just once more. Let me, please, make tests once more with the fleece. Let, please, dryness occur to the fleece alone, and upon all the earth let there come to be dew.’ So God did that way on that night; and dryness came to be on the fleece alone, and upon all the earth dew occurred.”
In chapter seven Jehovah tells Gideon exactly what to do and with 300 men Gideon permanently chases away all of the Midianites.
When ancient Israel did things their way and not Jehovah’s way calamity was right around the corner. One of the times this happened is explained this way in a Jehovah’s Witness publication: “Social injustice, tyranny, greed, dishonesty, bribes, sexual perversion, criminal attacks, bloodshed, as well as religious hypocrisy that converted God’s temple into a “cave of robbers”—all of these things were decried by Jehovah’s prophets in their warning messages delivered to rulers and people. (Is 1:15-17,21-23; 3:14,15; Jer 5:1,2,7,8,26-28,31; 6:6,7; 7:8-11) Neither the support of the apostate priests nor any political alliance made with other nations could avoid the coming crash of that unfaithful kingdom. (Jer 6:13-15; 37:7-10). The capital city, Jerusalem was destroyed and Juda was laid waist by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E.-2Ki 25:1-26.”
The Israelites who survived were slaves in Babylon for quite some time. Jehovah eventually returned them to the land where they once were. The first thing they did was rebuild the temple.
The Messiah had not been born yet. The ancient Israelites were descendants of Abraham, and Jehovah directly told Abraham that the Messiah would come from his descendants. When Jesus Christ was born, and every sign identifying him as the Messiah was fulfilled, he was rejected. After that Jehovah did not treat one kingdom or nation in the parental way he did that one. Now, according to the Bible Jehovah seeks “people out of all nations, tribes, and peoples and tongues.”
When David moved the arc of the true God to Jerusalem and decided to build for it a house of cedars. Jehovah tells David through the prophet Nathan at 2nd Samuel 7:11-14 that not him, but one of his descendants will build a house for Jehovah that will last to time indefinite. David doesn’t know the details of what Nathan says, but those details are now known from parts of the Bible written after David’s time. The descendant is Jesus Christ and the house is the Congregation of God.
The apostle Peter explains this when he talks to religious leaders about a cured lame beggar. At Acts 4:10-12 he says to them, “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you impaled but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand in front of you. This (Jesus) is ‘the stone that was treated by you builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner.’ Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”
Saved from the condition of all people. We are the offspring of Adam and Eve. All of us have inherited their sin, and like them we grow old, and die.
In the very beginning when Adam and Eve chose to willfully disobey God, God told them in that day they would surely die. They lost the prospect of living forever on a paradise Earth.
Out in a world without God they began aging and died. It was God’s original purpose that righteous people inhabit the Earth, and that purpose has not changed.
When God was sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden the first prophesy appears in the Bible. At Genesis 3:15 God says, “And I shall put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman (heavenly Jerusalem). Between your seed (Satan) and her seed (Christ). He will bruise you in the head (do away with Satan) and you will bruise him in the heel (kill Jesus Christ while he is on earth). Christ hasn’t “abyssed” Satan yet. That will happen at Armageddon, but Satan has bruised Christ in the heel.
Nobody knows the time of Armageddon. In the Bible Christ says he doesn’t know, but only the father (Jehovah) who is in heaven knows, and Christ goes on to say it will come just like a thief in the night. After Armageddon the Bible says Christ will rule a cleansed earth. Christ is the only escape route. Now more than ever mankind has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we cannot live without God in a manner that God approves.
A manner God approves is the example provided by Christ, and it is in all that he said. No longer will people run around hacking each other up with machetes. It will be a world where there will be enjoyable work for everyone. If we can’t understand that or think it is too far fetched that is because we are leaning on our own understanding. With God all things are possible.
Without any preconceptions resulting from what I knew but could not prove I reconsidered God. Very soon after that I had to admit even by normal standards a super natural being was involved with the Bible. One of the laws Jehovah gave to the ancient Israelites was one that said they had to wash their hands before eating. Another one was a law that they were to bury human excrement outside camp. There was no explanation. An ancient Israelite would have figured an all knowing God said so, and that was good enough for him. Also there was the implication that it would go well with them to do so. Today, through modern science we know there are some health benefits in those two laws. They didn’t know that back then, but they did it any way. Were they told to do it for their own good?
The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 people, who, it says, were “inspired” by Jehovah. If they weren’t how did they know what they wrote? No human source could have provided the details they have. Historical events are described that hadn’t happened. Some critical people say that proves it was written after the fact. That would make the Bible writers conniving liars. Is it beyond the critical people to at least speculate that a super natural being was involved?
In 1492 a Spaniard said he could get to the East by sailing west. He speculated the Earth was round. That was a different idea from prevailing thought, scientific, religious, or political. Thousands of years earlier a Bible writer made an obscure reference to the “circle of the Earth”, and at about the same time another one in the same way mentions off to the side, “The Earth is hanging on nothing.” How did they know that?
I told Jenny I wasn’t going to vote anymore. She asked why like I wasn’t altogether serious. I said I learned the obvious from the Bible. It is impossible for humans to rule other humans. Even when political leaders have good intentions, hurtful desire always gets in the way. Look for yourself. Some governments might be more successful than others in attempting to bring lasting peace and happiness to the people they govern, but all of them have failed. Isn’t that what it is all about, and if it isn’t what is the purpose of government?
Jenny said, “What if everyone did that, what if no one voted?”
“What if a duck charged you?” I said.
If God is so powerful, why don’t we get absolute, indisputable proof that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste? Christ raised the dead, cured the sick, and fed the multitudes, that “proof” lasted only a short while into the early part of the first century. The ancient Roman government killed two birds with one stone, providing entertainment in the coliseum, and getting rid of a pesky people by feeding them to lions. To avoid a gruesome death a Christian only had to go over to an altar, and sprinkle some incense over a flame. That was an admittance that Christ and the resurrection was a lie. It was also a sign of token appreciation for the ruler of Rome. The ones who died must have known something absolutely even though they couldn’t prove it to their jail keeper.
Does being spiritual mean believing in something regardless of whether it makes sense to anyone else? The Bible says, “happy is the person aware of their spiritual need.” In this day and age there is a litmus test for everything. In the door-to-door work I talked to a man watering his garden. He was a nice man who wanted to talk. Another person, the man, and myself stood there watching the water fall on the ground. We talked about what made plants grow, and from there the conversation got into creation. His last words were that he was a biologist with a degree. He said when we had a degree come back and talk to him. I don’t think spiritual matters were pertinent to him. The Bible, says, “happy is the person aware of their spiritual need.” No matter how much we say spiritual matters are not for us, or repress it, we have this spiritual need not entirely unlike every motorized car has a drive mechanism. Secular education, and adherence to courtroom evidence does not prevent one from realizing their spiritual need, it just makes it much more difficult.
Between 450 million and 60 million years ago did dinosaurs lay eggs and leave? Or, did they return repeatedly to bring their young food? Did God create Mankind 6,000 years ago? If a scientist could hide in a tree and watch the behavior of dinosaurs for just one afternoon, upon returning, he or she would be fortunate if in the remainder of their lifetime they could gather enough fossil evidence to convince others what they alone knew were the facts. Everyone would criticize them saying they were unscientific. If a juror of an accused person, unknown to everyone else, was at the crime scene, to him or her, would evidence or the lack of it make a difference? If, on the basis of what they knew, they tried to explain innocence or guilt, the other jurors would say they were biased.
One side says the Earth started as one big hot rock in outer space. It went, and still goes through, evolutionary change. That satisfactorily explains for them how this place got to be the planet where we now reside. The other side says a Creator made the Earth, and everything in or on it. For the moment remove the element of time from what these two sides say.
The one side “theorizes” a particular species became something else. The amoebae, a one-cell creature that lives in water, both remained the same, and evolved into a more complex animal. The fern, the simplest of green plants, both stayed the same, and changed into a more complex plant like a tree or a daffodil. People who suppose this theory is accurate are unable to explain in the scientific terms they love so much why a plant or animal, whether it sticks around, or suddenly disappears, leaves no indication in the fossil record that it became something else. There is no evidence that a turtle crawled out of the water and eventually became a human.
Beyond this planet, the more we find out, the more we find out there is no life, but on this place. There is no scientific explanation of where living matter came from, or how it evolved from non-living matter. No human, try as we may, has been able to take non-living matter, and from it, make living matter. People have tried to create life in electrically charged bell jars on laboratory tables. They can’t produce the smallest microorganism. They explain the biological distance between a microorganism, and a human is nothing compared to the distance between the microorganism and non-living matter.
The other side holds fast to their being a Creator. They disregard all the schooled thought that says impossible without saying impossible. They believe if the Creator simply wants this or that in a particular way, this or that becomes that way. Like the parting of the Red Sea, it cannot be explained scientifically.
So the Creator wanted light and there was light. Every creature was deemed necessary so they happened, the giraffe with its long neck, and all the others big and small. What became of the dinosaurs? Think of that answer as classified information. We have no need to know.
Once the evolution foundation is in place that we evolved from animals it is smooth sailing to say we are animals, and “survival of the fittest” applies to us also. When that notion was first presented more than 100 years ago it pleased many to think it applied to them. It justified the way they were, or wanted to be.
In recent times more than a few well meaning people apparently consider this notion a fact even though they don’t say so. One of them, typical of the rest, backs into the idea of improving our humanity saying we should understand animals. Recording the behavior of a flock of Grey Leg Geese he notes striking similarities between animal behavior and human behavior. At the end of the book he moralizes and says, if ever we are going to understand ourselves we have to understand animals.
Bones cause many people to consider the evolution theory a fact. Their thinking is that our bones are like the bones of animals so, of course, we must also be animals. It has been demonstrated, at least once, that a hungry orangutan when given enough time, without assistance, unscrewed the top of a clear glass jar to eat an orange all up. Does that imply the animal can reason?
Our bones and biological functions are not different from animals. It is our ability to reason that is different. Reason is this: If A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C. The ability to reason, not bones, sets human beings apart from animals. There is no courtroom evidence and never will be that the ability to reason was the product of evolution. A bunch of people will never be able to stand around looking at reason and say it came from this or that rock formation.
The creation account does not rule out that mountains wash to the sea, or that a predatory bird soaring on high gets more to eat than one that doesn’t see as well. That is “natural selection”. Where the two sides part company is whether or not the bird will ever become something entirely different like a fish.
Enter time. Time is the most conflicting piece of evidence there is. By our own understanding it cannot be resolved. This is exactly the situation of someone that has only a technical knowledge of God, but doesn’t know the power that is there. Understanding God by scientific standards is not possible. When Holy Sprit hits there is no question that God exists. Courtroom evidence like the time thing is meaningless because in effect you were there.
Many people stood at their front door, and said they were happy with their religion. They knew we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most of them were too busy to explain why they were so happy with their religion. The few who did explain seemed to think we were trying to recruit Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that our purpose was to make them a Jehovah’s Witness. I said our purpose was to draw attention to the Bible as a source of guidance and power, and they could decide the rest for themselves.
One lady clasped her hands together against her chest and with a big smile said, “You’re Jehovah’s Witnesses.” She went on and on about how we were where it’s at, although it was clear she was not a Jehovah’s Witness. She was still talking. I managed to get a word in edgewise. I said, “mam, if you think Jehovah’s Witness are so great why aren’t you a Jehovah’s Witness.” She said she was a Methodist. I asked her why she was a Methodist, and she said, “Because my mother was a Methodist.”
Another woman who had time to talk also said something about her mother. In a very friendly manner she said her sister was a Jehovah’s Witness. I asked her what she thought of her sister, and this gray-headed woman said, “She is a disgrace to her mother.”
Many people had an adverse reaction to the idea of organized religion, but identified in themselves a spiritual need. They said God was something undefined in them. When I mention the Bible or Jehovah I could see all kinds of warning flags pop up in their minds. When I first became a Jehovah’s Witness there was much said about other religions. People tended to shut down when I talked about their religion. It was like I criticized their house or the way they lived. Drawing peoples’ attention to the Bible was an indirect way of saying how sick their religion is.
When I was in the military I was standing in a movie ticket line at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. An Airborne trainee in front of me wearing civilian clothes had words printed on his shirt that said, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” He bought the shirt off base. It was not Government Issue. Thirty years later I read practically the same words in a Jehovah’s Witness magazine.
This is what it said: “’Slay them all; God will recognize His own.’ On that summer day of 1209, the population of Beziers, in southern France, was massacred. The monk Arnold Amalric, appointed as papal legate at the head of the Catholic crusaders, showed no mercy. When his men asked how they were to distinguish between Catholics and heretics, he reportedly gave the infamous reply quoted above. Catholic historians have watered it down to ‘do not worry I believe very few will be converted.’ Whatever his exact answer, the result was the slaughter of 20,000 men, woman, and children at the hands of some 300,000 crusaders, led by prelates of the Catholic Church.”
For several weeks beginning on April 6, 1994 in the country of Rwanda in Africa, a country that is said to be predominately Christian, people hacked up people with machetes because they were either Hutu or Tutsi. 500,000 people were killed. One well-documented incident involved a group of people who hid in a church. Meanwhile the person with the key, a priest, summoned the rival ethnic group, and they killed everyone there.
Not long ago I was getting some mailbox paint, and I heard a telephone conversation on the radio. On one end a radio talk show personality assumed the manner of a person who didn’t use the King’s English very well. This time the call was to someone advertised as being a person who would pray for the caller. In a sincere unschooled tone the radio personality explained a problem, and asked over and over in a sorrowful way, “would you pray for me?” After talking awhile the voice on the other end finally said how he would pray for him, but first the sincere unschooled person had to send $50.
Many people said God was inside every living thing, including them. They wanted nothing to do with religious people, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just the mention of a word like government when talking about God’s Kingdom caused them to throw up their hands, shake their head, or terminate the conversation. The name “Jehovah” or the word “Bible” and “organization” often had the same result. Those who talked said “God” was in them. Who, or what that God is depended on the person talking. Parts of the Bible they liked, but the whole of it was not a concern to them. When I mentioned Christian standards they thought I was talking about a Jehovah’s Witness “interpretation”. The spiritual dimension of their life was private. Putting a name on it was the same as being associated with a particular religious group. They didn’t want to be like religious people. None of them talked about the behavior of past or present religious people. The ones who responded said in one way or another “to each his own”. I told them the most wicked people on Earth could have a private understanding of God.
People who say God is in them make good to be whatever they want. They are like the wood carver in the Bible, “Half of it he actually burns up in a fire. Upon half of it he roasts well the flesh that he eats, and he becomes satisfied. He also warms himself and says, ‘Aha! I have warmed myself. I have seen the firelight.’ But the remainder of it he actually makes into a god itself, into a carved image. He prostrates to it and bows down and prays to it and says: ‘deliver me, for you are my god.'”
A movie I saw, as a child was about a government official in a dark suit, and a barefoot farmer’s daughter. The government was going to make huge lakes in rural Tennessee, and people had to move. She had outgrown the dresses she wore. Their relationship was the movie. When he left she did not go with him. He gave her a coin saying it was a good luck piece that would help her when he was gone. She always kept it close to her.
Like the young woman, and the wood carver many people are certain they get help from foreign objects, but the help is their own. Self-help and help from God is not even close to being the same thing.
I hadn’t seen the preacher who married us in a long time. He married and buried quite a few of my relatives. He was a young man when I was a small child. I told him I fondly remember his fiery sermons about how it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to get into heaven. He said he never made sermons like that, and was embarrassed by the thought. Now he was old, retired from his job at the church, but he still officiated at some church events.
On the telephone I asked him to have lunch with me. I could hear him turning pages in his date book. He said he was in so many wrecks that his son convinced him not to drive anymore. On the set day and time I went to his house to pick him up. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant. We talked about life in general. He said his friends were dying and he buried them. I could tell, by the way he said it. It wore him down. We talked about the resurrection.
He knew I didn’t go to church any more, and that I was a Jehovah’s Witnesses. He asked me how the “Jehovah’s” were. I said fine like a child whose parent asks about a day in school. Then I said in all recorded history there has never been a worldwide group of people who didn’t follow a flag until there were Jehovah’s Witnesses.
We talked about war, nationalism, and bloodshed. He said, “What about the Old Testament (Hebrew scripture), that is part of the Bible too.” He was talking about war, and because it happened so much in the Bible it was therefore okay with God. He thought awhile about my worldwide brotherhood comment, and said, “Quakers” are very much like “Jehovah’s”. I didn’t reply. We had a good lunch. I drove him home. It was a sunny day. He got out of the car at the end of his driveway to get his mail. It was a long driveway with one big shade tree near the house. He walked to the house. I turned around and drove home.
A man at his door talked gruffly. He said he was very involved in “his church”, that he was in some sort of leadership capacity. We could say nothing about religion he didn’t already know. I asked him, “Didn’t Christ teach all of us to love each other? In the Bible doesn’t Christ say people everywhere will recognize his followers by their love among each other?”
He gruffly said, “Yes, of course.” I asked him what he told his son or a member of his congregation who wanted to join an army, and go off to kill people? “Oh”, he says, “that is different.” I asked him what is the difference? He had to go. He closed the door between us.
During a gathering of people I had a conversation with a person who said he was a schoolteacher studying the ancient philosophers and working for a graduate degree. He was doing a paper on the “philosophy of religion”. I asked him if that wasn’t a contradiction in terms? It seemed to me that a religion that became a philosophy was no longer a religion. When I mentioned Christ and the Bible he was quick to remind me there were other religions. I didn’t want to fragment the conversation by saying there is a story in the Bible about how Elija made all those in attendance aware who the true God was, and I didn’t want to hear him say I couldn’t logically use the Bible to prove what the Bible said. I didn’t want to insult his sense of academic procedure by saying the true God cannot be proved, and is only apparent to individuals, all of who have three things in common. They are humble, honest, and spiritually hungry. Instead of getting into that I asked him where the notion came from that people are good. He named a 5th century BC Greek philosopher who he said put forth that idea, and he said it probably came from a philosopher before the one he named. Then he said the ancient philosopher established many Christian ideas. I asked him what ideas those could be, because the idea that people are good is not a Christian one.
He said, “I’m sorry, but if your trying to tell me that God created people who by their nature are bad I cannot accept that idea.” I said people aren’t created bad, but people, all by themselves, without God, are bad. I said that wasn’t a philosophical idea. It was a fact. One that is spelled out in the Bible, no place better than the one where the Apostle Paul says in his flesh there dwells nothing good. I told him an honest look at man’s treatment of man since history began would answer any philosophical questions he might have about the goodness or badness of mankind. It sits well with us to say, we, all by ourselves, are good. Today in both hemispheres humans have heard that stated or implied so much it is assumed true.
“Original sin.” He said, “Is that original sin?” I had to think what that meant because I hadn’t heard that expression for a long time. “Yes it is,” I said, “If you mean Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, that is exactly what it is. That is why the Apostle Paul says nothing good dwells in him. It’s original sin.” We started going around in circles. He repeated if God is the creator of people, why would he create everyone a bad person? He said it like there was no real explanation, and the matter of good and bad was a subject to explore, a mental gymnastics for the future, a philosophical topic just like it was in the past. He wanted to grapple with the thought, and was thinking about it when I told him there is an accurate explanation, which is the theme of the entire Bible. As I began to say what that is he was looking across the room. He would go there in a polite way. I was trying to make it short and sweet. He was somewhere else. He was like so many people. Preconceived notions overwhelmed him. I was trying to explain why there is a good and bad person. I was going to tell him where God was when a Cossack shot a baby in the face at point blank range while it was in its mother’s arms. I never got to finish or even get started.
The Bible says the one called Devil and Satan is misleading the entire inhabited earth, and the Bible calls him the “God of this system of things”. In the account of Christ’s temptation, The Bible says, “The Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and said to him, All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me”. Christ did not deny they were Satan’s to give. He told Satan to get away.
According to the Bible, Satan was an angel created by God, but one who challenged God’s leadership. Using a serpent as a mouthpiece he got Adam and Eve to disobey God. The Bible also tells us that Satan set out to turn all of Adam and Eve’s unborn offspring away from God. God allowed time for Satan to prove his point. We’re still in that time, still in that mess.
Satan is not alone in his leadership of the world. Other angles joined him in the rebellion against God. Demons are the name given to them in the Bible. The Bible speaks of them when it says to Christians, “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”
The Bible over and over refers to Satan as being as real as Jehovah God is. Christ says this when he is talking to the religious leaders, “But now you are seeking to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God…You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began (Adam and Eve were the first victims), and he did not stand fast in the truth, because the truth was not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.”
Satan spoke the first lie when he told Adam and Eve, “Surely you will not die.” Jehovah had previously told them in the day they ate the fruit they would positively die. Somebody had to be lying.
I often heard a friend say in the halls between classes, “The serpent -beguiled- the fair maiden.” Adam and Eve had the prospect of living forever, filling the Earth, and being perfect tenants. They only had to stick with Jehovah. They lost what they had. They began aging and died. They thought they could live better without God.
So why all the time? Why weren’t Adam and Eve swatted like flies, and someone else given a try? It wouldn’t have settled a thing. Man’s ability to live without God would still be a question in the minds of people. Much time has gone past for us. Our condition is described once this way in the Bible: “Man has dominated man to his own injury.”
In the big picture God is in charge, and that makes personal problems seem small.
It is a good thing, because in a one-year period we got copied and lost our two biggest buyers. That would have been a crisis several years earlier, but when it happened it was just another day. One thing happened and soon enough another thing happened to counter it, and all the time I was prepared to wash dishes. It wasn’t important how glorious a job I had. I even told that to the number two guy when he was on top at the second catalog.
The mailbox business was not making it. That became truer after the two mail-order companies dropped us. When we were still doing business with them I wrote distressing letters about how I made a good mailbox but wasn’t very adept with paper and numbers. The letters were far apart and unrelated, but in different ways they said the same thing. If they liked the mailboxes we needed help on the financial end. The letter to the first mail order company said the price of a mailbox was going to increase 20 percent every six months for the next two years. The second mail order company (by then the first was gone) was told we would keep bringing them mailboxes, but could we also bring them all our bills. They could then pay us a fair amount for our labor. Most months we couldn’t pay all the bills. If the mail order company took care of the bills they would be certain of an uninterrupted supply. As it was, the only ones making money was the government and the employees. It wasn’t a long time after those letters that both companies were either having their own copy made or they were buying a lower cost, lighter weight copy.
Veeders Mailbox was just another vender to them. One or the other company wasn’t going to become involved in the financial management of a vender. To them I was unprofessional, but if the space given to a product in a catalog is any indication of its profitability the Veeders Mailbox must have been one of the most profitable items in both catalogs. One whole page was devoted to the mailbox. My saying in a letter how there would be a price increase every six months for the next two years was all the push they needed.
They each thought anybody could make a mailbox for the same money, which wasn’t true. They would find that out for themselves. The first company dittoed the mailbox and called it their own. They even copied the mailbox flag design, which I always thought was unique to our mailbox. It was the Veeders trademark. We used it on our letterhead and on printed material. They knew that but used it anyway. They thought it was theirs. Before that we tried to have it legally protected by the federal government in the trademark office. They denied the application. The examiner said the reason was that the flag was part of the mailbox. It didn’t make sense to me, but very little ever did. When it was copied by the first mail order company, they turned it around backwards so the design was reversed.
During the short while I was doing business with both mail order companies the first mail order company was late paying me a big chunk of money which I needed to make payroll that Friday. I called their finance person on the telephone. I arranged to get there that day and get paid. We would meet on the shipping dock. Veeders Mailbox policy was that each invoice was due in ten days. In exchange we delivered free to their dock. Finance people had the same excuse. The mail delivery took a long time was the one I heard most often. The postmark indicated when the piece of mail had been sent. Big companies had a machine in their office that was owned and controlled by the Post Office. The machine would postmark each piece of mail. After it went through the machine it was up to the company to mail it at the post office. My money often took two weeks for no apparent reason. Purchase orders or other written communications from them took two or three days. From me to them was twenty-five miles. I called the postal superintendent at the post office where the mail order company was located to ask him why it took so long to get mail that had a check inside. In so many words he said it didn’t. When I told the finance person about this exchange he was not very pleased with me. My intention was to get my money on time, and to that end I failed.
The day I went to the shipping dock to get my money I waited in the receiving department where there were four big rolling doors. On the other side of the building packages were sent out. It was a huge operation. The marketing man who started the second company told me when he worked at the first company they mailed out millions of catalogs each year. The first company began one year before I started making mailboxes. The owner must have made all the right moves. I think he owned it entirely. I heard from a person in the receiving department that more and more trucks were arriving there every day.
By telephone, someone told the finance person I was there. I watched people move large bundles to well lit worktables. Smaller packages inside the bundles were neatly stacked on carts. The carts were moved into the main part of the building where the packages were re-stacked on high steel shelves. The catalog said everything for sale would ship the next day.
While I watched I saw the owner coming toward me. The main finance person was on one side of him and the main purchasing agent was on the other side. The building was so big it was awhile before they got to me. I decided it was better to wait where I was. When they got to me I shook the owners hand first. I was in my work clothes, and I didn’t shave that morning. I apologized for the way I looked, and said to the owner if I knew he was going to be there, I would have shaved. He was friendly in a very professional manner. He had the check in his hand. He gave it to me, and at the same time mentioned the second mail order company by name. He asked if they paid their bills on time. Those were the first words out of his mouth after hello. I said I had three children, and from the middle one I learned how to make things fair. I said the other company paid on time, and, just like them, was on ten days net. The finance person was standing behind the owner. I could see by his expression that I said the right thing mentioning the ten days net. The owner must have wondered what the finance person was doing behind his back, because he turned to see him. The finance person immediately assumed a cold, disinterested expression. We were by the worktables. When he glanced at six or seven people standing under lights they worked extra fast.
The second company selected a special color for the mailboxes. They were the only ones selling that color. The owner said he wanted it also. I told him I promised a main person at the second company that they would be the only ones to have that color. I said to the owner, if he wanted his very own color I would be more than happy to paint mailboxes whatever color he wanted. I suggested “hot pink” as a possible color he could have all to himself.
He looked out toward the receiving docks where trucks backed up to unload. When he found out I didn’t have any mailboxes for him he said I better get back and weld. I said he would get more on Monday. I told him over the weekend the paint would dry and I would pack them in cardboard boxes. Also that weekend I wrote him a letter asking whether or not he wanted “hot pink” mailboxes. He wrote back that he didn’t.
The first time we met after my accident the main purchasing agent telephoned to say the owner wanted to meet person to person. Jenny and I both went. Me, Jenny, the purchasing agent and the owner went to a cafeteria in the building that was full of employees eating lunch. It was a large rectangular room with a polished linoleum floor. People sat in bight colored plastic chairs at long tables with plastic coated tops. The ceiling was very high. A concrete block wall painted a light color separated the cafeteria from the inside of the building. The opposite wall was glass. The cafeteria overlooked the airfield of a county airport he also owned. Vending machines were lined up on another wall. Next to them was a counter top with a solid base. A stack of red plastic trays were on the right side of the machines.
The building was new. It smelled new. If the owner felt he accomplished something he didn’t let it show. When I first started delivering mailboxes to his company five or ten years earlier I delivered to a much smaller building a short distance away. Several times he came out on the receiving dock in the winter cold wearing a white button down shirt sweat soaked around his armpits. He would tell me to make mailboxes faster. Once he asked why I didn’t bring them to his attention earlier. Without stopping unloading my overloaded car trailer I told him I painted with a brush back then. When he started ordering, even with a paint sprayer, some nights, I would sleep on the shop floor, and he wanted them faster.
In the cafeteria he got trays and asked us what we wanted to eat from what was available. The purchasing agent helped himself. The trays were not clean to the owner’s satisfaction, and he made that plain without saying anything. In a disgruntled fashion he washed the trays himself in a sink, and he dried them with paper towels. He lined them up on the counter, and turned around to pump some money in the machines.
We were on the other side of the counter. The four trays on the counter top were unattended during the moment he was getting food. During that time one of the employees, a young man, put his lunch on one of the trays. Then he left to get a canned drink. While the young man was gone the owner returned with his hands full of food. He asked the purchasing agent who also just returned if the food on the tray was his. The young man in a crowd of people with his drink in hand realized from a distance that he put his food on one of the four trays set out by the owner. At that point he started to walk in another direction abandoning what he had just bought. The owner looked down the counter to see whose food it was. When no one appeared to belong to it he took it off the tray and put it on the counter. We all went to sit down.
We didn’t talk much. After eating in that impressive place we went to a conference room with one long table. Quite naturally Jenny and I sat on opposite sides of the table, which forced them to do the same. The purchasing agent and me were on one side. He was four chairs away from me. The owner was directly across from me at the middle of the table. Jenny sat one seat away from him on his left side. She had a pencil and paper. The purchasing agent had many pieces of paper. I brought the eight page medical report. The owner didn’t have anything but himself.
Before we ate lunch, going up the stairs to the cafeteria he asked me if I was still riding motorcycles. I told him in no uncertain terms, I was not. Sharing the road with 2000 pounds of sheet metal going the other way with nothing but a yellow line between us was something I could live without. When we were seated in the conference room he asked me if the letter I sent was a list of demands. It immediately became apparent the reason he wanted the meeting was to establish some sort of footing for the future, to see what my attitude toward him was. Always before I dealt with the number two man who was no longer with the company, and who started the second mail order outfit. The letter he called my “list of demands” was a list of what the number two man and me had agreed upon as a way of doing business. Before the letter there was nothing in writing. The letter said the owner could change anything. For him to begin abruptly saying the letter contained a list of demands was not good by any stretch of the imagination. He certainly didn’t believe in small talk.
When he began with that comment I quickly replied I had never made any demands in my entire life. One of the items that he called a demand was that they would pay in ten days if I delivered free.
I was already selling mailboxes to the other company. The letter explained what happened to the exclusive. It said the exclusive was cancelable by either side with 30 days notice. He questioned that, and I explained how the exclusive evolved. I named the international Japanese company that sold them the scanner radio and said we agreed the exclusive would be just like the one they had with them. He said, “How do you know what agreement we have with ____?” He named the international company.
I told about the time when I sat in the number two man’s office. I forgot the name of the other person. I turned to the purchasing agent for help. I described the man whose name I forgot as having a pock marked face, and that he took pictures for the catalog. The man had been gone from there for many years. The purchasing agent knew exactly who I was talking about, and with no hesitation, without looking up, he said the man’s name. Every time I looked at him he wasn’t looking up. It seemed like the whole time he was facing straight down at the papers in front of him. The purchasing agent was in charge of the purchasing department. I had talked to him many times. When he was by himself we could joke about things. He wasn’t so serious. He could be very serious. He had a wonderful smile. The owner was all business. When the purchasing agent said the man’s name so quickly that subject ended then and there. There was no doubt in the room that I knew what their agreement was with the international company.
The owner said firing the number two men was the hardest thing he ever had to do. It surprised me how human he was all of a sudden. I said I was sorry it was so hard for him. I really meant it, but it sounded like I didn’t really care why he fired the number two man. I think he thought the man he fired who went on to start the second company and me were best friends. The fact was I could relate more to the owner sitting across the table from me than I could to the other guy. The owner was consistent and predictable. When he said it was the most difficult thing he ever had to do, and I replied that I was sorry it was the most difficult thing he ever had to do, he looked at me sternly and said “What?” Business life was one big fencing match, parry, and repose. I said again, sincerely, compassionately, with better diction, and syncopation that I was sorry firing the other guy was the most difficult thing he ever had to do. I am not sure he believed me that time either.
There was a folder in front of me, and from it I got a very impressive eight page medical report, and gave it to the purchasing agent who had all the other paper. In a very technical way it said I was competent to stand trial. In some areas, it said I had the equivalent of an eighth grade education. When I handed it to the purchasing agent I said to the owner it proved beyond reasonable doubt I was back, and could make mailboxes. A few days later they sent the medical report back to me with no explanation whatsoever. For them to go to the trouble of sending it back the way they did made me think it was done for some legal reason like down the road, later on, they might want to disavow that I ever existed. Eventually that is exactly what they did.
Each winter I would go to the island in Maine for a few days. All the tourists were somewhere else that time of year. It was unusual I would go there by myself in Summer, but before my accident that is what I did. No matter if I was alone or not the first stop was a one-night visit at my brother’s house on the mainland.
Jenny said I should laugh more often like I did when I was with him. She said she never heard me laugh like I did when we were together. When we were small children I got him used to the rain. For a long time he thought rain was like a bucket of cold water. He was my slave after that, running to fetch this wrench or that piece of bailing wire. When he got older he became more self assertive in a healthy way. He did not get tools for me anymore.
When we were children we started sending a model of an American riverboat back and forth each Christmas. It stayed in the box. Neither of us ever put it together. Year after year it went back and forth. Some years it missed a year. When we met, and when he or I thought about it, we would ask who had it or where it was.
I bought it the first year from a man who had a hobby shop in Montgomery. His store had top-notch models for sale. The box had the word “motorized” across the top. I bought it with the intention of building it myself, but I never did. At Christmas time I wrapped it up and gave it to my brother. He knew I had bought it for myself several months earlier. The Christmas after that one he wrapped it up and gave it back to me. Every year since then it has gone back and forth. Very seldom either of us mentions it, but the model keeps going back and forth.
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t want any part of Christmas. For one thing December 25 in ancient times was a time to celebrate the return of a sun god, and then December 25th was selected as the time to celebrate Christ’s birthday. The merchants and religious institutions that promote December 25 as the time to celebrate Christ’s birthday disown him by their works. Christ has been sold out.
All birthdays are an expression of vanity. One time a lady said to me, “I am a retired school teacher. I know you don’t believe in birthdays.”
I said, “You know why that is? Christ never commanded anyone to celebrate his or her or anyone else’s birthday. A birthday puts a person in the spotlight, a place no humble, God fearing person wants to be. Two birthdays are mentioned in the Bible and they are hideous events. People get their heads cut off at birthday parties.”
At that she said, “You should get your head cut off.” She was getting upset. Her husband came beside her to calm her down. He put an arm around her. She was getting wound up inside. That is easy to do after a stroke.
Long after I became a Jehovah’s Witness the riverboat model kept going back and forth between my brother and me. I never sent him or anyone else Christmas presents. I do not know what the riverboat was, but it definitely was not defined by Christmas.
The summer before my accident when I was in Maine by myself my brother and me sat at the table in his house talking. At home I had been studying the Bible with the Jehovah’s Witness lady and going to a few meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I told my brother about this and how amazing it was that some of the ideas about God and Christ that for a long time have been accepted as truth are not in the Bible. I asked him, “If widely held ideas didn’t come from the Bible then where did they come from?”
He said to me, “That is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (Toro feces). You’ve been brainwashed.” I said he didn’t have to swear. He said, “It’s my house. I’ll swear if I want to.”
I told him, “If you want to swear in your house tell me before you do so I can go outside. This whole house might get struck by lightening.”
He said, “If it is struck by lightening would you feel the effect of the lightening?” I said, “Yes, that is why I want to go outside.” Then we talked about other things. Late that afternoon I went to the cabin on the island. It was Saturday night. The next morning I planned to go back to the mainland and drive to a nearby Kingdom Hall for the Sunday morning meeting.
That was the second kingdom hall I ever went to after the one in Ohio. The mechanic in overalls could have been there. The word unified describes that phenomenon.
That Sunday morning, the next day, my brother was on the coast. He saw my boat tied up to a float on the mainland. He and his wife were getting in their boat to go out to the Island. As they walked down the steep ramp at low tide his wife said to him, why is Jocko’s boat here, and he said to her he was probably scared by the lightening. Later that day when he told me about that conversation I asked him what lightening? He said, “Wasn’t there a storm on the island?” I said no. He said in the middle of the night an electrical storm woke them both. He lay in bed with the covers around his neck. His exact words were, “The lightening was so bright I could see it through my eye lids.”
Back home in Cincinnati I took pocket money out the business each week. Aside from that money was the satisfaction of making a good product in an efficient manner, and for Jenny doing the numbers and paper provided the illusion of having a real job. At the end of the month we often used personal money in order to pay all the bills. When Jenny’s father died, and a short time later my father died we started getting free money on a regular basis. A financial person said it would be a good idea to close the business. He said it was costing us money. When I told him everything would change when the book was finished he looked at Jenny.
I knew Jenny’s father the last ten or fifteen years of his life. We saw each other often. Jenny really listened to him. She listened to me, but not like she did to him. He did not pry into our life, but in a very sincere and loving way he knew exactly where we were. When there were problems she always consulted him. The time I hit Jenny she told him, and soon after that he wanted to have lunch with me. We had lunch several times before for no particular reason, but that time there was a reason even though he didn’t say so. He didn’t ask me what happened. I told him anyway. I just said it like it happened, and let the chips fall where they may. As I was talking he didn’t speak about the incident. We had a casual lunch the rest of the time. It was a given that he was aware of the situation, and cared about her very much. Awhile later I asked her what he said to her about what happened, and she said he said it takes two. Beyond saying that she didn’t tell me what he said.
He was never thought of by businessmen as a successful businessman, but he had an unusual quality that attracted people to him. I could never put my finger on what it was. One time coming out of a restaurant a total stranger who ate there was speaking with him, and the stranger said, “I have a case of the dickey-dos.” Jenny’s father asked the man what that was. The stranger said, “That is when you can’t see you’re dickey-do anymore.” Jenny’s father had a robust middle area too.
Jenny’s father did not attend church during his life, at least not when I knew him. He died of cancer. When he was dying he didn’t bring it up about God, but I did. He said just as briefly as me that it was all true, and that was the end of conversation on the subject of God. His death announcement didn’t appear until after the funeral. There was a mistake at the newspaper. The funeral service was in a local church, and even though there was no official announcement of the time and place, the church was packed. People were squeezing into every corner, and it was not a small building.
The funeral service for my father was at his graveside in Maine. That is where he lived the last part of his life. The preacher said what he remembered, and then he asked for anyone else in the small group to say what they remembered. A few people said something. I said he was a good man, and that I hoped God would remember him.
When they first moved to Maine he walked back and forth to a little office he had above a corner grocery store. He had a copy machine in there, and a manual typewriter with a spool of ribbon that had to be replaced every so often if it ever got used. As far as anyone could tell he spent his days reading magazines and calling 900 numbers to claim free gifts. He had a stroke and that was the end of going to the office. Two people carried him out the door on a stretcher. My brother was there, and said to our father, “…just lay there.” He looked at him from the stretcher and said; “Only chickens lay eggs.”
After the stroke my sister asked a preacher in town if he would stop by once a month and “give him Communion” (a religious ceremony), and that is how the preacher got to know him. Also after the stroke two Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped at the house and started a Bible study with Pop. After their second or third weekly visit my mother who was in the next room yelled, “Get out”. I asked her if she would feel differently if two other people did the Bible study. Her reply was, “No, I just don’t like that sort of thing.” Her reaction was surprising. It was not directed at Jehovah’s Witness, but at two people who went around preaching. She knew I was a Jehovah’s Witness, but didn’t think I went from house to house like them. Going by two’s from door to door is how Christianity was spread in the 1st century. The organization of Jehovah’s witnesses copies that model.
The Bible says at Luke 10:1, “After these things the Lord designated seventy others and sent them forth by twos in advance of him into every city and place to which he himself was going.
When my father died there was a void in my life. I always had a father, but now he was gone.
In the book of Ecclesiastics 9:5,10 the Bible says, “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they any more have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” Verse 10 says, “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom is Sheol, the place to which you are going.”
Another translation puts it this way, “For the living know they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
The word Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek) refers to the common grave of mankind not to a place of eternal torment. One popular English language Bible translates the word Sheol 31 times as hell, 31 times as grave, and three times as pit. The same word is translated three different ways.
Grief stricken Jacob thinks his son Joseph has been killed by a wild beast. He laments at Genesis 37:35, “I shall go down mourning to my son into Sheol.” In the Bible good people go to Hell. At Job 14:13 the good man Job at the height of his suffering prays “O that in Sheol you would conceal me, …that you would set a time limit for me and remember me.”
The Christian Greek Scripture says Jesus Christ was in Hades. At Acts 2:31,32 it says, “His (Jesus Christ) soul was not left in Hades… this Jesus God hath raised up.” Jesus was in his grave where he remained three days until he was resurrected.
People get out of the grave only by the power of Jehovah. Revelations 20:13 says, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”
The Bible character Jonah was delivered out of his would be grave. He was swallowed alive by a large fish, and at Jonah 2:2 he prays, “Out of my distress I called out to Jehovah, and he proceeded to answer me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried for help. You heard my voice.”
There is a story in the Bible about Phillip and an Ethiopian Eunice. Here’s what it says, “…but he was returning and was sitting in his chariot and reading aloud the prophet Isaiah. So the Spirit said to Phillip: ‘approach and join yourself to this chariot.’ Phillip ran along side and heard him reading aloud Isaiah the prophet, and he said, do you know what you are reading?”
“He said, ‘ Really how could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?’ And he entreated Phillip to get on and sit down with him. Now the passage of Scripture that he was reading aloud was this: ‘as a sheep he was brought to the slaughter, and as a lamb that is voiceless before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. During his humiliation the judgment was taken away from him. Who will tell the details of his generation? Because his life is taken away from the earth.'”
“In answer the Eunuch said to Phillip: ‘I beg you, about who does the prophet say this? About himself or about some other man?’ Phillip opened his mouth and starting with this Scripture, he declared to him the good news about Jesus.”
There are four terms in the Bible connected with death. They are “Gehenna”, “hellfire”, “the lake of fire”, and the word “tormented”.
The word Gehenna is often translated as Hell. Gehenna was a garbage dump outside Jerusalem where every sort of refuse was thrown. Fires were kept burning there by adding brimstone (sulfur) to burn the garbage. Anybody who lived there knew what Gehenna was. Christ talked about it as a symbol of everlasting death, of being completely destroyed, as a place from which there is no resurrection. At Matthew 23:33 Jesus told religious leaders, “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” Being thrown in Gehenna meant being completely destroyed like so much garbage. It meant everlasting death, no resurrection.
In the Bible before Gehenna became a garbage dump it was known as the “valley of Hinnom”. At that time Israelites with pagan influence had the ungodly practice of sacrificing live children in fire. About that Jehovah said at Jeremiah 7:31 “‘…a thing I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart.'” Burning alive in fire was not in Jehovah’s heart.
Fire is associated with Sheol or Hades. There is the expression “lake of fire” in the Bible. Revelations 20:14 says, “And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” The first death is the absence of vital signs. The second death, the lake of fire, like Gehenna is the death from which there is no resurrection. Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. They are no more. They are completely destroyed in the lake of fire.
The word torment describes what is imagined to be a key ingredient of Sheol and Hades. At Revelations 20:10 the Bible says the Devil will be hurled into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever. Jesus said in one of his illustrations at Matthew 18:34, “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” Back then jailer and tormentor was the same person. When people or places are thrown into the lake of fire it is total destruction like being in jail forever, removed from the picture.
There was a man at his door. The first thing said by either of us was by him when he abruptly said, “You are the son of Satan.”
I said, “Why is that?”
He replied, “Because you changed your Bible,” and he pointed to the bag I carried.
I said, “What Bible is that?” I could be bringing him much refined gold or a million U.S. dollars in the bag.
He answered, “The Jehovah’s Witness Bible.” His house was in what we call often worked territory. He knew what a Jehovah’s Witness was, and here was another one. I got him to stop closing the door long enough to tell me why he thought the way he did. He said two things. First, that he talked to Jehovah’s Witnesses before at length about what kind of place Hell was. From that exchange he had all kinds of questions, which he promptly asked at the church, where he went several times a week. The preacher told him not to talk with Jehovah’s Witnesses anymore, and to do so was the equivalent of talking to the Devil. Secondly, he mentioned a Bible story about a rich man and Lazarus as if to say that story re-confirmed all he thought about Hell before he ran into Jehovah’s Witnesses. The story is at Luke 16:19-31. Here is what it says:
“But a certain man was rich, and he used to deck himself with purple and linen, enjoying himself from day to day with magnificence. But a certain beggar named Lazarus used to be put at his gate, full of ulcers and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, too the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. Now in the course of time the beggar died and he was carried off by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.”
“Also the rich man died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, he existed in torments, and he saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in the bosom with him. So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you received in full your good things in your lifetime, but Lazarus correspondingly the injurious things. Now, however, he is having comfort here but you are in anguish. And beside all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those wanting to go over from here to you people cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ Then he said, ‘In that event I ask you father, to send him to the house of my father, for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness, that they also should not get into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’ Then he said, ‘No indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'”
The image of the rich man and Lazarus is one of Christ’s many illustrations about acting right. To us it is not visible what a person is, but to God it is visible. The Bible teaching about death is that when the resurrection occurs the wicked will be forgotten in their grave.
The Bible says heaven is a place a few go right after they die “in the twinkling of an eye.” The Bible book of Revelations puts their number at 144,000. They are part of the kingdom government in heaven named “Spiritual Jerusalem”. The kingdom government will provide leadership over the earth where the “the other sheep” will be. Christ refers to the ones in heaven as his “little flock.” Those who go there go as spirit persons. First Corinthians 15:50 says, “…blood and flesh cannot inherit God’s kingdom…”
Heaven is made up of people who died after Christ died on earth. Christ said at John 3:13, “Moreover no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Christ was the first one resurrected. Job, Rachel, Moses, John the Baptist, Jacob, the Shulammite maiden, Noah, Abraham, and all the other righteous people who died before Christ are not up there. They are in the grave where they remain until resurrected to everlasting life here on earth.
At John 10:16 Christ talks about the other sheep who will be resurrected to a life here on earth, “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”
When the other sheep are resurrected to life here on earth Jehovah’s original purpose will be fulfilled that the earth be a Garden of Eden paradise. Until then we play out man’s inability to rule man.
There is a prophesy about this at Daniel 2:44. It reads, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to time indefinite.” So far Jehovah’s prophecies have a 100 per cent fulfillment rate.
When Jehovah’s kingdom takes control of the earth it will happen all of a sudden like a “thief in the night.” The Bible calls that event Armageddon, and says everyone will know it is Jehovah. That rules out cataclysmic events such as collisions between the earth and other objects in the universe. It rules out that mankind in one way or the other will bring about the demise of this system of things all by himself. The Bible describes people, some people, as sliding into oblivion gnashing their teeth.
Christ speaks about the time of Armageddon at Matthew 24:36-39, “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the son, but only the Father. For just as they were in days of Noah, so the presence of the son of man will be. For as they were, in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presents of the son of man will be.”
At Armageddon the earth will not be vaporized or in some way made uninhabitable. The prophet Isaiah says at Isaiah 45: 18, “This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth, and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.'” Other Scriptures that say this piece of real estate we call earth will always be here are not few.
At Psalms 37:29, “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”
At Matthew 6:10, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place as in heaven, also upon earth.”
At Ecclesiastics 1:4, “A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.”
Psalms 104:4, “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
Matthew 5:5, “Happy are the mild-tempered ones (meek in some translations), since they will inherit the earth.”
Proverbs 2:21,22, “For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless ones are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and they will be torn away from it.”
Psalms 115:16, “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong. But the earth he has given to the sons of men.”
All the major religions say that in one way or the other people never die that death is a transition to some other realm; at death everyone, or their soul, immediately gets whisked away to some other place.
At Genesis 2:7 the Bible says, “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” Adam didn’t have a soul he was a soul.
In the Hebrew Scripture of the Bible (commonly called the Old Testament) the word translated “soul” is nephesh and it appears 745 times.
“The word translated “soul” more than a hundred times in the Christian Greek Scripture (commonly called the New Testament) is psyche. Like nephesh this word often refers to a whole person.
Humans and animals are in the same condition when dead. Ecclesiastics 3:19, 20 says, “For there is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beasts, and they have the same eventuality. As the one dies so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit, so that there is no superiority of the man over the beast, for everything is vanity. All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.”
A Jehovah’s Witness Bible aid on the subject puts it this way: “The spirit that makes animals live is the same as that which makes humans live. When this spirit, or invisible life force, goes out both man and beast return to the ground from which they are made, but this does not mean that our life force literally leaves the earth and travels through space to God. Rather, the spirit returns to God in the sense that now our hope for future life rests entirely with God. Only by his power can spirit, or life force, be given back so that we live again. -Psalm 104:29,30.”
The soul and the spirit are not the same. The soul is blood and flesh. Spirit or life force belongs to Jehovah. Every living thing has Jehovah’s spirit or it would not live.
A long time before Christ came to earth people said the soul is immortal. The idea goes back at least as far as Babylon. It was polished by Ancient Greek philosophers and either started spontaneously, or crept into eastern religions from the West. According to one historian the idea of an immortal soul might have spread to the East by way of the Eurasian nomad society, which, in the 8th and 7th centuries BC descended upon India, South-Western Asia, the Steppe country along the north shore of the Black Sea, and the Balkan and Antolian peninsulas.
The older I got the more funerals I went to and at most of them someone reassuringly recites John Chapter 11 verse 25 as if to say the person is not really dead. In that Scripture Jesus Christ says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.”
Another time Christ says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” On the surface that doesn’t make sense, but understanding Christ means understanding what he says. There are two kinds of dead people. The spiritually dead, and the biologically dead.
When Christ says a dead person will come to life he means a dead person (one with no vital signs) if while alive (with vital signs) exercises faith in him. Then when they die (have no vital signs) they will be asleep (not dead in both ways) in the grave until the time comes when Jehovah God resurrects them. In that way they never die. For those exercising faith in Christ, death (having no vital signs) is sleep.
The story surrounding the verse so often said at Christian funerals is at the 11th chapter of John. This is what it says, “Now there was a certain man sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and Martha her sister (not the beggar Lazarus). It was; in fact, the Mary that greased the Lord with perfumed oil and wiped his feet dry with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore: his sisters dispatched words to him saying: ‘Lord, see! The one for whom you have affection is sick.’ But when Jesus heard it he said: ‘This sickness is not with death as its object, but is for the glory of God in order that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'”
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. However, when he heard he was sick, then he actually remained two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples: ‘let us go into Judea again.'”
A few verses later the story continues, “He said these things and after this he said to them: ‘Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep’. Therefore the disciples said to him: ‘Lord if he has gone to rest, he will get well.’ Jesus had spoken, however about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: ‘Lazarus has died, and I rejoice on your account that I was not there, in order for you to believe.'”
“Consequently when Jesus arrived, he found he had already been four days in the memorial tomb. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem at a distance of about two miles. Accordingly many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary in order to console them concerning their brother. Therefore Martha, when she heard that Jesus was coming, met him; but Mary kept sitting at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. And yet at present I know that as many things as you ask God for, God will give you.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him: ‘I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?’ She said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, I have believed you are the Christ the Son of God, the One coming into the world.’ …And he said: ‘Where have you laid him.’ They said to him: ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus gave way to tears. Therefore the Jews began to say: ‘See, what affection he used to have for him.’ But some of them said: ‘was not this man that opened the eyes of the blind man able to prevent this one from dying?”
“Hence Jesus, after groaning again within himself, came to the memorial tomb. It was in fact a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said: ‘take the stone away.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to him: ‘Lord, by now he must smell, for it has been four days.’ Jesus said to her: ‘Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.’ And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come on out!’ The man that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings.”
This account demonstrates the power of God to raise the dead, and notice Lazarus didn’t talk about being somewhere else.
When the two mail order companies were selling our product several small time dealers in different parts of the country started selling them also. They learned about the mailboxes after installing one for someone who bought it from one of the mail order companies. A mailbox installer would telephone long distance, and say they could sell them out of the back of their van with bald tires. They were right. They bought one at a time at our lowest price. None of them had a big operation.
A few times someone presented themselves, or their company as a big operator. They talked about being a regional distributor. They wanted me to believe they would sell many mailboxes. The first few times I believed them. I got wise about who could or couldn’t sell them.
I asked one prospective distributor what I should do about dealers in their territory? They said they would distribute mailboxes to them. The dealer price would increase forty per cent. Distributors had multi-page contracts detailing their terms.
The mailbox was already expensive. It was not a mass-market item. It was a deluxe item. A person had to be wealthy to afford one. There never were any distributors, but we kept getting more and more dealers. Our price to them must have been too low, because we weren’t making any money. It was costing money.
The telephone rang in the new building and the person on the other end said he wanted to buy eleven large size stainless steel mailboxes. Each one had to have a custom-mounting bracket. All of them were going to be grouped together. Eleven different people sent money. The person who first called was a commercial airline pilot who described himself as the low man on the totem pole in an “exclusive” development. He said one individual living there was the chief executive officer of a well-known international company. He did not name which one of the people it was.
I talked with the pilot several times. He said we should sell the mailboxes on the “Internet”, and he said if we sent him information and photographs he would set up a display for the practice. The airplane he flew was computer operated like the space shuttle. He had to know all about computers. The Internet was computer technology. We sent him information, and glossy photographs. What he came up with was a very good representation of the mailbox.
I know very little about computers, but I know one that is properly connected enables a person to view goods and services for sale on a worldwide medium called the Internet. The difficulty is in finding items or information wanted. There are categories and sub-categories. There are “domains” and “search engines”. Can a person see or hear a search engine? Does it have billowing smoke? Does some unseen person yell, “all aboard” as it searches every dimension? An actual Internet address avoids the search engine altogether. The Internet address the pilot established for us is http://www.veedersmailbox.com.
When things weren’t going so good with mailboxes a steel salesman I had known for more than ten years asked me why I was buying less steel. Our relationship was a little bit beyond the niceties of buying and selling steel. I told him the situation. With a troubled look he asked me how I was going to advertise. I told him I was going to write a book, and in that way I was going to advertise, advertise, advertise. He had a hard time concealing the strangeness that suddenly came over him.
Sales from the Internet were retail sales. Half the money coming into the business was from people who bought the mailbox on the Internet, but much more than half the number of mailboxes made went to dealers at the wholesale price.
Selling retail helped our business break even. Spare change was all we took out. The money we lived on was the free money. That money was like manna from heaven. We worked on the mailbox business for nothing. When the free money came each month we felt it was earned.
It is as if a huge complicated machine moved in front of me. There is thick vegetation, cliffs, and steep hills. For me it would be impassable, but the machine makes a smooth road. I follow where it goes.