Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Autobiography of Edith Marshall: A Meeting at Alki

 A Meeting at Alki

Life really began for me on a Sunday in late May.  It was to be an afternoon of recreation for a girlfriend and I, traveling by streetcar from our respective rooming houses to Alki Beach to hear a band concert.  Radio was just beginning to come into being, but there were usually band concerts at various parks during the summer for entertainment.  

Tom Hanks at Alki in another romantic 

I don't know why, but as a teenager and on into my twenties, my warddrobe always contained a black dress or two.  My mother often chided me for wearing black, saying that I had plenty of time to wear it when I was old.  My answer would be, "I will wear bright colors when I am old."  I have not changed my mind concerning this answer, for in my old age, I still desire color in my warddrobe. 

On the day, so different from all the rest, I was wearing my favorite black dress and a black horsehair hat.  It was in an era when girls wore becoming things which made them look like ladies.  It was a "pre-flapper age," and skirts were worn just below the calf of the leg, and one did not think of going anywhere without a hat.  Hats were very important -- the right one could make you look beautiful -- or at least make one feel that way, and that was really what mattered most.  

The concert ended all too soon, but my friend Hagel and I were loath to leave.  It was such a treat here in the great outdoors with the waves of Puget Sound lapping at our feet.  We were ill-prepared for the two young men approaching.  There seemed to be nothing very outstanding in the one who approached me except for his eyes and his smile.  I have never been quite sure of the color of his eyes, but they appeared to be a sort of blue-grey, they were beautiful and had a way of looking at me in a caressing way.  His hair was dark.  I had always preferring blonds, but here was Ralph asking us to go to dinner with him and his friend.  

The Old Homestead on Alki

It solved a problem for Hagel and I for we were both short of funds.  It meant that our dinner would be paid for, also our streetcar fair home.  The "Old Homestead" restaurant was one of the very few places who served really good meals in the area of Alki so we went there for a delicious chicken dinner.  That was the beginning.  The next date was on Memorial Day when the four of us went back to Alki for a picnic.  There was a lovely path up on the hill a ways with blueberry bushes covered with the loveliest big blueberries, which we picked, eating a few. 

First Methodist Church on Capitol Hill, 
presumably the site where Ralph and Edith were
married.   The first pastor was Daniel Bagley, the
driving force behind establishing the University of
Washington in Seattle.
Ralph was eager for more and more dates, but I was not quite willing to give up dates with other young men.  There was a doctor's son in whom I was quite interested and two or three others.  But my hours were such that sometimes I was unable to go out for an evening because I was working late.  It seemed not to matter as to the lateness of the hour as far as Ralph was concerned, and so he often met me at the office when my shift was over.  We both liked to walk and we often walked in Volunteer Park and just enjoyed the warm summer evenings.  It was a case of love at first sight with him, and he often said that he proposed to me that very first night.  I'm not sure, but it was indeed a short courtship, for we were married six months later, on a dark dismal November, at a Methodist church on Capitol Hill in Seattle. 
My feelings were about as uncertain as the weather, but as the pastor finished the service, declaring us husband and wife, the sun broke through the clouds and rested on our heads.  A load lifted from my shoulders, for I felt it was God's blessing on our union.  

August 31, 1981

It seems to be the time that I must try to get all the loose ends of my life tied together in one package.  So often I have put down my thoughts in little pieces of notepaper, and often some of these have been lost or destroyed.  Because many of the things I have written, or perhaps I may say most of the things were written under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, so I feel they were worth preserving. 

Perhaps it is not strange that I feel impelled to write today.  It would have been my dad's birthday, and is also the forty-ninth birthday of John, my second son.  It seems so long ago that a squirming piece of humanity was placed in my arms and he seemed to look directly into my eyes, and at that first look, he entered into my heart. 

Those were the hard years of my life as we had gone through the great depression, and we had not yet seen the end of it.  It, I think changed my whole personality, for life just seemed to become one battle after another.  There was always the concern as to the proper food for the children, decent clothing and housing.  There were four now, with John's coming.  If one has never gone through all the pressures and worries of a depression such as this one, it is hard to imagine what a change it can make in one's personlity.  I had always been a very quiet, shy person who ran from trouble, now all of a sudden I found myself a mother lioness fighting for her whelps.  I was not a nice person to be around those days. 

I loved my family with a fierceness that was almost overwhelming.  It left me feeling helpless, there was so little I could do.  How I wish that I might have had the pleasure of prayer!  It would have made such a difference.  But both Ralph and I had not been to church in a long time, and when one ember is separated from the fire, it eventually goes out.  

But God was still on the throne and He still cared.  One night I was awakened by a voice calling my name. It was called three times - I still heart it after I was awake.  Suddenly I felt that I was being lifted, and I heard the sound of a great organ and voices "like the sound of many waters" singing and at the same time a fragrance not of this world seemed to fill the room. 

God still wanted me, and loved me! 

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.  

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see."

I'm really writing all this to you, my family.  Others would not be interested, perhaps you won't be either, but I try to do these things which please the Lord, and somehow I feel He wants me to do this.  It is, after all, to His glory.  I have gone into some things of the past -- things I would like to forget but feel somhow that they are vital to the present.  Only those who have suffered much are able to succor those who are "pressing through their valley of Baca." (Ps. 84)  Only those who have gone through a long drought can truly appreciate the pools of water."  It was a great day for me when I finally realizied the extreme drought in my life.  

It made a difference in Ralph, too, when he finally drank from that kind of water, Jesus talked to (the) "woman at the well" about.  His smoking caused me a great deal of concern as he often went to sleep while smoking and was always burning holes in his clothes and one time burnt a big hole in one of our best blankets.  There is always the danger of fire in which people lose their lives.  But praise God!  When Ralph accepted Him the smoking went along with other sins. 

There was a day, a dark cloudy day in November -- November 25, 1923 in fact -- when we repeated our vows to Rev. Fletcher in his office of the Capitol Hill Methodist church.  It was a day when, like most girls, I presume I was a little fearful, not sure that I was doing the right thing.  Then just as the pastor pronounced us man and wife, the sun broke through the clouds and just seemed to shine upon our heads.  It was to me like the blessing of God, and I felt better. 

The next day (Monday), we both went back to work; I as a telephone operator and he as a cable-slicer's helper.  I worked for a couple of years, and the third year, Gloria came to brighten our lives.  I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  She was a healthy bab -- so she was good. She cried only when she needed a change or when she was hungry. 

The golden curls she was born with were replaced by light brown, but she was nonetheless beautiful.  Her laughter was like music, and even her cries had a musical ring. 

Things were not going well financially, work was scarce and suddenly the depression was upon us.  Gloria was almost three, and another child was on the way.  Because things were so tight and no one that I really trusted to take care of Gloria, I persuaded my doctor to permit me to be delivered at home.  This one was to be a very special one, for God had touched me in a way I had never known before.  I think I must have felt much like Elizabeth felt when Mary went to tell her of the promised Messiah she was to bring forth, and we are told that the babe (she Elizabeth was carrying) leaped in her womb for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. 

Whatever the reason, my health seemed to be better and I was less tired.  When Stan, this second baby, arrived just a week before my own birthday, he really just seemed like a gift from God.  He was somehow so different from new born babies.  There was no fist waving in the air, but he would lie in his little bed with his hands folded as if in prayer.  He was so good, and so sweet!  

He seemed to grow up so fast, and it was such a joy to watch him walking so quickly and quietly on his little toes.  He could just melt my heart looking at me so soberly with his big eyes and little dimpled chin.  He was so good, and always such a quiet little fellow.  Had I known what the years would bring forth, I might have felt a little like Mary as she cradled the Christ child in her arms.  Time can bring forth such fearful things.  Many times as my first-born son was in the midst of the II World War I felt as if I were being crucified along with him.  Had it not been for the comparison of Him who was crucified that awful day on an old rugged cross, we would never have made it.  How good God is!

Shirli, my second little girl, came just eighteen months after Stan, and she was such a sweet little baby, who grew up too fast.  She was the only one of our five children who seemed anxious to be born, and she always seemed just as anxious to grow up.  She ws always so lively and such a happy little girl and so beautiful!  

When Ronald, our fifth child, came along, she adored him and loved giving him his bottle and never seemed to tire waiting for him to finish.  His was a very difficult birth, but what a joy to hold this last beautiful son.  He had little blond curls, which I was very hesitant to sacrifice to the sheers. 

Looking back, I think how wonderfully God had provided.  We all had good health, and even as God promised to feed the little birds, we were worth more than many sparrows to Him. 

Had I known Him as I do now, it could have made much difference in our life, but God was leading one step at a time. 

John was born at a time when things were still depressed, but help was on the way.  I felt better that summer too than I had with the first three children.  I often went out very early in the morning in search of wild blackberries, and perhaps that was one reason I felt better.  The fresh air and exercise were good therapy for me.  

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