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    Chapter 1—Life at Grandma’s House

    Grandma seated herself in her easy chair near the fireplace. Her day’s work was done. I ran upstairs to get her comb and brush, but my younger sister was there before me. So I sat down to watch her comb grandma’s soft, silvery hair and to listen to the stories grandma might tell while her knitting needles clicked. I’d be a little quicker next time and not let Mabel get ahead of me!SMG 11.1

    “What are you making, Grandma?” I asked.SMG 11.2

    “I’m knitting warm socks for the workers at the printing office in Basel, Switzerland, and in other countries where winters are cold.”SMG 11.3

    “The printing office in Basel! That’s where I was born, isn’t it, Grandma?” Mabel asked.SMG 11.4

    “Yes, the workers there were living in apartments in the publishing house.”SMG 11.5

    “Then I wasn’t adopted, was I? Ella told me I was.” Mabel shot a disdainful look in my direction.SMG 11.6

    “No, Mabel, you were not adopted; although if you had been, we would have loved you just the same,” grandma answered. “But what gave you that idea, Ella?”SMG 11.7

    “Because when I first saw Mabel, someone told me the doctor brought the baby in his satchel.”SMG 11.8

    We had a good laugh, and grandma laughed along with us. Just then father came into the room to talk with grandma, so we heard no stories that night. But the reference to Mabel’s birth in the Basel printing office carried my thoughts back many years to the night mother asked me to get baby sister a piece of zwieback to nibble on while her food was being prepared over the alcohol lamp. Timidly I crept out of bed and started down the long dark hallway. But all my fear vanished when, in passing grandma’s room, I saw a light shining under her door. I knew then that I wasn’t alone. Grandma was up and busy with her writing. It must have been between two and four in the morning, for that was her usual time to begin work.SMG 11.9

    I remember one Sabbath when grandma preached in the assembly room in Basel. A man by her side translated each sentence into French as she spoke. Then another man repeated it in German to a group in another part of the room. Our mother took down grandma’s sermons in shorthand and wrote them out with a pen, because we had no typewriters then. She would make selections for tracts, then work with the translator getting them into French. Sometimes when help was short, she would go into the typeroom and set the type herself.SMG 12.1

    Because mother was so busy, “Aunt Sara” McEnterfer, grandma’s secretary and traveling companion, took care of baby Mabel. I was often left in the care of the cook, a sweet, conscientious young woman named Kristine*The original publication had the spelling “Christina.” Dahl. I was five years old then. One of my chief diversions was to watch until Christina was absorbed in some intricate cooking task; then I would slip ever so quietly out of the kitchen, tiptoe down the hall, and knock on grandma’s door.SMG 12.2

    If I found her writing, I would stand quietly by her side until she laid down her pen. That was the signal for one of the delightful visits that I loved so well. She would tell about her childhood days or her travels, or perhaps about some pet kitten or pony, or about the interesting children she met on the train.SMG 12.3

    Sometimes I would sit on a footstool at her feet. She would give me a pair of small blunt scissors and let me cut out pictures she had saved from magazines. Once when I cut off the steeple of a church, she said very gently, “You must go around the edges carefully so as not to spoil the pretty pictures.”SMG 13.1

    When she saw I was getting tired, she would go to her dresser drawer, take out a peppermint or an apple, and tell me to ask Kristine*The original publication had the spelling “Christina.” to put it up on the shelf for me until dinner-time. Never did we think of taking a bite of anything between meals. “And when you’ve done that,” she would say, “come back, and we’ll go for a walk around the block.” Once we got lost, and not being able to understand French, German, or Italian, we were late getting back to dinner.SMG 13.2

    I’ll never forget the spanking my father gave me for dumping a box of stone building blocks on the hard tile floor after promising to be quiet during a committee meeting. Grandma, seeing my tears, took me on her knee and comforted me. She explained that the punishment was to help me remember never again to make any noise during a meeting.SMG 13.3

    We were in Switzerland two years. Mother worked long hours in the office and contracted tuberculosis. When grandmother returned to America, our family came with her. We went to live in Boulder, Colorado, hoping that the cool, bracing air and warm sunshine would bring about mother’s recovery. But we were disappointed, and we had to leave her lying beside Grandpa James White in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Battle Creek, Michigan.SMG 13.4

    Grandma opened her heart and home to us. But when it was decided that she must go to Australia to help the missionaries there and that our father, W. C. White, would go with her, he bought a cottage on the edge of town and arranged for Miss Mary Mortensen to take care of us two little orphan girls. Mary had nursed our mother during her last illness, and she loved us and we loved her.SMG 14.1

    “Why can’t we go with you, Papa?” we pleaded.SMG 14.2

    Tenderly he answered, “Grandma and I may be traveling a lot, and we may not have a home of our own for some time. Besides, there’s no church school for you to attend. Here in Battle Creek, Mabel can go to kindergarten with the orphans Dr. Kellogg is caring for; and Ella, you’ll have the privilege of attending the first and, as yet, the only Seventh-day Adventist church school in all the world.”SMG 14.3

    Four long years slowly went by. Then one day we opened a letter from father in Australia. It read:SMG 14.4

    “Dear Children, I have found a lovely young woman who has consented to help me make a new home. She will be your mother, and we can be together again. Elder E. R. Palmer is coming to Australia to organize the colporteur work here; and we have arranged for you to travel with him. He and his wife will care for you and see that you reach us safely.”SMG 14.5

    We shed tears on leaving our dear Mary, who had been so good to us; but the trip to Australia held many thrills, stopping as we did at Honolulu, Samoa, and Auckland.SMG 14.6

    Father, May Lacey, who was to be our new mother, grandma, and her secretary were away visiting churches in Victoria and Tasmania when we reached our new home, so the dinner table was reduced in size. Yet, if I remember correctly, it was set for ten. I was delighted to find Edith, a girl of fourteen, one year older than I, seated beside me. Across the table next to my sister was Nettie, about two years older than Mabel. Of course we wanted to know how Edith and Nettie came to be there, and whether they would be living with us in grandma’s family.SMG 14.7

    Edith said, “When your grandmother learned that my father was having a hard time taking care of me and my brother and trying to make a living for us at the same time, she hunted me up. ‘Edith,’ she said, ‘wouldn’t you like to be my little girl for a while?’ She looked so kind that I said, ‘Yes, I would.’ So here I am.”SMG 15.1

    “And she hunted us up, too,” said Nettie’s mother, a little woman not much bigger than Nettie herself. “We came over from Scotland after Nettie’s father died. I sent for my sister and my other daughter, but their ship was lost at sea. That left Nettie and me alone in Sydney.SMG 15.2

    “I opened a millinery shop, but things didn’t go well. We had learned about the Sabbath and decided to keep it no matter what the cost. While I was wondering whether to close my shop or try to keep it running, your grandmother came to me and said, ‘Sister Hamilton, will you and Nettie come and live with me? Soon my two young granddaughters will be arriving from America, and I’ll need a governess for them. You can also assist me by sewing for my family of helpers.’”SMG 15.3

    At the far end of the table sat a seventeen-year-old boy named Willie McCann. Willie was the oldest of nine children. After his parents had attended Bible lectures, they had decided to obey God and keep the Sabbath. Thus Willie’s father lost a well-paying position and had to depend on odd jobs for a living. During those depression times, odd jobs were hard to find. As soon as grandma heard that the family was short of food, she bought fifty dollars’ worth of groceries and took them to their home.SMG 15.4

    While she was talking and praying with the parents, encouraging them to stand firm in spite of difficulties, Willie entered the room. “How would you like to be my garden boy?” grandma asked. “You can take care of the horse and cow and chickens, weed the garden, and do chores around the house.”SMG 16.1

    Willie was delighted. Grandma paid him enough to keep the family from want until Mr. MacCann found steady employment.SMG 16.2

    Acting as host in my father’s absence was a man of about thirty-five who had been stranded far from home with no money. He was intelligent and conscientious, so grandma took him in and gave him work keeping the office accounts, copying and filing documents, and acting as business agent for the household. Emily Campbell, one of grandma’s office helpers, served as hostess.SMG 16.3

    While we were eating, Annie Ulrick came in to wait on the table. She always refused to eat with the family because servant girls never did so in Germany, where she came from. While we were clearing the table and washing the dishes, Mrs. Hamilton told us about Annie.SMG 16.4

    “She attended the same series of Bible lectures that Nettie and I went to hear,” said Mrs. Hamilton, “and she decided, like the rest of us, that the most important thing was to obey God. Her parents were so angry when she left her own church and joined the Seventh-day Adventists that they turned her out. Your grandma said to us, ‘Annie is all alone in the world; we must make room for her in our home.’ So she invited Annie to be her cook. Annie had been a chambermaid in Germany, and she didn’t know a thing about cooking before; but she’s learning fast now.”SMG 16.5

    Later in the afternoon Marian Davis, grandma’s literary assistant, took Mabel and me up to her room. “Your grandmother is writing a book on the life of Christ,” she told us. “These typewritten pages spread out on the floor are to go into one of the chapters. I’ve spent months reading through your grandmother’s sermons, which were recorded in shorthand as she spoke them. I have also gone through hundreds of pages of articles, diaries, and letters; and I’ve copied the most beautiful things written there about Jesus. Now I’m fitting these selections together to complete chapters she has been writing. This saves her much time. When she comes home from her trip, she will go over these chapters, making changes and additions.”SMG 17.1

    When Miss Davis had finished gathering the very best things that grandma had written about the life of Christ, she had more material than could be put into one book. With the chapters grandma had written especially for the book, there was enough for three books—The Desire of Ages, Christ’s Object Lessons, and Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, besides much material left over to go into The Ministry of Healing. Grandma had at some time either written or spoken all that went into these books. Miss Davis helped her by arranging it in chapters and seeing that it was correctly copied.SMG 17.2

    When the traveling party returned from abroad, the table was extended nearly the length of the dining room. Grandma always had a large family. There were her regular helpers who reported her interviews and sermons and who copied and duplicated her letters and articles. Besides these, she usually had in her home from one to six boys and girls whom she was mothering. When she heard of a sick, discouraged, or unfortunate person, the one question was whether there might be room at the table for another plate, or a corner somewhere in the house for an extra cot.SMG 17.3

    About a year after Mabel and I arrived in Australia, the conference purchased a 1,500-acre tract of timberland on which to establish the Australasian training school. Grandma bought a small piece of land next to it and went up to Cooranbong to supervise the clearing, planting the orchard and garden, and the building of her house. I had the honor of going as her companion.SMG 18.1

    Grandma was then sixty-eight years of age. She and I lived together in a large tent. Nearby was another tent for the workmen, and a third for a dining area, with a kitchen shanty at the back. Often in the early morning I would pull back the curtain separating my corner of the tent from grandma’s and peek out to see her propped up in bed with pillows, or sitting in her easy chair with a lapboard before her, writing by the light of a kerosene lamp.SMG 18.2

    To save the workmen’s time while they were building her house at Avondale, grandma would drive to the lumber mills herself and order the materials needed, and of course I went with her.SMG 18.3

    Her first concern after building her home was to have the big trees cleared from a piece of ground to be used as a garden. I enjoyed watching six span of bullocks do the plowing. Much shouting and whip cracking were required to stimulate Snowball, Strawberry, and Tenderfoot, the lazy ones, to pull their share.SMG 18.4

    When grandma drove her two-horse team around the country, I often accompanied her. At the nursery she selected her own trees for the orchard. The nurseryman asked, “Mrs. White, would you like to have me show you how they should be planted?”SMG 18.5

    “Let me tell you first how I intend to have the work done,” she replied with a smile. “I’ll have my hired man dig a deep hole in the ground and put in rich soil, then some large stones, then more rich soil. After this he will add alternate layers of earth and fertilizer until the hole is filled, and then set the trees.”SMG 18.6

    “It’s plain you need no lessons from me on tree planting,” he said.SMG 19.1

    A year after the three-year-old peach trees were planted, they bore the most delicious fruit I ever tasted. Grandma also planted grapes, apricots, nectarines, and plums.SMG 19.2

    Soon father had our cottage built across the road from “Sunnyside,” grandma’s home. During the fruit season, we would frequently hear a knock on the door about breakfast-time. Grandma would enter carrying a basket of peaches gathered from her orchard while the dew was still on them. She would select a rosy-cheeked peach and lay it on mother’s plate, then go all the way around the table leaving a peach at each place. “Get a dish, May,” she would say. Mother would bring a platter, and grandma would empty her basket of peaches onto it. Then wishing us a good appetite, she would return to gather another basketful for her own family.SMG 19.3

    Once grandma and I went in search of a cow. It was milking time when we arrived at the farm. Being a lover of animals, grandma did not like the way the milking was done on the farms in that part of the country. She said to the farmer, “If you’ll give the cow a little grain to eat while you’re milking, then handle her gently and speak to her soothingly, you won’t need to tie her legs. She’ll learn to stand for you, and she’ll be much happier and more comfortable.”SMG 19.4

    We took a cow named Molly home and turned her into the pasture on grandma’s place. Every afternoon we went together to bring her home for milking. Down the trail leading through the eucalyptus forest we walked, listening for the cowbell tied round Molly’s neck. When we heard it, I would hop over logs and bushes, flourishing a stick, while grandma stood on the path calling, “Co, Boss! Co, Boss!” Then we would go home together, driving the cow in front of us.SMG 19.5

    One day when Molly was bawling for her calf, I saw grandma put her arm around Molly’s neck and tell the grieving mother cow how sorry she was that her calf had been taken away.SMG 20.1

    No matter where we lived, if there were any domestic animals around, grandma made friends with them. As soon as her foot touched the barn floor, the pony would whinny a welcome and stretch out her neck for the petting she knew was coming. Grandma couldn’t bear to see animals abused because, as she said, “they can’t tell us of their sufferings.”SMG 20.2

    Once while I was riding in the carriage with her, we saw a man beating a thin, bony mare that was struggling to pull a heavily loaded cart up a steep hill.SMG 20.3

    “Sara,” she said quickly, “stop the carriage!” Then she spoke to the man: “Sir, have you lost your reason? Can’t you see that poor creature is doing her best?” Strange to say, the man apologized, then removed half the load and piled it beside the road, saying he would make it in two trips.SMG 20.4

    Often we would sing as we drove along country roads. But what I remember best are the times we sat beside her in front of the open fireplace while she told us stories of the days when she and grandpa traveled and labored to build up a strong church.SMG 20.5

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