Enrolled in Drake University Divinity School in Des Moines, Iowa, fall 1959. Packed up all of my belongings in my ’53 Chevy, including a stack of books of sermons my pastor had given me, from which I liberally borrowed ideas, illustrations, and quotes to begin my preaching career. Drake had this system of assigning students as pastors of rural and small town churches, congregations that couldn’t afford full-time ministers. This worked out well as on-the-job-training.
I was sent to a weekend church in Allerton, a town of 300 population 10 miles from the Missouri line. There were 5 protestant churches in town. Allerton Christian Church had been a thriving congregation until 10 years prior to my coming, when a controversy split the congregation and all but 35 adults had left. I spent my first year in seminary travelling on weekends the 80 miles from Des Moines, staying with a nice widow lady, Monte Eberlein, who delighted in telling everyone at church and in town how it had “been a long time since she had a man’s shoes parked under her bed.”
Ted Warren, my home town friend who was also single but courting his future wife, Georgiann, and I found an apartment and lived together for 9 months of the first year, when he was married and moved up to the parsonage of his weekend church. It was a very frugal year. I made $35 a week plus an occasional tank of gas given by one of the church members who owned a gas station in town. I actually had to find some part-time jobs to supplement my meager income, while carrying a full class load. This was also the year of driving back and forth to Minneapolis to try to convince my future bride, Sue, who would break up with me on a moment’s notice. On one breakup/makeup trip I arrived in the middle of the night and stood under her window throwing pebbles until all the lights went on and she finally came down. Her parents were very patient with the whole process, and relieved when it was resolved.
Finally, on about the 3rd try she agreed to set a date and we were married on June 25, 1960, with all of my old buddies standing with me.