Thursday, June 14, 2018

California and Courtship

No, I'm not going to California and I'm not courting anyone. I'm happily married. This is about my mother.....

As I continue sharing my mother's story, you'll see how God kept working out the details of her life. God knew there was a beautiful job and a new man in her future. That man had a LOT to do with the fact that I'm here today—which is a perfect segue into Father's Day for this coming weekend.

In the later years of my mother's life, I saw a woman whose sense of adventure seemed limited, compared to mine. She found delight in simple things, like cooking, going for a drive and making special "snack bags" for her friends in the retirement community where she lived. She had no desire to fly anywhere, even to see her children (she had experienced enough "terror" in her life, she used to say). But as I learn more about her younger days, I see a very adventurous young woman. Some who knew her before I did gave her the nickname, Bert, indicating a woman who was a lot of fun. Early videos that I've seen reveal a woman who loved to laugh. This next section of her life shows that fun-loving side of her.

We continue my mother's (Bertha) story here:

"Both my parents had gone to California when they were young, before they even knew each other. I had grown up hearing stories about it, and since I had never been to California, this seemed like the time to go. I invited a girlfriend to go with me—Gladys Sollenberger Stickley. In the fall of 1950, she and I and Dougie, then four years old, set out for California.

We were out there about a year, had an apartment, found jobs working in homes for various people and were connected to the Upland Brethren in Christ Church. It was a welcomed change, an adventure that I needed. Gladys's friendship to me and Dougie helped to give me solid ground during a time I needed it.

Gladys Stickley and Dougie Crider in CA.
While still in California, I began praying that I would find a place to live when I returned to Pennsylvania..not just any place, I wanted to live within a Christian Community.

The three of us eventually returned to Pennsylvania, and I faced the reality of getting a job. I answered ads in the paper and finally, I took a job working in the Heinz Tomato Plant in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

I wasn't there long, maybe a few days, when a woman from the office came and said, "Bertha, there's a gentleman out there who wants to speak with you."

It was C.N. Hostetter, President of Messiah College! He had come to the factory and asked if I would come and work as a secretary, keeping track of the academic records for the students. It involved a lot of typing and I hadn't typed since 1941, when I graduated from High School. My first reaction to him was, "I'm not qualified!" He said that was all right—they wanted me to come anyway. He also said there was a brand new apartment waiting for me to move into.

So Dougie and I moved there and started work at Messiah College in the fall of 1951. It was another case of God answering the prayer I had made in California—to live in a Christian Community. I enjoyed my life at Grantham living with Dougie, but after a few years, I was beginning to think—"This boy is getting older and he needs a father!" So I began to think about marriage again.

Eventually, I met Orville Heisey. He was a teacher at Messiah College. He gave me something for Christmas and I was suspicious of his motives! We had a six—month courtship, and married in 1956.

The dashing H. Orville Heisey
Orville and Bertha made a "plain-lady" snowman
Wedding day, August 18, 1956, Air Hill Brethren in Christ Church.
Dougie, 8 years old at the time, was pleased to have a Daddy.

Orville and I had four children, Adriel, Brenda (Aspen), Nathan and Frances. Even though Orville taught Math and Science at Messiah College, his dream was to have a farm. This dream came true eventually, but first we lived in Westerville, Ohio (near Columbus) so Orville could finish his degree in Chemistry at Ohio State.

In 1964 we decided to move back to Pennsylvania. I remember driving around in the Mt. Holly Springs area looking at farms. We saw the For Sale sign and drove up the long lane—I was taken by the feeling of how it was nestled back in away from the road with lots of trees. The house had a screened in porch in front and summer kitchen in the back, a barn and various out-buildings. And there was a spring with a pond. It was love at first sight.

We bought Willow Springs Farm, 52 acres, in Gardners, Pennsylvania, south of Carlisle. How we loved living there!"

Moving to Willow Springs Farm in 1964, Gardners, PA. Even the bees came along!