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Archive for May, 2020

Population 84

The large sign on the front of the small wooden building in Princeton, Idaho, that was the post office, gave the town’s name. Beneath the location was “Population 84.”

Yet, during World War II there were 115 men and one woman who served in various branches of the military, at locations all over the world, whose home addresses were through the Princeton Post Office! How did that happen?

The Princeton Post Office had an RFD route, or Rural Free Delivery. The RFD carrier delivered mail to all the people who lived in homes or farms in the area surrounding Princeton. It was not a large area that was covered. The route went to the East towards Harvard for several miles and a couple miles to the west towards Potlatch. It also went north towards the large mountain named Gold Hill, and south several miles to the base of Moscow Mountain. Yet, that RFD route and the town of Princeton accounted for a large group who were serving in the armed forces of our country during the war.

This was also a time in our nation’s history when there were often large families, and that included the Princeton area. In fact, the Goodnough family had five boys in the service, as did the Lief’s and the Guptils. The Rasmussen family had four of their boys in the military and the Franklin family had three who were serving. Many families had two boys who were in various branches of the military during those years. Four of the men from Princeton died during military actions in the war.

All of this causes me to wonder at the commitment of the people in our nation during those years. It appears that very few families in and around Princeton were left untouched by the war. Yet, it is obvious that many of the young men and women stepped forward to serve, being committed to their nation and all that America stood for. These young men, and the one woman, were all in their teens or early 20’s. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have five sons from one family all serving in theaters of war during those years. It had to be difficult for those who remained behind, at home, and waited.

It seems we live in a time when the level of commitment demonstrated by so many people pales in comparison to the commitment we see in the families and individuals who suffered through the long years of World War Two. Yet, I’m reminded that God’s Word is just as applicable today as it was then. In the Old Testament, in the Book of Psalms chapter 37, we find the following words in verses 5 and 6: “Commit everything you do to the LordTrust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”

These words were just as applicable during World War II as they are today. That’s a good reminder for me; and for all of us.

Pastor Bill

 

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As I corresponded with my dad I asked him in a letter, at one point, “In what ways did the war impact Princeton and the folks who lived there?” He kept getting off the subject, going back further in time to what his family had experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Finally, he returned to speaking about World War II. He began by saying, “It wasn’t too big a deal, really.”  He admitted that they did have to provide what was called a ration stamp any time they wanted to purchase certain items. Every man, woman and child received ration stamp booklets from the federal government during the war years. In fact, I still have one issued to me when I was a small toddler that my folks had not used all the stamps in when the war came to an end.

You had to use a ration stamp for sugar, a piece of meat, a pair of shoes and a stamp for every gallon of gas you might want to purchase. Dad remembered that, in a farming community like Princeton, you always had your own vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, milk, etc. One of the things that could be difficult to get hold of was gas for your vehicle–unless you drove a truck.

Dad said he traded his “old car” for an “old truck.” He needed a truck because our family had a cow and he needed to haul hay with it. He also needed to haul firewood for our home and for the Post Office, where he was the postmaster. He noted at one point that trucks were considered essential.

Such a discussion gets me to thinking about the times we are living in right now. Maybe it’s time to return to passing out ration books to keep people from hoarding items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and meat! Who would have guessed such a possibility could have existed even three months ago!

There are some verses in Psalm 33, beginning with verse 6, that seem to fit right here as they are written in the paraphrase of the Bible, The Message: The skies were made by God’s command; he breathed the word and the stars popped out. . . . God’s plan for the world stands up, all his designs are made to last. Blessed is the country with God for God; blessed are the people he’s put in his will. From high in the skies God looks around. . . . Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need.

Okay, I know I got a little carried away. I usually quote shorter portions of verse. But this was just so good I couldn’t quit with verse 11. I am reminded as I read these words that, when these difficult times have passed and we look back over our shoulders at where we have been, we will have come to realize that we can still depend on God; he’s everything we need!

Pastor BillRa

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As my dad continued to share about the dark times most people experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, he had been speaking about the bleak times my mother and her family had gone through during those dark days.

Then dad began to speak about his own family. They lived on a farm a few miles north of Princeton, ID. He, along with his parents, and several brothers and sisters, actually lived pretty well. They didn’t have to pay rent. They heated the house and cooked with wood they cut from stands of timber on their property. They used kerosene for lighting their house and that cost only $.30 a gallon, which lasted a month. Dad’s family also had meat from their own pigs, eggs from their chickens and they raised a supply of potatoes that would last all winter. They also had a large garden that provided them with many vegetables and an orchard where they grew their own fruit.

The only items my dad and his family had to purchase from the local general store were things like sugar, salt, flour, thread and an occasional item of clothing. The funds for these items came from my grandfather selling firewood to wheat farmers from the Palouse country to the west who would come to Princeton each fall to find someone to sell them firewood.

My dad closed his ramblings about the Great Depression by saying, “We who lived through those depression years resolved never to forget the value of a dollar, nor to forget what a good thing it was to have a job.”

I imagine that some years down the road we will look back and realize that we learned some lessons going through the Pandemic of 2020. Many who, only a few months ago had great hopes and dreams for their future, will have had them erased and be facing a terribly uncertain future. A few months from now there will no doubt be those around us who still see no light at the end of a dark tunnel. They will be out of work and out of the necessary money to live any kind of a comfortable life.

The poor are spoken of many times in scripture, including a verse in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy which states, “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 15:10, New Living Translation).

Let’s always be aware of those occasions when the Holy Spirit may urge us to help someone in need. You will be blessed!

Pastor Bill

 

 

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My father continued to relate his recollections of the Great Depression by telling how my mother, as a young woman, was living with her parents in a Southern California city at the time. In the city people had to pay rent, have enough money for gas that was used for heating, along with electricity bills each month–or else! Or else these utilities were simply turned off. That happened often. Many people borrowed money from more fortunate relatives when they could. My mother’s dad, who had always been employed during his active life, was suddenly out of work during the Great Depression. Dad shared how it had been a terrible hardship on him and how it really depressed him. He was unable to provide for his family. Never the less, he would go out day after day, making the rounds to see if he could get a job.

My mother had received training as a beauty operator and got a job in a beauty parlor at $5.00 a week. She and her folks, along with a younger brother, survived on that. They were able to purchase eggs at $ .10 a dozen, bread for $ .15 a loaf and milk for $ .09 a quart. Life was really tough for several years for my mother’s family.

As I was writing this I saw a news item that reported the United States had more than 26 million people who were presently out of work, which means that the jobless rate in our country is approaching 23%.  During the Great Depression unemployment peaked at 25%. We are quickly approaching that point, a sad statistic we have not seen since 1934.

What are we to do? What are we to do as Christians and those who believe God when our nation is going through such a time as this? What are we to do when so many around us, as well as within the church, are beginning to suffer the results of being unemployed and without any substantial income? . . . . . . . We continue to trust in God, worship him and praise Him, seek his wisdom and guidance, follow his direction and be vigilant for those around us, both in the church and out, who may need our assistance. The Old Testament Book of Proverbs tells us, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy,” (Proverbs 14:21, NIV). And in Proverbs 19:17, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

Lending to the Lord. I had not thought of that before! Let’s be careful to be watchful for those we come in contact with who may need a hand during this difficult time we are traveling through as a nation. Does God want to use you today, in a way you may never have imagined? Follow the nudging of the Holy Spirit. You can trust Him!

Pastor bill

 

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