In the fall of 1950 I was 16 years old and a sophomore in high school in Odessa, Texas. I lived at home with my mother and dad and my four sisters.
We lived on West Mable Street. The street in front of our house was all sand and fairly deep, like the sand you see here along the Atlantic Ocean beaches. There was not a hard surface to be found on our street.
We had one girl’s bike between the five of us. My two younger sisters, Sue, age 7 and Jo, age 9, were really into learning how to ride the bike. Sue in particular was determined to learn because the two oldest sisters had already learned and Jo had learned a little about how to ride. The sand was so deep my mother had explicitly told Jo and Sue not to ride the bike on our street because the sand could easily catch the front wheel and throw them over. They were allowed to go a half of a block away and ride on a macadam surface street that provided a somewhat more stable surface.
We children, along with my mother routinely attended Calvary Baptist Church. My dad, who worked evening and night shift 16 hours a day, seven days a week on an oil drilling rig, was able to attend sometimes.
Our church pastor and leadership were very strong about urging the members to support the church by at least a tithe of their income and more if they thought they could afford it. My dad and mom were supportive of the church in cheerfully giving what they thought they could afford to give and made every effort to give the tithe.
With five children and dad having to work long hours to make ends meet, my parents had fallen behind on the promised tithe they felt they owed God/the church. The church had begun its periodic emphasis on stewardship. Mom and dad determined to pay their back tithe and to start again to pay their tithe first and then trust God to help them find a way to pay other bills.
Some few weeks after they had made this recommitment to tithe, “TEST TIME” came. An older sister had ridden the bike in the sandy street and had left it parked against the front fence. Sue and Jo were waiting to ride the bicycle. Mom had just come in, saw the situation and said to Sue and Jo,” DO NOT RIDE THE BIKE IN THE SAND.”
As soon as mom went in the house, Sue got on the bike and started to ride. She went a good ways but tired and then fell awkwardly as the sand caught her front wheel. She was lying in the street and screaming at the top of her lungs. I heard all this from the house, ran to Sue, picked her up, still screaming, and took her into the house.
My mom, who was a practical nurse, saw immediately that Sue had broken her leg. Mom braced her leg and took her to the hospital. It was determined that she would be in traction for at least six weeks to make sure the unusual spiral break would heal properly.
After a couple of weeks we found that the estimated medical cost to take care of Sue would be over $600. In those days this was a really big bill that would have to be paid. It seemed to my parents that it would not be possible to pay the bill and still tithe. They prayed! They decided to continue to tithe. The hospital bill would be paid later somehow!
About a month later, one afternoon as usual, dad went to work on the oil drilling rig. That evening we received word that my dad had been injured on the job and had been taken to the hospital. We were very concerned.
We learned that he had caught his glove in the chain the roughnecks throw around the pipe just above the collar to break the threads at each 30-foot connection of the drilling pipe. Fortunately my dad had been able to pull his hand out of the glove just in the knick of time so that all that was cut off by the spinning chain was an half-inch of the forefinger of his right hand.
The oil company gave him some days off and he was able to return to work without any constraints. The oil company’s workman’s compensation insurance sent him a check for over $600 for the loss of one digit of any finger on his hand or any part thereof. My parents took this money as God’s answer to their prayers.
To my knowledge my parents continued to tithe to the end of their lives.