Autobiography of HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
Volume I
1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1967, 1973, 1974, 1986


(Note: To view the HWA Coat of Arms,
see AUTOBIO.TIF in the Images\HWA directory)

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 ..... Boyhood
CHAPTER 2 ..... Learning Important Lessons
CHAPTER 3 ..... Learning to Write Effective Advertisements
CHAPTER 4 ..... "Idea Man" for a National Magazine
CHAPTER 5 ..... Pioneering in Public Opinion Polls
CHAPTER 6 ..... Discovering Rules of Success
CHAPTER 7 ..... How to Put Resourcefulness into Practice
CHAPTER 8 ..... Becoming a Publishers' Representative
CHAPTER 9 ..... How I Met My Wife
CHAPTER 10 ..... Marriage Plans Complicated by War
CHAPTER 11 ..... Our First Child
CHAPTER 12 ..... Depression Strikes!
CHAPTER 13 ..... Business Disintegrates
CHAPTER 14 ..... College Competition and "Oregon or Bust"
CHAPTER 15 ..... Launching a New Business
CHAPTER 16 ..... Researching the Bible and Darwin
CHAPTER 17 ..... At the Crossroads -- and a Momentous Decision
CHAPTER 18 ..... Learning Whether God Answers Prayers
CHAPTER 19 ..... Trying to Convert Relatives
CHAPTER 20 ..... The First Sermon
CHAPTER 21 ..... The "Million Dollar" Clay Business
CHAPTER 22 ..... Astounding Answers to Prayer
CHAPTER 23 ..... Prelude to Ministry
CHAPTER 24 ..... Ordained to Christ's Ministry
CHAPTER 25 ..... Evangelistic Campaigns in Full Swing
CHAPTER 26 ..... Caught in Newspaper Business Trap
CHAPTER 27 ..... Stuck in Astoria
CHAPTER 28 ..... Back into the Ministry
CHAPTER 29 ..... The Real Beginning of Present Work
CHAPTER 30 ..... The World Tomorrow Broadcast Begins
CHAPTER 31 ..... The Plain Truth Is Published
CHAPTER 32 ..... Campaign Gets Under Way -- Despite Opposition
CHAPTER 33 ..... Early Evangelistic Campaigns -- the Trials and Tests
CHAPTER 34 ..... Steady Growth of Work at Eugene
CHAPTER 35 ..... Uphill All the Way
CHAPTER 36 ..... Broadcast Work Expands
CHAPTER 37 ..... A Costly Lesson Pays Off!
CHAPTER 38 ..... Work Grows -- Despite Hardships and Persecution
CHAPTER 39 ..... The Plain Truth Revived!


FROM BEGINNINGS humble and small without parallel, to the
magnitude of today's enterprises and worldwide impact is the
story of GROWTH unbelievable! It is the incredible story of
something never done before -- never done this way -- a seemingly
impossible achievement utterly unique in the world!
By all the criteria of organizational and institutional
experience, it simply could never have happened.
Every phase of this globe-girdling Work has been something
altogether UNIQUE -- a first -- the blazing of a new trail.
Ambassador College is astonishingly UNIQUE among
institutions of higher learning.
The Plain Truth magazine is utterly UNIQUE in the publishing
The World Tomorrow program, viewed and heard by millions
worldwide on both television and radio, is entirely UNIQUE in
And the Worldwide Church of God, behind these global
enterprises, is altogether UNIQUE on the earth -- practicing, as it
does, the revealed ways of the living Creator God, and for the
first time in 18 ½ centuries, thundering His all-important
Message of the way to World Peace over all continents of the
This entire Work has belied all traditional experience. It
has reversed accepted procedures. Yet, I hasten to add, these
have not been ways of my devising!
But how did it all start?
And since this is the life story of a man, what led a man
who had been unusually successful in the world of mammon, with
his energy and drive solely directed toward self-gain and status
in the business world, to come to reverse his entire life goal
and become dedicated to the things of God? Why would a man turn
his back on material rewards, and devote his life to GIVING
instead of getting?
How I came to receive the eye-opening shock of my life, and
in due time to be literally thrust into the very last calling and
profession I would ever have chosen, was an experience as UNIQUE
as everything done since.
Coming to the present, why do heads-of-state -- kings,
presidents, prime ministers of many governments around the world
invite personal meetings with a private citizen of my status? Why
do governments officially confer highest honors on such a private
I repeat, this reversing of trends, ways and procedures has
not been that of my devising. As I look back over the years, I
can only shake my head in wonderment. I have not done these
things -- no man could. I cannot take credit. Yet, paradoxically, I
have been privileged to have the leading part in these
This, truly, is one of the most incredible success stories
of our time. There is a very significant reason! For it is the
story of what the living God can do -- and has done through a very
average human instrument, called and chosen by Him -- one whose
eyes He opened to astonishing truth about the real cause of the
troubles and evils heads of governments face, and the way to
World Peace -- one He reduced to humble obedience, yielded in faith
and dedicated to God's way! God promises to prosper His own Work.
And HOW GREATLY He has blessed and prospered it! Like the grain
of mustard seed, it GREW! -- and GREW!
Ask yourself: What company, business, enterprise or
institution in this world's ways, ever experienced a steady
GROWTH averaging nearly 30% every year for decades?
This activity did!
Most commercial businesses and enterprises do well to hold
about even over the years. But a growth averaging 30% every year,
regularly and steadily, for decades? It must be a record
unmatched. It meant doubling in size and scope and power every 2
2/3 years. It meant multiplying itself in size eight times in
every eight years, 64 times every 16 years, 4,096 times in 32
Most, if not all major corporate institutions began with
sizeable capital. But this worldwide Work started
giving -- (reversing objectives and procedures) with absolutely no
financial capital!
These globe-girding enterprises included the founding and
operation of a co-ed college in the field of the liberal arts and
humanities. I'm sure anyone experienced in the administration of
a private-owned college would say: "No one could start to build
such a college without money, endowment, government aid, or grant
from any foundation, making no appeal to the public for financial
support, and build such a college, of outstanding quality and
beauty with the most modern facilities, and in so doing gain an
enviable financial status recognized by major banks in New York,
Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London and Geneva. IMPOSSIBLE!"
But much more! In every way, Ambassador College is unique.
In magnificence of its campus -- in the tone and character of its
buildings and grounds -- the physical setting in which it has
produced tone and character in young men and women -- Ambassador
College is certainly unique in a world where education has
drifted into materialism. Ambassador has dared to recapture the
TRUE VALUES; to restore the most necessary MISSING DIMENSION in
knowledge; to become a cultural character-building institution,
concerned with moral, spiritual and ethical values as well as
with the intellect. It started without money -- with four students
and eight members of faculty and administration. There have been
no protest marches, no friction between students and faculty and
administration, no hippie-type students. Ambassador is indeed
These enterprises include the World Tomorrow television and
radio broadcast, aired weekly in nearly every market throughout
the English-speaking world and in numerous other areas worldwide.
There is no solicitation for financial support. The programs are
UNIQUE in the broadcasting field, with worldwide impact on
There is The Plain Truth -- a finest quality mass-circulation
magazine in full color in seven languages, with about eight
million copies monthly. This, alone, would rate as "BIG BUSINESS"
if it were a commercial profit-making operation. But this
enterprise was built, starting without capital, without
advertising revenue and without subscription price income. It is
indeed UNIQUE in the publishing field.
Also there are other publications, including The Bible
Correspondence Course issued monthly, with scores of thousands of
students enrolled; the Good News magazine and a Youth magazine.
There are scientific expeditions, in association with the Leopold
III Foundation for the Exploration and Conservation of Nature.
This Work, further, has been engaged in large-scale
archaeological projects in joint-participation with Hebrew
University of Jerusalem and with the Japanese government; with
other institutions in Syria, as well as cultural and humanitarian
projects in Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Jordan and in Africa.
Yes, truly, this has been "Mission Impossible" --
ACCOMPLISHED! And still being accomplished in
ever-increasing magnitude! It has been and is, as stated above,
an example of what the living God can do, has done, and is doing
through human instrumentalities yielded to Him and obedient to
I had been, over wide areas, conducting surveys on
conditions and trends. I was greatly concerned over learning that
most people are not happy -- the world is full of evils. But WHY?
My surveys revealed the worsening conditions, but not the cause.
Nor could it be found in science, nor in education, nor in
government, nor in religion.
In the autumn of 1926, my wife said she had discovered, in
the Bible, a God-ordained WAY OF LIFE -- a way contrary to accepted
Christianity. It became controversial. I was challenged into the
most intensive study of my life.
I had been born and reared of upstanding and stable parents
of a traditional orthodox Christian denomination. I had never had
any particular religious interest, and by age 18 I dropped out of
Sunday school and church attendance. I assumed, as probably do
most, that the denominations of traditional Christianity had
received their beliefs and doctrines from the Bible. I had always
said, "I simply can't understand the Bible." But now I set out to
prove, by the Bible, that "all these churches can't be wrong!"
Soon I encountered the most astonishing shock of my life! I
was shocked to discover not only that traditional Christianity
taught contrary to the Bible -- that the Christian religion, with
more adherents than any religion, did not, as I had supposed, get
its teachings from the Bible, BUT that the Bible contained
teachings and revelations of facts not known or taught by any
It was amazing! I began to see plainly, in the Bible, that
what I had been taught from childhood was primarily the very
opposite of what the Bible teaches in plain language! At first I
was confused. My head was swimming! My foundations seemed to be
crumbling beneath me.
Simultaneously I was making a renewed in-depth study of the
theory of Evolution. I was researching it and at the same time
the Biblical claims of special Creation.
Was there a God, after all? What could a man believe? It
was, for a while, a frustrating dilemma.
Gradually, as these months of 12- to 16-hour days of study
progressed, the real truth began to emerge. It didn't come easily
or quickly. It required effort, zeal, determination, patience.
And above all, a willingness to confess error when proved, and to
confess truth even against my own will.
I did find absolute PROOF that the Creator, God Almighty,
exists and RULES the universe. I found many proofs of the
inspiration and authenticity of the Bible. And I found the CAUSE
of all this world's ills, as well as the solution that will be
made -- if even against the resistance and opposition of humanity!
I found the MISSING DIMENSION in KNOWLEDGE -- what man is, why man
was put on earth -- the PURPOSE for which we were made alive. I
found THE WAY that was set in living motion to CAUSE and produce
PEACE, HAPPINESS, ABUNDANCE! I found what neither science,
religion, nor education has revealed -- what had been overlooked,
though available.
I found THE REVEALED ANSWERS -- rational, obvious answers -- to
humanity's problems, troubles and evils. Answers not found in
science, education, government nor religion! And I found that the
very GOSPEL -- which means good NEWS -- brought to the world by
Christ had for 18 ½ centuries been rejected or ignored by that
How all this came about is the story of an experience as
unique as it was heartrending and difficult to go through -- for it
became a battle against my own self and my human -- my very human
nature. In the end, I lost that battle in an unconditional
surrender. And the incredible accomplishments in which I have
been privileged to have the leading part, have been the result.
Sometime ago, a leading American news magazine, reviewing
the frightening state of today's world, commented to the effect
that it would seem the only hope for human survival now lies in
the intervention of an unseen "Strong Hand from Someplace." What
has been developed in such astonishing manner in this Work is
directly creditable to the direction, inspiration, and
empowerment of that "Strong Hand."
It is a historic fact that many times the unseen One has
prepared in advance those to be used as His instruments for
getting His purpose accomplished. In my personal case, looking
back in retrospect, I have felt that the advance preparation,
even from childhood, was a thrilling succession of unusual and
intriguing experiences.
Thousands have requested that I write the details of those
Too often, it seems to me, leaders in science, in
government, or other fields of activity hastily ask only, "How
soon can we?" instead of "Should we?" I did ask myself, should
the story of my life be written and published? For some time, I
felt it should not. I felt it was my responsibility to get on
with getting the job done, not to talk or write about myself.
But when listeners, viewers and readers ask to know what's
back of this Work -- how it started, what led to it, how it has
been done -- I came to realize they have a right to know.
As a young man I read Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
three times -- over a period of a few years. It had a considerable
impact and influence on my life. I owe much to having read it.
The reading of life experiences of many other men, whether
biography or autobiography, have been of great value and
There was the autobiography of Bernard Baruch, biographies
of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and
many others.
Then there was the Apostle Paul, a man of God, who told his
life experiences, recorded in the Bible. The first four books of
the New Testament consist, primarily, of those portions of the
life-story of Jesus helpful to the reader. The Old Testament is
replete with biographical sketches of the life experiences of
many men -- Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Samuel,
David, Elijah, many others.
I came to realize that the recording of one's life
experiences can be inspiring and helpful to others -- provided
there has been something of real value in those experiences. The
influence exerted on me by personal association with numerous
leaders among men, in business, industry, education, government,
and by reading of such lives, played their part in carrying me
through an eventful life, filled with interesting, exciting and
unusual experiences. They have helped solve problems, meet
difficulties, sorrows, sufferings. They have contributed also to
successes, and the joy of participating in great accomplishments.
And now, looking back on a long life well filled with
action, effort, travel, important personal meetings with the
so-called great and the near-great, many world leaders, kings,
presidents, prime ministers, educators, industrialists, heads of
great banks, scientists -- a life replete with exciting events and
unusual experiences, I feel that the recording of all this might
impart some measure of inspiration and help to the reader.
For one thing, I had felt, years ago, that the story of
these experiences might be helpful and of value to my two sons.
Benjamin Franklin addressed his Autobiography to his son. But
there never seemed to be time to write it, just for them.
But after so many radio listeners and Plain Truth
subscribers requested the background facts, it seemed that I owed
it to them, and I decided to write it in serial form, an
installment each month, in The Plain Truth.
Consequently, the Autobiography began appearing with the
September, 1957, issue.
It is my sincere hope and desire that the reader will be
helped to a richer, fuller, more abundant life by this

Chapter 1

EVEN FROM EARLIEST memory, life always has seemed unusual,
eventful, exciting.
I was born July 31, 1892, of respected and upright parents
who were of solid Quaker stock. My ancestors had emigrated from
England to Pennsylvania with William Penn, a hundred years before
the United States became a nation. My ancestry, through a
paternal great-grandmother, traces back to Edward I, King of
I first saw the light of day in a red brick two-apartment
flat on the northwest corner of East 14th and Grand Avenue, in
Des Moines, Iowa. Of course I remember absolutely nothing of the
day of my birth -- even as you remember nothing of the day you were
born. But my mother always remembered it, especially since I was
her firstborn, as my father was a firstborn son before me.
A friend in Des Moines, some years ago, jestingly remarked
that I "became famous too late" -- the flat in which I was born
long since had been replaced by a business property.
The earliest events that linger in memory occurred when I
was three years of age. Our family then was living on West
Harrison Street in Des Moines, near 14th. We lived in a modest
cottage, and my father's parents lived in a two-story house next
door. I remember scampering through the rear side door of their
house to sample the delicious apple pies my grandmother made.
Also there is still memory of my maternal great-grandfather
Elon Hole, then between 92 and 94, often taking me up in his
arms -- and the tragedy that occurred when he fell down the stairs,
and died from the fall. Then there was an uncle, Jesse Hole, in
my memory -- also in his nineties.
I started kindergarten at age 5. I can still hear in my mind
the mournful clang of the school bell, one block south.

Swearing Off Chewing

It was at this advanced age of 5 that I swore off chewing
tobacco. A ditch was being dug in front of our house. Of course
ditches were still being dug with shovels, by hand in 1897. This
was quite exciting for a five-year-old. I spent most of my time
out in the front yard watching. Ditch diggers in those days
universally chewed tobacco. At least these particular diggers
"What's that there?" I asked, as one of them whipped a plug
of tobacco out of his hip pocket, and bit off a corner.
"This is something good," he answered. "Here, sonny, bite
off a chaw."
I accepted his generosity. I can remember distinctly
struggling to bite off "a chaw." That plug was really tough. But
finally I got it bitten off. It didn't taste good, and seemed to
have a rather sharp bite. But I chewed it, as I saw him chew his,
and when I felt I had it well chewed, I swallowed it.
And very soon thereafter -- a minute or less -- I swore off
chewing tobacco for LIFE!!! I say to you truthfully, I have never
chewed since!
This was very shortly after the days of the old horse-drawn
street cars. The new electric trolley cars had just come in -- the
little dinkeys. I remember them well. The conductor on our line
was Charley, and the motorman was old Bill. The most fascinating
thing in the world was to park myself up at the front of the long
side seat, on my knees, so I could look through the glass and
watch old Bill run that car. I decided then what I was going to
be when I grew up. I was going to be a street car motorman. But
something in later years seems to have sidetracked that youthful
I do remember, though, that my father had a different idea
of what I would be when I grew up. I was constantly pestering him
with questions. I always seemed to want to know "WHY?" or "HOW?"
I wanted to UNDERSTAND. At age 5 I can remember my father saying:
"That youngin is always asking so many questions he's sure to be
a Philadelphia lawyer, when he grows up."
That obsession for understanding was to have great influence
on founding The Plain Truth magazine and Ambassador College in
later years.

Those Important First Years

When I was 6 the family moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, where my
father entered the flour milling business.
I remember the events of those days at age 6 much better
than I do those of age 56. The mind is much more receptive, and
the memory far more retentive, in the earlier years.
Believe it or not, every baby learns and retains more the
very first year of life than any year thereafter. Each year we
learn and retain a little less than the year before. Few,
however, realize this fact. For each succeeding year, the total
fund of knowledge increases. Knowledge accumulation is additive,
that of each year is added to the fund of previous years. Writing
up these early experiences brings this forcibly to mind.
Occurrences are coming back to me in my mind now, as I write,
that I have not thought of consciously for years.

Old Century Out -- New Century In

After a year or so the family moved back to Des Moines. It was
while we lived there that my brother Russell was born, Jan. 26,
1900, when I was 7½.
Another milestone event that lingers vividly in memory was
the turn of the century. (Actually, the true turn of the century
was Jan. 1, 1901.) That particular New Year's Eve was a
once-in-a-lifetime event. Then and there I formed an aversion to
church "Watch-nights" on New Year's Eve.
I couldn't see any fun, at 7½ years, in having to sit
quietly in church from about 8 o'clock until midnight, unable to
get up and play or run around, just quietly "watching" the old
century out and the new century in. We were only watching the
passing of a humanly calculated point of time, anyway. I only
knew that it was a droll and dismal evening for me. I went to
sleep once or twice, only to be awakened.
This new-century watch-night event occurred 26 days before
my brother Russell was born. When my little baby brother was a
few months old we moved to Union, Iowa, probably spring of 1900,
where my father went into partnership in a hardware store.

The "Pigeon Milk" Hunt

One day I wandered into the town job-printing shop. I must have
been on one of my usual information-seeking forays, asking so
many questions that ways and means had to be thought up for
ridding the printers of the nuisance.
"Say, sonny, I wonder if you'd run an errand for us," asked
the printer. "Run over to the grocery and ask them for a half
pint of pigeon milk."
"What's it for?" I asked. "Why do you want it?" I always had
to understand "WHY?" and "HOW?"
"To grease the presses with," explained the printer.
"How'll I pay for it?"
"Tell 'em to charge it," was the answer.
At the grocery store the grocer explained:
"Sorry, bub, we're just out of pigeon milk. They carry that
now at the jewelry store."
From the jewelry store I was sent to the furniture store,
then to the drug store, and after almost every store in town I
went to my father's hardware store. Dad explained that I had been
chasing all over town on a fool's errand. Anyway, I added to my
store of knowledge the fact that pigeon milk is not to be found
in stores. And I didn't think it was a more foolish errand than
the one a rookie sailor was sent on when his ship was anchored at
Pearl Harbor. Older sailors sent him to a dour Commandant on
shore to get the key to the flag pole -- and he got thrown in the
While at Union I sold the Saturday Evening Post every week.
I remember the special canvas bag with the magazine name on the
side very well.
Our barn in Union was badly infested with rats. I determined
to do something about it. I obtained a large cage rat trap at the
hardware store, and almost every morning I had a number of rats
in the trap.
I remember a birthday party my mother had for me on my 9th
birthday, July 31, 1901, probably because a picture taken at the
party has remained in the family box of old pictures.
Back to Des Moines we moved again in 1901, in early fall,
after a year and a half in Union, this time near East 13th and
Walker. I was now in the 4th grade. We lived a short distance
from a Seventh-Day Adventist Sanitarium, with a bakery shop near
the front entrance. I remember being sent often to this bakery
for special "health" bread -- probably whole wheat. The thing that
most impressed me, however, was the impression on my boyish mind
that these Adventists must be some kind of odd religious people,
because they "kept Saturday for their Sunday." Even at that age,
anything different from common custom and general social
acceptance automatically seemed strange -- and if strange, then of
course it seemed WRONG. Why do people assume that the
rank-and-file of PEOPLE can't be wrong?
It seems most of us, unless we do stop to think a bit, are
like Mrs. O'Rafferty, watching her son march with the soldiers
down Broadway, just returned to New York after World War I.
"I was that proud of Dinny," she said, "for, d'ye know, they
were all out-of-step but him."
Well, perhaps it was Dinny who was properly in step -- who
knows? The point is, we blindly assume that the majority of
PEOPLE can't be wrong. But I was to learn, in later years, that
people as a whole can be wrong -- so terribly wrong that PEOPLE are
now bringing the END of their wrongly built civilization crashing
down on their own heads.
Only, most people are still unaware of it!
When I was eleven, 1903, the automobile was in its earliest
infancy -- mostly built like the horse-drawn carriages, hard solid
rubber tires, steered by a stick or handle rather than a wheel.
We often called them horseless carriages. My father was always
jolly, and he loved a joke. It was while we were living in this
house that he called out to us:
"Hurry! Come quick! Here goes a horseless carriage!"
Seeing one of these early automobiles was a rare sight. We
came running to the front window. A carriage was going by. It was
a horseless carriage all right. It was drawn, not by horses, but
a pair of mules. My father's strong bass voice boomed forth in
hearty laughter.
Wrestling became a favorite sport in those days. These were
the days of Frank Gotch, Farmer Burns, Zbysco, and others, when
wrestling was a real sport and not a fakery show. "Clayt"
Schoonover's older brothers had set up a real wrestling mat, and
they taught us all the main holds.
I think I loved ice skating perhaps more than any other
sport, however. I had learned to take wide, sweeping strokes in a
style so that my body would sway way over, from one side to the
other, using the force of gravity to help propel forward. There
was a rhythm and sort of sensation to it that was thrilling.
At that time, 1902-3, many of the streets in the city were
as yet unpaved. The sidewalks were wood slats nailed down on
two-by-four runners, with narrow cracks between slats. I remember
this, because of an incident. One day someone dropped a dime -- a
ten-cent piece -- and it fell onto the sidewalk and disappeared
through one of the narrow cracks. Neighbors must have spent two
or three man-hour days tearing up the sidewalks hunting that lost
dime. I learned then that people will expend far greater effort
to prevent losing something than they will to gain something.
Later I used this bit of psychology with good effect in
advertising copy.

When a Boy Is Eleven

I have often said that the HAPPIEST year in any human life is
that of a BOY at age eleven. At that age a boy experiences
something, I believe, which a girl never knows. He has no sense
of responsibility to weight him down. He has no burdens but to
HAVE FUN. Of course boys that age will do foolish things,
sometimes dangerous things. How any boy lives to adulthood I will
never know -- unless there is a guardian angel watching over and
protecting each boy.
Another condition of the time illustrates how recently this
world has become really modernized. The street lights in our
neighborhood were gas lights. Electricity had not yet reached
that stage of modernization in 1902-3. A man came by on horseback
every evening about dusk, with a lighted wick on the end of a
stick, with which he reached up and lit each light. Then, about
sun-up next morning he had to ride by again turning the lights
During these days I did a great deal of bicycle riding,
developing big calf muscles on both legs. By this time my father
had invented the air-circulating jacket idea around a furnace,
and had gone into the furnace manufacturing business, with a
small factory on East 1st or 2nd Street. I worked summer
vacations in the factory.
Our transportation, 1903-4, was horse and buggy -- and my
bicycle. Going to the factory in the morning, we had to use the
whip on the horse occasionally to keep him trotting. But
returning home in the evening, it was necessary to hold tight
rein on him. He needed no urging to trot. He seemed to know his
oats were waiting for him in our barn.

Early Religious Training

I think it is time, now, to explain what boyhood religious
training was mine.
Both my father and mother were of solid Quaker stock.
From earliest memory I was kept regularly in the Sunday
school and church services of the First Friends Church in Des
From earliest boyhood I was in a boys' class in Sunday
school, and we all sort of grew up together. I can't remember
when I first knew those boys. I guess we were all taken there as
babies together.
Anyway it was interesting, some twenty-five years ago, to
learn what had become of most of them -- for I had drifted away
from church about age 18, and had gotten completely out of touch.
One of them had become Dean of Student Personnel at San Francisco
State College, with a Ph.D. from Yale. I contacted him, and he
gave me considerable and valuable assistance and counsel in
founding Ambassador College in 1947.
Another, who had been perhaps my principal boyhood chum
through those early years, was a retired retail furniture
merchant, who had enlarged and successfully maintained the retail
establishment founded by his father. Another was a successful
dentist. The son of the Pastor of my boyhood days had died
apparently early in life. Another had become director of a large
relief agency in the Middle East. On the whole, the boys of that
class had grown to become successful men.

The Awakening -- Spark of Ambition Ignited

During the years between 12 and 16, besides school, I had many
Saturday and vacation jobs. I carried a paper route, was errand
boy for a grocery store, special delivery boy for a dry goods
store, spent one summer vacation as draftsman for a furnace
company, and there were other odd jobs.
But at age 16, during summer vacation, I obtained my first
job away from home. The job was waiting on tables in the dining
room of a semi-resort hotel in Altoona, the next town east of Des
Moines. There was an electric line -- an interurban street
car -- that ran out through Altoona and on east to the little town
of Colfax. This Altoona hotel served food of a standard that
attracted many guests from Des Moines.
The owner was a single man of perhaps 45. He complimented my
work highly. Soon he began to tell me that he could see qualities
in me that were destined to carry me to large success in life. He
constantly expressed great confidence in me, and what I would be
able to accomplish, if I were willing to put forth the effort.
The effect it had on me reminds me of an experience my wife
has related which happened when she was a little girl. She was in
her father's general store. A man came in, placed his hand on her
head, and said:
"You're a pretty little girl, aren't you?"
"I'll thank you," spoke up her mother indignantly, "not to
tell my daughters they are pretty! That's not good for them."
Promptly little Loma ran to a mirror and looked into it. She
made a discovery. She said to herself approvingly: "Well I am
pretty amn't I?"
I had never realized before that I possessed any abilities.
Actually I had never been a leader among boys. Most of the time I
had played with boys older than I who automatically took the
lead. But now, for the first time, I began to believe in myself.
This hotel owner aroused ambition -- created within me the DESIRE
to climb the ladder of success -- to become an important SOMEBODY.
This, of course, was vanity. But it also was ambition for
accomplishment -- for self-improvement. And he also stimulated the
WILL to put forth whatever effort it would require to achieve
this success. He made me realize I would have to study, acquire
knowledge and know-how, be industrious and exercise self-denial.
Actually this flowered into grossly overrated SELF-confidence and
conceit. But it impelled me to driving effort.

Life's Turning Point

It is impossible to estimate the importance of this sudden
arousal of ambition -- this injection of an intense desire for
success -- this igniting of the spark of determined energy to
achieve worthy accomplishment.
This was the turning point of my life.
Suddenly life became a whole new "ball-game." There had
awakened within a totally new outlook on the future.
This, I believe, is the vital ingredient that has been
missing in most human lives. Most continue through life as I was
prior to this arousal of ambition. As I have stated, up to this
point I played with boys older than I. It seemed natural for them
to assume leadership. I simply "went along." The idea of looking
forward to achieving success, or an accomplishment of any note
never intruded itself into my mind. Nor does it, probably, in the
average mind. And it was like an intrusion, for my mind was
uninterruptedly occupied only with the interests, pleasures and
enjoyments of the moment.
Suddenly all this was changed! Drastically changed! What a
tragedy the vast majority of human minds cannot be given this
HOPE -- this DESIRE -- this ambitious expectation -- this
CONFIDENCE -- in their future! The general attitude of hopelessness
for the future has spawned the modern mod rebellions -- the hippie
movement -- the campus protests, riots and violence.
Of course, as yet, at age 16, there had formulated no
definite GOAL to work toward, further than the general ambition
to SUCCEED. Of what that success was to consist had to crystalize
Also, so far, it was pure VANITY. But it was a positive
vanity, and that might be vastly preferable to a negative,
purposeless humility. It was the first start toward later
Some few years later, I was considerably inspired by one of
Orison Swett Marden's "inspirations" books, titled, "He CAN Who
Thinks He Can." What a pity that there seems to be a famine of
such books today.
Returning to Des Moines I continued as a student at North
High School. I began to spend extra hours outside of high school
at the city library, mostly in the Philosophy, Biography, and
Business Administration sections. I began to study Plato,
Socrates, Aristotle and Epictetus. It was at this time that I
first read Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography.
My first date with a girl took place at about this time -- a
date to escort a next-door neighbor girl in my class in high
school to some school function. At that stage I was pretty much
in awe of girls, and felt awkward in their presence. It has
always been a puzzle to me that so many boys around that age are
afraid of girls, ill at ease before them, and yet girls seem not
to be shy or bashful in any way in the company of boys. For the
next 8 years I continued to date this girl on and off, (not what
today is termed "going steady," however), but never did I put my
arm around her, kiss her, or as they would say today, "neck with
her." (It was called "loving up" in those days.)
North High had a total enrollment of only 400 then. In high
school I went out for football, and for track, and played a small
amount of basketball in the gym. In football I played end or
halfback. I weighed only 135 in those days, and was too light to
make the team, but I suited up with the team in all of its home
games, usually played in the Drake University Stadium. In track I
went out for the mile run in my Sophomore year only, but never
was entered in the state meet. The best time I ever made was 5
minutes flat, on the Drake track, where the annual Drake Relays,
nationally famous, are still run. Today the world's best milers
run the mile under 4 minutes!
I was an average student in school. But in final exams I
always got grades of 95% to 98%.
But as yet there had been set no definite GOAL in life. At
the tender age of 16 the idea of fixing a definite objective -- of
finding the true PURPOSE of life -- occurs to few teenagers.
Ambition had been aroused. I was burning with DESIRE to go
somewhere in life -- to become a success. But exactly where, or
precisely what constituted the "SUCCESS," had not as yet

Chapter 2
Learning Important Lessons

AT AGE 18 I found a book in the public library, titled, "Choosing
a Vocation." It took the reader through a searching
self-analysis, and a survey of vocations, occupations and
professions, to place the candidate where he best fit.
A thorough study of this self-analysis and survey indicated
that I would probably be most successful in the profession of
journalism and advertising. And this, to me, was one of the truly
exciting, thrilling professions.
It so happened that my uncle in Des Moines, Frank Armstrong,
my father's younger brother, was the most prominent advertising
man in the state. He had led the movement of establishing
Ad-Clubs in other cities over the state, and he was the first
president of the state association.
I went to my uncle for counsel and advice. From that time,
since I had chosen his field, he practically steered my life for
the next eleven years, and I owe much to him. To me he seemed
like a sort of second Benjamin Franklin, and on the whole I felt
he had unusual insight, understanding, and sound judgment.
The place to begin in the advertising profession, he
advised, was the want-ad department of a daily newspaper. This
was the freshman class of the advertising school of hard knocks.
It was late December, 1910. Now the big question came:
should I stay in school, and take courses in advertising and
journalism in college or university?
"Well, Herbert," he counselled, "that depends on you and how
much ambition and drive you have. It happens that no college or
university in the country has yet offered a course in this
profession that is worth a plug nickel.
"Now I know," he continued, "that nearly everybody has the
delusion that an education is something you get at school -- and
higher education at the university. It's like going to a hardware
store or department store to purchase a lawn mower. People seem
to have the idea that an education is something they have all
wrapped up at the university, ready to hand it over to you when
you buy it by paying the tuition. But it has always seemed to me
that traipsing across the door-sill of a college classroom, or
sitting in an arm-chair, is not putting an education into your
mind. Education comes from study -- from books -- from lectures -- from
contacts -- from travel -- from thinking about what you see and hear
and read -- and from experience.
"The reason we have to maintain schools and universities is
simply that most people are too lazy -- most lack the ambition and
persistence, the drive -- to procure an education outside of
schools and colleges. Most people must have someone do their
thinking and planning for them, assign lessons and homework, and
force students to study and learn by a system of rewards and
punishments in the form of grades, and finally, a sheepskin with
a degree.
"Now if you have the initiative, and the will to drive
yourself to study, without these prods of rewards and penalties,
you can acquire just as complete an education outside the
classrooms as in. You can gain a much more thorough and practical
knowledge of the profession you have chosen outside than in. And
so far as general education is concerned, you can acquire that,
if you have the gumption and the will. I can help you choose the
proper textbooks to study in general educational areas, as well
as in advertising and journalism, and psychology -- which, by the
way, you'll have to understand and use. Actually, Herbert," he
continued, "a majority of corporate heads, presidents and board
chairmen of New York and Chicago Banks are primarily
self-educated beyond high school education. The doctors,
dentists, scientists and technologists, of course, went on
through university."
At that time a small percent of high school graduates went
on to matriculate in college or university. Today that condition
has reversed, and as high as 90% of high school graduates enter
the mad scramble to gain entrance into the institutions of higher
learning. Also, in 1910, a much smaller percent went on to
graduate even from high school.
I went home and thought it over thoroughly. Ambition is not
only the DESIRE, but the determination and the will to achieve
the desired goal. For two years ambition had burned fiercely
within me. I wanted both success and to become a well-educated
person. I knew I wanted these goals intensively enough to drive
myself to any needed extent to succeed.
I told my uncle my decision. He assigned me to one year's
experience in want ads, and advised that I get a job in the
want-ad department of the Des Moines Daily Capital, then
published by Lafe Young, senior United States Senator from Iowa.

Applying Laws of Success

I didn't know, as yet, what later I came to learn were the seven
laws -- or seven steps toward SUCCESS -- but I was starting out with
the first four of them.
Well, ALMOST! The first law is to choose the right goal. I
had chosen my life's goal. I thought then I had chosen carefully,
intelligently, wisely, and the RIGHT goal. I had put myself
through a thorough self-analysis, and survey of professions and
occupations. I had not unthinkingly stumbled onto whatever job,
field, or occupation that was nearest me.
Most people, I have observed, are victims of circumstance.
They have given no intelligent thought to choosing where they
live, what they do, or planning for the future. They have no
specific aim or goal in life. They are headed toward no definite
PURPOSE. They are where they are by circumstance.
I was to learn later that the RIGHT goal was one I knew
nothing, as yet, about. But I had chosen the field that was to
provide the precise needed TRAINING for the RIGHT goal, when my
eyes became opened to it. I was getting the precise needed
training, education and experience.
The second law of success is EDUCATION -- the specific
specialized education and training needed for success in the
chosen goal, in addition to the general balanced education one
needs to develop the whole person.
With the determination and drive to study, and by applying
myself to the task, the course of study and training had been
And next comes good HEALTH, to which I gave much thought and
diligence. And fourth was the DRIVE to push oneself into getting
these things done. My ambition was so strong -- the desire to
succeed so intense -- that I was imbued with almost excessive
drive. And on this first assignment I became a hustler.
The fifth requisite is resourcefulness -- the ability to think
a problem or obstacle through -- to find a BETTER WAY -- to find the
SOLUTION to problems -- to THINK about what one is doing WHILE he
is doing it.
And my very first experience on the new job was to
demonstrate that.
I did not ask The Capital if they needed any help. That was
too negative -- might have resulted in being turned down. I went
straight to the manager of the want-ad department, told him I was
entering the advertising profession, and had decided to join his
staff because it offered the best opportunity to LEARN, and to
advance. I got the job. The starting salary was $6 per week.
I had no conception, then, that the advertising profession
was not, after all, to be my final life profession -- or that this
experience was merely the preliminary training needed for the
ultimate bigger job later in life.
In those days I had developed a very excessive case of
self-confidence. I was snappy, confident, self-assured -- yet
sincere, and in the intent of heart, honest.
On this want-ad job I soon became known as a "hustler." On
the street I hurried -- walked rapidly. I was a dynamo of energy.
Off nights I studied. Books were procured on advertising, on
psychology, merchandising, business management, and English. All
the leading trade journals were subscribed to and diligently
read -- primarily "Printers Ink," and "Advertising & Selling," the
two leading trade journals of the profession.
My uncle directed the training in learning an effective
style in writing. Constantly I studied the writing style of
Claude Hopkins, president and chief copywriter for the Lord &
Thomas Advertising agency. This man reputedly drew a salary of
$50,000 a year (big money in those days) writing the advertising
copy for Quaker Oats, Pepsodent, Palmolive, Goodyear tires, Blue
Jay Corn Plasters, Ovaltine, and others. His rapid style, unique,
yet plain, simple and easy-to-read, built multimillion dollar
businesses for those firms.
Also my uncle started me reading Elbert Hubbard, with his
two magazines, "The Philistine" and "The Fra" -- primarily for
ideas, writing style, vocabulary. Later I was to become
personally acquainted with Elbert Hubbard.

The "Goat Work"

The first day in want ads I was started out, bright and early, on
a job they called "the Goat Work," tutored by a young man now
ready to graduate from that job.
This job in the newspaper business might be compared to
"boot camp" in the Marines. It is a most undesirable, tough,
breaking-in job. I soon learned what it was.
We each armed ourselves with a copy of the previous night's
paper, a want-ad blank, and a pencil. Then we started out afoot.
We headed up the hill on West Fourth and Fifth -- the rooming house
"I'll stop in at a couple of rooming houses," said my
predecessor-instructor, "just to show you how to do it; then I'll
go back to the office, and you're on your own."
Stepping boldly up to the first rooming house door, he rang
the bell. The landlady opened the door, instantly recognizing the
folded newspaper in his side pocket and the want-ad blank in his
"NO!" she snapped decisively, before he could say a word, "I
don't want to run any want ads."
"But lady," my instructor put a foot in the door being
slammed in his face, "you know Mrs. Jones down in the next block,
don't you?"
"Never heard of her!" Of course not. Neither had the boy
with me.
"Well, Mrs. Jones put her ad in the Capital, and at least a
dozen men came trying to rent the room. The reason you didn't get
results is that you put your ad in the wrong paper."
But by this time the madam had managed to dislodge his foot
and slam the door.
This same procedure was repeated at the next house.
"Well -- " said my want-ad buddy, happily, "that shows you how
to do it. Hope you sell a lot of ads. So long -- see you at the

Finding a More Effective Way

But it didn't seem that he had demonstrated how to do it -- but
rather, how NOT to do it.
I waited until he was out of sight. I hid both the newspaper
and the want-ad blank in my inner pocket, covered with my
overcoat. Then I walked briskly up to the next rooming-house
"I hope you haven't rented your room yet," I smiled as the
landlady opened the door. "May I see it?"
"Why, certainly," she smiled back, opening wide the door.
I trailed her to the second-floor room. No doors were going
to be slammed in my face.
"Why," I smiled, "this is a delightful room, isn't it?" The
landlady beamed expectantly. I whipped out the want-ad blank and
began rapidly writing.
"Here!" she exclaimed suspiciously, "what are you doing with
that want-ad blank?"
But she could not slam the front door in my face now -- nor
did she appear big enough to attempt throwing me out bodily.
"Now look," I said calmly. "This is a lovely room. Do you
know why your want ads have not rented it for you? The want-ad
solicitors have told you it was because you put it in the wrong
paper. You know that's bosh as well as I. The reason you didn't
rent your room is that you are not a professional advertising
By this time I had the want ad written -- at least two or
three times longer (and costlier) than the average.
"Listen," I continued, "imagine you are a young man reading
all the room-for-rent ads, looking for a room that is going to be
your home. Now think how all those other ads are written -- then
listen to this, and think! -- which room would YOU go to see, and
I read the ad, which certainly made the room sound very
desirable. In fact, its glowing terms probably flattered her. She
just couldn't resist seeing that flowery description of her room
in print in the paper.
"Why, I'd certainly want to rent that room, instead of those
ordinarily described in the want ads," she replied. "That does
make it sound good." She bought the ad -- as large as three
ordinary ads.
And the ad did rent her room!
That was the first advertisement I ever wrote that was
printed. But I had already been diligently studying textbooks on
advertising writing.
Since 1958 we have been large purchasers of double-page and
full-page advertising space in several of the world's leading
mass-circulation magazines, including, in the United States,
Life, Look, TV Guide, and around the world, double pages in many
editions of Reader's Digest, half pages in London Sunday Times,
full pages, full color, Sunday Times magazine; Hörzu in Germany,
other leading magazines in Australia, South Africa, The
Philippines, and others.
The twenty years experience in the advertising and
journalism profession, starting with this first want ad, was the
preparation that supplied the know-how for effective use of this
type media, reaching a readership in excess of 150 million
worldwide. Results were more than gratifying. Two such double
pages in English in Reader's Digest brought 20,000 new
subscribers in India for The Plain Truth.
After an energetic morning I was back at the want-ad office
about 1 p.m., the deadline for getting ads to the composing room.
I had a handful of want ads.

"Much-a-Welcome "

Soon I thought of a faster, more pleasant way to sell more
room-for-rent ads, in less time.
The rival papers were The Register & Leader, and The Daily
News. The News didn't count as a want-ad medium, but the "R&L" as
we then called it was the city's big want-ad medium. Today The
Des Moines Register is recognized by many as one of the nation's
ten great newspapers. In 1924 I was offered the job of
advertising manager of The Register, and refused it -- but that's
getting ahead of the story.
The "R & L" printed perhaps three or four times more
room-for-rent ads than The Capital. Rooming-house landladies had
become smart. In order to prevent newspaper solicitors annoying
them on the telephone, or prospective roomers turning them down
on the phone before actually seeing the rooms, they usually gave
the street address only, in their ads.
I knew that the "information" office of the telephone
company indexed according to street addresses, as well as by
name, but the information operators were not supposed to give out
names or numbers for a given street address.
So I called the information office, and first engaged the
operator in a jocular conversation. After a while I persuaded
her, this once, to give me the name of the rooming-house landlady
at a certain street address.
"Well MUCH-A-WELCOME" I said jokingly.
"Oh, you're entirely welcome," she said.
"No!" I came back, "I'm not welcome -- I said you're
She was a little confused at this 18-year-old kidding.
"Well, what am I supposed to say, then?"
"Why, you're supposed to answer, 'you're entirely OBLIGED!'"
She had a good laugh. That joke sounds about as "corny" as
Iowa's tall corn, now -- but it certainly got me results with that
information operator.
Next morning I called "information," and said, "This is
Much-a-welcome again!" It brought a friendly laugh. I was, in my
self-confident assurance, a reasonably glib talker. Somehow I
managed to talk this information operator into giving me the
names and telephone numbers of every room-for-rent want ad in the
morning paper that we had not carried the evening before.
Always I ended by saying "Much-a-welcome," and she would
laughingly reply, "Oh, you're entirely obliged." Silly,
perhaps -- but it got me the names and telephone numbers I wanted.
Quite a telephonic friendship was struck up with this information
operator. Often I wondered how old she was -- what she looked like.
I never knew. It did not seem appropriate to suggest a
face-to-face meeting. But this daily morning procedure continued
as long as I was on Rooming House ads.

Getting Ads by Phone

Once I had the names and telephone numbers, they were called by
"Good morning. Is this Mrs. Smith?" I would start off,
While I was only a boy of 18, I had inherited a strong
bass-baritone voice from my father, even lower-pitched then than
now, and sounded quite mature on the telephone. I discovered,
even then, that I was possibly more effective audibly than
visually. Indeed, this was the first prelude training for radio
broadcasting that was to follow, beginning 24 years later.
"I wonder," I would continue the telephone conversation, "if
you would describe your room to me." While getting the
description, prompted by repeated questions from me, I was
rapidly writing a very descriptive want ad. Then I explained that
she had not described it well enough in the morning-paper ad to
cause anyone to really want to walk out to see it, and told her
that I was an expert ad-writer, and quickly read the ad that
would tell enough about the room to cause prospective roomers to
want to see it. I explained that the reason she had not been
getting results was the fact her ad was written so inexpertly.
A large majority of these hastily written telephone ads were
sold. The rooms were usually rented -- unless they failed to live
up to the description after prospective roomers called to see
Soon we were carrying more room-for-rent ads than the "R&L."
Whenever one of our rooming-house customers had a vacant room,
they automatically called for me on the telephone, and soon
rented the room again.
One of the seven laws of success, I repeat, is
resourcefulness. Also an important point I have always stressed
to students in Ambassador College is to THINK -- and constantly to
THINK about what you are doing while you are doing it! This
experience in thinking of a more effective way of selling
room-for-rent want ads might offer a helpful example to some of
my readers.

My First Display Ads

It was not long until I was promoted out of the room-for-rent
columns and into the Real Estate section.
But first came a challenging test -- the toughest of all. The
want-ad manager, a young man (older than I) named Charles Tobin,
had an ambition. He hoped to increase his salary to a point that
would enable him to wear a fresh-laundered shirt every day.
Immediately, that became one of my ambitions, too. The assignment
he gave me was to sell a special section on the want-ad page, of
single-column display ads to the second-hand furniture dealers.
These stores were all owned by a type of men who did not
believe in advertising, and valued every penny as if it were a
million dollars. To me, this was an unpleasant task, because so
many of these stores were dirty and dusty and musty, cluttered
and ill-arranged -- an unpleasant atmosphere to enter.
Here, again, however, ads were sold by writing the ads, and
making attractive-appearing layouts. These were the very first
display ads I ever had printed. I remember staying up until
midnight studying a book on advertising and selling psychology.
It took the combination of all the selling psychology, attractive
advertising layouts and copy, and persuasive personality I could
muster to accomplish that assignment. But it was accomplished -- a
total of about a third of a page or more, as nearly as I can now
During this "special number" crusade, I encountered a
somewhat handicapped Jewish boy of about my age, the son of one
of these "used furniture" merchants. The store owner was
delighted to learn that I had some influence over his backward
boy. It seemed like a responsibility that had come to me, to
encourage him to go back to school, to study hard, and to begin
to believe that he could be a success some day, and to start
working, and fighting, even against sluggish impulses of self, to
make something of himself. For some months I continued
occasionally to drop in at this store to give this lad another
"pep talk." It seemed to be doing good. I hope the progress
continued, but after about a year we lost contact.

The $2 per Week Lesson

But after "putting over" this special number, I was given a Real
Estate beat, and the salary raised to $8 per week.
I was put on a regular "beat," calling daily on a certain
number of Real Estate brokers to pick up their ads. Here again, I
started writing ads for them. Results were increased. More and
more the dealers on my route began using large ads in the
Capital, using less space in the "R & L."
It was on this job that I became known as a "hustler." I
walked at a pace that was almost a run. It was drive, drive,
DRIVE!! all morning long -- until the 1 p.m. deadline. Then the
afternoons were spent in the office preparing form solicitations,
to which were attached clipped want ads from the other local
papers, or even those of other cities, which were mailed out.
Thus I learned to sell want ads by mail. This knowledge landed an
important job, later.
It was not long until Ivan Coolidge, then want-ad manager
over at the "R & L," asked me to drop over and see him. He
offered me $10 a week if I'd leave The Capital and join the
Register staff. Later on, Ivan established an advertising agency
of his own in Des Moines, which, I believe, gained some
prominence -- but he was unfortunately cut off somewhere in
mid-life by premature death.
I told Ivan I wanted to consult my uncle before giving him
my decision.
"So," chuckled my Uncle Frank, with the wisdom of a Ben
Franklin, "the opposition is beginning to feel the pressure, eh?
Want to hire you away from the Capital -- willing to pay $10 a week
to stop the competition, are they? Well, now listen, Herbert, a
little encouragement once in a while is very helpful. It shows
you are making good. You can get some inspiration out of it to
provide incentive to keep driving yourself on. But I've noticed
that there has been a tendency in some branches of our family to
keep shifting around all the time from one thing to
another -- never staying with one thing long enough to make a
success of it. There's a good deal to the old adage, after all,
that a rolling stone gathers no moss. One of the great success
lessons you need to learn is persistence -- to stay with a thing.
"Now suppose you quit the Capital and go over to the
Register. You wouldn't learn any more about the advertising
profession over there than you're learning where you are. The
only advantage is the $2 per week. You'd probably blow that in,
and ten years from now you wouldn't remember having had it. I
think the time has come for you to pay the $2 a week to learn the
important lesson of staying with a thing. Every week, when you
draw your $8 at the Capital, remember you are paying the extra $2
you might be getting at the Register as the price of that lesson,
and I think you'll remember it."
I had started out to spend one year in want ads at the
Capital. The temptation had come to weaken and get off that
I took my uncle's advice and stayed on the schedule.

Learning Rules of Success

Thus, at the early age of 18, some of the seven important rules
of success were being learned.
The first success rule -- I emphasize by repeating it -- is
fixing the right GOAL. Avoid fitting the "square peg in the round
hole." I was yet to learn the real PURPOSE of life, and the one
true supreme GOAL. Actually I had set out on a wrong goal -- that
of becoming someone "important," achieving business success and
status for the purpose of making money. But at least I had made
the self-analysis and the survey of vocations to find where I
should fit within the realm of business, the field of this goal.
At least, ambition had been kindled.
And, though little realized at the time, all this experience
was building the necessary foundation for the worldwide
activities of later life.
The second success rule is EDUCATION -- fitting oneself for
the achievement of the goal. I was getting, not mere impractical
and theoretical classroom book education, but the combined
education of book study at night and practical experience in the
daytime. And even here, the self-education being received was
precisely that required to properly prepare me for this present
worldwide Work of God, without which this Work today could not
have become a success.
The third rule of success is good, vigorous HEALTH. Food
plays a major part in this, and I was not to learn of the
importance of food and diet until I was 38 years old. But I had
learned the importance of sufficient exercise, deep breathing,
daily bathing and elimination, and sufficient sleep.
The fourth rule, drive, putting a constant prod on oneself,
seems to have come naturally as a result of the ambition that had
been generated at sixteen. There was always the sense that I had
to hurry! I was learning to plunge into a task with dynamic
The fifth, resourcefulness, or thinking about the problem at
hand, was unconsciously being developed by experience. For
example, the experience of the "goat work" job, and then in
finding a way to get in room-for-rent ads faster by telephone,
was an example of learning this rule by experience -- thinking
through and applying initiative, to a better way of solving a
problem. Most people do such a job just as they are shown,
without ever applying thought or resourcefulness to the activity.
And now, the sixth rule, perseverance, never quitting when
it appears to everyone else one has failed, was being learned at
the very low price of $2 per weekly lesson. In 1947, and again in
1948, Ambassador College appeared hopelessly to have failed. It
seemed everyone else knew we had come to the "end of our rope."
It has happened many times. But that $2 per week lesson learned
at 18 turned a seeming hopeless failure into a worldwide
ever-expanding success.
The seventh and most important rule I was not to learn until
much later.

The First Sidestep From the Goal

But now came a big mistake in judgment.
Humans do not learn well from experience, nor all at once.
The lesson of the forbidden fruit has not been learned by
humanity in 6000 years. My $2 a week lesson was not really
learned until later.
As the scheduled year of training in daily newspaper want
ads drew to a close, a flattering offer came. And this time I
failed to seek out the advice of my Uncle Frank who had wisely
steered my business career thus far.
On The Daily Capital staff was a book critic, Emile Stapp,
who edited a Book Review department. Her desk was on the second
floor adjacent to the want ad and display advertising section.
She had, apparently, observed my work, noted I was energetic and
produced results. She was a sister-in-law of W. O. Finkbine, one
of two millionaire brothers who owned and operated the Green Bay
Lumber Company, with lumberyards scattered all over Iowa; the
Finkbine Lumber Company, a large lumber manufacturing company in
Wiggins, Mississippi; and operating a 17,000-acre wheat ranch in
Miss Stapp lived with her sister, Mrs. W. O. Finkbine, "out
on the Avenue," as we called it -- meaning the millionaire
residence street of Des Moines, West Grand Avenue. I doubt very
much that all the residents of that fabled street were
millionaires, but at least so it seemed to those of us who were
of ordinary means in Des Moines.
One day, near the end of my year at The Capital, Miss Stapp
told me she had spoken to Mr. Finkbine, and I was being offered
the job of Timekeeper and Paymaster at the big lumber mill in
southern Mississippi. I was first to work a short period in the
company's commissary store, managed by her brother, whose name
was Hal Stapp.
The job sounded flattering. The prospect of travel to
far-off southern Mississippi had alluring appeal. I succumbed to
it, going off on a tangent from the planned advertising career.

The First Meeting With a Millionaire

Before leaving, I was to go to the office of Mr. W. O. Finkbine
for a short talk of instruction. I shall never forget my visit to
the headquarters' offices of this lumber firm. I met also Mr. E.
C. Finkbine, President of the corporation. W. O. was Vice
It was my first experience meeting millionaires. It made an
intensive impression. I was awed. There seemed to be something in
the appearance and personalities of these men that simply
radiated POWER. It was instantly apparent that they were men of
higher caliber than men I had known -- men of greater ability.
There was an expression of intensity which seemed to radiate an
aura of positive confident power about them, and affected one who
came within proximity of it. I could see that they were men who
had studied, used their minds continually, dynamically, and
Of course I was over-impressed, due to the plastic
susceptibilities and inexperience of youth. A very few years
later I began meeting so many millionaires that they began
appearing quite ordinary, after all -- just HUMAN!
I was taken into the private office of W. O. Finkbine. He
wanted to give me a little general advice before sending a young
man so far away from home. I have never forgotten what he said.
"We are going to send you down with the manager of our
Canadian interests," he said. This man's name I do not remember
now. It was early January, and he was going down to Wiggins for a
vacation, and to inspect the company's operations there, during
the off-season in Canada. I had never been farther from Des
Moines than Omaha and Sioux City. It was a THRILL to look forward
to the trip, first to seeing Chicago, then the deep South.
"First, I want to give you some advice about travelling,"
said Mr. Finkbine. "Most people look upon it as an extravagance
to ride in the Pullman cars on trains. They are wrong. As you're
starting on your first long trip from home, I want to impress on
you the importance of always travelling in a Pullman car, except
when you do not have the money to do so.
"First of all, especially at your age, we humans are
influenced by everyone we come in contact with. On the Pullmans
you will come in contact with a more successful class of people.
This will have more influence than you can realize, now, on your
future success in life. Then, in the Pullmans it is not only
cleaner, but safer.
"Now," he continued, "whenever you stop at a hotel, the same
principle applies. Always stop at the leading hotel in any city.
If you want to economize, get the minimum-priced room, but always
go to the best hotel. You are among more successful people, which
will influence your own success. The best hotels are either
fireproof or more nearly so -- always safer -- worth the little
difference, if any, in cost as insurance against accident or
fire. You are a young man, just getting started in life. Try to
throw yourself into the company of as many successful men as
possible. Study them. Try to learn WHY they are successful. This
will help you learn how to build a success for yourself."
I did not disdain his advice. There have been many times in
my life when I did not have enough money to travel on Pullman
cars, or stay in the best hotels. Under such circumstances, I
have travelled as I could afford -- and I have travelled a great
deal since that eventful day in early January, 1912 -- in fact a
goodly portion of my life has been spent in travelling, as you
will see as this autobiography progresses.
Since we moved to Pasadena, I have learned that these
Finkbine brothers later retired from business, and moved to
Pasadena. Very often, these days, I drive past the home where W.
O. Finkbine lived in retirement, and died. One lesson in life he
apparently never learned. When a man decides he already has
achieved success, and retires -- quits -- he never lives long. I
expect to stay in harness as long as I live.

Introduction to the South

As I look back now, after a travel-filled life, on this first
real trip away from home, it seems strange that I could have been
so absolutely inexperienced in travel. But I suppose one must be
initiated, and learn, and this was my introduction to a life of
We boarded a Pullman car in Des Moines one night -- my first
experience riding in one. I think I was too excited to sleep
much, wanting to see as much of the scenery as
possible -- especially my first glimpse of the great Mississippi
River as we crossed it between Davenport and Rock Island.
There was a cold blizzard on our arrival in Chicago next
morning. The ground was covered with snow. We went over to see
Michigan Avenue. I was thrilled. We went through "Peacock Alley,"
a very long and narrow lobby, nationally famous, in the Congress
Hotel, and walked through the tunnel under the street connecting
it with the Auditorium Hotel. I think we visited the Stock Yards,
taking the first ride in my experience on an "L" (Elevated
Near mid-day we boarded the famous all-Pullman "Panama
Limited" on the Illinois Central Railroad at 12th Street Station.
Going into the diner for lunch and again for dinner was an
exciting experience -- I had never seen the inside of a dining car
before. It was a new experience to learn about tipping waiters,
redcaps, porters, bellboys -- but my companion was an experienced
traveller, and this initiation into the "ropes" of travelling was
under good tutelage. I learned fast. Night came all too soon, and
this time I slept soundly in my berth.
The next morning the train arrived in Jackson, Mississippi,
where we changed for a local train on the "G. & S. I." Line.
This was the strangest experience of my life up to this
time. We had left Chicago in below zero temperature and a
blizzard. I had gone to sleep that night somewhere near Cairo,
Illinois. And now, this morning, after a brief sleep, here it
was -- SUMMER!
I had never seen southern Negroes before, and in those days,
January, 1912, they were quite different from the colored people
I had known up north. (Readers will understand that in those days
blacks were called "Negroes" and "colored people.")
Here in Jackson, Mississippi, it seemed that there were more
black people than white on the streets, and they were utterly
different from any people I had seen in the north -- and, for that
matter, than southern blacks today. Today the blacks of the South
are comparatively well educated, on the average, but then very
few had been privileged to receive much, if any, education. I was
especially attracted to the dresses of the black women -- bright
and loud colors -- such as a bright yellow or orange, clashing with
a loud purple.
Arriving in Wiggins, I found a room in town, over a mile
walk from the commissary store and the lumber mill, just outside
of town, and was quickly introduced to my job in the store.
Saturday night was the big night at the store. The mill employees
were paid Saturday evening, and thronged the store. I was broken
in immediately as "soda-fountain jerker."
One of the first men I met was a Negro I shall never
forget -- whose name was Hub Evans. One of the men in the store
brought him around to me.
"Hub," he said, "tell Mr. Armstrong how many children you
"Thutty-six, suh," replied old Hub, promptly and
proudly -- "hope t' make it foty 'fo Ah die!"
I was not merely amused -- but intensely interested. "Tell me,
Hub," I responded, "how many wives have you had?"
"Only three, suh!" Hub was a proud man.

The New Job

After not more than a few weeks, I was transferred over to the
mill office as timekeeper and paymaster. Later I learned that
only a short time before, this job had been shared by three men,
and all of them men of ability -- one of whom was now the leading
real estate dealer in Wiggins, another was now the company's
bookkeeper, and the third the assistant manager of the company.
The company was logging timber off a big tract east of
Wiggins. It had its own railroad, by which the logs were brought
into the mill. About 350 Negro men were employed, beside various
department managers and top-ranking skilled employees, all white.
As mentioned above, Negroes of 62 years ago had received
little or no education. There was not a man of this entire force
who could write his own name. All statements were signed with an
"x" -- "His mark." This was a legal signature.
I learned at once that the black employees had to be paid
three times a day -- morning, noon, and night. They had never been
trained in the handling of money. Had they been paid only once a
week, they and their families would have starved before next
payday, for they were nearly always "broke" before Monday
But the company paid them in cash only on Saturday night. At
all other times, they were paid in trade-checks on the commissary
store -- good only in trade. What a contrast from the condition of
today. This was in 1912. Only some 45-48 years from slavery. The
terrible years after the war had done little toward giving
our black people the economic, educational and social advantages
the nation owed them.
But, even though we do not yet have the Civil Rights problem
fully solved, the black people certainly have come a long way!
These problems require time, patience, understanding, and
replacing prejudice with a love of fellowman. I am here recording
only true factual history, which should help us understand
today's problems.

A Fish Out of Water

I was to learn that I was a square peg in a round hole. I had
fixed a life GOAL in the advertising profession, where
self-analysis had shown I fit. The glamor of getting to travel to
far-off southern Mississippi, combined with the flattery of being
offered such a job as a result of my record during that year in
want ads, had momentarily blinded me to my previously fixed
purpose. Of course, travel is an important phase of education -- so
this six-month sidetracking was not altogether wasted time.
I have mentioned that this job combined the work previously
done by three capable men, now risen to more important jobs. But
it was not the kind of work into which I fit. It was, as we say,
out of my line. I was a fish out of water. A square peg in a
round hole.
In order to keep up with the job, due to inadaptability and
resultant slowness, it became necessary to work nights. I
established a system. I worked alternately one night until ten,
the next until midnight, rising at 5:30 every morning. Time had
to be taken out to walk the one or two miles from my room to the
mill, and also to walk over to the boarding house where I took
meals. I kept awake on the job nights by smoking a pipe -- my first
habitual smoking. In just six months this overwork and loss of
sleep exacted its toll, and I was sent to the hospital with a
very severe case of typhoid fever.

Escape From Death

But during this six months in Wiggins there were a few social
events. One was a pre-World War I encounter with a German, in
which I narrowly escaped being shot to death.
I took meals at a boarding house out near the mill. The
daughter of the landlady was an attractive southern brunette near
my age. I had a few dates with her -- but, I think, quite unlike
most dating today. There was no "necking" as today's youngsters
call it. Indeed I had never yet kissed or had my arms around a
girl. It just wasn't done, then, on the universal scale of these
postwar years. Two world wars have brought greater social and
moral changes than most people realize -- and mostly bad.
That girl's name was Matti-Lee Hornsby. The few dates I had
were on Sundays, and consisted of walking and of conversation.
That kind of date would seem pretty "dull" to most
19-year-olds today, I suppose. I wonder if it isn't because they
have lost the art of interesting conversation. I have always
found that a scintillating conversation can be far more
interesting than a prefabricated daydream in a movie or before a
TV set -- far more stimulating, enjoyable, and beneficial than the
lust-inciting pastime called "necking."
But more of the dating experiences later. I had not had a
great many dates up to this time. One thing, however, sticks to
my memory -- whenever Matti-Lee became a little provoked with me,
her dark eyes flashed and she snapped out the epithet: "YANKEE!"
It was of course, half in fun -- but I found that epithet was
supposed to be insulting. I had never heard it before.
One acquaintance I made there was a young German. He must
have been about 21 at the time. His father was a lumberman in
Germany, and had sent the son to America to study American lumber
methods. He was spending some few weeks at the Finkbine mill in
This German, whose name I do not remember, bragged at length
on the superiority of German products, methods and systems. One
day, in his room at the boarding house, he was demonstrating to
me the superiority of his German-made revolver over a Colt or
other American make.
In play, he pointed the revolver straight at me.
"Don't point that at me!" I said, dodging.
"Oh, it isn't loaded," he laughed. "Look, if you're afraid,
I'll point it away from you and show you."
He pointed the revolver a couple of feet to one side of me,
and pulled the trigger.
It was a very superior weapon, all right. It drilled a hole
completely through the wall of his room, and let a little round
ray of sunlight shine through from outdoors!
My German friend turned white, and trembled in confusion.
"Why," he stammered in frightened embarrassment, "I was sure
it wasn't loaded."
It is the gun "that isn't loaded" that has killed many
people. And before I leave this little digression, may I
respectfully suggest to all who read this that you teach -- yes,
really TEACH your children never, under any circumstances, to
point even a playgun at any person. The life you save may be your

In the Hospital

My stay in southern Mississippi was brought to a sudden and rude
halt. By summer, weakened by overwork and loss of sleep in the
desperate struggle to make good on a job I didn't belong in, a
tiny typhoid germ, according to medical theories, found fertile
soil. I became delirious. The mill officials, on doctor's orders,
had me taken to the Southern Mississippi Infirmary at
Hattiesburg. I entered there with the most severe case in the
hospital's history. I was unconscious for two or three days.
But just to be able to stay in bed, after that six months'
grind with all too little sleep seemed so good that somehow I
"snapped out of it" quicker, apparently, than any previous
typhoid patient at that hospital, and recovery was rapid.
One thing I want to mention here, for the benefit of a very
large portion of my readers. It isn't often considered "nice" to
talk about it, but constipation is called by some medical men
"the mother of all diseases." A large percentage of people are
plagued with it. For some two years I had been. Cathartics give
only temporary relief. There isn't a cure in a carload.
In the hospital I was forced to fast. Daily they gave me
castor oil. UGH! I have never taken it since, but I can taste the
nasty stuff yet! They fed me only lemon juice, and occasionally
When I left the hospital the constipation was cured.
Fasting, on raw fresh fruits (no bananas), will cure it, if you
will keep it up long enough. I did not undervaluate the blessing
of being rid of this thing. I appreciated it enough to be SURE
that I kept regular. I have never permitted that condition to
return. That fact alone is responsible for a large part of
whatever dynamic energy I have been able to give to our great
Work -- and for long life. One of the 7 basic rules of SUCCESS is
GOOD HEALTH! I hope this is enough said. You can't overestimate
its importance.
In the hospital I was the favorite patient of practically
all the nurses. Most of them were just a few years older than
I -- but not so much that we did not enjoy a great deal of
conversation while I was convalescing. My room became a sort of
social rendezvous for the nurses. Often there would be five or
six of them in there at a time. I really enjoyed this rest in the
hospital -- the release from that frightening responsibility of
trying so desperately to keep up with a job in which I did not
belong, getting ample rest and sleep at last.
But I have always believed in the admonition: "Whatsoever
thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy MIGHT," even though I
didn't know it was in the Bible (Eccl. 9:10) until much later. I
gave that job all I had. Now, in later life, there is some
satisfaction in looking back on that.
The doctors told me I would have to return back north to
protect my health. Thus, by forces outside my control, I was
jerked out of this misfit detour job, and I thought I had
learned, now, the lesson for which I sacrificed $2 a week the
year before.
Arriving back in Des Moines, Iowa, mid-summer, 1912, I went
this time to seek my uncle's advice. Now began my real
advertising career. I think the story picks up in interest at
this point.

Chapter 3
Learning to Write Effective Advertisements

THIS detour was my first experience in real travel. But on this
job I was a total misfit.
I had now learned my lesson -- least temporarily. Now I was
going to get back on the main track -- the advertising field.
Stopping off in Chicago between trains en route to Des
Moines, I went up to the Mahan Advertising Agency headquarters,
and succeeded in getting a job. But since it was still more than
two weeks before I could become active again, I went on out to
Des Moines to spend the time at home.

Hiring Myself a Job

Naturally I went almost immediately to my uncle Frank's office.
"Well, Herbert," he said approvingly, "I'm glad you've got
that bookkeeping fling out of your system, and are ready to get
back in the advertising field where you belong."
I told him about the job with the Mahan Agency in Chicago.
"No, Herbert," he said, seriously, "you're not ready for
agency experience yet. Mahan is one of the major agencies, and it
would be years before you'd even work up to being noticed by any
of the top men, who are the only ones over there that could teach
you anything. They wouldn't know you existed.
"Besides," he continued, "although faraway pastures may look
greener, often the best opportunity is right where you are. Now
it so happens that on a national magazine, right here in Des
Moines, are two men that I regard as the two best advertising and
merchandising men in the country. These fellows really know
advertising psychology. They know people, and how to deal with
them. They know merchandising and business principles. They
specialize in finding which business methods, selling methods,
and advertising principles are successful, and which are not.
"They are two men over at The Merchants Trade Journal. It's
a trade journal in the retail field -- read by owners and managers
of retail stores -- but they circulate among every line of
merchandising, and it's the biggest trade journal in the country,
with a very large national circulation.
"One of these men is R. H. Miles, who is advertising
manager, and the other is Arthur I. Boreman, manager of their
Service Department, which is a sort of trade-paper advertising
"Why," I interrupted, "I know Mr. Miles. He's a neighbor of
"Well," continued my uncle, "go hire yourself a job. Don't
let them turn you down. Over there you'll be in daily personal
contact with these two men. You'll learn more there than anyplace
I know. Don't forget, you're still going to school -- you still
have a lot to learn."
I walked briskly over to The Merchants Trade Journal
offices, gained admittance to the advertising manager's office.
"Why, hello, Herbert," greeted Mr. Miles, surprised to see
me in his office.
"Mr. Miles, I have decided that I'm going to join your
organization, here in your advertising department. The doctors
have told me I can't start work for two more weeks. I will report
for work the first Monday in next month!" This came out real
snappy -- very positively.
"You -- you -- WHAT!" It caught Mr. Miles' breath.
I repeated my affirmative statement.
"Well!! -- so you've just hired yourself a job -- is that it?"
"Exactly!" came the positive reply.
"Well, now -- just back up a minute!" Mr. Miles began to
recover. "You can't come barging in here and hire yourself a job,
just because you're a neighbor of mine. We haven't any openings!"
"Oh, that's all right! You've got two whole weeks to create
an opening," I came back promptly, in full self-assurance.
"Now, look!" Mr. Miles was beginning to get a little
impatient at this youthful aggressiveness. "It seems you don't
understand plain English. I said, WE DON'T NEED ANY HELP!"
Now it was my turn to become a little nettled.
"Mr. Miles," I came back, more positively than ever, "I'm
surprised at you. Isn't this a NATIONAL magazine? Isn't this an
institution of national importance?"
"Yes, of course," he responded.
"Well then, do you mean to tell me that an organization of
national scope and influence is not interested in finding a way
to create an opening for an ambitious, energetic young man like
me? Do you realize that you probably don't get a chance once in
several years to add to your staff a man of my caliber, my
talents, and ambition and will to work! Why, you can't afford to
pass up this opportunity. I'll grow with your organization. Of
course you can create an opening! As I said, I'll report for work
the first Monday in next month."
"Well, I haven't the slightest idea what we'd have you do,"
Mr. Miles was beginning to weaken a little.
I became more confident than ever.
"Oh, poppycock, Mr. Miles," I snapped, disgusted. "Hand me a
copy of that lousy sheet of yours!" This was commonly used
advertising terminology.
On the back cover I saw two or three small ads, want-ad
style, advertising stores for sale.
"Do you call these want ads?" I inquired.
"Oh, we don't have a want-ad section. We only solicit
display ads. Occasionally a merchant decides to quit and sell
out, and sends in a small want ad to sell his business."
"Well, I happen to know that hundreds of small merchants are
going broke all the time, over the whole country. Now, supposing
you had a full page, or even two pages of these store-for-sale
ads every month. The rate for these small ads is a lot higher
than the display rate by the page. One page of want ads would
bring in as much advertising revenue as three or four pages of
display ads, wouldn't it?"
"Well, yes," admitted Miles, rather reluctantly, "but we
have no way of selling ads of that sort."
I was real cocky and confident by now. "I can put one or two
full pages of want ads of businesses for sale in every issue of
The Journal. One thing I've learned is how to bring in want ads
by mail. So, if I have to create my own opening, I'll report for
work the first Monday morning in next month."
"Well," came a last objection, "we can't pay you a very high
salary. We couldn't pay you over $10 a week."
"Who said anything about salary?" I rejoined. "I still live
at home with the folks. I'm not coming up here for the salary I
make now, but for what I can learn, and the salary I will make,
later. I'm hired at $10 per week," rising and extending my hand.
"All I ask is that you agree to raise my salary as fast as I earn
it. See you in two weeks."

My First Display Ad

All this was along about July or August, 1912. I do not remember
now, after more than 60 years, whether I was actually put to work
on building a page or two of want ads by direct mail
solicitation; but it seems, in the dim distance of memory, that I
did bring in a page or more of want ads the first two or three
In any event, I was not long on want-ad work. I was assigned
to the Service Department, directly under A. I. Boreman. For some
little time I was given routine office work, with a certain
amount of correspondence to answer. For this work, I was given a
stenographer and a dictaphone. During this period it was my job
to break in a number of different stenographers. As soon as a new
girl became experienced enough to be efficient, she was taken
away from me, and a new green girl fresh out of business college
assigned to me.
It was not long until I was given opportunity to start
writing and designing display ads. As mentioned above, this
Service Department was a sort of trade-journal advertising
agency. We handled the trade-paper division of the advertising
budget of manufacturers who sold through retailers. As a rule the
larger advertising agencies were glad to relinquish the
trade-paper portion of any client's advertising. They were
primarily interested in consumer media.
I shall never forget the first ad Mr. Boreman assigned to me
to write and lay out. I have mentioned before that I had been
studying every book on advertising writing I could acquire. I was
studying books on psychology, and on advertising psychology. I
had diligently read the trade journals in the advertising
field -- Printers Ink and Advertising & Selling. I had studied
diagrams of design and layout of ads. But as yet I had received
almost no experience in actually writing the copy and designing
the layout of an ad.
I do not remember at all the nature of the commodity or
service or the name of the manufacturer whose ad I was to write.
But I shall never forget Mr. Boreman's left-handed
compliment when I laid the "dummy" and typed copy before him.
"Mm-hmm -- well, Herbert, that's a pretty good ad," he
drawled, slowly, examining it critically.
"Now, that headline, of course, will have to be changed," he
continued. "You've used too many words. There's nothing in that
headline that will catch the eye. The average reader will be
scanning past it to something else. You have only the fleeting
fraction of a second to stop the eye. There's nothing in your
headline to arouse instant interest and create immediate
suspense -- nothing to make the reader say, 'Well, I never thought
of that! I want to read that!' or, to say 'Now I've always
wondered about that!' -- so he'll want to read on.
"The headline is not displayed correctly on your layout. Not
enough white space around the headline to create contrast between
a bold, black, short headline and white space around it. Never be
afraid of wasting white space around your headlines. Never waste
white space around the text matter.
"Now next," continued Mr. Boreman, "your major subhead above
the text matter is all wrong. You must grab attention -- stop the
eye -- in the main headline -- but you must go on to arouse interest
and create suspense in the subhead, if you are to win a reading
for your copy. This subhead is in the wrong place in your layout,
the wrong size and kind of type.
"Now, coming to the main text matter -- that opening sentence
won't do, Herbert. It should have been indicated on the layout to
be in larger type than the balance of the text matter, and the
first word should have started out with a large initial letter.
Unless this opening sentence follows up the headings by cementing
interest, and arousing more curiosity or suspense, no one is
going to read past it. No, this first sentence will have to be
rewritten, just like the headlines.
"Now, these smaller subheads through the text matter don't
add anything. They must create interest, make the reader want to
read what's under them. And they, too, are in the wrong kind of
type. And this text matter will all have to be rewritten. It
doesn't hold the interest, if you had created interest in the
first place. It doesn't arouse desire for this thing you're
selling. It doesn't make the reader -- if he ever reads this
ad -- want to buy this product.
"And then, finally, there's no emotional ending to arouse
the reader to action -- IF you had first stopped his eye and gained
his attention, aroused interest, created suspense, made him
actually read through your ad, made him WANT what you advertise.
The signature isn't right, either -- and the border around the ad
will have to be eliminated.
"But, outside of that, Herbert," he said encouragingly,
"that's a pretty good ad!"
No, I shall never forget that experience!
That kind of encouragement was pretty hard to take -- but I
learned more about how to write an ad in that one analysis of
this first ad, than many copywriters and layout men in big
agencies have ever learned, or ever will learn! This one
experience was well WORTH all the time I spent on the staff of
the Merchants Trade Journal -- and I was to be with them three
I went to work with a will, writing that ad all over.
Practice makes perfect. It was probably two or three years later
before I was able to write ads that actually STOPPED roving eyes,
grabbed instantaneous interest, created suspense, held the
reader's interest throughout, convinced the reader, and then
moved him to action. It took time. But I was on the way.
Not long after returning from the South, and starting with
The Merchants Trade Journal, my father went out to Idaho, where
he bought a small ranch near Weiser. The household goods were
packed and stored, ready to be moved after he became located.
My mother, two younger brothers and sister, went to the home
of one of my mother's sisters, on a farm some 25 or 30 miles
south of Des Moines, for a visit. After my father was located in
Idaho, they followed and joined him there.

Learning Effective Ad-Writing

For something like a year and a half I was kept in the Service
Department of The Journal. There I received a most intensive and
practical basic training in the true psychological principles of
writing and designing advertisements.
It has always seemed to me that the advertising profession
generally has "missed the boat." It's the same in many
The ad-men have progressed into a system of intricate
display designs, complicated art work, and overly rhetorical text
matter which, after all, doesn't really say much or do much to
the readers -- if any.
Take a look through the advertising pages of a magazine or
newspaper today. It's a confused, jumbled hodgepodge of fancy art
work, and small bits of text, artistically blocked off -- usually
in such a manner that no one reads it! Nothing stands out to
catch, and stop, the fleeting eye trying to get to the next news
or article headline. Nothing snatches attention away from all
surrounding matter. There's nothing to arouse instantaneous
interest at the very point where the eye is drawn for that
fraction of a second glance -- nothing to hold that interest until
it creates suspense sufficient to induce a reading of the text
The ads I was trained to write, during those formative years
between ages 20 and 23, always got results. Often they were more
plain and simple in appearance than the more fancy, artistic,
highly illustrated ads around them. But they stopped roving
eyes -- drew attention from surrounding matter -- aroused and held
interest -- convinced readers, and moved them to act! (This early
training was destined to serve a great purpose!)
Today all that early training and the years of subsequent
experience are being put into the production of full-page ads
which are selling, not a commercial product or service for
profit, but God's truth, without price or profit.

Overhauling and Simplifying a Vocabulary

For some two years, prior to joining the Merchants Trade Journal
staff, I had been striving diligently to acquire a large
vocabulary. Ever since I had read Elbert Hubbard's boast of
possessing the largest vocabulary of any man since Shakespeare,
it had been a challenge! I was determined to acquire a greater!
To be able to pour out a torrent of big words incomprehensible to
any but the highly educated had appealed to intellectual vanity.
But -- at age 20 -- Mr. Boreman changed all that.
"When you write advertising," he explained, "the purpose is
not to impress the readers with your superior vocabulary. Your
purpose is to sell goods, services, or ideas! The purpose of
words is to convey thoughts, facts, ideas -- a message! When 98% of
the people do not understand your words, they do not receive your
message. They only become confused and turn to something
interesting. In advertising we must reach the 98% -- not the 2%.
"Use only plain, simple words. Use words that readers of no
more than a third or fourth grade education can UNDERSTAND. Try
to achieve good literary quality with a large vocabulary of
common, simple words, and by the manner in which you weave those
words into the sentence structure."
Immediately my vocabulary underwent an over-hauling.
Deliberately I began dropping out of my speaking and writing
vocabulary all the big words not in common usage. Every person
has three vocabularies: smallest of all, his speaking vocabulary,
consisting of the fund of words with which he is able to speak
readily; next larger, his writing vocabulary; and largest, his
reading or listening vocabulary. Everyone can understand many
words which he may read, or hear spoken by others, which he could
not readily use himself in conversation.
My effort, then, became that of developing ability to use
the largest variety of words readily comprehensible by most
people when heard or read.
But effective writing is far more than memorizing a store of
words. It is the manner in which those words are put together in
sentence structure that determines effectiveness. So I began to
study a STYLE in writing. Immediately I set out to develop a
distinct and effective style. It had to be fast-moving, vigorous,
yet simple, interesting, making the message plain and
All this advertising instruction was the most valuable
possible training for the real mission in life to which I was
later to be called -- our worldwide enterprises of today. It was a
training such as one could never receive in any university. It
was the most practical training.
Some speakers and writers seem to think they impress their
audiences or readers by their ability to use big words beyond the
comprehension of the audience. Others succumb to the temptation
to become too "scholarly," speaking over the minds of their
hearers -- but never plainly into their minds. The same rules that
attract attention, arouse interest, create suspense, win
conviction and stir emotions to action in advertising accomplish
the same results in public speaking.
Another most important principle -- I was taught to avoid the
academic "outline" form of presentation. This is the manner in
which nearly all students are taught in colleges to organize
their writing or speaking. This is the one, two, three, a), b),
c) form of outline. It is orderly and precise, but dull, dry,
uninteresting to the readers.
But in writing advertising, I learned always to tell a
story -- to make it interesting -- and to tell it in story form. That
is, first, put a question in the minds of readers they really
want answered -- or make a statement that is so unusual it either
raises a question in the readers' minds, or challenges them to
demand an explanation and want to read on to get it. It must
arouse instant interest. It must create suspense! Like a mystery
play, it must not tell the reader the answer at the beginning. It
must develop, rapidly, lucidly, increasing the interest, toward
the final solution or answer. It must HOLD the interest until the
story is told.
The advertising headline should, when possible, make people
say either: "I've always wondered about that!" or, "I never
thought of that -- say, that's interesting -- I want to know the
I learned in those early days to put a story flow into the
text of an advertisement, holding the interest of readers to
learn the answer. An ad of this nature may contain hundreds, or
even thousands of words -- and people will be glued to it until
they have read it all.
I remember an incident that happened many years later.
This was in 1925, when I had established an advertising
service of my own in Portland, Oregon. One of my clients was a
laundry in Vancouver, Washington. I had a number of other clients
in Vancouver -- a retail clothing store, a jewelry store, a large
drug store, and others. One of the banks had installed a new
Safety Deposit Department, with new vaults and safety deposit
boxes. The president of the bank called me in.
"Mr. Armstrong," he began, "we have noticed the attractive
and compelling ads you have prepared for clients here in
Vancouver, and we would like to retain your services to prepare a
short campaign to announce the opening of our new department.
"Now," he continued, apologetically, "we think your ads are
fine -- they certainly stand out -- they're interesting -- but we have
just one criticism. We think those ads you write for the laundry
are too long -- too many words. People won't read so many words in
an ad."
"Well now, Mr. Jones," I replied, "in the first place, your
advertising requires entirely different advertising treatment,
because you have a totally different advertising problem. The
laundry is up against adverse public opinion, and suspicion in
regard to supposed harmful laundry methods. Their problem
requires what we call EDUCATIONAL ADVERTISING. It must educate
women to the true facts -- it must change public opinion. This
requires more words -- totally different advertising treatment.
"But, as to whether people ever read so many words, I wonder
if you remember an ad of a month ago, captioned, 'Is MOTHER Worth
Saving?' "
"Why, yes!" he replied quickly. "Yes, I do remember that ad,
very well. That was unusually interesting."
"How much of it did you read?"
"Oh, I read all of it," he responded. "It aroused my
curiosity, and I couldn't stop till I found the answer."
"Well, Mr. Jones, how many other ads do you remember reading
in that same edition of the newspaper?"
"Why -- why -- " he stammered, "I -- I don't remember reading any
"Exactly!" I had won my point. "That ad was the longest,
wordiest ad in that newspaper -- and yet it's the only one you
remember reading, and you read it clear through! Moreover, it is
the longest ad I ever wrote!"
"Yes," he protested, "but that ad was interesting!"
"That's just the point," I concluded. "If what you write is
sufficiently interesting -- if it has created suspense, and holds
the interest or even increases it as the reader is led along
through it -- people will read it all the way through, no matter
how long.
"It is not a matter of HOW LONG an ad is, or how many words,
it is altogether a matter of whether you have been able to catch
readers' attention, arouse their interest, and HOLD that
interest. How many words are there in a complete novel? Yet the
book stores sell such thick books by the millions -- and people
read them clear through!"
That is the principle I was taught under Mr. Boreman and Mr.
Miles, between ages 20 and 23.

Applying All These Principles Now

The principles that make for effective advertising copy, which I
began learning during those three years, apply also in
broadcasting, and in magazine writing, as well as in straight
advertising copy.
Let me add here that, in advertising, there are different
types of merchandising problems. The ads I wrote for the laundry
required educational advertising. They had to re-educate the
public in regard to laundry methods. They had to remove
prejudices, create confidence, change habits.
But perhaps most advertising is in the field called
convenience goods. This includes such products as tooth-paste,
shaving cream or soaps, cigarettes, where popularizing a brand
name is the objective. This depends more on repetition than on
lengthy educational copy. Such ads have few words.
I have been amused by the problems confronting the writers
of cigarette ads. With the restrictions imposed by laws, there is
not much an ad-writer can say about a cigarette, anyway. I have
marvelled at the hundreds of millions of dollars spent saying
NOTHING that means anything about cigarettes. The "kick the
habit" commercials (1971) by the cancer society, however, seem
really to have had a message.
I was to learn, later in life, that far more people will
listen to a solid half-hour all-speech radio program applying
these principles, than will listen to a one-minute DRY talk or
commercial that arouses no interest. For many years, the World
Tomorrow program has enjoyed highest ratings of listener-interest
on most stations we use -- and second highest on most others. That
is in comparison to all programs in most markets around the world
where we are heard. The various editors of the Plain Truth
magazine and our other publications have received training in
these same principles in Ambassador College. And that is one
reason why The Plain Truth is so avidly read, and its circulation
continues growing so phenomenally, while other leading
mass-circulation magazines are in deep financial difficulties,
and several have gone out of publication. Plain Truth and Good
News articles and the Correspondence Course lessons are
INTERESTING -- they SAY SOMETHING, and say it in a manner extremely
easy to read!
But, to return to the story.
Mr. Miles had, perhaps, the snappiest, fastest-moving style
of copy-writing I have ever read. I thought it was too fast -- too
many short, terse sentences. Long sentences tend to slow down the
reader. Short sentences tend to speed him up. But when writing
consists of nothing but a succession of overly short, terse,
staccato sentences, it becomes monotonous and unnatural. I strove
for a style that gave change of pace! A proper balance between
quick, short sentences, and occasional longer ones.
To hold a mass reading, writing should be reasonably crisp
and lucid, not "dry" or slow. But a monotony of very short, terse
sentences seemed to me to lack sincerity, and writing should,
above all, be sincere!
In any event, this early training resulted in literally
thousands of letters during recent years from radio listeners and
readers of The Plain Truth, saying that the FACTS are being made
more plain, more clear and understandable than they ever heard
them before! Today that early training SERVES and helps millions
of people all over the world!
But there is another principle in advertising even more
important than any of these. That is to be honest -- to stick to
the TRUTH!
I attended many Ad-Club luncheons, and even the national
Ad-Club conventions, during the many years I spent in the
advertising field. From the start I was much impressed by the
Associated Advertising Club's slogan: "TRUTH in Advertising."
But do you really know how much TRUTH there is in most
commercial advertising today? If you knew how little, you'd be
I spent twenty years in the advertising field. I got to know
advertising men. The average advertising man, preparing to write
advertising copy, searches for what IDEAS or statements he might
make about his product will cause the public to BUY. It never
seems to occur to most advertising men to check up and see
whether the statements or claims are true! If a certain claim or
statement about the product will sell it, the ad man grabs it and
makes that claim in his copy with enthusiasm.
You will see, later in this autobiography, that when I
became a publishers' representative in Chicago, I built a
business on HONESTY that produced CONFIDENCE. The advertising
agencies, the banks, and the manufacturers with whom I did
business came to know that I knew my field -- I had the facts they
needed -- and that I was accurate and TRUTHFUL, and they could RELY
on whatever I told them.
Another principle I was taught is this:
"A CUSTOMER is more profitable than a single sale." Win the
confidence of a customer through honesty and integrity, and many
repeat sales will come your way without selling expense.
One other ingredient is absolutely necessary, along with
telling the TRUTH. And that is SINCERITY!

I Was Never Insincere

I was never insincere. True, I had swung from a sense of
inferiority, to one of supreme self-confidence.
But I was entirely sincere. Usually a bragging, conceited
young lad who is cocky, is also an insincere flippant smart
aleck. I was not. It seems I was, by nature, deeply sincere and
in earnest, and although excessively self-confident, even snappy
and cocky in manner, there was always with it a sense of
earnestness and dignity. At least I thought I was right, and in
my heart meant to be. Human nature wants to be good -- but seldom
does it want to do good. That natural desire in one to wish to
consider himself good, I suppose, led to an attitude of
Later, God had to take the self-confidence, conceit, and
cockiness out of me. He replaced it with a different kind of
confidence -- an unbounded FAITH in God. I have far more ASSURANCE
for the future today than I had then -- many times over. But today
it is based on what God is going to do -- not what I am able to do.
All these are the principles I was taught under Mr. Boreman
and Mr. Miles during the three years with The Merchants Trade
Journal. I owe them much.
In the Service Department of The Merchants Trade Journal I
was sent on occasional trips to places like Waterloo and Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, Albert Lea, Minnesota, and others, selling ads I
had prepared to manufacturers.
I remember vividly, at this point, a trip of this kind to
Waterloo. I think it was a refrigerator account. I worked
carefully on the advertising copy and layout in the hotel, then
went over to see the manufacturer. This, I believe, was the first
magazine display ad I ever sold.
What a thrill it was! As I walked from the factory back to
the hotel, I was floating on air! Ah, sweet SUCCESS! It was
elation! Thrills ran all through me!

Playing With a Million Dollars

The Journal regarded a Waterloo department store merchant as one
of the best merchandisers in the nation. His name was Paul Davis.
There were two department stores in Waterloo -- the James Black
Company, and the Paul Davis store. The Black store was the
older-established and larger, but the Davis company was catching
Then Paul Davis had a fire. His store was totally destroyed.
The next time I was in Waterloo, after his misfortune, I found
the Paul Davis store in temporary quarters in a two-story
building in the middle of a block. It was only a fraction the
size of the department store occupying a prominent corner that
had burned down. At that time, Mr. Davis said he was planning to
build a new building, larger than the Black Company store.
But on my next visit, some six months later, there was no
sign of any new building activity.
"What happened to that big new quarter-block multiple-story
building you were going to erect?" I asked.
"Oh, that!" Mr. Davis laughed. By this time he called
himself my "second Daddy." "Well, I'm not going to build it for a
while yet. I'm having a lot of fun. I have one cool million
dollars, CASH, in the bank. It's the insurance money. It was no
time at all until every manufacturer in New York knew we had that
million dollars cash. Every time a manufacturer gets overloaded
with some stock, or needs to raise some quick money, he comes or
sends a representative out here to Waterloo. I am able to buy
chunks of merchandise in this manner, by sharp trading, at far
less than any competitors. Then I put on a BIG SALE. I take a
small profit, cut the price way down, and the public simply
streams into our little two-floor store here. We have low
overhead. We have a small inventory, compared to what we carried
in the bigger store. We sell fast, turn our stock more times a
year. And the secret of success is not the total volume of sales,
but TURNOVER -- the number of times you turn your stock a year -- the
number of times you make a profit on the same capital!
"I find that money attracts money! That's a principle of
life. Don't ever forget it! Truly, 'to him that HATH shall be
given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that
which he hath!' I can do things with a million dollars cash I
never dreamed could be done. It's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it!
No, I'm not going to put that million into a new store building
right away. I'm going to keep it in the bank, and working for me
a little while longer!"
I never did forget the lessons this successful merchant,
Paul Davis, taught me.
Soon after this, I became "the Idea Man" of The Merchants
Trade Journal. I was sent on long trips, either to the Atlantic
Coast or to the Gulf of Mexico and back, interviewing merchants,
businessmen and Chamber of Commerce secretaries, looking for
IDEAS and material for articles in the magazine.
On one of these trips, a challenge from an angry merchant
resulted in what I believe was the pioneer experience in all
these surveys and samplings of public opinion. So far as I know,
I was the originator of such polls.

Chapter 4
"Idea Man" for a National Magazine

MY WIFE was reflecting on what might have happened to us. "What
if we had never met," she mused. "What if we had never been
brought through the failure of our own plans? We probably never
would have found the way to abundant living -- the joys of right
living! Think how drab and dull and empty our lives might have
been! How grateful we ought to be!"

WHY This Is Written

Yes, our lives have been eventful, exciting, filled with action,
effort, unusual experiences, travel. There have been problems,
reverses, chastenings, persecutions, sufferings, but there has
been success, accomplishments, happiness and JOY! We have been
kept busy. We have really lived!
So, let me repeat, this autobiography is being written in
the hope that these unusual life experiences may bring
inspiration, encouragement, and benefit to many.
I have been greatly influenced by the tremendous impress on
my life that resulted from a triple reading of Benjamin
Franklin's autobiography. After reading that, I sought to learn
by the experiences of other successful men.
And so it is in the hope that this story of my own life may
be a means of bringing to many, in inspirational and interesting
manner, the very same useable help that other biographies brought
to me, that this is written.

Learning Magazine Makeup

For one six months' period, during the first two years on The
Journal, I was given the job of "making up the magazine." That
is, of taking all of the galley proofs of articles, proofs of all
the ads, and pasting them in a dummy magazine the way each issue
was to be designed.
During this six months I was given a desk out at the
Successful Farming plant in their composing room.
I learned, as the publishers of The Journal knew, that a
smaller-circulation magazine can have their publication printed
each month in the plant of a larger magazine, or some
large-operation printing establishment, at less cost than
operating their own printing plant. The reason is obvious. The
presses turn only one or two days a month on a single smaller
publication. To keep all the machinery idle, besides printers,
most of the month is to tie up capital that is not working. It
doesn't pay.
This lesson was of very practical benefit in our present
activities. For years The Plain Truth has been printed by large
commercial printing plants in the United States and abroad.
Beginning about 1945 or 1946 we did operate our own small
printing shop -- first with one Davidson duplicator press, then
with two, and later with three larger, but still comparatively
small Miehle presses. They did our minor printing only -- booklets,
letterheads and such things.
All these earlier experiences were precisely what was needed
to build, later, the worldwide activities of today.

Coddling a Temper

One rather dramatic incident occurred at the Successful Farming
printing plant. It contains a lesson worth, I think, the telling.
The foreman of the printing plant at Successful Farming was
an old experienced printer named Ed Condon. It seemed to me that
printers were, in those days at least, more profane than any
class of men. Perhaps it was because, in the days of hand-setting
all type, a printer often would "pie" the type -- that is, it would
slip out of his hand and fall in a jumbled mass, whereupon every
single letter of type would have to be sorted out, put back into
the case and then set all over again. It was a severe test on
patience. Mr. Condon not only could "cuss" -- he also had a temper!
The only thing wrong with Mr. Condon's temper was that he
made no attempt to control it. He was proud of it. He pampered
it. He bragged about it.
One day he "flew off the handle" at me for some reason I no
longer remember. He raved, swore, shouted, called names. I left
the composing room, returned to the Journal offices. Mr. Boreman
either went out or called him on the telephone. He received the
same treatment -- only more violently. He then went into the office
of our publisher and editor, Mr. W. J. Pilkington. Mr. Pilkington
called Mr. Charles E. Lynde, then general manager of Successful
Farming. He asked Mr. Pilkington if he would have Mr. Boreman and
me come to his office.
When we arrived, Mr. Condon was called into Mr. Lynde's
"Ed," said Mr. Lynde sternly, "we cannot have our good
customers insulted. You may either apologize to Mr. Boreman and
Mr. Armstrong, and also give me, and them, your word of honor
that this burst of temper will never be repeated, or you are
fired on the spot."
Ed Condon humbly apologized.
"May I say a word to Ed?" asked Mr. Boreman.
"Ed, you're a very competent printer, and a fine and
likeable fellow -- except when you let loose a burst of temper. I'd
like to give you a little advice as a friend -- for we like you.
I've noticed that you have bragged about that temper of yours.
You've been proud of your ability to lose your head. You've
nursed it along as if it were your baby you love. You've never
tried to control it. Now a temper is a mighty good thing -- as long
as it is under perfect control and directed by the mind in good
judgment. When you learn to control it, then that's something to
be proud of!. You've just been proud of it in the wrong state of
action, Ed -- that's all that's wrong."
Mr. Condon took the advice -- he had to, standing in front of
his top boss. He said he'd never thought of it that way, and
thanked Mr. Boreman.
Perhaps some of our readers never thought of it that way.
Mr. Boreman's advice was very sound! Never let tempers get out of

Becoming "the Idea Man"

After about one and a half to two years of training in
advertising copy writing and layout, selling advertising space,
office work in dictating and letter-answering, and composing room
makeup with The Merchants Trade Journal, I was put on a new and
unique activity.
I have never heard of anything like it. I became The
Journal's "Idea Man."
This was the most unusual training and experience of all. I
was now transferred into the Editorial Department, under Ben R.
Vardeman, Associate Editor. Also, on this job, I was kept
partially under supervision of Mr. Boreman.
Mr. Vardeman was a tall, dignified man who was author of a
book on the principles of retail salesmanship, and a Chautauqua
lecturer. Also, I believe, he had written a correspondence course
on retail salesmanship. He wrote most of the articles that
composed the reading content of The Journal.
The editorial and reading columns of The Journal were
devoted mainly to IDEAS that had been successfully used by retail
merchants in increasing sales, speeding up turnover, reducing
costs, principles and methods of business management, training of
personnel, improving public relations. Also they put emphasis on
community betterment and chamber of commerce activity.
This reading material was not written out of theoretical
imagination. The Journal maintained an "Idea Man" who travelled
all over the country, visiting stores in all lines, discussing
problems and methods with merchants, checking on community and
social conditions. The actual experiences of successful
merchants, as sought out and reported by the "Idea Man" were
written up by the editors into article form in the magazine.
I was equipped with a Hotel Credit Letter and a large
postcard-size folding camera. The Credit Letter authorized me to
cash checks, or write out and draw drafts on The Merchants Trade
Journal, up to a total of $100 per week, ample in those days to
cover travelling expenses. A book of instruction in photography
was given me. I had to learn to take pictures of a quality
worth publishing.

Expense Account Troubles

I was allowed a reasonably liberal expense account, but no
extravagances or luxuries. The Journal expected their men to stop
at leading hotels, but I always took a minimum-price single room
if available. Breakfasts were nearly always taken at the lunch
counter, lunches at the coffee shop or lunch counter, but the
evening meal quite often in the hotel's main dining room.
I had not been out long before I put down on my expense
account: "Ice Cream Soda -- " and "Movie -- " -- or whatever the prices
of those items were in those days. Mr. Vardeman was meticulously
careful of details. He frowned on these expense items, and was
about to disallow them, when Mr. Boreman came to my rescue. He
urged Mr. Vardeman to let it go, this time, saying that he, Mr.
Boreman, would write me proper instructions about these expense
"Next time, Herbert," Mr. Boreman's letter advised," put any
little items like that down included under 'Miscellaneous.' " So
after that the occasional ice cream sodas and movies were bulked
together into one item, called "Miscellaneous."
This is an incident that I had forgotten. But just at this
juncture (written February 1968), in order to refresh my memory
on one or two other incidents as I had come to the writing of
this stage of my experiences with the Journal, I called Mr.
Boreman by long distance telephone. This expense account incident
was one of two that he remembered vividly after all these years.
He seemed to enjoy immensely reminding me of the incident.
This incident reminds me of an experience Benjamin Franklin
related in his autobiography. During the Revolutionary War all
people were required to contribute for the purchase of gunpowder.
The Quakers of Pennsylvania found it contrary to their doctrine
and conscience to do this. Yet they wanted to be loyal. So they
solved their dilemma by contributing money for "corn, oats, and
other grain." The "other grain," Franklin explained with a
chuckle, was gunpowder!
The other incident which Mr. Boreman recalled to my memory
was the time I "discovered" a most remarkable and practical
invention being used in a grocery store. It was only a few days
after I had started on my first trip. I was still pretty "green"
on this job of recognizing good ideas used by merchants.
It was a vegetable rack, with water dripping down slowly
over the vegetables. Now this was not only ingenious, I thought,
but a most practical idea. It attracted attention, and kept the
vegetables fresh. So I carefully took several camera shots of it,
as I remembered it. But as Mr. Boreman remembered it, I hired a
photographer to come and photograph it for me. Enthusiastically I
sent in a glowing report of my new discovery.
There was, apparently, quite a reaction in The Journal
office when this report, with pictures, reached them. It seems
that their laughter almost shook the building down. Groceries had
been using this type of vegetable rack for many years -- but never
having been in the grocery business, and being new and
inexperienced in my "Idea" job, they somehow had escaped my
attention. I thought I had made a wonderful new discovery. This
demonstrated again that most of us learn, not by observation, but
by cruel experience.

Ending Sluggishness

The first "Idea Man" tour took me to New York state and back.
This trip started in November, 1913.
I must have visited a number of towns across Iowa and
Illinois, but the first that comes back to mind, now, is
traveling across southern Michigan. I remember staying overnight
at the Post Tavern in Battle Creek. My mother had been an ardent
Postum drinker, but I had never liked it. Here at the Post
company's own hotel, however, I was induced to order their
specialty, iced Postum with whipped cream. The way they prepared
it, it was so delicious I have never forgotten it. It seems to me
that Mr. C.W. Post was still alive, and that I saw him either in
the hotel lobby or in the dining room.
I remember stopping off at Ann Arbor, home of the University
of Michigan. Probably I went south from there, making stops at
Toledo, Fostoria, Upper Sandusky, Bucyrus, Mansfield, Wooster,
Massillon, Canton, Alliance, and Youngstown in Ohio.
Next, I entered Pennsylvania, with Franklin as the first
stop. By this time I was feeling so sluggish, I hunted up an
osteopath in Franklin. I had occasionally taken osteopath
treatments, not as a medicine for any sickness, but more to take
the place of an athletic "workout" at times when I was not
getting sufficient exercise. At this time I thought a treatment
might make me more alert and help the sluggish feeling I was
having to fight.
"Well now," said the osteopath, "I'll be glad to give you a
treatment and take your money for it if you insist, but I can
tell you something without any charge that will do you a lot more
good. Quit eating so many eggs!"
"Why," I exclaimed in surprise, "how did you know I've been
eating a lot of eggs?"
"By your color, and condition of your liver," he said.
He explained that I had a somewhat torpid liver that would
not readily assimilate an excess of eggs, corn, or peanuts. Some
people seem to be able to eat eggs every morning for breakfast
without harm. I found, from this osteopath's advice and
subsequent experience, that my liver is apparently different. I
can eat eggs occasionally without harm -- but I must avoid eating
them regularly. I have found that lemon juice seems to be the
antidote. Accordingly, ever since that experience in Franklin,
Pennsylvania, I have eaten sparingly of eggs, and taken
generously of lemon juice. If I may seem to have some fair degree
of energy, vitality, and physical stamina, it is largely due to
being careful about diet, among other things.
I mention this because some of our readers may be suffering
from the same inert sluggishness, feeling dopey, and drowsy a
good deal of the time, caused by the same kind of liver. If so,
try eliminating the eggs, corn and peanuts for a while, and start
drinking lemon juice every morning before breakfast (without

The Niagara River Lesson

Next I went north, stopping at Oil City and Titusville in
Pennsylvania, and on to Buffalo. I spent December 25th, 1913, at
Niagara Falls. I shall never forget that first visit to Niagara
Falls. There had been a silver thaw, then a refreeze. All the
trees glistened in the bright sun like millions of brilliantly
sparkling diamonds, especially over on Goat Island.
This visit to Niagara Falls allowed me to leave the United
States for the first time in my life -- walking across
International Bridge into Niagara Falls, Canada.
There was an experience on Goat Island I shall never forget.
I had walked up the island, away from the falls, some little
distance. The Niagara River is very swift at that point. Out in
the river I noticed one huge rock. It seemed like a great,
insurmountable barrier standing in the way of the swift
on-rushing waters from above-stream. To me it was like the
insurmountable barriers that frequently confront us -- that
threaten to stop us in our progress. So many people get
discouraged and quit.
But not those waters!
The waters of that river swirled around the great rock,
struck it head-on and splashed over it. One way or another the
waters got past it, and hurried on to their destination -- the
falls, and then down the swift rapids of the river on into Lake
Ontario. The waters didn't lie down. They didn't become
discouraged. They didn't quit. They found a way around the
impassable barrier, and on to their destination.
I decided that if inanimate, mindless elements could
surmount and find a way past obstacles, so could I. This
experience has often come back to mind when the going has gotten
tough, or when I was tempted to become discouraged and quit.
While at Niagara Falls I went through the Shredded Wheat
plant. They had many visitors, who were taken through the plant
on guided tours. At the end of the tour the guests are served
shredded wheat the way the factory serves it. Always before it
had tasted like straw, or a miniature bale of hay to me, but the
way they served it -- with sliced bananas and rich cream, and with
a wonderful cup of coffee -- it was simply delicious.

Visiting Elbert Hubbard

Having a Sunday layover in Buffalo I was able to indulge a
personal adventure and pleasure. On two or three occasions I had
met Elbert Hubbard, world-famous writer, author, publisher, and
lecturer. Hubbard edited and published two national magazines
with a literary flair -- "The Philistine", and "The FRA". He
himself managed to write most of the contents.
Elbert Hubbard was no shrinking violet. He readily admitted
to possessing the largest vocabulary of any man since
Shakespeare. In his own ranking of American authors from the days
of Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, he "modestly" rated
himself number one. When the dictionary contained no word to fit
his need, he coined a word that did. He wore semi-long hair, a
great broad-brimmed hat, and an artist's bow tie. He hobnobbed
with the great and the near-great, wrote them up in flattering
rhetoric -- for a price befitting his superlatives.
He wrote "A Message to Garcia", which, next to the Bible,
sold more copies than anything ever written in that day.
For a few years now, I had been reading Elbert Hubbard
regularly. I read his "stuff," on my Uncle Frank Armstrong's
advice, for style, for flair, for vocabulary, and for ideas in
philosophy -- though my uncle had cautioned me against absorbing
without question his philosophies and ideas of religion. Hubbard
was an agnostic. He seemed to possess a deal of wisdom about men
and methods and things -- but he was utterly devoid of spiritual
And now my opportunity came to visit this noted sage at his
famous Roycroft Inn and Shops, in East Aurora, New York, a short
distance south of Buffalo.
The morning was spent at the Inn, browsing around among
books and booklets and copies of "The FRA" and "The Philistine".
After lunch at the Inn, Elbert Hubbard came in. He remembered me,
from former meetings in Chicago and Des Moines on his lecture
He led the way out on the wide veranda, and started throwing
the medicine ball around. As I remember, there were four of
us -- Hubbard, his daughter Miriam, not far from my age, and
another guest. Once I caught Hubbard napping, and socked him on
the side of the head with the big medicine ball -- and daughter
Miriam soon returned the compliment, jolting me with a
lalapalooza. It was fun.
Next, Fra Elbertus, as he liked to style himself, piloted me
and the other guest on a tour of the Roycroft shops, where
artistic and quality printing was done. Along the way, he picked
up a deluxe leather-bound copy of "A Message to Garcia",
inscribed my name in it with his autograph, and presented it to
me; and a little later, inscribed in the same manner, he gave me
a copy of his "American Bible".
When my mother heard that Elbert Hubbard had published a new
Bible of his own, she was gravely shocked -- until I explained.
Hubbard's own explanation was that the word "bible" simply means
"book." It comes from the Greek biblia, and by itself has no
sacred meaning, merely designating any book. Of course Hubbard's
"American Bible" was intended as an agnostic's answer to "The
Holy Bible", which he regarded merely as the literary and
religious writings of the Hebrews.
Since the Bible is composed of a collection of various Books
written by various men, combined into one large Book, Hubbard had
assembled together a selection of writings of outstanding
Americans, including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Emerson and
Lincoln -- and, of course -- HUBBARD! A faint insight into Hubbard's
rating of the value and importance of the writings of these
Americans may be gleaned from the fact that slightly more than
half of the whole book was filled with the writings of all other
American writers combined, while the writings of Hubbard alone
filled almost half of the entire book!
Somewhere, through the years since 1933, these two books
personally autographed and presented by Elbert Hubbard have
become lost.

Happiness Out of WORK?

Returning to the Inn, Hubbard called out: "Everybody down the
Here I was put to work, beside Mr. Hubbard, wrapping large
scrubbed Idaho potatoes in tissue paper, for packing in "Goodie
Boxes." The Roycrofters at that time were advertising in their
publications as deluxe gifts these "Goodie Boxes" which were
attractive wooden boxes filled with choice vegetables, fruits,
nuts, and other "goodies."
As Mr. Hubbard and I chatted away, he began suddenly to
"What's so funny?" I queried.
"I was just wondering what you really think of me," he
mused. "You visit me as my guest. I charge you full price for
your lunch. I try to induce you to stay overnight as a paying
guest in my hotel. And at the same time I put you to work without
"Well, who," I asked, "was that self-admitted great
philosopher who said: 'Get your happiness out of your work!'?"
That pleased him. It was his own quotation, oft repeated in
his magazines.
I continued, "I was trying to decide what I really think of
you once, and I asked a Unitarian minister who reads your stuff
whether he knew what your religion is. He said he wasn't sure
whether you have any, but if you do, he was quite sure it
originated in your pocket book."
"Ho! Ho!" roared the Fra gleefully, and then he quickly
replied, "Well, anyway, I get away with it, don't I?"
After perhaps an hour of this "getting happiness out of our
work" we adjourned to the music salon of the Inn on the ground
floor. Sunday evening concerts were frequently held in this room,
which contained three Steinway grand pianos. By this time,
mid-afternoon or later, several other guests had arrived. Hubbard
ascertained that three of us played the piano. We compared notes
and found only one tune all three could play from memory, the
waltz "The Pink Lady."
So, with Elbert Hubbard leading like a maestro with great
gusto and sweeping arm motions, the three pianos rang out while
those assembled sang or waltzed.
As we broke up, Hubbard again urged me to stay overnight,
but I had to be on the job early Monday morning, so caught the
late afternoon train back to Buffalo.

Sent to Interview Henry Ford

From Buffalo I continued on east to Rochester, Syracuse, Rome,
Utica. I may have stopped off at a number of towns and small
cities through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on the return trip. I
do not now remember whether I did this, or returned on a through
train to Chicago, and then directly to Des Moines.
I had been scheduled to continue on to Troy and Albany, New
York state, but on January 5, 1914 a sensational news story broke
in Detroit. The Ford Motor Company raised basic wage rates from
$2.40 per 9-hour day to $5 per 8-hour day. It was banner-headline
front-page news nationwide.
On that day I reached Utica, New York, and the Journal
editors telegraphed me to go immediately to Detroit and interview
Henry Ford. They wanted a story on this labor bombshell based on
personal interview by a Journal representative.

The $5-a-Day Plan

Arriving in Detroit, I registered at the Hotel Statler -- no, on
second thought I believe this was before the Statler was built
and I stopped at the Hotel Tuller -- and took a cab out to the Ford
Motor plant, located at that time in Highland Park. There was a
many-storied office building in the front -- I believe
fronting on Woodward Avenue, with the large factory buildings to
the rear.
Stepping up to the receptionist desk, I stated my mission
and asked for an interview with Henry Ford.
"Mr. Ford," replied the receptionist, "is not a difficult
man to see, and if you wish I can arrange an interview for you,
but if it is information about the new wage plan you want, I can
tell you that Mr. Ford himself really is not as familiar with all
the details of it as Mr. John R. Lee, head of the Sociological
Department. You see, this whole new plan was originated by Mr.
Lee, through his department. He presented the plan to Mr. Ford
and the Board. They looked into it and approved it, but that's
all. They simply turned it over to Mr. Lee to administer through
his department. He's the man who has all the facts about it."
I was there to get the facts, not to glorify my vanity by
being able to say I had gained a personal interview with a man as
famous as Henry Ford. I said that I would prefer to talk to Mr.
I remember well my opening statement and his reply.
"Mr. Lee," I began, "you are now paying the highest wages in
the automobile industry -- or perhaps in any industry. I'd like to
get all the facts about it."
"No, Mr. Armstrong," he replied, "we do not pay the highest
wages, but on the contrary we pay the lowest wages in the
"But," I stammered, "don't you now pay a standard minimum
scale of $5 per day, and don't the other factories pay only about
$3.50 per day?"
"Quite true," smiled Mr. Lee, "but still, we are paying the
lowest wages in the automobile industry. You see, we don't
measure the actual wage by dollars paid, but by the amount of
production we receive per dollar paid. Our sales volume is by far
the largest in the industry. This has made it possible for us to
install an assembly-line system of production. The Ford cars
start at one end of this production-line. As they proceed along
this line, each worker adds his own part. At the end of the line
each car is a finished product. In this manner we are able to set
the pace of production. As each car unit goes past each man, he
is required to complete his part in the assembly of the car
within the time-limit before it has moved past him. You see, we
actually set the pace at which each man must work. There can be
no stalling, no loafing on the job, no slowing down. We gear the
production speed of each man to a high level of work per hour.
"We pay some 43% more dollars per workman per day, but we
get 100% more production out of each man -- and pay only 43% more
money to get it. So you see, we actually pay the lowest wages in
our industry for what we GET from the labor of our men."
"Well if this plan pays the Ford company so well, why don't
the other motor companies adopt the plan?" I asked.
"They can't," said Mr. Lee, "on their present volume of
production. But of course if and when they get their sales volume
up to a level that will make possible the assembly-line system,
they will naturally come to it."
"How about labor unions?" I asked.
"Oh, we have nothing to do with them. Our men are free to
join the union if they wish, but there's no point in their paying
out labor union dues when they already receive 43% above union
scale. We don't recognize the unions in any way, nor will we
negotiate with them. As long as we pay so high above union scale,
we are simply not concerned with them."
I learned that Mr. Lee's department actually checked into
the very homes of employees, and regulated their living
standards, thus keeping their men at peak efficiency for turning
out extra-volume production.
"But," I pursued, "don't your employees object to this
interference and regulation of even their private home life -- and
also to being forced to keep up such a stiff pace of work?"
"The whole answer to that is economic. Of course they have
to work harder, and submit to certain of our regulations even in
their private family lives -- but enough men are willing to submit
to these conditions in return for receiving almost half-again
more pay than they could obtain elsewhere."
There, as I remember it after 60 years, is the story of the
$5-a-day wage plan that was such a sensation in its day.
But its day came, and has gone. Other automobile factories
did expand into the assembly-line production system, and then the
Ford company found itself on a level with other companies so far
as the labor situation was concerned. Ford fought off union
recognition and negotiation for many years, but finally was
forced to bow to it.
Mr. Lee insisted on driving me, himself personally, back
downtown to my hotel. The cars of the company officials were
parked in a wide breeze-way between the office building and
factory. He took me into the factory for a glimpse of it. As we
returned back to the breeze-way, we saw Henry Ford himself about
to step into a car some twenty feet away. Mr. Lee asked me to
excuse him for a moment, saying he had something he wanted to
speak to Mr. Ford about. So I did see Henry Ford but did not meet
him or speak to him.

How Christ Is Creator

Much later, after my mind became opened to Biblical
understanding, this experience came back to mind forcibly as an
illustration of how the Bible represents that God Almighty is the
One Supreme Creator, and yet everything that exists was created
by Jesus Christ (John 1:3; Col. 1:16).
In Ephesians 3:9 it is stated that GOD created all things by
Jesus Christ. Henry Ford was, while he lived, the manufacturer or
maker of the Ford cars. But when I visited the Ford factory, I
saw Mr. Ford standing there in a well-pressed business suit. It
was his employees who were doing the actual work of making the
automobiles. They did it for him -- at his command. And they did it
with tools, machines, and electric power!
In like manner, God is Supreme Creator. But He delegated the
actual work of the creating to the One who became Jesus
Christ -- to the "Logos," or the One who was the WORD -- the
SPOKESMAN. But He, Christ, utilized the POWER of the Holy Spirit.
In Genesis 1:2, we read that the SPIRIT of God moved or was
brooding upon the face of the waters. He, Christ -- the
WORD -- spake, and it was done! (Ps. 33:9.)

Write Your Autobiography as You Go!

At this point I am constrained to offer the reader some advice on
how to write an autobiography. Don't wait until you are 65 to
write it. Start writing it at age 3 or 5, and turn it out on the
installment plan -- as you go. Write it while the events are fresh
on your mind. Of course you'll find this method has its
drawbacks, too. You won't know at the time which events will
stand out in later life as important or interesting, and probably
you'll write down about fifty times as much as you'll finally
But I find that trying to write the whole thing in
retrospect later in life is rather frustrating, too. A lot of
things begin to seem all jumbled up. I was sure, when I started
writing about these "Idea Man" trips, that the very first one
took me west as far as Grand Island, Nebraska, south through
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, east through Louisiana and
Mississippi, then north through Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
I started to write it that way, but found it wouldn't work out.
Then it came back to mind from somewhere in those mysterious
recesses of memory how the first trip was the one into New York
State and back. So that portion had to be rewritten.
Even now, it seems I must have started on this "Idea Man"
work earlier than I had remembered, and that the period spent on
the magazine "makeup" at the Successful Farming composing room
was spent somewhere in between these editorial trips. In any
event every effort is being made toward accuracy, and this
account, as you are reading it, is approximately accurate.
One reason why I am mentioning the names of most of the
towns and cities visited on these trips is that The Plain Truth
has readers in all these places, and I have felt it might add a
certain interest to those particular readers to know I had
visited their towns. I think that in most of them I could still
name the hotels where I stayed.

Becoming an "Early Bird "

The second Idea Tour began a few days after returning to Des
Moines, early January, 1914. It took me to Atlanta, Georgia, up
the Atlantic Coast to Virginia, and back across from there. I do
remember some events from this tour, and a few may be worth
On this trip I travelled some days down the Mississippi
River on a large river steamer.
I went first to Davenport, Iowa, making stops in search of
ideas at Iowa City and other towns along the way, and travelling
by riverboat to Muscatine, Ft. Madison, and Keokuk, Iowa, where
the boat was lowered through the locks of the big dam; then
terminating the riverboat mode of transportation at Quincy,
Illinois. This riverboat travel was quite intriguing at the time.
The itinerary next took me across Illinois to Springfield,
Decatur, and Mattoon, and to Terre Haute, Indiana; then south to
Vincennes, and Evansville, then Henderson and Hopkinsville,
Kentucky. At Hopkinsville, I remember, I was assigned to the
"Bridal Suite" of the hotel, of which the hotel employees seemed
effusively proud. It was a large room, rather old-fashioned, but
dolled up in a manner the staff thought quite distinguished.
There were stops at Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee, and
then a night I well remember at the Patton Hotel in Chattanooga.
At this time I was sleeping so well nights that I was having
a fight with willpower to awaken and get up mornings. Everything
I had read about the lives of great and successful men on the
subject indicated that all such men are early risers.
There's the old saying: "The early bird gets the worm." Not
that I desired worms, but I did want to be a success. A
successful man must discipline himself. I had determined to
establish the habit of being an early riser. I could not always
depend on hotel clerks getting me up by a call in the mornings,
especially in smaller town hotels, so I had purchased a Baby Ben
alarm clock which I carried with me.
But I found myself drowsily turning off the alarm, turning
over, and going back to sleep. I was becoming determined. At the
Hotel Patton, before retiring for the night, I called for a
"You going to be on duty at 6 in the morning?" I asked.
"Yassuh, Ah'll be heah," he assured me.
"Well then, do you see this half-dollar on the dresser?"
His eyes glistened. The usual tip in those days was a dime.
A half-dollar was a very extra special big tip.
"You pound on my door at 6 a.m. until I get up and let you
in. Then you stay here until you see I am dressed, and that
half-dollar is yours."
You may be sure I didn't roll over and go back to sleep at 6
a.m. next morning. This system worked so well I kept it up until
the "early-bird" habit was established. This was one more example
of having to put a prod on myself, to drive the self to do what
ought to be done, instead of giving in to inclination or impulse.

Silk Gloves

This trip was started in early January, immediately after the New
York State trip. In Iowa we had worn gloves in the winter, kid
gloves for dress. In Atlanta it was too warm for kid gloves. I'm
not at all sure, now, that any gloves were needed. We never think
of wearing gloves in Southern California, and it is not
noticeably colder in Atlanta. Probably the main incentive was to
"look sharp," rather than cold hands, but I bought taupe-colored
silk gloves with three stripes of black braid trim on the back.
If vanity is the main ingredient of human nature, I had my share
of human nature. I suppose a peacock feels about like I did.
In Atlanta I stopped at the narrow but very tall Wynecoff
Hotel -- the hotel made nationally famous by a terrible fire
several years ago. I remember I went there because it was
Starting back north, stops were made in search of
merchandising ideas at Gainesville, Ga., and then Greenville,
South Carolina. Near Greenville was a famous rustic-fenced ranch.
A Sunday was spent there, and with other travelling men the day
was spent going out to this unusual ranch. I still have a picture
or two taken at the place.
Then on to Spartanburg, Charlotte, and Greensboro, North
Carolina, and Lynchburg, Virginia, from which point I turned back
west, stopping at Roanoke, then Bluefield, West Virginia, and on
to Ironton and Portsmouth, Ohio. Next stops were made at
Chillicothe, Columbus, Springfield, Piqua, Dayton, in Ohio.

You Can't TASTE Smoke

Next, another Sunday layover was spent in Richmond, Indiana. On
the mezzanine floor of the hotel a Sunday afternoon argument
ensued between five or six travelling men.
One of the men made the ridiculous and outlandish statement
that no one can taste smoke. The other fellows laughed at him.
"You're crazy," exclaimed one. "Why, all the cigar and
cigarette manufacturers advertise that their brand TASTES better!
"Sure," answered the "crazy" fellow, "But it isn't true. You
only smell the smoke of tobacco -- you can't taste it!"
He offered to prove it. We went to the cigar counter and
bought about three sets of cigars, two of each exactly alike,
then returned to the mezzanine. The first doubter was asked to
put the two identical cigars in his mouth, one at a time,
lighting only one of them. Then he was blindfolded, and one of
the other fellows held his nose so he could not smell. The
lighted cigar was then put in his mouth.
"Now tell us which cigar I put in your mouth -- the lighted
one or the one not lighted. Go ahead, puff on it. Tell us which
cigar you are puffing on." This was the challenge of the "crazy
The guinea pig gave two or three big puffs.
"Aw," he exclaimed, "this is silly. Why should I puff on
this cigar? It isn't lit. There's no smoke coming out of this."
The blindfold was jerked off his eyes, and he was amazed to
find himself puffing out smoke like a smoke stack!
The experiment was tried on two or three others, with
cigarettes as well as cigars. All of us were convinced that you
CAN'T TASTE SMOKE -- but then, you probably will say we were all
crazy! Nevertheless, from that time it has been difficult for me
to believe any manufacturer's brand of cigarettes "taste better,"
for the simple reason I became convinced they don't TASTE at
all -- they SMELL! I mean that, literally!!
After visiting Muncie, Anderson, Indianapolis, and Lafayette
in Indiana, I went on to Chicago and back to Des Moines.

Chapter 5
Pioneering in Public Opinion Polls

APPARENTLY the "Idea Man" trip from Des Moines to Atlanta and
return ended along in April, 1914. It was then that the
assignment as makeup man for The Merchants Trade Journal came,
related in the beginning of the preceding chapter. This
assignment, with a desk in the composing room of the Successful
Farming plant, interspersed with writing advertising copy for
clients of The Journal's Service Department, lasted six or seven

Becoming a Typist in Two Weeks

It was about the beginning of November, 1914, that I was assigned
to the next, and last, "Idea Man" trip. This time I was to
proceed west as far as Grand Island, Nebraska, then zig-zag south
to Houston, Texas, then east to Birmingham, Alabama, then north
to Detroit, and back to Des Moines.
Earlier that year the first portable typewriter had been put
on the market. It was only some six months after the first little
folding Corona had come out that Mr. Boreman presented me with
"Herbert," he said, "here is one of the new portable
typewriters. We want all the idea material sent in typed
"But," I protested, "I've never learned how to use a
typewriter. It would take me a week to peck out one single day's
reports on that thing."
"Well that's your problem," grinned Mr. Boreman. "The way to
get things accomplished is to put a prod on yourself. Most of us
never get around to doing a thing until necessity drives us. So I
guess necessity forces you to learn how to type -- and quick! For
we are requiring that all your notes, data, and reports be typed
on that baby Corona, and we require that all reports arrive here
on time!"
What an assignment!
But the prod was on! Hurriedly I procured an instruction
book on typing. But I saw at once that I did not have sufficient
time to learn to type with all eight fingers and two thumbs as
instructed in the book. I threw the book away, and began to teach
myself my own way, using the first two fingers of each hand, and
occasionally a thumb on the space bar.
I proceeded west through Atlantic and Council Bluffs, Iowa;
through Omaha, Fremont, Columbus and Grand Island, Nebraska.
At Columbus, in the Evans Hotel, I ran across a man who bore
a startling resemblance to Elbert Hubbard. He even wore his hair
semi-long, with an artist's bow tie and wide-brimmed hat. He
seemed very pleased when I told him he was Hubbard's double, and
that I knew the famed "Sage of East Aurora," and had visited at
Roycroft Inn. I forget his name, but it seems he was a state
The quest for interesting and practical ideas used
successfully by merchants was unusually productive, on this tour.
The material for live and useful articles in The Journal was
accumulating much faster than I could get them typed by the "hunt
and peck" system. I worked late nights hunting for letters on the
keyboard and pecking at them. I put the typewriter on my lap in
train seats and pecked away furiously while traveling to the next
town. But my notes were piling up on me.
From Grand Island, I cut south and east through Hastings,
St. Joseph, and arrived in Kansas City Saturday night. By now my
plight was desperate. I knew my week's reports had to be in the
Journal office by Monday. I went to the old Baltimore Hotel, then
Kansas City's leading hotel, but long since torn down, and hunted
keys and pecked away on that little Corona all night long, going
out two or three times through the night to an all-night
restaurant for coffee -- and kept up the ordeal until Sunday
afternoon, getting my week's reports finally into the post
Starting out early Monday morning the tour continued through
Lawrence, Topeka, Hutchinson, Wichita, and Arkansas City in
Kansas; then through Oklahoma, stopping at Blackwell and then
Enid. An uncle, my mother's elder brother, was ticket agent out
at Goltry, Oklahoma some twenty miles west of Enid, and I was
able to take an evening train to Goltry and catch an early
morning train back, so it was possible to spend the night
visiting relatives I had not seen in years.


Next was El Reno. And there, for the first time in my life, I saw
real Indians. In the dime stores and the department stores, stout
Indian squaws, when tired, would just squat down on the floor in
the center of an aisle and remain there until rested. Other
shoppers were obliged to squeeze by, if possible, or go around
another aisle. Out on the main street, I saw a flash of bright
red streak by, leaving a cloud of dust.
"What in the world was that?" I asked in astonishment.
"Oh," replied a local man, "that's a young Indian just
returned from Carlisle University. He recently inherited a sum of
money from the government, and spent it all for the most
expensive bright red racing automobile he could find. Since
returning from college, he has reverted back to a semi-savage
state, and drives his car recklessly wide open down the main
Again on a Saturday night I arrived, this time, in Oklahoma
City, with a notebook full of ideas piled up on me. Once again
there was the all-night ordeal at the folding portable
typewriter. But by this time my four fingers seemed to begin
finding the right keys almost automatically, and from that time
on I was able to keep up with the typed reports. Before this
three months' tour was ended, I was pecking away on the
typewriter at a speed more rapid than most stenographers.
And, come to think of it, I am this very minute, still
rapping out these lines with these same four fingers. Only today,
I am privileged to click the words off on a large electric
However, the present worldwide enterprise, in its present
phase, was actually begun, back in 1927, by clicking off articles
on one of those early model folding Coronas. It could not have
had a more humble beginning. But we shall come to that phase of
the story in due time.
Leaving Oklahoma City early Monday, Chickasha came
next -- another Indian reservation town -- then Ardmore. Next were
Gainesville, Ft. Worth and Dallas, Texas. Thanksgiving Day was
spent at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.
The Adolphus in Dallas in those days carried the
architectural appearance of being a slightly smaller sister of
Chicago's Blackstone -- though additions have made it several times
larger today. In those days the most exclusive hotel in America,
with the possible exception of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York,
was the Hotel Blackstone in Chicago. It was commonly reported
that guests were not admitted into the main dining room of the
Blackstone in the evening, unless they were in full evening
dress; and that the noted diva Mary Garden, coming in after an
evening performance at the Blackstone theatre, was refused
admittance because she was not in formal attire.
Also, in those days, The Adolphus maintained, as nearly as
possible in a city not much over 100,000 population, as Dallas
then was, the atmosphere of The Blackstone.
The main dining room was plush and ornate, serviced with a
maître d'hôtel and two or three head waiters, besides waiters and
bus boys. Most everybody was home for Thanksgiving dinner, and
the hotel dining room was almost empty. The maître d'hôtel
ushered me to a table and spent the entire time of the meal
chatting with me.
"I'm a long way from home on Thanksgiving," I said, "and on
a reasonably generous expense account. I wish you would order my
dinner for me. This is once I'm not going to keep down the cost.
Go ahead. Shoot the works. Order the finest dinner you can
He did, and I have never forgotten that Thanksgiving dinner
a thousand miles away from home. In these days of jet aircraft,
that would not seem far, but it did then.

A Strange New "Coke"

Sunday was spent at Waxahachie. Directly across from the hotel
was the largest drugstore in any town of 5,000 in America.
(Waxahachie is listed at more than 12,000 population in the 1965
Atlas. But it was around 5,000 in 1914.) Waxahachie also had the
largest cotton ginning center in America, as I recall. But this
drugstore interested me.
Sunday afternoon I walked over to the drug store soda
fountain, and ordered a "coke." After the attendant squirted into
the glass the coca cola syrup, and then the soda water, he took
the mixing spoon and dipped the edge of it into a saucer
containing a few drops of some liquid which looked like milk,
shook it off the spoon, then stirred the spoon into the coca
"What kind of strange new 'coke' do you call that?" I asked.
"What was that you dipped the spoon into and then shook off?"
"Milk," answered the attendant.
"Why," I inquired, "what's the idea? You shook the milk all
off the spoon. You didn't mix enough into the 'coke' to even
notice it. What's that supposed to do?"
I was really puzzled.
"Well," grinned the soda fountain attendant, "that's the
only way I can serve it to you, according to law."
I was more puzzled now than ever.
"You see," he explained, "it's against the law to serve coca
cola on Sundays -- but it's perfectly legal for us to serve food.
Milk is food. That tiny portion of a drop of milk I stirred into
it made it food."
I had heard of a lot of ridiculous Sunday "blue laws," but
that one really took the prize. However, Texas or the
municipality of Waxahachie must have gotten "fed up" with it and
abolished that law long since.

I Saw General Funston

I continued in the search of interesting and usable ideas in
retail stores and checking community and general social
conditions in Waco, Temple, Austin, Houston, and Galveston,
Texas. It was quite an event to catch my first glimpse of an
ocean at Galveston, on the Gulf of Mexico. I went in swimming on
the beach, so I could say I had been in the ocean.
Also I was quite impressed with the Hotel Galvez. General
Funston, at that time General Pershing's boss, was there, and I
rode up the hotel elevator with him. He was short, not tall, but
wore a short goatee beard, and carried himself with very
dignified military bearing. However, the dignified military
bearing was a little lacking that night, as he was being helped
from the bar up the elevator to his suite.
From Galveston I proceeded on through Beaumont, and Lake
Charles, Louisiana.

The Crucial Letter

At Lake Charles, I received a letter from Mr. Boreman. It was
very critical. By this time he had taken over a large part, or
all, of the editorial duties from Mr. Vardemann. Mr. Boreman's
letter threw me into consternation.
He was not pleased with my work. I was going to have to step
on it -- get on my toes -- produce more and better material.
I was really frightened. I saw visions of being fired. That
was a disgrace I felt I could never take. But Mr. Boreman had not
directed me to take the next train home. Apparently I was to be
allowed to wind up this trip, at least.
Nevertheless, from that time on, I brooded over the thought
of "having a can tied to me" upon return to Des Moines. The
vision built up in my mind. I did really "step on it," from that
moment. I hustled harder than ever before. I feared being
suddenly called in and fired.
Actually, I learned afterward -- too late -- that Mr. Boreman
had not the slightest intention of discharging me. I had
apparently gotten into a temporary slump, and he wrote me a
rather sharp letter in an effort to help me snap out of it. But
all through the remainder of this trip the fear of being fired
built up in my mind.
Nevertheless I kept on working with increased zeal.
From Lake Charles I continued on through Lafayette and Baton
Rouge to New Orleans, Louisiana. I remember picking up quite a
story of how an aggressive dry goods merchant in Baton Rouge beat
the big city competition of New Orleans and held his trade at
home. This was my second visit to New Orleans.

Too Conceited? Yes! -- But

Perhaps I was entirely too proud in those days. Actually there is
no "perhaps" about it. I was! Later I was forced to suffer for
years to have this vanity and conceit crushed out, before I could
ever have been fully prepared for the responsibilities of today.
But I was young then. And I have often wondered if it is not
really better for a young upstart to be conceited,
self-confident, cocky -- and with it, ambitious, energetic in
trying to accomplish something, than to be an ambitionless,
spineless, lazy, shiftless fellow utterly lacking in spark,
drive, and the zeal to try to accomplish something worthwhile.
Such ambitious fellows, of course, may not have right
goals -- they may not know the real PURPOSE of life, or the true
way of life, and they may be energetically pressing on only
toward more vanity, and "a striving after wind," as Solomon puts
it. But at least they are mentally ALIVE, and not dead! And once
circumstances do shake them and bring them to themselves, and
humble them and open their minds to the true values, they are
already in the habit of exerting enough energy so that, turned at
last in the right direction, something is REALLY accomplished.
At least one reader of this autobiography -- and so far as I
know, only one -- has written very disapprovingly of it, condemning
me for having been vain and conceited in those early formative
years. I have stated all the facts about that over-abundance of
self-assurance. Indeed I have put emphasis on it.
This, then, is one of the things I had to be changed from!
This is a candid and true life story, and the bad is being told
along with what good there may have been. But, if there was ego
and cocky conceit, there also was ambition, determination, fire,
drive, and honest and sincere effort toward what then seemed to
be a right goal.
When the Unseen Hand mentioned in the introductory chapter
took a hand, shook me up, knocked me down, took away what
financial success I appeared headed toward, beat out the proud
conceit and punctured the inflated ego, my eyes were opened to
what they had not seen before. The goal was changed. The
self-confidence was replaced with faith. But the fired-up desire
now flamed forth in the new direction. The sincere drive, and
energy now was applied with increased zeal to the new and far
better goal.
And if FAITH, and CONFIDENCE, and positive ASSURANCE in what
GOD has set out to do through a poor human instrument has been by
some critics misapplied as vain conceit, then I offer no
apology -- but the dynamic and ever-expanding work of the living
God cannot stop, just to please the whim of critics who stand on
the sidelines, themselves doing nothing except to carp and
complain and criticize. My zeal and dynamic drive toward a wrong
goal did not exceed that of Saul of Tarsus. But when his eyes
were opened, look what a power he was!
Jesus was perfect in every respect, yet He had His critics
who always thought He was doing everything the wrong way. Yet,
like the critics of His work today, they did not do better -- they
simply didn't do, period! They sat on the sidelines and watched
the procession empowered by the Spirit of God speed by, on to the
true goal of accomplishing God's PURPOSE here below!
So I have deemed it proper that the full truth about that
self-conceit of those formative years be brought out. But let me
emphasize, it was not DECEIT. It was honest and sincere.

Challenged into a Survey

The "Idea Man" tour continued on through Hattiesburg and
Meridian, Mississippi, then Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham,
Alabama. What route was taken from Birmingham north I do not now
remember. It seems that the next stop was Decatur, Alabama. I
think I must have made stops at Columbus and Nashville,
Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Louisville, and Lexington,
In any event, the next distinct recollection is in Richmond,
Kentucky. Apparently I backtracked some distance south to arrive
there. I had heard from travelling men along the way that
Richmond was the "deadest" town in all America, and I thought
there might be a worthwhile story in finding the reasons for
I do distinctly remember getting into a discussion with a
furniture merchant in Richmond. I might better have said a heated
argument. For I had instantly formed the impression that Richmond
was then the most backward, lifeless town of around 5,000
population I had ever visited.
I hope that the bombshell I exploded before the merchants of
that town had something to do with waking it up -- for apparently
the town did come to life, since I noticed in the latest census
it is now over 12,000 population.
In any event, I was so utterly disgusted with the lack of
civic pride and development, and the lackadaisical inertia of the
merchants after interviewing several of them, that I must have
expressed my disappointment to this furniture merchant. He argued
heatedly that Richmond was a very live town.
"Is that so!" I came back. "Do you realize that probably
more than half of the trade of the consumers in your town and
immediate trade territory is going to the mail order houses, and
to the stores in Cincinnati and Lexington?"
"Why, we don't lose any trade to outside competition," he
I shot back. "That shows how sound asleep you are! Why, you
don't know what's going on right under your nose here in your own
town. I'll tell you what I'm going to do! I'm going to show you
that an outsider can come into your town and learn more of the
REAL FACTS of merchandising conditions here in three days than
you've learned in a lifetime!"
I was good and mad! I was determined to show this sleepy
storekeeper, whom I felt unworthy to be dignified with the name
"merchant," just how ignorant he was of conditions, of just how
dead the businessmen of this town were.
The prod was on! I was only supposed to spend one day in
Richmond. I knew I had to work fast. I had to account for my time
at the office. This was not routine "Idea Man" work. I was doing
this on my own. So I had to hurry. I was fired up! I was
determined to get the facts!
I had no pattern to go by. To my knowledge no survey -- no
sampling of public opinion -- or investigation from a
representative portion of the people, according to the law of
averages, had ever been made. I had to think my own way through.
But I was so angered that I did a lot of fast thinking -- and

The Pioneer Survey

Early each of the three mornings I went to the freight house and
the express office. I knew well the big Chicago mail order house
methods of shipment. The tags did not contain the mail order
house names. Only the street addresses. But I knew well the Homan
Avenue address of Sears Roebuck and the street address of
Montgomery Ward. Also the smaller mail order houses. Rapidly I
jotted down notes of the names and addresses of all local
citizens receiving merchandise from Chicago mail order houses,
listing the description of the merchandise.
As soon as the banks were opened on that first morning, I
went to the bankers, told them of the survey I was making, and
asked their cooperation in checking through their stubs and
giving me the amount of bank drafts that had been purchased for
mail order houses during the past 30 days. Also to go through the
cancelled vouchers of customers, and add up the total, over a
given period, of checks that had been sent by local depositors to
either mail order houses or stores in Lexington and Cincinnati.
All agreed to cooperate fully.
Next I went to the postmaster. I asked if he would cooperate
to let the merchants know conditions by checking back thirty days
through the stubs of money orders purchased for mail order houses
or big city stores. There was a postal regulation allowing the
postmaster to use his own judgment about giving out such
information, and this postmaster was willing to cooperate.
Then, while they were tabulating this information, I devoted
the three days to house-to-house and farm-to-farm interviews. For
this latter purpose I hired a "rig," for there were very few
automobiles in service as yet in 1915, especially in towns of
this size. So I drove with horse and buggy ten miles out in two
or three directions from town.
I learned that the farmers west of town were so indignant at
Richmond merchants that they were actually organizing to boycott
these stores altogether. Housewives in town were eager to talk to
an investigator. They vehemently poured forth their scathing
denunciations of their local merchants.
The women universally said they were forced to go either to
Cincinnati or Lexington to buy clothes. The stores there sent
their expert buyers to New York seasonally to select the latest
styles. But the styles at local Richmond stores were completely
out of date, and of poor design, quality and workmanship.
The main street, downtown, was not paved, and often shoppers
were forced to walk through mud ankle-deep in crossing the main
The merchants and their clerks were sleepy, unaccommodating,
uncheerful, and seemed to feel they were imposed upon to wait on
a customer. If merchandise was unsatisfactory and returned, the
customer was always wrong, and the merchant always wroth.
I went to the ticket agent at the depot.
"These so-called merchants of ours," he said, "have no idea
at all of what goes on. In order to go to Lexington -- or to
Cincinnati -- the women shoppers have to take an early morning
train leaving at 5 a.m. Lexington shoppers have to change trains
at Winchester. Whether they go to Lexington or to Cincinnati,
they have a whole day for shopping, and the return train doesn't
arrive until long after stores close in the evening. So local
merchants are never up early enough to see them go, or late
enough to see them return. But we have a train load every
shopping day."

My First Public Speech

After working furiously daytimes on this quick survey, I typed
rapidly of evenings, writing up reports of every interview. On
the third day I collected all the data from the banks, post
office, and express office. Then I carefully tabulated all the
information, reduced the equations, by the law of averages, to
indicate the whole picture of the conditions of the town -- and the
results were truly ASTOUNDING!
Among all these drowsy storekeepers, I had found one live
and alert merchant -- the local Rexall druggist. Consequently I had
kept him informed as to what I was uncovering in Richmond. He was
intensely concerned, and urged me to stay over in Richmond one
more day, so he could have opportunity to arrange a dinner for
the following evening and get all the merchants to attend, and
hear my report.
I felt I could not remain another day in Richmond. I was
already three days behind schedule. I did not, at that time,
realize that this survey would be of any use or value as
editorial material in the magazine. The fear that I was slated to
be fired on return to Des Moines had been haunting me. Actually I
wrote up this complete report of the survey for the express
purpose of explaining this three-day loss of time -- and I actually
felt I would be reproved for it, and now, more surely than ever,
But this druggist was very persistent.
"Mr. Armstrong," he argued, "you simply do not have any
right to come into our town, unearth all these sensational facts,
and then slip on out and refuse to share this information with
our local merchants. Why, this is what we've all been needing for
years. It will wake this town up."
When he put it as a moral DUTY, and an obligation, I could
not refuse. I think I must have had some kind of illusions about
sacrificing my job, however, to fulfill this obligation. However,
it gave me this fourth day to complete the typing of my report on
the survey, together with all tabulations, and final
So on this fourth evening here was a dinner arranged by this
Rexall druggist. How he ever managed to induce all those
merchants to attend I did not know, but apparently all were
This was probably the first public speech I ever made in my
life. But I was so filled with sensational facts that I forgot to
be self-conscious or embarrassed.
I remember making the recommendation that, since no local
ready-to-wear department was large enough to hire an expert woman
buyer and send her to New York on buying trips, they all go
together and cooperate, employing one buyer for all of them; and
that on her return from New York at each buying season, they have
her give public lectures in their various stores, giving the
women advance information on what would be the styles for the
coming season.
Possibly some of these suggestions of mine, based on the
survey, had something to do with the fact that Richmond today is
a growing town more than twice as large as it was then.

My First Magazine Article

It was some weeks later that I received the shock of my life. I
received a copy of the latest issue of The Journal in the mail. I
had heard nothing from Mr. Boreman or anyone at the office in
regard to the long report I had sent in about the survey. At
least, no news had been good news. They had not fired me for
it -- yet!
But now, some weeks later, I opened the latest copy of The
Journal, and there, in big headlines as the leading article, I
was told of the most sensational article The Journal had ever
They played it up BIG!
And, for the first time -- under my own by-line!
The accompanying editor's note explained that they were
publishing this astonishing report verbatim, just as their "Idea
Man" had written it.
Also, it seems now that in this same issue was another
smaller article under my by-line. For the past several weeks, I
had begun to write up my material in article form. Always before,
however, the editors at The Journal office had done a complete
rewrite job on my material. But now, my own articles began to

Chapter 6
Discovering Rules of Success

F0LLOWING the original survey of business conditions in Richmond,
Kentucky, instructions came from the home office of The Merchants
Trade Journal to do another investigation. They wanted this one
from a larger town. Lansing, Michigan, was suggested.
So, leaving Richmond, Kentucky, I proceeded north through
Cincinnati and other towns and cities in Ohio.
I am reminded at this point of a visit to the National Cash
Register Company plant in Dayton. Again, I am not sure whether it
was on this particular tour. But I learned there of an incident
which has always been remembered.

A Sales Lesson

At that time NCR, as this company was familiarly called, had
something of a reputation of being the most aggressive sales
organization in American business. And its president, John R.
Patterson, was more or less generally reputed to be the country's
most successful sales genius.
This is what I learned: Mr. Patterson's mind had caught a
sudden sales inspiration. Immediately he did a sensational and
unprecedented thing. He sent telegrams to every NCR salesman in
the United States, ordering them to come to the factory in Dayton
immediately -- at company expense. I was shown, while touring the
plant, a large auditorium in the company's office building. Here,
I was told, the hundreds of salesmen assembled, filled with
curiosity. Mr. Patterson addressed them.
"Men," he began, "you are wondering why I called all of you
here. Now I will tell you. Every one of you loses sales because
your prospects put up objections you are unable to overcome. An
idea flashed into my mind the other day that will enable you to
turn every objection into your strongest selling point. It's so
simple you'll all wonder why you never thought of it. Whatever
the objection, you are to answer immediately, with a smile of
complete assurance: 'Why, certainly -- and that's the very reason
you need this National cash register!' "
Then Mr. Patterson asked a few salesmen to come to the
platform and pretend they were prospective customers, putting up
to him the objections that each salesman had failed to overcome.
One said, "I simply can't afford to buy a cash register."
"Exactly!" responded Mr. Patterson, "and that's the very
reason you need this National Cash Register. When you have all
the records this register will give you -- when it protects you
from losses -- pays for itself and saves you money, then you can
afford things!"
One by one John R. Patterson answered every sales objection
which his salesmen had been unable successfully to answer.
I have found this principle of salesmanship effective,
perhaps hundreds of times.

A Disappearing American Institution

At this point I must indulge another digression. I had written
this chapter of the Autobiography in our bedroom of a Pullman car
on a train. Mrs. Armstrong and I were en route to Texas, on the
Dallas car of the streamlined "Sunset Limited." At El Paso our
car was switched onto a "T & P" train for Dallas.
We had just returned from the dining car. Between our
streamliner car and the diner we passed through one of the
old-time Pullman cars. I had not seen one in some time. The
modern Pullmans are all-room cars. But these older models
contained mostly open Pullman seats that make up into berths in
sections at night. This is the kind of sleeping cars I rode
constantly on these "Idea Man" trips.
The newer streamliner cars provide private toilets in every
room, but these old-timers provided one large men's washroom at
one end and a ladies' rest room at the other end. These men's
washrooms contained a long leather lounging seat at one end, and
a chair or shorter seat on the side. They were also the men's
smoking rooms. With the disappearance of men's washrooms on
Pullman cars has departed a real American institution! I suppose
few women know anything about it.
In these washrooms, especially on long trips, men would sit
or stand and talk by the hour. In these washrooms no introduction
was needed. Conversations were opened as a matter of course. Men
conversed familiarly, as if they had been acquainted for years,
rarely introducing themselves by name. And what would you women
suppose they talked about? Their wives? Laughing at dirty
stories? NOT AT ALL! I don't believe I ever heard one off-color
story being told in a Pullman washroom. Men always had something
more important to discuss than idle gossip about their wives. The
discussions were always impersonal.
It was here, in this great but vanishing American
institution that the political, economic and social problems of
the nation and the entire world were "solved!" Questions of
religion were usually avoided. Heated arguments or angry
controversy were rarely, if ever, indulged.
If only the heads of state of the world's great nations
could have had the Pullman washrooms wired, and the conversations
tape-recorded, they could have had the solutions to all their
knotty and perplexing problems! TOO BAD! Tape recording came in
after this honored American institution went out!
I spent many an hour in thought-provoking conversation in
this "institution" of a bygone day, from the days of these "Idea
Man" tours, until the modern streamliners relegated this meeting
place of business men to a vintage of the past.
But in all seriousness, this digression about washroom
conversations truly belongs in this story of formative life
experiences. For I verily believe that these hours of contacts
over the years with many important, thoughtful and successful men
contributed their share in the preparation for the
responsibilities of today, and for the years still ahead of us.
We are influenced by every person with whom we come in contact.
The most successful men -- the LEADERS -- the men of
accomplishment -- rode the Pullman cars. These washrooms afforded a
meeting place where I was privileged to enter invigorating,
stimulating, and often enlightening conversation with men I could
never have contacted otherwise. Here was a place where men were
free and relaxed, always willing to converse with other men on a
social parity, regardless of social distinctions outside the
Pullman washrooms. Contacts and conversations with scores and
scores of prominent and important men -- many of them in Pullman
washrooms, are among my most treasured experiences.

WHY Men Fail

On all these "Idea Man" trips, one assignment had been to
observe, and to question businessmen, in all parts of the
country, to try to learn why one man succeeds and another fails.
An alarmingly large percentage of retail merchants over the
nation were operating "in the red" -- on their way to failure and
bankruptcy. WHY?
Two men might start out in business under almost identical
conditions. One would succeed in building a thriving and
profitable business, while the other would "go to the wall." The
Merchants Trade Journal wanted to know WHY!
I had questioned literally hundreds of businessmen, as to
their ideas or opinions on this question. The majority gave the
same answer -- lack of ability.
While in Detroit on this trip I had a nice interview with
the manager of Detroit's large department store, the J. L. Hudson
Company. He, with a minority of other businessmen I interviewed,
insisted that the main reason for failure in business was lack of
sufficient capital.
Of course both of these were factors. But, based on
observation, getting at the FACTS that led either to success or
failure in hundreds of businesses, I found a third important
cause of failures was the fitting of the proverbial square peg in
the round hole -- in other words, so many men are misplaced -- in the
wrong line of business, for them; this, coupled with the fact
that the seven laws of success are not known or followed by most

One Sad Experience

I remember a perplexed and frustrated merchant in southern
Indiana. He was coming out on the short end, without any profit,
and he couldn't figure why.
"I have figured to the very penny every item of cost in
doing business," he explained. "It costs me exactly 20% to do
business -- including every expense -- salaries, rent, utilities,
advertising, even cost for wrapping paper and string -- and it runs
exactly 20 cents on each dollar of sales. Now I have figured that
a 5% profit is fair. So I add the 5% profit to my 20% cost of
doing business, and I mark up all my goods 25% above wholesale
price. But at the end of the year my 5% profit just simply isn't
there -- it has vanished, clean as a whistle! I can't figure where
it went!"
"I think I can," I replied. "Suppose you buy a certain item
at a cost of $12 per dozen. What are you going to retail that
item for?"
"Why, $1.25, of course. $12 per dozen is $1 each. I add an
overall of 25% -- to cover 20% cost of doing business and 5%
profit, and mark the selling price at $1.25."
"I thought so!" I exclaimed. "That's where you've made your
mistake. Now look! You say your expenses run 20% of your
sales -- right?"
"Sure!" he said.
"All right. Now I want you to figure 20% of that $1.25
selling price, and subtract it from the $1.25."
He did, and couldn't believe his eyes!
"Let's see -- 20% of $1.25 is 25 cents. WHY, when I subtract
my expenses from the selling price, I am right back to my cost
price! Where did my 5% profit go?"
I felt like laughing, but it was no joke -- it was too tragic!
"You see," I explained, "you figure your cost of doing
business as a percentage of your SALES -- not of your buying price.
But when you figured your markup, you figured it on the BUYING
price, instead of the selling price. Actually, you should have
marked your price up 33 1/3% above the BUYING price, in order to
sell the item at a price to allow you 20% on the SELLING price
for expenses, and 5% for profit."
I left this merchant in a rather dazed condition. WHY was he
failing? Lack of capital? Lack of ability? Square peg in a round
hole? Or, perhaps, lack of proper EDUCATION, the second law of
I found many retail merchants in small towns who were former
farmers. It seemed that many farmers in those days had a habit of
grumbling and complaining. They knew they worked hard. It seemed
to them that the merchant in town had it mighty easy, compared to
their lot. The mail order houses kept telling them how the retail
merchants gouged them and took big profits. It looked like
running a store was a luxurious EASY LIFE, with big profits.
So, many farmers sold their farms and bought retail stores.
Then they began to learn that a merchant had worries a farmer
never thought of. They were untrained and unskilled in
merchandising, advertising, selling, cost accounting, shrewd
buying. Salesmen from manufacturers and wholesalers overloaded
them with the wrong goods. They didn't know how to figure
markups. They didn't know how to meet the public, or sell goods.
They didn't know how to manage clerks, if they hired any. They
were MISFITS -- square pegs in round holes!
Then, there are those seven LAWS of success!
Most people -- men and women alike -- probably do not think of,
or apply a single one of these seven laws. These are of such
importance that we have issued an attractive free booklet on the
subject which the reader may receive upon request.

The Lansing Survey

I continued on to Lansing, state capital of Michigan, to put on
the second survey of retail business conditions.
Here conditions were found to be very much like those in the
smaller town of Richmond, Kentucky. Although Lansing was much
larger than Richmond, and had better and larger stores, yet I
found, on actual investigation by house-to-house and farm-to-farm
interview and reports from banks, post office, etc., that the
Lansing merchants were losing untold thousands of dollars' worth
of business to the mail order houses and the larger stores and
exclusive shops of Detroit and Chicago.
I had one very good interview with the superintendent of the
Reo automobile plant in Lansing. He explained in detail why his
plant, and all others, were unable to compete with Ford's new
wage plan. They were not yet on the assembly-line production
Somehow, I do not remember so much about this particular
survey. It was mostly a repetition of the Richmond investigation,
only on a larger scale. It was the Richmond survey which shocked
its way into memory, because it was a new revelation to us.

Hiring Myself Another Job

My next definite memory, after concluding the Lansing
investigation, was an interview with the secretary of the Chamber
of Commerce in South Bend, Indiana.
I have mentioned that, in addition to interviewing retail
merchants, I usually interviewed also the secretaries of Chambers
of Commerce, for The Journal was interested in general community
activity and betterment, as well as successful business methods.
Of all the Chamber of Commerce secretaries I had
interviewed, this man, whose name was Spaulding -- I do not
remember his given name or initials -- impressed me by far the
most. He is the only one still retained vividly in memory. He
impressed me as being the most able and resourceful of any
chamber secretary I had met.
After leaving South Bend, I had jogged back east as far as
Ft. Wayne, Indiana. From there I was scheduled to cut southwest
toward Indianapolis, and then on back to Des Moines. My biggest
"Idea Man" tour was now nearing its end.
The imminence of the return to Des Moines brought back to
mind the fear of being "fired." The thought of the disgrace of
this now mounted to a mighty crescendo. I felt I had to "beat
them to it," by resigning, avoiding the stigma of being
So on the impulse of the moment, I entered a telephone booth
and got Mr. Spaulding at South Bend on long distance. Once again,
I "hired myself a job."
"Hello, Mr. Spaulding!" I said. "Since I was in South Bend,
I've been thinking a lot about you and your Chamber there. I've
decided I want to get into Chamber of Commerce work for a while.
I've decided to resign from The Merchants Trade Journal and come
back to South Bend as Assistant Secretary of your Chamber of
"You have!" exclaimed Mr. Spaulding incredulously. "Well, I
don't know what we'd have you do, or how I could manage to pay
any salary."
"Oh, that's all right," I responded with the usual cocky
confidence. "I'll have to go on out to Des Moines, and check out
finally with The Journal, and you'll have a couple weeks or so to
figure it out before I return."
This self-assurance and positive approach must have been
difficult to resist, for Mr. Spaulding said he'd try to think of
Thereupon I sent in to Mr. Boreman a letter of resignation,
saying I would finish this trip and then would leave immediately
to return to South Bend.

My First Big-League Game

It was about this time, or on one of my "Idea Man" trips through
Chicago, that I saw my first major-league baseball game. Ralph
Johnson, manager of The Journal's Chicago office, and I went
The Detroit Tigers were playing the Chicago White Sox in an
American League game at Comiskey Park. I had seen a number of
minor league games. I had played a great deal of baseball as a
boy, between ages eleven and eighteen. But it seemed to me that
this major-league brand of baseball was the most monotonous and
least exciting of all.
Then I began to understand the reason. They were better
players. There was no wasted motion. When a shortstop picked up a
hot grounder, he didn't get all excited, and wildly wind up
before throwing to first. He scooped up the ball as his throwing
arm was smoothly moving into throwing position, and effortlessly
it was thrown with speed straight to the first baseman. The
players were not making as many motions, but actually the ball
was traveling faster.
It's the same in all branches of athletics. The novice makes
work of it -- goes to unnecessary effort. The champion does it
smoothly, with precision.
The same is true with workmen. A greenhorn beginner as a
carpenter wastes a lot of motions with his hammer, plane or saw,
and quite frequently his hammer misses the nail altogether. The
experienced carpenter does it smoothly, effortlessly to all
appearances, but he is getting the job done faster.
This particular baseball game really was a monotonous, dull,
unexciting game. Even the experienced regular customers were
talking about it. We endured the game down to the last half of
the ninth inning. The White Sox led, 3 to 1. Detroit was at bat.
There were two outs, none on, and one strike on the batter, who
happened to be the famous Ty Cobb. We arose trying to get out of
the stands before the rush.
A regular "dyed-in-the-wool" fan, sitting in front of us,
turned around and said earnestly, "Please take my advice and
don't go yet. No baseball game is over until the last out. Ty
Cobb hasn't failed to get a hit in any game this year. Don't
worry -- he'll get a hit."

Why Ty Cobb was Famous

We sat down again, a little dubiously. "Ball one!" droned the
"Ball TUH!
"FOUL ball! Strike TUH!" the umpire's drone continued.
"Ball THREE!
"This is it!" exclaimed the fan in front of us, excitedly.
"Now watch what happens! Old Ty Cobb won't miss getting that
He didn't! The next pitched ball cracked squarely off Cobb's
bat, driven like a bullet straight between left field and center.
It was a two-bagger at least -- maybe a triple, if Cobb rounded the
bases fast enough!
But Cobb didn't! To our utter amazement, he jogged leisurely
to first, sat down on the bag, stretched, and yawned drowsily!
But as soon as the ball was thrown back to the pitcher, he
was up and alert, dancing friskily at a dangerous distance off
first, beginning a taunting, razzing line of chatter at the
"Hey YOU PITCHER! Thanks for that two-bagger you handed me!
Yea! Thanks for NUTHIN! I didn't want it as a gift! I'd rather
STEAL it from ya! Come on, now! I'm goin' a STEAL second. Try and
catch me! Ya can't throw straight enough to catch me!"
The pitcher whirled and whipped the ball to first. But Ty
slid back under the ball safely. Now he razzed the pitcher more
than ever, taunting him, telling him he was no good -- he was going
to pieces -- daring him to catch Cobb off base.
The pitcher threw a ball and a couple of strikes at the
batter, meanwhile whipping the ball a couple more times to first
trying vainly to catch Cobb off base.
Then Cobb dashed off and stole second.
The batter finally connected. This, too, might have been
good for two bases. But the batter was forced to stop on first.
Ty Cobb lay down on second, feigning sleep, snoring loudly. But
as soon as the ball was again in the pitcher's mitt, he was up
and dancing wildly far off second, his torrent of contempt for
the pitcher pouring violently from his mouth.
Two or three times the pitcher made a vain attempt to snap
the ball to second in time to nail Cobb off base and end the game
with the third out. But each time only brought a fresh outburst
of contemptuous discouragement from Cobb. This strategy was
beginning to have its effect on the pitcher. Before the next
batter could get a hit, strike out, or a base on balls, Ty had
stolen third. There, again, he sat down and continued taunting
the pitcher.
WHY didn't Cobb race, on his own hit, for second, third, or
even to stretch his hit into a home run? WHY, when he was on
second, and the next batter cracked out a line drive, didn't he
race on to round third and score a run? Usually a single drives
in a run if a man is on second.
The answer is that the score was 3 to 1 against Detroit. One
run was not enough. Had Cobb scored a run on either his own hit,
or that of the batter following him, the White Sox probably would
have put out the next man, and the game would have ended 3 to 2
for Chicago. Cobb's strategy was to exasperate the pitcher
psychologically until he "went to pieces" so that following
batters might succeed in driving in a total of THREE runs needed
for a Detroit win. As long as Cobb remained on base, he was
allowed to taunt and razz the pitcher.
So he remained on third, shouting ridicule at the pitcher,
who now walked a batter, filling the bases. The pitcher now was
thoroughly rattled, nervous, his confidence gone.
The next batter drove out a double, scoring all three men on
bases. Thus the game ended. Score, Tigers 4, White Sox 3!
This game turned out to be one of those rare,
once-in-a-lifetime thrills most people never see, though they may
attend ball games regularly. It was the topic of conversation of
all Chicago next day.
On arriving in Des Moines I learned, to my dismay, that Mr.
Boreman had had no thought of "firing" me, but merely wrote the
letter I had received at Lake Charles, Louisiana, in an effort to
snap me out of a slump and prod me on to better effort. I
gathered the impression that he was genuinely sorry to see me
leave The Journal.
Actually, now, having been myself an employer for several
years, I think I can better understand. The almost three years I
had spent with The Journal had been largely preparatory years,
and Mr. Boremen probably figured they had invested quite a little
time, instruction, supervision and money toward developing a man
who had some slight promise of becoming a really valuable man in
the organization some day. And to see me quit and drop out, just
as I was beginning to be worth something -- beginning to be able to
write articles and advertising copy professionally -- meant the
investment was now wasted and a total loss, except for whatever
value I had been while there.
While with The Journal my salary had been raised a number of
times. The raises had never been large, but they were fairly
constant, as frequently as I deserved, and I probably was in line
for another raise about the time I resigned. I was then getting
$20 a week, which was not a high salary, but with the expense
account, travelling most of the time, the salary was mostly
clear. There was no room or board to pay out of it.
I must have had another conference with my Uncle Frank
Armstrong while in Des Moines this trip, but do not remember his
reaction to my latest detour from the main track. But even though
it was another sidetrack, nevertheless it was to provide valuable
experience and training for the later BIG JOB.

Building a Highway

Leaving Des Moines this time was destined to be leaving it as
"home" forever. I had been born and reared there. But now I was
almost twenty-three. Perhaps it was time to fly the home nest.
I arrived, I believe, one evening in South Bend and obtained
a room at the YMCA which was to be my home for some three or four
months. Next morning I reported to Mr. Spaulding at the Chamber
of Commerce.
Actually there had been no need of an Assistant Secretary,
so there was no salaried job awaiting me. But, as I had detected
on my one interview with him, Mr. Spaulding was a resourceful
man, and he did come up with something for me.
The automobile was just beginning to come into its own in
America in 1915. Of course most families did not, as yet, own
automobiles, but the number was increasing annually. And the
cross-country highway idea was just beginning to make its first
bit of headway. Of course all roads outside of towns and cities
were unpaved. But a great deal of work had been done on the
Coast-to-Coast "Lincoln Highway" (now U.S. 30), and this already
had been built -- in the manner they were then built -- routed
through South Bend.
This manner of building consisted of doing considerable
additional grading, and surfacing of already existing roads. Few
if any of the old "horse and buggy" square corners were
straightened out. Surfacing consisted, at best, of a certain
amount of graveling -- but few even dreamed, as yet, of paving or
hard-surfacing highways between cities.
At this particular time the highway activity centered on
getting through the new "Dixie Highway," from Canada to the Gulf.
As planned by its promoters, this north-south highway was to pass
through South Bend. But the right-of-way, and cost of road
improvements had to be approved by, and paid by, each township
and county. The Federal Government had not, apparently, gotten
into the highway business as yet. Nor were there any State
Mr. Spaulding explained to me that they were running into a
snag. Although there was a Dixie Highway Association, more or
less privately promoted but endorsed, as nearly as I remember the
set-up, by civic groups such as Chambers of Commerce, the
right-of-way over existing roads or for any new roads, if
necessary, had to be voted and approved by a majority of property
owners of each township and county along its route. The big
obstacle was the northern township of Marshall County, which was
next south of St. Joseph County, of which South Bend was County
In order to hurdle this barrier, and to promote the
construction of the new highway generally, Mr. Spaulding had
conceived the idea of forming a local Motor Club. It was in no
sense like the AAA, or associated automobile clubs of today. Its
primary aim and purpose was good roads, and the promotion of this
Dixie Highway.
One idea we had was to name or number every country road in
St. Joseph County. I am not sure now whether this was Mr.
Spaulding's idea or mine. It was very difficult for a farmer to
direct anyone unfamiliar with the neighborhood to his farm. He
would have to direct one to go about a mile and a quarter in a
certain direction to a certain windmill; then turn left to a road
where he would see a red barn; then right until he came to a
certain cow in a pasture, then to the fourth house on the
left -- or some such crazy and incomprehensible direction. Our idea
was to name and number country roads like city streets, with road
signs plainly designating the name or number of each road.
Mr. Spaulding's idea was for the Chamber of Commerce to
sponsor the Motor Club, which I believe we named the St. Joseph
County Motor Club, and memberships were to be sold to automobile
owners for $2 each, with the more prominent citizens expected to
purchase the multiple block of memberships.

How to Swing a Group

When I arrived, Mr. Spaulding had the germ of the idea, but it
remained for me to "put it over." First, we had to propose the
idea to the Chamber's Board of Directors, and win their approval.
One of the first lessons learned in this new school of
Chamber of Commerce activity was how to swing a group of hard
headed businessmen to vote the way you want them to. Mr.
Spaulding had the know-how. It was an interesting experience.
First, he selected three of the more prominent and
influential Board members whom he felt sure of winning to the
idea. He and I went to these men, and "sold" them on the Motor
Club idea privately. He arranged for one of them to spring to his
feet in the Board meeting as soon as Mr. Spaulding had presented
the general idea, and enthusiastically endorse it, saying he was
most definitely in favor of this idea. The other two men were to
follow suit, rising promptly before any other Board members could
rise to object, and heartily endorse the idea.
Then, at the Board meeting, after Mr. Spaulding had outlined
his proposal for the Motor Club and these three members in
rapid-fire succession had generated enthusiasm by their vigorous
endorsements, Mr. Spaulding exclaimed that it seemed useless to
ask for more discussion -- and brought it to an immediate vote
before any member could object.
In this meeting were several multimillionaires. South Bend
was home of a number of very prominent industries, including the
Studebaker automobile factory, Oliver Chilled Plow Works, L. P.
Hardy sales book manufacturers, and many others. It was a new
experience to me to see the psychological effect of this strategy
on these supposedly hardheaded businessmen. Like all humans, they
had the "sheep" instinct. The impression had been created in the
mind of every Board member that every other member, except
possibly himself, was enthusiastically in favor of this
proposition, and not wishing to be on the losing side, or a lone
dissenter, each one voted YES -- it was unanimous!
So the Motor Club became a reality. My commission was to be
25%. I learned later -- too late -- that the proper rate of
commission on a thing of that kind should have been 50%. But the
whole idea was a new one to all of us. Actually, my work was very
successful, but I was only half paid, and was unable to "hold
body and soul together" as they say, on what I was making -- so
after a few months I was forced, of necessity, to move on.
But there were some exciting experiences in putting through
this Dixie Highway during those few months.

Chapter 7
How to Put Resourcefulness into Practice

As I mentioned, there were no national or state highways in those
days, late spring of 1915. These pioneer cross-country highways
were privately promoted with the cooperation of civic bodies.
They were merely graded and gravelled. A paved highway between
cities was as yet unheard of. I do not remember how the funds
were provided, but probably by popular subscription from property
owners along the right of way. I do remember we had to get all
the farmers along the way signed up for it.
The South Bend Chamber of Commerce had endorsed this Dixie
Highway project. But the promoters had run into a provoking snag.
The farmers of the northern township of Marshall County, next
south of St. Joseph County of which South Bend is County Seat,
were refusing to sign up. They were stubborn. One little township
might block the entire project from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.
It was my job, among other things, to sign up these adamant
For some little time, however, probably the first three or
four months at South Bend, my activities were bent on selling
memberships in the new St. Joseph County Motor Club. This brought
me into close personal contact with some of South Bend's
prominent millionaires. I worked fairly closely with Mr. E. Louis
Kuhns, a millionaire capitalist. I believe he was Vice President
of the Chamber of Commerce.
Several times I went out to the Studebaker works to chat
with the sole remaining member of the famous Studebaker Brothers.
Mr. J. M. Studebaker was then 84 years of age, hale and hearty,
still somewhat active, and arrived at his office precisely at
eight every morning. He arrived always with a rose or a carnation
in his lapel. Two or three times, on my visits to his office, he
removed his carnation from his lapel and stuck it in mine. I
remember Mr. Studebaker as a very kindly man, and I always
counted it a rare privilege to have been able to spend a while in
conversation with him. He and his brothers originally founded the
Studebaker Brothers Wagon Works, long before the days of the
automobile. But by 1915 they were one of the leading automobile
Also I knew Mr. A. R. Erskine, at that time president of the
Studebaker works. I believe Mr. Studebaker was Chairman of the
Mr. L. P. Hardy, head of the L. P. Hardy Company, which I
believe was the country's largest sales-book manufacturer, also
was very active in Chamber work and I knew him well. The last
time I passed through South Bend, driving a new car home from the
factory, I looked in the telephone directory and failed to find
the L. P. Hardy Company listed. They must have moved elsewhere or
gone out of business.
Most of these prominent and wealthy men bought multiple
blocks of Motor Club memberships, which sold for $2 each.

Frugality of the Wealthy

The one man reputed to be the wealthiest of all South Bend's
multimillionaires at that time was Mr. J. D. Oliver, head of the
Oliver Chilled Plow Works. He was reputed to be worth one hundred
and ten million dollars.
Here, I thought, was a man who could easily afford to
purchase even a few thousand memberships. I began to count my
commission in advance. As explained previously, Mr. Spaulding had
not been able to create a salary job for me, and I was promoting
this Motor Club on a commission basis of 25%.
In order to psychologically build up to my one BIGGEST order
of multiple memberships, I had planned first to contact all the
other prominent men. I felt it would have a good effect on J. D.
Oliver to be able to tell him how many memberships the others had
taken. He, I figured, would want to outdo them.
I had a nice talk with Mr. Oliver. He listened to my entire
explanation of the purposes of the Motor Club -- the need of better
roads -- the benefit that would accrue to the community and every
business in South Bend. He listened to the explanation of how
generously the other prominent businessmen of South Bend had
purchased multiple memberships. He seemed quite interested. My
hopes for a BIG commission rose.
"Mr. Armstrong, I think this Motor Club is a splendid
activity. It will be a fine thing for the community. Yes, you may
surely count me in. I want to join!"
MAN! Now my hopes soared!
"That's certainly splendid, Mr. Oliver. How many memberships
shall I put you down for?"
"Just one single membership. Two dollars!" came the
businesslike reply.
Did you ever have a bucket of ice water thrown in your face
at the moment of greatest anticipation?
It was incredible! A man who had $110,000,000 -- and he took
one little, tiny, measly membership -- just $2 -- just the poor
widow's two mites! But that's what he said.
"Maybe," I thought, as I left the Oliver Chilled Plow plant,
"that's why Mr. Oliver has a hundred and ten million dollars. He
holds on to what he gets." I was a disappointed young man. But I
still had a job to do.

Learning to Drive

After selling Motor Club memberships to most of the important
businessmen, I went after those running smaller businesses, and
even citizens who were employed. I needed to get out into the
country and neighboring suburbs.
I suppose the dealers who handled some of the leading
automobile makes might have loaned me a car for this
civic-betterment work, but they didn't. It remained for the
dealer of the smallest, lowest priced of all to offer me the free
use of a car.
No -- it wasn't a Model-T Ford. It was a smaller and
lower-priced car -- a little baby Saxon. Not many of my readers
today will remember the Saxon, and my memory of it is pretty dim,
but I believe it was smaller than today's German Volkswagen. I
had never before driven a car. This is where I first
learned -- with a baby Saxon in South Bend, at age 23.
While I was there Ralph DePalma, then the world's most
famous automobile racing driver, came to South Bend with his
famous racing car. I don't remember much of the occasion, but I
do remember DePalma -- he made quite an impression on me.
Also while I was in South Bend two then famous movie stars
came through. They had soared to the top in a serial thriller,
"The Million Dollar Mystery." It created about the same national
sensation in that day that the TV show "The $64,000 Question" did
in 1955. These two actors told me that they had personally made
very little money out of it. No one knew how it was going to
catch fire with the public before it started, and they were
employed on straight salary by contract. It made a big fortune
for its owners, not its actors. Then, in an effort to cash in on
their popularity, these two actors put all the money they had
into promoting the sequel, titled "The HUNDRED Million Dollar
But, as they should have known, had they been better
psychologists, the sequel was a total dud. They lost all they
had. A million dollars seemed like an unheard-of amount of money,
and those words in the title coupled with the magic word
"MYSTERY" captured the fascination and interest of the American
public back in the early "silent" days. But it was like a child
with a new toy. Once the glamor and excitement of the toy wears
off, it becomes "old stuff." Give the child another toy just like
it, only bigger, and he won't be interested.
The star of these serials was James Cruze. The other actor
was Sid Bracey.

Cracking the Adamant

It must have been about mid-summer or a little later that the
time came when the Dixie Highway project could not be delayed any
The farmers to the south of us, in the north township of
Marshall County, were adamant. The road was approved through
Marshall County up to this township line, and again as soon as it
entered St. Joseph County. This little three- or four-mile strip
of road was the only link incomplete along the entire length of
the highway from Mobile to Canada.
It was now my job to crack through that human stone wall.
I had been quite intrigued in watching the strategy Mr.
Spaulding had employed in "selling" the Motor Club idea, and a
job for me, to the Board of Directors of the Chamber.
One morning we received a telegram at the Chamber of
Commerce from the Director of the Dixie Highway project in
Atlanta, Georgia. It stated tersely that he would be in South
Bend in a few days, and unless we had the highway completed
through this county south of us, the entire highway would be
re-routed by way of Chicago, and South Bend would lose out
This was the ammunition I needed.
This was the signal to spring to action, in high gear!
I decided our only chance was to utilize the same principle
of psychology Mr. Spaulding had used in putting the Motor Club
through with the Chamber directors. But this was tougher. I
decided it needed a big show -- a real "whoop and hurrah!" The only
way to break through the obduracy of those farmers was through
their emotions. I had learned, as an advertising principle, that
you can move people to action easier and quicker through their
emotions than through their reason.
I decided we had to appeal to both -- with terrific impact!
Hurriedly I called Mr. Hardy and Mr. Kuhns. I told them I
planned to stage a big rally that night at the little town of
Lapaz, in the very center of this reluctant township. I asked
them if they would come down and make an impassioned speech to
the farmers in favor of the Dixie Highway. When they had agreed
to this, I asked them if they would approve the expense, to be
paid by the Chamber of Commerce, of a big brass band to help get
out the crowd at Lapaz. Having agreed to speak, they couldn't
well refuse to approve the expense of the band. Mr. Spaulding
agreed to call other Board members and get the band approved.
Then I arranged for a big platform to be built during the
afternoon at Lapaz. These arrangements made, I borrowed my little
Saxon car and drove to Plymouth, county seat of Marshall County.
There I arranged with the telephone company to put through a
"general ring" on every rural party line in that township, and
notify all the people that there was to be a BIG RALLY that night
at Lapaz -- with a big brass band and noted speakers from South
Excitement of this kind was a very rare thing in such rural
areas in those days. I knew this would get all the people out. In
Plymouth I went first to the hotel, and wrote out the message I
wanted the telephone operators to announce over all their
telephone lines in that northern township. You may be sure I put
all the advertising punch I knew in that message.
This accomplished, I went to the office of the county
attorney. I explained my mission, and what the South Bend Chamber
was trying to do, and its value to Plymouth and Marshall County.
Then I asked him to draw up for me a legal petition for the
completion of the road improvements through this northern
township, with several sheets attached for signatures. He
dictated the legal document and his secretary typed it while I
Armed with this, I drove back to the vicinity of Lapaz. I
had previously obtained the names of four leading farmers in this
township, thought to be less hostile than most to the new
Now my REAL task began. I had to "sell" these four men on
the project in person, and I didn't dare fail on a one. I was
armed also with the telegram from Atlanta received that morning.
I had facts and figures on how the new highway would increase the
value of their farms, bring more trade to the towns of the
community, and in every way benefit the farmers.

The Big Show

With necessity as a prod, I succeeded. One by one these four key
farmers were won over. I explained that they would have to appear
ENTHUSIASTIC. All four finally agreed to act according to my
Now the stage was all set -- and not a bit too soon -- it was by
that time sundown.
The crowd began to arrive. The platform had been erected.
The delegation from South Bend arrived, and took its place on the
platform. I simply do not remember, now, whether I myself acted
as Master of Ceremonies or who, but it seems that this was done
by a leading businessman from South Bend.
The band struck up lively tunes, designed to whip up
emotional fervor. We got the crowd to singing, laughing, dancing,
shouting. It was a real show. Then the men selected as the best
public speakers in the South Bend Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Hardy
and Mr. Kuhns, gave their stirring impassioned speeches, reading
the telegram, telling the farmers it was their last
chance -- tonight or never! -- and the advantages to them, their
community, and probable increased value of their land that the
new highway would bring.
"Now, gentlemen, step right on up here and SIGN this
petition right now! Who'll be the first?" shouted all six feet
four of E. Louis Kuhns.
This was the signal. I shoved my number one farmer forward.
"I want to sign that petition right now!" shouted my first
"I'm for it! I want to sign it!" shouted out my number two
farmer, crowding forward to the platform.
"Me, too!" barked my third man. "This is just what this
community has been needing!"
"Hey! Let me through!" roared my number four farmer. "We ALL
want in on this! Come on, men -- let's ALL sign it!
And they all did. They all crowded forward and signed to put
the highway through! Every farmer who had been bitterly opposed
was carried away with the emotion of things, and was convinced
that everybody else was for it, so he might as well go along,
I had negotiated one more experience in learning to apply
the fifth law of success -- RESOURCEFULNESS -- in meeting problems
and handling obstacles.
The adamant wall was cracked!
The Dixie Highway was built -- today known as U.S. 31, now a
major paved highway from Canada to the Gulf. And, to my readers
who live along U.S. Highway 31, this is the story of how the last
link of your highway was put through, and how it finally came
into being! Arriving in Danville "Broke" The two to four months
spent in Chamber of Commerce work in South Bend had been valuable
experience as part of the groundwork for later
accomplishments -- but far from profitable as immediate financial

Arriving in Danville "Broke"

The two to four months spent in Chamber of Commerce work in South
Bend had been valuable experience as part of the groundwork for
later accomplishments -- but far from profitable as immediate
financial return.
It seemed that I was doing as well as could be expected.
Many multiple memberships had been sold. But I was running behind
financially. I was living in a small room with an alcove bed in
the YMCA. I ate mostly either at the "Y" cafeteria or the coffee
shop in the Oliver Hotel, inexpensively. Yet I was running into
debt. And the "cream" -- the multiple memberships sold to leading
businessmen and Chamber members -- had all been skimmed off, and it
had become a matter of soliciting single memberships at $2 per
person. My commission of 25% was not sufficient to keep me going.
Finally the decision had to be made to leave. I should have
taken this problem up with Mr. Spaulding, or Mr. Kuhns, but I was
too embarrassed to go to them about a personal financial problem.
Actually I took the more embarrassing course, as I was to learn
later. It is always best to face a problem and solve it. Running
away from it is never the solution. I left debts behind in South
Bend. Later, when they became very pressing and I was still
unable to pay them, I wrote to Mr. Kuhns.
I had by then learned that the standard rate of commission
on activities similar to mine in South Bend was 50%. Actually I
had been only half paid. I wrote to Mr. Kuhns about this, to see
whether the Chamber of Commerce could rectify the mistake and pay
me the additional 25% which I actually had earned. He replied
that, on investigation, he had confirmed my contention that the
commission should have been 50%. But he maintained it was then
too late. Had I come to him about it before leaving South Bend,
he said, something might have been done to adjust the commission
properly. Of course he was a millionaire, and without missing the
change he could have paid these small debts and cleared the good
name of a barely 23-year-old chap, who had, in this instance,
been the victim of an unintentional injustice. But that did not
seem to be the way millionaires get to be millionaires!
A year or more before I had come to South Bend, the Chamber
had employed an assistant secretary, whose name, I believe, was
Vaughn. He had visited South Bend while I was there, was about my
age, and I had become acquainted with him. He was now secretary
of the Chamber at Danville, Illinois.
Why I took the train from South Bend directly to Danville I
do not remember. Apparently I had thought, or Mr. Spaulding had
thought, that Vaughn might be able to turn up something for me to
do in Danville. And I had to get something else to do
immediately! I had barely enough money to get me to Danville.
Arriving in Danville one morning, stone-"broke," not even a
dime, I went first to call on Vaughn, but he had absolutely
nothing for me -- not even any ideas.
I walked back down on the street. I had no money for lunch.
I had no money for a place to sleep that night. I was too proud
to beg. Actually, that thought didn't even occur to me -- I'm
merely stating it now. My experience indicates that no honest man
ever begs. I have given to many beggars on the street, and have
put many of them to many different tests to see if I could find
an honest one. Some had a "line" that sounded real sincere. But
not one ever proved honest. I think the police will tell you
there is no such thing as an honest beggar.
Perhaps some are like one I knew of in Vancouver,
Washington -- though most are not as successful. This fellow could
throw his body into a pitiful-appearing contortion, put a
pleading, pity-arousing expression on his face, hold up his hat
with some cheap pencils in it from his squatting position on a
busy corner, and wring the hearts of passers-by. Then every
evening he would get up, limp a few blocks to his Cadillac parked
on a back side street, unkink his legs and spine, and gingerly
hop into his car and drive home to his wife who wore an expensive
mink coat!
King David knew human nature. He said, "I have been young,
and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor
his seed begging bread" (Ps. 37:25). No, honest people just never
do beg!

Enforced Resourcefulness

Perhaps I should never have come to realize that RESOURCEFULNESS
is one of the seven laws of success, or to have acquired any of
that ingredient, had circumstances not forced it upon me!
If so, I'm grateful for the dilemma!
Here I was, almost 2,000 miles away from my parents, with no
place I could call home, just arrived in a strange city, "BROKE!"
I had to think! -- and think FAST!!
One thing came to my mind in this emergency. The surveys of
retail business conditions I had made in Richmond, Kentucky, and
in Lansing, Michigan, had been sensational in what they had
uncovered. They had been of very great value to the merchants of
those cities. While I had been in Des Moines, after resigning
from the Merchants Trade Journal, Mr. Boreman and I had talked
about the idea that there ought to be some way of selling these
surveys to merchants so that such investigations might be made
But no way to sell the idea had occurred to us.
Unfortunately men will not pay money to hire an investigator to
find out what's wrong about them -- to discover and show them their
faults and mistakes, and to criticize them.
The thought came that Danville was an ideal size city for
such a survey. But how could I induce anyone to pay me a fee to
unearth the mistakes the local retailers were making?
"I've got it!" The idea flashed to mind. "I'll sell the idea
to the local NEWSPAPER. Why, this kind of information I dig up in
a survey is just the ammunition the advertising department of the
newspaper needs to sell bigger advertising space to the
merchants! It's just the information they need to show the
merchants how to write their copy -- what individual merchants need
to do inside their stores to make their advertising bring in
better results! WHY didn't I ever think of this before?"
With brisk and confident steps, I walked into the office of
the business manager of Danville's daily newspaper.
Enthusiastically I told him of the surveys I had made -- the
national sensation they had created in The Journal -- the value to
the merchants -- and how this information could be used to perhaps
double the advertising revenue of his paper.
"I'll buy it!" exclaimed the business manager without a
moment's hesitation. "How much is it going to cost?"

Caught Flat-footed

He snapped out his decision as if he was afraid I might change my
mind about being willing to do the investigation if he delayed.
His answer came so suddenly it caught me flat-footed!
The FEE? I hadn't thought of that! I was so bent on solving
my dilemma and getting some money into my pocket before lunch
time that I had not thought the idea quite that far through. I
had no time to think.
"Why," I blurted out, "Fifty dollars, I guess."
Again I had far underestimated the value of my services. As
I found out later, I should have said $500, and he would have
paid it just as readily! Actually I did later put on a number of
surveys for $500 fees. These experiences will be covered in due
I had outlined to this newspaperman that I proposed to get
at least 100 interviews with consumers, so selected as to be
representative of the whole population, even out into the country
and neighboring suburban towns; I was to obtain as much
information as possible from local banks, the express company,
post office, freight houses, etc., as to mail-order business and
trading in Chicago stores. All my information was to be
typewritten in detail, accurately tabulated and summarized, with
separate PRIVATE reports and recommendations for each major local
store. The newspaper was to arrange a dinner at which all local
retailers were to be invited, and I was to give a talk, revealing
what I had found.
So, on blurting out the $50 fee, I added:
"I'd like a $10 advance right now, the privilege of drawing
another $10 during the survey, and the balance when I turn over
to you the complete typed report and summary on the night of the
dinner." This was to be either the third, or the fourth night.
Actually I had cheated myself out of $450! nevertheless, the
predicament was solved. I walked out of his office with ten
dollars in my pocket! I ate lunch! And I slept that night at the
It certainly could have been worse! What I really did was to
pay $450 to learn another lesson. Experience is a DEAR teacher!
But, truly, "the laborer is worthy of his hire!" This experience
helped me to learn that it is not wrong to charge a fair and just
price for services or commodities, and that an employer should
not underpay employees.
The business manager of that newspaper must have realized,
at least after receiving my 40- or 50-page typed report and
analysis, that the professional effort and "know-how" that went
into that investigation was worth several times the little fee I
had spontaneously blurted out. But, in the business world,
"business is business!" He paid what he agreed. No more!
This world's way is based on selfishness, greed,
competition -- GETTING all you can, giving as little as
possible -- the profit principle. Our world-girding enterprises of
today have been based on the giving, serving principle -- and this
way of doing things has built a major-sized organization that has
been eminently successful -- serving and benefitting millions

A New Job

The merchandising survey was completed, typed, summarized, data
tabulated and analyzed in some three or four high-pressure days.
The dinner given by the newspaper for the merchants of
Danville was well attended. My report of the investigation, as
had been the case at Richmond and Lansing, was something of a
bombshell. It really shook up the merchants to learn existing
facts about their own businesses and their own town of which they
had been totally unaware.
Nevertheless, a young man barely twenty-three is still just
a "young man" to others of senior maturity. I didn't realize it
then, but even the brilliancy of this report did not conceal the
obvious fact that I was a youngster, and probably in need of a
job. I do think, however, that this investigation and the
revelations it disclosed gave these businessmen the impression
that I was a fairly "live" young man who would be a valuable
employee, because four or five of them tried to employ me. And I
was in no position to turn down a job.
I took the job that appeared, at the time, to be most
promising. It was with the Benjamin Piano Company, selling
pianos. I devoted a month or two in determined effort, and never
sold a single piano!
This perfect goose-egg record reminds me of the "punch line"
of old "Lightnin' Bill Jones" in a play that broke all records on
Broadway some 38 or 40 years ago. Old "Lightnin' Bill" was a
likable good-for-nothing old codger who knew all, and had done
"Yep," he exclaimed at the climax of the show, "I was in the
bee business once. Drove a swarm of bees clear across the desert,
and never lost a bee!"
I managed to get pianos in many houses, on trial, and never
sold a piano!
I learned something about the piano business. It was not
conducted like other businesses. The method was to work through
piano teachers. The piano teachers always had prospective
customers -- homes where a child was at the age for learning to
play the piano. The company had a number of piano teachers
working for it in Danville, and over its entire trade territory.
The teachers supplied us with the names of prospects they had
already approached with the idea of lessons for their children.
Then I would call and try to talk the parents into giving the
child lessons -- which necessitated the purchase of a piano. I
would induce them to let me put a new piano in the home on
trial -- without any obligation to buy. Then I would notify the
teacher, and she would "accidentally" happen to be passing by,
and drop in for a friendly call -- discover the piano, play it,
tell the people it had a wonderful tone, and a perfect action,
and highly recommend that they buy it.

Unfair Competition

This seemed like a "sure fire" method of selling pianos.
There was just one thing wrong with this setup.
I soon found that our competitors also had piano teachers
working for them! I knew, of course, that our store paid a
commission to their piano teachers if the sale was made. What I
didn't know was that our competitors paid a commission to their
teachers if they could knock the sale of a Benjamin piano, once
it had been moved into a home on trial.
When I called back at a home a few days after placing a
trial piano in it, I usually found the woman angry.
"Why did you talk me into letting you bring that old tin pan
into my home?" she would demand. "I want you to send your truck
and get this out of here at once! Miss Anderson is a music
teacher, and she happened to call on us, and she tried out this
piano and told us it was no good!"
I had been successful selling advertising space, but as a
piano salesman I was a total flop. That kind of competition
seemed to me so absolutely rotten, foul, and unfair I simply
refused flatly to try to combat it. Getting a local music teacher
to recommend a good piano, which I knew was worth recommending,
and paying her a commission, seemed legitimate. But employing a
teacher to go into homes and lie about competitors' pianos was a
dishonest method I refused to engage in. Instead I permitted
disgust and resentment to discourage me on the entire dirty
business. Also I found there was no honesty in pricing pianos.
They were usually far overpriced at the start, and the salesman
was expected to keep cutting the price until he sold the
instrument. This is not necessarily true of the best quality
pianos. And I am talking about 1915 practices.
I never believed in price-cutting. A product or a service
ought to be fairly and honestly priced in the first place, and
then the price maintained.
I have learned that men fall into two classifications, so
far as salesmanship is concerned. Some men are born to be
salesmen -- others are not. Even the man with the hereditary
aptitude for it must learn. But salesmen are of two kinds. One
can sell a commodity, the other can sell an idea. I was of this
latter type. As a piano salesman I was a square peg in a round

Back Into Advertising

Of course I had been keeping in touch with my uncle, Frank
Armstrong, by occasional letter. He realized I had become
sidetracked again, and came to my rescue.
About the time it became evident to me, and also to Mr.
Benjamin, that I was not headed for an overwhelming success as a
piano salesman, I received a letter from Uncle Frank saying he
had lined up a temporary job for me, putting on a special "Bank
Building" number for The Northwestern Banker. This publication
was a leading sectional bank journal, read by bankers in Iowa,
Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Nebraska.
Without delay I landed back in Des Moines. At that time a
large number of banks, especially small country banks, had been
erecting new bank buildings -- some were small bank buildings
occupied solely by the bank -- some were multiple-story office
buildings, with the bank occupying the ground floor.
The magazine had conceived the idea of a special number
devoted to the subject of new buildings. I was to sell ads to as
many as possible of those banks who had constructed new
buildings, showing a picture of the new buildings in the ads.
Newspapers are always working up special issues, with the
purpose of selling special one-time advertising space. I did not
believe in these special issues -- and I detested them, after this
experience, to the point that thereafter I always refused to take
part in them.
Actually there was no benefit to be gained by the bank in
buying a page or a half-page in this special bank building
number, except to enjoy the vanity of seeing a picture of their
new building in this trade journal, with the knowledge that most
of the other bankers in these five states would see it also. But,
that's the way business is done. One of the strongest advertising
appeals is vanity. You'll see it constantly on TV commercials,
and especially in all the women's magazines and the newspapers,
utilized by cosmetics manufacturers, automobile and cigarette
companies, and many other industries. Advertising men appeal to
human weaknesses a great deal in order to sell goods.
I started with a trip through the southern half of Iowa. I
was making very disappointing headway. The truth is, my heart
wasn't really in it, for I realized I was selling nothing more
valuable than flattery.

Selling a Sales Manager

One incident occurred on this trip which might contain some
interest. At Red Oak, in Southwestern Iowa, was a nationally
prominent calendar factory. What idea I had in mind as to how
they could profitably use advertising space in a sectional bank
journal I do not remember. But I do remember that I called to see
the sales manager. He refused to see me.
This only made me determined. Of all people, I felt a sales
manager had no right to refuse to see a salesman.
I went to my hotel room, and wrote him a brief and very
pointed letter. I reminded him that he sent salesmen all over the
United States to call on customers and sell his company's
product. Also I reminded him that if his salesmen met with the
kind of treatment he accorded me, his factory would soon be
covered over with rustimania instead of the beautiful green ivy
vines that covered it then. I didn't mind being turned down if
what I had to sell did not fit in with his program or prove
profitable to use. But I did demand at least a hearing!
I rushed with the letter to the post office, registered it,
and mailed it special delivery, to be delivered to and signed by
addressee only. I knew the special delivery mail carrier would
get in to him.
This strategy got me the interview. As I remember it, I did
not sell him any advertising space. But I did have the
satisfaction of gaining the interview. That cockiness and conceit
that pervaded my personality in those days was full of persistent
determination, and a difficult thing for another to turn down.
I guess the lesson that came to mind on Goat Island at
Niagara Falls on December 25, 1913, had its effect. Obstacles
were things to find a way around, or over, or through, or under.
Resourcefulness, coupled with determined drive, remember, are two
of the seven laws of success. "Where there's a will there's a
WAY!" I hope some of this will rub off on my readers. Not the
egotistic conceit -- but the determination, resourcefulness, and
right principles of a true success.

Success Out of Failure

This swing through Southern Iowa was anything but a success.
Clifford DePuy (pronounced DePew), publisher of The
Northwestern Banker, was discouraged. I think he was willing to
call it "quits" and write off the expenses and advanced drawing
account of my efforts so far as a loss. But again Uncle Frank
came to the rescue.
"I've always noticed," he said, "that salesmen who fail in
Southern Iowa usually succeed in the northern part of the state.
I don't think you'd better give up yet. My advice, Cliff, is to
send Herbert up into Northern and Northwestern Iowa, and see if
the results are not different." Mr. DePuy agreed to one more
In the northern half of the state I began to sell ads, and
it soon became apparent that we would publish the special bank
building number, after all.
Several of the new bank buildings I visited had been
constructed by The Lytle Company, of Sioux City. I was especially
impressed by the fact that officers of these Lytle-built banks
were far more than ordinarily enthusiastic about this company and
its methods. They worked on the cost-plus basis. Most bankers
told me they considered this the most economical way to build,
provided one is certain he is dealing with a fully competent and
thoroughly honest contractor. This construction company was
headed by Mr. J. A. Raven, and all bankers who had dealt with the
company spoke highly of him. I jotted down their comments.
An idea was beginning to perk in my mind.
Arriving in Sioux City, I waited outside the Lytle Company
office building at noontime until I saw Mr. Raven go out to
lunch. I was not ready to see him -- yet! Then I walked in, and
from his secretary obtained all his catalogs, circulars, printed
matter, and especially photographs or cuts of several of these
bank buildings I had visited.
Next I proceeded to a stationery store and procured a large
sheet of good quality drawing paper, somewhere near 14 x 26
inches in size. The next three days were spent in my hotel room.
Down in Des Moines, Cliff DePuy was getting grey-haired
wondering what had happened to his new salesman. I had nothing to
report, until I had completed my idea. I did put on the pressure,
but it had to be just "right," and it took time.
At the end of three days, I had produced a very forceful
complete FOUR-PAGE advertisement, with attractive layout sketched
and carefully designed on this large sheet of drawing paper,
replete with cuts of several bank buildings. It contained
statements from these bankers, which I had jotted down while in
their banks, expressing their full satisfaction with Mr. Raven's
system of building construction. It even contained the
endorsement of The Northwestern Banker, which I felt safe in
offering, based on such unanimous approval from so many banks.
The ad, of course, invited banks and bankers to write for catalog
and a consultation with Mr. Raven with a view to constructing a
new bank home for them.

Selling a BIG Ad

At last I was ready to see Mr. Raven. When I walked in and showed
him this big layout of a four-page insert, he almost fainted. It
happened he was a regular advertiser in The Northwestern
Banker -- he ran a tiny sixteenth-of-a-page card every month!
The audacity of trying to jump him from a sixteenth of a
page to four full pages seemed incredibly preposterous! Of
course, I knew it would. I was prepared for that.
Mr. Raven was a calm, steady, conservative type of man.
"Why!" he exclaimed, "we couldn't afford to run an ad
anywhere near that big!"
"On the contrary, Mr. Raven," I rejoined, "you can't afford
not to run it. Now let me read this ad to you. I want you to HEAR
it, before you decide. Here! You hold this layout, and see with
your eyes where each bit of text matter will be printed, among
these big headlines and pictures of banks you've built."
Of course, he wanted to hear it. But he was convinced he
didn't want to buy it.
One thing I had learned at the Merchants Trade Journal was
the effective method of selling advertising copy. There must be a
well-designed and very attractive dummy, or layout, with the
headlines sketched in, the pictures or illustrations showing, and
boxes or horizontal lines showing where the smaller text matter
will be printed. The idea was to let the prospective advertiser
hold and look at this attractive dummy, while I held and read the
typed text matter, putting into it all the emphasis where it
belonged, and the proper tone of enthusiasm and drive.
This layout was very attractive -- Mr. Raven had to admit
that! The ad certainly sounded convincing! He admitted that!
Running in this special number, devoted to new bank buildings, it
ought to have a terrific impact. He couldn't get around that!
"Yes," he said, "that's all true enough. But -- FOUR PAGES!
Why, that's unheard of! We can't afford anything like that!"
"Yes," I agreed, remembering John R. Patterson's sales
strategy, "it is certainly UNHEARD OF! The bankers of these five
states have never seen anything as audacious, as important
looking, as a FOUR PAGE AD! And that's the very reason you can
afford it, Mr. Raven! Now look! This entire four-page ad is going
to cost only $160. The very smallest country bank jobs you get
run around $8,000, and your bigger jobs into the hundreds of
thousands. You construct on a 10% fee basis for yourself. Your
profit on just one tiny little $8,000 country bank building is
$800. If this big ad results in bringing you only one little
$8,000 job, it will have paid you, won't it?"
"Well, yes, I suppose it would," he replied thoughtfully. "I
never thought of advertising in that way, I guess."
"And, be honest, now," I pursued. "How many new construction
jobs do you think you really ought to get as a result of a
dominating ad like that?"
"Why, I should think it ought to bring us several new jobs,"
he admitted. "Mr. Armstrong, I guess you've shown me a new and
more effective way to advertise. But I, myself could never have
designed and written an ad like that. Yes, I think that ad will
really pay! All right, we'll run it, and see what happens!"

Paying for Vanity

Leaving the Lytle Company office, I literally ran back to the
Hotel Martin, and from my room called Cliff DePuy in Des Moines.
"Where have you been? What in the world's happened to you?"
he demanded on hearing my voice. "Have you sold any space yet?"
"Have I!" I exclaimed. "I've spent the past three days
writing up an entire FOUR PAGE insert for this special number,
and I sold it to Mr. Raven of the Lytle Company!"
"WHAT!" he gasped, unbelievingly. "Say that again!"
I learned later that Cliff forgot momentarily that he was a
grown man, all 6 feet 3 of him, and all 28 or 30 years of him, as
his age was at that time, and that he jumped up and down for glee
like a little boy, and then took off a half holiday and ran out
to tell every banker in the city that we were running a whole
FOUR PAGE ad in the next issue! Never had anything that big been
heard of!
Before describing the result of that ad, I must recount,
here, an incident that occurred at this same time while I was in
Sioux City.
Mr. Raven told me he knew where I could sell a full page to
a bank. He grinned as he explained. Up in Royal, Iowa, a little
town of perhaps less than 500 population about 80 miles northeast
of Sioux City, he had built two small bank buildings. On
completion of the first one, the bank across the street called
him in. The president said he had watched the Lytle Company's
work, had checked up on them and was convinced of their
reliability and honesty, and had decided to employ them to build
a new building for his bank.
"Now, can you tell me how much that little new building
across the street cost?" he asked.
Mr. Raven said it had cost $8,000. (Remember, this was 1915.
The same building would cost immensely more today.)
"Well, Mr. Raven, we want you to draw up plans right away to
build a $16,000 bank for us."
It was going to take an entire day to go to Royal and back,
on the slow branch line railroads in that country. But I decided
a sure-fire page ad was worth it.
I arrived in Royal and went immediately to this larger bank.
I had a full page ad designed, with a picture of the building,
which I had obtained from Mr. Raven. Also I had a layout of
another full page with a picture of the smaller bank across the
street, which I managed carelessly to permit this banker to see.
"Well, that ad looks nice," commented this bank president,
"but Mr. Armstrong there's no reason for us to advertise in the
Northwestern Banker. We have nothing to sell to other banks."
This was only too true. Today my conscience would not let me
sell such an ad. There was only one reason for him to buy
it -- VANITY. And, perhaps, spite, or competitive spirit to prevent
his competitor across the street from getting it. But I was
prepared with the answer.
"Well," I said, "in that case, I suppose I'll have to see
the bank across the street. You see, this is an EXCLUSIVE
proposition. Just one ad is sold in each town. If you take it,
the other bank can't run their ad. If they do, then you can't.
And it really is too bad -- for now I suppose all your fellow
bankers you know and meet at the group meetings and state
conventions will see the picture of that little bank across the
street, and they won't even know that you have a building twice
as big and fine."
I emphasize, I would refuse to use such a sales appeal to
vanity and jealousy today. It was almost pitiful, when he asked,
like a whipped dog, "How much did you say this page is going to
cost?" as he reached for a pen and signed the one time space
contract without another word.
Yes, I learned that there is jealousy and a spirit of
competition among dignified and conservative bankers, just as
there is between other humans.

Result-Getting Ads

After this Sioux City episode, I worked my way, selling a few
page and half-page ads to banks which had constructed new
buildings along the way, on over to Charles City, Iowa. In
Charles City was another company which ran regular but small ads
in the Northwestern Banker, The Fisher Company, manufacturers of
bank fixtures and interiors.
They worked to some extent with the Lytle Company, since
they installed most of the interior of a bank, including the
cages and counters.
Here, again, I took a couple days or so, first getting their
catalog, with illustrations of many of their interiors of banks,
and designed and wrote a double-page spread for them. By the same
method used with Mr. Raven, this double spread was sold to Mr.
Both this two-page ad, and the Lytle Company four-page ad
produced unexpected results, and each sold a number of new jobs.
Before the next issue of the trade paper went to press, I
called again at both Sioux City and Charles City, and each
company signed up on a yearly basis, the Lytle Company for a full
page or more each issue, and the Fisher Company for a half page
or more each issue.
Actually, through the following seven years each company
never used less than this minimum space, but many, many times the
Lytle Company used double pages, and the Fisher Company full
pages, and, I believe, a few more double page ads. These ads,
which I continued to write for them over a span of the next seven
years, proved very profitable to them, and expanded their
For a few months I continued to work around in Iowa, using
the procedure of selling advertising space for ads I had already
written before calling on prospective advertisers.

Developing a Business

By this process a temporary one-month special-issue job was
converted into not only a steady job, but a developing and
growing business of my own.
I had taken this special issue job on a commission basis,
with a drawing account of, I believe, $40 per week, as an advance
from the publication to cover expenses. This drawing account was
deducted from commissions earned. The commission basis, common
for all publications of this class, was 40%.
In other words, publishers of bank journals and similar
publications had found that it actually cost them 40% of the sell
space, regardless of the method used in paying -- whether salary
and expense, commission, or what.
Clifford DePuy had, at that time, been the publisher of the
Northwestern Banker only a comparatively short time -- possibly two
or three years. His father had been editor and publisher before
him. But when the elder DePuy had died suddenly, the entire
responsibility came crushing down on Cliff's shoulders. His
father had been most highly respected by the bankers of the
Central Northwest, and very popular personally.
Clifford DePuy had been attending an art school or something
of the kind. He had not established any great reputation as a
success. But now he held a serious and a frank conference at the
bank which held the publication's account.
Actually he and the elder DePuy's family were shocked to
learn the magazine had been left heavily in debt. But on
condition Cliff would make a real fight to save the publication,
the bank offered to back him as long as his efforts remained
promising for the future. He agreed to roll up both sleeves,
plunge into the business, do everything in his power to preserve
the publication. The bankers of the Northwest had a real love for
this journal. They didn't want to see it suspend publication.
Although Cliff was inexperienced in this field, they agreed to
back him.
I recount this experience here because it is one that
frequently occurs and it illustrates a principle. The sudden
plunging of heavy responsibility on one often brings him to an
awakening, provides heretofore lacking incentive, arouses dormant
abilities. This new responsibility suddenly descending on
Clifford DePuy stirred him to intensive and dynamic action, and
brought out dormant qualities and abilities. In a few short years
he had developed the publication into a very profitable
enterprise with adequate reserves. Later he expanded, purchasing
other publications. He became a successful publisher.
Cliff and I had a business relationship together for the
next seven years. He was tall, about six feet three as I
remember, aggressive -- a human dynamo. I respected his abilities,
and I'm sure he respected mine. Later, in Chicago, he
periodically came in, once or twice a year, and we would spend a
couple or three days calling on prospective advertisers together.
We flattered ourselves in those days that we were an unbeatable
team. We both worked at a terrific pace, and we fancied
prospective advertisers found us almost impossible to turn down.
I think we did pack quite a persuasive wallop at that!
After a month or two of soliciting advertising accounts for
the Northwestern Banker over the state of Iowa, it seemed
advisable for me to go in to Chicago.

Chapter 8
Becoming a Publishers' Representative

IT WAS now the fall of 1915. By this time I had a considerable
amount of valuable experience behind me.
I had reached the age when most students had graduated from
college -- twenty-three. All this time I had continued my studies,
delving into many subjects, including philosophy and psychology,
but my "major," of course, had been journalism, advertising,
selling, and merchandising, along with business management. This
study had been combined with intensive "field experience" in
contacts and dealings with businessmen over most of the United
States, discussing business methods and problems with them.

Practical vs. Theoretical Education

This education was far more practical than theoretical classroom
instruction out of textbooks usually written by professors
utterly lacking in practical experience. Nevertheless, I
frequently wondered, in those days, how my education would stack
up with that of most college graduates. Later I was to find out.
You will remember, as recounted in the earlier part of this
autobiography, that at age eighteen I had faced, and answered,
the question of going to college. I had chosen the advertising
profession. There were no worthwhile courses available in
advertising in the colleges and universities at that time.
On the advice of my uncle, Frank Armstrong, leading
advertising man in Iowa, I had decided on a course of self-study
combined with active experience. I had, except for deviations
from my goal, chosen the jobs that would provide the training I
needed for the future, rather than the jobs which paid the most.
Then I purchased books, and borrowed books from public
libraries, beside subscribing to the trade journals in the
advertising field, Printers Ink, and Advertising & Selling. I
read a great deal of Elbert Hubbard's writings, and continually
studied and analyzed the best advertisements in newspapers and
leading magazines. Also, I read a great deal in certain general
magazines, such as the Quality Group of those days, especially
World's Work. I confined my reading in magazines to informative
and thought-provoking articles, resisting fiction almost
altogether. Fiction is the lazy man's reading. Like the movies,
and today's TV programs, it is merely a ready-made daydream,
inducing habits of mind-drifting.
These years of self-assigned study enforced mental activity,
contacts with successful men in many varied fields, coupled with
the practical experience that had been mine, had produced an
education and training superior to the average college education.
As president of a liberal arts college with three campuses
on two continents today, I can say that this intensive education
from the university of hard knocks and practical experience in
application has made possible a college offering today's students
a sound and practical education acquiring the true values! And
supplying the "MISSING DIMENSION" in education.

Moving to Chicago

My work on the one issue special bank building number of the
Northwestern Banker had been converted into a regular job as
advertising solicitor, on a 40% commission basis, with a drawing
Right here I hope I may interject a success principle of
which the vast majority seem totally unaware. Here was a
temporary job, doing a special one month edition of a small class
journal. But it offered larger opportunities. Those greater
possibilities were visualized, and acted upon! The temporary job
was turned into a steady job as advertising solicitor for one
sectional bank journal. And it led from these to establishing a
successful business as Publishers' Representative in Chicago.
This is the quality, rare among people (but why should it
be?), called VISION. This job on one sectional journal later was
developed into a business as publishers' representative for nine
bank magazines. Most men are never able to see any possibilities
of expanding their present jobs. They do merely what they are
told -- what someone higher up thought out and laid before them. Or
they use deceit to jerk the rug out from under the man above
The Bible says that if we do only what we are
commanded -- what is expected of us -- we are "unprofitable servants"
to be cast out "into outer darkness."
Most people go to one extreme or the other. While the big
majority never think beyond their present jobs -- never think out
ways to do the job better, or to develop or expand their own job
into something bigger, or to be preparing themselves for the
better jobs ahead and promotions to them, a minority go to the
opposite extreme. They are always trying to do the job ahead -- or
the boss's job -- without adequate ability, preparation or
experience, and only throw monkey wrenches into the gears,
causing damage, lacking wisdom and judgment.
Most men never seem to realize how the application of some
of these principles makes all the difference between employee and
employer; between mediocrity or failure and success.
Back to the story. I had now developed the opportunity into
a job. But the field in Iowa was too limited. The nation's
advertising headquarters centered in two cities -- New York and
Chicago. After a month or two of developing a few accounts in
Iowa, chief of which had been the Lytle Company and the Fisher
Company, I moved into Chicago.
I made my home at the old Hotel Del Prado, a southside
residential hotel on the Midway, adjacent to the University of
Chicago. The one personal friend I had in Chicago at the time was
Ralph G. Johnson, manager of the Merchant's Trade Journal's
Chicago office, and I moved into the Del Prado because he lived
The old Del Prado has long since been torn down, and a new
skyscraper Del Prado erected over on the lake shore. The old one
was a sprawling three or four-story frame building, well
maintained as a first class residential hotel. Most cities have
residential hotels, and I learned that they are a most
satisfactory type of residence for single people, whether young
or old.
Very soon I came to know most of the residents of the Del
Prado. The hotel provided a weekly Wednesday night dance for all
guests. The dining room was cleared to provide the dance floor.
There were spacious lobbies and lounge rooms. There was a sort of
unwritten law among guests which dictated that if one desired
social contact, he would find almost any of the other guests
receptive and friendly; or, if he preferred privacy, or to sit
alone in the lobby, no one would intrude.
I lived at the Del Prado almost two years -- until a certain
Iowa girl came to Chicago to become my wife. This privilege of
living in a large metropolitan residential hotel was one of the
cultural and valued experiences of all those formative years. It
supplied one of those social-cultural influences which many
college students receive by residence in a fraternity house -- but
without some of the evils of frat life.
I soon observed that the most popular girl at the Wednesday
night dances -- or chatting in the lobbies at any other time -- was
Miss Lucy Cunningham. Miss Lucy, as everybody called her, was a
white-haired maiden lady in her seventies. She was especially
popular with all the single young men. A few University of
Chicago co-eds lived at the Del Prado with their mothers. But
often these attractive and intelligent young co-eds were forced
to play the role of wallflowers during a dance, while Miss Lucy
was always in demand!
She was a charming conversationalist, witty, intelligent,
well educated. We fellows spent many an exhilarating evening hour
chatting with her in one of the lobby rooms -- usually three or
four young men around Miss Lucy. That was long before cigarette
smoking became habitual with the female sex. In those days it was
not generally accepted as being "nice" for a lady to smoke.
Prostitutes smoked, but not "nice" women. Miss Lucy, however, was
a "nice" woman who was a little ahead of her time. She was "nice"
all right, but she dared to do what she wanted. Miss Lucy smoked
cigarettes! Whenever another guest walked past the grouping of
sofas and lounge chairs where we were sitting with her, she would
casually hand her cigarette over to one of the fellows, who would
hold it until the way was clear again. Probably not many, except
a number of the young men residents, ever knew her addiction to
I didn't like to see her smoke. It has always seemed
disgusting to me to see any woman smoke. But, remember, I was
young then, and fancied I was quite "broad-minded" about such
things. I was not naive. No one is wholly good or bad, and I
liked Miss Lucy for the things that were good about her.
Besides, I myself smoked in those days. You'll remember how
I "swore off chewing" tobacco at age 5. But I had taken up pipe
smoking during those long and frantic night hours at Wiggins,
Mississippi, as an aid to staying awake while I worked over the
books. I had smoked, moderately, ever since. However, I will say
that I was never a heavy smoker. Never more than one cigar a day,
or three or four cigarettes in a day. That's the reason I did not
have the battle many men have had in breaking the habit, when I
saw that it had to be broken. My battles with myself were in
other directions.

An Office of My Own

The first time in my life I had an office of my own was in
Chicago. On arriving there from Iowa, now representing the
Northwestern Banker, I opened an office in the Advertising
Building, at 123 West Madison Street, in the heart of Chicago's
Loop. This location was only a half block off South LaSalle
Street, which is the "Wall Street" of Chicago. Most of the great
banks and investment houses (of Chicago) are located on this
The Advertising Building was occupied solely by advertising
agencies, publishing firms, publishers' representatives, or those
of allied lines in the advertising field. The Ad Club, a division
of the Chicago Association of Commerce, had its club rooms there.
The name of this tall but slender skyscraper has been
changed at least twice since then. Not many would remember it as
the Advertising Building today.
Actually, I did not quite open an office, as yet. The fourth
floor of this building consisted of one large general room, with
a tier of private offices forming an "L" around the far side and
the rear of the floor. This large general room was filled with a
number of desks. At first, I rented merely desk space in this
open room. It was about two years before my business expanded to
the point where I required, and was able to afford, a private
office; and then I rented one on that same floor. Altogether I
maintained office facilities on that same floor for seven years.
At the entrance of this desk-space room was a telephone
switchboard and a receptionist. She served all tenants on that
floor, taking telephone messages when tenants were out. Through
this entire seven years of my tenancy there, the same alert,
quick-thinking receptionist remained at that switchboard. Her
name was Olive Graham. She had an astonishingly remarkable
faculty. She could remember every telephone number that had been
given to her for days, and precisely when the call had come in.
On one occasion, a man attempted to alibi his failure to
call me by claiming that he had called, and left his telephone
number for me to call. I took his telephone and called our
switchboard -- Randolph 2-100.
"Olive," I said, "Mr. Blank says he called me three days
ago, when I was out, and left his number, Blank 8-693, for me to
"No, Mr. Armstrong," replied Olive promptly. "No Mr. Blank
called three days ago, and no one left the number Blank 8-693."
That was positive proof. Olive was never mistaken. Mr. Blank
was forced to admit he had not made the call. How that girl could
carry hundreds of telephone numbers in her mind I could never
understand. I never knew her to miss.

Advertising Tractors to Bankers

Some little time after setting up my own headquarters in Chicago,
I had what might appear to be a most absurd "brainstorm." Those
on our present staff and our architects well know that these
"brainstorms" have a way of continuing, even today.
They may seem ridiculous or absurd at first thought. But
more often than not they have proven to be very practical and
worthwhile ideas. You see, while I was touring the country as the
"Idea Man" for the Merchants Trade Journal, my job was to look
for IDEAS -- practical ideas -- ideas that had been put to work, and
had proven successful. That experience taught me the value of
In the aptitude tests given prospective employees by one
large corporation, one of the questions was: "Do you ever
daydream?" 99 out of 100 applicants, if they were putting down
the answers they supposed the company wanted, rather than the
actual truth, would most surely have answered "No!" Actually, the
company was looking for men who do daydream in a certain manner.
Not the kind of daydreaming that lets the mind stagnate and drift
without thinking -- but the kind of thinking daydreaming that
utilizes imagination -- that thinks up IDEAS, and then mentally
puts them to every test to see whether they will work!
To climb the ladder of ultimate success in accomplishment,
one must exercise VISION, and, supplementary to it,
IMAGINATION -- the kind of active, practical THINKING that produces
sound and workable IDEAS! The college in which I was trained
taught me these things. The average college education, however,
fails to inculcate anything of this nature.
This "brainstorm" -- or IDEA -- was the selling of large
advertising space in the BANK journals to farm tractor
manufacturers. Certainly no one had ever heard of such an
apparently preposterous idea before. But it worked, and it paid
the farm tractor industry in a big way -- and, incidentally, it put
me above the $50,000- a-year income class (in terms of today's
dollar) while still a youth in my twenties.
However, that idea required time to develop.
At first, my work in Chicago confined me primarily to the
solicitation of advertising from banks and investment houses
which had not previously used space in the Northwestern Banker.
Although I was required to call on, and render any desired
service to the financial institutions which were already
advertising in the Northwestern Banker, I received no commission
from any of this, but only on such new accounts as I developed
This journal was already carrying the advertising of many of
Chicago's large banks and bond houses. But there were still

What a "Correspondent" Bank Is

One might wonder why the larger Chicago banks should carry
advertising in journals read only by other bankers. The answer is
that these larger banks in Chicago and New York do have something
to sell to other banks.
They are, in a sense, bankers' banks. Virtually every bank
in Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska kept a
goodly sum of money on deposit in at least one Chicago bank. This
was a system used by banks to facilitate the clearing of checks.
Have you ever wondered how checks you send to people in
other states are cleared?
Suppose, for example, you live in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. You owe a
bill to a concern in Muncie, Indiana. You mail the Muncie firm a
check on your local Ft. Dodge bank. The Muncie firm deposits the
check in its local bank in Muncie. The Muncie bank either pays
the Muncie firm the amount, thus cashing your check, or it
credits the amount to the firm's account in the bank.
But, now, how is that bank in Muncie, Indiana, going to get
the amount of the check from YOU? When you wrote out your check,
drawn on your Ft. Dodge bank, you represented that YOU had that
amount of money on deposit in the bank in Ft. Dodge. The check is
merely an order for your bank in Ft. Dodge to pay to the firm in
Muncie, Indiana, the amount of your money written on the check.
Now when a bank over in Muncie, Indiana, PAYS this amount of
money to this Muncie firm, the Muncie bank must have a way to
collect YOUR money from your bank in Ft. Dodge. How?
Banking procedures have undergone some change, and today the
Federal Reserve system is used by member banks to a great extent
in the clearing of checks, and the correspondent system to a
lesser degree.
But in those days it was done primarily through this
correspondent system. Most banks scattered over such states as
Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin have a Chicago Correspondent.
That is, they keep a sum of money on deposit in a Chicago bank,
for the very purpose of clearing checks. So the Muncie bank has a
Chicago Correspondent. Also the Ft. Dodge bank has a Chicago
Correspondent, although it may be a different Chicago bank.
Here is how the system works. The Muncie bank sends your
check to its Chicago Correspondent bank. On receipt of your
check, this Chicago bank credits the amount of your check to the
account of the Muncie bank. Now the Muncie bank has been
reimbursed for cashing your check. If your check was for the
amount of $100, it has $100 added to the amount it has on deposit
in the Chicago bank. Now this Chicago bank must be reimbursed.
Through the Chicago Clearing House system, it sends your check to
the Chicago bank which is the correspondent of your Ft. Dodge
bank, which has an adequate amount of money on deposit with its
Chicago Correspondent bank. This bank in Chicago thereupon debits
the account of your Ft. Dodge bank $100. In plainer words, it
takes the $100 out of the money on deposit by your Ft. Dodge
bank, which is paid through the Chicago Clearing House system to
the other Chicago bank which is the Correspondent of the Muncie
bank. And finally, the Chicago Correspondent of the Ft. Dodge
bank sends your check back to your bank in Ft. Dodge, notifying
your bank that it has taken this $100 out of the money they had
on deposit. Your bank stamps your check paid, taking your $100
which it had on deposit, thus reimbursing itself for the $100
which its Chicago Correspondent took out of its money on deposit
there. And at the end of the month you receive a statement from
your bank showing they have deducted this $100 from your balance
on deposit, and enclosing the canceled check.
This is all not so complicated as it probably sounds. I have
taken space to explain it so simply that a little child can
understand it. But I thought it might be interesting to my
readers, most of whom probably never had any understanding of how
checks are cleared from one part of the country to another.

Attending Bankers' Conventions

My work now brought me into contact with many of the nation's
leading bankers. Solicitation among Chicago's larger banks and
security firms made it necessary to cultivate personal
acquaintance with those officers directly connected with the
correspondent accounts. This often included one of the vice
presidents, and in some instances the presidents.
Certain phases of the banking business are not generally
known by the public. One of these is the personal acquaintances
and contacts maintained among men of the banking fraternity.
Each state has its state Bankers' Association, with its
annual Bankers' Convention. These state conventions are well
attended by presidents, vice presidents, cashiers, and even some
assistant cashiers, especially those whose jobs are connected
with the correspondent business. Each state is divided into
groups, and each group holds its annual group meeting.
Then on the national level, there is the national A.B.A.
(American Bankers' Association) convention each year, well
attended by presidents and top-ranking vice presidents of the
nation's largest banks.
At these annual conclaves, bankers, so dignified and formal
at home and before customers in their own banks, really "let down
their hair," as the saying goes. They familiarly call each other
by their first names.
To a large extent, this correspondent business between banks
is conducted on a personal acquaintance basis. Although there
were two outstanding national magazines in the banking field,
these localized sectional bank journals maintained a personal
contact and hold on their banker subscribers that was not
possible for a national magazine.
There were seven principal sectional or regional journals,
all published by men of outstanding personality. These publishers
attended most of the group meetings, and all of the state and
national conventions. They mixed personally with the bankers of
their districts -- who were the readers of their publications. The
most eagerly read pages of these monthly journals were the
personal gossip pages. All these sectional journals published a
great deal of personal news about individual bankers in their
districts. The bankers of each section, who knew most of the
other bankers personally, were naturally eager to read any
personal news items about bankers they knew -- and about
Since I was now the advertising representative of perhaps
the leading one of these sectional bank journals, I began to
attend several of the state bankers' conventions, and most of the
A.B.A. (American Bankers' Association) conventions.
In this manner I began to form personal acquaintance with
hundreds of prominent bankers -- another important factor in my
education which had some influence in preparing me for the real
job ahead.
In Chicago were many manufacturers of products sold to
banks. Of course I solicited advertising from these.

The Tractor Brainstorm

I do not remember just how this IDEA came to mind about selling
large-space advertising to the manufacturers of farm tractors.
But in some manner, through personal contacts with scores of
small-city and country bankers, I had come to realize that
tractors, in those days, were sold for cash -- there were no
easy-payment plans, or financing terms offered. The farmers were
forced to borrow the money from their bankers in order to
purchase tractors. My conversations with bankers had indicated
that bankers were not, as yet, "sold" on the idea of the farm
So, in order to get all the FACTS, I made an extensive
survey. That experience in conducting the surveys at Richmond,
Kentucky, and Lansing, Michigan, had shown the value of
fact-finding by survey, obtaining information from a
representative portion, based on the law of average.
This farm tractor survey was made primarily by mail through
questionnaires. These questionnaires were sent to a thousand or
more bankers, and a representative number of farmers, and a third
questionnaire to scattered local dealers who sold tractors.
Simultaneously, I went out on a personal tour of several states,
personally interviewing bankers, tractor dealers, and farmers.
This survey unearthed some startling facts, which tractor
manufacturers had never realized about their business.
The officers of the average bank in the Northwestern Banker
territory owned eight farms. Many had come into this farm
ownership through foreclosure of mortgages. Of course they did
not farm, themselves. These bankers either employed managers to
operate them, or rented them out. Multiplying our circulation by
eight, I learned that I had a farm-owner circulation to sell at a
lower cost per page per thousand circulation than the farm
But the principal reason farm tractor manufacturers needed
to buy advertising space in a banking journal was to win the
favor of bankers so that they would readily loan money to their
farmer customers for the purchase of tractors. The bankers were
proving a very serious sales-resistance factor. Whenever a farmer
would come into a bank to borrow money for the purchase of a
tractor, the banker, calling him by his first name, would ask:
"What do you want the money for, John?"
And when he learned John was about to buy a tractor, he
discouraged John. At first, when I presented these facts to
tractor manufacturers, they scoffed.
"Why, Mr. Armstrong," they would object, "if the bank they
do business with refuses the loan, the farmers simply go across
the street to another bank and borrow it there."
"Apparently," I replied, "you do not realize the personal
relationship between country bankers and their farmer customers.
The country banker is a sort of 'father confessor' to his farmer
customers. They come to him with their problems -- ask his advice.
Do you suppose these bankers are so stupid that they would turn
down a loan in such a manner that their farmer customer would be
offended, and go to a competitive bank? I have interviewed scores
of bankers on this point. The banker who feels his farmer
customer ought not to spend the money for a tractor doesn't
refuse the loan -- he merely talks the farmer out of wanting it. He
will talk to farmer John something like this:
" 'Well, John, my advice would be to go a little slow before
you go into debt to buy that tractor. As you know, John, I own
eight farms myself. And I'm not at all sold on the practicality
of tractor farming. In my opinion, the tractor hasn't arrived
yet. It's still in the experimental stage. Now I know, John, that
tractor salesman has probably put up a pretty slick argument. Of
course he's interested in getting a big fat commission for
himself. But I'm interested in your welfare, John. Now, of
course, if you decide to let that salesman talk you into it,
we'll loan you the money, but my advice is, don't do it! You
raise your own feed for your horses. But you'll have to BUY
gasoline to feed the tractor. I don't think it would pay.' "
In soliciting the advertising of tractor manufacturers, I
soon found that their advertising managers could not buy it,
because they were given a definite appropriation for definite
fields -- the farm journals, and the farm dealer trade papers. They
had no appropriation for bank magazines, and they lacked
authority to change company policies.
It became necessary for me to go direct to the presidents of
factories in the tractor industry.
This, again, was an experience that afforded personal
contacts with several multimillionaires. Among them was the
president of J. I. Case, Mr. Wallis; Mr. Brantingham of the
Emerson-Brantingham Company; George N. Peak, president of Moline
Plow Works, who later became prominent in President Franklin D.
Roosevelt's N.R.A.; Gen. Johnson, vice president of John Deere &
Company, also later head of one of President Roosevelt's N.R.A.

Representing Nine Magazines

My one biggest obstacle in this farm tractor field -- and also in
soliciting manufacturers of items sold to banks -- was the
limitation of our circulation to one five-state region. These big
advertisers in the Chicago district advertised on a national
Also, because of this, I encountered stiff opposition from
the advertising agencies. Advertising agencies serve the
advertiser, who is their client, but they are not paid by their
clients. They are paid by the publishers, on the basis of a 15%
agency commission on all billings.
The Agency position was this: It took just as much time, and
effort, for them to prepare a page ad for our little sectional
bank journal with some 2,000 circulation and an advertising rate
of $40 per page, as for a page ad in the Saturday Evening Post
with a page rate, in those days, of $5,000 (much higher, in later
years!). The Agency would make only $6 for its work on a page for
us, compared to $750 for the same amount of effort for a page in
the Post.
I began to realize that I could sell big-space advertising
much easier for a large national circulation than for one small
sectional journal.
This brought about another "brainstorm." Although there were
two leading national magazines in the banking field, they did not
provide a sufficiently complete national coverage. The seven
leading sectional journals completely dominated their respective
fields. The only possible complete national circulation in the
banking field could come only by using these nine -- the seven
leading sectional journals, and the two national magazines.
But there was still a major difficulty. These various bank
magazines had various page sizes. Agencies usually send ads out
in plate form -- already set to type. The necessity of making
plates of so many sizes would discourage agencies.
So, about a year or a year and a half after moving to
Chicago, I had worked out a proposition to set myself up as an
independent publishers' representative in the bank field.
These publications, by whatever methods, had found it cost
them 40% to get business. I proposed to represent all nine
magazines, and myself to finance all solicitation, and send them
advertising at a reduction to them of 25% in cost of obtaining
business. In other words, I was to have exclusive representation,
on a 30% commission basis, but the magazines were to pay me the
entire year's commission in advance on all 12-time yearly
contracts, upon receipt of signed contract from the advertiser.
They were all to adopt a standard magazine page size.
But there arose one overpowering obstacle in my path.
Clifford DePuy, about this time, had acquired a second of
these seven leading sectional bank journals -- the old St. Louis
Banker, the name of which he changed to the Midcontinent Banker.
He objected in loudest tones to my representation of any other
publications. I had been his exclusive Chicago representative,
and he was determined to keep it that way.
I, on the other hand, had become determined to expand my
field. I maintained that I could send Cliff a great deal more
business as the representative of a complete national
circulation. He didn't think so. We really clashed on this issue.
But, before this issue was finally settled, I had met a
certain very attractive young lady out in Iowa.
I think the time has come to relate a different phase of
these life experiences -- my dating girls, and the romantic side of
life from the beginning up to the time of marriage.

Chapter 9
How I Met My Wife

IN the chronicle of experiences that provided the training for
the activities of later years, none exceeded in import the dating
experiences that culminated in marriage -- at least none exceeded
the marriage experience.
If it be true, as it definitely appears now in retrospect,
that the Eternal God knew He would call me to the important
activity now in progress with progressively increasing power of
impact, and that this early training of formative years had some
measure of unseen and unrealized divine guidance, then it is
true, also, that the selection of my wife and life partner was
It was through her, years later, that circumstances impelled
my conversion and induction into the Great Commission. This
commission, from its beginning had been a team activity
commission in which Mrs. Armstrong shared equally -- even though it
may not have been evident to many.
No phase of any man's life is more important, or has greater
bearing on his future success or failure, than the romantic
experiences and their culmination in marriage. The same is true,
conversely, in the lives of girls who have reached the dating
Few young people, today, realize the seriousness of this
phase of life. Proper dating has become virtually a lost art in
America. Young people today, it seems, do not know how to date.
Most have little or no conception of the nature of true love, or
the meaning and responsibility of marriage. They are men and
women physically, but they are still children emotionally.
Let me repeat, here, that I was born of solid old Quaker
stock. I was brought up from childhood to believe that marriage
was for LIFE, and divorce was a thing unheard of in our family.
Marriage was regarded seriously, and as something not to be
considered by a young man until he had acquired his education and
preparatory experience, and was established financially and in
position to support a wife and family.
Consequently, in my dating of girls prior to age 24, there
was no thought of marriage, except indirectly.

My Dating "System"

And, by "indirectly," I mean this: I had a "system." I was
conceited enough to think it a pretty good system. I was aware
that I did not really know what love is. But I had the conception
that it was a mysterious thing that might hit a young man when he
wasn't looking. He might suddenly "fall" for a girl. Once this
happened, so I surmised, the poor victim lost his mental
equilibrium. He was "hooked" and unable to help himself, or if
the girl be the wrong one, to recognize that fact.
I was, in other words, afraid I might be caught off guard
and helplessly plunged into a binding lifelong marriage with the
wrong girl. I had heard that love was blind. If I should fall in
love with the wrong girl, I would probably be totally blinded to
the fact she was the wrong one. My life would be ruined! That is,
so I then supposed.
My "system" was born out of fear of this possibility. I
didn't want to get serious, or think of marriage, before I was
advanced enough to support a family. But, if this "love bug"
should stab a hypo love potion into me prematurely, I wanted to
have insurance against being bound to the wrong one.
Therefore my "system" was this: I would generally avoid even
dating a girl unless she appeared, so far as I could then see, to
be at least eligible if I lost my head and "fell" for her. Next,
on my first date, one thing was always uppermost in my mind -- to
coldly analyze that girl from the point of view of what kind of a
wife and mother she would make, if I lost my head over her. If
she definitely didn't measure up, I firmly avoided any second
date with her. If I were not quite sure one way or the other, I
would allow myself a second date -- if she appeared sufficiently
interesting. If a girl passed my analytical test, then
immediately I put all thought of marriage out of mind, but she
remained on the list of girls who were eligible for dates -- IF I
desired them.
As a result of this "system" I did date girls I felt were
well above the average. I enjoyed a scintillating conversation.
If a girl was unable to carry on her part of such an
"intellectual" conversation, or was lacking in any mental depth
and brilliancy, she didn't interest me enough for another date.

My First Date

I suppose most little boys, around age 4 or 5, pick out some girl
they call their "girl friend." This is, of course, quite cute and
amusing to parents and other adults. I mentioned, earlier, a
little girl who took part in some church play with me, at age 5.
Then, around nine or ten years of age, a Sunday school chum
and I picked out a girl whom we mutually called "our girl" -- only
she never knew it. We were too young and too shy to tell her.
I kissed a girl for the first time when I was twelve. Some
of us kids in the neighborhood were playing "post office." I
think I secretly considered that girl to be my "girl friend,"
though I'm sure she didn't know it. I do remember her name.
I also remember the name of this Sunday school girl I
secretly shared with the other boy. But I will refrain from
mentioning it, for the other boy finally did start "going with"
her when he became old enough, and wound up marrying her -- and I
have heard that she moved to Pasadena.
But my first real date came when I was a freshman in high
school. It was with a neighbor girl who also was a freshman at
North High, in Des Moines. The occasion was some high school
event that took place in the evening. I remember I was very
self-conscious being on a street car alone with a girl.
WHY is it that so many teen-age boys are bashful in the
presence of girls their age, while girls seem never to be the
least bit embarrassed?
I did continue to "go with" this girl, off and on, for some
seven or eight years, but never was it "going steady" as so many
young people do today, and it was never serious. Never once did I
kiss her.
Once, when I was probably twenty-two or twenty-three, on a
date with her in Des Moines, I did start to slip an arm around
her. Promptly she took my arm and placed it back where it
belonged. But not because she was a "prude."
"I wish you wouldn't, Herbert," she said simply. "At least
unless you are serious. You're the only fellow I've ever gone
with that hasn't necked with me. I'd like to keep this one slate
clean. It has really meant something to me."
I wasn't serious, so my arm stayed home the rest of the

"Necking" Experiences

When I first dated this girl, at about age fifteen, and for some
years after that, I never "necked" with any girl. Only we didn't
call it "necking" then -- it was "loving up," and back in my
mother's day it was "spooning." I don't know what they called it
in Abraham Lincoln's day, or back in the days of Adam and Eve.
But it's been going on all these millenniums and centuries, no
matter what any passing generation may call it. It speaks its own
universal language. But, in this autobiography, I shall use the
terminology of the present day, for reasons of clarity.
So far as I know, during the earlier years of my "dating"
experience this thing of "necking" was not practiced in the
promiscuous way it is today.
I dated a number of girls I regarded as unusual, and
considerably above the average. One was the daughter of the
president of an insurance company. She was my mother's original
preference, and I think that at the time Mother would have been
pleased had I married her. But neither of us held the slightest
romantic interest for the other. She was an artist and
sculptress. I admired and respected her, however, and, enjoyed an
occasional date with her. Then there was another girl, a neighbor
in Des Moines, who excelled as an artist. In fact, this girl
excelled in just about everything she did. I dated her frequently
in Chicago, as I passed through on those "Idea Man" trips, while
she was a student at the Chicago Art Institute. Actually, both of
these girls were studying at the Art Institute. There was another
girl in Rock Island, Illinois, with whom I became acquainted
through the above-mentioned two girls, a member of one of the
oldest and most prominent Rock Island families.
But, along about age 21, it seemed that the "necking"
pattern was being ushered in. In those years I wanted to be
"modern" and to keep up with the times. I began to think that
perhaps I was being considered a little behind the times, and
decided that perhaps I ought to start "necking" a little -- at
least after a second or third date. I don't think many indulged
in it on the first date, in those days.
At that time I was dating a girl in Des Moines who was a
special "buddy" of a girl who was going "steady" with a chum of
mine. The four of us double-dated frequently. So I began the
popular pastime of "necking." Only it was then called
"loving-up." The girl didn't object. Her father was dead. Her
stepfather was an automobile dealer, and frequently, on our
dates, we were taken riding in their car with her stepfather and
her mother. We "necked" openly in the back seat. Her parents
seemed to think nothing of it.
Then one night on their semi-secluded front porch, she
became especially serious. She began to tell me how much money
her father had left her, and she felt we ought to begin to plan
what to do with it.
This came like an electric shock. I realized she was
seriously taking marriage for granted. Such a thought had never
entered my mind. I told her so. This stabbed her right in her
heart. "But if you're not serious, and thinking of marriage, what
on earth have you been 'loving-up' with me for?" she asked.
I explained that she was the first girl I had ever "necked"
with -- that I had come to believe I was being considered
old-fashioned by the girls -- that it had seemed to me that it was
being done generally, and that girls expected it. I did it
because I supposed it was the thing I was supposed to do.
At this she burst into tears and ran into the house. This
sudden turn of affairs shocked and hurt me deeply. I knew I had
hurt her, and that made me feel like a cad. Next day I called on
the telephone to apologize. Her mother answered.
"My daughter has told me all about it," accused the mother
with icy scorn. "She never wants to see you again!" She hung up
the receiver.
So my first experience in "necking" came to an unhappy and
semi-tragic end. I hope this girl later became really in love
with the right man for her, and found a happy marriage. She was a
fine girl and deserved it. But I have never heard from or about
her since.

Truth About Necking

I have wished very much that I could have known, in those days,
what I am able today to teach the class in "Principles of Living"
at Ambassador College. For had I realized the TRUTH about this
practice called "necking," that very fine girl would have been
spared the humiliation of confessing love for one who was not in
love with her.
But I didn't know such truths in those days. My standards
were those of the other young people my age in the world -- that
is, the standards of those young people who had ideals and good
intentions -- but based on the way that seemed right to us humans.
It was totally against my code of morals to "insult" a
girl -- which, according to those human standards meant carrying
"necking" beyond the point of "decency." That I never did in my
life. I felt I knew where to "draw the line." And I was always
careful to observe that human-reasoned line.
But all young people are not that careful. What I did not
then know is that even any "necking" at all -- harmless as it is
supposed to be -- is the very first phase of the four phases of
sexual intercourse! In very plain and frank language, "necking"
belongs IN MARRIAGE as a definite PART of the marriage
relationship. Humans usually reverse what is right. They indulge
in this preliminary act of sexual arousal prior to marriage as a
part of dating -- and then dispense with it after marriage, thus
often ruining and breaking up marriages!
I didn't realize, then, how many countless acts of
fornication, and premarital pregnancies, are caused by this
supposed harmless and popular custom of "necking." The "new
morality" has replaced the strong convictions some of us had
about where to "draw the line."

I Meet Two Pretty Girls

Up until 1917 I had never thought really seriously of any girl. I
liked the company of girls. In my vanity I fancied that I had
been dating the real "cream-of-the-crop" -- girls considerably
superior to the average. But during these years I was still
"going to school" -- in the way I had decided was best for
me -- acquiring knowledge of my chosen field, gaining experience,
preparing myself to make BIG MONEY later.
In my foolish conceit of those days, I was cocksure that I
was headed for outstanding success. But I had certain ideals and
convictions, and one of them was that a young man ought not to
think of marriage until he was prepared to assume the
responsibilities of marriage -- especially that of supporting a
wife! The idea of my wife having to get a job to help earn the
living would have crushed my spirit -- would have been the supreme
In January, 1917, I was in Des Moines on one of my regular
trips to Iowa, renewing contracts and soliciting new ones. My
mother had written that her twin sister, my Aunt Emma Morrow, was
stricken with pneumonia, and asked me to visit her on this trip.
So I took the short side-trip to the Morrow farm, 30 miles
southeast of Des Moines, and a short mile north of the crossroads
town called Motor, which consisted only of a store, schoolhouse,
church, and two or three houses.
I found my aunt considerably improved, and convalescing.
During the afternoon a girl from Motor, two years younger than I,
came to see my aunt. She was introduced to me as a cousin -- but
only a third cousin. Immediately I was impressed. She was pretty,
and seemed to be an unusually nice girl. Her name was Bertha
Dillon, and her father owned the store at Motor. He was my
mother's first cousin.
I was enjoying a conversation with her, when, about 4:30 in
the afternoon, her older sister, Loma -- just my age -- came bounding
in. That's not an exaggeration. I hadn't seen such fresh, joyous,
"zip and go" in a long time. She literally exuded energy,
sparkle, good cheer, the friendly warmth of a sincere, outgoing
Now I was much more impressed! She was even prettier than
her sister. There was something different about her -- something
wholesome that I liked. She was the school teacher at Motor.
"Where," I asked myself inwardly, "could I have been all my
life, never to have run across these two cousins before?" At that
time, although these girls were rather distant cousins, I thought
of them only as "cousins."
This was about the middle of the week. My cousin, Bert
Morrow (he was a first cousin), just one year my junior lacking a
day, drove me over to the little town of Beech to take the
evening train to Des Moines. My aunt's nurse was returning to Des
Moines on the same train. Loma rode along with us in the "Model
T" to Beech. I learned that she was planning to go to Des Moines
Saturday morning to do some shopping.
"Why," I asked, "don't you bring Bertha with you, and meet
me at noon for lunch, and we'll take in a movie in the
It was a date.
Only, when I met her Saturday noon, she had not brought her
sister. I had preferred to meet Loma alone, but I had felt that
propriety demanded that I ask both girls.
I took her to luncheon at Des Moines' nicest place at that
time -- the Harris-Emery department store Tea Room. It was one of
the finest department store tea rooms in the nation.
I was really enjoying this date. She didn't know it then,
but Loma was being intensively analyzed. No thought of marriage,
you understand -- just routine, as I always did on a first date.
She seemed to be a girl of sound-minded good sense and high
ideals. She had superior intelligence. There was a mental depth
most girls lacked. I was well aware that she was utterly lacking
in sophistication. She was not, in fact, completely "city broke."
There was none of the haughty social veneer -- none of the acquired
artificial mannerisms of the eastern "finishing school" products
or the social debutante. Indeed, I perceived she was a bit naive.
She was completely sincere in trusting and believing in people.
She had not seen or learned much of the rottenness and evils of
this world. She had that innocent, completely unspoiled freshness
of a breath of spring.
Also, from the instant when she first came bounding in at my
aunt's farm, I had noticed she was almost something of a
tom-boy -- active, very alert. Whatever she did, she did quickly. I
learned later that her brothers dubbed her with two
nicknames -- "She-bang" and "Cyclone!" She was full of fun, yet
serious -- with the unspoiled wholesomeness of an Iowa country
girl. And, most important of all, strength of character!
I observed quickly that although she was alert and
active-minded, hers was not one of those flighty surface minds,
active but shallow. She was able to discuss serious and deep
things intelligently. She was very much an extrovert, but not a
shallow, gossipy chatterbox.
Although I noticed, and became immediately well aware of
these qualities, no thought of falling in love, or of marriage,
entered my mind. I thought of her only as a cousin. Perhaps I had
so disciplined my mind in regard to marriage that it
automatically avoided such thoughts. But I did want to see more
of her -- definitely!

She Rated a Second Date!

After the luncheon conversation, which must have lasted more than
an hour and a half, we went to a movie. I remember nothing
whatever about the movie -- I do remember holding a soft, warm
I always stayed at the Brown Hotel in those days -- a
residential hotel on the edge of the business district. After the
movie, we walked over to the hotel lobby. I ran up to my room,
picked up a package of family pictures I happened to have in my
suitcase, returned to the lobby and showed the pictures to her.
I remember that among them was a "Cousins' Letter" I had
initiated. Ever since I could remember from earliest childhood,
my father's generation had kept a family letter circulating. It
made the rounds, perhaps once in nine months or a year, from
coast to coast. Some of the Armstrong family were in New Jersey
and Atlantic coast locations. Some were in Ohio and Indiana, some
in Iowa, Colorado, and some in California. Each time it came
around, my father removed his letter which now had gone the
rounds, wrote and inserted a new one. I had organized a "Cousins'
Letter" of our younger generation. It made about two rounds, and
apparently died a natural death. But this big packet of letters
had just finished its first round, and I remember showing it to
my new-found cousin. She however, was a third cousin on my
mother's side of the family. This circular family letter only
included the "Armstrong" cousins.
Then I took her to her evening train to return home.
I have mentioned my "system" of analyzing girls on the first
date. Loma had been duly analyzed. She passed the test with a
perfect grade. She rated a second date!
In fact, the more I thought about it, she rated it without
delay! I lived in Chicago. If I were to have another date with
this very attractive young lady any time soon, I decided it had
to be next day!
Accordingly I hopped the morning train, called my cousin
Bert Morrow to drive over to Beech after me, and, to everybody's
surprise, here I was to "see my aunt" again! I don't remember,
now, how I maneuvered to get Loma up to my aunt's, but I do
remember spending considerable time with her there. And she
remembers a walk out on the country road in the deep snow.
I also remember holding her hand again -- much to the dislike
of my uncle and aunt. After I left, they began to warn her
against me.
"Now Loma," they admonished, "you'd better let Herbert
alone. He reads those magazines written by that awful Elbert
Hubbard, and he's probably an atheist. He probably doesn't ever
go to church anymore!"
But I had asked Loma to write, and she said she would.
So now the "dating" was continued by mail. I must have had
her a great deal on my mind, for I wrote to her almost every day,
and received several letters a week in return.
A year and a half before, I had felt that the Iowa territory
was rather "dead" for new business for the Northwestern Banker.
There was more business to be had in Chicago. But now, of a
sudden, Iowa seemed to become very desirable territory again,
requiring more frequent visits from me.
The next Iowa trip seems to have been some time in February.
On a later Iowa trip in May or June, we had a double date in Des
Moines with Loma's number one girl chum and her fiancé. At an
amusement park, we took a roller coaster ride -- Loma's first in
her life -- and also her last! She was so frightened that she
unconsciously had a firm, almost death-like iron grip on my
trousers just above the knee as we came to a stop -- much to her
embarrassment and the glee of her chum and fiancé! She was such a
modest person that this was terribly mortifying!
But I am getting ahead of the story.
As we continued the acquaintance by correspondence, we
exchanged ideas on many subjects. I wanted to know what she was
interested in -- what she believed -- what her ideas were. She seemed
to have high ideals, and I discovered that she was seriously
concerned about religious truth -- more so than I. I had virtually
no interest in religion.
Business seemed to require my presence in Iowa again in
early April, and then the first week in May.

I "Fell"

In our correspondence, we had exchanged ideas and ideals on such
subjects as "necking." Of course I had never, as yet, made any
advances toward her in this direction -- except for holding her
hand a few times. Her letters said she didn't believe in
"necking." I would not have been a normal young man if I had not
determined to put her to the test on that.
It was about the 7th or 8th of May that she met me again in
Des Moines. During the afternoon, we went out to one of the
spacious parks where wild flowers could be picked.
As we were sitting, or leaning on our elbows on the ground,
opportunity came for me to slip an arm around her shoulders, and,
leaning over her, plant a healthy kiss on her lips. She didn't
Sitting back up, I grinned and asked, "Now are you angry
with me?" "Uh-huh," she smiled.
I wasn't quite sure what to think, now, after she had
expressed such disapproval of anything of this sort in her
letters. But it was not just a frivolous kiss to her, as I was
soon to learn.
We returned to the apartment of my uncle Frank Armstrong and
his family. I was taking a midnight sleeper for Sioux City, and
she was to remain at my uncle's for the night.
When it came time for me to leave for my train, Loma came
out into the corridor of the apartment building to say
good-night. Suddenly, impulsively, she reached her arms around my
neck and planted a good earnest kiss on my lips!
This, I suddenly realized, was serious.
In a daze, I left. I couldn't sleep that night for hours.
Nothing had ever hit me like this before. That had not been any
ordinary "necking" kiss! I knew that was, as they say today, FOR
REAL! It came on impulse straight from the heart. She had kissed
me because she really meant it! It produced an emotional upheaval
inside me -- a totally new experience. Through the mental daze I
began to realize this was LOVE.
I hasten to add, however, that this emotional thrill I
experienced was produced because of the circumstances leading to
it. No one should suppose that being really in love must hit one
with the kind of emotional wallop I experienced.
In Sioux City next morning, the first thing I did was to
call on a doctor whom I knew. I asked him if there was any reason
why third cousins ought not marry.
He only laughed. "None whatsoever," he said. "Third cousins
are no cousins at all, so far as marriage is concerned."
Returning to Des Moines a few days later, I went back down
to Motor. It was the night of May 13th. We walked down the
roadside, past the old Quaker Church building and graveyard. I
told Loma that I knew, now, that I was in love with her.

Tragedy Threatens!

This seemed to come like a shock to her. Apparently she had not
thought of it in just this way before, but now, suddenly, it
dawned on her that if we were married it meant living in Chicago,
in more cultural and, as she supposed, sophisticated surroundings
than she had known. This sudden realization frightened her.
She stammered that she was not sure.
That statement fell on me like a ton of bricks! I had never
doubted, in my confident conceit, that if and when I ever did
fall in love it would be mutual. Now, suddenly, came the
realization that I might be faced with tragedy! But I knew the
right answer. I wish more young people, "falling" for one who is
not in love with them, could know this right answer. Most young
fellows, it seems, would start pleading with the girl to marry
them, anyway. That is definitely not the right answer.
"In that case, Loma," I said regretfully, soberly, but
firmly, "I don't want to ever see you again -- that is, not unless,
or until you find that you, too, are in love. I certainly
wouldn't ask you to marry me if you don't love me. It would only
wreck both our lives -- and I love you too much to ruin your life."
We were walking back to her home, which was on the second
floor over the store. We sat down for a while on the steps of the
It was momentarily difficult to understand, now, why she had
kissed me as she did that night outside the door of my uncle's
apartment. Was I merely receiving just retribution for causing
the first girl I had ever "necked" to fall in love, when I didn't
love her?
I asked Loma for an explanation.
She explained, then, how the sudden thought of marriage had
frightened her. She and I had lived in two different worlds. I
had been city born and city reared. I had travelled a great deal.
I was worldly wise. I knew the world and was a part of it. I
lived in one of the world's largest and most metropolitan cities.
She was a country girl. How would she be able to act and live in
the sophistication of a city like Chicago?
"Loma," I said seriously, "you're a real diamond. Maybe you
haven't had the exterior polish of an eastern finishing school
applied. Most of those girls have outer polish, but no qualities
underneath. It's mostly a lot of put-on and make-believe. It
isn't real. But you are REAL, Loma, and you have the QUALITY of
good character all the way through. I can see to putting on what
polish you'll need. I don't want, and never could love, a lot of
pretense and empty-headed sophistication! You have the real
qualities for a good wife and the mother of my children. It's YOU
I love, and I know now I can never love anyone else. Don't worry
about the lack of social training and sophistication. That stuff
can be bought a dime a dozen! It's trash! I don't want it! All I
want YOU to decide is whether you're in love with me, as I am
with you."
Then, rising, I said finally, "Just one thing I want you to
promise me. As soon as you're SURE, in your own mind, whether
you're in love -- either way -- I want you to telegraph me just one
word -- 'YES' or 'NO' -- and I'll understand."
She promised. I walked away toward my aunt's house, a mile
down the road. There was no good-night kiss.

Chapter 10
Marriage Plans Complicated By War

I HAD no intention of returning to the store at the crossroads
"town" called Motor. But next morning my Aunt Emma Morrow found
it necessary to do some shopping, and asked me if I would drive
her in their Model T Ford.
How my aunt maneuvered me into the upstairs rooms I do not
remember. But I distinctly remember sitting on the bed in a
bedroom, my aunt in front of me on a chair, and Loma Dillon
sitting beside me, with the box of old family pictures on her

The Unspoken Answer

As we were looking over the family pictures, my Aunt Emma told us
that my Uncle George had courted her and that they became engaged
to be married in those same upstairs rooms, over the store. Then
suddenly, when my aunt and Bertha had their eyes on a picture,
Loma leaned over and whispered in my ear that she had something
to tell me, a big secret. I "got the message" and squeezed her
hand, but neither of us gave the others any idea of what had
happened under their very eyes.
Not a word was spoken at the moment. But of course Loma and
I knew I had received the unspoken answer. She was now sure. And
the following morning, waiting at the depot for the train to take
me to Des Moines, we agreed we were engaged to be married.
Actually, I had never proposed -- that is, in so many words.
We simply KNEW -- and verbally agreed that we were engaged.

The Cloud of War

But even the happiness of knowing we were in love and engaged to
be married was clouded by the war. The United States had been
drawn into World War I, declaring war on Germany April 6, just
five weeks and four days before we were engaged. It had left my
future gravely in doubt.
Immediately after the declaration of war, or as soon as the
call went out for voluntary enlistments for the Officers'
Training Camp at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, I had applied for
The Army did not have a fraction of the needed number of
commissioned officers. It was impossible for West Point to
graduate the required number quickly. To meet the emergency,
Officers' Training Camps were set up immediately at various
locations. Intensive rush training had to be given to qualified
applicants in time to provide officers to train draftees and
volunteer soldiers in the large cantonments all over the country
as soon as they could be built.
To qualify for admission to an Officers' Training Camp, a
candidate was required to be a college graduate or its
equivalent. Lacking a degree, the equivalent had to be testified
to by three men of known prominence. I was very glad to be able
to obtain a letter from Arthur Reynolds, President of Chicago's
largest bank, the Continental & Commercial National (now the
Continental-Illinois National), saying he had been personally
acquainted with me for several years (I knew him when he was
President of the Des Moines National before he went to Chicago)
and considered that I had acquired considerably more than the
equivalent of a college education. I obtained similar letters
from an official of Halsey-Stuart Company, prominent investment
bankers, and from my friend Ralph G. Johnson, manager of the
Chicago office of The Merchants Trade Journal.
Immediately I purchased an army officers' military manual
and began to study. Also I enrolled in a drill class organized
for preliminary training of officer candidates at one of the
armories. But as an army officer I was certainly a "greenhorn" as
evidenced by a snapshot I had of Ralph Johnson and me
patriotically trying to salute in front of the Hotel Del Prado,
where we both lived. I had not yet learned that a soldier must
keep his heels together.

Attempting to Be an Army Officer

I successfully passed the physical examination, and received
notice that I had been accepted for admission, with orders to
report at Ft. Sheridan on a definite date, which I do not now
Then a few days before I was to enter camp, a second notice
came. It advised me that in the last minute rush the Army had
received six times as many applications as it could accept, and
consequently first choice had been given to those with previous
military experience, and secondly, to the taller men. I was only
average height for those days. The notice expressed great
appreciation by the government for my patriotism, but regretfully
notified me that I could not now be accepted. However, I was
advised that I might apply for enlistment in the second session
after graduation of the first, some three months later.
Immediately I applied for entrance into the second Officers'
Training Camp. Again I was accepted, and notified to report on a
definite date. But again, at the last minute, an overflow of
applications by men of previous military experience or taller men
crowded me out.
I applied for admission in the Quartermasters' Corps,
feeling that if I could not enter the army as an officer, I could
serve better in its business department than as a private. But
here again the rush of men enlisting was too great, and this
department was already filled to capacity.
"Well," I said in some disappointment, "I've tried. Now I'm
going to let them throw a rope around my neck in the draft and
come and get me."
Meanwhile, as related above, Loma and I became engaged on
May 15th.

The Marriage Problem of Every War

And immediately we faced the age-old problem that always has
confronted engaged couples in time of war. Many of my readers
also faced this same problem, either in World War I, World War
II, the Korean war or the war in Vietnam. Those of you who have
will understand.
I felt that our marriage should be postponed until after the
war, as most men feel at such times. Loma wanted to be married
before I donned a uniform -- as girls in love usually do.
Our arguments will bring back memories to those of you who
also found yourselves in love in time of war.
"Suppose," I argued -- as perhaps millions of men have
argued -- "I should be seriously wounded, and come home crippled
for life. I wouldn't want you to be tied for life to a disabled
man. And then you'd never be free to marry another."
"I would never want to marry anyone else," she countered.
"And if you should come home crippled or disabled, then more than
ever I would want to be your wife to help you. But if we were not
already married, you'd be too proud to marry me then -- you'd think
I was marrying you out of pity, and you'd refuse. So I want to be
your wife before you go into the army."
"Yes, but I might even be killed in action, and then you'd
be a widow. I would rather leave you still single and free to
marry someone else."
"If you should be killed," came her immediate answer, "then
I would want to be your widow. And as for falling in love with
anyone else, you look here, Herbert Armstrong! Do you think you
could fall in love with some other girl?"
"No of course not!" I replied.
Around and around we went. As fast as I could think of
another reason for waiting until after the war, she countered
with a ready answer. We simply could not agree.
Finally, "Tell you what I'll do," I concluded. "I will take
our problem to the chairman of my draft board. He is a college
professor, Prof. J. Paul Goode of the University of Chicago."
Finally she agreed to this.
One of my strongest arguments against pre-war marriage had
been the fact that thousands were getting married to escape the
draft. At the outset of World War I, married men were not being
drafted. Those who married to escape the draft became
contemptuously referred to as "slackers." I did not want to be
called a "slacker." I was sure that Dr. Goode would advise me not
to marry prior to war service.
Accordingly, as soon as I returned to Chicago, I sought and
obtained an interview with Dr. Goode. He listened attentively,
asked questions, got all the facts. Then he surprised me by
advising me to marry Miss Dillon at once.
It is, of course, difficult to remember many details and
dates of such events after forty-one years. But a letter to my
mother (then in Weiser, Idaho, partially reproduced in this
volume), brings much vividly to memory.
This letter was written Friday night, July 20th. The first
drawings of draft numbers, to determine by lot which men would be
called to camp first, had taken place in Washington, D. C. that
morning. My registration number was 1858. It was one of the
earliest numbers drawn. I wrote that I figured I would be among
the first 80,000 men drafted in the entire country. And since an
army of some four million was actually put into service, it was
apparent that I would be called to training camp on the very
first group.
It appeared, however, that due to delays in building and
equipping the training camps the first contingent would not be
sent to camp before October 1st.
I had been out to Motor, Iowa, visiting Loma on this trip
and now was on my way back to Chicago. However, on getting this
news of my early draft, I stated in this letter: "This is Friday
night, so I am going back to Motor early in the morning, to spend
Saturday and Sunday with Loma. It's getting harder to remain away
from her, someway, and I can't return to Chicago now without
another visit. Loma still wants to be married before I go (into
service). I have put up every possible objection to it I could
think of, and they are numerous, but she brushes them all aside,
says she has considered them all and still wants to (be married

We Set the Date

Next morning Loma and her father met me at the depot with their
Ford car. I had given her, by long distance telephone, the news
of the draft. For the first time she was not beautiful. She was
sobbing. Leaning her head on my shoulder, her tears dripping down
my chest, she sobbed that she wanted to be married before I went
to camp.
What man is strong enough to resist a woman's tears?
My Aunt Emma had been on her side. Professor Goode had been
on her side. And her tears were on her side. I was unanimously
outvoted -- for this swung even me over on her side -- and I
acquiesced, as I suppose men have done in such circumstances ever
since Adam and Eve.
We decided to be married as soon as possible. She needed a
week to make all preparations to come to Chicago. I needed a week
to locate a place for us to live. It was now July 21st. My
twenty-fifth birthday was the 31st. We decided she was to be the
finest birthday present of my life.
Sunday night I caught the sleeper in Des Moines for Chicago.
Loma spent a busy week sewing and preparing. The minister's wife
gave a shower for her, attended by nearly everyone in the
neighborhood. Mrs. Gertie Shoemaker, mother of one of her first
grade little girls, Irene, worked steadily with Loma, sewing, all
that week. She is still one of Mrs. Armstrong's best friends,
whom she visits whenever she is in Iowa -- and that little
first-grade daughter of Mrs. Shoemaker is today herself the
mother of a fifteen-year-old daughter, Mary Kay.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, I had succeeded in renting a nicely
furnished apartment for six weeks from a family going away on
vacation. It was located on the North side on Wilson Avenue,
between the Evanston "L" line and the lake.

The Wedding Day

On Monday, July 30th, Loma, accompanied by her father and
stepmother (her own mother had died when she was twelve), did her
final shopping in Des Moines, and boarded the night sleeper for
Chicago. We had arranged for her to leave the train at suburban
Englewood station, and I was to meet her there.
She would never let me forget that I was ten or fifteen
minutes late in arriving. Never having been in so large a city
before, she was frightened. She telephoned my office, but I was
on an "L" train en route to meet her.
I was imbued with the advertising man's flare for first
impressions. In those days I felt very proud of Chicago. I always
enjoyed showing visitors the BIGGEST or the LARGEST of
everything -- the largest stockyards in the world, the largest
store, the largest theatre (until New York built bigger). I
wanted my bride's first glimpse of Chicago's "Loop" to be the
impressive Grant Park view, overlooking Michigan Boulevard. So I
took her on an "L" train over to the Illinois Central commuter
train in Jackson Park, thence to the "I. C." commuter station in
downtown Grant Park.
We walked through Chicago's "Loop," up to my office, where
by this time I was sharing a private office with another tenant;
then a block north on Clark Street to the County Building and the
Marriage License Bureau, where we obtained our marriage license.
We had lunch at the then most famous Chinese restaurant in
Chicago, King Joy Lo's. We went back out to Jackson Park on the
South Side, took some camera pictures, then to the Hotel Del
Prado where I had lived for nearly two years. I asked Miss Lucy
Cunningham, the 70-year-old most popular "girl" in residence at
the Del Prado, to accompany us as a witness to the marriage
ceremony. She took Loma to her room for a little relaxing rest
and freshening up. Then we three walked a short distance to the
residence of Dr. Gilkey, pastor of the Hyde Park Baptist Church.
I much admired his preaching.
I had made arrangements beforehand for the wedding at the
home of Dr. Gilkey. He had been unexpectedly called out of the
city. But his father-in-law, a Dr. Brown, pastor of the Oak Park
Baptist Church, was on hand to perform the ceremony. Dr. Brown
was a very handsome and distinguished appearing elderly man. Mrs.
Gilkey was the second witness.
And so, in what I have always felt was the nicest simple
little wedding ceremony I have ever seen, with only five people
present, we were married for the remainder of our natural lives,
and I placed the wedding ring on her finger and kissed my own
darling wife.
I myself have since officiated at so many weddings I have
long since lost count of the number -- some of them somewhat more
elaborate, with many guests -- some as plain and simple as our own.
But somehow I have always felt there is no nicer wedding than a
plain, simple ceremony without ostentation of formal dress, with
only the minister and two witnesses present.
I think it is usually the brides' mothers who engineer the
lavish weddings.
In any event, we were married, not as so many deluded people
are today, "till divorce do us part," but till DEATH do us part.

The Unrecognized Call

Our first home together seemed to us to be a very lovely
apartment. Of course we were to have it only six weeks, but it
was nice while it lasted. It had to substitute for a honeymoon.
The beach was only about two blocks down Wilson Avenue. We spent
many hours there.
One night my wife had a dream so vivid and impressive it
overwhelmed and shook her tremendously. It was so realistic it
seemed more like a vision. For two or three days afterward
everything else seemed unreal -- as if in a daze -- and only this
extraordinary dream seemed real.
In her dream she and I were crossing the wide intersection,
only a block or two from our apartment, where Broadway diagonally
crosses Sheridan Road. Suddenly there appeared an awesome sight
in the sky above. It was a dazzling spectacle -- the sky filled
with a gigantic solid mass of brilliant stars, shaped like a huge
banner. The stars began to quiver and separate, finally
vanishing. She called my attention to the vanishing stars, when
another huge grouping of flashing stars appeared, then quivering,
separating, and vanishing like the first.
As she and I, in her dream, looked upward at the vanishing
stars, three large white birds suddenly appeared in the sky
between us and the vanishing stars. These great white birds flew
directly toward us. As they descended nearer, she perceived that
they were angels.
"Then," my wife wrote a day or two after the dream, in a
letter to my mother which I have just run across among old family
pictures, "it dawned on me that Christ was coming, and I was so
happy I was just crying for joy. Then suddenly I thought of
Herbert and was rather worried."
She knew I had evidenced very little religious interest,
although we had attended a corner church two or three times.
Then it seemed that, from among these angels in her dream,
that, "Christ descended from among them and stood directly in
front of us. At first I was a little doubtful and afraid of how
He would receive us, because I remembered we had neglected our
Bible study and had our minds too much on things apart from His
interests. But as we went up to Him, He put His arms around both
of us, and we were so happy! I thought people all over the world
had seen Him come. As far as we could see, people were just
swarming into the streets at this broad intersection. Some were
glad and some were afraid.
"Then it seemed He had changed into an angel. I was terribly
disappointed at first, until he told me Christ was really coming
in a very short time."
At that time, we had been going quite regularly to
motion-picture theatres. She asked the angel if this were wrong.
He replied Christ had important work for us to do, preparing for
His coming -- there would be no time for "movies." (Those were the
days of the "silent" pictures.) Then the angel and the whole
spectacle seemed to vanish, and she awakened, shaken and
In the morning, she told me of her dream. I was embarrassed.
I didn't want to think about it, yet I was afraid to totally
dismiss it. I thought of a logical way to evade it myself, and
still solve it.
"Why don't you tell it to the minister of the church up on
the corner," I casually suggested, "and ask him whether it means
With that, I managed to put it out of my mind.
Let me say here that in about 99,999 times out of 100,000,
when people think GOD is speaking to them in a dream or vision in
this day and age, it is pure imagination, or some form of
self-hypnotism or self-deception. I have only come to believe
that this dream was a bonafide call from God in the light of
subsequent events.
Do not hastily ascribe a dream to God. True, the Bible shows
that God has spoken to His own chosen servants by this means of
communication -- primarily in the Old Testament, and before the
writing of the Bible was completed. But most dreams mean nothing.
And false prophets have misled people by telling false dreams,
representing their dreams to be the Word of God (Jeremiah 23,
where God says, "I am against prophets who recount lying dreams,
leading my people astray with their lies and their empty
pretensions, though I never sent them, never commissioned
them" -- verse 32, Moffatt translation).
Certainly I did not ascribe this dream to God. It made me
feel a little uncomfortable at the time, and I was anxious to
forget it -- which I did for some years. I was twenty-five at the
time. God left me to my own ways for five more years. But when I
was age thirty, He began to deal with me in no uncertain terms,
and from that time every business or money-making venture I
attempted was turned into utter defeat.

The Draft Classification

Upon return of the people from whom we rented the apartment, we
stayed on in the bedroom we had occupied a few days. A friend of
theirs, a desk clerk at Hotel Sherman, was looking for temporary
tenants on a similar basis. His wife and children were to be gone
a month. He kept one room for himself, and rented the rest of the
apartment to us for the month. Then we moved to a single bedroom
of an apartment occupied by a Mrs. Brookhart in the same general
North Side neighborhood, where we had dining room and kitchen
privileges at times when Mrs. Brookhart was not using them. By
this time we knew that we were to become parents.
It was about this time, probably late September, that the
draft boards had their questionnaires ready for filling out. The
questionnaire included a question as to marriage status, whether
there were children or a pregnancy; and also a question regarding
religious affiliation. I wrote down "Quaker," but realizing the
Quakers were being granted exemption as conscientious objectors,
I wrote in the words: "I do not ask for exemption because of
Church affiliation."
I was still expecting to go to army camp as soon as the
camps were ready. But no call came, and a few weeks later I
received my draft classification card. Dr. Goode had personally
marked it "Class IV, Noncombatant," probably because he
remembered I had married on his personal advice, with no
intention of evading the draft.
I have mentioned that I sold advertising space by first
writing the copy and selling that. Always these ads were
carefully gone over with my wife before submitting them to
prospective advertisers. The surveys made were discussed and
planned with her active participation. From the time of marriage,
we have always been partners in whatever was my work.
I remember her saying, not many days after we were married:
"They say a wife either makes or breaks her husband. Well, you
just watch me make mine!" But do not receive the impression that
she "wore the trousers" in our family. She was a woman of
purpose, of ideas, vision, depth of mind, resourcefulness and
great initiative. But the responsibility of being head of the
family was mine, and I have assumed it.

An Emergency Call

About one o'clock one afternoon a telephone call came from my
wife. It was a desperate emergency call. She was sobbing so that
she could hardly talk. "Something terrible has happened," she
said between sobs. "Hurry! Come home quickly!"
"What's happened?" I asked. She couldn't tell me, over the
telephone. "Just hurry home -- quick! Oh, it's terrible! HURRY!"
I ran full speed to the elevator, and out to the street
below, where I hailed a cab. No time to take the "L" train. I
asked the cab driver to rush full speed to our address.
Dashing up the stairs two steps at a time, I ran into our
apartment and took my sobbing wife in my arms.
"What on earth is it?" I demanded.
Then she told me, still sobbing. She had lost faith in two
"Those women told dirty stories!"
She had been introduced to an elderly woman by the people of
the second apartment we had occupied after marriage. She had
seemed such a kindly, nice old lady. My wife had gone to visit
with her several times.
On this particular day, this lady was entertaining my wife
and one other woman at luncheon. These two women began to tell
dirty stories and laugh at them. Mrs. Armstrong was shocked. She
had never heard that kind of language come from the mouth of a
woman before. She was horrified! Manners or no manners, she
suddenly excused herself, and ran from the woman's apartment. She
continued running all the way to our apartment and immediately
called me.
I looked at my innocent, naive, trusting little wife
"Is that all!" I exploded, almost speechless. "Look here,
Loma! Do you mean to tell me you called me away from an important
business conference, and caused me to waste cab fare all the way
out here, for nothing more serious than that?"
My sweet, trusting little wife was so broken up at having to
lose faith in people that I found it necessary to remain with her
the rest of the day. We took a long walk out Sheridan Road, and
probably then went to a movie to get her mind off of it.
The disillusionment she experienced in Chicago caused her a
great deal of suffering. She learned that many if not most people
in a great metropolitan city become hard, suspicious, selfish,
more mechanical than human.

Chapter 11
Our First Child

FOR SOME four months after our wedding day we lived on the North
Side of Chicago, near the lake. During that brief period we had
occupied two furnished apartments and one furnished room.
About Thanksgiving time, 1917, we moved into a single room
on the South Side. We sub-rented this room from Charley and Viva
Hyle in their apartment some short distance south of 63rd Street.
Charley Hyle worked on the night shift at an automobile
assembly plant. My wife and Viva became good friends. Actually,
although we rented only the one bedroom with kitchen and dining
room privilege, we shared the entire apartment with them -- living
room, as well as dining room and kitchen.
By this time we knew we were going to become parents. Our
first baby was due the latter part of May.

Our First Child Born

It probably was the affirmative checkmark on the pregnancy
question on my draft-board questionnaire which caused the Board
chairman, Professor J. Paul Goode, to give me a Class 4,
noncombatant, draft classification.
We lived with the Hyles until very shortly before the time
for our baby to be born.
In January, 1918, my wife accompanied me on a business trip
to Des Moines. We both wanted our baby to be born in Des Moines.
Mrs. Armstrong had formed an intense aversion to the artificial
and mechanical city of Chicago.
Arriving in Des Moines, my wife found that her girl chum's
mother was in the hospital, having just given birth to her tenth
child. The modern method of hospital delivery with anesthesia was
just then becoming the vogue. This particular mother recommended
it to my wife, and also her doctor, a woman obstetrical
physician, Dr. Georgia Stuart.
Mrs. Armstrong preferred a woman doctor, and I did not
oppose. Consequently, a visit was made to Dr. Stuart's office for
a check-up and instruction, and she was retained.
Our baby was due to be born about May 25th. We made our next
trip to Des Moines well ahead of time -- so we supposed -- arriving
on Sunday, May 5. On Monday we went to the doctor's office for a
check-up. I needed to take a week's business trip to Sioux City
and other points.
"You are in splendid condition," Dr. Stuart assured my wife.
"There is every reason to expect the baby to go the full time,
and I believe it is perfectly safe for Mr. Armstrong to be away
for the remainder of this week.
My wife's sister, Bertha Dillon, came to stay with her in
our apartment in The Brown, a residential hotel where we always
stayed when in Des Moines. I left that day for Sioux City.
About two o'clock Thursday morning Mrs. Armstrong knew the
baby was about to be born. Two weeks prematurely, she called Dr.
Stuart on the telephone, and the doctor told her to get dressed
and she would drive past the hotel and take her to the hospital
at once.
In those days women wore high-top laced shoes, and in the
excitement of the emergency, much frightened due to the fact I
was away and this was her first childbirth experience, Mrs.
Armstrong was too nervous to lace up her shoes, and her sister
had a frightful time trying to get those high-tops laced up!
Finally they made it and were ready to leave. Bertha sent a
telegram to me telling me to race to Des Moines on the first
This trip I was staying at the West Hotel in Sioux City. For
some reason I slept a little late that Thursday morning. Coming
down for breakfast around eight, I looked in my box at the desk,
and the clerk handed me the telegram, which had arrived there at
3:30 a.m.
"Quick!" I exclaimed, "when does the next train leave for
Des Moines?"
"The only train all day to Des Moines left about 15 minutes
ago," was the terrifying answer.
I was outraged!
"Look at this telegram!" I thundered at the hotel clerk. "It
arrived here at 3:30 a.m., in plenty of time for me to have
"Well, I suppose the night clerk didn't want to disturb
you," was the nonconcerned and exasperating answer.
I could not have been more angry!
"NOW LOOK!" I said sharply, "There's got to be some way to
get to Des Moines before that train tomorrow morning!"
"Well," said the hotel clerk, "there is a train leaving for
Council Bluffs and Omaha in about thirty minutes, but I don't
know whether you could make any connection from there to Des
In that thirty minutes my bags were packed, and I had
boarded that Council Bluffs train. At the depot I learned that if
we were on time at Council Bluffs, there was a chance to race
across town in a taxi and catch a train on the Rock Island line
due in Des Moines about six o'clock that very evening.
Quickly I scribbled off a telegram to my sister-in-law
giving the train number, and requesting her to wire me on the
train, at some town along the way, the news of my wife's

A Father Suffers Birth Pangs

Nervously I kept inquiring at every train-stop for a telegram.
There was no telegram. The suspense was building up. It was
becoming almost unendurable.
We did arrive at Council Bluffs on time. The taxi made the
mad dash across town. The taxi driver thought I might take three
minutes to try to get a long-distance telephone call through.
There had not been time to try to get Bertha by telephone at
Sioux City -- I just barely caught that train. The cab driver
stopped in front of the telephone office. I raced in and tried to
make the connection with Des Moines. The three minutes ran out on
me before they got the call through.
I just caught the Rock Island train for Des Moines on the
But the train didn't seem to run -- it seemed to slow down to
a slow walk.
WHY didn't that train go a little faster? It didn't seem in
any hurry. It made all the stops.
Time dragged. My nerves raced. The suspense built up.
I don't think we arrived in Des Moines at six that same
night. I think it was at six several nights later. At least so it
seemed to me.
After an eternity of anxious suspense, before the train came
to a full stop, I was the first passenger off at Des Moines. I
ran full speed to a telephone at the newsstand in the depot.
A nurse at the Methodist Hospital said sweetly, "You have a
fine new seven-pound-nine-ounce daughter."
I didn't even hear that.
"I don't care a hang about that," I snapped back, "HOW'S MY
WIFE?" All day long I had lived through the agonizing hours not
knowing whether my wife had lived through it.
You see, this was my first experience at becoming a father.
I didn't know yet, then, that the doctors will tell you they've
never lost a father yet.
"Oh," said the sweet little nurse's provokingly slow voice,
"she's just FINE!" At last I could relax a little, as I raced to
a cab and asked him to drive full speed to the hospital.

Babies Don't Stop Breathing

Stepping briskly into my wife's private hospital room, I was
greatly relieved to see her smiling happily, reaching her arms
toward me. I kissed her, and almost immediately a nurse brought
in our little daughter, Beverly Lucile. She was the most
beautiful baby I had ever seen! I was a very proud father.
Mrs. Armstrong has always had a penchant for naming babies.
She has named dozens -- perhaps scores of them -- wherever and
whenever other mothers would allow her to name their babies. Of
course she had Beverly named long before she was born. Had she
been a boy, my wife had decided to name him Herbert Junior. But
by the time our first son was born, more than ten years later, we
had both changed our minds about the name "Junior."
Just as the baby was born, my wife, only partially under the
ether, asked:
"What is it, girl or boy?"
"It's a girl," answered Dr. Stuart.
"Girl! Beverly!" said Mrs. Armstrong with emphasis in her
semi-anesthetized stupor.
After ten days the doctor released her from the hospital,
and our little family of three and Bertha resumed life at The
Brown. There was a small balcony off our apartment. The baby was
laid on the bed, and we sat down out on the balcony.
We heard a slight sound from the baby.
"Quick!" exclaimed my young wife in nervous anxiety, "see if
the baby's still breathing!"
I had to rush inside to reassure her that babies just don't
stop breathing for no reason at all.
Whenever the baby made a sound, Mrs. Armstrong was sure she
was choking to death. When she did not make a sound, my wife was
sure she had smothered to death.
In our apartment was a small kitchenette. The baby's first
bath away from the hospital was quite an experience. Mrs.
Armstrong's first experience! She was so afraid the baby would
take cold, she turned on the stove until the kitchenette room was
so hot the baby screamed. The young mother didn't know why the
baby screamed -- became frightened, supposing something terrible
was wrong with the baby. Both sweat and tears rolled down my
wife's face. She was afraid for any air to touch the baby, so she
hurried frantically with the bath! When the baby cried and even
screamed because of the excess heat and lack of oxygen, her young
mother, not knowing what caused the baby's discomfort, burst out
crying, too -- but with determination she finished the bath! Many
young mothers have many things to learn, the same as young

The Flu Epidemic

It was now after the 20th of May, 1918. The flu epidemic had
struck the United States, during the very crisis of the war.
People were dying all over the nation, and especially in the
larger cities.
We decided against taking our baby back into the congestion
of Chicago. Instead we rented a house in Indianola, Iowa, 18
miles south of Des Moines, where there were fewer people to come
in contact with and less danger of being exposed to the new
influenza disease. The house we rented was close to the Simpson
College campus.
Leaving my wife and baby with her sister Bertha, I returned
alone to Chicago to look after my business. At the railroad
depots boxed caskets were being loaded on the baggage cars of
most trains -- bodies of influenza victims. We had not wanted to
risk exposing our new baby by a train ride to Chicago. In Chicago
I saw people in the congested "Loop" traffic wearing cloth masks
over their mouths and noses to prevent breathing a flu germ.
After some three months we decided the family could not
remain apart any longer -- nor could I afford the frequent trips to
Iowa to be part time with my family, so I brought my wife and
baby daughter back to Chicago. This time we rented a room with a
family named Bland, who had an apartment on the South Side, south
of 63rd Street, not far from the Hyles, who had moved away by
this time.
I began to concentrate more and more on developing the farm
tractor business for The Northwestern Banker. As mentioned in a
previous chapter, Clifford DePuy, publisher of The Northwestern
Banker, had purchased the old St. Louis Banker at St. Louis, and
changed its name to the Mid-Continent Banker.
He appointed a former acquaintance of mine, R. Fullerton
Place, as Editor and manager of the Mid-Continent Banker. Some
years before, when I was 18 years of age and a solicitor in the
want-ad department of the Des Moines Daily Capital, Mr. Place had
been Sports Editor of the Capital. We always called him by his
youthful nickname, "Rube" Place.
Also I mentioned, in an earlier chapter, that after this
"farm tractor brainstorm" hit me, I had made extensive surveys to
gather facts and information not possessed by tractor
manufacturers about their distribution problems.
With this information accurately tabulated and analyzed, I
was able to approach the manufacturers in the tractor industry
with facts they themselves did not know about their own selling
and distribution problems.
I found that bankers invariably discouraged their farmer
customers from buying tractors. The readers of my magazines -- the
country bankers -- were talking thousands of farmers out of buying
tractors after local dealers had talked them into it. Our readers
provided a major sales resistance.
It was, therefore, important to the tractor industry to
"sell" the bankers on modern mechanized farm methods.

Doing Business With Millionaires

It became necessary to do business direct with the presidents of
these great corporations. Thus, once again, I was thrown into
business contact with important millionaire executives. These
contacts were important in the early training for the job I was
destined to be called to later.
I soon learned, however, that it was difficult to induce the
head of a great corporation with national distribution to
advertise in one small bank journal covering only five
states -- or, after the purchase of the Mid-Continent Banker, even
the two small localized sectional journals. They were accustomed
to doing business in a big way -- of national scope.
I think I must have caught some of their vision. Later, when
the media of radio and the printing press were opened to me in
the big Commission, it seemed natural that my thinking was
constantly along lines of expansion -- first from Lane County,
Oregon, to the Portland area; then the entire Pacific Northwest;
then California and the entire coast; then national; then,
finally as of today, WORLDWIDE! I think my readers will be quick
to grasp how these years of business training provided the
necessary foundation for the great Work of today.
Of course all these farm tractor manufacturers placed all
their advertising through advertising agencies. In the agencies,
even more than in the offices of tractor corporation presidents,
I was tremendously handicapped by representing only a small
sectional circulation. They, by contrast, bought space on a
national basis.

The New Brainstorm

This situation inspired the new brainstorm, also previously
mentioned in this autobiography. There were seven leading
sectional bank journals, and two national magazines with more
scattered banker circulations. It required all nine of them to
cover the entire nation with an intensive national circulation.
I compared my situation to that of actors in show business.
An actor in a theatre on Broadway gets paid for one performance
each night, but to play before many thousands of people he must
act the part all over again night after night. But a movie actor
in Hollywood, I reasoned, acted the part just once, and it was
seen in hundreds and hundreds of theatres. The Hollywood stars
were paid in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, while
the Broadway actors were paid in hundreds of dollars. The movie
star received multiple compensation for the one effort.
I saw that it would be far easier for me to sell a national
circulation for a string of nine magazines on the one effort. In
other words, it would be easier to make nine commissions on the
one solicitation, than one commission.
Immediately this idea met emphatic and determined resistance
from Clifford DePuy. I was his Chicago representative, and he was
not going to share my services with anyone else!
I told Cliff I was absolutely certain I could send him more
business under the new setup, at only 30% commission, than I
could as his exclusive representative at 40%. He believed that I
could not get as much business for his magazines sharing my time
with seven others as I could devoting all my time to his
magazines alone. It was like the irresistible force meeting the
immovable object.
We were both strong willed.
It came to a climax one night in the offices of the
Mid-Continent Banker in St. Louis. I had been in St. Louis
soliciting business. Mr. DePuy was there. I needed to draw an
expense check as advance commission in order to have train fare
to return home in Chicago.
"O.K.," said Cliff, "agree to give up this fantastic idea of
representing seven other journals, and remain exclusively my
representative, and I'll give you the check."
He "had me over a barrel" -- so he thought!
Actually, his ultimatum was entirely fair and reasonable,
from his point of view. But I couldn't see it that way. To me it
meant more business than ever for him, and at 25% reduction in
cost of getting it. I felt he ought to help get me established in
Round and round we went. Neither would give in.
Mr. Place tried to cause me to give in. He quoted Scripture.
"The Bible says, 'To him that hath shall be given; and to him
that hath not shall be taken away, even what he hath.' In this
case Cliff hath, and you hath not! You'll simply have to give in,
Herbert, or you have no way to get back to Chicago."
"I'll never give in!" I retorted with increased
determination and set jaw. "I'll start to WALK back to Chicago
before I'll give up this new plan. If you won't advance me
expense money, I might as well leave the office and start
walking. I'll find a way to get home and develop this string of
bank journals!"
When Cliff saw how determined I was, on the showdown, he was
not willing to let me start walking all the way to Chicago. He
gave me the needed expense money.
I will say, however, that I did my best to make it a good
investment, and succeeded. I did send him a great deal more
advertising under the nine-magazine, national-circulation setup
than I could have done otherwise -- and at lower commission.
In those days I worked sporadically in streaks.
I seemed to have my "off" days and my "on" days. When I was
"on," I was "red hot," and, as I fancied, at least, very
brilliant. But on the "off" days it seemed I couldn't sell
anything. I became very uncomfortably aware of this great fault,
and I tried to fight it, but it took me years to overcome it. But
I did overcome it eventually.
Actually, during these next few years, I did not work more
than four or five days a month. But, with the nine magazines and
a national circulation, the commission on a half-page, or a
full-page contract for one year was rather large. I did not need
to have too many of the brilliant days to make a good year's
From memory, my income for that year 1918 was approximately
$7,300; for 1919 approximately $8,700; and for 1920 over $11,000.
When you consider what a dollar in those days was worth, those
were very good incomes by today's standards.

The Curtis Opportunity

Not very many knew of that fault of working in spurts on my "on"
days. The business contacts didn't, because I only called on them
on the "good" days. On those days I was supremely self-confident,
and consequently effective.
Soon I knew and was known by almost every advertising agency
in Chicago. Representing the nine leading bank journals -- having
virtually a monopoly representation in the banking field -- now
with an intensified national circulation to offer, enhanced my
prestige greatly with the agencies. They came to know me as a
publishers' representative who "knew his stuff." Also, they had
learned, by the latter part of 1918, that I was absolutely honest
in statements about bank journals -- whether those I represented,
or competitive journals.
Since bank journal circulations were very small, even though
extremely high in class, the page rates were comparatively low.
Agencies made very small commissions from business placed in bank
journals. Having confidence in my knowledge and honesty, most
Chicago agencies came to rely almost altogether on my advice
relative to any space used in the banking journals.
At that time the biggest organization in the publishing
field was the Curtis Publishing Company of Philadelphia,
publishers of The Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies' Home
Journal, and The Country Gentleman. They were regarded as the
most aggressive people in the publishing business. It was a
matter of great prestige to be on their staff.
Along about this time the Curtis organization was looking
for a brilliant and promising young cub solicitor who showed
promise of developing into a high executive position. They
inquired of space-buyers and contact men in most of the leading
advertising agencies for recommendations of the most promising
man in the field soliciting the agencies. I was one of the top
two recommended by the Chicago agencies, and was called to the
Curtis Chicago office, where their western manager offered me the
opportunity to join the Curtis staff.
It was a very flattering opportunity. However, I wanted to
be SURE, before making a change. By this time I had finally
learned the lesson of sticking with a thing, and not shifting
around. I went to Arthur Reynolds, President of the Continental &
Commercial National Bank -- Chicago's largest bank, and second
largest national bank in America -- for advice.
He pushed a button on his desk. Immediately a secretary
"Bring me our file on the Curtis Publishing Company of
Philadelphia," he said. The file was quickly produced. He scanned
over it quickly. I noticed that the material in it was red-pencil
marked, so as to call to his attention quickly the most vital
"I'm going to advise you to remain where you are," he
concluded within a few moments. "The Curtis people are a big
prestige organization. But you'd be just a cub with them,
starting near the bottom. It would be years before you'd be
noticed by any of the men at the top. Some of these big companies
take good care of their men, others pay small salaries. The
Curtis people do not have to pay big salaries for the job or
office held. With them you'd be a little frog in a big puddle.
Where you are, you are a big frog in a little puddle. You have
your own business. You have developed it so as to bring yourself
into constant contact with big and important men. In my judgment
this is better training for your future success than anything you
would get with the Curtis organization. It is flattering, of
course, that the advertising agencies have rated you one of the
two most promising and effective young advertising solicitors in
Chicago. Take this as encouragement to drive yourself on to
greater accomplishment. But I think you are doing well right
where you are."
I took his advice. The Curtis offer was turned down.

An Irate Competitor

An incident occurred about this time which illustrates the
confidence that had been built up in the advertising agencies of
One day the space buyer of the Critchfield agency called me
on the telephone.
"There's a Mr. Chazen here," he said (the name has been
changed for obvious reasons). "He says he is publisher of three
bankers' magazines, one circulating in Illinois, Indiana and
Wisconsin; one in Nebraska, and one in Kansas and Oklahoma. Is it
any good?"
It was not. It was a fake. I told him the truth.
"No, it's a plain fake. He really has a good circulation in
Nebraska, but that is all. He puts a different cover with a
different name on a very few copies and calls it by the name of
his supposed Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin paper; then he puts
still a different cover with another name on a few copies,
supposed to be a magazine circulating in Kansas and Oklahoma. I
have survey reports from every bank in Illinois and Wisconsin.
His supposed magazine for these states has exactly four
subscribers in Wisconsin, and 17 in Illinois. That's all."
"Thanks, Armstrong," said the Critchfield space buyer.
It took this irate publisher about 12 minutes to hotfoot it
across the Loop to my office.
"Armstrong," he shouted as he burst in the door, "what kind
of a game are you playing, anyway? It seems you've got all the
agencies in Chicago hypnotized so that no one else can get any
business here without your approval. All right! I'll pay! What's
your price? What have I got to pay you to lay off, and recommend
my three magazines?"
"Sit down, and cool off, Mr. Chazen," I said. "Sure I've got
a price. The price is simply whatever it is going to cost you to
build an honest circulation for those two fake papers of yours,
and join the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and prove your
circulation by an ABC audit. Then I'll recommend your magazines
for nothing."
"Why, Why!" he puffed and stammered, "that's outrageous!
That's IMPOSSIBLE! Do you know what that would cost me?"
"Sure I know. But it's the price of being HONEST!"
"It's an OUTRAGE!" he kept shouting, as he stomped out of my
There was another occasion when an agency had a client who
needed all the banker circulation he could get in Minnesota. In
addition to the Northwestern Banker, I recommended a Minneapolis
bank journal that had a good strong circulation in Minnesota. Its
publisher came to see me and thank me. He had a good honest
circulation in Minnesota, and where it fit a marketing problem I
was glad to recommend it.

Our New Apartment

We were still living in our little three-room apartment at Blands
when the World War I ended, November 11, 1918.
We shall never forget that day. We had Beverly with us at my
office. Chicago's Loop went crazy -- berserk! We joined in tearing
thick telephone directories into thin strips and throwing them
out our fourth story window. Everyone was doing it. It was like
snow falling all over the Loop. I got out in the throng for a
while -- managed to elbow my way for some two blocks -- then fought
my way through the jam back to the office. Every whistle and
siren was going -- every car honking full blast!
About that time I learned of a new apartment building being
built out in Maywood, third suburban town west of Chicago. I was
beginning to get some of the tractor advertising for my nine
magazines, and we felt that at last we could lease a full
apartment. I leased this one, on the third floor, from the
architect's blueprints, about the time the foundation was being
laid. The apartment was on Fifth Street, a block or two north of
the Northwestern railroad tracks.
It was going to be several months before the apartment
building would be ready for occupancy. Nevertheless, in January
we rented an old house on Second Street in Maywood, a few blocks
from the new apartment building. My wife's father had decided to
come to Chicago, and he bought furniture for the house. Her
younger brother, Walter, had been released from the Navy and he
and Bertha also lived with us in this place.
We lived there some six months. Beverly learned to walk
there. The elder of my wife's younger brothers, Gilbert, returned
from the trenches in France, discharged from the Army; and so,
with his two sons back from the war, my wife's father shipped his
furniture and moved back to Iowa.
We then moved for a few weeks into the hotel in Maywood.
Maywood was a totally different type suburb in those days than it
is today. It has grown immensely and has become a big factory
The frame hotel caught on fire while we stayed there, an
incident of great excitement. In one room a couple of excited
guests threw the mirror off the dresser out the window, breaking
it into many fragments and then they carefully carried down the
stairs the dresser itself.
We soon found a furnished house on Fourth Street we could
rent until our apartment was finished. While living in this
house, shortly prior to occupying the new apartment, my mother
came to visit us, and remained until we had moved into our
All the while business was improving. We felt able to
furnish our new apartment, and engaged one of Marshall Field's
decorators to work with us in the furnishings for the apartment.
What we selected was of the very best. Our own apartment -- the
first that was our very own since marriage -- seemed a joy indeed.
We had moved into the furnished house in early December,
1919, and into our apartment in April, 1920.
By this time we were expecting our second child. My wife was
having difficulties. Within a week or two after moving into our
new apartment, and only a few days after my mother had returned
to Salem, Oregon, Mrs. Armstrong was stricken with toxemia
eclampsia, with urinalysis showing 40% albumin, and rushed to a
hospital. We were told that there was only one doctor in the
world who could save her in her serious condition -- and this
specialist was called in. She survived, and our second daughter,
Dorothy Jane, was born in a Des Moines hospital on July 7, 1920.
There was one lasting ill-effect from this critical
illness -- the treatment that was administered ruined my wife's
beautiful golden hair -- the most beautiful I had ever seen -- and in
a comparatively short time she was white-haired.
The world-famous obstetrical specialist brought in on my
wife's case in Chicago, her Des Moines doctor, and my wife's
uncle who was a captain in the Medical Corps in the Army, all
told us that another pregnancy would mean the certain death of my
wife and of the baby. Although we did not know why at the time,
we learned much later we were of the opposite Rh blood factor.

Chapter 12
Depression Strikes!

SHORTLY after our second daughter, Dorothy, was born, I persuaded
my younger brother, Russell, then twenty, to come back to Chicago
and join me in the advertising business. He had been employed in
an office job with the Portland Gas & Coke Company in Portland,

My Brother's Experience

I gave him what instruction and coaching I could, and sent him
out calling on prospects to sell advertising space for our
magazines. But after several days -- or perhaps two or three
weeks -- he didn't seem to be doing so well. I knew he had not had
any of this kind of experience. So I decided to take him on a
call with me, to observe the manner in which I talked with
prospective advertisers. I decided that we should call together
on someone I had never met before.
The J. I. Case tractor account had just switched to a new
agency I had never contacted. I decided to make the call on the
space buyer of this agency. It was one of my "on" days, and about
10:30 in the morning.
I wanted to set a good example for Russell, to show him how
it was done. We went together to the agency office. Briskly, and
with dignity I stepped up to the receptionist.
"Tell Mr. Blank that Mr. Armstrong is here to see him," I
said in a positive tone. I had found that this approach usually
got me right in on my man.
The space buyer came out to the reception office, holding my
card which I had sent in by the receptionist.
"What bank journals do you represent?" he asked.
"The nine largest -- all of them that are worth using," I
replied snappily and positively, and in a tone of authority.
"Well!" he exclaimed, "come in!"
In his office I immediately launched into the situation my
surveys had disclosed, slapping down on his desk a pile of
hundreds of questionnaires from bankers and tractor dealers, and
taking out of my briefcase the typed tabulations and summaries of
the surveys.
He was tremendously impressed.
"Mr. Armstrong," he said after we had covered the material
in the surveys, "I wonder if you could prepare for me a statement
of the combined circulations, page sizes, rates, et cetera, of
your publications."
"I have it right here -- already prepared for you," I said,
handing the statement to him.
He asked me to prepare for him some other statement. I
reached into the briefcase and handed it to him. He asked if I
would send over to him sample copies of each of my magazines. I
reached in the briefcase, and handed them to him.
"Well," he said finally, "that just about covers everything.
Now tell me, Mr. Armstrong -- I see you know this problem
thoroughly, and you know your own publications. Just what do you
advise for this J. I. Case account -- which magazines, and how much
space ought they to use to accomplish their objective with the
"They should use nothing but full pages," I said, speaking
authoritatively, "and they should use all nine publications for a
concentrated national circulation, because the J. I. Case
distribution is national; and they should use it every issue on a
year-around basis because they have an educational problem which
is going to require constant educational-type copy over an
extended period of time. You've got to change the attitude of
bankers in regard to mechanized power farming. That's a big
order. It can only be done with big space, and it's going to take
time. And here I have for you the data and arguments you should
incorporate into the advertising copy to convince the bankers.
These are the facts that will convince them if you present them
in important-size space and keep it up month after month."
I handed him the typed statement of facts, data and
arguments which my surveys and personal interviews with bankers
had indicated would be most effective in changing banker
attitudes toward tractors.
He thanked me, and Russell and I left.

Record-Breaking Contract

Out in the hall, on the way to the elevator, I asked Russell: "Do
you think we will remain on the J. I. Case list, for renewal
contracts for another year?"
"Boy!" exclaimed Russell, "will we! Why, I think he will do
just what you recommended. Why, you had him literally eating
right out of your hand."
"Well, did that experience help you, Russ?"
I was completely surprised at his answer.
"No! It certainly didn't! Instead, it showed me why I
haven't been landing any contracts. Look, Herb! I'm only twenty
years old. They think of me as just a kid. You are twenty-eight.
You've been in this for years, and you've had experience I
haven't had. You have all the facts right on your tongue tip. You
speak with assurance and authority. You know your stuff, and men
you talk to know that you know your stuff. They have confidence
in you immediately. But I don't have all this knowledge yet, and
I don't appear as mature, and I can't talk as confidently."
I was disappointed. To try to help my brother, I had really
keyed myself up to "put on a good show" for him on this call. It
boomeranged. It reacted in reverse. It discouraged him. And I
didn't know what to do about it. What he had said was true. It
would take him years to gain maturity of appearance, and the
knowledge of all these merchandising and distribution problems,
just as it had taken me years to acquire this knowledge and
That same afternoon the space buyer in the agency we had
called on that morning called me on the telephone.
"Hello, Mr. Armstrong. I have some good news for you. I
didn't tell you this morning, but while you were here, the
president and advertising manager of the J. I. Case Company were
here in the office of our president, making up the lists for the
next year. I took all your data list."
"Splendid!" I replied, "but how much space?" I was already
carrying the J. I. Case account, with half-page space in only
three magazines.
"Full page," he replied.
"Splendid! But how many magazines?"
"Oh," as if he had not thought to tell me, "all nine of
"Splendid! But how many months?" I was having to drag it out
of him.
"Fifteen months," he replied. "We will start with the
October numbers, using October, November and December of this
year, and then the entire calendar year next year, making a total
of 15 pages in each magazine."
"Wow!" It was the biggest advertising contract ever sold for
bank journals, so far as I knew. And so far as I know, it
probably is still the record today. By this time advertising
rates on all my magazines had gone up considerably. My commission
on this order was probably around $3,500 -- a good fee for about
one hour's consultation that morning!
For some little time longer I tried to keep Russell on the
job, not soliciting tractor accounts, but smaller-space
advertising. But he was just too young. He procured a job with
one of my clients, a burglar alarm manufacturer, selling their
burglar alarm system to banks. He traveled for some months in
northern Illinois and in Wisconsin, gaining some valuable
experience, getting together Board meetings in banks to present
his product to them. But, although he did better on this, his
youth proved too great a handicap, and finally he returned to
Portland, Oregon, and to his job with the Gas company.

Depression Strikes

In January, 1920, the well-known statistician Roger Babson was
the speaker at one of our Association of Commerce luncheons then
being held each Wednesday in the Cameo Room of the Morrison
Hotel. Through the Advertising Club, a division of Chicago
Association of Commerce, I had been a member of the Association
for some years.
We were then at the very height of a wave of postwar
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Babson, "we are about to enter the
worst business depression that our generation has ever
experienced. I advise you all to set your houses in order. I
advise against any further plans of expansion until this
depression has passed over."
Seated at tables in that large room were leading bankers and
business executives of Chicago. I glanced around. I saw amused
smirks animate the faces of many prominent men.
Through the next few months of 1920 business activity
continued its boom upswing.
In the summer of that year I attended the American bankers
Association national convention in Washington, D.C. While passing
the White House one day, I was stopped at the driveway for a
large limousine emerging from the White House to pass. In the
rear seat was President Woodrow Wilson. He smiled and waved his
hand to the two or three of us who happened to be passing at the
Mr. Wilson was the fourth President I had seen in person. At
age five or six, when we lived in Marshalltown, Iowa, held in my
father's arms, I saw President William McKinley. He was making a
rear platform address from his private train. The event was so
vividly stamped in my memory that I remember it distinctly, even
though I was scarcely out of babyhood at the time.
I saw and heard President Theodore Roosevelt several times,
both during his administration and afterward. I sat within about
fifteen feet of him at an Association of Commerce banquet in the
ballroom of Hotel LaSalle in Chicago. I saw President Taft, when
he made a speech in Des Moines, Iowa. But since seeing and waving
back to President Wilson that day in 1920, I have not seen a
single President in person -- though of course, since television,
most of us have seen every President many times; and I had seen
all presidents since Wilson in newsreels.
A highlight of that 1920 convention trip to Washington, D.C.
was a long conversation I had, lasting more than an hour, with
John McHugh, in the lobby of the Willard Hotel. Mr. McHugh was
then president of the Mechanics and Metals National Bank of New
York. Later, through consolidations of this bank and others into
the gigantic Chase National Bank, Mr. McHugh was elevated to a
position two levels higher than the president of the largest bank
on earth, with the title "Chairman of the Executive Committee."
But one might ask: "What price Glory?" in the business
world, after all. A very few years ago I stopped in at the Wall
Street offices of the Chase National Bank, and asked for
information as to the latter days of John McHugh.
"Who? Never heard of him!" was the only reply I could get
from those of today's staff that I questioned. Had he been a
glamour-boy movie star instead of a world-famous banker, his name
might have lived after him more effectively.
I was really puzzled about one thing. John McHugh was the
very epitome of a quiet, cultured, dignified gentleman. He was
extremely courteous, kindly, polite. Naturally he had many
friends and many who posed as friends. How could a soft-spoken
and kindly gentleman like John McHugh turn down a conniving,
scheming, professing "friend" who might come to him for a large
undeserved loan?
"Didn't friends and acquaintances take advantage of such a
gentle soul?" I asked one of my bank journal publishers.
He laughed. "Oh, no," he explained. "Don't worry about the
wrong kind taking advantage of John McHugh's friendliness. His
judgment is very keen, else he would never have risen to such
high level in the banking world. Nobody puts anything over on
him. He simply remains gracious and friendly, and explains that
loans of this type are handled by such and such officer. He then
offers to introduce the would-be borrower, expressing confidence
he will be well taken care of. He always is. Such procedure is
the signal to the other officer to turn the man down. The
would-be borrower friend, of course, becomes angry and furious at
this other officer -- but not at Mr. McHugh, who still retains the
Before the end of 1920, Roger Babson's predicted depression
did strike -- with sudden and intense fury. By January, 1921, we
had reached and passed its lowest ebb.

"Thermometers on the Wall"

At this time Roger Babson once again was the guest speaker in the
Morrison Hotel Cameo Room Association of Commerce luncheon.
"Well, gentlemen," he said, "you will remember that a year
ago I warned you that within one year we would be in the throes
of the worst depression our generation has ever seen. I noticed
many of you smiling unbelievingly then. Well, that year has
rolled around, and here I am again, and here is the depression
with me."
Chicago business leaders were not smiling now. Mr. Babson
then proceeded to explain why he knew what was coming and
business executives did not.
"It is now mid-winter," he said. "If I want to know what the
temperature is, now, in this room, I go to the wall and look at
the thermometer. If I want to know what it has been, up to now,
and the existing trend as of the moment, I look at a recording
thermometer. But if I want to know what the temperature in this
room is going to be, an hour from now, I go to the source which
determines future temperatures -- I go down to the boiler-room and
see what is happening down there. You gentlemen looked at bank
clearings, indexes of business activity, stock car loadings,
stockmarket quotations -- you looked at the thermometers on the
wall; I looked at THE WAY people as a whole were dealing with one
another. I looked to the SOURCE which determines future
conditions. I have found that that source may be defined in terms
of 'RIGHTEOUSNESS.' When 51% or more of the whole people are
reasonably 'righteous' in their dealings with one another, we are
heading into increasing prosperity. When 51% of the people become
'unrighteous' in their business dealings with their fellows, then
we are headed for BAD TIMES ECONOMICALLY!
I have never forgotten Mr. Babson's explanation. I hope my
readers today may remember and profit by it, too.
I paid with the loss of my business to learn the lesson!
Every one of my big-space advertisers in the tractor and
similar industries went into economic failure in that flash
depression of late 1920. It wiped out my business and source of
income -- literally!
I was not a quitter. I had learned, now, not to give up. But
I had not learned that a dead horse is DEAD! For two years I
stayed on in Chicago vainly attempting to revive a dead business.

Chapter 13
Business Disintegrates

THE NEXT two years -- from late 1920 until December, 1922 -- were
discouraging years. A few nationally known business executives,
unable to take the reverses of the depression, sank to
despondency and committed suicide. One of these was the president
of one of the large automobile manufacturing concerns whom I had
known personally.
I had been knocked down, stunned, made groggy -- but not
knocked out. Desperately I clung on, hoping to climb back on top.

Conference with Millionaires

One morning -- it must have been about February, 1921 -- a telephone
call came from the secretary of the National Implement and
Vehicle Association. An important meeting of the Board of
Directors of the association was in progress. Mr. Wallis (I do
not now remember his initials), president of the J. I. Case Plow
Works, my biggest client, was chairman of this board. He had
asked the secretary to call me and ask if I could run over
immediately to their meeting, being held across the Loop in the
Union League Club.
I told him I would be right over.
I raced down to a clothes-pressing shop and shoe shining
parlor, a half block down West Madison Street from my office,
ducked into a dressing room and had my suit pressed and shoes
shined while I waited -- a rush job. Then I caught a taxi and
hurried to the Union League Club.
Being ushered into the private room where the Board meeting
was being held, I shook hands with Mr. Wallis, and in turn was
introduced to six other millionaire presidents of large farm
implement manufacturers. I remember there was Mr. Brantingham,
president of Emerson-Brantingham, among the others. The magnetism
of the powerful personalities of these seven big business heads
surcharged the atmosphere of the room. It was the first time I
had ever been in the presence of so many big men at once. I was
deeply impressed. But they were not in a happy mood. They were a
deeply concerned group of men. The depression was ruining their
businesses. They faced ruin.

Advising Clients to Cancel

"Mr. Armstrong," said Mr. Wallis, "you know, of course, the
extent to which this depression has hit the farm tractor
industry. This meeting has been called in the interests of this
entire industry. The industry cannot survive unless we can find
some way to stimulate sales in this depression. We have to find
some way to induce farmers to buy tractors -- and they have quit
buying them.
"Now what we want to ask you is this: can you -- will you
bring pressure on the editors of bank journals of this nation,
whom you represent, to write strong and vigorous editorials
urging bankers to advise the farmers to resume buying tractors.
Can your editor show the bankers WHY they ought to bring pressure
on farmers to buy tractors, and save this great industry?"
It was a crucial moment in my life. Here were seven heads of
great corporations. They represented the entire great farm
tractor and farm implement industry. And they were appealing to
me to devise an idea, and take an action that would save this
vast industry of American Big Business from bankruptcy!
What an appeal to my egotism! What a temptation to think of
personal importance!
But I did know the FACTS! And when this test came, I had to
be honest with these men. It was no time for a grandstand play
for personal glory, or for pretense. I knew the FACTS -- hard, cold
stern FACTS -- and I had to be honest! Even though I knew it meant
cancellation of what tractor advertising had not already been
Of course the implication was that, if I could induce our
editors to undertake a campaign to pressure bankers into inducing
farmers to purchase tractors in this depression, an unheard-of
volume of big-space advertising would be handed me on a platter!
I was well aware of that. I was well aware that I had it in
my power to ignore FACTS I had gathered, and start such a
campaign in America's leading bank magazines. These men didn't
know what I knew. But it would be misrepresentation -- and
deliberate dishonesty.
I was ambitious to make money. But not by falsification or
dishonesty! I was sincere!
"No, gentlemen," I replied without hesitation. "I cannot do
it! I have been constantly in touch with the bankers in regard to
the farm tractor situation. Let me tell you what the country
bankers know. They know that corn which normally has been selling
for $1.12 per bushel has dropped down to 18 cents per bushel. I
have one client now whose business has skyrocketed since the
depression -- the Gordon-Van Tyne Company of Davenport, Iowa. They
make, as you know, prefabricated structures for temporary grain
storage. Everywhere farmers are buying these, and storing their
grain for a rise in the market -- after the depression is over.
"Bankers know that one tractor replaces six horses. Tractors
have to be fed gasoline, which is expensive right now. Horses are
fed on 18-cent corn and oats and hay that have skidded likewise
in price. Country bankers know their farmer customers would think
they were fools to recommend buying tractors and feeding them on
high-priced gasoline, when they have their horses being fed on
grain they can't sell."
The next day I received a cancellation of my last remaining
tractor account -- J. I. Case. But I still had my honesty and

A Child's Menu

In early May, 1921, it was necessary to take a business trip to
Iowa. It was decided that I should take our eldest daughter
Beverly, then almost three, for a visit with her "Auntie Bert" as
she called her Aunt Bertha, while I transacted business in Iowa.
In a lower berth on the sleeper that night, as I was
undressing her to put on her sleeping garment, Beverly stood up,
and discovered she could reach up and touch the shiny top of the
"See, Daddy," she exclaimed, "I'm a BIG girl now. I can
touch the ceiling."
Next morning we were having breakfast in the dining room of
the Hotel Savory. When the waitress brought me a menu, Beverly,
in the highchair they had brought her, demanded a menu also.
Laughingly the waitress gave her one. She looked up and down the
menu with a studious expression -- it might have been upside-down.
And then, with great feminine dignity, in a very ladylike voice,
Beverly gave the waitress her order.
"I think I will have," she said, pertly, "some ice cream,
some string beans, and some candy."
Later, when her younger sister Dorothy became about the same
age, she ordered a dinner.
"I want some ice cream, popcorn and some chewing gum," she
I never did quite agree with the modernistic psychologists
who say we should always give children whatever they want -- that
they instinctively know what is best for them.
Our children and grandchildren, of course, like all others,
have on occasion gotten off some "cute" sayings. One time my wife
was putting on Dorothy's little Dr. Denton sleepers to put her to
bed. It seems they were made of wool, and they scratched her
"Mother," she said seriously, "nobody but just me and God
and Jesus knows what a fix I'm in!"

Recuperating in Iowa

Things in my business went from bad to worse. It was
discouraging -- frustrating. I was taking the biggest beating of my
life -- but hung stubbornly on. Finally, about July, 1922, it
became necessary to give up our apartment. My income had gone too
low to support my family, and at that time we decided that Mrs.
Armstrong and the girls should go to her father's farm in Iowa,
to lessen the expenses.
I rented a single room about a block away in Maywood,
furnishing it with some of our very fine furniture, and the rest
of the furniture was put in storage. We had a Knabe piano I had
purchased new on contract, but it went back to the store when we
could no longer keep up the payments. All the rest of the
furniture had been bought for cash.
From this time I entered upon perhaps the blackest and most
discouraging three months of my life. It was a mistake to try to
face this uphill treadmill climb alone without my wife and
family. If ever I needed my wife it was then.
I began palling around with two other young men who were
advertising representatives of magazines. One of them was in
process of separating from and divorcing his wife. The wife of
the other was away for the summer and fall. We began to haunt
nightclubs -- then called cabarets. Often we would hang around
these places of sorrowful, moaning, screeching, wailing music -- if
you could call such dirges "music" -- until 1 or 2 a.m. We began to
drink -- not at all even a fraction of the volume of an
"alcoholic" -- but too much for efficiency. My mental attitude
became one of frustration.
Finally, I got two or three weeks behind with the room rent
on my single room, and I felt too humiliated to go back. I went
to a northside second-rate hotel -- then to another. Finally I
could not even keep this up.
I reached the end of the rope in Chicago in October, 1922. I
was lonesome for my wife and children. At last I, too, had to
seek refuge on my father-in-law's farm in Iowa, where we would
have no cost of living. I do not remember now, but I probably
traveled this time in a day coach.
My father-in-law was finishing up corn shucking and I did
the best I could to help him -- but I was inexperienced, and unable
to keep up with him.
Through that fall and winter, I spent most of the time in
resting, and recuperating in morale from the crushing defeat of
losing my business because my Big-Business clients had lost
theirs. That winter, beside the warm fire of burning oak logs, I
read through three or four books of fiction -- about the only
fiction reading of my entire life. I did what I could to help on
the farm, but that wasn't much, and my wife, of course, did the
cooking, and housework.

My First College Activity

At this time my wife's younger brother, Walter, was a freshman in
Simpson College in Indianola. Along in November he came to me
with a proposition.
"Herb," he said, "I've decided to go in for the college
oratorical contest, if you'll help me."
A short time before had been the first day of basketball
practice. Walter had been the star basketball player in Simpson
Academy, which he had attended instead of High School. His
greatest ambition had been to make the Simpson varsity basketball
team, and to be chosen on the Des Moines Register's all-state
On opening day of basketball practice, he was the first one
into the gym with a basketball suit. When the coach and other
players came on the floor, the coach had frowned and walked over
to Walter.
"Dillon," he said, "what are you doing here? We won't need
you. We have all the material we need this year. Go to the
showers and get into your street clothes."
This was open humiliation before all the candidates for the
squad. Being rejected without a chance to even try out for the
team was unfair, unjust, and discriminatory. He couldn't
understand it. He was MAD! Later he found the reason. The coach's
salary at that time was being paid by a certain fraternity, and
only frat members were given consideration for the team.
"Now here's the way I figure," he said to me. "In oratory,
anyone can compete. They can't throw me off because I don't
belong to a frat. Now you are a professional writer. If you will
help me write my oration -- and it is allowable to have help -- and
work with me on delivery, I think I have a chance. The two best
orators Simpson ever had are a Junior and a Senior -- both members
of that frat. If you can beat them, it will be sweet revenge.
Will you help me?"
"Well, Walt," I replied, "I don't know a thing about college
oratorical contests. I never saw one. I have never read the
script of a college oration. I don't even know what they are
like. But if you will bring me copies of a few sample orations,
I'll sure help you if I can."

Chapter 14
College Competition and "Oregon or Bust"

ON expert advice, I had put myself through the college of
EXPERIENCE -- or, as it is sometimes called, the college of hard
knocks. First was a year of want ads on a Des Moines daily
newspaper. Later came three years on a national trade
journal -- the largest in the United States, involving a great deal
of travel, and intensive instruction, training, and experience in
writing advertising copy, dictating business letters, and later,
writing magazine articles. After six months of Chamber of
Commerce work, the seven-year career representing the leading
bank journals of the nation began.
All these years I had studied diligently. My "major" in this
study, of course, was advertising and merchandising. I studied
what books were available. I read religiously the trade papers of
the profession. I studied psychology. As a "minor" study, I
delved into Plato, Epictetus, and other books on philosophy, and
continually read Elbert Hubbard (whom I became personally
acquainted with) for style in writing. I read human interest
articles and other articles on world conditions and on the
business of living, in leading magazines.
At the beginning of World War I, I had been able to obtain
written recommendations for entrance into the Officers Reserve
Corps from such prominent Chicago men as Arthur Reynolds,
president of the largest bank in Chicago and second largest in
America, testifying that I possessed more than the equivalent of
a college education.
But I had not received my education in college.

The Challenge for College Competition

This request from my brother-in-law presented an intriguing
challenge. I had taken a confidence-shattering beating in the
failure of the Chicago business. But the vanity had not been
crushed out of my nature by any means. Here was a chance to match
wits with college students. Also it offered a total mental
diversion from the Chicago nightmare. It was something I could
"sink my teeth into," with energy and a new interest.
But I knew nothing of how college orations were written, or
delivered, or judged. As I mentioned, I asked my brother-in-law
if he could bring me copies of a few first-place winning
He brought out to the farm a number of them from the college
library, printed in pamphlet form. Immediately I noticed that
they were all couched in flowery language -- the amateur
college-boy attempt at fancy rhetoric, employing five- to
seven-syllable words which actually said practically nothing. All
the orations were written on such altruistic and idealistic
subjects as peace, or prohibition, or love for fellowman. They
displayed ignorance of the WAY to peace, or the problem of
alcoholism, or of human experience in living. But they did
contain beautiful, high-flown language!
This became very intriguing.
"Tell me, Walt," I asked, "what is the prevailing style of
delivery? Do the oratorial contestants go at it hammer-and-tongs,
Billy Sunday style tearing their hair out, throwing chairs across
the platform, thundering at their audiences -- or do they speak
calmly and smoothly, with carefully developed graceful
gestures -- or how?"
"Oh, they try to speak with as much calm dignity as
possible -- with graceful gestures."

One Chance in TWO

"How many contestants will be in this contest?"
"There will be six, including me," Walter answered.
"All right -- tell me, now -- would you rather enter this
contest with one chance in six of winning, or with one chance in
He didn't quite understand.
"Why, with one out of two -- but what do you mean?"
"Well, Walt," I replied, "I guess I'm not much of a
conformist. I often break precedent. I figure it this way: if you
write a flossy, flowery oration with big words that say nothing,
and attempt to compete with these upperclassmen of greater
experience on their own terms, you are only one of six
contestants, and you probably do not even have one chance in six
of winning.
"But if you pick for your subject some red-hot controversial
topic -- if you have the courage to actually ATTACK something, give
the PLAIN TRUTH about it, open people's eyes about it, and work
yourself up to white-hot heat of indignation and emotion, and let
it fly Billy Sunday style -- to start a big controversy -- well,
either the judges will like YOUR kind of oration, or the other
kind. You have one chance in two. If they like the other kind,
you lose out -- you'll be voted last place. Then they have to
choose among the other five. But if they do like your style,
there is no one to choose but YOU -- you'll be the only contestant
with that kind of oration. So, I figure you will be either first
or last. You will not be second or third."
"Say! That sounds good!" exclaimed Walter. "I don't want to
be second or third. I want to WIN. If I can't win, I might just
as well be last."

What to Attack?

"O.K. Now we must find something to attack and expose -- something
that is wrong. Something that will stir up the people. What do
you hate the most?"
He didn't seem to hate anything or anybody. There was
nothing I could find that he was really MAD at.
"Well," I said finally, "we'll have to find something that
needs exposing -- something you can really flay with forceful
language. Come to think of it, right now labor leaders are
resorting to some very foul practices. There have been murders,
and gross injustices, both against employers and against the
union members themselves. I remember when I visited Elbert
Hubbard at his Roycroft Inn, at East Aurora, New York, I read a
pamphlet of his that really flayed dishonest labor leaders -- and
he has the best, most prolific vocabulary, and the most effective
rhetorical bromides of any writer I know. Suppose we attack labor
He didn't know anything about it, but he guessed this
subject would be as good as any. Immediately we wrote to Roycroft
Inn for this booklet I had read. Also we wrote to Governor Allen
of Kansas, who had just been on a fiery debate on labor-leader
racketeering that had made national headlines.
The Herrin, Illinois massacre had occurred shortly prior to
this -- where many had been killed. We went all out to obtain FACTS
on how labor leaders (some of them) were racketeering off of
their own worker members. Walter explained to me that we were
allowed to use a total of 200 words in the 2,000-word oration
directly quoted from published sources. We quoted some of the
most forceful phrases from Hubbard and Governor Allen.
We did not attack or oppose the PRINCIPLE of unionism. The
first line of the oration stated, in the somewhat flowery
language which Walter insisted on putting into it against my
advice: "There was a time when the laboring man was brutalized by
toil. Capital held the balance of power. Labor was cowed into
meek submission."
What was opposed and exposed was the wrong economic
philosophy of labor leaders who assumed that management is the
enemy of labor -- that the two interests run in opposite
directions -- that laboring men ought to use force and the strike
to GET all they can, while at the same time they ought to "lay
down on the job" and give in return as little as they could. The
threat of calling a strike for blackmail purposes -- asking a huge
payoff from an employer to a crooked labor leader to prevent his
stirring up the men for a strike -- murders and violence -- these
things we opposed.

The First Course in Public Speaking

Now began my first real experience in public speaking. I had
given talks before dinner groups of retail merchants three
times -- at Richmond, Kentucky, at Lansing, Michigan, and Danville,
Illinois, upon completion of merchandising surveys. But I had
never studied public speaking, nor looked into any textbooks on
the subject. Before this college oratory experience was over I
was to become acquainted with the authors of the two textbooks on
the subject used in most of the colleges and universities
throughout America. As I now look back over the events of those
formative years, in writing this autobiography, it becomes more
and more evident that the unseen divine hand was guiding me
continually into the very experience and training needed for the
Great Calling.
After the oration was written, Walter memorized it. He
announced that he was finally ready to begin practice on
delivery. We went over to the college chapel at an hour when it
was entirely unoccupied. I took a seat about two-thirds' way
back. Walter went to the platform.
He started his oration. Consternation seized me. He was
speaking it in his best attempt to emulate the prevailing college
style -- quiet, with dignity, and graceful gestures. Only, his
gestures were not graceful. They were so obviously practiced, and
not at all natural -- and they were ridiculously awkward. The
expression was not natural. I saw visions of "winning" last place
in the contest.
This was a dilemma that had, somehow, to be solved. I saw at
once that Walter did not grasp the real meaning of his shockingly
powerful speech. He didn't feel it. This labor racketeering
crisis then so prominently on front page news was something of
which he seemed unaware. The oration was just so many meaningless
words. Unless he could become aware of the situation, and really
feel with white-heat indignation the scathing indictment of these
criminal abuses of unionism, he had no chance of winning.
What to do?

An Incident Makes It Personal

At just this time a living incident made the whole meaning of the
oration personal. A strike was in progress at the Rock Island
Railroad division point in Valley Junction -- now renamed West Des
Moines. The morning Des Moines Register reported a bombing of the
locomotive roundhouse. Eleven big locomotives had been destroyed.
We went to Valley Junction, and managed to get through the
lines to the office of the superintendent. The superintendent
showed great interest in learning of the subject of the oration.
He gave us considerable time. We went out through the roundhouse.
We saw the twisted and tangled masses of steel of demolished
We visited a home in town where the front half of the house
had been blown off by a bomb. Inside the house at the time had
been the wife and children of a worker who had taken up the tools
the union men had laid down. For some little time the workmen who
had accepted jobs after the union men had walked out had been
kept behind barricaded walls day and night. Violence had become
rampant. Nonunion workers had been assaulted upon leaving the
yards and returning to their homes after working hours -- hence
they had been forced to remain behind defense barriers night and
Walter was now really outraged.
"When union leaders try to kill innocent wives and children
just because their husbands have picked up the tools they laid
down, that is just too much!" he exclaimed with heat.
Another nonunion home -- occupied only by the innocent wife
and children -- had been rotten-egged.
Back in the superintendent's office he told us one of his
problems with the union leaders.
"I was powerless to hire or fire a man without consent of
labor leaders," he said. "In the railroad business it is just as
serious a crime for an engineer to go to sleep in his cab as for
a sentry to go to sleep on duty in the army in wartime. I had
such a man. I tried to fire him. The labor leader refused. He
said I did not have proof. I had to employ a professional
photographer, and keep him here on the job constantly until this
engineer went to sleep again on duty in his cab. When we
presented the photographic evidence to union officials higher up,
they finally consented to firing the man."
The next afternoon at the usual time we went into the
college chapel for rehearsal. As Walter began speaking, the words
of his oration for the first time conveyed real meaning to his
mind. These words described in dynamic language exactly the way
he now felt. I had told him to dispense with all gestures
immediately after that first rehearsal. Unless gestures are
natural, automatic and unrealized by the speaker, they are not
effective anyway.
But this time Walter was gesturing. He didn't know it -- but
he was gesturing! They were not the most smooth and polished
gestures of the professional speaker -- but THEY WERE TERRIFICALLY
CONVINCING! Today Walter was really angry! As the words poured
forth, their meaning more and more expressed the very indignation
he felt. The delivery was a little raw and rough -- it was somewhat
amateurish -- but it was POWERFUL and it was CONVINCING!
"There!" I exclaimed joyfully, when he had finished, "HOLD
IT!" Hold it right there! Just go into the contest exactly as you
went into this rehearsal! Now you have a chance. Of course, the
judges still may not like something so radically different from
the established style of college oratory. But now you will be
either last, or first!"

Comes the Final Contest

On the night of the local college oratorical contest, Walter drew
last place. He was quite discouraged. He didn't know, then, that
the last speaker always has the advantage. He was terribly
The two students rated the best were, of course, very good
as college speakers. Theirs were the usual suave, smooth, flowery
big words, delivered calmly with smooth and much-practiced
graceful gestures. They were highly applauded. This year the
students had high hopes of winning a state championship -- which
Simpson had not won for eight years.
Then Walter walked out on the platform for the final
oration. He started out calmly but nervously. But after some six
or eight minutes the words he was speaking took him right back to
Valley Junction. He forgot the nervousness that had seized him at
the beginning. He thought only of the outrageous injustices he
had SEEN with his own eyes. And for the first time he had an
audience to tell it to! He began to gesture. He began to pace
back and forth on the platform. He shook his fist. He was in dead
earnest! He really MEANT what he was saying -- and HE WAS SAYING
When he had finished, he knew he had lost -- but at least he
had gotten a message over to that audience! He had that much
The judges' decision was announced. First came the
third-place choice. It was one of the two supposed best orators.
The other was announced as second. First place -- Walter Dillon!
There was little applause. The two favorites had lost out to
a green, nonfrat freshman! The judges had been moved by his
speech. They had liked it. But the student body and faculty
apparently disagreed.
In the days that followed there was only one topic of
conversation on the campus -- the merits or demerits of labor
unionism. It became a heated controversy. The professor of
economics took it up in class. He disagreed with Walter Dillon's
economics. He favored the union brand of economics. Apparently he
had slight socialist or Communist leanings.
One senior said to me, "I hope Dillon won't disgrace us in
the state contest. We might have won this year, but now, with a
green freshman representing us, we haven't a chance. BOY! but
wasn't Sutton's oration good?"
"Yes," I rejoined. "It was smooth and well delivered. By the
way, WHAT did he talk about? I can't seem to remember."
"Why -- why -- " stammered the student, "I -- I can't seem to
remember, either. But it certainly was a great oration!"
"Well, really, was it -- if neither you nor I can remember a
thing he said? Everyone in town seems to remember what Dillon
said. He really stirred up a hornet's nest! Do you really think a
speech is good if it doesn't say anything?" He went away somewhat

The State Contest

A short time later came the state contest. It was held that year
at Central College, Pella, Iowa. There it was the same. Walter
was very nervous. I walked with him over the campus grounds while
the first few contestants were speaking. Once again he was last
Once again, after a calm and somewhat nervous start -- not
necessarily obvious to the audience -- he relived the scenes of
violence at Valley Junction. When he came to the Herrin massacre,
the bombing of the Los Angeles Times plant, and the other
outrages of violence covered in the oration, he really lived it!
Again he paced the floor, shook his fists, rose to a crescendo of
indignant and outraged POWER at the climax, then had real
pleading in his voice in his final solution of these problems.
Again third place was announced first -- then second. Again we
knew he was either first or last. Finally the winner -- Walter E.
Dillon of Simpson!
Returning to the campus we witnessed a living example of the
fickleness of public opinion. After winning the home contest
Walter had been in disgrace. "It was just a fluke decision," most
of the students said. A freshman had spoiled their chance of
winning a state contest. Walter was avoided on the streets. He
was shunned.
But now, he returned the conquering hero.
Simpson had won the state championship! Walter Dillon was
the hero of the campus. It was the first time any freshman had
won a state contest. This was NEWS. It even made the front page
of the Chicago Tribune! He had bids to join fraternities. The
professor of economics was out of town on vacation several
days -- until the reverse opinion on his economics subsided. For
now the student body unanimously accepted Dillon's brand of labor
Well, it had been an interesting participation in college
activity for me. It helped restore shattered morale. I had helped
WIN something. I had begun to study public speaking. I had gained
invaluable experience in speaking, which was later to be used. My
brother-in-law had been deprived without a chance of his ambition
to be one of FIVE to win all-state honors in basketball. But he
had won the state championship in oratory, which he didn't have
to share with anybody.
Walter Dillon continued in the field of education as a life
profession, and, much later, he was to become the first president
of Ambassador College, and its first instructor in public
Actually, our experiences in college oratory continued on
another year. I promoted a number of entertainment programs in
various towns in Warren County during the following year, with
Walter billed as the headliner, and charging 25 cents and 35
cents admission. We brought in some comedy and singing talent
from college. A year later, by early 1924, Walter Dillon was a
smooth and finished public speaker. Following the national
contest of that year, its sole judge, Professor Woolbert of the
University of Illinois, author of a much-used college textbook on
public speaking, heard him, and told me he probably would have
given Mr. Dillon the national championship, had he been entered.

Doing Surveys Again

After the rest, and oratorical contest experience of the fall and
winter of 1922-23, I realized I had to find something to do.
Once before, the reader will remember, when I was stranded
without a dollar in Danville, Illinois, I had brought the
merchandising survey experience to the rescue by selling a survey
to the local newspaper. It had been highly successful for the
newspaper, resulting in a big increase in advertising volume.
Newspapers derive their revenue from the advertising.
At Danville, I had made one colossal mistake. Caught off
guard when the business manager of the paper asked what my fee
would be, I had set it at $50. It should have been $500.
Now the thought of entering upon a business of conducting
surveys was uppermost in mind. My brother-in-law borrowed a car,
and we drove to Ames, Iowa -- seat of Iowa State College. The idea
of the survey was quickly accepted by a Mr. Powers, who was owner
or manager (or both) of the Ames Daily Tribune. This time the fee
was $500. The price was accepted at once.
This time I put on a more thorough survey than the previous
ones. Not only housewives in the town, but students and faculty
members, and heads of departments at the college were
interviewed. The newspaper put at my disposal a small car. I do
not remember the make, but I believe it was smaller than a Ford.
This enabled me to interview farmers in all directions.
The survey uncovered some peculiar and astonishing facts.
About 75% or more of the day's shopping on school days was done
after 4 p.m., when rush hour began in the stores. The women of
Ames seemed to prefer doing their shopping when the college girls
did theirs -- after class hours.
As usual, most of the trade in some lines went to Des
Moines, only 30 miles south, or to the mail order houses. I found
out why. Interesting facts were uncovered about certain
individual stores.

Curing a Sick Store

One department store, not the largest, and one of a small chain
of three or four stores, about half or two-thirds owned by the
local manager, came in for the most criticism. Women were
satisfied with their stocks and styles, and also with their
prices. The big complaint was on the salespeople.
"Why, I've stood waiting ten or fifteen minutes to be waited
on," one typical customer said, "and then the clerk said they
were out of the item I wanted, when I could see it in plain sight
high up on a shelf. She just didn't want to reach up that high to
get it down."
Women universally reported that the clerks never smiled. I
learned it would be the most popular store in town if its sales
force would be transformed into smiling, helpful, enthusiastic,
wide-awake people anxious to please customers.
I gave a private confidential report to each store, which
the newspaper did not see, in addition to the general report and
summary which was supplied the newspaper. I distinctly remember
the personal report I made to this particular department-store
manager. The confidential report hit him personally right between
the eyes. I had discovered that he underpaid his sales force. He
never smiled at them. He maintained a secret spy system, spying
on clerks. He was dumbfounded to hear from me that all his clerks
were well aware of this.
"The whole thing is your fault, personally," I said. "But I
can show you how to correct it and double the size of your
"Vell," he said at last, in a Scandinavian accent, "this is
the hardest ting I have ever had to take in my life -- but I guess
ve can take it. Vhat do you advise me to do?"
"First, raise salaries -- and in a rather dramatic manner."
"Vait!" he cut in. "Look! A store can only pay a certain
percent of sales in salaries. I am paying them too high a percent
"Yes, sure, I know that," I responded. "But the way to get
the percent of sales paid in salaries down is to RAISE salaries,
and get your sales force on their toes -- happy -- smiling. Then
sales will double, and the percent paid in salaries will go

LOWERING Salaries by Raising Them

"Tell me how ve do it," he said dubiously.
"All right, here's what I want you to do. I DON'T want you
to do any additional advertising in the Tribune at all -- until
this new system has been working for at least six weeks.
Big-space advertising right now would ruin your business. But,
once you get this thing corrected, big-space advertising will
quickly double your sales volume. First, I want you to plan a big
party for the sales force. Have it on your second floor, in the
women's ready-to-wear section. Try to arrange for the Home Ec.
Department out at the college to prepare the biggest and finest
dinner you ever saw. Hire a dance band. Don't try to beat down
the cost -- pay what it costs to get the BEST. Then invite all your
employees. Let them know you expect them to be there. I think I
can pass the word along through some of them, so they will all
come. I have made friends with some of them.
"After they have had the finest dinner they ever ate, and
the dance band has them feeling good -- and have all these dunce
caps, noisemakers, confetti to throw -- everything to get them into
the most gay mood -- then rise and make a speech. Start out by
telling them you have been making a big mistake. You have not
treated them right, and they have not treated customers
right -- but you never realized it before, and probably they didn't
either. Then tell them immediately that you are announcing a
substantial raise in salaries for EVERYBODY. Tell them that from
now on THEY MUST SMILE while waiting on customers. They must be
alert. You intend to treat them right from now on, and they must
treat customers right -- or you'll get salespeople who will. You'll
probably be paying the highest salaries in town. THEY HAVE TO
SELL ENOUGH GOODS TO EARN IT -- at a lower percent of sales than
present salaries! If they don't, your high salaries will attract
the best salespeople, and those who do not respond will be
He said he would do it if I would come to the party, and sit
by his side to bolster him up, and make a speech myself.
The party was held. It had an electric effect.
"Now," I said to the manager, "hereafter you must personally
stand by the front door between 4 and 6 each afternoon, greeting
customers yourself with a smile, and being sure they are promptly
waited on."

Winning With a Smile

Next afternoon about 4:15 I dropped in. There he was, trying to
bow and smile stiffly at incoming customers. Quickly I drew him
to one side.
"No, No!" I exclaimed. "That will never do! You are acting
like you never smiled before -- like your heart is not in it. LOOK
at those fine people coming in here. THEY ARE CUSTOMERS! They are
coming to SPEND MONEY with you. DON'T YOU LIKE THEM?
He did, but he had never thought of them in that light
before. With a little coaching, he began to realize how much he
did LIKE these people. He began to smile a natural smile, like he
meant it!
After six weeks, this store began really BIG-space
advertising, with the slogans I had suggested -- something like
receive quick, attentive, interested SERVICE WITH A SMILE!'
I heard later from traveling salesmen who made Ames
regularly that this store had more than doubled its sales volume
in six months. Also an Ames shoe store, which had come in for
some special criticism and correction. The newspaper DOUBLED its
advertising volume.
That was my kind of salesmanship. The newspaper paid a fee
of $500, and doubled the size of its business. The merchants
found what was wrong with them, and doubled their business. The
customers got better service, and were happy. EVERYBODY
benefitted! Unless everybody does benefit, salesmanship is not
honest! But not many salesmen know that, or the secret of
intelligent and PRACTICAL salesmanship!

Important Job Offered

Next I went to Forrest Geneva, then advertising manager of both
the Des Moines Register and the Evening Tribune. He had worked in
want ads on the Register at the same time I did on the Capital,
and we were old friends.
The Des Moines Register was rated (I think still is) one of
the ten really great newspapers of the United States. It has a
state-wide circulation, and is delivered in nearly all parts of
the state early the same morning of publication.
BUT the Register was not getting the big department store
advertising in Des Moines. This is the biggest part of the
advertising revenue of any newspaper. It actually meant multiple
millions of dollars to the Register to be able to carry the
big-space store advertising.
"Forrest," I said, "the one most important thing in this
world to the Register is to be able to crack through the barrier
and carry the department store business -- and all the other larger
stores. I CAN DO THE JOB FOR YOU. I can crack down that stone
wall and get you the big-store business."
After I had explained in detail the method of the surveys,
and how I proposed a state-wide survey, to show how the Des
Moines stores already were drawing a tremendous volume of trade
from local stores in other smaller towns and cities all over the
state, and how a campaign in the Register, with its STATE-WIDE
circulation, which was tremendous, would greatly increase their
out-of-town business as well as the Des Moines business, Mr.
Geneva expressed his confidence that my method would accomplish
the result. Only one dominant morning newspaper, as I remember,
in all U.S. major cities, was carrying the local department store
advertising. That was the Chicago Tribune.
"Herb," he said, "I believe you have the idea that will do
the job. Give me a few days to take this up with the officers
higher up. I'm really enthusiastic over the idea."
A few days later I returned.
"We want you," said Mr. Geneva. "But we have run into a
certain situation. As you know, I am advertising manager over
both papers. We also have an advertising manager for each paper,
under me. Right now we have no advertising manager for the
Register. I cannot get the management to approve the addition at
this time of both a new advertising manager and you as a special
expert. They want you to fill BOTH jobs."
"But Forrest," I protested, "I would be tied down with the
executive job of managing the work of your eight advertising
solicitors on the Register, besides all the specialized work of
the survey."
"Right," we agreed.
"But that will kill everything. I am not an executive. I
can't manage the work of others. I'm like a lone wolf. I have to
do my own work in my own way. I often work in streaks. When I'm
'on' I know I'm good. But on the off days I couldn't sell genuine
gold bricks for a dime. I'd have daily reports to make out, and
that's one thing I just never have been able to do. I'd get way
behind on the reports."
"Look, Herb," he came back. "I know you will make good on
the executive job. I won't let you fail. If you run into a lapse,
or your reports are not in, I'll stay down myself evenings and do
that part of your work for you. No one will ever know."
But I had no confidence in my ability to direct the work of
eight men, and make out daily reports. So I turned down the offer
to become advertising manager of a great newspaper.
I was to learn much later, beginning with 1947 when
Ambassador College was founded, that I could become an executive
and direct the operations and work of many hundreds of employees,
besides doing about seven men's jobs myself. And long before that
I learned to overcome lapses and streaks. But, had I taken that
job I might be there today -- an employee on a newspaper, instead
of directing the most important activity on earth. We might have
averted several following years of financial hardship. But I know
now, in the light of events -- "the FRUITS," that I was being
prepared for this Work and was being brought down to the depths
of defeat and frustration until I would give up the false god of
seeking status out of vanity.

We Migrate to Oregon

The remainder of that summer, and through the following winter, I
put on a survey for a local weekly paper in Indianola, and worked
part time writing advertising for local merchants. But most of
the time was devoted to working with my brother-in-law on his
oratory. We wrote a new oration for the following year, which
involved many experiences, although, having won, he was not
eligible to enter again at Simpson College.
I was beginning to bog down in the mire. My wife was
worried. We were in a rut. I didn't seem to be selling more
surveys to daily newspapers. Mrs. Armstrong knew we needed some
change to jolt us out of the rut. My parents were living in
Salem, Oregon. A complete change of environment might get me
started again.
In the late winter of 1923-24, she began to suggest the idea
of a summer trip to visit my parents and family in Oregon. "But,
Loma," I protested, "we can't afford a vacation trip like that."
But, she had it all planned. We would go in Walter's Model T
Ford. We would take a tent and camp out nights. We would prepare
our own food, avoiding restaurant costs. She would ask her sister
Bertha to go along, paying her share, thus helping enough with
expenses to make the trip possible. Bertha was teaching school,
and had a regular income. I had earned some money and we still
had a little. Along the way, I would contact newspapers and line
up surveys for the future -- thus getting a foundation laid for a
future business.
My wife knew I liked to travel. I had been over most of the
United States, but never yet as far west as the Rocky Mountains.
A trip to the coast -- seeing my parents and family again -- was
really intriguing.
Walter and Bertha were swayed by her persuasion.
In the meantime, about March 1, 1923, my father-in-law had
moved from the farm he was renting from a brother-in-law, sold
his stock, and bought a small-town general store at Sandyville,
only a few miles distant.
I began to make preparations for our trip. On the second
floor above my father-in-law's store was a sort of cabinet-making
shop. I had taken manual training in high school. So I began to
work out a design and to make folding wooden cots and canvas tops
for our trip. Later we purchased a used tent of the type that
fastened over the top of the car, so that the car formed one end
of the tent. We procured a secondhand portable gasoline stove.

"D"-Day Arrives

The morning of June 16, 1924, we piled the two seats of the Model
T high with bedding. We put our suitcases between the front
fenders and the hood. The folded tent, boxes of food, the rest of
the bedding, the folded cots, the portable stove, and all the
rest of our earthly belongings were piled on a rack on the left
running board high up on the side of the car. There were no
trunks on the rear of Model T's.
How we piled all this stuff on that little car I can't
conceive now, but we did -- and an extra spare tire or two besides!
I had said to a friend of my wife, previously, "We'll be
back in the fall." But when I wasn't listening, my wife told her:
"That's what he thinks -- but we are not coming back!"
So, "D-Day" had arrived, the morning of June 16, 1924! ("D"
for Departure.) Walter cranked up the Model T, and we were off
for Oregon. One thing we had on the car was air-conditioning.
Except for the luggage piled high up the left side, it was all
air -- open air. The closed cars, except for very expensive
limousines, had not yet come out of Detroit. But we had side
curtains to button up in case of rain.
In case of RAIN, did I say?
Yes, as, unhappily, we were to experience that very night!
We had reached Greenwood, Iowa, the first day out, and pitched
our tent beside the car -- with Mrs. Armstrong and me, our two
little daughters -- Beverly, age 6, and Dorothy Jane, age almost
4 -- Walter and Bertha Dillon -- all trying to sleep on those flimsy,
swaying folding cots I had made.
And then the rains came! We soon discovered the tent leaked!
Hurriedly we arose from our rickety cots, delved into the food
and utensil box, procured our one wash pan and a fry pan and a
stew pan, to catch the leaking drips. There was little sleep. In
Iowa, you know, there are sharp and blinding flashes of
lightning, followed by deafening claps of thunder when it rains.
For three days and three nights we were marooned there. In
those days there were no cross-country paved highways. We were
traveling on Iowa mud roads.

Tent Cities -- No Motels

Finally, we decided to make a try over the still muddy roads. A
try is what we made. Just outside town the car skidded in the
mud, and two wheels bogged down hub-deep. Walter and I started
out slogging through the mud to the nearest farm house. An
obliging farmer hitched up a team and pulled us out.
We managed to keep chugging along until we reached Silver
City, Iowa, near Council Bluffs. Later, as we proceeded farther
west, we found roads more gravel than mud. Once on dry roads we
were able to amble along at a steady gait of between 18 and 20
miles per hour -- when we were not stopped by some new trouble,
which was much of the time.
Most days we awoke by 5 a.m., breakfasted, the women made
sandwiches for noon lunch -- there could be no stopping through the
day -- we packed everything back on the car, and climbed up on
those bedding-covered seats with the car cranked up by 6 a.m.
Most days we drove until nearly dark -- allowing time to get
the tent pitched and staked, cots and bedding arranged, and
dinner cooked before it became too dark to see. We did carry a
kerosene lantern. Walter and I took turns driving. We generally
managed to negotiate about 200 miles in a twelve or fourteen hour
day of driving.
At night we stopped at camp grounds, provided at every town
in those days. That was before the days of motels or
trailer-camps. Tourists all carried their own tents and camping
equipment. Every town along the way had its tent city which
usually filled up by sundown. These camps provided water and
sanitary facilities -- of a kind. As we journeyed farther west a
few cabins began to appear at some of the camp grounds. These
were bare one-room, unpainted board cabins. Some had rickety old
beds and metal springs -- but not mattresses or bedding or linen,
and little, if any furniture. There might have been an old wooden
Our first stop after leaving Greenwood was Silver City,
Iowa. My wife's uncle, Tom Talboy, owned a drugstore in Silver
City. We drove to the store.

Visiting Relatives

"I don't know which one you are," said her Uncle Tom approaching
my wife, "but I do know you're a Talboy!"
Mrs. Armstrong's mother was Isabelle Talboy before marriage.
There are definite "Talboy" characteristics, and Mrs. Armstrong
has them written all over her face. The Talboy family came from
England. My wife's great-grandfather, Thomas Talboy, came to the
United States from England somewhere near the middle of the 19th
century, and started the first woolen mill in the Middle West -- at
least west of the Mississippi -- in Palmyra, Iowa. At that time
Palmyra was larger than Des Moines. There was no Des
Moines -- except Ft. Des Moines. The woolen mill grew and the town
grew with it. But today there is no Palmyra -- except a few
My wife's grandfather, Benjamin Talboy, was a lad of 18 when
he came from England with his father, Thomas. He and his wife,
Martha, whom my wife as a little girl called "little curly-haired
Grandma," reared a sizeable and successful family of nine, of
whom Isabelle was one of three daughters. "Uncle Tom," the
druggist, as my wife called him, was named for his grandfather
We visited the "Uncle Tom" family for a day. Grandpa
Benjamin Talboy was living there, age 93. "Little curly-haired
Grandma" had died at 84. She had always warned my wife against
Grandpa Benjamin. He, she affirmed solemnly, was an atheist. My
wife warned me against listening to him. But later we learned
that he had dared to look into the Bible for himself, and,
discovering these teachings diametrically contrary to the
accepted popular version of "Christianity," had rejected the
"Christianity." Later we learned that he was probably more of a
true Christian, in belief if not in deeds, than his well-meaning
little wife!

Our Troubles Continue!

We continued our journey westward from Silver City.
At Fremont, Nebraska, I took out time to contact the daily
newspaper office. Another survey was tentatively lined up for the
fall, on our return. But this newspaper call consumed a half day,
and we decided not to take out any more time for newspaper calls
along the way. Everybody aboard was anxious to reach Oregon.
It was at about this juncture that our tire troubles began.
These tire troubles seemed to multiply, the farther we traveled.
They were an excellent training in patience! We had puncture
after puncture -- blowout after blowout. There were eight of them
within one mile on one occasion! We carried a repair kit and
patched our own inner tubes. We carried along a few "boots" to
plug up blowout holes in casings. Many hours were spent along the
drab, dusty roadsides, one wheel jacked up, kneeling beside it,
fixing tires.
We bought several used tires -- we could not afford new
ones -- and these usually blew out about five miles out of
town -- just too far to go back and express our minds to the dealer
who sold them!
We made an overnight stop in Central City, Nebraska, at the
home of my uncle Rollin R. Wright. His son, John, was one of the
two cousins (on my mother's side of the family) I had visited so
often as a boy. The Wrights had then lived at Carlisle, Iowa,
where my uncle Rollin was an insurance agent. He is the one who
gave me and "Johnny" a good sound spanking that time when he
caught us shooting off a .22 revolver. John was, within a day,
one year younger than I. Now the Wrights were operating a dairy
in Central City. It is always somewhat exciting to visit
relatives you have not seen for several years. Next morning I
went on the milk route with John. Today he is a minister in the
Friends Church and has visited us a few times in Pasadena.
It seems we got as far as Grand Island, Nebraska, before our
next vexation. We had made a temporary stop under shade trees
because of the intense heat. Little Dorothy Jane, almost four,
took off one of her shoes and laid it on the right running board,
from where it fell to the ground. The loss was not discovered
until we had traveled too far to return to search for it. The
child had to travel the remaining days of our journey with only
one shoe. To buy new shoes on this trip was not within our means.
We made an overnight stop in Ogalalla, where I had intended
to visit the other of these two cousins I had grown up with -- Bert
Morrow. He had been running some tourist cabins there, but had
moved before our arrival.
It was somewhere along western Nebraska that we encountered
something worse than a rainstorm. A driving sandstorm came up.
The road became so clouded we could not see to drive. We had to
pull over to the side of the road, button up the curtains on the
Model-T, cover our heads with bedding to keep sand out of our
hair, and remain marooned there until the storm subsided.

Chapter 15
Launching a New Business

I SHALL never forget my first view of the Rocky Mountains from a
distance. While I had traveled the Alleghenies and the Blue
Mountains in the east, I had never seen any really high
mountains. I had always wondered what they would look like. They
seemed very lofty and awe-inspiring to me.
We drove several miles out of our way in order to dip down
into the state of Colorado, before we entered Wyoming. We wanted
to be able to say we had been in that state. At Cheyenne we drove
up hill to the north end of town to the largest camp we had seen.
But by this time all my hand-made wooden folding cots had
broken down, and the canvas tops had split down the middle. We
threw them away. From Cheyenne on, we slept on the ground.
In the higher altitudes the nights became so cold we were
forced to spread the bed covers on the ground inside the tent,
making one long bed. All six of us lined up side by side in that
one bed on the ground, to keep each other warm.
At Evanston, Wyoming, the car broke down. We were detained
there 1½ days while it was fixed in a garage.
During our journey across Wyoming, Dorothy's arm was bitten
by a spider. It swelled up, and she was taken to a doctor. It
must have been about this time that we had to telegraph my father
to wire us additional funds. We had run out of food, gasoline,
and money. Dorothy's arm had to be soaked in hot Epsom-salts
water, and held high continually. Mrs. Armstrong, Bertha, and I
had to take turns, on one day's driving, holding that arm, lest
it hang down.
We stopped off one full day in Salt Lake City. Walter and I
played some tennis on public courts near the camping grounds -- we
were carrying our tennis rackets with us. We took the guided tour
around the Mormon grounds and through the Tabernacle.

Premonition of Danger

At Weiser, Idaho, we visited a day and a half with the families
of two of my wife's uncles, Benjamin and Walter Talboy. Walter
later held a high government position in Idaho, and once ran for
Leaving Weiser in the late afternoon, we were winding around
the "figure eight" sharp curves of the highway following the
course of the Snake River. Suddenly, my wife cried out:
"I'm afraid to go further! For the past hour I've been
having a terrible premonition of danger! I can't explain it -- but
I just can't keep it to myself any longer."
"That's strange," exclaimed Walter. "I didn't want to say
anything -- but I've been fighting off the same feeling."
That was enough for all of us. It seemed foolish, in a way.
Yet we were afraid to go on. We turned back toward Weiser.
"I'm simply too nervous to drive any further," explained
Walt. I took over the wheel. Just before entering Weiser, on a
short down-hill slope, I made the horrifying discovery that our
brakes had gone out! There were no brakes. There was no reverse!
I drove the car into a garage. We were kept one more night at the
Talboy relatives in Weiser. Had we not heeded those premonitions,
we might have been killed crashing down steep mountain grades
around sharp curves without brakes. Later we learned that at the
precise hour my wife and Walter had been having their
premonitions, my mother in Salem, Oregon, was also disturbed by a
terrible premonition concerning our safety. It had grown so
strong on her she was forced to remove her hands from the
dishwater, and go to a bedroom to pray for our safety! I do not
try to explain this. I am merely recording what actually

At Last -- We Arrive

Finally, July 3, we made our last homestretch lap from Pendleton,
Oregon. That was a long day's drive in a Model T. But that night,
after dark, we arrived at my father's home in Salem, Oregon, on
the eve of July 4.
We had been 18 days on the way. It was fast traveling
compared to the covered wagon days. Yet, today you can travel
from New York to Los Angeles -- coast to coast -- in 4½ hours, by
scheduled passenger JET plane! Allowing for the time difference,
if I leave New York at 5 in the evening, after a full day of
business conferences with radio stations and our overseas
advertising agents, I can arrive in Los Angeles about 6:30 the
same evening!
Few people realize the rapid pace at which this world is
traveling today -- toward its own DESTRUCTION! It is time we slow
down to realize HOW FAR this machine age -- atomic age -- space age
has plummeted us in these few short years since 1924!

My Father Had Grown Up!

I had not seen my father, my youngest brother Dwight, or my
sister Mary, for twelve years! Dwight and his twin sister Mary
had been eight years old when they moved to the west. Now they
were twenty.
But the biggest change of all was in my father. In 1912,
when I was only twenty, I had felt rather sorry for my father. At
that time I knew so much more than he! But I was simply amazed at
how much my father had learned in those 12 years. It seems most
young men know more than Dad, but they grow out of it later. I
could see, now, that he knew more than I! Now I had to look up to
my father with respect!
He had a nice home which he had planned and built. It was
paid for. He didn't owe any man a cent. He had a comfortable
salary as a heating engineer. When we found ourselves out of
money on the way out -- buying extra tires and such things -- he had
immediately wired me $200.
How many young men, getting to "know it all" from age 16 to
20, have to wait until in their middle thirties to learn how much
they ought to respect their fathers! And my father was a GOOD
man. He never smoked. He never drank, never used profanity. He
never took advantage of another man! I honor and respect his
memory. He died in April, 1933, in his 70th year.
After a few weeks' visit with my folks, we drove to Portland
to visit my wife's "Uncle Dick" Talboy, an attorney. Our elder
son, Richard David, was named after him. He was an Oregon
pioneer, having migrated from Iowa first in 1905. He attended
Stanford University in California in 1906 and 1907. He returned
to Des Moines to finish his law course at Drake University in
1907, returning to Oregon in 1913. It has been his home ever
The very next day Mr. Talboy had to transact some legal
business at the courthouse in Vancouver, Washington -- just across
the interstate bridge from Portland. He invited me to go along. I
had not yet been in the state of Washington, and was anxious to
add one more state to my list.
Just as we emerged from the bridge, in Vancouver, I saw the
plant of the local daily newspaper, The Columbian.

Another Survey

I asked if I might not hop out right there and contact the
newspaper regarding a survey while Mr. Talboy went on to the
Court House.
The owner and editor was on a vacation at Seaside, but the
Business Manager, Samuel T. Hopkins -- who was later to become a
business partner of mine -- was in. Enthusiastic over the survey
idea, he felt sure Mr. Herbert Campbell, the owner, would be
interested on his return. I said I would call back the following
week. We were welcome to remain and visit at the home of my
wife's uncle. The following week, I found Mr. Campbell as
interested in the survey idea as Mr. Hopkins.
"I have only one objection," he said. "I believe it is going
to take a man of your specialized merchandising and advertising
experience to follow it up and make it pay. We have no such man
here. Now what I want to know is, can a newspaper of our size
afford to employ a man of your experience and ability
Here was a ludicrous paradox.
Here I was, down and out financially, my clothes now
threadbare. And here was a newspaper publisher asking if he could
afford to employ me! Yet I had had a training and specialized
experience such as comes to few men. I had taken a severe beating
by the Chicago debacle, but I still had the cocky and confident
manner. I spoke with a tone of knowing what I was talking about.
Evidently this impressed Mr. Campbell sufficiently that did not
notice my rather run-down appearance.
The answer came like a flash.
"No, you cannot!" I said positively.
This was a challenge. Herbert Campbell was cocky,
"Well, I think we CAN! How much is it going to cost us?"
I had to think fast. Was I going to turn down a survey,
because I felt too important to take a permanent job on a small
city newspaper? I made a quick compromise proposition.
"Tell you what I'll do," I shot back. "I'll put on the
survey for a flat fee of $500. That will take a week or ten days.
Then I will stay on your staff as a merchandising specialist for
six months only, at a salary of $100 per week. Take it or leave
"O.K. I'll take it," he snapped. I had my wife's uncle draw
up a legal contract, which he signed a day or so later.
I rented a house in Vancouver, and started on the survey.

Pulling a Clothier Out of the Red

About the time we started on the survey in Vancouver, Walter and
Bertha Dillon, my wife's brother and sister started in the Model
T their return trip to Iowa; Walter to enter his Junior year at
Simpson College, and Bertha for another year of school teaching.
This time Mrs. Armstrong took part in the survey, and proved
very adept at eliciting confidential information from housewives
of their attitudes and feelings toward Vancouver stores.
The survey soon was completed, together with a complete
typed summary of all data, interviews, and tabulations of
statistics, as well as an analysis of conditions and
With this data, I began counselling with merchants about
individual merchandising problems.
One clothing store, for example, was running in the red. The
owner asked if I could help him. I insisted on full access to his
books and all information. Finally he consented.
The survey had uncovered special facts about customer
attitude toward this store. One line this store carried was Hart
Schaffner & Marx clothes. I knew that this firm was prepared to
extend considerable dealer-help. At my request they sent a
qualified representative to counsel with me and this merchant.
A new policy was inaugurated. Certain changes were made.
Until now this store had not carried the more snappy styles young
men liked. The owner, past middle age, had bought the older men's
styles of his personal liking. I induced him to trust the Hart
Schaffner & Marx representative fully with selections in
Also I recommended that he stock in addition snappiest young
men's styles in a less expensive line.
Then we began a big-space advertising campaign in the
Columbian. I wrote and laid out all his ads. I induced him to
spend 7% of sales in this advertising campaign.
"But," he protested, "You have shown me that Harvard Bureau
of Business Research figures show that no retail clothing store
ought to spend more than 4% for advertising."
"That's right," I explained, "but this big-space advertising
will quickly build up your volume. The amount, in dollars, spent
in advertising will remain the same. But, as sales volume
increases, the advertising expenditure will become an
increasingly smaller percentage of sales." Also I explained to
him it might take six months before his total expenditures would
go below his total income, and his books would get out of the
It took a lot of courage. But it was a matter of accept my
program or go bankrupt. He finally agreed.
It did take about six months. Twice before that time he lost
his nerve and wanted to quit. Twice more I talked him into
staying with it. At the end of six months his business was
showing a profit. The sales continued to increase. So did his
merchandising turnover. And likewise his profits. Finally he was
able to sell his store at a substantial profit.

Discovering a New Business Potential

Soon I became virtually advertising manager for a leading
hardware store, the largest department-drug store, a furniture
store, a jewelry store, a dry-goods store, and others.
But my most important client turned out to be the local
laundry. The general survey had brought out some startling facts
about the laundry situation. I wanted more facts. So a further
separate survey was made to get the facts and more definitely
learn customer-attitude toward laundries.
I found that very few housewives entrusted their family wash
to the laundry. We unearthed many suspicions. Many women assured
me that laundries use harsh acids and chemicals which ruin
clothes. This, I soon found, was not true.
"They shrink clothes," said scores and scores of women.
"They fade colored things," women assured me.
"How do you know?" both Mrs. Armstrong and I began asking
women we interviewed. "Has the laundry ruined your things -- have
your colored clothes been faded or your woolens shrunk?"
"Oh mercy, No!" they would reply. "Why, I would never think
of sending my things to the laundry."
"Then how do you know the laundry mistreats things in this
manner?" we would ask.
"Oh, I just know! Why, everybody knows how terrible
laundries are on clothes," would come the confident answer.
Scores of women said laundries would lose things and refuse
to make good the losses. "The laundries will never make an
adjustment or settle a claim," women assured us.
We found dozens of things wrong with the laundries -- in the
public mind.
Then I investigated conditions at the Vancouver Laundry,
owned by a man of my name, J. J. C. Armstrong, no relation.
Actually, I found that conditions were precisely the opposite of
the general public conception.
The laundry washed clothes with a neutral chip soap -- I think
that particular laundry used Palmolive, a gentle facial soap. To
add alkaline strength, without injury to clothes, they used an
expensive soap builder -- a controlled alkali, which could not harm
a baby's tenderest skin, could not injure sheerest silks or
finest table linens, and yet possessed the strength to get
greasiest overalls spotlessly clean. This harmless but effective
soap builder was not available to consumers on the retail market.
It was sold only in barrel quantities direct to laundries. It was
the result of then recent and specialized scientific research,
manufactured by one of the largest corporations in the laundry
industry, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Corporation of America
Through Mr. J. J. C. Armstrong I met a laundry chemist,
Robert H. Hughes, a special technical representative of this
company, the Cowles Detergent Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Mr.
Hughes explained to me the chemistry of laundering -- why we use
SOAP to wash our hands, faces, or clothes.

How Soap Cleans

It's a very fascinating story. Did you ever wonder what causes
particles of dirt to cling to clothes -- why clothes become soiled?
Did you ever wonder how SOAP removes dirt?
I don't believe the truth will bore you. Briefly, this is
the story:
Naturally, dirt would fall off clothes instead of attaching
itself to cloth, were it nor for the fact that an acid, or oil or
grease, even in slightest amount, is present. This acid holds the
dirt to the cloth. Laundries did not use acids, as so many people
seemed to believe. There is acid already present on the clothes,
else they would not become soiled.
Chemically, matter is either acid, alkali or neutral. These
are chemical opposites.
Soap is made from two substances -- fatty acid (oil or fat),
and alkali. But alkali, if used alone, would injure and rot
cloth. So in the soap factory the two substances, fatty acid and
alkali, are mixed by a process called saponification. This
converts the two into a new substance, which is neither acid nor
alkali, but which we call SOAP.
If the soap be completely pure -- a prominent soap used for
faces and even babies is advertised as 99 and 44/100% pure -- there
is no free alkali in it. All the alkali has combined with the
oil, tallow, or fat, and has been converted into soap. The
alkaline content is now utterly harmless. Yet it has an alkaline
action that will dissolve the acid that glues dirt to your skin
or your clothes, so that the dirt is flushed off in the rinsing.
But a pure facial soap is not sufficiently alkaline to
loosen the acid on badly soiled clothes. Therefore soap makers at
the time of this story put a certain excess amount of alkali in
the laundry soaps sold in stores to housewives. This excess
alkali was called free alkali. It was not controlled, or
neutralized, in the soap. Alkali is chemically a crystalline
substance. In other words, it dilutes into and becomes part of
the water. In clothes-washing, it soaks into the fiber meshes of
the garment. Rinsing cannot remove it -- it merely dilutes it. The
soap and the dirt are flushed away in the rinsing -- but the free
alkali remains inside the fiber of the cloth. In the drying
process it tends to eat or rot the cloth. It would even destroy
shoe leather!
Now WHY does not a pure soap injure the cloth?
The answer is that, chemically, soap is a colloidal
substance. In solution, or emulsion, it breaks up into thousands
of tiny particles. But it does not become part of the water. Its
thousands of minute particles discolor the water, float around in
the water. In the agitation or rubbing of clothes-washing, the
tiny soap particles are flushed in between the fiber meshes of
the garment or cloth, but never soak into the fibers. They
dissolve the acid, thus loosening the dirt. The agitation breaks
up the dirt into tiny particles, loosened from the cloth. The
tiny colloidal soap particles have a chemical affinity for the
tiny dirt particles, which means the dirt particles cling to the
soap particles. The rinsing flushes them away. Even if all the
soap were not rinsed off, the alkali is not free but controlled
by the soap, and could not eat or rot or harm the cloth.
This scientific soap builder sold by the Cowles Detergent
Company contained great alkaline strength, but it was chemically
in colloidal form, not crystalline, and the alkali was as
completely controlled as in a 100% pure soap. Therefore it could
not harm silks, woolens, or the sheerest, daintiest fabrics,
although, it had the strength to wash clean the greasiest
overalls. Also it restored colors, brought them out newer and
sharper than before.
Since those days, however, there has been a complete
revolution in the manufacture of clothes-washing detergents sold
to housewives. Whether our big-space advertising of the dangers
of the free-alkali laundry soaps to clothes then sold for home
washing machines had bearing on it, I do not know.
But the chemists on the staffs of leading soap and detergent
manufacturers have developed new synthetic detergents. Few
housewives, if any, use soap in their home washing machines
today. The first household synthetic detergent on the market was
Dreft, produced by Proctor & Gamble, in 1933. Colgate came out
with Vel later in the 30's. Since, there have been many
developments in the field of synthetic detergents. They are not
yet perfect or foolproof, but chemists have not yet exhausted the
possibilities of improvement.
Our campaigns were in the early days of the home washing
machine. These home washers were crude, compared to today's
product. In our ads, and in special booklets, we "figured it out"
and convinced many housewives it was less costly to send the
family wash to the laundry.

A New Business Launched

I began to write big-space ads for this laundry. Armed with
complete information of customer attitude and complete factual
and scientific information about laundry processes, I was able to
assure housewives that their sheerest, daintiest fabrics were
actually SAFER at the laundry than in their own hands at home.
Soon these ads became an item of conversation among
Vancouver women. It took time to dispel suspicions and build
confidence. But gradually the laundry business began to increase.
Before this campaign, laundry business had consisted mainly
of men's shirts, and hotel business. But now the family bundle
business gradually began coming to the laundry.
I found that the laundry industry was twelfth in size among
American industries -- yet, in aggressive methods, and advertising
and merchandising, it was the least "alive," and the most
backward and undeveloped. I sensed, here, a tremendous field for
a new advertising business.
I began to develop plans for a personalized, yet syndicated
advertising service for leading laundries -- one client in each
I learned that not all laundries were using as advanced
methods as this Vancouver Laundry. Some laundries were still
using as a soap builder plain caustic soda -- free alkali. Some
lacked efficiency methods of operation. Many were guilty of
haggling with customers over claims of losses or injury, and of
refusing to make losses good.
I had become closely acquainted with R. H. Hughes and his
reputation among laundry owners as the leading laundry chemist
and expert on production methods on the West Coast.
So, Mr. Hughes and I formed a partnership. As soon as my six
months' tenure with the Vancouver Columbian expired, we set out
to establish a new business as a merchandising and advertising
service for leading laundries.
I moved my family to Portland.
I would start off every campaign with a local merchandising
survey, to determine the local customer attitude. We would accept
no client unless the laundry owner would give Mr. Hughes complete
latitude and authority within his plant, to install the latest
scientific methods and equipment, eliminate lost motion, and
speed up efficiency.
I had to be able to make big claims in the advertising. The
client had to be able to deliver what the ads promised. The
client had to agree to settle every claim without a question -- the
customer was ALWAYS to be right in any complaint.

And Then ... BANG!

The general appeal of the ads was syndicated -- the same for all
laundries. Yet certain factors peculiar to each local laundry
were altered to comply with that particular client's conditions.
We ran two large-space ads each week for each client.
The new business started with great promise. Soon we had as
clients leading laundries in Eugene, Corvallis, Albany, Salem,
McMinnville, Oregon City, and Portland, Oregon; and in Seattle,
Spokane, Tacoma, Ellensburg, Walla Walla, Olympia, Centralia,
Chehalis, and Vancouver, Washington.
In six months the business volume of some of these laundries
doubled. Our advertising and merchandising service was winning
big results for clients.
No matter how many clients we should acquire, I had only one
general advertising IDEA to think up and write for the entire
number. The new business promised to grow to be a national,
universally used service.
This would mean, in another two or three years, an income
larger than I had ever before contemplated. Already our fees were
grossing close to $1,000 a month. They appeared to promise to
rise between $50,000 and $100,000 per month within two or three
more years. I began to see visions of a personal net income of
$300,000 to a half million dollars a year!
And then -- the bottom fell out!
And through no fault or cause of our making. There was one
unusual condition peculiar to the laundry industry. They were
highly organized in their Laundryowners National Association.
Some bright advertising man, in an advertising agency in
Indianapolis, Indiana, put over on the Laundryowners National
Association a $5,000,000 advertising campaign for the entire
industry -- the entire amount to be spent by this agency in the
big-circulation national women's magazines, such as Ladies' Home
Journal, McCall's, Good Housekeeping, etc. The campaign was to
run three or more years. The Association was to pay for it by
assessing each laundry-owner member within ½ of 1% of the maximum
percent of sales volume a laundry could safely spend in
Every one of our customers was taxed by this campaign up to
the limit they could safely spend. They had no alternative except
to cancel out all their own private local advertising. Our field
was literally swept out from under our feet.
In Chicago I had built a publishers' representative business
that brought me an income equivalent to well more than $50,000 a
year or more before I was thirty. The flash depression of 1920
had swept away all my major clients, and with them my business.
Now, with a new business of much greater promise, all my
clients were suddenly removed from possibility of access, through
powers and forces entirely outside of my control.
It seemed, indeed, as if some INVISIBLE and MYSTERIOUS HAND
were causing the earth to simply swallow up whatever business I

Reduced to Going Hungry

Soon every laundry client had been forced to drop all local
advertising except one. I still had the account of one of the two
largest laundries in Portland, running one ad a week in the
Portland Oregonian. This supplied an income of $50 per month.
But $50 per month was not enough to pay house rent, and
provide food and clothing for our family. We began to buy beans
and such food as would provide maximum bulk and nourishment on
minimum cost.
One time, a couple days before my monthly $50 check was due,
we were behind in our rent, completely out of groceries except
for some macaroni -- we did not even have a grain of salt in the
house; our gas and electricity had been shut off. We had a small
heating stove in the living room, and nothing but old magazines
for fuel.
My morale was fast descending to subbasement. I was not so
cocky or self-confident now. It seemed almost as if I was being
"softened" for a knock-out blow of some kind.

Religious Controversy Enters

Some little time prior to this, we had been visiting my parents
in Salem. My wife had become acquainted with an elderly neighbor
lady, Mrs. Ora Runcorn. Mrs. Runcorn was an avid student of the
Before our marriage my wife had been quite interested in
Bible study. She had been for years an active Methodist.
After marriage, although she had not lost her interest in
the Christian life and the Bible, she had not had the same
opportunity to express it, or participate in religious fellowship
with others. While we lived in Maywood, suburb of Chicago, we had
joined the River Forest Methodist Church. The fellowship there
had been more social than spiritual or Biblical.
But all Mrs. Armstrong's active interest in things Biblical
was reawakened when she became acquainted with Mrs. Runcorn. One
day Mrs. Runcorn gave her a Bible study. She asked my wife to
turn to a certain passage and read it. Then a second, then a
third, and so on for about an hour. Mrs. Runcorn made no
comment -- gave no explanation or argument -- just asked my wife to
read aloud a series of Biblical passages.
"Why!" exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong in amazement, "do all these
Scriptures say that I've been keeping the wrong day as the
Sabbath all my life?"
"Well, do they?" asked Mrs. Runcorn. "Don't ask me whether
you have been wrong -- you shouldn't believe what any person tells
you, but only what GOD tells you through the Bible. What does He
tell you, there? What do you see there with your own eyes?"
"Why, it's as plain as anything could be!" exclaimed Mrs.
Armstrong. "Why, this is a wonderful discovery. I must rush back
to tell my husband the good news. I know he'll be overjoyed!"
A minute or so later, Mrs. Armstrong came running into my
parents' home, with the "good news."
My jaw dropped!
This was the worst news I had ever heard! My wife gone into
religious fanaticism!
"Have you gone CRAZY?" I asked, incredulously.
"Of course not! I was never more sure of anything in my
life," responded my wife with enthusiasm.
Indeed, I wondered if she really had lost her mind! Deciding
to "keep Saturday for Sunday!" Why, that seemed like rank
FANATICISM! And my wife had always had such a sound mind! There
was nothing shallow about her. She had always had a well-balanced
mind, with depth.
But now, suddenly -- THIS! It seemed incredible -- preposterous!
"Loma," I said sternly, "this is simply too ridiculous to
believe! I am certainly not going to tolerate any such religious
fanaticism in our family! You'll have to give that up right here
and now!"
But she wouldn't!
"Doesn't the Bible say that wives must be obedient to their
husbands?" I asked.
"Yes, in the Lord, but not contrary to the Lord," she came
It was amazing how many logical arguments came to my mind.
But always she had the answer.
I felt I could not tolerate such humiliation. What would my
friends say? What would former business acquaintances think?
Nothing had ever hit me where it hurt so much -- right smack in the
heart of all my pride and vanity and conceit! And this mortifying
blow had to fall immediately on top of confidence-crushing
financial reverses!
In desperation, I said: "Loma, you can't tell me that all
these churches have been wrong all these hundreds of years! Why,
aren't these all CHRIST'S churches?"
"Then," came back Mrs. Armstrong, "why do they all disagree
on so many doctrines? Why does each one teach differently than
the others?"
"But," I still contended, "Isn't the Bible the very source
of the teaching of all these Christian churches? And they do all
agree on observing Sunday! I'm sure the Bible says, 'Thou shalt
keep SUNDAY!' "
"Well, does it?" smiled my wife, handing me a Bible. "Show
it to me, if it does -- and I'll do what it says."
"I don't know where to find it. You know I'm no Bible
student, I could never understand the Bible. But I know the Bible
must command the observance of Sunday, because all the churches
observe Sunday, except the Seventh-Day Adventists, and they're
regarded as fanatics. The Sabbath was the day for the Jews."
I even threatened divorce, if my wife refused to give up
this fanaticism, though in my heart I didn't really mean it. In
our family divorce was a thing unheard of -- and beside, I was very
much in love with my wife -- though at the moment I was boiling
over with anger.
"If you can prove by the Bible that Christians are commanded
to observe Sunday, then of course I'll do what I see in the
This was her challenge.
"O.K.," I answered, "I'll make you this proposition: I don't
know much about the Bible -- I just never could seem to understand
it. But I do have an analytical mind. I've become experienced in
research into business problems, getting the facts and analyzing
them. Now I'll make a complete and thorough study of this
question in the Bible. All these churches can't be wrong. I'll
prove to you in the Bible that you are mistaken!"
This was in the autumn of 1926. My business was gone -- all
but the one laundry account in Portland, where we were living at
the time. This one advertising account required only about 30
minutes a week of my time. I had TIME on my hands for this
And so it was that in the fall of 1926 -- crushed in spirit
from business reverses not of my making -- humiliated by what I
regarded as wifely religious fanaticism, that I entered into an
in-depth study of the Bible for the first time in my life.

Chapter 16
Researching the Bible and Darwin

WE HAD MOVED TO the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 1924. My
wife's brother, Walter Dillon, and her sister Bertha, had driven
Walter's Model T Ford back to Iowa in August. Walter finished his
junior year at Simpson College in Indianola, 1924-1925 school
year, and Bertha continued teaching at the same school where she
had taught before the Oregon trip.
During that third college year at Simpson, Walter had
married a blonde girl of German background whose name was Hertha.
In June, 1925, Walter and his young wife, together with Bertha
and my wife's father, had returned to Oregon. With a new bride to
support, it was necessary for Walter to go back to teaching
school, as he had done before entering Simpson. Both he and
Bertha obtained teaching jobs, and my father-in-law bought a
small-town store.
During the following years, Walter attended summer sessions
at the University of Oregon, and managed also to take, part of
the time, some night extension courses at the university, in
Portland. Walter kept this schedule, while teaching, until he
earned his B.A. at the university, and later his M.A. He soon
moved up to a principalship, and finally became principal at the
largest grade school in Oregon, outside of Portland.
Walter's wife had been indoctrinated with the theory of
evolution in college. One day she and I became engaged in a
discussion. The evolutionary doctrine came into the conversation.
I mentioned that I was not convinced of its validity.

Accused of Being Ignorant

"Herbert Armstrong, you are simply IGNORANT!" accused Hertha. Her
words stabbed deeply into what was left of my ego. "One is
uneducated, and ignorant, unless he believes in evolution. All
educated people now believe it."
That accusation came hot on the heels of this Sabbath
challenge from my wife. Of course, Hertha was only about 19, and
had had but her freshman year in college. She was yet immature
enough to be a bit oversold on what had been presented to her as
a mark of intellectual distinction. Nevertheless, her manner was
cutting, and a bit sarcastic, and I accepted it as a challenge.
"Hertha," I responded, "I am just starting a study of the
Bible. I intend to include in this research a thorough study of
the Biblical account of creation. Since it is admittedly one of
the two -- evolution or special creation -- I will include an
in-depth study of evolution. I feel sure that a thorough study
into both sides will show that it is you who are ignorant, and
that you merely studied one side of a two-sided question in
freshman biology, and accepted what was funnelled into your mind
without question. And if and when I do, I'm going to make you EAT
those words!"
And so it developed that I now had a double challenge to go
to work on -- a dual subject involving both the Biblical claims for
special creation, and also a more in-depth study than before into
texts on biology, geology, paleontology, and the various works on
the theory of evolution.
Actually, this is simply the study into the TWO
possibilities of origins. It threw me directly into an in-depth
research of what is perhaps the most BASIC of all knowledge -- the
very starting point in the acquisition of knowledge -- the search
for the correct concept through which to VIEW all facts.
The two subjects -- or, rather, the two sides of the same
subject of origins -- should be unprejudicially and objectively
studied together, yet seldom are!
Most believers in the Bible and in the existence of God have
probably just grown up believing it, because they were reared in
an atmosphere where it was believed. But perhaps few ever studied
into it deeply enough to obtain irrefutable PROOF.
Likewise, the educated, who have gone on through college or
university, have, in the main, been taught the theory of
evolution as a BELIEF. They have accepted it, in all probability,
without having given any serious or thorough study of the
Biblical claims.
I had come to the point where I wanted THE TRUTH!
I now had the time on my hands. I was willing to pay the
price of thorough and in-depth research to BE SURE!
The reader is reminded that I had chosen, instead of the
university, the process of self-education, selecting my own
courses of study. I had studied diligently, after leaving high
school at age 18, and continuously up to this incident in 1926.
But I was now entering on a field of research in which previous
study had been minimal.
I began this intensified study by obtaining everything I
could find in the way of books, pamphlets and other literature
both for and against what was often called "the Jewish Sabbath."
I wanted, not only everything I could lay hands on, on the case
for Sunday, and against the 7th-day Sabbath. I wanted, also, the
arguments or proponents for it, which I hoped to be able honestly
to refute.
At the same time, I found, in the Portland Public Library,
many scientific works either directly on evolution, or as a
teaching in textbooks on biology, paleontology and geology. Also
I found books by scientists and doctors of philosophy puncturing
many holes in the evolutionary hypothesis. Strangely, even the
critics of evolution, being themselves scientific men,
paradoxically accepted the very theory they so ably refuted.
But, reading first the works of Darwin, Haeckel, Spencer,
Huxley, Vogt, and more recent and modern authorities, the
evolutionary postulate began to become very convincing.
It became apparent early that the real and thorough-going
evolutionists universally agreed that evolution excluded the
possibility of the existence of GOD! While some of the lesser
lights professed a sort of fence-straddling theistic evolution, I
soon learned that the real dyed-in-the-wool evolutionists all
were atheists. Evolution could not honestly be reconciled with
the first chapter of Genesis!

Does God Exist?

And so it came about that, very early in this study of evolution
and of the Bible, actual doubts came into my mind as to the
existence of God!
In a very real sense, this was a good thing. I had always
assumed the existence of God because I had been taught it from
childhood. I had grown up in Sunday school. I simply took it for
Now, suddenly, I realized I had never PROVED whether there
is a God. Since the existence of God is the very first BASIS for
religious belief and authority -- and since the inspiration of the
Bible by such a God as His revelation to mankind is the secondary
and companion basis for faith and practice, I realized that the
place to start was to PROVE whether God exists and whether the
Holy Bible is His revelation of knowledge and information for
I had nothing but TIME on my hands. I rose early and
STUDIED. Most mornings I was standing at the front entrance of
the Public Library when its doors were opened. Most evenings I
left the Library at 9 p.m., closing time. Most nights I continued
study at home until my wife, at 1 a.m. or later, would waken from
her sleep and urge me to break off and get to bed.
I delved into science. I learned the facts about radioactive
elements. I learned how radioactivity proves there has been no
past eternity of matter. There was a time when matter did not
exist. Then there came a time when matter came into existence.
This was CREATION, one of several proofs of GOD.
By the laws of science, including the law of bio-genesis,
that only LIFE can beget life -- that dead matter cannot produce
life -- that the living cannot come from the not-living, by these
laws came PROOF that God exists. In the Bible I found one quoted,
saying in the first person, "I am GOD." This God was quoted
directly in Scriptures, proved to have been written hundreds of
years before Christ, pronouncing the future fates of every major
city and nation in the ancient world. I delved into HISTORY. I
learned that these prophecies, in every instance (except in
prophecies pertaining to a time yet future), had come to pass
precisely as written!

Refuting Evolution

I studied the creation account in the Bible. It is not all in
Genesis 1. I studied it all! I studied evolution. At first the
evolutionary theory seemed very convincing -- just as it does to
freshmen students in most colleges and universities.
I noted evidences of comparative anatomy. But these
evidences were not, in themselves, PROOF. They merely tended to
make the theory appear more reasonable IF proved. I noted tests
and discoveries of embryology. These, too, were not PROOF, but
only supporting evidence IF evolution were proved.
I noticed that Lamarck's original theory of use and disuse,
once accepted as science, had been laughed out of school. I
learned that the once scientific spiral-nebular theory of the
earth's existence had become the present-day laughing stock,
supplanted by (in 1926) Professor Chamberlin's planetesimal
hypothesis. I sought out the facts of Darwin's life. I learned
the facts about his continual sickness -- about his preconceived
theory and inductive process of reasoning in searching for such
facts and arguments as would sustain his theory.
I researched the facts about his tour on the good ship
Beagle. I read of how he admitted there were perplexing problems
in his theories and in what he had written, but that he
nevertheless continued to promulgate evolution. I learned how his
colleagues glossed over these perplexing problems and
propagandized his theory into scientific acceptance.
Then I came to the matter of the human mind. As far back as
1926 I was concerned about the vast GULF between animal brain and
human mind. Could that gulf have been bridged by evolution? It
appeared that, even if the evolutionary process were possible, in
reality the TIME required to bridge this gulf in intellectual
development would have been millions of times longer than what
geology and paleontology would indicate.
But, most important, I knew that I, with my mind, am
superior to anything my mind can devise, and that I can make.
Likewise, it became axiomatic that nothing less than the
intelligence of my mind could have produced something SUPERIOR to
itself -- my mind! Of necessity, the very presence of human
intellect necessitates a superior and greater Intellect to have
designed, devised, and produced the human mind! It could not have
been produced by natural causes, and resident forces, as
evolution presupposes. Unintelligence could not produce
intelligence superior to itself! Rational common sense demanded a
I came to see that there was only one possible proof of
evolution as a fact. That was the assumption that, in the study
of paleontology, the most simple fossils were always in the
oldest strata, laid down first; while, as we progress into strata
of later deposition, the fossils found in them become gradually
more complex, tending toward advancing intelligence.
That one claim, I finally determined, was the TRUNK of the
tree of evolution. If the trunk stood, the theory appeared
proved. If I could chop down the trunk, the entire tree would
fall with it.
I began a search to learn HOW these scientists determined
the age of strata. I was months finding it. None of the texts I
searched seemed to explain anything about it. This TRUNK of the
tree was carelessly assumed -- without proof.
Were the oldest strata always on the bottom -- the next oldest
next to the bottom, the most recent on the top? Finally I found
it in a recognized text on geology authored by Prof. Thomas
Chrowder Chamberlin. No, sometimes the most recent were actually
below the most ancient strata. The age of strata was not
determined by stages of depth. The depth of strata varied in
different parts of the world.
How, then, was the age of strata determined? Why, I finally
discovered in this very reputable authority, their age was
determined by the FOSSILS found in them. Since the geologists
"knew" their evolutionary theory was true, and since they had
estimated how many millions of years ago a certain fossil
specimen might have lived, that age determined the age of the
In other words, they ASSUMED the age of the strata by the
supposition that their theory of evolution was true. And they
"PROVED" their theory was true by the supposition of the
progressive ages of the strata in which fossil remains had been
found! This was arguing in a circle!
The TRUNK of the evolutionary tree was chopped down. There
I wrote a short paper on this discovery. I showed it to the
head librarian of the technical and science department of a very
large library.
"Mr. Armstrong," she said, "you have an uncanny knack of
getting right to the crux of a problem. Yes, I have to admit you
have chopped down the trunk of the tree. You have robbed me of
PROOF! But, Mr. Armstrong, I still have to go on believing in
evolution. I have done graduate work at Columbia, at the
University of Chicago, and other top-level institutions. I have
spent my life in the atmosphere of science and in the company of
scientific people. I am so STEEPED in it that I could not root it
from my mind!"
What a pitiful confession, from one so steeped in "the
wisdom of this world."

The Creation MEMORIAL

I had disproved the theory of evolution. I had found PROOF of
CREATION -- PROOF of the existence of GOD -- PROOF of the divine
inspiration of the BIBLE.
Now I had a BASIS for belief. Now I had a solid FOUNDATION
on which to build. The BIBLE had proved itself to contain
AUTHORITY. I had now studied far enough to know that I must LIVE
by it, and that I shall finally be JUDGED by it -- not by men, nor
by man's church denominations, theories, theologies, tenets,
doctrines, or pronouncements. I would be judged by Almighty GOD
finally, and according to the BIBLE!
So now I began to study further into this Sabbath question.
Of course I had procured all the pamphlets, books and
booklets I could find in defense of Sunday observance, and
purporting to refute the "Jewish Sabbath."
Especially I sought out eagerly everything claiming
apostolic observance of Sunday as "the Christian Sabbath." Early
in my study, I learned about the many Bible helps -- the
concordances, which list alphabetically all the words used in the
Bible, showing where they are used, and what Greek, Hebrew or
Aramaic word was originally written -- the Bible Dictionaries, the
Bible encyclopedias, the commentaries, etc., etc.
From the exhaustive concordances I soon learned that the
command I sought, "Thou shalt keep Sunday," was nowhere to be
found in the Bible. In fact the word "Sunday" was not used in the
Bible. That surprised me.
I really became excited, however, when I learned that there
are eight places in the New Testament where the phrase "first day
of the week" appears. And I read eagerly arguments in tracts or
booklets claiming that these established that the original
apostles were holding their weekly worship services on "the first
day of the week" -- which is Sunday.
But I became painfully disappointed on learning by more
careful study, that there was not a single instance of a
religious service being held on the hours we call
Sunday -- Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight. The Apostle Paul,
after spending a "Saturday" Sabbath with the church at Troas,
preached to them Saturday night until midnight. But although, in
the Biblical manner of ending each day and beginning the next at
sunset, that was -- Biblically speaking -- on "the first day of the
week," it was not Sunday, but Saturday night, lasting until
Sunday began at midnight.
I was further disappointed in this case, when I discovered
on careful study, that on that Sunday Paul indulged in the labor
of walking some 19 miles to Assos. The others of Paul's company
had sailed, beginning sunset when the Sabbath ended, around the
peninsula, some 65 miles to Assos. By walking the 19 miles
straight across, on Sunday, Paul had gained the extra time to
continue speaking to the people Saturday night.
So my effort to find a command to observe Sunday met with
I found there is no command to observe Sunday. Sunday is
nowhere called holy time, but to my chagrin, I found this "Jewish
Sabbath" is, and is said to be holy to God. There was not even a
single example of any religious meeting having been held on the
hours called Sunday!
On the other hand, I had to learn, like it or not, that
Jesus kept the Sabbath day "as His custom was," and the Apostle
Paul kept it "as his manner was." Also Paul spent many Sabbath
days preaching and holding weekly services, and in one instance
the Gentiles waited a whole week in order to be able to come and
hear Paul preach the same words on the following Sabbath!
I learned that CREATION is the very PROOF of GOD! A heathen
comes along, pointing to an idol made by man's hands out of wood,
stone or marble or gold.
"This idol is the real god," he says. "How can you prove
your God is superior to this idol that I worship?"
"Why," I answer, "My God is the CREATOR. He created the
wood, stone, marble or gold that your god is made of. He created
MAN, and man, a created being, MADE that idol. Therefore my God
is greater than your idol because it is only a particle of what
my God MADE!
Another comes along and says, "I worship the SUN. We get our
light from the sun. It warms the earth and makes vegetation grow.
I think the SUN is God."
"But," I reply, "the true God CREATED the sun. He created
light. He created force, energy, and LIFE. He makes the sun shine
on the earth. He CONTROLS the sun, because He controls all the
forces of His creation. He is supreme RULER over His universe."
Then I began to see that on the very seventh day of creation
week, God set that day aside from other days. On that day He
RESTED from all He had created by WORK. On that day he created
the Sabbath, not by work, but by REST, putting His divine
presence in it! He made it HOLY TIME. No man has authority to
make future time holy. No group of men -- no church! Only GOD is
HOLY! Only GOD can make things HOLY. The Sabbath is a constantly
recurring space of time, marked off by the setting of the sun.
God made every recurring Sabbath HOLY, and commanded man (Exodus
20) to keep it holy.
WHY did He do it? WHY does it make any difference?
I found it in the SPECIAL SABBATH COVENANT in Exodus
31:12-18. He made it the SIGN between Him and His people. A SIGN
is a mark of identity. First, it is a sign that GOD is the
the PROOF of God -- it identifies Him. No other space of time could
be a memorial of CREATION. Thus God chose that very space of time
for man to assemble for worship which KEEPS MAN IN THE KNOWLEDGE
has NOT kept the Sabbath has worshipped the created rather than
the Creator. It is a sign that identifies God's own people,
because it is they who OBEY God in this commandment, while this
is the very commandment which everyone else regards as the LEAST
of the commandments -- which they REBEL against obeying!
GOD is the one you OBEY. The word LORD means MASTER -- the one
you OBEY! This is the one point on which the largest number of
people refuse to OBEY the true GOD, thus proving they are not His

Law and Grace

I studied carefully everything I could obtain which attempted to
refute the Sabbath. I wanted, more than anything on earth, to
refute it -- to prove that SUNDAY was the true Christian Sabbath,
or "Lord's Day."
I read the arguments about "law or grace."
I was pointed to, and read, Romans 3:20: "Therefore by the
deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight."
But I looked into the BIBLE, and found the pamphlet had left
out the rest of the verse which says: "for by the law is the
knowledge of sin." That is true, because I read in I John 3:4
that the Bible definition of SIN is NOT man's conscience, or his
church "DON'TS," but "Sin is the transgression of the law."
Naturally, then, the KNOWLEDGE of sin comes by the LAW.
And I discovered the pamphlet forgot to quote the 31st
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid:
yea, we establish the law."
I read in a pamphlet, " ... the law worketh WRATH" (Rom.
I turned to my Bible and read the rest of the same verse:
"for where no law is, there is no transgression." Of course!
Because the law DEFINES sin. Sin is disobedience of the law!
I read in one of the pamphlets that the law was an evil
thing, contrary to our best interests. But then I read in Romans
7: "Is the law sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known sin, but by
the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said 'Thou
shalt not covet.' " And "Wherefore the law is HOLY, and the
commandment holy, and just, and good." And again, "For we know
that the law is spiritual" (verses 7,12,14).
I learned that GRACE is PARDON, through the blood of Christ,
for having transgressed the law. But if a human judge pardons a
man for breaking a civil or criminal law, that pardon does not
repeal the law. The man is pardoned so that he may now OBEY the
law. And GOD pardons only after we REPENT of sin!

The Bitter Pill

But do not suppose I quickly or easily came to admit my wife had
been right, or to accept the seventh-day Sabbath as the truth of
the Bible.
I spent a solid SIX MONTHS of virtual night-and-day,
seven-day-a-week STUDY and research, in a determined effort to
find just the opposite.
I searched IN VAIN for any authority in the Bible to
establish SUNDAY as the day for Christian worship. I even studied
Greek sufficiently to run down every possible questionable text
in the original Greek.
I studied the Commentaries. I studied the Lexicons and
"Robertsons's Grammar of the Greek New Testament". Then I studied
HISTORY. I delved into encyclopedias -- the "Britannica", the
"Americana", and several religious encyclopedias. I searched the
"Jewish Encyclopedia", and the "Catholic Encyclopedia". I read
Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", especially his
chapter 15 dealing with the religious history of the first four
hundred years after Christ. And one of the most convincing
evidences against Sunday was in the history of how and when it
I left no stone unturned.
I found clever arguments. I will confess that, so eager was
I to overthrow this Sabbath belief of my wife, at one point in
this intensive study I believed I might possibly have been able
to use arguments to confuse and upset my wife on the Sabbath
question. But there was no temptation to try to do it. I knew
these arguments were not honest! I could not deliberately try to
deceive my wife with dishonest arguments. The thought was
immediately pushed aside. I know now she could not have been
Finally, after six months, the TRUTH had become crystal
clear. At last I KNEW what was the truth. Once again, GOD had
taken me to a licking!
It had been bewildering -- utterly frustrating! It seemed as
if some mysterious, invisible hand was disintegrating every
business I started!
That was precisely what was happening! The hand of God was
taking away every activity on which my heart had been set -- the
business success before whose shrine I had worshipped. This zeal
to become important in the business world had become an idol. God
was destroying the idol. He was knocking me down -- again and
again! He was puncturing the ego, deflating the vanity.

Midas in Reverse

At age 16 ambition had been aroused. I began to study
constantly -- to work at self-improvement -- to prod and drive myself
on and on. I had sought the jobs which would provide training and
experience for the future. This had led to travel, to contacts
with big and important men, multimillionaire executives.
At twenty-eight a publishers' representative business had
been built in Chicago which produced an income equivalent to some
$35,000 a year measured by today's dollar value. The flash
depression of 1920 had swept it away. At age thirty, discouraged,
broken in spirit, I was removed from it entirely.
Then, in Oregon, had come the advertising service for
laundries. It was growing and multiplying rapidly. After one
year, in the fall of 1926, the fees were grossing close to $1,000
per month. I saw visions of a personal net income mounting to
from $300,000 to a half million a year with expansion to national
proportions. Then an action by the Laundryowners National
Association swept the laundry advertising business out from under
my feet.
It seemed that I was King Midas in reverse. Every material
money-making enterprise I started promised gold, but turned to
nothing! They vanished like mirages on a desert.
Yes, God Almighty the Creator, was knocking me down -- again
and again. As often as I got back to my feet to fight, on
starting another business or enterprise, another blow of utter
and bitter defeat seemed to strike me from behind by an unseen
hand. I was being "softened" for the final knock-out of material
Now came the greatest inner battle of my life.
To accept this truth meant -- so I supposed -- to cut me off
from all former friends, acquaintances and business associates. I
had come to meet some of the independent "Sabbath-keepers" down
around Salem and the Willamette Valley. Some of them were what I
then, in my pride and conceit, regarded as backwoods
"hillbillies." None were of the financial and social position of
those I had associated with.
My associations and pride had led me to "look down upon"
this class of people. I had been ambitious to hobnob with the
wealthy and the cultural.
I saw plainly what a decision was before me. To accept this
truth meant to throw in my lot for life with a class of people I
had always looked on as inferior. I learned later that God looks
on the heart, and these humble people were the real salt of the
earth. But I was then still looking on the outward appearance. It
meant being cut off completely and forever from all to which I
had aspired. It meant a total crushing of vanity. It meant a
total change of life!
I counted the cost!
But then, I had been beaten down. I had been humiliated. I
had been broken in spirit, frustrated. I had come to look on this
formerly esteemed self as a failure. I now took another good look
at myself.
And I acknowledged: "I'm nothing but a burned-out old hunk
of junk."
I realized I had been a swellheaded egotistical jackass.
Finally, in desperation, I threw myself on God's mercy. I
said to God that I knew, now, that I was nothing but a burned-out
hunk of junk. My life was worth nothing more to ME. I said to God
that I knew now I had nothing to offer HIM -- but if He would
forgive me -- if He could have any use whatsoever for such a
worthless dreg of humanity, that He could have my life; I knew it
was worthless, but if He could do anything with it, He could have
it -- I was willing to give this worthless self to HIM -- I wanted to
accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour!
I meant it! It was the toughest battle I ever fought. It was
a battle for LIFE. I lost that battle, as I had been recently
losing all battles. I realized Jesus Christ had bought and paid
for my life. I gave in. I surrendered, unconditionally. I told
Christ He could have what was left of me! I didn't think I was
worth saving!
Jesus said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and
whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." I then
and there gave up my life -- not knowing that this was the ONLY way
to really find it!
It was humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right,
and I had been wrong. It was disillusioning to learn, on studying
the BIBLE for the first time, that what I had been taught in
Sunday school was, in so many basic instances, the very opposite
of what the Bible plainly states. It was shocking to learn that
"all these churches were wrong" after all!
But I did, later, have one satisfaction. I wrote up a long
manuscript about the Sabbath, finally tying it up with evolution,
and PROVING evolution false. I gave it to my sister-in-law, Mrs.
Dillon. She read it unsuspectingly. Before she realized what she
was reading, she had accepted the evidence and PROOF that
evolution was false.
"You tricked me!" she exclaimed.
But she did have to "eat those words"!

Chapter 17
At the Crossroads -- and a Momentous Decision

IT WAS humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right, and I
had been wrong, in the most serious argument that ever came
between us.


But to my utter disappointed astonishment, I found that much of
the popular church teachings and practices were not based on the
Bible. They had originated, as research in history had revealed,
in paganism. Numerous Bible prophecies foretold it. The amazing,
unbelievable TRUTH was, the SOURCE of these popular beliefs and
practices of professing Christianity was, quite largely, paganism
and human reasoning and custom, NOT the Bible!
I had first doubted, then searched for evidence, and found
PROOF that God exists -- that the Holy Bible is, literally, His
divinely inspired revelation and instruction to mankind. I had
learned that one's God is what a person OBEYS. The word LORD
means MASTER -- the one you OBEY! Most people, I had discovered,
are obeying false gods, rebelling against the one true CREATOR
who is the supreme RULER of the universe.
The argument was over a point of OBEDIENCE to GOD.
The opening of my eyes to the TRUTH brought me to the
crossroads of my life. To accept it meant to throw in my lot with
a class of humble and unpretentious people I had always looked
upon as inferior. It meant being cut off from the high and the
mighty and the wealthy of this world, to which I had aspired. It
meant the final crushing of VANITY. It meant a total change of

Life and Death Struggle

It meant real REPENTANCE, for now I saw that I had been breaking
God's Law. I had been rebelling against God. It meant turning
around and going THE WAY OF GOD -- the WAY of His BIBLE -- living
according to every word in the Bible, instead of according to the
ways of society or the desires of the flesh and of vanity.
It was a matter of which WAY I would travel for the
remainder of my life. I had certainly reached the CROSSROADS!
But I had been beaten down. God had brought that
about -- though I didn't realize it then. Repeated business
reverses, failure after failure, had destroyed self-confidence. I
was broken in spirit. The SELF in me didn't want to die. It
wanted to try to get up from ignominious defeat and try once
again to tread the broad and popular WAY of vanity and of this
world. But now I knew that way was WRONG! I knew its ultimate
penalty was DEATH. But I didn't want to die now!
It was truly a battle for LIFE -- a life and death struggle.
In the end, I lost that battle, as I had been losing all worldly
battles in recent years.
In final desperation, I threw myself on His mercy. If He
could use my life, I would give it to Him -- not in physical
suicide, but as a living sacrifice, to use as He willed. It was
worth nothing to me any longer.
Jesus Christ had bought and paid for my life by His death.
It really belonged to Him, and now I told Him He could have it!
From then on, this defeated no-good life of mine was GOD'S.
I didn't see how it could be worth anything to Him. But it was
His to use as His instrument, if He thought He could use it.

JOY in Defeat

This surrender to God -- this REPENTANCE -- this GIVING UP of the
world, of friends and associates, and of everything -- was the most
bitter pill I ever swallowed. Yet it was the only medicine in all
my life that ever brought a healing!
For I actually began to realize that I was finding joy
beyond words to describe in this total defeat. I had actually
found JOY in the study of the Bible -- in the discovery of new
TRUTHS, heretofore hidden from my consciousness. And in
surrendering to GOD in complete repentance, I found unspeakable
JOY in accepting JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour and my present
High Priest.
I began to see everything in a new and different light. Why
should it have been a difficult and painful experience to
surrender to my Maker and my God? Why was it painful to surrender
to obey God's right ways? WHY? Now, I came to a new outlook on
Somehow I began to realize a NEW fellowship and friendship
had come into my life. I began to be conscious of a contact and
fellowship with Christ, and with God the Father.
When I read and studied the Bible, God was talking to me,
and now I loved to listen! I began to pray, and knew that in
prayer I was talking with God. I was not yet very well acquainted
with God. But one gets to be better acquainted with another by
constant contact and continuous conversation.

A Doctrine at a Time

So I continued the study of the Bible. I began to write, in
article form, the things I was learning. I did not then suppose
these articles would ever be published. I wrote them for my own
satisfaction. It was one way to learn more by the study.
I had been reared of Quaker stock. The Quakers do not
believe in water baptism. But now I wanted to PROVE, by the
Bible, whether I ought to be baptized. So I began to study about
baptism -- and receiving the Holy Spirit.
As this study of the Bible continued, I was forced to come
out of the fog of religious babylon a single doctrine at a time.
It was years later before I came to see the WHOLE picture -- to
understand God's PURPOSE being worked out here below, and why,
and how, He is working it out. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the many
single doctrinal parts ultimately fit together, and then, for the
first time, the WHOLE picture burst joyfully into view.
It was like being so close to one tree at a time I could not
see the forest. I had to examine every doctrinal tree in the
religious forest. Many, as I had been brought up to believe them,
were felled on close examination IN THE BlBLE. New doctrinal
trees came into view. But finally, after years, I was able to see
the whole forest of TRUTH, with dead doctrinal trees removed.
That is why students at Ambassador College today are able to
learn the TRUTH much more rapidly than I could. That is why the
readers of The Plain Truth, the regular listeners of The World
Tomorrow program, and the students of the Ambassador College
Correspondence Course are able to come to mature knowledge of the
truth so quickly. The pioneer work has been done. The weeds have
been removed. The very trunks of the trees of false doctrines
have been chopped down and uprooted.
But I myself had to check carefully and test every doctrine,
one at a time.
And so next, after repentance and surrender to God, came an
intensive study of water baptism.

Disillusioned About Preachers

During my initial six months' study, I had studied not only the
Bible, but every book, booklet or tract I could get on the
religious subjects under study. On the Sabbath question, I had
sought out eagerly and studied avidly everything I could find
against the Sabbath and supporting Sunday as the "Lord's Day."
But I had tried to be fair, and searched also the literature on
the other side of the question. But always the BIBLE was the sole
authority. Thus I became quite familiar with Seventh-Day
Adventist literature.
Never, however, did I attend any Seventh-Day Adventist
church service.
Also I checked over carefully the literature of the Church
of God, with headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri.
Upon surrender to God, I had lost all sense of animosity
toward Mrs. O. J. Runcorn, the elderly lady who had started my
wife on the religious "fanaticism" which proved to be God's
TRUTH. We even came to call her and her husband our spiritual
parents. Mrs. Armstrong and I visited with her frequently when in
Salem at the home of my parents. Through her and her husband we
became acquainted with a small group of "Church of God people" in
Salem and near Jefferson, Oregon.
One day when we were in Salem we learned that a preacher of
this Church of God had just arrived from Texas, an Elder
Unzicker. He and his wife were staying at the home of a neighbor,
member of the Church of God. Mrs. Armstrong and I walked across
the street to this neighbor's house to see him. I wanted to ask
him questions about water baptism.

Questioning Other Ministers

Next I went to a Baptist minister in Portland, to learn why
Baptists believe in baptism. He was courteous and patient, glad
to explain his church's teachings.
I went to a Seventh-Day Adventist minister. He, too, was
courteous and glad to explain his belief, according to the Bible.
Then, finally, I went to see a minister of the Friends
I asked him WHY the Quakers did not believe in water
baptism. He explained the Quaker belief. They believe in
spiritual, not water, baptism.
"Well, Herbert," he said finally, "I'll have to confess I
can't honestly justify our church position by the Bible. This
very thing bothered me a great deal when I first felt called into
the ministry. At first, I felt I could not consistently become a
minister in the Friends Church because this stand on water
baptism really bothered me. But then, I looked at some of the
great preachers of the church (naming several, including my own
great-uncle Thomas Armstrong), and they all seemed to be holy men
of God. And so I decided that if such great and holy men could
preach against water baptism, so could I."
To me, this was disillusioning and discouraging. It showed
me that ministers are human, like other people, after all. As a
boy, I had somehow come to assume that ministers of religion are
different from other people. Preachers were HOLY. Other people
were sinners. Other people had human nature. But preachers were
above the temptation and weaknesses of mortal humans. They were a
sort of special species, about half way between ordinary humans
and God. I had looked on ministers of religion with a sort of
embarrassed awe. I think many people think of the clergy in
similar manner.
Of course I was not a minister, and at that time did not
ever expect to be. In my Bible study up to this point I had
become painfully aware that "the heart [human] is deceitful above
all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). This is true
of every human, and I had to realize it included me. But I had to
come to see that clergymen are human also -- and perhaps have even
a harder fight against temptation than laymen.

My Experience Utterly Unique

Actually, though I didn't realize it then, I was, myself, being
literally thrust into the Ministry of Christ, though not at all
of my own seeking. And I know now that my experience was, in all
probability, utterly UNIQUE! Most certainly the manner in which I
was put into it was unlike any other I had heard of.
How does the average minister come to enter the clergy? I'm
sure most choose the ministry in the same manner that other young
men choose medicine, law, architecture or science as a life
profession. So, naturally, they enter into whatever course of
preparation is provided by their particular religion, church or
denomination. Probably they enter a theological seminary. There
they are taught the doctrines of their particular religious
But I did not belong to any particular religion, church or
sect. I did not CHOOSE the clergy as a profession. Actually, that
would have been the very last choice in my case. But, though it
was not yet realized, the profession I had chosen, after thorough
self-analysis and survey of professions and
occupations -- journalism and advertising -- provided the very
background, training and experience to fit me for what I was now
being drawn into.
I did not enter the course of study of some particular
religion or church. I was not being taught by MAN! I had entered
on the in-depth study of the Bible to prove my wife was wrong in
a new religious belief. Being challenged also on the theory of
evolution, my research led me to question even the existence of
God and the authority of the Bible. And I had accepted the
reality of the existence of God, and the authority of the Bible,
ONLY AFTER finding incontrovertible PROOF.
How do most people come to believe what they do? The
philosopher C. E. Ayres commented that few indeed ever stop to
inquire in retrospect HOW they come to believe what they do, or
WHY they believe it. Most people believe whatever they have been
taught, or what they have read, or heard, or whatever their
particular group, religion, church, political party, or area of
the world believes. They simply "GO ALONG." They carelessly
ASSUME, because others do.
Our system of education encourages this. It fails abysmally
to teach growing children to think for themselves, to question,
to seek PROOF before believing. In school and college students
are taught to accept and memorize whatever is in the textbook, or
given in the lecture. They are graded on how well they have
accepted and memorized what has been thus funnelled into their
unsuspecting minds. And I know of no seminary that departs from
this process, or encourages students to thoroughly question
whether their sectarian doctrines are true.
Of course, too, people usually believe what they WANT to
believe. That is to say, they refuse to believe what they don't
want to believe. But in my case I was forced, on thorough
examination and research, to believe what, prior to that
research, I had definitely and vigorously not wanted to believe.
I was forced, to accept, on PROOF, that which I had started out
to prove FALSE. I was forced to admit, under most humiliating
circumstances, on PROOF, what I had hoped to disprove.
And what I was forced, on PROOF, to accept was probably the
most unpopular belief, and the hardest for most people to accept.
But I had, against my wishes, found it to be TRUE, and once
proved TRUE, I did finally come to embrace it with gladness and
In no other manner, I believe, could the mind of anyone have
been opened to see the most BASIC, VITAL truths of the revealed
Message of God to mankind -- the MOST IMPORTANT KNOWLEDGE OF
ALL -- utterly overlooked and unrealized by this world's religions,
churches and sects.
It was in this UNIQUE manner that I was brought to discover
THE MISSING DIMENSION IN EDUCATION -- the truth as to WHY humanity
was put on this earth -- the true PURPOSE of human life -- the CAUSE
of all the world's unhappiness, unsolvable problems and
evils -- the difference between the TRUE VALUES and the false -- THE
WAY that can be the ONLY CAUSE of PEACE between nations, groups
and individuals -- the only CAUSE of true success in life with
happiness, peace, prosperity and abundance.
No, I know of no one who was thrust into the Ministry of
Jesus Christ, untaught by MAN, but by the living Christ through
His written Word, in the manner in which I was. I didn't realize
it yet, but I was being brought into His Ministry by the living
Christ in a manner UTTERLY UNIQUE, and totally unlike any other
of which I know!
But back, now, to my study in regard to baptism.

Begotten of God

Finally the study of the subject of baptism was completed. There
was no longer doubt. Peter had said: "REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED
every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of
sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts
2:38). To Cornelius and his house, who already had received the
Holy Spirit, Peter said: "Can any man forbid WATER, that these
should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as
well as we? And he COMMANDED them to be baptized in the name of
the Lord" (Acts 10:47-48).
It was a command. There was no promise of receiving the Holy
Spirit until after being baptized -- although Cornelius, the
exception to the rule, had been begotten by the Holy Spirit prior
to baptism. Yet even he was commanded to be baptized IN WATER.
What I had learned in this study on baptism is recounted in our
free booklet "All About Water Baptism".
And so I was baptized forthwith and without delay.
Immediately upon coming up out of the water, I definitely
experienced a change in attitude and in mind generally. I had
already repented and surrendered to God's rule over my life. The
natural carnal hostility to God and His Law already had gone.
Yet, now, for the first time, I felt CLEAN! I knew, now,
that the terribly heavy load of sin had been taken off my
shoulders. Christ had paid the penalty for me. All past sins were
now blotted out by His blood. My conscience was clean and clear.
For the first time in my life I experienced real inner PEACE
of mind! I realized, as never before, how futile and useless and
foolish are the ways of this world, on which most people set so
much store. There was a quiet, wonderful happiness of mind in the
sure knowledge that now I was actually a begotten son of GOD! I
could really call GOD Father!
There were no excitable physical sensations or exhilarating
FEELINGS running up and down the spine. Nothing of the nervous
system. That is physical -- not spiritual. Nothing of the
senses -- nothing sensual, as some people, diabolically misled and
deceived claim to experience. But there was a KNOWING! There was
an unmistakable renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
For six months I had struggled night and day, with a carnal
mind, to learn the truth about one single doctrine in the Bible.
Prior to that my wife and I had read the Bible clear through -- but
I had not understood a WORD of it! Most of the time I asked my
wife to do the reading, because she could read faster. We got
through quicker. But it was like reading or listening to a
foreign language. I simply could not UNDERSTAND the BIBLE!
But now, from this point of baptism on, a strange,
wonderful, delightful new thing took place. I could read the
Bible and UNDERSTAND what I read! Of course I could not
understand the WHOLE Bible in five or ten minutes. I still had to
study it a doctrine at a time. But it was UNDERSTANDABLE! It MADE
SENSE! Even though it took time, I was now getting some place.
But I was comprehending and learning so much faster than during
that initial six months' study!
It was like a miracle! And indeed, it WAS a MIRACLE! The
very Holy Spirit of God had come into and renewed my mind. I had
been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the true Body of Christ,
the Church of God -- but I did not realize that fact literally. I
was still to search earnestly to find the one and only true
Church which Jesus founded, before recognizing fully He had
already placed me in it!

Chapter 18
Learning Whether God Answers Prayers

WHERE is the one TRUE Church today? That is the question that
still haunted my mind in the late spring and the summer of 1927.
During that six months' diligent research, I had run the
gamut of disillusionment, doubt, confusion, frustration -- and
finally, the SURE knowledge, proved, that GOD EXISTS, and that
the Holy Bible is His revealed Word.
Finally, sadly disillusioned about believing "all these
churches couldn't be wrong," I began to ask, "where is the one
true Church today?" I read in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said: "I
will build my Church."
Therefore I knew He did build it. He said the gates of the
grave would never prevail against it. It had to be in existence
still. But WHERE? Which church could it be?
I had been astounded to learn that the BlBLE teaches truths
diametrically opposite to the teachings of the large and popular
churches and denominations today. I saw in the Bible the real
MISSION of God's true Church. But these churches, today, were not
carrying on the real work and mission of Christ.
The SOURCE of their beliefs and practice was not the Bible,
but paganism! There was no recognizable comparison between them
and the original TRUE Church I found described in Acts and other
New Testament books. Yet somewhere there had to exist today that
spiritual organism in which Christ actually dwelt -- a church
empowered by His Spirit -- acting as His instrument -- carrying out
His Commission.
I was to be some years in finding the answer.
I still had to sift out the real truth a doctrine at a time!
Mrs. Armstrong and I began to attend many different
churches. I wanted to check on each -- compare it with the Bible. I
continued almost daily study at the Portland Public Library.

Getting Relatives "Saved"

One must not assume, from what has been written about my
surrender to God, and the change that came with God's Spirit,
that I had reached spiritual maturity and perfection at one quick
bound. No one ever does. A human baby must creep before it learns
to walk. It must learn to walk before it can run. And it stumbles
and falls many times. But it does not become discouraged and give
The newly converted are mere babes in Christ. I had not
learned much, as yet. Vanity was far from being eradicated.
Upon surrendering to accept God's TRUTH -- as far as I had
then come to see it -- my first impulse was to share it with my
family and relatives. Once the natural-born hostility to God and
His Law had been crushed, the Bible TRUTH appeared as a glorious
light -- the most WONDERFUL thing I had ever known. I was suddenly
filled with zeal to get this precious knowledge to all who were
close to my wife and me. I wanted to get them converted.
Suddenly I began to feel so unselfish in this new Christian
experience that I felt my own final fate was not important, if
only I could get those related by blood or marriage ties into
God's Kingdom.
But sad disillusionment followed every overture. I had
absolutely no success whatsoever trying to cram "my religion"
down their throats.

Facing the Tobacco Question

Then, immediately I was baptized, the matter of smoking had to be
Of course the Quaker church, in which I had been reared as a
boy, taught that smoking was a sin. But I had been unhappily
disillusioned to see that in so many basic points the Bible
teaching is the very opposite of what I had absorbed in Sunday
"I've got to see the answer to the tobacco question IN THE
BIBLE!" I said to myself.
Until I found the answer in the Bible, I decided I would
continue as before -- smoking mildly.
I had continued to smoke lightly, averaging three or four
cigarettes a day, or one cigar a day. I had never been a heavy
Now I had to face the question: Is smoking a SIN?
I wanted the BIBLE answer, for I had learned by this time
that Christ had said we must live by EVERY WORD OF GOD. The BIBLE
is our Instruction Book on right living. We must find a BIBLE
reason for everything we do.
I knew, of course, there is no specific command, "Thou shalt
not smoke." But the absence of a detailed prohibition did not
mean God's approval.
I had learned that GOD'S LAW is His WAY OF LIFE. It is a
basic philosophy of life. The whole Law is summed up in the one
word LOVE. I knew that love is the opposite of lust. Lust is
self-desire -- pleasing the self only. Love means loving others.
Its direction is not inward toward self alone, but outgoing,
toward others. I knew the Bible teaches that "lust of the flesh"
is the way of SIN.
So now I began to apply the principle of God's Law.
I asked myself, "WHY do I smoke?" To please others -- to help
others -- to serve or minister to or express love toward others -- or
only to satisfy and gratify a desire of the flesh within my own
The answer was instantaneously obvious. I had to be honest
with it. My only reason for smoking was LUST OF THE FLESH, and
lust of the flesh is, according to the BIBLE, sin!
I stopped smoking immediately. This beginning of overcoming
was not too difficult, for it had not been a "big habit" with me.
Once weaned, I was able to see it as it is -- a dirty, filthy
habit. And today we know it is a serious and major contributing
cause of lung cancer!
God designed and created the human body. He designed the
LUNGS to take in FRESH AIR to fire and oxidize the blood, and at
the same time to filter out of the blood the impurities and waste
matter the blood has picked up throughout the body. Befouled
smoke, containing the poisons of nicotine and tars, reduces the
efficiency of the operation of this vital organ.
The physical human body is, God says, the very TEMPLE of His
Holy Spirit. If we defile this TEMPLE -- this physical body -- God
says He will destroy us! God intended us, if we are to be
COMPLETE, to live happy, healthy and abundant lives, and to gain
eternal life, to take in HIS SPIRIT -- not poisonous foreign
substances like tobacco.

Mrs. Armstrong Stricken

I was now beginning to grow in Christ's knowledge and in His
GRACE. His Holy Spirit had renewed my mind. I could now
UNDERSTAND God's TRUTH as I studied His Word.
I had come to understand, the hard way, the truth about Law
and Grace. I had come to understand the Bible teaching about
water baptism. I had come to see that I could not help others
unless I, myself, were obedient and practicing what I preached. I
had come to see the truth about tobacco. Now God saw fit to teach
my wife and me another most important and useful truth. He let us
learn it through severe experience, coupled with Bible study.
Along about early August, 1927, a series of physical
illnesses and injuries attacked Mrs. Armstrong.
First, she was bitten on the left arm by a dog. Before this
healed over, she was driven to bed with tonsillitis. She got up
from this too soon, and was stricken violently with a "backset."
But meanwhile she had contracted blood poisoning as a result of
being stuck with a rose thorn on the index finger of her right
For two or three days her sister and I had to take turns,
day and night, soaking her right hand in almost blistering hot
Epsom salts water, and covering her wrist and forearm with hot
towels, always holding her right arm high.
The backset from the tonsillitis developed into quinsy. Her
throat was swollen shut. It locked her jaw. For three days and
three nights she was unable to swallow a drop of water or a
morsel of food. More serious, for three days and three nights she
was unable to sleep a wink. She was nearing exhaustion. The red
line of the blood poisoning, in spite of our constant hot Epsom
salts efforts, was streaking up her right arm, and had reached
her shoulder on the way to the heart.
The doctor had told me privately that she could not last
another twenty-four hours. This third sleepless, foodless and
waterless day was a scorching hot summer day in early August.

Does God HEAL Today?

On this late morning, a neighbor lady came over to see my wife.
"Mr. Armstrong," she asked, out of hearing of my wife,
"would you object if I ask a man and his wife to come and anoint
and pray for your wife's healing?"
That sounded a little fanatical to me. Yet, somehow, I felt
too embarrassed to object.
"Well, no, I suppose not," I replied, hesitantly.
About two hours later she returned, and said they would come
at about seven in the evening.
I began to have misgivings, I began to regret having given
"What if these people are some of these wild-fire shouters,"
I thought to myself. "Suppose they begin to shout and yell and
scream like these 'holy roller' or 'pentecostal' fanatics do? Oh
my! What would our neighbors think?"
Quickly I gathered courage to go to our neighbor who had
asked them to come. I told her I had been thinking it over, and
felt it better that these people did not come. She was very nice
about it. She would start immediately, and ask them not to come.
Then I learned she would have to walk over a mile to contact
them. They were living in some rooms in the former Billy Sunday
tabernacle that had been built for Billy Sunday's Portland
campaign some years earlier. This tabernacle was out beyond 82nd
Street, near Sandy Boulevard.
It was now in the heat of the day -- the hottest day of the
year. I began to feel quite ashamed to impose on this woman, by
asking her to make a second long walk on that sweltering
"I do hate to ask you to make a second trip out there," I
said apologetically. "I didn't realize it was so far. But I was
afraid these people might yell and shout, and create a
neighborhood disturbance."
"Oh, they are very quiet people," she hastened to assure me.
"They won't shout."
After that I decided not to impose on this neighbor who was
only trying to help us.
"Let's let them come, then," I concluded.

The Meaning of FAITH

That evening this man and his wife came, about seven. He was
rather tall. They were plain people, obviously not of high
education, yet intelligent appearing.
"This is all rather new to me," I began, when they were
seated beside my wife's bed. "Would you mind if I ask you a few
questions, before you pray for my wife?"
He welcomed the questions. He had a Bible in his hands, and
one by one he answered my every question and doubt by turning to
a passage in his Bible and giving me the Bible answer.
By this time I had become sufficiently familiar with the
Bible to recognize every passage he read -- only I had never
thought of these Biblical statements and promises and admonitions
in this particular light before.
As these answers continued coming from the Bible, I began to
understand, and to BELIEVE -- and I knew the same assurance was
forming in Mrs. Armstrong's mind.
Finally I was satisfied. I had the answer from the Bible. I
believed. My wife believed. We knelt in prayer beside her bed. As
he anointed my wife with oil from a vial he carried, he uttered a
quiet, positive, very earnest and believing prayer which was
utterly different from any prayer I had ever heard.
This man actually dared to talk directly to God, and to tell
God what He had PROMISED to do! He quoted the promises of God to
heal. He applied them to my wife. He literally held God to what
he had promised! It was not because we, as mortal humans,
deserved what he asked, but through the merits of Jesus Christ,
and according to God's great mercy.
He merely claimed God's PROMISE to heal. He asked God to
heal her completely, from the top of her head to the bottom of
her feet.
"You have promised," he said to God, "and you have given us
the right to hold you to your promise to heal by the power of
your mighty Holy Spirit. I hold you to that promise! We expect to
have the answer!"
Never had I heard anyone talk like that to God!
It was not a long prayer -- perhaps a minute or two. But as he
spoke I knew that as sure as there is a God in heaven, my wife
had to be healed! Any other result would have made God out a
liar. Any other result would have nullified the authority of the
Scriptures. Complete assurance seized me -- and also my wife. We
simply knew that she was released from everything that had
gripped her -- she was freed from the sickness -- she was healed! To
have doubted would have been to doubt God -- to doubt the Bible. It
simply never occurred to us to doubt. We believed! We knew!
As we rose, the man's wife laid a hand on Mrs. Armstrong's
shoulder. "You'll sleep soundly tonight," she smiled quietly.
I thanked them gratefully. As soon as they had left, Mrs.
Armstrong asked me to bring her a robe. She arose, put it on, and
I walked slowly with her out to the street sidewalk and back, my
arm around her. Neither of us spoke a word. There was no need. We
both understood. It was too solemn a moment to speak. We were too
choked with gratitude.
She slept soundly until 11:00 a.m. next day. Then she arose
and dressed as if she had never been ill. She had been healed of
everything, including some long-standing internal maladjustments.
We had learned a new lesson in the meaning of faith. Faith
is not only the evidence of that which we do not see or feel -- it
is not only the ASSURANCE of what we hope for -- it is definite
knowing that God will DO whatever He has promised. Faith is BASED
on God's written PROMISES. The Bible is filled with thousands of
God's promises. They are there for us to claim. They are SURE.
God can't lie.
If there is any one attribute to God's character that is
more outstanding than any other, it is God's faithfulness -- the
fact that HIS WORD IS GOOD! Think how hopeless we would be if
God's word were not good! And if a man's word is not to be
trusted, all his other good points go for naught -- he is utterly
lacking in right character.

A Dumbfounded Doctor

Shortly before Mrs. Armstrong had been confined to bed in this
illness, she had taken our elder daughter Beverly to the doctor
with a felon on her finger. It had not been bandaged for some
The morning after her miraculous healing, my wife arose
about eleven, ate a breakfast, and then took Beverly to the
doctor's office to have the bandage removed. Incidentally this
was the last time we have ever called a doctor for any illness in
our family.
"WHAT are you doing here!" exclaimed the doctor, looking as
if he had seen a ghost.
"Well," answered my wife, "do you believe in divine
"I don't believe Mary Baker Eddy has any more 'pull' with
God Almighty than I have!" asserted the physician.
"But I don't mean that," Mrs. Armstrong explained, "I mean
miraculous healing direct by God as a result of prayer."
"Well -- yes -- I -- do!" replied the astonished doctor, slowly,
incredulously. "But I never did before."

Studying a New Subject

This awe-inspiring experience brought a totally new subject
before me for study. And remember, I had plenty of time on my
hands for Bible study. Only one laundry client remained. We were
now reduced to real poverty. Although I had been beaten down and
had made a complete surrender to God, giving myself to Him, yet
without realizing it much of the self-pride and vanity remained.
Of course God knew this. He was yet to bring me down much lower.
I was yet to be humiliated repeatedly and thoroughly chastened
before God could use me.
In those days we were constantly behind with our house rent.
When we had a little money for food we bought beans and such food
as would provide the most bulk for the least money. Often we went
hungry. Yet, looking back over those days, Mrs. Armstrong was
remarking just the day before this was written that we were
finding happiness despite the economic plight -- and we did not
complain or grumble. But we did suffer.
From the time of my conversion Mrs. Armstrong has always
studied with me. We didn't realize it then, but God was calling
us together. We were always a team, working together in unity.
And now came a new subject to study, and new enlightenment.
We entered into it with vigor and joy. We searched out everything
we could find in the Bible on the subject of physical healing. We
discovered that God revealed Himself to ancient Israel, even
before they reached Mt. Sinai, under His name "Yahweh-Ropha"
which means "The Eternal our Healer," or "Our GOD-HEALER," or, as
translated in the Authorized Version, "The LORD that healeth
He revealed Himself as Healer through David: "Who forgiveth
all thine iniquities; who HEALETH all thy diseases" (Psalm
103:3). And again: "Fools because of their transgression, and
because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth
all manner of food; they draw near unto the gates of death. Then
they cry unto the Eternal in their trouble, and ... He sendeth His
word, and HEALETH them (Psalm 107:17-20).
Then I made a discovery I had not read in any of the tracts
and literature we had been sending for and gathering on this
subject. Healing is actually the forgiveness of transgressed
physical laws just as salvation comes through forgiveness of
transgressed spiritual law. It is the forgiveness of physical
SIN. God forgives the physical sin because Jesus PAID THE PENALTY
we are suffering IN OUR STEAD. He was beaten with stripes before
He was nailed to the cross.

Experience of the Crooked Spine

After we had made some little progress in gaining Biblical
understanding of this subject of healing, Aimee Semple McPherson
came to Portland.
She held an evangelistic campaign in the Portland
Auditorium. My wife and I attended once, and then I went alone
another time. We were "checking up" on many religious teachings
and groups. Unable to gain entrance, because of packed
attendance, I was told by an usher that I might be able to slip
in at the rear stage door if I would hurry around. Walking, or
running, around the block to the rear, I came upon a sorry
A woman and child were trying to get a terribly crippled
elderly man out of a car near the stage entrance. I went over to
help them. The man had a badly twisted spine -- whether from
arthritis, or deformity from birth, or other disease I do not now
remember. He was utterly helpless and a pitiful sight to look
We managed to get him to the stage door. Actually, I should
never have been admitted, had I not been helping to carry this
cripple in. He had come to be healed by the famous lady
We were unable to gain contact with Mrs. McPherson before
the service. And we were equally unable, after the service. I
helped get the disappointed cripple back into their car.
"If you really want to be healed," I said before they drove
off, "I would be glad to come to your home and pray for you. Mrs.
McPherson has no power within herself to heal anybody. I have
none. Only GOD can heal. But I do know what He has promised to
do, and I believe God will hear me just as willingly as He will
Mrs. McPherson -- if only you will BELIEVE in what GOD has
promised, and put your faith in HIM and not in the person who
prays for you."
They gave me their address, just south of Foster Road. The
next day I borrowed my brother Russell's car and drove out.
I had learned, in this study, that there are two conditions
which God imposes. 1) we must keep His commandments, and do those
things that are pleasing in His sight (I John 3:22); and 2) we
must really BELIEVE (Matt. 9:29).
Of course I realized that many people might not have come
into the understanding about keeping all of God's
Commandments -- he does look on the heart. It is the spirit, and
willingness to obey. And therefore some who really BELIEVE are
healed, even though they are not strictly "commandment keepers."
But once the knowledge of the truth comes, they must OBEY. In
this case I felt sure that God wanted me to open the minds of
these people about His Commandments, and that SIN is the
transgression of God's LAW.
Consequently, I first read the two scriptures quoted above,
and then explained what I had been six months learning about
God's Law -- and particularly about God's Sabbath. I wanted to know
whether this cripple and his wife had a spirit of WILLINGNESS to
obey God.
They did not.
I found they were "pentecostal." They attended church for
the "good time" they had there. They talked a good deal about the
"good time" they enjoyed at church. They scoffed and sneered
about having to obey God. I told them that, since they were
unwilling to obey God and comply with God's written conditions
for healing, I could not pray for him.

Was This an Angel?

This case had weighed heavily on my mind. I had been touched with
deep compassion for this poor fellow. Yet his mind was not
impaired, and I knew that God does not compromise with SIN.
Some weeks later I had borrowed my brother's car again, and
happened to be driving out Foster Road. Actually at the time my
mind was filled with another mission, and this deformed cripple
was not on my mind at all. I was deep in thought about another
Coming to the intersection of the street on which the
cripple lived, however, I was reminded of him. Instantly the
thought came as to whether I ought to pay them one more call -- but
at the same instant reason ruled it out. They had made light of,
and actually ridiculed the idea of surrendering to obey God.
Immediately I put them out of mind, and again was deep in thought
about the present mission I was on.
Then a strange thing happened.
At the next intersection, the steering wheel of the car
automatically turned to the right. I felt the wheel turning. I
resisted it. It kept turning right. Instantly I applied all my
strength to counteract it, and keep steering straight ahead. My
strength was of no avail. Some unseen force was turning that
steering wheel against all my strength. The car had turned to the
right into the street one block east of the home of the cripple.
I was frightened. Never before had I experienced anything
like this. I stopped the car by the curb. I didn't know what to
make of it.
It was too late to back into traffic-heavy Foster Road.
"Well," I thought, "I'll drive to the end of this block and
turn left, and then back onto Foster Road."
But, a long block south on this street, it turned right
only. There was no street turning east. In getting back onto
Foster Road I was now compelled to drive past the home of the
"Could it possibly be that an angel forced the steering
wheel to turn me in here?" I wondered, somewhat shaken by the
experience. I decided I had better stop in at the cripple's home
a moment, to be sure.
I found him stricken with blood poisoning. The red line was
nearing his heart.
I told them what had happened.
"I know, now," I said, "that God sent an angel to turn me in
here. I believe that God wants me to pray for you -- that He will
heal you of this blood poisoning to show you His power, and then
give you one more chance to repent and be willing to obey Him.
And if you will do that, then He will straighten out your twisted
spine and heal you completely.
"So now, if you want me to do so, I will pray for you and
ask God to heal you of this blood poisoning. But I will not ask
God to heal your spine unless and until you repent and show
willingness to obey whatever you yourself see God commands."
They were now desperate. He probably had about twelve hours
to live. They were not joking and jesting lightly about the "good
times" at "pentecostal meetin'." They wanted me to pray.
I was not an ordained minister, so I did not anoint with
oil. I had never yet in my life prayed aloud before others. I
explained this to them, and said I would simply lay hands on the
man and pray silently, as I did not want any self-consciousness
of praying aloud for the first time to interfere with real
earnestness and faith. I did have absolute faith he would be
healed of the blood poisoning.
He was.
I returned the next day. The blood poisoning had left him
immediately when I prayed. But, to my very great sorrow and
disappointment, they were once again filled with levity, and
sarcasm about God's Law. Again they were jestingly talking about
having a "good time" at church.
There was no more I could do. It was one of the great
disappointments of my life. I never saw or heard from any of them

Chapter 19
Trying to Convert Relatives

IN ALL my experience since conversion one oft-repeated incident
has brought sorrow and regret. Many times a certain individual
has been used to bring us light, or truth, or help, or certain
advancement or stimulus to the Work of God, only to lose out
spiritually and be discarded, once his usefulness was over.

Resurrection Not on Sunday

It was about this time, summer, 1927, my wife and I had learned
an exciting, shocking truth. The resurrection of Christ did not
occur on Sunday morning!
The crucifixion was not on so-called "Good Friday." These I
had found to be mere traditions, totally unsupported by any
evidence, and completely refuted by the sole historic record -- the
I had learned -- and found completely PROVED -- that Jesus was
in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea three days and three nights.
Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 12:40). It was the only SIGN He
gave as a miraculous PROOF of Messiahship.
The usual argument employed to discredit Jesus' statement,
that this was an idiomatic expression in the original Greek
meaning only three parts of days, or either a day or night, did
not stand up. We had the same three days and three nights
duration expressed in Jonah, inspired in Hebrew which knows no
such idiomatic twist -- or idiotic twist. Also many other passages
verified the full 72-hour duration.
The crucifixion was on Wednesday. The resurrection of Jesus
Christ from the dead was late Sabbath afternoon, prior to sunset.
This is proved conclusively, not only by all the scriptures on
the subject, which are many, but also by astronomy, and by the
Hebrew calendar. In the year in which Jesus was crucified -- A.D.
31 -- the Passover was on a Wednesday, not a Friday.
The reader, if not already familiar with this truth, is
invited to write for the booklet titled "The Resurrection Was Not
On Sunday", and also, to learn the true origin and full truth
about Easter, ask for the booklet titled "The Plain Truth About
Easter". Both are free, of course.
From the beginning of the new Spirit-led life, I wrote, in
article form the thrilling new truths being unfolded in this
continuous almost night-and-day study. This discovery of the true
dates of the crucifixion and resurrection was written in an
article captioned "Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles."
I had found that opponents of God's Sabbath can invent some
fifty-seven varieties of arguments to explain why they don't keep
the Sabbath. But they have only one argument for observing
Sunday -- the supposition of a Sunday morning resurrection.
Of course no scripture anywhere tells us to observe the day
of the resurrection. That, too, is a man-made argument.
Actually, there is absolutely NO Bible authority for Sunday
observance. The only authority for it is that of the Roman
Catholic Church -- a fact I believe any Catholic priest will
confirm. Protestants, whether knowingly or not, acknowledge the
authority of the Roman Catholic Church in observing Sunday.
With a Sunday resurrection illusion shattered, the last
supposed foundation for Sunday observance had crumbled.

Disheartening Disappointment

This article, "Foundation for Sunday Sacredness Crumbles," I
believe, was never published. I did not write the articles, in
those days, with the intention or expectation of having them
published. I had been a trained advertising-copy and
magazine-article writer. It simply came naturally to put into
article form these intriguing, fascinating truths for my personal
enjoyment and record.
But, exciting as these new truths were to me, I realized
fully I was new in the truth -- a novice spiritually -- a "babe in
Christ." I deemed it wise to have this newly discovered truth
about the day of the resurrection verified by others more
experienced in Biblical understanding than I.
It was but natural to look upon the man whose prayer God had
so miraculously answered in healing my wife as a "man of God."
So, even though I felt sure this truth was proved, I wanted to be
doubly sure. Also I sincerely wanted to share this wonderful
truth with the man whom God had used in sparing my wife's life.
So I walked down to the old Billy Sunday tabernacle, out past
82nd Street, where this man was caretaker, one evening, very
shortly after my wife's healing.
This "man of God" promised he would study my article and
give me his opinion. Then a few nights later I returned to his
living quarters in a corner of the giant tabernacle.
For several minutes other subjects occupied the
"But did you study into my article about the day of the
resurrection?" I asked, since he avoided mentioning it.
"Well, yes, Brother," he replied, "I took it to our pastor
and we went over it together."
"Well, did you find any error in what I wrote?" I persisted.
"Well, no, Brother," he admitted, "we couldn't find anything
wrong with it. It does seem to be according to the Scriptures,
but Brother, we feel that studying into that kind of subject is
likely to be dangerous. It might get you all mixed up. We feel it
would be better for you to just forget all about that -- just get
your mind clear off of that. There are more important things for
you to think about and study into. It's best to just keep your
mind on Christ."
"But," I rejoined, suddenly disillusioned, "if the
resurrection was on the Sabbath, and not on Sunday, the only
reason anyone has for Sunday observance is gone. Don't you think
we might be breaking the commands of God and sinning, if we
ignore such a truth?"
"Well, now, Brother," he tried to reassure me, "that's just
the trouble. You see how it could get you all upset. All the
churches observe Sunday. We can't start to fight all the
churches. Now we are saved by GRACE, not of works. We think there
are more important things in salvation than which day Christ rose
on, or which day we keep. This could just get you all mixed up.
It could be dangerous. Better just get your mind off of such
I walked back to our home on Klickitat Street in Portland,
grieved and sorrowfully disillusioned. I had had a lot of
confidence in this man. Now here he was, admitting I had brought
him a new TRUTH, proved by the Bible, yet rejecting this
LIGHT -- and, more, advising a newly converted man who had
confidence in him to reject THE WORD OF GOD!
Arriving home, I happened to turn to Hosea 4:6, where God
says that because we have rejected His knowledge, He will reject

TRUTH, or Consequences

A week or two later I walked back out past 82nd Street to the
huge old Billy Sunday tabernacle. This thing had weighed heavily
on my mind. This tall, uneducated, plain and simple man had been
an instrument in God's hands not only in saving my wife's life,
but also in opening our eyes to the truth of God's healing power.
I felt deeply grateful. I hoped that even yet I might help rescue
this man from the consequences of rejecting God's revealed
I found him in the big auditorium. He appeared dejected,
downcast, worried.
"Brother," he said, on looking up and seeing me, "Brother,
something terrible has come over me. God has left me. He doesn't
answer my prayers any more. I don't understand what has
Poor man! I understood what had happened.
He had been a trusting and deeply sincere, if simple, man.
God had used this man. God used him to bring my wife and me the
knowledge that God actually performs miracles for those who trust
Him -- He heals -- if we obey and believe. And how many other people
God had helped through this man's prayers I did not know.
Evidently, until God used me to test him by bringing to him
a new truth, he had not deliberately rejected truth nor disobeyed
God's commands knowingly. God looks on the heart, and until this
man followed his preacher in deliberately rejecting light and
truth from God which he acknowledged to be truth and which led to
willful disobedience, his heart was honest and sincere in his
simple way.
But he had rejected God's knowledge. And now God had
rejected him!
His prayers were no longer answered.
He was now guilty of disobedience of God's Law. And God
reveals through John that "whatsoever we ask, we receive of him,
because we keep his commandments, and DO those things that are
pleasing in HIS sight" (I John 3:22). This man no longer complied
with the divine conditions. Yet, if ever I met a man who had the
"gift of healing" spoken of in I Corinthians 12:9, this man had
had it.
God had used him to bring to us a truth. We accepted it, and
began to walk in it. Then God used me to take to him a truth. He
acknowledged that it was the truth. He had seen it proved. Yet he
rejected it, and walked in disobedience instead of in the light!
God used this man no more.
Of course he had MUCH to learn, had he continued as an
instrument in God's hands. True Christians must continually
overcome, and GROW in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The servant of God cannot stand still. Either he advances,
and grows spiritually against opposition and obstacles, or he
falls by the wayside to be rejected. It is not an easy road.
This incident just described is but one of many of its kind.
Later I was to encounter many more whom God used to help me and
His Work, only to see them endure but a while, and fall aside.
Several of these have been among our closest and most loved
personal friends. These experiences have provided our greatest
suffering in God's service. They were pictured by Jesus' parable
of the sower and the seed. It seems the majority who start out on
this straight and narrow road of opposition, persecution, trial
and test, self-restraint, continuous attitude of repentance,
overcoming, growing, fail to endure until the end.
It has grieved Mrs. Armstrong and me deeply to see so many
for whom we were grateful -- who had helped us and God's Work -- whom
we learned to love so much, turn aside finally and drop out of
the race for eternal life.
"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall!"
How about YOU?

Don't YOU Make THIS Mistake!

That year 1927 was a very eventful year in my life.
As soon as I swallowed my bitterest pill of rebellion,
surrendered to obey and trust fully in the Mighty God through
faith in the living Jesus Christ, this new Christian WAY became
the most happy, joyful experience of my life. Studying the Bible
became a passion and a joy. I plunged into it with concentrated
The all-day sessions at the Portland Public Library did not
stop with my capitulation to the truth following the six months'
angered study to end my wife's "fanaticism. "
No longer was it an intensive study driven by anger and
determination to have my own way. Now it was an enthusiastic
study of eager anticipation, literally thrilling to every new
discovery of spiritual "light" and basic knowledge.
Now a passion swept over me to "get our families converted."
With the best intentions in the world, I set out on a
vigorous campaign. To me, it was the loving and intense desire to
share the wonders and glories of Bible knowledge with those we
felt we loved most. But to most of them, it was an unwanted
effort to "cram my crazy religion down their throats."
I did succeed, apparently, in talking one sister-in-law into
a certain start. I had to learn later it was a false start. She
was baptized, either when I was, or very shortly afterward. But,
as too often happens when a high-pressure salesman talks one into
something he doesn't really want, she turned against it all
shortly afterward.
I had to learn, however, that, even though I had believed I
was a pretty good salesman in my earlier business experience, I
was unable utterly to "cram my religion down my relatives'
throats." My efforts only aroused hostility. They said I was
This is a universal mistake committed by the newly
converted. Especially is this true where a husband or wife yields
to God's truth without the other.
It actually threatened to break up our marriage -- even though
Mrs. Armstrong did NOT attempt to inject her new religious belief
into me. In our case the marriage was saved because I accepted
the challenge to study into it myself, confident I could prove
she was wrong.
But most mates will not study into it. Most unconverted
mates, especially if the converted one tries to talk the other
into his or her religion, will break up the home instead.
In all the years since my conversion, I have known of many
marriages that have ended in divorce because the newly converted
mate tried to talk the unconverted one into it. I have never
heard of a case where the unconverted mate was talked into
accepting it.
Of all things evil and harmful a newly converted Christian
can do, the very WORST iS to try to talk your husband or wife
into your religion. WHATEVER else you do, let me plead with every
such reader, NEVER commit this tragic sin. If you love your
husband or wife, don't do it!! If you love your Saviour who died
for you, and now lives for you, DON'T DO IT!!!

Learning the Lesson

Remember these scriptures: "No man can come to me," said Jesus,
"except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44, 45).
Again, Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on
earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to
set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter
against her mother ... and a man's foes shall be they of his own
household ....He that loveth father or mother" ... (or wife or
husband) ... "more than me is not worthy of me .... And he that
taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me"
(Matt. 10:34-38).
God made every human a free moral agent. Thank God! -- no one
has power to force on you any unwanted religion.
Every individual makes his own decision. A religious
difference between husband and wife is a serious handicap. The
Bible forbids a converted person from marrying an unconverted.
But if such difference already exists, do not make matters
worse by talking religion to your mate. Do all your talking to
God in prayer. Let your mate see your happy, pleasant, cheerful,
joyful, loving WAY of life -- not hear your arguments or nagging!
Allow your mate complete religious latitude and freedom -- whether
to be converted, religious, irreligious, or atheistic!
I am glad I learned that lesson early. I have had to
maintain certain business connections with many people, since
being plunged into God's Work. I must maintain contacts with
radio men, publishers, professional men. I get along splendidly
with them. A big reason is that I never talk religion to them.
I never try to talk anyone into accepting Bible truth or
being converted. I go to the world over the air, and in print,
and everyone is free to listen, or read -- or to dial out or not
read. No one gets our literature unless he personally requests
it. We try never to force God's precious truth on anyone. That's

How NOT to "Witness for Christ"

Do you know how the Apostle Paul won individuals to Christ? Not
the way people attempt to do it today. He said "I am made all
things to all men, that I might by all means save some." When he
talked to an unconverted Jew, do you suppose he spoke as a
Christian thinking he is "witnessing for Christ" would do today?
Do you suppose Paul said to the unconverted Jew: "Have you
received Christ as your personal Saviour?"
No, that is not the way Paul spoke to unconverted Jews. Paul
said: "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew" (I Cor. 9:22, 20). Paul
spoke to others from their point of view! He talked to a Jew just
like another Jew -- from the Jewish viewpoint -- showing sympathy and
understanding of the Jews' way of looking at Christianity. Paul
did not arouse hostility -- he put it down, so that they were
sympathetic toward him, not hostile. He became as a Jew, "that I
might gain the Jews." Even so he gained only a small minority,
yet it was a large number.
Perhaps you have had your eyes opened to the fact that sin
is transgression of God's Law. Most professing Christians have
been taught, and consequently sincerely believe, that "the Law is
done away." Paul was inspired to write that the carnal mind is
hostile to God and to God's Law; "it is not subject to the law of
God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). If you say to your
unconverted mate who is hostile to God's Law, "You're just a
rebellious sinner, and your church is just one of these false
worldly churches," you have not only aroused hostility, you have
yourself been hostile, and you probably have broken up your
How did Paul talk to such people? Listen: "To them that are
without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are
without law."

First Principle in Influencing Others

One of the first principles of successful advertising I learned
early in my career is that to get results you must first learn
the attitude of your reading audience toward whatever product or
service you are advertising. You must not antagonize those whom
you expect to persuade. You must approach them from their point
of view -- not from yours, especially if your viewpoint is contrary
to theirs. To win them to your point of view, you must approach
them from their viewpoint. Otherwise you only arouse hostility.
I know that these words are addressed to a very large number
who have made this terrible mistake. That is why I have devoted
so much space to this point.
If you believe God's truth, and your husband or wife does
not, NEVER TALK RELIGION to him or her. If your mate normally
thinks and speaks only of material and worldly things, then you
must speak of material things to your spouse.
If the World Tomorrow broadcast has, probably because of
your own aggressiveness in trying to get your mate to listen,
become a sore spot, go off to some private room to hear the
program. Keep the volume turned down. Make every effort NOT to
antagonize your husband or wife.
And again, when you talk about it, talk to God in prayer.
Let your mate see your good conduct, in a manner that he or she
will naturally approve. Avoid every hostility. Be pleasant. Keep
cheerful. Be happy. Radiate JOY! Give LOVE and warm affection! Do
everything to cause your husband or wife to like you! THAT IS THE

Chapter 20
The First Sermon

THIS chapter of the Autobiography is being written in Rome. It
dawns in my mind that there is intriguing significance in the
fact that I should be here at the very time when this chapter
must be written.
The Apostle Paul wrote some of the books of the Bible here
in Rome. It was then the seat of the ancient pagan Roman Empire.
It was world headquarters of the pagan religion.
Today it is world headquarters for the largest and most
powerful professing Christian church.
We come now to the time, in recounting my life experiences,
where I had been sadly disillusioned about organized traditional
"Christianity." As earlier chapters have explained, my wife, in
early fall of 1926, had begun to observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
To me that was the most disgraceful fanaticism she could have
embraced. But six months' intensive and determined night-and-day
study of the Bible had failed to find the authority for Sunday
observance I had felt confident it contained.
"All these churches can't be wrong," I had contended. I felt
certain that all their teachings whether Catholic or Protestant,
had come directly from the Bible. I did not then realize that the
Roman Catholic Church makes no such claim, but claims that church
itself is the sole official and infallible authority. The various
denominations, I supposed -- just as millions still suppose -- were
just so many different parts of the one true Christian church.

Disillusioned -- Perplexed

I have already told you repeatedly how rudely I was
disillusioned. I had seen, with my own eyes, that the plain
teachings of Christ -- of Paul -- of the Bible -- were not the
teachings of the traditional "Christianity" of our time. Nothing
had ever been more shocking to discover. Incredible as it seemed,
the beliefs and practices of the churches today, I found, were
far astray from the teachings and customs of the TRUE Church as
Christ organized it. In fact, in most essentials, the very
This emphatically was not what I wanted to believe.
It had left my head swimming. I was stunned, perplexed!
I began to ask, "WHERE, then, is the real true Church which
CHRIST founded?"


My shocking, disappointing, eye-opening discovery, upon looking
into the Bible for myself, had revealed in stark plainness that
the teachings of traditional Christianity were, in most basic
points, the very opposite of the teachings of Christ, of Paul,
and of the original true Church!
Could the original and only true Church have disintegrated
and disappeared? Could it have ceased to exist? No, for I read
where Jesus said the gates of the grave would never prevail
against it. Also He had said to His disciples who formed His
Church, "Lo, I am with you always."
Then I saw that the very PURPOSE of the Church was to preach
Christ's GOSPEL! It is HIS BODY -- His instrument by which HE
carries on GOD'S WORK!
I looked carefully at that Gospel as Christ Himself preached
it, and taught it to His first ministers. It is recorded in the
four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At almost every point
of teaching that Jesus enunciated, the teachings of traditional
Christian bodies today are just the opposite.
shocking -- incredible -- unbelievable! Yet I was compelled to see it
was true!
Jesus began the work of preaching the very Gospel which GOD
the Father had sent to mankind through Him. He commissioned His
disciples -- His Church -- to carry this same Gospel to all the
world. And He had said He would never drop the Work He had begun!
But WHERE was it going on today?

Seeking an Obedient Church

I knew now that when I found the one and only true Church, I
would find a Church obedient to God -- keeping His
commandments -- having the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the
TRUTH of the Scriptures.
I had been much impressed by a description of the true
Church, as it is to be found in our time -- just before the second
coming of Christ. It is found in Revelation 12. It is the time
when Satan is filled with wrath against God's Church, "because he
knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. 12:12). Satan is
making war with "the remnant of her seed." The "remnant" means
the very last generation in this age. The Church is definitely
described. It is those "which keep the commandments of God, and
have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17)
My intensive study had revealed one thing plainly: "the
commandments of God" mean "Sabbath keeping" to most traditional
denominations. They say, "The commandments are done away!" They
reject "the commandments of God."
That automatically ruled out all churches observing Sunday.
So far as I could learn, it reduced the search to three small
groups -- the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Seventh-Day Baptists, and
a little, almost unheard-of church called the Church of God,
which maintained a small publishing-house headquarters at
Stanberry, Missouri.
So I examined Seventh-Day Adventist teachings -- just as I did
those of many other denominations. I obtained their magazines,
their booklets and pamphlets, their large book of Bible readings,
or Bible "home instructor."
The true Church is the one which lives by EVERY WORD OF
GOD -- the words of the BIBLE!

Never an Adventist

It seems necessary to add here that I have never been a member of
the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination. False statements have
appeared in various church or religious magazines, pamphlets or
tracts that I am a former Seventh-Day Adventist. I did obtain
much of their literature, to compare with the Bible. I did
examine and study it with an open mind, and without prejudice. I
was happy to find that, like most denominations, they do have
certain points of truth. None is 100% in error.
But my familiarity with Adventist doctrines has come
entirely through their published literature. I have never
attended a regular Sabbath church service of that denomination!
Next, I looked into the teaching of the Seventh-Day
Baptists. I found it to be virtually identical, except for
observing a different day of the week, with other Protestant
denominations -- especially the Baptists.
But of these three churches to which the search had been
narrowed, only one had the right NAME for the true Church. This
was the small, little-heard-of Church of God whose headquarters
were at Stanberry, Missouri.

The True NAME

Twelve times in the New Testament, I found the NAME of the Church
which Christ established plainly stated as "The CHURCH OF GOD."
I looked into this word "church." It is the English word
translated from the Greek word ekklesia. It merely means a
congregation, an assembly, or group or crowd of people. I found
that the word, by itself, had no divine or spiritual connotation
whatever. For example, the name "Lutheran Church" or, as it might
be otherwise stated "Church of Luther," means simply, Luther's
congregation, or assembly of people. A name like "Wesleyan
Church," means, simply, Wesley's group or congregation, without
any religious or spiritual or holy implication whatever.
In Acts 19:23-41 is an account of an angry and hostile
uprising against the Apostle Paul instigated by Gentile pagans
who profited in business from the sale of silver shrines to the
goddess Diana. Three times in this passage the original inspired
Greek language called this angry crowd of citizens an "ekklesia."
It is here translated into the English word "assembly." In verse
39 it actually refers to a "legal assembly" (Moffatt translation)
in a courtroom. It certainly was not a Christian CHURCH assembled
for worship -- nor was it holy.
The only thing that adds sacredness to the word "church" is
the true name "Church of GOD." That is not any man's church -- but
GOD'S congregation -- those owned, and governed by GOD whom they
worship and follow.
In Ephesians 3:15, speaking of the FATHER of our Lord Jesus
Christ (verse 14), we read: " ... of whom the whole family in
heaven and earth is named."
Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, but it is named
after God the Father. Although Jesus is Head of the Church, "the
head of Christ is GOD" (I Cor. 11:3).
In His last prayer for His Church, before being seized to be
crucified, Jesus prayed: "I have manifested THY NAME unto the men
which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou
gavest them me; and they have kept thy word ... Holy Father, keep
through THINE OWN NAME those whom thou hast given me, that they
may be one, as we are ... While I was with them in the world, I
kept them in THY NAME" (John 17:6-12).
Those in the true Church are begotten children of God. They
become the affianced Bride of Christ. Christ is the Son of God.
It is a FAMILY. The family, is, properly, named after its Father.
The 12 passages, aside from these Scriptures here quoted, which
plainly call the true Church "The Church of God," or,
collectively as local congregations, "The Churches of God,"
establish the true NAME.

Could GOD'S Church Be Fruitless?

The only Church I had so far found which "kept the commandments
of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ," and at the same time
bore the NAME of the original true Church, was this almost
unknown little Church of God with its small publishing house in
Stanberry, Missouri.
But this left me quite confused. For this was a little
Church, especially compared to the Roman Catholic, the Methodist,
the Baptist, the Presbyterian, the Lutheran, or other large
churches numbering millions of members. Then I saw where Jesus
called His Church the "little flock."
But still I was not completely satisfied. I was deeply
concerned. I prayed a great deal over it. For here was a church,
which, compared to the large-scale activities of the Catholic and
big Protestant bodies, was ineffective. I could see that it was
imperfect. It wielded no great power. Jesus had said: "ALL POWER
is given unto me, in heaven and earth" (Matt. 28:18). I read how
Jesus Christ was to be IN His Church! He guides it! He directs
it! He EMPOWERS it! He said His Church was to RECEIVE POWER (Acts
No person is even a member of the true Church unless he has
received, and is filled and led by, the Holy Spirit -- and the Holy
Spirit is the Spirit of POWER! This little church seemed to be
powerless -- comparatively impotent! I failed to see where it was
bearing much if any fruit! Could a fruitless church be the ONE
AND ONLY true Church of GOD on earth?
I was deeply perplexed. Here was a little church, with
scattered members probably numbering less than 2,000 -- mostly in
rural areas. Apparently, as nearly as I could learn, it had only
a very limited number of local churches, none as large as 100
members. As I began to come in contact with some of its leaders,
they seemed to be men of little education -- no college
degrees -- its ministry could hardly be described as an educated
ministry. Their preaching had a certain fire, yet seemed totally
to lack the POWER that attracts sizable audiences, that moves
people, stirs hearts, and changes lives. I could see no visible
Could this be God's one and only true Church on earth? The
very question seemed preposterous!

And yet --
Yes, and yet, small, powerless, resultless, impotent though
it appeared to be, here was a church with the right name,
"keeping the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus
Christ," and closer, in its doctrines and teachings, to what God
had been opening my eyes to see plainly in His Word than any
other church of which I knew! Small and impotent though it
appeared, it had more Bible TRUTH than any church I could find!
At this time, God was opening my understanding to some
Biblical TRUTHS which this church did not accept; and also to
some errors, even though minor, which it did embrace. Plainly, it
was not perfect. It merely appeared to be more nearly so, and
less imperfect, in its beliefs and practice, than any other.
COULD such a church -- imperfect, fruitless, feeble, lacking
in any sizable accomplishment, be the TRUE Church of God? Could
this be Christ's INSTRUMENT through whom He worked, in carrying
on GOD'S WORK on earth? Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall
know them." Its fruits were not evil -- it simply did not seem to
produce fruit!
I was bewildered. I was unable to come to the answer
then -- or until many years later. The real answer to this
perplexing question will come out in this Autobiography later, at
the account of the time when I myself found the true answer. I
will state here, however, that I did learn later that it was
merely the remnant of a church that had been more alive many
years before.
Meanwhile, what was I to do? I was not at all convinced this
was the one and only true Church. Yet, if it was not, which one
was? This one came closer to the Bible qualifications than any I
Therefore, I began to fellowship with their scattered and
few members in Oregon, while at the same time refraining from
acknowledging membership.
We were living in Portland, Oregon, at the time. I knew of
no members of this church in Portland, but there was a sprinkling
of them through the Willamette Valley between Salem and Eugene,
in Oregon -- mostly farmers or truck gardeners. They welcomed the
fellowship of myself and Mrs. Armstrong.
We found them to be simple, plain and humble people, hard
working and industrious, and loving the Bible TRUTH -- as much as
they had -- willing to suffer persecution for it.
And so it was, in this detached fellowship, that Mrs.
Armstrong and I continued the first three and a half years of my
ceaseless night-and-day STUDY of the Bible -- of history,
especially as connected with Biblical history and prophecy -- and
of pertinent allied subjects. These, too, were years of much and
earnest prayer. Much of the Bible study done at home was done on
my knees, combining study with prayer. Much time was spent during
these years, as it had been that first six months, at the public
library. I delved into intensive research in the commentaries,
Bible encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, comparing various
translations of the Bible, examining Greek and Hebrew texts of
doubtful or questionable passages, checking with lexicons and
Robertson's Grammar of the Greek New Testament. I made an
intensive study of ancient history in connection with Biblical
history and prophecy.
But, as mentioned before, all this study and research had to
be approached a single doctrine at a time. I was to be some years
in getting to the very TRUNK of the tree of the very PURPOSE of
which mankind was placed on earth, and getting clearly
straightened out with a right understanding of God's PLAN.
Nevertheless, as I've mentioned, having been a trained
magazine and advertising copywriter, the results of these studies
were written up, purely for my own benefit, in article form. My
wife began showing these articles to some women members of this
Church of God who lived in Salem. Soon they began to urge me to
preach before them. But becoming a preacher was the very last
thing I had ever wanted to do. I felt an instinctive aversion to
the idea.
Meanwhile, on their urging, a few of these articles had been
mailed in to The Bible Advocate in Stanberry, Missouri. These
articles began appearing on the front page.

The Dual Test

Early in this three-and-a-half-year period, between 1927 and
1930, I decided to try a dual test to help settle the question of
whether this was, in actual fact, the true Church of God.
The Church is merely the sum total of its members. By the
one Spirit of God we are each baptized, or put into, the true
Church (I Cor. 12:13). Jesus promised that when we receive the
Holy Spirit, His Spirit shall guide us into ALL TRUTH -- not merely
part of it (John 16:13).
But no person can receive ALL truth instantaneously. The
human mind receives knowledge gradually. The child of God must
GROW in the knowledge of our Lord (II Peter 3:18). Also he must
have the spirit of REPENTANCE, always ready and willing to
acknowledge error and to turn from it. The Scriptures are
profitable for REPROOF and CORRECTION, as well as INSTRUCTION in
knowledge new to us. And God CORRECTS every son He loves (Heb.
Now it was a simple truism that if each individual member of
the Church must be GROWING in the knowledge of God, constantly
OVERCOMING, being corrected, and eliminating error, then all the
members together, which form the CHURCH, must also be constantly
willing to confess error and eliminate it, and to accept that
which is "new light" from God's Word to the Church.
I knew of no church or sect or denomination that had ever
publicly confessed error or embraced new truth. Yet, plainly,
this would be a test of the true Church.
So, as the first step in this test, I wrote up an exposition
of some 16 typewritten pages proving clearly, plainly, and beyond
contradiction that a certain minor point of doctrine proclaimed
by this church, based on an erroneous interpretation of a certain
verse of Scripture, was in error. This was mailed to the
Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters to see whether their leaders
would confess error and change.
The answer came back from their head man, editor of their
paper and president of their "General Conference." He was forced
to admit, in plain words, that their teaching on this point was
false and in error. But, he explained, he feared that if any
attempt was made to correct this false doctrine and publicly
confess the truth, many of their members, especially those of
older standing and heavy tithe payers, would be unable to accept
it. He feared they would lose confidence in the Church if they
found it had been in error on any point. He said he feared many
would withdraw their financial support, and it might divide the
Church. And therefore he felt the Church could do nothing but
continue to teach and preach this doctrine which he admitted in
writing to be false.
Naturally, this shook my confidence considerably. This
church leader, if not the church itself, was looking to people as
the SOURCE of belief, instead of to God! Yet, here was the only
Church holding to the one greatest basic truth of the
Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, kept in the NAME of
God, and in spite of this and a few other erroneous teachings,
nevertheless being closer to the whole truth than any church I
had found.
If this was not the true Church of God, then where was it?

The Second Test

A little later I tried the second test. After exhaustive study
and research, I had found it PROVED that the so-called "Lost Ten
Tribes" of Israel had migrated to western Europe, the British
Isles, and later the United States -- that the British were the
descendants of Ephraim, younger son of Joseph, and the United
States modern-day Manasseh, elder son of Joseph -- and that we
possessed the national wealth and resources of the Birthright
which God had promised to Abraham through Isaac, Jacob and
This truth was written in a lengthy manuscript of close to
300 typed pages, and mailed to this editor and leader of this
church. I explained that although this new truth seemed to be
proved beyond doubt, yet I was still comparatively new in Christ
and Scriptural knowledge, and wished the judgment of one more
mature and experienced in things Biblical.
I think it was some six months before the reply came. It was
written on a train late at night. This church leader stated in
his letter (which I still have) that I was most certainly
right -- that this was a wonderful new truth revealed by God, and
that God surely had a special reason for revealing this new truth
to me. However, he stated he did not know what use, if any, he
could make of it at that time, but was sure I would hear more of
it later.
Did this Church accept and proclaim this vital new
truth -- the KEY that unlocks the doors to all PROPHECY? Here was
the KEY to understanding of one third of the whole Bible. But
this Church refused then to accept it or preach it or publish it
though their leader frankly confessed it was TRUTH and a
revelation from GOD!
Yet here was the Church which appeared to have more truth,
and less error than any other. It did "profess" the commandments
of God, and have "the testimony of Jesus Christ." It did have the
true NAME of the Church Christ built. Its members did love what
truth they had and sacrificed for it! In spite of the fact this
Church did not appear to be dynamically alive spiritually -- in
spite of its little or no accomplishment -- still it came closer to
the Biblical characteristics of Christ's true Church than any I
Truly, this was bewildering!
My earnest and prayerful study continued. After some time, I
made a discovery in the 31st chapter of Exodus. At least I had
found nothing in the published literature of this Church of God
or of the Seventh-Day Adventists about it. It became very plain
that in Exodus 31:12-18 was the account of a completely different
and distinctive COVENANT God made with His people on earth. This
covenant established God's Sabbath as binding FOREVER! It was
entirely separate and apart from the "Old Covenant" made with
Israel at Mt. Sinai.

My First "Sermon"

This was "new light" which I felt impelled to present before
these church brethren we had come to know and love down in the
Willamette Valley. Repeatedly they had urged me to preach for
them. But preaching was the last thing I felt I wanted to do. I
had continually refused.
Now, however, I was overcome with an urge to get this new
knowledge before them. I was unable to refuse any longer to
speak. It was arranged for me to speak, I believe, on the
following Sabbath.
The meeting was held in a country store building, but we
drove first, for lunch, to the farm home of one of the members
south of Salem, near Jefferson. We were taken down by the
Runcorns of Salem, who we now had begun to look upon as sort of
"second parents." It was Mrs. Runcorn who had opened my wife's
eyes to the truth of the Sabbath. I remember they drove a large
Studebaker "President."
In the car, en route from Salem to the place of meeting,
consternation suddenly seized me. We were to arrive by noon, and
all were to have lunch outdoors under a large tree. The preaching
service was to be held in the afternoon. Suddenly the terrifying
realization dawned in my mind that I might be called upon to give
thanks over the food at the luncheon. I realized it would be
customary to call on a visiting guest. I had never prayed aloud
before others. The thought of doing so frightened me!
But by this time I had gone far enough in my Christian
experience and study of the Bible to know what to do. I began
praying silently, as we rode along, that, if called upon, God
would put the words into my mouth and give me the help that I
needed. The fear loosened its grip. I had been learning the
lesson of faith. I knew that Christ would be with me and not
forsake me, and all embarrassment over the anticipation left.
Sure enough, I was called on to ask the blessing over the
food. I did have the help I needed. I don't believe that any
there, except Mrs. Armstrong, knew that this was my first audible
prayer in the presence of others -- until I told some of them
The meeting was held in a vacant country store building,
nearby. It was known as the old Dever Store. This meeting, I
believe, was in the summer of 1928.
If that talk I gave, explaining this Sabbath covenant, could
be called a sermon, it was my first. Mrs. Armstrong assured me it
was far from being a powerful sermon. Yet it was enthusiastically
received. I did have a message, and a sincere, earnest urge to
present it.
I remember that one towering member, six feet four inches
tall, who had moved to this Oregon Valley from Texas, and was
somewhat of a leader among the members, rose to his feet after I
concluded and said, "Brethren, I just want to say that I have
heard nearly all of the leading ministers in the Church of God,
but I have heard this afternoon the best sermon I ever heard in
my life." This didn't quite coincide with my wife's evaluation,
who said that the delivery was extremely amateurish and
inexperienced -- but, I suppose, the fact that the message was new
to them, and that I was enthusiastic and in earnest about this
new "discovery" of truth, caused it to be so well received.
I was asked to speak before them again.

Opposition Begins

It has been related in previous chapters how my wife had been
miraculously and astonishingly healed in the summer of 1927.
Following this, I had plunged into a thorough study of the
subject of healing in the Bible.
Consequently when, about a month later, I spoke again at a
meeting of these people, at this same vacant Dever Store, my
message was about God's power and promises to HEAL.
Apparently the ministers of this church had heard of my
previous speaking to these people, and of their request for this
second appearance before them. So this time one of the older
ministers of the church in Idaho had been sent to Oregon to be on
hand to counteract any influence I might have.
I had spoken first. When he followed, he devoted a good
portion of his sermon to an effort to refute everything I had
said. He warned the brethren that if they relied on God for
healing, Christ would say to them, "Depart from me, ye workers of
iniquity -- I never knew you."
That was the beginning of years of continuous opposition
from ministers. This also brings me to a stage in this history of
events and experiences in my life which I have long dreaded to
It is simply the fact that from this point on -- from the very
second "sermon" -- if those early talks could be called
that -- opposition from other ministers, both within this church
and without, was met at every turn continually.

I Shall Not Hide the FACTS!

So I say candidly that I shall relate these events. I shall try
to record truthfully what happened, without feeling of
rancor -- and I certainly harbor no resentment or bitterness
against these ministers, whatever their intentions. I believe
that, as these incidents and happenings are related in the coming
several chapters, they will truly open the eyes of many who never
knew the full truth about my contacts with, and efforts to work
with and cooperate with, the ministers of that church.
For some little time, now, my articles had been appearing on
the front page of The Bible Advocate, published by this Church of
God in Stanberry, Missouri.
Up until this time, now 1928, there had been no minister of
this church in Oregon, except for occasional visits by the
minister from Idaho, and the one from Texas of whom I had
inquired about water baptism during his visit to Oregon in 1927.
But there were at that time perhaps 50 or 60 members of the
church in Oregon, from Salem to Eugene.
And, with the beginning of my speaking before these people
in Oregon -- and with my articles being featured in their church
paper -- no time was lost in sending a minister to Oregon to take
charge. He was a young man -- I believe about 28 or younger -- who, I
believe, had come from Arkansas or Missouri. He came to see me in
Portland. His attitude appeared cordial and friendly. But very
soon after his arrival publication of my articles in the Bible
Advocate was stopped.
Soon I learned the reason. Probably the most influential
member in the state at the time was elderly G. A. Hobbs, of
Oregon City. He was past 80 years of age, but very alert,
aggressive and active. He had received a letter from the editor
in Stanberry, Missouri, explaining that my articles were being
discontinued at the request of the young minister newly arrived
in Oregon. The grounds were that I was not a member of the Church
and it was dangerous to give me this much standing and prestige
before the brethren there. I might gain influence and become
their leader and lead them astray.
This had aroused the fiery indignation of Mr. Hobbs.
Immediately he sent a scorching letter back to Stanberry, a copy
of which he let me read. It resulted in reinstating my articles
for publication.

First Regular Preaching

As soon as I had heard of this Mr. Hobbs, and the little group at
Oregon City, I had visited him a few days after my first
"sermon." I found a very small group of brethren who met together
in a little church building at the top of the hill, on the
Molalla road, in Oregon City.
There were only around 8 to 12 of them, but they habitually
met on Sabbath afternoons to study the "Sabbath-school lesson,"
using the "quarterlies" from the Stanberry publishing house.
On discovering this little group, I began going to Oregon
City to meet with them regularly. Almost immediately they asked
me to be their leader in the study of the lesson. And soon I was
delivering them a "sermon" every Sabbath.
These were days of extreme financial hardship in our home.
We often went hungry. Several times there was not enough carfare
for my wife and family to accompany me to Oregon City -- in fact it
was seldom that they were able to go. At least three times,
during the next couple of years or so, I had barely enough for
carfare to Oregon City on the electric line -- with no carfare to
return home. I even lacked bus fare from downtown Oregon City out
to the little church house at the top of the hill on the
outskirts of town. It was probably two or three miles up a steep
hill all the way, but I walked it, carrying my briefcase with
Bibles, concordance, etc.
But in every instance when I had come without carfare to
return home, someone would "happen" to hand me a dollar or two of
tithe money. And, strangely, no one ever handed me any money on
those Sabbaths when I had enough to get back to Portland. And, of
course, I never made the need known. But God always had a way of
supplying every NEED!

My First Son!

I believe I have recounted in earlier chapters that, following
the birth of our second daughter, three doctors -- one an eminent
obstetrician of international reputation -- had warned Mrs.
Armstrong and me that she could never bear another child. They
had said a pregnancy would mean the certain death of both mother
and unborn child.
It is natural for every man to desire a son. Before the
birth of our first child, neither Mrs. Armstrong nor I had cared
whether it was a boy or a girl. Our second child was another
daughter. When I was told we could never have another, I was
terribly disappointed!
And now seven years had gone by -- by 1927 -- without
expectations of ever having a son.
But when, in the summer of 1927, Mrs. Armstrong had been
miraculously healed of several things at once -- and when we
remembered that the man who had anointed and prayed for her had
asked God to heal her completely of everything from the top of
her head to the bottom of her feet, we had faith that whatever
had made another childbirth impossible had also been healed. We
planned, consequently, to have a son. And I had faith that God
would at last give me a son.
Our first son, named Richard David, was born October 13th,
1928. That day, I said then and for years afterward, was the
happiest day of my life. I was simply filled to overflowing with
gratitude to a merciful, loving God who so richly LAVISHES on us
His grace and blessings completely beyond all we can anticipate
or hope for -- IF we yield our lives to Him and do those things
that are pleasing in His sight -- IF we seek first God's Kingdom
and His righteousness!
We dedicated that son to God for His service.
During his college career, here at Ambassador College in
Pasadena, California, which God was later to use me in founding
in 1947, our son Dick, as we called him, was converted -- his life
changed -- and he, himself, gave his life to God.
From that time it was used in God's service, with
continually growing usefulness and accomplishment, until his
sudden death in an auto accident in 1958. Dick worked hard on his
own self, overcoming faults and weaknesses and habits which he
freely confessed, repented of, and strove to overcome. He reached
the high point of his spiritual growth and development, of
overcoming and usefulness -- having established the branch office
of God's Work in London and becoming Director of all overseas
God later gave us still another son, Garner Ted, only a year
and four months younger than his brother Dick.

Chapter 21
The "Million Dollar" Clay Business

EVEN IN 1928, the lean years were to continue quite a while
longer. But if these were the lean years financially, they were
the fat years spiritually -- years of coming into the true riches.
Yet, I still had many lessons to learn. Jesus had said, regarding
economic prosperity, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his
righteousness; and all these [physical] things shall be added
unto you"! But God doesn't always add the material prosperity
until after humans have been tried, tested and proved faithful.
Not only was there much more TRUTH to be discovered and dug
out of God's spiritual gold mine -- the Holy BIBLE -- but there was
much character to be developed through hard, cruel experience,
the dearest teacher of all.
I should not have thought so at the time -- but God knew that
I needed much more humbling -- much more chastening at the hands of
I had been humbled! O yes! And still, I know now that had
God allowed me to have prospered financially at that stage of
spiritual experience, self-pride once more would have seized me
and the humility would have fled! The lessons so far received by
all this chastening would have been lost! I was to have to suffer
much more -- and my family to suffer it with me! The material
blessings were withheld 28 years!
But do not infer from this that the material riches were my
goal. No such idea even entered my mind. I had given up all idea
and expectation of material prosperity.
At this time, during 1928, we were living on Klickitat
Street in Portland, Oregon. We were falling dangerously behind in
paying the rent. The real estate agent who collected the rent
came very frequently to the front door. To others he was probably
a kind and pleasant-looking man. He taught a Sunday-school class.
But to us, he was a dark, foreboding, frightening, almost
devilish-appearing man, when, of evenings, he so frequently stood
at our front door, demanding in a deep, bass, stern tone: "Can I
have the rent?"
We simply didn't have the rent! Whenever he came, we knew
just how a whipped dog feels when his tail is between his legs.
Actually, this man, who appeared to us almost as an enemy, was
kind enough to pay our rent a number of times out of his own
At one time we were in darkness nights of involuntary
necessity. The electricity was shut off because we were
delinquent. My wife did her cooking on a small gas plate, and our
gas was shut off. Only the water was left running. We were out of
food, and out of fuel. Our heating stove was one my father had
made, shaped something like an old covered wagon -- with rounded

Uneatable Macaroni

The children were crying with hunger. My stomach gnawed with
pain. Like old Mother Hubbard's, our cupboard was bare, save for
a little macaroni. But there was no cheese or any of the
ingredients used in baking macaroni. There was not even a grain
of salt. AND, there was no money to buy any.
I decided to try to cook some macaroni, even without the
accompanying ingredients. Without gas there was no oven to bake
it in; so I boiled it. Patiently I tore up and crumpled pages of
magazines, so I could set a fire in the rounded-top heating stove
for heat. I balanced a pan of water and macaroni on top of the
stove, and kept throwing in more crumpled magazine pages to keep
the fire going.
I offered this "delicacy" to my wife and daughters. We all
tried it.
That is all we did. We did not swallow it. We tried, but the
slick, slithery, tasteless mess simply would not go down! You may
laugh. I don't know why some Hollywood scenario writer never
thought of this as a comedy idea. People love to laugh at the
discomfiture of others in the movies. Movie actors pretend to
suffer things like this to give audiences big amusement.
But to us it was not a bit funny!
It was about this time, while still living on Klickitat
Street, that I learned what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote
to the Corinthians of how God "also hath made us able ministers
of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit" (II
Cor. 3:6).

The SPlRIT of the Law

Most people, I had noticed, thought that the "letter" was done
away, and that the ministration of the spirit did away with the
law and all obligation for OBEDIENCE to God.
I have told this many times in sermons, and on the air. But
this experience occurred at this time, and I believe it belongs
in this account.
Our eldest daughter, Beverly, then ten, had been in the
habit of bringing books home from the school library. I had
noticed they were always fiction. She was an inveterate
"bookworm," and a rapid reader. We had noticed that she was
beginning to have a little trouble with her eyes, and we
attributed it, at least in part, to excessive reading habits.
Besides, I had noticed that the constant reading of these
fictitious, ready-made daydreams -- which is precisely what fiction
is -- was causing her mind to drift and wander, rather than to
think actively.
"Beverly," I said one day after my wife and I had discussed
it, "Mother and I want you to stop taking these fiction books out
of the library. You are injuring your eyes with too much
Two days later, I observed Beverly in her usual slumped-over
position in a chair, with a book opened near the middle.
"Let me see that book, Beverly," I demanded. "Isn't this
another fiction story?"
"Yes, Daddy," she replied, handing it to me. Already she had
read it half through.
"Beverly," I said sternly, "didn't I tell you to stop
bringing these books home and rest your eyes?"
"Well, yes, Daddy," came the innocent reply, "but I didn't
get this book at the library. I borrowed it from Helen."
Beverly actually obeyed the literal letter of the law, but
she completely disobeyed the SPIRIT of what I had told her! The
spirit of the law goes much further than the mere letter. It
includes the letter, but also its obvious meaning, or intent.
That is the way WE must obey God -- not only the "letter," but
the SPIRIT or intended MEANING of the law as well! Jesus
explained this in His sermon on the Mount (Matt.
5:17-28 -- especially verses 21-22, and 27-28).

My First Personal Healing

It was also while living here, during 1928, that I had perhaps my
first experience in applying God's miraculous power of healing,
as a personal experience in my own body.
For fuel we burned wood -- when we were able to have it. One
day in chopping wood, the axe slipped, and struck my left thumb
in mid-air. It cut clear to the bone. I had to pull the sharpened
axe out of the bone. It had cut quite a deep gash.
Instantly I prayed, asking God to prevent pain, and to heal
it over rapidly, as I ran into the house to wrap and bandage it.
At first such a cut often benumbs the nerves, as it did this
time -- but normally the pain soon follows. This time I felt no
pain at all.
I made one slight mistake later, else I am convinced I
should never have had so much as a scar. I left the bandage on
for some three days. But I became over-anxious to look at it.
When we trust God for healing, we need to keep our eyes and our
minds on CHRIST -- not on the physical part. I unwrapped it too
soon. I experienced the only pain at any time from that severe
cut in removing the wrapping to look at it, and pulling off a
scab that had formed.
The result was that there is, to this day, just the
slightest trace of a scar across the length of my left thumb.
But, even so, it is so slight that one would never notice it
unless pointed out. The cut was directly across the knuckle. I
believe it could have robbed me of the use of the thumb. As it
is, there is no impairment whatsoever.

Advertising Job -- Rejected

It must also have been during this year of 1928 that another
advertising job was offered me.
I mentioned, in connection with the advertising service for
laundries, the soap builder used by laundries manufactured by the
Cowles Detergent Company, of Cleveland, Ohio. This company was a
subsidiary of the Aluminum Corporation of America. They
manufactured an unusual product, unique and exclusive, so far as
I know, in the laundry industry. I understood that this company
was the largest operation in the laundry industry.
The Cowles Detergent Company had become familiar with the
advertising I was writing and designing for laundry clients. Also
they were familiar with the astonishing results. These ads had
been building the volume of business of my clients in
unprecedented fashion.
And so it was that, about this time, the sales manager of
the Cowles company, a Mr. Fellows, came to Portland to interview
me and offer the post of advertising manager of their company.
Actually the job was to organize and establish a new advertising
department! Up to that time, they had delegated all advertising
preparation and placing to their advertising agency.
Bear in mind, I was not yet a minister. Although I had given
a few talks that might by a stretch of the imagination have been
called preaching, and had been speaking almost every Sabbath
before the little group in Oregon City, I most assuredly did not
think of myself as a minister. Nor did I expect, at this time,
ever to be.
The laundries of the nation, through their national
association, had gone into their five million dollar national
campaign. This had pulled right out from under me -- like a rug
being jerked out from beneath one's feet -- all my laundry clients,
save one. I still had the account of the National Laundry, second
largest in Portland. But, as I have mentioned before, this
required only about 30 minutes a week of my time. It was our sole
income -- $50 per month. It was not enough to pay house rent, and
keep us fed and alive.
If you will remember, in 1924 I was offered the job of
advertising manager of the Des Moines Register -- rated by many as
one of the ten great newspapers of the United States. I had
turned it down because I believed that I was not an executive. I
believed I could not direct and supervise the work of others. I
found it so distasteful to make out reports and keep
records -- which would have been a regular routine on such a
job -- that I felt I was simply not fitted for such an office.
I explained all this to Mr. Fellows. I told him frankly that
one of my faults was that I worked in spurts. I felt I was
moderately talented in certain directions, but this was offset by
serious faults I had not yet been able to master and overcome. At
times my performance would be brilliant. Results would be
outstanding. But then I might go into a slump for a week or a
month, during which I would accomplish little or nothing. What I
did not tell him was that my wife and I had talked it over, and
decided that in order to obey God and keep His Sabbath, I must
reject the offer.
Lest any suspect that I went into the ministry to make money
(and I suppose most could not realize one could have any other
motive), I was rejecting a very flattering offer.
Mr. Fellows thanked me sincerely for my honesty in telling
him of these shortcomings. He returned to Cleveland. I never
heard whether he found the man he needed, and started his new
advertising department.
Actually there may have been some providential guidance in
my supposition that I could not become an executive. Had I
accepted this job, which, as I remember, would have paid a salary
of $8,000 a year in 1928 to start -- the equivalent of a much
larger figure in today's dollar value -- and about $12,000 if I
made good, I would have been snatched away from the calling God
was drawing me into. I would probably be back in the world today.
Actually I was mistaken about not being able to become an
executive. When God later began to build His Work around me, and
the Work began to grow steadily and continuously at the rate of
about a 30% increase each year over the year before -- which rate
of growth continued for 35 years -- I had to become an executive!
And with God's help and power, it was achieved, and the working
in spurts was long ago overcome. For many years, now, I have had
to work at the same steady pace day in and day out.

Cash Position Desperate!

Also it was about this time, late in 1928, that our position was
so desperate that I prayed earnestly and asked God to open a door
for some income that very day.
Having asked in faith, in the morning, I took the streetcar
to downtown Portland, seeking the "open door" to a job, or
something with some cash in it. All the circumstances have dimmed
somewhat in my memory, but I believe that we had to have a
certain amount of money by 5:30 that evening, or be evicted from
our home. But I knew that if I did my part, God would provide the
All day long I sought open doors -- but every door was closed
and apparently locked tight. My faith was being tried. Then 5:00
p.m. came. Time had almost run out.
But I still relied on God.
At that moment it came to my mind to stop up at the office
of a Mr. Davidson, manager of the Merchandising Service
Department of the Portland Oregonian.
"Say," he exclaimed, "you're just the man I've been looking
for. The advertising agency for the Bissell carpet sweeper people
want a survey made in Portland on the relative opinions of women
between the carpet sweeper and the vacuum cleaner. You are the
only man I know with the experience to conduct such a survey. Can
you take time to do it?"
I most certainly could!
It was going to pay just the exact amount I needed by 5:30
that evening to prevent being evicted. But the check would not be
forthcoming until about 30 days, after the survey was completed.
With brisk step, after having been briefed on what the
Bissell company wanted in the survey, I walked rapidly over to
the offices of the mortgage company where the house payment had
to be made, arriving right on the deadline, 5:30 p.m.!
I explained about the survey to be made immediately. I
offered to simply endorse the check and hand it over for our
house rent when it came, if the company would accept it some 30
days later. My word was good with them. Since it was definitely
sure, they agreed to accept this check 30 days My word was good
with them. Since it was definitely sure, they agreed to accept
this check 30 days later, on my promise to endorse it over.

And Now -- 1929!

1928 ended. It had been a year of great progress in my life.
Spiritually, that is -- certainly not financially.
It had been a year of outstanding world events. Trotsky,
Zinoviev and other Communists were exiled from Russia January
16th that year. The first all-talking motion picture was shown in
New York that year on July 6th. This was preparing the way for
our filming The World Tomorrow for television, beginning 1955.
October 13th of that year God had blessed us with the birth of
our first son, Richard David.
In the spring of 1929 we moved to a house on 75th Street,
north of Sandy Boulevard. 1929 was to be a year of struggle,
spiritual growth, and miraculous answers to prayer.
In world events, too, 1929 was an epochal year! The
notorious "St. Valentine's Day massacre" in Chicago occurred
February 14th. On June 7th that year, the Papal State, extinct
since 1870, was revived as a state, or nation. The Kellogg Peace
Treaty, known also as the Pact of Paris, outlawing WAR, was
signed July 24th. Albert B. Fall, Secretary of the Interior, came
to his terrific FALL November 1, when he was sentenced for
accepting a $100,000 bribe. Commander Richard E. Byrd made the
first flight over the south pole November 28. And, biggest event
of all, the New York Stock Market crash occurred October 29th.
16,000,000 shares changed hands. The decline in value of stocks
was estimated at 15 billion dollars by end of 1929. And stock
losses, by 1931, were estimated at 50 billion, affecting directly
25 million people. It plunged America into its worst depression.
It prevented me from making a million dollars!

Incident of the Mystery Woman

1929 not only ended as a depression year for us -- as it did for
millions of others -- it began as just another of the lean years!
For us, it was another year of desperation to keep ourselves
Very shortly after moving into the house on 75th Street, we
had reached another crisis of hunger and desperate need. Again I
prayed earnestly for God to either send us some money or provide
a way for me to earn it.
An hour or two later, a strange woman knocked on our front
door. Mrs. Armstrong opened the door. There was something
mysterious about the woman's appearance.
Who was she? She did not introduce herself. She gave no
inkling of her identity.
"If your husband isn't too proud to do it," she said in a
low, quiet voice, "there are two truckloads of wood he can throw
in at this address. Jot it down." My wife jotted down the street
and number.
The mysterious woman walked quickly away and disappeared.
People in Portland used wood for fuel. Portland is in the
heart of the Oregon-Washington lumber country. Throwing wood into
the woodshed, garage, or basement, was an oddjob customarily
reserved for the bums who came along. Very few men in Portland
threw in their own wood. To be seen doing it was to appear as a
down-and-out bum.
We were totally perplexed as to the identity of this strange
woman. How did she know we were in such desperate need? Who was
she? We never knew.
But I did know I had just asked God to provide. And at once
I recognized one fact. This woman was like the mischievous boys
playing a trick on a poor widow. Her window had been open. She
was praying aloud, asking God to send her some bread for her
children. The little boys, playing just outside the window,
overheard her prayer.
"Let's play a trick on her," said one of the boys. "Let's
toss a loaf of bread through her window."
When they did, she knelt again and gave God thanks.
"Ah-ya-ya!" jeered the boys. "God didn't throw in that
bread -- we boys did."
"Well," answered the grateful widow, smiling, "Maybe the
devil brought it, but just the same GOD sent it!"
No matter who this mysterious woman was, I knew God sent
her! And I realized instantly that God was answering my prayer
HIS way, and not mine. I knew He was giving me a test to see
whether I would accept a humiliating job. I realized I had not
yet been freed completely from ego and pride. I knew that God was
giving me a lesson in humility at the same time He answered my
I walked immediately to the address the woman gave. It was
about a mile from our house. There was a large pile of wood in
front. I went to the door, asked for, and got the job of throwing
the wood in the basement.
Realizing God was teaching me a lesson, I resolved to do it
HIS WAY, which was to do the best job I could. A thing worth
doing is worth doing right! Now that God allows me to be the
employer of many men, I insist that they do their work in the
right manner -- or else tear it out and do it over.
I stacked the wood up as neatly and orderly as I could. I
worked rapidly, and did it as quickly as I could. Several people
walked past the house. Every time one saw me, I winced. I knew
they thought I was a down-and-out bum. Each passerby knocked off
a little more of that vanity. But I just prayed silently to God
about it, and thanked Him for the lesson, and asked Him to help
me to be humble and industrious.
When the job was finished, the woman inspected the piled
wood in her basement.
"Why, you've done that so neatly, and so fast, I'm going to
pay you double," she said.
The satisfaction and inspiration this gave was a far bigger
reward than the extra money.

Clay Mine a GOLD Mine?

About this time a clay mine was brought to my attention. It
promised to become a million dollar "gold mine."
My former associate on The Vancouver Evening Columbian, who
had been its Business Manager, Samuel T. Hopkins, brought it to
me. He had encountered an elderly man who owned a farm on which a
mysterious kind of clay was mined. It was located in the
foothills of the Cascade Mountains, in Skamania County,
One day this farmer had cut a bad gash on the back of his
hand on a rusty barbed wire fence. He had been digging rather
deeply in the vicinity and had dug into a semisoft grayish
blue-green clay. Without thinking much about why he did it, he
reached down, scooped up a handful of the soft clay and slapped
it over the back of the hand to cover the cut. Then he proceeded
with his day's work. The clay dried in some 20 or 30 minutes.
That evening on removing the now dried and hardened clay, he
was surprised to discover that it had coagulated the blood, drawn
the skin together from the wide gash, and virtually healed it
The farmer became curious. A member of his family was
plagued with eczema. He experimented. This clay was placed over
the portion of skin affected, and allowed to dry. There was
noticeable improvement. A second and third application was
applied. Soon the skin disease disappeared.
The farmer knew Sam Hopkins, and told him about it. Mr.
Hopkins made a few experiments on cases of acne and eczema.
Results were astonishing.
This clay contained a certain amount of fine sand and grit
which proved somewhat harsh on women's skin. So he experimented
with rubbing the clay through a very fine copper wire screen,
removing most of the sand and grit.

Astonishing the Doctors

About this time he came to me with his discovery. He thought it
contained great possibilities, but didn't know how to market it.
He offered me a 50% partnership in whatever we might do with it.
I was considerably intrigued. I took a sample to a well-known
doctor in Portland who specialized in skin diseases.
"It is certainly a coincidence," said the doctor, "that you
came at this psychological time. I have a stubborn skin disease
case which has persisted six months. I'm not making any headway
with it. I couldn't tell my patient, but I don't mind admitting
to you that I am desperate enough to try this clay. Under other
circumstances I'd be very reluctant to experiment with anything
I returned a week later. The doctor was very excited.
"There's something very mysterious about that clay," he
said. "Why! a few applications cured that skin disease
We had noticed that it was 50% heavier than water. A
pound-size jar of this clay weighed 24 ounces. He felt it might
contain radium, or other radioactive substance. He suggested I
take it to another Portland physician, then president of the
Oregon-Washington Medical Association, who specialized in cancer
and radium treatment. He called this doctor on the telephone and
set up the conference for me.
I found this physician maintained a large suite of offices,
or treating rooms, like a private hospital, with eight registered
nurses in constant attendance.
He made a number of experiments, and became quite excited.
It cured acne, eczema, psoriasis. One day he contacted me,
requesting a large supply of the clay. He had a patient almost
completely covered and his whole body swollen with poison
oak -- the most severe case he had ever seen -- and the patient was
in critical condition. After the first application of the clay,
the painful itching was greatly relieved, and after the second it
was stopped. This patient was kept in his private hospital
quarters, and after several days the poison was completely gone!
This physician made a photographic test for radium -- not a
completely reliable or conclusive test, but he felt it would give
some indication. The film, left overnight inside a metal case
placed next to a jar of clay, had been exposed to light when
developed. This indicated radium! But the doctor would not accept
it as final, saying this was not a completely conclusive test.
Some four or five rooms down the hall his X-ray apparatus
was located. He said it was barely possible that the film had
been exposed by this machine, instead of by the clay. If this
were true, I reasoned, then why were not all his X-ray films
exposed by that apparatus, so he could never use any of them? But
I was not a scientist, I discarded my reasoning as worthless.

Option on the Mine

This physician acquainted a friend of his, a leading corporation
attorney, with the facts about this clay. This attorney had
connections in the east with wealthy men and interests who had
large sums to invest.
He advised us to tie up the clay mine at once on an option
to buy.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," said the lawyer. "You men
cannot afford to pay me the fee I would charge to handle this for
you. But the doctor has told me enough to give me confidence in
this thing. I'll make you this proposition: I'll handle the legal
end of it, and give you whatever advice I can. I will do what I
can to get it financed. You either have a million-dollar
proposition or nothing. If it fails, you owe me nothing. If you
succeed, I'll charge you a double fee, and in that event you'll
be amply able to pay it."
We agreed.
He drew up an option contract, under which we were to be
given exclusive right to all of the clay for one year, at a
certain price per gallon. We were given one year to exercise the
option and purchase the property. The purchase price was set at
about three times the value of the property as a farm. The owner
signed the option contract. We had one year to make our million
It was probably August or September, 1929, when we got the
contract signed and were ready to start building our million
dollar fortune out of the clay mine.
With the cooperation of this doctor, I immediately sought
out the leading, most aggressive and the best-informed beauty
shop operator in Portland. Many inquiries in the field led to one
certain woman. Since this clay seemed to quickly rid women of
acne, eczema, and other common skin diseases, we decided the
biggest single market possibility was through the beauty shops.
This woman made experiments. The results were the same. It
cleared up splotched faces after a reasonable number of
applications. But, she discovered, it had a drawing power too
severe for many women. Applied as a face masque, or a "mud-pack,"
it seemed to hold the face in a stiff vise. Its drawing power was
exceedingly strong.
"For use as a mud-pack facial," this beauty shop owner
advised, "I recommend cutting down the severe drawing power by
mixing a certain facial oil in it. And it must be perfumed."
"We'd better have the advice and cooperation of a top-flight
chemist," I said. I went to the chief chemist of the largest
wholesale drug house in Portland. He agreed to help. Between him,
the beauty shop expert, and the physician, we worked out a
formula which the beautician pronounced perfect, the doctor and
chemist pronounced safe and harmless, which had the most
delightful fragrance, and which, after many tests, we found to
have the same powers of eradicating embarrassing face
blotches -- except that it required perhaps one or two more
treatments than before.

Selling Mud Packs

But, just as we were getting everything ready to approach one of
the largest cosmetics concerns on a deal to sell them our formula
and the raw supply of the clay -- just as we were devising various
other possible uses and markets -- that fateful October 29th, 1929,
rolled around.
The stock market crashed. The nation was plunged into the
worst economic depression of its history.
It became utterly impossible to finance a new business, or
sell a new product to a cosmetic firm.
Once again, as if some unseen supernatural hand were taking
every business opportunity away from me, another promising
business of million-dollar possibilities was swept away by powers
and forces beyond my control!
I began to call myself King Midas in reverse! Everything I
touched turned -- well, this time -- to CLAY! It was certainly not a
gold mine. It was only a clay mine, after all.
By this time I had no means of keeping my family alive,
except to try to sell this clay. I had to explain to beauty shop
owners that they could not sell these facial masques as a means
of healing, or curing a facial disease. They could be prosecuted
for practicing medicine without a license if they did. But they
could recommend these treatments to customers as the finest of
all facials, and suggest that if, incidentally, they found that
the acne disappeared, that would be very nice!
I also worked out a formula for poison oak. I called it
P.O.P. -- Poison Oak Paste. A certain amount of distribution for
this was developed through local Portland drug stores. All who
bought it reported astonishing results.
The facial masque, or clay-pack, I named Marve. This I began
to sell in "booth-size" pound jars to beauty shops. But each jar
actually weighed l½ pounds! Before long, many of the Portland
shops were using it, and gradually resales increased.
I found a way to dilute the clay until it became a soupy
liquid. All the sand and grit would sink to the bottom. Then I
siphoned off the top. Straining it through fine copper-wire
screens did not remove all the fine grit. My new way left it soft
and utterly smooth. Our kitchen on 75th Street became virtually a
clay factory. After the siphoning process, I boiled the clay down
to the consistency I wanted it. This boiling did no harm to its
curative powers, and made it more sanitary.

"Here's Your Breakfast!"

Shortly after we moved into the house on 75th Street, a Mr. and
Mrs. Charlie Beck moved into the corner house next door. Helen
Beck was one of the most cheerful women we ever knew. She seemed
full of sunshine and good cheer within and without. She was quite
religiously inclined, even emotionally so. She learned and
accepted quite a little Biblical truth through us, but seemed
unable to see quite all of the truth. Nevertheless she appeared
to walk in all the truth she really grasped -- and if I ministered
to some extent to her in spiritual matters, she ministered to us
in a material way.
She learned that we often did not have enough to eat. When
we did get in a little money, we went to the markets and loaded
up on beans and food that "went the farthest and cost the
But often when we were out of food, she would come to our
back door with her cheery "Good morning, folks, here's your
breakfast," carrying a tray full of steaming hot breakfast. Prior
to the bust of 1920 it would have cut my pride unbearably to have
received this kind of "charity" from a next-door neighbor. But
hers was the kind spoken of in I Corinthians 13, where it says
that though you may speak with the tongues of angels, understand
all knowledge, have all faith, "and have not charity," you are
Actually this cheerful "good morning" act of charity
profited both ourselves and Helen Beck. It is more blessed to
give than to receive. She reaped that greater blessing. But I
reaped the spiritual blessing of being humbled a little
further -- having to swallow more pride, and see the hand of God in
And so the year 1929 had come and gone. 1930 was to be
another of the "lean years" -- as indeed were several others to
follow. We were at rock bottom financially. We had learned what
it is to go hungry. But these were, nevertheless, years of
spiritual growth.
These were the years in which Jesus Christ, the living Head
of His Church, was instructing me in His Word, preparing me for
His ministry, humbling me, rooting out the self-confidence, the
cocky conceit, the vanity and egotism.
But he was replacing these self-trusting attributes with
reliance and dependence on GOD. Instead of self-confidence, He
was giving me painful but valuable lessons in FAITH. He was
granting us a few miraculous answers to prayer. Some far more
astonishing answers to prayer were to follow in the year 1930.

Chapter 22
Astounding Answers to Prayer

NEVER in my life have I faced a more serious problem than the
situation that confronted us at the beginning of the year 1930.
Not only were we confronted with another lean year
economically -- with our own personal financial condition at rock
bottom -- with the whole nation plunging on down, down, DOWN, into
the depths of depression -- but it seemed as if we were destitute
of faith in God as well.
We were within six weeks of the birth of our fourth child.
My wife, who had been so miraculously healed in 1927, was now in
an alarming condition. She was anemic. Her blood was lacking in
iron. Her strength appeared depleted. The doctor was definitely
alarmed. He was afraid of complications at the time of delivery,
due to her weakened condition. He insisted she go to the hospital
where every emergency facility would be available in event of

The Lesson of Fasting and Prayer

But we had been in such financial depths that the hospital bill
for our first son's birth had not been paid. The hospital would
not admit my wife again until the previous bill was paid -- or else
we paid in advance.
I had prayed for Mrs. Armstrong's healing. But she had not
been healed. I had prayed again. And again! But there had been no
improvement, and time was running out. We were becoming
What was wrong? I had learned that God does heal. We had
experienced almost incredible miracles. My wife had been healed
before. But why not now?
Obviously God had not changed -- He is the same from eternity
to eternity. He has promised to heal, and His Word is SURE! The
fault could not be with God. I knew it had to be with me. But
where? I "searched my heart." One condition to receiving
miraculous healing is that we OBEY God.
"Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him BECAUSE we keep his
commandments" (I John 3:22).
But I had surrendered to obey God's commandments three years
before. FAITH is the second condition. But I believed, as firmly
as when God first healed my wife.
There was no more time to lose. I had to find the answer. I
knew of only one way. Fasting and prayer! It was the last-ditch
resort. I didn't know how one ought to fast and pray -- I had never
done it before. But when Jesus' disciples were unable to cast out
a demon, Jesus said such a result came only by fasting and
prayer. So I began to fast.
The fasting was begun on a Sabbath morning. That morning I
ate no breakfast. Not knowing how one ought to go about fasting
and prayer, I first prayed and asked God to show me the way -- to
open my understanding. Then, since God speaks to us through His
written Word, I began to search the Bible for instruction about
fasting. For one hour with the aid of a concordance I studied
passages of Scripture on the subject of fasting and praying, much
of the time on my knees.
Then for one hour I sat in thought and contemplation. I
turned over in my mind the scriptures I had read. I reflected on
my own life in recent months. I tried to compare it with God's
way, as revealed in the Scriptures. Then I spent the next hour in
talking to God -- in prayer.
And so I decided to continue in this order -- one hour in
Scripture study, one in contemplation, and one in prayer. I did
not once ask God to heal my wife -- as yet. I had been doing that
for weeks, without result. I was fasting and praying, not for the
purpose of bringing pressure on God to force Him to obey my will
and give what was asked -- but to find out what was wrong with me!
I realized we did not need to nag at God. NEVER fast as a means
of inducing God to answer!
I read of Elijah's prayer, in presence of all the priests of
Baal, when God answered and the fire came down from heaven. I
timed that prayer. It was very short -- only about 20 seconds. But
the awe-inspiring answer came crashing from heaven instantly!
Elijah did not need to talk God into it by a long prayer, or by
repeated prayers. But I knew that Elijah at that moment was close
to God -- that he had previously been spending hours in long
prayers to be in contact and close communion with His Maker! And
he naturally knew His Maker would answer!
Gradually the truth began to pierce through the fog in my
mind. Gradually, as this process of fasting and prayer continued
all day, and into the afternoon of Sunday -- as I became more and
more hungry -- but closer and closer to God, the realization came
that I had been keeping my mind more and more fully on this clay

Finding the Trouble

This experience in fasting and prayer, and the overwhelming
result, has been broadcast over the air, and probably related
previously in The Plain Truth. But it is one of the outstanding
experiences in my life and properly belongs in this present
account, even though a repetition for numerous readers.
This process of self-examination, in the order of one hour
of Bible study, followed by an hour of reflection and
contemplation, and then an hour of prayer, under the unpleasant
weakness of fasting, continued until the middle of Sunday
Suddenly I heard one of our daughters cry out: "Here comes
Grandpa and Grandma!"
My father and mother were driving their Ford 2-door sedan up
our driveway. At the moment I was lying on the bed in our
bedroom, in an hour of thinking and reflecting. By this time I
KNEW where the trouble had been. I realized fully that I had
gotten so wrapped up in this clay project -- the development of
formulas -- devising plans for marketing -- and selling enough of it
to beauty shops to keep us from starving, that I had
unconsciously been drifting farther from the previously close
relationship with God.
I had not stopped Bible study or prayer. I had not even
realized that I had been diminishing it. But now I realized that
I had actually become closer to this clay project than I was to
God. It was fast becoming first in my mind, my interest, and my
time. And God will not play second fiddle to anything!
I wonder, as I write, how many of my readers are more
wrapped up, in their interest, and in their hearts, in some
material business, project, or other interest, than they are in
GOD! Probably most of you who are reading this need what God had
brought me to do.
I realized now that God had mercifully, in His wisdom and
His love for me and my family, refused to answer my prayers to
force me to fast and pray and come to see where I was
unconsciously drifting.
But in a flash, as I heard my father's car drive past the
bedroom window, the realization came that the mission of the
fasting was accomplished! No need to continue it, now! I must end
it, and go out and greet my parents.
And so, in a brief prayer not much longer than Elijah's, but
in deep earnestness and absolute faith, I now -- for the first time
during this fast -- asked God to heal my wife and put iron in her
blood and give her needed strength. Like a flash it came to mind
that we were completely out of food -- out of wood for fuel to keep
warm (in January) -- so I asked Him to send us food and fuel. I
asked Him to send money for the hospital bill for the delivery of
the baby. Quickly I thought of my winter topcoat -- it had a big
hole at the rear of one hip, which was embarrassing and a
handicap in my work -- and asked God for a new coat.
Asking God for these five things had taken less than a
minute. But by now my parents were alighting from the car, and I
wanted to go out to meet them. Two scriptures flashed to my mind:
"Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye
ask him" (Matt. 6:8).
"My God shall supply all your need according to his riches
in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
So quickly I ended my prayer, saying, "Father in heaven, you
know what I need, before I ask -- and you have promised to supply
every need -- so I ask you to supply whatever else I need." Then I
quickly thanked God for it, rose and ran to greet my parents.

Dad was just handing Mother a big covered roaster out of the car,
and then gathering up an armload of wood. He had removed the back
seat before leaving Salem, and piled into the entire rear part of
the car a large supply of wood.
We soon had a fire going in the kitchen cook stove, and
Mother reheated an entire big dinner she had brought in the
roaster. Dad had managed to pile about a week's supply of wood
into his car. So here, even as I was asking for it, was the
answer to two of my prayer requests -- the immediate fuel and food.
Arising Monday morning, my wife's cheeks were rosy red! When
the doctor saw her, he exclaimed:
"What in the world has happened to you!" He could not
understand how her anemia had so suddenly disappeared. She had
her old zip and pep and strength. (Mrs. Armstrong always was an
energetic person -- as recorded earlier, her brothers had nicknamed
her variously "Shebang," and "Cyclone" as a little girl.)
The very first mail delivery after my prayer request, on
that Monday morning, brought a letter from one of my wife's
uncles in Iowa containing, most unexpectedly, a settlement from
her mother's will, in the exact amount of the hospital bill! My
wife's mother had died when she was twelve.
You may be sure that Mrs. Armstrong and I were overwhelmed
with gratitude. Our prayers that morning were all of thanksgiving
to a God who is REAL, and near to every one of us -- if we will be
near to Him!
But Monday was another business day in downtown Portland,
and it was necessary to make the rounds of some of the beauty
parlors once again to sell more clay. Arriving in the lobby of an
office building I would remove my topcoat, and carefully fold it
so as to hide the big hole in the side, carry it on my arm, and
then enter the shops or offices where I had to call.
About eleven that morning I found myself across the street
from the building of the gas company, where my brother Russell
was an information clerk. So I crossed over. We chatted for a
couple of moments.
"Herb," exclaimed Russell suddenly, eyeing the hole in my
coat, "You've got to have a new overcoat. Meier & Frank are
having a big sale on overcoats. Today is January 20th. I have a
charge account at Meier & Frank's, and anything charged beginning
today is not billed until the March 1st statement, and I will
have until March 10th to pay and keep my credit good. You go over
now, and select an overcoat, and I'll meet you over there at noon
and have it charged."
"Oh, no, Russ" I remonstrated, "I couldn't let you do that."
But suddenly, as I continued to protest, it seemed as if a
still, small voice within said to me: "Didn't you ask God to give
you a new overcoat? Are you willing to receive it the way God
gives it, or not?"
It is human nature to rebel against God's way. We want to do
things in a different way than God commands. We want to live a
different way than God's Law. I broke off the remonstrance
"O.K., Russ," I smiled humbly, and gratefully, "I'll go
select a coat -- and thanks a million!" -- as my eyes began to water.
It was humiliating to me to take this coat from my brother.
I felt he could not afford it. But I realized it was God's
answer, coming the way God had chosen to answer my prayer. He was
still humbling me. But this was good for me, and actually, giving
the coat was good for my brother. It just did not seem so,
On Tuesday or Wednesday of that week my other brother,
Dwight, drove over to our house in his Ford.
"I got to thinking, Herb," said Dwight, "You may have to
rush Loma to the hospital at any unexpected hour of day or night.
I've brought my car over for you. I'm going to leave it until you
go to the hospital. And in the meantime, just use it as if it
were your own."
I think it was on Thursday afternoon Mrs. Armstrong and I
were sitting in our living room reviewing what had happened, and
thanking God. It was about three o'clock.
"You know, I never should have thought of needing a car for
a sudden emergency trip to the hospital," I said. "But I asked
God to send whatever else we needed, besides what I asked for
specifically -- and He sent it."
"There is only one thing more that I can think of," mused my
wife. "I never thought of this before, but I do not have a robe
or slippers to wear in the hospital. If I had those, every need
would be complete."
We dismissed it from our minds.
But that evening, my sister's husband drove her over to our
house. She seemed highly embarrassed, and a little flustered.
"Loma," she said, "I don't understand this at all -- and you
may think I'm crazy. But this afternoon, about three o'clock,
something strange came over me -- an insistent urge to go to my
bedroom and pray. And while I was praying something put it in my
mind -- just like a voice saying: 'Take your robe and slippers to
Loma! Take your robe and slippers to Loma!' I didn't understand
it! I never had any experience like that before. You may think
I'm crazy, but I simply had to bring these to you."
We then explained how God had answered my prayer, and how,
at that precise time that afternoon we had been in conversation
about that very remaining need -- the robe and slippers.
Truly, God does move in mysterious ways, His wonders to

Garner Ted Is Born

It was just a little over two weeks later that the loan of
Dwight's car was justified, and I rushed my wife to the hospital.
On the 9th day of February, a Sunday, my second son was
My wife named him Garner Ted. The name Garner had been a
family name in her family and her mother's family for
generations. Her maternal grandmother was a Garner before
marriage. Several men in the family had been given the name
Garner as a first name.
Mrs. Armstrong had known an intelligent young man in college
in Iowa by the name of Ted, whom she greatly admired. The name
seemed, she said, "so short and simple and direct."
He was our fourth child.
For eleven years of married life I had been denied a son.
After Mrs. Armstrong's first miraculous healing, in 1927, I knew
that, despite warnings from three doctors, we could have another
child without fear of fatal consequences. God had blessed us with
our first son, Richard David, on October 13th, 1928. That day was
the happiest day of my life. I was filled to overflowing with
gratitude for a SON after all those years -- a gift from God.
But now, a year and four months later, God blessed us with a
second son. And Ted, too, was born as a result of an almost
incredible miracle of healing only three weeks before his birth!

Chapter 23
Prelude to Ministry

I HAVE related previously how my wife nearly died of toxemia
eclampsia shortly before our second daughter was born. Three
physicians had warned us that my wife could never have another
child. We did not know the reason then. It was many years later
that we learned we had the opposite RH blood factor -- she being
negative, and I positive. This was unknown to the doctors who
said Mrs. Armstrong could not bear another child. It probably was
not the cause. This, however, was undoubtedly the cause of Ted
having been born with yellow jaundice.
This, as nearly as we can remember now, was one of the
reasons it was necessary to supplement the new baby's breast
milk. Another reason was the fact that Mrs. Armstrong did not
have enough to eat. She simply was not able to supply sufficient
One day a few months after Ted was born -- probably early
summer, 1930 -- I arrived home from the beauty shop rounds in
midafternoon. The baby was crying lustily. "Hurry!" exclaimed my
wife, "Go to the store and get a quart of milk. The baby has
missed one feeding, and it's a whole hour past his second
feeding, and I haven't a bit of milk for him."

Asking God for a Dime

"Well, I'm broke. Give me a dime," I said. Milk was then ten
cents a quart -- think of that!
"But if I had a dime, I'd have sent Beverly after the milk
long ago," she replied. "I've been waiting for you -- praying for
God to hurry you home. I thought you'd have at least a dime."
The baby howled louder than ever. We had never established
credit at any store.
"There's only one thing to do," I said. "We're helpless, of
ourselves. There's no human to help us. We'll have to rely on
God. He has promised to supply all our NEED -- and this is a need."
Jesus said we should enter into our closet, or small room,
and pray to our Father in heaven in secret, and He will reward us
openly. The only small room of absolute privacy in our home was
the bathroom. I locked the bathroom door and knelt beside the
bathtub. God had promised to supply our every need, "according to
His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." I believed Him.
But we had to have the answer immediately. I had learned
that sometimes God does not answer at once -- He sometimes tries
our faith in order to develop patience in us. But right now it
seemed that little Garner Ted needed his milk more urgently than
I needed patience.
I felt there was not time -- or need -- of a long prayer.
Instantly the 70th Psalm flashed into my mind. God by His Holy
Spirit inspired David to record, as part of the very Word of God,
David's prayer wherein he asked God to "Make haste, O God, to
deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord ... I am poor and needy:
make haste unto me ... O Lord, make no tarrying." I knew that
prayer would not be in God's Word unless it was God's will to
ANSWER that same prayer for me. So I asked God boldly to MAKE
I arose, unlocked the door, and walked back toward the
kitchen. Before I even reached the kitchen, one of our girls
cried out from the living-room window:
"Oh Mother, here comes the old rag and bottle man!"
"Well, quick! Beverly," called out my wife, "run and stop
him! We have a lot of old things in the basement we can sell
The only entrance to our basement, I remember, was from the
outside at the rear of the house. In eager anticipation we led
the rag and bottle man down the basement stairs. My wife showed
him all kinds of things. We expected to get at least a dollar
from him.
He only shook his head.
"No. Nothing here I want," he said, starting back up the
Our hearts sank. Halfway up the steps he stopped, glanced at
a high stack of old magazines beside the stairs. Slowly he turned
and retraced his steps, examining the stack of magazines.
"I'll give you a dime for these," he said. "This is all I
I had asked God to send to us a dime -- immediately -- in haste!
When God sent it, within the very minute I asked, we tried to
increase it to a dollar or more. But the immediate NEED was a
dime for milk. God has not promised to supply our wants -- only our
NEED. The need I had asked was a dime -- ten cents! That is what
God sent -- immediately!
We had learned another lesson!
We gratefully gave God thanks, as I ran all the way to the
store and then back with the milk.
Jesus said: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray,
believe that ye receive them, and YE SHALL HAVE THEM!" I know
that is true. DO YOU?
This incident has been made public before -- over the air and
in The Plain Truth -- but it properly belongs here in the
Autobiography, so I relate it again.

A New Job

A family by the name of Melson lived on 74th Street in Portland
at this time. Their house and ours were opposite, back to back.
Some years later this family became nationally famous. A feature
article about them on "How America Lives" appeared in one of
America's leading mass-circulation magazines. We can remember
that they had three little girls, Anna Lou, Marilyn, and Joyce.
Little Dickie, our older boy, called Anna Lou "Ah-woo."
One evening Mr. Melson came over and asked me if I would
accept a job with the Wear-Ever Aluminum Company. He was a
salesman with that company, selling to retail stores. The job
open to me was selling the heavy "New Method" utensils direct to
The sale of the clay to beauty shops was not providing a
living. This aluminum job was the straw a drowning man would
grab. We were in such down-and-out financial circumstances we
were grateful for anything that promised enough food to eat.
I went to their office. I found this company had developed a
type of salesmanship with which I was not experienced -- and they
had reduced it to a virtual science. They sold this particular
line of utensils, not through stores, but direct to consumers by
a system of "demonstration dinners," which they called "dems."
First, to see what it was like, I attended one.
A woman was offered a valuable utensil prize if she would
invite a number of married couples to a dinner in her home. The
prize was in accordance with the number who came. They had to be
couples -- husbands and wives. The salesman supplied all the food
and ingredients and cooked the dinner. It had to be the most
delicious dinner the guests had ever eaten, and of natural
foods -- no concoctions.
After the dinner, he gave a lecture on health, and the
causes of sickness and disease. I observed that the salesman
giving this "dem" seemed to know more about the causes of
sickness and disease than the physician who was a guest with his
wife -- and he kept quoting nationally known physicians and
surgeons for his statements, and then asking the local guest
physician if he agreed. Of course he did -- for the statements were
all medically correct, and the guest doctor would be disagreeing
with outstanding national or international authorities unless he
endorsed everything the salesman said.
Before he was through, the guests were impressed that this
salesman-lecturer knew more about the minor ailments in their
families than their family doctor. Enough of these common
ailments had been mentioned -- colds, fevers, constipation,
rheumatism, tooth troubles, stomach troubles, digestive
disturbances, etc., etc., that every family present was sure to
be affected. Then the salesman made appointments to call at each
home at a time when both husband and wife would be present, in
order to give private and confidential counsel about how to
prevent these ailments by proper diet and method of preparing
Every couple present willingly made the appointment. I could
see that most of them were actually eager to make it. They had
never heard a lecture of this type before. It had been sparkling
with interest, and had opened up facts about common ailments they
never knew before.
I was intrigued. I saw that this job offered me the
opportunity to make an intensive study of the causes of sickness
and disease, and of nutrition and the part diet plays in health
or illness. I had already been doing enough preaching to have had
some little experience in giving these lectures. Also, the
lectures would provide experience for more effective preaching.
One thing that appealed to me was the fact that a salesman,
in this rather unique work, could be doing a great deal of good.
I learned, during the following years, that many of these
salesmen were conscientious and used their work only for the good
of the customer.

Lecturing on Health

My first "dem" was a very large cooperative one, held in a public
hall in Oregon City. Several of the men out of the Portland
district headquarters participated, a more experienced one
delivering the lecture. Actual participation gave me initial
The district supervisor, a Mr. Peach, gave me a list of
several books, whose authors were nationally famous physicians
and surgeons, on the subject of diet, causes of common ailments,
sickness and disease.
At the library and bookstores I searched out other books
beside these he recommended. I plunged into an intensive study in
this fascinating field. Mr. Peach also gave me mimeographed
material, data, and facts which his office had condensed from
many qualified authorities -- including many shocking figures and
statistics on existing national health conditions. The office
also supplied me with large charts, illustrated, showing many of
these little-known facts. The charts were used in the lectures.
I obtained pamphlets from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, showing results of scientific government tests made,
I believe, at the University of Wisconsin. These tests showed the
percentage of mineral elements and vitamins lost from various
kinds of foods by cooking at or over the boiling temperature.
These figures were astounding. They showed that excessive
temperatures, in cooking, rob foods of from 23% to 78% of these
vital health elements.
I learned of what the human body is constituted -- primarily
16 elements of matter, 12 of which are alkaline-reacting mineral
elements, and 4 of which are acid-reacting carbohydrates. I
learned that, while the human body requires for health that the
diet be composed of a large majority of the alkaline mineral
elements, the average American meal is in fact a dietetic
horror -- consisting of an overwhelming preponderance of the
starches, sugars, and greases -- the carbohydrate acid-reacting
elements which cause numerous ailments and diseases.
Most natural foods are rendered harmful by sauces, gravies
and dressings. I learned that leading physicians -- that is, the
very few who have studied foods, or the causes of sickness and
disease -- estimate variously that from 85% to 95% of all sickness
and disease which is not of mental origin is caused by faulty
diet, and the small remaining percent from all other causes
Soon I had an eye-opening, interest-compelling lecture
outlined. Of course the study was continued intensively -- along
with continued Bible study for the next year, and the lecture
progressively altered and supplemented.
The details are now dim in memory -- this is being written
almost 30 years later -- but it seems that I teamed with another
more experienced man in the next one or two "dems."
Then I must have been transferred to the territory around
Salem, Oregon. Also it seems this move was influenced by the fact
that I had not yet gotten sufficiently established in this
aluminum selling to have been able to pay our house rent, and my
father was having to pay it for us. Apparently he felt it would
be less burden on him for us to move back into the parental home
in Salem.

Our First Automobile

About the time I was getting started in this new work, we
acquired the first automobile we ever owned. I had learned to
drive a car when I was Assistant Secretary of the Chamber of
Commerce at South Bend, Indiana, when I was 23. I had driven cars
a great deal. Often I had borrowed my brother Russell's car, and
also my brother Dwight's. But it was impossible to hold these
"dems" without a car.
So an arrangement had been made with my father whereby I
received his car -- a two-door Ford sedan -- and he acquired a better
car. Just what the three-cornered deal was is too cloudy in mind
to recall.
So, along about October, 1930, we left the house on 75th
Street in Portland, and once again moved in with my parents on
Highland Avenue in Salem.
The religious interest did not diminish. Rather, this new
study of the causes of ill health and disease, and these "dems"
with their health lectures, only supplemented my continued study
of the Bible.
I learned quite a little about fasting as a means of
eliminating toxins and poisons from the body. Always the people I
visited after a "dem," had in the family some of these common
ailments or diseases. Never before had most of them heard any
explanation of why they had these sicknesses.
Most people seemed to suppose it is natural for our bodies
to get sick. But sickness is not natural. Sickness comes only
from broken physical laws within our bodies. Most of the time it
comes from excess of carbohydrates. Part of the time from
malnutrition -- a lack of essential elements. Under fasting the
body naturally eliminates stored up toxins and poisons.
Many on whom I called were, by fasting followed by right
diet, relieved of rheumatism, constipation, colds, and many other
chronic ailments or diseases.
Of course most doctors do not recommend fasting. Many M.D.'s
refer to fasting as a "starvation diet." At that time some
doctors seemed to feel that if a patient missed a single meal or
two he or she would starve. No matter what the sickness or
disease, if one were admitted to a hospital, one very probably
was fed, even if intravenously.
Actually, if people would fast more, as animals do by
instinct when sick, and eat more carefully, it might just be that
the doctors would starve, not the patients!
But those doctors wanted to stay in business. They did not
often recommend fasting.
On the other hand, one should not fast for more than three
to five days unless he is under the care of a physician who does
understand and believe in fasting, or someone equally
experienced. And one kind of fasting is required to rid one of
constipation, and another kind is indicated for other situations.
It is regrettable that medical "science" was so narrow that
it tried to make a cure-all of one thing -- medicine; or, in some
cases, of surgery. One doctor confided to his elderly mother that
if all drugs were dumped into the ocean, it would be so much
better for humanity, and so much worse for the fish. But such was
the "science" of man that all too often it is, as the Word of God
says plainly, "science falsely so called." The day will come when
the whole world will wake up to that sad fact!
I never did, on these calls, ask people if I could pray for
their healing. God's instruction is, "Is any sick among you; let
him call for the elders of the church" (James 5:14-15). They are
told to ASK FOR IT. And I was not then an elder. I was not then
However, when the subject of God's truth did come up -- as it
frequently did -- if I found the people I was visiting were
believers, and they asked me to pray for their healing, I always
did. This happened a number of times, and several were healed.
But I had learned never to force religion on any one, and the
approach to the subject had to come from them. This is God's way.
What I learned during this year of study and lecturing on
sickness and disease was actually an important part of the
preparation God was taking me through for His ministry.

The Near Fight at a Meeting

Along in November of 1930 the Runcorns, neighbors of my parents,
asked me to go with them to a business meeting of brethren of the
Church of God, being held in the home of Mrs. Ira Curtis, near
Jefferson, Oregon.
Although I was a guest -- I had never become a member of this
church, whose headquarters was at Stanberry, Missouri -- they asked
me to act as secretary and take down the minutes of the meeting.
I learned that the meeting was called for the purpose of
organizing these Oregon members into an Oregon Conference.
I sensed immediately there was a feeling of division among
them. Elder A. N. Dugger was the real leader of the church at
Stanberry. He was editor of the church's weekly paper sent to
members. He either was, or had been, president of their General
Conference. I learned that they were organized as a General
Conference, with elections of officers held biannually. Most of
the Oregon members lived in the Willamette Valley in the vicinity
of Jefferson. Most of them were in attendance at this business
About half of them were opposed to Elder Dugger. They wanted
to organize a State Conference. Some of the other states had
state conferences. The purpose of this Oregon State Conference
was to hold the tithes and church funds contributed by Oregon
members in Oregon.
But actually, it was born of opposition to and
dissatisfaction with the Stanberry membership and state
conference. The other half were just as verbal in their loyalty
and support of Elder Dugger and the Stanberry regime.
The dispute over Stanberry politics and Elder Dugger's
personal fitness and integrity waxed more and more heated. One
tall man who weighed considerably over 200, and was a leader,
spoke of "dirty politics" and called Elder Dugger a
"ward-healer." An equally vociferous man on the other side of the
dispute rose to defend the honor of Mr. Dugger. Words flamed
hotter and hotter. Each side was sincere and in roused earnest.
Under the tense pressure tempers were flaring. I became afraid it
was going to be settled (or unsettled) by fists.
At that instant I rose, and in a loud but calm voice asked
if I might say a word. Since I was a guest, they didn't refuse.
"Brethren," I said, "you all know how, as recorded in the
first chapter of Job, when the sons of God came together, Satan
came also. You also know how, in the 12th chapter of Revelation
we are told that the people Satan is most angry with are those
who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
Christ. That means us. Satan is here. He is stirring up rage and
anger in your hearts. I am going to drop to my knees right now,
and ask God Almighty to cast Satan out of this house! All of you
who wish may kneel with me and pray silently."
Without another word, I quickly dropped to my knees beside
my chair, and began asking God to rebuke Satan and this
controversial spirit that was rousing these men to anger, and to
drive Satan from our presence, and to give us peace and love.
When I rose there were some wet eyes, but there were no
angry voices. These people were sincere. They simply believed
what they believed and had allowed themselves to be caught off
guard, and roused to anger.

Asked to Conduct Campaign

The state conference was agreed to and formed. The concept of
church government seemed to be that lay members should be in the
offices of authority. Ministers were to be employed, and under
orders from the lay members. This is essentially the concept of
what we call democracy: government from the bottom up. Those
being governed dictate who shall be their rulers and how their
rulers shall rule them.
The most perplexing subject in all the Bible to me was this
matter of church government. I never did come to clear
understanding of the BIBLE teaching on the subject until after
Ambassador College was formed and well on its way.
I believe that elderly G. A. Hobbs of Oregon City,
previously mentioned, was made the first president of this state
Conference, and that O. J. Runcorn, with whom I had come to this
meeting, was president the second year. I have in my old files my
Ministerial License Certificate, which is reproduced in this
autobiography, dated March 2,1932, and signed by O. J. Runcorn as
President, and Mrs. I. E. Curtis as Secretary. This was almost a
year after I was ordained -- probably my second certificate.
At the close of this business meeting, the newly elected
officers caused me great embarrassment.
They asked me if I would hold an evangelistic campaign for
them in the church building they rented in Harrisburg. I had
never preached before the public. Only before these brethren in
the Willamette Valley and at Oregon City. As I have stated
before, becoming a preacher was the very last thing I should ever
have wanted to do. I had been literally drawn into what little
preaching had been done before these few brethren. Most certainly
I had never pushed myself in.
But to hold a public evangelistic campaign! Consternation
seized me! By nature, I shrank from the idea. Yet here were these
simple, Bible-loving people, looking to me for leadership. It was
as if they were sheep needing a shepherd. They wanted to get the
Gospel out. It seemed impossible to refuse. If I was severely
embarrassed at the thought of doing it, it would be even more
embarrassing to refuse. More and more I was being drawn into the
ministry by some power greater than I.
Inexperienced though I still was in the Gospel area, I had
come to realize that the success of any campaign depended more on
the amount and earnestness of prayer behind such a campaign, than
on the oratory or eloquence of the speaker. One thing I knew -- if
GOD was in it -- if I were merely an instrument and GOD was really
conducting the campaign, it was bound to bear fruit.

Embarrassment on the Other Foot

All these things flashed through my mind in a few seconds.
"Well, brethren," I replied, "I have never preached before a
public audience in my life. All the revivals and evangelistic
services I have attended have wound up in altar calls. I'll tell
you the truth -- I simply could not do this without a lot of help
from God. And I know that results will depend more on the PRAYER
back of the meetings than on my preaching. In fact, the
effectiveness of the preaching will depend on prayer and the
extent to which I can allow God to speak through me. This would
really be a very hard assignment for me. But I'll make you
brethren a proposition. If every one of you here at this meeting
will pledge yourselves right now to devote not less than one hour
every day to earnest and believing and prevailing PRAYER for the
success of these meetings -- for God to help me and speak through
me -- for God to cause the ones He is calling and drawing to
attend -- and for God to convict the ones He is calling -- and if you
will solemnly pledge to keep up this hour or more a day of
prayer, beginning now, and until the last night of the
meetings -- then I will undertake this campaign. I could do it at
the end of December. Our company does not work from December 20th
until after New Year's day. I could start the campaign on Sunday
night, December 21st, and eleven nights right up to the end of
the year. The Wear Ever company has a convention in Seattle the
first week in January and I must be there. But I will have these
eleven nights free."
And now, it was their turn to be embarrassed. Perhaps some
had been spending an hour a day in prayer -- but I was sure most of
them had not. Their tempers would not have boiled over into a
near fist fight if they had. But, as I had been too embarrassed
to refuse their offer, they were too embarrassed to refuse mine.
To refuse to devote an hour a day on their knees would be very
un-Christian! Yes, that would have been more embarrassing than to
go through with it!
They agreed. They pledged themselves to this intensive
I agreed. I was brought one step closer to the ministry of
These brethren realized that the Stanberry church was not
getting the Gospel to the world with power. In this area the
church was virtually impotent. The Oregon brethren were anxious
to "get the Work going." Although I had been greatly humbled by
business reverses not of my making, and by conversion, they were
aware of my past experience in the business world.
And actually, from the time of this business meeting, the
brethren in Oregon looked to me for the leadership that would
revitalize the work of the Gospel. There had been no minister of
the church resident in Oregon. But from this time ministers were
to be sent there to counteract the favor these Oregon brethren
were showing toward me. Always I was to meet opposition from the

The First Public Preaching

You may be sure that I, too, practiced what I demanded of them.
In fact, I was afraid not to. If ever I had needed the help of
God it was now.
I designed a good-sized circular. This was the first time my
20 years of advertising experience was used in God's Work. I did
not have the money to have the handbills printed, but the new
conference officials agreed to pay all expenses for the meetings.
I had the circular printed at the job printing department of the
Salem Statesman. I do not remember how they were distributed, but
I think church brethren living near Harrisburg must have
volunteered to do it. The handbills were distributed to every
house in Harrisburg and for some five miles around.
Even before conversion I had attended two or three
evangelistic campaigns. A businessman, a prosperous and
successful owner of a factory in southeastern Iowa, had conducted
a big tent campaign in Indianola, Iowa, during the summer of
1923. At that time I was working with my brother-in-law, Walter
Dillon, on his college oratory, and also conducting a
merchandising survey for an Indianola weekly paper.
I had attended several of these meetings. The businessman
was a vigorous speaker, somewhat of the Billy Sunday style. He
had a very effective song leader and team -- much as Billy Graham
was to do later on a much larger scale. Always there were altar
calls -- the traditional "sawdust trail." Workers urged people of
the audience to go forward.
In my inexperience, I took these traditional methods for
granted. In these beginning years of my ministry I went along
with many of these religious practices -- and even some
doctrines -- commonly accepted by the evangelical denominations,
and which I later had to UN-learn.
I had to learn one doctrine, and one truth, at a time.
The little church building in the little town of Harrisburg,
then about 500 population, had seating capacity of perhaps 150.
On the first Sunday night we had about 100 or more in attendance.
I think the attendance dropped a little after the first
night, but it held up not far under a hundred. Our little group
of church brethren assembled in the church about an hour and a
half early each evening, and had their hour of prayer together in
the church.
We did not have droves of hundreds or thousands "hitting the
sawdust trail," but God did give us four who were converted in
the meetings.
However, we knew that the greatest good done was the
spiritual revival that took place in the church brethren as a
result of that hour a day spent in solid prayer!
They were a changed people! They were happy. They were
closer to God -- and this was evidenced by their manner, their
conversation, their lives!

WHO Should Baptize?

The subject of water baptism had been the very first I had
studied in the Bible, after my original surrender to Christ. Now
I had four new converts to be baptized. One of those was my own
brother, Dwight Armstrong.
But WHO was to baptize them? I was not an ordained minister.
A young minister of the Church of God who had been sent out
from Stanberry, Missouri, headquarters, had been in an automobile
accident in Harrisburg. He was confined to bed with a broken leg
at the time. I consulted him. It was a problem neither of us had
confronted before.
We looked at Matthew 28:19-20.
"Go ye," said Jesus in His Great Commission, "therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them ... " It appeared that whoever
taught those who repented and accepted Christ was to do the
baptizing. Nothing was said about being ordained.
We examined Acts 2:37-41 -- the initial New Testament
experience on the day of Pentecost. Three thousand were baptized.
It was evident that the twelve disciples of Jesus could hardly
have baptized this vast number.
In Acts 8, Philip, a deacon, and apparently not yet at that
time an ordained evangelist, baptized those to whom he preached
at Samaria, and later the Ethiopian eunuch.
We decided that I had the authority of God to baptize those
converted during my first public preaching.
I baptized them.
This brought stern criticism from "authorities" higher up in
the church. There was criticism because the Conference paid
expenses when I was not even a member. In fact, from this time I
was to meet continued criticism, opposition, persecution, and
political maneuvering by ministers. But the lay members looked
more and more to me for leadership.

Chapter 24
Ordained to Christ's Ministry

THE YEAR 1931 dawned for Mrs. Armstrong and me, like those
preceding, with dark and overcast skies. It was one more of the
economically lean years. It was an exceedingly high-point year in
my life. It was the year in which I was ordained as a minister of
Christ's Gospel, plunged full time into the ministry. Yet this
very ordination was to foment multiplied opposition and
persecution from the Stanberry ministers.
God did not induct me into His service as an imposing figure
impressing others as a man of importance, wisdom and distinction.
Rather, the Eternal put me into His ministry a good deal
like the Apostle Paul, who wrote: "And I, brethren, when I came
to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom ... and I
was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (I
Cor. 2:1-3).

Greenhorn Tail-End Minister

I was no VIP entering the ministry. There was no red-carpet
welcome -- no pomp and ceremony -- no spectacular acclaim. It would
not have been God's doing, had it started out auspiciously.
Everything God does through human instruments must start with a
humble beginning, the very smallest. God brings down low and to
naught the proud and the lofty. The Eternal is able to exalt in
His own due time those He first humbles.
Every person has his IDOL. GOD cannot receive and convert a
human life until his idol has been smashed or torn from him. My
idol had been an egotistical sense of self-importance -- a cocky
self-assurance -- a passion to become successful -- to attain
STATUS -- in the eyes of the material world. God is creating in
those He calls a righteous character which can be developed only
through experience; and experience requires TIME. God has a lot
of time -- He is Eternal -- He has always existed -- He always will.
It took time to eradicate from my heart the love of the
praise of men. God gave me, instead, the false accusations, the
unwarranted oppositions, the scheming persecutions of jealous,
competitive-minded ministers. It required time to bring me to a
place where I no longer set my heart on material possessions and
the finer things of this material world.
This process required not one or two years -- not seven -- but
four sevens! For 28 financially lean and humiliating years out of
the very prime of life, God continued to root out of my life and
character this vain idolatry!
From the first, and for some time, I was treated by the
ministers as the green-horn tail-ender among them. They used
every practice and device constantly to humiliate me and belittle
me in the eyes of the brethren. I needed this -- and I knew God
knew I needed it! Aware of my need of humility, I felt, myself,
that I was the "least of the ministers." However, the brethren
loved me and continued looking to me for leadership. The only
"fruit" being borne resulted from my efforts. This, naturally,
was the very reason for the opposition and persecution.
And so the year 1931 dawned.

The Convention at Seattle

The first evangelistic campaign was over. It was just a short
11-night campaign in the little rented church building in
Harrisburg, Oregon. Attendance had been good for such a small
town -- around 100. I had not known better than to follow the
Protestant evangelical method of giving "altar calls," for
repentant sinners accepting Christ to come up to the altar and
kneel. Four had come, and been baptized.
The pastor of one of the churches in the neighboring larger
town, Junction City, asked me to hold a campaign in his church. I
do not remember which church, but I believe it was the Baptist.
I was still dependent on my job with the Wear Ever Aluminum
Company, giving dinner "dems" with health lectures and selling
their "new method" heavy aluminum utensils. It was necessary that
I attend the annual convention of their Pacific Northwest sales
force in Seattle, beginning at or after the first week in
This prevented any extended campaign at the church in
Junction City. However, it was arranged that I should hold three
special services there -- on Saturday night, and on Sunday
afternoon, and Sunday night with the pastor himself holding his
usual Sunday morning service.
I shall never forget the thrill of accomplishment and
thankfulness I experienced as I rode with the Runcorns back to
Salem after the Harrisburg meetings. It was a deeper and far more
intense sensation than I had ever experienced at a football game.
The Wear Ever district convention was held at the New
Richmond Hotel in Seattle. There I met all of the top-ranking
salesmen of the district -- some of whom were of the high-pressure
type and extremely successful, earning large incomes.
However, this convention was somewhat disillusioning. Actual
appointments in homes, with a husband and wife who ostensibly
were attending a "dem" lecture, were acted out. The entire
district sales force saw these top-ranking salesmen in simulated
action. I came to realize that these men who were in the big
money used high-pressure methods which I, as a Christian, could
not employ. It became apparent that I could never get into the
big-money bracket on this kind of a job. I was not making enough
to meet the actual needs of my family -- just enough to keep us
from starving.
I did, however, learn things I had not known about health,
nutrition and diet, causes of disease, etc. One thing I learned
which seemed important -- the reason why "One man's meat is another
man's poison."
Different individuals are of varying chemical types. One
person would be classified as the potassium type. The element
potassium is somewhat dominating in his physical constitution.
These people are said to be the outdoor type, usually extroverts
loving to be with other people.
The salesmen analyzed and classified one another as to
chemical types. I gave the most "expert" among them considerable
difficulty. I seemed to be a mixture of several types, but they
finally agreed that calcium was the dominating chemical
constituency in my makeup. This must be true, because I require
more calcium than most people. Calcium is found in largest
quantities in milk and milk products. I seem to crave and need a
goodly amount of milk, cheese, and butter.

The First Funeral

We were still living, at this time, with my parents in Salem.
Shortly after returning to Salem from the convention in
Seattle, a death occurred in the family of a young couple, Mr.
and Mrs. Milas C. Helms, who lived near Jefferson. Parents of
both of them were members of the Church of God. Their baby son,
Richard Leon, born November 23, 1930, had died on Monday, January
12, 1931.
I was contacted and asked to conduct the funeral. This was a
new and frightening experience for me. The dread and fear of it
As the day of the funeral dawned, this dread had almost
driven me berserk.
"I can't do it!" I kept saying. "I just can't go through
with it! I WON'T! I won't do it!" I finally shouted.
Not many times in my life did my father's powerful bass
voice speak sharply and with authority to me. This was one of
those few times.
"Herbert!" Dad's voice cracked like a sudden thunderclap, in
unmistakable authority, "snap out of that instantly! WAKE UP!
Come to your senses! Those people are stricken with grief! They
are depending on you! You can't let them down! You are going to
sit right down and prepare this funeral sermon. Then you are
going down there and fulfill this obligation!"
If I had been almost out of my senses, this brought me back
instantly. It was like a sudden awakening from a nightmare.
"Yes, Dad," I said. "Thanks for waking me up. I'll ask God
to help me, and I will do it."
I had attended very few funerals. I did not know what
customary funeral sermons were like. I did not want to know. I
felt it would only be a pagan ceremony. I merely prayed and asked
God to direct me through His Word. Soon I had a short sermon
worked out from the Scriptures, reading certain basic scriptures
on the subject of death and the resurrection, with a few brief
comments expounding them.
It turned out that only a graveside service had been
planned. When the moment came for me to officiate, my prayer for
God's help was answered, and I was calm, sympathetic, and in
sincere earnest.
That brief sermon from the Scriptures, together with the
grief of losing their little son, deeply affected and moved Mike
and Pearl Helms, and resulted in bringing them to repentance and
conversion through Christ as their Saviour.
It was the beginning of a very close friendship, and
Christian fellowship between us for several years to come. I have
always had a very special warm spot in my heart for Mike Helms,
and I feel sure it is mutual. We were to go through many rough
experiences together in God's Work -- experiences which brought us
together like two close brothers.
Mike was a vegetable gardener, and a very successful one. He
was a natural leader. Inevitably, you will read quite a lot about
him if you continue reading this story of my life, for he became
closely connected with it and the many experiences I must relate
from this point on.

We Move Again

Through the first half of the year 1931 the study and lectures on
the causes of sickness and disease continued. Enough of the heavy
aluminum was sold to keep the family alive -- but no more.
Two or three cases during that time come back to memory. One
man in Salem was troubled with chronic constipation, and with
rheumatism. After my first visit to his home he went on a ten-day
fast, followed by a diet of natural vegetables and fruits, lean
meats and whole grains -- a diet free of starches, fats and white
sugar. Both the rheumatism and the constipation disappeared.
Another case was a man who had ulcers of the stomach. He could
not even drink milk and hold it down. Yet a milk diet, with
nothing else for many weeks, was his logical corrective. I
squeezed a half lemon into a glass of milk, stirred it, and had
him drink it. Of course it curdled slightly. He held it in his
stomach, and was started on his milk diet. His stomach healed
over naturally after several weeks.
Because I thoroughly believed in what I was doing, I held
"dems" for the church brethren in the Jefferson area. Most of
them purchased the heavy aluminum, and began eating natural
In the spring of 1931 my father bought a small farm about
fifteen miles south of Oregon City, trading their home in Salem
for the farm. Of course my brother Russell had been married
several years and was living in Portland, and my sister also was
married and living in Portland. My youngest brother, Dwight, went
with the "folks" to the farm.
At that time we moved to a house on East State Street in
Salem. A number of events were to happen to us in that
house -- among others, little Garner Ted being miraculously given
his voice. When Ted had been about six months old he had fallen
out of his crib, landing on his head on the floor. From that time
he had been dumb, and he never learned to speak a word until he
was past two years old. But that is getting ahead of our story.
He was about 14 months when we first moved to the State Street

R. L. Taylor Arrives

In early summer of that year a former S.D.A. minister, a Robert
L. Taylor, came to Oregon from California. It was practice among
these Church of God people to hold all-day meetings about once a
month. It was at one of these meetings that Mr. Taylor preached.
We were all quite impressed.
"He's a better preacher than any of the leading ministers
from Stanberry," seemed to be the common exclamation. Indeed we
were all rather "swept off our feet" by his preaching.
After a few weeks, the brethren of this "Oregon Conference,"
which had been formed the preceding November, wanted to team
Elder Taylor with me to hold an evangelistic campaign. They were
becoming anxious to see a little "life" in the work of the
They found Elder Taylor very receptive to the idea. By this
time a modest balance had accumulated in the new Conference
treasury. You will remember that the object in forming this State
Conference was to create a local state treasury and keep their
tithes and offerings in the state, instead of being sent to
Stanberry, Missouri. These were days of rapidly descending
economic depression, but several of these brethren were vegetable
gardeners. They were doing very well financially.
Elder Taylor said he would be glad to undertake this
campaign with me, suggesting it be held in Eugene -- for reasons I
was to learn later. We decided to speak on alternate nights, the
one not speaking to lead in the song service.
This made it necessary that the Oregon Conference ordain me
to the ministry.

ORDAINED Christ's Minister

Being ordained and entering the ministry full time meant a
complete change in my life. In former years the idea of becoming
a minister was the very last thing I should have wanted to do.
But by June, 1931, I had been preaching a great deal for three
and a half years. By this time my whole heart was in it.
I had come to see, at the Seattle salesmen's convention,
that this aluminum sales job was not permanently compatible with
the Christian life. I was unable to adopt some of the high
pressure methods -- in the interest of the salesman's commission,
but not in the customers' interest -- which the top-ranking
salesmen employed. I knew I could never make more than a bare
existence for my family. And anyway, by this time I think I
recognized that God had called me to His ministry.
I had remained in this aluminum selling only because I
realized I was acquiring valuable knowledge about food and diet,
and the causes of sickness and disease. But now I had devoted a
year to this study. There was no point in continuing.
The decision was not difficult. God had now brought me to
the place where I really "heard" the voice of Christ as if He
were saying, "Come, and follow me, and I will make you a fisher
of men."
It was decided by the officers of the Conference that on the
next all-day meeting I was to be ordained.
I shall never forget that moment of my ordination.
The meeting was being held outdoors. I do not remember
where -- except it was in the general rural area of Jefferson. I do
not remember other circumstances.
But I do remember the ordination itself. It was one of those
once-in-a-lifetime experiences like being married, and being
baptized. Only this seemed to me to be the most momentous event
of my entire life.
All the brethren -- as many as could get their hands through
to my head -- laid their hands on me -- on my head, my shoulders, my
chest and my back.
I am sure it was the weight of the experience, from a
spiritual and emotional standpoint, rather than the physical
weight of hands and arms -- but it seemed I was entirely weighted
down with the heaviest load I had ever stood up under.
To me this was symbolic of the tremendous responsibility
that now came down on my head and shoulders.
And let it be made plain here: I was ordained by, and under
the authority of, the Oregon Conference of The Church of God,
separately incorporated; not by the Stanberry, Missouri,

Coincidence?-or DESlGN!

This brings us to a series of almost incredible facts. Whether
strange coincidence or planned acts of God I cannot now say. But
these are FACTS, nonetheless.
I never recognized these facts until just a few months
before the writing of this present chapter. Certainly this
strange chain of occurrences was not of my planning.
Here, then, are the actual facts:
First, Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry at about age
30. God took away my business, moved me from Chicago, started
bringing me to repentance and conversion preparatory to inducting
me into His ministry, when I was 30!
Second, Jesus began the actual teaching and training of His
original disciples for carrying HIS GOSPEL to the world in the
year A.D. 27. Precisely 100 time-cycles later, in 1927, He began
my intensive study and training for carrying HIS SAME GOSPEL to
all nations of today's world.

l00 Time-Cycles

It is important that we realize the significance of 100
God set the earth, sun, and moon in their orbits to mark off
divisions of time on the earth. One revolution of the earth is a
day. One revolution of the moon around the earth is a lunar month
(according to God's sacred calendar). One revolution of the earth
around the sun is a solar year. But the earth, the sun, and the
moon come into almost exact conjunction only once in 19 years.
Thus 19 years mark off one complete time-cycle!
Now consider further facts -- whether strange coincidence, or
providential design.
The actual ordination, or completing of the ordination and
enduement of power for sending out the original disciples into
the ministry occurred after 3½ years of intensive instruction and
experience. It was on the Day of Pentecost. And the year was A.D.
Exactly 100 time-cycles later, after 3½ years of intensive
study and training, Christ ordained me to preach this same Gospel
of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness to all nations
(Matt. 24:14). This ordination took place at, or very near, the
Day of Pentecost, 1931.
I do not remember the exact day of the month of this
ordination. No special significance was attached to the date
then. Most of those who participated are now dead. But the date
was June, 1931.
But that is not all! Consider further!

More Amazing Parallels!

Christ started out His original apostles preaching the very
Gospel of the Kingdom which God had sent by Him, and which He had
taught the apostles, in the year A.D. 31. For exactly one 19-year
time-cycle this preaching was confined to the continent where it
started -- Asia. After precisely one l9-year time-cycle, A.D. 50,
Christ opened a door for the Apostle Paul to carry the same
Gospel to EUROPE! This was A.D. 50. Before A.D. 70, Roman armies
besieged Jerusalem. From that time the Roman government stamped
out the organized mass spreading of the Gospel of Christ. Soon a
different gospel was being tolerated, later endorsed and then
enforced by Roman government. It was Roman paganism now being
palmed off under the new name "Christianity."
For nearly 19 centuries the world has been rendered
spiritually drunk on the wine of this counterfeit gospel! As
prophecy foretold, ALL nations have been deceived. But looking
into our time, just before the END of this age (Matt. 24:14),
Jesus foretold that His same original Gospel of the Kingdom of
God was to be preached and published (Mark 13:10) in all the
world as a witness to ALL NATIONS! This was to immediately
TODAY THIS IS BEING DONE! Now consider this amazing
God first opened a door -- that of radio and the printing
press -- for the mass proclaiming of HIS ORIGINAL TRUE GOSPEL the
first week in 1934! The exact date was January 7, 1934. Exactly
one time-cycle later, January 7, 1953, God opened wide the
massive door of the most powerful commercial radio station on
earth, and RADIO LUXEMBOURG began broadcasting Christ's Gospel to
EUROPE and Britain!
What startling coincidences! -- or are they mere coincidences?

My First Extended Campaign

My ordination ended the "dems" and selling of aluminum. The state
Conference employed Mr. Taylor and me as evangelists at salaries
of $20 per week. Remember this was 1931. The country was
undergoing rapid deflation.
Immediately Mr. Taylor and I went to Eugene. The Conference
owned a small tent. With a small platform across the front, we
were able to set up 50 folding chairs -- that is all -- 50!
This tent was pitched on a vacant lot in Eugene on West 10th
Avenue. I rented a room with a small kitchenette on the second
floor of a house across the street, within the same block. Mr.
Taylor and his wife had moved to a small chicken ranch on the
outskirts of Eugene. They had a car. I must have left mine in
Salem. It probably died of old age at that time, or shortly
I do not remember about preliminary advertising, but we must
have had some. I was entirely too advertising-conscious after my
long years in that profession to have started without it.
I opened the first Sunday night's meeting as MC and song
leader. Elder Taylor preached. The tent was full -- 50 people.
On Monday night he opened the song service, and I preached.
Thus we continued for the six weeks, alternating each night.
Services were held six nights a week -- none on Saturday nights.
In Portland I had gained some little experience with
"pentecostal people." I had been somewhat overawed by their
"speaking in tongues," and their glib "testimony." I had not yet
at that time fully understood it. But I had noticed that most of
these people refused to obey God's commandments; almost none had
any real sound understanding of the Bible; they customarily had a
wide knowledge of certain scattered texts -- verses or partial
verses -- which they usually misapplied, entirely out of context,
putting only a meaning of pseudo-spirituality on them. They spoke
in what was supposed to be spiritual-sounding language. They
loved to show off -- to brag, especially about their own
spirituality which usually consisted of sentimentality and
The "brethren" in the Willamette Valley had been decidedly
antagonistic toward "tongues" speaking and "pentecostalism" in
general. Elder Taylor had also appeared to be opposed to it.
But a couple families of "pentecostal" people began
attending our tent meetings in Eugene. Soon I noticed that Mr.
Taylor was especially friendly to them. He welcomed, and
gradually began to encourage their loud "amens" and "hallelujahs"
and "Praise the Lord" expressions during his preaching.
But, for the first few weeks I thought little of it.

Sole "Fruit" Borne

This was my first ministerial experience teaming with another
man. Jesus sent His disciples out two and two together. The
teaming of two ministers together certainly has Biblical
precedence and approval. But if God refuses to use either member
of the team, no spiritual results can be produced by the team.
This lesson I was to learn.
I was surprised, somewhat incredulous, somewhat discouraged,
as our meetings wore on, to notice that no "fruit" was being
borne. I could not understand it.
Then one night the lone exception occurred.
It was an exceedingly stormy night. Mr. Taylor and I went
over to our tent to loosen slightly the ropes, so the shrinkage
from soaking would not up-stake them, and also to drive down the
stakes more securely. It was a nasty night. We did not expect
anyone to come. While we were there, one couple who had attended
regularly drove up in the storm. I had noticed this couple. I had
felt sorry for them. I supposed they were very poor people -- why,
I didn't know, except that he was as far from being handsome as
Abraham Lincoln had been, and she had no "beauty" of the worldly
sort. Later I was to be much surprised to find that they were
very successful and prosperous, though thrifty, farmers -- leaders
in their community.
I had not, up to this stormy evening, become acquainted with
them further than shaking hands with them at the tent entrance.
No one else came that night. No service could have been held
in the tent.
"It would simply be a dirty shame for you to have come all
the way into town on such a terrible night, and then be deprived
of a service," I said sympathetically. "Why not come on over to
my room, and we can at least have a Bible study together?"
"That would be splendid," smiled Mrs. Fisher. I had never
known their names before.
"Well count me out," answered Mr. Taylor. "It's too stormy
to stay around here. I'm going home."
This was my first shock of disappointment in Mr. Taylor. He
had been my "ideal" as a minister. But one incident like this
could not cause me to lose confidence in him.
Over in my room, Mrs. Fisher said:
"I wonder if you would mind giving us a Bible study on the
question of which day is the Sabbath of the New Testament. My
husband believes the only Bible Sabbath is Saturday. But it never
seemed possible to me that all these churches could be wrong. I'd
like to have you explain just what the Word of GOD says."
"Why," I replied in some surprise, "that is exactly the way
I felt when my wife began keeping the Sabbath. That is the very
thing that started me studying the Bible -- to prove that 'all
these churches can't be wrong.' I'll be very happy to open the
Bible and show you what I was forced to see for myself. This is
the very question that resulted in my conversion."
After my opening up the Scriptures, and having Mrs. Fisher
read them for herself -- and after answering her rather sharp
questions later, and explaining some vague passages she brought
up, she smiled and said:
"I thank you, Brudder Armstrong" -- she was Swedish, and
talked just a trifle brokenly, "it is all clear now. My husband
and I will keep the Sabbath together from now on."
And that was the sum total of the tangible results produced
by this entire six weeks' campaign!
But God was to use Mr. Elmer Fisher, and Mrs. Margaret
Fisher, in a most important way in raising up this very work
which now thunders the true Gospel of Christ worldwide, into
every continent on earth! You will read much of them, later!

Suspicious Incidents

As our tent campaign progressed, a few little incidents began
more and more to disturb me in regard to "Brother Taylor."
I began to notice that he was becoming much more "chummy"
with the two "pentecostal" families than others who were
attending. Finally he asked me to attend an all-night "tarry
meeting" they were going to have out at his place following our
evening meeting.
"You need a deeper spiritual experience," he said to me.
"You need to pray, and agonize, and 'tarry' until you receive
your 'baptism of the Holy Ghost'," he said.
"Brother Taylor," I answered, "I know I need a deeper
spiritual experience. I do want a still closer fellowship and
contact with God. But I prefer to seek it the way Jesus attained
it -- by going out to a solitary place -- perhaps up on a
mountain -- or, at least as Jesus commanded, to enter into 'a
closet' or small room, alone with God, and pray."
I shall never forget his astonishing answer.
"You'll never get your 'baptism' that way, brother!" he said
sharply, with emphasis.
I was shocked -- and disappointed.
"I'm sorry," I replied firmly. "But if this 'baptism' is
something I can't get the way Jesus taught and commanded -- if it
is something I have to get from men and cannot receive from God
while alone with Him, then it is something I do not want!"
Prior to this, Mr. Taylor had come to me and said:
"Brother Armstrong, our people" -- referring to the "brethren"
of the Oregon Conference -- "are not spiritual enough. We need to
seek a closer walk with God." To this I had agreed.
Now it began to dawn on me that Mr. Taylor was, little by
little, attempting to lead the church into the very thing he had
told them, in his sermons, he was "against" -- this "wild-fire
pentecostalism." When he had first heard that the brethren were
"against" it, he assured them he was also against it. But now, by
careful and adroit methods, he was gradually beginning to try to
introduce this very thing.
Was he, himself, just beginning to believe he had been
wrong? Had he been honest and sincere? Was he now honest in
claiming God was opening his eyes to see that we were not
"spiritual" enough?
"Why, didn't you know?" later exclaimed a man who had known
Mr. Taylor much longer than we had, "Taylor has always been
'pentecostal.' He just pretended he wasn't, in order to get in
with the church."
But from the moment I turned down his "tarry meeting"
invitation, his attitude toward me became coldly courteous, and I
sensed repressed hostility.

Correcting a Member

During this tent campaign in Eugene, we attended Sabbath services
with brethren at the church building in Harrisburg. One elderly
"brother" whose name was "Rough" as nearly as I remember
(pronounced "Row") had been, in his deep sincerity and zeal for a
certain contention, stirring up a "row" at nearly every service.
He lived out east of Eugene on the Mackenzie Highway.
He contended the church was in error on one scripture. He
could shout his antagonism like a lion's roar. The brethren
wanted Mr. Taylor and me to visit him and see if we could not
change his mind or at least quiet him.
I had just read, some time previous, an article in the old
American Magazine on "how to win an argument." The idea was to
make your opponent first state his case fully. Ask him questions.
Make him state every detail. Exhaust him, till he has nothing
more to say. Just listen -- do not reply to any of his
arguments -- until you have made him state them all. Then summarize
his entire position briefly, showing you fully understand his
argument. State it even more clearly than he did, if possible.
Then AGREE with him on those points where you find you
actually are in agreement. Then, finally, tear apart his
remaining arguments, disproving them -- leaving him without
anything to come back with.
We decided to use this method. In our morning session,
before noon dinner, we just listened to his reasons. We asked
questions, but gave no answers. We drew him out exhaustively.
Mrs. Rough had prepared a delicious chicken dinner. I think
this was my first experience with the custom of serving chicken
when the minister is the guest. I never understood the reason for
it. But I was to eat a great deal of chicken from that time on.
After dinner, we questioned old Brother Rough some more,
until he simply had to drift into silence for want of anything
more to say.
Then we summarized his arguments, and got him to agree we
thoroughly understood his reasons -- which he had always claimed
the church was not willing to understand. Next we agreed on
certain points.
But, finally, we riddled his whole conclusion by scriptures
he had not considered, which totally reversed his whole argument.
It left him without any answer or comeback. The "lion's roar" had
been reduced to "a kitten's meow." There were no more explosive
eruptions from that time on to disturb "Sabbath-School" or church
services -- and he remained friendly.

Building a Church

As our campaign neared its close, Mr. Taylor was promoting with
the church brethren the idea of building a church building in
Eugene. Actually, there were no members in Eugene. Some lived a
few miles north, but most of them lived north of Junction City or
Harrisburg -- although two families lived out east of Eugene on the
Mackenzie Highway.
The Eugene campaign added only the Fishers, and, I believe,
one other man who continued only for a while.
It was planned that I was to leave Eugene and put on a
campaign up in St. Helens, Oregon, 25 miles north of Portland,
with a minister by the name of Roy Dailey, who had just returned
from Stanberry or points in the Middle West. The Conference had
just employed him. There were now three of us on the payroll at
$20 per week. At this rate the Conference treasury was soon going
to be empty.
But Elder Taylor was to remain at Eugene, superintending the
new building. Many events were to take place in that little
church building.

Chapter 25
Evangelistic Campaigns in Full Swing

MY FIRST full-length evangelistic campaign with Elder Robert L.
Taylor in Eugene, Oregon, came to its almost fruitless end. Mr.
and Mrs. Elmer E. Fisher, who lived seven miles west of Eugene,
were the only ones added to the church by this campaign. And they
had been brought in by a private Bible study in my room -- not in a
preaching service.
Mr. Taylor had induced the Oregon Conference members to
build a church building in Eugene. He felt sure he could build up
a good congregation there.
It turned out that Mr. Taylor had, for some little time
previous to our campaign, been in the retail lumber business in
Eugene. He had apparently failed, and salvaged out of it only a
small amount of lumber. This lumber, although not enough to build
it, was put into the new little church building. The money for
the remaining lumber, and all other expenses, were contributed by
the church members. The members purchased a 50-foot lot just
outside city limits on West 8th Street.
However, because of the lumber he donated, Mr. Taylor
managed to have the entire property deeded in his name
personally. Before leaving Eugene I attended one service in the
new church building. It was entirely unfinished. The siding had
not been put on the outside. Slabs of plaster wallboard had been
nailed up on inside walls, but the cracks had not been filled in,
nor had it been painted. Folding chairs were brought in for
seats. A small speaker's stand substituted for a pulpit.
Actually, that was as far as Mr. Taylor was to proceed in
finishing the church.

The St. Helens "Campaign"

The officers of the Conference decided to team me up with Mr.
Dailey, since Mr. Taylor was staying on in Eugene to try to build
up a congregation for the new church building, still to be
completed. Actually, he never added a single member.
We were assigned to go to St. Helens, Oregon, 25 miles north
of Portland, on the west bank of the Columbia River. In West St.
Helens, sometimes called "Houlton," lived a very zealous member
of the church, Mrs. Mary Tompkins. She was filled with zeal and a
spirit of love -- although we were to learn that she had more love
and zeal than wisdom. Mary Tompkins was a "worker." She
"witnessed for Christ" in a most active way. She had for a long
time pleaded with the Conference to send evangelists for a
campaign in St. Helens. She assured them there was a tremendous
"interest" there. So the Conference sent us.
Arriving in St. Helens, we first sought out a hall for
meetings and rented a second-floor hall. I do not remember
whether it was the old K.P. Hall or the old Masonic Hall.
Whichever lodge, it had built a new one. However this old hall
was reasonably attractive, and appeared quite desirable.
Next we went directly to the newspaper and placed a
half-page advertisement, ordering a few thousand reprints to be
distributed as circulars.
Then while we awaited the first Sunday night service, I
spent some three or four days going from house to house, inviting
people personally to come, and leaving a circular. I was
surprised at two things. Practically everybody I invited, except
those Mary Tompkins had talked to, promised to attend. Elder
Dailey and I saw visions of having to hang out the SRO (Standing
Room Only) sign. But I was even more surprised to find, at the
many homes where Mrs. Tompkins had visited, that the people were
hostile, and regarded this dear, well-meaning lady as a pest.
Sunday night came. But the expected crowds did not! To our
utter dismay, not a soul showed up!
We couldn't understand it. On Monday, I went to the
newspaper office to see if they had an explanation. They had.
"Of course nobody came," the man grinned. "That hall has
been condemned as a fire-trap. Everybody knew that but you."
"And you took our half-page ad, and our money -- and also our
money for all those reprints, and didn't tell us a word!" I
He only grinned.
I felt he really needed some of our fiery gospel preaching!
But we didn't give up immediately. We returned to the hall
on Monday night. One couple came. I then heard something I had
never heard before in my life. Mr. Dailey mounted the platform,
walked behind the pulpit, and preached an entire sermon. And I
mean "preached"! His style had a bit of the old
"preachy-tone" -- and he preached, full volume, just as if the hall
were packed with people. And to only two people! That was a new
experience for me!
"Well, we know now," Mr. Dailey said as we went back to our
room after this 'meeting,' "that we are not going to have a crowd
here. But I know a place where we can draw a crowd -- over in
Umapine. It's in eastern Oregon, near Walla Walla, Washington. I
have visited one of our members there, Bennie Preston. We can
stay at his house and save room rent, and we can draw enough
people there to make it worth while."
Next morning, early, he started out in his car for
Jefferson, Oregon, to get permission from the Conference Board
for this switch to Umapine, and a little additional expense
On Tuesday night, left in St. Helens alone, I went again to
the hall. Two couples of young people came. I did not preach.
Instead I sat down with them and had an informal Bible study,
letting them ask questions, and answering them.
On our long trek in Mr. Dailey's car over to Umapine, we
exchanged views on a lot of things. I was especially puzzled over
the matter of church organization. Not yet having come to see and
understand the plain and clear Bible teaching, I had gone along
with the Oregon Conference in its idea of government by the lay
members. In this Conference the governing board was composed
solely of lay members. They hired and fired the ministers.
"If we were to have the ideal organization," opined Mr.
Dailey, "all the officers would be ministers -- not laymen." This
sounded strange to me at the time. But the question of church
organization and government was to keep coming up in my mind for
years, before it was finally to become clear. Remember, I still
was driven by the persistent question: "WHERE is the one true
Church -- the same one Jesus founded?" This Church of God, with
national headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri, seemed to be closer
to the understanding of Bible truth than any -- yet I was unable to
reconcile myself that such a small, and especially such a
fruitless church, could be that dynamic fruit-bearing spiritual
organism in which, and through which CHRIST was working. Surely
the instrument Christ was using would be more alive -- more
productive! Yet I had not found it!

The Meeting at Umapine

We were welcomed by Bennie Preston and his wife, and given a room
where Roy Dailey and I slept in the same bed. We quickly rented a
hall on the main street, ground floor.
Here, as Mr. Dailey had promised, results were different. We
certainly did not have a crowd of thousands, but attendance, as I
remember, ran between 35 and 50 which, at the time, we considered
satisfactory. We had no local church to swell attendance. We were
unknown, locally. None of the factors that produce great crowds
was present.
One little event I shall never forget. Bennie Preston raised
some sheep. He decided to butcher one for us. He had impressed me
as a man filled with true Christian love.
"I should hate to kill this tame, loving little sheep," he
said, "if it were not true that God created sheep to produce wool
and meat for man. That is their only purpose in existence. Man
has a different and far greater purpose -- to become sons of God."
Still, Mr. Preston loved that helpless little sheep, now
about to give its life for food for us. He led it to a spot in
his backyard. He lovingly caressed it first. Then he hit it a
hard, stunning blow on top of the head with the sharp edge of a
small sledge hammer, and quickly slit its throat to drain out the
blood. The sheep suffered no pain. The sharp, quick blow rendered
it instantly unconscious.

We Separate

After about two weeks of our Umapine meetings, a letter from Mrs.
Florence Curtis, secretary of the State Conference, informed us
that a business meeting of the board had been called for only two
or three days after our receipt of the letter.
"I know what this meeting is all about," said Mr. Dailey.
"It means the conference treasury is running out of funds. They
are going to have to lay off at least two of us three ministers.
If we don't go back there and protect our interests, at this
meeting, they will be sure to let you and me out, and keep Elder
Taylor on. We're going to start back to the Willamette Valley at
5:30 tomorrow morning."
"But Roy," I protested, "we are only halfway through our
meetings here!"
"Aw, we won't accomplish anything by staying here."
"Whatever we accomplish is in God's hands," I replied. "We
are merely His instruments. God has sent us here to preach His
Gospel. We have people coming. The interest is increasing, and so
is the attendance. I'm going to let God protect my personal
interests at that Conference Board meeting, Roy; but I'm going to
stay right on the job where He has put me, and continue those
Elder Dailey was now becoming a little nettled and disgusted
with me.
"I told you I'm starting for the valley at 5:30 in the
morning," he returned. "If you don't go with me, you'll force the
Conference to have to pay your bus fare to get you back home.
They won't like that."
But I was just as firm as he.
"Regardless of what the men on the Board like, I know GOD
would not like it if I desert, while I'm here on duty. To me it
would be like deserting an army, and running away, in the thick
of battle in a war. This is God's battle. He put me here, and I
am staying right here on the spiritual firing line until the
campaign is over!"
Why must men always consider only their own personal
interests -- and cater to what men will like?
I know Mr. Dailey thought I was wrong. He sincerely believed
I was wrong most of the time from then on. But to me it was a
matter of duty, and a matter of principle, and a matter of
obeying God.
At precisely 5:30 next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Preston and I
bade Elder Dailey goodbye, and he started alone, giving me final
warning that "the brethren" were not going to like my remaining
behind and costing them extra bus fare to get home.
As it turned out, the special business meeting was called
off, and Mr. Dailey had raced back to the Valley for naught. But
later, just as he anticipated, both he and I were laid off and
Elder Taylor kept on -- but not until after I had returned from
completing the campaign.

Left Alone-Fruit Borne

I continued the meetings alone.
Interest continued to pick up at the meetings in the hall.
Results were not great -- but there were results! Details are
rather hazy in memory, now. I am not sure whether Mrs. Preston
had already been converted and baptized, or whether she was
converted by these meetings.
In any event, we had a total of five by the close of the
meetings. There were three or four to be baptized. I learned that
a son of our Conference president, the elderly G. A. Hobbs, was a
local elder in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I went to this
younger Mr. Hobbs, and through him arranged for the use of the
baptistry in the church.
Before leaving, I organized the five members into a local
Sabbath school, to meet at the home of Bennie Preston, appointing
Mr. Preston as superintendent and teacher. This should have
grown. But there was no minister to feed the flock and protect it
from "wolves in sheep's clothing." Bennie Preston was a
substantial and upright man, but he lacked the leadership and
qualifications of a minister.
This tiny flock endured for a while. But some little time
later, Mrs. Preston died. I am not sure whether this was the
cause of the disintegration of the little Sabbath school, but Mr.
Preston was hit a demoralizing blow by her death. Some years
later he moved to the Willamette Valley. He had remarried by
This Umapine experience was one more in which no fruit could
be borne as long as I teamed with one of the ministers of this
church, connected with, or springing from the Stanberry,
Missouri, political center.
Years later, still in my search for the one true church,
still questioning whether this could be that church, still not
having found it elsewhere, I asked Mrs. Runcorn (whom Mrs.
Armstrong and I looked upon as our "spiritual mother") if she
could point out a single real bonafide convert, brought in from
the outside, resulting from the ministry of any of the preachers
affiliated with "Stanberry." She thought seriously for quite a
while. Then she slowly shook her head. She knew of none. I asked
several others who had been in the church for years. Their
answers were the same.
My first evangelistic effort was conducted alone, at the end
of 1930, in Harrisburg. There were conversions. In 1931 I was
teamed with Elder Taylor, who had arrived from California. There
were no results, except for the night it stormed the meeting out,
and in a private Bible study in my room Mrs. Elmer Fisher had
accepted the truth. I was teamed with Elder Roy Dailey. There
were no results. He left Umapine. I continued alone, and there
were conversions. Results then were small -- indeed it was a small
beginning, compared to the mounting worldwide harvest of
today -- but God was using me, and producing "fruit."
I have always noted, in my years of experience since, that
if even one member of a two-man team is not a true instrument of
God, there will be none of the kind of "fruit" borne which is
produced only by GOD through human instruments. This very
undeviating method of God, verified by experience, is the source
of great inspiration and encouragement today. For in God's Church
today, without exception, every minister or team of ministers is
used of God, and God really does things through them! "By their
fruits ye shall know them," said Jesus.

A Thrill and a Jolt

I remember distinctly the all night bus ride back to the Valley
from Eastern Oregon. Arriving home, on East State Street in
Salem, I learned that the State Conference board had run low on
funds, and, unable to continue paying three salaries each of $20
per week in the descending depths of the great depression, had
decided to retain Mr. Taylor, and release Elder Dailey and me
until funds revived.
Also, a few days after arriving home, happy over "success"
in the campaign, this sense of elation was rudely jolted by a
stern letter from old Mr. Hobbs. He had heard from his son. He
wanted to know what a young whipper snapper like me meant, using
the prestige of his name with his son, and baptizing people in
Umapine without "authority," or special consent from the Board?
Shortly following the first evangelistic experience at
Harrisburg, Mr. Hobbs had sternly called me on the carpet, asking
me what authority I had for baptizing those converted in the
meetings. I had answered that I had GOD'S authority -- that of
Matthew 28:19 -- where those who do the "teaching" resulting in
conversions are commanded to baptize those taught. This rather
stumped him, at the time.
But elderly Mr. G. A. Hobbs was a stern, fiery little old
man -- a stickler for proper form and system, and proper
"authority" for everything. He had been an Adventist since a
young man -- probably beginning somewhere around 1870, or perhaps
earlier. Adventists during those earlier years were very strict,
legalistic, and exacting. Mr. Hobbs had left the Adventists
rather late in life when he saw clearly, in the Bible, that the
Millennium will be spent on earth and not in heaven. But he
retained his strict disciplinary teaching to his death.
But if old Mr. Hobbs was one of my strictest and sternest
critics, he was also one of my staunches supporters to the day of
his death. He defended me against other critics with the same
fiery zeal with which he criticized me to my face. His sharp
criticism for baptizing the converts God gave me at Umapine, plus
the sudden, though not unexpected loss of salary, did dull
somewhat the spirit of rejoicing over the results God granted at
But having my salary cut off caused no worry. By this time I
had learned to trust God. Already we had experienced many
miraculous answers to prayer. I knew God has promised to supply
all our need, "according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus"
(Phil. 4:19).
So, in perfect faith, I prayed and told God of our need, and
asked Him to supply it, and use me wherever He willed.
But I had not yet learned that everything that happens is
not, necessarily, from God. I had not learned to "try the
spirits, whether they are of GOD" (I John 4:1). While this
scripture is speaking of spirits -- angels or demons -- yet we must
learn also to test experiences, and happenings, whether they be
of GOD.
It was now late November.

Back Into Advertising!

In serene confidence, I was expectantly awaiting God's answer to
supply our financial need. Not more than two or three days later,
my former newspaper associate, Samuel T. Hopkins, who had been
Business Manager of the Vancouver Evening Columbian, appeared at
our door.
He had left the Columbian, and now was Editor and Manager of
a new morning newspaper in Astoria, Oregon, the Morning
Messenger. He and two Astoria associates, a physician, and the
superintendent of a salmon cannery, had started a new newspaper
in Astoria. But they were in deep trouble. They had started a
brand-new daily newspaper in the depths of the national
depression, and without adequate capital.
"Herb, you've just got to come out to Astoria and help us,"
pleaded Sam Hopkins. "You are the only man I know with the
specialized advertising and selling experience who can put this
thing over for us. I know you can do it. Right now I'm not even
in position to guarantee you any regular cash salary. Actually
I'm depending on you to get in the business to make even your own
salary possible. But once we put this over, we'll give you a
large chunk of the stock in the company -- anything, if only you'll
come on out to Astoria and inject the life we need into this
paper. I want you to come as Advertising Manager. We'll set your
salary at $25 a week at the start, and hope we can pay it. But as
we get the paper on its feet, the sky's the limit. You'll have a
big salary, and a large chunk of stock."
"But Sam," I answered, "I'm in the ministry now. I can't go
back into the newspaper business."
He would not give up. He kept pleading. It was a matter of
life and death to him. I began to think of how I had prayed for
God to supply our new financial need. In my inexperience, this
did seem to be the answer. I did not then realize this was not
GOD'S answer. This was not GOD'S WAY of answering.
I did realize that I could not accept this job as a
permanent thing. I knew I had been called to the ministry. I had
been ordained. I had been successful in a small way. Everything I
had ever touched in business, since age 30 in Chicago, had turned
to nothing. But in the ministry, everything I did was, in the
small way of a small beginning, successful. Yet, this did appear
to me, in my inexperience, to be God's answer to my prayer. Since
I could not go back into the advertising business, and leave the
ministry, permanently, I reasoned this solution:
"Tell you what I might do," I finally said to Mr. Hopkins.
"I know I have been called to the ministry. I've been ordained.
But my salary is temporarily cut off. It seems to me this is
God's answer as a temporary fill-in for our financial need. I'll
come on out to Astoria just for one month only. Then I'll have to
return here."
How many times, since, have I quoted the scriptures: "Lean
not unto thine own understanding," and "There is a way that
seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of
death." Human reason is usually faulty. But this did seem like
the right decision. I was to pay a high price over the next 15
months to learn that lesson.
I was to have to learn two basic requirements of God, before
He can use one for an important commission in His great Master
Plan working out His Purpose here below: 1) Not only must God's
instrument "preach THE WORD faithfully," but having been plunged
by Christ into God's Work, he must never turn back (Luke 9:62).
And 2) he must rely on GOD, and not man, for his NEED -- in, not
out of God's Work. The REAL WORK started only after I learned
these lessons!
How I found myself caught in a trap of unforeseen
circumstance, forced to break all precedent in methods of selling
advertising space; and how, after 15 long and almost sleepless
months I finally got back into the ministry, is related in the
next chapter.

Chapter 26
Caught in Newspaper Business Trap

GETTING back into the newspaper business was a tragic mistake. A
too dear price now had to be paid to learn an important lesson:
when God once truly calls a man into His ministry, he must "keep
at it, in season and out of season" (II Tim. 4:2).
And if he attempts, like Jonah, to run away from the
mission, God will first teach him a stern lesson and then yank
him back to perform what God called him to perform!
Arriving in Astoria, I made a disillusioning discovery.
Immediately I made preliminary get-acquainted calls on the
leading merchants. It was then, for the first time, that I
learned the true state of affairs. It was far worse than Mr.
Hopkins had told me. Every merchant told me our situation was
hopeless. We faced a predicament unprecedented, as far as I know,
in the newspaper business.

Caught in a Trap

It called for desperate and unprecedented measures for solution.
And before I realized it, I was caught in a trap of circumstances
from which I was unable to extricate myself for fifteen months.
This was the unheard-of situation: Only months before, the
opposition newspaper had purchased the old established morning
paper, The Astorian, for $50,000. But the opposition publisher
had also signed up all local stores which advertised on five-year
contracts in which they agreed not to advertise in any other
Astoria English-language paper. (There was, in Astoria, a Finnish
language daily paper not harmed by the contracts.)
Apparently this publisher and the merchants had assumed the
rather general concept of those in smaller cities, viewing
advertising in terms of obligatory "support" of the newspaper,
rather than as an effective means of selling goods, lowering
costs, and increasing profits. This publisher offered to save the
merchants from having to "support" two newspapers by buying out
and thus eliminating his competitor -- provided the merchants would
sign up on these five-year contracts. Every store in town which
was a regular advertiser, with the single exception of the J. C.
Penney store, had signed.
"But," I protested, "that kind of contract is illegal! It is
in restraint of trade!"
"We know that," came the answer, "but there is more to it
than mere legality. You just don't know your opposition
publisher. Maybe you don't realize what he could do to us in
retaliation, if we broke our contracts. He could print things
harmful to us, slanting the news so as to reflect against us, or
assassinate our character right on the front page. I for one am
afraid to try to break my agreement -- and I think the other
merchants are as afraid as I am. We just won't take this chance!"
A few days later I learned what he meant. Our news editor
handed me a clipping from the teletype. It was a dispatch from
Oregon City, Oregon, reporting an automobile accident involving
one of Astoria's leading merchants. It exposed also the fact he
was having a clandestine "affair" with an attractive woman, who
was with him in his car. The press service had sent it along as a
nice "juicy scandal" for Astoria papers.
But The Messenger did not print it. Neither did the
opposition. I took the teletype strip personally to the merchant
involved. His face reddened.
"Thanks!" he exclaimed in extreme embarrassment. "Man! This
could have ruined me if you had printed it! It would have broken
up my home, and ruined my business. You see, Mr. Armstrong, this
sort of thing is the reason none of the merchants dares try to
break his contract with your competitor by advertising with you."
Yes, I understood, now, only too well!
Our plight was utterly frustrating. Our newspaper was new.
The opposition paper was old, well established. The evening paper
had the dominant circulation. It was well financed. The morning
Messenger, on the other hand, did not have the capital to do
those things necessary to build a better paper, or, for that
matter, even to keep it on its wobbly feet. And every retail
advertiser in town, save one, actually by agreement and by fear
was prohibited from advertising with us.

It Means Something to YOU!

I am going to relate what was done in this predicament, because
the experience has a direct connection with the lives of all my
You probably shall never run into this specific kind of
problem. But nearly all people do, more than once in a lifetime,
find themselves in some frustrating, apparently hopeless trouble.
One of the seven basic laws of success in life is
resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is the ability and determination
to find a way to solve every problem, trouble or obstacle. It
accepts and acts on the old adage: "where there's a will, there's
a way!" Another of the seven principles of success is endurance.
Nine out of ten who have every other ingredient for success
finally give up and quit, when just a little more
"stick-to-it-iveness" mixed with resourcefulness would have
turned apparent hopeless defeat into glorious success. Of course
there is a time to get out and leave whatever you are in: if it
is wrong, or if it really is totally dead. But usually it only
appears dead.
The seventh and most important rule of success is contact
with God, and the guidance, wisdom, and help that can be received
from Him.
In this desperate situation, I did invoke these three
recourses. I do believe I had made a costly mistake in supposing
this call to the newspaper business in Astoria came from God.
Yet, once in it, I did call on God for guidance and help. And a
way was found to break those five-year contracts, and fill our
newspaper with advertising! I think the account of how it was
done may be interesting, informative, and -- if you will apply the
principles to your own problems -- helpful.

"Inside Facts" About Advertising

This unprecedented situation, I knew, called for a totally
unprecedented solution. Most people are absolutely bound by
precedent. They are slaves of habit. They are conformists. They
must do just what society does -- the way society does it. I have
never been afraid to break precedent, or to go counter to
established procedures, if such action is both right and
Advertising space in newspapers and magazines had always
been sold on the basis of a certain price per column inch, or per
page. The rate is set according to volume and class of
circulation, being influenced also by competition and general
So now let me give you a few "inside facts" not known by
most of the general public. Full-page advertising space in large
mass-circulation magazines costs tens of thousands of dollars.
"Do you mean for just one time?" many will ask
Yes, for one page in just one issue. But that is not
expensive. It is, actually, one of the least costly ways to get a
message to people!
The magazine may have a circulation of one million copies,
often actually read by two or three million people! Now suppose
you try to get just a very brief message to one million homes by
inexpensive post cards. You would have to pay not only the costly
postage but also for the blank cards. You probably never realized
that before. Then figure what you would pay to have your message
printed one million times on a million cards. Add the cost of
hiring enough people to write names and addresses of one million
people on the cards. I think you will decide it would be much
less costly to pay for a whole page of space, as large as a news
magazine-sized page, which includes the cost of the paper, of the
printing, of the postage for mailing, and of the stamping on of
the names and addresses. And, more than this, in every home where
your message is received, the recipient asked for the magazine to
come, and (except for The Plain Truth) actually paid to receive
it. If you were to spend money to print and mail out a million
post cards, they would be uninvited, and probably unwanted in
most homes.
So you see, magazine and newspaper advertising is not
You probably have heard that advertising forces up the price
of a commodity or service to the consumer. Many people believe
that if they can purchase a non-advertised brand they save money.
They suppose the merchant or manufacturer who advertises must add
the cost of the advertising to the price.

Do You Pay More for Advertised Goods?

Let me tell you the true "inside facts" -- The Plain Truth about
this supposition. Truly, people as a whole are DECEIVED today,
not only about God's truth, but even facts about business.
Actually, if the advertising is intelligently and
effectively used, it reduces the price to the consumer! I think
it may be interesting to you to know how it works:
Suppose a certain comparatively small store sells $100,000
worth of men's clothing and haberdashery in one year. This store
spent nothing for advertising. But it did pay, shall we say,
$70,000 for the merchandise to the manufacturers. And it also had
to pay, shall we say, $15,000 for clerk hire, and $10,000 for
store rent, heat, light, water, wrapping paper -- all other
expenses. So you see that for every dollar of goods bought by a
customer, the merchant had to pay, over and above the cost of the
merchandise, 25 cents which is 25% as a cost of doing business. He had
5 cents -- or 5% of sales -- left for himself. This merchant, then,
based on sales price, had a cost of 70% for merchandise, and 25% as
cost of doing business, with 5% profit for all his own time, hard
work, worry, and return on his capital investment.
Now suppose this merchant tries advertising the next year.
This is, approximately, what did happen in a similar interesting
case in Astoria, as I shall relate. I am assuming this merchant's
advertising is effective.
So the following year this merchant spends $4,500 in
advertising. It is effective, and brings in new customers. This
year his sales increased to $150,000. But because in the
preceding year his salesmen did not have enough customers to keep
them busy, he does not need to hire additional clerks. He still
pays the same rent, public utilities, and similar expenses -- a
total of $25,000, the same as the year before.
But here is the big difference. That $25,000 was a 25% cost
of doing business the year he sold $100,000 worth of goods. But
now, with sales of $150,000, it is only 16 2/3%. But he did have
one increase in business expense -- his $4,500 advertising. But
even so, his $29,500 cost of doing business is only 19 2/3%. This
merchant passes this saving in total cost of his business
expense, per dollar of sales, to his customers, still taking for
himself the same 5% of sales for profit.

Lowering Prices

Now see where this leaves the customers, and what it makes for
the merchant. You may think the customers were the only ones who
benefitted, since the merchant still took only 5% profit. But the
merchant actually made half again more for himself -- because his
5% profit now is taken from $150,000 sales, instead of $100,000.
So the merchant did all right for himself! He made $7,500 this
year instead of only $5,000. But what about prices to the
customers? The same item -- or number of items -- that sold for $100
the nonadvertising year are now priced at only $92.92. It is
simple to figure. The merchant still paid $70 for this amount of
merchandise. But his business expense now was only 19 2/3%, and
profit 5% -- total 24 2/3% instead of 30% the year before. This is
$24.67 in expenses per $100 in sales. Add the $70 wholesale price
to this $24.67, and the new sale price is $94.67, a savings of
over $5 to the customer.
So what actually happened? The merchant saved his customers
more than 5 cents on the dollar -- or $5.33 on each $100 of
purchases. So his advertising reduced the cost of goods to the
customer! At the same time, this merchant made $7,500 for his own
year's work, which was $2,500 more than he made the year before
he advertised.
You might ask, didn't the advertising cost anything? Of
course. It cost $4,500 -- or 3% of his year's sales. Then HOW did
it save the customers money, and make more money for the
merchant? The answer is that it does cost money to run a store.
It does cost money for us who are customers to have a merchant
take all of his time, and all of his salesmen's time, to gather
in merchandise from New York, from Chicago, from London, from Los
Angeles, and assemble it all in one store for the convenience of
us customers. But could we go to the clothing manufacturer in New
York, the shirt manufacturer in Utica, New York, and the shoe
manufacturer in Boston or St. Louis to buy our goods, without
spending money over and above the factory cost? Of course not.
And if we all did this individually, the manufacturer would have
to charge us more, because it would add to his expenses to have
to deal with so many people. When the factory sells enough suits,
or shoes, or hats for 200 people, or 500 people or more to just
one store, he can sell for much less than he could by making 500
different transactions with 500 individual customers. So actually
the local merchant renders us a pretty valuable service, far
cheaper than we could do it ourselves.
In so doing, he has a cost of doing business. And, as the
experience of thousands and thousands of retail stores shows,
that cost is reduced by spending about 3% or 4% in advertising,
because then he spends less, per dollar of sales, on such other
expenses as rent, salaries, public utilities, etc. His total
expenses of operating his store are less, per dollar of sales.
That is how it works. Why your local merchants do not use a
little of their advertising to just explain these simple but
interesting facts to their public, I do not know. But I have
spent years of my life as an advertising and merchandising
specialist, and I thought that these facts about the price you
pay for goods you buy every day -- whether at the grocery store,
the clothing store, the dry-goods store, or wherever, might prove
interesting. You come in direct contact with this very
merchandising operation at least every week of your life.
Now let me relate to you the rather exciting story of an
experience with one store in Astoria.

Breaking All Precedent

There were four retail clothing (men's) stores in Astoria. Three
advertised, and were signed up on these five-year contracts. The
second largest, Krohn & Carson, had never spent its first dime in
advertising. I checked financial ratings in Dunn & Bradstreet.
Krohn & Carson had the highest financial rating of the four.
So I went immediately to Krohn & Carson. I found them as
firmly set against advertising as a 50-foot-thick stone wall.
Apparently it was even more impossible to crack their stone-wall
resistance against advertising than to break these five-year
contracts. Yet I did have a will, and I did find a way!
I mentioned above that newspaper and magazine advertising
has always been sold by the column inch or by the page. The
Messenger rate was 25 cents per inch. The larger evening paper charged
50 cents per inch. But now I deliberately shattered all precedent
in newspaper advertising practice.
I proposed an entirely new, completely revolutionary plan to
Krohn & Carson. I explained to them what I have explained to you,
above, how effective advertising works. The clothing stores in
Astoria were each selling only about 40% as much merchandise as
they had sold before the depression.
"But," I explained, "for every $100 that men used to spend
in these four stores, they still spend $40. Now if we can show
Astoria men and their wives that you can save them money in this
depression, a larger portion of that $40 will come to you. I can
show you how you can still double your business, and your own
profits, and at the same time save your customers money by
lowering prices!"
It sounded fantastic, preposterous! But it cost them nothing
to listen to my plan.
"First," I proposed, "you will put on a big price-reducing
sale. Your shelves are loaded with goods that are not moving.
Retail success depends more on turnover -- keeping your goods
moving -- than on big margins of profit. You have capital tied up
in all these goods. Put on a sale. Sell it for less money -- get
your money back out of the merchandise, plus a small margin to
cover business expenses -- reinvest that money in more goods -- keep
it moving. Better make 12 profits a year of only 1 cent on a
dollar of sales, than a 10 cent profit once in two years. This
way you take 12% on your investment. The way you are doing now
you make only 5 cents per dollar.
"Now, here is how we will make this sale a success, and
double your business. Harvard Bureau of Business Research figures
show that the retail clothing stores which spend 4% of sales in
advertising have the lowest cost of doing business, and the
highest turnover. To spend less than 4% in advertising means to
spend higher percentages in salaries, rent, utilities, and other
expenses. To spend more than 4% does not bring enough additional
increase in sales to pay. So this is what I propose. It is a new
plan. It is unheard of in newspaper advertising! You pay us just
3% of your sales. That is one fourth less spent on advertising
than most successful stores spend. Then we will give you
absolutely unlimited space in The Messenger. I will give you my
own personal service in writing all your advertising. Your
competitors cannot afford to bring specially trained professional
advertising writers to Astoria -- and they do not know how to write
ads that can compete with what I will write for you.
"We will start out with four full pages, announcing this
sale. We will make it a BIG sale -- and we will make it look big!
We will reprint the four pages in our job printing department as
a big handbill, and you can hire boys to distribute those to
every house within the entire Astoria trade territory. We will
charge you nothing extra for the circulars, but you hire them
distributed. We will follow this up with two-page ads as long as
the sale lasts. It will be an Astoria sensation.
"Now that people can spend only 40% as much for clothing as
they did before the depression, they have to try to save every
penny. They are price conscious. These lower prices will bring in
crowds of customers from miles around."

How Could WE Afford It?

"But, Mr. Armstrong," protested the younger partner, Mr. Krohn,
who was Mr. Carson's son-in-law, "how can you afford to give us
four whole pages, and then repeated double pages, at no increase
in cost to us -- just this 3%?"
"Two reasons," I explained, smiling. "First, because I know
this policy and this big space will greatly increase your sales.
If we double your sales, we double what you pay us. It makes us a
partner in your business, in a way. We get paid according to the
results we bring you. If we don't bring more customers, you don't
pay more. Then there is a second reason why we can afford to do
this. We have to print eight pages every day -- never less. The
paper now has very little advertising. I am going to write these
ads and design them with great, large display type. It will cost
us far less to set a page, or two pages of these big-type ads
than for our Linotype operators to have set all pages in small
news type."
Mr. Krohn persuaded Mr. Carson to accept my offer.
The sale drew crowds. Sales soared.
During the sale an opportunity came to the store to double
its floor space, and still reduce rent. The store occupied a
corner location. The landlord had not reduced rent in proportion
to reduced business during the depression. A ladies'
ready-to-wear store which had occupied a middle-of-the-block
location with twice as much space as Krohn & Carson, and with
four times as much front window display space, had failed and
closed up. The landlord of this storeroom, faced with a no-rent
prospect for the duration of the depression, offered this to
Krohn & Carson for half the rent they had been paying in their
corner location.
I advised taking it. Then I recommended a new merchandising
"If you double the size of your store, you will have to also
double the volume of business, or such a big store space will
look rather foolish," I said. "Now, you are reducing your
expenses, by lower rent, not adding to them. If you will be
willing to try out a new merchandising policy, I think my ads
will convince the men of Astoria, and make it work. My idea is
that you now keep these special reduced sales prices in effect
right along. If you have doubled the sales volume -- or keep up
what you are doing in this special sale -- without increasing your
expenses, you can make at least as much profit -- perhaps more, and
win the good will of the customers -- help the public by reduced
prices -- and, as the depression begins to end and prosperity comes
again, you'll be the largest and best liked store in town."
They agreed. As soon as the sale ended, and they moved to
the new larger store, I began running full-page,
"editorial"-style advertisements. They were of the nature of a
straight "Man-to-Man Talk" with the men of Astoria and vicinity.
I told the men that, if they would keep up the sales volume,
this store believed it would be able to keep these reduced
special sale prices in effect every day in the year. I told them
of the reduced rent. I told them of Krohn & Carson's well-known
financial capital -- how they were able to take cash discounts, and
buy for less -- and were willing to pass these savings on to
customers, if customers in turn would keep up the sales volume. I
explained, as I have above for you, how increased sales volume,
if it does not increase expenses, can lower the price to the
The ads were sensational in policy -- dignified in
appearance -- and they had a ring of sincerity that rang true. The
men of Astoria responded.

"Breaking" the Opposition

I am taking space to explain in some detail this experience for
one reason. I hope many readers may get from it the lesson of a
valuable principle: there is always a WAY where there is a WILL!
Would you have quit, thrown up your hands, and said, "It
can't be done"?
And let me explain, here, another principle I always
followed in my business experience -- especially in advertising and
selling. It was never to sell anything, unless I was convinced it
benefitted the other fellow, as well as myself.
"Be an expert adviser in your customers' interests" was a
slogan I tried to follow. "Know your stuff" was another -- in the
advertising man's vernacular. Always educate yourself in your
field. Know more about it than your competitors, or your
customer. Know how to help your customer. If you are profitable
to him, he will stay with you. Another adage I followed was: "A
customer is more valuable than a sale." The one-time sales to
customers who feel they were talked into something unprofitable
costs more to make than it is worth. I have always wondered why
more businessmen do not understand these principles. Honesty is
the best policy!
But back to our story.
As I said, the men of Astoria responded. Soon Krohn & Carson
was doing more than half of all the clothing and haberdashery
business in town. The ones my work did not benefit -- and for this
reason I would never do this again -- were the competitors.
In this experience I learned a few things about Jewish
people. Both Mr. Krohn and Mr. Carson were Jewish. So was their
chief competitor, who had previously had the biggest business,
across the street. In business, these men were bitter enemies.
But after business hours -- well, that was different. Then they
were friends. At the synagogue they were friends. But in the
store -- there they looked across the street at the competitive
store with intense rivalry.
It's the same in many other businesses or professions. I
certainly do not waste time watching prize-fights on television.
But who can avoid seeing a few seconds of one occasionally,
turning the dial from one channel to another? Have you ever
noticed the end of such a fight? Men who have fought viciously,
unmercifully, with the "killer-instinct" trying to knock each
other unconscious, will dance to their "enemy" of a second ago,
after the final bell, and throw their arms around each other in
loving embrace -- and it makes no difference if one is white and
the other black! Lawyers who will fight each other angrily in a
courtroom during the heat of a trial, will go out to lunch
together after it's over, as the best of friends! I've seen
bankers who have been bitter rivals forget it completely, and
call each other by their first names, "buddy, buddy" fashion, at
national bankers' conventions.
But, in business Krohn & Carson's Jewish rival across the
street was bitter and now getting more and more bitter!
In desperation, as his customers flocked over to Krohn &
Carson's, he ran a half-page ad in the "opposition" paper. It
cost him twice as much per inch as our regular inch rate. In it
he advertised a price-slashing sale. Mr. Krohn called me to the
"Look at this!" he exclaimed, worried. "Now maybe he will
get the business, and our new plan will fail after all."
"Oh no," I laughed. "This only means it's time for you and
me to get busy. I want you to take that ad, and mark your own
prices, cut STILL LOWER, on every item -- item for item -- listed in
his 'ad.' Tomorrow morning we will run a TWO-PAGE ad, listing
exactly the same items, every one priced LOWER -- and once again
reminding the men that Krohn & Carson SAVE THEM MONEY. We'll run
a special sale tomorrow, also, on these same items."
Mr. Krohn looked at me and shook his head in amazement, and
then began to grin, as he went to work marking lower prices.
Next day all the special sale customers filed into Krohn &
Carson's -- the biggest day in some time, while their rival across
the street looked more discouraged than ever in his empty store.
Later that day, he telephoned The Messenger office, and
asked if I would come to the store to see him.
"Look here," he stormed, "you are breaking my business. I
can't afford to run many half-page ads in the evening paper at
their high rates -- and even when I do you come out with a bigger
one for Krohn & Carson, and they get all the business from my ad
as well as their own! You have brought me to the place where I am
willing now to take a chance on the evening paper doing anything
if I break my agreement not to advertise with you. I want you to
make me the same deal you did Krohn & Carson -- and I am willing to
sign up right now!"
"I'm sorry," I replied, "but you and all the other merchants
turned me down cold when I first came to Astoria. You presented
me with a kind of unfair competition such as I never heard of.
You forced me to break all precedent to develop new advertisers
out of non-advertising merchants. That plan was offered to only
ONE merchant in each line. You said you were bound and could not
advertise with us. Now WE are bound, and can't give you this same
deal of unlimited space on a percent of sales."
"Well, then," he countered, "can I buy space with you at
your regular price by the inch?"
"Oh yes, of course" was the answer.
"But that is not enough," he continued. "It is the way you
write these ads that is bringing the business to Krohn &
Carson's. Will you write my ads, as well as theirs? If you will,
I will start advertising with you, and quit with the evening
I had not bound myself to exclusive ad-writing service, so I
was free to agree. Next morning, his first ad, about a third of a
page, appeared.
When I walked into the Krohn & Carson store that day, Mr.
Carson was like a wild man.
"LOOK at this!" he shouted. "Anyone would know you wrote
that ad. You cancel our advertising immediately, and don't ever
come in this store again."
"All right, Mr. Carson, if that's what you really want to
do," I said. "But first, I want you to calm down and listen to me
just one moment. I never offered you my advertising-writing
services exclusively. I have not given your competitor the
unlimited space on a percent-of-sales basis at all. He has to pay
the regular rate by the inch. Mr. Carson, I have doubled your
business for you in the midst of this terrible depression. I have
worked hard for you, and made you money. But I am advertising
manager of The Messenger, and when my plan begins to really work,
and break down these unethical and illegal contracts our
'opposition paper' holds over these other merchants, that is the
real reason I evolved this unprecedented system that has doubled
your business, and made you the LEADER in Astoria, instead of
second-fiddle like you were. Now, if you didn't appreciate that,
and want to cancel -- O.K.! I'll walk out of this store, and never
come back again -- and now you free me to give this whole plan to
your competitor across the street!"
I began to walk out rapidly.
Mr. Carson showed surprising and amazing athletic ability in
scampering behind the counters to the front door before I could
get there! He darted into the doorway, blocked it, holding up
both hands.
"Wait! Wait!" he exclaimed. "Don't you walk out of here!
Don't you cancel our agreement!"
He came up and threw his arms around me, and cried like a
"Mr. Armstrong," he said, embracing me, "I have loved you
like a son. I didn't mean what I said. I want you to still be my
advertising manager and adviser -- even if you do write ads for
that fellow across the street."
Even though dollars were at stake, Mr. Carson spoke from the
heart. He was filled with emotion, now. He was really sincere -- he
did really feel a deep love for me. It was not only because of
the business success our relationship had brought -- our close
personal association had brought about mutual affection. He was a
businessman -- he was very conscious of dollars, and had acquired
his share of them -- but underneath was a real warm heart capable
of real friendship.
Our radio listeners have heard me say that I bear no hatred
toward Jews -- I love them, as I love all people. Some, allowing
themselves to become "hooked" on the insidious, poisonous "drug"
of anti-Semitism, and hatred for Jews, have never learned all
there is to know about Jewish people. Sure, many of them,
despised and hated and persecuted by race prejudice, have
developed a keen sense of "dollar consciousness," but who among
us is so free from faults and sins he can throw the first stone?
I have learned that many Jews also have very warm hearts of
friendship. We have all been carnal, weighted with human nature,
until converted and filled with God's Holy Spirit of LOVE, and

Unable to Leave

I have been getting ahead of my story. I have carried this one
experience with this one advertising client on to its conclusion,
over a period of many months. But I wanted to complete this one
case history, as a typical example of the Astoria newspaper
Back, now to December, 1931.
In Astoria was one of the two leading hardware stores not
tied up on those 5-year contracts, besides the J. C. Penney
store, one of the "movies" and several restaurants. I induced
most of the restaurants to take out advertising in trade for meal
checks for our employees, and the Penney store and the hardware
store accepted my unlimited space on a percentage-of-sales basis.
But by December 31, I found I was caught in a trap. We had
23 men employed. If I left then, the paper would have folded and
these men would have been out of work. There still was no money
in the Oregon Conference church treasury to bring me back into
the ministry. I was stuck in Astoria. God intended for me to
learn a lesson. It seems that most of the time I have had to
learn these lessons the HARD WAY, through experience, and
suffering. This was to be no exception. It was not until the end
of February, 1933, that my prayers to be relieved of these
newspaper responsibilities, and to be allowed to return to God's
ministry, were answered.

Chapter 27
Stuck in Astoria

AFTER the Krohn & Carson experience forced their main
clothing-store competitor to break its 5-year contract, other
stores gradually began cautiously to put a limited amount of
advertising in The Messenger. This drove our opposition publisher
to adopt a new type of competition. Now the going became rougher
than before.

Competition Gets Rough

Both the evening paper, and ours, maintained job-printing
departments. There was, besides, one independent job-printing
establishment. But the evening newspaper job department did more
than half of all the printing. With this and the newspaper
combined, the opposition newspaper employed more than half the
employees in all three unions involved -- the typographical, the
pressmen's and the stereotypers' unions.
The depression, by spring of 1932, had descended to such
depths that if a man lost his job he had small chance of finding
another. At union meetings, the evening paper employees had a
majority vote.
So we had the unheard-of spectacle of our competitor's
employees being forced by their employer, on threat of losing
their jobs, to vote our employees out of their jobs on strike,
while all our employees voted desperately against the strike. It
meant the loss of their jobs. They knew they would be unable to
obtain employment elsewhere.
Actually, our competitor's employees did have a technical
violation to charge us with. Our employees were not receiving
their full wages in cash. Our paper simply did not have the
money. One reason I had felt obligated to remain on in Astoria
after December, 1931, was the responsibility of keeping our 23
employees from starving. I had traded advertising space for meal
tickets in local restaurants. I had traded advertising space for
rooms in hotels and small apartments in large apartment houses. I
had taken most of the Krohn & Carson 3% compensation in clothes
for our men. Thus we had managed to keep them clothed, fed, and
sheltered. We had paid them small amounts of cash for other
expenses, but the balance of their wages was being paid them in
stock in the paper. Thus they were part owners. If and when the
paper got on a paying basis, they would then receive their wages
with interest.
When the strike was first voted against us, Mr. Hopkins and,
I believe, our city editor, took a quick trip to Seattle to
appeal to the district union chief, a Mr. Pelkey. We awaited
their return anxiously. Their smiling faces told us, on their
return, they had succeeded. Mr. Pelkey had called off the strike.
He realized the desperate competitive situation. But this was a
reprieve -- not the end of the matter.
A month or two later, our opposition employees again voted
our employees out on strike. Again Mr. Hopkins raced to Seattle.
Again Mr. Pelkey rescinded the strike vote. During the summer our
competitor's employees did it again. A third time Mr. Pelkey
vetoed the strike.
But our opposition simply wore down Mr. Pelkey. A fourth
time the opposition men voted ours out on strike. This time Mr.
Pelkey said he was getting "fed up" with this Astoria quarrel,
and he let the strike become official.

The Strike STRUCK!

The date was Labor Day, 1932. Our employees had to face the
problem of whether to defy the strike vote, stay on the job, and
thus be put out of the unions -- in which case their entire future
in the printing business was ruined -- or lose their jobs with no
prospect of finding others. The men, however, decided that their
futures, after the depression had subsided, meant more to them
than the immediate job.
Mr. Hopkins immediately brought a few non-union printers
from Portland to Astoria. But they were unskilled, and totally
unsatisfactory as workmen -- and they were too few. I had never
operated a Linotype machine, although I had been around composing
rooms for 20 years. Now I had to work all night long with a "hunt
and peck" effort to set the type.
Also I set ads in display type. After 36 hours without
sleep, we finally got out the paper, in the evening of Labor Day.
Our morning paper came out after the evening paper of the
same day. But we got it out! Otherwise we should have been put
out of business altogether!
For three days and three nights Mr. Hopkins and I and a few
of the newsmen worked straight through without sleep. We
literally lived that 72 hours on coffee. There was an all-night
cafe across the street. We kept them constantly making coffee!
The day following Labor Day we got the paper "to bed" in
mid-afternoon. The next day by about noon. Gradually we gained an
hour or two each day, and within a week we were getting the
papers on the street by early morning. But it was indeed a sorry
looking newspaper! It came out full of typographical errors, bad
typesetting. But we were fighting to keep it alive.
Even before this 72-hour stretch without any sleep, I had
been consistently losing sleep in Astoria. For the entire 15
months on this newspaper job I averaged about 5½ hours sleep per
night. I need a minimum of seven. This continuous loss of sleep
proved a real handicap after I did finally get back into the
ministry in 1933.

Two Awe-Inspiring Miracles

During the 15 months of this stay in Astoria, God blessed us with
two amazing miracles. For the first seven months, still hoping
from week to week to be able to wind up this newspaper detour and
get back on the main road of God's ministry, Mrs. Armstrong and
our children remained in the house on East State Street in Salem.
During that time I managed to take frequent weekend trips home to
be with my family.
Finally, by early July 1932, we decided to move the family
to Astoria. This resulted from my wife calling long distance late
one afternoon asking me to rush home. Little Garner Ted was
stricken with pneumonia! I drove The Messenger coupe down to
Salem, arriving late that night. The children were asleep. Mrs.
Armstrong was still up, beside little Ted's sofa, on which he was
lying. Immediately, we both knelt beside our sick baby. Little
Garner Ted was then two years and five months.
And I must explain here that he had been, to that time,
dumb -- unable to talk. While somewhere between six months and a
year old, he had fallen out of his crib-bed headfirst onto the
hard wood floor. We attributed his inability to talk to this
fall, landing on his head. He would point to whatever he wanted
to tell us about, making motions, and grunting "Ugh! Ugh!" But he
was unable to speak a single word. We were becoming much
I anointed Ted and began to claim God's promises to rebuke
the fever and heal him. As I was praying, Mrs. Armstrong silently
prayed, asking God that, if it was His will to heal our baby of
this dumbness at that time, to put it in my mind to ask for this,
as well as healing from the pneumonia.
I did also have this in mind -- or God put it in my mind -- for
the very instant she had asked for this, I began asking God to
restore Ted's power of speech.
His fever left quickly. The very next day he was able to say
a number of single words. In about three days he was talking in
whole sentences.
After this experience, my wife and I decided to move the
family immediately to Astoria. I remained a few days to help pack
our goods.
After everything was packed, I crowded our two daughters and
Dickey (we called our boys "Dickey" and "Teddy" until the day
they entered Junior High School) into the coupe and drove to
Astoria. Mrs. Armstrong followed with Teddy on the train. Little
Teddy was so frightened by the train that my wife had some
difficulty in getting him aboard. But once on, and relaxed and
reassured, he began talking.
"Here we go," said Teddy cheerfully, "to see Daddy, see
Ba-wee (Beverly), see Dorsee (Dorothy), see Dickey!" That was a
12-word sentence, gushing out only about three days after I had
prayed for his healing!
I had arranged for one of the members of the Church, who
lived near Jefferson, to haul our furniture and things to
Astoria. We went first to the hotel in Astoria. Mr. Hopkins and I
had lived there, trading advertising for rooms.
Soon we rented a house, high up on an embankment above a
street overlooking the mile-wide Columbia River. We were only ten
miles from the ocean at that point, and the mighty Columbia
widens to a very great river at its mouth. From our house there
was an unobstructed view straight out the river to the ocean.
About that time I managed to obtain a portable radio by
trading advertising space, and taking it as part of my salary.
This small portable radio would receive stations from great
distances -- much farther than even large and expensive modern sets
today. After our strike finally did strike, I was kept at the
newspaper office until midnight or later about six nights every
Arriving home at midnight or 1:00 a.m., I often turned on
the radio in order to "unwind" my nerves a bit from the tense
business day before retiring. Any night at that hour, which was
around 6:00 p.m. in Japan, I was able to get Radio Tokyo on
standard wave direct. There was no obstruction between the aerial
atop our house and Japan -- just the mile-wide mouth of the
Columbia, and straight across the ocean.
Also, at the time, I was able to "bring in" clearly such
stations as WLS, Chicago, WLW, Cincinnati, WSM, Nashville, WHO,
Des Moines -- all of which I was later to have the privilege of
broadcasting over.

Hunting for Bear

My son Garner Ted loves to hunt and fish. He may not remember
when the excitement of hunting was first implanted within him,
and he may read this now, along with all our readers.
As soon as God gave us our first son, for whom my wife and I
had waited eleven years, I wanted to be a pal to him. I had begun
calling little Dickey, as soon as he could talk, my "Pal." But
now, as soon as little Teddy began to talk, on hearing me call
his elder brother "pal," he exclaimed, "Well, I'm your pal, too,
From that moment Teddy became "Pal Two," and Dickey "Pal
One of the very first things I did, after we moved into the
house in Astoria, was to take my two "pals" "bear hunting." I
have explained that our house sat on an embankment high above the
sidewalk below. This hill ran up steeply from the great river
below, and continued on uphill behind our house, thickly wooded.
I took my two sons, armed with wooden sticks for guns, on
frequent "hunting trips" up this steep heavily wooded slope,
"hunting for bear." The boys would growl like a bear, and
confidently expected to get a shot at one any second.
The basement of our Astoria house was on the ground level in
front, but basement level at the rear. In Astoria, as well as
when we lived in Salem and Eugene, we burned wood for fuel. My
sons helped me carry chopped wood up the basement stairs into the
kitchen. Although Teddy was speaking whole sentences three days
after his speech was restored, he did not pronounce all his words
like an adult immediately.
I shall never forget his rapping on the basement door, three
or four sticks of wood across his outstretched arms, yelling:
"Open d' doagm -- open d' doagm -- here tums dreat bid mans!"
Our younger daughter Dorothy got in Teddy's hair on
occasion. On one of these occasions, in the kitchen, little Teddy
became exasperated and started for his tormenting sister with
clenched fists.
In fear Dorothy ran through the hallway, and up the stairs
to the second floor like a frightened deer, with little Teddy
scampering after her in red-hot anger, shouting,
"Boy, oh boy! I'll hap your hace!"
Apparently Dorothy found refuge in a bedroom and locked the
I suppose we have had quite the same experience rearing
children that most parents have. Most of the time our two
daughters, only two years and two months apart, have been the
best of chums and buddies, but they had their share of quarreling
over the things most sisters quarrel over -- whose turn it was to
do the dishes -- or when one girl had put on the other girl's
clothes. But our two sons seldom quarreled, and surely no two
brothers could have gotten along better together, or been closer
to each other. Their fights were usually with older sisters!
Another typical experience many fathers should understand.
Early in the Christmas shopping season, 1932, I managed to obtain
for my boys an electric train, with quite a lot of track and
accessories -- by trading advertising space for it. The price of
the train was charged at the newspaper, of course, as part of my
salary since only a small part of salaries could be paid in cash.
Mrs. Armstrong said smilingly that I got the electric train for
the boys, so I could play with it! I wonder how many fathers have
done the same thing!

The Second Miraculous Healing

It was during the midst of the winter, December 1932 or January
1933, that Milas Helms appeared in Astoria one night. He finally
located me at one of the "movie" offices, where I was picking up
an "ad" at around 10:00 p.m. His little son, James, was stricken
with a most serious case of pneumonia, and was in extremely
critical condition. Mike had driven his pickup truck all the way
from his farm, southwest of Jefferson. He asked me if I would not
drop everything and go with him to anoint and pray for his boy's
We drove through the night around the icy sharp mountain
curves of the only highway in those days, through a driving
snow-storm blizzard, on to Portland, and then some 75 miles more
to his farm.
We arrived there around 5:00 a.m. The oil lamps were still
burning, and Mike's wife, Pearl, was still up. Little James was
gasping for breath, with an extremely high temperature, but still
alive. Immediately we knelt beside his bed, and I anointed him
and claimed God's promises to heal him. Almost immediately the
boy sank into a sleep, and then all of us laid down to get some
overdue rest and sleep.
We awakened at 10:00 a.m. Little James awakened, too, at
about the same time, and immediately scampered out of bed and
began playing around the room. His temperature was normal. He had
been completely healed. I returned to Astoria.

An END of Going Hungry

I have mentioned repeatedly how God had brought me down, reduced
us to poverty and want, and how much we had suffered hunger
through those years. Much of the time in Astoria, up until about
the time of this emergency trip to the Helms' farm, we had not
had enough to eat.
I have explained in past chapters how, after conversion, I
had to come to learn and understand one doctrine at a time. The
truth was not acquired all at once. I had known that the Bible
had quite a little to say about tithing one's income. Yet somehow
it had never become completely clear.
At about this time, in the little time I had from my work at
the newspaper for Bible study and prayer, I had made a special
and thorough study of this matter of tithing. We saw the mistake
we had been making, and started a definite practice of strict
tithing. We had only a very little on hand, but we sent a tenth
of it, plus an offering, to the Oregon Conference treasurer.
That very day, the way opened for us to be able to stock up
at home with a reasonable abundance of food. For one thing, we
had a large thick steak. My wife cooked it at low heat with the
utensils we had acquired when I had devoted a year to selling
them. I shall never forget that steak! It was way and by far the
best steak I have ever tasted!
Although we still were required to live another 14 years in
the barest and most modest financial circumstances, we have never
from that day had to be actually hungry, and miss meals, because
of financial poverty! We have since heard of scores and scores of
case-histories of the experiences of others who were immediately
prospered, once they began tithing. But we, ourselves, lived
through this same experience. I am very grateful to have been
privileged to have been instrumental in bringing countless others
into this same divine blessing! My wife and I had to learn it the

"Dickey" Becomes Lost

One day in August or September, 1932, shortly before Dickey was
four years old, he became "lost," and his mother became frantic.
I was not home at the time.
When Mrs. Armstrong discovered he was missing, and was
nowhere to be found around the house or yard, she started an
immediate worried search. Neighbor children had seen him going
east. A little farther along the street two little children said
he had asked them to go with him to a children's playground in
Rose City Park, to play on the swings and slides.
Rose City Park was in Portland, more than a hundred miles
away! After running, out of breath, some distance past the end of
our street, and onto the highway to Portland, not finding him,
she turned back. He had not been gone long enough to have gotten
farther on the highway. Now the terrifying thought gripped my
"What if little Dickey had wandered down to the river bank,
and had fallen in the river!"
She retraced her steps back, and, half running, half walking
breathlessly, began following the river bank westward. Finally
she found him, trying to walk back home along the river bank.
When the two children had refused to go to Rose City Park with
him, he had decided he didn't want to go alone, and had started
back home -- by way of the river bank! He had supposed he could
soon walk to Rose City Park!
I have often wondered how any of the millions of us men on
earth ever survived the dangers of growing boyhood, and lived to
be men -- unless indeed God has assigned an angel to watch
invisibly over every boy, and keep him from physical harm and
While we were in Astoria, I received a letter from Elder
Taylor. Just one letter, in that year and a quarter. It told me
"we have lost the little church" in Eugene. The brethren, he
said, had been unable to keep up payments. When I finally got
back to the Valley I learned how WE really had lost it. Mr.
Taylor had traded it for a more saleable house and lot next door.
Then he had traded that, with another place he had acquired, for
an island farm. But more of that at the proper time, later.

Our Prayers Finally Answered

One day, late in February, 1933, Mike Helms drove his pickup
truck up to our house. He had come to take us back to the Valley.
The church Conference had now accumulated a small balance. Mike
was now president of the conference. He said they would be able
to pay us only $3 per week, but farmer brethren would supply us
with vegetables, and the members would buy other food for us.
Behind him, he said, was coming one of the men from the
Valley with a large truck to haul our small amount of furniture
and furnishings back to the Valley.
At last God had answered our prayers to allow me to be put
back into His ministry! Mrs. Armstrong got into the truck with
Mr. Helms, and they drove downtown in search of me. I was
overjoyed at the news.
We were nearly all night getting packed and ready for the
tedious trip back to the Valley. The next day we left.
All of the newspaper employees I had felt a responsibility
for keeping alive, except Mr. Hopkins and two or three newsmen,
had long since left, anyway. I felt no obligation to remain
another day.
A couple months or less after our departure I heard that The
Morning Messenger, which had come to be dubbed the "Morning
Mess," had gone out of business. I had kept it alive for 15
months. I had learned a valuable lesson, and collected some
valuable experience.

Chapter 28
Back into the Ministry

WE SOON LEARNED there was a reason why Mike Helms had come for us
when he did. The former president of the California conference,
A. J. Ray, had moved to Oregon, near Jefferson. A very small
balance had accumulated in the conference treasury, and small
amounts of tithes from members once again were beginning to
trickle into it. Mr. Ray learned of the Oregon Conference's plans
to bring me back into the ministry as soon as funds permitted. He
had moved swiftly to forestall that, by sending for a close
friend -- I believe he was a former Seventh-Day Adventist
minister -- Sven (Sam) Oberg, whom he wanted as the Oregon

The Plots Begin

Apparently Mike had known of Mr. Oberg's imminent arrival, and
drove immediately to Astoria to bring me back. We both arrived
about the same time.
Now the newly arrived Mr. Ray raised the question of whether
to employ Mr. Oberg, or me. A business meeting was called. I
believe it was held at the church building in Harrisburg.
Mr. Oberg was a man of 53. He kept himself in vigorous
physical condition by strenuous calisthenic exercises every
morning, including about 100 "push-ups." If Robert L. Taylor had
swept the members off their feet, impressing them with his
"spirituality" and preaching power in 1931, Sam Oberg did much
In fact, he appeared to be so perfect, so spiritual, my wife
and I thought of Hebrews 13:2, stating that a stranger might be
an angel being entertained unawares! He seemed too perfect to be
human. He was strict in punctuality, spiritual in language and
phraseology, immaculate in appearance, glib of speech, powerful
in preaching delivery.
Yet, in spite of his almost awe-inspiring effect on the
members, they had all liked and loved me, and still looked to me
for the leadership to get the gospel going out. I had been
ordained by them and employed by them before. I do not remember
the details now, but I was employed instead of Mr. Oberg.

$3 per Week Salary

The condition of the conference treasury allowed them to pay me
only $3 per week salary. However, most of the members were
farmers, and they promised to supply us with vegetables and such
foodstuffs as they raised. Also, they paid our house rent -- I
believe $5 or $7 per month, and purchased for us a certain amount
of food. This consisted of 100-pound sacks of whole wheat flour,
large sacks of beans, large bags of raw sugar -- the kind of food
that supplied "the mostest for the leastest."
The $3 cash salary per week, then, was to cover butter,
milk, water and light and clothes -- if any. We were moved into a
small house on Hall Street, not far from the state Fairgrounds.
There were two fireplaces and the kitchen stove to supply heat.
We burned wood altogether.
But I was to be disillusioned, and to learn that a person
who first appears to be TOO good to be true usually isn't! Both
Mr. Ray and Mr. Oberg schemed constantly to discredit me and get
that $3 per week for Mr. Oberg. More of that as we go along.

Starting the Salem Meetings

However, I was still looking on Mr. Oberg with a sort of awe,
feeling I had never met a person so perfect and so righteous and
so powerful in preaching. True, I had behind me a most unusual
wealth of experience, as these Oregon members were aware. But my
still comparatively new Christian experience had humbled me to
virtual unawareness of that fact and I was trying to efface self.
But I did have vision.
I suggested that we try to hold a big city-wide campaign,
with Mr. Oberg doing all the preaching -- since I felt I was not
worthy -- as a minister of Christ -- to team up with so great a man.
My suggestion was that I use my advertising experience to be the
public relations man, prepare circulars and newspaper
advertising, and draw in the crowds. I had suggested we try to
hire the big armory in downtown Salem. I felt that with an
evangelist of Mr. Oberg's power, I could really pack in a big
My suggestions, as became usual with the other ministers,
were turned down by Mr. Oberg. I was slightly disillusioned to
learn that Mr. Oberg did not think BIG. He wanted to hold a small
campaign in a small empty store building out in the "Hollywood"
suburb of Salem -- just a small local neighborhood campaign. And he
wanted to share it with me, speaking on alternate evenings.
There were many vacant store buildings. We were now at the
very bottom of the great economic depression. We were able to
hire a vacant storeroom for $10 per month.
We worked hard making preparations. Mr. Oberg was not lazy.
He was a hard worker. I believe we rented folding chairs. I had
handbills printed and distributed over that general part of
The opening night arrived. Immediately I was greatly
alarmed -- as also, it appeared, was Mr. Ray. Already I had seen
quite a little of that type of religious people who call
themselves "pentecostal." I had learned that they had no
UNDERSTANDING of the Bible, although they glibly quoted certain
verses, or partial sentences, usually misapplied and entirely out
of context.
Those I had known had never surrendered their rebellious
spirit against obedience to God and His written commands. They
were always SEEKING -- not to serve, share, or obey, but for those
emotional and supposedly "spiritual" things that would glorify
the self and its vanity and please the senses.
Mr. R. L. Taylor, with whom I held my first evangelistic
campaign in Eugene in 1931, had started a series of meetings in
this same north end of Salem, following our Eugene campaign. The
"pentecostal" people had come, and he had encouraged them. They
would keep reasonably quiet until Mr. Taylor, after two or three
weeks of preaching, had a few unconverted and non-"pentecostal"
people brought close to repentance and conversion -- and then they
would begin to "take over" with their loud-shouting
"hallelujah's" and ridiculous demonstrations. This immediately
discouraged those near conversion, chilled them completely, and
they dropped out and quit coming. After this, Mr. Taylor went
around that end of town, inviting new people to come, and in a
few nights had a new small crowd. The experience was
repeated -- until he finally had to quit with no results whatever
for his efforts.
In Portland, at "pentecostal" camp meetings, I had heard
women wail and then shriek like a fire siren, audible for three
or four blocks.

Our Problem

When we saw about 25 or 30 of these same "pentecostal" people who
had ruined Mr. Taylor's meetings coming into our little hall, Mr.
Ray and Mr. Oberg and I went into a quick huddle. Mr. Ray
purported to be completely opposed to this brand of
"What shall we do about this?" he asked. "We've got to get
rid of these people, or they will simply take over the meetings
and there will be no results."
"Just leave the situation to me," said Mr. Oberg. "I know
how to handle these people."
We were reassured.
But by the second or third night, we began to realize that
Mr. Oberg, far from discouraging or "handling" these people, was
deliberately catering to them. Gradually we began to realize that
Mr. Oberg was "pentecostal" himself -- a fact he had carefully
concealed. Indeed, he had deliberately led us to believe he was
opposed to it. Soon I realized these people were definitely "IN"
and firmly established. It was too late to change it.
For the first few nights Mr. Oberg and I alternated, each
speaking every second night. But it became apparent that the
"pentecostal" people, now more than 90% of the attendance, warmed
up much more to Mr. Oberg's preaching. He encouraged them. He
invited their loud amens just as "pentecostal" preachers do
constantly, getting them stirred up to an emotional and excitable
pitch. So after about a week, I suggested that Mr. Oberg do all
the preaching, and I preached to our own members who came up from
the Valley for the Sabbath services.
About the end of the first week word came from the manager
of a lumber yard situated very close to our hall, asking if I
would stop in and see him. He had attended the first five or six
meetings, then dropped out.
"Mr. Armstrong," he said, "I just wanted to explain to you
why I stopped attending your meetings. I was really quite
interested in hearing your sermons, but this man Oberg's constant
succession of stories, and whooping up those 'holy rollers' into
shouting and emotional frenzy and foolishness is more than I can
take. I think you were wise in just letting this other man take
over the meetings. Not many who are seeking the real truth that
you preach will be attending from now on, anyway. I would have
continued attending, if you had been conducting the services
alone -- but I can't tolerate that senseless wildfire."

My Father's Death

Along about the 20th or 21st of April in that year of 1933 word
came that my father was very ill. I asked Mr. Oberg to accompany
me, and we hastened to his farm, between Oregon City and Molalla.
Apparently we asked Mr. Ray to take the service till we returned.
Dad had suffered an acute attack of indigestion. We anointed
and prayed for him. He seemed to recover at once. He also had
called for us because he wanted to be baptized.
My father, as I may have stated before, had always been a
good man. He had been jolly, friendly with everybody. He never
smoked, drank, swore, or indulged in any such vices. He never
opposed or harmed a soul, but always was willing to help. He had,
as I recounted earlier, a marvelous deep bass voice. Dad had
attended church regularly all his life, and had been
active -- especially in singing.
But my father was actually so good, humanly speaking, and so
void of vices and any of the commonly accepted "sins" that he was
actually in the same category as Job. Job was so righteous that
even Satan could not find anything of which to accuse him.
Actually Job's one great sin was his own righteousness. It
blinded him to his HUMANITY, the actual NATURE of sin in every
human. Job was the most difficult man on record for God to
convert. Finally, God brought Job to the place where he did
REPENT, and come to completely ABHOR himself!
My father had come to that same place. He came to realize
that mere human goodness and uprightness is not, after all, the
true RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD, which is received only from God's Holy
Spirit after the painful and suffering experience of repentance.
But now he had repented. And now he had come to recognize his
real NEED of Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. He had thrown
himself on God's mercy, in faith believing.
That afternoon, his acute indigestion healed, but still
needing rest and sleep to recover strength, we planned to go down
to the river at the edge of his farm and baptize him the next
Late that afternoon, we all sang "Praise Him! Praise Him!"
with my father's deep melodic bass voice ringing out. It was to
be the last time he ever sang.
When we finished, he had tears in his eyes, and his face
literally illuminated in a happy smile.
"It's just wonderful!" he exclaimed. "It's absolutely
"What do you mean, Dad?" I asked.
"That God at last has forgiven all my sins!" he exclaimed.
"It seems like a load of many tons has been rolled off of my
shoulders -- and I don't have to carry that weight of guilt around
any longer!"
We left him to rest.
A while later we were called back into the room. He had
sunken into a coma, not from indigestion, but a heart attack. We
anointed and prayed for him again. We put him to bed in an
adjoining bedroom. We noticed his feet were swelling. He did not
come out of the coma. We kept up an all-night vigil of prayer.
The swelling continued up his legs.
Dawn came. We continued praying. I know that I continued
believing. By this time we had been granted many miraculous
answers to prayer, and I felt I never had more faith in my life.
Yet, at 9:40 that morning, the day after he entered his 70th
year, my father died. I was stunned. This I could not believe!
Suddenly I was confused, bewildered. I knew that God had
given His written PROMISE to heal. Always before, since learning
this truth, God had healed all in our family. I realized that
there are two conditions -- obedience, and faith. But I had
surrendered fully and unconditionally to God's commandments,
given my life to Him and His service. And I had believed with
positive conviction. There had been no wavering -- no doubt -- just
For three days I was in a mental fog. Not that I began to
lose faith in God, or the reality of Biblical promises. Not that
doubts began to be entertained. I was still quite a "babe in
Christ" in the new Christian life, but we had been put through
enough experiences -- and I had studied and PROVED the Scriptures
sufficiently -- that I did not allow doubts to begin to arise. When
one permits DOUBTS to enter his thoughts and reasonings, he is on
dangerous ground. He is thinking negatively. Whoever DOUBTS is
damned. I want the reader to learn that lesson.
If one is not certain -- if he has not PROVED a doctrine or a
fact -- then the teaching of God is, with open mind free from
prejudice, to seek all the facts -- to PROVE it. This is not
negative, but positive thinking and procedure. Doubting is not
proving. Doubting is not intelligent! It is negative thinking
about something one does not know enough about to warrant this
form of unfounded disbelief.

Strengthening FAITH

I knew that God could not break a promise. I knew God has
promised to HEAL -- that Jesus took the penalty of physical
sickness and infirmities and paid it for us by having His perfect
physical body broken by being beaten with stripes!
But WHY, then, did my father die? Through James God
instructs us that if any lack wisdom, he shall ask of GOD asking
in FAITH, not wavering or doubting -- and God promises wisdom shall
be given. I prayed earnestly. I asked God for UNDERSTANDING.
And I searched the Scriptures for the explanation. I did not
doubt -- but I did seek an explanation. Faith must be based on
UNDERSTANDING, and I knew there was something I had not yet come
to understand. Naturally I soon came, in this search, to the
"faith chapter" -- the 11th of Hebrews. Then the answer became
God gives us many examples of faith in that wonderful
chapter. I noticed the example of Abraham -- the father of the
faithful. He, with Isaac and Jacob and Sarah "all died, not
having received the PROMISES." My father, like them, died, not
having received God's promise of healing -- AS YET! Did the death
of Abraham, before he received what God had unconditionally
PROMISED, nullify that promise? Did his death mean that God
failed -- that God's promise was worthless, not to be kept? NOT AT
No, it simply meant that, for God's own reason and purpose,
the fulfilling of the promise is delayed UNTIL THE RESURRECTION!
In like manner, I could now understand that God has PROMISED
to heal -- but He has not promised how immediately, or by what
manner, He will do it. I knew, now, that my father's healing is
still absolutely SURE. He will be resurrected -- HEALED! I saw,
now, that our days are indeed numbered. God has not promised that
we shall live in this mortal existence eternally. It is appointed
to men once to DIE -- and after this the resurrection. I read how
the TRIAL of our faith is allowed to work PATIENCE.
God, then, does give us tests of faith. Faith is the
EVIDENCE of that NOT seen, NOT felt. Once we FEEL and SEE that we
are healed, we no longer need the invisible spiritual evidence of
faith. Faith, then, is our evidence -- our PROOF of the
healing -- which God gives us to be exercised and utilized BETWEEN
the time we ask, and the time the physical evidence is granted.
We should not go to God, asking, unless we have FAITH that
God will do what He has promised, and what we are ready to ask.
Then, after we ask, we should still have faith -- just as
before -- that God WILL do as He has promised.
Now I understood!
Some people, in the clutch of fatal DOUBTS in their faulty
reasoning, will try to REASON that unless God heals
instantaneously, either God has not kept His promise -- or that the
one who asked is guilty of such sin that God will not hear him.
Such people are wresting the plain teaching of God to their own
The net result of this shocking experience of my father's
death was a great strengthening of FAITH. I hope sincerely that
the recording of this experience will strengthen the faith of
many readers. God's very purpose in giving us this temporary
physical existence is to build righteous spiritual character,
through EXPIERIENCE. In the Bible God gives us many EXPERIENCES
of those He has dealt with, that we may learn by reading of their
experiences. The only reason I am continuing with this
autobiography is the hope that many readers may learn lessons God
intends them to learn, through these recorded experiences.

Was It GOD's Spirit?

As the meetings in Salem continued on, after the first week or
so, almost the only people coming were these "pentecostal"
people. Their antics drove away most others. Though it is rare
among this type of people, many, or most, of them were "Sabbath
keepers." But, aside from the fourth commandment, there did not
appear to be any desire to obey God, or to "live by every Word of
God." Their whole desire was a "good time" during meetings. They
came for the temporary thrill and enjoyment of going on an
emotional spree of excitement, shouting, and bragging in
"testimony meeting" about how glad they were they "had their
baptism," and how much better they were than others, for
precisely the same purpose that other people attend a football
game to shout and yell, and work up sensations of excitement.
They were definitely not SEEKING "the KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS
RIGHTEOUSNESS, but they were continually SEEKING physical and
sensual pleasure and thrills and excitement, under the deceptive
illusion that all this was pleasing to God. One of these women,
some months later, after the close of the meetings, who had
"received her baptism" as they term it, became disgusted with it
and told my wife in private that what she and they all got from
it was what she termed "sublimated sex thrills." She said frankly
it was plain lust of the flesh. Yet the people in it are deceived
into sincerely believing that they are seeking, and receiving,
the Holy Spirit of God!
One night while Mr. Oberg was preaching, one very fat woman,
who must have weighed 250 pounds, arose and with short, jerky,
staccato steps, slowly waddled up front to the piano, shaking her
fat hips at each jerky step. She sat down on the piano bench and
began to hit the keys with the palms of both hands in a
discordant jumbled manner about like a one-year-old baby might
do. There was no chord, harmony, tune -- no regularity of beat or
rhythm -- just a spasmodic discordant POUNDING in utter CONFUSION.
As she began, the one other big fat woman in the hall, of
equal horizontal proportions, arose and began a sort of awkward
dancing jig, her arms floundering around, uncontrolled, overhead,
her very fat hips waddling and shimmying. For some two to five
minutes these two women continued their unrefined duet.
Mr. Oberg stopped his preaching, with expressions of "Praise
the Lord! Glory Hallelujah! Praise you, Jesus!" -- to which the
whole "pentecostal" attendance immediately joined in until the
place was a bedlam of din and confusion.
As we were walking home that night after the service, our
elder daughter, Beverly, then of junior high school age, asked:
"Daddy, was that the Holy Spirit making those women do those
I was well familiar with Christ's saying that the blasphemy
against the Holy Spirit -- accusing the work of the Holy Spirit of
being the work of the devil -- was the unpardonable sin. Although I
was by that time quite aware that these practices of
"pentecostal" people were not in conformity with either the
teaching or example found in God's Word, nevertheless I was
afraid to take any slight chance of committing the unpardonable
"I just can't answer that, Beverly," I replied. "I suppose
those women were sincere in believing they were being moved by
God's Spirit. Most people are deceived, today. But I don't want
to try to judge."
A few paragraphs back, I quoted the lumberyard manager as
referring to Mr. Oberg's succession of stories. We soon learned
that his preaching consisted more of telling various stories than
of expounding the Scriptures. He was one who believed Jesus spoke
in parables in order to make his meaning more clear. Actually,
Jesus Himself said He used parables for precisely the opposite
reason -- to HIDE the true meaning, so they could not understand.
Mr. Oberg had made it a practice to memorize just about every
story he ever heard -- or could read.
He constantly used stories to illustrate his points. He had
stories in his memory by the thousands. As he himself claimed, he
had stories to produce laughter, stories of pathos, tearjerkers
to make his audience weep -- and these especially he told with
great acting ability. He continually urged me to acquire a large
stock of stories. But, as Will Rogers might have said, I just
couldn't see it that way. That is not the way the original
apostles preached.

NO Fruit Borne!

When the meetings came to the end of the planned duration, and
absolutely NO "fruit" had been borne, except for the nightly
emotional jamboree, Mr. Oberg was reluctant to stop.
Sam Oberg and his young 25-year-old wife had been living
with Mr. and Mrs. O. J. Runcorn. I believe it was Mr. Runcorn who
put up the $10 for one more month's hall rent. The total duration
of the meetings ran either three or four months.
But even after the extended month, there were no
conversions -- no members added to the Church -- absolutely no
visible results. The "pentecostals" had been enjoying a
continuous nightly show. There was nothing else to show for it.
I have stated before, that never once, when I was working
with any of these other ministers, were any results apparent.
Never, in all those years, did I know of a single conversion
resulting from the work or preaching of any of those ministers!
Yet never did God fail to grant good results, with people
converted and baptized, when I was working alone. I do not say
this with any joy -- for while I do rejoice and am grateful for the
harvest God has produced through my efforts, I have sorrowed and
not found any pleasure or rejoicing in the lack of fruit borne by
the others. That has truly been one of the disappointments we
have had to suffer.
However, God has now changed all that. Today, as I write,
thirty-nine years later, God is abundantly blessing ALL His
ministers whom He now graciously has added to His Church, with
conversions, changed lives, healings, and continuous blessings.
God's Church TODAY is going forward in constantly accelerating
POWER -- the true power of GOD!

The Plots Progress

All through this campaign in Salem, personal relations between
Mr. Oberg and Mr. Ray and me were, on the surface, very friendly
and cooperative. At least that was my attitude of heart. But,
under cover, their plots began to thicken.
After my father had died, at his farm north of Molalla, in
April of 1933, my wife had gone to the farm for a visit with my
mother. I do not remember the exact month, but I believe it must
have been along in late May or early June.
One night she was disturbed and frightened to be awakened
from a startling dream, in which it seemed an angel was telling
her! "GO to Salem at once! GO to Salem at once! Enemies are
plotting against your husband."
She was so alarmed that she was afraid to chance the dream
possibly meaning nothing. She came immediately that day to Salem.
At the same time, Mike Helms had come to tell me that Mr. Oberg
and Mr. Ray had gone around to a number of the brethren in the
valley, and set up an accusation against me, in a secret plot to
get me out of the ministry. They wanted the $3 weekly cash
salary, and the benefit of the other money being spent for our
house rent and beans and flour, etc.
They had brought enough pressure to force Milas Helms, as
president of the Conference, to call a business meeting for the
following Sunday at the church in Harrisburg.
"They plan to discredit you," explained Mr. Helms, "by
charging that your wife is not a neat housekeeper -- and then
turning to the Biblical qualifications for an Elder, for ruling
well his own household. Since they will claim that you are not
ruling your wife sternly enough to be a better housekeeper, they
will claim that you are not Scripturally fit to be a minister,
and must be put out of the ministry."
This came as a shocking surprise! Their accusation was
false. My wife was a good housekeeper, and I did rule my own
family and household, and have my children in subjection. But
these men knew that most members did not know all about our
private family life, and would believe their lie.
These men had been so very friendly -- to my face! I had not
realized they were enemies, speaking lies about me and my wife
behind my back! Mike saw that I was deeply hurt.
"The only thing I know that I can possibly do to help you,"
continued Mr. Helms, "is to give you the opportunity to speak
first, if that will be any benefit. I will be chairman of the
meeting, and I can give you the chance to speak before they do."
I accepted the offer. You may be sure I prayed a great deal
over it. Actually, Mrs. Armstrong has always been a very clean
housekeeper, and a very neat one, with the exception that, during
the years when we had four growing children in the house -- and at
this time the youngest was 3, and the eldest 15 -- children did
leave a few things misplaced, on occasion, of course. But the
charge Mr. Oberg planned to make was simply an outrageous LIE!

Defending My Wife!

Sam Oberg made a fetish of stern neatness, punctuality, and
certain OUTWARD mannerisms designed to lead others to think him
righteous. Actually, although he was unreasonably stern with his
little 3-year-old daughter, he knew about as little of proper
child rearing as anyone I ever knew. He went to the extreme on
stern demands for certain mannerisms of decorum, and punished his
child with over-severity, while at the same time he completely
neglected her in most other ways, failed to properly teach and
train her, and allowed her to do other things that should not
have been done.
There have been times, since I have been changed by God's
Spirit, that righteous indignation arose instantly to white-hot
heat. This was one of them.
But I prayed, and God helped me to put down anger. Also it
came to mind what to do. You may not think God put it there, but
I do.
At Harrisburg on Sunday, Mr. Helms, after opening the
meeting with prayer, gave me the floor first. I think this was a
surprise to Messrs. Oberg and Ray. I told the Board members and
other brethren assembled that I understood this meeting had been
called as an inquisition, to crucify me by false charges. I told
them I did not wish to defend myself. I told them I knew I was
full of faults and weaknesses, the same as each of them. I told
them I had been striving, and with God's help, overcoming many of
these human frailties and weaknesses and habits since my
conversion, some six years before -- but I had not yet reached
perfection. I felt that each of them -- and Messrs. Oberg and
Ray -- lived in glass houses, also, in case any had a hating spirit
of wishing to throw stones.
I stood there and confessed many specific faults and
weaknesses, and asked them if they would PRAY for me that I might
have help in overcoming them. Their eyes began to fill with
tears -- all but Oberg and Ray.
Then I quickly ended by saying that Mr. Oberg and Mr. Ray
might say anything they wished against me -- but that I understood
they planned to accuse my wife falsely, and I then told them with
all the power I had that God made me my wife's defender, and that
if either of them dared to utter one word against my wife, I
would -- if need be CLOSE their mouths before they could finish the
first sentence. I did not specify the means. This was said with
blazing eyes, and a sharp voice!
I sat down.
Mr. Helms then called on Oberg and Ray. I do not remember
what they said -- if anything. I do know that there was NOTHING
left for them to say against ME -- for I had said it all myself
before them. And they somehow must have known that I MEANT IT
when I said I would defend my wife's honor. They were silent
about her.
I do know the result. Their plot backfired! I was not
discharged. Rather, the brethren were still looking to me for
leadership. But Mr. Oberg and Mr. Ray were not through gunning
for me. There was much more to come later!

Chopping Wood

I began to realize that Messrs. Oberg and Ray were secretly
carrying on a propaganda campaign against me. In talking
privately to church brethren they would drop little suggestions
implying, at least indirectly, anything possible against my
One day Milas Helms came to me with the offer to give me a
very large tree on his farm if I would chop it down, saw it up
and split it for our winter's fuel supply. This tree was six feet
in diameter at the trunk -- a huge fir.
"Some of the brethren," he said, "are getting the idea from
Mr. Oberg and Mr. Ray, that they have to do hard physical work on
their farms, but that you have it pretty soft merely preaching,
visiting members and prospective members, holding Bible studies,
getting out the news bulletin. If you will spend the next several
days splitting up a year's wood supply, I will see that the word
gets around about how energetically you are working. This will
counteract this propaganda better than a million words of
Somehow, it never seemed to dawn on the brethren, who
listened to these subtle innuendoes suggesting I was lazy, that
Mr. Oberg devoted his time, also, to the ministry and had no time
for hard manual labor.
Gladly I accepted the offer, happy of the opportunity to
provide fuel for my family. I counted the rings on the tree. That
tree was growing there when George Washington was a boy! I was
glad of the chance for the exercise and the fresh country air, as
well as the wood.
Again, the plot was foiled.

Cackling Hens

During the course of the Salem meetings Milas Helms brought us a
number of eggs one day -- perhaps a dozen or so. "We have decided
to start tithing our eggs, as well as money income," he said to
It was the off-laying season. This incident has been
reported before in The Plain Truth, but it properly belongs at
this point in the Autobiography. Even though it was out of season
for Mike's hens, they immediately went on an egg-laying campaign.
Never, it seemed, had they laid so many eggs.
After this incident was reported in The Plain Truth, one
reader wrote that she had begun to tithe her eggs and received
the same result. Experience repeatedly proves it pays to tithe!

Blessings in Disguise

Very shortly after our return from Astoria -- possibly even before
the meetings began in Salem, or very soon after they started, the
Santiam River -- on whose banks bordered the farms of Mike Helms
and his brother-in-law, Yancy McGill -- went on a rampage,
overflowing its banks in a complete flood.
It happened on a Friday or Friday night. Mike told me of it
when he came for church on the Sabbath. In fact, we attended a
meeting with other brethren at some town west of Salem that day.
En route, Mike told me of the calamity. His crops had been all
planted. They were all under the water.
The reader can understand by this time that I felt a very
deep affection for Mike Helms. I felt as badly about this as if
it had been my own fields. I continued to express my deep concern
and regret and sympathy.
"Mr. Armstrong," said Mike in what seemed like a half gentle
rebuke, "you seem to be taking this a lot harder than I am. God
says everything works together for GOOD, to them that love the
Lord. I love the Lord, and I try to serve Him and obey Him and I
BELIEVE Him. I am faithful in paying tithes. Right now I can't
see how a thing like this can work together for my good. But I
don't need to see how. I know God means what He says, and, in a
way I can't see right now, this is going to work for my GOOD. I'm
just praising the Lord for it!"
I hope that God used me in teaching Mike many valuable
lessons, but this was a time when God used Mike to teach me a
lesson I shall never forget. Perhaps, in this way through The
Plain Truth, Mike can be used to teach many thousands of our
readers a valuable lesson today, more than a quarter of a century
After the flood subsided a very strange thing became
apparent. On adjoining farmland, without even a fence between,
the crops were completely ruined. But the damage stopped at the
very line of Mike Helms' and Yancy McGill's farms -- all except one
small patch of Mike's land, which it was not too late to replant.
And because the floodwaters had ruined the crops of so many
vegetable gardeners, Mike's and Yancy's crops brought a
higher-than-usual price that year! And THAT is how this calamity
worked for GOOD!

Chapter 29
The Real Beginning of Present Work

THE MEETINGS held by Elder S. A. Oberg and me in the "Hollywood"
district of Salem, Oregon, ended on July 1st, 1933. Just prior to
this date I received an invitation that was to result in the
start of the great worldwide Work of today.
This invitation came from Mr. and Mrs. Elmer E. Fisher. They
were the couple who had been brought into the church by our
private Bible study in my room, the night the storm prevented the
meeting, during the tent campaign in Eugene, in the summer of
1931. The Fishers were successful farmers, living seven miles
west of Eugene. Mr. Fisher was a member of the school board of
the one-room Firbutte school, eight miles west of Eugene on the
old Elmira road. The Fishers asked me to hold meetings in this
country schoolhouse, inviting me to be their guest in their farm
home during the meetings.

Organizing Another Church

But I was still in the employ of the Oregon Conference of the
Church of God. The salary, as stated in the preceding chapter,
was $3 per week. The Conference was to have paid our house rent
in Salem, and they supplied us with bulk foods -- whole wheat
flour, raw sugar, beans. Farmer members supplied us with
vegetables and fruits. However, part of the time the Conference
was unable to pay our house rent, which was $7 per month, and my
wife had to make up the deficit by doing the washings for our
landlady. In addition to this, I raised a vegetable garden on our
lot that summer.
Decision about the Firbutte school meetings near Eugene
required a special Conference Board meeting. About the same time
the Fishers' invitation came, the way opened also for a series of
meetings to be held in the little church building we had rented
in Harrisburg. The Board wanted to decide which assignment was to
go to me, and which to Elder Oberg.
But since the Harrisburg church seated about 150 people, and
was located in a town, while the Firbutte schoolhouse seated only
35, and was located 8 miles from town, in a sparsely settled
rural district where farmhouses were a half-mile apart, the Board
readily agreed to assign me to the country schoolhouse. Elder
Oberg was assigned to the church building in Harrisburg, at his
urgent request.
Meanwhile, the Salem meetings, after three months, ended on
July 1st, 1933, with no results. Mr. Oberg left immediately to
make preparations for his Harrisburg meetings.
After he left, Mrs. Armstrong and I visited a number of the
people who had attended regularly. They had not come into the
church because of a few doctrinal differences. Mr. Oberg, as
explained earlier, had done nearly all the preaching after the
first week. The meetings had become altogether "pentecostal" -- or,
as some might have stated it, "inspirational." These doctrinal
differences had not been explained. I felt that I could explain
them. As a result of nearly a week's work with these people in
their homes, a number of them did accept the truth. We thereupon
accepted them into fellowship as members of the Church.
During these four or five days I rented a church building in
the same general part of Salem, at 17th and Chemeketa, for
Sabbath services, and Thursday night prayer meetings. After
conference with the Board, it was arranged for Mr. A. J. Ray to
act as pastor of the new church at Salem. The members from the
Jefferson area agreed to attend at Salem, and this formed a
church of around 30 or 35 members.
The church there lasted only a few months. The new
"pentecostal" members apparently dropped out after a few weeks,
and the older members around the Jefferson area went back to
meeting in a country schoolhouse southwest of Jefferson.

The START of the Present Work

As soon as arrangements were completed for starting the new
church at Salem, I hurried on down to the Fisher farm to start
the new campaign west of Eugene.
Mr. Oberg was starting his new meetings in Harrisburg on
Sunday night, July 9. The Fishers and I decided to start the
meetings at the Firbutte school the same night. I arrived at the
Fisher farm, leaving my wife and children at our home in Salem,
about July 5th or 6th.
This was the small -- actually infinitesimal -- start of what
was destined to grow to a major worldwide Gospel Work reaching
multiple millions of people every week.
But if small, it started with a burst of energy and
inspiration. First, it started with intensive and earnest private
prayer. To the rear of the Fisher farm home was a fair-sized
hill. Running over this hilltop for exercise I discovered a rock
about 14 inches high. It was in a secluded spot. It came to mind
how Jesus had dismissed the multitudes, and gone up into a
mountain "apart" to pray -- alone with God. I dropped to my knees
before this rock, which seemed just the right height to kneel
before, and began praying earnestly for the success of the
meetings. It became sort of a daily pilgrimage, during my stay at
Fishers', to this, which became my "prayer rock." I'm sure that I
drank in much energy, spiritual strength and inspiration at that
prayer rock.
Preparing for the meetings, I borrowed a typewriter. I think
the Fishers arranged this for me through one of their relatives.
With carbon paper, I typed out some thirty notices, announcing
the meetings, and the topics of the sermons for the first week or
ten days.
There was no local newspaper in that localized school
district. We could not have afforded to purchase advertising
space to announce the meetings, had there been one. We could not
afford to have handbills printed. But I took these typed notices,
and part of the time walking, part of the time with Mr. Fisher
driving me, and part of the time driving his car which he let me
use, I visited all the homes for some five miles around -- farther,
toward the west -- telling the people about the meetings, inviting
them to attend, and leaving the typed announcements.
Then we anxiously awaited Sunday night. Would the people
Twenty-seven people filled 27 of the 35 seats that first
night. I spoke on prophecy.
The second night attendance dropped to 19. But that night we
had a bit of excitement. An event occurred that greatly
stimulated interest.

Heckled -- Put on the Spot

In this neighborhood, near the schoolhouse, lived an elderly
"Bible scholar" with quite a reputation in the community. His
name was Belshaw. He owned the most extensive theological library
in the district -- probably the only one. The neighbors regarded
him as something of a Bible authority.
Mr. and Mrs. Fisher had warned me of one of his habits which
was traditional in the neighborhood. In Eugene, adjoining the
University of Oregon campus, is a theological seminary.
Frequently advanced students were sent to one of these country
schoolhouses to hold a short series of meetings as part of their
training. It was Mr. Belshaw's custom to attend one of the first
two meetings, and to put the speaker on the spot by heckling with
a trick question.
It was Mr. Belshaw's contention that these young men did not
really have a thorough knowledge of the Bible. He was sure that
he did. He was adept at asking questions the answer to which he
was pretty sure the young preacher, or preacher-to-be, did not
know. If he could tangle the speaker up and expose his ignorance,
the neighbors would have a good laugh -- and then fail to attend
any further meetings.
"If Mr. Belshaw can trap you with a trick question, no one
will attend your meetings after that," warned Mr. Fisher. "He
nearly always has a question these young men can't answer. But if
you can answer him, or turn the tables on him, the news will
spread all over the neighborhood and the attendance will
Mr. Belshaw had not put in an appearance the first night.
Apparently he had decided to first see whether I had a good
crowd. But the second night, he was one of the 19 present.
He interrupted my sermon.
"Mr. Armstrong," he called out, "May I ask you a question?"
"Yes Sir, Mr. Belshaw," I replied, "you may."
"Have you been saved yet?"
Instantly I knew what his trap was. He expected me to say
that I had been, of course. Then he would have asked me if I did
not know what Jesus said in Matthew 24:13. So I immediately
quoted this scripture to him.
"Jesus said, in Matthew 24:13, that he that shall endure
unto the end, the same shall be saved. And in the very next
verse, Jesus also said that HIS gospel of the KINGDOM -- which is
the RULE of God -- the keeping of His commandments -- shall be
preached in all the world as a witness. That is what I am doing
here tonight. Why do you not OBEY the Commandments, as Jesus
said, Mr. Belshaw?"
I knew that Mr. Belshaw argued against the Ten Commandments.
"I would, if I could see any LOVE in them," he replied.
"Then you must be spiritually blind," I said. "The Ten
Commandments are merely the ten points of the great Law of LOVE.
The first four tell you how to love God; the last six how to love
thy neighbor. The Bible says LOVE is the fulfilling of the Law.
The Commandments came from God, and God is Love. He gave the
Commandments. Do you think God ever did anything that was not
done in LOVE?"
Mr. Belshaw had no answer. He was silenced for the night.
But he was not through. He tried to trap me with the Scriptures
three more times, in later meetings.
The news did spread.
Tuesday night 36 were in attendance -- one having to stand
through the service. Thursday night 35 came -- every seat filled.
Our highest attendance was 64 -- with 29 standing in the crowded
little room. Attendance for the six weeks averaged 36 -- one more
than seating capacity.

Heckled Again -- and Again!

The final Sunday night, beginning the last week of the meetings,
a young minister who also fought against God's Law came as a
visitor. It was the custom to ask visiting ministers to lead in
prayer -- a custom from which I have long since learned to depart.
I asked him to lead in prayer.
My sermon topic had been announced. He knew I was going to
speak on the subject of God's Sabbath. In his prayer this young
preacher did his best to belittle me, discredit everything he
thought I could say in my sermon, and give the impression I was
not preaching the gospel.
"I thank Thee, O Lord," he prayed in a strong voice, "that
we have a CHRIST to worship, and not a day! Help us, O Lord, to
preach CHRIST, and Him crucified -- not about days and laws. Help
us to be like the Apostle Paul, who said, 'I am determined to
know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.'"
As he prayed, I realized he was trying to knock my sermon
into some kind of a cocked hat before I could start preaching
it -- and that unless I had the right answer his prayer would cause
many to be prejudiced, and to reject everything I would say. As
he prayed, l prayed desperately, asking God to put the right
answer in my mind. God did! Instantly I knew what to say.
This is another incident that has been mentioned before, on
the air and in The Plain Truth -- but it properly belongs at this
point in the Autobiography. After his prayer I said to the
"I am glad to know that Mr ....(I don't remember his name)
says he is determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him
crucified, for I, too, am of the same determination. I am going
to PREACH Jesus Christ, and Him crucified tonight! But to do
that, one must first know WHY Jesus Christ had to be crucified!
"I have just received a letter from my wife in Salem," I
continued. "She wrote me that our elder little son, Richard
David, 5 years old, has just preached his first sermon. He, too,
preached Christ crucified. He and another little boy were playing
by the side of our house. The window was open, and my wife
overheard the conversation. The other little boy had been using a
lot of slang. Our Dickey was exasperated. He picked up two
sticks, crossing the longer with the shorter one.
"'Now you look here, Donald,' said Dickey with flashing
indignation. 'Do you know what this is?'
"'No,' answered Donald.
"'Well, this here is a cross. And they had to put Jesus
Christ up on a cross, and drive nails through his hands and his
feet, and nail him to that cross so he would die, just because
you have been saying gosh and darn and gee-whiz! Don't you say
those words any more!'
"And I wonder," I continued, "if people realize that SIN is
the transgression of God's LAW -- and that Jesus Christ was
CRUCIFIED because you people have been transgressing His holy
I propose to preach to you Christ CRUCIFIED tonight -- and WHY He
was crucified!"
My young preacher guest, in white-hot anger, stomped out of
the schoolhouse, to the accompaniment of the laughter of the
audience, all of whom apparently delighted to see the tables
turned on one who took a hostile advantage of a friendly
invitation to lead in prayer.
He had merely provided me with the most effective possible
introduction for my sermon

Belshaw's Last Stand

The elderly Mr. Belshaw tried twice more, during those meetings,
to entrap me with the Scriptures. But each time, God through His
Spirit put the correct answer in my mind, and the right
scriptures with which to reply.
Much later, after the meetings had closed, and we were
holding meetings three times a week at the next schoolhouse, 4
miles farther west -- the Jeans school -- he made one final attempt.
He staked everything on this, his last stand.
He waited until after the close of my sermon. He accosted me
in the rear of the schoolroom just as people were starting to
"Mr. Armstrong," he said in a loud voice, "May I ask you a
This acted like an electric shock on everyone present. Mr.
Belshaw's question had stirred much excitement. The two or three
who already had gone out the door rushed back in. All circled
around Mr. Belshaw and me.
"Yes sir, Mr. Belshaw -- you most certainly may try once
again," I responded, and by this time with a confident smile.
"Well, Mr. Armstrong, have I not heard you mention the
scriptures stating that the Apostle Paul told the Gentile
converts that he had not shunned to declare unto them the whole
gospel -- and that he had not held anything back that was
profitable to them?"
"That is correct," I smiled.
"And have you not also said that no nation ever kept the
Sabbath, except the Israelites -- that is, that these Gentiles had
not been Sabbath keepers before Paul taught them?"
"That is also correct!"
"All right," pursued Mr. Belshaw confidently. He was sure he
had the best of me this time. "IF the Sabbath law is binding on
us today, then it was binding on those Gentiles as soon as they
became Christians. They were never Sabbath keepers prior to
conversion. IF it is binding on us, then it was necessary for
Paul to teach them to keep it. Now can you show me any scripture
where the Apostle Paul ever taught or commanded the Gentiles to
keep the Sabbath?" He felt he had delivered a telling
blow -- unanswerable, that would finally discredit me and what I
preached once and for all! He was shocked at my answer.
"Yes sir, Mr. Belshaw!" I answered without any hesitation.
"I certainly can! But before I do, I will now ask you a question:
If I do show you where the Apostle Paul commanded the Gentile
converts to keep the Sabbath, then that is irrefutable proof that
YOU are commanded to keep it today. Now before I show you this
command, I demand to know this: IF I show where Paul commanded
the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath, WILL YOU NOW GIVE UP YOUR
He looked at me completely dumbfounded. He had been sure
there was no command in the New Testament from Paul to Gentiles
to keep the Sabbath. My answer caused him to back up, so
startled, he almost fell over backward. It literally staggered
him. Now he was not so sure of himself. I appeared very
confident. He wasn't sure whether I was bluffing. But he was
afraid to take the chance.
"NO, I WON'T!" he snapped, and angrily stomped out of the
I do hasten to add, however, that aside from these four
skirmishes where Mr. Belshaw, as was his custom with all
preachers coming to the neighborhood, tried to trap me, he was
most friendly toward me. He respected me. He refused to agree,
but he did respect me. We had many friendly visits together. Mr.
Fisher and I called on him three or four times, but, much as he
liked to argue Scripture, he usually avoided the subject when we
came around.
After he left I did show the rest of the people present
where Paul did command the gentiles to keep the Sabbath. My
challenge to Mr. Belshaw was not a bluff.

Chapter 30
The World Tomorrow Broadcast Begins

THE IDEA of a literal, yet invisible devil of supernatural powers
is looked upon askance by the "liberal" clergy, and by most of
the so-called "educated" of today. But you can PROVE that the
Holy BIBLE is in actual fact the inspired very WORD of the
Eternal God and Creator. And the Bible reveals that there is an
existent devil! It reveals also that he is, in these last days,
exceedingly angry and stirred to action against the true servants
of God, who keep God's commandments, and have the faith of Jesus
Christ (Rev. 12:12,17).

An Angry Devil

It is also revealed that Satan's method is to deceive, and that
he and his demons have power to put thoughts, suggestions, or
impulses into unsuspecting human minds -- unless we are alertly on
guard against it.
The unseen Master Competitor had instilled into the hearts
of associated ministers a spirit of competition against me, even
before the actual start of this present Work of God in that
little Firbutte schoolhouse.
The very second time in my life I ever "preached" -- if those
early efforts could be called that -- an opposing minister had
appeared, and devoted most of his sermon to an effort to tear
down what I had preached in the first sermon of the day, just
before his sermon. Another minister had tried to prevent my
articles from appearing further in The Bible Advocate organ of
The Church of God. A plot had been hatched by two ministers,
during the Salem, Oregon, meetings, by false accusations, to
discredit me and get me off the payroll of the Oregon Conference
of this church.
And now, at the very start of what was to continue steadily
expanding into a worldwide force directed and empowered by God,
Satan tried, more viciously than ever, to stop this Work while it
was still small. Surely no activity could have started smaller.
The things of God, when the Eternal works through human
instruments, must start the very smallest -- like the grain of
mustard seed. But they grow. No power, no grouping of power,
whether satanic or human, can stop or prevent God's PURPOSE!
Satan may be far more powerful than man. But God is incomparably
more powerful than Satan, and the devil can do no more than God
I suppose these opposing ministers thought they were doing
right. There is a way that seems right to a man. God says these
ways are wrong, and end in death. But a deceived man cannot
comprehend that. I do not wish to impute motives. I could not
read these men's hearts. But I do know that, regardless of
intent, their actions sought at every turn to DESTROY what has
proved, by its fruits, to be the true WORK OF GOD! Today, far
more powerful and formidable human powers are being marshalled
against it. Today, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees hated the
Gospel Jesus was preaching, so modern organized churchianity
hates that same identical Gospel now pouring like an avalanche
over every continent on earth, preparing the way before Christ's
coming to RULE all nations with GOD's LAWS.
Thus prophecy is being fulfilled!

The "Pork" Obsession

The opposition through the spring and summer of 1933 had come
through the two ministers who had moved up to Oregon from
California, Elders Sven (Sam) A. Oberg, and A. J. Ray. Mr. Ray
was developing, through the summer, a sort of obsession against
the eating of "unclean" meats -- pork, ham, bacon, seafoods, and
those labelled "unclean" in Leviticus 11. The emphasis he
continually put on this doctrine, almost with vehemence, rather
gave the impression that, in his eyes, the eating of pork, which
came in for his greatest condemnation, was the greatest of sins.
About the time the Firbutte school meeting started, July 9,
1933, Mr. Ray began aiming his "anti-pork" guns directly at me.
He demanded that I state definitely my stand on this question. I
had written him a Biblical exposition of the subject, showing
that it was a physical FOOD question, rather than a spiritual or
Gospel subject. Unless a man broke the tenth commandment by
lusting after it, the eating of pork did not violate the Ten
Commandments, which constitute a SPIRITUAL law.
I quoted Mark 7:15-23, where Jesus explained that sin is a
spiritual principle -- that which is coming out of the heart of a
man -- evil thoughts leading to actions of adultery, murder, theft,
deceit, blasphemy, pride -- violations of the Ten Commandments; but
that nothing from without, entering in his mouth, defiles the man
spiritually. Jesus was speaking of SPIRITUAL principles, and SIN
as a spiritual offense.
I explained that I was well aware that the unclean animals
were unclean even before the Flood -- not suddenly pronounced so by
Moses. I also explained that I was well aware of the fact they
are still unclean, and unfit for the physical digestive process;
that Peter's vision of the sheet was given, not to cleanse
unclean animals, but to show Peter that he should not regard a
Gentile MAN as unclean (Acts 10:28).
Also that I well understood that I Timothy 4:1-5 did not
make unclean foods digestible and healthful, but only those which
are "creatures of God," and "sanctified" which means SET APART by
the Word of God and prayer." The Word of God does NOT sanctify
the flesh of swine, or set it apart for holy use -- but rather
forbids its use for food. Undoubtedly millions of people have
contracted disease from eating unclean meats.
But, I pointed out, it still was a PHYSICAL violation, not a
spiritual sin. The Kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17) is NOT meat and
drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy
Spirit -- SPIRITUAL things.
And, I explained, I was commissioned to preach to the
outside world The Kingdom of God, which is NOT preaching meat and
drink. I explained that neither I nor any of my family ate
unclean meats; that I taught all converts not to eat unclean
meats, as a matter of good health. But I asked him if he could
show me by the Bible where I was in error, or any Scriptural
commission to preach sermons to the unconverted on the eating of
pork. I told him I refused to make this food question a subject
for sermons to the unconverted, unless he could show me
Scriptural grounds for so doing.
He was unable to reply. Instead, he set out with renewed
zeal to discredit me and get me ousted from the ministry.
There was a ministers' meeting one Sunday afternoon, about
four weeks after the Firbutte school meetings had started, at the
Jeans schoolhouse, four miles west of Firbutte. Both Mr. Ray and
Mr. Oberg came to talk to me. They were not friendly. Mr. Ray,
especially, was wrathful.

Hatching Another Plot

Then a general business meeting of the state Conference was
called for the following Sunday, at the church building in
Harrisburg. I was instructed not to let the Fishers or any of the
people in the Firbutte or Eugene district know about it.
I well knew the purpose of the meeting. I was having, in the
one-room country schoolhouse out in this sparsely settled rural
district, a larger attendance than Mr. Oberg was having in the
larger church building in the town of Harrisburg. I already had
three or four conversions, he had none.
At this meeting with Mr. Ray and Mr. Oberg, they strenuously
objected to my baptizing new converts before I had preached to
them against pork, and had evidence they had given it up. I knew
that Messrs. Oberg and Ray intended to use this against me in the
business meeting, as their latest try to get me ousted from the
I must repeat that I was receiving a salary of $3 per week!
The farmer members provided my family in Salem with a certain
amount of food, in addition to the salary.
I have not mentioned it before, but in April, 1933, during
the Salem meetings, I had started the issuing of a monthly
Bulletin for members of the conference. It was mimeographed. At
Salem, I had hired the Bulletin printed at the local mimeograph
shop. At the Fisher home, after starting the Firbutte school
meetings, I had borrowed a typewriter, and the Eugene mimeograph
dealer permitted me to use one of his mimeographs without
charge -- though I had to buy the stencils and paper. These costs
were paid by the Conference treasury.
After we started the meetings west of Eugene, some people in
that area had begun giving me small amounts of money
occasionally, which I began to use for the expenses and mailing
of this conference Bulletin.

A Letter to My Wife

During this week, between the conference with the two ministers
and the business meeting at Harrisburg, I wrote a letter to my
wife. I was temporarily discouraged, and I was exasperated and
indignant at the tactics of these ministers, professing to be the
ministers of Jesus Christ. I simply felt I had to blow off the
steam of righteous indignation. Some of the human nature asserted
I really "got it off my chest" in a 6-page single-spaced
letter I typed to my wife on this borrowed typewriter. Then,
after "getting it out of my system" I folded up the letter. But I
did not mail it. I must have neglected to destroy it, for I have
run across the letter in an old dusty file. I had refrained from
sending it to my wife, for I knew she would reprove me for
"griping." I felt I had "murmured" like the grumbling children of
Israel being led out of Egypt under Moses.
Nevertheless, although some of this letter reflects a
humanness of which I was ashamed, it does give an account,
written at the moment, of the very feeling of the situation.
I did go up the hill to my prayer rock, and get the
complaining out of my heart. There it came to my mind that I
should prepare a written defense of my action in baptizing the
four so far converted at Firbutte.
But the truth is, God did prosper the work started in the
Eugene area. With the Church then being raised up at Eugene, He
DID start a work through us which He could, AND DID, PROSPER! He
is still prospering it in a mighty way!

The "All-Day Wrangle"

Mr. Fisher drove me to the business meeting at Harrisburg on
Sunday morning. But he, being excluded, returned home.
Both Mr. Ray and Mr. Oberg had their fighting tempers on.
This time they were determined to have me put out of the
Conference. One of them preached an hour and a half or two hours
in the morning -- until noon -- in one long tirade against me. The
other followed in the afternoon session, with another two-hour
denunciation of my baptizing people on repentance and faith,
before they had been given a complete education about God's Law,
and before they had been instructed against eating pork. As
usual, not much Scripture was given -- but emotional arguments
based on human reasoning, and worked up to a high pitch.
I knew they had swayed some of the brethren into believing I
had done wrong in baptizing these people according to the Bible
I then asked to be allowed to defend myself, and present the
Scriptural reason why I baptized as I did, according to
SCRIPTURAL TEACHING. Immediately Messrs. Oberg and Ray were on
their feet in protest.
"If Brother Armstrong is allowed to speak, he will take up
too much time," they argued.
"I anticipated that," I replied. "I have my reply to these
long speeches by Brother Ray and Brother Oberg typewritten. I
have timed it. It takes exactly 15 minutes to read it. Are you
going to allow these men hours -- all morning and afternoon -- to
accuse me, and then refuse me even 15 minutes to answer their
accusations, and show BY THE SCRIPTURES, who is right?"
On promise I would not take up more than 15 minutes' time, I
was allowed to read my defense.
In brief it was this: The natural, unconverted mind cannot
understand the Bible, and is not subject to the Law of God,
neither indeed can be. There is no promise in the Bible God will
give His Holy Spirit to anyone prior to baptism -- even though He
did in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). God's order is, 1)
REPENT, 2) BE BAPTIZED as a symbol of FAITH in Christ, and 3)
receive the Holy Spirit. Repentance means unconditional SURRENDER
to God, and to God's will and His way, or whatever He commands.
It means having the rebellion in the human heart against
obedience to God BROKEN. It means utter submission to GOD, and to
whatever He instructs in His Word. Those I had baptized had
In Matthew 28:19-20, God's order is 1) go and preach the
Gospel (compare with Mark's version, same words of Jesus, Mark
16:15); 2) baptize those who REPENT and BELIEVE; then, after
that, 3) teach them to observe the COMMANDMENTS. Since people
cannot fully comprehend the truth of the Commandments and the
teaching of the Bible until AFTER they receive the Holy Spirit,
and since there is no promise God will give the Holy Spirit until
after baptism, therefore I baptized them after repentance and
faith, just as the Bible instructs -- and then, after laying on
hands with prayer for their receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts
8:12, 14-17; Acts 19:5-6; I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6, etc.), I
taught them God's Commandments, and not to eat unclean meats,
etc. Every convert I had ever baptized had obeyed all the truths
as soon as I taught them. They were submissive, teachable,
yielded to God, hungry for His truth. The KNOWLEDGE of the Lord
is something to teach converted people whose minds are opened by
God's Spirit. We must continually GROW in this knowledge.

The Double Cross

As soon as I finished, Mr. Fisher's car had arrived to take me
back to the Firbutte schoolhouse for the evening meeting. I was
forced to leave immediately. Under the circumstances, I asked the
Board members and ministers if they would postpone any action
until another meeting when I could be present. To this they
About half of the brethren present were very plainly on my
side. As I left the church, this half rose and walked outside to
assure me of their sympathy, and that they would resist any
action against me.
But as soon as I and all who would support me had gone
outside, Messrs. Ray and Oberg broke their word! They immediately
offered a resolution that I be required, if I remained in the
conference, to baptize people their way instead of the Scriptural
way, and those remaining inside the church building were swayed
into voting for it.
As soon as I heard of the action taken, I immediately wrote
a letter cancelling the $3 per week salary, and suggesting they
give it to Messrs. Oberg and Ray. I did not resign from the
Conference. But I refused further salary.
My wife was in complete accord with me.
"As for me and my house," I then said firmly, "we shall
serve the Eternal our God, and Him ONLY shall we serve. If MEN
pay us a salary -- even as small as $3 per week -- we have now
learned we must preach only what MEN order us to preach. If we
are to WORK FOR GOD we must look to God as our EMPLOYER, AND
"if we fail to serve Him as HE commands, He will stop our
income." I wrote my wife to this effect.
It may seem like a step that required great courage to give
up even a $3-a-week income, when that was all we had. Of course,
a few offerings were by this time being handed to me
personally -- but they were usually a dollar or less, and averaged
less than the $3 weekly salary. But it really did not require any
real courage. My wife and I knew we were obeying and serving God.
We knew He was using us. The FRUITS being borne were loud
testimony of this. God had prepared us for relying solely on Him
by many miraculous answers to prayer. Therefore we knew, in
perfect faith, God would supply our need.

The Crucial Test

Actually this was the turning point of my whole life -- far more
crucial than I realized at the time.
This was the crossroads -- the final pivotal, crucial test
before the living Christ began opening the doors of mass
communication through which GOD'S WORK at last could come to life
after centuries of sleeping, and go forth in mighty power to all
the world, preparing the way before Christ's return to earth as
Ruler over all nations.
I did not fully realize, then, that this was a crucial
turning point in the history of the Church of God. My wife and I
did not leave the Church. This was God's Church. Of that I was
not, then, completely sure. They came closer to Biblical truth
than any other -- but I was seriously disturbed by their lack of
power and accomplishment.
What actually was happening, though we did not understand it
then, was that a NEW ERA was dawning in the history of the Church
of God. The words of Christ are quoted in the 2nd and 3rd
chapters of the Book of Revelation, foretelling the history of
God's Church in seven successive eras, or phases. Events since
that time have revealed this to be the era in which Christ's
message is to go worldwide just before the end of this age.
Mrs. Armstrong and I continued to fellowship with these
brethren. I continued to work with them, and with their
ministers, as far as that was possible. The lay brethren
continued to look to me for the leadership for getting the Work
of God going to the world. But from that "all-day wrangle" I was
independent of them and their ministers, financially. From that
time I was dependent, solely, on God. We did not ask or solicit
financial contributions from any except those who voluntarily
became financial co-workers with us. And that has been the policy
ever since.
But, from that moment when we began to rely solely on God
for financial support not only, but also for guidance, direction,
and results, the Work began a phenomenal yearly increase of
nearly 30% for the next 35 years. It doubled in size, scope and
power on the average of every 2 2/3 years. It multiplied eight
times every eight years -- 64 times in 16 years. Today it is an
immensely larger and greater Work than then.
WHY has this Work leaped from virtually nothing to worldwide
power and scope, multiplying itself continually over and over
Certainly I had not the ability, the resources within
myself, to have planned, directed, and accomplished anything
remotely like the phenomenal development into the worldwide
enterprises that is reality today.
In my twenties I had been ambitious,
self-confident -- conceited, supposing I would be doing great
things. But that SELF-inflation had been punctured and utterly
deflated. I had been brought down to earth with a sickening thud.
I had been forced to realize, in retrospect, that I had been
merely "running around in circles," unable to develop any
organization or take an executive job requiring the management
and supervision over others. I had come to see myself as "a hunk
of burned-out junk," unworthy to be cast aside on the scrap pile.
Conversion had deflated ego and replaced SELF-assurance with
And this crisis was the turning point when my wife and I
actually, in practice, began RELYING SOLELY ON GOD -- no longer on
either self or MEN!
Until those two milestones had been hurdled, God could not
others is just that -- this is the Work of GOD and not of MEN. It
started, and continued, to rely on GOD, not on MAN.
I had been changed; I had seven years of intensive Bible
study and growth in Biblical KNOWLEDGE behind me. I had five
years of experience in preaching. I had become quite experienced
in relying on God, instead of on self or on humans. Yet,
notwithstanding, as long as I was EMPLOYED by men who were over
me, and who had proved to be susceptible of being influenced and
swayed by false ministers, into acting contrary to God's Word, I
was not yet free to RELY ON GOD ALONE, and to be completely
FAITHFUL to His Word!
The living Christ simply could not start opening the doors
for HIS WORK, until I was free to RELY SOLELY ON HIM!
I was now FREE! This final crucial test had proved that I
would be FAITHFUL to God and His Word, even at cost of giving up
I know of evangelists who probably are sincere in supposing
they are serving God -- and who would like to be free to proclaim
many truths they now hold back. They reason something like this:
"If I go farther, and preach those things, I'll lose all my
support. I'd be cut off from the ministry altogether. Then I
could preach NOTHING. Better serve God by preaching as much of
the Biblical truth as possible, than to be prevented from
preaching anything."
They are relying on the financial support of MEN, or of
organizations of men. Anyone in that predicament is the SERVANT
OF MEN, and NOT OF GOD, whether he realizes it or not.
A man accosted me as I was walking along the gravel country
road, between the Firbutte School and the Jeans School in the
fall of 1933.
"You won't get far," he said. "You're preaching the straight
truth of the Bible. That offends people. The Bible is like a
sharp two-edged sword. It cuts -- it reproves, corrects,
rebukes -- people won't support that kind of preaching! You won't
get far."
But I was not relying on the support of PEOPLE. If PEOPLE
paid me, I would have to serve people. If I were to serve GOD, I
would have to look solely to GOD for support!
Of course God does work through human instruments. But I had
to rely on GOD to lay it on the hearts of people to support the
kind of preaching that obeys Isaiah 58:1 by crying ALOUD -- lifting
up my voice and showing the people their SINS!
NEVER was a more important decision made than that decision
to cut loose entirely from relying on MEN, and instead, relying
solely on God -- not only for truth, and for direction, but also
for SUPPORT! That's why we never solicit the public for
Very quickly after that decision the living Christ began
opening doors! Very small ones at first. Then additional small
ones -- then a BIG door -- then more and more of them!
And, to finance what He opened before me, He added, slowly,
gradually, but consistently to the little family of Co-Workers
who voluntarily wanted to have a part in GOD'S WORK -- in changing
hearts, changing human nature, preparing for Christ's coming to
CHANGE AND SAVE THE WORLD! But I could not invite people to
become Co-Workers. I could welcome them with gratitude when GOD
caused them voluntarily to become Co-Workers with Christ -- but
until they took the initiative I could not ask them. No other
activity on earth is operated like this -- and perhaps none has
grown so surely.

The First Broadcast

The six weeks' meetings in the one-room Firbutte schoolhouse came
to a close on Sunday night, August 20, 1933. A total of more than
20 had come with us -- but this apparently included the ten members
of the Fisher and Ellis families, members of the Church before
the meetings started.
The October 1, 1933 Bulletin carries the report that "with
the Fisher and Ellis families, more than 20 signified their
desire to establish a new Sabbath-keeping Church of God in this
In September -- very soon after rejecting a salary and being
controlled and muzzled by MEN, the living Christ began opening
doors for the MASS-proclaiming of His Gospel. It was then that
someone brought to my attention the fact that the local radio
station at Eugene, KORE, then the very smallest minimum-power of
100 watts, had a morning devotional program scheduled, but that
they were having difficulty getting local ministers to conduct
the program. It was free time, carried by the station as a public
service sustaining program of 15 minutes, 7:45 to 8:00 a.m.
Immediately I went to the radio station. A woman secretary
told me she felt sure they would be glad to have me take the
program for a week. I was to call back later for the exact date.
On my second call I was assigned the week of October 9th.
October 9th was surely a great big day in my life -- the day
of my very first experience before a microphone, ON THE AIR!
I took this opportunity very seriously. It was an
opportunity to speak to several HUNDRED people at once! I had
never spoken to that many before.
I spent the preceding week preparing rather extensive notes
and script. I might never again have such an opportunity, so I
decided to strike directly at the very heart of the Gospel of the
Kingdom of God. Since the Kingdom of God is based on the promises
made to Abraham, I began, on Monday morning's program with the
PROMISES made to Abraham.


I had heard a lot about everybody getting mike-fright the very
first time on the air. I wondered if I would experience this. It
was probably the most exciting adventure of my life.
On Monday morning, I arrived at the radio studio early. The
announcer did not come into the studio until ten or fifteen
seconds before 7:45.
Mike-fright? Why, I thought to myself, I'm calm and cool as
a cucumber!
"Listen!" I said quietly but quickly to the announcer. "I've
never been on the air before. If you have any instructions, you'd
better give them to me in a hurry. We have only 10 seconds!"
He looked at me disdainfully, and a little bored.
"Just stand up there in front of the mike, and start talking
as soon as I announce you," he replied.
About three seconds later he announced me. While he was
giving this very brief announcement on the air, I thought, "Well
I don't have any mike-fright. I'm sure glad of that!"
Then, for the first time in my life, I said into the
"GREETINGS, friends!"
But suddenly something had happened! Before those two words
were finished, something had hit me like a jolt! Something had
started my heart pounding like a sledge-hammer! I felt myself
gasping for breath! During those opening two words, MIKE-FRIGHT
had seized me!
I struggled with all my might to control my hard breathing
so it would not be audible over the air. It was agony, but I
concentrated my mind with all the strength I had on two
things -- to carefully say the words of my typed script as
naturally as I could, and to control my hard breathing so it did
not sound.
After two or three minutes I was making good progress in
gaining control. After some five minutes my breathing had
returned to normal, and I was so absorbed in getting this vital
message over to the largest audience of my life -- even though that
audience was invisible -- that I forgot all about the mike-fright.

The Surprising Response

The second morning there was no mike-fright. I was beginning to
gain assurance, and able to speak a little more naturally.
It must have been about Thursday morning that the announcer
told me the station owner, Mr. Frank Hill, wanted to see me in
his office later in the morning.
He had received several letters and telephone calls from
listeners, requesting copies of my talks. I had offered no
literature of any kind. I had invited no mail response.
"This is rather surprising," said Mr. Hill. "We never had
any response of any kind, before, from this morning devotional
program. They told me you had not invited any. Yet it has been
coming. I listened in on you this morning to see what was causing
it. You have an excellent radio voice, and a way of delivering
your message that arouses interest and holds an audience.
"Now, Mr. Armstrong," he continued, "I want to suggest that
you work out a regular Sunday morning Church service, condensed
into a half hour. I'd like to put that on as a regular sustaining
program -- free time -- but I can't do that without offering equal
time to every church in town. However I will sell you the time at
less than bare cost of operation, $2.50 per half hour."
And THAT suggestion from Mr. Frank Hill is what put the idea
of the WORLD TOMORROW program in my mind!
Altogether 14 letters and telephone calls came in to the
radio station requesting copies of the messages I had broadcast.
I thanked him, and told him I would see what I could do.
But, $2.50 every week! WOW! That was almost as much as my
entire salary had been! And I had just previously renounced even
that small salary!
Today, $2.50 per half-hour broadcast seems incredibly small.
We have to pay far more than that per minute on stations today!
But it seemed like an insurmountable barrier then.
Yet I knew this was GOD'S WORK, not mine. I was only an
instrument. God had promised to supply every need.
us to walk through that door. I knew He would somehow supply that
$2.50 every week. I knew also that we had to do our part, not lie
down, do nothing, and expect God to do it without any effort from
I was continuing to hold meetings at the Firbutte
schoolhouse, twice weekly -- Sabbath afternoons and Thursday
Then, on October 21st, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Smith,
just across the road from the Jeans school, 4 miles west of
Firbutte, a new Church of God was organized, with Mr. E. E.
Fisher as deacon, and myself as Pastor. Meetings continued from
that date, three times a week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and
Sabbath afternoons. Attendance was averaging 22. A first action
of the new Church was the decision of whether to go ahead with
the broadcast. These new members and the lay brethren of the
Oregon Conference all approved it joyfully as an effective
evangelistic activity of the Church.
So I sent out a letter to the small mailing list of members
we had for The Bulletin. I asked for pledges from brethren to
help raise this $2.50 per week. But I asked this only of God's
people -- brethren in Christ -- NOT OF THE PUBLIC! In due time
pledges came back for just HALF enough -- about $1.35 per week! We
decided we would trust God in faith for the other $1.15 per week!
It was arranged with Mr. Hill to start the new half-hour
program every Sunday, in the new year, 1934.

Chapter 31
The Plain Truth Is Published

SURELY NOTHING could have started smaller. Born in adversity in
the very depths of the Depression, this Work of God was destined
to grow to worldwide power.
But I did not realize its destiny then. There were no
illusions of grandeur. It was not through any planning of mine
that the little three-point campaign then being launched was to
expand into its present global scope and influence.

Divinely Planned

Most people are conscious only of what they see -- of that which is
material. They fail to see the invisible Hand of GOD in the
working out of things.
All I had in mind, as The World Tomorrow program was being
planned late in 1933, was to serve God faithfully wherever He
should lead in that local territory of Lane County, Oregon.
It is true that "where there is no vision, the people
perish." But few people realize that the source of true vision is
GOD. There has been vision behind the planning and phenomenal
growth of this great work. But this is the WORK OF GOD, not of
man; and the vision and the planning has been that of Jesus
Christ, the active, living HEAD of this Work, not of man.
Even in earlier business experience, I had always looked
ahead. It had become habitual with me to think of expanding. I
had envisioned my laundry advertising service becoming national
in scope. I did have a vision of this broadcasting being
But, I most certainly did not sit down, in the fall of 1933,
and lay out detailed plans in my human mind for a great,
powerful, earth-encircling program to reach and influence the
millions in every nation. There was no thought, then, of a
gigantic radio program, and a publishing enterprise, starting in
Eugene, Oregon, but soon expanding to every inhabited continent;
there certainly was no thought of the massive television program
of today (television was virtually unheard of until some 12 years
later, after the end of World War II); nor was there the remotest
idea that we should, at the proper time along the way, organize
and build a college for training the personnel for a rapidly
growing organization.
No, this Work, in the sense of the magnitude to which it has
developed, was not of my planning or vision. This is THE VERY
WORK OF GOD, and the vision behind it has been that of Jesus
Christ -- the planning HIS! I was merely His instrument.

A Powerful DOOR Opens

What actually was happening has been written for almost 1900
years. Of course no one -- least of all myself -- had the remotest
realization of it then. Jesus Christ said: "I will build my
Church." He built it for a purpose -- to become God's instrument in
carrying on GOD's WORK fulfilling His PURPOSE here below.
God began the Work of His Church through Christ. Jesus said
that He Himself was powerless -- it was the POWER of God's Holy
Spirit working in His personal human body which really did the
But after His ascension to heaven, that same WORK OF GOD was
carried on through the Spirit of God working in the collective
body of God's CHURCH. That is why the true Church is called "the
BODY of Christ" (Eph. 1:22-23).
God sent His Message -- the GOOD NEWS of His Kingdom -- of His
REIGN -- His GOVERNMENT -- His divine FAMILY -- to mankind by Jesus
Christ. Jesus taught this Message to His disciples, who became
the apostolic leaders of His Church as it started out.
This Message from God -- Christ's GOSPEL -- was also recorded in
the Scriptures of the New Testament. A few accepted that Message,
and it changed their lives.
But men generally rejected the Gospel -- they crucified Jesus
for teaching it! Those who preached it were persecuted -- martyred!
During the first 19-year time cycle of the preaching of the
Gospel -- A.D. 31 to A.D. 50 -- the Gospel was being preached
primarily to Jews. The Jews had understood about the Kingdom of
God. They were familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah 9:6-7, of
how the Messiah would come to set up the Kingdom and government
of God over all the world. What the Jews did not understand was
that Jesus' First Coming, as a babe born of the virgin Mary, was
to qualify, by resisting and conquering Satan, to replace Satan
on the throne of the earth as well as to announce that Kingdom to
appear some 1,900 years later. And to pay with his own life's
blood for the penalty of human sins.
Consequently, the twelve apostles devoted their preaching to
the Jews primarily to proving that Jesus was the prophesied
Messiah. The opposition against the spread of the Church was
almost wholly from within the Jewish community, denying the
messiahship of Jesus. The twelve apostles were eyewitnesses to
the fact that Jesus was the true Messiah. They had been with him
continually for some three and a half years before His
crucifixion and forty days after His crucifixion until His
ascension to God's throne in heaven.
But the preaching of the Apostle Paul and other apostles to
the people of the Gentile world was the very gospel Jesus Himself
had proclaimed -- the good news of the future coming of the Kingdom
of God and world rulership of Christ. The Gentiles had not heard
of the Kingdom of God before.
Somewhere around the middle of the first century, a violent
controversy had begun to develop as to whether the gospel to be
preached was merely a gospel about Christ -- of His Messiahship and
death as our Savior -- or the very message God sent by Jesus as the
divine messenger with the message of the true gospel (good news)
of the coming Kingdom of God.
Evidence of this is the letter the Apostle Paul wrote about
this time to the churches in Galatia, in which he warned that
they had already turned to a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-7).
At that time a most amazing thing occurred. The history
regarding the Church -- its Gospel and its development -- seems
almost totally to have disappeared. It was as if a curtain had
been rung down on all historic accounts of church history until
about A.D. 150. When this curtain was lifted after that lost
century, in the records of church history, an altogether
different gospel was being preached -- merely the so-called gospel
of men about the Christ, the Messenger, but not proclaiming His
Except for the one true Church, persecuted, falsely accused,
condemned, subjected to martyrdom over the centuries by the
rising great false church (Rev. 17:5), the true gospel -- the good
news of the coming Kingdom of God was not preached to the world
for 100 19-year time-cycles. Then, in 1953, God miraculously
opened the door before me of the most powerful radio station on
earth -- reaching all Europe and Britain, Radio Luxembourg.
Christ foretold that, just before the END of this
world -- this age -- this man-built society rejecting the laws and
ways of GOD -- His very same Gospel of God's KINGDOM "shall be
preached" (Matt. 24:14) and also published (Mark 13:10) "in all
the world for a witness unto all nations."
In the light of fast-developing, world-encircling events, it
became apparent that what was actually happening in 1934 was
precisely this: Jesus Christ was opening the gigantic mass-media
DOOR of radio and the printing press for the proclaiming of His
same original GOSPEL to all the world!
On that tiny-powered radio station KORE -- in that infant
mimeographed Plain Truth -- was going out an astonishing Message!
Just as the public, 1,900 years before, had been astonished at
Christ's Gospel (Mark 1:14-15,22), so were those who began to
hear this SAME GOSPEL in 1934. It was so utterly different from
what had been palmed off as "Christianity."

The "Three-Point" Campaign

And so it was, that when Mr. Frank Hill, owner of KORE, urged me
to produce a half-hour Sunday program, consisting of a regular
church service condensed into a half hour, using radio
techniques, that I went to work on the idea with zest and
This seemed BIG, compared to past activities. I saw in it
immediately an opportunity to reach many more people with God's
Not only did I set out with a will to produce the radio
program, but I realized there must be follow-up (and I do not
mean a money-soliciting follow-up) if this new effort were to be
Immediately the idea came of realizing, at last, the dream I
had cherished since 1927 -- the publication of a magazine, to be
called The Plain Truth. Back in 1927 I had made up an entire
"dummy" of this proposed magazine. I had even written articles
for it. I even had a professional letter artist design a front
cover idea in 1927 -- and I had tried designing one myself. But we
had never had the "wherewithal" to start publishing a magazine.
This ambition to publish The Plain Truth was the natural
outgrowth of earlier business experience. Much of my 20 years of
advertising experience had been spent in the class magazine
Now, at last, I realized that this magazine was a "must" as
a follow-up for the radio broadcast. Yet we were no more able,
financially, than we had been in 1927.
Necessity is the mother of invention. If we could not afford
to publish a high-quality, professional-appearing magazine, I
would simply convert the mimeographed "BULLETIN" I had been
issuing for our scattered church brethren in the Willamette
Valley into The Plain Truth.
My idea for this magazine, from the start, had been to
publish a magazine, not for church members, but for the general
public -- the unconverted and unchurched -- an evangelistic-type
publication to bring to the world God's TRUTH -- making it PLAIN!
So now, even if it had to start with about 250 copies done
by hand on a mimeograph, I would start it! Like the grain of
mustard seed, it started, very possibly, the smallest of
magazines. But it has grown into a professional-appearing 32-page
magazine of over 8,000,000 circulation.
Also I saw at once that the broadcasts should be followed up
by continued public evangelistic services.
Therefore, I wrote to the small number of members on the
mailing list I had -- perhaps less than 60 -- the news of the
forthcoming THREE-POINT CAMPAIGN: (1) The half-hour Sunday radio
program; (2) the new mimeographed magazine for interested
listeners, The Plain Truth, and (3) personal public meetings.
The broadcast, and idea of the Three-Point Campaign, had
been completely approved, of course, by the brethren of the


On the first Sunday morning in the new year, 1934, precisely at
10 a.m., we were ON THE AIR. The program has been continuously on
the air, without missing a single week, ever since.
Mr. Hill had suggested that we produce a regular Sunday
morning church service, condensed into 30 minutes. I had planned
it according to his suggestion. In our new local church, then
meeting out at the Jeans school house, 12 miles west of Eugene,
we had a young couple, Claude and Velma Ellis. Claude was a very
good tenor. His wife Velma sang alto. They sang duets. They
supplied the music.
I do not remember the exact format of the program, as it
started, during those first few months. Very soon the duet was
replaced with a mixed quartette, with our daughter Beverly
singing soprano, Mrs. Armstrong alto, Claude Ellis tenor, and
Alfred Freeze bass, with Mrs. Ellis at the piano.
As the program started out it was called the "Radio Church
of God." It was, indeed, a church service on the air. There has
been a gradual evolution in the format of the program. We were to
learn, later, that an abbreviated church service appeals only to
a very few church-going people, who may want to listen in on a
church service -- or to "attend church" without leaving their
homes. It attracts only what is called the "religious audience."
Through the years the program changed, until it became a program
pointed toward the NON-churchgoing public -- people who are not
religious and may never attend church.
Gradually, we learned that it was the MESSAGE which
attracted listeners. Radio station managers began to tell us that
we really had a SPEECH-type program, and a Message and type of
speech which would attract and hold a bigger audience than music.
But back, now, to January, 1934.

The Plain Truth's Modest Bow

Just as the 15-minute morning devotional programs had brought an
unexpected mail response, so did the half-hour regular program of
our own. Only it now brought a larger response. I began with the
first broadcast, that first Sunday in 1934, inviting listeners to
write in for the new magazine, The Plain Truth.
At the same time I began work on producing Volume I and
Number 1 of this magazine of my dreams. I did not even have a
"scope" for hand-lettering the headlines. I was still living with
the Fishers on their farm seven miles west of Eugene -- my wife and
children still at the Hall Street house in Salem. I had to hold
the mimeograph stencils up against a window, and try to cut the
headlines with my right hand while I tried to hold the stencil
without slipping against the window pane with my left. The
headlines were a little shaky. That first issue of The Plain
Truth was somewhat amateurish, and homemade looking. Probably no
one but myself would have dignified it by calling it a
No publication could have had a more humble, or a smaller
start. But it was a start. It grew. It was improved, as scanty
funds permitted. It took years before we were able to have it
printed on a printing press. But through the years it has been
instrumental in making drastic changes in thousands of lives!
It was some time later, in 1934, that a few special
offerings made it possible for us to purchase a very old, used,
outdated Neostyle. It was predecessor to the mimeograph. It was
entirely hand operated. The sheets of paper had to be fed into it
one at a time by hand. There was nothing automatic about it. It
cost $10. We had also finally been able, before or shortly after
the first issue of The Plain Truth, to raise enough money to
purchase a secondhand typewriter for $10.
And so finally The Plain Truth, homemade at Fishers' farm on
the mimeograph I was permitted to use at the office of the local
mimeograph dealer, but containing priceless plain TRUTH, made its
humble bow to the world February 1, 1934. I have no record of the
exact "press run" of that first edition, but it was in the
neighborhood of 250 copies. I think we still have one copy
somewhere in some old files.
Looking back now, we are a little amazed to see how far the
broadcast and The Plain Truth have gone since then. That "grain
of mustard seed" is multiplying mightily under the guiding power
of God!

Chapter 32
Campaign Gets Under Way Despite Opposition

YOU'LL never get far, Mr. Armstrong," said a resident of the
Jeans neighborhood whom I met on the roadside one day. It was
during the time I was holding three meetings a week at the Jeans
school house, 12 miles west of Eugene, Oregon. This followed the
six weeks' meetings at Firbutte school and formation of the new
local Church of God which met at the Jeans school.
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because you are preaching exactly what the Bible says. The
Bible corrects and reproves people. People don't want to be told
they are wrong. People don't like correction. What you preach is
too strong for them. People will never support it."
I smiled.
"If I looked to people for support, I would have to preach
what people want to hear," I replied. "I have learned that by
experience. But I was not called to this ministry by people. I
was not taught the Gospel I preach by people. People did not put
me in the ministry -- Jesus Christ did. I am not employed by
people, or any organization of men. I have been called, and sent
with His Gospel, by Jesus Christ. He is my employer. I rely on
HIM for support. He has given me the written promise that He will
supply all my NEED. I believe He is able, and will do it!"
The man stared at me incredulously. He was speechless.
But now, nearly 40 years later, I can report that Jesus
Christ did support His work through His servant. He did supply
its needs (almost infinitesimal at first, increasing gradually,
yet always increasing). True, God works through human
instruments. He has moved on the hearts of those He could make
willing to become Co-Workers with Him and with me in this work,
now grown great and world-encompassing.

Eugene Campaign Starts

During the July-August meetings at the Firbutte school, and on
through the winter with the new local church continuing meetings
at the Jeans school house, 12 miles west of Eugene, my wife and
children had remained in Salem. I had lived with the Elmer
Fishers on their farm seven miles west of Eugene.
But by late March I had rented a house on West 4th. I think
the rent was about $7 per month. I had arranged for meetings to
start in the Old Masonic Temple on Seventh Avenue. Then one
evening my wife and children arrived in Eugene with our household
furniture and furnishings on Ed Smith's truck. That night we
arranged for my family to sleep on mattresses on the second floor
of the Old Masonic Hall.
The year and three months spent in Astoria, averaging
perhaps less than five hours sleep per night -- with one ordeal of
three days and three nights with no sleep -- had left me in a
condition which made it difficult to get to sleep at night. On
this particular night, I had procured barbiturate sleeping pills,
desperate for a full night's sound sleep. At this time these
sleeping pills did not require a doctor's prescription. I shall
never forget the experience. It was my first and last with the
sleeping pills.
I had a good full night's sleep, all right. But it was a
peculiar sensation. It was not a natural, but an induced sleep.
It left me frightened. As I had sworn off chewing tobacco at age
five, I now swore off barbiturate sleep-inducing forever.
A few busy days followed, cleaning up this virtually
abandoned Old Masonic Temple auditorium. Beside my wife and
children, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, and one or two others in the
Church joined in the cleanup.
The "Three-Point Campaign" was ready to leap ahead on all
three points. The broadcast had started the first Sunday in
January, 1934. The Plain Truth, mimeographed, made its first
appearance February 1st. And now, the first of April, the
meetings were started in downtown Eugene, in the old Masonic
As mentioned before, meetings still were being held three
times a week out at Jeans school house -- Tuesday and Thursday
nights and Sabbath mornings. Consequently the meetings in
downtown Eugene were held on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday nights.
This was our first experiment in holding public evangelistic
meetings three times a week. These meetings were carried on for
five and a half months.
We learned by this experience that meetings held only three
times a week are not as fruitful as meetings held consecutively
six times a week.
Later, we were to learn that the same is true in
broadcasting. A once-a-week broadcast, or even three times a
week, does not produce results comparable to daily broadcasting
six or seven times a week.
For this Eugene campaign I mimeographed handbills and
announced it on the radio program. An attendance of approximately
100 was maintained up until the final two weeks. But this was
much lower than later campaigns with consecutive
six-nights-a-week services.
Here, as in the Salem meetings with Elder Oberg, the
whooping, shouting, aggressive "pentecostal" people were much in
evidence at the beginning. But by this time I had learned that
they were primarily concerned with working up an emotional
demonstration. They were not interested in learning Biblical
TRUTH, obeying God's commands, and yielding their lives to be
changed and transformed according to God's Word by a living
Christ who does His saving work within us. A few vigorous sermons
on obedience to God, and on overcoming, and living by every Word
of God soon discouraged them. Most of them stopped coming.

"Pentecostal" Incidents

A large "pentecostal" church carried a full hour and a half
broadcast on KORE of their Sunday night service. During one of
these broadcasted services, their pastor said that if any of
their members desired to visit any other church it would be quite
all right, with the exception of the services I was holding. But
he warned them against attending our meetings.
Shortly after we had moved into the house on West Fourth
Avenue, three of the "pentecostal" people who had attended the
tent meetings held in 1931 by Elder Taylor and me came to our
home. They were a middle-aged husband and wife and the sister of
one of them. One of the women claimed to have a disease or
sickness of some kind. They asked me to anoint this woman and
pray for her healing.
I invited them into the house.
"Why," I asked, "when you people claim to have the baptism
of the Holy Spirit and say that I have not -- when you claim to be
on a much higher spiritual plane than I -- when your pastor and
your church denounce me, and say I am not God's minister -- when
you claim that your 'pentecostal' preacher has God's spirit and
power and that I have not -- WHY do you come to me for anointing
and healing instead of your own pastor?"
"Hmm!" they snorted, "who'd we go to over there?"
"Well," I pursued a little further, "in I John 3:22 God says
that whatever we ask we receive of Him because we keep His
commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
This obedience to God's commandments is a distinct condition to
being healed. You people do not obey God's commandments, although
you attended our tent meetings in 1931 almost every night for six
weeks, and you heard the truth about this made very plain. Now
either you are deliberately rebelling, and refusing to obey God,
or else you have been so blinded in your carnality that somehow
the truth never really got through to you although we made it
very plain -- and you just never did really see it. Which is it?"
"I guess we just didn't see it, brother," came the answer.
"All right," I said. "I can't read your mind and heart as
God can. I have to take you at your word. Since you claim you
have not come to consciously understand the truth, and have not
knowingly rebelled and disobeyed, I will anoint you."
The minute I began to pray all three, true to "pentecostal"
heathen and unscriptural custom, began to try to drown out my
voice by their loud expressions of "O praise you, Jesus!
HALLELUJAH! Glory to God!" etc. etc., in a babylon of noisy
confusion. Then immediately the woman I was anointing went into a
wild, loud, uncontrolled laugh. This seemed to be a new fad at
the time among "pentecostals" in Oregon. They called it "the holy
Instantly I put my hands on her head, and in a loud voice
called on God, by authority of Jesus Christ, to SILENCE this work
of Satan, and cast the demon spirits out of my home!
Instantly, as if struck by a bolt of lightning, the woman's
hysterical unnatural laughter was silenced, as were the shoutings
of the other two. All was quiet.
They rose to their feet.
"Well, anyway," sneered the supposedly "ill" woman. "I'm
healed, so there!" And quickly they left the house.
On another occasion a member of this "pentecostal" church
came running up to me on a Eugene street one Sunday morning.
"We've had a dozen men out looking everywhere for you," he
gasped breathlessly. "Please come quick! Our pastor's wife fell
over backward 'under the power' during prayer, and she's
unconscious, and we can't revive her. Our pastor sent us out
scouring the town to find you. Please come and pray for her, that
she will revive. We're afraid she is dying!"
I hurried over to this "pentecostal" church. There they
were, probably four or five hundred of them, wringing their hands
in despair, all crying out in confusion for God to revive the
stricken woman.
I called out in a loud voice of authority for them all to be
quiet. Then in very brief and few words I asked God to have mercy
on their foolish heathenism, and revive this woman. I leaned
down, laid my hands on her, and she revived. I took her by the
hand and lifted her up, and then strode out of their church while
an awed silence reigned.
I have never been quite able to figure out why so many,
through the years, who have denounced me and claimed to be
spiritually superior themselves, have come to me for prayer when
they needed someone close enough to God that a prayer would be

Visiting Jail

During the meetings in the old Masonic Temple, someone told me of
a man in the county jail who requested that I visit him. The
prisoner was the "black sheep" brother of a very respectable man.
This prisoner seemed to welcome my visit. He was scheduled
to be released from jail in a couple of days, and promised to
attend the services. Two nights later he came to the meeting,
with a girl he introduced as his wife.
As I believe has been mentioned previously, in those days I
followed the evangelistic custom of giving "altar calls." It was
one of those things I thoughtlessly took for granted without
checking for proof of any Biblical or divine origin. All of us
have carelessly assumed, taken for granted, accepted and followed
more customs, ideas and ways than we realize. As the years have
raced by, I have learned to be much more careful to check and
prove all beliefs and practices. Later, when I researched again
over the ministry of Jesus, of Peter, Paul, and the other
apostles and evangelists of the New Testament, it became clear
that they never practiced or instituted any such custom. So we
dropped it immediately.
But at this time I was still learning, and giving the usual
evangelical altar calls. And this young man and woman both came
up. They appeared quite repentant. I spent some time with them
afterward. They exhibited a spirit of willingness to obey God
completely, and to embark on a new life of overcoming through
faith in Christ, living by every word of the Bible. Next day I
baptized them.
But I learned a serious lesson through this experience.
Later we discovered that these two were not married. Actually
they had gone through a ceremony of marriage, but it was bigamy.
The girl had previously married another man in another state,
from whom she had not been divorced. She had a little two- or
three-year-old daughter whose father was a third man to whom she
had never been married. From that time we have been very careful
to check the marriage, divorce, and remarriage status of all
candidates for baptism. God intended that we learn by experience,
beside direct instruction.
I told this girl she would have to leave this man.
"Well," she replied, "I will, then, as soon as I can get a
"No," I said firmly, "you must leave him now!"
"But I can't leave him now," she protested. "I have no other
place to go."
"You come along with us, then," I insisted. "Mrs. Armstrong
will put you in our spare bedroom for tonight, and tomorrow we
will help you make permanent arrangements."
She was a weakling, and so was this man. So she gave in to
our firm insistence. Next morning Mrs. Armstrong went into her
room to call her to breakfast. The bed was empty. The window was
open. The girl had climbed out the window and gone back to "her
However, they were soon forcibly separated again. They had
bought furniture and furnishings for a cheap rented house on
contract at a local furniture store. This young man had then sold
much of it for cash, and failed to pay his installments at the

Helping a Weakling

This fellow was in jail again. He called to me for help. On
visiting him again in jail I learned what had happened. He
promised to be good this time, if only I'd get him out. The
furniture merchant said he understood the fellow had a brother of
some means.
"If you will go to his brother and get him to pay up the
furniture bill, we will withdraw the charges," said the furniture
merchant. "We don't want to be hard on the boy. We are business
men. We only want our money."
I had no automobile in those days, but I traveled some
distance to see the fellow's brother.
"Mr. Armstrong," he said after I explained the situation,
"you may think I am a hardhearted brother, but I'm not. I'm going
to do what I know is best for my brother's own good. If I pay
this and get him out of jail, it wouldn't be thirty days until he
would be back in jail again. My brother hasn't had enough
punishment to learn his lesson yet. I think he needs this thirty
days in jail to think it over."
He did think it over, and managed to keep out of jail for a
year or so, after which I lost contact with him. But he and the
girl were too weak to remain apart. They quarreled and fought
when together, but they could not resist being together.
Rejecting all advice and counsel from me, the girl obtained
a divorce from her first husband, and then had a
justice-of-the-peace second wedding with this ne'er-do-well
fellow, which at least legalized their adulterous living in the
sight of man's law.
Whatever finally became of them I do not know. Mrs.
Armstrong and I spent a lot of time trying to help them get
straightened out, but they were the type Jesus spoke of in Luke
8:13 in the parable of the sower. They listened to and received
the Word of God gladly, but had no "root" or backbone of
character, and as soon as temptation came along were too weak to
The quotation "God helps them that help themselves" is not
found in the Bible, as many believe, but is a saying of Benjamin
Franklin. Yet it does express a Christian principle. Long ago I
learned that I cannot carry others into the Kingdom of God on my
shoulders, or drag them in. I can only point the way, proclaim
the truth, give counsel and advice, aid in many material ways,
and pray for others. I can give aid and help -- but each must stand
on his own feet before God, and by strong motivation yield to
allow God to transform him and mold him into God's own holy
character. God does it by the power of His Holy Spirit. But we
also have our part in denying ourselves, in overcoming, and in
DOING! It is the DOERS, not those who hear only, who shall enter
finally into His Kingdom (Rom. 2:13).
Nevertheless, this experience I have just related did cause
a deal of reflection and study of the Bible to inquire how God is
going to deal with human weaklings such as these. We find the
answer in the parable of the pounds, and the parable of the
In the parable of the pounds all ten of Christ's servants
appear to have had equal ability, and each was given an equal
portion from God at the start. The one who by overcoming and
growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord multiplied what he
started with ten times was given the reward of ruling over ten
cities. He who multiplied five times, over five cities.
But in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) God
gave to each, at the start of his Christian life, according to
his natural ability. To one He gave five talents, to another two,
and to another only one -- according to the natural ability of
each. The man with five talents doubled his spiritual
stock-in-trade. Likewise, although the man with two produced less
in number than the one with five, he also doubled what he started
with. He did as well, in proportion to his ability!
Consequently we find it revealed that to whom much is given,
much is required. To whom little is given, less is required. In
other words, God judges each individual according to how well he
overcomes, yields, develops and grows, according to what he has
to do with!
This unfortunate couple of weaklings were not born with as
much intelligence and strength of character (potentially) as many
others. Consequently God does not require as much of them. But He
does require of them as much effort in proportion to ability! We
do have our part in the developing of the Christian life and

So Called "Bible Organization"

During these late winter and spring months of 1934 the opposition
of Elders Ray and Oberg did not cease. I had rejected receiving
further the $3 weekly "salary" from the Oregon State Conference
after the memorable "All-Day Wrangle" meeting in early August,
1933. But this alone did not appease their wrath against me.
At the biannual General Conference meeting of the Church at
Stanberry, Missouri, which probably was held in August, 1933,
Elder Andrew N. Dugger had lost his previous iron control of the
church by one vote. Thereupon Mr. Dugger promptly bolted the
Conference and organized a competing "Church of God" under what
he termed "the Bible form of organization."
He managed to induce half or more of the ministers in the
church to join him in this new "Organization," on the argument
that they were now re-establishing the Bible form of
organization. Among those joining with him were Elder C. O. Dodd
of Salem, West Virginia, an Elder McMicken, Elder Alexander of
Kansas, Elder Severson, and Otto Haeber of Hawthorne, California
whom I knew as a good friend. Mr. Haeber had not, I believe, up
to this time been ordained as an elder but was an influential
Mr. Dugger had been accused of dictatorship, bossism, and
even crookedness. I had not as yet met him, and did not judge.
Nevertheless his new form of organization tended to divert
criticism. He claimed the original Twelve Apostles were intended
to form the top governing permanent Board of the Church as Christ
organized it. He called this Board "the Twelve." Mr. Alexander,
Mr. Haeber, and Mr. McMicken, I believe, were put on the "Board
of the Twelve" (although there never were twelve). But Mr. Dugger
kept his own name off of that supposedly governing Board, thus
avoiding the accusation that he was "running things" as the head.
Next, taking the "seventy" which Jesus appointed for a
one-time special mission (Luke 10), Mr. Dugger, with Mr. Dodd and
Mr. McMicken, set up "The Board of the Seventy" leading
ministers. On this Board they appointed as many names as they
could. There never were seventy, however. On this Board they had
placed my name, and also those of Elders Oberg and Ray of Oregon.
Elder Severson was, I believe, also on that "Board."
Finally, noting that the early apostles had appointed seven
deacons to take care of the "business" of waiting on tables and
serving proselyte widows (Acts 6:1-4), Mr. Dugger devised a Board
of Seven to handle the BUSINESS of the Church, making himself
Chairman of that Board. The difference was that the early
Apostles' seven deacons merely relieved the Apostles from the
physical "business" of waiting on tables, serving food, and
otherwise serving physical needs of widows; while Mr. Dugger's
"Board of Seven" handled all Church income and finances!
Therefore it actually carried all the real power to govern. Mr.
Dugger had control over the salaries of "the Twelve." The word
"business" appears in the King James translation. But both the
RSV and Moffatt translations have "duty."

Persecution Continues

This "Bible form of Organization" appealed to most of our
brethren in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. There were still two
factions in the valley -- one of them still loyal to "Stanberry" as
it was called, the other -- which had incorporated as the Oregon
Conference -- being somewhat enamored of the new "Organization."
Mr. Dugger claimed "World Headquarters" as Jerusalem,
Palestine, with United States Headquarters at Salem, West
Virginia. Thus this became known as the "Salem church."
In those days one Biblical subject I was completely befogged
on was the matter of church organization and government. I knew
the "Stanberry" pattern of a General Conference was not
scriptural. I knew that voting by human preference was
unscriptural. I saw plainly that Christ chose His Apostles -- that
they and the evangelists, in turn, chose and ordained elders in
local churches. Consequently in the church now meeting at Jeans
school house, since I was the evangelist God used in raising up
this church, I chose and appointed Mr. Elmer E. Fisher as deacon,
remaining as Pastor myself.
But just what truly was the Biblical form of organization I
did not at that time see clearly. I was really confused on the
question. I had grave misgivings about Mr. Dugger's professed
"Bible form" of organization. I talked it over with Mr. and Mrs.
Fisher, Mr. Claude Ellis, and others of our Church at Jeans. Mr.
Fisher was not "sold" on it, either. He advised going slow.
Meanwhile Messrs. Ray and Oberg were exerting every effort
to urge the Oregon Conference to go in with, and to keep me out
of, the new "Organization." One of the basic doctrinal points of
the "Salem" organization was abstaining from "pork" and observing
rigidly the food law of the "clean and unclean" of Leviticus 11.
Mr. Ray now tried to discredit me with the new "Organization"
with his anti-pork argument.
Consequently, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Ellis, the other members at
Jeans and I decided we would simply leave the answer in God's
hands. We would pray and ask God to show us in this manner: If
the "Salem" re-organization did accept me as "one of the 70" in
spite of the opposition of Messrs. Ray and Oberg, we would go in.
Otherwise we would remain independent.

The Test

For some months the status quo remained. Neither acceptance nor
rejection came from "Salem." Then one day Otto Haeber came to the
office I had set up in an anteroom in the old Masonic Temple,
accompanied by Elder Alexander from Kansas.
I had never met Mr. Alexander before. But since I had heard
a great deal about him, and read much about him in the Church
paper, the Bible Advocate, I was happy to meet him. I was
steering the conversation along the general lines of getting
acquainted, asking about the work in Kansas and general
Suddenly Mr. Haeber interrupted, rather sternly.
"Mr. Armstrong," he said abruptly, "apparently you do not
quite grasp the importance of this meeting. Mr. Alexander is one
of 'the Twelve!' Mr. Alexander is a very important man! His time
shouldn't be wasted by mere friendly conversation. Mr. Alexander
is the man who has the power to bring about your acceptance on
the Board of the Seventy, if you can satisfy him about your stand
on the 'clean and the unclean' meat question."
I had known many important men in the business world, and I
had not sensed anything in Mr. Alexander's appearance or
personality that was overawing.
"Well!" I exclaimed. "I had not realized! I beg your pardon
for wasting your valuable time. I will tell you my stand on this
question in one or two minutes.
"Point number one: I read in Scripture that sin is the
transgression of the Law. In Romans 7 Paul says the law it is sin
to transgress is spiritual -- a spiritual, not a physical law.
Point two: Jesus Christ, speaking of spiritual defilement in Mark
7, says that physical food entering a man's stomach from without
cannot defile him spiritually, but that which comes from within,
out of the heart -- adulteries, murders, thefts,
covetousness -- transgressions of the Ten Commandments -- defile the
man spiritually. Point three: The 'clean and unclean' laws of
Leviticus 11 are physical, not spiritual laws.
"Point four: Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of
God. He commanded the Apostles, and us today, to preach the
KINGDOM of God. That is the GOSPEL I am commanded to preach.
Point five: Paul says plainly in Romans 14 that the Kingdom of
God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, which is obedience
to God's Law.
"Point six: Therefore I do not preach to the unconverted
meat and drink because it is not the Gospel. But, on the other
hand, the physical body is the 'temple of the Holy Spirit,' and
we are taught not to defile it, even physically.
"Finally, point seven: I realize fully that there were both
the clean and unclean animals long before Mosaic Law -- even prior
to the Flood -- and therefore from creation. God did not create the
unclean animals for food. Just as many plants and weeds are
poison and not food, so unclean animals were not made to digest
properly or nourish the human body. They are not "creatures of
God" intended for food. They are not sanctified -- or set apart -- by
the Word of God. Peter's vision of the unclean animals in the
sheet was given, it is distinctly stated in Acts 10, to show him
that he should not call any man unclean -- not to make unclean
animals clean. Therefore I do teach every convert and every
church member that they should not eat the unclean meats. We do
not eat them in our home. Not one of our church members -- not one
of my converts -- is eating unclean meats. But I teach it as a
physical matter of health, not as a spiritual matter of the true
"That, in few words, Elder Alexander, is what God's Word
says and teaches and what I believe. Now I'm very sorry I wasted
your valuable time, and since it is so valuable, I shall not take
up more of it. Good day, gentlemen."
And I opened the door.
Actually, I snapped out this explanation of my stand
probably at a faster pace than most readers have been able to
read it. It left Mr. Alexander a little bewildered. But he could
not deny, refute, nor question a word of my explanation.
"Well, Mr. Armstrong," he managed to say as they were
leaving, "it seems to me you believe the same way the church
does, only you may have a little different way of stating it."
A short time later, I learned that they did consider me as
one of "the Seventy."

Co-operating -- Not Joining

Thus we of the Church of God meeting at the Jeans school-house,
along with our brethren of the Oregon Conference, decided to go
along with it in co-operation, but we of the new local church
near Eugene did not "join" in the sense of becoming an integral
part of it.
I then began to send in regular minister's reports. We
co-operated fully as brethren in Christ. But I did not accept
salary or expense money from them. None in our local church put
himself under their authority. We kept ourselves free to obey God
as set forth in the Scriptures, should any differences come up.
And they did later come up!
After the experience of being ordered to baptize contrary to
the Scriptures and the renouncing of the $3 weekly "salary," we
were firm never again to be placed in a position where we might
have to obey men rather than God.

Result of Eugene Meetings

The meetings continued for two months in the second-floor hall of
the Old Masonic Temple, just off the main street, Willamette, on
West Seventh Avenue. But Mr. Chambers, owner of the building, had
made arrangements for remodeling and permanent occupancy of the
hall beginning June 1st. I managed to rent a hall on the second
floor, on the east side of Willamette Street between Seventh and
Eighth, beginning June 1st. Meetings continued there for three
and a half months, closing the middle of September.
The downtown meetings had continued in Eugene five and a
half months. Results actually were less than in other five or six
weeks' campaigns where services were held six nights a week.
Definitely we learned that holding meetings three times a week on
non-consecutive nights does not build up or sustain an interest
comparable to every-night services. This was an important lesson.
Nevertheless, there was a harvest. There always was a
harvest. That was the main reason for the opposition from the
other ministers. No one in the Church of whom I could inquire
knew of any "fruit" whatsoever having been borne at any time by
any of the other ministers then in the Church. Their jealousy,
antagonism, competitive spirit, opposition against the only work
God was blessing, eloquently testified to the
reason -- carnality -- lack of real conversion and yieldedness to
God. God can use only those who have surrendered to become
instruments in His Hands.
I do not remember now how many had appeared to have
repented, and believed, and how many had been baptized during and
at the end of these meetings. It seems it was around ten to
fifteen. But several of these were of the type Jesus referred to
in His parable of the sower: the largest number compared to the
wayside. Jesus Christ sowed the "seed" -- the Word of God -- by my
voice. There were the ones who came and heard, but did not
understand nor believe; and Satan took the truths they heard out
of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (Luke
8:12). Those stopped attending before the close of the meetings.
Some compared to the stony ground, including the young man and
woman already mentioned. They received Christ's Gospel with
gladness and joy -- but had no depth of character, and endured only
for a while. Others compared to the ground covered with
thorns -- the cares of this world and desire for worldly amusements
caused them to drop out.
Nevertheless, even though few of those brought in during
those meetings proved to be the "good ground" which endured,
there were some ten or fifteen additional ones making the start
of a Christian life. A new Sabbath School was organized for
these, meeting at our home on West Fourth Avenue on Sabbath
afternoons. The Sabbath morning services continued out at Jeans
School house. Often several from there came in to Eugene for the
afternoon class at our home.

Chapter 33
Early Evangelistic Campaigns -- the Trials and Tests

THE ACTIVITY that was destined to expand steadily into worldwide
power and scope was now fast getting under way. No activity could
have started smaller. None could have had a more humble and
unpromising beginning.
But, with an insignificant $1.35 per week pledge for the
radio broadcast, and what appeared then as a monumental
additional $1.15 per week to be received purely on faith, The
Radio Church of God had started on the air the first Sunday in
1934. It was the very bottom of the great depression.
Faith was rewarded, however, and the other $1.15 per week
always came, sometimes only a half hour before broadcast time.
I had devoted some years to experience on newspapers and
national publications. Now, at last, my dreams of a "magazine of
understanding" making PLAIN the revealed TRUTH of the Bible -- to
be made available to all who requested it without price to
them -- had become a reality. Promptly on February 1, 1934, Volume
I and Number 1 of The Plain Truth was published, or should I say
No publication ever made a more humble entrance before the
After the first issue had been mimeographed, through
courtesy of the local A. B. Dick Company dealer on one of his
mimeographs, we had managed to purchase -- for $10, I believe -- an
old second-hand "Neostyle" -- ancestor of the mimeograph. It was
entirely hand-operated, hand-cranked, hand-fed. Surely it was the
most humble of printing presses! For the next few years The Plain
Truth was to be run off on this ancient Neostyle, before we could
afford a secondhand mimeograph -- and then some time longer before
we could afford to have it printed.
The "Three-Point Campaign" had at last gotten fully under
way with the downtown Eugene evangelistic meetings. These
meetings had continued five and one-half months until
Now, mid-September, plans were under way for another

Alvadore Next

Some 12 to 15 miles northwest of Eugene was a little community of
Alvadore. It was not even a village. There was probably only one
full general store. But there was a two-story school house. The
Alvadore school consisted of two classrooms on the ground floor,
and an assembly hall upstairs.
Mr. Elmer Fisher and I felt this was the site for the next
campaign. We were able to engage the use of the assembly
hall -- practically without cost.
I do not now remember whether these meetings were conducted
over a period of six, or eight, weeks. The only record now
immediately available to me affirms that the campaign started in
November, 1934, and ended in January, 1935. Probably we started
in late November and finished in early or mid-January.
At any rate we had learned the sober lesson about holding
services three times a week. In Alvadore we were back on the
six-nights-a-week schedule.
Attendance was good. Interest was very good. By this time I
was gaining in speaking ability due to the experience of speaking
virtually six to eight times a week since July, 1933.

Learning to Speak Publicly

One learns to speak before the public by speaking. I remember how
one asked Elbert Hubbard how he learned to write. He replied that
he learned to write by writing. A pianist learns to play the
piano by playing the piano eight hours a day, if one is to become
a concert pianist.
If there was anything I had never expected to become, it was
a preacher or an evangelist. I have explained early in this
autobiography how at age 18 I had put myself through a
self-analysis with the book titled "Choosing a Vocation". This
self-conducted test indicated that I had an analytical mind, an
intellectual curiosity, a desire to UNDERSTAND, and some natural
aptitude for writing. The test pointed to the advertising
profession. Those years of experience in advertising and
news-gathering, editorial writing, and the writing of magazine
articles, had prepared me for the calling to God's ministry.
But it was two or three years after conversion before I
realized I was called to preach. I have just come across a carbon
copy of a letter that I had written, dated July 11, 1928 -- even
before our first son was born -- to Mr. A. N. Dugger, at that time
principal leader of the Church of God, at Stanberry, Missouri. It
shows that at that time a little more than a year after my
conversion, I did apparently realize that God was calling me for
some definite mission, for which I was being prepared. I did not
know what it was to be. I realized I was not yet ready. And I
supposed, at that time, that it would be in the field of writing,
not speaking. I feel that many who are reading this life history
may find a few excerpts from that letter interesting.
Elder Dugger had invited me to join their church. I have
explained previously that I never did formally join it. Here are
portions of that letter:
"I appreciate your kind invitation to affiliate actively
with the Church of God organization. Elder Stith approached me on
the subject, also ....
"However, for the immediate present, until further
developments, I do not feel led to join any organization, and
feel that I should not take matters into my own hands, or rush,
or hurry. I believe the Lord is dealing with me, preparing me for
a very active and definite calling and mission, and that until
matters have developed further I should do as Jesus commanded the
Apostles -- tarrying until I have received full preparation and
power ....I feel it is absolutely necessary that we should permit
ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, and not try to launch
into something half prepared, by taking matters into our own
hands before we are sure it is the will of the Lord. I do not
know exactly, yet, what my mission or calling is to be, or what
the method of carrying it out is to be. Unquestionably it will
require organized effort, rather than attempting to carry out the
mission alone and unaided.

Writing -- Not Speaking

"I can say this much -- I feel that it is along the line of writing
rather than oral speaking or preaching.
"I believe the Lord bestows gifts and callings upon men
mightily according to their natural talents and experience,
giving spiritual gifts along these same lines ....
"My whole business experience has been along the lines of
investigating, analyzing, and gaining an understanding of
business problems and rectifying the situations, and in writing.
Whatever natural talent I have is along those lines. I know
something about public speaking, for I have studied textbooks on
it, had contacts with professors of public speaking at the
Universities of Illinois and Michigan, who are authors of the
texts used in most colleges, and coached a brother-in-law into
winning a big oratorical contest .... But he had the voice, and
other necessary personal attributes for public speaking.
"If I am being given any of the gifts, it is that of
UNDERSTANDING of the truth of scripture .... But I am not fully
prepared as yet."
Little did I realize then that God could, and would, use my
voice to reach worldwide audiences of multiple millions every
week. But I did "sense," somehow, that God was preparing me for
some definite mission and He had given me sufficient insight to
realize that I did not yet know what it was and that I was not
yet prepared or ready, and that I should not rush in until it
became certain that GOD was leading the way. I knew I must not
take things into my own hands.
Actually, my first "sermon," Mrs. Armstrong has assured me,
was not preaching -- but just a kind of talk. It did meet
enthusiastic response, not because of any speaking ability, for
there was none -- but because I did have something vital to say. It
was three years after the above letter was written before I was
ordained a minister.
Even then I did not speak with any "drive" or "fire" or
power. I still more or less just "talked." But there was, always,
a vital message. After all, the MESSAGE, which comes from God, is
the thing! Not the speaker or even oratory. I remember that it
was either during, or shortly after, the first Firbutte campaign
in late 1933, that the message began to pour forth with some
power. It was during one of those all-day meetings held about
once a month at the little church house in Harrisburg, Oregon
(long since torn down). I was probably more surprised than the
congregation that day. I did have a burning message -- and I did
feel it intensely -- and suddenly the message began to pour forth
in power. I did not "put it on" -- rather I had to try to hold it
in check. They told me afterward that for the first time I
gestured with my hands and arms. I didn't realize it. My mind was
on the audience and the message I knew they sorely needed.
Today I try to teach young future ministers to be
natural -- to quit thinking of themselves, their gesturing, their
oratory or speaking ability. I tell them never to try to turn on
the power -- but wait until after the experience when dynamic power
is there naturally.

Heckled Again

In this Alvadore neighborhood were three or four families of
Seventh Day Adventists. They attended the meetings. I soon
learned that one of them was coming for the sole purpose of
learning what I was preaching, so he could visit the others in
the daytime and try to refute everything I was saying. He didn't
seem to be succeeding very well. The others continued to come
with increasing interest.
Then there was Elder Day of the Christian Church and his
wife and two late teen-age children. Elder Day was then about 84.
He was a quiet, soft-spoken, rather scholarly gentleman. After
two or three nights, he smiled as he shook hands with me at the
door, and said, "Well, I have learned something new tonight."
This continued through the rest of the meetings. My heart
surely went out to elderly Brother Day. When a man well advanced
into his 80's is "learning something NEW" every night, he is a
rare and precious individual, indeed. Always his face lighted up
happily in this new knowledge!
But as we came into the final two weeks of the meeting, the
one Seventh Day Adventist finally became vocal. I was just
beginning the sermon one evening, speaking on the truth that
Jesus was three days and three nights, exactly as He said, in the
tomb after crucifixion -- and then, therefore, the crucifixion was
not on "Good Friday" and the resurrection was not on Sunday
Now it so happened that, since their Mrs. White had a dream
or vision in which she claimed the resurrection did occur on
Sunday morning, Seventh Day Adventist doctrine cannot accept
anything contrary.
I had hardly begun the service when this ill-advised man
arose and began to heckle.
"That passage in Matthew 12 verses 38 to 40 does not mean
that Jesus was in the tomb," he said. "It means he was in the
hands of the Roman soldiers three days and three nights. Besides,
the Bible plainly says Jesus ROSE early in the morning on the
first day of the week!"
I immediately accepted his challenge.
"You mean you think the expression 'in the heart of the
earth' means 'in the hands of Roman soldiers?" I asked.
"Yes, it does!" he lashed back.
"And you say the Bible plainly states that Jesus actually
ROSE early on Sunday morning?"
"Yes, it does," he affirmed.
"Well," I said. "Now I'll tell you what we'll do. You just
be seated until the close of the sermon, and start hunting for
that passage in your Bible. You won't need to listen to the
sermon, because you won't believe a thing I say anyway, and you
only listen in order to go around the neighborhood trying to
confuse others and to refute everything I am preaching. Now I
strongly advise you to utilize every single minute between now
and the end of the sermon hunting that text -- because you are
going to need a lot more time than that to find what simply isn't
there. Then at the close of the sermon, I am going to call on you
to stand up again and to read to us out of the Bible where it
says that Christ actually ROSE on Sunday morning."
At the close of the sermon, I called on my heckler and bade
him to rise, and to read his text. He arose, and began thumbing
through the New Testament of his Bible.
I had become a little provoked by this man's persistent
opposition and determined to make an example of him and end any
influence he possibly might have once for all.
"Come, now!" I said. "I noticed you did not heed my advice
to devote all the time of the sermon hunting for the text that is
not there. You should have been searching, then you wouldn't keep
us all waiting like this. Come, now! Read it! Read where the
Bible says Christ ROSE on Sunday morning."
He merely stood there, confused, flushed in the face.
"We are waiting!" I prodded.
I let at least three minutes of dead silence elapse. It
seemed more like an hour. I purposely let it become embarrassing,
to let the truth of this scripture sink deep in the audience.
Finally, I said, "Well, while this man stands there and
hunts for the scripture that isn't there, let's look now at what
he said about 'in the heart of the earth' meaning 'in the hands
of the Roman soldiers.' Notice, this scripture says: ... 'for as
Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so
shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth.' Now see how Jonah was a type of Christ. In the
great fish's belly, Jonah says (Jonah 2:2): 'I cried by reason of
mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly
of hell [margin, Heb., sheol -- the GRAVE] cried I.'
"Now, Jonah was in this GRAVE -- for had he not been vomited
up, it was a grave of DEATH -- three days and three nights, after
which he was supernaturally resurrected by being vomited up -- to
become the human saviour from physical destruction of the city of
Nineveh. Likewise, Christ was in a tomb hewn back into the heart
of the earth, three days and three nights, after which He was
resurrected to become the spiritual Saviour of all mankind. The
analogy is plain. The meaning is plain and simple. Christ was
resurrected from the TOMB in the heart of the earth -- He was not
resurrected from the hands of the Roman soldiers!
"Now," I continued, "how many of you in the audience believe
'in the heart of the earth' means the TOMB from which Christ was
resurrected? Let me see your hands!"
Every hand, except that of the very confused man standing,
went up!
"Well," I said to him. "It sort of looks like we are all out
of step but you. Have you found that scripture that isn't there,
He merely looked helplessly confused. Everyone was laughing
at him. It was well-deserved and ought to have been profitable
"We can't wait longer," I said. "I do hope this will be a
good lesson to you. You may sit down."
This was the only time I have ever made a laughing stock out
of any man before others, to my knowledge. But this man had been
spending weeks trying to discredit me and God's truth, and I felt
it was the way to defend the truth for the good of all.

Meeting More Opposition

One family attending the Alvadore meetings regularly, and
accepting the truths taught, was the W. E. Conns. Mr. Conn was a
farmer in the neighborhood, doing quite a dairy business. One
truth which seemed of tremendous importance to them was the fact
the resurrection was on late Saturday afternoon, and not Sunday
The following Sunday after preaching on that subject, Mrs.
Armstrong and I were invited to their home for dinner. After
dinner two men called. One was a preacher -- apparently an
independent, or of some small local sect, who had been serving as
pastor to the Conns sometime before when they had lived in Salem,
Oregon. The other was a man, also from Salem, who appeared to be
associated with the preacher religiously. They had heard that the
Conns had accepted the truth of God's Sabbath, being influenced
primarily by the fact that the resurrection was not on Sunday.
This knocked out from under Sunday observance the only prop which
human tradition used to support it.
This preacher apparently came for a fight. He was angry. He
was ready to get tough.
"The Bible says Christ rose from the dead on Sunday
morning," he snapped, angrily.
I handed him a Bible.
"Read it to me," I said, simply.
He turned, as I knew he would, to Mark 16:9. But to my utter
surprise, he did not read it as it is printed. He MIS-read:
"Now when Jesus rose early the first day of the week."
"My dear sir, you did not read that as it is written. Will
you read it once again, and this time, read exactly what it
says?" I demanded.
"Now when Jesus ROSE early the first day of the week," he
repeated with heavy emphasis on the word "rose" which does not
appear in the text.
I saw he was going to persist. I decided to maneuver this
dishonest man, intent on deliberately deceiving, into a trap.
"The expression 'the first day of the week' is merely
describing when Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene," I said.
"Punctuation was not inspired, but added by uninspired men long
after the Bible was written. This was translated from the Greek.
The comma belongs after the word 'risen,"' I said deliberately
appearing to argue.
He took the bait, hook, line and sinker!
"Oh, no, you don't," he exclaimed angrily. "You can't go
changing it."
"Do you mean we must accept the King James, or Authorized
Version, just as it is, without changing a single comma, or any
translation?" I inquired.
"I do!" he snapped. "You can't change a thing."
"Well, then, why don't you read it as it is, without
changing it? Now I want you to read Matthew 28, verse 1."
He turned to read it. His face grew red with anger. It
reads: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the
first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to
see the sepulchre."
"Yes, now read verses 5 and 6, and remember, this is in the
end of or late on the Sabbath -- NOT SUNDAY MORNING."
"I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified," he read.
"He is not here: for he is risen, as he said."
"Yes," I added, "while it was still late in the end of the
Sabbath, which ended at sunset."
"Oh," he began to explain. "But that is a mistranslation. It
doesn't mean in the end of the Sabbath, but dawn Sunday morning."
"Didn't you just say that you cannot change the King James
translation? Didn't you just say that I have to take it as it is,
without changing or retranslating a thing?"
He was beginning to lose face. He had no answer.
"Now," I said, "turn back to Mark 16:9, and let's see
whether you are honest enough to read it honestly."
"Now when Jesus ROSE early the first day of the week," he
I turned to Mr. Conn.
"I dislike to do this," I said, "but I had to show you how
dishonest this man is, and how he had been deliberately deceiving
you these past few years as to what the Bible says. Now, Mr.
Conn, this passage tells what state Jesus was in early the first
day of the week. It tells whether He was rising, or whether He
already was risen, because He had risen the evening before. I
want you, Mr. Conn, to read this. Does it say Jesus ROSE -- or,
early the first day of the week, that He already WAS RISEN?
I handed the Bible to Mr. Conn. His hands trembled until he
could hardly hold it. He was extremely nervous.
He read, "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of
the week."
The preacher and his companion strode angrily from the room,
picked up their coats and hats and went out the front door
without a word. Mrs. Conn broke down weeping.
"I hope I was not too harsh with those men," I said
"Oh, you were not," sobbed Mrs. Conn. "They were harsh with
you. But I tell you it hurts, to have to completely lose
confidence in men you have looked up to as almost holy, and
representing God, all these years. To see them show that they are
deliberately dishonest and trying to deceive us is a terrible

Another New Church

The Alvadore campaign ended. Fifteen had come with us, including
the Days and the Conns. A new local church was organized, to meet
in the Alvadore school auditorium Sabbath mornings. I ordained
Elder J. M. Day as Elder, and W. E. Conn as Deacon.
Now I was forced to alternate between Alvadore and Jeans,
every other Sabbath morning at each one, and Sabbath afternoon at
our home in Eugene.

Chapter 34
Steady Growth of Work at Eugene

IT WAS now spring, 1935. Holding Sabbath morning services
alternately at the Jeans school, twelve miles west of Eugene, and
at the Alvadore school fifteen miles northwest of Eugene, and
Sabbath afternoon services at our house in Eugene soon became

Purchase of Church Building

Usually, members at Jeans would drive over to Alvadore, or attend
at our home in Eugene, on the odd Sabbaths after I was unable to
preach at Jeans. Likewise, Alvadore members usually drove to
either Jeans or Eugene when I was not at their school. But this
situation was not very satisfactory.
The need of a church home in Eugene to combine these three
small groups focused our attention on the place that our people
had built in 1931.
The building of this little church house had begun
immediately following the close of the tent campaign held in
Eugene in the summer of 1931 by Elder R. L. Taylor and myself.
Mr. Taylor had, prior to this campaign, owned a small retail
lumber business in Eugene. Apparently, he had failed in business,
but came out of it with a small amount of lumber on hand. He now
proposed to "donate" that lumber toward the erection of a small
church house in Eugene. He only had part of the needed amount of
lumber, however. So church brethren were induced to contribute
funds for most of the construction costs. A few donated labor,
including a carpenter and an electrician.
They had never completed the construction. Siding had not
been put on the outside, and plain slabs of wallboard had been
nailed up inside, with quarter-inch spaces unfilled between
slabs. And there were no seats or pulpit or furnishings of any
While I was at Astoria in the newspaper business, in my
final "detour" from my life's real calling, Mr. Taylor had
written me that "we had lost the church building."
He was correct in saying that "we" -- the church members -- had
lost it. But HE had not. He had traded it and a small piece of
land he owned to a Mr. Powell who lived next door to the little
church, for Mr. Powell's house. This, in turn, he had traded for
a small island in the Willamette River opposite Eugene.
Because of the partial amount of lumber he had "donated" to
the church house, Mr. Taylor had insisted on holding the deed to
the property in his own name. Although church brethren had
contributed much more than he, they had allowed it to be held in
his name. He had "sold them down the river," and come out with a
little island in the river for himself.
Late in May, 1935, Mr. Powell was living in the little
unfinished church house. Mr. Elmer Fisher, Mr. W. E. Conn and I
approached him about the purchase of the place. The purchase was
made, for $500. Mr. Fisher put in the first $100 to bind the
deal. Various church members put in, later, another $100 or
slightly more, and most of the balance was contributed by elderly
Mrs. S. A. Croffoot.
Now came the question of how the new property was to be
deeded. Mr. Taylor's action had given church members cause to
question the honesty of a minister who had the church property
deeded in his name. I was determined that no such suspicion
should have grounds for being directed toward me. I insisted that
my name should not be connected in any way with the deed to this
In this particular case, as subsequent events proved, it
would have been safer for the church if control of the property
had been in my hands. But I said, then, "If we can't trust such
men as Mr. Day, Elmer Fisher, and Mr. Conn, then nobody can be
trusted." Perhaps I didn't realize as thoroughly as I do today
that God says we can trust no man.
On my own recommendation, the property was deeded to "J. M.
Day, Elmer E. Fisher, and W. E. Conn, as trustees for the Church
of God at Eugene, Oregon." Actually, as I learned from attorneys
later, this was a loose and unsafe way to protect the property of
the church, legally. Anyway, the purchase was made late in May,
1935, after some four months of the unhandy functioning of those
three little separate churches.

Completing the Building

Immediately we set out to put the building in shape for holding
services. I asked the members to contribute special offerings to
purchase necessary lumber and paint. We purchased the siding
lumber, which was put on by volunteer labor. I filled in the
quarter-inch spaces between plaster boards with the proper
plaster cement, myself, then the inside walls were painted and
the outside also.
I looked into other church buildings for ideas about the
seating. The most economical way proved to be to build our own
seating in the form of benches, with a center aisle and two
narrow outside aisles down the side walls. I designed the pattern
after observing various more costly benches in larger church
buildings. I sat in various ones, to determine what design would
give the most comfort. Then, with some of the men of the church
helping, we built the seats. They were comfortable with contoured
backs the entire length of each bench.
Mrs. Armstrong and Elmer Fisher painted those church seats
in an attractive brown color while I worked on other things. In
the new church at Alvadore, one of the members was a cabinet
maker by profession. He built the pulpit and an altar rail around
the front of the rostrum.
On June first, 1935, The Church of God at Eugene, Oregon,
held its first service in the new building, consolidating the
three groups into one church.

Convincing Atheist Communists

Soon after occupying the new little church building, I began
holding every-night evangelistic services there. We mimeographed
handbills and had them delivered to front porches all over town.
We called it "The Little Church at the end of West Eighth
Avenue." Its location, then, was a half block beyond the city
While these meetings did not attract thousands, the little
church house was usually fairly well filled. One night my subject
was the prophecy of Daniel 11 -- the longest prophecy in the Bible.
It begins with events of Daniel's time, in the first year of King
Darius. It foretells the swift conquering flight of Alexander the
Great, his sudden death, the division of the Empire into four
divisions. Then the prophecy carried along the events of the King
of Egypt and the King of Syria or the Seleucidae -- as "King of the
South" and "King of the North."
One ancient history covers the details of those events and
those following in this long prophecy. That night I read a verse
of the prophecy, then a paragraph showing its fulfillment from
Rawlinson's Ancient History, carrying straight through to the
time of Christ, the early Apostles, and on to our present, and
the immediate future.
At the close of the service a young lady who had come for
the first time, with two companions, waited to speak to Mrs.
Armstrong. Her friends went on out. She asked if she could make
an appointment to talk to Mrs. Armstrong and me.
"I'm an atheist," she said. "Or at least I thought I was
when I came here tonight. But now I feel myself slipping. To tell
the truth we three girls thought it would be good sport to come
out here and laugh at the ignorant medieval religious
superstition we expected to hear. I've always believed religion
is a silly superstition -- the 'opium of the people.' But tonight
we couldn't laugh. I never heard anything like this. I have to
admit no human writer could have written that long prophecy and
made it come to pass, step by step, over so many years. What I
heard tonight makes sense. It is not like any religious teaching
I ever heard. I want to ask you some questions."
Mrs. Armstrong arranged a private talk with her for the next
afternoon. She jabbed sharp questions and pointed questions at
us, but they were all promptly answered. She continued to attend
the meetings, and after a couple of weeks she believed, repented,
and was baptized. We learned that she was the secretary of the
local Communist Party! She resigned from the Communist Party
This young lady was jeered and ridiculed for taking up with
"medieval superstition," of course.
One day she walked into the small front room of the old
Masonic Temple which I was still using, rent free, for an office.
She was actually leading a half-reluctant man by the arm.
"Mr. Armstrong," she said, "this man is a Communist -- one of
my former associates in the Party. He's an atheist. He says he
knows there is no God. We encountered each other across the
street just now. He said he would like to meet that weak-brained
idiot of a preacher that hypnotized me into believing foolish
superstitions. He said that he would prove that evolution is true
and there is no God by making a monkey out of you. So I grabbed
his arm and said, 'Come right along. Mr. Armstrong's office is
just across the street.' I have marched him over here, and I have
come along to laugh at the show, as he proceeds to make a monkey
out of you."
At the moment I had a Bible in front of me. I pushed it
This was a challenge that inspired fast thinking. I gave a
quick silent prayer for guidance.
"Sit down!" I said to the man in a commanding voice, and
taking immediately the initiative before he had a chance to utter
a word. "So you're going to make a monkey out of me by proving
there is no God. First, I'll shove this Bible out of the way
because you couldn't believe anything it says, anyway. Now you
must be a very highly educated man, with a brilliant intellect. I
want to find out just how bright you really are, and how much you
know about some of the laws of science. Do you know something
about radioactivity and radioactive elements?"
"Well, yes," he stuttered. Evidently my fast and sharp
attack caught him by surprise and he was on the defensive before
he could recover.
I asked him if he agreed with certain laws of science. Of
course he had to answer that he did. I followed up the attack,
snapping questions at him forcing him to answer and commit
himself. Before he realized what was happening he had admitted
that science proved there had been no past eternity of
matter -- that there was a time when radioactive elements did not
exist -- and then a time when they did exist. He had also admitted
that life could come only from life, and not from the not-living.
Before he realized it he had admitted there had to be a First
Cause, possessing LIFE, able to impart life to all living
"Now," I pursued, "you're a real intelligent man. I'm sure
you won't deny that! You have a MIND. With it you can think,
imagine, reason, plan. You can make things. But you cannot make
anything that is superior to your mind! Do you agree to that, or
can you show me that you can originate and produce something
superior to your mind?"
He was getting more confused by the minute. Of course he
could not demonstrate that he could produce something superior to
his own mind, so he was forced to admit it.
"Then you have admitted that whatever can be produced must
be devised, planned, and produced by an intelligence GREATER and
SUPERIOR to whatever is produced. Do you know of anything that is
more intelligent, and superior, than your mind?"
I knew his vanity could never admit of anything superior to
his mind.
"I guess not," he admitted weakly.
"And yet you acknowledge that something less intelligent
than your mind could never have produced your mind and that it
must of necessity have been devised and produced by an
Intelligence GREATER than your mind. So you see you have admitted
a First Cause having LIFE, and of intelligence superior to the
most intelligent thing you know, in order to bring YOU and YOUR
MIND into existence. Look at all the forms of LIFE on this
planet -- the way each is constructed -- the way each functions -- the
way each needs certain things like water, food, sunshine, and a
certain range of temperature, in order to function and exist.
Could YOU, without any pattern to go by, think out, design,
produce, set in motion, and impart a functioning LIFE to all
these life forms of the fauna and flora of the earth? Or do you
CREATOR, to design, plan, and create and sustain this earth and
the entire vast universe?"
He could take no more. "W -- W -- Well," he stammered pitifully,
"I won't worship God even if you DO make me admit He exists!"
This was a last attempt at defiance.
"That's a decision God compels YOU to make," I replied. "He
won't make it for you. He will allow you to rebel and refuse to
worship Him. But He did set laws in motion, and whatever you sow,
that shall you reap!"
The young lady did not laugh. It was not funny!
A few weeks later I met this man on the street corner. He
made one last effort at brave retaliation to salve over his
wounded pride.
"I'll never bend MY knees to your Christ," he said.
"Oh, yes, you will!" I replied firmly. "There is a judgment
day coming for you, and the Creator that lets you breathe says
EVERY knee shall bow to Christ -- even if He has to break the bones
of your legs!"
I encountered this man many times on the street after that,
but he never again discussed religion. He always treated me with

My First Wedding

I must go back a bit now, to recount an incident that occurred in
February or March of 1934. It was shortly before my wife and
children had moved to Eugene from Salem.
I was asked to perform my first marriage ceremony. Ernest
McGill, one of the twelve children of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. McGill,
whose names have appeared before in this autobiography, asked me
to perform the ceremony for him and Ora Lee Wilcox.
It caught me by surprise. It was the first time, since my
ordination, I had been called on for such a ceremony. I was
totally unprepared.
My first thought was to go to the pastor of some church in
Eugene and ask him for his form of marriage ceremony. But on the
heels of that thought flashed in the next second the thought that
I had found the Bible entirely different from modern-day
religious beliefs, forms and ceremonies. I realized then that
instead of going to MEN to learn how to perform a marriage
ceremony, I should go direct to the Bible. Instead of learning
from men, I should learn of GOD.
Immediately I studied all I could find in the Bible about
marriage. I did not find the words of a specific ceremony written
out, but I did find God's PURPOSE in marriage -- that God had
instituted it -- and God's requirements of both husband and wife.
The wording of the specific ceremony, itself, came naturally by
putting together the essential scriptures concerning marriage.
When the wedding day came, the ceremony was simple, plain,
taken from the Scriptures. I had seen that it is GOD and not man,
who joins husband and wife as one flesh. Therefore they were
married, not by me, but by GOD during a prayer. Everyone thought
it was the most beautiful wedding ceremony they had ever seen.
God's ways are beautiful! That same ceremony, with very few
alterations, is still being used today, in our hundreds of
churches worldwide.
But I must recount here an accompanying incident. I had, of
course, written my wife that I was to marry Ernest and Ora Lee. A
little later she found our elder son, "Dickie," age five,
missing. When he didn't show up she became frantic. Finally she
found him hiding under a bed, sobbing as if his little heart
would burst.
"Why, Dickie," she called, "what's the matter?"
"I don't want Daddy to marry Ora Lee," he sobbed. "He
married you, and he's my Daddy, and it's wrong for him to marry
another woman."
Of course his mother explained. Later he, himself, performed
marriage ceremonies, and I performed his wedding ceremony.

Our "New" Office

Following the evangelistic meetings in the old Masonic Temple in
downtown Eugene, April and May, 1934, I had retained for some
time, as mentioned above, the use of one of the smaller rooms as
an office. I do not remember just when, but later -- probably early
autumn, 1935 -- Mr. Frank Chambers, owner of the building (and
somewhere near half of all downtown Eugene, it was rumored), told
me he had a tenant for the entire building, and I would have to
move. Up to that time he had not charged any rent for this
smaller office room. He said he had a vacant room in the Hampton
Building, across from the Post Office (a new Post Office has been
built since) on the southwest corner of Sixth and Willamette.
However, he would have to charge me $5 per month office rent.
Well, we seemed to be getting up in the world. From no
office rent we now advanced to paying $5 per month office rent!
However, it was an inner room, without windows for
ventilation. There was a transom over the door leading into the
hall. There was another transom over a locked door leading into
the Labor Union Hall adjoining. But instead of fresh air, the
stale tobacco smoke wafted regularly through this transom on
mornings following a union meeting. There had been a skylight in
the ceiling, but it was so dirty very little light filtered
During the years we occupied this office we were able to
work only about two hours at a stretch, then having to vacate the
office for an hour or so while the air changed a little. After
some months we did manage to afford a small electric fan which
kept the stale air circulating.
There were two or three old tables in this room. Unable to
afford a desk these were used as office desk, and tables for
printing, folding and mailing the mimeographed Plain Truth. There
were also a couple of old chairs in the room.
For filing cabinets in which to keep folders of
correspondence and records we went to a grocery store and asked
for some cardboard cartons. The ones they gave me apparently
contained bottles of whiskey, since they had big whiskey labels
printed on the sides. I pasted plain wrapping paper around the
outside to conceal these labels.
Into this office we moved the very old second-hand
Neostyle -- ancestor of the mimeograph -- and our old second-hand
ten-dollar typewriter. This constituted our entire printing
equipment, on which The Plain Truth was printed for the first few
I wrote the articles, then cut the stencils. The local
mimeograph representative permitted me to visit his office once a
month and cut the headline on one of his "scopes." It was Mrs.
Armstrong's job to grind out the sheets on the old hand-cranked
Neostyle. Every sheet had to be fed in by hand, then slip-sheeted
by hand after each sheet was printed. She then assembled the
pages, folded them, and addressed them by hand in pen and ink.
She maintained the mailing list -- all written in ink on sheets of
What a far cry that was from the way The Plain Truth is
printed and mailed today! But in one respect we did have an
advantage in those days. Mrs. Armstrong and I were able to carry
the entire mailing of the mimeographed Plain Truth in our arms
across the street to the post office -- and before we did, we
always knelt and prayed over them, laying our hands on all the
copies asking God to bless them and those who received them.

Chapter 35
Uphill All the Way

WE HAD come, in the previous chapter, to the spring of 1935. Now
I should like to backtrack briefly.
The broadcast had started the first Sunday in January, 1934.
The first issue of The Plain Truth, mimeographed, came out
February 1, 1934. The third point of the "Three-Point-Campaign"
got under way the first of April, with the small-scale
evangelistic campaign in downtown Eugene, Oregon.

Old Notation Discovered

In an earlier chapter I mentioned that the broadcast was started
with pledges for slightly more than half of its $2.50 weekly
cost. That $2.50 per half hour on radio station KORE was almost a
donation from its owner, Mr. Frank Hill. He probably gave the
$2.50 to the announcer as a slight bonus for opening the station
30 minutes earlier. KORE had been going on the air with its
Sunday programming at 10:30 a.m. To clear time for my half hour,
Mr. Hill simply moved his operating schedule up a half hour
Now $2.50 per week may seem a little ridiculous today, as
the price of a half-hour broadcast. It was not a bit absurd to
me, in those days! We were at the very bottom of the depression.
I had, only a few months earlier, given up the $3 per week salary
I had received. A single dollar was a considerable item to us
When I stated, earlier, that almost half of that $2.50 radio
charge per week had to be undertaken on sheer faith, I was
quoting from memory. The last few chapters were written in
Since returning to Pasadena, I have researched in the dusty
old files of the years 1933 to around 1940. The papers in filing
folders are still intact in the cardboard cartons I obtained
without cost at a grocery store. We could not afford the luxury
of steel filing cabinets in those days. In those old files,
stored in a basement store-room of one of our buildings on the
Pasadena campus, I have culled out a number of interesting
papers, letters, bulletins, and copies of mimeographed Plain
Truths. Among them I found an old yellowed sheet on which I had
penciled notations of the pledges for the beginning of the radio

Under "Pledges for Radio" are the following:
J. J. McGill $.50 Ernest Fisher 1.00
Mrs. C. A. Croffoot 2.00 T. P. Madill 1.00
John Davison & family .50 Edgar W. Smith 1.00
Mrs. J. W. Snyder .25 Mrs. Gemmel .25

It may seem a little strange today that some were able to
pledge only 25 cents or 50 cents per month. Perhaps we have been
spoiled by today's prosperity. Perhaps we have forgotten those bottom
depression days. But at that time 25 cents or 50 cents per month, over
and above tithes and regular offerings, as a special pledge, may have
meant considerable sacrifice. Anyway, those are the names that
made possible the start of the broadcasting work that now covers
every inhabited continent that has, today, probably become the
most powerful broadcasting work on earth, worldwide!
And today, I say, all honor to those people for that initial
sacrifice! It was not so little as it might seem, at first
glance, today! God has multiplied that many thousands of times
When Almighty God does something Himself, by His own power
alone, He does it in a manner so mighty and so vast our minds
cannot comprehend it. But when God does a work through human
instruments, He always starts it, like the proverbial mustard
seed, the smallest. But it grows to the BIGGEST!
And so I honor those eight original Co-Workers. Most, if not
all, are now dead, but what they helped to start lives on -- in
multiplying POWER!
On this same yellowed sheet of paper is the notation of
tithes and offerings received of $11.75 -- probably an entire
month's income for my family's living! Also special offerings for
the "Bulletin" I was then issuing, $4.25. But under it appear the
notations: "Spent for Bulletin: stencils $1.75; 1 ream paper,
$1.35; ink, $1.25; brush, $.15; postage, $1.50; miscellaneous,
$1.52; total, $6.02. That was $1.77 more than offerings received
for the purpose. I presume the $1.77 was paid out of the $11.75
family income, leaving less than $10 for a month's living.
I have taken this brief "flash-back" because I feel that few
readers, adjusted to the prosperity and luxuries of today, would
otherwise realize the rough going under which this work of God
was forced to start.
Actually, at $2.50 per Sunday broadcast, I did have a little
over half of the amount pledged. When there were five Sundays in
the month, the broadcasting cost $12.50, and when four Sundays it
was $10.00. The average cost was $10.83 per month. The $6.50
pledged was actually 60%. But taking that additional $4.33 per
month on sheer faith was a bigger test of faith, in those days,
than it is easy to realize today!
I had no idea, then, where that additional $4.33 per month
was to come from! But I felt positively assured that GOD had
opened this door of radio, and expected me to walk on through it!
And I relied implicitly on the PROMISE in Scripture that "my God
shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by
Christ Jesus." And although God has allowed many severe tests of
faith, that promise has always been kept!

Smashing Your Idol

I think it well that the reader be given some idea of the
financial hardship under which God's present worldwide work got
under way. Some persecutors imply that I was in it for the money!
Perhaps it is well to set the record straight.
And further because an advanced student here on the
Ambassador College campus expressed great surprise, the other
day, to learn that I had been forced to labor along for 28 long
and lean years in economic hardship. He had heard that I had been
"knocked down" by God economically, somewhat as the Apostle Paul
was by blindness, and plunged into God's service. But he had
supposed that the financial test of faith had consisted of some
three or four comparatively short periods of perhaps a few weeks
or a few months.
So let me say right here something about conversion I find
most people do not understand.
The REPENTANCE required as a condition to being truly
converted by receiving God's Holy Spirit is something far
different than most people suppose. It is infinitely more than
merely "seeing" God's TRUTH, or some of it, and being good enough
to embrace and accept it. It is something altogether different
from merely agreeing with certain doctrines.
Whoever you are, YOU HAVE, or you have had, an IDOL. You
have had another "god" before the true living Almighty God. It
might be your hobby or your habitual pastime. It might be your
husband, or wife, or child or children. It might be your job. It
might be your own VANITY, or the lipstick you paint on, or your
business or profession. Very often it is the opinion of your
friends, your family, your group or social or business contacts.
But whatever it is, that idol must first be CRUSHED,
SMASHED -- it must be literally torn out of your mind, even though
it hurts more than having all your teeth pulled out and perhaps a
jawbone, too! I don't believe that many people experience this
painlessly. I don't know of any anesthetic that will render it
pleasurable. Usually it seems like something more excruciating
than the agony of death by the cruelest torture.
Now I had an idol. My whole mind and heart was set on that
idol. I had worked hard, night and day, for that false god. My
false objective was the intense desire -- the desperate, driving,
overpowering ambition -- to become "successful" in the eyes of
important business men -- to be considered by them as outstandingly
"IMPORTANT" in the business world -- to achieve status. I did not
have a love for money as such.
After establishing my publishers' representative business in
Chicago, I aspired someday to own, or build, one of the finest
and largest homes in the north-shore aristocratic suburb of
Winnetka -- with large spacious grounds constituting an
important-appearing estate. I wanted to be considered important
by the important.

Crashing Down to Reality

I was so zealously set on that accomplishment that it became the
god I worshipped and served.
God could not use me as long as I had another "god" that was
more important in my eyes than He. Yet tearing that ambition out
of me was like yanking out, root and branch, my very life itself.
It was smashing dead everything I felt I lived for, and worked
So God first took away my business in Chicago by bankrupting
every major client. Twice, later, He again swept businesses that
promised multi-million dollar rewards right out from under my
feet. He brought me down to poverty and to hunger.
But the bigger they come, the saying is, the harder they
fall! And all this swelled-up EGO came crashing down, down, DOWN!
I had been so big -- so important -- in my own sight, there was no
room left for GOD! But God whittled self-righteous Job down to
size! God drove strutting King Nebuchadnezzar out to eat grass
with the beasts! God struck down Saul with blindness, changed his
direction, and then his name to Paul. And God was certainly able
to knock me down off my imaginary high perch -- again, and again,
and again! I had to come to realize that all this
self-"IMPORTANCE" was pure illusion! I was brought down to earth
and reality with a THUD!
Instead of ego, vanity, and self-IMPORTANCE, God fed me, for
28 long years, on the raw and scanty diet of humiliation and
Had God merely let me suffer financial reverses, even to the
point of experiencing real hunger, for short periods of a few
weeks, I would have bounded back and quickly set back up my idol
to serve again! Had God let me suffer that kind of humiliation
and poverty even for a period of a year -- or even six or seven
years -- I probably would have resumed the same sense of ego once
back on my financial feet.
But God had in mind, as life-long events have since proved,
using me as His instrument in preparing the way for the World
Tomorrow -- for world peace -- for universal happiness, joy and
prosperity, for a growing worldwide work involving tremendous
expenditures in HIS SERVICE. And He knew that He could never
entrust me to handle HIS money, in the administration of HIS
work, as long as I set my heart on money or the things money
would buy.
Please do not misunderstand. It is not wrong to have or
enjoy the good material things of life. What is WRONG, and
therefore harmful to our own selves, is setting our hearts on
these things, instead of on the TRUE VALUES! The LOVE of material
things -- the VANITY of wanting to exalt the SELF instead of
God -- of wanting the worshipful praise of MEN by being considered
"IMPORTANT" -- these are the wrong things to set our hearts upon.
When the heart is set on such false values, the soul shrinks
inwardly and dries up! THANK GOD! He saved me from such a fate by
that 28 years of poverty and humility!

Dying to LIVE

I was never converted until I was brought to the place where I
realized my own nothingness, and God's all-encompassing
GREATNESS -- until I felt completely whipped, defeated. When I came
to consider myself as a worthless burned-out "hunk of human junk"
not even worth throwing on the junk-pile of human derelicts,
truly remorseful for having imagined I was a
"somebody" -- completely and totally and bitterly SORRY for the
direction I had traveled and the things I had done -- really and
truly repentant -- I told God that I was now ready to give my SELF
and my LIFE over to Him. It was worthless, now, to me. If He
could use it, I told Him He could have it! I didn't think, then,
it was useable -- even in God's hands!
But let me say to the reader, if God could take that
completely defeated, worthless, self-confessed failure to which I
had been reduced, and use that life to develop and build what He
has done, He can take YOUR LIFE, too, and use it in a manner you
simply cannot now dream -- if you will turn it over to Him without
reservation and leave it in His hands! What has happened since
gives me no glory -- but it magnifies again the POWER OF GOD to
take a worthless tool and accomplish HIS WILL through it!
But don't ever suppose it came easy. If a mother suffers
birth pangs that her child may be born, most of us have to suffer
that WE may be born again of GOD -- even in this first begettal
stage we call conversion!
And what does all this mean? It means that millions of
professing Christians have been deceived into believing in a
FALSE CONVERSION! It means, as Jesus said, "whosoever will save
his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my
sake shall find it." Or, in another place, "He that loveth his
life shall lose it."
It means that the individual must be CHANGED! It is a change
in what you ARE! Jesus Christ never pictured the way of salvation
as the broad and easy and popular road. Rather, He said, that
popular road is the way that leads to destruction -- and the MANY
are traveling that road. He said that many would desire to enter
the Kingdom of God, and should not be able! Why? Because they are
not able to give up this world -- this world's WAYS -- to give up
being concerned primarily with "what will my friends -- my club -- my
associates -- my relatives say?"
Repentance means GIVING UP your way -- the world's way -- the
world's opinion of you! It means turning to the WAY OF GOD -- the
way of His law! It means SURRENDER -- unconditional surrender -- to
live by EVERY WORD OF GOD. Since the Bible is the Word of God, it
means to live by the BIBLE! It means utter voluntary submission
to the AUTHORITY of God, as expressed in HIS WORD!
When you come to fully realize what is the full implication
of your rebellion against the AUTHORITY of God -- of the Bible -- it
is not so easy to give up! It is much more than a change of
direction. It is a change in what you ARE! That old SELF doesn't
want to DIE! This true repentance is excruciatingly painful. It
is agony! Jesus said FEW find that way!
It wasn't easy for me. How about you?
The only people of God, going His way, that we knew at that
time were at the opposite extreme of human society from the great
and the near great I had been proud to associate with. I thought
immediately, of course, of what my former friends and business
associates would think of me. They would regard me as a fanatic
embracing superstition. It was humiliating. I knew it meant
giving up all such associations. I knew it meant giving up my
life's ambitions. It meant giving up everything I had driven
myself so hard to attain. But now I was disillusioned. All that
had been pure ego -- pure inflation of VANITY. It was a blown-up
balloon -- and the balloon had been punctured.
When I literally gave my life over to God, I meant it! I did
not count it mine any longer. Yet, had God brought me merely to
this agonizing experience of conversion, and then restored me to
economic ease and prosperity, I probably would have reverted back
to the same goals and ways. The old cocky SELF-confidence
probably would have returned. I probably would not have endured
as a Christian.
So God not only brought me low. He kept me that way for 28
long years!
Yet living without this former "god" was no longer painful,
once I gave it up. I had found the true GOD instead. I had found
the overflowing JOY of receiving new UNDERSTANDING of God's TRUTH
out of the Bible. I now plunged into the study of the Bible with
an energetic zeal surpassing any efforts I had expended in the
quest of material success. I found a new happiness and joy in the
fellowship of those humble and lowly folk that was infinitely
greater than any enjoyment experienced before. Mrs. Armstrong and
I were now seeking first the KINGDOM OF GOD, and His
righteousness. We learned that happiness does not consist of
material acquisitions.

When God Opens Doors

Among old papers, letters, bulletins in those dusty old files I
find a mimeographed letter addressed to co-workers. Our little
family of co-workers making possible this work of God was still
very small -- perhaps a couple dozen or so. The letter is dated
December 20th, 1934.
It started out: "I am overjoyed to be able to make a most
wonderful and important announcement. The Lord has very
graciously blessed the work .... And now He has opened the way for
far greater influence during 1935 .... A wonderful opportunity has
come for The RADIO CHURCH to go on the air IN PORTLAND! This may
be done by a hook-up between our present station, KORE in Eugene,
and KXL in Portland."
A few other excerpts from this letter should prove
Here is one -- and how true this is, still today! "But there
is one fact I want you to realize. It has been said that if a
minister would DARE to stand before his congregation and preach
the PLAIN TRUTH OF THE BIBLE, he would not have a dozen members
left. That is about true, for God's Word is profitable for
REPROOF, for CORRECTION (II Tim. 3:16), and the minister who will
use it to reprove and rebuke (II Tim. 4:2) as God commands, will
find the time has come when people have adopted FABLES! We have
DARED to preach the TRUTH! We have not minced words, nor toned
down the Word of God. And but FEW will support such preaching.
"Yet," continuing the letter, "we have found a peculiar
paradox. We have learned that people WILL LISTEN, over the radio,
to the straight truth that would cause them to get up and walk
out if their own ministers preached it in their own churches!
They will LISTEN, over the radio, but they WILL NOT SUPPORT SUCH
PREACHING! We cut ourselves off totally from their financial
support -- yet they LISTEN! And do you know, there are MILLIONS
over the United States who will never listen to the last Gospel
warning in any way EXCEPT OVER THE RADIO? They can be reached BY
RADIO -- and by radio ALONE!"
How true that has been! That is one reason GOD ALMIGHTY
opened the door of mass evangelism by radio and, later, by
television. Today, scores of millions listen every week -- yet the
numbers who support this great worldwide work, even today, are
only a few hundred thousand worldwide, and many of them in the
lower income brackets!
Yet, even from those early days in 1934, we have made
financial needs known only to those FEW who had voluntarily,
without solicitation, become active co-workers! We have never
begged for financial support over the air. We have never taken up
collections in evangelistic campaigns. We have never put a price
on any Gospel literature! People must send in offerings or
tithes, voluntarily and without solicitation -- or else tell us
they wish to become co-workers -- before we consider them as such,
or acquaint them with the financial needs of the work!
That financing policy was in effect from the very first
broadcasting year -- 1934! Every co-worker who helps support this
work of God is individually responsible for reaching THOUSANDS
with Christ's Gospel -- because only one in thousands is a
But the point I wish to make is that, by the end of our
first year on the air, CHRIST opened another door! He opened the
door for us to go on station KXL, Portland, then only 100 watts.
But at that time I was afraid to walk through that
door -- until after co-workers had PLEDGED enough money to pay for
it. This very letter quoted above went on to ask co-workers for
those pledges -- totalling only $50 per month, for the year 1935. A
coupon form of pledge was mimeographed at the bottom of the
second page of the letter.
Our co-workers failed to pledge the needed $50 per month. As
I remember, they pledged only about half that amount. And I
failed to walk through the door Christ had opened. We had to wait
almost two more years before God gave us another opportunity for
His work to expand into Portland! Later other doors were opened,
when I wanted definite pledges before walking through those
doors. But definite pledges was not FAITH.
We had to learn, by experience, that when God opens doors
for CHRIST'S GOSPEL, He expects us to start walking on through,
IN FAITH, trusting HIM to supply our every NEED!
Whenever we have done this, God has always supplied the
need -- though He has given us severe tests of faith. Whenever we
have refused to follow where Christ leads until the money is on
hand, the money has never come!
And so the entire year 1935 went by and we were still on
only the one little 100-watt station in Eugene, Oregon!

My First Car

During the year 1935, we continued grinding out a hand-made Plain
Truth on the antiquated Neostyle. The mailing list had started
with 106 names. But through 1934 and 1935 it continued to grow as
a result of the radio program.
Evangelistic meetings continued, Sunday nights, through most
of 1935 at our "Little Church at the End of West Eighth Avenue."
I had taken out time for a short six-nights-a-week campaign of
perhaps two weeks at the Clear Lake schoolhouse between Eugene
and Alvadore. Also I had conducted a two- or three-week campaign
at a schoolhouse near Globe, Oregon, some 40 miles north of
A Bulletin dated March, 1935, announced the addition of 200
copies to the Plain Truth circulation, and a radio listening
audience estimated, by the mail response, at 8,000 every Sunday.
By August, 1935, the radio audience was estimated at 10,000.
I find a letter dated September 19,1935, sent out by three
members of the Eugene church, telling members and co-workers of
our dire need of an automobile. I had not owned a car since
leaving Salem for Astoria in December, 1931. For all these
meetings I had held 8 miles, 12 miles, and 15 miles west of
Eugene, I had been forced to hitch-hike a ride or be taken by
someone attending who had a car.
A few excerpts from this letter may throw additional light
on the circumstances of the time. Here are a few:
"Dear Friend: We want to bring to your attention a few facts
that have not been known, about the work, ministry, and
circumstances of your radio pastor and editor .... He started this
work of Bible evangelism without any money or income of his own.
He has received no salary or income from any organization, but
solely on sheer faith in the Lord to supply his needs and those
of his family .... To do this, Brother Armstrong and his family
have sacrificed in a way you little dream of .... Most of the time
Brother Armstrong has been preaching six to nine times a week. He
and his wife do all the work of printing, folding, addressing,
stamping and mailing out The Plain Truth, themselves, to save
expenses .... We are three of the many who have been converted by
his preaching during the past year. Now this work is
expanding .... He has urgent call to open evangelistic meetings at
once near Salem. The way is opening for him to go on the air in
Portland .... But Brother Armstrong is severely handicapped, and
may be prevented from expanding this great work, because he has
no car. The time has come when he must take quick trips back and
forth between Portland, Salem, and Eugene. He must also have a
way to get around to visit more of his radio audience, especially
the sick and afflicted who call upon him for prayer. So we, the
undersigned, have taken it upon ourselves as a committee of
three, to try with the Lord's help and blessing, to provide a car
for this great purpose .... We have in mind not even the lowest
priced new car, but a used car, the lowest priced car that will
serve the purpose and cover the mileage he now will have to
cover. One of the undersigned is an experienced mechanic and
automobile man, and will select the right car for the purpose. We
three are starting this fund, at a sacrifice to ourselves."
As a result of their letter, a fund of $50 was raised. We
purchased a used 1929-model Graham-Paige, in Portland. The price
was $85. We signed papers for paying the additional $35, with the
understanding I was to have ten days to pay it in cash and save
the carrying charges of a year's payment contract. I borrowed the
$35 and paid for the car. Afterward the man from whom I borrowed
it -- and I believe it was Ernest Fisher -- figured that he owed that
amount of tithe money, and cancelled the note.
Back in the proud old Chicago days, it would have been a
very painful blow to pride to have accepted a car in that manner.
Along in those early years, 1934 to 1936, I sometimes
laughingly boasted that "I have a suit of clothes for every day
in the week -- and this is it!" But that one suit finally became
threadbare. It became a handicap to the work. Mr. Elmer Fisher
decided I had to have a new one, and took me to the
Montgomery-Ward store and bought me a new $19.89 suit. It may
have been a year and a half or two years later when that one was
looking equally unpresentable. At that time Milas Helms, near
Jefferson, formed two committees, one headed by him at Jefferson,
and the other at the Eugene church, to solicit contributions from
members for another new suit. They raised $35.
Through these years my wife wore used clothes her sister
sent her, and how we shifted to keep our children clothed I do
not remember -- except that one woman at Alvadore stopped tithing
by saying:
"Well, I'm not going to let any of my tithes go to buy silk
stockings for those Armstrong girls." She said cotton stockings
were good enough for them. Yet ALL other girls in high school
wore silk stockings! This was before the days of nylons. Had our
girls worn cotton stockings, they would have been ridiculed and
laughed at by the other girls. Mrs. Armstrong did not want this
to happen. She prevented it by accepting worn silk stockings from
others, with runs in them, and sewing up the runs -- for both her
daughters, and herself.
It was incidents like this that soured and prejudiced our
children against God's truth. Through those years most of the
members of the church in Eugene lived better, economically, than
I have a letter written November 13, 1935, showing that at
that time, after almost two years on the air with the radio
program, the income of the work was running around $40 to $45 per
It was sometime during 1935 that opportunity came to
purchase a small house of our own on West Sixth Avenue in Eugene.
Certain of the church members raised the down payment. On this I
have to trust memory. No figures are at hand, as I write. But I
believe the price was $1,900, with 10%, or $190 down and 1% of
the $1,710 balance, or $17.10 per month payments. The church
members agreed that if I were able to keep up the payments, the
property, when paid out, should be deeded to me. It was deeded to
the three officers of the church and myself, as trustees for the
Church, which made it church ownership.

More Persecution

There had come a request for me to hold evangelistic meetings of
about three weeks in the Eldreage schoolhouse on a country road
12 miles north of Salem, Oregon.
In previous chapters I have had a great deal to say about
Mr. and Mrs. O. J. Runcorn. We had come to regard them as our
"spiritual" parents. They lived in Salem during these years.
Their son, Fern Runcorn, and his family lived in this community
close to the Eldreage school, and Mr. Fern Runcorn was a member
of the school board. It was through him that permission was
obtained by the board to hold the meetings. I was invited to be
his guest while they were being held.
This school was one of the newer two-room schools. The rooms
were divided by folding or sliding doors. These could be opened
so that the two rooms became one larger auditorium room.
While it was a country community, we had an attendance
running from 50 to 70 each night. Among them were some 15
teenagers, including a few husky 16-year-old overgrown boys. They
did not come because they hungered and thirsted for God's Truth.
They came for mischief. They sat in the rear seats, making loud
cat-calls and weird noises, trying to disrupt the preaching.
Mr. Runcorn had warned me about them in advance. He said
that if I attempted to quiet them or discipline them in any way,
I would find all the adults resenting it, and attendance would
stop. I could not understand why, but he warned me that the
people there were accustomed to this noisy confusion, and would
resent any effort of mine to stop it.
Consequently, when the nuisance started, I stopped my
preaching long enough to say that I had been warned against
trying to stop it.
"Now," I said, "if that's the way you people want it, that's
the way you may have it. These boys are sitting at the rear. They
are closer to you people than they are to me. If you can stand
it, I can. But if and when you get tired of it, and want it
stopped, I shall STOP IT!"
When these young rowdies saw they could not break up my
meetings that way, after a few nights they broke into the school
one night after midnight, breaking a window, and stealing a
number of books.
Next evening Mr. Runcorn said the chairman of the school
board had called a board meeting, and he and the third member had
voted to refuse permission for the meetings to continue, on the
ground that my presence there was endangering school property.
But I learned also that the chairman of the school board was a
member of a certain church, of which about half of all the
residents of the neighborhood were members, and that he, himself,
had deliberately instructed these boys to break into the school
building, in order to give him the opportunity to deny the use of
the building to me.
That rather aroused my indignation. I was to be allowed this
one more service that same night. At this service, I announced to
the congregation what had happened. I told them I did not want to
be a party to a religious war in this religiously divided
community, but I believed God would give me wisdom to handle the
situation. I felt confident the board decision would be reversed
before the following night, and advised all to come.
Next morning I drove to the Sheriff's office in Salem. I
asked him if his office was willing to uphold the Constitution of
the United States which guarantees the right of peaceful
"Mr. Armstrong," he said, "if there is anything this office
will stand firmly behind, it is the right of peaceful assembly.
What's your trouble, and what can we do for you?"
I explained what had happened. I asked for two deputy
sheriffs to be present each night, beginning at the time of the
meetings, until about two hours after midnight, to prevent
further breaking in or destruction of school property. He assured
me his men would be glad to put down the disturbance of these
young ruffians by arresting them and taking them to jail if they
disturbed the meetings further, provided I would prefer charges.
It was agreed. The deputy sheriffs were to remain in the school
play-shed just outside the school.
Next, I went immediately, with two witnesses, to the home of
the chairman of the school board.
"Now, Mr. X," I said when he came to the door, "I understand
that your only objection to my meetings is your fear of
destruction to the school property, and your desire to have the
property protected. Is that correct?"
"Oh, yes, of course," he replied.
"And of course," I pursued, "there is no religious
persecution or bigotry in your action, is there? You are not
trying to start a religious war in this community where half are
of your religion and half of the other kind of Christianity?"
"Oh, no, of course not," he said, his face turning red.
"Well, then, since you are not doing this as a matter of
religious bigotry and intolerance, but only to protect school
property, I'm sure you'll change your vote on this, for there
will be no further danger to the school property. I have seen to
that. The sheriff's office is sending two armed deputy-sheriffs
out every night from here on. They are going to guard the school
property until long after midnight -- as long as there is any
danger. So you have no other objection, now, have you?"
"Well," he stammered, "I - I g-guess n-not!"
"Thank you," I said. "These men are my witnesses that we now
have your permission to continue the meetings."
We left, and drove to the home of the third board member. I
told him what had happened.
"You might as well make it unanimous," I said, "since the
other two board members have given permission, anyway."
He was glad to do so.
That night we had a good crowd.
"At the outset tonight," I said, "I want to say that I am
sure, after this breaking into the school building and the
robbery, that you people will be with me in demanding the
constitutional right of peaceful assembly. There are two
sheriff's deputies just outside this door. The first one of you
young bullies that makes a single disturbing sound is going to be
yanked right out of your seat, and thrown in jail for the night,
and I will appear against you and demand the severest penalty of
the law!"
At the end of three weeks, the interest had increased, and
the meetings were continued for six weeks.

Chapter 36
Broadcast Work Expands

WE COME now to the year 1936. The meetings being held 12 miles
north of Salem, Oregon, had started around the 12th of December,
1935. Originally scheduled for three weeks only, they were
continued an additional three weeks because of local
interest -- especially after the episode of bringing two sheriff's
deputies from Salem to guard the school property every night.

Going to Heaven?

One night I spoke on the reward of the saved. Most people, of
course, suppose it is a matter of destination -- going to heaven.
In other words, a matter of where, instead of what we are to be.
I had shown that Jesus Christ came to "confirm the PROMISES
made unto the fathers. " Whatever the PROMISES made to the
fathers, Jesus confirmed them as the reward of the saved. Then I
showed by both Old and New Testament Scriptures that Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob were "the fathers."
Next, starting with the 12th chapter of Genesis, I showed
that Abraham was not promised heaven, but rather this earth for
an everlasting possession. The words "everlasting possession"
simply mean ETERNAL LIFE. The same promises were re-promised to
Isaac and Jacob. This was confirmed by Christ, who preached
ETERNAL LIFE as the gift of God.
Of course most people have been taught, and carelessly
assumed, precisely the opposite o