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  • Chapter 2: 1918 - 1928

    2.1 1918 - The Missionary Man

    When World War 1 ended Dada returned to the canvassing work. He sold ‘Present Truth' and 'Good Health' on Sunday and *shilling books during the week. Grandpa, Uncle Ben and Dada canvassed Bradford and the surrounding area which meant that every six months they had to go over the same territory which resulted in their becoming well known. Dada enjoyed meeting people in their homes and sharing the news of a soon coming Saviour. He became known as the 'Missionary Man' to policemen, milkmen and the general public. He preached in other churches and conducted many funerals of people whom he had come to know through his work. I well remember the funeral of Mrs Lumb. She had twelve sons and all of them were policemen. They carried the coffin to the cemetery changing two at a time, with such precision, that it was hardly noticeable. Dada conducted the funeral service.

    Dada decided he would like to hold some meetings on a Sunday evening to share his joy of knowing that Jesus has promised to return soon to this earth. Again he asked the Education Authorities whether he could rent the same classroom for this purpose and he was given the privilege of having it rent-free. A small number of leaflets were printed advertising the meetings, date, time and location. Grandpa came over from Armley each Sunday to help him in this work. I well remember one evening in particular. Dada was giving a talk on Spiritualism. Mama always had a hot drink ready for their return, when they would tell her how things had gone. This evening Dada came home exhausted and said he would have to go straight to bed. Grandpa stayed downstairs with us and planned to have his drink before catching the tram to Armley.

    All of a sudden, we heard a terrible noise coming from upstairs. The three of us ran to the bedroom door. A smell of sulphur was in the air and though there was no lock on the door Grandpa was unable to open it. He shouted, "Walter, call on the name of the Lord." This he repeated.

    Then we heard the voice of Dada saying in breathless tones, "Jesus help me." Immediately the door gave way and Grandpa went to open the bedroom window in order that we could breathe. The heavy smell of sulphur choked us. We had an old iron bedstead in those days and apparently Dada had been turned round in the bed in a clockwise motion. The clothes were on the floor and Dada's feet and head were badly hurt from hitting the head and the foot of the bed. We got on our knees and thanked God for His power over the evil spirits.

    In my early childhood, I was learning that God hears our every call for help. Dada continued with the meetings and his canvassing work.

    2.2 1919 - Making Ends Meet

    Mama was very slowly gaining strength. She asked me one day if I would ask the teachers at my school whether they would like to have a cooked dinner for *9d. This I did. Two of my teachers accepted the offer so the next week, after school finished at noon, I ran home and carried two baskets with basins containing a dinner and a pudding. They were fully enjoyed and the news spread. Soon I was going backwards and forwards to school, carrying two baskets at a time, supplying dinners for eight teachers. Mama made little on this but it did provide the three of us with a hot meal.

    In my ninth year, Dada began to suffer pain in his stomach and was often sick. After some weeks, his doctor diagnosed ulcers and put him on a diet of milk and fish. Dada became bedridden for eighteen weeks, which meant that no money was coming into our home. In those days, one had to pay the doctor his fee, which was *2/6, for every visit. My parents were still paying Dr Lancaster's bills, which had accumulated during Mama's illness. I decided that I had to earn some money for my parents. I loved drawing and sewing, so I drew pictures of a cat sitting on a hill with the sun shining above. I then made a few cushions, with material given to me by the lady living next door, to hang on the candlesticks on the front of the piano. These would prevent the front getting marked when the piano lid was open. Then after school, when I was supposed to be playing with my friends, I went from door to door hoping to sell the pictures for one *penny and the cushions for four pennies. When I had four pennies, I could buy one pound of Sprats to take home for Mama to prepare and cook for Dada.

    In October of that year I went to a sweet shop close by and enquired whether they would be willing for me to ask friends and neighbours to pay *2d or 3d a week in a Chocolate Club. Then at Christmas, I would deliver the chocolates or sweets of their choice. They readily agreed to try something they had not done before. Some cards were prepared with a column for the money and one for my signature. I again went from door to door asking people to join. I took a catalogue with me so they could choose what they liked and what they could afford. You could get a box of chocolates for *2/6 and a lovely Selection Box of twelve different bars of chocolates for *2/6. The owners said I could have chocolates or money, *1/- in the £1 (5%) at the end. They did not think I would do much. What a shock they had when I took in my orders and the cash! They had to hire a large van to deliver the goods that filled our cellar to overflowing.

    Up until now my Christmas present from my parents had consisted of a stocking containing oranges, apples, a few nuts and a pink or white sugar mouse plus a pair of shoes or slippers, whichever I needed. This year I had a box of sugared almonds, a box of chocolate brazils and a chocolate Father Christmas. The rest I had in money. I do not remember how much, but my parents found it extremely useful. I do know that I enjoyed going each week to the homes and had fun delivering dozens of goodies with the help of my Uncle Ben.

    During the November of that year, the Lord looked after us in a very special way. One morning we were having worship before I went to school and Dada was pleading for help from his Saviour. Unknown to me there was no food in the house for our next meal. At that time, neither the Church nor the Government gave any assistance. As Dada said, "Amen", the postman came. I ran downstairs to pick up what he had delivered and there was a letter, which had been posted in Wales. Opening it, he read, "The Lord has impressed me that you are in need. I am, therefore, enclosing money to the value of your year's wages, plus interest, which I withheld from you some years ago. Please forgive me as I have asked my Heavenly Father to do."

    What an experience for them and for me! Jesus had answered Dada's prayer before he uttered it. "Before they call I will answer." Isaiah 65:24 This deepened our faith in our Lord.

    2.3 1919 - Second Anointing

    BUC Committee 1919Eventually Dada was taken to the Bradford Royal Infirmary for X-rays. A few days later, the doctor visited us and said that Dada would have to go in for surgery on his stomach. There was no help otherwise as he had a cancerous growth. It was arranged for him to be admitted on the following Monday. During that week Dada sent a letter to Pastor A. Bacon, President of the North British Conference at that time, asking him to come on Sabbath to anoint him. He felt, that if it were God's will, he would be healed. Pastor Bacon came on the Friday evening and stayed in our home. Sabbath morning he took the service at the Bradford Church and requested the members there to pray for Walter James, asking that God's will be done.

    In the afternoon, he conducted the anointing service in Dada's bedroom with Mama as the only other person present. I stayed downstairs as I was too young to realise the full significance of the service but I did know that something wonderful was going to happen. I remember sitting on the steps leading down to the garden saying aloud, "The neighbours do not know how important my home is. Jesus is here and He is going to perform a miracle." Such was my childish faith that there was no room for doubt!

    After what seemed a very long time Pastor Bacon came downstairs, put his arms around me and said, "You have been a very good girl Norah, and I want you to know that Jesus loves you." He then let himself out of the front door and returned to Newcastle. A few minutes later, I decided to run upstairs to see my parents but when I reached the stairs, I saw Mama and Dada coming down towards me. Jesus had worked a miracle because there was my Dada walking on his own and looking so happy.

    We knelt down together, in the kitchen, and thanked God for answered prayer. Dada joined us at the tea table and ate a normal meal. On the Sunday he walked seven miles to Armley to tell his wife's parents the wonderful news. He had no money for the tram fare. Mr and Mrs Hastings were visiting Granny and they offered to bring him back in their car.

    After seeing Dada into our home, they gave me my first motorcar ride. I climbed on to a big step and when seated pulled a small solid door to close it. There was no top so one could feel the wind when it blew. How I enjoyed being driven round the streets near to us and being able to wave to my friends! At school the next week it became our main topic of conversation.

    When Monday morning came, Dada went to the hospital as planned. He took sufficient things for just one night. After admission, he asked the sister on duty if he could see Sir Basil Hall, the surgeon who was to perform the operation, as he wished to discuss something with him. Later in the afternoon Sir Basil came on the ward and Dada had the opportunity of telling him that he was certain the operation was unnecessary. He explained about the anointing service and how he felt that the Lord had healed him. Sir Basil already knew about Dada's work and his faith in God. "If that is how you feel, Mr James, you can certainly go home," was Sir Basil's reply. Dada asked if further X-rays could be taken and Sir Basil agreed. These proved to all who saw them that the cancerous growth, which had been there, had completely disappeared. Not only was that the case, but also the stomach itself had been made perfect.

    Dada was allowed home the next day and the following day he went out canvassing. In later life he had no further trouble from that source. I had seen two miraculous cures in my home. One was gradual but had started very definitely on the day of the anointing and the second had been immediate.

    2.4 1922 - Through The Teenage Years

    My father continued in the canvassing work and, when I was twelve, I joined him on Sundays selling 'Present Truth' and 'Good Health'. They were *2d and 3d a copy. I enjoyed selling and was greatly encouraged by the response of the people.

    Just after my thirteenth birthday, I sat for a scholarship to go to an Art College, after leaving school. I won free training for two years but my parents could not afford to buy the equipment I would need. I then sat for another scholarship to go to a Business College every day for a year, free of charge. I was successful in winning this but again my parents could not let me accept, as they needed me to work. I left school when I was fourteen and started canvassing with shilling books.

    I had some wonderful experiences selling Christian books and magazines, but also some frightening ones. I canvassed an owner of a tripe shop with ‘Looking Beyond’ by A. S. Maxwell. He said he was not interested so I continued down the street. On walking back, I noticed he was slumped in his chair so I went to see what was the matter. He had committed suicide by gassing himself.

    Armley Gaol - 19th centuryOne Sunday I noticed that a sliding door, of a small building attached to some houses, was ajar. I pushed the door open and found a heavily pregnant lady hanging from a beam. In both cases, I called my Dada and he contacted the police. I was too young to go to court so Dada went in my stead. The lady's lover, who was a married man, had murdered her and he was one of the last to be hanged in Armley Gaol.

    Norah James with the book 'Christ's Glorious Return' by A S Maxwell - 1924Another time Dada was canvassing up and down one street while I was doing the same in the next. I had canvassed only four houses, and when I knocked on the fifth, a gentleman answered the door. He was very nice to me and asked if I would be willing to go up stairs and show the books to his wife who was ill in bed. Innocently I went, only to find there was no wife. I became very frightened. I do not remember praying but I did tell him that my Dada would be at his door any minute so he had better stop handling me. At that moment, I heard Dada calling my name. Angels were with us that day. How did Dada, who was in the next street, know when to come and what house to visit at the exact time I needed help?

    Colporteurs' Institute - 1924That year after attending the Colporteurs' Institute, where sellers of Christian literature received encouragement and instruction, I changed to canvassing 'Christ's Glorious Return' by A. S. Maxwell, which was *7/6 a copy and shilling books on Sunday.

    The Business College offered me free training for two years at evening classes. I went three evenings a week to study Shorthand, Typing and Bookkeeping. I enjoyed this very much, especially the Bookkeeping. My desire was to become a teacher of Accountancy.

    2.5 1926 - New Horizons

    Dada had many trying experiences during the 1920's; none of which were of his own making; a breakdown was the result. Pastor A. S. Maxwell arranged for him to have treatment at The Stanboroughs for one month on Medical Aid. Pastor A S Maxwell - editor and authorThis did help somewhat but in the end Pastor Maxwell suggested that we move to another area. He felt that a change of environment would help and he advised us to move to Southampton. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for his advice and kindness to us as a family.

    Grandpa Horspool was taken sick unto death at the end of June 1926. His last wish was that he should know that I had been baptised. Dada contacted Pastor E. E. Craven, the minister in Leeds, and asked whether this could be arranged. He questioned me about my faith in Jesus as my personal Saviour and organised the use of a zinc tank as a temporary baptistery. The service took place on the 12th of July with my father as the only other person present. Grandpa Horspool died on the 14th July 1926.

    Later that year we moved to Southampton and lived with one of the members until we could find accommodation. We had been there only a week when Mama and Dada were called to the bedside of Grandma James who lived near Peterborough. She was dying of cancer. They were there for six weeks. Loneliness overcame me as I had left my cousins and friends in Bradford and had not become acquainted with any of the young people in the Southampton Church. Canvassing with 'Christ's Glorious Return' in the South was very different from canvassing in the North. I became isolated and very discouraged.

    Studying Accountancy by a correspondence course proved difficult. I needed personal attention as I was trying to understand Partnership and Company Law, and Bankruptcy Law, etc. I went through a stage of complete apathy. I would go out in the morning, having got myself something to eat, and knock at a few doors, usually without success. Then finding a seat somewhere, I would read 'Schoolgirl's Own' and 'Schoolgirl's Weekly' instead of going from door to door. I was young and very much alone. The Devil thought, "Here is someone to work on. I will get her on my side." Three or four weeks later I realised my folly and stopped wasting so much time.

    The Lord blessed me with some success in the selling of books but I found the subject I was studying too difficult without the help of someone to explain things to me, so I gave up the course. My parents, on their return, were disappointed that I had done this but they did understand my feelings. What I had learned proved useful in later life.

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