By Victor Stanley
The story of my childhood reads like the beginning of a Steinbeck novel, but it’s all true. Times were tough in the mid-1950s in Down East Maine. Jobs were scarce, and people were desperate. My parents came down with California Fever, lured by the promise of work at a new Westinghouse manufacturing plant near San Jose. So, in the summer of 1955, they canned as much mackerel as they could into quart-size Ball jars, packed all of their worldly possessions into an old pickup, and headed west with their three sons, my aunt and uncle and their two boys, and the family dog, Rowser. I was 10 months old.
“Christmas is coming, and we don’t have anything. No presents, no Christmas goodies, nothing for Christmas dinner. We need God’s help.” When it was time to pray, I asked for it. I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was frightened by the possibility of having nothing on Christmas Day.
Later that week, I got off the school bus and walked into the kitchen. My mother grabbed me and gave me a big hug. “Your prayers were answered,” she proclaimed, waving a white envelope over her head. “The Maine Seacoast Mission sent us $50 for Christmas!”
My mother stretched that $50 as far as it would go.