The year was 1959, and it was about 4 on a Sunday afternoon when we left my parent’s house in Russellville, Kentucky. We lived in Paducah, about 120 miles northwest of there. It was my birthday weekend in February, so the days were short and it got dark around 5.
We were traveling with our preschool children. Kent was 4½, Beth 3 and a couple of months, and Jonna had just had her second birthday. Our car was a 1955 Dodge sedan, about 4 years old.
We had driven about 30 miles when it began to rain, and Toby turned on the windshield wipers. Nothing happened. He kept trying to get them on with no results.
This was a Sunday afternoon in the middle of nowhere! What were we going to do?
Toby’s philosophy was “expect the unexpected.” In the trunk, he had his first-aid kit, jack, spare tire, flares, shovel (in case he got stuck somewhere) and a ball of twine.
Before too long we came upon a country service station — closed, of course — but with an overhang wide enough to pull into out of the rain, which by this time was coming down pretty hard. The glare from oncoming traffic was making it very difficult for Toby to see.
Toby got out his pocket knife — remember when men and boys carried them — and cut off a length of twine. The wipers worked side-by-side instead of meeting in the middle. The wipers were in a resting position pointing to the driver’s side. Toby tied one end of the twine to the far end of the driver’s wiper. He threaded it over the bottom of the windshield to bring it through the side vent window — those little windows that opened and closed with a knob — on the passenger’s side.
My job was to pull the twine until the wipers moved across the windshield and then release it to flop back. When Toby needed to see he would say, “Pull!” There could be several seconds between “pulls” or continuous “pull, pull, pull.”
We drove about 90 miles through the pouring rain with our only communication being “Pull,” with lots of giggles in between.
Fast forward to 1973. After we moved into our present sanctuary at Broadmoor Baptist Church, the time came for the first baptismal service. It seems the panels covering the baptistry would not open from the inside. Toby met with a couple of men to try to solve this problem.
With strategically placed large eye screws and twine, someone from the side could pull the rope and open the large panels.
Even now when there is a baptismal service, if you look carefully, you can see the rope.
I always think I can hear Toby from his vantage point in heaven, saying “pull, pull, pull!”
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