—Heaven's Children Chapter 2
1. We began the first volume of this story with the words, "I'm Grandfather", as I'm the one who's telling the story. But some of you who do not know me might say, "So, who is Grandfather?" So that's the title of this chapter: "Who is Grandfather?"
2. Well, I come from a long line of Norsemen, Vikings, farmers‚ entertainers, acrobats, singers, a shoe cobbler & a railroad man on my father's side. My father was born on a farm near Kalmar Castle in Smoland, Sweden, & emigrated with his father & mother & family to the United States about 1887 when he was only about four years old. They settled in a small town in the Midwest called Oakland, Nebraska.
3. As they were very poor‚ they had crossed the ocean for weeks in the bottom of the boat, a freighter, in what is now known as "steerage" under horrible conditions, packed in almost like sardines with many other poverty-stricken European immigrants of that day, with very little food & water, & terribly unsanitary conditions.
4. But they survived,thank God, & took a train from New York, third class in those days, packed in almost as badly as they had been in the boat, until finally they arrived at the home of my father's older sister who had gone before them & settled there in Nebraska & who had invited them to come & join her, as she had a good job as a milliner‚ or a hat-maker, & was earning enough money that she had a place large enough for them all to live, which was very small in those days.
5. My father's father, or my grandfather, whom we called "Far-far"‚ which is Swedish for "father's father", was a shoe cobbler, or a shoe–maker, making shoes to order by hand in his own little shop in their home.
6. It was a good trade & he managed to eke out a living for himself & his little family, together with the help of his daughter & some of the other older children, none of whom spoke English, so that at first they were very poor.
7. My father said that his first memories of family dinners were standing at the table because they could not afford chairs, & eating out of their only pot, their only dish set in the center of the table, eating out of it with their hands because they not only could not afford dishes, nor any morepots, but they could not afford utensils or silverware!
8. Because they were poor Swedish immigrants, not long from their Fatherland‚ & had settled in a small farming community of nearly all Swedes as well, they spoke entirely Swedish in the home & even about town. So my father did not learn much English until he was nearly twelve years of age when he went to work for the local colliery sorting coal after school. He also did not start attending school until that age.
9. But he rapidly learned English at both school & his work, as well as learning bookkeeping as he progressed, until finally he could find better jobs & the family began to prosper somewhat as all the children worked, including their father & mother.
10. His older sister, Ellen, my Aunt Ellen, did so well with her hats she finally had her own hat shop, a millinery store which she eventually sold & got enough money to move to Oakland,California, where she established another hat shop larger than before. She kept prospering & making money until she had a whole chain of hat shops both in Oakland & San Francisco, & became quite rich as a frugal investor & wise woman so that she eventually owned considerable real estate, both in San Francisco & Oakland, & that vicinity.
11. And as she prospered‚ she invited the rest of the family to move on to California with her & live with her there & get better jobs in the big cities. My father, Hjalmer, a good Swedish name, therefore obtained through my rich Aunt's influence a very good job with the Southern Pacific Railroad as one of its well-paid bookkeepers‚ & he would spend his vacations as a brakeman on some of its freight trains throughout the West, just for excitement, travel & good vacation pay. And it was in the course of these travels that he met my mother.
12. On my mother's side, I come from a long line of German-Jewish farmers who lived near Stuttgart, Germany, who had already become Christians as their family were Christians, converted Jews, & members of a Baptist sect known as "Dunkards", later known in the United States as the Church of the Brethren, a church largely composed of converted Christian–Jews, mostly businessmen & prosperous farmers & therefore fairly rich.
13. This church now controls several outstanding Christian educational institutions in the United States of which you may have heard, such as Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, the Church of the Open Door & Los Angeles Bible Institute of Los Angeles, & the rich man's Christian college, Westmont College of Montecito‚ near Santa Barbara, California, & some of these institutions enter into our story later on.
14. The three German-Jewish Christian farm boys from near Stuttgart—Adam, Ludwig & Jacob Brandt—finally decided to emigrate together to the United States in 1745, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat, finally arriving in Pennsylvania & settling near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on farms where they raised their families.
15. The one brother‚ Ludwig the First, was my great great great great grandfather. His son, Ludwig the Second moved to a farm near Somerset, Ohio where he fathered a third Ludwig whose son Isaac was my grandfather's father, my great grandfather, Isaac Brandt.
16. There on Isaac's farm near Somerset, Ohio, my grandfather, John Lincoln Brandt‚ was born in the year 1860, the year the American Civil War began. And as that war did not end until 1865, he still had childhood memories of that terrible conflict in which more Americans were killed than in any other war in the United States' history!
17. He too was a farmer like his forefathers before him, but was determined to better himself by getting a little education, so he began to read & educate himself on his own & in some of the primitive country schools of the day.Until‚ when he finally graduated from the equivalent of today's highschool at the age of 19, he became a school teacher.
18. But he was a very handsome & energetic young man & longed for excitement & adventure, so he soon joined a travelling troupe of actors, particularly portraying Shakespearian characters, as Shakespeare was still very popular in his day & especially his plays.
19. But one night, thoroughly frightened by a very close call he had in a sword duel with another actor who was drunk at the time, he sought out a minister who could tell him how to be saved, so that if this other drunken actor should prove to bring about his final fate, he would be ready to go to Heaven! Finally an old-fashioned Methodist minister got him down on his knees, praying a prayer of repentance & confession of faith in Jesus Christ‚ the Son of God, as his Lord & Saviour. (Ro.10:9-10)
20. So, since he always did whatever he did with his whole heart‚ he immediately determined to become a preacher of the Gospel! If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for everybody! So he immediately launched out upon a course of action & education which would put him into the Methodist ministry, & finally became a circuit-riding preacher with five different churches in the hills of West Virginia amongst the mountaineers‚ where my mother was born to a young actress whom my grandfather had married during his acting career, Nina Lee Marquis, a descendant of the Marquis of France & relatives of Robert E. Lee & Lighthorse Harry Lee on that side of the family, heroes of the Civil War on the side of the South.
21. As is obvious from my Grandfather's middle name, Lincoln, his family were Northerners & in sympathy with the North during that War; but my grandmother‚ as is obvious from her middle name, her family were from the South & sympathisers with the South! So they did not always agree on politics, as my grandfather was a Northern gentleman & my grandmother a Southern lady‚ when gentlemen were still gentlemen & ladies real ladies!
22. So my mother, Nina Virginia Lee Brandt, grew up hearing both sides of the War, but as her mother was a sweet‚ loving, tender, gentle, graceful‚ beautiful Southern woman & my mother was born in the South, her sympathies were considerably heavily-weighted on the Southern side; & as she spent her childhoodin that small Southern town where she was born, White Sulphur Springs‚ West Virginia, a country farm town where her father rode to his churches by horseback through the dense woods of the steep mountains of southern West Virginia, she learned to know & understand the South & its Southerners.
23. And apparently as her own mother did not have sufficient breast-milk for her, it was the custom in those days to hire what was known as a "wet-nurse", & so they hired a Black nanny to nurse my mother, so that she learned to love the Negroes as well‚ who were sweet, precious Christians in those days, not the wild savages many are today! So she loved both Whites & Blacks of the South, & in growing up myself I can remember that we nearly always had Negro maids & gardeners & helpers‚ as they were plentiful & wages were low.
24. As my grandfather Brandt had been quite an actor & now was just as dramatic in his preaching, he quickly worked his way up the ladder to better churches in more civilized parts of the Midwest, such as Indianapolis‚ my grandmother's home town, & St. Louis,Missouri. There he began to become very rich through his wise investments in gambling on the stock market, until he finally had a stock ticker in his own office in the rear of his church to keep tabs on the stock market hour-by-hour!
25. So by this time he not only had the largest Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri with congregations of 2‚000 every Sunday service, but he also began travelling, writing books & lectures on his travels around the World, until he had finally travelled three times around the World before he died, which was very rare in those days as most people did not even travel across the Ocean & barely from State to State in those early days!
26. But he had travelled extensively throughout Europe & the Mideast, particularly Egypt, & also the Orient, especially China‚ which was being evangelized by many Christian missionaries in those days of the late 1800's, along with his wife, my grandmother, who in the course of their Chinese travels, learned Cantonese, the language of the rich & educated of Southern China. God later made her a missionary herself to the tens of thousands of Chinese in her own home city of St. Louis—poor Chinese who had come to the United States to make their fortune but had found that they could barely eke out a living as labourers.
27. In the course of his travels, my grandfather took a liking to Australia, & his last great pastorate was the largest Christian Church in Melbourne, where some of their children were born—the children of his second marriage.
28. My mother's mother died during an accident in a minor operation when my mother was only 17 in 1903. So her rich father sent her abroad‚ which usually meant Europe in those days, to try to help her forget her bitterness over my grandmother's death. There she toured Europe with her own high-society clique of young people, spending most of her days sleeping & all nights in the music halls of Paris or gambling in the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco on the French Riviera. Fortunately she was usually quite lucky & almost always won. But when she did lose, her father was rich enough to send her more money.
29. She finally returned to the United States where she began to want to feel useful & do something worthwhile, so shebecame General Winfield Scott's secretary in his palatial home in Fort Worth, Texas—the Winfield Scott of Civil War fame, after which the Presidio of San Francisco was also named.
30. But there during a high-society weekend party of foolish pleasure she became fed-up & sick of the World & its frothiness & had almost decided to end it all with suicide when she remembered some words her father had often spoken, "If you must throw your life away, why not give it away?"
31. So she decided to go back to college & learn welfare work, "social service" as they called it, & eventually became National Field Secretary of the Florence Crittenden Homes for "fallen girls", as they were known in that day‚ unwed mothers who had been cast out of their own homes by their own families & had no place to go but the streets & prostitution. Maybe that's why I have such a burden for prostitutes & the men whom they serve!
32. Finding that she was as gifted in lecturing as her father, shewas sent on the road by Charles Crittenden himself to raise money for the building of these much-needed homes for girls, & raised literally millions of dollars for the construction of many of these homes throughout the West. She was in the process of dedicating her last Crittenden home after itwas built in Reno, Nevada, where she met my father in the course of his travels & eloped with him on one of his trains, cabling her father in China that she was now married to a handsome young Swedish singer who could perhaps sing for him at one of his coming evangelistic campaigns!
33. In that campaign in Aberdeen, South Dakota‚ under her father's preaching, my father dedicated his life to the ministry of the Lord & the Gospel, to my mother's shocked amazement & dismay!—Because in the course of her life & bitterness over her mother's death she had become an atheist & unbeliever & could quote pages & pages of Voltaire & Ingersoll & the many famous atheists & Bible blasters of her day. Nevertheless, no argument that she could give would dissuade my stubborn, square-headed Swedish father. So she finally, reluctantly tagged along after him to Bible college in Des Moines, Iowa, where they had their first child, my older brother Hjalmer Junior.
34. But it was there in Des Moines, Iowa where she also had a terrible accident in which her back was broken & she was totally paralyzed from the waist down & partially paralysed on the left side, & finally almost totally paralyzed as the years went by, barely able to breathe, her lungs filled with tuberculosis after five years in bed & a wheelchair‚ her heart growing worse & worse day-by-day from the confinement & lack of exercise, her stomach salivated from her inability to eat proper food‚ being finally fed only liquids through a tube through a hole in her throat! Almost totally blind & dull of hearing from the strong medicines she had had to take & her hair all fallen out, she was eventually nothing but a skeleton with skin stretched over the bones, lying on rubber cushions, & weighing only 78 pounds! She said she looked more like a scarecrow than a human being!
35. My father, finally desperate for his wife & the mother of their now two children, my older brother & sister, cried out to God for mercy, & my mother was gloriously, marvellously saved! She became a believer in Jesus Christ, her Saviour, the Son of God, & was one week later miraculously, astonishingly raised from her deathbed to walk to my father's church the very next morning‚ to stand in his pulpit & give her wonderful story of her marvellous Salvation & miraculous healing to his astounded parishioners!
36. This woman, whom they were all expecting to die at any moment, was suddenly as though she had been resurrected from the dead & was actually standing before them telling an almost incredible story! This occurred inUkiah, California, around 1918, where she was immediately invited to other local churches to tell that same wonderful story of God's grace & God's mercy upon the sin-sick, sick & dying!
37. Thus she was invited from Church to Church to tell that remarkable story, until she became much more popular as a speaker‚ & now a preacher of the Gospel, than even herhusband! But they soon found that this new doctrine of Faith Healing & Salvation by Grace was not very popular in their old formal modernistic churches of their own denomination! So they launched out into independent evangelistic work, & her popularity grew as a speaker & evangelist, as well as a faith–healer.
38. Following this exciting time of their pioneering, I was born on February the 18th, 1919 in Oakland, California in a tiny little four-room wooden cottage in the poor Melrose district during the great Spanish flu epidemic after World War 1, which slaughtered four million people throughout the World! Both my mother & I had it & it nearly killed us!—One of the first attacks of the King of Evil, Satan, upon our lives! But thanks to my mother's faith & prayer & my father's prayers‚ we survived it, thank the Lord!
39. Having lost his church & my mother being pregnant with me, they had had to leave the evangelistic field temporarily, so that he had gone back to work as a bookkeeper at Southern Pacific in San Francisco before I was born. During this time my rich Aunt Ellen helped them, very begrudgingly however, as she considered them as the scum of the Earth, Gospel gypsies, bums & beggars!—Because the established churches at that time did not recognize such fanaticism as healing & Salvation by Grace & evangelists in general! My Aunt was one of the leading charter members of a rich, huge Methodist Temple in Oakland, California & ashamed of her poor Gospel relatives. Nevertheless I had an opportunity there many times to visit & stay temporarily in her home, a beautiful place there in the rich suburb of Piedmont, Oakland, which by the way was then an all–White city of mostly Swedes, rather than an all-Black city as it is today.
40. There as a little child of only two or three, I can remember meeting my old Swedish grandfather, "Far–far", my father's father, who was now old & retired, living in a little cottage behind my rich aunt's house, with his aged wife, my grandmother, "Far-mor" as we called her, which means "father's mother". I can remember them as a little tot speaking only in Swedish, of which I had been taught none, as my mother & father wanted us to grow up as English-speaking Americans. He would pat me on the head often with a sweet smile & affectionately remark, "Den lil' pilton" while he was raking the leaves in the Fall & I was playing around his feet. I remember he must have been very patient with me as a toddler, trying to help him rake the leaves.
41. I can also remember Far-far & Far-mor standing at their little table in their tiny cottage singing Psalms & saying grace both before & after their meagre meals, to the wonder of this little tot who was fascinated by this old grey-bearded & grey-haired Swedish man & his aged grey-haired wife, my grandmother & grandfather, both Christians to the days they died. My grandmother died there in that same little cottage & later on my grandfather died in his little room, alone, at the back of my Aunt Ellen's home. Both died at ripe old ages in their 80's, having lived long‚ fruitful lives loving the Lord & bearing good children, who were also Christians, most of them learning to know Jesus before they also all passed away.
42. I also loved‚ as a little child of two or three, to go to the great Golden Gate Park in the city of San Francisco by ferryboat across the bay, & to visit its zoo & the playground with its kiddie–car train & all the things that little children love to do, as well as the great Cliff House on the ocean to watch the seals & hear the fascinating, mysterious music boxes in its music box museum, containing some of the earliest music recording machines that the World knew in that day, such as machines which contained whole orchestras of violins & various instruments & automatic player pianos & so on, the first music recording machines ever invented! As I had a strong mechanical bent like my father, I was almost hypnotised by these beautiful examples of mechanical genius which played such beautiful music of that day!
43. After I became old enough to travel, my parents, along with my older brother & sister, resumed their evangelistic tours‚ travelling several times across the great Western United States, its plains & deserts by Model-T Ford, mostly to Texas & Oklahoma, where my grandfather & his older children were pioneering new Christian churches in this pioneer land that had only been recently settled in the Oklahoma land rush, having formerly been an Indian reservation.
44. There my father & mother both pastored churches, as well as her father & his new wife & my mother's younger brother & others of my grandfather's tribe. And as my mother's fame began to spread Eastward, she received invitations to hold meetings further East, as well as in the far North of Canada. And as a small child I learned to experience much travelling in many climates & many kinds of territory & many kinds of people throughout the United States, Canada & Mexico.
45. Finally when I was four years old, my father took a church in Virginia Highlands just outside of Washington D.C., & there I had my fifth birthday & many trips to the Smithsonian Institute, which fascinated me with its endless marvellous exhibits & historical collections‚ precious gems, stuffed wild animals & all kinds of things that a small boy would be interested in! So I received quite an education there in Washington D.C., viewing its giant national buildings & touring its Capitol Building, the White House & so on, all very very great wonders to this tiny tot!
46. Eventually my mother was called to hold a meeting in Miami, Florida, where she went with my father & her little family, the three of us children, down into the torrid heat of the Tropix from the far, frozen, cold North, & it was quite a change!
47. All of that is a long story, too long to review here, but if you wish to read it for yourself, you can find it written in several other books, particularly the various stories I've told of my life & the "Books of Remembrance", which you may obtain from some Members of our Family for reading.
48. But there in Miami, Florida‚ occurred some great miracles of healing which catapulted Mother to immediate local fame & drew large crowds of thousands of people to her meetings! Until finally she felt compelled to build a very large church building, a rough wooden building very popular in those days, known as the "Gospel Tabernacle", with a sawdust floor & rough wooden benches, plank benches. And there thousands of people came to her meetings as the building itself seated about 5,000 & was full almost every night, as evangelistic meetings were quite popular in those days as they included considerable musical entertainment & often illustrated sermons, Gospel plays, Bible dramas, stereoptican shows—that's slide pictures—& many forms of very interesting Gospel entertainment before the days of television & radio & in the early days of motion pictures, often called "flicks" because they still flickered.
49. And there it was that I received much of my education, sitting or even sleeping on one of those benches almost nightly, hearing both my mother & father preach & many other great & famous Evangelists of North America.—And that was a considerable Bible & religious education for any young boy of my age!
50. There also I entered public school & my formal State education‚ when schools still read the Bible & prayed first thing every morning before class! And because I was the preacher's kid, I was frequently chosen as the goat to read the Bible & lead in prayer, although I was actually a sheep, of course!
51. But there I also found out how cruel the World was & how violent & evil its children were already becoming!—Rough, tough bully-boys who pounded away on the preacher's kid & started many fights with me in which I usually got beat up because I was a fighter & insisted on fighting back, although I was not as big as they were, but small, frail, delicate, skinny & mostly of a high mind & good intellect‚ rather than a brawny body!
52. So I learned to hate public school, but I loved my studies & the books that we read & I devoured literature of every kind, particularly historical fiction. Anything historical fascinated me, as I wanted to learn about all the people in the World & all the countries & all their histories, & I'm glad I did, because it has come in handy in the years that followed.
53. My teachers liked me & even loved me, & I loved some of the sweet little girls! But the bully-boys were my torture & torment almost continuously from first grade on through high school there in Miami, Florida. They cracked my skull, broke my arm & nose, etc.!
54. But there I spent my school days & my youth, growing up, attending school, attending my parents' church & their meetings, hearing lots of preaching, lots of Bible & going on long extended 3-month vacations in the Summer with my parents on their evangelistic tours. But there also the Boom-times of the twenties ended with the Big Blow or the Great Hurricane of 1926 which virtually destroyed Miami & my mother's tabernacle, followed soon after by the great financial Crash of '29 & the Great Depression of the '30's!
55. And during all of these tragedies & catastrophes‚ my parents' church gradually dwindled down to just a few hundred attendants & their ministry waned locally until finally their church was stolen from them by one of the heads of their denomination, a missionary group whom they had joined in their early days of evangelism, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. So that my mother & father were forced out with a few of their loyal followers into smaller buildings, even store buildings‚ to hold their services, until eventually the crowd dwindled to only a few score& then a few dozen, until at last, after years in Miami, from the time I was six until I was a teenager‚ their ministry there had dwindled down to almost nothing!—And they were using Miami merely as a home base for their evangelistic tours.
56. Therefore my father gave up & retired, to go back to live with his rich sister Ellen in California & wound up minding a butter-&-eggs store in Long Beach, all alone. So then my mother & I launched out into fulltime evangelistic work together in his absence, as I had grown to be a full-grown young teenager. I began driving her cars at the age of 16, & finally was out of highschool for at least a couple of years while I drove her about the country to her meetings & helped her in every way that I could in her wonderful soul-saving & healing ministry for as long as I could.
57. But it's a long story, & I can't give you all the details that I have told others, but you can ask them! But eventually I managed to finish highschool & enter college & marry & have four children & pastor a church of my own,which I built with my own hands in the middle of the Arizona desert out of mud—adobe blocks—and learned to live on my own, by faith, with my little family of six.
58. Pastoring a tiny church of only two dozen people didn't satisfy, & as I was just a young preacher & this was my first pastorate, I didn't satisfy them either!—And so we both made mistakes! One mistake, the most serious one that a Pastor can make‚ I found out, was telling the Truth & preaching to the people what they need! That is not popular & you cannot remain a Pastor that way for very long, so they soon got rid of me!
59. So I went back to college & nearly became a Communist, if they had not been so intolerant of religion, because I still knew Jesus was my Saviour, God was my Father & the Holy Spirit my Lover, & to preach the Gospel of His Love & Salvation to the World was my duty.
60. So eventually I went into Christian school-teaching & taught junior high students, 13 & 14 years of age‚ in a large Christian school in Los Angeles, California. And there I learned a lot about the youth of that day & their problems & what it took to interest them in studying anything at all! I had to be nearly as dramatic as my grandfather & I learned many ways to attract their attention & to get them interested in their studies, as well as telling them many stories. And I guess that's where I first learned to be a storyteller, because that's probably what I am more than anything else, a teller of tales, true tales, mostly my own tales, of experiences that I have personally had, or my parents or my forefathers & so on, as you can see.
61. But this became a great asset to me some years later, as after several years of resuming travels with my mother, together with my little family, & taking to trailer travel & camping out & so on in order to house such a large party—after these years of many more wonderful miraculous & supernatural & exciting experiences throughout the United States & the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada & so on, we finally arrived back in California, my little family & I, for Christmas in 1967.
62. The children were now not so little but grown teenagers, the oldest two married & soon to have children of their own. We were still in fulltime evangelistic work for the Lord by faith, travelling with first our little trailers & campers & finally with a large motor home, which we called the "Cruiser" & some called the "Ark".
63. There we visited my dear mother‚ now in her 80's & retired, in her tiny little 4-room cottage‚ if you include the kitchen & bathroom—one bedroom, one living-room–dining-room, a tiny little clapboard cottage on an alley behind another larger house that was occupied by someone else, strangers.
64. While visiting my mother, at her invitation, we became deeply interested in & involved with a new kind of people who were arising in California, young people who were called "hippies"! Most of them were wearing very funny, strange clothing, dating back more to the time of their forefathers or the Indians or savages than modern civilisation, & living much that way also part of the time‚ as many of these hippies were dealing in drugs & sex & even crime!
65. But my mother had a very great burden for these young people & insisted that we try to reach them with the Gospel.—So we did!—First of all through my children‚ who had now had much experience in street witnessing & park meetings & busking & distributing literature & singing in public, out on the streets & outside of the churches where we could reach the people who really needed the Gospel the most, especially the young people‚ through my own teenagers.
66. But that is the story I'll have to tell you next time, God willing, in the next chapter, entitled, "Who, In Heaven's Name‚ Are Heaven's Children?"—Be sure to read it soon! God bless you! I love you!