January 31 – One summer before in my senior year in college, I planned to go from door to door in our town, selling Christian books. Not that I had any idea of enjoying the work, but a couple years before I had promised the head of the canvassing section that I would go out to do that job before I graduated, and I knew that a promise must be kept. Since Pete would be starting his first year in college at the end of the summer, I thought it would help him out if he worked with the books too. The area colporteur folks came out and picked us up to take us down to the area in which we would begin. Not too many miles from home, but close enough that we at least knew the territory.
When we were ready to begin, one of the men stayed with me on one side of the street, and the other went with Pete on the other side. Trembling like the proverbial leaf, I listened closely to the words the man spoke to the lady who first opened the door. She said she was not interested and didn’t read much anyway. Same thing happened in the second and the third houses. “Well, I guess it’s your turn at the next house,” the man said. Bravely I knocked at the door. A smiling young woman opened it and asked me how she could help. Guess what? She bought a book and thanked me for coming to her door. After I received an order from the ladies in the next two houses, my “boss for the day” said that I would be on my own now, and hoped I would do well. He called to his helper from across the street. Pete had two orders, but the man had none. I am sure the Lord didn’t want us to quit.
We walked back home in the afternoon, happy that we were finished for the day, but actually looking forward to tomorrow. The next morning, we were off on our bikes that we had bought second hand just for the selling of the books activity. Some kids these days have their own cars to use as they travel from one section of town to the other, but nobody had a car in those days, not even Pa, who walked ten miles to work every day round trip.
I will never forget one experience that we had that summer. In the beginning we worked on the same side of the street, even going into a house together. As we felt more at home with the job, Pete would knock on one door, while I did the same at a neighboring house. Something really funny happened one day. While Pete was working one house, I knocked at the door of the neighboring one next door. A very friendly lady came to the door and invited me inside. She asked all about what I was doing that day, what the money would be used for, etc. till she pretty well knew me before I even asked her to buy a book.
As we were talking, I happened to glance out the front window from behind the curtains, and there was Pete walking down the sidewalk to the house. Quickly I asked the lady if she would help me play a joke on him. In just a few sentences I explained that he was my brother, and that we often teased each other. Besides, I wanted to know what he said to people. “I’ll be glad to help you,” she said, “but I’ll have to hide you before he knocks!” She pointed to a big easy chair nearby and said, “Now kneel down behind the chair and be quiet; no giggles!” As soon as I was settled, she answered Pete’s knock at the door.
“Come right in,” she invited when she had answered the door. “And what can I do for you today?” Pete smiled at the kind words and explained all about the books. At the end of the canvas, he asked if she would like to buy a book. “Why, of course, I will,” she answered, “and I’m ordering one from your sister, too. She is such a nice young lady. Would you like to talk to her? Just look behind that big chair over there!” Pete just about fell over with amazement, and when the lady laughed, and I laughed, well, Pete laughed too. Even then he could take a joke, even if it did land on his shoulders. – CHRIS