On My Heart
ISBN Copyright © 2010 by Covenant Marriages Ministry
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form, without the express written permission of Covenant Marriages Ministry, 13120 W. 60th Avenue, Arvada, Colorado 80004
All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise designated.
Cover by Michelle at FoxFish Photography, Arvada, CO
I had no more than finished writing my last book, “The Breaking Point”, when the Lord had me contemplating and writing this new book, “On My Heart”. This book will touch on a number of different subjects which the Lord has placed on my heart. My first thoughts were that I would be writing about one’s final hours here on earth, but then I realized it would be a broader subject about some of the concerns which our dear Lord has placed on my heart.
I liked that thought best as it would allow me to use some of my inventive or creative skills in discussing a number of topics which truly are a concern in our present civilization. I often consider how fortunate we are to live in such a spectacular time. My grandmother was born in the Midwest in about the late 1860s or early 1870s and my mother was born in 1899. What a tremendous amount of innovation and change occurred in their lifetimes, but then as I consider I was born only 6 years after WWI ended, I realize much the same has occurred in my lifetime.
From my birth in the Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx in 1925, I first lived on Riverside Drive in upper Manhattan, with my mother, father and brother, who was 18 months older. When my dad, Dr. Charles J. Brophy unexpectedly died in 1927, mother took her three young children, two sons and a daughter, and traveled by train to Lawton, Oklahoma to be with her mother and stepdad.
The next year we had traveled to San Diego where we would live with my biological granddad, Fred Sutherland.
This was all happening in the 1928-29 time period and just before the 1929 Market Crash, which brought on the Great Depression. Talk about an interesting and difficult moment for my mother. She had just lost her husband in August of 1927, then moved to Oklahoma for the summer of 1927, and from there took her three young children again by train to San Diego to start a life with her father who she had not lived with since she was one year of age. I can hardly imagine the courage and faith it must have taken this 28 year old widow. Things get even more interesting in San Diego as we are living in Granddad’s home when in 1931, he dies of a ruptured appendix, and the Depression has just occurred. If it seems as though the situation couldn’t get worse, will it did in that although Fred was an entrepreneur and appeared to be doing very well, the untimely death had allowed everything to be gobbled up by creditors an attorneys. So, basically mother was nearly penniless and with three young children, no husband and no employment. I can only imagine her heartache during that very stressful time. My heart just breaks thinking about what she had to endure, and yet I was at that time too young to even understand. If I could only tell her, now, how grateful I am for her courage as she sought ways to move her life forward in ways that would allow her children to all succeed in their future lives, but also success in her own life. She married again within another year or two and we were raised by her and our new stepfather. I’ll talk more about those years in another chapter.
Now, let’s get started.
This book is dedicated to first, our Lord Jesus, for giving us lives to live and mountains to conquer.
Certainly my wife Lynne has to be a special person to have lived and put up with me these nearly 40 years, in patience and love.
And of special merit is my first daughter, Joan Johnson, who has been there to love and at times show me God’s plan, in her saintly way. Joan and Howard have 7 beautiful children, who now have their own children.
My oldest son Chris and my youngest son Matthew have always been very special in their love and care for their aging father, for which I am very grateful. They both have special wisdom in the business world and have frequently added to my understanding in those areas. Chris, actually Robert Jr. has an exceptionally bright intellect and has started a number of innovative companies. Matthew has taken himself around the world as a clinical monitor guru, for Exactech, the Gainesville Orthopedic Company he and his wife Melissa work for.
Chris and Debbie have Megan, Luke and Ryan, and are all wonderful grandchildren.
Son, Peter, was for years a Catholic Priest in the St Paul area of Minnesota where he had a great influence, but then in 2007 Pope Benedict appointed Peter as his first Catholic Bishop appointment in the United States. He is now serving in this capacity as the Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin. As I have told him, he is a one in a million son.
We dedicate this book to all of our other children and their spouses, and the grandchildren and even especially our great grandchildren. And let us mention our love for the great grandchildren whom we have listed after their parent’s names. This book is especially dedicated to each of them.
In any case, I think someone in each or every other generation should attempt to put into words some of the concerns which they feel and some of the occurrences in the life which they lived, so that those who follow may realize some of the similarities and some of the dissimilar ways we may have lived, but always knowing that we earlier ones made mistakes, did some great things and through it all were thinking, praying and standing in love for the next generations. We also know we owe so much to those who paved the way before we were born and lived.
The Children, Grandchildren and Greatgrandchildren Joan & Howard’s children
1. David & Linnea
2. Chris & Katy,( Kaylee, Elle)
3. Paul & Chrissy, (Boadin)
4. Ann & Matt, (Bernadette, James)
5. Mary & Paul, (Gemma)
Mary and Rowland’s children
Patty & Tom’s children
Peter, The Catholic Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin
Colleen No children
Michelle and Bob’s children
Beth and Rob’s children
Robert jr’s and Debbie’s children
1. Megan mother
Robert and Marianne’s child
1. Heather and Ben (Sophie, and Madelyn)
Matt & Melissa’s children
Andy & Kirsten’s child…Alex
Chapter One Bring Them Back Together Again, Lord
At this moment in America we are seeing so much craziness in the thinking and teaching of morality and things which are reflecting on the character of who we are as people. Tom Brokaw in his book, “The Greatest Generation”, pointed to the fact that the post WWI generation lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, WWII, Korean War and became an innovative and industrious generation building many of the great industries which have sustained our civilization for these past 6 decades. They came home from war to begin their lives on the farms, in the manufacturing arena, in colleges and in a million different ways, never looking back but always moving forward without complaining, just doing what they either felt they should or what their God asked them to do.
Most of that Greatest Generation was without wealth, certainly in their formative years, but even in their 20s and 30s, but never griped, just went ahead in marriage, in building their families and eventually building jobs and companies, then if fortunate would gain some wealth which might then be left for the next generation. They expected to leave the world, and certainly America, their homeland, in better shape than when they were born. I believe all of us of that generation felt we were blessed to live in these United States and that our country was an exceptional country offering exceptional opportunities to all who would partake. We never felt anybody owed us anything but perhaps just an opportunity. The rest was up to us, but always being mindful that we were also present to help pull up those behind us. Our opportunity was a gift and not a requirement of some government or even
our parents or families. It was just an opportunity offered to us by the hard work of earlier generations and certainly by our God, and it was ours to partake of, if we wished.
As these decades have slipped past we see a different mindset. We see people demanding that government take more care of us, whether we work or not. That maybe we don’t need to be diligent and hardworking or even loyal to others in family or community. What a change in attitude in just one half century. Our grandparents, or even parents would have been shocked at the selfindulgence of this generation. Where in decades and centuries past, family loyalty was demanded, with marriages being lifelong institutions, today marriages are for your pleasure and for a few years at best. Where are the people who believe in the covenant promises of marriage demanded in the Bible? What, we can just live together as long or short a time as we wish? Where did that notion come from? In those years before WWII, to suggest we could just co-habitat, and expect our peers, not to mention our parents, would be willing to accept that foolishness would have been unbelievable. I suspect my step dad would have literally wrapped a pitchfork around my neck, which he had suggested years before for a minor offense, had I suggested I would do such a thing. There was no tolerance for that degree of abhorrent behavior in those earlier years as that would have reflected horribly on the family and on family values. It just wouldn’t be tolerated, and yet today, it is becoming the norm.
As I started with this book I couldn’t help but think, what if? What if, we got 3 million born-again Christians to pray to our heavenly Father for every Christian family that was divorced, or going through divorce, also known as covenant breaking, to be restored by the power of
God? If we, who know the Lord, would stand in the gap for all who have abandoned their covenant vows to their spouses, would cry out to God, to see these marriages restored, I suspect we would see some correction.
What a different world this would be for our children, for our families, for our community and our nation. Maybe we can get such a movement to occur? Much like a Tea Party, but for marriage restoration. It only takes one person, with God, to see a whole revolution in thinking to occur. Why not me, Lord?
Chapter Two Your Final Hours?
The title of this book may be very provocative, but somewhere in a person’s life, each individual may have moments wondering about his/her final hours. Perhaps, the important point is in whose kingdom does the individual reside? In Matthew 4: 19, Jesus as he was gathering his disciples, made the statement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What was Jesus talking about?
In Luke 17:21, when Jesus was asked by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God should come? He answered in the following manner. “The kingdom of God comes without observation.” I’m sure that is not what they were looking for as they would have preferred that it would have come with loud bang, much light and fire and would have been present in force to bring the controlling Romans to their knees. But that is not how it works. Jesus went on to say, “The kingdom of God is within you.”
What a difference from what most people would have guessed. The kingdom of God is unlike any earthly kingdom. It doesn’t come with fancy clothes, banners, whistles, fireworks etc. Instead, it had already arrived in Israel as Jesus came to establish his new kingdom, in the hearts of man. But, you may wonder, what does that have to do with my final hour? Well, to God and to the multitude of Christians residing around the world, where you reside in this world, at the moment of your departing, is of great concern. Possibly, unbeknown to you, it should be of the greatest importance to you, also. In some present cults and religions they teach that you
can pray a person into God’s kingdom after he or she dies. That is not what the bible teaches.
Perhaps to some, like the Pharisees, a person may think that God’s kingdom here on earth has some geographical boundary, or maybe that there is no such thing as the kingdom of God here on planet earth. In the natural sense, both of those ideas would seem to make sense. But, the kingdom of God at this moment in time is a spiritual kingdom, but eventually with the return of Jesus as the Messiah, the kingdom of God will be established on earth with Jerusalem being the center. This will be at the prophesied second return of Jesus. So, how does this affect Your Final Hours?
Let me tell you. Jesus was explaining to the Pharisees that the kingdom of God would be a personal and a spiritual entity which enter a man’s heart and should in that way, create a change in that person’s life which would be obvious to the individual and to others who know and see the change in that person’s heart. It would be in this very personal and singular way that the kingdom of God would advance to cover the world. It would not be through wars and overpowering of people and nations, but by the overpowering change in people’s hearts. What a concept which is so foreign to man’s idea of a kingdom, and certainly to the early Jews who were looking for an overthrow of those who had them in subjection. The physical kingdom is prophesied in Revelation 11:15 where it says. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever”.
Whereas the kingdom which God was speaking to the Pharisee about was the unseen kingdom of God residing
in a man’s heart. It was a spiritual kingdom, but there will come at the second coming of Christ a physical kingdom in which Jesus will be hailed as King and will rule that kingdom for 1000 years with Christians ruling with him. At the fall of Adam and Eve from God’s kingdom it was prophesied that eventually the seed of the woman would bring disaster to satan and re-establish God’s kingdom on earth.
At the moment of Jesus’s resurrection, he explained to his disciples “that they would receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and to the uttermost part of the earth”. That is the spiritual change which is to occur in the heart of man where God’s purpose becomes our purpose, to the extent we will share his glorious kingdom to all who will hear.
Having said all of that, that is why the question, Your Final Hours?, are so important. Whereas some religions teach that a person can be prayed into heaven after death, the Christian religion teaches that our time for redemption is when we are amongst the living. That is why Jesus came to redeem sinners from the ravages of the devil and his hell. There is only one way to gain God’s kingdom and that is in accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior while you are living on this earth. In Romans 10:910 the word tells us, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. In another word in the Bible is the statement that there is no other name on earth or in heaven where a man may be saved. It is only in asking Jesus to forgive us of our sins and then to
come into our hearts to be our personal Savior. It is only in so doing that we become born again Christians.
So, we, who are born into God’s Kingdom have a passion for accomplishing God’s purpose for each of our lives, and that certainly involves bringing all of our unsaved family members, friends and acquaintances into His Kingdom, while time permits. So, for many people, as they approach those last few hours of their lives, there is nothing more important than being sure they have entered into God’s kingdom. What does it gain a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?
Chapter Three A Need For a National Day of Prayer
Yes, I do know we have a National Day of Prayer, but what I am thinking about are certain days of prayer for very specific needs. I have just mentioned my feeling that we need tens of thousands of Americans who will pray for the reconciling of our families and marriages. But I see many other needs that we can collectively pray and believe for. Since I have spent my life attempting to improve the lives of people suffering from disease and deformity of their temporomandibular joints, I have a great concern and passion for seeing God’s healing power come into each of their lives. I would be most grateful if we could get hundreds of thousands of people prayerfully and gratefully asking God to bring relief and healing to those millions who will never see total relief unless God brings that relief.
Of course all of us can think of so many needs of our people, whether from lack of provision, health, family reconciliation or even motivation and innovation that could greatly benefit from what only God can provide. I feel by our seeking to find innovative ways to benefit our community, we are also finding perhaps new ways of evangelism.
Chapter Four I Well Remember
My earliest recollections in my early life go back to probably about 1929-30 when we were living with my Granddad, in his home on St James Place in the Mission Hills region of San Diego. Granddad Fred Sutherland is living with us temporarily and he has a bedroom on the first floor. That room is an interior room, just off of the living room and would seem as though it was meant to be an office. There were three bedrooms upstairs and Chuck and I shared one bedroom. Shirley had her own room and mother had the other. There may have been another bedroom upstairs, but I don’t think so.
Granddad only stayed for probably a few months at the beginning, but then bought another nice home for himself over on Point Loma. Nana Margaret Hart, Mother’s mother, who lived with her 2nd husband, Bill Hart in Lawton, OK would come to visit and stay with us for weeks or longer at a time, to allow mother to take some courses in cosmetology. Mother had graduated from Barnard Teacher’s College (a part of Columbia University) in Manhattan. Barnard at that time in the 1920s was a woman’s college for teachers, offering the BS degree which she earned. It was while attending that college that she required some dental treatment and was referred by the University staff to Dr. Charles J. Brophy who practiced at 200 West 59th Street, overlooking Central Park on the south end of the Park.
Over a 2 year period when she had visited his office, they became acquainted enough to start some dating and eventually marrying each other. He was about 35 years old, but had never been married. She was probably
about 22 or 23 years old and had attended Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri for her first two college years. That was a very fine school for women and gave her undoubtedly a great start for her years at Columbia.
She and dad had a great start in NYC and living on Riverside Drive where they started their family. Dad had graduated from New York Dental College (which later became NYU College of Dentistry) in 1913. He had worked his way through the 3 year course earning his DDS, by working at nights in a dental laboratory. His own father was not gainfully employed, causing his mother to work as a seamstress to earn the family living for Charles, his older sister, Kitty, and a younger brother Frederick Harold. Dad had left their home in either Connecticut or Poughkipsee, NY to travel alone at age 13, to earn enough money to help the family and to pay for his own living. He was a part of an earlier generation of Irish immigrants that had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and they did.
Charles went on to graduate in dentistry and then put his brother Fred or “Harold” as he was known by the family, through the same dental program and then Harold graduated in 1916 and went into the U.S Army Dental Corps to serve in the European Theatre during WWI. On his return, he and Charles went into practice together. I’m not sure where they began their joint practice, but somewhere, and it was probably in the late 1920s when they developed an office on Central Park South across from the New York Athletic Club. Harold practiced there until his death in the 1980s. He had a most illustrious career which I will briefly discuss later.
Charles and Eva began their lives together living in Manhattan and within a year or so their first child, Charles Warren Brophy, was born on August 27, 1923.
Their lives would seem to be everything they both wanted. Charles had waited a long time to find his perfect wife. They were certainly different in age, by about 11 years, and somewhat in education. They had each grown up in different parts of the country where each had been raised. Charles was from an Eastern family and Eva was from a Midwestern family. Eva had no brothers or sisters. She was an only child. Her mother Margaret had married Fred Sutherland when they both were quite young and they had separated and divorced after only a year or two of marriage. Fred had been born in Nebraska, whereas Margaret was likely an Oklahoma girl. They both were nice people and likely should never have divorced. Fred went on to marry another 3 times, but never found a wife that he seemed to be able to stay married to. There was some discussion as to whether his original name was Brown, but later changed to Sutherland.
Margaret went on after some years of being single with her lone daughter, Eva, to marry William Hart. She thus changed her name from Sutherland to Hart and continued to live in either Enid or Lawton Oklahoma. Fred may have spent a year in the penitentiary for possibly embezzlement, but there was all sorts of confusion concerning this matter. Fred later moved to San Francisco where he later joined the San Francisco Police Department and eventually headed the Narcotics Division of that SF Police Department, with distinction. Some years later, while in that position, he got in a major squabble when he reported some fraud in the San Francisco Police Department to the Governor. That turned into a rather large bruhaw, but I think he came through that very well. He was a man of character.
Chapter 5 Dr. Charles Joseph Brophy
Charles was gentle man and one with his brother was well known for his wit and humor. He was one of three children and was born in 1886, possibly in Stamford, Conn or possibly in Poughkipsee, NY to a family that was likely one generation from immigration from Ireland. His older sister Kathleen may have married a dentist. Although I never knew him, I knew her and her two sons, Charles and Fred. Fred was the oldest. Charles younger brother, by 3 years was Frederich Harold and he, like Charles became a dentist and they practiced together on Central Park South until Charles death in August 1927 of a septicemia from a boil on his face. It was an unexpected and untimely death, leaving mother a young widow with three young children under 4 years old.
Charles had left home at age 13 or 14 and moved to NYC to work in a dental laboratory. He finally put himself through dental school in 1913 and then assisted his brother through the same New York Dental College in 1916. Harold went into the Army Dental Corps in WWI and went over to Europe during the War. When he returned they joined each other in their dental practice and rose to great heights in their field.
Dr. Charles J. Brophy August 1927
Chapter Six Fred A. Sutherland
My time with Granddad was very limited in that he died in 1931 when I was only 6 years old. I’ll never forget when he brought me, my sister and brother Christmas gifts in 1930. He didn’t just buy a gift each, he brought us a box that was 3 feet in all directions full of kaleidoscopes and some metal noise makers and Lord knows what all. We had gifts from that box over the next 12-15 months.
I think he was just that kind of man. He just liked people and wanted to bless them in whatever way he could. He always was thinking big and that somehow, whatever the challenge, he could be victorious as he had been most of his life.
After leaving the SFPD he apparently traveled to San Diego and became a notable entrepreneur. He acquired the Yellow Cab Company of San Diego, then later the Checker Cab Company and then later started the Sutherland Stage Company of San Diego and much more. By the time that mother and we three children moved to SD he had acquired an 800 acre Gray’s Ranch on North Peak near Julian California and the Pine Hills Lodge in Pine Hills, also near Julian. He offered Jack Dempsey the opportunity of training for his upcoming fight with … Johnson. He had also just taken a 100 year lease on a pretty good sized hotel in San Diego, about the time that the Stock Market Crashed in 1929. His taxicab empire required a full block facility in downtown San Diego as a garage for keeping those buses and taxis in proper shape.
I am reminded of the time when Nana Hart was staying with us in the St James Street home. She has driven granddad’s
1928 Buick sedan over to Grant Elementary School where Chuck and I were in class. She had picked us up for lunch and driven us home. Then she parked the rather new and beautiful car in front of the house, facing downhill. One thing any good driver needs to remember is to, when leaving a car facing downhill, to pull on the emergency brake when parking. Well, dear Nana forgot, and after we were all out of the car it rolled at ever increasing speed down the hill for about 2 blocks and then crashed over a small fence and went over a 20 foot embankment. You can just imagine when something like that happens, there will be consequences. First, the car was badly damaged and two, Nana was terribly embarrassed, because, you see, this car belonged to her first husband who had divorced her some 20 plus years earlier.
I don’t know all of the particulars, since I was just in kindergarten, but there must have been some interesting moments. Granddad was probably quite gracious as he had his garage employees transport this once beautiful car, and now a piece of junk, to his garage for a total makeover.
Within a couple of weeks, Mother, and perhaps Nana, were again driving that beautiful Buick wherever, but probably always setting the emergency brake. That lesson left an indelible mark on my driving habits and skills as you might imagine. I have never asked Chuck if he learned that lesson well, but I suspect he did.
I remember just a few more minor things about my Granddad, Fred A. Sutherland. On the Gray’s Ranch in probably early 1931, Fred had a small dam built in which he might place some fish for he and family and friends to use for improving their fishing skills. He was a most resourceful man and decided he would purchase
1000 Rainbow trout from somewhere, then put them in a metal tank that was probably about 7X6X5 feet in dimension. He would fill that tank with ice and water, then he and the trout would travel from San Diego the 75 miles to his new ranch and dam. He was now driving the truck with the tank and fish through downtown San Diego when some other car swerved and caused his truck to have to swerve to avoid a collision and lo and behold, the tank slid off of the truck and the 1000 trout were now spilled on the roadway. He called for helpers from his garage and they scooped up all of the trout and filled the tank again and saved them all. Only a resourceful man like Fred A. Sutherland could have won that battle, but that is the kind of man he was. A few months later, during an unusually rainy season, the dam became flooded and the water broke over the dam and it allowed a flood to occur downstream causing a good bit of problem.
I also remember hearing of the time of a very severe flooding in Southern California and especially in San Diego County in either 1916 or 1913. Fred was driving along a normally dry river running through Lakeside or Mission Valley when he saw the car in front of him being swept away by the flood waters. He rescued a woman driver and swam with her to safety, but actually had one of his big toes cut off by a sharp metal object, during that rescue. That was my Granddad.
In 1931 at age 51 Fred developed an acute appendicitis and was taken to Mercy Hospital, where they operated, but found it had ruptured, and thus he died of a peritonitis a day or two later. I can still rather vividly see his body lying on a bed, for viewing, with a cheesecloth draped over him, at the funeral home, prior to the actual funeral. He looked very peaceful and he will always be one of
my heroes, even though he scolded Chuck and me one evening in the St. James house when we were messing around in the living room when he was attempting to do some office work.
You see, today he would not likely have died from that attack as we have antibiotics which could likely have saved him. The timing for these things to have happened is never great. Because of the Depression and his being overextended financially, when he died, the attorneys and creditors devoured his estate. Mother had lent the $25,000 she had received from the insurance company at the time of her husband, Dr. Charles J. Brophy’s death, to her father a year before, and although she had a note for the loan at one point, he had asked to have it back only a month before his death, thus making it impossible to get repaid from his estate.
I do also remember the story about Fred purchasing the Pine Hills Lodge from Colonel Ed Fletcher who was a well known figure in the history of San Diego. The Lodge was a tourist attraction in the backcountry of San Diego and was only about 3 miles southwest of the historic gold mining town of Julian, California. Fred had purchased the 25-30 acre parcel the Lodge was on with its surrounding cabins, tree cabins, milking barn and milk separating barn, orchards and a small pasture for some undetermined amount of money.
I believe he was the one in the mid 1920s to have had constructed a full sized and equipped gymnasium, an outside boxing arena, and a large outdoor pool, all to entice the well known boxer and heavy weight champion, Jack Dempsey to train at this facility over one summer. We children enjoyed that facility a few years after Fred’s passing and some decade after Jack
Dempsey had trained there.
I don’t remember much more about my Granddad, Fred A. Sutherland, but that was enough for this 6 year old to make him one of his heroes.
After Granddad died, mother was forced to run the Pine Hills Lodge and we all resided in one of the cabins for a short period. On one particular day, Mother had travelled the 65 miles to San Diego, in a Ford Pickup Truck, to bring a bed set back to the Lodge. She lost control of the truck on a curve and she ended up going through the slatted and fabric truck roof. She ended up on a large rock with a bruise on her forehead, but was otherwise OK. That was near Wynola which was only about 8-10 miles from the Lodge.
I’ll never forget, Chuck and I had to milk a couple of cows in the dairy barn, where the cows came to place heads in the stanchions and eat grain or hay as we milked them. That was always not only a chore for these two young cowboys, but a contest. I’ll never forget on this one evening when the Lodge was full of people and we were in the dark milking these cows. We would squirt each other with the cow’s milk right as we were expressing the milk. This evening too, my cow put her hind foot in the bucket, but that didn’t keep me from delivering that bucket full of milk to the Lodge. After all they would pour the raw, contaminated milk through a filter and surely that would get rid of all contaminates, as if I cared at all. Then chuck and I would drive the cows through an open field down to the Clement pasture for the evening, and our chores were now done. I remember being kind of scared as we drove those several head of cattle through the dark night, but after all Chuck was 8 years old, so what was there to be scared of?
In those two or three years when Granddad was still with us, I had started my schooling in a Montessouri School kindergarten and Chuck was across the street in the Grant Elementary School, alongside of the Cemetery. Those were the days.
I would later go to first grade through second grade at Grant and we would walk home by going along the cemetery and within a small canyon for the probably 6-8 blocks home, unless Nana Hart or Mom came to give us a ride in the 1928 Buick.
Those were the years before any vaccinations were developed and if someone got chickenpox, we were all likely to get that or measles or mumps or whatever. I think it was the 2nd half of my second year when Shirley got measles and I had to stay home and be quarantined, so when I got back to school, I got put back a half a year or one semester. It was years later when someone, probably Chuck, showed me my grade card for that period where my teacher said I wasn’t doing well in reading, or writing or arithmetic…and to add insult to injury, she said I talked too much. I’m surprised I ever came through those insulting and awful words.
It was in those years at the end of Granddad’s life that Mother met a young building contractor named Lee Christensen. Lee was a hard working young man who apparently enjoyed going dancing with mother, while Nana would babysit we three young children. Apparently they got along well enough to sneak off and get married somewhere. I think Fred thought Lee was OK since he too, was a hard worker. They didn’t know each other that long, but I suspect Fred and Lee knew each other better than we kids knew either of them. I don’t think Lee and Margaret, my Grandmother, exactly
hit it off, but what do I know?
I can’t remember for sure but I think step Granddad William Hart must have died and Nana then came to live with us for a few years in the middle of the Great Depression possibly up to the start of WWII. I just can’t clearly remember.
Nana was a nice looking, mild mannered woman who I feel sure was a comfort to Mom and a help to all of us through those years. She liked to knit and crochet and do needlepoint, and was good at all. During the War years she moved into her own small house in East San Diego and lived alone. I suspect she had her fill with Lee, but I never heard her complain. She grew up in either Oklahoma or Nebraska, where I think Fred was born. I doubt that she had more than a 3rd grade education, but she was a refined and very nice Grandmother.
Of course I do remember her half-brother, our Uncle Charlie, who could likely best be described as an Oakie. He on an occasion or two would come to San Diego, from you know where, and spend perhaps a week with us. I’ll never forget when we were living at Pine Hills, in a house that Lee and us kids had built, we had a cat that had a litter. Uncle Charlie had a way with those unwanted kittens, he would put them all in a gunnysack and just plain drown them in a rain barrel. That was not to our liking, but it didn’t seem like we had any vote during those Depression years. I think Lee had a like mind with Charlie, so that’s what happened to those kittens. Ouch!
Chapter Seven The Great Depression
Well, Granddad had died and Mother felt it best to marry Lee, as her resources had diminished and after all she had three young children to support and nourish. I do think she loved Lee, but he could be quite mean and hurtful. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he meant well, but he had to grow up quickly when his Father had died in a train accident when Lee was the 13 years old and he was the big brother to Hortense and Leona. He went to work for his Uncle Louie, a builder in Green Bay, Wisconsin at age 13. He moved out West in his early 20s and joined the building industry and finally became a licensed building contractor. I’m not sure where he and Mother met, perhaps at a Saturday night dance, but they lived the next nearly 60 years together as man and wife.
After Granddad died, and Mother and Lee were married, we moved out of the St James home to a small stucco three bedroom home on 59th Street, in East San Diego. By this time Lee was into termite extermination and pest control as a business and not as much into building construction, per se. He was very talented and could literally construct about anything and ended up teaching Chuck and Shirley and I a lot about building things.
In those early years while we still living in Mission Hills in Granddad’s house, I’ll never forget Lee had me accompany him to Pine Hills where he was starting to build a new home on 2 acres which he purchased for $1200 from Colonel Ed Fletcher. My job that whole day was to pick up some granite rocks which would be used in constructing either the fireplace or foundation.
It will take a lot of rocks to build those structures. That home which was built in 1931 is still standing and looking remarkably good. The front porch was quite large and was all concrete with a couple of steps at the front. On the top step we all five placed indents of our hands, including King, the large black and gold German Shepherd. That was the beginning of the next dozen years of really hard labor.
We moved into a couple of homes in San Diego in those first 3 years. The last one was a three story stucco, white, square structure, planned and built by Lee, attached to his Termite Exterminating office at 3021 Fairmount Avenue in East San Diego. It was next door to a gas station Lee owned and built, which was next to Hamilton Elementary School, where we attended from 3rd to seventh grade. The house looked like a three story block, and was built for $5500 in about 1933, the year FDR was assuming the Presidency from Herbert Hoover. I can well remember that election and FDR’s coming into power.
The unemployment lines were long and a lot of people were hurting. We had just gotten a Jersey milk cow, named Bossy, and I was named the cow milker of the year and even decade, as Chuck conveniently developed hay fever and got out of a lot of chores. His job was to get good grades, mine was to pass in school, stay out of trouble and to do the chores. After all what is a younger brother for?
We moved from Grant School to Andrew Jackson and then a year later to Hamilton. It’s odd that most of the schools had U.S. President’s names? Oh well!
I remember helping nail the subfloor deck on the “block” house on Fairmount Avenue where we lived until Chuck
and I had gone off to military service in WWII and when Shirley left to join the nurse corps and train up at LACGH. Mother and Dad lived ther probably another dozen years until they finally retired to a very nice home at Pine Hills which, again, Dad had built. They stayed there until Mother died at about 85 years of age and Lee at about 89 years of age. Mother had been born in 1899 in Tecumseh, OK in Indian Territory and Lee in Green Bay WI in 1903. He was three years younger than mother. He retired from termite exterminating when they moved to Pine Hills for full time living, but he never got over building structures on his various ranches.
Our winter week days were spent at the Fairmount Avenue house next to Hamilton Elementary School in San Diego, but then every weekend we would leave on Friday afternoon to travel to Pine Hills to work on the ranch stuff. Winter’s in Julian could be very tough back during those Depression days. Sometimes the snow ould get 3 or 4 feet deep at the Pine Hills house. We would have to park the car maybe a mile away and then pull a toboggan the last mile, all up hill, with everything loaded on it. When we would open the house, it would be very cold and would take all Friday night to warm up from a big fire in the very large fireplace. We would have to really bundle up in bed that first night as it was always very cold.
There were times when we might need our Fordson tractor which was in the PH barn. In order to get it started we would literally set a bonfire under the motor and then we would get out a blowtorch and start heating all areas where there might be oil to get it all loose enough top hand crank the engine. Sometimes we might be cranking for a couple of hours attempting to get the tractor started.
In the summer months when we were living at PH we children might either walk the 3 ½ miles to Julian or ride our horses over and tie them by the barn of Hoskins house or by the jail.
Then we would head down to the corner drugstore owned by the Toziers. He was the town pharmacist and his wife managed the lunch counter which was known for its malts and sundaes and banana splits. She always liked me and would follow my direction on putting a number of ice cream flavors in my malt. One time I must have had her put in some 6 or more flavors, all in one malt, and when we tasted it, it tasted like Christmas candy. I had to pass it to another 4 people at the counter who all wanted to try it. I can still remember it some 70 plus years later. Then we would walk the 3 ½ miles home, or ride our horses home.
There was always Saturday night dancing at the Grange, across the street from Tozier’s Drug store, or on occasion on top of the water tank at Whispering pines to the sound of Glen Miller on the portable radio. Another thing we did occasionally was to ride the one seated cable seat across Lake Marsden. There was always some concern it would jump the track and we would land in the lake. Besides all of the work of carrying for the cattle and the fences, there was always some fun to be had.
Chapter Eight The Labor Camp Years
At first it seemed like fun. We were taking over a few Shetland ponies which Granddad had originally owned. Then came Bossy, my milk cow. Then we purchased the orchard property off of the Pine Hills Lodge property. It was about 8 acres, half of which was orchard and half pasture. The orchard had about 8-10 cherry trees of several great varieties, unless you were required to pick them. The other trees were mostly apple, some pears and perhaps a peach.
When cherry season arrived we were required to pick up to a ton or two of cherries and then travel the countryside attempting to sell bags of five pounds for about five cents per pound. It wasn’t really a money maker, but this was the Depression and we were lucky to even have cherries to eat or sell. Sometimes we would drive half way to Ramona to sell a bag of cherries for a dollar or two if you were lucky. If you ate enough cherries, yourself, you could produce enough gas to get half way there.
That cottage industry lasted from 3rd grade to college and Navy for me, and so did my milking duties. I, for one, but I’m sure I also speak for Shirley and Chuck, had enough cottage industry to last most of our life time.
We all three of us became good horse and cow people. Dad was a good bargainer and purchased 90 acres in the Pine hills area for I believe $3200 and later picked up the other 20 acre orchard property for probably $2500. Then came the Clement pasture which abutted the 90 acres and I’m not sure what that cost, but we had rented it for many years for our ever increasing herd of white faced cattle.
Somewhere in there we bought the Barnes 130 acre parcel over in Winola, then the 150 acre gorgeous parcel for $5500, also in the Winola area. Later it was the 130 acre ranch in El Cajon Valley for I think $1200. So actually this was becoming a real ranch, and we were buying and selling cattle all the way.
It was in those early years when I was about 9 to 16, that Chuck and I got stuck with all of the fence building on the various ranch properties, Some of the properties were already fenced, but several were not and we built all of those ranch, barbed wire, cedar post fences ourselves. We would buy the cedar, quartered fence posts from the Indians on the Volcan Mountain Indian Reservations. There were two reservations there that we would buy from and then we would haul those fence posts on a 2 ton truck to wherever we needed to build the fence, then unload, hand dig the post holes to 36 inches or more, plant the posts, compact the dirt and rock, string and tighten the 4-5 strands of sharp barb wire. That could be on a hilly 160 acres or a rocky and hilly 132 acres. It made no difference. It was all labor. Manual labor, under duress.
Chuck, Shirley and I became not only good horsemen, but also good cattlemen. We started on the Shetlands, grew to the cow horses and sometimes rode the bulls, almost always by mistake.
We started riding with some real old time cowmen of Julian. The Hoskins owned about 5000 acres of conjoined ranch land and we were fortunate to have them teach us what they knew Bob & Chuck on Babe and Heart, 1934.
about being real Western cowmen. The father, George Sr. had come over in a covered wagon from somewhere to the East and always rode tall in the saddle and wore a six shooter. He was a great picture and an example to the younger cowmen of that era, and we were blessed to learn much from these cowboys. He and his wife had a beautiful, white two story somewhat Victorian appearing home in the middle of Julian and overlooking the one block town. It was on a small hill and adjacent to the town jail, a two room, concrete block structure which had been there since the hey day of gold mining in Julian in the 1860s. Julian came within 2 votes of becoming the county seat for San Diego County. They got about $10 M worth of gold out in less than ten years. They had a boot hill right there in the town and they boasted of having 75 shootings and stabbings in town in one year.
Henry Sr’s two sons were George and Henry and they really took us under their wing and taught us how to be not only cowmen but good horsemen, too. We learned to rope, shoe the horses, roundup, brand, cut, de-horn and doctor the animals. We also went on many cattle drives off of Warner Ranch which was many thousands of acres. The drives would take about 300-400 head of range cows from Warner Hot Springs down the windy grade behind Julian to the desert below. It was always an experience. Norman Grand, the son of August Grand, the Sheriff of Julian was one of those cowboys, too.
They would talk about earlier days when they would ride their horses from Julian the 25 or so miles to Ramona for a Saturday night dance, then ride back in the early morning hours and be back to work that same day riding the range. That certainly was a time in those Depression days that I will always remember. They took us on many a roundup and a time of branding and
“cutting” the calves. It now seems like a century ago. Not quite, however.
How we got in the cattle business was interesting. It was about 1935 when Dad was accumulating ranch property during the Depression and now was time to purchase some white faced cows. Somehow he heard of some cows being sold over in Yuma Arizona so that is where we traveled. The cows were very rangy and some had calves and they all had medium long horns. The price was $25 per cow with calf. What a deal. We were looking for about a dozen head. Dad took Chuck and I and George Hoskins. He was our authority. George knew cattle like few others. His whole life was spent as a cowboy. He wore black angoura chaps that made him a very colorful character with a handlebar mustache.
The cattle had been found in a corral and had been selected by George and Lee. The weather was about 130 degrees in the shade. It was hot. We were staying in a hotel in Yuma but in those days there was no such thing as air conditioning. Chuck and I had one room. At that same hotel was Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer who were filming. The “Garden of Allah”. She had fainted on the desert set that very day. It was unbearably hot.
We were ready to get the cattle loaded up and to get out of town. We waited 2 more days for the brand inspector to arrive. I was only about 10 years old and I had heard George say that the brand inspector “didn’t know a brand from a scar”. Well unfortunately, I casually made that statement, and lo and behold, the brand inspector was there, unbeknownst to me. Well that did it. He decided to leave without inspecting our cattle. Dad finally realized what was happening and he placed me under the truck. They finally got him calmed down and
he inspected and approved the cattle for moving across the State line. On a couple of occasions there was one real mean cow in that group, and she went after me a couple of times. Her horns might have killed me, I ran around an outhouse and got away from her, at least for the moment. There would be more to tell about that mean cow later.
The cattle were moved up to near the Pine Hills ranch and put in a corral near Julian across from one corner of the Hoskins Ranch. It was best to place them there so we could use their squeezer and chutes to brand and de-horn these range cattle. That all sounds great, except when doing just that, the wild cow in the group would break through the chutes and squeezer and head down the wired off lane where I was supposed to keep them confined. It didn’t quite work as this mean old cow would head straight toward me at the end of the lane and attack me, on my cow horse, with her 20 inch horns fully intact. For a 10 year old cowboy, this was no match.
This pattern occurred 2 times before she was placed securely in the squeezer and her horns were tipped and she was branded with the PH brand, standing for Pine Hills.
Now, I felt a bit safer, but that was a mistake as she now came after me with a vengeance and hit my horse a time or two before the more experienced cowboys came to my rescue and roped her and pulled her back into a more secure corral. Oh, the life of a cowboy. That cow, with the others was moved over to our PH’s corral and she attempted to climb up a barn. If I remember correctly, George took that cow off of our hands and placed her on the 5000 acre Hoskins Ranch. Maybe that was George’s payment for going with us to Yuma? Some payment, $25.00 of pure hell.
That episode started the Christensen cattle herd that developed to over a hundred head over the next 8-10 years. Those cattle would be moved or even kept separated, depending on Winter weather and snow in the Julian region. People are often surprised that we would see much snow in the Julian area, just 65 miles NE from San Diego and residing in San Diego County. The terrain rises to about 6000 feet at Cuyamaca mountain and even the Volcan Mountain Range. In some of those areas the snow could get to well over 6-8 feet in depth.
When the snow would reach a foot or two on the ranch, we would have to haul in hay or grain to feed the cattle who were up to their waists and would not find any food to eat. We usually moved them from the higher areas to the Shangrila Ranch, also named Sentenac Ranch, or Barnes property at Winola, or even down to the El Cajon Valley ranch where it was much lower and much warmer. For us young and growing cowboys it was a lot of work and a lot of adventure. I suspect it gave us determination and taught us the value of work and even discipline in those very formative years. Lee was a hard taskmaster, partly because he had to learn those things early in life from his Uncle Louie, but probably as much because we were his step children and not his own biologic children. It does make a bit of difference. Mother would always be hoping to shield us from his harsh words, but that didn’t always prevent them from raining down on us. I think we were all quite scared of Lee’s temper, which could flare very quickly. I don’t think he always meant to be very mean, but he hadn’t had the opportunity of raising his own children who he would learn to love from the original birth. It was a different situation and one that we were always aware of. Despite having said that, I believe Lee was able to not only give us a life, security and even education through
those formative years. It was not a very easy life, but we all grew through it. It was easier for Mother and Dad after we had all gone off to service in the military and we were all on our own after the War.
Back on the ranch during those 1930s. Chuck and I became pretty good horsemen and cowboys. When you grow up on a horse and around cattle you get a sense of how best to handle them. There is a quiet way to approach cattle and horses and then there is the way that allows the animal to know you basically fear them. There is a fine line, but the cowboy that grows up around these animals begins to understand that there are times when one must be very wary, but always approaching the situation with a degree of confidence and compassion. The animals can sense the difference. Nothing is done in a jerky or overly confrontive manner. Always being willing to gently stroke and speak to the animal, and then to sense the animal’s reaction to your approach. Lee, certainly hadn’t developed that patience and when Chuck and I had to work with the cattle or the horses, we preferred doing that without Lee being involved.
Chuck became an excellent horseman and did a superb job breaking Bay’s colt, Dusty, and making him a great cow horse. Dusty learned to follow that calf, steer, bull or cow wherever it turned, when roping or just driving them somewhere. Chuck and I both became good at horseshoeing and would take care of all of those needs, unless we got too spooky of an animal, then we would let the professional take over.
I became perhaps the stronger in the cow/calf department, but having said that, Chuck was also very good. From about 3rd grade on up to college, it was my job to milk the Jersey milk cow, twice a day. Occasionally, Shirley
would take over those duties but she was helping Mother with the household duties. Shirley was a very good horsewoman and cowgirl also. I don’t remember her doing much in the way of calf roping, but when we had animals either to be driven somewhere or separate in the corral, Shirley did very well. When I left home in mid 1943 to go on active duty in the Navy, Shirley took over my milking duties and likely other ranch duties.
We had sort of a double life during those early years in that we lived in San Diego, during the winter months while school was open, but then on summers we moved to the ranch with Mother to manage the ranch. Dad would come up on weekends, but performing his termite exterminating business during the five day week. That was our bread and butter. The cattle and ranch were the investment for the future. It was during the week days on the ranch that Chuck and I could get most of the prescribed jobs accomplished and also get into a little trouble. There was a time when Chuck and Shirley and I thought we might make a little money by staging a rodeo down in the orchard property. We charged admission and apparently got a few people watching as we made a total of 23 cents. In one of the acts we had placed a bucking strap around the flank of “Heart”, with Chuck mounted, and he got thrown off or kicked in the head, and when Mother came back from her roundtrip to San Diego for supplies, she now had to take Chuck to a physician back down in San Diego. He was the MD who was in Julian certain days, but this wasn’t one of them. A few stitches later and harsh reprimand by Lee, and we knew we had done something wrong. I suspect we divided the 23 cents among the three of us as that would have been more pay than we had gotten all year.
There was the time when I went riding on my cow horse
with the horseback riders at the YMCA camp, Camp Marsden. They had gone off on a two mile ride and when I found them, I rather showoffinly galloped across an open field, only to hit a gopher hole and me and the horse went flying. The horse landed on my left leg and I got a real scuff there, but no broken bones, just a slight humiliation as me and the horse limped over to the other riders. They all thought that was some fun as they were city folks up for the camp for a week. This was the first real live cowboy, or at least he thought he was, they had ever seen. I think they might have enjoyed a repeat performance, but I wasn’t about to do that again.
That evening when Dad and Mother came up from San Diego, I had to pretend I was feeling just fine and that Chuck and I had gotten all of the week’s chores accomplished.
There were so many memorable moments growing up in those Depression Years. In 1939 Nana Hart had decided to go to the World’s Fair in New York City and to visit Uncle Harold Brophy in Pelham. She had decided to take Chuck with her for the two weeks or so they would be gone. I’ll never forget that day. It must have been in about June-July, 1939, I was just 14 years old and we were apparently on Summer vacation, except it was no vacation for Bob, just for Chuck. The grasshopper infestation on the 160 acre Barnes ranch property was rather severe and we needed to do something about it.
Dad, being in Pest Control had all of the answers. We would mix up a mixture of sawdust, bran, liquid arsenic and water in a cement boat (For you who have never done concrete work, that is a 6X6 foot mixing bin that lays on the floor for use as you take a special cement hoe and mix the ingredients) and we will mix the ingredients with a cement type hoe. Then we would fill probably
some 40-50, maybe 100,gunnysacks, by hand, with the mixture, place them in a truck, and drive to near Julian and hand spread all of this mixture over the 160 acres as you walked over it.
The day started off with Mom and I driving Chuck and Nana to the train station in downtown San Diego for their noon train trip to NYC. Now, Mom knowing what was in store for me that afternoon, suggested we could stop and get a chocolate malt at some parlor and then go home for a real treat.
So, now, Dad and I mixed the ingredients, placed it in sacks and drove to the Barne’s Ranch arriving in late afternoon. We walked and hand spread all of that stuff until dark. There were no cows in that ranch pasture at this time. As I hand spread this mixture I could occasionally see clumps of sawdust, bran and arsenic flying through the night sky. Since there were not going to be any cows for about a month, certainly the arsenic would have evaporated or have been eaten by the hungry grasshoppers.
We now can travel home and have a late bite of food and go to bed exhausted and wondering, why me? Tomorrow will be another day for the ranch hand, Bob, while the 16 year old, Chuck is playing badminton with the Brophy children and enjoying the NY World’s fair.
About 5 weeks later Dad wants us to move eight, two year old steers from the PH’s ranch over to the Barne’s Ranch where they will be fattened for 2 months and then taken to an early Fall auction for sale for a good price and profit. The feed is looking good on the ranch where we had murdered the grasshopper flock earlier.
The following week Chuck and I rose early over at the PH’s ranch house and saddled our horses for the 10 mile trip to the Barnes Ranch. Actually, we would cut corners getting over there by cutting across the Hoskins’ pastures, which would undoubtedly save us a couple of miles and be great scenery, but also offer these two cowboys some entertainment on the way.
We spotted a young 3 year old white faced steer, with medium horns, that we could rope, just for fun. Now, these weren’t just tame animals but were typical range cattle, but well fed. Chuck was the head roper and I heeled. When we got the animal subdued on the ground, we removed our ropes, let him get up a bit bewildered and we parted ways with him and arrived at our destination 50 minutes later.
As we were approaching the first gate of the Barne’s ranch, we noticed a curious sight. There were two large buzzards flying over a section of the ranch. I suspect we both had an inkling of what that could have meant, but I don’t remember either of us uttering a word. We kept riding at a pretty good pace to where the buzzards seemed to be circling, and to my horror, I see a carcass of what appears to be a dead white faced cow on the ground straight ahead.
I suspect I got there just ahead of Chuck and looked for the possible PH brand. The steer was lying on its right side so the left side was up. The steer was rather bloated which made him look even fatter than he had become. To my horror, there was the PH brand. Chuck and I looked at each other in unbelief. I felt I saw a quick longing on Chuck’s face for a quick visit to New York, but it was only fleeting.
My first thought was of course the spreading of the grasshopper poison and a few clumps flying through the evening sky. Then I remembered I had placed a few cups full down rodent holes where cows would never be able to get it. But, then again, I suspected Dad was likely the culprit, but would he buy that? I didn’t think so. It’s amazing how much easier it is to tell this story some 70 years later, when Dad and everyone else is dead, except Chuck and I.
Chuck and I left that steer there and went looking for the others. They were all alive and would each bring a good price at the auction in the Fall, if they made it that long.
Chuck and I rode back to the PH ranch and knew we were going to have to spill the beans to Dad that evening, That would be a very tough moment as his temper and temperature would abruptly rise on that fateful announcement. I could well remember the time when he told me that he would wrap a pitchfork around my neck if we didn’t find a lost calf that had wandered somewhere away from the ranch. Fortunately, we found that calf.
Well, that evening was not fun. I would have preferred just going to bed without dinner, which we all had done many times through those Depression Years. Dad didn’t get quite as mad as he might have, so we lived through that weekend and then he went back to San Diego for another week.
Later that week, like Friday, Chuck and I rode back over to the Barne’s ranch on our horses. I don’t recall roping any steer on the way over. I think we may have ridden by the waterfall on the Hoskins Ranch where at times you could find some pretty good sized turtles along the
water’s edge. I just don’t seem to remember. I suspect both Chuck’s and my minds were occupied with other thoughts. When we got to the property’s edge I didn’t see any buzzards and felt very relieved. As we rode over the hilly 160 acre parcel, and over near the Bailey Cemetary on the adjacent property, I gasped as I saw a lone buzzard flying. I then saw the carcass of what appeared to be a dead cow. But was she on our side of the fence, or theirs? I wasn’t sure yet. Wow, that dead cow was on the other side of the fence. Could it be one of ours? Or was it the neighbors cow or steer? I wasn’t yet sure.
Upon further investigation it wasn’t one of our steers, but it was a cow belonging to the neighbor’s herd. Had we caused that cow’s death I just wasn’t sure. Over the next 6 weeks, Chuck and I rode carefully over to that ranch and counted all of the steers which had remained healthy. Maybe just one clump of arsenic laced sawdustbran had taken the life of one steer, and I was proclaiming it was one Dad must have thrown out that fateful JuneJuly evening as Chuck and Nana were on the train on their way to NYC.
Yes, those were the days back in the Great Depression when two mid-teen cowboys were learning the ropes and enjoying the good life on a ranch near Julian, California.
Chapter Nine Those School Years
Well, for me school started way back in about 1929 near the time of the New York Stock Market Crash which may have occurred in October, I’m not sure. I crashed a few years later in 2nd grade. Really, I started in preschool at Montessori across the street from Grant Elementary School, next to the cemetery, just less than a dozen blocks from St. James Place. It seems like I was in that school for at least 2 or 3 semesters. I don’t remember much of anything except at nap time I think we laid on rugs on the floor. It think it must have been a comfortable atmosphere as I don’t have any bad memories and it certainly propelled me to genius in my life, Oh Yeah!
Next came kindergarten at Grant and I really don’t remember anything there except I took some nickels off the teacher’s desk, for some unknown reason, and I got caught. I don’t recall what penalty I was given, but I am sure I was humiliated and possibly spanked at home. I don’t know what got into me for me to think I could even touch those coins. I never was a big investor so I can’t imagine I had some great investment project. I did like candy. Funny, I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I do remember she was a young woman and I do remember there were nickels on her desk. That’s about all I remember about kindergarten.
I think first grade came next but nothing remarkable happened with the exception of learning some more about the alphabet and reading and writing or maybe printing. It seems to me that might well have been about the time of President Hoover being voted out of office
and the Depression being well started. This may well have been the year that Granddad Fred died or that Nana Hart left the brake off on the 1928 Buick Sedan. It all kind of runs together. It was somewhere in that time frame the Chuck and I would walk home through the cemetery and then the canyon. It all sounds sort of spooky now, but we never walked at night, just in the bright day light in Mission Hills part of San Diego which always had 300 plus days of sun light, and very little rain and no snow.
Well here comes second grade where I got put back a semester and where the teacher put on my report card that I was doing poorly in reading, writing and arithmetic. She added that I talked too much. I don’t even remember those subjects being taught back then. Perhaps I had just walked into the Great Depression. It sort of seemed like that to me. I suppose that teacher still remembers me very well, but I couldn’t tell you anything about her except, again, she was a young, and not the friendliest woman teacher.
After my repeating that last semester of second grade, we were ready to move our home from the more upperclass neighborhood of Mission Hills to the 59th street address in East San Diego. They said it was across the tracks, whatever that meant as I never saw any tracks except the street car tracks and they weren’t too visible in the pavement. I never thought that statement made any sense at all.
I learned more quickly that the third grade came after the second grade. Now we were at a two room grammar school named after another U.S. President, Andrew Jackson. Grades 1-3 were in one room and 4-6 were in the adjacent room. I don’t remember much of that
one year that I was there, except the class was bigger than second grade, and that the school was about 8 blocks from our little rented, one story stucco home. It was while living in that home that one early morning someone fired a bullet through Mom and Dad’s bedroom window. Nobody was hurt and no person was found.
In about a year, the house Dad was building for about $5000 was complete over at 3021 Fairmount Avenue. It was attached to his pest control office building which he had built, too, and next to a small gas station which he also owned and leased out. By the time we developed the back yard area in the canyon for Bossy, the Jersey milk cow, we were really a city within a city.
Now we are adjacent to my next school, named after another U.S. President, Alexander Hamilton. I suspect I am doing a bit better in school, but certainly not anywhere near as good as Chuck. At least here I can get up, milk the cow, take her out in some adjacent canyon where she will be tethered on a rope and to a metal stake buried in the ground, where she hopefully will stay until my school is over and I bring her home and feed her hay and milk her again. Mainly, I have to be sure no fellow classmates see me as I do not want them knowing I have a cow to milk every day. That would really feel like the other side of the tracks.
I think maybe in fourth grade I had a Mr. French as the teacher and he was OK. I guess I just re-learned reading, writing and arithmetic, but I’m not sure when I learned it enough to pass through those subjects?
I do now remember the fifth grade came next and I can tell you nothing about that year, except that I believe the school year went for about 9 months, with three
months off for summer. I do remember I milked Bossy through that whole year. Now the 6th year was rather special for two reasons. One was that I had Mr. French again. I guess he flunked out and had to teach us again. He seemed to enjoy it and I thought he treated me with even more respect that year. He was friendlier, anyway. The other momentous thing that happened was that Bossy escaped her chains and got on the school yard and did the biggest poop job all over the school play ground which was closest to our compound. I think I was summoned over the loud speaker, or maybe it was just the loud voice used by the rather angry school principal. In any case when they found me hiding under my desk, they dragged me out screaming denials all the way out to Bossy, who mooed and licked my face when she saw me. I think she, too, was embarrassed. That was the beginning of humility entering Bob Christensen. I can’t remember if I had to clean all of that c..p up? From that day forward, all Hamilton students were aware that Bob C had a milk cow named Bossy, and possibly if they ran out of milk they knew where they might get some. I don’t think any of them ever felt as bad about that whole episode as I did, not even Bossy.
Well, that about finishes my grammar school. Next it would be Woodrow Wilson Junior High School which was more than far enough distance that my cow milking chores would still remain unknown, with exception of a few students from Hamilton who I had sworn to secrecy on threat of death.
Chapter Ten My Junior High Years
This school was now about a mile to a mile and a half from home, which meant my days would be getting longer. In those mid Depression years, there were no frills, just concentration, work and no new clothes or anything else. As we were accumulating ranch property and cattle and a horse or two, we were also attending school in San Diego during the weekdays in the winter months, then leaving for the ranch on Friday evenings and getting Roy Everingham across the canyon to milk the cow, for the milk, on the weekends. There was always jobs to be done. I had to keep the cow stall and small enclosure clean all winter long until in the summer when we moved everyone to Pine Hills. We made our own butter. I even mechanized the hand churn by attaching a small motor to it. There were always chores to do so my Junior High Years got even more busy with the elevated classes in Latin, algebra, English Lit and the all of the shops courses, i.e wood, metal electrical, tin and printing. Boys were supposed to learn all sorts of crafts, even though I had set my eyes on my father’s profession of dentistry. I was enjoying all of the shops and even some of the other classes and teachers. Not so much Miss Hornbuckle who I think taught history. She would attack you with her yardstick whenever she felt like it. The Latin teacher, Miss Kotva gave me a bad time at the time of graduation, when I got caught putting on the chalk board that “she was a bad old witch”. I only wrote half in Latin, so I guess I failed. She took me to the V.P’s office and he kept me sitting in his office a half a day. I’m not sure the folks ever heard of that skirmish, which was most unlike me.
I believe it was during those years that I purchased my first horse, Easterbrook, a pinto that was born in Mission Valley on Easter Day in a brook. Thus the name, in case you wondered. I paid $100 cash which I had saved by investing my kindergarten stolen nickels. Now, you remember. She was a pretty mid sized horse that was not a bad horse but had one lousy habit. When you were attempting to rope a calf or cow she had a habit of twirling her tail in a circle and if you weren’t careful your rope would get blocked by her tail. What a pain.
Otherwise she was a pretty good horse, but certainly not the best cowhorse I have ever ridden. But, she was mine and was quite good looking. My folks sold her back to the lady in Mission Valley some 20 years later for the same $100 I paid for her all those years before. I don’t think they repaid me. Oh well.
Chapter Eleven My High School Years
I now went to Hoover High School which was a three year high school and about a mile from home. I either rode a bike each way or walked as did Chuck and Shirley. Chuck would graduate in June of 1941, Bob in February 1943 and Shirley in June 1944 or 45.
I really enjoyed my time in high school as I got involved in football all three years and made my letter all three years. The first year was JV and the last 2 years was varsity as an end. I was taking heavy pre-med kind of courses expecting to go to San Diego State College after graduation from high school.
WWII had started a year before I graduated from Hoover and everyone was making some kind of war plans. It was necessary to stay focused on school work and to accomplish whatever was necessary and possible. I was taking Latin and heavy math and chemistry, not to mention whatever was in the premed curriculum. Plus practicing for football. Walking a mile home in the evening and milking and caring for Bossy whenever I got home.
In my senior year I was asked to help Dad in his termite control business each afternoon after school. This precluded me from being able to practice for football, but I still played every game and made my letter, too. I was very fortunate the coach allowed that to happen and he didn’t allow that for any other player. Hoover High produced some excellent athletes in all areas of athletics but especially football, baseball, track and basketball.
Two of my football colleagues went on to play for Annapolis and became All Americans there. George Brown who later was on submarines and then came back after the War and went to medical school and then came back and married Muriel Booker who I went steady with my senior year. He was a great husband for Muriel who was a delightful and godly young lady. Together they were a great match. I played football with Dorsey Booker, Muriel’s older brother, who was killed in the Marines a bit later. Their father was a career U.S. Marine going back in the 1930s and spent a portion of his time in China. I believe Muriel was born in Guam.
Ben Chase was another great football player who I played with and who later became an All American on the Navy team with George Brown. They were two fine players and ones I enjoyed calling friends. In those War years, all in our classes were committed to being good friends and companions. We just had a feeling we might not always have our friends available so we were a loyal bunch. We all knew we would all be leaving for military service in various parts of the country and world and didn’t want to lose our friendships.
As I mentioned earlier Muriel Booker who was a year behind me, and I decided to go steady. She was a cheer leader and a very beautiful girl and one I was very glad to be dating. We continued through my first year in college at San Diego State College and later at USC. When the Navy sent me to NYU she decided we should break off our steady relationship.
To not mention my closest friend, Orville Ball, would be an oversight. Orv was the quarterback on the Hoover Varsity football team all the time I was a first string end. We had lots of experiences together. Orv
became a Fish and Game officer for San Diego County after the War and passed away about two years ago. He married his H.S. girlfriend, Laura Lou Sherman and had several children. Laura Lou was a dear friend of mine, too, and has remained such over all of these years as has Muriel Brown. Both are and were not only dear friends but had the character and qualities any parent would love to see in his spouse or children. Although Orville and Laura Lou separated some years later, their close friendship remained all through the years even until the day before Orville’s passing. They both were heroes in my eyes. Laura Lou went on to do a great deal of work for the later generations of Hooverites, which was a real passion for her.
Bob at Graduation Day from Hoover High, 1943.
Chapter Twelve My Undergaduate College Years and Navy Service
As I graduated at age 17 years, from Hoover High I decided to join a Navy College Unit to continue my premed courses. For a moment I joined V-5 which was the Naval Air Corps, but when I found out I could continue my premed course at San Diego State, I was able to switch back to the V-1 program which later became the V-12 Navy College Training Program. At the first call to active duty I was scheduled to go to Notre Dame, but when I had to switch out of the V-5 Program they re-issued my orders to USC. Most of the Navy College Training Program was preparing young men and women for Medicine, Dentistry and Engineering Officers and Line Officers. It was a great opportunity for many young men and women who were coming through those Depression Years with no or little money.
My stay at USC was only one year but with what I had taken at SD State, I had completed my courses for acceptance in either Medical or Dental College, somewhere. In my choices I had placed NYU as one of the top choices, which may have been fortunate. The five of us in that group were sent to be medical corpsmen at the U.S. Naval Hospital
Bob in 1943 in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
at Corona, California. That turned out to be a very good opportunity for us to function as corpsmen in an active military hospital. I was selected to work with the oral and maxillofacial surgeon, which turned out to be a great blessing for me. He was a CDR in the USNR who was called to duty from his practice in Boston and enjoyed teaching this young pre-med student what he could about his specialty, and what strangely would become my specialty.
After the summer of 1944, we five enlisted men were ordered to various East Coast dental schools. I was the only one who got one of my three choices as we all had been accepted to the USC Dental School, but none of us would end up there, at least initially. As we would enter our graduate schools we would be elevated to Midshipmen in the USNR, which was certainly better than being an apprentice seaman.
I suspect God had His hand in all of those events and knew very well what my final passion and profession would be. I can’t say I could see all of the future, but who can? What I did know was I was right where I belonged for that moment in my life. I hadn’t flunked out of anything and I was not being sent overseas, as yet.
Chapter Thirteen My Years in Graduate School
I suppose anyone casually watching my life from some distance would have begun to see a pattern of what my life might have looked like. Maybe not, but in any case, I was ordered to report to the U.S. Navy Unit at Columbia University in early September 1944, to finally be reassigned to continue my studies in dentistry at NYU.
I took the troop train out of Los Angeles to Chicago and on to New York City, The commissioning as Midshipmen would not occur until we were at Columbia University. So, until then, I was the lowest of the Navy’s lowest Apprentice Seamen. Because of that rating, we were always subject to harassment by the Military Police, feeling we must have escaped from the basic training at the San Diego Naval Training Center. The trip was three days and nights sitting in chairs to Chicago and then I was on a fancier train overnight to NYC. I hardly knew how to behave on the Commodore Vanderbilt Limited on my way to the Big City, with $135.00 in my pocket and with no idea of where I would be going or staying etc. What a trip. And to think I made that trip alone without Nana Hart.
After the three day and four night trip to NYC I arrive tired, unbathed and yet a bit excited and bewildered in Grand Central Terminal for the beginning of my four year adventure. As I got off of the train, I saw a lot of military personnel walking hurriedly toward various train gates. Many of them carrying their duffle bags with all of their earthly possessions. Others were well dressed men and women who looked more like I suspected New
Yorkers might look. As I got in the main foyer of GCT I saw a sign about restrooms and that seemed like a good idea. Then, I saw a sign that pointed to showers in a lower level. I then made the brilliant decision to park my duffle bag on that main level in a locker, so then I would only be carrying what I needed to as I partook of the luxury of that great train station.
As I got in my shower, in the lower level, I was aware that an Army Air Force Officer was going to do the same thing. About the time we got our uniforms off a nice appearing, young black fellow came along and asked both of us if we needed our uniforms pressed? We both asked how long and the answer was about 1015 minutes and that sounded great, for a dollar or two. Well, we took our shower and dried off and waited, and waited, and waited. Forty-five minutes went by and both that young Air Force Officer and that very young seaman felt we had been duped in NYC and we were both without any clothes and no friends in the basement of Grand Central Terminal. What a predicament, but then, he arrived.
When I had gotten my uniform on and collected my duffle bag I headed for a phone booth. I had not mentioned that I had my Uncle Harold Brophy, my Dad’s brother, still practicing dentistry at 200 Central Park South, overlooking the Central Park in one direction and laterally the New York Athletic Club. I had not told Harold that I was coming to New York as we didn’t normally have any ongoing relationship with any of the Brophys. I just hadn’t thought far enough ahead to think I should have contacted the Brophy clan in New York, or if I had considered it I thought it would just be more fun to surprise them.
Well, I made the call to Dr. Brophy’s office and got his receptionist of some 52 years, if my memory serves me correctly. She was polite, protective and amused when I told her who I was. Harold, known by most other than family as Fred, was surprised and pleased and suggested I grab a cab to his office, which I did. Now I have about $120 left.
As I arrived, this kind, older gentleman greeted me very warmly. At one point when he mentioned I looked quite a bit like his brother, Charles, tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t prevent them. He was taken back by that emotion and made some statement that I hadn’t even known my dad. Yes, that was correct, but Mother had occasionally made some remark about how I might resemble Dad or about what a kind and smart man my Father was. I was a bit embarrassed by that emotion which I seemed unable to have prevented.
Uncle Harold said we should go to his home in Pelham for dinner with his wife, Muriel, who he alerted, and his daughter Patty who was at home that evening. I had nothing I needed to do and I had no place to go. I had made no provision for anything but reporting to Columbia in a few days. So, we had dinner that evening, and again for most evenings over the next three years, as they invited me to permanently stay at their lovely home with them. That was a time of great mentoring by my uncle Harold, who was in his own right a giant of a man in dentistry in NYC. I was so blessed to have been able to spend so much time with him and also with his great family.
Their oldest son was Ted who was a Yale Graduate and presently a LTCDR in the USNR aboard a submarine at New London CT acting as the 2nd officer. He was a very bright young man who later became President/CEO of
GTE international as a lawyer. He and Chuck were the same age. Beverly, known as Babs, was my age and was attending Skidmore College in Upstate New York. Jack was in school at Yale in a Navy Program as was I. He was a couple of years younger than I. Then the youngest was Patty who was in a girl’s high school in New Rochelle. They were a fun and friendly family, I always felt due to the tremendous benevolence of Harold. He truly was the most generous and kind man I have ever met, and duplicated much of what Mother had told us of Dr. Charles J. Brophy, her first husband. Yes, I do believe they were like two of the most compassionate men God may have ever fashioned.
What a blessing it was for me to enter dental college with a family around me and supporting me. I think if I had been alone in the city, and living Lord knows how, would have been very difficult for me to have survived for the four year course, and certainly not likely to have excelled.
As it was, Bab’s introduced me to a classmate of hers that first New Year’s Eve and we hit it off and got married about three years later. Ann Forsyth was the mother of my first eight children and was my wife for my last year at NYU when we lived, then in a college veteran’s housing unit on North Brothers Island in the East River across from 138th Street in the Bronx, near where I was originally born.
Life during those years was full with schooling taking up almost all of my waking hours. Our classes those first 2.5 years. We had been in a two semester year but in
Ann Forsyth Christensen.
school around the whole year left us quite exhausted. The courses were all science and very difficult. The days were long My class was made up of students from around the East mostly with about 97% Jewish, which made me wonder if I might be able to compete. I always felt this young cowboy from San Diego was not able to be more than a player in the class and school, but by the time we graduated I had won two of the 9 awards and came in about 11 or 12th in the class.
In my Junior year I was fortunate to have been asked by the new dean of the college to assist him in treating cleft palate patients who would receive a type of treatment not before offered in our college clinics. Dean Wright had come from being Dean at Pittsburgh where he had developed a new technique for establishing a way the young cleft palate children might be able to talk and eat more normally. He founded the American Cleft Palate Association and asked me to oversee the exhibit for NYU at the 2nd Annual Cleft Palate Association Convention which was being held in NYC. It was a real honor for me. At graduation I won the Ellison Hillyer Prosthetic Dentistry Award undoubtedly because of my work with Dean Walter Henry Wright. He was a legend. He had DDS, PhD and even DD degrees and was a delightfully caring and bright individual who seemed to enjoy mentoring this young cowboy from San Diego. After graduation I was being asked to fill two positions. Dr. Wright asked me to head a new department in the College and at Belleview Hospital which would deal with the prosthetic replacement and reconstruction of missing facial and palatal segments in children and adults alike. Uncle Harold had wanted me to take over a position in his dental practice on Central Park South, overlooking Central Park . Both positions would be great and offered much advantage, but when that time
of graduation arrived, Ann and I decided to go out to California to see what might happen out there. After all, Ann and I were expecting our first child in November. We were very excited and I guess the excitement of a whole new start would be something we suspected we would enjoy.
Back to our school days. In 1945 WWII came to and end and by the end of that year, the Navy gave us all discharge papers at least from active duty. We would be kept in the Navy Reserve for another 5 years. But now the college year would revert to a normal two semester school year. We had been on the accelerated school program since I started college and we had completed the first semester of our junior year. But, as luck would have it, our class would be the first to revert to the two semester, thus we would be now repeating our junior year. The class before us would graduate in three years and we would be in four with an extra semester in our course. Not exactly fair but nothing we could do about it.
In my last two years at NYU, Uncle Harold, who was an earlier President of the First District Dental Society of New York, or better known as the Manhattan Dental Society, was nominated to be on the Counsel of NYU as the first DDS ever on that austere body. That body had Rockefellers and others of that notoriety, but it was a great honor for he and his family and certainly for me as I would graduate in that Class of 1948 with honors in Periodontia and Prosthetics. I had won the Samuel Charles Miller Award in Periodontia. He was our Professor and well known in that field, internationally.
I hardly know how we had the thought or possibly even fortitude to suggest we would go to California after graduating. Here we had the gift of being a guest at
no real cost to me, in the Brophy’s home and family for three of my four years at NYU. Although I had insisted I could give them my residence allowance given to me by the Navy during those years in active service, when graduation came they gave Ann and me the money which I had paid to them. What a great couple the Brophys were. Muriel never complained about my staying those three years with them, even though I know at times I was a nuisance to have under their feet. Ted Brophy had invited me to spend a weekend on his submarine during a three day trip into the Atlantic. It was an R Class sub which was one made in WWI, if my recollection is right. They were certainly more confining than the more recent Nuclear Subs, but it was a great excursion for me during a college weekend break.
Another time, Babs needed an escort to one of her school dances at Skidmore College and so I drove North to join her. We had a good time and I am sure she was grateful. Both Patty and Babs were great pianists and worked in those positions in Night Clubs from NYC to Chicago in major hotels. I had seen Patty in one of the major Chicago Hotels while I was lecturing on some surgical technique at a national meeting. I was saddened when both girls had died at what seemed to be an earlier age than I would have expected. The same thing happened to my dear sister, Shirley who passed away, at age 51, when she got breast cancer. All of those women were fun to be around. My brother Chuck is still alive and well at 87 years and so is Ted Brophy and his brother Jack Brophy.
Chapter Fourteen My Early Years in Dentistry
My folks drove to New York for my June 9, 1948 Graduation at the Upper NYU Campus in the Bronx. I believe there were some 57,000 students matriculated in the curriculum of the various campuses of NYU. The class graduating size for all of the NYU schools was over 11,000 students that particular year. I don’t remember anything special about the graduation with possibly the exception of the various classes being mentioned or possibly standing up and then being listed in the rather thick program. Our awards were also listed per each school. That was the only time I was ever at that Upper Campus.
The folks drove us back to California in their car. It was a long trip, especially for Ann who was a few months pregnant, but doing well. We arrived in San Diego in that June and now I would need to prepare for a difficult California State Dental Board Exam which was scheduled in San Francisco, I believe in July. It would be a three day exam with two of those days being a written exam and a one day clinical exam where the person taking the exam would need to find a live patient that would require a certain type of filling on a front tooth. It was always not only a test of skills but a test of endurance, patience, luck and Lord knows what else. One of the other young doctors taking the exam became acquainted with us and befriended me by suggesting his sister who was a dietitian at Stanford University might be able to help us both find a patient for the exam. She did, and we took the exam and 60 days later we were notified we both had passed the State Board, to our relief. But now what?
Now we must find what other avenues may be open?
Mother had a dentist she was going to in San Diego named Bill Greenman so I decided I should go visit him. He had a brother, a physician, who practiced alone in a small town in the northern High Sierras. The lumber company, Collins Pine, had recently built a medicaldental building, and there was no dentist. So, I drove up and reviewed the situation in Chester and before I headed home two days later I had found the dental equipment needed, had it sent to Chester, took the position and headed home.
That was a real change from the opportunity of being head of a new department at Belleview Hospital and NYU Dental College or an associate in a prestigious dental practice on Central Park South, overlooking Central Park and across from the New York Athletic Club. Well, Can we succeed?
We were able to rent a small log cabin owned and built by Jack Farrar, a young married builder in Chester. It was only about 3 blocks from the new, ranch style medical-dental building which had an expansive front lawn area extending out to the main two lane highway running through Chester from Red Bluff.
The house only had a floor, oil type, heating system and could be very cold in those winters that could get down to 30 degrees below zero and may well stay between zero and fifteen below for a week or two.
Our first child was born while we were in Chester, over at the Westwood hospital. It was in the company town of Westwood about 15 miles East of Chester. Ann went into a long 24 hour labor with Dr. Bill Greenman offering little drug related help, just the assurance the baby would be born, sometime. Yes, he was right but he
and I almost came to separating our practices over that lack of help during that prolonged labor. During my 24 hour bedside wait for Robert Jr. to be born, a prostitute from a house of ill repute in Chester was brought in by ambulance when she had been plastered with buckshot from some irate client shooting at her in the house. If I recall her name was either “Ginger” or “Rose”. Too many summers have gone by for me to remember such detail.
Anyway, on November 11, 1948, Robert Wayne Christensen, Jr. was born to an exhausted, but jubilant Ann and to a worn out Papa Bob. She stayed in the hospital a couple of days and then we returned to the log cabin. The warmest we could keep “Chris’s” room was 32 degrees and our bedroom was zero. Despite that first winter where we all were adjusting and acclimating to cold, we had a great time. It was a far different life from what we might have experienced living in Manhattan, but a life which we were beginning to feel much more natural in.
As I started my dental practice in Chester, we were having to get things set up in the office and during some of that time, I suffered a “cold” and was resting at home when my first patient came to our log cabin door seeking treatment. She had a large swelling (cellultis) of her right face apparently caused by an impacted third molar (wisdom tooth). As a novice in the treatment of such a problem Ann and I had the young lady drive over to the office where I could x-ray and examine her more properly. In taking her history we found that she was, also, a young prostitute working at, as she informed me, the “Pine Cone Inn”. I was having trouble knowing whether this was the Green Pine café or the Pine Cone Inn which we had heard discussed by Bill Greenman who normally took care of their medical issues. I asked
her, like a nut, was that the Café, and her answer said “You know where it is”. I certainly did not know where it was, but well remember that lousy statement. I had heard it was somewhere out of town, naturally, but that was all I knew. Anyway, I x-rayed her, found the culprit, and gave her an injection of Penicillin and some additional antibiotic tablets and pain medicine, with careful instructions so she might get better for later surgical treatment. Somehow, that moment became lodged in my memory.
Over the next year our son grew and Ann and I took care of many emergencies that can show up at the door of some poor professional. At times it would be from a broken jaw caused by some fight or work related incident. Or it might be a ski pole rammed through the skier’s palate into his tonsil area or sinus. Others might be a ski pole rammed into an eye socket with blood gushing out and everyone panicking, including me.
Or if the physician was out of town, or sleeping in from a late night in the E.R., it might be some Indian woman, who was a cook in a distant lumber camp and riding in some old truck to the clinic, deciding it was time for her baby to be born. Whatever, Lord, fractured leg or gunshot to the abdomen, whoever was around was supposed to be able to help.
Being one of only two dentists in Lassen County meant that there would be ample extractions to do as most of the town folk just never got used to preventative care and fillings. They just waited until they got infected or killed them with pain and sought some help. For a young dentist out of school in New York it was a very interesting experience. I had to begin to get a serious library where I might find some answers to some
rather serious surgical entities. It was a time to take the challenge and grow up to meet that challenge head on, without killing anyone.
Ann was enjoying her time as a mother, but I know we both missed having family around. I know the grandparents missed the opportunity of being with us during those months, although both sets of grandparents made the trek to Chester to visit in the warmer months.
It was about a year and a half later that I got the bug to consider going back into training to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In my earlier book, “The Breaking Point”, I mentioned about the horrific snow storm I got into when going to be interviewed at Los Angeles County General Hospital. The trip was from Chester to Red Bluff in the middle of a snow storm that only God could have rescued me from. Now, you have got to purchase another book, The Breaking Point.”
Anyway, if you want an interesting start to your life, go live in the mountains for a couple of years and see what comes your way. I just remembered a small new born was brought to me with a cleft palate and cleft lip to see if I might help him be able to nurse, take the bottle and otherwise get nourishment. My time working with Dean Wright became most valuable as I was able to construct an obturator appliance which would fill the gap between the nose, sinuses and nasal pharynx. I had to use a soup spoon to take the original impression to begin to make the original model and then make a custom impression tray. It was an interesting challenge, but one I was prepared to meet.
In early 1950 , Ann and I and “Chris” began our move to Long Beach where I would commute to LACGH daily
for my advanced training in surgery. We were able to find another young dentist who took over my small office in Chester. Isn’t God good?
Just before we made our move to the Los Angeles area, Ann was ready to deliver our second child, a daughter and since things were a little hectic with our moving, we felt it was better for her to be with her parents in Scarsdale, NY for a delivery in a Yonkers Hospital. Joan Brophy was born on February 21, 1950 and was a delight from the beginning.
Chapter Fifteen The Korean War Years and After
I was fortunate to have been called to active duty as I was finishing my time at the Los Angeles County General Hospital. My training there was most valuable with others such as CDR Lou Hansen, USN, who later took over headship of the Oral Pathology Section at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. Also Howard Davis who later became a President of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and who for most of his years practiced with Dr. Adrian Hubbell in Long Beach, California. Also with Dr. Lyle Larson who later practiced in his field in Alhambra, California. A Dr. Bill Bogart was also there at the same time and later practiced with Howard Davis and Adrian Hubbell.
In the training at LACGH there were plenty of opportunities to treat trauma, routine oral surgery, and tumor surgery. It was a great experience with plenty of hands on experience. I remember one afternoon Lyle Larson and I had seen some 102 patients that morning for routine things and then had some 5 or 6 jaw fracture patients that afternoon. It was a full day.
I got called to active duty in the Navy Reserve in the latter part of 1950. The Korean War had started two months earlier. I was to report to the Eleventh Naval District Headquarters in San Diego and when I did I got stationed with the First Marine Battallion at the MCRD in San Diego. It turned out to be excellent duty station for me as we could live at our newly purchased three bedroom home ($14000) and I would be in charge of the oral surgery needs of some 18,000 Marine Recruits
entering the Marine Base every 12 to 14 weeks for basic training before they would leave for Camp Pendleton and then to Korea. It was going to be a challenge, but one that Captain Art Logan, USN,DC was putting on my shoulders as the Marine Base General was on his case to be sure these Marines did not get stalled in their training because of some delay in surgical care and recovery.
I was experienced enough to be able to accomplish all that was necessary and to organize a proper protocol to get it accomplished. Captain Logan, who was a surgeon himself and who had been chief of the OMS section at the San Diego Naval Hospital during the height of WWII, was always happy to oblige my requests for personnel and of materials to accomplish the task. Our third child, Elizabeth Ann, was born at the US Naval Hospital in San Diego. So now we had three.
I operated a lot of interesting and routine type surgeries in that position when stationed with the U.S. Marines. My first two published surgery articles were the result of surgeries I accomplished on those marines. One was an unusual tumor of a tongue which was later published in two important textbooks on oral surgery. One by Dr. Kurt Thoma of Harvard University. He was a most esteemed oral and maxillofacial surgeon who wrote a number of texts on Oral Pathology and who appreciated my cases. The other by a Dr. Balint Orban of Colorado Springs who was also a noted oral pathologist and scientist. He asked me to present one of my interesting cases before his society which met in Colorado each year.
I was discharged from active duty in the USNR in late 1952 and was offered a position in Pasadena, California with a Dr. John Sundbye, and oral surgeon. His son was a corpsman of mine at the USMCRD in San Diego and
who knew, well, of my ability in surgery. His father took me in and we moved to Pasadena to begin a new life. We found a modest home to purchase and I went to work for Dr. Sundbye. A whole year went by and I was getting quite a lot of cases to operate both in the office and in St Luke Hospital. After a year, however, we parted ways and I stayed on in a solo OMS practice where I remained for the next 17 years.
The Christensen Children Joan Robert Jr. Mary Beth Peter (circa 1950s)
Chapter Sixteen My Innovative Years
• The Circumferential Dental Implant
It was in those years between about age 35 and 40 years that seem to be my more innovative years. I suppose a person needs to get ample experience behind him so as to begin to know what works and where innovation and creativity are necessary.
I had always felt there had to be some way to anchor teeth to the jaw bone as a tooth replacement and for improvement and substitution for the more cumbersome and awkward dentures which people without teeth were wearing. I had first given that some thought back in 1948 when I began my original practice in Chester.
As the years went by it was even more clear that a simple method of attaching a single tooth or multiple teeth should be made available. The only technique which had come forth with any success was the socalled subperiosteal implant devised by Goldberg and Gerskoff in about 1950. It was a very cumbersome type of implant in which the surgeon had to take an impression of the mandible and have a laboratory design and cast a Cobalt-Chrome casting which was meant to cover the superior surface of an entire mandible and have four posts protrude through the mucosa on which to attach a lower denture. It was a remarkably complicated technique in which post-operative infection can torpedo the entire event to everyone’s dismay.
I sought after a simpler, single or multiple tooth replacement type implant which required no earlier
surgical technique or special laboratory procedures. Something that would be pre-fabricated and useful in any patient at any instance. My original dental implant I called a Circumferential Dental Implant and sought a U.S Patent for in the late 1958-1960 time frame. I placed them in dogs and cats as my own financed and accomplished research project with success, and then placed them in patients and made a motion picture film of the entire procedure. The film was called “The Circumferential Dental Implant-The New Way” and appeared on the Annual Program for The American Dental Association occurring in Los Angeles in October 1960. The L.A. Times wrote a medical story about my innovation and presentation at that same moment. It made quite a splash with the American Implant Society which was having their meeting in conjunction with the ADA meeting. No one was aware of any of my work. That was the original, individual dental implant in the United States. Many more were to follow.
• The Circumferential Dental Implant
• The TMJ Implants
This next part of this chapter deals with my innovation of an implant to reconstruct the temporomandibular joint. It truly starts in the late 1950s and more specifically in 1960. As a successful oral and maxillofacial surgeon practicing alone in Pasadena California, I was being asked to treat many difficult and complex patient issues. For some of the problems, there had been no effective treatment and I was attempting to think out of the box to be helpful to those patients.
One area of surgical treatment in which there was no consensus and certainly no satisfactory treatment modality, had to do with the surgical TMJ problem. The problem could manifest itself in a host of ways from fractures of the joint all the way to agenesis or even tumors of the particular structures. But the most frequent was degenerative joint disease, just like we see in the hip and knee.
I had examined many patients, during my training at the Los Angeles County General Hospital, who had suffered trauma to the mandible and who then suffered fractures of the condylar neck, unilaterally or bilaterally. The usual treatment being recommended at that institution was the closed reduction with immobilization of the mandible, in occlusion, to allow the fractured condylar portions to heal in whatever position they found themselves in after the trauma As I started my own specialty practice, after the Korean War period, I began to see a pretty significant number of similar patients. I wasn’t comfortable with not attempting to do what we now call an open reduction and skeletal fixation of the fragments.
As time went on I found I had a great deal of success. Was it a more risky procedure than the closed reduction? Yes, definitely. But I really did master that operation and in the next 8- 10 years I had probably operated some 75-100 such patients with measurable success.
With this background, it is easier to see why I began to operate on the degenerated TMJ, that didn’t have any fractures, but was deteriorating much like the degenerated hip or knee joint. The problem was there was no excellent surgical technique that gave any long term good results. We might do a disc removal procedure, but overtime that would cause more serious problems within the joint. Or, we might do what is called plication of the disc. In that instance, the displaced and somewhat degenerated disc was placed back over the condylar head, in hopes that it would stay in that position, and secondly that it wouldn’t repeat the dislocation or just plain wear out.
There were other procedures, and to be truthful the success rate was usually less than 30% in the first 5 years. Not a compelling reason for doing that procedure. Now came 1960 and Sister Lucille. Here was a young Catholic nun in her mid thirties, who has had a prior discectomy seven years earlier, followed by a high condylectomy some 3-4 years later. Her condyle is now anchored (ankylosed) to the skull base with almost no jaw function.
Now what, Lord? “Physician, do no harm.” And yet both of the procedures accomplished on this young sister were accomplished by a very knowledgeable surgeon, who happened to be an orthopedic surgeon in the Central Valley of California. Was he negligent? No. He was doing the only treatment considered effective
at that period of time. But how could I help this young Sister have proper, pain free joint function?
This was the challenge I was faced with that winter day in 1960. Was I capable of improving the situation? I certainly had been recommended very highly by the surgeons at St. Luke Hospital as well as Huntington Memorial Hospital. But, would that be good enough? I certainly could operate on Sister L and get an immediate relief from pain and a greater amount of jaw function, but I could not guarantee that this good effect would last more that a few weeks to a few months. The problem which would occur after any surgery, normally accepted at that time by the medical community, would be that the bones would grow together and she would be worse off after another surgery than if we had performed no surgery at all. Only God could really make a difference. Either He would miraculously heal Sister L, or He would show me how to operate on her TMJ and make it well.
In 1960, as I was driving from Pasadena toward Santa Barbara, God placed an idea in my head which was so simple, so perfect and so just as easily condemned by the naysayers. He showed me that I could take the ten human skulls which I possessed and could fabricate a metal, S shaped implant to cover the bone at the base of the skull, which was the superior joint surface, and the one the degenerating condyle would normally attempt to attach to. Wow!
So, it was December 1960 when I began to work on my new project. It meant I would need to place all ten of my skulls on a laboratory table, unhinge the lower jaw (mandible) and make wax patterns to duplicate the base of the skull in the area of the TMJ. It would need to extend laterally over the rim of the zygomatic process
and have 3-5 holes placed for the screws which would be required to hold the implant in place.
This was getting exciting, but could I pull it all together? If when I got the first wax patterns developed, what metal should I use to cast the final implants? What made me think that I could make any of the ten implants which I would be fashioning, fit Sister Lucille’s skull base accurately enough? That was the biggest challenge. If, at surgery, I had her left TMJ fully exposed, and the new implant didn’t fit, what then? I would be no better that the earlier surgeon and she would have trusted me and we both failed.
Well it took me the next couple of months to fashion 15 implants for Sister’s left TMJ. I then had to do some corrective bone surgery to go with the implant, if I was going to give Sister a chance for proper jaw function. I decided to do all of this surgery on a skull, including the bone corrective surgery which would have the effect of lengthening that part of her left mandible and putting the articular portion back into the cup configuration of the new TMJ implant. It was all getting more complicated, but exciting.
I decided, with Sister’s permission, to make a surgical film of the entire surgery. I had fully explained the surgery to Sister Lucille and she and I explained it to the Mother Superior of her order of Dominican Sisters. We were now just three days before the surgery, when I made a costly mistake. There was an excellent general dentist, whose office was near mine, that I made the mistake of telling him about what I was contemplating. He taught Bob in 1959-60.
at USC and of course had many colleagues there. It turns out they were having an office party that very evening, and my friend Dr. Ray Contino let his comrades know about what Dr. Christensen was doing the next Tuesday on a young Catholic nun named Sister Lucille.
There were a couple there that probably were not too friendly with anything I might be doing. Thus, on Monday early afternoon, one of those darling doctors took it upon himself to phone the sister administrator of St Luke Hospital to ask “if they allowed experimental surgery to be done in their hospital?”
The custard hit the fan. Sister had been admitted in the hospital and was awaiting surgery at 7:30 AM on Tuesday. She was unaware of what had transpired over the weekend and on Monday noon. Now, sister administrator found herself in a pickle. After all, Dr. Christensen had been on staff for about 8 years, had taken his rotation as head of the OMS department of the surgical staff, and was very well respected for doing a great deal of excellent surgery, and sometimes on the sisters, at no charge of course, but even the Catholic priest at the hospital.
She had to call me and explain I would not be allowed to do that “experimental” surgery in St. Luke Hospital and especially on a Catholic nun. That last part added by me. Won’t the devil attempt to stop God’s plan at every turn? After all it was God who showed me how we might effectively treat this type of problem.
And now what? Only God could have orchestrated the next words out of my mouth. I said calmly to Sister, “I would like to go before the Executive Committee.” It just happens that they were meeting that very night.
Well, PTL. So they listened to me as I explained what I have just written, and long story short, they allowed me to operate Sister Lucille the next morning, and all went perfectly. The implant fit well and then it was secured with four screws. My assisting surgeon , Dr. Douglas Donath, and I accomplished the other bone corrective surgery and the patient was returned first to ICU then to her room on the surgery floor of St Luke’s Hospital of Pasadena, California where the first Christensen TMJ arthroplasty was accomplished this week in 1961. That was a momentous moment for future TMJ sufferers.
Over the next 15 years I had the opportunity of operating on hundreds of patients with a variety of TMJ problems. The surgery was proving to be more successful than I might have first imagined. I was on about 17 major hospital staffs in the greater Los Angeles area and in 1964 we put on a teaching symposium on TMJ arthroplasty at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where I performed a live surgery which was televised to about 200 surgeons from across America who were present for the symposium. That TV program on TV 13 in Los Angeles brought a lot of attention to the work that I was doing and was featured as a news story in a number of papers across America.
TV Channel13 in Los Angeles recorded the live surgery and it was shown a couple weeks later on a prime time, one hour program called, “Surgery 64”. It was seen by likely hundreds of thousands in the Southern California region. The patients continued to be referred to me from across the country and many of them had severely arthritic TMJs to where they had not had any jaw function or mobility for over 20 years. The successes were phenomenal and I give all of the glory to God. It was God who showed me very simply how to correct
There were always the naysayers somewhere in the crowd of professional people, but the successes were so spectacular anybody really reviewing them couldn’t help be impressed.
I started a company called Implants Inc. back in the 1960s but I was just too far ahead of the curve. The professional accomplished and they just never caught on. The public was much more attuned to why this technique would work, but the profession was cautious.
• The TMJ Partial Joint Implant
• The Transosseous Dental Implant
My next innovation occurred about 1964 and was what I called the Transosseous Dental Implant. It was an implant which I held the U.S. Patent for which was a dental implant which traversed the mandible in the chin area.
I had learned earlier that the “Implant-a-band”, also
known as the “circumferential dental implant” was not the best approach. It allowed, at times, for an invasion of bacterial infection down along the band and around the mandible, especially on the lateral aspect. It was obvious that coming through the mandible would be more successful. I began to design various patterns with a couple of different heads to see what might be best. Since my thought was to come all the way through the mandible, forward of the mental foramen on either side, that length of the implant was important and the screw thread area should be only long enough to stay within the variable bone heights in the various patient subjects. The thread size would also be important as the bone density at the cortical margins would have a limiting constraint to the diameter of the actual threads on the implant. Too large and they couldn’t be screwed through the inferior cortical bone region or would cause a fracturing of the bone at that point.
I had placed several of these in dogs and cats and had the opportunity of observing some of them for as much as nine years with total success.
Like with every other innovation I had accomplished I made a surgical motion picture film of the procedures on patients and used those films at ADA and other national and even international meetings. Those films were very well attended, usually by some 1500 doctors viewing each session. This implant has remained very successful over many decades and could certainly be used as an important implant in our armamentarium.
• The Transosseous Dental Implant
• The Endosseous Implant
This was my most recent dental implant innovation in the middle 1960s and was designed and made like a sheet metal screw with a large screw flange. I had my first ones fabricated in Ti Al V (known as 90,6 4 because of its metal concentrations) and this became the precursors of
most of the more recent dental implants. I developed it in several lengths and widths and then I developed a screw driver in order to place them in bone very quickly after a pilot hole has been drilled in the bone. This implant could be used as an individual, single tooth implant or as a multiple tooth or full arch implant. I made a new surgical film titled, “The Endosseous Implant-The New Way”. This implant was a great success and we placed hundreds of them over the next dozen years.
I required a couple of them a few years ago in my jaws and they have been so very successful. We have always been able to have the final crowns placed on them and they could be masticated on as soon as they were placed. These implants have started an industry that today in 2010 has a gross sale volume of approximately $2.6 billion annually.
• The Endosseous Dental Implant
• The Modular Mandibular Implant
This was my final implant to be developed by me in the 1960s. The cost of innovation and gaining U.S Patents was beginning to overcome my resources and so I decided to not attempt to patent anything after that.
This implant was designed as a sectional or a modular way of replacing the actual mandible, or any part of it. Over all of my earliest years in practice if I were going to do an excision of a large portion of the tumor patient’s mandible I would either use a bone graft from the illac crest of the hip, or a portion of the patient’s tibia or a
rib graft. Then there would be times I would use some standard bone plate, like a Sherman Plate, and would bend it to work. Later in the early 1950s I would take a thin sheet of stainless steel and use tin shears and drill bits to fashion a rather anatomically shaped implant to replace the patient’s missing mandibular section of bone. Then other times I would compare the patients jaw and skull x-rays to a particular adult or juvenile skull which I had in my collection and would fabricate a wax-plastic pattern and then cast it in C0-Cr metal for use as the final implant for that tumor patient. These techniques worked well but it required time and effort, whereas if I could develop a modular implant made of implantable metal, that would be an advancement in technology. That is what I did and in the late 1960s I submitted the Patent for approval and got it as the first U.S. Patent accepted for approval for this type of device.
As I was about that same time, appointed to the position of Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery, in the Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Medical School of the University of California at Irvine, it gave me the opportunity of placing the earliest of these modular mandibles in a cancer patient where half of her mandible was resected. In my years teaching of 4th and 5th year residents at that university, I had the opportunity of teaching TMJ reconstructive surgery and jaw replacement surgery to the benefit of these early surgeons.
• The Modular mandible
Chapter Seventeen The Middle Years
These years were interesting years but somewhat unremarkable. We had gone through some time of turmoil with the divorce between Ann and me occurring in the mid 1960s as I was involved in a multiple of laminectomy procedures in my lumbar spine, some of which may have related back to my early ranch experience, but then much of it due to my occupation as a surgeon leaning over a surgical table for so much of my life.
The divorce which occurred was unfortunate and had we had better teaching and had we been born again Christians, I believe we could have survived that attack, but unfortunately we didn’t. We had moved our home to Palos Verdes overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean, and were living in a brand new home, but through it all we failed. I do believe there was fault on both sides, as is usually the case in divorce, but certainly most of the blame was directed toward me. Ann and I were later able to forgive each other, but by that time the damage had been done. Had I known what I know today, I suspect we could have resolved the problems and could have saved much future heartache for the two of us but even more importantly, the entire family. Divorce brings in such rebellion in a family and sets up tons of ongoing problems associated with guilt and un-forgiveness. But we have entered a time in our civilization to where anything goes even to where we are pushing toward same sex marriages. This will usher in the same destruction of civilization seen in the time of Lot in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. This will undoubtedly bring on the
wrath of God on our nation and our civilization. We can leave that discussion, perhaps, to another book.
In any case, with my lumbar laminectomies and my practice in Pasadena and our living 50 miles away in Palos Verdes, it did not make for all that it should have in sustaining a marriage and a united family. I at one point in time, felt that I needed to stay closer to my office so that I wouldn’t be driving some days 100-200 miles per day covering hospital patients and office and then attempting to get home. I took an apartment a few blocks from my office and it helped to advance the separation and divorce.
A number of years after the divorce with Ann, I met a young woman who resided in my apartment building and we began to date. Her name was Lynne and she, too, had gone through separation and divorce a few years earlier. She worked for an investment banker in Pasadena as an administrative assistant. We became engaged and in a short period we were married.
It was only a matter of time and we closed down my Pasadena surgery office and opened an office in a clinic closer to the beach. We moved our home to an area overlooking the Palos Verdes Country Club. The person we bought the very nice ranch style home had just moved his family to Southern Oregon in the Medford-Ashland area. He encouraged us to look at some of the excellent real estate bargains being offered in that area, and to make things a bit more brief, we bought a beautiful 100 acre ranch in the Applegate Valley of Oregon about
Lynne Christensen, New Years Day 2005.
equal distance from Grants Pass and Medford.
It was a cattle and hay producing ranch which we were able to get at a reasonable price. It had the Williams Creek running through the property and with two pretty good sized ponds also on the property. It was surrounded by beautiful, snow covered peaks rising to about 6000 feet that gave an even more majestic and beautiful appearance to the ranch. Our nearest neighbor was a quarter of mile away and the nearest town about 16 miles away.
Lynne had never lived on a ranch or farm and knew nothing of cattle and horses. I had the benefit of living on a cattle ranch when I was a young boy so it was like going home for me. Since I had been compelled from 3rd grade until college and the WWII years to daily milk the Jersey milk cow, I felt I would never voluntarily do that again. When I saw a sign for a beautiful, five gallon a day, Jersey milk cow, just like Bossy, I succumbed and purchased her. The plan was that we would sell our home in Palos Verdes, would buy the ranch and then I would commute between Medford and Los Angeles every week, four days at a time by airplane.
We started on the ranch by purchasing a herd of registered black angus cows and a bull. Now we had a Jersey milk cow and about 25 black Angus, which were very nice appearing. Having been raised with the whiteface cattle with pretty lengthy horns, these polled Angus were an interesting change. I had forgotten to mention that Lynne and I had purchased two nice riding horses for us when we were living on our 1 ½ acre horse property in Palos Verdes. We had moved those two horses up to our friends, the Tom and Millie Coleman’s property the year before we moved to our William’s
Creek Ranch, which we named, the Little Creek Ranch.
I suspect we felt we were in seventh heaven about this time. Lynne took to ranching like a duck to water. We made friends with several of the ranch people we had either done business with or had been introduced to. In a year or so we had our first child, Andrew and about three years later had his brother, Matthew. Andrew had been with us on the ranch and we felt so blessed to be able to have him beginning his early years enjoying the ranch life.
The ranch had about eighty acres of hay producing pasture land where we were able to grow about 400 tons of excellent grass hay which we could bale and sell or save some in our large barn to feed the cattle through the colder and rainier winter months. That grass hay would get so high that it would be over your head. It was beautiful. My stepdad, Lee, came up to visit one summer from his ranch at Pine Hills and he could not get over how beautiful and plentiful that grass hay was. When we would cut it and windrow it, it was so full looking down those rows that I would just be amazed.
We had a small second utility kind of barn on the property and then even a third lean to type of barn for some of the implements to be stored in. There was a second small house which we could rent out, also on the property. The Main ranch house was nothing special, but it was a two story structure and certainly took care of our needs. There was a time when the front door of the house was left open and one of our Nubian goats entered the house and got up on a couch by the front window for all to see. Lynne, when I was away, would milk Josie, named after the county of Josephine we resided in, and would then sell gallons of the milk and
also churn all of our butter. She became a good cow milker, probably to her shagrin, but always patient with me for some of the ventures I took her on. Those were some very memorable years.
We spent much of our time moving irrigation pipes, or moving cattle to another pasture or repairing fences. But all in all it was a good life. We were so isolated out on this ranch that one evening we decided to go into Grants Pass for a pizza dinner. The restaurant was on a hill overlooking a section of Grants Pass, and we had entered it in the late afternoon. When we came out the city lights were on and little 3 year old, Andrew, said, “Yites”. It took us a moment to realize he was saying, “Lights” and that he had rarely if ever had seen lights in a town before. That was life in the country, which was great.
We finally got to where we had about 80 head of Black Angus and we sold them at varying times, but the income was never equal to the outflow. There was a steady drain on our economics, especially after I had sold the practice and retired just to the ranch, but we really did enjoy that ranch life. It was hard work for both Lynne and me as we moved 300-400 tons of hay around each year, and I had three prior spine surgeries in which my 5 lumbar discs had been removed and I was told to not lift anything heavier than a phone book. Oh Yeah!
After about the 5th year we sold the Little Creek Ranch and moved onto a small 8 acre parcel half way to Grants Pass. We developed the land, had a big barn put on the property and built a road into the pad we bulldozed for the double wide T shaped mobile home. By this time I had gone into the land developing business with a backhoe, cat, dumptruck and a few other smaller items. Again I was lifting a lot more than telephone books and
wasn’t sure how long my ability or stamina would last. But, somehow, I had to make a living.
I would be contracting jobs to build a road into someone’s property, or dig the shape of a swimming pool, or dig septic test pits, and even occasionally putting in a whole septic system, etc. It was an interesting life, and certainly a challenge, for this somewhat retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon. I suspected this life of a construction worker was not destined to last.
I used those talents and that equipment to develop small land parcels which I could purchase and sell after I had improved them a bit. It was an interesting adventure and we were able to keep eating and living and it was interesting for me to do. At times we would have a well drilled on the property. Since it was frequently me that had to select the area where a well might be drilled, it was always interesting to see how well we did in that selection.
In one instance in which we drilled a well in our own property, we instructed the well driller, whose name happened to be Bob Christensen, to drill at this spot to a depth of 200 feet. When he got to 190 feet he had hit zero water, but within 5 more feet he hit an artesian well producing some 100 gallons per minute. I plumbed that well and our house and even the pond without ever putting in any water pump. The natural pressure was more than enough. PTL
At some point in time, which is certainly getting harder for this 85 year old to remember, we bought a 20 acre parcel along the Mc Kenzie river in Springfield Oregon. It was actually at Blue River. The new three story house was right on the flood plain, adjacent to the fast moving
Mc Kenzie river. Boy, it was beautiful, but when the rains came, it was most dangerous. One winter, we had nothing but water running on all sides of our home. It was treacherous, and may actually have been damaged by flood waters after we left that area. It was so beautiful, and the two boys were still very small, but I had a chain linked fence put around all of the living area and we felt remarkably safe as far as the children were concerned.
I would take the boys with me on the D-3 or even the backhoe when I would either go to do some job, or do some work on our own property. It was interesting in that Matt’s first words were “dum” and “doz” which stood for dump truck and dozer. We had kept our horses and we built a small barn on the new property. It was so beautiful and we felt so fortunate, mostly.
Actually, in Ed Werner’s design of the house he had made two roof areas as sod covered roofs. Oh, Ed Werner would say, “and it was engineered to never leak.” Give me a break. We had so much rain water pouring through the roofs into our living room areas that the ceiling board panels began to actually fall into the living room. What a mess and what a job to attempt to replace with a normal tar paper and tar roof.
I used the 5 yard dump truck and backed it right up to the lower part of the building and then began an arduous hand shoveling of many yards of top soil on the roof, which covered the Visqueen layers of “water barrier.” We did that on two separate roofs which had a third story peak rising between the two flat area garden roofs. When I got it all off then I had to lay down tar paper and begin to tar the entire roof., which I had learned to do in my youth during the Great Depression. I really felt more like tar and feathering Ed Werner, but
he was a gentlemanly older gentleman, and that would not have been good.
After we had moved from there down to the Ukiah area we were still attempting to sell this property. One of the disadvantages of the property was that the house was definitely in the flood plain, which had been allowed by Ed’s persistence with the Springfield Planning Commission that this property and house were perfectly safe. Just about as safe as that visqueen roof.
When we had left the area but were attempting to sell the property, I decided I should attempt to dam up a large area of the river bank of the Mc Kenzie River as it swirled around the region of the house. Lots of luck on that venture, Bob. I had gotten to know the gentleman that owned a large island, just downstream from us, but within the river. He had a D-9 Cat with a blade 8 feet high by 16 feet across and he went around that whole island pushing river rock up against the banks. I believe he owned the Coca Cola bottling company in Eugene, so as long as we all kept drinking, he kept pretty well off. The Fish and Game and State Troopers visited him frequently and undoubtedly fined him heavily, but he persisted until that island was much more protected for the golf course they had allowed him to place on it.
I somehow got in touch with him and asked if I could fly up from Ukiah, in my own P-210 Cessna airplane and bank up those pesky banks around the house area using his D-9. He was very kind, so I flew up for a weekend and took that D-9 right out in the fast flowing Mc Kenzie River and began to bank up the banks with the large river rocks that made up the Mc Kenzie River floor. In most areas the water would be about 4 feet deep, but there were areas along a section of our home where the
water probably got nearer 15 feet deep.
And since I didn’t want the world to know what I was doing, I decided I would do much of it after dark, and there were no headlights on that D-9, at least which I could find. I got some poor soul sitting on the right fender area, with a flashlight in his hand, attempting to let me know if I was getting close to the abyss. It was a rather dangerous mission, and I well remember when I borrowed another contractors brand new D-4 to enter a smaller riverbed within my property to clean out some of the silt. That hadn’t worked out well as I buried that Cat in a 6 foot deep mass of silt, that I felt sure was only 2 feet deep. Anyway, I got through that late night adventure, but I had the feeling some eyes might have been watching me from the 80 foot high river bank, where the only other houses were located.
The next day was Sunday and I was doing some of the same, but in a more normal and less dangerous area, knowing I had to leave by about 3:00 PM and then fly back to Ukiah. Lynne was out watching me when a truck arrived with a State Trooper and a Fish and Game official approaching. I was below normal ground height as they approached, but I knew I was in trouble. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out as they got closer and asked if I was Dr. Christensen? I looked more like the wetback from some other planet in my old clothes and pretty much covered with dirt. Although they didn’t draw the heat on their hips, I just figured I’d better be straight with them, cause they certainly had the upper hand.
The Trooper seemed a bit more friendly than the Fish and Game fellow. If they gave me their names, I have forgotten them. I actually probably never remembered
them, but who cares. They explained with some authority that to bank up your river banks this way was not lawful and that certainly a permit and hearing would be required to ever build a retaining wall. Yes Sir, I suspected that might be their position. I let them know I had flown up from Ukiah so I could do something to prevent all of my 20 acres and 1/3rd mile of river front from taking all of my property away, which certainly would not be good for the fish and plant life and certainly wouldn’t be good for my little bride and me. Right?
The Fish and Game fellow had no sense of humor. I thought I was perceiving a small smile from the Trooper’s mouth. I asked the question if they would be back anymore before 3:00 PM and the Trooper said, No. I was thrilled as that would allow me to finish and to give the Cat back to my neighbor across the Mc Kenzie River. I felt very relieved, I had apparently not gotten a fine, maybe that is because I looked so poor. Just think if I had been there in a suit?
Sometime after that we apparently sold the 20 acre parcel with Ed’s home on the flood plain, with the new tar roofs.
It became apparent that we were going to have to return to California for me to get back in my principle occupation as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, in the State where I was licensed to practice. Now we would have to make a decision as to where we might go, and we opted for the Ukiah area as a nice place to live and raise our two sons.
I had taken over an established practice in the Ukiah area and we seemed to be able to move ahead with some resources coming in. We still need to sell our Springfield
property and purchase a home in the Ukiah area. We had taken a rental at the beginning but as we could, we were able to find a place where we might put down a small down payment and call it home. A dear friend, John Walker helped us find that small, prefabricated home in a vineyard in Calpella, California, right next to Ukiah.
It was while living there that Lynne and I went through divorce and without getting into that awful situation but to say that it was then that God was able to get my attention. I was doing quite a bit of flying and progressing through my Instrument License, then my multiengine rating and the Lord was leading me toward my jet pilot qualification. That was a most important and revealing moment in my life as here we are in the midst of divorce, and God is leading me to learn to fly a jet airplane. Why?
As I moved back to the Los Angeles area in hopes of re-establishing my marriage to Lynne, I hear again I should learn to fly a jet. When I finally pursued that, the ex TWA captain realized I wasn’t born again and led me to the Lord. He and his wife also gave me the vision for standing for the healing of my marriage, and through that all, God led me to start a marriage ministry alongside of a medical device company which would manufacture and cell the very implant for the TMJ that He had shown me some 30 years before.
Sometimes we wonder if God is really caring about His people, but then God does some miraculous thing, like leading me some 600 miles to learn to fly a jet aircraft and the teacher is the very one to lead me to the Lord and to point me to standing for my marriage. How specific and telling can this get?
For any of you that have not gone through divorce as the one who has been rejected, let me tell you, it is very painful. It was during that lonely time in my life, living in a small rented 2 bedroom house in El Monte, that a most unusual thing happened. It was in 1983, Holy Week. I had been led to the Lord on the evening of October 25th, 1983 right after dinner as the Blacks and I were conversing in their living room. Dale led me to the Lord that night and I began to live my life as a child of God and determined to be a godly man.
It is now the following end of March or first part of April of 1984, while on that Tuesday, early AM ( about 2:30AM) that I have been awakened by a large white cloud-like mass being within my bedroom. It covered at least 4x5 feet in diameter and was within the actual room and over a window and a wall, the same way. I attempted to raise up from my bed but could not budge. I felt as though I might be pinned by some electromagnetic force through my shoulder area. I tried three times to rise up, but could not do so. In the center of the white cloud was a coffee can sized reddish area, which had a slightly blue tinge. It all stayed very constant as I tried three times to rise from my bed. Two days later I received the word from the Lord on a framed item in a religious bookstore, which I knew, perfectly described what had happened. I just knew this was God speaking directly to me. The words were, “Arise, shine; For thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” (Isa 60:1)
I realized rather quickly that this was truly the Shekinah glory of God which had entered my room that Tuesday morning to allow me to truly know that God was not only real, but that He had a specific call on my life. It has been the most inevitable and sustaining force in my
life, taking away any doubt I might have had about the fact that God is real and God cares.
As I re-read (Saul) Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus, I realized how similar they were. I had never read or known about Isa 60:1, but as I studied it I realized how very much God cares about His people. In those awful, hurting times is often when the presence of God is more frequently felt. That very moment was a dramatically changing point in St. Paul’s life, and the same for me. Paul had been persecuting Christians and feeling he was doing what he was supposed to be doing, but then, along comes Jesus, who never condemned him, but certainly changed his direction, significantly. Can you imagine how Paul felt, when the Lord’s presence occurred and the Lord addressed him with, “Saul Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Paul asks,” who are you, Lord, and Jesus replies I am Jesus who you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” What an experience. Although my experience was somewhat different, its effect on me was still most notable. I could never go back to what I was before that moment in time
God showed me that I would be starting a marriage ministry and a profit company side by side, and yet at that moment in time it would seem impossible. Yet, with God all things are possible. I began to live my life for what God wanted. I knew there was a call on my life, and that to not obey it would mean a life of not fulfilling a heavenly purpose.
When Paul obeyed Jesus he became an evangelist who carried the earliest message of the Gospel to the gentiles. That was Jesus’ command to the original apostles, and yet they were slow to start. It took Paul and the persecution of the church for those original apostles to
begin to take the “Good News: to Judea, Samaria and the othermost parts of the world. What about us? Are we willing to bring the Gospel to the lost of the land? What about the lost of our family? Our workplace?
You see, God frequently uses the foolish things of this world to confront the wise. Why Saul? He was well known for his attacks on the Christians. Why would Bob be led to Covenant Marriages Ministry, after all he had been divorced? You see, God takes the hurting, yet redeemed, to touch the world, because they understand the importance of their own redemption and of those they are ministering to. Paul, like so many today, was persecuting God and His church. When individuals persecute the believers today, they like Paul, are persecuting Jesus. Believers are His body on earth. You see, Paul was saved individually by Jesus himself so that Paul might accomplish everything God had planned for his life.
It wasn’t so long, one year after the Shekinah glory of God lit up my life that we were remarried at Church on the Way with Gavin MacLeod being our best man. We then had to make the decision where do we go, now? Lynne and the boys all got born again during that separation and our remarriage. In most all ways, it was a glorious time, but certainly seemed like a difficult moment in time.
As we moved back to the Ukiah area where we had previously lived an interesting phenomena was occurring. We began to be much more aware of the darkness of the area. We made the decision to blossom where we were planted, so we began ministering God’s word and the healing power which that word delivers to all who would listen.
In Bob’s surgery practice, a young man had been referred regarding a malignant tumor in his mouth near the right third molar region. Bob had felt a biopsy was important to confirm the nature of the tumor, and since the office was only partly installed, he decided to go ahead with the minor procedure, anyway. The man had travelled about 60 miles to get to our office as he was sent from Bob’s former internist, Dr. Don Edmeades, originally of Pasadena, but who now owned a vineyard in Healdsberg. Without bothering with surgical gloves, Bob placed a small amount of xylocaine in the region and removed a portion of the lesion for histologic exam.
The tissue was sent to the adjacent hospital’s laboratory and when it came back rather unequivocal, Bob suggested it be sent to the oral pathology section of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. In a few days the reply came back to check the man’s social status. This was in 1985 and little had been said about AIDS and HIV, but that is what the AFIP was suggesting. They felt it was a malignant lesion related to a homosexual lifestyle.
The patient was scheduled back in the office on this day, and Bob confronted him on these issues. It was true, he was a homosexual, in a lifestyle so described. Bob found out he was of a Jewish heritage and so Bob boldly asked him if he might pray for Jesus to heal him? He agreed so Bob had him pray to accept Jesus as his Lord and then Bob prayed to have Jesus heal him. Bob scheduled a hospital surgery in about a week and the hospital was having problems with how to handle this AIDS patient as they had not had to deal with this issue before.
Bob began to wonder if he might have been able to contract AIDS because of taking the biopsy when he
wasn’t wearing gloves and did not even have a suction system hooked up. So with a pretty hefty concern, Bob got tested for aids and praise the Lord, he was fine. Bob had the patient return to his office the day he was to be admitted to the hospital so Bob might review the condition of the tumor. To Bob and the patient’s delight, the tumor had disappeared and I suspect the AIDS virus, which he likely was carrying disappeared, too. Bob never saw that man again, nor ever heard from him, but Bob knew he had done what he was called to do.
There were a number of other such encounters in the life we were living in our return to Ukiah. Marriages were healed, many people were led to the Lord and certainly a light was turned on by our returning to Ukiah. But, like everything in God’s kingdom and purposes, there is a time and a season.
Those years became a proving ground for Lynne and me in ministry. We founded a medical device company. TMJ Implants, Inc., while we were there alongside of Covenant Marriages Ministry, exactly as the Lord had commanded some 4 years earlier. It was there in 1987 that God had put a bullet of light through Bob’s brain, on Father’s Day, 1987, that “I want you in full time ministry.” That, too, was a command which we would have to follow. Since we had been given the earlier command to have a profit company alongside of a non -profit ministry, that seemed to us to be the thing to do. Both would be dedicated as ministries to God. Bob knew that there would now be a special time to again close the practice and start the two entities. But how do you survive closing down the surgery practice as that is the only visible method of producing an income? I was sure that God had some special time, but I also knew we would then have to announce to our patients that again
we were closing down, at God’s command. I knew that would not likely be accepted, but that is what would be necessary.
By June of 1988, Bob knew that we should close the office by the end of December of that year to somehow start the two entities. What a thought. Lynne was in accord, but now what, Lord? Sometime in October, we got a call from our former co-ministers in Lakewood, Colorado who headed Nova Shalom Ministry asking if we might come over to see them. I suggested perhaps we could come over in December during the Christmas break. That would work out well for them too. We could stay with them.
And so, at Christmas time in 1988, we traveled to Lakewood Colorado from our home in Calpella, California to visit with our friends, Mike and Marilyn Phillips. It turned out to be quite a call of the Lord. Mike and Marilyn had arranged a Covenant Marriages meeting to be held in their home on a night right after Christmas. Some 50 plus “standers” showed up and we ministered to them for several hours. The men and women alike were really interested to hear Lynne’s testimony as she was the one being stood for, in our divorce. What was she feeling as Bob and others were praying? Had the devil deceived her? When did she realize she needed to go back to Bob? Was that difficult? Etc, etc, etc. They were mightily blessed by her testimony and she always pointed back to God as the one who had orchestrated it and brought it to pass. It was a great evening and we again met many who we had witnessed to before and who we had encouraged to stand.
The other God thing which occurred as we obeyed His command to come to Lakewood was the following. I had
at the last moment before we left California, decided to bring a box of TMJ implants along in case I might find some interested surgeon in the Denver area. I knew of only a couple of surgeons in the area, but they had retired decades ago.
When we were over here in Denver I decided to one day look in the Yellow Pages to see who might be practicing in that specialty and in this area. One pair jumped out at me, and they apparently did TMJ surgery of some variety. I called them on the phone and they said come on over, which I promptly did. Unbeknownst to me, they had taken over the practice from the two surgeons which I was aware of some 20 years before.
I visited with Dr. James Curry and Dr. Jim Latta for about 1 hour as they listened to me describe the technique and implants which I had developed some 28 years earlier. I left and they had their discussions after that. They were totally unaware of who this Dr. Bob Christensen was or what his implants were all about. It was new to them, but they did know that whatever they were doing, wasn’t working. They actually had five TMJ surgeries lined up in the next five days. They decided to take a chance on Christensen, so I attended each surgery and showed them how to accomplish the actual technique.
One patient was a 13 year old girl, the other an 18 year old physicians daughter, and three others. I assisted them in explaining to the parent or spouse what was to be accomplished and they had worked well for nearly 30 years in my practice. All five had the Christensen Partial TMJ implants placed in their TMJs that week. All did remarkably well and the Curry-Latta team was ecstatic, and so were the patients and their relatives. Even the surgical nurse who worked with the surgeons for years
were really glad to see this technique come forth. At the end of about 9 days, Lynne and I traveled home feeling we had accomplished what the Lord wanted us, for the moment. We had made the decision we should travel back to Ukiah, attempt to sell our home and move back to Lakewood to begin the Covenant Marriages Ministry and TMJ implants, Inc. side by side as God had foretold several years earlier.
It was about the 3rd of January, 1989 when we got home and by January 26th, 1989, we had sold our home, gathered our children and pets with all of our belongings and with $10,000 in our pocket we were traveling in two cars back to Lakewood, Colorado, our new home. But even on that trip, the enemy attacked us. When traveling across Wyoming one of our two cars broke down and we had to abandon it right there. But, God had us in two cars and a trailer, so we just kept on keeping on!
Chapter Eighteen The Early Colorado Years
When we arrived in Lakewood we got settled in a home which the Phillips had rented for us. It was comfortable and had a basement which we were able to use to set up the company and the ministry. We had started at the Phillips basement for a bit and even stayed with them for a short period, but our own new home was mighty welcome. A month hadn’t gone by and I got very sick and extremely weak requiring hospitalization. I wasn’t sure what the cause was, other than the enemy attacking me. It seemed at first as though it might have been a heart attack, but finally turned out to be an acute asthma attack. I was kept in the hospital about a week and we used up all of the cash we had gained from the house sale in Calpella.
The attacks on Lynne and me mounted as we set out to do what God had asked us to do. There were demonic attacks seen and described by the Phillips and friends when they came to the hospital to pray for me, which were repeated in my sight when I got home. These episodes have been described in detail in other books which I have written, but suffice it for now, that whenever a Christian person is stepping out to accomplish God’s work and direction, the attacks will be evident.
Our beginning in Lakewood started small, and when we look back at where it had to go, would have seemed impossible to have ever accomplished. Basically, we were out to stand for marriages across our nation and especially for those where one spouse was choosing
covenant breaking, not covenant honoring. In the medical field we were expected to change the paradigm of surgical treatment in temporomandibular joint degenerative disease and dyfunction caused by trauma and congenitally missing anatomy. Both of these tasks were monumental, without many more people and much in the way of financial backing. But, with God, all things are possible.
It is almost impossible to tell a lot about the beginning of these two entities. It was just a day by day tackling of whatever part of the jobs seemed important or needed for the moment.
We started having Covenant Marriages meetings weekly in our home and occasionally in some church. It was such a blessing to those who had been left by a spouse and who felt called to stand for their own marriage. Such devastation occurs in a family when a spouse decides to leave his/her position as a spouse. It seems hard to believe that just in the past 50 years the phenomena of covenant breaking has become so frequent and well tolerated by society that today there seems to be little stigma to the act.
If we looked back only 50-75 years in America, the number of people quitting their marriages was quite small and certainly not well tolerated. Once sin enters a family it seems to multiply quickly and with devastating results.
Divorce is a bit like abortion, it kills God’s plan for that family. That sounds very harsh, and certainly God can redeem a person, but to voluntarily choose covenant breaking as the method of settling family differences, is stupid. It brings in such devastation to all parts of the
family unit, and for many generations. The bible talks about the sins of the father are passed down through the next four generations. Is that really what we want? I don’t think so.
The teaching on the power of the marriage covenant has been so weak, missing or ineffectual. I suspect if we could get to the young and really teach them about what marriage is all about would make such a difference in the longevity of our marriages. Then fortify that teaching with the fact that a Christian marriage is really establishing a marriage covenant with God as a partner, we would be much more likely to see our marriages last until death do us part.
Today, with couples deciding to just live together, they have minimized the virtue of chastity and commitment, to where it is nothing for a young female virgin at age 15 to relinquish her God given purity to some slick speaking male, at the drop of a hat. When we consider that God knew covenant making was so important that when he established His covenant with his chosen Abram, he told him to circumsize the males as a token of the covenant which God himself made with the Jewish people. That ceremony is still honored by the Jews and to a great extent by the Christians. It took the “flow” of blood to establish or solidify the covenant. Today, since the crucifixion of God’s perfect Lamb, the circumcision is of the heart as those men and women confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Many have wondered why God didn’t do something similar to the male circumcision with the females. He did. The men were supposed to be the protectors of the women in their families until the woman got married, then that became the husband’s position to literally cover
his wife with his protection. In the establishment of a Christian marriage covenant, the groom and the bride offer themselves to each other for better or worse, in sickness and health, to love and respect, to honor and cherish, for richer or poorer until death do us part, so help me God. The marriage isn’t fully confirmed until it is consummated in the marriage bed the evening of the wedding. God had a perfect reason for that, because he wanted to transfer the covering of the bride from the father to the husband, and that would be established by the blood “flow” which would occur because the virgin’s hymen would be rent in sexual intercourse. You see, God planned for that to occur to show not only the sanctity of a marriage as a covenant, but the establishing of a Godman covenant of marriage between the couple and God, himself. This would be no “one night stand” in which God would not be part and the upholder of the covenant.
It takes very little insight to see how this whole process has been perverted, to where today young boys and young girls are losing their virtue by joining with the masses of young people who have accepted the devils command, “Has God said?”
Yes, God has said, and how do we ever see this craziness and horrible lifestyle turned back to what God had proclaimed as His way? The blood of Jesus can and will redeem us from our sin, but the penalty for our sins will be part of our legacy and must be repented of. That means, turn from our sin and to a godly lifestyle. It will only be in bringing up our children in a godly lifestyle that we have any hope of seeing our subsequent generations come forth in holiness as they should. Otherwise we are deceiving our generations, one after another. What a tragedy.
So as Lynne and I became born again, spirit filled Christians, and said no the devil in our marriage and in our lives, we have come against the curse which has been in my side of the family since my dear granddad, Fred Sutherland divorced Margaret Kirkpatrick after only a year or two of marriage. Where it started before that time, I do not know, but it just takes one generation of sinners to affect a whole legacy in a family. But, also, those generations of godly grandmothers and grandfathers who have prayed for the entire family have been a godsend in preventing many a grandchild from going the devil’s way, and from becoming the great saint he or she was called and ordained to be.
That is exactly why we have lived the latter half of our lives doing all we could to see other families choose God’s plan for their lives and their marriages so that their generations would be saved from a such horrible fate. Jesus commanded us to go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth to preach the “good news.”
So as we ministered in conventions, churches and home meetings, we knew this was the very calling of God on our lives. We had gone through the turmoil of separation and divorce and knew how ungodly and horrible it was to not only us, personally, but to our children and if we didn’t take a stand against the devil, he would continue to ravage our following generations. But also, we weren’t willing to see any other person or family devastated, if we could bring the good news of reconciliation to others.
As these years here in Colorado have rolled by, we have been able to produce our own television programs devoted to preaching the good news of marriage restoration, not divorce recovery, so that thousands of others have seen what God can do. We have interviewed
restored marriages, pastors and others standing strongly and joyfully for their marriages, in the midst of many times a severe storm of circumstances.
It often reminds me of Paul and Silas in prison after being beaten, but then at midnight singing songs to God, and watching as all of the shackles fall off, and the prisoners being set free. Even in that instance, the very guards are converted to Christianity. Now, that’s revival.
We have seen God do all sorts of miracles. Some of them we have written about in other books, but always we marvel at how God does things to bless His people. God is so inventive as He performs tasks or miracles to bless some person or couple or family. We can never put God in a box. He always has a new way.
We as part of Covenant Marriages Ministry produced a monthly newsletter to encourage many people in their marriage stands, but also to tell of marriages which had been restored, and sometimes to tell that couples story of exactly what happened and who stood for the marriage restoration.
In some of our earliest moments of ministering, we were blessed by God with some very unusual circumstances. For instance, when Lynne and I came back together in 1985 and got remarried at Church on the Way in Van Nuys, God had Gavin MacLeod present to stand up with us. That was a real surprise and a real blessing. He was just coming back together with Patti, his wife, who had been standing for their marriage for some while.
A few months later as we were attending a Born Again Marriages Convention in Omaha, they asked me if I would walk Patti down the aisle to Gavin as they were
remarried before about 1500 onlookers and witnesses. I’ll never forget how nervous Gavin was as we waited in the Pastor’s office with Pat and Shirley Boone and me standing there. Gavin was really funny, but when the wedding occurred he seemed to have gotten his emotions under control. I think Pat and I comforted him a good deal just before that ceremony. It was a fun one to be at and to have been asked to play a small part in. Patti looked just lovely and she deserved all of the praise for her marvelous stand for her marriage. Shirley Boone had played a part in mentoring her during her stand. The Boones and MacLeods and the Christensens were all part of the Jack Hayford, Church on the Way congregation at that moment.
When we came back to Ukiah and entered a church there for a few months, we came to a time when we knew we were to leave that body and join a start up church which had two ladies as the only members. It got even more interesting since those two ladies were in the midst of divorce, and we were able to support their stand for marriage reconciliation and as the church grew, we had the opportunity of presenting the message that God hates divorce and that we can expect to see God’s support for the healing of these marriages. That church grew to about 75 people that first year and to well over 100 the next year.
As Lynne and I started a weekly support group, in our home, for our new ministry, Covenant Marriages Ministry, we saw some evenings 15 people showing up to praise God, hear our message and to pray with all of us for God’ restoration of marriages. Many standers saw their own marriages get healed as we all joined our faith together. It was a glorious witness to God’s everlasting love and healing power.
Chapter Nineteen Let me mention a couple of miracles
• The Healing of Else’s Back
Back in 1986 while Lynne and I are living in Ukiah, we would travel about 200 miles every other Friday afternoon to minister to people in the region just East of San Francisco who were standing for their marriage restoration. This particular evening we were ministering in a ladies home where around forty people were present. Some of them we knew from other meetings, but many were new.
As we were relating our personal testimony, we got to the part where I am telling about how God healed my back. As I may have mentioned, I had three prior lumbar surgeries where I had 5 lumbar disc laminectomies, over an 8 year period. I had back pain for perhaps 20 years before that and on occasion I had been helicoptered from some mountain top to a hospital some distance away to get help with an acute back problem.
As I finished my story, a middle aged woman in the back of the room stood up and in her somewhat Scandinavian accent related, “I am healed, I am healed.” She obviously was very excited and so were we.I spoke out the words, “Praise the Lord, we agree with you.”
The excited mounted in the room and we had the opportunity of speaking with her and asking her what she felt? She said she first felt her lumbar spine get warm and then it cracked and tingled. She instantly knew she was healed by God and His Holy Spirit was all over her. Her countenance radiated God’s love and
power. We were all very blessed by His love, mercy and healing power which was so evident in her life at that very moment. As many years have gone by, we have maintained a close relationship with Else and have been assured that the healing which occurred that evening has been maintained, and it has. Just like my back being healed some 26 years ago has remained healed, praise the Lord.
• The Rainbow
One of the most memorable and remarkable of God’s miracles observed by Lynne and me occurred in 1987. It occurred as we were moving from a rental home in Willits to the Calpella area adjacent to Ukiah. We had returned the year and a half before after our marriage reconciliation.
Having no ability of even financing a home which we might own, made this a very special event. Our realtor friend from Ukiah, knowing our financial situation, was able to secure us a home on an acre of land in the vinyards of Calpella, and it would be with minimal down payment. We hadn’t even considered looking for a home as it seemed to impossible to be able to find one we could afford.. Finally, the house was purchased with a very small down payment and we were ready to move in.
Now comes the miracle. The day we were making our first trip from our rented home to our new owned home, we were traveling the 14 mile highway from Willits to Calpella. We would be traveling over the large hill which the road went over between the two towns. As we started up the hill, we noticed a rainbow which came out of the road about 30 feet in front of us. One end of this very majestic rainbow arose out of the highway in
front of us. It was the widest, most colorful and beautiful rainbow we had ever seen. There was no rain or even moisture anywhere near us on that day, as the sky was only partially overcast with high clouds. As we drove over about 11 miles of that hill, one half of the rainbow stayed 30 feet in front of us, and as we got to the flatter land, about 3 miles from our new home, the rainbow began to depart and became a full rainbow about 1 mile to the left side of the road on which we traveling.
As we drove the last mile, we noticed the rainbow was staying abreast of our car and I said, “It is going to be over our new home.” As we drove down the last small knoll to our home, there it was, a double rainbow centered over our new home. We were so delighted and amazed as we carried our first items into the house. We wondered if anyone but us had even seen the rainbow? We knew it was God’s message to us and as we came back out of the house to the car, the rainbow had now disappeared.
But the miracle was not as yet finished. A man who lived in the Ukiah area, and who we knew in church in Ukiah, the following day made the 15 mile trip to our office to present us with two joinable photographs he had taken on his Poloroid camera, which showed the rainbow perfectly centered over our home in the vineyard. It showed perfectly the double rainbow. As only God could have orchestrated, his being at that spot at that very moment and with camera had the forsight to take the photographs, and even know it was our home and that we were moving in for the first time at that moment, and we were totally unaware he was anywhere near our home at that moment. Yes, that very rainbow was God’s miracle to Bob and Lynne on their first moment of moving back into their own home, after divorce and marriage reconciliation. All to His glory.
• The healing of the paraplegic
In 1989 we were privileged to be asked by our dear friends Henry and Grace Falany if we would assist in their ordination. The Falanys lived in Mariposa, California. They had owned and operated one of the oldest and most respected Colorado River Tours, when God called them into fulltime ministry. Henry Hd resisted the call to ministry for several years until his friend, Pastor John Wood of Pomona let him know that God indeed did want him into fulltime ministry. Then he followed.
The ordination would be held at John Woods church with Evangelist Jerry Savelle and Pastor Harold Nichols of Ft. Worth, Texas. We travelled from Ukiah to assist in the ordination. It was a glorious occasion. After the ordination, we all had lunch together and then we drove down in a motorcade from Pomona to Anaheim to attend the Ken Copeland’s Believer’s Convention. We traveled in Falany’s motorhome. As we arrived in Anaheim late in the evening, we pulled into a park for motorhomes and travel trailers. We pulled into the reserved bay and began to level the motorhome and hook up the utilities. It was late and was foggy. As we completing the chores, I noticed a young man in a wheel chair propelling himself along the sidewalk. A couple of minutes later he came around the front of the motorhome and approached me. We exchanged greetings and then he asked for money for breakfast.
I was immediately reminded of the story in Acts 3:19 about Peter and John when the lame man asked for alms. Peter replied, “Silver and gold I have none; but such as I have I give thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
I questioned the young man and found that he had been a paraplegic for at least 10 years. I knew that more than anything, he needed to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I spent the next few minutes telling him about Jesus and in a few minutes I had him confessing Jesus as his Lord. I was believing for his healing, but wanted to be sure he was in God’s kingdom, first.
About that time Henry and Grace showed up from where they had been attaching the hoses and cords. The Holy Spirit quickened me to ask Grace if she would be willing to pray for his healing, which of course she was anxious to do, as her first ministry action since ordination. She reached her hand out to his forehead as I put my hand on the back of his neck.
After a minute of praying for his healing I felt his cervical spine rise up out of his neck at least three inches. I asked him if he felt that and he said he had. At that moment that young man met God and was healed. I asked him to stand up, but he was afraid to try, but we all knew he was healed that very moment.
• The healing of the 12 year old with brain cancer
Back in the 1990’s while we were living there in Calpella, a woman was brought to us who was having serious trouble in her marriage. Her husband was the brother of a local Catholic Priest. It was apparent to us that she really didn’t know Jesus as her Lord and Savior so that was where we started, then we gave her knowledge of how she could stand on God’s word for the restoration of a loving and productive marriage.. She was very grateful. We did not see anything more of her for over the next 18 months, but all of a sudden we learned of her 12 year old son having brain cancer and predicted to die within 6-8 weeks.
God put on my heart that I was to pray for his healing. I had told Lynne about what God had showed me, but I had no idea what or how this was going to transpire. I had learned enough over the years to let God have His way. He could find some way to bring that to pass if it was to be so. Some weeks went one evening we had gone to the midweek church service and decided afterwards to stop at Denny’s for a cup of coffe and desert. We never did do that, but this evening we invited the Edwards to join us.
As we walked into the restaurant the waiter escorted us through the restaurant to near the back and placed us in a larger booth. As we passed another booth, on the way, Lynne noticed we had passed the lady we had prayed for earlier, and her family. The mother recognized us too and she kept making eye contact and when they got up to go, she brought her family over to our booth. I asked if they might sit a moment and I began telling them how God had told me I was to pray over their son Matthew for a complete healing of his cancer. They agreed, so I began telling them all about how Jesus went about healing them all and how He had instructed His disciples to do likewise,
I knew much of what the Lord was having me do was to build their faith, and particularly the Father’s as I suspect he might not be a born-again Christian. Or at least only a nominal Christian. I could see the expectation of healing arise in Matthew and his mother. There was another sibling or two there also but I was focused on Matthew, mainly. The son was almost beginning to glow with expectation.
At my suggestion we joined hands as I laid hands on Matthew and began to pray for his healing as the Spirit gave me direction. The four of us knew that Matthew was healed of his brain cancer at that very moment. The Mother gave us a hug as she said to me “that she knew
we were supposed to see you.” You see, God had made it known to her that this would be a divine moment and that Bob was to pray over her son.
The atmosphere in that particular Denny’s Restaurant was charged with the Holy Spirit. We could have led all to the Lord that were in the place at that moment, but God had us there to lay His hands on a 12 year old cancer victim so he might be healed. We related that story across the nation that next year as we traveled and ministered to marriages.
Eighteen months later we flew our plane back to Ukiah and the mother met us at the airport where she had waited for some three hours to tell us that this very day a CT scan had been taken and confirmed Matthew’s being totally free of brain cancer. PTL
• Bob’s back is healed
It was interesting moment when God let me know my back would be healed. I had my first back surgery in 1964 when the neurosurgeons removed the lower two lumbar discs. Two months later they are back removing a third lumbar disc. Eight years later after Lynne and I got married I had my forth and fifth lumbar discs removed. After that time I occasionally had difficult moments of lumbar pain but frequently moderate levels of lumbar pain.
In 1975 we retired from practice and moved to Oregon to become cattle ranchers. Lynne and I greatly enjoyed our cattle ranching days but I always remembered my back and wondered how long I might be able to handle all of the difficult ranch jobs with my questionable back.
In 1981 we returned to Northern California; where I started
a new oral and maxillofacial surgery practice I found my back began acting up more and more, causing me to stay in bed a day or two at a time, due to extreme pain.
In 1983, as Lynne and I went through separation and divorce I found my back was bothering me more. In 1984, after I was born again, the Lord gave me revelation my back would be healed, and in the next 6 months. But how? I began to seek out how God was going to do it? As though the job was mine to do. It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that at that early time in my walk with the Lord.
It was the following year that God directed my path away from the Catholic Church to Jack Hayford’s Church on the Way which was a much more charismatic and spirit-filled church. It was about 3 months later on a Sunday morning when as I was sitting in church I heard Jack Hayford interrupt his Sunday sermon and say, “Someone is being healed of an arthritic problem. Who is it?” My hand shot up and then I stood up, as Jack Hayford said, “Tell us about it”. I briefly related my story of thirty years of back pain and multiple surgeries and how God had let me know my back would be healed. The congregation applauded and I sat down.
About two weeks later I experienced one of the worst episodes of back pain I had ever experienced . I was living alone and in the middle of divorce with no one to help me. I was almost paralized by pain, when I began to loudly proclaim my healing of two weeks earlier. Letting satan know he had no power over the name and blood of Jesus. I decided the devil could not steal my healing. I was going to proclaim my healing, period. Now some 26 years later not only was my back healed but so was my marriage.
I have learned over these many years that the devil will come to steal the world and kill you, but you must realize all of the attacks are to steal God’s words and your absolute faith in those words, if you let him. It is a mind game, and you must not succumb to his lies.
Daughter Joan in 2005.
Chapter Twenty Now a little bit about the medical device company, TMJ Implants, Inc.
All of this activity was functioning alongside of the medical device company, TMJ implants, Inc. I always reminded God that He gave me two difficult spheres of activity to function in. The marriage reconciliation area was always tough because there was so much unbelief as to what God would want couples to do when it appeared all was lost. Remember Jesus admonished the disciples about when He would return would He find any faith? I can really see that being a problem because many people, including Christians, have little faith for His healing power. But then in the TMJ area, there is so much disbelief and poor teaching about what the problem is, but even more as to what is the solution?
In both of these areas of endeavor, one has to almost totally set up a new paradigm. Old habits and knowledge resists change and when one is attempting to see a change occur, it is most difficult. I usually see the attacks as a spiritual attack. The resisting party frequently has little knowledge of really why they are resisting. It may be against the mate that is praying and standing faithfully for God’s restoration power. It is often Family members who are believing the lies of the devil that there is no way this couple can have their marriage restored. After all, he doesn’t love her, or vice versa.
Or if it someone with a TMJ problem, that there is any way that patient’s TMJ can be made whole again. I used to say to the Lord. You gave me two difficult areas to minister in, marriage restoration and TMJ
reconstruction. We have seen remarkable successes in both areas. As we traveled down the path the Lord had shown us, many wonderful things happened over those 22 years until the present.
One example might be where Bob received a call from a surgeon in Mexico regarding a 14 year old male patient named Fernando whose lower jaw was fused to the base of his skull. He had fallen from a rooftop at age 6 years and impacted the condyles into the skull base. Nothing was accomplished at that time and when a few weeks and months had gone by, there was no opening of his lower jaw possible. Fernando had been unable to eat any solid or normal foods for the past eight years. Bob had much experience in this type of surgical treatment going back to similar problems in patients as early as 1952.
As a surgeon and a Christian who had been able to surgically correct this type of problem in a number of patients over so many years, there was no way that he would not find a way of helping young Fernando, even though he was from another country and had no resources in the natural, to help. It would take a miracle of God to overcome all of the obstacles presented in this situation.
Months of prayer and pleading occurred before Fernando arrived in Denver for the surgery. Surgeons, airlines, hospitals, hotels, medical device company, Golden Rotary Club and Christian friends came together to make this all possible. They all contributed their skills and resources to make this a possibility. The surgical technique which God had so freely given to Bob some 31 years before would be the very modality of treatment that would allow this young man from Mexico to once again chew his food in a more normal manner and without the embarrassment
which he had endured since age 6 years.
Another 17 year old girl named Angela was later brought in from Mexico for a similar miracle. She received her surgery in the same manner with the help of all of the same class of contributors. Her story was shown on TV locally and across the nation. God had used the ministry of Victory Faith Fellowship and the medical device company of TMJ Implants, working together to allow God’s miracle hands to reach around the world.
Over the years there were so many instances of God’s intervention and expertise coming forth to help dozens, hundreds and perhaps thousands of people in this manner. One was the young woman born without either TMJs and even without major portions of her mandible and skull base. With God’s help, Bob was able to describe new methods and implants which would effectively reconstruct the entire mandible and the skull base to not only allow an esthetic replacement of those structures but also the proper functioning of those important structures.
In one earlier male patient that Bob had operated back in the late 1950s to early 1960s, his jaw had been fused to the skull base for some 20 years, not allowing any motion of his lower jaw, and thus no ability to masticate any foods, but only swallow liquid type foods. When his surgery was complete he could open his mouth some 40mm. One of his comments was how great things like his coffee tasted to him. Sometimes the little things we do to help our fellow man can change that entire person’s life and expectancy and certainly even his gratefulness to his Creator.
Then I remember the young boy whose left TMJ and
ear were injured during a forceps, birth delivery. The soft tissue injury had been repaired just after birth but there was little evidence of a more serious trauma to his mandibular condyle which over time did not develop adequately or normally and thus his left jaw development and TMJ function was minimized and he was allowed to go until he was 15 before anyone knew that something might be done. He was referred to me who got him in touch with surgeons here in Denver and we figured out the proper way of correcting his age old problem to where he was able to see a normal jaw reconstruction including TMJ and to where his jaw function and esthetics was brought back to normal. Without the technique God had allowed Bob to innovate and develop, this would not have been possible.
This type of cranio-mandibular jaw reconstructive surgery could be accomplished on a 6 month old child to allow normal jaw function and jaw growth to occur, yet almost no one recognizes that fact. I suspect some of it could be accomplished as early as late stage intrauterine life. What a paradigm shift in medical-surgical care. God’s word tells us He will give us witty inventions, and I totally believe that point. I have always said that God’s innovations are already present like Easter eggs lying buried just below the sands surface, just waiting for some innovator, at God’s direction, to uncover them. God knows what his inventions are and even when they will be uncovered and by whom. His foreknowledge and divine plan is massive and perfectly orchestrated. We just need to get into synch with Him.