ON THE MOVE
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which
you should go. I will guide you with my eye.” Psalms 139:3. This
verse must have been very real to my parents, for in my early years
it was move, move, and move.
Times were difficult when I was born. World War II had changed life
in America. Jobs were scarce and the wartime economy put the squeeze
After I was born in Sunbury in 1941, Grandpa Kauffman found a high school
math teaching job in Doylestown. Making only $1,200 a year, he couldn’t
afford to have our family live there with him. So Grandma and I spent
our early months living in the parsonage with the Wolfs in Sunbury.
Grandpa came home to be with us on the weekends.
While I don’t recall much about that year, I’ve heard many
stories and viewed many pictures. Grandma Ettinger (Grandma Wolf’s
mother) also lived there during those years. Living next door were the
Wagners and their daughter, Arlene, who later married Bob Gehret, a
close friend of Grandpa Kauffman.
Then it was on to New Cumberland where Grandpa Kauffman found a job-teaching
math at New Cumberland High School. We lived across the street from
the school and I have some memories of visiting the school and attending
basketball games with my father. Grandpa had been allowed to play football
while he was a student at Susquehanna University – this was unusual
in those days for a Christian, especially a preacher’s son. As
a result he was also able to serve as an assistant football coach at
I don’t remember it, but I am told that I decided to varnish one
of the walls in our house just after new wallpaper had been installed.
Fortunately they were able to replace the damaged paper and repair my
The war interrupted Grandpa’s high school teaching and we moved
to Selinsgrove where he taught Air Force cadets at Susquehanna University.
I don’t remember too much about our short stay there except that
my little dog, Penny, was killed by a car when he ran into the street
in front of our house while I was playing in the front yard.
Later my dad was hired to work for Dupont in Wilmington, Delaware as
an industrial engineer. My mother was pregnant with Uncle Terry and
until dad could find us a place to live we moved back to the Sunbury
parsonage with the Wolfs.
After Terry was born we moved to Wilmington. We lived in a newly built
apartment building and at times I can still recall the smell of the
new wallboard and other building materials. I also remember that we
often took the train to Chester to worship in the Chester Mennonite
Brethren In Christ Church, long before the name was changed to Bible
Fellowship. That church is now the Wallingford Bible Fellowship Church.
I also have special wartime memories from Wilmington. I can recall the
sirens and the resulting practice blackouts. All lights had to be turned
off so incoming enemy bombers couldn’t see any locations. Those
were scary events. But I also remember when the war ended and my father
took me downtown to watch everyone celebrating. While I didn’t
really understand the war, that joyous event made a real impression
upon me as a young child.
Then it was back to new Cumberland where Grandpa returned to teaching
math and coaching football. Since we didn’t have a car, I remember
taking the bus with my mother to go to Harrisburg to shop. Grandpa used
to take the bus to shop for our groceries. Pastor Jansen Hartman, a
close friend of Grandpa Kauffman, used to come and take us to the Mennonite
Brethren in Christ Church in Harrisburg. It was here that I began school
as a first grader. At that time children did not attend preschool or
kindergarten. So after six different homes in six years, I was now in
But near the end of that school year it was off again, this time to
home number seven, in Elizabethtown. My dad took a temporary job at
Elizabethtown College teaching math and physics. We lived on the first
floor of a big house on the corner of the college campus. My yard was
a large portion of the campus and I loved it. My first Boston Terrier,
Frisky, joined our family. Grandpa also bought his first car while we
lived here. What I didn’t know until much later in my life was
that Grammy and her parents were actually living just a few blocks from
us in Elizabethtown.
One memory I have is a fire in the basement of our house. The professor
who lived upstairs carelessly emptied the hot ashes from the furnace
and placed them in cardboard boxes. The fire company came but fortunately
there was no major damage.
I finished first grade and second grade and then we moved again. Grandpa
Kauffman was hired as an engineer at RCA in Lancaster and we moved into
the big city, on North Queen St.- home number eight. It was really fun
there because we lived upstairs and John and Ellen Derck lived downstairs.
That is probably one of the reasons I have had a very special bond with
When they moved, we rented the entire house and moved downstairs –
I guess that could be home number nine. We often used the extra upstairs
rooms to keep visiting pastors, missionaries, and Berean Bible School
students who were helping with the establishment of our new church in
Lancaster. I was one of the charter members of our church which was
formed in 1950.
I loved the city. It was then safe to walk downtown and I often went
there and walked through the stores after school. We didn’t have
much of a yard but we had a big house with plenty of room to play. I
walked to George Ross Elementary School where I completed third and
fourth grades. Aunt Kendy was born while we lived there.
One more move – my parents finally built a house in Lititz –
number ten for me. I went to Lititz Elementary beginning in grade five
and finished by graduating from Warwick in 1959. I quickly fell in love
with Lititz and often thank the Lord that our long journey ended there.
It was a wonderful, safe small town with nice people and great traditions.
When we trust the Lord, He does direct our paths. My parents followed
the Lord in faith and He did provide all that they needed. My many moves
and readjustments didn’t hurt me at all. In fact I think they
taught me many valuable lessons, including the faithfulness and provision
of the Lord. God is so good – all the time!