Miracle of the Call was selected to receive an Honorable Mention in the category of Spiritual books. The Eric Hoffer Book Award #HofferAward has truly become one of the top literary awards for independent books, involving over 1,300 books, 20 all-inclusive categories, and over 100 judges. Miracle of the Call book reached the upper 10% of registrants, which is quite an achievement.
After watching the movie “Hidden Figures” this weekend, I wanted to record some of my own experience in the research and development done during America’s space race. I am not equating my contribution to that of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, or Katherine Johnson. Beginning in 1963, I worked as an Engineering Aide at the Research Lab associated with Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT, for nearly six years.
First assigned to the Air-breathing and Rocket Propulsion group, I wore the required dress length, stockings, and heels to work. The group’s secretary was a lovely and intelligent young black lady from Maryland; fortunately, there were no segregated bathrooms that far north.
My duties varied from running punch cards in the wind tunnel lab to sitting behind a large metal desk at a Friedan mechanical calculator, like those shown in the movie, converting raw data into data points for plotted graphs. Data was distributed in large binders of folded printouts that the newly-installed IBM machine produced. Computer operators were being hired, and the xerox machine had an attendant who made copies per your request.
My task was report preparation and it is amazing to see that from my first job onward preparing printed materials was my life-call. Back then, I carefully inked graphs using Leroy Lettering templates. I proofed manuscripts that the secretaries typed, and included masked photographs from the Wind Tunnel area I later supported.
I remember seeing the first digital calculator, the size of a large briefcase, that was bought to replace the whirring, noisy calculators. It could do the bare minimum of functions, but it was QUIET.
Was everyone dedicated to their jobs? Yes, but there were mistakes made. I found a calculation error from years prior to my employment. It was too late at that point to do anything except report it to the engineer.
Update: While researching Aeronautics industry in CT, I learned that in February 1963 the Research Lab announced expanded capabilities of its wind tunnel to meet flight conditions required by space craft. This explains the “mystery” of why I was hired immediately, without a four-year degree and no previous work history. My high school awards and college grades in math and science paved the way that June to fit me for one of the positions just opened by this NASA-related expansion.
You may know Alfred C. Fuller as the founder of the Fuller Brush Company and the original Fuller Brush man. Those who lived in Hartford, CT, and had the fortune to work for his company, knew him as Dad Fuller.
My father, Ralph Donofrio, had many family members who worked there beginning with his own father Vincent (Jimmie) Donofrio. Jimmie worked for the company in the 1930s which early on was called The Capital Brush Co. when it was located at Union Place/Church Street near the bus depot in Hartford.
Years later after the brick Fuller Brush building shown above was open, my father’s brothers and sisters, and an uncle or two all worked there. It was at this building at 3580 Main Street where my father and mother met working in the production brush department.
Although their meeting was a miracle in my own life, the reason why Dad Fuller built his brush business in Hartford, CT, is a greater miracle. At the front of the Bible Alfred Fuller’s mother gave him when he left Nova Scotia, he noticed that it had been published in Hartford, CT. When picking a place to open a brush manufacturing and sales business, he chose that city.
Dad Fuller was a generous man to whom my family and many others including Billy Graham (a former salesman), owe much gratitude…for financial help and in my case, even my existence. His nephew, Harvey Fuller, also presented me with a scholarship to college in 1962.
People who know me, understand the radical idea of this blog’s title. Get me around people and I’d rather talk or even listen, definitely not enjoy silence.
Why did I feel that I was being prompted to attend the next retreat in the fall? An attendee of the spring retreat spoke from the platform one Sunday in April telling of her experience. Not wanting to be disobedient to a God prompting, I put the idea of signing up somewhere on the “back burner.”
Then it was the fall, and the pastor was urging people to attend the silent retreat he and his wife were hosting in a cabin beside a lake. The prompting was much stronger this time. I felt compelled to sign up. ME, can you imagine?
We rode in a van over to the cabin and I settled upstairs in a room with two cots. My roommate came in late; it was the woman who spoke in April and decided at the very last minute to come back. Strange.
We went down to supper, a time when people were encouraged to speak. Each of us stated why we were there. Then the talk shifted to how one could hear from God during the retreat.
My roommate, a new Christian, was perplexed; she had not heard voices or seen any visions in the spring. How could she be sure whether God was speaking to her?
She may have been perplexed, but I finally knew why I had literally been dragged to this retreat. As casually as I could, I told everyone at the table that God speaks to people, audibly, visually, and kinesthetically (through the other senses)…depending on how they each process information. I heard God’s promptings because I’m an audio thinker. Others might feel God speak while out walking in nature. And many experience his voice while they are writing.
Soon it was time to silently retire for the night. The next day with guidance from the pastor, we each went our way to meet again after lunch.
As expected, I received no new revelations that day, just a bit of a rest and new admiration for how God arranges things. For my roommate was bubbling with joy that afternoon when she reported that God did indeed speak to her when she was writing. She had been unaware before, but now she recognized His “voice.”
Location: Fall in New England
Type of Miracle: Reassurance, Guidance
A well-meaning debate about the relative value of capitalism versus socialism is ongoing in this country. But few know the details of what happened in the spring of 1622 in Plymouth Colony that determined America’s financial direction. William Bradford was elected governor on the death of the first governor. A young man in his 30s, Bradford was left to make decisions that would impact the success of the small colony.
One issue was how to get more food supplies. New colonists arrived by the dozens, but none brought supplies. And Bradford was ordered by the man back in England who had funded the expedition, to feed and house any new arrivals without additional support forthcoming. Most of these latter arrivals would eventually move north toward what would become Boston. They would compete for the animal skins that would be sent to England to pay the colony’s debt.
Living through two dire years, Bradford felt sure that one problem with their inadequate food harvest was inherent in the system that required all to work for the general good. With no incentive to earn more than an allotted share, some worked less while others worked more. To remedy that, Bradford made a radical decision. He gave each household a few shares of private property to plant as they saw fit. Here in his own words, complete with old English spelling, was the result:
“This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.”*
Bradford set the financial principle that would define America down through the centuries. Times have changed, but people have not. Free enterprise offers incentives that free handouts never could.
*To learn more about the Pilgrims read: William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim, by Gary D. Schmidt, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999
You may not consider what happened to me near the close of the 1990s a miracle. But looking back, I do. How else would you describe the turning of a modern day Scrooge into a Christmas angel?
My transformation began while reading a magazine article as the holidays approached…
Christmas had never provided me with the warm and fuzzy feelings others have for this day. My father and mother had married on Christmas eve, but the company party was always that same day. My father came home drunk and only after the stores closed. My mother cried; they argued. We kids kept the tears inside knowing the only Christmas presents we would get would be bought at day-after sales.
This article’s author was describing how to get over a case of Christmas blahs. I needed more help than that, but for some reason kept on reading. She wrote that the answer was as simple as buying yourself a Christmas present.
Absurd, of course. And what would I even want for a present? I’m not impressed by diamond and sapphire jewelry, like my sister had just received. Flowers are lovely and OK for birthdays. But what would I actually want that I could buy myself for Christmas?
An idea occurred. Bill Cosby had just given away millions to a college. I would love to give away money like that to help others. So I decided to give $75; not a lot. And it would have to go to someone I knew who would not be expecting a gift from me. A Santa Claus gift indeed.
Our new company secretary was becoming a good friend. I could see she needed a new winter coat and spotted a bright red dress version on sale. Her surprise was hardly more than my own at the joy I received from giving this gift.
I kept up this annual practice for many years. Once I gave a co-worker $100 so he could buy his daughter her first new bicycle for the holidays. Years after he left the company to work elsewhere, he inquired about me and mentioned to that co-worker about the gift.
Yes, indeed. A modern day miracle that has changed me forever. An article written by an author, like myself. Miraculous.
Often I tell portions of my experience with tithing. Here is the complete story which covers a period of thirty years…and includes several miracles along the way.
We were living in northern VT where most families were at poverty level. Why were we there? One reason was because I wanted to escape from the materialism I disliked in CT. We became poor beyond my wildest dreams.
Our family included my husband (steadily employed at a bank), myself (running a free used clothes room in church building) and our four children attending a rural grade school. In-laws helped us buy a small house formerly used as a summer camp. The mortgage and car payments precluded eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes (grandparent’s gift got new undies for school), or vacations unless someone offered us a place to stay free. Buying food for six meant cutting a pound of hamburg into three portions. Even our garden refused to yield little in the short growing season except scruffy carrots and a poem I wrote about honking geese flying south overhead. I provided after school care for a friend’s daughter, cooked at the school, and then tried selling religious books and Shaklee vitamins.
These things did little to help our finances. That is when I read or heard about tithing…I don’t remember which. But Bible verses promised: “Bring all the tithes into My storehouse; see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing”, also “Give and it shall be given to you, heaped up, pressed down and running over.” Did we really have any choice?
We began tithing 10%, most coming from my husband’s earnings. Was there immediate improvement? That would be a miracle, right? Not in God’s economy. Seed sown must be patiently waited for.
So what did happen? My husband was forced into quitting his job, meaning there was no unemployment income. We had to take the money our kids earned helping their grandparents in order to buy milk and put gas in the car. We both had to work part-time temporary jobs, delivering newspapers, stocking shelves, selling phones, and once working three months on third shift an hour’s drive from our house. Did we stop tithing? Thankfully, no.
But I did get some financial wisdom from the marketing and sales tapes my Shaklee supervisor sent. One speaker said to check your financial earnings over the past 5 years. He bet the figures plateaued at the same point each year…he was right. No matter what weird combination of jobs we had held or which state we lived in, we earned exactly $22K each year. EXACTLY! That meant, without some miracle nothing would ever change.
I firmly believe our miracle finally came from insights gained due to tithing…my husband’s parents saw a job listing in their CT paper and offered to let us stay with them. Both of us got decent jobs, and our income finally jumped that plateau for the first time. We got an apartment. Our kids found after-school and summer jobs, too. An inheritance paid off our credit card debt. My husband got steady employment with the post office. After two bad renters, we let his old bank take back the VT house.
Even after a divorce and living alone in a studio apartment, I kept tithing. My salary doubled in less than ten years. When I was forced to retire, my income doubled for that one year…a miraculous repayment of all I had given away.
Whenever financial doubt creeps in, I remind myself out loud: “I always have enough to meet my needs and give to others.” Then once a month, I get out my checkbook and give back to the Lord.