Billy Graham Center
Collection 468 -
Elizabeth Carolyn (Quackenbush) Stough
. T1 Transcript
to listen to an audio file of this interview (67 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Elizabeth Quackenbush Stough (CN 468, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing.
Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Robert Shuster and Nelson Summers and was completed in March 2012.
Collection 468, T1. Interview of Elizabeth Quakenbush Stough by Robert Shuster on November 12, 1992.
SHUSTER: ...by...of Mrs. Elizabeth Quackenbush Stough by Bob Shuster for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, and this interview took place on November the 12th at 2:30 p.m., in Mrs. Stough’s home, in Carol Stream, Illinois. Why don’t we start with some family background. Who were your parents?
STOUGH: My parents were Conrad John Quackenbush of Dutch and British background. The whole family name was von Quakenbush from Holland. My mother was Joanie Carlson, whose parents came over from Sweden when they were teenagers but they knew no Swedish. They never spoke it in the home. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 13, 1913, as Elizabeth, but I was always called Betty, and when someone refers to me as Elizabeth who doesn’t know me, they don’t know who I...they are talking about. I sign my checks and official papers as Elizabeth but I’m still known as Betty. I was still a very small baby when we left Cleveland because my father was in the electrical business with Swift & Company and they transferred him out to Swift Company in Creston, Iowa, which is a little town around eight thousand in southwest Iowa, and that is where I grew up until I was in college and left home. My father didn’t continue with Swift. He finally went into his own business of electrical contracting and making bids on schools and courthouses and things all over the state of Iowa.
SHUSTER: What...what were your earliest memories as a child? What are the first things you recall?
STOUGH: One of my very early memories [is from] when we had a short stint down in Emporia, Kansas when I was still pre-kindergarten age. And this was during the war. He [her father] was sent down to do some work there.
SHUSTER: This was during World War I?
STOUGH: Oh, yes. And our whole family was down with the flu at one time, the bad flu that killed so many people during those years [the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 in which an estimated twenty million people died worldwide]. One very vivid memory I have is a friend taking me to kindergarten with her and the children were all sitting around in a circle in little red chairs, and some little child had a birthday and the teacher had her stand up in the middle of the circle, and they all sang “Happy Birthday” to her and they made a big fuss over her. So the teacher said, “Does anybody else have a birthday.” And so wanting attention, I guess, I put up my hand and I got to stand in the middle and they all sang “Happy Birthday” to me which gave me a nice warm feeling. [Shuster laughs] Except that the next day, I was with my mother and in Woolworth’s [a general store for inexpensive items] and the teacher came along and said, “Isn’t it nice that Betty came to school on her birthday?” And my mother looked down her nose at me and dealt with me when we got home. [both laugh] I trust that isn’t the pattern of my life, but it is a very vivid memory. [laughs] My mother made sure that I remembered that.
SHUSTER: Did you...do you have brothers or sisters?
STOUGH: I had an older sister, three years older, then a brother, four years younger, then a second brother, four years younger. As of now, my sister and I are the only survivors. The two boys have gone in recent years.
SHUSTER: What were your sister and brothers’ names?
STOUGH: Edith Pollock is my older sister. She lives up in northern Iowa, the only member of the family that stayed in Iowa. The next brother was Charles Quackenbush, who went very high in the AT&T Company.
SHUSTER: And your third brother’s name?
STOUGH: The other brother was Robert, and he was a general practitioner doctor, just loved his family medicine.
SHUSTER: How would you describe your father? When you think about him, what kind of words come to mind?
STOUGH: Not a good father, I’m sorry to say. He was away from home a lot, and paid very little attention to us. He left the disciplining to mother. He was not a believer. My mother was, and he used to give her a lot of grief because she spent too much time going to church or trying to do church work. He...he just continued that way all through my memory of him. Except that my mother tells me that shortly before he died of a stroke very suddenly, while I was in Africa, in the months before that, she felt that he had really come to a place of believing, but because of his nature he wouldn’t stand up and say so. But she said...and the pastor also...thought that there had been a change in him and I trust that that’s true. My mother is a very, very devoted Christian. She took us to church as children. We grew up in the Presbyterian Church in Creston, went to the young people societies. It made no impression on me spiritually. But I was always there, and she was always praying for me, I’m sure.
SHUSTER: How else would you describe her? What are some of the other characteristics of your mother?
STOUGH: A very hard worker, very, very devoted to her children. I have memories of her staying up late at night sewing a dress for some special occasion for me. She...we were not a wealthy family by any means, scraping the bottom much of the time, and she had a hard time working through the limited finances she had. But she made sure we had every possible advantage. For me personally, she saw that I had piano lessons all through my childhood, and then violin lessons and even voice lessons. She seemed to think that there was some possibility I could sing, so all of those things. She worked very hard to be sure that I had those advantages. She encouraged me in extra-curricular activities to the detriment of my learning any household skills.
SHUSTER: What kind of extra-curricular activities besides the musical things you mentioned?
STOUGH: I was editor of the high school yearbook. I was in some of the plays and operettas that were put on. I played basketball on the girls team...things like that in high school.
SHUSTER: What do you mean “to the detriment of housekeeping”?
STOUGH: Well, up to the time I was married, I could almost boil water, but I just never spent much time doing...doing house work.
SHUSTER: So she didn’t expect you to do those kind of things around the house?
STOUGH: Apparently not.
SHUSTER: Was she, herself, a musical person? Your mo....
STOUGH: No, she just wanted these things for her children.
SHUSTER: When you were growing up as a child, what were your ambitions for yourself? What did you see in your future?
STOUGH: I don’t think I focused on much. One memory I have as perhaps either upper high school or junior college was I dreamed that someday I could go to Chicago and have an apartment of my own and be in the business world, and I even inquired about courses in colleges or universities training for personnel work. Nothing ever came of it, but that’s one dream that I had. I was fortunate...well, you see, I finished high school in 1930 and those were Depression years. My father found it very difficult to get work, and his sub-contractors could not get work and eventually he lost money and we lost our home. We had to move in with another old lady, and how he...how mother managed through those, I don’t know. I have great respect that she did keep us together. And I was able to go to college because we had a junior college in our town. And I could do two years there, work on Saturday’s at J. C. Penney [chain of department stores in the United States], and things like that. So I got through two years of College. Then a representative of Parsons College was coming around looking for students. This would be in ‘32. Because I, supposedly, was a good Presbyterian, and the valedictorian of my high school class, he came looking for me, took me down there, and offered me a scholarship for my tuition, found me a job cleaning the matrons’ apartments to pay for my room, and a job in the dining room to pay for my board and I was able then to do the last two years of college. But speaking of goals, I went there with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. And I remember standing in a registration line and I knew I had to declare a major, being a junior. And just in the spur of the moment, I said, “French,” because I had had a year or two of French back in junior college and kind of liked it, but I don’t know why I said it. I know the Lord did because He knew somewhere down the line I was going to the Belgian Congo. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Would come in handy.
STOUGH: I would need some French, but I didn’t know then. I finished college....
SHUSTER: If we could go back for a second, as a young girl, you mentioned that you were on the basketball team,...
STOUGH: ...were in plays. What other activities were important to you? What were your main focuses of your life as a girl?
STOUGH: Dancing, movies.
STOUGH: A friend and I took in every movie that showed up, and we had scrapbooks of all our heros and movie heros. And [pauses]....
SHUSTER: Why do you think that was so important to you or meant so much to you?
STOUGH: I don’t know. It was the interest of a teenager. As I said, I had been taken to church but it had not affected me at all spiritually. I’m sure that’s not the fault of the preachers because as I look back to some of those pastors, I know that they did preach the Gospel and I can remember going to revival meetings, when they’d bring in special revivalist preacher for a week at a time. There’s no excuse for my not having believed and received the Lord much earlier than I did. But because I didn’t, I was only interested in things of the world, and as I look back, it was movies and dancing. When I look back, it was movies and dancing. We went to every dance in the area. I loved it. I loved dating. I had a lot of fun dating. [laughs]
SHUSTER: [laughs] Who...you mentioned the scrapbooks of your movie heros. Who were some of your movie heros?
STOUGH: Oh, Rudolph Valentino!
STOUGH: [laughs] I don’t remember the names of others. Ramon Navarro comes to mind. I don’t know, silly things.
SHUSTER: You mentioned some of way...about how when you were graduated from high school was this about the time your father’s business failed? Were there other ways that the Depression affected your family or affected you? Were you working part time?
STOUGH: I was working Saturdays at J. C. Penney, and continued doing that until....
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you had been to church and been to revival meetings, but that you hadn’t accepted Christ up to that point. Had you...did you think about God at all? Did it...what did you think about religion?
STOUGH: I don’t think so. I don’t think...it didn’t have any part in my life. I went to all the young peoples’ meetings because we could have fun. I don’t think we did anything useful at those meetings, and as I got to be an older teenager [audio static obscures several seconds]...I refused to sit with the family up front and sit in the back row with the kids and then we would go off and we would go [audio static for several seconds]...have fun.
SHUSTER: Was school important to you?
STOUGH: I suppose so, yes. Yes, uh-huh.
SHUSTER: Were there particular subjects that you enjoyed or that you did well in?
STOUGH: I think my favorite subjects, as I look back....I always enjoyed English grammar and diagraming sentences and that sort of thing. I liked history, hated math.
SHUSTER: Did any of your teachers have a strong influence on you?
STOUGH: There was one, Avilda Buck, who was teaching when I was in junior college. I must have had her in high school also, and she started a girl reserve group, which I think was something like Girl Scouts, and she also was sponsor for our young people at the time at the church. I look back on her as having somewhat of a steadying influence in my life.
SHUSTER: In what way?
STOUGH: Well, in keeping me coming to those things. She never presented the Gospel to me. I don’t know that that was anything she did as far as soul-winning. I’m not sure on her stand on that. She certainly never spoke to me about my need for the Lord. But she kept me going to [phone rings] church.
SHUSTER: How would you describe your time at Parsons College?
STOUGH: Fun. I went to the Presbyterian church a few times in town. Sort of a formality, I guess, but I didn’t go much, and it didn’t mean anything to me. I just enjoyed college. We had a lot of fun. My classes, I had no particular recollection of it all. I played orches...violin in the orchestra. I don’t know any...anything worthwhile that I did. My youth was a disaster. [laughs]
SHUSTER: [laughs] Well, that sounds like fun anyway. You mentioned you had fun. What did you have fun doing?
STOUGH: Well, dating. After hours, we’d climb down the fire escape and go out and have some more fun, then come back. Sounds stupid when you look back at it, but that’s all I did.
SHUSTER: And then you graduated in ‘34?
STOUGH: ‘34, uh-huh.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you had had this goal or dream of going to Chicago and having your own business. Why was that important to you? Why was that something you think that you...?
STOUGH: I don’t know why. I just have that memory, and that was pre-college days. I didn’t pursue it. Of course, the Depression came on and I couldn’t even dream of going to college. I went to junior college instead and I guess by then the dream had vanished.
SHUSTER: When you graduated from Parsons, where did you go then?
STOUGH: Well, I graduated magna cum laude. I did very well in my classes and could have easily graduated summa cum laude, but I didn’t want to be known as an intellectual or something, so I goofing up on some of the classes, and even so I graduated with magna and with a major in French, a minor in German. Looked for a teaching job. It seemed to me that no one was interested in a French teacher unless you had a master’s [degree]. There was no way I could go on and get a master’s. So I went back home and went to Penney’s again and became cashier, one step up from being a clerk. I spent a year living at home and working full time as cashier there. Very restless, very uncertain what to do. I...just to please mother I went to church but still had no interest for me. She, in the meantime, had become very friendly with the Baptist pastor in town, and since she saw I wasn’t getting anything out of the Presbyterians, she tried to sic the Baptist pastor onto me. I can well remember him coming and walking down the street, and I would dash down an alley or into a store or do anything to get away from him. I just was not about to talk to him. I wasn’t interested at all.
SHUSTER: Do you think your father’s attitude influenced you?
STOUGH: No, [chuckles] no just my own orneriness. But by the end of the year, I decided maybe I would look for a teaching job again.
SHUSTER: Were you looking to teach in high school or in college?
STOUGH: Well, at that point, anything. Anything got me out...get me away from home and this little town and do something different, you know. I went back and wrote to the college placement, and they sent me two or three or more possibilities. And the only thing I landed was what they called a consolidated school in a very small town over close to Fairfield where Parsons was, tiny little thing where they bus the children in from all the countryside. They had two grade rooms. One was for the lower four grades and for four upper grades. I had the four lower ones. There was also a small high school upstairs in the same building. So it was a pretty small job. [laughs] I think I got sixty dollars a month, which was marvelous.
SHUSTER: [laughs] And you taught everything, of course...
STOUGH: Of course!
SHUSTER: ...not just languages.
STOUGH: Lived there and rented a room in town. Picked up two or three boyfriends around the place, farmers and so on. Tried to have a good time. In the middle of the winter, they had a very bad blizzard and they couldn’t run the busses and there was a little Toonerville Trolley sort of railroad went through the town. I...they were going to close school until the weather cleared up. So I got on the train which took me down to Ottumwa [in Iowa] to the Burlington [railroad line], then I went on home by train and was going to stay until school was open. On the Sunday afternoon, I don’t where I was going to go, but I got into my sister’s little Ford coupe, Model A coupe, and started out. It had been raining and sleeting. The streets were glare ice. I got up to the next intersection with a stop sign and figuring I’d never get started again if I took a full stop. I looked quick in all directions and saw nothing coming so I kept on going. But there was something coming and a car hit me and I woke up in the hospital. Unfortunately, I thought at the time, the Baptist preacher was sitting beside the bed. He lived only a few doors from that intersection and had come to investigate, found out who it was. I had a concussion, of course, and some cuts and bruises. So I was somewhat of a captive audience. But he didn’t press me too much and was just friendly. When I went home again, he called on me a time or two. Well, they started school again. I went back. But in February, I was home for a weekend and my mother said, “You’re going downtown this afternoon, I think you ought to stop and talk with Pastor Kratz [?] and thank him for his kindness to you at the time of the accident,” which had been in December, this was February. “Oh,” I said, “I can’t do that. I thanked him then.” “Oh,” she said, “No, it would be very nice if you would just stop and say thank you.” So I did, and he chatted for a few minutes and he sat across the room from me here, and Then with his very piercing eyes, he looked at me. He said, “Betty, are you saved?” I said “What? Well, I suppose so. What?” I really don’t know what he was talking about saved. He said, “I’d like you to come back tomorrow afternoon at three o’clock and we’ll talk about it.” I went on downtown, but I put in a miserable night. It was the longest twenty-four hours of my life, I think. The Spirit was really getting a hold of me finally. I went back at three o’clock and he....
SHUSTER: Now what made the evening miserable?
STOUGH: I guess just my conscience and thinking about it and wondering what he was going to say to me and what this was going to do to me, I guess. I was just restless. I went back and he led me to the Lord. He opened the Word, pointed out verses and I accepted the Lord. I went home with quite a light relief in my...I didn’t understand it all and all that it would involve, of course. But I told my mother and she was delighted. And a very vivid memory is my standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes all by myself that evening and one of the old songs I had heard at one of those revival meetings began going through my mind, “Is my name written there in that book bright and fair?” The last chorus, it says, “Yes, my name is there.” Well, I was almost jumping for joy. Just that thought because suddenly it came to me that everything was right now. So I went back to school, but we had had an old lady, an elderly lady, so we say, that had been principal of the grade school where I went. She was always at the Presbyterian church and a very good friend of the family. And she said to me at the beginning of the summer or perhaps when I was home in the spring...she said, “Wouldn’t you like to go to Chicago to the Moody Bible Institute for a summer course?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know what the Moody Bible Institute is.” “Well,” she said, “they’ve got good classes that you could learn the Bible.” And I’m sure the thing that interested me was this old dream of getting to Chicago. I thought, “Oh, great.” You know, this little hick way out in southwest Iowa gets to Chicago. I wrote and made arrangements to go.
SHUSTER: And this was around 1936?
STOUGH: This would be ‘36. I went in by train, got a taxi, went out to the Institute and checked in and they showed me my room across the street in Osbourne Hall. And I went and put my suitcase down and these girls greeted me, but I was horrified. They weren’t the kind of girls I had ever associated with. They didn’t have any makeup on. They were carrying their Bibles around. They were talking in Biblical languages or something. I said, “What have I got myself into?”
STOUGH: I left my suitcase there, went over to...(what’s the next street?) Clark Street. Got on the street car, went back downtown, went to the Oriental Theater and spent the rest of the day. Isn’t this awful?
SHUSTER: You were hiding out?
STOUGH: Hiding out. But of course, I had to go back, that’s the only place I had to sleep. So I went back.
SHUSTER: So this was a summer course in Bible study?
STOUGH: Yeah, I don’t think they had much specialty way back then. I....
SHUSTER: Was this the very first time you’d ever been to Chicago?
STOUGH: Yes, it was all a great culture shock.
SHUSTER: In what way?
STOUGH: Well, these strange girls and their strange talk and customs. Of course, I didn’t know anything about a city. That was all new. But it was mostly just the atmosphere at the Institute. But I suppose it was the next day and I went to class [clock chimes in background] and sat there with the teachers, opening the Word, teaching the Word, which I had never had. I say Presbyterian ministers probably, I had opportunity to...to know the Lord, but they never preached the Word that I can remember. I mean expositionally. I had never had any Bible teaching except what I got in Sunday school as a small child. When they began to teach the Word, I was absolutely thrilled with the things I had never known or seen before, and comparing Scripture with Scripture. It was wonderful! I’ve always looked back as absolute proof that I was born again because my whole attitude to the Bible, to God’s Word, was changed. I went through six weeks and it was so great that I registered for the second six weeks. I went home in August intending that I would go on with teaching, hoping that I could find a different, better job. My mother came to me one day and she said, “Your father said to me that he doesn’t know what kind of a school you went to in Chicago but it has made such a change in you that we can almost live with you now. And he said that he would be willing to pay your first bill, if you would like to go back there to study.”
SHUSTER: You mean pay your first year? Or what?
STOUGH: The first bill. You know, we had no tuition but we had board and room bill...and that I could look for a job. And that’s what happened. I went back and he gave me enough to get started. I looked for a job. Found a job at Montgomery Ward Catalog [mail order and department store]. Ordered an apartment on Chicago Avenue. Those days it was safe. I walked from the Institute down there and back again after dark and never gave it a thought. I worked six hours a day and went to class. That was a rugged schedule. By that time, I loved the classes. I loved the girls I was with and the friends I was making. I would come home after 6:00 and have what they called late supper and then I’d have to do my studying and I would be so weary that I would be doing my studying on my feet and walking around trying to do studies so I wouldn’t fall asleep. But I considered it worth it apparently and managed to get through not one year, but three. The last...very last year...term, my father came through with an offer to pay my bill so I could do a little more than work and study and I had a great time. I could sing in the chorale and I could do a lot of other things that I hadn’t been able to do before.
SHUSTER: How come you...why do you think that he didn’t just say that to you directly? Why did he have your mother come?
STOUGH: Oh, that was the way he operated. He didn’t deal with us children much.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any of your teachers at Moody?
STOUGH: Oh, yes. Dr. Wilbur Smith, Dr. Fitzwater.
SHUSTER: What was Wilbur Smith like?
STOUGH: He taught Daniel. He was a wonderful Bible teacher. Oh, the best.
SHUSTER: What made him such a good teacher?
STOUGH: Just the way he was able to open the Word and make it so fascinating.
SHUSTER: What are some of the ways he did that?
STOUGH: I don’t know. Just teaching it.
SHUSTER: Who was Professor Fitzwater?
STOUGH: Fitzwater taught synthesis, doctrine, things like that.
SHUSTER: Were there other teacher...?
STOUGH: I took some music courses, since I’d always liked music. And I especially remember Mr. [Talmadge J.] Bittikofer teaching conducting. He was a unique man if there ever was one. He’s the one who would stand up...or sit in the back while he had you up front and you’d say, “Let’s sing number one hundred and twenty-three,” and he’d shout out, “Which one first?” To this day, if a song leader introduces it that way, one hundred and something, I would always turn to Paul [Elizabeth’s husband] and say, “Which one first?” [laughs]
SHUSTER: [laughs] Were there other teachers too that made an impression on you?
STOUGH: Dr. Hockman was teaching missions. I enjoyed that very much. His wife taught a few classes. One of Dr. Hockman’s sayings was, cause they’d been in China and lost everything and they’d learned to say, “Blessed be nothing.” That phrase has stuck with me all through the years, and I had occasions of saying the same thing.
SHUSTER: What was the social life like at Moody?
STOUGH: Oh, I had a good time. Yeah, I had some boyfriends. Always somebody on the string.
SHUSTER: What kind of events would there be at Moody to...to go out on a date?
STOUGH: Go to church, mostly, go walk down to the lake front. Sunday afternoons we often would go down and walk along the lake.
SHUSTER: About how many students were at Moody at that time?
STOUGH: I haven’t a clue. I don’t remember those figures. The thing that has interested me, and I’ve often described it to other young people who were seeking the guidance of the Lord in their lives, I said, the Lord seemed to operate in my life like a funnel, a wide beginning got me to...well, become believer first, but then got me to Moody Bible Institute interested in the Word. Once I got there, the best...my closest friends all seemed to be those that were in missions courses.
STOUGH: and they began taking me to the prayer bands. So the funnel was narrowing a bit, and then from those prayer bands the one that especially interested me was the Africa prayer band. I was very faithful in attending that. So it was narrowing again. Well, then somebody said to me, “There’s a monthly prayer meeting up at the home of Norman Camp for the African Inland Mission. Would you like to go with us?” I thought, “Well, this would be fun to get out, away from school and to somebody’s home for an evening.” So I went along. We went by street car in those days everywhere. It was so easy to get around Chicago back then. Streetcars...and we went up to Norman Camp’s home. So here was another narrowing to African Inland Mission because I got very interested in that. And then one month, John and Marguerite Lindquist from the African Inland Mission came along and they were on furlough, their first furlough, and speaking about their work in Zemio in French Equatorial Africa and that became a special interest of me [sic] and we were just getting narrowed right down to the very work that I wanted to do. I like to tell young folks, “If you’re just open to the Lord’s leading, He will funnel you right into His will, if you let Him,” ‘cause that’s what He did for me.
SHUSTER: When you first went to Moody, did you have some idea where you would be going or did you hope...?
STOUGH: Oh, no, no, I just wanted to study the Bible some more.
SHUSTER: Of course, one of the things they do at Moody is send students to volunteer Christian ministry in different parts of the city. What were some of the things that you were involved in?
STOUGH: I did child evangelism classes; ended up with head lice once, I’m sure because I was too affectionate with the little children. I spent some time in the infirmary getting rid of it. I had a Sunday school class on Sunday morning up in...I think it was a Lutheran church up in northwest Chicago, went by streetcar every morning to that. My most frightening one was when I was assigned to Cook County Hospital and we were to go (there was a group of us, of course)...we went by the school bus down there, to go and speak to individuals one-on-one, terrified me. Eventually, we had to do it and that’s a good thing. Another time we had street meetings and I remember going with groups having street meetings. Someone in the group usually played trumpet or something and we would be in an industrial area where the workers would come out at noon time during their noon break and we would try to reach them.
SHUSTER: You mentioned child evangelism classes. What were they?
STOUGH: They were in homes. And the Institute, or the man James Harrison was in charge of what they called...what kind of work? Practical work assignments. Of course, these were all arranged and then they just assigned to go and we taught the lessons to the little kiddies.
SHUSTER: You said you were in homes. So you would just be teaching one, two kids?
STOUGH: No, it would be like a neighborhood group.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. And what were the lessons? What kind of things would you be teaching?
STOUGH: [pauses] I don’t know. I think following child evangelism programs, outlined, Bible lessons.
SHUSTER: So you’d be teaching Bible stories?
STOUGH: Oh yes, sure, which I was grateful for ‘cause this is what I used all through my missionary time.
SHUSTER: You mentioned...so Jim Harrison would set up the classes, make the arrangements, then you would go as the teacher.
STOUGH: Yeah, every term we were assigned to some kind of practical work and they tried to vary it for us. Those things I mentioned were quite a variety, giving me a taste of all kinds of things to do.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you thought you got head lice perhaps from some of the kids. So these were poor families?
STOUGH: Oh yes, yes. We were down in the very poor areas.
SHUSTER: How did the kids react to the lessons.
STOUGH: Oh, they were very loving, very loving. We got quite attached to them.
SHUSTER: Did any of them become Christians?
STOUGH: I have no particular recollection of that.
SHUSTER: You mentioned too, of course, how scared you were when you were going to Cook County Hospital. How did...how did people react when you would show up and start talking with them?
STOUGH: Just like they react today. Some couldn’t care less and some.... I sort of remember there were a good many black folks, and of course, they’re always enthusiastic whether they’re really true Christians or not. They certainly were talking about the Lord, [unclear] that sort of business.
SHUSTER: Do any of your encounters with people at the hospital stand out in your memory?
SHUSTER: And with street meetings too, how large a crowd usually would gather?
STOUGH: Not large group. I suppose a dozen, or fifteen, or twenty. I don’t know. I just sort of have a mental picture of a group standing around us. Somebody in the group was assigned to be the preacher. We were there to sing and talk with individuals if we could after the message had been given.
SHUSTER: Looking over the time you spent at Moody, which was from ‘37 to ‘40....
STOUGH: Summer of ‘36, and I graduated in August of ‘39.
SHUSTER: August of ‘39. How do you think your time there affected you? Why are you different because you went to Moody?
STOUGH: Oh, completely different because of going to Moody. That was the way I grew in Christian life. I was a baby in Christ when I went there, a brand new believer with no previous Bible teaching at all, except as I say, I knew the little Bible stories from Sunday school because I was always there as a little child. But that teaching in the Word grounded me and I grew thereby [chuckles] , and of course, it gave me the direction into missions.
SHUSTER: Are there things there that you wish you had taken or wish had been available to you or been beneficial later in your missionary work?
STOUGH: I...no, I don’t think so. I had a wide variety of classes there.
SHUSTER: Let me flip the tape over. We’re almost.... Starting side two of the tape. You talked a little bit about this, but when did you feel your call to be a missionary?
STOUGH: I assume that it would’ve come perhaps during my second year of my time there.
SHUSTER: When you were going to the AIM [Africa Inland Mission] Bible prayer group?
STOUGH: Well, perhaps, when I was going to the prayer bands at school before I really knew more about the various mission societies. I was just listening to them, of course. But I think somewhere in the course of that I began to feel that this is what I wanted to do.
SHUSTER: Was there any kind of open or formal commitment?
STOUGH: I don’t think so, just a conviction in my heart.
SHUSTER: You graduated in August of ‘39 from Moody.
SHUSTER: And where did you go then?
STOUGH: I went back home, Preston. The Presbyterian church was thrilled that here was a young person going into Christian work. As far as I know nobody in the church had gone into any Christian work before that, and a missionary was very thrilling for them. But I was committed to going with the African Inland Mission. As the pastor and the owner said, “We can’t do anything for you. Our money had to go to the Presbyterian board.” So they sent me to the top to the moderator of the Senate or something. And he tried to persuade me to go with the Presbyterian board, which would have taken me to Cameroon. And as I learned later after we were in Africa, they have a very fine Evangelical work in Cameroon. But I had committed myself to the African Inland Mission. I felt sure that’s where I was....
SHUSTER: You say you had committed. You mean you had already applied there?
SHUSTER: And they had accepted you?
SHUSTER: And this was before you had actually graduated from Moody?
STOUGH: That’s right. I had applied and Mr. Camp, this Norman Camp was on the Chicago committee and Mr. Gaylord was the chairman of it, and they had interviewed me and I was accepted, yes.
SHUSTER: What kind of things did they ask you? What do you remember of your interview?
STOUGH: Oh, doctrinal things.
SHUSTER: Such as?
STOUGH: It was scary, very scary. [laughs] I can remember that at the close of it Mr. Gaylord looked at me and winked, rather reassuringly, that I had been okay.
SHUSTER: What kind of doctrinal things did you ask you there?
STOUGH: I don’t know. I don’t even remember.
SHUSTER: So the questions were all doctrinal, there wasn’t anything about Africaas such , or why you’d like to...?
STOUGH: Oh, I don’t...they probably checked up on my call and why I wanted to go. I do remember one thing where they questioned me. At that point, I was going with a young man who was a child...the son of AIM pioneers.
SHUSTER: Who was that?
STOUGH: Paul Barnett.
SHUSTER: Oh, sure.
STOUGH: Then that thing didn’t seem to work out very happily, and as we say, we broke up. And the committee said, “Are you willing to go alone to Africa?” (And of course, in trying to pin me down on the Paul Barnett thing). I said, “Yes, of course, I was.” That was one thing that made an impression on me. I don’t know any of their other questions. [laughs]
SHUSTER: So after you had gone home and you had talked with the Presbyterian folk and was still committed to AIM., when did you go to...let me ask you how did your family react to your wanting to be a missionary?
STOUGH: Well, Mother, of course, was thrilled and told me later that as a young person she had wanted to be a missionary but it was never possible for her. And of course, after she married my father, there was no possibility. So she was thrilled that her daughter was going to do what she had always wanted to do. But before I graduated before Moody, (and I had written home to tell them I was going to be a missionary) my father was furious. That wasn’t what he intended his daughter to do. That isn’t why he sent his daughter back to Moody.
SHUSTER: Why? What had he expected?
STOUGH: He just wanted her to be a better person, I guess. He didn’t speak to me for these months that I was home.
SHUSTER: Why did it make him so angry? Why...?
STOUGH: Well, I just think he had other ambitions, wanted me to do something in this country, I guess.
SHUSTER: He thought it was a waste?
STOUGH: He didn’t discuss it with me. He just....
SHUSTER: How did your brothers and friends react?
STOUGH: They were fine. “It’s alright.”
SHUSTER: Were your brothers also Christians?
STOUGH: Yes. Actually, [pauses] at least the older of the two was before I was. The same Baptist pastor had led him to the Lord.
SHUSTER: And what about your sister?
STOUGH: Yes, she was nominally Christian. I think later became a more committed one.
SHUSTER: When did you go to candidate school?
STOUGH: It didn’t exist.
SHUSTER: So after you went home during the summer of August ‘39. And where did you go next?
STOUGH: Well, just there, and not really knowing what to do I had to raise support. They couldn’t do anything for me. But a little group of friends in the church (at this point I would only guess that it might be five or six couples) were interested in me and wanted to do something and So they banded themselves together and called themselves the Betty Quackenbush Missionary Committee. The support rate at that time was forty dollars a month. Among them, they were able to pledge forty dollars that they would guarantee to send to the mission every month.
SHUSTER: Among the six of them. I mean among the six....
STOUGH: Whatever number there was. Yes, among them, they guaranteed that a month. So I could write to the mission and say that was guaranteed. Then they put on an evening program, which I was to speak, and they invited...well, they put it in the paper and anybody in town that wanted to come and see this phenomenon of a local girl going to the mission field. [Shuster laughs] There were a lot of outsiders. There was a good crowd there, and they took up a collection. I had to have five hundred dollars outgoing. That would pay my passage and freight and expenses like that. They took up a collection that totaled a little over five hundred dollars, much to the amazement of most anybody concerned. Then the women of the church and the women of the Baptist church together put on a shower and provided a lot of the things I needed to go over with me. So it was all taken care of and I left in April of 1940.
SHUSTER: Did those families continue to support you?
STOUGH: They did, until Paul and I were married in March of 1945. Whereupon, they wrote to the mission and said, “We understand that our missionary is now married and we assume that her husband will support her,” and that took care of that.
SHUSTER: So you went out on April 1940. When had the Zamzam incident occurred? Was that after...? [The Egyptian freighter Zamzam, carrying several American missionaries, was sunk by a German surface raider on April 17, 1941.]
STOUGH: Oh, that was after that. Oh, yes. We went...I went of course by train to Brooklyn. The office was in Brooklyn. We had spent, I don’t know, a couple of weeks there, which they were trying to get a visa for me for French Equatorial Africa because I was headed for Zemio that the Lindquists had told me about. And that took some doing apparently. Ralph Davis was the head of the mission at that time. I remember him running around trying to get this visa. And at that.... He came to me one day and gave me this poem, which I later discovered was part of an old British hymn that has stuck with me all through the years. It said:
He can not have taught us to trust in His name,
SHUSTER: Now, had you requested to go to Zemio?
and thus far have brought us to put us to shame.
Each sweet Ebenezer we have and review
Confirms His good pleasure to see us right through.”
Ralph said to me, “Betty, the Lord’s brought you this far with the conviction that you’re going to Zemio. That visa will come.” The day before I was to sail, it came. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: Or they assigned you?
STOUGH: No, I had requested it.
SHUSTER: And you requested it because you knew the people who were there?
STOUGH: Yes, because I had become acquainted with the Lindquist’s. Then later, after I was home. The Hubers...Lester Hubers who had worked at Zemio for several years, for some reason that only the Lord knows, He sent them into our area. They were speaking in a little town nearby and I went to hear them and became acquainted with them and hear more about Zemio. So it was just sort of confirmed more.
SHUSTER: What work was going on in Zemio? What...?
STOUGH: Oh, very primitive work. It was very primitive. We sailed in April. The war [World War II] was on in Europe, but the States were not in it yet. We sailed...I and three brand new couples, sailed down to Rio de Janeiro to avoid Europe.
SHUSTER: On an American vessel?
STOUGH: Yeah. Spent a week in Rio, and then got on a Japanese freighter and went down and around the Cape and up the east coast of Africa and landed at Mombasa. Because Europe was in the war, England...everything was geared around the war in Mom...Kenya, which was British territory at that time. The lights were out at dusk and big heavy black curtains at the windows and all that. We went by train then up through Kenya. All three couples got off at either Nairobi or Kijabe.
SHUSTER: Who was traveling with you?
STOUGH: The James Bissets. Hamilton Morrow and the Dotys, I forgot his first name. Each of them had little children with them. They were all assigned either to Kenya or Tanzania. They all left me and I went on alone on the train.
SHUSTER: Just to back up a little bit. You mentioned Ralph Davis a little bit earlier, who of course, is the General Director...
SHUSTER: ...of the American Home Branch of AIM. How would you describe him?
STOUGH: Well, he was very helpful to me at that time when I was there, and took me around trying to get the visa, and helped me with all the details. I appreciated him very much then. His brother, Watson Davis, was handling the finances at the mission office.
SHUSTER: He was the treasurer?
STOUGH: Something like that.
SHUSTER: What kind of administrator was he?
STOUGH: I don’t know. You’ll find that I’m kind of a fuzzy-brained person. [laughs]
SHUSTER: [laughs] What do you remember of your trip out? This was...was this your first ocean voyage?
STOUGH: Oh, yes. Yes, it certainly was. We went by a passenger boat to Rio. The Mills brothers were on it and sang for us. [laughs] Big deal, and at Rio we had a fascinating time. We were met by some man, Christian man there that the mission knew about. He helped us find a hotel. We were on Copacabana Beach. We did a lot of sightseeing around there for a week. Then we went on this Japanese freighter, which was a very interesting experience. Very rough in the south Atlantic, and I didn’t get sea sick, but dishes were flying around. They wet the tablecloths at the mealtime so they couldn’t fly, and they had ridges around the edge of the table. We had...the seven of us had Bible study every day. Mr Bisset led it generally, and he was a good Bible teacher. We stopped at various places along the African coast. It was so thrilling that morning when we got up and we were approaching Cape Town. This was our first sight of Africa. We got off at Cape Town and did a little sightseeing. Went on up and stopped at Port Elizabeth, Durban, things like that. Very fascinating.
SHUSTER: What was your first impression of Africa when you were there in South Africa?
STOUGH: Just found it so interesting to see these black people and I don’t know.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you had...at Cook County that some of the patients you talked to were black. Had you had much contact with blacks growing up?
STOUGH: In our town, there was one black family in Preston. Freddy Hawkins was in my high school class, and his sister Catherine, maybe a year behind. They were part of the crowd and we liked them. There was absolutely no color consciousness. I just remember they were there as part of us.
SHUSTER: What about in Chicago?
STOUGH: Well, I don’t think I was ever sent into a black area on practical work assignment. Don’t think we had much contact with them. One Sunday night, I remember a group of us went down to a black church for Sunday evening service. Sat up in the balcony to watch, and they put on a real show down there. They had the kind of preacher that worked them up into a frenzy. People would fall over and out from the front doors up toward the platform would come nurses with stretchers and carry them out, and all that kind of business. That was my only contact with a black church and I don’t think that was very helpful.
SHUSTER: How did you react to that?
STOUGH: It was fun. We were astonished that things like that would go on.
SHUSTER: Well, of course, when you came to Africa it was a completely different culture.
STOUGH: Oh, sure.
SHUSTER: You traveled...you mentioned you traveled from Mombasa by train and then what?
STOUGH: Well, the Lord had a British couple, an older couple, who worked in Nairobi but they were off on what the British call a “holiday.” They were going to go down the Nile for a little while and back just for their vacation time. I made contact with them and they took me under their wing, and I ate with them and they helped me make the changes. We had to change from a train to another train and then to a bus, and then to a lake steamer and things like this. I was told...well, from Nairobi, I sent a telegram up to our mission station at Aura in the West Nile area and that would be my first contact.... I look back and I don’t know why the mission would have sent a single lady off in the blue like that with no better instructions than I had. It’s incredible to me now.
SHUSTER: This British couple were not AIM missionaries?
STOUGH: No, no, but they were just nice people. The thought of it, as I look back to me as I say, is incredible that the mission would do that, allow that. They must have had their reasons or their non-reasons; I don’t know.
SHUSTER: Was that typical then of the way things were? That was expected that missionaries would travel by themselves?
STOUGH: I don’t know. I have only my own experience to go by. Actually, they told me to go to Kampala by train.
SHUSTER: In Uganda.
STOUGH: I would ask instructions then as how to get over into the Congo. When we got to Nairobi by train, there was a stopover before it would go on, and we all dashed down to the bank, which wasn’t very far from the station. I walked into the bank with this group of people. Just over to the side stood this matronly woman, who spoke to us and she turned out to be what we’d always called Mother Propst. The mother of Doc Propst and others, an AIM pioneer from Kijabe. I told her...she asked questions what we were doing and I told her what I was to do. She said, “Oh, Miss Quackenbush, don’t go to Kampala. There’s no way to get from Kampala to the Congo.” She gave me instruction of what I should do. Well, the Lord had her planted there [Shuster chuckles] and it was wonderful. I look back with great thanksgiving. She said, “You go up to.... (I can’t tell you the...) Namasagali, and Bambutki [?] and other names she gave me) you go there and you change trains and take this smaller train and go over to Lake Kyoga. Then you go over Lake Kyoga. Then you get a bus and you go up to Masindi Port. Take a boat there, and so on.” She’s the one who instructed me to send the telegram to Mr. Ballor [?] at Aura [?] at the AIM station. She said, “You’ll go as far as Rhino camp on the Nile steamer and get off there.” Without her help, I don’t know what would have become of me.
SHUSTER: So you were more just sent off on your own to find your best way to get there.
STOUGH: Just like that. But I sat on that train and can still hear myself, I was sitting next to the window, and I can hear myself singing “All the way that my Savior leads me, what have I that ask beside.” That went over and over in my mind. It’s very fresh in my mind every time I think of it. Well, I sent this telegram and we arrived early morning at Rhino camp on this Nile steamer. I said “goodbye” to my friends. But we were served breakfast there first. While I was eating, I was given a note which I opened. It was signed by Ballor [?]. He said, “Take the bus from Rhino camp up to Aura [?].” So I got off with my goods a chattel on this awful little bus.
SHUSTER: How much were you carrying with you? Was it one suitcase or did you...?
STOUGH: Oh, it would be more than that. It would be two or three I’m sure, more than I could handle. It was a ramshackle old bus and Africans were piling onto it with all their big loads of food and all kinds of things: chickens that were tied up on top, and.... The bus driver was an Indian and he told me to sit up on the seat...
END OF TAPE
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