Note: The text below is the autobiography of Billy Mellors who left Kiveton in 1926 to seek a new life in the U.S.A. ......
Left; Billy Mellors, Right; Edwin Creasy. 1968 (Billy who's story is told below left for the USA in 1926 and Edwin for Australia in the same year - above their reunion photograph at the 'pit top' in Kiveton in 1968)
Below is Bill (William Clement) Mellor's story, in his own words, of his journey from Kiveton Colliery pit pony driver to Preacher and College Professor in the Southern U.S.A.
William C. Mellor
3250 B Henderson Mill Road
Chamblee, Georgia, USA
My address when I left home in 1926 — age 19 years
25 Railway Terrace
This book was given to me that I might lot things down’ — things of the past, things of the present, and things of the future. How much writing I will do depends on my mental, emotional and spiritual state of mind.
For the past fifty years I have written sermons, lectures for the classroom, and poems for my own pleasure. Now that I have reached the ‘ripe old age’ of 86 years, it is time I write down a few of the vital experiences of life — people, places that have meant much to me. I have been fortunate to have been a preacher of God’s Word for more than fifty years. Also, for years I have been a college professor, which has enabled me to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the pulse of the younger generation.
When I was a boy in school I never remember learning anything. My mind was never on my lessons - I was simply a dreamer. I dreamed of places over the seas — people I did not know. I remember reading a book entitled Settlers in Canada, a book about the English colonies, and how America was settled by the early English pioneers. Then there were American movies (silent movies). These helped my imagination
My parents came from Staffordshire. They migrated to [Kiveton Park] Yorkshire about 1886. The Yorkshire coal fields and the steel factories of Sheffield made England prosperous. Her ships took her products to the uttermost parts of the world. As a boy, I was proud of England’s greatness —"England rules the waves." I used to sing with "God Save the King"; but with all this English prosperity there was so much poverty. People worked hard, but they earned so little money. All of this influenced my thinking as a boy. When I reached the age of accountability I had made up my mind to leave England. Some of my friends (pit-pony drivers, like myself) left for Australia. Some went to Canada. I preferred America, and it was a good choice. At that time, little did I know that God was in the choice and that He was directing my steps.
My family consisted of my mother, four sisters, and two brothers. We were a close knit family. My father had ‘passed away’ when I was fourteen years old, the year I went down the coal mine to be a pit-pony driver for a shilling a day. I earned six shillings a week and gave it to my mother. I earned ‘pocket money’ by working in a barber shop at nights and half a day on Saturday. I did not have much time to play football (soccer) or cricket. I saved my barber shop money to pay my passage to America.
The miners had been called out on strike. It lasted nine months (1926). During this period of no work I went to see the American consul in Sheffield. I was impressed by his office and the way he was dressed. He was wearing a brown velvet jacket with light brown plus fours. They looked very expensive to this young pit-pony driver, Of course, he was an American gentleman with a definite American drawl.
I told him I wanted to migrate to America. He replied "How soon?" My answer was — as soon as possible. Then the gentleman asked me what was my ‘trade’. My reply was "I have no trade; I’m a pit-pony driver in the coal mine at Kiveton Park." The consul wanted some proof of my work, so he said "Let me see your hands." That was proof enough. So, within two weeks time my suitcase was packed, my ticket was bought (twenty pounds), and I was ready to leave for a land which I had only read about
When I looked at my mother, brothers and sisters, it began to dawn upon me what I was doing — leaving home. Perhaps I would never see them again. My mother saw that ‘certain look’ on my face, so she wisely assured me that if I did not like America she would send me money to buy a ticket to come home. (It is doubtful that my mother ever had twenty pounds in her pocket book all her married life, but that’s the way she felt.) Now when I think back on her life and circumstances, she was one unusual person. Her influence on me has never departed.
I took the train at Sheffield for Liverpool and I arrived at the port city about four o’clock in the morning. As I walked towards the docks I saw great ships for the first time, ships that were sailing to every part of the British Empire. Then I spotted the S. S. Baltic That was the boat that would take this lad to America — my dream was beginning to be fulfilled.
The S. S. Baltic docked. Immigrants had to be processed, then ‘claimed’ by relatives or people who would be responsible for them. So many of the young Irish passengers were ‘claimed’ by Catholic priests, and some by Catholic sisters. Those of who were ‘unclaimed’ had to wait until the rest of the passengers had left the ship. There were about twenty-five of us left. The agent from the White Star Line (S. S. Baltic) herded us into taxicabs which took us all to the Grand Central Station. When we arrived at the station, the agent told us to stand in one place while he purchased our tickets for our final destination. I believe my ticket cost four dollars — which left me six dollars in my pocket. The agent asked me for my destination. I said Waterbury, Conn: I did not know that Conn. was an abbreviation for Connecticut.
While we waited for the agent to bring our tickets, a small crowd of Americans gathered around us — we all had that ‘foreign look’ about us. In our group were people from Eastern Europe — Turks, Indians, some wearing their native garments. These newcomers interested the Yankees; some even made fun of us, others were just curious. This was my first embarrassment. I said to myself "You wait awhile, I’ll make good in America."
Our White Star agent had pinned a card on our coats describing who we were and the place we were going. The baggage we were carrying varied — some were carrying their worldly possessions in a blanket, some in sheets, others in cardboard boxes, and some in paper bags. I had an old suitcase that everyone in our family had used on their holidays. It looked old and battered, but it served my purpose, since I had few things. Most of my possessions were on my back. I was traveling light. One can quite understand why the Americans stood, watched, and some sneered at this motley crowd of newcomers, heading for the melting pot.
I boarded the train and the conductor was told to leave me off at the Waterbury station. The train, the black conductor, and the people all seemed so different. I was seeing a little bit of America for the first time
— the towns, the villages, the scenery were not like England. This was a new culture, the culture of the Western World, and I was anxious to be part of it.
The train that was taking me to Waterbury, Connecticut arrived late in the afternoon. Friends of mine at Kiveton Park had friends and relatives living in Waterville, a suburb of Waterbury. They had made arrangements to meet me at the station and give me room and board until I found a job. This offer was very kind of them, since I was a total stranger to them. My new friends did their best to make me ‘feel at home’; and to say the least, I was very grateful for their hospitality.
My first concern was a job. I wanted to be employed immediately so that I could pay my responsibilities. To my surprise, I was told most factories were laying people off. In the city (Waterbury — the brass center of the world) many people were unemployed. Waterville had one large plant — the Chase Metal Works, but I was told they were not hiring anyone. My friends told me to try the American Brass Company in the city. Its location was down South Street.
I retired for the night — ‘good and tired’, but slept very little. When my alarm clock rang at 5:00 AM. I jumped out of bed, washed, shaved, dressed in thirty minutes, and I was on my way to catch the trolley car that would take me into the city. Arriving about 6:00 A.M. I walked down South Street towards the large plant, American Brass Company. Standing in front of two large gates was a long line of men — two or three hundred, I guess. I thought they were waiting for the gates to open so they could go to work. With this idea in mind, I entered a small gate that was open near an office building. As I entered the office door, a lady was sifting at a desk. She asked me what I wanted. My reply was that I was looking for a job. I informed her that I had just come over to the states from England and I needed a job immediately. Her reply was "Didn’t you see the long line of men standing outside the gates?" I replied that I thought they were waiting for the gates to open so they could go to work. Not so!
While I was talking to the lady at the desk, a voice called to me, "Who is the Limey? Send him to me!" A man in the next room had heard my conversation. He told me to sit down. There were two jobs open, one at the machines paying 27 112 cents per hour; the other job was learning the business of the American Brass Company, paying 25 112 cents per hour. The time was 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
My training would begin at the Smelting Division — learning how to smelt and pour brass into the tubes. This was hard work and very hot. It was all part of my training, so I tried to do everything as well as possible.
After a while I was transferred to another department — the metal hose. This department made the hose, and then machines braided it with copper wire. Most of this hose was shipped out to Detroit auto companies.
Every man in this department had four machines to keep working. I ran into my first problem. There was a certain young man in this department who played tricks on newcomers. He threw waste rags -—cleaning rags — into the gears of my machine, stopping them. He kept this up for days. Everybody called him ‘the Swede’. He was tall, cocky, big-mouthed and quite insulting. I had made up my mind to tolerate him because I would be transferred to another department.
Each man had a locker where he put his lunch and changed
clothing. One afternoon I went to my locker and found it broken
into. My clothes were nailed down to the floor. Stopping my
machines was one thing, ruining my clothes was a very stupid
action. I went right to 'the Swede' and asked him why he would do
such a thing. I was put out and told him I would `knock his block
off' and `nail him to the floor'. He laughed and sneered at me and
said, "Do you think you can do it?" said, "I know I can". He told
me to meet him on the roof at lunchtime. Lunchtime came and there
he was standing with hands on his hips ready to `eat me up'.
The years in the coal mine had given me a strong body, and we had boxing gloves in the house. My older brother Joe was a good sport. He was tall, fast on toot, and quick with his hands. He taught me and my younger brother Walter how to box and defend ourselves. All of this came back to me as I took my shirt off, ready to fight the Swede.
He was tall and lanky and circled me with long left jabs to my face, then backed away. My shots were missing the mark. I remember what Joe had said "Rush me, and reach me from the inside." I did just that and I was caught by an overhand right to the back of my head. That blow floored me. Things were swimming around, and I heard a voice saying, "Have you had enough?" I staggered to my feet and jogged around until my head cleared. The Swede kept hitting me with that long left. He kept his right hand behind his back - it was hurt. He had no defense against my left to his face and my right to his ribs. I kept rushing at him, reaching the target with every blow. His face began to look like a butcher's shop - plenty of red beef. Blood was gushing from his nose and mouth. His mouth was open and he was breathing heavily. The sting seems to have left his left hand and he was running out of steam. I knew I had him. I had taken a beating, but still I was strong. The Swede was trying to push me away from him with his left hand; his right was out of action completely. I came in close to him and threw my right fist to the left side of his jaw. It caught him flush and he fell on both knees. I continued to punish him with lefts and rights to the face until the men standing around pulled me away. It was all over. That was my first fight in the New World, and it was the last.
A couple of friends took me to the washroom to wash up. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I could not believe what I saw. The British would say, "You look like a bloody mess!" I had two lovely black eyes, and my body from the waist up was black and blue. I was young, I was strong, and I was stupid, very stupid. My boss, Mr. Walter Cassidy, came into the washroom and told me
to go home, and he would report me sick for a day or two. He told me that the first aid ambulance had taken the Swede to the hospital.
I left the plant and took the trolley car for Waterville. As I looked at my hands, I could not straighten out my fingers. My hands were swollen. I was anxious to get into a bathtub and soak my body.
It was Wednesday evening, church night. Friends from Chesterfield, England, had invited me to their home for supper on a Sunday afternoon - roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. That is what we had every Sunday when I was home. (Memories began to flow.)
After the meal was over, she said "We always go to church on Sunday." She invited me to come along, and I could not refuse. My friend was Mrs. Bertha Wagner. She was the soloist at the church. When we arrived at the church, the service had already begun. People were singing gospel songs. I listened to the gospel of grace for the first time, so when the invitation was given I went to the altar. I became a `born again' believer, a new life - converted to Christianity. I became a member of the Waterville Union Church. All of this had happened several weeks before I fought the Swede, and now my face was a mess. Should I go to the prayer meeting to pray and testify "what the Lord meant to me as I had on previous Wednesday evenings? I felt ashamed of myself, but I decided not to miss the prayer service. All the members came on Wednesday evening for fellowship. After the service, the pastor, deacons and others wanted to know what had happened to me. Telling them I was in a fight at the plant was very difficult. I really felt that I had let everybody down. Of course, they were very sympathetic. We all gathered around the altar (kneeling bench), the place `where I first saw the light' and cried to God for forgiveness. Many texts of scripture were given to me, such as `turning the other cheek', `we fight not against flesh and blood', `love your enemies', etc. Since I was such a young believer all of this sounded strange to me. "I must learn to have total victory over the devil, the flesh and the world.'
During this period of my life I heard many sermons on `spiritual victory', the 'sanctified walk with Christ and the `fully surrendered' life. Several books came into my hands written by A. B. Simpson, F. B. Meyer, Andrew Murray - all instructing `The Way to Victory. Our church was small in membership - about sixty members. In fact, the building would not seat more than sixty-five people, but the church was a powerhouse for God Almighty. We had a good group of young people who had been `saved' and were very active. Someone had told them that I was coming to the states, so they had special prayer for me that I would get `saved'. It was a church that believed much in prayer and fasting.
The pastor said that it would be difficult but I must go to the hospital and ask the other man's forgiveness and apologize to him. Since I wanted to keep a good testimony, I went to see him after work the very next day.
There he was in bed, head all bandaged up, hand in a sling. A nurse was standing nearby, so I asked her how badly he was hurt. She replied "Read the chart." It read - broken jaw, broken nose, broken hand, some broken ribs, some teeth missing. Then the nurse turned toward me and said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you bully! You beat up a very nice man." (She didn't know.)
I told the Swede the purpose of my mission - he brushed it off
and said that if he had not broken his hand on my head, he would
have `taken me to the cleaners'. He said that he was surprised,
that he had underestimated my strength of body and my will to fight
after I was knocked down. He said that I fought like a mad bull,
and asked where my endurance had come from. I replied, "Five miles
underground in a coal mine." When he returned to the plant, he was
sent to another part of the factory. I never saw him again.
The next three years found me very serious in my Christian experience. It seemed that my conversion brought about a mental awareness. I had a passion to learn - reading the Bible and other good books besides studying English, American history, and other high school subjects. The church music appealed to me, so I took music lessons. I developed my voice so that I could sing in the men's quartet and duets with a friend.
The young people visited other Evangelical churches (independent) in New Haven, Hartford and Thomaston. We would sing and give our testimonies. All of this activity was very inspiring to me. Seeing other young people in other churches encouraged my faith in Jesus Christ.
My pastor was a very unusual person. Her name was Miss Mignom Barren and her helpmate was Miss Elizabeth Weeks - they were middle- aged ladies. Mignom Barren was born in New York City. Her father was a wealthy lawyer. Their home was on Fifth Avenue, and they belonged to the `400 society'.
Elizabeth Weeks came from Maine. Her father was president of Colby College. These two ladies met at Vassar College, N. Y. To enter Vassar you had to have plenty of money and a heritage a block long. After Vassar they furthered their education in Europe.
Miss Weeks became a superintendent of education on Long Island. Miss Barren became a concert pianist in New York City, playing at Carnegie Hall. Her private professor of music was Dr. Rutenber, a famous composer at that time.
Dr. Rutenber had heard a young popular preacher in the city. His name was Albert G. Simpson. He was a former Presbyterian minister in New York who had left his denomination so he could reach the masses of people - the unchurched and the hundreds of immigrants that came to New York City. This was his burden, to reach people with the living Gospel, the Gospel of grace.
Simpson was not just another preacher'. He had sessions with God
- he was healed, he was filled with the Spirit. His Gospel was
fourfold - `Jesus the Savior, `Jesus the Sanctified', `Jesus the
Healer', `Jesus the Coming King'. There was an urgency, a divine
call about his preaching that the whole lost world must be
One Sunday Dr. Rutenber invited some of his friends and former students to hear Dr. A. B. Simpson at the Gospel Tabernacle on 8th Avenue near Broadway. Miss Barrett and Miss Weeks were among those who were invited. The Tabernacle had been a theater and next to it was a small hotel. This was Simpson's headquarters - offices, bookstore and Bible school.
Listening to the great preaching of A. B. Simpson changed their lives. Both were converted to Christ and became very dedicated Christian workers.
These society ladies left `all' to follow Jesus. They did mission work in New York and Brooklyn. Miss Barren and Miss Weeks were very much a part of this new movement known as the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Simpson held Bible and missionary conventions all over the country and Canada. (He was born in Canada.) Alliance branches were opened up and were pastored by Simpson's workers. Old Orchard, Maine was one of the first of these conventions. In the meantime, Miss Barrett and Miss Weeks started a new work in Waterville, Connecticut, called the Union Gospel Church; and this is where it all began as I look back on these past sixty or more years.
The Alliance work grew at home and on the foreign fields. Simpson moved his Bible school from New York City to Nyack, a town about twenty-eight miles north, up on the Hudson River. It was a beautiful spot for a school, up on the rocks overlooking the river. Tarrytown was on the other side. It was named `The Missionary Training Institute'. (Now Nyack College) Nyack was truly the `Mount of Prayer and Blessing'.
Albert B. Simpson was educated in Canada's finest universities. He had a great appreciation for the intellect that was dedicated to God. Simpson was the author of many books, besides publishing a weekly magazine. This led to the founding of his own publishing company. It should be noted that Simpson was not only an outstanding preacher and teacher, but he was a gifted poet. He wrote many hymns - some of his great missionary hymns are real classics.
As time went by, I became more and more interested in the
Christian work. The leader of our young people was Henry Sullivan.
He too had found Christ in the little church a couple of years
`Sully' was tall, good looking, and an excellent speaker with some Irish wit. To prepare ourselves for Nyack we took correspondent courses from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My newfound friend Sullivan was employed at Jones Morgan's Men's Store in Waterbury. You might say that it was the Brooks Brothers Store of that day. Since I had saved enough money for a new outfit, I want to Sully's men's store. He knew men's wear and how to match things up. I bought the following - English Burberry overcoat, a double-breasted suit made by Hickey Freeman, shoes made by Johnston and Murphy, a pair of camel hair plus-fours, stockings to match, a shirt, and a couple of ties. To really top things off, I bought a pair of spats, plus a derby hat and an imported Italian Bosillino green hat. I was all `dressed up', and the bankbook was empty.
Our church was very missionary minded. One Sunday morning we had guest speakers, missionaries from Brazil. Rev, and Mrs. Tylee were from Chicago. He had been a lawyer who had `found Christ' in the Moody Church. Our church contributed to their financial support through the South American Inland Mission.
Their mission station was fifteen hundred miles up the Amazon River in the jungles of Brazil. They were working with some very primitive Indian tribes. These Indian people had never seen the white man before the Tylees came to evangelize them.
One day an Indian couple brought their sick child to the mission station for help and the child died. A witch doctor that controlled the Indians said that the missionaries had killed the baby! This stirred up these primitive people and they invaded the mission and clubbed Mr. Tylee and their little girl to death. When Mrs. Tylee was hit she fell under the bed, thus escaping further clubbing and she survived. Several days later, she was found by Brazilian workmen who were putting a power line through the jungle.
Mrs. Tylee returned to the states and went on speaking tours to gather more support for the work God had called her to do. Two other couples, plus a trained nurse, all Moody graduates, volunteered to go back with Mrs. Tylee to Brazil. That is real dedication to the Gospel. Before she returned to the mission, she came to the Waterville church. I was deeply moved by her message - so real, so sincere, and so challenging. Several of our young people went forward to dedicate themselves to Christian service, and I was among them.
The following summer I attended my first `camp meeting' at Old Orchard, Maine (1927). Listening to outstanding Bible teachers, preachers and missionaries from various parts of the worid impressed me deeply. Oswald Smith, a young evangelist, was one of the speakers, as was Paul Rader from the Chicago Tabernacle and several Alliance missionaries. I remember Walter Turnbul and his wife from India and also his brother John dressed in native Arab garments. Mr. Snead, the foreign secretary, presented several couples who were going to the field for the first time. After listening to all these speakers for a whole week, I was simply caught up into the seventh Heaven. The morning and afternoon meetings were held in the open grove, and evening meetings in the Tabernacle. The young people had a meeting in a tent. Mrs. Cora Turnbul was the youth leader. Someone told her that William Sullivan and William Mellor sang duets. She seemed to be impressed by our first number and wanted us to sing at the evening service in the Tabernacle. I asked her who would play for us since we always practiced. She said that we would find Mrs. May Agnew Stephens in the Tabernacle, and we went directly to find her. There were many people standing around after a meeting, and I approached a lady with two walking sticks - she was lame. I asked her if she knew Mrs. Stephens and her reply was "Right here, I'm Mrs. Stephens." I told her that Mrs. Turnbul had asked us to sing in the evening meeting. I wanted to know if she could play the number for us. She took the duet book, looked through it, then looked at us and said, "I think I can play it for you, I wrote itt" In fact, she had written all the numbers in the book. At that very moment I was hoping the ground would open up and swallow my ignorance. When she sat down to play the piano, her fingers were electric - she was an artist at the instrument. I didn't know `The lame take the prey' at that time. May Agnew Stephens and Margret Simpson (Dr. Simpson's daughter) were A. B. Simpson's personal musicians.
The last Sunday at the camp meeting, people were given the opportunity to make a pledge for missions. I made my first pledge of fifty dollars. This was in addition to my weekly tithe to my church. I found the joy of giving to God's work at home and abroad. The meetings were coming to a close. It was the last day at Old Orchard. As we were leaving the Tabernacle, Miss Barrett saw Mr. William Christie. Christie had been a missionary for many years on the Tibetan border. He was treasurer of the Alliance. She wanted to know how much had been pledged for foreign missions. He replied that about ninety thousand dollars had been given. He then showed us a bag, the contents of which were a variety of jewelry. He told us that there was a Christian businessman in New York who would give him full value for the jewelry. As he was speaking of the sacrifice of these gifts, tears were flowing down his face. I couldn't believe what I saw and heard. This was real sacrifice for foreign missions during the years of economic depression.
On the convention grounds was a small bookstore. Sully and I had looked over many of the books and were told what books to buy if we were going to Nyack in the near future. The man giving us this information was David Fant, Jr. We remained close friends for more than fifty years.
Dr. David Fant became the executive secretary for the New York Bible Society. David was an excellent scholar and a good author. Besides selling bibles to individuals and churches, he supplied bibles for the Gideons. Also, every boat that docked in New York received a bible for the captain's cabin. The hotels in New York City received bibles. All of this bible distribution was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The Bible Society was located in the heart of the city. The building was quite impressive. It had a kind of a church atmosphere about it. David had a private apartment on the third floor.
I was passing through New York City when David called me to stay at his apartment overnight. I remember the visit very well. It was the Christmas season, one week before Christmas. We were sitting at a table drinking coffee when the phone rang. Dr. Fant's secretary called to say that Mr. J. 0. Rockefeller was in the store wanting to buy bibles for his grandchildren. My friend David said, "Come with me and I will introduce you to Mr. Rockefeller the second." We met, shook hands, and talked about bibles. He wanted white leather bound for the girls. For the boys, he thought red or black covers more suitable. David packed them neatly in a shipping box and said, "I will send them by mail in the morning." Mr. Rockefeller said, "It will save mailing charges if you put the package in the back of my car (a Buick car five years old)." Then he wanted to know how much the bill was. While David was adding up the bill, Mr. Rockefeller said, "Remember, David, I'm a member and trustee of your board which entitles me to a ten percent discount." I could not believe what I heard from one of the richest men in the United States. David replied, "It is already taken care of." I suppose that is why the Rockefeller family can donate millions of dollars to worthy causes all over the world.
As time went by, I became more and more involved in church I
work. Some of our young people had gone to Jordan College in Boston
to prepare for the ministry. Others had gone to Nyack. I felt that
Nyack was the place for me since they emphasized foreign missions.
Also, they offered `prep' courses for students who had not
completed high school. I fell into this category.
In the summer of 1929, I corresponded with Dr. John Cable, dean of the school. He advised me to complete my high school education before coming to Nyack. I informed him that it was impossible for me to go to high school since I worked six days a week and I had reached the ripe old age of twenty-three. I wanted to take one year `prep' plus the three years to graduate. Four years seemed a long time to study for my life's work; I would be twenty-seven at graduation. That summer I waited anxiously for a letter of good news. When the letter arrived, I opened it with fear and trembling'. It was good news. I had been accepted as a student at the Missionary Training Institute, Nyack, New York. This was the beginning of my academic life. Little did I know at the time where it would lead me.
My friend Henry Sullivan had been accepted as a student at Nyack several weeks before I received my good news. Sully was a high school graduate with a good student reputation. Of course, the church members rejoiced that two of the young people were leaving to prepare for the ministry. The feeling among the members was this - Sully will make an excellent minister; he has all the talents. I would make a good missionary if I cot through Nyack. They thought my background more suitable to the mission field. I am sure that some of the members doubted my decision to go to school. (I was not academically inclined.). To a degree they were right. I left school at the age of thirteen because I had finished my grades according to the English system. When I left for Nyack, I was at least several years behind American standards of education.
Once again I was leaving the known for the unknown. For the past three years I had established myself to a new way of life - my job, my friends, and my dependence on no one but myself. Sully and I arrived at the school with sufficient funds to buy textbooks and pay first semester tuition and one month's room and board. We were assigned to a room on the fifth floor rear in Simpson Hall. This was my first day of many days on Nyack Hillside. Our room contained two cot-beds, two small tables (desks), two chairs, one set of drawers, and a small clothes closet. There was one small window that gave us little light. The room was dark and dismal, but I thought it was all part of my missionary training.
When I registered at the office, I was given a small booklet
that informed me of the rules and regulations of the school. Here
are some of the rules - keep your room clean, hang your clothing up
in the closet, put nothing under beds such as shoes and socks,
shower and shave daily, wear a suit or sport jacket with slacks,
and dress shirt with necktie. Only on Saturday were we free to
dress like working people, because most of the students had some
work at the school or down in the town. Our manners were very
important since Nyack was a coed school. There were two hundred
young ladies on campus, so every young man was expected to behave
like a gentleman.
The ladies had their separate dining hail, and only on Friday evenings did we have mixed dining. Since most of the young ladies had dedicated themselves to Christian service, it was only natural that they would find a husband at Nyack.
In the dining hall each table seated ten students, with senior students seated at each end. The superintendent sat at the head table.
He offered a prayer of blessing, then we sat down to eat and talk with one another. The student body represented many states and foreign countries, and little did I realize that many of them would remain life-long friends.
The food was typical institutional - the same menu every week. There was meatloaf every Friday for dinner, Saturday was soup and delicious rolls, and Sunday was roast veal or some other meat. I well remember there were always ten pieces of meat on the platter, and ten servings of everything except bread and gravy. Gravy and bread were in full supply. It always amazed me how much gravy came from so little meat. I found out all these secrets when I went to work in the kitchen cleaning pots and pans.
These were depression years, and money was not plentiful. There was always good food on the tables, thanks to the good Lord, a good business manager, and an excellent cook by the name of Miss Christianson. She was the `King of the Kitchen'. Her skills in the kitchen were simply amazing. She could cook spaghetti and macaroni in so many different ways that your appetite would never forget the eating experience.
I have always been fussy about my food - and still am to some degree - but four years at the Institute cured some of my fussy eating habits. Let me just mention a few things I really enjoy eating - prime rib roast, tender sirloin steak, leg o lamb, baked sugar cured ham, a nice pork loin, fowl, and all kinds of seafood, including lobsters from Maine.
You can see my tastes are quite simple Gust plain simple food,
well prepared). For four long years, I did not see any of the
above. Well do I remember a framed text of scripture that hung on
the dining room wall. It read "The meek shall eat and be satisfied,
they shall praise the Lord." That did it! Every morning the rising
bell rang at 6:00 A.M. This gave us time to pray, shower, shave and
dress by 7:00 A.M. for breakfast. Classes began from 8:00 A.M. to
12:00 noon. We had one hour for lunchtime, then we were back to the
classrooms until 4:00 P.M. All students were given plenty of `book
work' to take back to their rooms. Dinner was served at 6:00 P.M.,
and then we were back to the books. Lights went out at 10:00 P.M.
As the lights went out, a men's quartet would be singing "Take time
to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord." I was now living by a
schedule that would shape me for the rest of my life.
My courses of study included three `prep' courses - Ancient History, English, and Science. Added to these subjects were Bible, Music, and Art Appreciation.
When I saw `Art' and `Music' on my schedule, I went directly to the dean's office and told the secretary that I wanted to drop those courses. They were for girls, certainly not for me since I wanted to be a preacher. The office authorities turned down my request with the statement - "We have been educating people for many years and we know what is best for you." That closed the deal.
I attended art and music classes reluctantly, but the more I
studied, the more I became involved with some of the great masters
of art and the great composers of Europe. Studying these subjects
opened up a whole new world to me. I would come to know these men
of unusual creative ability - genius artists in every age. I have
often said that anyone who has no appreciation of art, music, or
literature is only partly educated
My first semester at Nyack was quite difficult for me. I enjoyed the class lectures, but I had no method of studying my courses. I wanted to remember everything - everything I heard in the classroom and everything I read in the textbooks. It just did not work that way. I had to learn that learning went from the `known' to the `unknown'. I discovered for myself that I could `soak up' knowledge, not simply memorize facts about the subject. I got to the point where I could think my way through a subject and think my way through any textbook. This method seemed to suit my way of thinking, so that my grades slowly improved. At the end of the first semester, I just `scraped' through. I thought it was pretty good, since I had been out of school for several years.
When the second semester began, I had made up my mind that I could improve my grades - keeD at it. My goal was to be near the top of my class - among the top six. At the end of my first year I was convinced that I could go through any college, any university, or any seminary without any 'flunks'.
The dean, Dr. John Cable, was an excellent professor. He made theology come alive. So did Dr. George Shaw in his Pauline Epistles. These men were experienced teachers, and they just seemed to be `full' or their subjects. I admired their intellect. Dr. Shaw's course on Homiletics fascinated me - the science of developing sermons from the scriptures. Learning how to be an expository preacher of God's word was my chief aim in life.
There were other professors that influenced my thinking. Miss Margaret Hamilton taught English and the literary classics. She made me see the power of words and gave me a thirst for the English poets, from Shakespeare to Hobby Burns. Another professor of great ability was Agide Pirazzini, PH.D S.T.D. He looked like an Italian nobleman. Dr. Pirazzini was head of the Philosophy Department at Columbia University in New York City. I looked forward to hearing him every Friday as a guest professor. Listening to him lecture about the great thinkers of all time opened up a whole new world to me. I just drank it all up. I never thought for one moment that years later I would be teaching in college and the subject would be Philosophy. There was another teacher of ability; his name was Dr. Kenneth Mackenzie. He was an Anglican clergyman who certainly knew how to present the `cults' of the past and also the present day `cults'. Both Pirazzini and -Mackenzie had been influenced by the teachings of A. B. Simpson.
My first year at Nyack came to an end. I saw my grades slowly improve - good grades but not good enough. I was determined a be near the top of my class.
The senior class graduated. That meant some of my friends left for foreign fields, and others were entering the ministry at home. Nyack had become my home since I had no desire to return to Waterville. Mr. Griffin, the business manager at Nyack, asked me if I was staying at the school all summer. If so, I could have a job painting. The work paid me fifty cents per hour, six days a week. My salary would pay for my room and board, and the rest of the money would be applied to next year's school expenses. Mr. Griffin promised me a few hours work in the kitchen during the next school year. This meant I would not be under a lot of financial pressure. All of this would help me to give more time to my studies.
There was another student in the same situation that I was in. He was from Germany, and his name was August Bredemaier. August was to be my helpmate on the job during the summer months. As we worked together, we found that we had so many things in common. He too had left his family in Germany to find a better life in America. August had come to live with relatives in Florida who led him into the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Later on he felt the `call' to the ministry, so he came to Nyack to prepare for his life's work. After dinner every evening we would study together our courses for the next fall. I had bought most of my textbooks from students that were leaving school.
August, like myself, was a serious minded student. Both of us wanted to improve our grades for the coming year. Once in a while we would take time off to play tennis or `go witnessing' in nearby towns.
Sometimes, we got a ride into the city (New York) where we would speak at Tom Noonan's Mission in Chinatown or hold a `street meeting' on Broadway. Giving our testimonies of the saving grace of Jesus Christ to the `unsaved' was a real step in the right direction. We both felt that everybody should have the opportunity to be `saved'. When we left the hillside for the big city our pockets were full of tracts and New Testaments. These were given away to the people that listened to our testimony. We believed that God's word would not be returned void.
We finished painting all the rooms at Simpson Hall, including the two dining halls. Then we started painting the administration building (Pardington Building). Wilson Academy had been turned into married couples' apartments. Some carpenter work had to be done on this building before we could paint it. All of this work was done before the students came back to the hillside.
The first week of my second year at Nyack, I saw many former
students returning and other students coming to Nyack for the first
time. All of this was so exciting - welcoming `old' students back
and making friends with new students. Just to see all of those
vacant rooms fill up with human beings again is difficult to
describe. I think there is nothing so barren as an empty dormitory
building. During the summer days, I would walk down those hallways
and wonder who would be occupying that room next fall.
I soon settled down to study - determined to improve my grades during the second year at Nyack. Sully, my roommate, and I were asked to form a quartet with two other students. Nearly every weekend we were singing and speaking in Alliance churches around New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The school had a bus that took us to our appointments. This meant we were guests in Christian homes for the weekend, enjoying good home cooking once again. It seemed that my second year at Nyack passed so quickly. I had a full schedule - classes, room studies and working in the kitchen, plus the weekend ministries with the school quartet. Several times we were invited to the Gospel Tabernacle in New York City. This was the Alliance headquarters. During one of our visits, I met a Christian gentleman in the Tabernacle who was the treasurer. His name was Mr. Philips. He was the shipping master at the New York docks.
He told me that if I wanted to work on one of the boats going to
England he would put me on when school was over for the summer
months. May 1931 ended my second year at school. My grades were
among the top students of my class; so, with twenty dollars in my
pocket and a small suitcase packed I `thumbed' my way to New York
City to see my friend Mr. Philips about working my way back to
England. I was very excited about this possibility since it had
been five years since I left home and my family. So much had
happened to me during those five years that I wanted to tell
everyone about it. And to think that I would see my mother, my
whole family again, was one big thrill.
I stayed at the Seaman's Hotel for two dollars a night (a real fleabag hotel near the docks). Every morning I saw Mr. Philips checking out the crew for the boats that were sailing for England and Europe. For nearly a week I saw many boats leave those docks with full crew, not one vacancy. My friend advised me to return to Nyack, go back to work and wait for next year to make the trip back home. Then he said, "There is a cargo ship leaving at 6:00 tonight with a few paying passengerS. if you care to stay around until 6:00, but I don't give you much hope. It was during the depression and even seamen were holding
on to their jobs.
My finances were down to two dollars, my hope were below the bottom. I walked slowly to Broadway thinking and praying that I must get over to England now. My inward spirit said to hold on, don't give in to despair. All week I had cut down on meals, eating at the automat buns and tea, coffee and buns. To fill up the time, instead of looking at store windows, I went to the Pathe Gassete news movie house. They showed news movies for two hours for fifty cents. After staying there for about four hours I made my way back to the docks walking slowly, thinking and praying that something would happen. My money was gone. I would pick up my suitcase in Mr. Phillips' office and thumb my way back to school.
When I reached the dock I saw Mr. Philips waving his arms
towards me, calling, "I'm holding this boat up for you." I ran up
the gangplank, the ship's siren blew and we were moving slowly out
of the harbor. I was standing there on deck with a small bag in my
hand, not even knowing the name of the boar or its destination. It
would be difficult to describe my emotions. All I knew was that I
was moving towards my homeland, England, and my family. It all
happened so suddenly. One moment I was hopeless, the next minute
hopeful. It was a great lesson I will never forget.
As I stood there watching New York City floating by, a ship's officer came to me and said, "Are you Mr. Mellor the new steward? You must get ready to serve dinner." I was taken to the dining room and the steward's quarters. Dining room stewards wore white suits for breakfast and lunch and dark suits for dinner. I had a dark oxford gray suit, two white shirts and one black bow tie. An English steward said that he would loan me a white suit for the trip for ten dollars. The name of the boat was S. S. Pennland. It carried cargo and fifty passengers. I was given two tables, with a total of eight people. Little did I realize that my friend Mr. Philips had signed me on for the complete trip - ten days. The boat would unload at Plymouth, then go to all the channel ports - France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. When we docked at Plymouth, England, I could not leave the boat. Plymouth is a beautiful port with so much history associated with it.
The eight passengers I served at my tables were ministers, missionaries and Christian laymen. When I told them that I was a theological student working my way through school they were very understanding and generous. (You see, God does work out all things for good) They told other passengers about me so that my tips at the end of the trip came to about five hundred dollars. Let me say, I earned every dollar. Stewards on small boats are required to do everything. The mess boy called us out of our bunks at 5:00 A.M. We went `below' where everything was stored and filled up the kitchen with food and drinks for the day. This was repeated every morning. The rooms were cleaned, and beds made daily. Besides waiting on tables three times a day, we served refreshments between meals. Also, we were responsible for the deck chairs and served drinks to the passengers. The tips were very good on deck. Every night after dinner the dining room was cleaned up, silverware cleaned, and tables set for the next morning. After the day's work was over, the stewards rolled into their bunks around 1:00 A.M. I was very tired, but the `call' came at 5:00 and you moved towards the coffeepot - same routine.
Leaving Plymouth the S. S. Pennland steamed toward the channel ports of Europe. Passengers and cargo were unloaded at the ports of France, Belgium and Holland. The last call was Germany. After unloading at Hamburg we sailed for Antwerp to end the trip. I was informed that there was a night boat leaving Antwerp for Harwich, England. I bought a ticket and soon a small boat was sailing on the North Sea toward England. We would dock the next morning. It was dinnertime. I went to the dining room where they were serving English lamb chops, and small white potatoes with green English peas. What a meal. After that wonderful meal, I bathed and dropped into a good bed. I don't believe my body moved until I heard seagulls at the port side of the boat. The boat had docked. I had slept my way over the North Sea. It was not long before I was walking from the dock toward the railroad station. I bought a ticket for Kiveton Park, Yorkshire the place of my birth) This was so exciting; I could not sit down. For miles I stood at the windows looking at beautiful England once again. Soon I began seeing familiar country, my native Yorkshire, Redford, Worksop, and Kiveton Park. I was arriving home after five years. As I walked toward my mother's house everything looked the same. I knocked at the door; the door opened, and there stood Doris, my youngest sister. She called out with excitement, "Mom, our Billy is here." Of course, they were not expecting me. They thought I was working at the school. I picked up my mother in my arms and held her as the tears rolled down our faces. To be back home again with my family is difficult to describe.
It was not long before every member of the family was at Mother's house, plus many old friends. It seemed that the teakettle never left the stove. We were making tea (mashing) all the time. When my brothers Joe and Walter went to work the next day, they told all of my old mates that I was back from America. This meant that we had a steady stream of people at the house. I listened to the coal miners and pit-pony drivers tell their tales and stories in a dialect that I had nearly forgotten. I could not believe that I used to speak the same way. Five years before I was one of them, and now I was a college student preparing for the ministry. I began to realize how fortunate I was, and yet my friends seemed to be enjoying their way of life. Most of them wanted to know why I was going into the Christian ministry. This gave me an opportunity to give my testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I told them that I would be speaking at the Methodist Chapel and I expected them to be present. Some of them came, but others preferred the club, sitting there with pipe and mug of beer.
Most of that summer (1931) I spent with my family. Our house seemed to be full of people all day and into the night. My youngest brother Walter was a real `Yorkshire character', and most of his friends were of like character. My parents came to Yorkshire from Staffordshire just before the turn of the century. My father, Clement Mellor, was born at Mow Cop and my mother, Harriet Millward, was born at Harriseshead. My grandfather Mellor was a landowner and my grandfather Millward was a builder (John Miliward and Sons). They built some of the first Wedgewood buildings in the potteries.
My mother had sisters and relatives still living in
Staffordshire; so, on two different occasions I rented a car and
drove to Staffordshire to meet relatives I had never seen before. I
wanted to do everything possible for my mother. She had a difficult
life. My father died and left her with seven children to raise. My
mother was a `lady' from `head to toe'. She loved things of beauty
and knew how to dress although she never had much money. I took
great pleasure in taking her to Sheffield to look at stores and
then buy some things she wanted but could never afford. Mother
said, "Save your money for school expenses."I wanted to give her
everything I had, and I'm glad I did, for that would be the last
time I would see her.
My vacation at Kiveton Park with my family and friends was just about over. The last week in August of 1931 I left home again for the United States. This time it was different. I knew who I was, where I was going, and what I wanted to be.
The Mellor family was still intact (my father had passed away when I was 14). It would be 1947 the next time I would visit England. Global changes were about ready to break upon the world [World War II], and I was not aware of the terrible outcome of it all.
Arrangements had been made for me to work my way back to the states on the SS Minnekadah.
This boat was a cargo boat. I was 'mess boy' for the crew - the
lowest position on the boat, (no rank) My job was to wake up the
crew early in the morning, wait on tables, and do everything the
crew did not care to do. They gambled and played cards most of the
night. The crew was a motley and filthy lot of men, mostly
foreigners. After a week at sea, we docked at New York. The
paycheck was twelve dollars; so, with twelve dollars in my pocket I
went back to Nyack (Missionary Training Institute) for my third and
The last two years I worked in the school kitchen as the pot and pan washer. I also helped the good cook, Miss Christenson. There were some jobs to be found on the 'Hillside' and also in the town of Nyack.
It seemed that no matter how much I worked, I never had a spare dollar to spend. Just to keep my room and board paid up for the month was a struggle, since the jobs paid fifty cents per hour.
Students came to Nyack from all over the country, and many young
people came from Canada. This college had something special. There
was a deep, wonderful friendly fellowship. Both the faculty and
students cared for one another. The 'Hillside', the Mount of Prayer
and Blessing", was truly like a 'bit of Heaven' upon the earth. We
lived in another world - separated unto God, and I loved every
moment of it.
By this time I had learned how to study and master the subjects - it all came much easier. I soaked everything up and my grades were up near the top of the class. During my last year at Nyack I was asked to be a member of the male quartet. We were called upon to minister in churches from Pennsylvania to Canada. All of this Christian activity prepared me for my future ministry.
The day of graduation was near. I was called into the dean's
office and I was told that the faculty members had named me for one
of the graduation speakers. I was to speak on the topic The Mission
of the Church". The time limit was twenty minutes, and I had to
speak without notes. The message must be memorized. To be chosen
for this honor greatly surprised me. (I honestly did not feel
worthy of such consideration.) Also, my roommate Sully was asked to
sing a duet number with me for this special service.
The large auditorium was filled with students and visitors. Our class of '33 received our diplomas, and we were congratulated by parents and friends, I felt deep inside that there was something missing - my family was not there with me.
As I received my diploma, I said to myself "This is just the
beginning for me. Nyack gave me a thirst for knowledge, and I will
go to graduate school in the near future."
The Christian and Missionary Alliance was a pioneer movement at home and abroad. Many of my friends were 'called' of God to go to foreign countries as pioneer missionaries. Those of us who stayed in the "homeland' either started an Alliance work or went on to further our education.
My friend Henry Sullivan was evangelizing Long Island with Rev.
Williamson. Williamson had started a work at West Hemstead. Now,
they were having tent meetings in Bellmore. At the end of the
summer they rented a store, holding Sunday school and Church
services. Sully had a storefront church with 30 to 40 members
attending regularly. This was the method with which most churches
were started during these economic depression years. Looking back
over the last 65 years, the church at Bellmore, Long Island, has
given hundreds of thousands of dollars for missions at home and
abroad besides sending many young people into the ministry.
Sully asked me to help him in the work because he and his wife Lucy were leaving for the Philippines. The good Lord began to bless the work - new people came to our services and others were converted to Christ. 'Salvation' was preached and befevers were filled with the Holy Spirit.
While at Nyack. I met a young woman by the name of Edith Mae
Windish from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a lovely redheaded
girl. We became very good friends, and we decided to marry
Christmas Day of 1936 in her home in Philadelphia-After two years
in the 'storefront church we had to move because the place was too
small for the Sunday school and the services. Through the influence
of one of our members (Mr. Golder), we were able to buy a building
from the local bank. The building had been a club that had gone
broke. The bank sold It to us for what was owed on it. Mr. Golder
was a member of the bank board and greatly respected.
Our new church building was perfect for us - it seated 300 people and the downstairs was all decorated. It was excellent for Sunday school. The club had a bar (for drinks) which we removed, taking the lumber to make a new pulpit. (That was a real conversion) I believe that we paid $15,000 for the property. Monthly payments were fifty dollars.
After five years in Bellmore, Long Island, I was given a call to the Alliance Church in Buffalo, New York. We stayed in Buffalo two years. My health began to go bad on me. My doctor advised me to go the famous Lehigh Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts. After a week of tests, the doctor told me I had 'burned the candle' at both ends. I was run down, and my body was allergic to many things. My weight was down, and I had little energy in my body. I felt lifeless.
The clinic put me on a strict program - physical exercise daily, the food I ate was directed from the clinic, and several tablets per day. They added, "Forget about preaching for a year." That was like a bombshell bursting all over me. I lived to preach. Changes had to be made and what else could I do to earn a living.
The Second World War came to the United States by the bombing of
Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. 'War work' was plentiful everywhere.
Boston shipping docks were building battleships, flattops and
invasion boats. I heard from friends that painters were needed at
the docks. Next morning, I applied for painters job and I was hired
immediately. In fact, I was made a foreman. Several other painters
were my responsibility. The years I painted while a student at
Nyack College gave me the experience for the job.
There were thousands of men working at these docks both day and night. I think that there were three shifts. The painters worked the night shift. This made it possible for me to go to Gordon College for my T.H.B. degree.
As my health improved, ! was able to increase my studies. In 1946 I graduated from Gordon College with a Bachelor of Theology degree (5 years). I then went on to Calvin Cooledge College for the Master's Degree, graduating two years later. The Master of Arts degree was in Sociology and Philosophy. I continued my education at Andover Newton Seminary. This theological seminary was the 'Ivy League* school of Boston (including Harvard). Many of the world's scholars came to Boston during the war. Hitler forced them out of Europe. I felt I was in the right place at the right time. When I look back on these years, studying under these great scholars (1940-1950), I certainly was a very fortunate person. At that particular time, all Andover Newton students had to take their Pastoral Psychology studies at Harvard Clinic. These studies opened my eyes and heart to a new field of ministry.
During my eleven years in the old city of Boston, I saw many
changes taking place. The Second World War was over. Service people
were returning home, and many people had no jobs. There was much
social unrest. The Civil Rights Movement was on the move. I made
two important moves myself - I received a 'call' to serve Saint
Paul's Presbyterian Church in Mattapan (a suburb in Boston), and
was ordained by them in 1945. My previous ordination was by the
Christian Missionary Alliance in 1935.
It was through my Presbyterian contacts that I began teaching in the evening division of Boston University. I was not sure how this new opening would work out; but at the end of the first week (my fear and trembling gone). I realized that I had a God given talent to teach.
I was then pastor of St. Paul's Church and Associate Professor
at Boston University. What more is there to look forward to? A lot
more! More than I ever expected. A Boston doctor told my wife Edith
that we were going to have a visitor come to live with us. Our son,
James Clement Mellor, was born April 19, 1947. What a difference a
child makes in a home. Our son was a beautiful child and healthy.
We were very caring parents and we soon found out how much more
love a child can bring into a home.
Up to this time, we had always lived in rented apartments in the suburbs. Now that the family was increasing we needed to live in our own house. With the help of Edith's parents, plus a first and second mortgage, we bought our first home - a lovely little Cape Cod cottage in Milton. The price was $11,400, eleven thousand four hundred dollars. For that price I had to put in a lawn and shrubbery. All my spare time was spent outside - 'fixing things up'.
Our eleven years in Boston were very pleasant. My education was complete. We had a nice family, a lovely home, plus a new car. We both loved Boston (still do). All circumstances pointed to staying in Boston for many years to come; but when you are God's servant, you are not your own, "you have been bought by the blood of the Lamb" and you "follow the Lamb wheresoever He goeth."
A friend of ours, Dr. R. A. Forrest, President of Toccoa
College, Georgia, recommended me to the elders of the First
Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, Georgia. The church was
'vacant', and they were looking for a new pastor. I was invited to
speak at both morning and evening services. During that same
weekend, the president of Brenau College. Dr. Coudip, interviewed
me. If I decided to come south, we would like me to teach Bible and
Philosophy. Brenau College, Gainesville, was a 'high class' women's
college - heritage and old Southern wealth and culture were its
The people at the church and the trustees at the college kept me busy for a whole week. At the end of week one they had sold me on the South.
Gainesville was a lovely Southern town brimming with Southern culture. The three main churches were First Baptist, First Methodist, and First Presbyterian, all within a couple of blocks of each other.
(to be continued....)