James and Ellen At Mount Hope Avenue
124 Mount Hope Avenue in Rochester, New York was always bustling with activity. It housed a gaggle of young, impoverished writers, editors, printers and publishing house workers alongside a Washington Hand Press that churned out issues of the fledgling Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. James White was in charge of the little publishing house and often felt the weight of the work pressing heavily on his shoulders.
The entire operation was run on a shoestring budget. The workers were given room and board as payment and the house was furnished with the barest necessities; ten ancient, mismatched chairs which cost $1.64, a couple of rickety bedsteads for 25 cents each and a makeshift table which was really a board slapped over two empty flour barrels.
Their financial constraints also affected other areas of their life. Potatoes were too expensive and so they ate turnips. Butter was also a no go so they had to make do with fruit sauce and they ate so many beans that they turned them into a food group.
A tight budget also meant that the working hours were long and the work was laborious and time-consuming. It took three days to crank out an issue of the paper on the little hand press. The entire paper was then put together manually. John Loughborough punched holes and George Amadon used them to sew the paper together. At the end of the production line was Uriah Smith with his trusty pocket knife to trim the edges of the paper.
The Sock To The Rescue
One day James White came home from the office with a troubled expression on his face. When his wife saw him she asked what was bothering him.
“It’s time to publish another issue of the Review and we don’t have enough paper to get the job done” he exclaimed in exasperation “and we’ve just had a shipment of paper come in but we don’t have enough money to pay for it”
“How much money do you need James?” Ellen asked
“Sixty-four dollars, but it might as well be ten thousand in my present financial state” he shook his head and looked over at his wife.
A ghost of a smile played over Ellen’s lips as she returned his gaze. “Wait here,” she said and then disappeared into the kitchen. She returned a moment later holding an old sock which she held out to her husband.
“What’s this?” James asked puzzled as he reached out to take it.
“Look inside” she prompted, the smile now broadening across her face.
James tipped the contents of the sock onto the dining table and a whole host of small coins clattered loudly onto the wooden surface.
“What’s all this?” he exclaimed in complete shock as he took in the stash of shiny coins lying in a heap in front of him.
“Well,” Ellen said grinning “I’m of the opinion that a body always needs some money stashed away for a rainy day and today is a rainy day James” she paused and looked over the pile of money “Do you think you’ll have enough to pay for the shipment of paper?”
Still in shock James counted out the money before dumbly nodding at his wife.
The money was then taken down to the office where it paid for the shipment of paper which in turn was used to print out the latest issue of the the The Review and Herald.
Ellen’s secret stash saved the day and made sure the paper got out on time!
Further Reading and Citations
- Collins N.J. (2005) – Heartwarming Stories of Adventist Pioneers (Book One)
Suki Goonatilleke lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about winning people for Jesus and has served in full-time ministry at Gateway Adventist Center. Her current ministry endeavors include being a stay-at-home mom by day and writer by night.