King's Business - 1948-11


THE HEART-MOVING STORY OF GOD'S WAYS WITH A BELOVED BLIND STUDENT AT THE BIBLE INSTITUTE OF LOS ANGELES. A BLIND athlete— a letter man in college? A blind fellow, “ top mounter” in a hand-balancing act By Edwin L. Motter As told to Betty Bruechert

fore I lost my sight, and during the vacations when I was at home, I attend­ ed Sunday school and church at the Bible Hall, where Dr. Walter L. Wilson, “ the beloved physician,” was the spirit­ ual leader. This man of God, and his son, who was my Sunday school teacher, and other genuine Christians in the group exerted an influence upon me which was never erased. The Word o f God which was then implanted in my heart stood me in good stead in the years of temp­ tation and testing that followed. There was instilled into me a respect for God and His church and a conviction that the Christian life was the only life that paid here and hereafter. As a result of contact with the Bible Hall, a sister of mine became a foreign missionary.

that opened the doors of world-famous stadiums, night clubs, and theaters, which brought in large sums of money, and promised a life of travel, luxury, and fame? A blind gymnast, now doing that same act for God, and preparing for full-time service for Him? I know it sounds incredible, even fantastic. But let me tell you of God’s dealings with’ me, whom many of my friends are kind enough to call “ The blind boy with the happy smile.” For that smile, too, is a part o f my story. After all, one does not go around smiling when there is nothing about which to smile, especially a chap like me who has lived in total physical darkness for twenty years. Although in 1918 I was born on a sand farm in Oklahoma, my parents soon moved to Kansas City, Missouri, which has always been “ home” to me. I was a typical boy, all energy and appetite, and primarily interested in the physical. When I was six years old, one of my two brothers, some neighbor boys and I were cleaning up our yard. For picking up papers and other trash, we were using sharpened sticks. After we had made the yard neat, I walked up to a large elm tree and drew my home-made spear. Almost immediately, as soon as it left my hand, it rebounded, and lodged in my right eye. Subsequent infection complete­ ly destroyed the optic nerve and rendered that eye completely useless. But since the other eye was perfect, I felt no par­ ticular loss, and was ever a happy-go- lucky youngster. At the age of nine years and nine months) I received the gift of a hand­ some pocket knife. Naturally,' with im­ mense pride, I tried it out on everything. On a cherry tree in the back yard some oozing sap had hardened which we boys chewed for gum. I thought my sharp new knife was just the thing with which to pry off some of this delicious concoc­ tion. Inserting the point of the blade in the center of the mass, I pulled with both hands with all o f my might. Sud­ denly, unaccountably, the blade slipped out, and plunged directly into my good left eye. That was the absolute end of all sight for me forever. I have seen nothing at all since—not my mother’s sweet face nor the green grass nor a single page of a book. A terrible tragedy, you say? It has never seemed so to me. All of my life God has been making up to me for the loss o f vision. As soon as I was well enough, my parents sent me to the Missouri School for the Blind where I finished the grades and two years o f high school. But, be- Page Twelve

I, decided to join him for the summer. We found him spending a tot of time on Santa Monica’s famous “ Muscle Beach” working out under a first-class gymnastic instructor, Cease Hollings­ worth. On a black mat spread out on the sand, Cease gave his services free in order to stimulate an interest in gym­ nastics, and to test his theories in “ spot­ ting.” Jus became as fascinated as my older brother, and while they worked out, I lay on the sand and waited for them to take me home. After a while, Cease began to notice me and asked if I too did not want to learn a few tricks. I thought this a little unreasonable of him and told him so. But I was intrigued in spite of myself and as a result of his kind, pains­ taking efforts, was soon quite easily per­ forming some of the simpler feats, al­ though of course I could not see what I was doing or those with whom I Worked. But Cease had boundless energy and en­ thusiasm and the patience of Job. What­ ever I afterwards accomplished was al­ together due to his efforts for me. It was one of the happiest summers of my life, and I returned in the fall to the High School for the Blind with a new and vital love—gymnastics. Jus entered a Diesel Engineering School, but we continually dreamed of “ Sunny California,” and so two years later we bought an old,’29 Ford roadster and headed for the Golden West, arriv­ ing on August 31, 1937. Having already begun a hand-balancing act together, we now perfected it. In the daytime I at­ tended public high school, and he spent long hours in a service station, but at nights we worked on our act, ever keep­ ing before us the goal of getting into that glamorous show business where we would not have to work ten hours a day for twenty dollars a week! The rainy season forced us away from the Beach, so we made a bargain with the YMCA to furnish us a place in which to work in return for free demonstrations of our act, so we had permanent shelter from that time on. In the meantime, after many argu­ ments, the gymnastic coach at my high school finally allowed me to try out on the gym team. It was the first time a blind student had ever been interested in gymnastic competition and naturally the tendency was to relegate me to the cor­ rective gym in the same manner that all blind and otherwise handicapped stu­ dents were handled. Fortunately, I work­ ed hard and made good, specializing in T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

Edwin and Justus Motter Rest position in the middle o f a routine.

During the summer of 1935, when I had finished grammar school and was ready to enter high school, a new in­ terest came into my life. My father had a very unusual ambition for his three sons: he wanted us to get into show business. He had come to the conclusion that this was the easiest road to pros­ perity and success. That he was right about there being less drudgery, higher pay, and greater leisure than any other way of making a living I had ample reason to prove in the future. But he did not take into account that other not- so-desirable things went with this kind of life. This I found out for myself— the hard way. Meantime my older brother had moved to California and was breaking into this glamorous show business as bottom man of a hand-balancing team. So my brother Justus, who is two years my senior, and

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