Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 10, The Picture on the Bulletin Board
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
Your life’s like a landscape and God has the brush,
The work is in progress, He’s not in a rush.
Each stroke has a purpose, nothing’s by chance,
To see all His wisdom takes more than a glance.
One of the popular subjects on the campus of Bethany Fellowship Bible College was marriage. There were some students who couldn’t wait to get married because they had found the “right one”, others who were waiting to find the “right one” and still others who didn’t think there was a “right one.” There was a group of guys who called themselves “Bachelors Till the Rapture.” They were convinced God had called them to be single and they vowed they would stay that way until Jesus came back. I found nothing appealing about that group.
In my second year of school the rule against dating no longer applied. Even though the freshman “no dating rule” helped me settle into God’s plan and call upon my life, it was very freeing to know I could date again. Dating rules were in place, however, and included only one date a week. Since cars were not allowed for students, you couldn’t jump into a car and drive off somewhere. Most dates consisted of walks down a country road that weaved its way past the campus and the surrounding farms. Dating also included long visits on campus benches, or group trips with other couples that might include an invitation to a friend or family member’s house who lived close to campus.
The big problem with dating on a small campus was instant public exposure and the activation of the rumor mill. If you dated a girl once, it was immediately assumed that a future marriage was in the making. Because of this problem, I was very reluctant to jump into “the dating world” (such as it was). I felt best about moving ahead with great caution.
During my second year of school I was given a job with the outside maintenance crew. After spending a year working in the shop, I thoroughly enjoyed being outside. The work was different each day and I thrived on the diversity. I mowed the lawn and kept up the grounds, helped on some construction work, and a lot of other handyman jobs. One summer day I received an unusual order from my boss…“Roy, we have some new beds that have come for the girls dorm, go join up with our crew and help them carry the beds up to the third floor.” It sounded like fun and it gave me my first (and last) invitation to visit the girl’s dorm.
The dorm was a three-story wooden structure with a simple design. Each floor had a long, narrow hallway that was finished with knotty pine paneling. The rooms were big enough for two twin beds, a couple of average size dressers, and two small desks.
“Come here, Roy, help me carry this one up,” yelled one of my co-workers. We each grabbed an end and carefully worked our way up the narrow staircase to the third floor. We had to walk halfway down the hall before finding the room that needed the bed. On the way back, I noticed a bulletin board hanging on the wall. I stopped for a few moments and looked at the pictures on display. In the lower right hand corner I noticed a baby picture. It immediately grabbed my attention.
My interest was related to a new activity I’d gotten involved with at school. Earlier in the year, I had teamed up with a few other students who wanted to start a campus newspaper. One of my roommates was the editor and he asked me to be one of the reporters for the paper. We called the paper Focus. The paper featured school news, coming events, an editorial, interviews, and human interest features. When I saw the baby photo on the bulletin board it sparked an idea for the upcoming edition of the paper.
I looked in both directions down the hallway to make sure no one was looking, unpinned the photo from the bulletin board, stuck it in my shirt pocket, and quickly headed down the stairs. When I got outside I ran over to the print shop, found one of the guys that worked on the school paper, and asked him to make a copy of the photo so that we could use it in the next edition. When he was finished, I ran back to the work crew, helped carry another bed up to the third floor, and replaced the photo on the bulletin board without being noticed. A few days later, on the third page of the school paper, down in the right-hand corner, appeared a baby photo along with the following headline, “Guess Who?”
I had no idea who the person was on the photo. I knew it was a girl, and I thought she was a student, but that was the extent of it. The distribution point for Focus was a wooden box located on a table just outside the dining room. When the edition with the baby photo came out, I was in the dining room eating lunch.
A student sitting next to me had a copy of the paper and was looking at the photo. “Do you have any idea who that is?” I asked.
“I believe it’s Charlene Solum,” the student answered.
“Who is that?” I responded.
“Stay here, and if she comes in for lunch I will point her out.”
“Please do,” I gladly answered, wanting to satisfy my curiosity.
About five minutes later, Charlene Solum walked in the door.
“That’s her!” the student exclaimed.
“Where?” I asked.
He pointed at someone going through the lunch line and said, “There.”
I watched her walk through the food line and take a seat at a table near the far corner of the dining room. I decided I would walk over to her table and ask if she was the one in the photo…
I approached her with a cordial greeting and asked, “Are you the one in the baby photo?”
“Yes. It’s me,” she quickly replied.
“I hope you don’t mind. I was the one who took your photo off the bulletin board in the girl’s dorm. It was a really cute picture and I couldn’t resist having some fun with it.”
“No,” she said, “I don’t mind.”
Our visit was short, but there was something about her that drew my interest. She was soft spoken, reserved, and a bit mysterious. I left with a desire to speak with her again in the near future. It didn’t take me long to start asking other students about her. One of the first things I discovered was that she was a year ahead of me in school.
During the start of my second year at Bethany, Toby Dugan, one of the members of the faculty, decided to leave his teaching position and do fulltime evangelistic work. He relocated to Southern California and through contact with my dad, found a place to rent close to where my dad lived. It was through this move that Toby met my brother, Don. They eventually established a friendship, and when Toby decided to make a cross country preaching tour, he invited Don to go with him.
Their travels eventually took them to the Minneapolis area where Toby conducted a series of special meetings at a local church. Toby wanted some special music for the start of the meetings and called Bethany Fellowship to see if the school could provide some help. A girl’s trio was chosen to provide the music. Through the school grapevine I learned that one of the girls in the trio was Charlene Solum.
I immediately got on the phone and called the girls dorm asking to speak with Charlene…
“Hi. This is Roy Lessin. I heard that your trio is going into Minneapolis tonight to sing at Toby’s meeting. My brother, Don, is traveling with him and he will be there. I would like to go and I’m in need of a ride…I was wondering if it would be okay if I rode along with your trio to the meeting?”
“I will need to check with the other girls first, but I think it should be okay.”
“Thanks so much. I will check back with you in a few hours.”
When I phoned her back a few hours later I found out everything had been worked out and I was welcome to ride with them. I was excited about having the opportunity to see my brother again, and even more excited to be able to see Charlene again.
It was great seeing Don again once we arrived at the church. I got updated on the adventures he had been having as he traveled with Toby from state to state (those travels turned out be Don’s Bible School on wheels). At the end of the meeting Don and I worked out a time to meet at Bethany campus the next day. On the car ride home I strategically “managed” to sit next to Charlene in the crowded backseat. We chatted most of the way home. I was delighted!
After arriving back on campus I wasted no time in putting an action plan into motion that I hoped would move things forward in my relationship with Charlene.
(The following is Charlene’s own version of how we met. It is taken from her book Farm Girl Meets City Boy)…
I often watched Roy across campus opening doors for people and thought, “what a gentleman!” He had such an ease about him. The way he carried himself was with no phoniness.
The girls on third floor of the girl’s dorm decided it would be fun to put up a bulletin board in our central living room with photos of all of us as babies! Shortly after the display was complete, one of Roy’s work assignments was to help deliver furniture to the third floor of the girl’s dorm! Since he was an editor on the school paper he was always looking for ideas to place in the paper.
When he saw the bulletin board of baby photos he spotted my photo and thought “what a cute baby!” He took it off the board and stuck it in his pocket. I opened the next school paper and there was my photo with the caption “Guess Who?”
Roy wanted to find out who the baby was so he asked a friend to point me out next time he saw me. One evening as I was in the dining room after our meal time, Roy approached me and said “I hope you weren’t upset that I took your baby photo and put it in the paper.” I said it was fine.
I didn’t expect that I would talk with Roy again as I didn’t think he would have any reason to approach me again. I didn’t even hint to my cousin, who was my roommate that I was a bit interested in him for I knew it would never happen.
One evening the only phone at the end of our dorm hall rang. Someone shouted “Char, telephone!” Much to my surprise it was Roy! He explained to me that his brother, who lived in Los Angeles, was traveling across country with an evangelist for the summer, and was going to be at a church meeting in downtown Minneapolis that the girl’s trio I was a part of would be singing at. He wondered if he could have a ride.A staff member drove us to the meeting as our trio was representing the school. Wouldn’t you know, Roy and I ended up sitting next to each other in the car! When we got back to the dorm later that evening my friend, who was also in the trio, teased me to no end that Roy was interested in me! I kept telling her it couldn’t be, yet inwardly I was hoping it would be!
(Join us next week as we continue this journey of Roy's memoir, Like Those Who Dream. The book is available through DaySpring and Christian retailers everywhere.)
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