An Adventure of Faith, by Robert Ginther


Once upon a time in olden days out in the far west, a group of cowboys were lamenting the passing of a certain man, great in their estimation. "Yup," said one, "he was a gentleman and a scholar, a judge of good horseflesh, whiskey and women." Boy, what a man! However that may be, once in awhile I meet a man who stands out above his fellows for lofty ideals and noble traits of character. Such is Palmer the Scotchman.

He can trace his ancestry back to before the French Revolution when they were driven out of Scotland to France. There they took sides with the French monarch [in the French Revolution] and fought to the last man, save one small shipload of them which eventually escaped to America. Clem is cultured and refined in speech and conduct, no habits except good ones.

I met him last Thanksgiving Day 1942 when we were partners for the day putting on oak trim aboard the Aircraft Carrier. Of a powerful build with hairy arms, this very intelligent man with ruddy cheeks and most boyish and pleasant personality, drew my attention and held my admiration. He has taught school for 20 years and lived an interesting life. He is a gifted conversationalist and likes to visit. I liked him so well that I later took him to my home for an overnight stay to meet Pearl and the children. They won't forget him soon as he made some delicious candy for them. Why did I mention his hairy arms? Well, once when he was a lad working in his father's shop his shirtsleeve caught on a revolving shaft and would have torn off his arm if the sleeve had not ripped off at the shoulder. At home that night he said, "Mother, I want you to cut off all my shirt sleeves at the elbow." Since then he has never worn a long-sleeved shirt, winter or summer.


One early morning last January 1942, my car became stalled in the mud in our yard. I was working at two jobs in Tacoma. In the darkness I struck out on foot 11 miles to go, but I figured something would happen in my favor. It did. In the darkness two bright lights soon overtook me, and a big, shiney car pulled up beside me. "Where are you going?" someone called out. "Carstene's in Tacoma," I replied. "Jump in," he said. He was a man about 60, well-dressed and of a polished speech. He informed me that he had retired but that the city had requested him to take up his former position in this emergency. "Of course," he said, "it's the big money that really brings me back--$250 a month. By the way, you must be making pretty good yourself." [Well, he was right.] I haven't had time to figure it up, but it is around $480 to $500 this month.


Ship-building is a rather hazardous occupation, and at least one man a week is killed here in the yards, if not more; but nothing is said about it. I suppose they conclude that it would discourage men from seeking employment in ship-building. However, when you stop to think that there are about 30,000 working here, why the percentage of fatalities is not bad at all.


One night I was assigned some patch and repair work down in the Photo Laboratory rooms. Before I could begin, I went to get a painter to do some painting for me. He was a tall young man, and I soon discovered, a Christian. We entered into a discussion regarding these evil days and the lost condition of the men we worked with. Finally, removing his helmet, he said, "Let us pray." A most earnest petition rose up out of that ship that night for the souls of lost sinners, that they might for their souls' sake turn from their wicked ways and turn unto God and find in Christ Jesus the way of life eternal. When he left, he said, "I am going out of here next week to preach the Gospel, and you ought to do the same." [I have to wonder why my dad did not follow up on this advice, except that he did not feel called by the Lord to drop his job to do it. He had preached in Sioux Falls for the Gospel Mission there, and even gave messages here in Washington State at his church, but he continued to do it sporadically as a lay minister, not as his vocation in life. It is interesting to think that in time he might have grown into a full-time lay minister, for the Gospel and the salvation of souls was dear to his heart.--Ed.]


It was on a Monday night and everything was going okay in our big shop. Machines were running and men were busy everywhere. My bench is located near two huge break machines which bend our metalinto any shape required at any angle desired from a 45 degree to 135 degree angle.

It takes a piece of quarter-inch steel sheet 12 feet long and breaks it as easy as a piece of tin. You can imagine what it would do to a man's hand. All at once I heard an agonizing cry of a man in great pain. One of the operators had gotten his fingers or hand between the jaws of the big press and all of his fingers were crushed off.

It was rather sickening to see the leather glove fingers with the amputated fingers inside laying on the floor. I resolved then and there to be more careful--with machines. They are such innocent things, but woe be unto him who transgresses the laws of safety, for he will soon find sooner than he expects that they are the most brutal things that will show no mercy.


Perhaps many of you who read this will never have the privilege to inspect the engine room of a modern, ocean-going ship. No. 7 was nearly completed; in fact, it was her last night at dock in Tacoma. Officers and members of the crew were already aboard to take her away.

The leadman informed my partner and me that the chief engineer had a job for us down in the engine room. Two armed guards stopped us at the entrance, requesting our names and badge numbers--also what our business was. Upon a satisfactory explanation, they permitted us to enter. Our task was a simple one, hanging a full-sized record [bulletin] board in a location satisfactory to the chief. I was astounded and amazed at the sight, as I stood and marveled at what man had done in a mechanical way [as I looked about the vessel's interior]. The huge, powerful boilers with their seam turbines gave off such a whine that it was difficult to talk or hear.

The enormous amount of electrical apparatus and machinery, the innumerable pipes and valves, gauges, the intricate mechanism and the huge drive shaft which was 194 feet long, weighing 96 tons. All this and more defies description with mere words.

My eye took note of the fuel tank gauges--75,000 gallons, 46,000, 39,000, 60,000, etc. The chief engineer explained that no one could understand all of this, but that here in this ship was the experience, development and improvement down through the years [representing the world's accumulated knowledge of ship-building, electric power, steam power, and turbines, drive shafts, boilers and other mighty machinery].


915-9th Ave. S.W.--our present new address, down where the blackberries grow [this house still exists, without any major alteration]. Since starting to write this, many months have passed by, and Pearl and I have decided that "Be it ever so humble, there is nothing to compare with a home"--all your own, and where you own the ground under your feet.

So we bought an acre of gold. That's about what it is down in the Puyallup Valley--$1000 an acre, even before the war. There is a cabin and another small building on the place, with lights and water. There is much unsound buying going on here now.

For instance, a man asked me $6,000 for a house and 7 acres of rocky land which in normal times would be worth more than $2,500. We realize that this is pure folly.

We would rather have a cabin and own it, than to have a mansion and a load of debt. I am more than ever convinced that too many Christians have lost their sweetness and joy in the Lord by permitting themselves to become entangled with the affairs of this world, and consequently become burdened down with worldly cares.

The almost fanatical desire to obtain houses and lands and luxurious furniture, also cars, has caught many who ought to know better, including myself. Pearl and I will no longer be deceived by the glitter and the glamour of this modern trend which brings nothing in the way of true happiness and contentment.

No! The installment plan did not originate from the Bible; therefore, to live beyond one's means is not Christian.

It will be possible to raise and produce a good share of our living on this acre besides our cow, chickens, and hog. The cow alone is worth $15 a month to my family. The abandoned Jap concentration camp is only a few blocks from us and some day soon all that lumber will be sold very cheap.

Then perhaps I'll build a cozy little house just the way Pearl wants it too. Yes, there will be a tiled bathroom maybe, and I'll build it entirely myself with my own hands. But in the meantime, we'll be happy and contented with such as we have.

Lt. Hans Spilde (in uniform) and brother-in-law Robert Ginther during Spilde's wartime visit to the Ginther Family


The only relatives who have visited us so far in Washington are the Spildes. One time last winter I came home at midnight, turned on the light and to my astonishment there sitting on the sofa in the front room were two lovely ladies, each holding a baby.

I don't remember which one I kissed first. Alida stayed for the night only and left the next day to be with Hans in California. Then last May 20th, Lt. Spilde was notified and given one week to prepare for overseas duty. And to our surprise he came with his wife and Eloise [the baby] the long journey up the Pacific Coast just to spend two nights and one short day with us.

The memory of the occasion will long be with us, and right now as I write these words the great Gospel singer, McHugh, is singing, "God be with you till we meet again." And so may it be, our dear Hans! When the war is over, I'LL JUST TAKE A SUMMER OFF, AND WE'LL ROAM ALL OVER THE MOUNTAINS HUNTING AND FISHING, AND BOATING ON THE PUGET SOUND TO YOUR HEART'S CONTENT.

What a day that will be!! This holds true for you too, Arthur. Remember, you have promised to make us the first visit, and we know your word is good. May God hasten that glorious day. [The Ginthers continued to be isolated from the main body of their relatives, and as the years rolled by after Robert's premature death, this became rather acute isolation for some of the family at least, for he had joined the Ginthers in Washington State to the Stadems in South Dakota with his flights between them in his own private plane.]


To all of you dear friends in Christ and relatives too, who have found this little narrative sufficiently interesting to finish reading, I want to render my personal apology for the poor manner in which it is written, due partly to my limited ability and also to the brief snatches of time here and there in which I have had to write it. But, after all, if you receive one of these [accounts], remember it was not me who sent it to you but rather Mrs. Ginther. In closing, I should like to borrow these words from the 100th Psalm, "The Lord is Good."

Sincerely, Robert L. Ginther


Note from the Editor: The above is a valuable and beautiful photo taken by an old family friend, Mr. Parks, shortly before Robert Ginther's death in January 1947 through a plane crash. It is a picture he never saw, just as he never got to make the hunting and fishing outing with Hans Spilde--a glorious time no doubt the Lord reserved for Heaven.

He started the digging for the basement and foundation of the new house for Mrs. Ginther and the family, and the lumber was bought and lay ready to be used, but he was never to build it. His allotted time on earth had run out.

From the farm where he lived as a boy, to his marriage and fathering of children and his work in the packing plant, and finally to his work on giant aircraft carriers in the shipyards, God had a plan for his life and now it had come to the final and concluding years (for he lived only five years after moving to Washington).

Speaking of time, do you discern the times? Christ asked this. Why? Look around you--doesn't it seem that time is fast running out, not only for you and me, but also this old, sin-sick earth?

Scripture says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." "I am the Way the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me." "I stand at the door and knock," Jesus says.

Friend, would you pray a simple prayer with me that God will certainly hear, since he promised to hear us when we call upon his Name?

Dear Lord Jesus, I am a wandering sheep, and You are the Good Shepherd sent to lead me back to your Father. I thank you for your love, that took you to the Cross for my sake. Make me your child. I ask your forgiveness. And I thank you for salvation and eternal life, which You promised to all who simply call on Your name as I have just done.

A last observation: Have you ever been to London's St. Paul's Cathedral? I do not recall the artist's name, but there is a very famous painting there that I have seen, the one portraying Christ knocking at a door. Thorny brambles grow by the steps leading up, as if the entrance is not being used much or cared for, and there is one other thing strange about the picture that I missed seeing on my visit to St Paul's--the door is latchless, that is, the handle is on the inside! Isn't that exactly like the human heart, the will to open it lies within. That detail alone best reveals the genius of the artist, even more than the quality of the painting.--In His Keeping, Ronald Ginther, Editor

Links to other pages which include "The Trumpet Call," Message Concerning the Plane Crash that took Robert Ginther's and Arthur Stadem's Lives:

Plain View Heritage Farm Home Page 1

Stadem Families Saga Continues

Stadem Families Master Photo Album

Plain View Heritage Farm Master Directory

Central for Reminiscent Reflections

Plain View Heritage Farm Roadmap

"The Trumpet Call"--Message Concerning the Deaths of Robert Ginther and Arthur Stadem in a Plane Crash

New Pages and Links for Return Visitors

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