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THE LIFE OF M. L. ANDREASEN - by Virginia Steinweg




Handbills were needed to attract people to the meetings. But handbills cost money, and he had little of that. Nevertheless, he could solve that problem. He would buy a hand press. What matter that he knew nothing about printing; this would be the way to learn. So soon a hand press and a font of type were installed in the Andreasen third-floor apartment. But where to set them up? In the parlor, of course. That wasn't Annie's idea of a parlor, even in an apartment house, TOURING M. L.'s first winter in Brooklyn he held meetings in a hall over a blacksmith's shop. but she understood. The Lord's work came first. And the resultant handbills were attractive, bringing many hearers to the meetings.

The next home for the Andreasen family was the downstairs apartment of a two-story house on Brooklyn's 56th Street. Each tiny bedroom barely held a bed. There was a tiny kitchen, then the tiny parlor. Of course, the printing press was set up there. Happily there was a small fenced-in back yard where Vesta and Eunice could play in good weather.

The third home in Brooklyn was on a second story on 76th Street. In this area the streets all look alike, and the houses on the streets all look alike—all are made of the same brownstone material. But the rooms were larger than in their previous house. Besides, the streets went right down to a beach, where baptisms could be held. To this home M. L. one day brought a golden-oak piano.


Until the purchase of the piano, the family's little folding organ was carried like a big suitcase back and forth from home to meeting hall. Both M. L. and Annie played, hence the girls couldn't remember which one had taught them. At 10 years of age Vesta was able to play for the meetings if necessary, and by 12 she didn't need to know the hymn numbers ahead of time. She could play most of them.

It was not always the organ that was used to accompany the singing. On Sunday nights a group of young people played guitars when M. L. stood up and led out in the singing. This group thoroughly enjoyed the necessary practice hours, thanks to the wit and skill of their young pastor. He always had some singing group preparing special music for his meetings, also.

While living at the home on 76th Street, Eunice was badly burned. While she was watching a bonfire, her clothes caught fire from the embers, and she was burned from head to heels. Annie forgot her own sleep trying to soothe the agony that seemed even more intense at night than during the day. When the doctor came to change the bandages, he would have to soak them loose before he could put on fresh ones. The pain lasted for months before the child was finally better. M. L. often referred to this experience as an illustration of how God must suffer when His children do.

M. L. liked to take his girls for walks. One time it would be Vesta, the next time Eunice. Instead of having the child hold his hand, he would have her grasp his little finger. From time to time as they walked along he would raise the child off her feet and swing her along through the air, all from his little finger. He started this when they were little, and he grew in strength as the girls grew in weight, so that he was still swinging them when they were far too heavy for the strain on his finger. One day,


when he was swinging Vesta, the last joint of his finger twisted under the strain. He found permanent relief only years later when he had that finger tip removed.

Occasionally M. L. would take one of the girls to downtown Manhattan with him. Vesta delighted in fitting her nickel into the turnstyle slot, climbing the wooden stairs to the elevated railroad, and standing on the platform peering down the track for the lights of an approaching electric train. She can still remember looking out on the housetops, seeing the dingy washings hanging from lines between the roofs as the train rolled along.

New York City had no skyscrapers in 1908, but the harbor boasted the "eighth wonder of the world," the graceful Brooklyn Bridge, with its suspension span a quarter of a mile long. As their elevated train crossed East River on the upper deck of the bridge, M. L. told Vesta the story of its building. The German immigrant Roebling, who designed it, died of tetanus, following an injury while surveying the site. His son became an invalid after being decompressed too soon after twelve hours in a pioneer underwater compression chamber used in placing the foundation. For the remaining eleven years of the construction, he watched through binoculars from his bed, sending instructions by his wife. Finally one May morning in 1883, he watched with deep interest as the completed bridge was officially dedicated.*

Vesta very carefully observed the station at which she and her father got off the train, which direction they went from the foot of the stairs, and the building they entered, where her father rented big glass slides for the stereoptican projector he used in his


public lectures. After picking out the slides he wanted for the next meetings, he gave them to Vesta to take home, while he went to his office for the day's work.

When Vesta was 10, M. L. and Annie decided that she was old enough to accompany her father on an ocean voyage to Denmark. He arranged to have her stay with a family near the Skodsborg Sanitarium while he went to Germany to attend the Northern European Division council.

Because M. L. was working for Scandinavians in Brooklyn, all parts of the church services were in Danish. However, English was used in the church school the girls attended. Wanting their girls to speak Danish, as well as English, M. L. and Annie decided on two measures to offset the English regularly used in the home: They would conduct family worship from the Danish Bible, and they would pay the girls a penny for each hour in which they conversed only in Danish. The plan worked, and the girls' Danish was saved from oblivion.

M. L. taught his girls to ice-skate and swim. In those days Coney Island was not commercialized; it had only one hotel, and the lovely beaches were unspoiled. The drawback was the excessive clothing the girls and women had to drag through the water:

sleeves, and skirts that covered long bloomers. One day the beach man came along and told Vesta she must be sure to wear stockings on the beach and in the water.

The Andreasen family split up during 1909. It had to do with church school. It was not possible to operate a church school that year, and M. L. and Annie would not even consider sending the girls to a Brooklyn public school, even though Brooklyn's schools belonged to one of the best school systems in the country. They finally decided to divide forces. Annie and the girls went to South Lancaster,


Massachusetts, where there was a good school, and M. L. got himself a room in Manhattan, near his office, where he served as president of the Greater New York Conference. In referring to this period of temporary singleness, M. L. used to tell his students about letting his used dishes sit until he had to sandpaper them clean.

* "Roebling, John Augustus and Washington Augustus," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, vol. 15.

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