CHAPTER 05 London University (1949 – 51)
Lacking “straight A’s” in college, I did not apply to medical school, but chose rather to be a teacher back in Africa. Betty had enjoyed her childhood in Switzerland, so I had to work hard to convince her that Africa offered an equally attractive environment. I opted to prepare for teaching by attending the course in Colonial Education at London University. At that time,1949, that course’s title “Colonial” did not yet have the pejorative tone it would carry today. Most of my fellow-students were from the colonies. So, I felt at home with them. I was, after all, myself “a white African”.
We had flown to London on a Lockheed Lodestar (with triple tail) and settled in a flat next to the Ealing underground railway station. During this time our first-born, Danny was due. Lane family friends, the Gills kindly invited Betty to stay with them during her confinement. So, Danny was born in Stockton-on-Tees in the north. I was able to be absent from the course to be with Betty for the birth. The newly-emerging British National Health Service smoothly provided all the natality services without any cost to us. That memory stands in such a contrast to the current, tangled atmosphere over health care in US! Our time in UK was greatly enriched by a variety of personal friendships and culturally broadening experiences.
- London University
- Danny’s birth
- Travels with Lanes
- Preparing for Africa
- London University
- University of London
I attended U. of London for a course in Colonial Education. The majority of fellow-students were West Africans and Jamaicans. They were like an advance party for coming independence for African colonies. Other students were British civil servants on posting out to some colony. It was an interesting mix in an interesting time of transition. East Africans in higher education were still a rarity.
With a Ghanaian colleague I did some practice teaching at a rural school south of London, near Lingfield race course. My partner’s name was Wonderful Dadson. To get to our school we took a train. Some of our students boarded that same train to get to the school. We enjoyed their cross-cultural company. One day, after a few trips together on the train, one of the students suddenly sat up and exclaimed to Wonderful “I say! You are BLACK!!” The penny had dropped.
Practice teaching at Fulham Palace Rd. school
This “practice teaching” was of questionable value to either teacher or learner. The school was in an industrial area next to a gas works. My students were from the working class, and our accents were mutually-un-understandable. But the experience certainly was “educational”.
My Tutor at London University (Nick Evans) was a Welshman. So, he took us (his 10 or so students) to Wales for a spring practical application of our studies as well as exposure to the unique Welsh culture. We (Betty, Danny and I) stayed with the principal of a rural school just outside Aberystwith. Besides observing their education system (bi-lingual) we also enjoyed the glorious music of the Eisteddfods and the rugged beauty of the country. It was a pleasant and profitable time for all, especially us “non-Brits”.
Sister Grace visits.
My sister Grace worked for a travel agency and was able to secure a complimentary trip to UK. We enjoyed showing her the sights and even got in a visit to Parliament in session.
- Danny’s birth
Danny was born in the small town of Stockton-on-Tees in northern UK. While awaiting Betty’s contractions to become systematic we walked around the town. In a record shop we bought a 45 RPM record titled “Two Little, New Little, Blue Little Eyes”. Danny’s delivery was uneventful (as were the next four). All costs were covered by the National Health Service, even though we were just visitors to the country. We stayed with Lane family friends, the Gills in their lovely home in the tiny village of Hutton-Rudby. Mr. Gill was head of a steel mill which was struggling to get re-established in the financially-drained post-war Britain. I think few Americans have any understanding of how close Britain had come to being “bled to death” by the war. We owe them a lot for the saving of democracy in Europe.
Gills see note on Danny’s birth.
We became friends with Jimmy and Sheila Sloan who lived on the “other side” of Ealing. Jimmy had been a colleague of J. Arthur Rank the cinema magnate in the early days of cinema. Jimmy was a producer for Rank of religious films, such as Pilgrim’s Progress. At a party at the Sloans we met Dr (MD) Martin Lloyd-Jones, pastor of Westminster Chapel where we worshiped. He was a lively personality.
These were also Ealing area friends. We met them through Bretheren assembly connections. They were also very active in support of the Belgian Gospel Mission which was headed by Lane family friend Mr VanSteenbergh.
- Travels with Lanes (summer 1950)
Touring Europe with Morty and Mary Lane
Betty’s parents (“Morty and Mary” Lane) came with her younger siblings Jim and Ruth (twins) to take us all on a trip down memory lane in UK and Europe. We attended the famous (to evangelicals) Keswick Convention in the Lake District. Then went to Eastbourne on the SE coast where the Lanes had vacationed in the 30s. During this time we had a visit to British Museum with Prof. Don Wiseman and heard well-known evangelical preacher Graham Scroggie at Westminster Chapel.
Then to Belgium where we were hosted by friends in the Belgian Gospel Mission, the Van Steenburghs. At that time there was some anti-royalist ferment
in the country, with slogans on the walls. In precaution we had to cancel an evening outing. During this time Danny was dedicated to the Lord by Rev. Van Steenburgh.
We went next to Paris and visited the Louvre, Hotel des Invalides (sound-and-light show), Versailles, Notre Dame and a ride on the Seine. We also had a meal at the Five Star restaurant La Tour D’Argent overlooking Notre Dame cathedral. They had a rather formal dress code, so the proprietor had to loan Jim and me suit jackets.
We then went to Switzerland and visited Chateau D’oex the Lane’s home for many years. Also, Murren, high in the Alps where they had lived for the ski season. We also visited Lucerne, Montreaux, Vevey and Geneva.
- Preparing for Africa
After completing the London University course, we returned to US to organize ourselves for service back in Africa with AIM (Africa Inland Mission). Moody Memorial Church in Chicago had supported my parents for their career. Now they kindly agreed to a major share of our support as missionaries under AIM.
Spring of 1951
We traveled from Wheaton to Southampton on the SS Queen Mary and from Southampton via the Mediterranean and Red Sea to Mombasa, Kenya on a Castle boat.