The Early Unification Church History
THE FIRST CENTER IN SAN FRANCISCO
Neither Miss Kim or George Norton knew anything about San Francisco, only that Pauline and Doris were there. They had a room and were working as waitresses to support themselves. Before George and Miss Kim left Oregon, we bought a San Francisco newspaper and looked for a place to rent. Not knowing the first thing about the city, we found some in a suitable price range. When they arrived, one of the flats we found in the paper in Oregon turned out to be just right, and they rented it.
Our first center in San Francisco was at 410 Cole St. The building was an old 4 story white frame building consisting of 6 or 7 flats, probably built in the early 1900s after the great quake. It was located on a corner on the south side of the panhandle of Golden Gate Park, in the Haight Ashbury area.
The flat at 410 Cole St. was a walk up flat occupying the 3rd and 4th floor in that corner of the building. The entrance was atop a few worn marble stairs. Upon entering the door you were confronted with a long steep flight of stairs. The stairs and hallways were covered with Japanese straw matting, installed by some previous resident. At the top of the first flight of stairs, was an awkward turn of wedge shaped steps and a shorter flight leading to the third floor. The stairs were good daily exercise, especially when packing up groceries and furniture.
The flat consisting of 9 stark white rooms verily heated by two small gas heaters. There was an old kitchen with a gas range and an antique sink and a pantry. Oh yes, I must not forget the classic water closet in this flat. It was one of the originals with the wooden water tank high on the wall. The bowl design was one that lost favor about the turn of the century, a design that is extinct today - with good reason.
At the time the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco was a well kept, working middle class neighborhood with shops and stores along Haight street, a typical San Francisco neighborhood. The community was sprinkled with an occasional artist or beatnik type. This was the beatnik era, but they were mostly centered in the North Beach area of San Francisco.
The neighborhood was a mixture of races and nationalities living together--mostly white, many of recent European origin, some orientals, and a few blacks. No particular group seemed to be a majority. It was a quiet neighborhood and some of the residents had lived their entire lives in the neighborhood. At that time you would feel safe walking to the Laundromat or back from a bus stop late at night.
On Sunday afternoons during football season we would return from witnessing at a church only to find there were no parking places. Keysar Stadium, where the San Francisco Forty-niners football team played their home games. I remember having to drive back from town and taking a bus home. Some of the more enterprising local citizens would stand by their car, with a sign "move my car for $5.00". Given the money they would drive off and let you have the parking place; park some place further away and either walk or take a bus back.
A few years later, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was to gain dubious fame as the hippie and drug Mecca of the United States. Seeing the neighborhood on television during the hippie era, it was hardly recognizable. I wondered how the long time residents survived the Hippie generation, I am sure some of them went through that period still living in the neighborhood. In later years it became an upbeat area with real estate values skyrocketing as the popularity of condominiums grew. I think Charles Manson later lived in our area.
San Francisco is a cosmopolitan city, a world class city. It is often said that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
It definitely has character but at this point I would like to make a comment. The beauty of San Francisco lies in its surroundings, in it's geographical and geological locations, we will forget the San Andreas fault. On the west of the city, you have the beauty of the Pacific Ocean on the east you have San Francisco Bay. This is enhanced by the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge. There is the quaintness of the cable cars clanging their way up and down the hills. There is Golden Gate Park and a number of interesting architectural structures, Fishermen's Wharf, and China Town.
San Francisco was where we chose to begin our work, with the hope that there would be more people and people that were a little more open to our message.
THE PUMPHREYS MOVE TO SAN FRANCISCO
During the last few weeks in Oregon we made a trip to Idaho to leave our two boys, Richard and Stephen Parks, with their father and stepmother. We chose to take our son Lloyd with us, he was just a little over a year old.
We packed our household belongings, all that we could take, the rest we gave away or left in the house. We loaded a rental trailer with the washer & dryer, and refrigerator along with assorted furniture and personal belongings.
We left for San Francisco, one late fall afternoon, towing the trailer behind our 1951 Chevrolet sedan, which we still have.. It would be some twenty six years before we would return to Oregon and visit Oak Hill. The old house, that had been the first center in America stood vacant and run down. It is now gone.
We arrived at the center in San Francisco around 4 A.M. and slept till morning when we unpacked the trailer and carried everything to the 3rd floor, up the steep winding stairs. When we got to the washer, dryer and refrigerator I had it. We looked in the phone directory and found a small mover. Two men came and carried them up the stairs on his back using a strap at a very reasonable cost.
The center was sparsely furnished by anyone's standards. It now had an assortment of furniture and cooking utensils from the Pumphrey house in Oregon. We later furnished the center from the Salvation Army stores, at a very reasonable cost. This was before the Salvation Army stores lost their original intent and became antique dealers.
LIFE IN THE FIRST CENTER
In the first center, the members all found jobs and that was the way we supported the center. Fund-raising as it is today was unheard of at the time. With the exception of Miss Kim, everyone worked somewhere. Doris and Pauline took jobs as waitresses and in the beginning were the main financial support of the center. George found a job as an orderly in a hospital, during his time in the army he was a corpsman. Patty found job as a bookkeeper at the Wells Fargo bank on Haight Street.
We took our paychecks and pooled them. The secular world would say the members gave all their pay to the church. That is not true, there was no such feeling, our feeling was like a family. We simply pooled our money and Miss Kim managed it. We kept whatever money we needed for bus fare, food and clothing. In later years, I often heard later members in a church center complain about only having an allowance. Most of them were single and never managed a household, or experienced feeding and clothing a family. I had been maintaining a home, feeding and clothing children, and believe me, money was very foreign to my pockets. Many people with families can relate to that I am sure. I felt a real financial freedom during those early days, and remember those days as one of the few times in my life when money was no problem.
The money I brought from Oregon was quickly disappearing and I could not find a job. Doris kept telling me that she could get me on as busboy at Fosters restaurant chain where Doris and Pauline worked. I assured her that was the last thing that I would ever do. Doris also regularly reminded Miss Kim that there was plenty of opportunity for me as a Foster's busboy.
One night, it was about midnight, Doris called the center. The busboy hadn't showed up for work and if I came down the manager would hire me. Miss Kim was very persuasive in suggesting with firmness that I take the job. I quickly became a busboy at Fosters and also learned a lesson in humility. I also removed the term "I will never" from my vocabulary. Later I found a job as mailman at the post office in Burlingame, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.
MISS KIM AND MANAGEMENT
Miss Kim was not only our spiritual leader and teacher but she also managed the household, in her unmistakable economical way. A way well known to anyone who knew her. Whether it was words, time or money, she never wasted anything. She was not stingy, we had whatever we needed, but she never wasted a penny and could account for every single one. In later years, she was often distressed to see the money wasted in the Unification Church, often by young and inexperienced members trying to emulate success by spending money.
She was a frugal manager, she never missed a trick when it came to saving money, including gas for heat. Luckily the climate in San Francisco is very mild and only occasionally do you really need heat. She also did the grocery shopping and found many bargains often taking a bus to downtown San Francisco where she could buy groceries at a real bargain. If and when anyone had to talk with her by long distance telephone, it was virtually impossible to talk longer than 30 seconds.
Miss Kim frequently did the cooking and did a pretty good job of it. She often cooked and did dishes so the members would be free to attend church meetings and witness. She had really never had to cook before coming to the United States, but picked it up fast. She introduced us to kimche which she made from regular cabbage. It wasn't till some years later that I learned what real Korean kimche was like. She did introduce us to a number of Korean dishes which I really enjoyed.
The sisters took turns at cooking and we certainly had some, shall we say, interesting meals. That could be partially attributed to some of Miss Kim's bargains. One of the real favorites, chicken gizzards and gravy. I won't even mention the time Doris cooked pork kidneys. Kidneys may be fine, but there is a certain art in their preparation. On thing needed to make kidneys edible is a good overnight soaking in salt water and then a par boiling. This is the way you get rid of a certain distinctive smell and flavor the result of the kidneys function. To Miss Kim's surprise I didn't go for seconds on the kidney delicacy, which had the strong smell of urine.
She even taught us such simple and practical things as water conservation, and thought Americans were very wasteful. I was told that I was wasting water when I ran the cold water into the pan of boiling water to cool off the eggs I had just boiled. The proper way was, first dump out the boiling water then just full the pan with cold water, not just running the water over the egg. I guess with the abundance of everything in America few think of such simple things. I learned something else about eggs from her, she used soy sauce on her boiled eggs instead of salt and pepper. I tried that and found it very good, and I use soy sauce on boiled eggs it to this day.
Something I learned early about Miss Kim, she was very intolerant of complaining people. Often in an attempt to save money, she would get some strange bargains, like the cheapest no-name instant coffee. Any serious coffee drinker can understand my plight when confronted with that problem. I issued some small complaint and she let me know her opinion of complainers.
She was raised to believe that nothing and especially food should not be wasted. She was told at an early age by a member of her family, you must not waste even one grain of rice. If you do, people who died of starvation would be your accusers in the spirit world. Some would even accuse you on earth.
This she believed and lived by, and was adamant that no food be wasted. She would often insist that I finish off something so it wouldn't go to waste. Like why don't you clean up the chicken gizzards, you haven't had seconds yet. She also thought because I was large, I could use the extra food. I ended up putting on weight, not entirely from chicken gizzards. There was plenty of good food and one of my favorite pastimes has always been eating.
Through our efforts and Miss Kim's management, we soon began to build our financial resources. Pooling our pay checks enabled us to print books, buy vehicles and purchase a center in a relative short period of time.
MISS KIM "NOW I TELL YOU"
There were some very memorable times at the Cole street center. Some of the most memorable were around the dinner table. We were finished with dinner and just the old members were there, no new people. The conversation at dinner would be going well and after dinner we would just stay in the kitchen and talk, mostly inundating Miss Kim with questions. She would say "Now I tell you", this was followed with some story about our Leader or some stories about the early church in Korea. These stories would be followed by more questions, along with more explanations of the Divine Principle or the spirit world. On these special and spontaneous evenings we wouldn't go witnessing or to churches. The sessions would go on till late at night, just sitting around the kitchen table and talking.
Sometimes after coming in from an evening of witnessing Miss Kim would be in her bedroom working on her writing and someone would come in to talk or ask a question. Soon the whole bunch would be in there, she would explain many things always related to religion. She would often break out her cache of goodies which she kept in her closet. She kept cookies and such kept for guests and special occasions. She had learned early on that if anything was left in the pantry, it would soon evaporate.
These special times were mostly during the early days at 410 Cole Street. In this way we were privileged to learn many things that added to our depth of understanding. As new members moved in she wasn't as free to talk about many things until matured in their understanding of the Divine Principles, and grew spiritually. Unfortunately, many never did grow.