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An Old-Fashioned Girl in a Century of Change: The Story of Isabel Anne, Scriptural Wife and Mother as Seen in Her Letters and Journals and in Her Husband’S Memory

An Old-Fashioned Girl in a Century of Change: The Story of Isabel Anne, Scriptural Wife and Mother as Seen in Her Letters and Journals and in Her Husband’S Memory

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An Old-Fashioned Girl in a Century of Change: The Story of Isabel Anne, Scriptural Wife and Mother as Seen in Her Letters and Journals and in Her Husband’S Memory

280 pagine
3 ore
Apr 19, 2011


This story is one for the agesat a time when the concept of marriage in our society is so fragile and its reality so weakened, the strength and courage of the marriage relationship, so beautifully depicted here, is a remarkable witness to the Orthodox way.

+ HERMAN, Retired Archbishop of Washington

Metropolitan of All America and Canada

These letters and journals were written by an intelligent, University trained woman who successfully resisted the feminism model in her generation and found her true career in marriagewith children. She supported her husband in church work and Bible translation for non-literate tribal people, standing with him for evolution-free education.

Apr 19, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Missionaries to Liberia (1955), John and Isabel Anderson worked in church growth and Bible translation. In Orthodoxy they operated a day school with their church. Both taught at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania until retirement in 1994. John continues to reside in Billings, Montana following his wife’s death in 2004.

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Anteprima del libro

An Old-Fashioned Girl in a Century of Change - John W. ANderson





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14





It has been my joy to have known the Anderson family for many years. Father John and Matushka Isabel have been my friends since we met. Their beautiful marriage of 57 years, their devout parenting of eight children, their selfless service in parish life, their brilliant teaching at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and their partnership of faithful ministry to Christ and His Holy Church have been models for two generations of priests and clergy-wives to emulate.

This book is a tribute by Father John to his beloved Matushka and to their enduring love. Its pages are filled with blessed memories of hardships and joys, of difficulties and triumphs, of challenges to faith and the victories of faithfulness that this couple shared across the decades. But most importantly it is proof that Love is stronger than death.

When John and Isabel were united in marriage, they were crowned with glory and honor. For all these years, their crowns have shined without tarnish; now they await the great day when they will be glistening like those of the martyrs in the heavenly kingdom, in the presence of the Lord they served so devotedly, together forever.

Their story is one for the ages. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as the testimonial of a husband for his wife, a priest’s tribute to his life partner in the ministry, and as powerful evidence that love is truly stronger than death. At a time when the concept of marriage in our society is so fragile and its reality is so weakened, the strength and courage of the marriage relationship, so beautifully depicted here, is a remarkable witness to the Orthodox Christian Way.


Retired Archbishop of Washington

Metropolitan of All America and Canada



Isabel Anne was my darling wife. As wife, mother, and teacher, she is a woman well worth being remembered. Her life is told in her many diaries, journals, letters to parents, and in other writings…and my fond memories. She is not alone, but is one of a host of God-fearing wives and mothers whose lives shine over the centuries, to be highly honored by their children and their husbands, models of Scriptural womanhood.

Isabel grew up in the moderately sized industrial city of York, Pennsylvania, during the twenties and thirties of the past century. After high school, she attended Temple University in Philadelphia with the goal of becoming a teacher. This was 1943–47, during the final years of World War II and beyond. We met January 19, 1946, when I was in the navy, to be discharged in June. In November 1947 we were married.

The story will unfold through Isabel’s own writings, yet it seems good to add something about the times in which we lived, with reference to God’s clock and the changing ways that occurred during the last half of the twentieth century.

What took place? Where are we? Holy Scripture has given a picture of the things to come: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1–4 NKJV).

Orthodox seers have written of it: After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to shamelessness in dress and style of hair…There will be no respect for parents and elders; love will disappear … (Saint Nilus the Myrrh-Streamer, seventeenth century; full text is given in Appendix B).

This is a day-to-day story of a young wife, intelligent and university-trained, who humbly and wholeheartedly accepted a lifelong struggle to stand against the prevailing winds of this world by the side of her husband. Facing together the perilous times predicted, she prayerfully and without constraint supported him in many spiritual battles, as together they sought to avoid its pitfalls for themselves, their children, and those to whom they were called to serve in the Church. The saying, A man succeeding doing anything of note has a good woman by his side is eminently true here.

Life’s perilous pitfalls multiplied in midcentury. Following World War II, numberless parents puzzled over what was happening. They felt that they had given their children everything, yet their growing sons and daughters often did not share the same view of life as they. Gender confusion was emerging—witnessed by style of dress, in a new unisex concept. In apparent disrespect of Nature and disregard of its Creator, marriage and family suddenly started to disintegrate. It seemed inexplicable, was unexpected and vexingly unreasonable. What was causing this?

Among a number of new things sweeping through society at the time was a very visible one: the television screen. Parents and children enjoyed watching hours of programming on this engaging medium of communication. It soon appeared in every home and public gathering place.

Few parents, then, suspected the effect this rapid flow of not-really-real images, swiftly crossing the threshold of the mind, would have on their own view of life. And more significant for the future was the untested foundation of thought being established in their more impressionable offspring.

How could it happen? All the wares of the world were being intruded into the family living room! Was there a sinister source? Old connections to reality were being jangled out bit by bit, program by program, and former behavior controls were losing their power. The long-term effects are seen today to have produced wide diversity within this baby-boomer generation, with but one commonality—less love and fellow-feeling and more and more Me.

The children born to those of that era have also been scrutinized by studies. Receiving more educational advantages than ever before, they show less Christian faith and drop out of church attendance in large numbers. Mesmerized by a false litany of millions and billions of years, they neglect the Bible, thinking it untrustworthy.

Providential circumstances favored our family. TV, not available in the African jungle, was shunned when the family returned to the States. Our six baby-boom children saw little of it as they grew (Isabel gave birth to eight children, in seven pregnancies, one being that of twins).

This book is about Isabel’s choices in this modern milieu. Her ready agreement to follow and support her preacher husband adds a certain enduring sweetness to her character, especially in the decision to protect the home from unreal and unsavory images entering from the new secularized world society.

Her values had been tested early. Practice teaching at a Philadelphia mainline public school (1947–48), Isabel had quickly seen the selfism of Progressive Education. In this insight she was ahead of her husband, who at that time was immersing himself in psychology and only becoming vaguely aware that this discipline was actually promoting such a philosophy.

Only after completing his studies in psychology, and on a long weekend train trip with Confirmation Bible open on his lap, did awakening of conscience occur to him. It came alive with its Heavenly message and he realized man’s therapy must pale before God’s. Upon returning home and beginning to explain to his young wife what had taken place, she showed by her response that she was ahead of him—and possibly waiting for him. She said, Now we can have our baby baptized.

By inheritance a strong person, Isabel nonetheless learned submission of the will and was on a steady learning curve throughout her entire life. Crucified daily as the Apostle taught, her personality continually emerged alive in Christ, giving sweet fragrance to all who were near her, an example of true womanhood. Not perfect in a day, she was steadily growing in Christ.

Surely the reader of these pages will find Isabel Anne to be—as her husband and children saw her—a Scriptural woman and a refreshingly old-fashioned girl, happy as wife, mother, and teacher.

May those who read the text profit by it. If so, all Glory to God!



Chapter 1


The heart can be embodied

in the touch of the hand.

Isabel was soon ready when I rang at the sorority. Our hands quickly found each other as we walked down Park Avenue to the subway at Broad and Columbia. Dirt and bits of newspaper swirled together on the narrow street lined with old red brick buildings, adjacent to each other in accordance with William Penn’s building code. These row houses were conveniently kept in use by Russell Conwell’s growing Temple University, now expanding rapidly since the war. We would pass his impressive church on Broad Street.

Our destination? The Homestead restaurant on downtown Philadelphia’s fashionable Chestnut Street. Dining there on Sunday afternoons was becoming a habit, as we both loved the décor of this reclaimed three-story, grey-stone home and the food, served family style. It was a cozy setting, especially for young students like us who were so much in love. We had first gone there a year before when I was still an ensign aboard a ship, moored with others in the Navy Yard at the lower end of Broad Street.

To reach the restaurant from the subway always entailed strolling along Chestnut, window-shopping and indulging my date to linger at Tiffany’s window to view their precious gem display. To go in when they were open never entered our minds. These wares were for the rich of the grand old city. Nevertheless, this pause brought yet unspoken dreams to both of us, who were seeing each other as often as study allowed. By this late winter afternoon I had conceived of a possible plan to obtain an engagement ring. In my parental home in Minnesota, I remembered a broken ring in an old jewelry box in a dresser drawer. The stone was a beautiful red garnet, said to have belonged to a grandmother I had never known. A fellow student had told me of a jeweler in South Philly who could recut and reset it at an affordable price. But I had not yet mentioned this, as we had not spoken about engagement openly, though surely we both anticipated it.

Before reaching the end of the very block on which the sorority house stood, I heard myself saying, Honey, you can have a ring anytime you want it. This was not the classic marriage proposal a girl might expect. Did I fear refusal? I had prayed ever since we met that this beautifully perfect girl be given to me; while between classes resting in Mitten Hall, this was my frequent petition. Happily content in her presence, I always hoped to catch her for lunch or dinner in the student cafeteria.

Among the hurrying student crowd, she stood out, her dusky golden blond hair in a pageboy cut just brushing her shoulders. Her daily attire was neither frilly nor too severe. Her manner was always purposeful—never distraught, even though she was carrying a full schedule, plus extracurricular activities.

We would have more time together on the weekends.

Would she become my wife? She had given me every reason to think she would. If I had some trouble believing it, this was only because of her superior abilities, not equally matched by mine. Was she not the queen of the campus?[1] Not a cheerleader, but the president of the Student Commission and the choice that year for Temple’s valued Sword Award. She would be the one to lay a wreath at Conwell’s grave on Memorial Day.[2] As president of the Lutheran Student Association, she chaired the combined meeting of three city campus groups where we had met a year before—myself still in the service. There I had seen at once that this was a special type of girl. Who could miss noticing her poise and pleasant, well-balanced physical proportions? Later I learned of an expert’s evaluation in this regard. The dean of the university’s art school, a sculptor, had invited her to pose at the studio, though she declined.

We were God-planned for each other, and we intuitively knew it that afternoon on Park Avenue. We were in love. I felt her response at once, for her hand was holding mine more tightly. Our steps slowed, but did not stop; we were on our way, not to turn back until life’s end. In the subway train we began to speak of plans that needed to be made, dates to be set. I was still learning of her inner strength—a pure, well-ordered mind and spirit, which was to save and serve me in many unknowns yet to be faced together.

I opened her old college diary the other day. It was in a box with many other diary books that she filled in the ensuing years. She always told me as I noticed her making entries, You may read them. They are only a record of what we did so we can better remember what took place each day! I never did, as life was always full of responsibilities, and I did feel it would seem like prying.

This college five-year book—leather bound with a metal clasp—has on each page a space for a day’s entry for each year, in this case 1943–46, where it stops! At a glance, one may easily compare one year with another on the same day. As often mentioned, Is seemed to enjoy saying she stopped writing entries when we met. Naturally, various dates appeared before me, worthy contenders for her heart. This adds further satisfaction to my winning her.

Today, her husband and her children may read the diary with her blessing, for it contains nothing damaging to character, but rather it reveals a sweet, dear, girlish heart. The manner of talking to the diary is not unlike her later converse with God. We dip only briefly into it here, in order to gain a glimpse of her as we met. The diary was a discipline she continued when duties carried us into unusual settings and many times of testing. This lifelong dedication to duty in mundane tasks studded with simple joys ought not to remain in a box, overlooked and perhaps at last destroyed. I will attempt to choose a right sampling from our fifty-seven years together. The story, so forthrightly shared, may communicate a noble vision to all, and be especially useful to young women who will read it. To wives, it shows how a humble heart, with quiet prayer, gains strength to complete their God-given role: being willing to conceive, give birth to, and raise children aright, all the while supporting their appreciative husbands in their lifework. At the least, it will show that we must all learn to fear, love, and trust God above all things. Isabel learned this well, if not at once, surely early along the road. She was ahead of many of her career-oriented generation.

It was January 19, 1946, when we met. The following is from her college diary.

Jan.19: Up and into Pennsylvania University by 10:30. Grand meeting [Lutheran Student Association]. At tea met this handsome ensign. Brought me home via Polonaise and the Russian Inn. So very nice! And surprising!

Jan. 20: Studied till 4:30. Got ready to go out to dinner with John Anderson. Ate at the Homestead and then went to the planetarium. Walked home in the snow. So nice. Left his pipe!!!

Jan. 21: John called again tonight to say when he’d be in on Friday. So nice.

Jan. 25: Last day at Radnor [practice teaching]. Said good-bye to some kids. John waited over an hour for me. Ate at Victor’s. Went to Officer’s Club at Navy Yard, then to the ship [USS Cabot, CVL28, an aircraft carrier]. Rode in a jeep—fun.

Jan. 26: Got ready for Robert Burn’s banquet. John and friend, Scotty, came about 6. Loads of fun—people simply lovely.

Jan. 27. : Slept late. Finished Lutheran Student minutes. John and Mr. & Mrs. Steele came about 2. Took us out to Collins (their friends). Lots of fun. Never got to the museum. Came back and listened to records.

Jan. 28: Patricia and I took train home [for weekend]. N—[high school admirer]—same as before—met me. Drove home…fun evening. I was right—there can never be anything between us!

The reader may now be asking, What about you, John? God’s Hand is evident! I had also ceased correspondence with someone met while in midshipman training.

Visiting York shortly after the proposal, we asked Isabel’s dear parents for their blessing. They smiled; yes, we could be assured of both their blessing and prayers! By this time they knew me well and I respected them highly.

Read now Isabel’s recollection of our meeting written fifty years later in a booklet we did for our golden anniversary entitled, God’s Hand on Our Lives.


Returning to Temple University the autumn of 1945, we upperclassmen found ourselves in a situation never experienced in previous fall registrations. (This was long before preterm enrollments and computer printouts!) Heads of departments sat behind tables in Mitten Hall auditorium and, if needed, you could have quick, last-minute consultations should there be wrinkles in your semester’s schedules. Things changed dramatically September of ’45! Hundreds of new students swelled the ranks of registrants and most of them were MEN!!! Veterans back from the European and Pacific war theaters hastened to pick up the threads of their lives and make use of the new GI Bill of Rights! What a difference on the campus—which, though technically always a coed school, had in actuality been more like a girls’ seminary.

So with this new backdrop for our collegiate scenario, it wasn’t at all strange to see a swelling of the masculine ranks of our Lutheran Student Association. Our annual area meeting, held at the University of Pennsylvania Student Christian Center in January 1946, bore out this phenomenon. I must confess I don’t recall how many new men were there, but I sure remember that handsome young ensign who came in late in the afternoon with a Hahnemann Hospital intern. Welcoming them at the registration desk, I was able to arrange for them to join us for our closing dinner, but later found the young doctor had to return to duty. From my place at the head table, I watched Mr. Navy as he chatted with the folks around him—who turned out to be old classmates from the V-12 program at Gustavus College in Minnesota—secretly envious of those near him. With the activities concluded and

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