Mom wrote their story in 2014 in order to share their history with family and family to come.
I’m excited to now share their story with YOU!
In The Ziemke Story you will learn of their Christian Heritage, their early years, ministry, trying times, family, where they’ve been, and how they ended up where they are today!
We will endeavor to share a little bit of The Ziemke Story each week as Mom wrote it to her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond.
The Ziemke Story – 1967
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom January 4, 1967:
This is a beautiful snowy day. It was showering rain today, then mist, then snow that melted when it hit the ground. Then the snowflakes became continuously bigger until now they are huge – falling softly and covering the ground with a fluffy white blanket – except for 3 huge spots in our back yard where the gigantic pines protect the lovely spots of green grass. Under the center tree is a cute little redwood lawn table and three chairs. The whole scene is enchanting – refreshing after days of dreary rain. The old folks here say this is the most rain they’ve had in memory. But, oh, the lovely snow reminds me of back home, romping and playing and trudging through the snow.
It was a lovely weekend we spent with Bonnie and Joe and family. They came Friday night. You should have seen Bonnie and me finishing our first Holiday supper together. We were so unaccustomed to doing such things. We went in circles and laughed at our ignorance, remembering to make gravy – letting the beans go dry – how to get the turkey out of the pan and the kids out of the kitchen. Supper was delicious – 24 pound turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, yams, pineapple Jell-O salad, buns and jelly, olives, pickles and pumpkin pie.
There must be 2 inches of snow on the ground now. Brenda’s looking out saying, “Hey you snow, what doing, huh?”
Pastoring a church was a little frightening for me. I didn’t feel like a ‘Pastor’s wife’. I guess I thought there should be a special feeling. I was looking for a mold I could cast myself into and come out as ‘it’… a ‘Pastor’s wife’. I soon learned that we (the saints of the church) are all workers together with Christ. By the end of January, Gene had already started his first church remodeling project – the men’s restroom.
We didn’t get a lot of financial support from the church. I think it started at $125.00 a week. They had wanted Gene to be full-time and offered to supplement with donations-in-kind. We often had eggs, fruit, and sometimes meat donated from the people in the church. I could do grocery shopping for our little family of four for $20 a week. What made me nervous was Gene’s hospitality and generosity. I could have been the same but knowing I had spent the allotted amount on groceries that had to last the week made me more frugal. He would often invite folks over after church and say to me, “Rainie, what do we have to eat? Do we have any lunch meat? How about cheese and crackers?” I would end up putting out our bare rations and then wonder how we would get through the week.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom February 6, 1967:
Bradley (3 months) is getting to be a little chunk. Try to make him laugh and he gets so excited he squeals. He sits in his infant seat and Brenda sometimes gives him the bottle or she talks to him and he sits there and smiles. Brenda prays for you all every night. She is a big 2 year old now. Finally learned to say “two” and hold up 2 fingers when we ask, “How old are you?” At first she wanted to say “fine” all the time.
Some of the people in the church when we came were, Rudolph and Uda Ripoli and their son Paul. They had adopted a couple of her sister’s daughters, Linda and Penny. Uda’s older daughter, Karen, was married to Marvin Quillen and they had small children. Marie Goins, whose husband was in poor health and not a church goer, came regularly with her little adopted son, Eddie. Then there were the Sokolowski families, Charlene and Leo and children (Charlene was the church bookkeeper), and Coena and Flatts and children. Coena had a disease that affected her extremities. She was losing her fingers and toes and eventually passed away. I combed her hair about once a week in the traditional up-do.
I went through a couple weeks of seeming satanic attacks shortly after we came. I had a darkness around me. If the phone rang, my mind told me the person on the other end of the line was going to kill me. All I could do was say “Jesus” and rest in Him. It finally went away. Perhaps it was some type of depression but it seemed darker than that.
Gene had his first experience with deep sea fishing when a neighbor on Chrisella Road invited him along. He was an insurance man who had an 18 foot run-a-bout with an outboard motor. They went to sea from Ocean Shores but, after a time, there was concern that they get back to land. The tide was going the wrong way and the wind was blowing hard. The neighbor was standing at the wheel with intensity while over-spray from rogue waves washed over them. When they finally got back, Gene wanted to kneel down and kiss the ground. He did catch a King Salmon and we sure had some good salmon steaks from it.
The former Pastor’s son, Jerry Dillon, and wife Kris, stayed on for 2 ½ years as our youth pastors. Kris had been a friend of mine in Bible College. She was a good musician and played the piano for us. They had two little girls, Lisa and Darcy. Lisa was Brenda’s age so they became little friends.
Jerry was a practical joker. We had left him a key to our house when we went on a trip. When we got home, the house was bare of furniture and pictures were askew on the walls. It looked exactly as if we had been robbed. Gene went to the phone on the wall in the kitchen to call the police but opened the garage door before dialing. All of the furniture was there…thanks to Jerry.
Another time, Jerry had stopped by to see Gene but Gene had gone to the church and I was home with the kids. He knew Gene was a little wary of break-ins now and had perhaps had an unsettling phone call or so. He went to the phone and called the church. When Gene answered, he just said in a gruff voice, “I got her, fella”! He sensed Gene was about to throw down the receiver and take off for home, so quickly said, “It’s me, Jerry”! He was right. Gene said he would probably have gotten in a wreck, speeding up those hills trying to make it home.
Sometimes I would catch a ride home from church and Gene would come later. One evening, when Gene did come in, I asked him where Bradley was. I had told him I was bringing Brenda and he should bring Bradley. He had left Brad in the nursery sleeping. There was one quick ride down the hill again. Thankfully Brad hadn’t awakened.
Across the street from our little church at 423 2nd Ave NE, Puyallup, lived Earl with his parents and sister. Earl was developmentally delayed but he began coming to church and sitting in the back row. He always had a big smile. Gene went to the door of their home once and found they were extreme hoarders. There was just a path through the house for one-way traffic. The tub in the bathroom was full of everything.
By the stench that accompanied Earl, you could tell he never bathed. Gene invited him to our house for a bath and new clothes. We filled the tub with sudsy water and left him to soak. Later, Gene went in to help him scrub. When the water was let out, the tub was lined with black. Gene gave him new clothes from his own wardrobe, including a white shirt and black suit. From then on, Earl wore that night and day. After we moved to our new church building on Meridian, Earl no longer attended. He rode his bicycle all over town picking up pop cans to sell. We would see him from time to time and he’d always wave and smile big and say, “Hello Zemp”!
Since being at the farm for a month prior to coming to Puyallup, Brenda missed the family there and kept bringing it up.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom March 29, 1967:
This morning Brenda came out to the kitchen saying “I wan Pompa, Gamma”. I said, do you mean Grampa and Grandma Mincer and Terry and Donna and Cindy. She said, “Ya and began jumping and laughing and repeating the names.” I said, “They live an awful long ways away from us now Brenda”. She said “No” (sadly) and began to half-way cry “, I wan Gamma, Pompa, Mommy”.
She’s quite a little character the way she imitates us at the table. She has to have tea, dip the tea bag in a few times, add sugar, stir it up and sip.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom April 10, 1967:
Brenda is such a sweet little darling dolly, but so naughty too at times. Bradley (at 6 months) is such a hunk of love. He weighs over 18 pounds – nice size. He’s in most all of his 1 year size clothes and almost out of some of them. He’s just a bouncing baby boy, and I’d say a pretty good baby. Unless he’s really conked out tired, he won’t go to sleep though you rock him for hours. But put in his bed on his tummy and he’ll scoot and play and push his pacifier around until he’s asleep.
Gene, Jerry, and Kris’s brother Larry are down at the church painting tonight. The trim (inside) is flat black and the walls off white.
Brenda is pretty good with Bradley – very helpful – but I’m glad he’s a boy for the play gets a little rough sometimes.
In May, Pete and Joann and little Tami flew to visit us from Wisconsin for two weeks. Jeff was in Bible School at CBC for part of this year and came to see us some weekends. I was often very tired. One young person, Sally, was always eager to visit at our home after church. We liked her a lot, but she didn’t seem to tire, often staying until midnight. I was so exhausted; I could hardly wait to get to bed.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom June 18, 1967:
I told Brenda (2 ½) that Uncle Rich was going on an airplane to see Grandma, Grandpa, Cindy, Donna, and Terry. Almost before I got it out of my mouth, she said, “Benna wanna go see Gamma, Cinny, Papa, Gamma, Cinny Donna Tee ee”.
The summer of 1967, at Camp meeting, Gene was elected Pentecostal Conquerors President for the District. That meant he would be in charge of next year’s youth camp plus the yearly rallies, contests, etc. and, representing the district at the national conference for planning nationwide events.
A young girl from Conquerors Bible College offered to come and help us with evangelism. It was Elaine Denny’s sister, Joyce Graves. She was very sweet and helpful. Brenda liked her. She read to Brenda and let her lick the bowl she’d mixed cookies or something in. She came and knocked on doors around town, inviting people to church. We all did the same on Saturdays. It was more acceptable then. Not often did the people come that we invited but it seemed the Lord honored our efforts anyway and brought us visitors. At one point, five new couples were added to the church in just a short time. We were so excited. There were the Crandalls, Hausers, Mensonides, Voses, and Keans. They all had little boys about Brad’s age, so he had a lot of new friends.
Gene began to visit the city park. It was the hippie era, and there were usually groups of young people sitting around. He witnessed to them and several came to church. In fact, they drove up in an old hearse. A few of them gave their hearts to God and became a part of the church. We are still in touch with a couple of the girls who then went on to Bible College.
Brother Charlie Yadon was the District Superintendent. He lived in Vancouver, Washington, but made his rounds to visit churches from time to time and would spend the night at our house. We also scheduled visiting missionaries when they were home on furlough.
A bit after Joyce came, Frieda, who had also been at Bible College and had started going with Jeff (who attended a short time), decided to come and be with us awhile that same summer. We had a full and enjoyable household!
Quick Quotes from a letter to my Mom July 30, 1967
It is such a pleasure to be serving the Lord. “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing”.
Bradley is nine months old today. His hair has lightened up…he’s so fat, and solid too, and such a little terror. Far from being like Brenda, he gets into things, chews Brenda’s colors, loves to just pick up things and drop them on the floor. And he snorts with his mouth open until the little neighbor girl calls him a monster. He’s dangerous around others his age as he loves to bite (his way of loving I’m sure) and goes at them with a lunge and a longing. He is also a perpetual mess. It seems 5 minutes after I’ve cleaned him up you wouldn’t know it…..and then to eat. He loves food in his fingers – just to squish and then all over his face. Food from the spoon gets blown everywhere and from the high chair tray – shoved on the floor. If you can find him in the mess, he is oh so sweet, loves his mommy and daddy and sister, and he has the sweetest smile ever.
Little Brenda is changing too, of course, getting a slight bit more extrovertish and more and more of a little lady every day. A sweet little companion to have around the house.
I was not only busy with the family, but played the organ for church services, taught Sunday School class and children’s church, and started and led a church choir. Judy took care of little Bradley for me during church. Brenda sometimes sat on the front row close to me and even sometimes on the organ bench beside me. I was also responsible for much of the church cleaning.
A typical Sunday looked like this:
6:00 a.m. – get up and study for Children’s church
7:00 a.m. – bathe and dress
8:00 a.m. – kids clothes ready and house tidied
8:30 a.m. – get Brad ready
8:45 a.m. – get Brenda ready
9:00 a.m. – breakfast
9:15 a.m. – go to church
Quick Quotes from a letter I wrote to Mom July 5 1967:
The events take place so fast I can hardly remember what order they came in and things that happened yesterday seem almost like 2 or 3 days ago.
Since we had moved here with no furniture, some of the church folks tried to be of help. First of all, the Hand family whose house it was, said we could use the twin sized iron bed frames that had been stored outside. They were ornate, but rusty. I painted them black with a special rust resistant paint. I made curtains in the blue and red motif, found red bedspreads and got a deal on red throw rugs. I antiqued a small dresser in red/black antiquing. It all looked so nice. Sister Hand was glad we had used the iron headboards but upset we had cut off the foot. They were antique and should not have been cut off.
It was fun searching the newspaper and running down ads for used furniture. We got a chest to refinish for our room, a dresser for Brenda, a stuffed chair, and 2 straight back chairs, and a ‘real nice’ refrigerator for $25 from those ads. Gene found and purchased an old queen sized Hollywood bed in Tacoma. The headboard was gold tufted and was sort of thread bare. One of our new converts, Earl Crandall, was an upholsterer and offered to recover it for us. It looked great done in royal blue. One of the older women wanted to bless us with some furniture so she purchased and surprised us with a brown couch and rocker in sort of the colonial style. It wasn’t what I would have chosen but it was a blessing to have it. Then, the church bought us a more modern style gold swivel rocker. The styles didn’t match but the colors worked okay.
Someone in the church gave us an old style gray Formica kitchen table and chairs. I loved how the red brick linoleum in the kitchen looked when it was freshly waxed. We lived in that house for a year and a half. When the landlords wanted to sell it, they offered it to us for $25,000 but we couldn’t afford it.
Quotes from my letter to Mom August 29, 1967:
I plan to take the kids on the train and go down to Bonnies the week Gene is in Dawson Creek for a conference. Brenda (2 ½) is so excited at the thought of going on a train ever since Jodie and ‘Cotti came up and went back on one. The other night I asked her if she wanted to pray (at bedtime) and let me listen instead of my praying for her or repeating after me. She nodded and started in – remembered most everyone we pray for but sometimes said, “And we love” instead of “bless” so and so. She prays for Gamma Zeekkee and Gamma and Pompa or sometimes Gwampa Mitzer (it’s hard to spell the way she pronounces things). Ha.
She talks a lot – always coming out with something new or singing a new chorus. Joyce taught her Sunday school class and said Brenda was about the only one who would sing along with her and one of the best ones in answering questions. We always have fun asking her what they learned in Sunday school. Her answer always starts out “About Jesus”. This Sunday she also said “About Lijah”. And when I asked her what else, she said, “Kitty says Meow, Meow, Meow…I learn that in Sunny Cool. Doggie says ruff ruff ruff – I learn that in Sunny Cool.”
Saturday night I had to answer the phone when Brad (10 months) was in the tub. I heard him fall and ran in there. His mouth was bleeding from a cut on his gum. He was sputtering from water dripping off his face and the poor little guy was covered with soap. Brenda had been trying to shampoo his hair with her new ‘Pretty Peach’ bubble bath and poured the whole bottle over his head. He was screaming and rubbing his eyes. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed to get it off and out of his eyes. They were red till the next day.
Brenda was spanked, of course, and I think she learned her lesson. I did too – even if it is just for a moment, Brad can’t be left in the tub. He’s fine now. Such is life.
Quick Quotes from my letter to Mom Dec 21, 1967:
I’d like to get Brenda (almost age 3) a little ironing board for Christmas. She likes to use mine. The other day, I put it down to her level and left her playing (with her play iron of course). When I came back, she had taken a stack of my ironed clothes and re-sprinkled them and rolled them up at the edge of the board to be ironed by her…did you have days like that mother? Ha.
Bradley seems to be a born tuffy – you’d think he had watched experienced fighters the way he goes about his tricks. For instance he’ll go up behind Brenda – take a hold of her hair and sit down, forcing her to fall, and then climb on top of her. Or go up to the front of her, take hold of her dress and fall to the floor. He doesn’t care how hard he hits his head. Of course it makes her tumble. Then he gets up and throws his body cross-wise over hers and kicks his feet on the floor – almost looks like he’s counting time with each kick. Sometimes she laughs but most of the time she ends up calling for momma to help.
Brad is a tuffy but tender hearted. He just weeps when you correct him. The other day he was bad and I spanked him and made him sit in a chair. He got down several times and I replaced him telling him to get back to the chair. Then the next time I saw him coming, I just pointed to the chair and said, get back to that chair, and he turned sobbing with his finger in his mouth and walked back to the chair and put his head on the seat crying. Next time he got down and came, giving me a leery look, I said, “Are you going to be a nice boy now?” He seemed to get the message and started laughing and ran into my arms. I picked him up and took him over to Brenda to tell her he was sorry and give her a kiss. He put his little mouth to her cheek when I told him to “give Brenda a kiss”, and that’s something he just never does. He’s quite the character.
Brenda loves to go with her daddy and does quite frequently. She went to the library with him yesterday and looked at books for a while.