August 8th………..“SHARE WITH US, GRANDPA, ABOUT A NEIGHBOR THAT YOU REALLY ADMIRED THERE IN YOUR NEW HOMETOWN OF BATTLE GROUND, WASHINGTON”.
“OOWWwwwww!!! You broke my toe”!!!! hollered Walter Yost in accusation!! That explosive exclamation came right after this teenager had stepped on his foot during the skirmish of our neighborhood touch-football game. Facetiously, I retorted back at him, “Yaahhh RIGHT, Walt!! Not buyin’ that!! We know your dry Swiss sense of humor!!! Come on, get back in the game”!! In the misty dusk of that late Fall afternoon, Walt limped off towards the amber porch light that illuminated the front steps of their handsome brick home on what was then called Hawthorne Street in Battle Ground, Washington.
“Hmmmm”!!??, thought I, maybe he IS on the level. Calling a “time out”, I excused myself from our gang and trotted off of the extra lot the Yost family owned in front of their house, and went to see if that “master teaser” really WAS hurt after all. Sure enough, poor Walter was just pulling off his rubber boot as I arrived on scene and I witnessed that the end of his sock was soaked in blood!!! It turns out, that during that football play, I had landed on and twisted my foot on top of the soft uppers of the rubber boot that Walt was wearing and had, inadvertently ripped off his big toenail!!! I guess he wasn’t foolin’ after all!! 😉
Walter and Dorothy Yost were just two of many new friends our family met when we moved to Battle Ground in August of 1967 and began family worship at Battle Ground Baptist Church. Even the Yost’s daughter was in 8th Grade at our local school district, like myself.
Mr. Walter Yost had been faithfully employed in the leadership of First Independent Bank (of Vancouver, Washington) for many decades and showed himself, along with his beloved Dorothy, to be a great steward of God’s gifts over the years.
I’ve heard that, around 1963, Walter and Dorothy Yost were blessed with their beautiful brick home in a new area of town known as “Scotton’s Addition”. The new street was, in those days, called Hawthorne Street because it was the hope of builders Richard and Harvey Dunning to have lovely Hawthorne trees planted for effect in front of every new home they were building.
These were Battle Ground’s early years, in that north end of town, and, in those times, Walt and Dorothy’s home was the only house on that side of the street with nothing but open fields running west for at least a quarter mile or more. I’ve heard that Walter had a single engine plane in those days and, after enjoying a fun flight, could land on that long strip of open land, taxi right up to the house, spin his plane around, shut ‘er down and walk on inside for dinner. I’ve always thought that was pretty darn neat!!! 😉
The Yosts shared their love and wisdom with so many of us in our local church body over the years, including myself. This quiet dynamic duo easily fit the mold of another dear saint of our local church, Burgess Shockley, who once stood up in a business meeting and said, “I’ve seen the mountains, and I’ve seen the valleys of this congregation………and I’ve stayed”!!! Our church family could always count on the sound financial wisdom of Walter’s many years as a professional in the banking trade. Walt, like the good-guy cowboys of old, was always a straight shooter in his advice for our church leadership and congregation. Matter of fact, his wisdom on money matters was evident in what he told his own children when they desired something that cost their family some dollars. “Well, we can afford it, but we can’t afford it”!!!, was a common quote from their dad’s lips. I’m sure, at first, that phrase must’ve made them scratch their heads until his wisdom would sink in………..do we really just WANT something? Or do we really NEED something. 😉
My one-of-a-kind, handmade guitar had been stolen from my car in the mid 1980’s. I was heartbroken in its loss and even more distraught when my insurance company failed me in not recognizing its “Stradivarius” worth in being a handmade and beautifully crafted musical instrument that had cost me $600 at the time of purchase. “Nope”, said the cold-faced insurance agent, “It’s JUST a guitar and we’ll give you $200 insurance money for it”!!! Well, I wasn’t going to settle for the insurance company’s guitar idea of just a box with strings on it. So, I decided that I would just have to slowly save up the $1,000 that I needed for a black “Guild” jumbo-body acoustic guitar.
After the theft, it had been a long time since I had played guitar and sang in church, so, on one Sunday, Walter Yost asked me why and I told him the story. “Can you come over to our house tonight for a visit”??, asked my good neighbor. “Sure, happy to”!! I told him. That evening, in the Yost’s lovely Living Room, Walter asked me what the dollar difference was between my insurance money, that I had received, and what would be needed to purchase that “Guild” guitar. “Well, Walt, I’d need another $800 to make that purchase”, said I. What happened next still brings me to tears as I remember the moment. Walter said, “Elliott, I’m going to write you a check for $800 so you can buy that “Guild” guitar……..I just can not visualize you without a guitar in your hands”!!! Tears of deep gratitude began to flood my eyes as I thanked both Walter and Dorothy Yost profusely for their amazing love and generosity to me!!!! I praise God for both of these great people who truly “WALK THE TALK” of their Christian love and faith to all within their reach and I especially have all praise for the love they’ve shown to this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!!