I had many chores to do when I was about five or six. One of the most important was to gather the eggs about sundown each day.
We lived on a small farm on the south edge of Thatcher, Arizona. Our home was on the corner with open farm country south and east. Back from the home were the well, the pump, the windmill, a big wooden tank for our supply of water, the tool building, and a little farther back, a very large woodpile.
Then came the pigpens, corrals, haystacks, and the grainery. All these places were ideal for the hens to hide their eggs, so it was no small job for a boy to find the hidden nests of eggs. By experience, I became a good spy. Accordingly, every evening about sundown, I took the rather large bucket and scoured the area, and brought the eggs to the house.
One day, my mother took the three youngest of us for a long walk. We walked up the dusty road to the bishop’s home, Fannie in the baby buggy and Alice holding on to it. I carried the bucket of eggs.
As we walked along, I said, “Ma, why do we take the eggs to the bishop?”
She answered, “Because they are tithing eggs and the bishop receives the tithing for Heavenly Father. You remember every evening when you bring in the eggs, I have you count them out. The first one goes in the small basket and the next nine go in the large basket. Then we take the big basket of eggs down to the store and receive a ‘due bill’ for them. With the ‘due bill’ we buy shoes and food and clothing for the family, and the smaller basket of eggs goes to the bishop.”
I first learned the law of tithing from my beloved mother.
To the west of our home was our garden plot, and I rode the horse, while Father plowed the ground. Part of the garden was in potatoes and the new rich soil brought forth bounteously. One day, Pa said to Alice and me, “There are many more potatoes than we can use. If you would like to sell some, you may do so.” Accordingly, I dug the potatoes with our digging fork and Alice cleaned the dirt from them. We put them in a box in my little red wagon and hauled them down to the Brinkerhoff Hotel.
Sister Brinkerhoff was a very pleasant person, but we were still a bit frightened at first trying to sell our potatoes. She readily purchased our whole box. I believe we received two dollars for the entire lot.
As we showed the money to Pa, he asked, “What are you going to do with it?” We indicated we would divide it before buying some ice cream, popcorn, and candy. Then he questioned, “What about your tithing?” We had earned so little money that we had quite forgotten our lesson with eggs, but he outlined it for us again. Afterward, we went through the orchard and climbed through a hole in our wire fence to take our ten cents each to the bishop, and he gave us a receipt for our tithing.
We had an orchard where all kinds of fruit trees provided much of our living, but it also meant much hard work for little boys. The peaches were large and luscious, and when Ma had filled our pantry with bottles of fruit for the winter, Pa decided we could sell some. I was about twelve and Alice ten, and again we were in business.
I climbed to the tops of the trees and picked the largest, most colorful peaches; Alice put them in the boxes, I piled them neatly in the buggy and drove the long journey of about six miles to Pima, where many of the good women bought the fruit, and we soon headed home. As we counted our nickels and dimes and quarters, we found we had five dollars. It would be Christmas soon, so we excitedly talked about gifts for our large family.
When we got home and gleefully laid our money on the table, Pa reminded us again, “Have you counted out your tithing?” So, of course, we had to skimp a little on some of our planned Christmas gifts. As soon as the sweating mare was back in the pasture, the buggy in the shed, and the boxes stowed away, we went through the orchard and through the fence to the bishop again.
When I was in high school, I found it necessary to support myself. I suppose I was about sixteen, and I went to Globe, Arizona, the big mining camp, and there secured a job milking cows twice a day for a dairy. In those days we had no machines, and we milked with our hands. I milked between eighteen and twenty-eight cows twice a day, separated the cream, bottled the milk, washed the cans and bottles, fed the cattle, and cleaned the manure. For all of this, I received my meals, a cot in a bunkhouse, and $47.50 a month.
I was now on my own. No one was there to check up on me. When I received my first paycheck, I asked myself, “Should I or should I not pay my tithing?” I sent my dairy check home to the bank and received a receipt and a checkbook. I numbered the checks on the book and my first check was made out payable to the bishop.
The Lord has promised that if boys and girls and their parents are faithful in paying their tithing, he will pour out great blessings upon them. I know he keeps the promise.