Remembering Witmer Street

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For those interested in history ... that is, the remembrance of God's goodness to us in the past ... we share excerpts of letters from Doris Gibson, one of the first, happiest and longest-serving staff members of Gospel Recordings. After serving in many capacities, including studio manager and board member, Doris is now enjoying some retiring years in Washington state. The following thoughts were occasioned by GR's move from Witmer Street in central Los Angeles, where the mission began in the family home of Joy Ridderhof, to our new location in Temecula, California.

August 23, 2002

Dear GR Family, oldies and new newcomers,

It's a sunshine and blue-sky day here. The tide is out and the seabirds are dots of black on the wet sand streaked with bright green seaweed left by retreating waves.

My 3rd story view includes part of our rose garden, which is filled with color and fragrance. But just now the breeze has brought us, not the sweet breath of roses, but the strong "fragrance" of seaweed! But I enjoy it all, rain or shine.

Today, my thoughts are streaming toward Temecula, trying to take in the fact that Witmer Street compound is empty ---

THE Witmer Street !!

It was there at 122 Witmer Street, in the house of a Dutch musician, whose missionary daughter believed implicitly that nothing was impossible with God to those who believed and followed Him joyfully. And it was there where a dream and a hope, mustard-seed size, came alive.

It was there in the back of 122-124 that our small recording studio began to make records and radio transcriptions in Spanish. And missionaries began clamoring for records in other languages. They beat a path to our doors on Witmer Street.

And it was on Witmer Street where I landed in 1945 for a visit to my aunt, Ann Sherwood, where she was working with Joy in her small bedroom office. They were trying to meet the demand from all directions, and at the same time trying to grow into the shape of a mission - not an easy task.

And Joy's small group of helpers were learning with her that it was safe to trust the Lord for expenses. At times faith was stretched to the limit. And how we grew!

I'm forever thankful that I returned to Seattle and packed up to go and live on Witmer Street! I wouldn't exchange the privilege I had - not for a million dollars - to have been a part of the beginning of this small mustard seed that has grown exponentially.

When I came, in October 1945, there were 58 languages on phonograph records on our shelves.

And before we left Witmer Street in August 2002 we had nearly 6,000 languages and dialects "captured"!

I pray that GR will cling tenaciously to the Witmer Street vision and that "rejoicing faith" will prosper richly in the hearts of each one of you, our "Temecula transplants."

Keep up the good work!


. . . and here's another . . .

Dear GR family,

Today is October 7, 2002

Guess what! In sorting through my files, I came across a page torn from an old notebook that I had used for jotting down things I wanted to remember. That was 50-plus years ago!!

I quote:

"Today is a memorable day!"

"#l - We made records - perfect ones - on our own press! Lloyd brought one home. It was in the Gilbertese language. [Up to then we had to pay to have them pressed commercially.]

"#2 - Today, Joy Ridderhof and Ann Sherwood, on shipboard, begin their journey to the Philippines to make recordings in the scores of language groups there. [As I remember, they came home about ten months later!]

"#3. Six-month-old Peter Dyk [our first GR baby] had his first haircut!"

Well, there are lots of tidbits (like Peter's haircut) mixed in with GR history which makes a colorful tapestry in my memory, and reminds me of how the Lord knit us together with one strong desire to reach a world of unknown tribes in darkness. We were only a handful, with small skills and very little knowledge of the task.

I hope we never forget, no matter how big we are, and how far we reach, that one tiny spoonful of faith can outrun all the skills and techniques we have learned.

Hang in there and Rejoice!



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