by Mrs. David L. Cooper
“... Ye Meant Evil Against Me; But God Meant It For Good ...” (Genesis 50:20)
Throughout the history of the Biblical Research Society, circumstances which have seemed very adverse have been overruled by the Lord for the good of the work and for His glory. Incidents which seemed heavy blows from Satan have been turned, by the overruling providence of God, into blessings. Just such an incident occurred in the spring of 1946. Out of a clear sky the city ordered us to close down or move, stating that the Society was breaking the zoning ordinance.
The Zoning Commission gave us a time limit of fifteen days in which to find other quarters. This was extended to sixty days and then later to ninety. Of course, we began looking immediately for a place to rent or buy, making a frantic search daily throughout a vast territory. We had no success, however. Our daily prayer was that the city would give us time to find something. The Zoning Commissioner finally advised us to buy a lot in a business section and build new headquarters. We took his advice and hunted for a suitable lot. There were many hours and days and weeks of weary searching, but before I tell you of our experiences in this connection, let us first take you on a tour through our old offices.
By the time that we have completed the tour, you will see that the Lord was permitting us to be shoved out because the work had outgrown the lower flat of our home and the portion of our neighbor's home that we rented for additional working space. So just imagine we are back in our old offices and come with me.
In the lower flat of our former home at 4417 Berenice Street, you will find the offices of the Biblical Research Society. We go down a driveway at the left of the house and enter the back door just past the chimney. We find ourselves in the mailing department, a room 12'x14', which is a beehive of activity at all times and busier still on special mailing days. In the center of the room is a large table, on which stands a tying machine and postal meter. Joining it and running along one wall is another table, which holds a large roll of wrapping paper, a gummed tape holder, and a hand addressograph. At right angles to this table and along the rear wall stands the power addressograph machine and a large case holding drawers containing thousands of name plates. In the corner next to the outside wall is a graphotype machine. Between this machine and the door is another table on which card files stand. “Next to the door are heavy scales, used for weighing large parcels of books, magazines, and other literature. The two staff members who regularly work in this department have space about 3'x 9' on which to stand and work. On special mailing days usually one or more helpers also occupy this limited area. From the door to the adjoining room runs an aisle about 3' x 12' with wall cabinets on one side and a long table on the other. On special mailing days this aisle is all taken up with mail bags being filled with outgoing mail, and other bag's are placed back of the table, where the workers step over and around them. When the mail bags have been filled they are placed in the driveway outside the door.
But we mustn't linger here, for there isn't room for us. Let us walk into the next room — formerly the kitchen of this flat. The large sink and drainboard are covered with nicely painted plywood and hold the files, a cash register, and stacks of stationery. At our left as we enter is the water cooler. In front of us is a secretary's desk. The other two corners of the room are occupied by a large dupligraph, another secretary's desk and chair, and a wall cabinet for supplies. We walk single file through this room, as there isn't much passageway.
Now we find ourselves in the main office, a room 12'x16'. At our left, as we enter, is a steel filing cabinet filled with several hundred thousand names and addresses which have been sent during the years by our faithful branch groups. Each individual whose name is in those files has received from one to five of the books of the Messianic Series. Next to this cabinet is my large rolltop desk. Just back of my chair, a scant two feet away, is a secretary's desk, on which stands a stationery cabinet and Dr. Cooper's wire-recording machine. At the right, next to the wall, are a transcribing machine; and, against the wall, the telephone table, dictionaries, Bibles, and other books. At the left of this and jutting out into the room at right angles to the wall is the desk of the branch-office secretary. In front of her is another filing cabinet. In the opposite corner are more filing cabinets. Thus all available space is taken.
Passing straight ahead through this room, we enter the office of the business manager and bookkeeper. This is an 8'x10' room, originally a porch which was enclosed by windows, and contains a six-foot double desk, an old Burrough's adding machine, a filing cabinet, and two office chairs. On the days when the auditor comes, one would almost have difficulty in breathing if this little room did not have an outside door and four windows! Because the business manager could not do his dictating without disturbing the bookkeeper, a desk was moved into my guestroom upstairs, and he sometimes worked there.
From the main office we turn to the right and pass into the desk editor's workroom, which is a little more spacious, but about as crowded. Here we find two desks, a table, a safe topped by a cabinet, a Vari-Typer, a typewriter, a transcribing machine, and several chairs. All available wall space not occupied by windows and doors is taken up with cabinets holding the overflow of Dr. Cooper's library, printer's cuts, magazines, and other papers.
We step into the restroom, now also used for a filing room. The tub was removed from this bathroom and a foot-high platform built where it stood, and upon that were placed dozens of file cases in which the past correspondence was filed.
Now we enter the office of Dr. Cooper, where we pause for a conference with him. There isn't much room for us to sit, but he brings out some folding chairs and places them against the French doors, which he closes to shut out the noise of clicking typewriters. His office chair is placed in the center of the 8' x 10' room. In front of him is his worktable, and at his back is his large rolltop desk, which I now use in the new headquarters. There is just room for his chair between these. Every available inch of wall space — over and under the windows, around doors, from floor to ceiling — is loaded with books. In one corner is the sectional bookcase, filled to capacity and loaded on top with more books.
When Dr. Cooper began his broadcasts, his already loaded table had to be fitted out with broadcasting equipment, which includeed a microphone for the radio, a smaller microphone for the wire-recording machine, and the amplifier. In the corner, next to the door, stands the large tape recording machine, an instrument about five feet eight inches high, twenty inches wide and eighteen inches deep. He uses this in making his transcriptions for the radio, to be used whenever he is absent from the office on conference or speaking trips. Add to this his dictating machine and working materials, and you have a crowded space indeed. Four windows afford light and ventilation otherwise he, too, might find it difficult to breathe in such a crowded nook. In this little office Dr. Cooper wrote most of his eighteen books.
During the weeks when he was making eighty transcriptions for the radio to be broadcast when he was away on conferences, his secretary had to move upstairs into our living room to do her work.
Now let us retrace our steps, leaving these overcrowded offices and their busy occupants, and go through the mailing room to my laundry room. There, against one wall, is my laundry tub, washing machine, and water heater — all I have left of my spacious washroom. Tables have been built to let down over these, making a place to hold the paper stock cut ready for printing jobs. The remainder of the room is filled with the offset multigraph machine, tables, and shelves. A small closet holds magazines, books, booklets, and other items needed in filling orders. When our worker gets the little offset machine humming, there isn't room for me to wash; so washing is always done on Saturday, when the office is closed.
Stepping out of this room, we go next door to the annex, the home of two ladies, one of whom had charge of the volunteer work. Here we find from six to ten ladies (some days more) and also one or two men, assorting and assembling literature, stuffing envelopes, wrapping magazines, stapling booklets, and doing dozens of other things. Every day finds some workers busily engaged in these tasks. Two lower rooms in this house are used for paper and book storage, and below the garage is a workroom containing a cutter, a folding machine, a large table, and a power-multigraph machine.
I believe that this little trip through our old headquarters will convince every one of you that, whatever the circumstances entering into the causes which brought about the order from the city for us to move, the Lord's hand was in it all. For we were so very happy and contented that, if we had not been forced to find new headquarters, we would have remained there indefinitely, even though we were working under great handicaps and at a very great disadvantage because of the crowded quarters.
But it is very clear to all of us now that it was the Lord's time for the Society to “enlarge its borders and lengthen its stakes” and to go on to greater things for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We continue to look to Him for guidance; and we know that He who began this work twenty-five years ago, through human instruments surrendered to His will and guidance, will not fail us at this time when a new day has dawned in the work and ministry of the Biblical Research Society.