7th March 2014
"The Gold Dust Twins"
"And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, THERE WERE TWINS IN HER WOMB". Genesis 25:24 KJV (Capitals are mine for emphasis)
THEIR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
One-hundred-five years ago today "the Gold Dust twins" were born in the little town of Texarkana, Texas, sitting on the Arkansas border, USA. Their birth mother was Florence Stovall Street. Her mother was a fiery little Irish woman by the name of Aimee O'Rielly. Aimee's sister, Bess, married a wealthy Oklahoma oil-man, Robert Roberts. They eventually moved to the prestigious address of 1400 Lakeshore Drive, overlooking Lake Michigan, in the city of Chicago, Illinois. Aunt Bess became a socialite in Chicago society, draped in diamonds and furs. Her sister, remained in the poor town of Texarkana, living on the outskirts in a small house with a white-picket face.
THE MOVE TO OKLAHOMA CITY WAS A TURNING POINT
There was no grass; just dirt. The twins were assigned to "sweep the yard clean with a broom". In order to make a living for her family, their mother worked in the casket factory. Later the mother moved to Oklahoma City with the twins and their younger brother, Roy. Twelve-year-old Roy sold the newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, on the streets of downtown, and for his diligence and outgoing personality caught the attention of the mayor, and was given a special commendation. Their mother went from door-to-door, selling Fuller brush products. In her work, she met Maude May Sheaffer, who offered to take the 14-year-old twins into her home to help her with the cleaning. They did such a good job, they were nicknamed, "the Gold Dust twins", after a popular cleaning product of the day.
THEY WERE IDENTICAL
Mother Sheaffer led the twins to Christ. Two years later they formed an evangelistic team. Mrs. Sheaffer would conduct Bible-teaching sessions in the morning, and Irene Street, the first-born twin would preach in the brush-arbor meetings at night. People would come from near and far to see how much the twins looked alike. They were identical. One night a man walked by who was carrying a gun, set on shooting another man who had wronged him. Instead, he heard the preaching, came in, got saved, and surrendered his intended instrument of murder. (These were during the days of girl-evangelists, Kathryn Kuhlman, Alpha Omega Fortenberry (Henson), and Clara Grace.)
"THE BRUSH-ARBOR MEETING"
A brush-arbor is a crude tabernacle where logs are sawed in half and used for seats. Sawdust would be sprinkled on the ground to keep down the dust when the sisters of the congregation would get happy and "dance in the Spirit". When sinners would come forward to receive Christ they would "walk down the sawdust-trail". Then they would "kneel at the mourners' bench" to repent of their sins. Altar-workers would not let them get up until they were assured that the seekers were truly born again. Sage brush and tumble-weeds would be strung across the top as a shade from the sun; thus the name, "brush-arbor meeting". Some testified that they would sit on their front porch a mile away, and still hear every word of the preaching even without a microphone. At times the crowd would reach over 2,000. From the converts new churches were started.
Eventually Irene Street married Bible teacher and pastor, Robert E. Schmidt. They pastored in Norman, Oklahoma; Yoncalla, Ashland, and Gresham, Oregon; Selah, Washington; and Kingsburg, California. They had two sons, both preachers, Marvin and Melvin.
AUNT INEZ'S LEGACY
Inez Street married Clyde Wayburne Sidney (C.W.S.) Taylor from Texas. He started as a teenager working for Mobil (Magnolia) Oil Company, and continued with them for 44 years, becoming one of their executives. Uncle Sid and Aunt Inez were in charge of the adult Sunday School program, at the 25,000 member First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, at that time the largest Baptist church in the world. He was also a member of the board of deacons, helping to organize the business of a church that occupied six-city-blocks in downtown Dallas. Inez was always by his side being supportive and giving him creative ideas. Today I honor the birth of my Mother, and "my Other Mommy", "the Gold Dust twins".