After working at San Dimas for almost a year, I received a letter from Mr. Keeler, the agent at Santa Ana, telling me they were adding a new clerk to the office force, and he offered me the job. It paid the same money as the job I had, but it would give me a chance to live at home and be back in the old home town. So I accepted the offer with thanks and packed up my belongings and headed back to Santa Ana, and it seemed good to get back home again.
I liked my new job very much, mostly inside work on the station books. I had been on this job about two weeks, when the baggageman was transferred to another town. Mr. Keeler offered me the baggage job and as it paid $60.00 per month, ten dollars more than I was getting on the clerk job, I was glad to take it. This was at a time before bus and airplane travel, and there was always lots of people at the station when trains were due to arrive. I was quite busy in the baggage room. At that time there used to be quite a number of traveling salesman and they usually had a number of large sized trunks, filled with sample goods, which they would display at a sample room in the downtown hotels, the merchants would come and look them over and give the salesmen their order for goods. These trunks would have to be checked by baggage and loaded into the baggage cars. There was also a number of shows traveling about the country, and most of them carried their own scenery with them, sometimes as much as a baggage car load. Most of these shows stopped over at Santa Ana and played one night at the local opera house. This was before the movies, and they were quite popular and well attended.
I usually spent my evenings uptown playing pool, or at the city library. If there happened to be a traveling show at the opera house I would go to see it. We could get a seat in the top of the opera house, a place they called "Nigger Heaven." It only 25 cents to sit there and we could see the show very well. There was usually quite a lot of rowdy young men up there and they would make lots of noise, but it was fun and we saw some very good shows.
At that time, the Salvation Army was holding meetings in a tent, and would also have a street meeting before the services in the tent. I got into the habit of standing on the street corner listening to them; they seemed such a happy lot of folks, and kept coming back night after night to their meetings. The Captain would always invite the people standing about to come on in to the tent to the service there. Something seemed to be telling me to go, but I would go home feeling miserable, and it seemed like something was lacking in my life, but I kept going back each night, until finally one night I followed them down to the tent. I sat in the back and listened attentively to everything that was said, and at the end of the meeting when the Captain gave the invitation to come forward and make your peace with God, I felt something telling me to go forward, and that night I did so and made a stand for God. It seemed like a burden just rolled away, and I felt at peace. That night I went to sleep feeling that I had made my peace with God. I attended meetings regularly after that and began to read my Bible; you couldn't keep me away, and it wasn't long until I joined the Salvation Army.