The Expository Files


The Coat Hanger at Morrilton

(Below, one chapter from my recently published book, FOR HOWEVER BRIEF A TIME. The book can be ordered from and with the sale of each book, a donation is made to Sacred Selections - to help Christian couples adopt babies.)

The Coat Hanger at Morrilton

During the depression there were many orphans. In response to their needs, churches, individuals and agencies formed orphan homes. One was located first in Ft. Smith, then in Morrilton, Arkansas. It was established in 1926 when two homeless children were brought to James E. Laird, who was preaching at Park Hill. With the help of Mrs. W. T. Bush, the effort began as the Arkansas Christian Home. The name was later changed to Arkansas-Oklahoma Christian Home. It was then moved to Morrilton in 1936, to the former campus of Harding College.

After Charles Berkley died, there came a time when the family moved to Morrilton to be house parents in one of the cottages. Grandma Berkley, Alice and Hazel were involved in cooking, cleaning and supervising small children. Daddy and Sherman had various chores. One job Daddy said he hated.

Daddy and Sherman would visit the infant cottage three or four times a day, to help with feeding time. Sherman had a coke case loaded with baby bottles. Daddy would take coat hangers and fashion them into bottle holders. The crude device would be placed in the side of the crib, the bottle inserted, so the baby could be moved over in the bed to be fed. These institutions often suffered with a deeply bothersome absence of essential material care.

It was a mechanical, assembly-line process. Fashion the hanger, install the bottle and move the baby over to the nipple. Even as a boy, Daddy knew this was not the best way to feed a baby. He hated the job, and later developed very strong feelings about the institutionalized care of children.

Later in life, Daddy would remember this and tell people about it, often citing Paul's observation about a gentle, nursing mother cherishing and holding her children close (1 Thess. 2:7). It was a powerful life lesson.


By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 15.10;  October 2008