Roland was born June 13, 1918, in Everett, Washington. He was a large baby, weighing in at twelve pounds! He had curly, white-blonde hair and blue eyes. He was a happy baby.
From the time that Roland was a small child, it was evident that God had His hand upon his life, but God intervened.
The first time he nearly died, he was two years old. His older brothers and sisters, thinking that they were giving a treat, fed him some unripe blackberries. Roland became violently ill and began to have convulsions, one right after another. The children all stayed in the carriage house that night, while in the main house the doctor was desperately trying to save his life. It was a long night for the Buck family. The children were so frightened because they were unwittingly responsible.
Morning finally came, and the weary doctor told the waiting family that their little towheaded Rollie was going to live. What a relief! The family was overjoyed. And Rollie basked in the attentions of his brothers and sisters.
The Buck children were soon teasing little Rollie again, as life settled back to normal. He was such an honest, trusting child, it was easy to take advantage of him, and tell him all kinds of tall stories. He soon caught on to their teasing. When he wanted to make sure somebody was telling him the truth, he would look up at them with his big blue eyes, square his dimpled little chin, and tell them to "say honest!" If they did, then he would believe them. His nickname, therefore, when he was small was, "Little Say Honest."
Roland nearly lost his life again when he was about six. He and his older brother, George, loved to climb trees. They lived near the forest and spent many, happy hours playing in the woods.
One day while they were exploring, they found the tallest tree they had ever seen. The two just couldn't resist the challenge. They decided to climb it. They began to climb higher and higher, nearly to the top. Suddenly Roland lost his footing, and fell to the bottom of the tree. He landed squarely on his back, and lay there as though dead. George slowly climbed down. His heart felt like it was beating in his throat. It seemed to take him forever, but he finally reached the bottom of the tree where his little brother lay. "Rollie?" he said softly. There was no reply. Roland lay there so still.
George, only eight, didn't know what to do. He was afraid to go home and tell his parents what had happened, and he was afraid to leave his little brother lying there. So he just sat there watching Roland. The minutes passed, then what seemed like an hour. Suddenly, Roland came to, sat up, shook his head, and said, "What happened?" George was so relieved. His little brother was okay! He told Roland "Let's not tell!" Roland agreed, and the two little boys went home. They never did tell their parents what had happened in the woods.
Although the Buck family was poor, the children didn't know it. Their lives were rich in the things that really mattered. There were many brothers and sisters to play with. They almost always lived near the woods because Hoyt was a logger, so their childhood memories are filled with forests and swimming in the lakes nearby, of the sun sifting thru the trees in the lazy, summer afternoons, and the way the Easter lilies and spring flowers came into bloom. All the different kinds of berries, that when picked and brought to their mother, made the best pies ever eaten, especially those big juicy blackberries! It was Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer all over again. The children made their own rafts and floated in the river, fishing and exploring. There was always something to do in those beautiful times of Roland's early childhood.
There were some bright spots in those depression days. Every once and a while, Daisy would receive a letter from England telling that one of her wealthy relatives had died and she had received an inheritance from the estate. One of the things the children remember from those more prosperous times was buying big fat oranges.
Roland, in later years, used to make his own kid's mouths water as he would describe peeling one of those oranges, and slowly sinking his teeth into it, letting the juice squirt out so he could savor every bit.
When the children were young, Hoyt developed a serious heart condition. He was concerned because he was the sole support of his family and had to work hard to make ends meet.
One day while he was working in the mill, the pains in his heart became severe. The Lord suddenly spoke to him and said, Hoyt, I am going to give you a new heart!
From that time on, he had no more heart pains. Years later when he died of cancer, the doctors told the family that the only thing that had kept him alive, with as much cancer as he had throughout his body, was his exceedingly strong heart.
Next: The Fleas