The Story Behind the Dent in J. I. Packer’s Head

This from Justin Taylor’s Blog:

J.I. Packer’s 11th Birthday Present: The Tale of the Bicycle and the Typewriter

The “dent” in J. I. Packer’s head is the result of a childhood accident.

In September of 1933, at the age of seven, he had “a violent collision with a truck, a bread van.” The result—damage to the frontal lobe of his brain with a chunk of his skull missing—was a three-week stay in the hospital, followed by six months of recuperation away from school. From that time until he went off to Oxford, he had to wear a protective aluminum plate over his injury and to abstain from all sports. Already a loner, Packer withdrew into solitary activities like reading and writing.

Alister McGrath picks up the story:

Every schoolboy of the period longer for the day when he would own a bicycle of his own. Usually around the age of eleven, at the point when a schoolboy would enter senior school, parents would mark their son’s ‘coming of age’ by giving him a bicycle as a birthday present.

Packer dropped heavy hints that he expected to receive a cycle, like all his friends.

However, his parents knew that they could not yet allow their son to have a bicycle. If he were to have any kind of accident, the earlier injury could lead to something much more serious, and potentially fatal. But what could they give their son instead?

On the morning of his eleventh birthday, in 1937, Packer wandered down from his bedroom to see what present awaited him. The family had a tradition of placing birthday presents in dining room of the house. He expected to find a bicycle. Instead, he found an old Oliver typewriter, which seemed to him to weigh half a ton. Although it was old, in was nevertheless in excellent condition.

It was not what Packer had asked for; nevertheless, it proved to be what he needed.

Surprise gave way to delight, as he realized what he could do with this unexpected gift. It was not more than a minute before he had put paper into the machine and started to type. It proved to be his best present and the most treasured possession of his boyhood.

—Alister McGrath, J. I. Packer: A Biography (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), p. 6, Justin Taylor’s emphasis.

Read Justin’s whole post here:

About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion; Womanly Dominion; and Encouragement: Adrenaline for the Soul) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He has also been elected as Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Sacramento, CA. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 36 to 26 (born 1983 to 1994).
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