I am the oldest of three children born to my parents, and so I was the one who took more responsibility for my brother and my sister most of the time at home while my parents were doing church work and the social things that being a preacher in the South calls for, yes Fried Chicken dinners are included in this. My sister was never a problem, she was quiet and when she wasn’t doing some devious bidding of my brother she played on her own.
My brother always said he wanted to be a preacher, of course he tried a variety of other occupations first such as being Zorro (black cape), Superman (red cape), Kit Carson and the Cisco Kid, they didn’t require capes but we made up costumes to fit the character…plus bending hangers so that we could have sword fights when he was being Robin Hood (green tights). Our play yard, for five of our growing years, before my sister was born, was the church basement. We were living in a 16 foot trailer right outside the HUGE church and the dark hallways of the basement left lots of room for our imaginations to run wild, and we did, up and down those halls and playing hide and seek in the Sunday School rooms. Of course we had to be careful not to get anything out-of-place, we would have gotten our hides tanned for leaving a mess in God’s House! And speaking of tanned hides, we had those too, every Sunday night. We knew it was coming, daddy would get the razor strap and sit down on mother’s cedar chest (which is in my line of view as I type this) and then give us however many licks we had earned for talking in church. He would generally follow the spanking by praying with us and then giving us something cold to drink to “cool us off”. Now for anyone of you reading this that is “younger” you might not understand the era of “spare the rod, spoil the child” but we turned out OK, don’t want to sound like he “beat” us, he did not, it was a spanking and we deserved every one of them…at least my brother did, I was just guilty by association!
After begging for the opportunity my brother was finally given the opportunity to preach! It was at the Tennessee Camp-meeting and whoever was in charge of the service announced to the hundreds of people in that congregation, that there was a 6 year-old boy who had a sermon he wanted to preach. A chair was brought and put behind the pulpit so that my brother could see over it and he got up there with all the intentions of preaching a “stem-winder”, but the story he told us later was that there was a lady sitting pretty close to the front wearing a great big pink hat that caught his attention for some reason and he never opened his mouth! Then there was the time we were riding in the mountains between Daisy and McMinnville and he had taken a rope with him so that if we saw a bear he could catch it and bring it home. Pretty soon we saw some bears on the side of the road so daddy pulled the car over and started to open the door, he turned around and said to my brother “Get your rope! There is your bear!” My young seven year-old brother was nowhere to be seen as he was hiding under the back seat of the car!
Now for the rest of the story….
OK, so what about the Coconut Cake? One of the ladies in our church was famed for her wonderful Coconut cakes, none finer in the South. One Sunday she brought one of her prize cakes for us to take home for lunch! Mother told us to take it to the car and be very careful. The cake was in one of those plastic cake boxes and we just wanted to see, smell and maybe pinch off a little of that yummy icing. ONE of us pulled at the container top and DOWN went the cake, right into the foot of the car, right where our feet with all the gravels from the parking lot were, and came apart, we panicked! We picked up the cake, put it back together keeping a watch for our parents. Just as they got to the car we had put the top of the cake back on and mashed the icing around to make it look OK. We were very proud of our effort, however, when it was sliced, there was hair and bits of gravel and my parents were shocked, how could this woman, so famed for her cakes have made such a terrible mistake? We never told the truth about it, we just let her bear the shame, and don’t you think they knew?
The mystery is solved after all these years and it proved the scripture and adage that my mother used on us the most, which was “Be sure your sin will find you out!”
Eat some Coconut cake…for me!