Sunday, the 28th, is my brother’s birthday so I think it is a good time to solve a mystery that my parents never solved, at least to our knowledge. Now that they are in heaven and can’t spank us, I will tell all!
Since I was older I was the one responsible for him at home while my parents were doing church work and making the social rounds that being a preacher in the South calls for, yes Fried Chicken dinners are included in this.
My brother always said that he wanted to be a preacher, but he tried a variety of other occupations first, there was 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 their character as close as possible, plus bending hangers so that we could have sword fights when he was being Robin Hood (green tights) and I was the evil sheriff!
For five of our growing years our playground was the Missionary Ridge Church of God basement. We were living in a 16 foot trailer right outside the 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!
Speaking of tanned hides, that was what we got every Sunday night for the transgressions committed at church. We knew the routine, 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 for 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 and I am not complaining and don’t want it to sound like he “beat” us because he did not, it was a spanking and we deserved every one that we got, at least my brother did, I was just guilty by association (she said as she coughed and cleared her throat)!
My brother was finally given the opportunity to preach when he was about six at a Camp meeting and whoever was in charge of the service announced to the hundreds of congregants that his little boy wanted to preach. I think the fact that his granddaddy was the State Overseer probably helped a little bit! They put a chair behind the pulpit for him to be able to stand and see over it and he got up there with all the intentions of preaching a “stem winder”, however there was a lady who was sitting close to the front with a great big pink hat on and that caught his attention for some reason and he never opened his mouth!
Then there was the time we were riding in the mountains and he took a rope with him in preparation to catch a bear 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 told my brother to get his rope, “There is your bear!” Where was he? Hiding under the back seat is where he was.
OK, now for the Coconut Cake! There was a lady in the church who was famed for her wonderful Coconut cakes, it was said that there was none finer in the South, (I’m thinking that was before anyone had ever tasted one of the famous Rich’s coconut cakes for you in Atlanta). One Sunday she brought one of her prize cakes for us to take home for lunch and Mother entrusted us to take it to the car and be very careful with it. The cake was in one of those plastic cake boxes and we just wanted to see it, smell its rich aroma and maybe pinch off a little of that yummy icing. One of us pulled at the container top and down went the cake falling right into the foot of the car, where our shoes had deposited gravels from the parking lot, and the layers came apart, we panicked! We picked up the cake and put it back together while keeping a watch for our parents. Just as they got to the car we 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 sat saintly and quiet letting good sister Pauline unknowingly bear the shame, mystery solved, but don’t you think they really knew?
I am happy to say that my brother did lay down his capes but kept the sword of the Lord and brandishes it with great spiritual authority as the leader of a great church. I know that my dad and granddads are proud and looking over from the portals of heaven saying, “Carry on good soldier, carry on!”
Happy Birthday Alan, eat some Coconut cake for me!