Tent Meetings

Did you ever go to a tent meeting?  Do you even know what a tent meeting is?

I’ve told you in earlier posts that we attended the church of Christ and that my dad eventually became a gospel preacher.  During the summer months, gospel meetings were held and we didn’t miss many of them.  A preacher from out of town would be invited to preach and he usually stayed with one of the families of the congregation while he was in town.  The meetings would always start on Sunday.  After morning services ended, there would be a dinner on the ground. On Saturday, the local farmers would bring their wagons up the hill and set them up to be used as tables. After church, the ladies would then cover those tables with the most delicious homemade dishes you ever tasted.  There was always fried chicken, green beans, corn, fresh tomatoes and desserts galore. Following the meal, everyone would go back into the church building to sing for a couple of hours.  Folks from all over the area would come to the singing and I can tell you, there’s nothing more beautiful than a group of people singing those good old hymns.

Not only did the churches hold gospel meetings, a couple of times a year, tent meetings would be held, usually in Griggstown.  And, it was exactly what it sounds like. They would get the tents from one of the local funeral homes, along with folding chairs. The tent would usually seat about 100 people; and if the preacher was really good, folks would be standing.  Now, since these meetings were held in late summer, it would be blazing hot so the funeral home would also furnish enough funeral fans so everyone could stay cool.

Funeral fans were pieces of cardboard stapled to a stick similar to a tongue depressor, only larger.  The fans had a variety of pictures of Jesus on them and they sure could cool a person.  The mosquitoes would practically carry us off though.  On very rare occasions, Mom would allow Cheryl and me to dress in our pajamas and stay in the car.  I remember Bill Hatcher preaching at the tent meetings.  He was a “fire and brimstone” preacher and he would scare me to death.  I just knew that whatever I did wrong would take me straight to hell.  He was a wonderful person and one of the best preachers that I ever heard.  He might have even been one of the people who encouraged my dad to become a gospel preacher.

I don’t know if tent meetings are held anymore and I’m not sure many people would be willing to sit under a tent in sweltering heat to hear someone preach. But it was a very memorable time for me.

See ya next Wednesday.


How My Little Sister Tried to Scare Me to Death

If you remember, in one of my earlier blogs, I wrote about my little sister running over me with her new bicycle and trying to kill me.  Well, today I’m gonna tell you how she tried to scare me to death.

Every night after supper, either one or both of us had to help our mom clean up the supper dishes and straighten the kitchen.  I don’t know if they even had dishwashers back then, but it didn’t matter because Mom had two good ones right there.  So, one of us had to clean the table off and put away the leftovers for Dad’s lunch the next day, and the other one had to wash and/or dry the dishes.

And I tell ya, we were blessed with a good home-cooked meal every single night of the week.  One night, we were cleaning up and I had to make a pit stop so I left the kitchen. When I came back, my mom asked me to put away some silverware.  Of course Cheryl was no where to be seen so I was gonna have to do her job.

I walked over to the sink to get the silverware and just as I reached for the drawer handle, it slowly came out toward me.  I had always been easily spooked and that night was no exception.  I pushed the drawer back in and stepped back. Once again, it came out again very slowly.  Now, my mom was acting like she was a little scared so it just carried on over to me.  I was really getting panicky.  I decided to try to close it once more and here came that sucker back out again.  Well, my mom couldn’t hold her laughter any longer; and all of a sudden, Cheryl opened the cabinet door and got out laughing at me too.  I think Dad was in the living room reading the paper or watching television so he wasn’t in on this one.

So, what actually happened was Cheryl got inside the cabinet and positioned herself to where she could push the drawer out without being seen.  Now, was that ugly or what?

But, I have to tell you here about what happened to Cheryl, and she did it to herself – not on purpose of course.  Mom kept a container (a plastic bottle that had a lid that screwed down into it) of cold water in the refrigerator, especially in the summer when it was so hot.  One afternoon, Cheryl came inside to get some cold water and cool off. She was gonna sit at the table to drink her water.  Mom had the chairs under the table so instead of pulling a chair out, Cheryl decided to crawl into the chair from the floor.  She reached for the water and grabbed it by the top.  When she did, the top came off and all that water spilled down the front of her and into her lap. She couldn’t move because she was against the table.  She gasped for breath for about five minutes. Kind of reminded me of the alcohol incident. She didn’t get into trouble for spilling the water because it was just too funny.  She never grabbed the bottle by the lid any more.

We might have pulled some tricks on one another, but you know something, we never did anything that would hurt either of us.

See ya next Wednesday.


Laundry Day

When you were growing up, did you have to help your mom do laundry?  Well, I did; but somehow, my sister always managed to get out of that little chore.  In her defense though, she always had to help our dad mow the lawn and it was a huge lawn.

Mom didn’t have a dryer so all the clothes, from towels and sheets to underwear and socks, had to be hung outside on the clothes line to dry.  The clothes line was stretched from the persimmon tree to a big maple tree and then to another big tree. There were sticks that had a bent nail in it so we could raise the clothes off the ground once we got them on the line.  Mom wouldn’t let either one of us use the washer; I guess she was afraid we would overload it with soap and the basement would be a soapsuds rink.

During the summer, she would wash the clothes but I had to hang them out. I really didn’t mind hanging sheets and towels; they were the easiest to hang. The absolute worst things I had to hang out were my dad’s work pants.  He worked at TVA then and wore those khaki pants and matching shirt.  Mom had these pant stretchers that had to be placed inside the pant legs so they would not need ironing. Now, if you have never used those things, I’m here to tell you they will pinch the crap out of your fingers if you don’t get them fastened right.  And believe me, I had my fingers pinched a gazillion times and it really hurt.  Not only did I have to place them in the pants to hang them on the clothes line, but I had to take them back out when the pants were dry.  It didn’t matter – I got pinched every single time I used them.

Even when we were in school, my job was to bring in the clothes as soon as I got off the bus. When it was warm, I didn’t mind too much (like it would have done any good if I did), but in the winter when it was so cold, I still had to go out there and take those stinking clothes off the line. My hands would get so cold that they hurt.  And, sometimes, Dad’s pants were frozen so we had to hang them in the basement to finish drying.

One of the fun things to do when clothes are hanging on the line is to get a good start and run through them, especially the sheets.  The not-so-fun part would have been if we had gotten caught.  I think Cheryl, Greg and I were pretty lucky there because I don’t remember us getting caught at all.  We really didn’t do it a lot, but every once in a while, the urge would hit us and off we would go flying through the sheets pretending we were flying an airplane.

I remember how scratchy the towels were after hanging outside; you just about rubbed your skin off drying with one them.  But, I tell ya, there is nothing any better than crawling into your bed with fresh clean sheets that have been hung outside.

See ya next Wednesday.

The Garden

How many of you grew up on a farm, or at least had a garden at your house?  I think I have mentioned the lane beside our new house on the Bottom Road in a couple of earlier posts.  Well, that lane went way back into the fields where our neighbors raised their corn and tobacco.  And, down that lane just past the barn, Dad had a huge garden spot.  Across the creek, he had another garden where he planted mostly watermelons and cantaloupes.

When it came time for planting, Mom and Mawdie would go to Yopp Seed Company, in Paducah, which was located near the riverfront and also to the Market House. Back then, the Market House was open and many farmers brought plant slips, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to sell.  Just a note here that in 1960, the Market House ceased to be a market and became a museum and theatre.

Anyway, Cheryl and I usually went along with them and it was really kind of neat to walk through the Market House and see all the farmers there, and there was always a bunch of folks buying what they needed to plant their gardens.

We would go to the Market House first, then we would go to Yopp’s.  Cheryl and I loved Yopp’s because they had these huge barrels full of seeds – all kinds of beans, corn and peas.  We loved the corn because it was coated with a pink substance (I forget what it was) and we would run our arms as far down the barrel as we could and they would be covered in that pink stuff. That usually brought on a threat from my mom.

So, we would get the seeds home and Dad would take his tractor down to the garden and break up the ground.  He would then make nice long rows so that everything could be planted.  Once he got the ground ready, it became a family affair.  We each were given seeds for a row and were expected to plant them exactly right.  It would take a couple of days to get all the planting done, and we would be totally worn out by the time we finished.

Once the vegetables were ready to be picked, it was again a family affair.  We all picked the vegetables and we all shelled beans and peas.  I hated shelling butter beans because those little suckers are hard to shell, especially if you chewed your fingernails like I did.  Every afternoon, Mom would send one of us to the garden to pick some fresh tomatoes for supper.  One time, I went skipping down there, and as I reached down to pick a tomato, I came face to face with a chicken snake.  Well, I went back to the house (and pretty quickly I might add) without any tomatoes.  Mom made me go back and I was sure the snake would have his whole family waiting there for me.  But, evidently I scared him worse than he scared me and he was gone.

I tell ya, my Dad loved gardening and there were absolutely no weeds anywhere in sight.  His gardens were always plentiful and my dad was happy to share the wealth with others.

See ya next Wednesday.