Friday, June 8, 2012

Simpler Times - Those Summer Revivals

"Melody...Cindy...put away your bikes and come get ready for church! Hurry, we're going to be late!!" Many were the days we were called away from mud pies, Barbie dolls, our doll orphanage, or whatever happened to be capturing our imaginations that day to clean up and head out somewhere to attend a revival with Dad. As a child I remember whining, "we've got to go to church AGAIN?!?" As an adult I look back on those days with fondness. I now realize just how much they shaped and prepared me to face the more complicated, difficult days of adulthood.

We may have had to stop playing a little earlier than usual, but we were surely compensated for it with good food. Often members of the church hosting the revival would graciously invite us into their homes for an evening meal prior to the services. One particular home stands out in my mind because of its uniqueness. I have no idea when it was actually built, but it must have been in the early 1900's because it still had the dog trot down the middle. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with "dog-trot" houses, they were essentially two houses under one roof with an open covered porch separating the two sections. Usually the living room, dining area, and the kitchen were on one side, and the bedrooms on the other. The idea of the open porch way was for better air flow creating a cooler place to sit on those hot summer days and evenings. Also, the bedrooms did not get heated up so much when cooking in the kitchen.


(Example of a dog-trot home)
The main house at the circa-1845 Barrington Farm is a vernacular dog-trot structure, with a center breezeway that provides ventilation and shade.
www/oldhousesonline.com

The home was owned by one of the little widow women in the church, and my goodness she could cook! The vegetables were fresh from the garden, and everything was well seasoned from being cooked in iron pots and skillets. The sweet tea was to die for, and dessert...what can I say other than out of this world. It was one of those evenings that your memory records it all...the smell of freshly-cut grass, blooming gardenias...the feel of the warm breeze flowing through the dog-trot porch as we sat patiently waiting for the dinner table to be set...the clinking sound of dishes and laughter as the women visited and worked together...the ideal definition of a perfect summer evening.

When the hard-working souls of a farming community met together for revival, revival usually showed up. The warmth and sense of anticipation infiltrated the church building...something my soul recognized, even as a young child. These people had spent time praying for and expecting revival. Their love for the Lord was evident. Their very existence depended upon God's favor. The success or failure of their crops depended on nature's grace. The cost of raising and feeding their cattle was dependent upon natural forces. These folks knew God's grace in the good times and His provision in the worst of times. Many had lived through the Great Depression. They knew what it was like to have nothing and be brought back to sufficiency. They knew the meaning true meaning of contentment.

Visiting before revival services.

Perhaps my favorite revival services were those held at the Bethel Baptist Church of Bold Springs, Texas. It was the church where my grandfather pastored and the church my parents grew up attending. Both sets of my grandparents were there as well as many other friends and family members. People from all over the community came out to attend the services, to worship the Lord, and to hear my Dad preach. The hand of the Lord was surely upon Daddy. He definitely was born to minister and preach the Word of God.


Rev. Frank Edward Hood (Daddy)
in his early days of ministry.

At Bold Springs, the ladies would often bring dishes and everyone would gather out under the trees for dinner on the ground (I am quite sure was supposed to be dinner on the grounds because we did not eat off the ground.) We would eat until we nearly popped, then go in for church. As a small child I can remember laying with my head in my Maw Maw Moore's lap watching those old ceiling fans turn. Paw Paw Moore would rub my eyebrows until my eyelids got so heavy I had to close them whether I wanted to or not.


Rev. C. L. Moore (my Paw Paw Moore),
Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, Bold Springs, Texas


Aunt Wayne Wilder always brought some kind of snack for all of the kids after church (usually Chicken in a Biscuits.) This one particular night after my sister and I had gotten our snacks Mom told us to go ahead and load up in the car since we were about to leave. She followed, but just as she opened the door, Aunt Wayne called out to tell her something. Not paying any further attention to the back seat, Mom got in the car, shut the door, and hiked her skirt up saying, "I have just got to get out of this girdle before I explode! This thing is so tight it is killing me!!" She worked and struggled getting that girdle off, then playfully rolled it up and threw it in the back seat saying, "Whew that feels much better."


A girdle from the 1960's

My sweet, modest, young Momma (Mrs. Gracie Hood)


Thank heavens overhead lights in cars did not stay on for an extra few seconds like they do nowadays, because about the time the girdle left her hand, a male voice from behind her seat said in a long, drawn out southern drawl, "Sister Gracie, you doing all right this evening? Sure was a good service wasn't it?" My mother was mortified! Anyone who knows her at all understands how modest she is. She attempted to reply, "I'm fine, and yes, it was a good service," but words would not come. She got tickled at the absurdity of the whole situation and could do nothing but laugh. There we sat...Mom silently shaking with laughter, us girls giggling in the back seat, and the gentleman with us staring blankly out of the back window until Dad finally made it to the car.

To make matters worse, Dad looked at Mom with a puzzled look on his face and said, "Grace, are you okay?" About that time Melody held up the girdle and we all busted out laughing. Grinning, Dad looked back at our passenger and said, "I'm sorry I forgot to tell Gracie we were taking you home." Mom lived through her embarrassment in time, but she still turns a little red and shakes with laughter each time I bring it up. Thank You, Lord, for Your sense of humor and for the happy memories of those summer revivals.

True Freedom

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