Primitive Baptist Sunday School
This is not the specific church remembered below, but it is another that I went to with my parents and grand-parents as a very young boy.
Great-Grandmother and Grandpa took Mama and me to church. Mama and Grandmother sat with the ladies in front of the pulpit. Grandpa sat with the men to the side. Since there was no Sunday school and usually no other children, I would play in the kitchen or outside.The kitchen and restrooms were added sometime after the one-room frame church was originally built. A window looked from the kitchen directly into the pulpit. I could lie on the old pew inside the kitchen and look at the back of the man who was preaching. A rhythmic, sing-song voice characterized hard-shell preaching. Those that didn’t have it were pitied; having the proper rhythm was a sure sign that someone was called to preach and particularly filled with the Holy Spirit (so the thinking went).
The service would consist of over an hour’s worth of singing from Benjamin Lloyd’s hymnal
. There were no notes in the book, only words. You had the tunes memorized. And they were sung at a very, very
slow pace. Singing would be followed by the prayer and then preaching. A typical sermon lasted at least an hour.The church had a large old cemetery full of trees. It was the perfect place for a young boy to wander around and catch lizards. (One time I caught a snake, and another time I found a baby opossum). On spring days all of the windows in the church would be open. The sound of hymns being sung a cappella would carry to the back of the cemetery or a good way into the woods, where I might be tramping through the mud to find and eat huckleberries.
When the sounds of preaching and singing stopped, I knew it was time to head back to the building. We all gathered around a long, plywood table in the kitchen. If it was warm, we would be outside. One of the men would say a blessing that sometimes resembled a sermon; they seemed to last at least half an hour. Then we would eat a traditional East Texas pot-luck lunch: usually fried chicken, greens, dumplins, potatoes, and a few things unidentifiable. After we ate and cleaned up we would say goodbye to each other, usually with hugs, and then we would part. So much for a day at church.
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