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Written by Elder Troy Corley   

The services were held under a brush arbor that had been built just outside of the yard near the home of an old brother who seemed to be the main stay and support of the meeting, as well as of the little church in that community. A number of ladies, under the supervision of his wife did the cooking there in her kitchen, and the people ate around some long temporary tables that had been set up in the back yard.

 

The Baptist Trumpet--March 1965

I attended an association in the summer of 1917, but right now I do not mean to say where it was, nor when it was, lest someone think I am casting reflections, which I certainly am not. There may be a few people yet living who were at that association and may be able to recognize it by some of the things I am going to say about it. It used to be common, though it seems to be not so common now, to hear old timers refer to how something was "in the good old days." This association was "in those good old days."

Cars were not in general use then, at least among our people. Even at our associations cars were seldom seen. I was living then about a hundred and fifty miles from where this association was being held, that is, if I went on the train, and that was the only way I had to go. I was teaching school that summer and could not, or did not, go in time for the services on Friday, but I let out my school a little early that afternoon so I could go home and clean up and walk five miles into town in time to catch the early evening train. About forty miles from the town where I lived, this train would make connection with another train that would take me on to the town where the meeting was being held and there was only a few minutes lay-over.

When I got off the train at this last town about 2:00 o'clock in the morning it was raining. I was the only person to get off so the train was not there long. I went on into the dimly lighted depot and within minutes the roar and noise of the onrushing train had died away and everything around the little deserted depot was hushed and still, except for the splatter of the rain outside and an occasional click-clickety-click of the telegraph instruments in the office where the sleepy station agent sat dozing. I did not see another living soul the rest of that night.

When it began to get daylight I walked on up in town and the first person I saw was a man in a barn-like building near an alley, putting the harness on some horses. I asked him if he knew where this meeting was being held, and he did not, but he said the man in the office in the funeral home may know. I stepped inside and asked him and he knew alright, and told me how to get there, but he said, "I am fixing to send one of my men out there in a few minutes to pick up the body of a lady that died a little while ago, and he will be going within a mile of the place and you may ride with him, if you don't mind riding in a hearse." I didn't mind. Any kind of conveyance was better than walking nine miles on a muddy dirt road. I got there just as they were eating breakfast.

The services were held under a brush arbor that had been built just outside of the yard near the home of an old brother who seemed to be the main stay and support of the meeting, as well as of the little church in that community. A number of ladies, under the supervision of his wife did the cooking there in her kitchen, and the people ate around some long temporary tables that had been set up in the back yard. There was no camping on the ground in the sense that we now think of it, but most of the people slept there or near. They had beds made down all over the house, in the barn, smoke-house, hayloft, and all over the place, even in the chicken house.

Quite a number of preachers were there though I had met but few of them before that time, as well as a large congregation of people. Saturday night I was assigned a place to sleep on a hay bed in the loft of the chicken house. I had been up all the night before, the services that day had been long and tiring, the day had been hot and sultry after the early morning shower, I was tired and any kind of bed sounded good to me. Somewhere around 11:00 o'clock I went to bed but not to sleep. Evidently the chickens downstairs had mites, since the hay upstairs was literally crawling alive with them. I stood it as long as I thought I could, which was not very long, and then got up and quietly slipped back down the ladder and went out to the barn and took off my clothes and whipped them against the wall to get rid of my tormenters, also rubbed and brushed the pesky things off me as best I could, then redressed and went up to the brush arbor and what little sleep I got that night was on one of the rough, make-shift benches that were so commonly seen around places of that kind in that day and time. By Sunday morning I was so tired and worn out from the very little sleep I had got the two nights before that I remember very little about who preached, or the service in general that day, but I was glad to be there and meet the few people I knew, and to meet and get acquainted with many others who later became my life long friends. Some of them have long ago gone to their eternal home, but a few are yet living and I consider to be among the best friends I ever had.

Most of the preachers who were there had come on the train, and some of them, like myself, wanted to catch the 2:30 o'clock train that afternoon, and it seemed that no provision, or at least, not enough provision had been made to convey all of them back to the depot, and as soon as, or maybe even before the service came to a close, about six or seven of them started out afoot, and so far as I know, without any dinner, in order to reach town before train time. I was the youngest one in the bunch, and so far as I know, the only one that was not a preacher.

I deeply enjoyed the company and conversation of those men as we trudged along, but I learned then that, after conditions like those through which I had gone the two days and nights before, that a forced hike over nine miles of rough country road, under the beaming rays of an August noon-day sun, and on an empty stomach, could be quite a trying experience, even to a young man, and I am sure some of these preachers were in their sixties, or older.

As I look back now over the nearly forty-eight years that have come and gone since that day, I believe the most impressive things on that trip to me, were, in the order in which they came, first, riding to the association in the big black horse-drawn hearse over those muddy, bumpy country roads; second, being run out of the loft of that chicken house by those mites; and third--and in later years this came to be the most impressive to me--those hungry ministers starting out under a sweltering sun to walk nine miles back to town to catch the train.

Whatever this little experience of mine of many years ago may mean to you, I hope it will be a reminder to the older ones, who can remember many things that happened in "the good old days," that we have come a long way since then, and to suggest to our young people that although many things may not be as we wish, maybe yet they are not quite as bad as we may sometimes think.

May we all, young and old, count our blessings and appreciate them and thank God for them every day.

Troy Corley.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 October 2008 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.