My Church

During the nineteen twenties and thirties I grew up in the Southeast, where a large area, mostly the Carolinas, was known as the Bible Belt. The ancestors for the people living here were bifold.

Large English settlements were made in Virginia around 1700. Later, splintered groups moved to the northern part of South Carolina. The other large migrating group was known as Scot-Irish. Sometime in the past, Northern Ireland people moved into Scotland and later in multitudes migrated to America. My father’s family tree tells me that I am in the English group.

The Protestant religion was paramount for all these people, with sects being Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist, with the Baptist growing to be by far the largest. A limited number belonging to the Catholic Church were French and Spanish who settled along the south Atlantic coast and in lower parts of the Gulf States.

On Sunday morning my father would load all ten of us into an A or B Model Ford and drive about one mile to church. We would be divided into age groups and attend a 10:00 AM Sunday school and for everyone the service would begin at 11:00 AM and last approximately 1 ½ hours. On Sunday evening we children would walk to church for 6:00 PM BYTU (Baptist Youth Training Union). Our parents would join us at 7:00 PM for an hour sermon. On Wednesday evening the whole family went to a 7:00 PM prayer meeting. Our school basketball games for boys and girls were played in the evenings, but never, never on Wednesday. That day was sacred.

Behind the pulpit there was a huge water vat for Baptism. It was about 5 feet deep and 8 feet long. When I was around 6 years of age the minister dipped me deeply. Even today I don’t like to be dipped thusly. Hopefully the sprinkler system is here to stay.

In our household there were always two bibles. The only playing cards we could use were a deck of “Old Maid”. My sisters were not allowed to dance, and alcohol of any kind was a No-No.

As I worked in the fields along a major road I would frequently see a well-dressed man pass by in a car. I would say to myself “Someday, I want to be a businessman like he is.” Several years later I realized that they were all Bible salesmen.

We poor wanted the Lord to know that we were reading his Bible, and hoping he could help.

David T. Daniel
Southbury, CT ©April 2014

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