Archive for April, 2014

White Preacher Come to Town, Part 3



Momma walked over to Sister Agnes, who was sitting with a worried expression on her face. “Mom Zora said she gonna be a little bit late,” she said, “Go ‘head and start service, she’ll be along in awhile.”


“Okay, baby,” Sister Agnes answered. She nodded at my Aunty Dee, who sat patiently at the piano. She found middle C, then, her E-flat chords. She grimaced a bit, there was always one or two keys that would stick on her. She jiggled the sticky key loose, satisfied, she struck up a tune:

“Made a vow to the Lawd…and I won’t go back!”

Made a vow to the Lawd…”


“And I won’t go back!” the congregation roared in answer.


“On my knees, I made a vow…!”

“And I won’t go back!”


The song, an old call-and-response number, was a COGIC classic….


I’m sorry, what you said?


COGIC? Church of God In Christ, an OG Black denomination, hardcore as they come. Born in the early 1900’s by Bishop Charles Harris Mason, who was put outta the Baptis’ Chu’ch after he came from the Azusa Street Revival speakin’ in tongues. Yeah, they put him out, said speakin’ in tongues was of the debbil. Well, they put him out, but he founded his own chu’ch, and been doin well ever since.


Like I say, COGIC was hard-core: no drinkin’ or smokin’, dippin’ nor cussin’. The women wore long dresses, and little to no makeup, cuz Jezebel the harlot wore heavy makeup an’ lean out the window to temp’ Jayhoo. Jayhoo looked up an’ saw her, and tole the yew-nocks to pitch Jezzie out. I don’t know fo’ sho’, but mebbe the yew-nocks was chasin’ after the same thing Jezebel was chasin’ after, but anyhow, they flex they arm, and out she fly. Splat! The dogs was happy, tho, all that Jezebel juice made for good lappin’. Look it up in the Bible, if you don’t believe me.

The congregation was up, clappin’ and singin’, you know, not High Chu’ch just yet, but well on the way. Besides, there was a bit o’ special sump’tin in the air, cuz it warn’t often a White man preach in Cane Creek COGIC, no sir.

Plus, er’body had heard ‘bout the goin’s-on in Mom Zora’s barn, and I mean er’body, so chu’ch was packed, wantin’ to see this White man, an’ his two hoes. Plus, they wanted to see what Mom Zora was gonna do ‘bout that White man eatin’ up all her food and doin’ the double-butt shuffle in her barn. I mean her rep’tation was at stake, aint no way she could let ol’ Thibodeaux get away with that, and then preach in her chu’ch? No, sir, God didn’t sleep, and Mom Zora was wide awake, layin’ dead onna side.


After while, Thibodeaux walk in, him and his two wimmen, they fannin’ an’ fussin’ over him, like he Elvis Pressley or the Big Bopper. He was wearin’ a white robe, with three racin’ stripes on his sleeve. Daddy said later that them stripes s’pozed to mean that Thibodeaux had gone to college and got his doctor degree, but all them stripes was good for was for Rev to wipe his azz wit, cuz they warn’t worth schit. That’s what Daddy said, and I agreed.


He sot down, in Elder Wimble’s seat, which was highly nervy of him. You don’t sit in no pastor’s seat, ‘lessen the pastor hisself invite you to. If the pastor warn’t there, you sat in the side chair, but Thibodeaux, he just plop his big rump in the big soft chair like it was his’n. Sister Agnes got up to correct him, but Momma was quicker, and went whisper somethin’ in her ear. Sister Agnes look surprised fo’ a moment, then she broke out in a big grin, and turn back around and commenced to pick up singin’ where she left off. Yes, Lawd, sump’tin was up, cuz Sister Agnes didn’t grin too often.


The two wimmen, they come down, and one of them go to where my Aunt

Dee was on the piano, and cross her arm, like she was waitin’ for Aunty Dee to get up. Dee pointed at herself, an’ that yaller mouf heifer nodded her head, and made a jerkin’ motion, like she was tellin’ Dee to hurry up. Dee humped her shoulders, and got up, which kinda put the kibosh on “Made A Vow.” Sister Agnes waited a moment, cause usually right here, she’d start the prayer.


Yaller Mouf looked at Sis Agnes, who close her eyes and started up Prayer Chant #1, “Yassss….Yasssssss…”


The congregation picked it up: “YASSSSSSS!…….YASSSSSS! 

It’s the oldest meter in COGIC history, six bars in a slow blues rhythm. Bishop Mason said that the best thing you could tell the Lawd was “Yes” and “Thank you.” So, they made it their prayer meter, an’ they sprinkle it all through the service, kinda like black pepper.


Sister Agnes bein’ the prayer leader fo’ tonight, she picked the lyric, and the congregation repeated it for five bars. When she decided enuf was enuf, she’d broke off the meter, and begin to pray in earnest:


“Here tiz’ me once agin’…yo’ mos’ hum’lest servant….I thanks you Lawd, cuz you touch de button o’ Nature…and my eyes sprang open…my bed was not my coolin’ bo’rd…kivver not my windin’ sheet…tung not gloo to the roof ‘a my mouf….my eyes not closed….with the blue curtain of Death…”


Spooky, aint it? Make you scared to go to sleep at night, first time you hear it. I won’t give you the whole thing, take too long. She pray real good, tho’, she’d get happy, right towards the middle, make a good whoop…




What’s a whoop? Po’ thing, where you from? You must be one of them Pressbeeterians, don’t know what a whoop is. It’s kinda like a rockin’ beat you use, when you preachin’ or prayin’, almost like singing, but not quite. E’ry now an’ then, a White boy come along, tries preachin’ that style, but you needs rhythm to pull it off. Now, not all Negro preachers kin whoop neither, and long as they don’t try, it’s okay. Nothin worse than a Negro preacher whoop when he don’t know how.


Martin Luther King didn’t whoop, but he string them words together like a college boy, made it sound good.  Now, you want to hear a good whoopin’ preacher? Reverend C.L. Franklin, or Leo Daniels, them’s the whoopers. Look ‘em up, you’ll see what I mean…anyway, hush, and let me talk!


She finished prayin’, and stood up. She got the offerin’ basket, and said, “Now we shall lift up our church offerin’. We gonna raise an offerin’ later for the preacher, but this offerin’ go to the chu’ch. She look aroun’, and er’body with good sense got the gis’ of what she was sayin’. I look to see how Ol’ Thib was takin’ it, but he sat there with his eyes closed.




Them 2 wimmen was Negroes, but I guess they been away from Negroes fo’ too long to know what was up.

Daddy leaned over to me an’ whispered, “Dat White boy aint gonna see a penny of dat collection, watch an’ see. Here, go put this in the basket,” and hand me a ten-spot.

Me, I was proud as punch, made sure everbody saw that ten, plus the one I added. Held it high, like I was offerin’ it to the Lawd. Elder Wimble taught us that.

Had a good bit of money in there, like I said, the place was packed, and most ‘a them folks had good sense to know where the first offerin’ was goin’.


When we finished puttin’, Sister Agnes blessed the offerin. She says, “We thanks you, Lawd, fo’ this offerin’, bless those who give, bless those who desire to give, but didn’t have it, bless them to have it next time. Let this offerin’ be use to the glory of God, in Jesus name, Amen!”


The congregation said “AMEN!” while Sister Agnes took her long pocketbook out of her bosom, and stuck the money in it, then put the pocketbook back in her bosom, and that was that. Daddy leaned over and said, “Lockdown in Fort Knox,” and started chuckling to hisself. Momma gave us the eye, but Daddy didn’t pay her no mind.


Sister Agnes struck up a song to open Testifyin’ Service, and I have to give  Yallow-Mouf credit, she could play the piano pretty good. Sister Agnes was singin’ “Don’t Let the Debbil Ride,” a old standard. Sister Agnes had a reedy, kinda’ thin voice, but she was loud enuf to make up for it. She sang:


“Don’t….let the debbil ride….

I said, do-ooon’t……let the debbil ride…

Cuz if you let him ride….he gonna wanna drive…don’t let him ride…”


She open her mouf to sing the second verse, an’ lo an’ behol’, that rotten mouf woman took her song!


I aint lyin’!


Rotten-Mouf took Sister Agnes song!


My eyes popped, cuz you didn’t take nobody’s song, specially Sister Agnes!


Let me ‘splain it to you, cuz you look like you don’t understand.  Takin’ somebody’s song means you tellin’ the person you aint singin’ the song right, sit yo’ azz down, an’ let me sing it for you. It take nerve to take a song, an’ it’s a good way to make an enemy, specially somebody like Sister Agnes. She had a long memory, and once you made her schit-list, that was it. Keep an eye on yo’ back, ‘cause fo’ getting’ you, yo’ azz was got.


Rotten-Mouf took it, tho’, and I can’t lie, she had a real pretty voice, but you had to close yo’ eyes tight to enjoy it. Them teeth was just too rotten to look at. When she open her mouf wide to hit the high notes, you could see nothin’ but black. Look like she been chewin’ raisins. Nasty, jes’ nasty! Daddy whispered somethin’ to Momma, and she hit him on the arm with her fan, and bent over, jus’ a-laughin’. I knowed fo’sho’ something was up, then. Momma didn’t laugh in church, no sir.


Sister Agnes sat down, real mad. Well, that’s all she could do, after Rotten-Mouf took her song, either that, or look like a fool. Sister Agnes sot down, and fold her arms, as if to say “You conduct Testifyin’ Service, then.” So, Rotten-Mouf walked over an’ stood behin’ the offerin’ table an’ conduct. She sang a few verses of the song, then finished with:


“Doooo-n’t…let him sleep in yo’ bed

I say, doooo-n’t…let him sleep in yo’ bed….

If he sleep in yo’ bed…’ll wake up dead…don’t let him riiiiide…”


I was puzzled. I leaned over, and asked Daddy, “How you wake up, if you dead?”


His shoulders shook a bit, then he said, “Hush, son, just sit there and enjoy the show.”



Yallow-Mouf an’ Rotten-Mouf sang a duet. You could tell they been singin’ together a long time, cuz they sing in harmony, not in unison, like most folks roun’ here do. They sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” and they did a nice job, a couple of folks in the middle row even got happy.

They must-a been from outta town, cuz nobody in Cane Creek was gonna shout over nothin’ them two was gonna do. I don’t care if an angel swoop down ‘roun they head, they could forget it. Hoes is hoes, an’ after that stunt

they pulled in Mom Zora’s barn with that White man? No, baby, it wasn’t happenin’, trust me.


I looked around. Something wasn’t quite right.


Then it hit me, Muh hadn’t come in yet.




I leaned to look at Momma, who had her arms folded, then it hit me again, Momma hadn’t gotten happy yet. Shoot, by now, Momma be done got on the floor and cut her a rug or two. Momma liked church, she said it was better than the club. That’s what she say, me, I didn’t know. But she’s sittin’ there with her arms folded, but she wasn’t mad, I could tell. Matter o’ fact, she looked like she was on the verge of bustin’ out in a laugh, but she was holdin’ it. I looked at her, and bless my soul, she wink at me! You don’t know Momma, but she don’t never wink! Somewhere in the Bible, in Proverbs, it talk about how a winkin’ eye aint no good. Well, sumpin was up, an’ Momma was in on it, that’s fo’ sho’…


They finished singin, and then they begin to sing Amazin’ Grace, an’ erybody know the preacher comin’ up next. Yallow Mouf introduced the preacher, real long and flowery, but I noticed that when she got to talkin’, Momma got up and tipped outside. A minute later, she came back in, and sat down with a smug look on her face. I leaned over to ask her ‘bout it, but Daddy hunch me with his elbow, so I sat back.


Thibodeaux got up, an’ commence to preachin’. Well, what pass fo’ preachin’ in some parts. He start off in the book of Genesis, how Adam an’ Eve was White people, an’ the Garden of Eden was in Switza’lan’ somewheres…I hope I don’t have to explain how much a’ humbug this was? Anyway, he says that Eve was tempted with the fruit, not by the debbil, but by her Negro servant. Now, that foolishness got on my nerve, but what really sot me on fire was a couple of Negroes in the back said “Amen!” Daddy said later some people never lef’ the cotton field. I believe he was right, fo’ sho’.


But, anyway, right in the middle of Rev’s sermon, the door creak open, an’ Muh walked in with somebody, which wasn’t too unusual in an’ of itself, cuz Muh was always bringin’ somebody to chu’ch. But what was strange

was who she had with her. Uncle Hime walked in, an’ my eyes popped open wide, I mean wide. Uncle Hime aint never come to chu’ch, not in my lifetime.  I lean over, Momma an’ Daddy both fightin’ a grin. I lean over the other way, my brother an’ sister eyes popped open bigger than mine. Erybody looked as he walked in an’ sat down, right in front.


I gotta ‘splain this to you. Uncle Hime was Muh’s baby brother, ‘bout ten years or so. He was one of several town drunks in Cane Creek, an’ if you ask me, he was the best one of the bunch. He drank T&T White Port, and every so often, Muh would pay us to pick up the scores of bottles Uncle Hime had pitched behin’ the barn. He was harmless as they come, but he was allergic to bathin’ and shavin’, as well as changin’ clothes. He’d walk all over town, hummin’ and singin’ to hisself, and sometimes, he make his way outta town, and end up in Church Point or Jennings, somebody who knowed him would call Muh, an’ she’d get Uncle Pacon to go an’ pick him up.


Like I said, Uncle Hime was harmless as a fly, he jus’ looked ferocious. Momma had tole us one time that Uncle Hime was a prizefighter, back in the old days, an’ he fought undercard to Jack Johnson, once or twice. But he got hit a few times in the head, well, quite a few times in the head, you know how it was back then, warn’t no three-minute rounds, you fought ‘til somebody got knocked down, count less than ten, fight some ‘mo, ‘til somebody out cold. He drove 18-wheelers after that, drove all over the country, ‘til he too old. Muh took care of him, made sure he had sumpin t’eat an’ such. I got another story about him, maybe I’ll tell you that one next.


Well, he sot down on the front bench, an’ cross his legs, jus’ like a deacon. Muh sot next to him, reached up, took off his hat, and put it on the bench.  Uncle Hime took his hat, and put it back on his head. Muh didn’t bother with it, there was more important things afoot. She cross her legs, so’s they look like a pair of bookends. Ol’ Thib just  kept on a-preachin’, he never notice how the crowd shift when them two walked in. He say:


“…an the Lawd sent me here, to heal the sick, an’ to cast out debbils! Debbils, I say, who make you sick! Debbils, I say, who wreck yo’ home! Debbils, I said, debbils, who enter into men an’ turn em’ into wild beasts! The Lawd sent me here, to lay hands on the sick! The lame! The afflicted! The blind, the crippled! The Lawd sent me here, an’ brudders an’ sisters, I ain’t leavin’ until I done cast out every debbil in Cane Creek!”


That’s when Muh stood up. Thib was sweatin’ an’ spittin’ an’ wavin’ his hands, man, he was jus’ a-goin’! He was all excited when Muh stood up, I guess he thought she was gonna get everybody more whipped up than they was, but he was wrong. He says, “Testify, Mother! Tell us what the Lawd has done for you! Tell us, TELL US!!!”


Muh said, “You want me to tell er’body what the Lawd has done for me? He kept me–”


“He kept you, Mother?” Thibodeaux  interrupted. She was calm, tho.


She said, “He kept me from shootin’ you an’ them two hoes you brung to my house. An’ as far as leavin, you an’ them two nasty wimmens gittin’ outta here tonight. An’ I don’t mean outta my house, I mean outta town!


Well, that’s when the diaper hit the fan. Thib turned red as a beet, an’ made a sign at them two wimmen, an’ they come up, lookin’ to pug it out. Rotten Mouf was the closest, an’ she made a step  towards Muh. But, she forgot she had stolen Sister Agnes’ song, so Sister Agnes called it to her ‘collec’shun.


What she did? Jus’ grabbed her by the arm an’ whipped her in the pew, real hard. Knock the wind plum’ out ‘a her, then, jes’ in case she had a breff left, she sot on her! Oh, I forgot to tell you, Sister Agnes weigh nigh close to fo’ hunnert pounds. Yeah, now you get it. Rotten Mouf should’a never took Sister Agnes’ song, no sir.


Yallow Mouf, po’ thing, she never stood a chance. She stepped up towards Muh, an’ Muh said, “Put yo’ hands up, heifer!”


Well, she didn’t.


Muh said, “I warned ya,” and put up her fists like Joe Louis.


I aint lyin’!


She started bobbin’ an’ weavin’ her haid, and Daddy hollered, “Jab!  Jab!”


He didn’t have to coach her, tho’. Muh hit her with two stiff ones, daid in the fo’head, rocked her straight back! Then, she dropped her shoulder, an’ swung a uppercut, knocked her square in the jaw!




She fell with a thunk to the floor, out like a light, I mean o-u-t!


Ol’ Thib was sweatin’ buckshot by now. Both of his wimmens was M.I.A., an’ he warn’t too shure ‘bout hisself.


Muh walked up to the altar table, an’ pointed at him, and says, “Next time the Lawd tell you to come to Cane Creek, you tell Him Zora says ‘No!’”


He says, “Now, look-a-heah, girl, you don’t tell me what to do!”


Muh didn’t answer him, she just reach over, an’ rang the Sunday School bell….Ding!…..Ding!


Uncle Hime jump straight up. Somebody screamed, I guess they thought he was about to get saved or somethin’, I don’t know. He took his hat off, an’ throwed it on the pew, an spit in his hands…




I aint lyin’, I’m tellin’ you what happened!


He spit in his hands, an’ rubbed ‘em together, then sot hisself like Jack Johnson, I mean he went way back! He rolled his head a couple of times to the left, then to the right again, then he shuffle his feet, and went skippin’ towards Muh.


“Where he at, Zora?” he asked.


Muh pointed at Thibodeaux. “Sic ‘im, Hime,” she said.


Well, it wasn’t pretty. Uncle Hime leaped up in the pulpit, just a bobbin’ an’ weavin’. Daddy say Hime fight just like Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Me, I say Sugar Ray, but that’s me.

It don’t matter none, cuz Thib was a preacher, not a fighter.

Not at all.


Hime bob an’ weave, while Thib tryin’ to cas’ the debbil outta him! What he should’a done was put up his hands an’ try to block some of them blows Hime was getting’ ready to throw on ‘im. Hime hit him with about five or six shots to the belly. Thib’s belly was kinda big, but Hime bend ‘im over pretty quick.

He bent over, an’ Hime stepped in for the kill. Hime put his lef’ hand on top of Thib’s head, an whipped his right hand roun’ an’ roun’.


Jock said, “Bolo punch him, Uncle Hime!” an’ that’s just what he done.




Revund’ Thibodaux’s haid jerk back, an’ he fell in a heap! Muh rang the bell, an’ Uncle Hime came bobbin’ an’ weavin’ back to his seat, then sat down, crossed his legs, and put his hat back on his head.


Rotten Mouf took a deep breath, Lawd knows how. Sister Agnes said, “You wanna sing, you black toof skanch?” got up, and sat down again.




Rotten Mouf said “Oooffff…!” and started turnin’ colors.


Muh said, “Get offa her, Agnes, ‘fo you smother her!”


Sister Agnes smacked her lips an’ said, “I wanna hear her steal another one’a my songs!” She started bouncing in Rotten’s lap. “Come on, sing, heifer, sing!” she said, Rotten going “Oof!” with every bounce.


Took Muh ten minutes to talk Agnes offa that woman.


The deacons drag Thib outside, and throwed him into Uncle Pacon’s cab. The two wimmen staggered in there, too, and off they go.


Well, after all that, they had to dismiss chu’ch. Erybody shook Muh’s hand, tellin’ her how wonderful the revival was.


“Yes, praise the Lawd,” Muh kept tellin ‘em, “Praise His Holy Name!”


Uncle Hime stood up, and walked over to Muh. He put his hand out, and Muh put a ten-spot in it. He stuck it in his pocket, tipped his hat, an’ said, “Praise the Lawd!” an’ walked out.


Well, that was too much for Momma. She had knowed the whole set-up, an’ had to hol’ on to it until it unfold. She bust out laughin’, and I mean she jus’ fell out!


Muh just looked at her for a minute, then she shook her haid an’ said, “Stop laughin, Abbie, that aint funny!”


Tales From Cane Creek is an upcoming book written under the pseudonym Nat Hime.



White Preacher, Part 2

Muh had said she could tolerate it ‘til the revival was over, but I warn’t sure. Rev would say stuff that I knew was raisin’ her hackles, and I was bracin’ myself for when she’d get mad enuf to blow. Not that I’da tried to stop her or nothin’, hell, I’da stole a coupla’ licks on him myself.


She held her tongue, tho’ but it was mighty, mighty close when he said, “You know, Sister Zora, it don’t make no sense for your pastor to only come twice a month. If he was a real pastor, he’d be here every Sunday, pastor y’all nigras right! You nigras needs somebody to look after y’all, make sure y’all do the right thing. Nigra left to hisself is just trouble lookin’ for a place to happen.”


She was cuttin’ okra when he said that, with her favorite okra knife, a nice 6-inch foldin’ blade with a buckhorn handle my Cousin Shug had give her from the Army, or so he told her. Shug aint never spent a day in Uncle Sam’s Army, but that’s a whole nother story.


Well when Rev. said that, I tense up, cuz I know Muh was gonna let go a’ that okra, and commence to cuttin’ her a slice ‘a redneck! Between him talkin’ bad about Elder Wimble, and Black folk in particular, he was skatin’ on thin ice, an’ bout to fall plum through. She stopped cuttin’, and she cocked her head a bit, and said, “You think so, Reverend?”


I had my eye on her knife, just a’waitin’ for her to slice ‘im up, but she just looked at ‘im, started whistlin’ real soft, an’ went back to cuttin’ okra, an’ let him continue talkin’.




When Muh whistled, things was real bad. Usually, when she worried, or grievin’, she’d pray. When she was happy, she’d sing. But whistle? The old people had a sayin’, Whistlin’ woman, or a crowin’ hen, aint no good to God nor men. Rev didn’t know it just yet, but he was messin’ with the wrong woman, trust me.


I tol’ Daddy about it, ‘cause I was mad. I was just learnin’ how to cuss, and I nearly let a few ripe ones out, but Momma was nearby, and she was already on edge because of Rev and all, and the last thing I needed was for her to let off a little steam on me.


Y’see, Momma’s cure for cussin’ depended on where in the house she heard you. If she was near the kitchen, red pepper; if she was near the bathroom, castor oil, so either way, you bridle your tongue around her.


Daddy says, “Son, man like that, that’s the way he think.  You could be in a room with a hundred Black people, man like that, he walk in, he figger he in charge.”


“Don’t worry, son,” he chuckled, “I been knowin’ yo’ grandmother a mighty long time. She done seed ‘em come, an’ seed ‘em go. Mostly, they go. This one aint no different. The fun is gonna be how she get him to git up an’ go. She started whistlin’, you say?” He looked at me, and winked. “Son, I b’leve I’m goin’ to church this week.”


I opened my mouth, then closed it. Daddy only went to Momma’s church on special occasions, or when the Masons was on program. If Daddy was goin’ to this revival, I warn’t gonna miss it, no sir…



“Abbie, I’m not sho’ I kin takes much mo’ of this,” Muh was on the phone with Momma. “That White man eatin’ me outta house and home, and them ugly gals is just plain nasty! When they takes a bath….yes, you heard me, when they takes a bath….Abbie…. baby….you should see the rang they leave behind!”


“Stop laughing, Abbie, that aint funny! Hol’ on, I aint tole you the killin’ part yet…..I caint prove it, they moves too quick, when one leave out the bathroom, the other jumps right in, but I b’lieve… they uses the same water! Cuz ain’ no way a bathroom rang be that color behin’ one person usin’ it!”


“What you talkin’ bout? Yes, I said color! Abbie, I been on this earth over seb’nty years, an’ I aint never seed a rang that color! What color it be? Green! You heard me! G-r-e-e-n! What you mean, how I know? Cuz they leave it for me to clean! Yes, ma’am! I’s the little cullud gurl that they got to clean up behin’ ‘em, I s’poze. Towel layin’ on the floor….well, I’ll be dogged, it jus’ hit me….they usin’ the same towel! They must be, baby, unless they eatin’ the other ones they use? All right, then! Nasty, just nasty! Uh, huh…uh-huh…they huddles up in my barn durin’ the day, in between meal times….yes, baby, three meals a day, plus snacks in between!”

“Fo him, breakfast, lessee…fo’ eggs, ten slice o’ bacon, he like it half cooked, grits with a slice a’ cheese on top, orange juice an’ coffee. Oh, wait, I forgot the pancakes…I aint lyin! Them wimmen don’t eat much, they is watchin’ they figger…if they ask me, I tell ‘em, take a look behin’ you, you find yo’ figger! But he eat pancakes on top a’ all that, chile…an’ he don’t stop ‘til he done et ten, sometime twelve! Then fo’ lunch, it’s double helpin’s o’ whatever I cook, chicken, po’k chop, gravy steak, whatever, plus a heapin’ plate o’ rice an gravy, an’ chile, he aint never met a vegable he didn’t like! An’ that’s just’ round one! Yes, ma’am, he be lookin’ fo’ seconds!”

“Then they goes into the barn fo awhile, I lissen once, they be havin’ church up in there, so’s I leave ‘em alone, I be glad for the break! In between time, he send one of them ugly gals in here…my little bird Sweeney can’t stand ‘em, he fuss an’ squawl long as they in here, the only way to stop him is to cover his cage wit’ a towel, so’s he caint see ‘em! They come in here, says, ‘Rev need a glass ‘a milk,’ or ‘Rev need some crackers,’ or ‘Rev was wonderin’ do you have any muffins?’ all prim an’ proper, like it’s my job to make sho’ I got somethin sweet whenever he ask!”

She nodded her head a couple of times and kept talkin’, “Well, baby, I been puttin up wit’ dis since Sunday, an’ tonight is his day-bew, like that ugly gal with the rotten mouf like to say when she drankin’ coffee. Baby, ‘twix you an’ me and the tree, I done made a point to mark the coffee cup she use! Oh yes, I make sho she gits the same cup, an’ I promise you, when they leave, dat cup gonna fly daid in the trash can! Yellow teef is one thing, but a rotten mouf like that? I ain’t got enuf disinfect to clean no cup she done used. Minute she gone, I’m gonna take the hammer to it, ‘fo I pitch it, make sho’ nobody drink behin’ it, never, no mo’ in dis worl’!  Stop laughin’ Abbie, that aint funny!”


Later that day, we kids was playin baseball out near the barn. Well, what we was really doin’ was tryin’ to get a lissen on what was goin’ on up in there with Rev an’ them two wimmen, but if we would’a just huddled around the barn, Muh would’a runned us off. It was me and my brother Jock, plus our cousins Bobby, Tojo, and Charlie, plus eight or nine of the neighborhood kids, Peanut an’ ‘nem, you know, the ones who lived on Garbage Alley, where the trashman made his round.

Anyway, we playin’ baseball, but we got our ear out on the barn. Sho, nuff, Rev and them wimmen havin’ church, singin’ and praisin’ the Lawd, carryin’ on, havin’ theyself a good time. They must’a been ‘Postollick or Cogic, cuz they cuttin’ up! Just three of ‘em, but they soun’ like twenny. They sang awhile, then they commence to prayin, an Lawd, did they make some noise!


I was playin’ first base, an Bobby was pitching to Jock. Jock hit a grounder to Peanut, and he threw it low, and ‘bout the time I scoop it up, Jock was safe. We listen in, and Rev an’ them wimmen just prayin’ up a storm! Jock grinned at me, and said, “You think we ought’a bust up in there?”

I said, “An’ do what once we get inside? Pray with ‘em?” His face fell, he hadn’t thought’a that. That’s how he was, he always come up with some devilment, but never think it through.


We kept on listening, and they was just a-prayin, you could hear them jus’ as clear as a bell, “Yes, Lawd! Thank ya, Jesus! Yaaaaasss! Praise the Lawd, Halleyloooyah, Halleyloooyah! Glory! Glooooraaaayyy!” I mean, just cuttin’ up! We just a listenin’ and laughin’ at ‘em, cuz we know they aint no good, but then, the sound kinda changed. That White man said, “Yes, sister, take it off! Take it all off for Jesus!”

We looked at each other, cuz we aint never heard nobody say that, not in no church we ever been to, an’ we been to plenty church, trust me. He says it again, “Take it off, Sister, take it off to Jesus!”

I said, “Take what off?”

Jock said, “Hush!” He waved Bobby over to take a lissen, an’ by the time he got there, she must’a had done took it off, cuz he says, “Yes, Lawd, nekkid I come into this worl’, an nekkid I shall leave! Praise the Lawd, Sister, we are nekkid befo’ the Lawd!” Then they started makin’ some funny noise for a minute, an’ Rev said, Yes, Sister! Yes, Lawd! Don’t stop, Sister! Praise the Lawd!”

Bobby said, “Ooo-wee! If that’s how they have church, I wanna join!”

I said, “What you mean?”

He waved me quiet. “If you got to ask, you too young to know,” and he started grinnin’. “Yeah, Ol Rev havin chu’ch up in there, heh, heh, heh! Praise de Lawd!”


The rest of them had crowded around by now, and Charlie said, “Wha—wha…what dey do-do-doin up in there?” He stammer a bit, you know.

Tojo said, “What you think they is doin’?”

“Well—well…if I—I knowed what—what—they doin’, I—I—I wouldn’a ask you!” he answered. We listened for another minute, and then the sound changed, sound like both them wimmen done gone crazy, gruntin’ an’ groanin, hollerin’ “Ooohh, Jesus! Jesus, sweet Jeeezus!”

Charlie’s eyes got big an’ roun’ like gingersnaps. He turned ‘round quick, and said, “I’m goin’ tell!” He ran off before we could stop him.

A minute later, Muh strode grimly towards us, Charlie in one hand, Matilda in the other. We stepped back from the door, as she asked, “What in the worl’ goin’ on here?” Bobby pointed to the barn. “Rev and them wimmen havin’ chu’ch,” he answered with a straight face.

Muh cocked her ear towards the barn. “Je-je-je-je-jeeee-zus! Jeeeeee-zus! Ohhh, Lawwwd!”

She raised her shotgun, then looked around. Charlie put his hands to his ears, Matilda being the next best thing to a cannon. Muh looked around, hesitated a bit, then lowered Matilda to half-mast. “Charlie, Jock, and Buck, y’all go in the house. The rest of y’all, go home! Bobby, when you get home, tell Pacon to come pick me up, y’hear? “


“Nasty, jes’ plain nasty! Yes, Abbie, they still in there! No, I didn’t bus’ up in there, them chirren was right there wit’ me! Oh, I had a mind to let a little double-ought fly around in there, but I’da have to pay to get the roof fixed….oh, but wait, baby, jes’ wait fo’ tonight! I’se gonna fix Revum’ Thibodeaux’s lil’ red wagon….Stop laughin’, Abbie, that aint funny!”


End Part 2

White Preacher Come to Town! (Part One)


This is another short story from my childhood; partly apocryphal, never mind which part…





My grandmother, we all called her “Muh” for short, was the church missionary, so’s we always had a preacher over for Sunday dinner, sometimes even durin’ the week, if somebody was runnin’ a revival.

I ‘member one time, this preacher come to town, White man by the name of Thibodaux. I don’t know who done it, but somebody tole him that Mom Zora was who he ought to see for lodgin’ and such. He was travelin’ with a couple of Black wimmens, they was his singers, or so he say. 

Well, he came by, told Muh who he was, and back then, preachers norm’ly didn’t have papers and such, all they had to prove theyself was they Bible. But this one, he come with papers, from the bishop,  an’ he come askin’ to stay, him and his wimmens, for a couple of days while he run his revival, at our church, no less. Well, Muh wasn’t havin’ all that settin’ up in her house, single man, White man, at that, preacher or not, it wasn’t decent, y’know? But, he was a preacher, he say, and he had his Bible, so she felt ‘bliged to put him up for a few days. Bible say to be hospitable to stranger, ‘cuz sometimes you could be entertainin’ angels an’ not even know it.


Humph. Warn’t no wings on his back, and wouldn’t be none growin’ no time soon, if you asked us kids. We said from day one he wasn’t about nothin’, but nobody lissen to us. Muh had a barn on her property, where she kept her preserves and such, and sometimes my Uncle Hime would sleep in there when he drank too much. She had fixed up a little bed and a gas heater in there for the winter, so she cleaned it out for Thibodaux, and let them two wimmens stay in the house.


Well, let me tell you, the next few days was, as Muh described it, “war in de camp.” The church ladies had gotten together and called a meetin’ over at Sister Agnes’s house to discuss the new arrivals and decide if they was “on de up-an’-up” or not. Of course, some of what I’m tellin’ you now, I didn’t find out ‘til I was grown. Grown folks didn’t discuss grown-folk’s bizness with chirren. But I was always quiet, and I knew a good spot to sit in Sis. Agnes’ kitchen to stay out of eyesight while they talked, so I got this part first-hand.


Sister Agnes was the oldest, and they was holdin’ the meetin’ in her house, so she sot in the head seat, an’ call the meetin’ to order. She rapped the wooden punch bowl dipper on the table, an’ clear her throat. “Brudders an’ sisters, let us be still, while we bow our heads an’ ask the Lawd to grace us with His presents.” She looked around, and spotted her husband nodding off. 

“Bow yo’ big head, Elmer!”

Bro. Elmer looked up, and said, “My haid be bowed, Agnes. An’ I don’t ‘preciate you callin’ my haid big. My haid ain’t big.”

“Yeah, yo’ head big,” she answered. “Yo’ head so big, yo’ momma couldn’t have a C-section, she had a A-B-C-D-E-section, doctor just a-cuttin’…D-E-F-G…” They all laughed, while she kept clownin’ him. “G-H-I…doctor still be cuttin,’ ‘cept they stop him!”

“Go ‘head, woman, you spo’sed to be prayin,” Bro. Elmer said.

They were still laughin’, so she rapped with the dipper again. “Bow y’all’s head, so I  kin pray…God of Abraham, Iiii-zic an’ Jacom,” she began, “We’s gathered round dis table….hmm…seekin’ yo’ mos’ Holy Presents….hmmm…we thanks you Lawd…welll…”


“Time you finish wit’ all dat, revival be over,” Bro Elmer muttered.


“Well, well,” Sis. Agnes kept goin’ without missin’ a beat. “Lawd remember us gathered ‘roun’ dis table…welll, especially the one wit’ the big ol’ head….yeeeaaaasss, Lawd, remember him, Jesus, he need you bad, Lawd…” She  stopped and looked up.

“Pray, Sister,” Bro. Elmer sighed.

“Yes, Sister…pray, Sister,” the others chimed in.

Her point made, Sister Agnes continued. “We needs yo’ wisdom an’ yo guidance, Lawd, concernin’ these peoples dat done come in our midst. We bind every sperrit that’s not like you, Lawd, e’ry confusion sperrit, e’ry backbitin’ sperrit, we cast in the pits of Hell from where it come…yaas, Lawd, an’ leave us with Yo’ sweet Sperrit o’ peace, in Jesus’ Name, Amen…”

“Amen!” everybody answered in relief.

“Ayy-men!” Bro. Elmer said, wiping his head with a red handkerchief. “Abraham jus’ left from de back do’.” he said. “He said the Lawd sent ‘im to ask you to please finish prayin’, cuz He got to get back to work, but He got to wait ‘til you finish, so He know what to work on next.”


Sis. Agnes said, “Humph! The Lord don’t need me to tell Him to work on dat big head of yourn! Dat wasn’t Abraham at de do’, dat was yo’ Momma’s doctor! He lookin’ to finish cuttin’ yo’ big head loose!” She lifted her voice and said, “Look he here, Doc! Put dat scappa down an’ pick up my butcher knife, you got a whole lotta meat lef’ to cut!” 

“Y’all quit dat foolishness,” Mom Zora said, wiping her eyes. “Ya’ll is funny, but we got a big problem on our hands. Mostly, I got the problem. Dis White man, call hisself a prophet, come to my house, lookin’ for a place to stay fo’ a few days. I tell you what, I better not fin’ out who tol’ him my house was the place to lay up in!” She looked around the room. Nobody said nothin’, so she went on. “He come there with two wimmen, and now y’all…” she paused and dropped he voice a little, “I don’t mean no harm, an’ God knows I aint got no room to talk, but, that’s two of the ugliest wimmen I done ever seed in my life!”

Sis. Agnes said, “They is ugly, Mom Zora?”

Mom Zora looked over her glasses and nodded. “Yes, Sister, they is ugly. They’s more than just ugly, they’s oogly! They so ugly, they could clabber a glass o’buttermilk! I aint lyin’! They come in my house, all prim an’ proper, like butter wouldn’t melt in they mouth. But then they fool aroun’, and open up they mouth! Sister! The firs’ one, she get to talkin’, her teef yellow like butter! Look like corn onna cob sittin’ in her mouth!”


“Ewww, that’s nasty!” Sis. Agnes exclaimed.

“But, wait, Sister,” Mom Zora said, “Then the other one commenced to talkin’ to me. Sister….! Her breff…!” she paused and shook her head, “She open’ her mouth an’ hit me with a blast…smell like a dead goat! An’ her teef? My Lawd!”

Sis Agnes asked, “Them’s yaller, too?”

Mom Zora shook her head. “No, cher. Aint no teeth sittin’ in that mouth stayin’ yellow. No, ma’am. Them teeth was rotten!”


“Come on, Mom,” Sis. Agnes said, “Come on, now, was they rotten?”


“Rotten? Them teeth had mo’ black spots than the fireman’s dog, you hear me? Look like a set o’ dominoes! I look in her mouth, I almos’ holler ‘Big six!” She slapped the table while they howled.


“Yall stop, now, an’ get back to bitness.” She tried to straighten up a bit, but she couldn’t help it, you know how wimmens is when they get to talkin’ bout somethin’, specially if it be scandalous. She leaned forward, still telling the story: “They sits down, I offer them coffee, you know me, I’m gonna be hospitable, like the Bible say.” They nodded. “So, while I’m settin’ the pot on the stove, he tellin’ me where he hail from, an’ how he know Bishop Walker, an’ how he a travelin’ evangelis’, an’ how he done preach in twenny-five states, an’ he gonna preach in all forty-eight ‘fo he die, the Lawd done promise him that. What he don’t know is, I’m secon’ cousin to Bishop Walker, an’ as soon as he outta eyeshot, I’se gonna give my cousin a phone call, an’ see if dis preacher is on the up-an’-up! If he fo’ real, I give him a place to stay, but if he just humbuggin’, he gonna have to get to steppin’! I’ll swing Ol’ Matilda ‘round on ‘im, and if he move too slow, I’ll quicken’ him up wit’ some double-ought buck, praise the Lawd!”

“That’s right, Mother! Praise the Lawd!” the others chimed in agreement.


Well. This was some hot stuff. My leg was itching, but I held off scratching it, cuz I didn’t want to draw no attention to myself, and get runned off.

Muh kept Matilda in the kitchen next to the pantry, and she kept it loaded. I was twelve or thirteen, ‘bout that time, so it was my job to keep Matilda cleaned, so I knowed she warn’t lyin’ bout that double-ought buckshot.

But anyways, let me finish tellin’ you…


“Well, I starts to pour the coffee, an’ that’s when he ask me ‘bout stayin’ for a week to run his revival. He says, ‘Mother, the Lawd tole me that you is a woman’o’ Gawd, and this is the place for my evangelistic headquarters, while I preach the devil out of this Godforsakin’ city, praise the Lawd!’ and them wimmen say, ‘Praise the Lawd!’ and gets to shakin’ like they got the Sperrit, you know?” They nodded. “I almost burned myself when he said that, he was soundin’ like he was plannin’ on stayin’ a looong time! So, you know me, I asks him, point blank, ‘What you do with these wimmen while you settin up yo headquarters,’ and he say, ‘Well, Mother, they always stay with me.”


She looked around at the shocked faces. “Yes, Lawd, that’s what he say.”

They gasp and carry on, cuz they was scandalized! White man is one thing, but White man and two Black wimmens? Stayin’ together? Oh, no, not in Mom Zora’s house, they wasn’t. They mumble and hum ‘bout it for a while, then Muh said, “I was bumfuzzled for a minute, ‘cuz you s’pozed to put preachers up, I been doin’ that fo years, y’all knows that, but the Bible also say let everythang be done decent and in order. So, I puzzle on it a spell, then it come to me, praise the Lawd, put them wimmen in the house, and put Rev. in the barn! If it good enough for Hime, it good enuf for him. So I tells him what the ‘rangements gonna be, an’ I can tell that warn’t his first choice, but it beat layin’ in the ditch, so’s he says okay.”


She went on: “Sisters, let me tell you, that man can eat! I fried some chicken and some potatoes, I figgered that’ll fill ‘em up pretty quick. Sisters, that man polished off two whole chickens by hisself! I ain’t lying!”

She wasn’t. Y’ see, me and my cousins always try to make it our bitness to come by Muh’s house just around mealtime. The two wimmen ate normal, almost po’ly, but him? He stacked his plate three stories high, and that was just for starters. Muh always had a sweet bread or teacakes hanging around, but not now.  Thibodeaux sucked up them sweets like a Hoover vacuum, and then that nervy s.o.b. had the gall to look around in my plate and make comments like, “Don’t you think you done had enuf?” First time he tole me that, I open my mouth to cut ‘im down to size, but Momma was standin’ there, an’ she give me the eye to keep quiet, so I picked up my plate an’ went outside. 

Later, I tole her, “I be glad when ya’ll get some sense, run that White man ‘way from ‘round here. He ain’t after nothin’ but some money, plus whatever he can pick up on the side.”

Daddy said from behind his newspaper, “Dey’s hard-headed, son. Don’t tell em nothin’. Long as he don’t try nothin with yo’ momma or grandmomma, I aint got nothin’ to say ‘bout it. Minute he slip, tho…I’m-a put my foot so deep in his azz, his breff gonna smell like Absorbine Junior…don’t be lookin’ at me, woman, I is serious!”


Muh smiled, a grimly satisfied smile. “Revival meeting starts tomorrow. I kin put up with ‘im fo another day or so. I gots my eye on him, him and them ugly wimmen of his’n. I put in a call to my cousin the bishop, he say Thibodaux’s a preacher, all right, but he a little too loose with money, that’s why he don’t stay in one church, ‘mongst other things. Pastor be here Sunday, by then, I’ll have the whole story. Just keep yo’ eyes and ears open, Mom Zora gonna take care of some bitness ‘tween now and then.”

 She chuckled. “Yes, sir, it take a pretty early bird to bild’ a nest in my hair, trus’ me. Come Sunday, Ol’ Rev be done find out how we do the shake down o’er here in Cane Creek!”




End Part One