I was born when my father was preaching for the White's Chapel Church of Christ in rural Fayette County, near the Glen Allen community. Shortly afterwards he began preaching for the Church of Christ …
I was born when my father was preaching for the White's Chapel Church of Christ in rural Fayette County, near the Glen Allen community. Shortly afterwards he began preaching for the Church of Christ in downtown Fayette, Alabama. This was during the years of WWII and Dad left Fayette to join the war effort. Our family moved to Mom's old home place between Parrish and Cordova to wait out Dads return from the war. He then started to preach for several congregations in Walker County. He would stay with one church four or five years and then move to another one. The old house in which Mother was reared was in disrepair so dad tore it down and used the salvageable lumber to construct another one. This was not nearly enough to finish the house so Dad cut some pines from the property and had Rob Robinson, who had a saw mill in Cordova, to mill lumber to use in the house. Rob's plainer was dull and the finished product had a wave in the wood, but we used it anyway. We never got quite enough to finish the house, therefore, the bedroom in which I slept, and another one, never had a ceiling, only rafters. This was shortly after the war when everything was in short supply, including metal. My task in the construction of the house was to pull the nails from the recycled lumber, and straightening them to be reused in the building. Nothing was wasted! 1x8 pine siding covered the outside walls. Rolled roofing kept us dry. A fire place in the living room and a cook stove was all the heat that we had inside. As we did not have electricity for several years, we obviously had no way to cool the house in the summer except to keep the doors and windows open, and with no screens, this allowed the flies and other insects to have free range in the house-but this is a story for another time.
Dad preached at a number of different congregations in the county and I do not recall the sequence of the different ones, but I will mention them as best I recall. I believe the first one was at the Parrish Church of Christ, which he left and later returned the second time. The church building at that time was located across from the Methodist church building. If I remember correctly, the building burned down during that time and was rebuilt on the same site. I still recall the names of many of the members who were there during that time, and maybe in the future we can revisit some of them such as Will Nelson and others. Will Nelson owned a gasoline service station (Pure products I believe) and Dad would buy some of his gasoline from him.
For several years dad preached for the Oak Grove (Pumpkin Center) congregation. There were members there, such as Oscar Skelton, and others, who I will never forget. This was before there was a bridge at Copeland's Ferry and we crossed the river by ferry. The crossing there by ferry ended at night fall and sometimes if the motor driven ferry was not operating, we would cross up river on Underwood's Ferry which utilized a hand operated cable system to cross. Skiffs were kept on both sides of the river for use should the ferry be left on the opposite side of the river. Motivation across the river was a system where a notched pole was inserted on the cable and pulled in the desired direction. This was repeated until the crossing was made. Underwood's ferry was operational 24/7 but required extra effort to use.
Hatt Church of Christ was another congregation where Dad preached for several years. This was during the time that construction began on highway 269 to bypass Aldridge. The church building was then located on a dead end road with only a house or two beyond it. As at the other places where Dad preached, there are many names that have been significant during my lifetime. Some of the Key family who attended there were relatives as my maternal Grandmother was a Key before marriage. My good friend, Brandon Jackson is now the preacher at Hatt and when I occasionally have the opportunity to attend there, some of the families, many of later generations, that I knew then are still faithful in their attendance. Brandon, who owns the fly shop below Smith Lake Dam is as good a preacher as he is a fisherman, excelling at both! He and his wife, Mary Carol, and their two beautiful daughters are very special people. Mary Carol has always been a big supporter of my writings.
For several years Dad also preached at the Aldridge Church of Christ. Ronny Jones and I sort of grew up together and we were often invited to eat at their house on Sunday afternoon between church services, which was often the practice at that time by different members. There were a number of families with the Jones name and they all frequently hosted our family on Sunday afternoons. There were some really good cooks in that bunch. I frequently attend church services at Parrish where Ronny now attends and after last week’s morning services he came to me and we had a brief conversation about those days. He said that he is looking forward to traveling the journey down Memory Lane with us.
There have been others churches where Dad preached in the county and we will identify them in a later column. There has also been others who said that they are ready to take this journey through time with us. I will also attempt to acknowledge them later.
Lanell Woods Graham, a local author, called to say that she is anxious to join us on our journey. Nell and her late husband, Thomas, have been neighbors of ours for a long time and are very special people. Nell Woods Graham and her husband, Thomas, grew up near Oakman, and Nell followed a similar path as did I which is evident in her writings.
Of all the response that I have received, there is one that is very special to me. Martha Powell was my long time secretary when I had an office in the Walker County Courthouse working for the Alabama State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Before her retirement Martha won a well-deserved distinction of being the Parole Boards’ State Secretary of the year. For many years she had to endure my dictation and the correction of my mistakes, she was the best! Thanks Martha for calling and letting me know that you are traveling with us. Martha Karr Powell and Moultie Powell are responsible for my meeting my wife, Judi, and they have always been a special couple.
They both started on life’s journey long before I did.
In future articles, I will recognize others who have joined our journey and write about other places which stored a lot of memories in my Memory Bank.