HISTORY LEAVES OF THE METHODIST TREE
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
(Continued from last month)
After Sunday dinner, the remainder of the day was invariably reserved for visitation. Daddy would never do any work on Sunday except for normal farm chores, or unless the Biblical Donkey was in the ditch. As I alluded to previously, Daddy enjoyed stimulating conversation and gospel music. If there was “a singing” at another church on Sunday afternoon or evening, we would most likely be counted among those present. Daddy sang in a quartet when he was a young man, and they traveled about the countryside whenever they could. One time he said, “we even went all the way to Spring City”. I guess in the 1920’s that was a considerable distance.
Our visitations were normally confined to immediate family and sometimes cousins. Family being Aunt Beulah and Uncle Hugh Mabry, Aunt Janie Hartman brood, Uncle Frank Cordell, Aunt Bessie Easterly, Momma’s brother George Smith and Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth was also Daddy’s first cousin. There are others too numerous to list, but we rarely missed our Hartman cousins when they were having dinner and music on Signal Mountain. Earl Hartman, who sang many a solo at Chapel Hill Church was a product of those family musical productions, as well as Norma Narramore, who was one of the best piano players to ever tickle the ivories. She played for many years at the Chapel Hill Homecoming Church Service each 3rd Sunday in May.
The Sunday morning that we would have the circuit church service was rather normal for most of my friends and myself. We would sit in the pews away from our parents when possible and pass notes to each other or surreptitiously play tic-tac-toe. I enjoyed music, so I remember the old hymns such as, “The Solid Rock”, “Blessed Assurance”, “What can Wash Away My Sins”, “Into the Garden”, “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb”, “Bringing in the Sheaves”, “The Sweetest Name I Know”, “Just Over in the Gloryland”, “Near the Cross”, “Take Time to be Holy”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, “We’re Marching to Zion”, and many more including Christmas and Easter songs. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the content of the sermons, but that was probably normal for a pre-teen boy except on a couple occasions. In those days the basement of the church was used to house the oil burning furnace and to collect whatever was not needed upstairs. There was not a stairway to the basement, only an entrance on the south side of the building. It was not locked, but that was not unusual since no door in the church was ever locked. Since there was a ten or fifteen minute break between Sunday School and Church, a friend and I decided to spend our time in the basement during the church service. Since we had not been under direct parental supervision for several Sundays, we felt we would not be detected, besides there were a lot of kids, so who would miss two of the flock. We didn’t worry about the other children telling on us, because the code of “no tattling” was quite prevalent. So, for a couple of those Sundays we pretended the church was a ship and we became stowaways within its hold. We sat on an old short pew that had been discarded several years before. The pew was located under a heating air ventilation opening, and we could hear plainly every word of the preacher’s sermon. We listened intently so if questioned about not possibly being topside, we could quote scripture and verse. During this time my mate (sailor slang) had a pen knife, so we scratched our initials on the pew so someday posterity would know of our great adventure. I think my friend’s mother became suspicious, or we felt guilty, I don’t know, but it seems we were absorbing more from the ventilation duct than we were from the pews in the sanctuary. However, I did pay more attention to the sermons after that, so maybe God does move in a mysterious way?
Several years ago I discovered the old short pew in the small building next to the cemetery, and yes, it had the outlines of two sets of initials. I will be refinishing the old pew and it will occupy a place in our mountain home. And no, the initials will not be removed, and yes, God does move in mysterious ways! Postscript: My friend is still attending Chapel Hill Church, but I will not reveal his identity. My advice to him is that Brother Jared is always receiving confessionals.
Last month’s question: How many times has the original Chapel Hill Cemetery been enlarged?
Four times – 1905, 1935, 1956, 1996
Next month’s question: In 1952 Chapel Hill celebrated its centennial and Col. Creed F. Bates assisted in the church service. What was his historical connection to Chapel Hill Church?