After a break outside and lots of talk, the call came to reconvene for preaching. First there was a hymn or two. One I can hear now: "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear falling on my ear... ."
Then, there was the collection; and, after another hymn, the sermon. Different preachers had different styles. But most were passionate and bombastic. Hell and Heaven were real. Being good meant good church-going believers. Usually there was a call to come to the altar to confess sins. To accompany this call the choir always gave forth with a hymn with these words sung over and over: "Almost Persuaded." Once, after the call to come had gone long, sans any sinner coming forth, I suggested to Punk that we go forward for the fun of it and to accommodate the preacher. We did and went to the kneeling place and had an intimate conversation with the preacher.
Church over, there was the collection of congregants outside to determine who would have dinner with whom. Always, on Sunday after church someone went with someone else to have dinner. My choice for dinner guest was often my buddy. Punk and I were inseparable. It was an irritant to the adults. But we were alike. So Punk came home with me to have helpings of the chicken grandma had sacrificed on Saturday for the meal on Sunday.
Punk's family was a victim of the Depression. His father lost his job and had no other prospects than to come to the home of his widowed sister. She had a farm that adjoined my grandfather's farm. There were Lonnie, Bessie and five children, Punk being one of them. They had no cows or horses, so they had to exchange manpower for horsepower. Their lot was tough. So when Punk came to eat with me, he had as many glasses of milk as he dared ask for. And when I ate at his house I discovered when I lifted my knife for butter to spread on my bread, there was no butter on the table.
After dinner, we were free. But we had to abide by the Old Testament. We could not do anything forbidden by it. But Punk and I were pagans. We knew that in Hinton there was a theater where motion pictures were presented and we had the money for admission. So we went to the highway and hitchhiked to Hinton to see "Dark Victory" starring Bette Davis. After which we had the problem of getting back to Mount Pisgah before the evening service so that our sin would not be discovered. We hitchhiked and were successful. We were in church with innocence writ all over us for the evening service.
Punk and his brother marched across Europe and were those who helped to make possible the victory of the Allies over the Nazis and who survived to come home to the land of their fathers. I too tagged along and visited many places in North Africa and Europe: Italy, Corsica, France, Algeria and Tunisia. And, I came home to celebrate with Punk. I later did his will and attended his funeral.
Mann is a lawyer and gardener who lives in Hinton.