THE SEMINARY (con'd) and GOING TO COURTLAND VIRGINIA
COMPARATIVE RELIGION CLASSjohnbisom@yahoo.com
Shortly after I became the minister of Glen Dean, a widow loaned me her husband's railroad watch. During the summer of 1938 the thing stopped running. I took it to a big jewelry store on Fourth Street, down town Louisville. The watch fixer looked at it and reported it needed cleaning and a jewel was cracked.
"What will it cost to get it fixed?" I asked.
"Seven dollars," he said.
" I don't think it is worth that much to get it fixed," I said as I picked up the watch. With watch in hand I went on my way, I didn't want to pay that sort of money to get it fixed. At the same time I felt I could not return it to its owner in a broken condition. I decided to look on the side streets for a watch tinker, in more humble surroundings. In time I found one - a tiny place, hardly more than a hole in a wall with a dirty glass front. A few watches were lying on the ledge inside. On the door the sign said, "Watches repaired." I handed the watch to the little man behind the counter, dressed in clothes as dirty as his shop, and reported the watch would not run. He took the back off, looked in it for a minute or two through his little magnifying glass hooked on his glasses.
" The watch needs cleaning." He said.
"What will it cost to get it cleaned?" I asked.
"One dollar," he said.
"Are you sure that is all that's wrong with the watch?" I asked.
"Yes," he answered.
"When can I get it cleaned?" I asked.
"Come back in two hours," he answered.
While waiting I explored some more of the side streets of down town Louisville. In doing so, I came upon a small bookstore, as ill kept as the watch tinker's place. In the window there was a hardback book on display by the title, The Story of Religion. Price - $1.00. After reading the content page, and knowing I would be taking a course in comparative religion, I bought the book, returned to the watch fixer's place, paid him a dollar and picked up the running watch. On my next trip to Glen Dean I returned the watch to its owner, and bought myself an Ingersoll watch for a $1.50.
I found the book fascinating. I read it immediately. The author, Potter was his name, tells the story of the life and thought of each of the founders of the great religions, mostly by using quotations from the Bible of the religion each had inspired.
The next year, to fulfill my comparative religion requirements, I had to write a paper each quarter on a subject that had something to do with comparative religion. At the beginning of each quarter the professor would hand out a page of subjects, from which each student could pick the one he or she was most interested in. One quarter I picked the subject, The Personal Founders of the Living Religions.
In my introduction I stated I was going to compare the lives and thoughts of the personal founders of various religions, by telling about the birth, youth, adult activities, teachings, death and resurrection. I also stated that I was going to let quotations from the Bible of the religion of each founder tell his story - quotations that I could imagine the Sunday School teachers of each religion used to tell children about the life and thought of the founder of their religion. In my paper I quoted miraculous stories about the birth of most of them that equaled the story of the virgin birth of Jesus. There were stories about events during the youth of most of them, equal to the one where Jesus confounded the Rabbies in the Temple by his understanding and interpretation of some weighty theological questions, when he was only twelve years old. I reported some of the miracles each of them performed. I made note of some of the ethical teachings of each of them. I found the ethics of the golden Rule to be something all of them had in common. There were stories surrounding the death of each of them that were not less miraculous than the resurrection of Jesus. My concluding comments were of a neutral nature, void of any remarks about the authenticity of any of the stories, including the stories about Jesus.
When the professor returned my paper he attached a note to it, saying in substance: "You write here as if these reported events of the lives of the other founders are as true as the events in the life of Jesus."
That comment made me think and wonder. It was not my intention to try to prove that the reported events in the life of Jesus were more or less true than the reported events in the lives of the other founders. What I was trying to do was to reveal that I knew something about my subject and to report what the people of each religion taught their children to be the truth about life and teachings of the founder of their religion.
The professor, as revealed by his comment, was disturbed that I did not distinguish between the "true" events in the life of Jesus and the "myths" about the lives of the other founders. The truth was I did not have any hard facts to prove that the miraculous events in the Biblical story of the life of Jesus were more or less true than such events in the lives of other religious leaders. All the proof I had that such events in the life of Jesus were true were the affirmations of the good people in the Baptist churches of my childhood and youth, and the affirmations of the preachers I had heard.
Did the professor call me in the set me straight by sharing with me some hard historical and scientific facts that indicated such events in the life of Jesus were true and that such reported events in the lives of the founders of other religions were false? He did not. Better still, did he take advantage of his position to share with the whole class such facts? He did not. Neither did any of the other seminary professors.
I went to the seminary with some unanswered questions about nearly all the basic assumptions of the Christian religion, such as, the infallibility of the bible, Heaven, Hell, all the miraculous events in the life of Jesus, and even the reality of God - as a supernatural being, who was all powerful, all knowing and was everywhere at the same time, with "an all-seeing eye watching me."
If I was going out to teach children that such things were true, I felt I needed more proof that they were true than just the affirmations of even my seminary professors and my hope that they were true. I went to the seminary expecting to find such evidence - here in the Louisville seminary, the most advanced, and most prestigious school of Southern Baptists. Instead of such evidence I just got more affirmations from my professors, who had the reputation of being great scholars.
It was only later that I learned why they did not try to provide students with such evidence. They too, I later learned, like myself, had no more proof than the affirmations of their Sunday School teachers, ministers and professors.
The education I received at the seminary started on the assumption that all the basic beliefs of the Christian religion were true - the beliefs about which I had questions. Those things were not debatable. They were assumed to be as true as one + one = two. The educational question that concerned the seminary was, not to help the students to discover and understand the intellectual foundations of those beliefs, but rather to help students learn how to present those beliefs in appealing and compelling ways. (I did not know, at the time, there were no intellectual foundations for many of those beliefs that were consistent with known historical and scientific facts.)
In the course, known as homiletics, they try to teach the art of building, or composing a sermon. One thing required of a student, in this course, is to hand in, every week, a full sermon outline on a subject of his own choice. Such an outline consists of an introduction, which need not be written out in full, but enough must be written to indicate clearly how, and by what means, the student is going to introduce the subject. It was a general rule that three significant things were enough to say about most subjects. Point one was to be clearly stated, and the materials to be used in making the point, such as, story, poem, experience, scripture, etc., should be listed below point one, in the order they were to be used. The same procedure was to be used in developing points two and three. The conclusion, if not written out in full, the how and materials for it must be clearly stated.
The homiletics class met on Monday afternoons. There were no classes on Monday mornings. This was to give those of us out preaching over the weekend time to get back. The professor would select two or more sermon outlines, handed in the week before - read them in class and comment on their merits and demerits. One week I handed in an outline that I thought was quite good. I do not remember what the subject was, but I do remember the poem I used in developing one point of the sermon. It was Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. I quoted the poem earlier in this tale of mine.
The next Monday afternoon I was sitting in class, half asleep, when the professor began reading a sermon outline that sounded mighty good to me. In fact it aroused me from my half slumber enough to recognize it as my outline that I thought was so good. The professor read the whole outline, word for word, including the poem. He made no comment about the quality of the outline, said nothing about the content of the poem, or that it was or was not consistent with the point I was trying to make. His total comment was this: " Here is a Christian minister using a poem, written by an atheist, to explain the Christian point of view he is trying to make."
Since he had no criticism to make about the content of the poem, I wondered, and still do, what he would have said had the poem been written by some well-known Christian. It just might be that we could find in what we read something worth considering and passing on if we didn't know the religious identity of the author. That little experience convinced me that what is beautiful, good and true is equally as beautiful, good and true, be the author an atheist, Christian or whatever.
I think I could have left the seminary less disappointed if the professors had taken me and my classmates into their confidence and made it possible for us to share with them and they with us our feelings of uncertainty about some things we ere expected to go out and affirm to be true. They did not do this. They did not even pretend to do so.
There was one professor, Dr. Trible, who gave me the impression that he too was plagued with doubts; that he was not so God-Almighty sure about some things unknown and perhaps unknowable; aware of and humbled by the mystery that surrounds us. It seemed to be an unwritten rule - that no professor could be openly honest with the students about such matters, or to encourage students to do so. If you had any reservations about Baptist affirmations of Christian beliefs, you were not supposed to be there. The seminary was a school for reaffirming beliefs already accepted as true, not a school for enlightenment.
I must record one other bus experience while I was in the seminary. It is a twenty to thirty minute bus ride from down town Louisville to the seminary. One day a tall young woman took the seat by me. She was holding in her hand a magazine that I was interested in. Since she later remembered my name and that I was at the seminary, I must have given her that information when I asked if I might look at her magazine. As she handed me the magazine she began telling me her problem. I never got a chance to glance at the magazine.
She grew up in Richmond, Indiana - a small Quaker city. Her brother and wife lived in Louisville. She had recently come to Louisville to take a job and was living with her brother and wife. It was their life style that was disturbing the young woman. She reported that they had parties at which they served beer and wine, visited night clubs were there was dancing and drinking, and insisted that she participate in such activities. Their whole life style was foreign and evil, when judged by what had been her way of life in Richmond. As I think about it now, their life style was, perhaps, more innocent than she judged it to be. Be that as it may, she thought it was wrong for her to participate in or condone what they were doing. She was also disturbed by the fact that the temptation to do so was becoming harder to resist. She was still talking, non-stop, when I had to get off the bus. Thinking I had to say something, as I got up, I said the first thing that came to mind and departed.
About two weeks later I received a letter postmarked, Richmond, Indiana. The letter was from the tall girl I had listened to on the bus. The letter began: "You made me mad! When you got up to leave the bus you said, 'Girl, I think you are headed in the wrong direction.' But what made me mad was the fact that you said it loud enough for everyone on the bus to hear it." However, she went on the say, "after thinking about it I decided you were right, and I packed my suitcase and came home."
After that we exchanged a few letters. On two occasions I was a guests in her home. Once when I was in Richmond as a guest minister at one of the Baptist churches, and again when I was passing through on my way to Ohio to visit my brother.
That experience made me aware of the possibility that even a brief encounter with another person may, for better or worse, make a significant difference in the life of one, if not both persons of the encounter.
The grading system at the seminary was a secret, closely guarded by the professors. A few students were called upon to stand and answer a few questions each time a class met. If a student didn't think he was prepared he could ask to be excused. I never did make such a request for two reasons, one being that, even though the professors always excused the student, most of them, I judged, did it grudgingly. The other reason was that most of the professors were lazy about such matters and did it the easy way by calling on students in alphabetical order and I would make sure to be well prepared on the two or three days that I could expect to be called upon. The professor always made some kind of notation in his book after a student's ordeal. I assume some kind of grade was recorded for the student's effort to say the professor expected to hear.
In most classes there were quarterly papers to be handed in. I assume a grade was recorded for them. There was a written exam at the end of each quarter. No grades were handed out. A list of names would be posted on the bulletin board after each test. If your name was among those listed you knew you had made a passing grade, but that's all you knew. About ten days before the last exam the names of the senior class would be posted. If you found your name on that list you knew you did not have to take the final exams. It was up to each student to judge for himself, or rather to imagine, as to how low or high his average grade might be. Since my name was on the list, it was my guess that a person's grade had to be a C, certainly not less than a C minus.
ON THE CIRCUIT IN VIRGINIA
Seminary Placement Office - One of the duties of the personnel department of the seminary was to help a graduating student find the king of job he was looking for. During the early part of my last year I made an appointment with the head of the personnel department. In substance here is what I told him and the request I made. "When I leave the seminary I am expected to have in hand an assortment of theological pills that will cure all the ills of the human world. However, recently I discovered that I am very ignorant of the human world. I know but little of the nature, and how to identify, the ills my theological pills are designed to cure. I prefer not to have a full time church, where I will have to prepare two sermons a week, conduct a prayer meeting and attend a number of board and committee meetings. I need a place where I will have time for serious reading and study, other than that which is needed for preparing sermons. I don't want to be sermonized to death. I would like to find a field of small churches where I would be expected to give two sermons a month at each church, and be available for funerals, weddings and for personal service to the sick and to others who might seek my help for whatever personal reason."
The personnel man seemed to understand and assured me he would keep my request in mind. If something turned up that he thought I would be interested in he would let me know. Two or three months before I was to leave the seminary he sent for me. He reported he had found three churches in Southampton, Virginia, about half way between Richmond and Norfolk. One of the churches was in the county seat town of Courtland. The Courtland church site was just a few yards from the Nottoway River. Jerusalem was the name the community was wearing in 1831, during the slave uprising led by Nat Turner. I was told Turner was hanged on a tree between the Nottoway River and where the Baptist church now stands. The Sedley church was in a small village by that name, seven miles northwest of Courtland. The Sycamore church was eight miles southeast of Courtland. It was located in the rich farm and timberland between the Nottaway and Blackwater rivers above where the rivers unite on their way to the sea. The building of the Sycamore church was the most beautiful of the three churches, as I remember, was about five hundred souls.
As the personnel man understood it, I would be expected to preach twice a month at each church. On fifth Sundays I would not have any church duties of any kind. I would be free to spend the week before or the week after each fifth Sunday in any way I want. Also, the churches had most of their committee and business meetings, including the annual business meeting, at eleven o'clock after Sunday school on Sundays I would be at one of the other churches. Therefore I could not and was not expected to attend most meetings of that nature. Neither church, as far as he knew, had a mid-week prayer meeting.
I told him right off that I was interested in the job and would be grateful if he would recommend me. I don't know what kind of information about me he sent to the churches, but in due course of time I received an invitation to visit those three churches in Virginia.
During May of 1939 I made a ten-day trip to Virginia to visit the people of those churches. I went by train, the most beautiful train trip I ever made. The train took me through Lexington, Kentucky, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ashville, North Carolina. From Lexington to beyond Ashville we were almost constantly going under mountains, or over high bridges, spanning deep gorges, or winding our way up or down a mountain stream. The commonwealth attorney of Southampton County meet me and took me to his home for a breakfast of cured Southampton ham and eggs.
The job description given me by the personnel man at the Seminary I discovered to be correct. After looking each other over for a week, I was offered the job and I accepted, agreeing to begin work on the first of August 1939. My salary, the first year, was the whopping sum of $100.00 a month.
I returned to Louisville and made my last trips to Glen Dean and Stephensport. John McGuire (I was one of his Sunday school "experts" during my high school years) had left the Sunday school work and was, in 1939, the minister of a Baptist church in Florala, a small town on the border of Alabama and Florida, some two hundred miles east of Mobile. He had invited me to come down to do the preaching for a revival in July. Early in the month I left my dormitory room at the seminary, that had been my home for three years, and left for Florala by train - the longest and most boring train trip I ever made. The train passed through Nashville, Tennessee, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama. At Mobile I changed to a fifth rate train going east, along the Gulf of Mexico. After countless hours of stopping, waiting and starting we were some one hundred and fifty miles east of Mobile. There I changed to what was a log train with a passenger car attached, modeled after the one designed by Noah after the flood. Some hours later, after many stops and starts I, along with the other logs, was unloaded at Florala.
As a former President of these United States said, "I want to make it perfectly clear: that I was not designed to be a revivalist preacher. The sooner my friends realized that the better it was for all concerned, especially me. Some of them insisted on learning the hard way. For a week I bored the congregations with my non-revivalist preaching. Very little of the bread I threw upon the waters that week was boggled up while I was there. Who knows how many nibbled on it as it washed down the stream of time.
My visit with the McGuires was an education experience. It might have been more fun had they not been, while I was there, trying to decide to accept an invitation to become the minister of a church in one of the large industrial communities in Birmingham. I did not know this until about mid-week. I knew they seemed tired and preoccupied with something other than the business at hand. When he told me about the decision they were trying to make he said, "We were up all night praying about it last night."
I remember my silent reaction to that bit of information. The question that ran through my mind was, "why waste a whole night of sleep praying about a decision they had, perhaps, already made in their hearts? I could not help but wonder if all that praying made any difference whatsoever. They did not ask me to join them in their prayer vigil. I did not volunteer. It would have been hypocritical for me to have done so. I am not saying they were insincere in their praying. I am saying it would have been insincere for me to have done so. Anyway, after wearing themselves out praying, shortly after I left, they announced that they had accepted the invitation. During the war I was a weekend guest in their new home and preached for him at the evening service. Their church reminded me of the one in which I was the B.T.U. director during the first few months of my first year in college. If their church was as close as a first cousin to that one maybe they would have been better off had they continued their prayer vigil until they were persuaded to say no to the invitation to go there. They still seemed to have need of a lot of praying to prevent their lives from blowing apart. Wonderful people, yet, as it seemed to me, they were always up tight about more things than need be.
When I left Florala it was my intention, on my way to Virginia, to attend the meetings of the Baptist World Alliance that were soon to begin in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a few extra days so I had time to visit with my sister and their families, and the Buckners in Cullman County Alabama. When I arrived in Holly Pond I learned the Buckner family was also going to the Baptist World Alliance. They insisted that I ride with them and stay where they were going to stay, with some of their friends. I visited my sisters and a few friends. The day before we were to leave for Atlanta I returned to the Buckners. That night Mr. Buckner sat up all night with a corpse. It was my understanding we were to leave for Atlanta in the early afternoon. However, Mr. Buckner was still his old self. He came home early in the morning from his vigil with the dead. No, he did not have time to take a nap. He piddled around doing this and that, going here and yonder. It had to be sundown or later when we left for Atlanta. He was dead on his feet for lack of sleep, but in insisted on driving
We got lost. Somewhere along the way he turned south when he should have turned east. Before the mistake was discovered and admitted, we were well on our way to Birmingham. This cost us an hour or more. Mrs. Buckner was in the front seat. I was in the back with their two little girls. The farther we went the more difficult it became for Mr. Buckner to stay awake. By both of us watching him, and punching him if he nodded or closed his eyes, we made it, with the help of a lot of pure luck. It had to be after mid-night when the five of us unloaded ourselves at the home of their friends. They were, however, good sports and received us with a show of welcome that seemed to be sincere.
The next day was Sunday. Gwendolyn, the Buckner's' ten year old daughter, went with me to church. We visited the church of Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. It must have been as unique an experience for her as it was for me. As I remember, there was a large adult choir back of the pulpit and a large young peoples' choir in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary, and a children's choir on one of the side balconies. Every seat and standing space was taken. It was the most moving experience I had while in Atlanta.
Due to the crowded conditions where the Buckners were staying, I found another place to stay after the first night, or rather morning. As I had planned, I stayed a week in Atlanta. The most interesting thing about the Baptist World Alliance was sharing ideas and experiences with fellow Baptists from many countries in the world.
THREE YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS IN COURTLAND, VIRGINIA
I arrived in Courtland a few days before August. The kind women of the church had furnished a bedroom for me in the parsonage. I decided to take my meals at the small hotel that was near the church. Mr. Pulley of Courtland, Mr. Edwards of Sycamore and Mr. Johnson of Sedley, by loaning me their good names, helped me to borrow $700 to buy a 1939 Ford, and tags and insurance for the same. By August the first I settled in and was ready to begin.
Being one of the older states in the country I assumed it would be thickly populated, with little woodland left. I was surprised to find that nearly half the land was timberland, where wild deer, turkeys and ducks made their homes. It was said that bears lived in the Dismal Swamp between Courtland and Norfolk but I never came across one.
I never did go turkey hunting but I did walk right into a covey of them one day. To have a dozen wild turkeys take off, from almost right under your feet, is an experience you never forget. I had a gun with me, but by the time I recovered from my composure fright the turkeys could have been in another county.
I did go deer hunting one time, but good fortune was with me, as I did not see a deer. Had I seen one it is doubtful if I would have been able to shoot him. Late one afternoon I did shoot at some wild ducks as they flew over a field between the river and their roosting place. They were, however, flying so fast that the bullets from my gun could never catch up with them.
Fishing was the only "hunting" type activity for me. There were many good fishing places within my three church community and I did enjoy fishing whenever I had the time.
Well over half of the people living in Southampton county Virginia, in 1939, were Black people. To live in such a racially mixed community was a new experience for me and an educational one. It was an eye opener, mind-boggling and heart shocking. I learned things that were hard to believe, even though I saw them with my own eyes and heard them with my two ears.
The State University of Virginia had published had published a small booklet about each county in the State. I was astounded by the vital statistics I found in the Southampton booklet. I don't have the booklet before me as I write but I doubt, due to the nature of the facts, that my memory will stretch the truth they revealed.
For every 8 - 10 dollars the County was spending for the education for a white child, it was spending only one for the education of a Black child. I can remember at least five high schools the county had for White children and only one for Black children, even though there were more than twice as many Black people in the county as Whites. At the time I went there the county was in the process of building another high school for Blacks.
The grammar schools for Blacks were worse than a disgrace. Many of them were along dirt roads through timberland that were mostly used by loggers. The buildings, in most places, were no more than one or two rooms, no screens, no running water, and only a small play ground, with little, if any, play equipment.
For health care and every other public service, the difference between what was spent for Whites and for Blacks averaged out to be about as unequal as that spent for education.
There was no Black person holding even one public office on any level of government. In fact, by such means as pole tax, Blacks were effectively prevented from voting.
Even in Franklin, the largest town in the county (population about 10,000), there was no business of any kind owned or operated by Blacks, not even a hamburger joint. At some of the White eating-places Blacks could get handout food by going to the back door. In the White owned and operated stores, where Blacks had to buy all their necessities, they could not try on clothes before buying them, neither could they use the rest rooms in those stores. There were no Black clerks.
The judicial system was equally unjust as every other aspect of life in Southampton County. It was not uncommon for a Black to be sentenced to years in prison for a crime that a White would get no more than a day's sentence.
I did not find one person who would admit seeing anything unfair or unjust in the inequalities I have listed here, or in many others not listed that were equally as bad if not worse. No one with whom I tried to talk to about such crimes, as it seemed to me, would talk about them with me. They would either clam up or change the subject. Now and then I would hear, by way of the grapevine, that so and so did not like what I said to him or her on such matters at such and such a time. Mr. Pulley was the only person who would argue with me about them, without getting mad. When I, as I often did, make reference to such matters in my sermons, the response was nearly always a resounding silence. Here are a few examples of the attitudes I heard expressed - attitudes that helped white people justify such inequities in their relationship with Blacks.
Mr. Pulley tried to convince me that it was a greater punishment to send a White to jail for a day than it was to send a Black to jail for a year. He contended that a day in jail was a greater embarrassment, or humiliation, for a White than a year would be for a Black. My response to his argument was in substance something like this. "Lets just assume for the moment that what you say is true. My question is this - why do you believe it is so much less embarrassing to Blacks than Whites. His attempt to answer that question was vague and uncertain, certainly not satisfying me, and it did not seem to satisfy him either. His answers to the following questions were equally unsatisfying. "If it is true that it is no embarrassment for a Black to be sent to prison, could it be due to just cause, because the Black community has no respect for the White man's court? If you, Mr. Pulley, were tried in Black man's court and sent to prison three hundred and sixty-five times longer than a Black was sentenced for the same crime, would you have any respect for that court? Would the White community have any respect for it? Would you and the White community have any cause to be embarrassed by the judgment of that court?
Mr. Pulley had access to small fishing boats in the best fishing places of the community. Over a period of three years we carried on our dialogue and arguments about the way White people, and the community they dominated, treated Black people. I was, in the end, convinced that due to the influence of his inherited attitudes toward Blacks, he honestly believed, or desperately wanted to believe, the terribly unequal rules for cooperation between Whites and Blacks were fair and just. The only difference between Mr. Pulley and the others was he would discuss the subject with me. In time I ceased trying to discuss it with anyone else. The vast majority of the people would never bring the subject up in my presence. If I brought it up they would clam up or change the subject. Now and then someone would, in a fit or anger over some problem with the Black people he or she was exploiting, would express a repulsive attitude to me. If I raised a question about what was said that would end the discussion. Sometimes when something was said I considered unfair to Blacks I would respond with a resounding silence, but I would not let them off the hook by changing the subject. I let the silence continue speaking until they changed the subject.
Here are a few of the revealing and unbelievable things I listened to and to which I responded with a painful looking silence that would, sometimes, make them nervous. What I report here seemed to express the prevailing attitudes of most of the Whites of the community.
One of the loggers in the Sedley church informed me he was paying the Black men who worked for him $1.00 a day. He went on, in an angry tone to say, "I'm paying them too much." The reason he thought he was paying to much was the fact that the men, for that sum, were not willing to work six days a week from sunup to sundown. He allowed that if he paid them less they would have to work every day just to stay alive. Dead silence was my response.
The judge's wife was a pillar of the Courtland Church. I called on her one day about some church business, in 1942. By that time many Blacks were finding better jobs in Norfolk and other places doing wartime work. On this particular day the judge's wife was hopping mad. She was mad because she could not keep a maid, even though she was now grudgingly willing to pay $3.00 a week for someone to come in to keep the house and yard clean, do the cooking and all other kitchen related work, plus washing and ironing, and whatever else the judge's wife might want done. In a fit of anger she said, "You just wait until the war is over. I'll have them crawling back on their knees, begging me for a job." I hope my response of dead silence gave the best part of her being time to shame her for entertaining such a cruel hope. When she broke the silence by changing the subject, I excused myself and left.
The parsonage was a large two-story house with seven rooms. It stood on a lot of some three or four hundred feet that reached back to the dirt alley that bordered the edge of a Black neighborhood in Courtland. Shortly after going there I rented out the downstairs for $15.00 a month. When Elien and I decided to get married I began fixing us an apartment upstairs. One day when I was so occupied the most devout member of the Courtland church came up to see me. He was looking out the back window toward the alley at the black neighborhood. His remark made it obvious that he was thinking of the Black high school that was in process of being built. He asked, "Who is going to do all the dirty work after they educate the "niggers"? I don't know what my silent answer suggested to him. Shortly after breaking the silence he left without sharing whatever thoughts and feelings my silent answer may have inspired.
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