Transcribed By Pamela Vick
March 20, 1947 - Reprinted September 15, 1977
* CAL’S COLUMN *
Having received much favorable comment on the “Column,” here goes again. This time we wish to give a few of the episodes in our life as a minister and particularly some in which our good friend, Elder C.B. Massey, had a part. We met this man for the first time in 1910 and have been the best of friends since that time. However, he has “played off” on the writer dozens and perhaps scores of times. Brother Massey never was bashful, unless it was 70 years ago, he now being in his 80th year. The writer was for many years one of the most bashful persons we “ever met.” In fact some of the most painful errors we have ever made were due in part to bashfulness. Brother Massey, knowing this defect in our make-up, took full advantage of same and “rode me with two spurs and a butcher knife.”
Below will be given a few of these “tragic” happenings.
On one occasion, we were told by the “Captain,” as Brother Massey has been called for many years, that he had been to hold a funeral for some party. In our surprise, we blurted out, “Is he dead?” The answer was, “I do not hold people’s funerals till they die,” and he laughed Cal out of countenance. In later years, since we held a funeral for a man before he died, his reply would be, “No, I don’t hold people’s funerals before they die, like you do.”
In the year 1916, we became a rural carrier on Route one, out of Pleasant Shade, serving Brother Massey as one of the patrons of the route. The in-coming mail did not then arrive at the post office at Pleasant Shade until one in the afternoon. We had then to cover about twelve miles more of the route. On this second lap, we turned old “Bob,” our sorrel horse, loose to choose his own way. He had by that time learned to go by a mail box without being reined in. So we would grap up the new arrived daily paper and read between mail boxes. On one occasion, old Bob slowed down before he got to a box. We called out rather harshly, “Come up, Bob.” But Bob did not “come up.” We then looked over the top of the daily paper to see what had slowed down the old horse, and spied C.B. Massey clutching the horse’s bridle and holding him from going forward. Being bashful, we were at a considerable disadvantage and were laughed out of countenance again. If we had not been bashful and could have thought then as we do now, we would have said, “Well, you are going to be arrested for obstructing the mails.” But we did not think of that until it was too late. He has told this tale on us many times.
On another occasion, the Captain and his family had spent the night with us. We were to kill hogs that day. So we went up one of the neighbors, Mr. Lon Russell, and borrowed his wagon to use in getting our hogs home from the slaughter place. The ground being level, and we being fairly strong then, we decided to pull the wagon by hand from the Russell place to our home. It was a cold, frosty morning and we were wearing a big, heavy overcoat. So we grabbed the tongue of the wagon and began to back it into the main road in order to turn down where we lived. We bowed our head and began to push the wagon. At first, it was not any trouble to roll the wagon backwards. That it seemed to slow down and to require much more strength to move it toward the main road. We did not look behind the wagon to see what was slowing it down, thinking that some small stone was in the way and that it would soon roll over the rock. After pushing until we were nearly exhausted, we happened to look toward the rear of the wagon and there we spied the Captain holding against the rear of the wagon and forcing us to put out about all the strength we had, and now and then easing up some to make us feel that the wagon had rolled over another stone. If we had been large enough that time, we would have enjoyed “licking” the laughing preacher. But we desisted, just as we have done in all the other “scrapes” into which he led us.
One of the worst of all the episodes we recall in which we were “the goat” and C. B. Massey was largely to blame for our troubles, took place in 1921. At that time Cal had not been “around very much,” and in addition to his bashfulness, he was as green as a gourd. On the occasion just referred to, Brother Massey and Brother Sloan and the writer were in our way to West Tennessee to attend an Association. We reached Nashville on Monday, to find that the train we needed to take would not leave Nashville until the next afternoon about one o’clock. This gave us part of the afternoon and an entire night in Nashville. And at the time “Cal” had not been in Nashville many times. The first bad upset we had occurred early that night. One of the older preachers, and I forgotten (?) which one it was, either Massey or Sloan, said: “Boys, let’s go to the picture show tonight.” We objected in a mild manner, saying that it would be wrong for us to go, but at the same time really anxious to attend. One of the others said: “We are way off down here in Nashville and nobody will know us. So let’s go.” I yielded at once, feeling that the advice of the older brethren ought to be followed specially when I wanted to follow it rather badly. So with all objections answered and our conscience somewhat eased, we proceeded to one of the moving picture theaters. We had hardly reached the ticket window when one of the rowdiest and most reckless young men he had ever known, one who happened to know all of us, appeared on the scene, almost as if by magic. He stopped and then said: “Ho, ho, three preachers in a bunch and all going into the show together.” The writer felt himself shrink up until he did not feel larger that the end of his little finger. But we had gone too far to turn back. The three of us went into the show, but it had lost its interest for the writer and our conscience gnawed on us the entire time the show lasted.
But back the to harrowing part of the trip. That night just before we retired, we turned out a light that was supposed to have been left burning all night. C.B. Massey found out what had been done, so he began to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and then he proceeded to prove all his contentions by Brother Sloan. We were informed by Massey that we had broken one of the ordinances of the city and that we had committed a crime that made us subject to arrest. Sloan backed him up in what he said. At first, we managed to belittle their statements and charges: but as time went and each of our “tormentors” became more and more convincing in his charges, we decided we might be arrested. So the next morning, while we were out sightseeing and we may add that we were not getting much enjoyment out of it, we spied a policeman. We immediately took refuge behind the two preachers who were riding us “a bug hunting.” We can even now see their somewhat hidden smiles as they noticed how we shrank from every policeman we met. What kick they did get out of our predicament! We have had a lot of fun in our time with others, but we do not recall having ever given any poor suffering fellow “the third degree” as they gave it to us that fall day in 1921. Finally we got on the train and rolled out of Nashville, when we boldly announced: “There was not a thing to all your charges: and, besides, I am NOW perfectly safe.” Then Massey said, “Young man, you had better be careful. They may send a telegram down this railroad to some town ahead and arrest you and take you off this train.” Again we subsided and somehow wished we had stayed at home. We also had the feeling then that never again would we be caught out with two such preachers. So in a subdued manner, we continued our journey until we reached a small railway depot in West Tennessee, where we left the train. A young man we had never before seen nor had we ever heard of him, met the three of us at the train to take us to the vicinity of old Mt. Comfort Church.
As we rolled along in the wagon drawn by a good team of mules, we felt our spirit reviving somewhat. But we were due for the durest jolt of all. The two older preachers were razzing us unmercifully about turning out the light in Nashville, and overstated the facts. We denied the overstatements. Then Massey said, “We can prove by this young man driving this wagon that you did as we say.” By this time, we were so completely “rattled” that we were hardly responsible for what we were saying. We aimed to say that if this young man, who lived 120 miles from Nashville, and who was no closer than that at the time of the alleged misdeed, with which we were being charged, was going to be a witness against us, we would not believe a word he would say. In our confusion and embarrassment, we left off all the “preamble” and blurted out: “I would not believe a word he would say.” This was a rather hard thing to say of one we had met only 15 minutes before for the first time in life and who was doing us a kindness to carry us to a place where we would be cared for during the night. Even now we can see him as he suddenly drew up on the lines and called out: “Whoa! We’ll put him out right here.” And right here, we may say, was in the midst of a West Tennessee swamp section and about as desolate a place as one could imagine. We tried to apologize and tell the young man that we did not mean what we had said, but Massey and Sloan both told the young man that they knew us better than he did and that we were just trying to save our skin. Then they said: “Put him out, put him out.” With the wagon stopped still, and the young man apparently undecided as to what he ought to do, we tried as best we could to tell him just what we meant to say. But Massey and Sloan insisted that Gregory be put out. We looked about us and almost shivered that warm September afternoon at the prospect of being thrown out in the midst of a West Tennessee swamp, 180 miles from home, and friendless and forsaken of God and man. We would have gladly given a hundred dollars if we had had the amount, to have been at home. We resolved then that this was our last trip with such a pair of men as Massey and Sloan had proven themselves to be. Finally the driver of the team apparently relented and drove on, allowing us to continue on with the three of them, but we were not far from tears by that time.
Such treatment of a poor, ignorant, bashful greenhorn was very rough, but it was a good thing in a way. It led us to defend ourself against such razzing and in time we got to the place where neither of them could do anything at all with us in the way of joking or razzing. On the return trip on the train, we were put through the “third degree” again, but we managed to live through it and gained a little strength, so at the end of the trip we felt slightly better toward the two men who had “doubled up” against us and almost ruined the future editor of the Times.
Then there was another time in West Tennessee episode. This one occurred two years later and Massey was the chief instigator of our woes this time. We were taking super with a family not far from Alamo in Crockett County. It was a hot September evening and the old brother with whom we were stopping was well fixed in some ways. He had a large country home, plenty of food, livestock and was prosperous in a way. But he did not have much of a housekeeper. In our 55 years we have never seen so many flies as old Brother P------- had in his home. They were swarming and not one effort was being make to keep them off the table. One could have struck a dozen by moving his hand in a half circle of the table. They had evidently grown fat and lazy and they were not swift on wing and felt inclined to light on anything that was not too hot to light on. The old man’s wife had carried dinner to the Association that day and had brought much of it back home. It made up the bulk of our supper, with some hot biscuits and hot hash being added. Never had we been so harassed by flies. We minced along, trying to eat and at the same time trying to keep the flies out of our big mouth. Massey was throwing in the hash and hot biscuits like nobody’s business. In fact we do not think the flies were bothering him to an appreciable degree. At that time we were rather finicky on the eating of butter, eating some at home and now and then eating some in the “nicer” places we visited. While Massey was throwing in the hash, he glanced up our way and saw us trying to make out a meal while we “flit” flies on every hand. The hash and biscuits were too hot for the flies to light on then and Massey was making excellent progress. Just then he spied a bowl of white butter some two or three feet to his right hand. There must have been a hatful of that butter and the flies were sitting on it in considerable numbers. Massey, knowing our “weak stomach for butter,” deliberately made a “long arm,” took hold of the big bowl and then stuck that fly-covered butter right under our nose, saying: “Brother Gregory, have some butter.” We came near vomiting just then, but did manage to decline the nauseating butter. But we had swallowed all we could of the fly-covered food and laughed until we had to give it up and just let him have his fun. He has told this “true story” on us many times, but we still say: “Old man P------- had more flies than anybody else we have known in our entire lifetime.”
Readers may wonder if we did not become angry. Well, there were times when we were on the verge of becoming angry, but managed to stay “on the handle” very well and lived through these experiences. We repeat what we have already said: Such razzing was good for us, for it cured us of our bashfulness and taught us to defend ourself. Today neither Massey nor Sloan can do anything with us when it comes to a joke. In fact Massey says we are now worse than he ever was. But I never did pass a poor fellow a big bowl of white butter through a swarm of flies when we knew he did not eat butter. However, we would not say that we had never razzed a younger minister, for we have been guilty of so doing at least once or twice. Now Massey and Sloan are not “jokey” as they were once and old age has now made many changes. Brother Massey is now 80 years of age and we love him as we have perhaps never loved any other man. He has razzed us more than any other minister. No man we have ever known has been of more help to a young minister that he has. We regret to see him slipping into the shadows that come at the end of life’s pathway. He has been our friend through all the years and today we count him our father in ministry. May God bless his declining days and grant that the sun of life may go down for him in a blaze of glory.
Brother Sloan has not razzed us as much as did Brother Massey, but he has been our good friend through the past 36 years and we esteem him highly for his work’s sake, for he has been a valiant defender of what he believes and has labored through more than 40 years as a minister. He is now in rather poor health. May God restore his health and grant that he may be spared four score years and at the end of the way be able to say: “I fought a good fight, I have keep the faith, I am now ready to be offered. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous, and not for me only, but also for all them that love His appearing.”