Friday, November 6, 2009

Homecoming

This past Sunday was Homecoming at Pleasant Plains Baptist Church. My parents' church, the one I grew up in. It was also the final celebration of the church's 175th anniversary.

The usual order of the day at Homecoming is, as with the invitation to family and friends and former members, to invite a former pastor to come back and deliver the message. This time, instead, there were three speakers, members at Pleasant Plains, who gave testimonials to what the church has meant to them, to the history of the church.

The most noteworthy of the speakers, to me, was Dan Gore. He's a scholar, a farmer, a preacher, and an accomplished storyteller. He rambled a bit, as all the best Southern spinners of tales do, and one of his vignettes concerned a heavy church bell installed in the steeple belfry back in the 1930s. About a year after they got the bell, several church members were concerned that it might be too heavy for the structure to bear long-term. Several trustees of the church were nominated to climb up in the belfry and inspect the bell. Dan's dad Scott was one of the trustees, so he got to tag along.

The stairwell up through the steeple was dark, Dan recalled, but there was plenty of light at the top. They examined the timbers holding up the bell, and one of the trustees said, "You couldn't blow that out of there with a charge of dynamite."

That's all there was to the story, except for two small details. The trustee didn't pronounce the word "dine-a-mite"; he said "din-a-mite". And the trustee's name was Don Ward.

My granddaddy. I heard him say "din-a-mite" many, many times.

This was a new story to me. It's been nearly 30 years since Granddaddy passed away, but for a few minutes last Sunday morning, in a rare and precious gift, Dan Gore brought him back to life for me.

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