Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Double Creek

If you could drive back about 30 or 40 years an' turn off Route 66 near Peabody you would go up Double Creek.  After a while your car would pass a big hole of water.  This hole was where I spent my time on hot summer days, swimmin' with my little brother an' my cousin.  It may not seem real big or real deep, but it was just enough for three young boys.  We would jump from the low water bridge that crossed over the far end of the hole an' slither around the banks like mudpuppies, lurk underwater as if we were catfish just waitin' for a crawdaddy to come sneakin' along.  The water would be cold an' sweet as we played.

Later we would dry off on the towels we brought with us.  Youngin's were never allowed to take good towels out of the house.  These were towels that came in boxes of laundry powder an' had been used for so long they were thin as bedsheets.  Now, I don't reckon they did much dryin 'back then, but we didn't really care.  Them towels were draped over out necks as we walked an' sometimes ran back to home.  Maybe they would be rolled up into rat-tails an' used to slap the bare legs of my little brother or occasionally even me when them other boys was feelin' braver than they should.  One lick on my leg - tanned dark as tobacco by the many days in the sun an' I was after them all the way back.  I would hit 'em a lick an' run an' hit 'em another lick.  By the time they was home the red welts made their legs look like patchwork quilts.

That hole of water was also the baptizin' hole for folks on Double Creek.  There wasn't no official church there.  Just a circuit ridin' preacher that stopped by the Double Creek School once a month on his circuit.  My Aunt Mag, Aunt Bess an' Uncle Bill all were baptized in that hole of water.

Since we was Baptist there was not as much hurry to get folks baptized.  Some churches down home, like Booger Holler Holiness Church felt that folks had to be baptized to get saved an' they hauled a feller off right away after church to the creek an' our little swimmin' hole.  They would gather round an' the preacher, Brother Woodrow Budder would wade in in a white shirt, black pants an' black tie to wait for the new Christians to step into the water.  I found out back then that the preacher kept an old pair of pants, shirt an' tie at their church to change into just for the baptizin'.  We hid that preacher's tie once when we knew he might be doin' some baptizin'.  Jimmy Lipps was feelin' plenty of conviction an everyone just knew a good ol' "hellfire an' damnation" sermon would get him out of his seat an' down the aisle.  Brother Woodrow was fit to be tied when he realized his tie was missin'.  It weren't proper to baptize in an open neck shirt so he wore his good one an' put the end of it in a samwich bag to keep it dry.

When Jimmy got saved they all headed down to the creek.  Folks was waitin' an' when they passed the Baptist folks we all got in our cars an' trucks an' headed down too.  Women stopped long enough to get pies, cakes, deviled eggs, green beans, dumplin's, soup beans, baked ham, biscuits, raised rolls an' all the fried chicken they had in baskets so as to have a dinner on the ground when the baptizin' was over.  Even though we was different in some things, we all celebrated at the renewal of one come home an' from the paths of sin.

While folks got things ready for Jimmy's baptizin' the women from up an' down the creek was busy.  There were some ol' planks that were laid up under a tree like a tepee so they wouldn't rot.  They was left there just for such occasions.  Some of the older boys placed the planks on concrete blocks left there an' made rough tables for the food to be spread out on.  The young girls would spread blankets an' tablecloths out on the grass an help put out the dishes an' flatware.

Over to one side the men an' a few women that played any sort of instrument, guitar, banjo, fiddle, dobro, mandolin an' dulcimer would be tunin' up an' talkin' over what songs they would play an' in what order.  Someone would confer with the baptismal candidate to see if they was some special requests an' what to play when they went down under the waters.  Jimmy asked for "In the Garden", his Mama's favorite hymn as the one to be played as he was baptized.

Finally time was right an' all the preparations were done.  The food smelled wonderful an' we all suspected that it was more planning than providence that caused such a spread to be laid out.  As I said, folks knew Jimmy was ready to depart from his sinful ways.

Brother Woodrow was a large man.  He was about 5'9" an weighed about as much as a young heifer.  When he walked into the creek he floated a bit till he got his feet planted in the mud an' turned around.  Jimmy started down into the waiting arms of his pastor who had a hankie in one hand to put over the baptismal candidate's nose so no creek water would get in an' drown a person.

About the time Jimmy was half way into the creek a big ol' snappin' turtle determined to stick his head up right behind Brother Woodrow.  Mrs. Ledford screamed an' pointed.  Brother Woodrow turned an' saw that turtle head right even with his chest an' he took off like a crazy man.  He jumped plumb up straight into the air an' back down again, splashin' all gathered at the edge of the creek with more water than you could shake a stick at.  He commenced to swim as fast as he could an' that snappin' turtle got real interested in Brother Woodrow's head.  It came at him an' was winnin' the race.

Now, I don't know when a baptizin' was so excitin'  I had been waitin' to sneak a deviled egg, but when I head the commotion, I ran to see what was goin' on.  There it was, Brother Woodrow swimmin' to beat the band an' that snappin' turtle just a glidin' out after him.

When it got close it opened its mount an that ol' neck reached out about ten feet it seemed.  When it got to Brother Woodrow's head it clamped down an' Brother Woodrow let out a scream.  He kept on swimmin' an the snappin' turtle started pullin' in the other direction.  We was all lookin' for blood in the water!  Yet there weren't nary a drop.

Then the impossible happened.  Brother Woodrow's scalp lifted away from the top of his head an' the turtle renewed its efforts till that preacher's hair came right off into that turtle's mouth.  Women fainted an' Sister Hazel Nutt Budder, Brother Woodrow's wife turned an' walked away red as a beet.  Men went into the water to save Brother Woodrow an' perhaps staunch his bleedin' scalp.

When they pulled him in he was exhausted.  He laid on the bank with a dish towel wrapped around his head for a long time.  When he caught his breath he turned white as a sheet an' reached under the towel to feel his head.  As he felt around the towel slipped off an' we all gasped.  Brother Woodrow Budder was as bald as a frog!  He had some sticky tape on his head that must have been holdin' his wig on.  More women fainted an' the men turned away in shame.

You see, it ain't fittin' for a man to have that much vanity.  Brother Woodrow was so ashamed he got on his knees an' confessed his sin of pride right there.  He asked forgiveness an' asked to be re-baptized right along with Jimmy.  Some of the men of the Booger Holler Holiness Church did the honors an' Brother Woodrow came up a shoutin' an carryin' on like he had seen the gates of pearl.

From that day on, Brother Woodrow Budder preached every service as bald as can be, never ashamed of the little bit of hair that was his.

Now that was a baptizin'!!

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