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Another great-grandfather and the brush arbor preacher

January 28, 2013

This is another excerpt from my first book, From Sharecropper’s Son to Tracking Missiles.” The story is about one of my great-grandfathers, who lived next door to me on the edge of town when I was little.

Even though he was a preacher’s son and later became a preacher, young Grandpa Pope often indulged in mischief with some of his friends. Once during a brush arbor protracted meeting, with a long stick he and some other boys carefully removed a hornet’s nest from a tree, carried it behind the brush arbor and eased it under the backdrop cloth behind the preacher.

As the preacher was giving a loud and lengthy ‘hellfire and brimstone’ sermon, the boys gave the hornet’s nest a poke. Out swarmed the hornets and up the legs of the preacher’s pants. Already worked up to a fever pitch in his sermon, the man suddenly screamed, “The Lord’s in my soul, but the Devil’s in my britches,” and ran from the brush arbor as though it were the Devil.

The congregation was stunned into silence, then a few younger ones began to giggle and finally began laughing. It wasn’t long until someone looked behind the pulpit and saw the hornet’s nest. The word of what had happened spread and people gathered to search for the culprits, but no one they questioned knew anything about it.

They assumed that whoever had done it had escaped before they realized what had happened. Little did they know that Grandpa Pope and his cohorts, who were helping so diligently to find the mischief maker, were enjoying every minute of that long winded preacher’s discomfort!

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