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TITLE: The Backwoods Preacher
By chandra mathis
10/08/05
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Hi, I re-wrote this short story, I changed it up and added more detail. I need some very good opinions here. I have worked hard on this trying to get the character's voice to stand out. Please critque this for me. I need to be sure this will work Thank you .Blessings,Chandra
My papa was a preacher. Most folks from where I

grew up, called him a "backwoods Bible thumper."

It was just another word for an uneducated

preacher.Papa was a "third generation preacher."

That meant his grandpa, and his papa were

preachers before him. Hmmm… almost sounds like

royalty!




Anyhow, down in Mississippi, a little place

called Rolling Creek is where it all began. We

were living way back in the woods, a place where

neighbors were few and far in between. My papa,

mama, and me had to walk, if we wanted to go

anywhere. Not a soul had a car in those days. We

were too poor to afford a horse and buggy at the

time. We managed pretty fair back then. It was

only by God’s grace.



Those long walks to church were a bit tiresome,

and painful too. I would get blisters on my feet

from all the walking everytime I wore my Sunday

shoes. Those shoes were entirely too small for my

feet .All the fast walking we had to do, didn't

help matters either!



We were never late for Sunday meeting.It was out

of the question, cause my papa was the preacher

there. We were going to be at Sunday meeting no

matter what. Papa didn’t care; if it was pouring

we were going.




Papa was a tall thin man, with a sharp chiseled

face. He had eyes that were black as coal. That’s

where I get my real fine looks. How blessed I

am! I don’t spend much time in front of the

mirror to this very day. No point in looking,

cause I already know what I look like.




Papa was a man of determination. That is what I

admired about him the most. He never was a

quitter or a slacker. I would watch him from the

window or the front door, as he walked down that

winding dirt road; long strides as he went. He

was always wearing that same old black suit. It

was threadbare for sure and the pants were to

short, cause the bottom of them came just to his

ankles. Mama had patched it in several places but

even those patches were beginning to wear thin.

There were patches on top of patches, so it

seemed . That suit made papa look tired. I had to

do some intervening on his behalf. That poor man

needed some help!



I remember that night praying and asking God to

bring papa a new suit. A week later, God

answered my prayers! Old man Taylor passed away,

and Mrs. Taylor gave papa one of his suits. I

remember telling God, that he sure did answer

prayers in a strange kind of way.After all the

trouble I went through to get papa that new suit,

he refused to wear it. “I'm not wearing a dead

man’s suit!” He hollered, then he slammed the

front door so hard it made my teeth rattle.




We were living in some hard times back then, I

remember when mama made potato salad out of soda

crackers.Why!those folks at Sunday meeting didn't

know the difference, cause they were so hungry.

There wasn’t a bite left.



A preacher's wages wasn't enough to support a

family in those days, so me and mama tried to

help "make ends meet" by doing chores for others.

We would walk to Dr. Jamison's house about five

miles down the dirt road and do a few chores

for him so we could make a little money. As I

walked, I would look for papa's footprints on

that red dirt. I would place my feet in them and

walk along pretending to be my papa going to

visit sick folks or going to Church to preach

Sunday meeting.



I remember thinking, I wanted me a Bible just

like his, but we could not afford another Bible.

Papa had the only Bible in the house,and "believe

you me," no letting that one out of his sight.

It’s sort of funny, cause that same Bible sits on

a table in my parlor today. Brings back a lot of

memories!




Once, my papa was going to see some sick folks, I

watched him head off down the road, and soon as

he was out of sight, I ran into the house and

picked up mama's Sears Roebuck Catalog. Off I

went down that road stepping into every foot

print I could see, toting my Sears Roebuck

catalog, pretending it was a Bible just like my

papa's. I must have looked plum silly back then.





One morning I heard my papa and mama fussing with

each other; I got my ear against the door so I

could hear what they were saying. Mama called it

ease dropping. Anyway, I heard my papa say he was

concerned about the family tradition. He

said he had no son to take his place when he was

gone. I was hurt deep by this, cause it made me

feel papa did not want me, cause I was a girl. I

cried so hard that my eyes felt like they were

going to jump out of their sockets.




That night, I laid there in bed and was saying my

prayers. I told the Lord, Please Lord make me be

a boy so my papa would be happy. Then the Lord

told me, "No! I will not make you into a little

boy, you are perfect the way you are. I will

Cause you to take your papa's place one day. You

will be a preacher just like him." That little

talk with God made my feelings a whole lot

better.



Come morning I rose early, cause I wanted to

practice before my papa got Up. I picked up my

Sears Roebuck Catalog and off I went, step by

step, down that winding dirt road. Stepping

in every footprint with long strides trying to

Keep up. I would sing, here I go to see sick

folks with my Bible in my arm. The future seemed

bright.




Five years later, The Lord spoke to me again,

that time he told me that he was going to send me

to Bible College.I quickly replied; Lord,you

know I can't afford Bible College. Then the Lord

said "I Will make a way for you just wait and

see." I was surprised. I never planned

on college.




That very same day our neighbor Mrs. Jenkins came

down to visit; she was the town gossip? "I

remember her saying, "Did you hear about that

college professor who's coming to Sunday meeting

to tell about college?I heard that this man

had a reputation for taking in poor kids and

paying for their school." Then she let out a

laugh that sounded just like one of our geese. It

made me Jump like a frog! I knew then that God

had just opened the windows of heaven for me!




When Sunday came, I couldn't get there fast

enough. Why! I believe I missed one or two of

papa's footprints along the way.



I was sitting there in Sunday meeting, the

College Professor said he was taken on a couple

of students that year and pay for their

education.I was so excited! He said "after Sunday

meeting, I will have a paper for you to sign and

then you will be informed by letter as what to

do."




After Sunday meeting was over, I went up front

and told the man, I want to sign up. He told

me "Why little girl, you can't go to college,

this is a "man's world." Go now and sit down with

your Mama." No! Mister, I shouted. I have too!The

Lord say's so. Then the College Professor stopped

and turned his face to me his cheeks "pooched"

out with every word," I tell you what, I have

an opening for kitchen help there at the college,

if you finish your work and have the time, you

can take some of the college courses, but only if

you prove yourself to be a worthy student."

I will! I proclaimed.




The next morning, I had to break the news to mama

and papa, I was scared. I knew that they were

going to jump out of their skin. I remember it so

well,I eased up to the table like a puppy

begging for crumbs. Mama and Papa, I have

something to tell you, I announced." What is it

dear child?" Mama was looking at me with this

wild look in her eyes. “Go ahead and just spit it

out girl," papa wiped his mouth. I want to go to

that college and work in the kitchen. "Well

that's great news,"papa talked with his mouth

full while he slurped his coffee.There's more to

it Papa, I want to take Bible classes too." What

girl?Did I hear you say Bible classes?" He slams

his cup on the table, “ What on earth for?" So I

can be like you Papa." Like me? What made you

want to do that? “ I want to be a "backwoods

Bible thumper" like you Papa. I left running into

my room, crying again, cause my Papa wasn’t to

happy about that whole idea.




That night I heard the door squeak open, then I

felt a tall presence leaning over me. I turned

over and looked, it was papa! I was surprised to

see him standing there.Iwill never forget what he

said to me that night.

Papa sat down on the bed with tears in his eyes,

he took my hands and placed a few coins in

them. "Your going to need them for your trip,

sorry I wished it could be more, but it's all I

got.I love you dear, get a good night sleep,

cause tomorrow you will be leaving for college."




The next morning, I got up and joined my mama and

papa for breakfast.Things were quiet at first,

papa slurped his coffee once more, "girl you go

and do your best to fill your papa's shoes and

the Lord be with you." Mama kissed my cheek, and

sent me on my way.




Out the door I went, walking down that dirt road

stepping into every foot print singing out loud,

yes I am going to visit sick folks and preach at

Sunday meeting, just like you papa, just like

you.




I spent fifty years in the ministry. I never

regretted it for one minute. Folks say, I turned

out to be a pretty good "Bible thumper" and I was

even better than my papa in his day. How’s that

for an old girl like me? Not to shabby, if I say

so myself. God bless y’all
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