ILMASSAC-L ArchivesArchiver > ILMASSAC > 2004-12 > 1102883994
From: Bill <>
Subject: Little Egypt Heritage, 12 December 2004, Vol 3 #38
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 15:39:54 -0500
Little Egypt Heritage Articles
Stories of Southern Illinois
© Bill Oliver
12 December 2004
Vol 3 Issue: #38
Osiyo, Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen of Little Egypt,
Many moons ago, someone sent me a story, or at least an outline of a
story. It has sat in my archives for that time while I figured out how I
would like to use it in these stories of heritage. It is a story about
how I picture my Father in his youth. As I have said many times, he
loved people and he loved to gather around him his nieces and nephews
[his children and grandchildren included] and with a great twinkle in
his eye, “lay it on them”. I can “see” him telling this one with all the
First, however, a few words of introduction to set the story into its
Grandmas Oliver and Lester were devout Christian women. Grandma Oliver
was particularly “Word” oriented and though both Grandparents would take
me to church with them, it was Grandma Oliver’s church services which I
can remember most vividly. Each was an experience to remember.
The preachers, at the beginning of each service, would call for
testimonials from those attending, as to their fitness to enter into the
“Kingdom”. This often would set the worshipers in receptive moods. He
would then move into his topic for the service which consisted of
scripture, and his words, interspersed with moving songs and hymns. When
he spoke he would develop very vivid word pictures of the things in his
messages. As he moved on he would create, thru the fury of his speech
and the magnetism of songs, ever more vivid pictures. The emotional
fervor usually mounted, and gratified the preachers enough to spur them
As the fervor mounted, so did, the fiery vehemence of the preacher.
Through wailing, moaning, grunting and even sobbing, enthusiastically,
with such poignant emotion, the parishioners participated with many
amens and hallelujahs. Their feet would stomp and their arms would float
back and fro. Their hands would clap and some would dance in the aisles.
The very air would be charged.
Well, as stated at the beginning, whenever the family gathered, Dad
would begin telling a story or two – this to warm the audience for some
climatic story. And, as previously stated – Dad loved people, especially
the young in age and/or heart. So, with that twinkle in his eye, I can
yet hear him captivate his audience; drawing them always deeper into the
story until a crescendo ending. The story I have in mind is about a
local preacher, like several of Dad’s great grandfathers, who would
launch his sermon by announcing that he would “talk on ‘Dry bones in the
He shouted, cried, wailed, sang, and painted with words, very vivid
pictures about “Death riding a huge white stallion through the valley of
the grim reaper at harvest time”.
As he proceeded, the parishioners stomped their feet, sang with gusto,
and danced with ever increasing fervor. His words hissed forth through
his teeth until he ended with a chant of such poignancy that the
congregants were spellbound.
With sweat pouring down his face, the preacher gulped water and with
sweeping arm said, “See the Silent rider coming on his white mount ...
but, you hain’t afraid ‘cause you’re one of God’s children ... saved by
Just at that moment ... the lights went out. The sanctuary went pitch
dark. Then there appeared in the back by the only door, a white figure
which was illuminated by a small light.
The preacher fell silent and a brief, tense silence followed by noises
of chairs and benches being overturned. There was some screaming and a
general commotion as all tried to exit out the single door
simultaneously. The preacher proved most adept by reaching that door and
out that door first.
Dad would stop the story and a chorus of voices would demand to know
Dad would smile sheepishly and say – there were just three people who
knew exactly what happened. Three boys had staged it perfectly. One
turned off the lights. Another held the flashlight. The third was clad
in a white sheet. He came near to being trampled before he could get out
of that sheet.
If Dad ever told this story, I would believe that he was the mischievous
boy with the sheet who orchestrated the whole thing.
e-la-di-e-das-di ha-wi nv-wa-do-hi-ya nv-wa-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
= = = =