Fellowship, Singing and Music, Preaching, The Word of God, Prayer, Revival Meetings
Singing Schools, Vision, Inspiration, Truth, Integrity, Faith, Hope, Love
Dinner in the Church Yard happened every year. When the District Superintendent came they called it the Quarterly Meeting, (I don't know why, because I don't remember him ever coming but once a year). That's when the Church Yard filled up with the most fabulous, delicious, delectable, fragrant and beautiful plates, dishes, bowls, pans and jars, of fried chicken, baked ham, roast beef, baked beans, green beans, black eyed peas, corn bread, homemade loaves of baked bread, fried okra, baked sweet potato, mashed potato, boiled potato, baked potato, cabbage slaw, candied carrots, pickles of all sorts, six layer cakes, and pies beyond description.
The D.S. preached. The Treasurer gave his report. New officials were selected. Benediction was delivered. Men grabbed up four pews and carrying them out the door, put two, end to end, facing the other two. Ladies were rushing to their cars or pick-ups to bring out their baskets of homemade staples and delicacies. The seat of the pews were loaded with all that food. The Pastor offered a prayer of gratitude and thanks for the bounty of the table in a land of little money, regular drought and very little rain. Parents and older kids filled plates. Jugs and huge containers held home made iced sweet tea or lemonade. We feasted beyond our tummy's capacity, to our hearts content! That day, it never rained and the sun always shone. We all went home to our evening farm chores filled with happiness and joy. Our God in His Heaven was good to his people.
High Point Church was on circuit with Prairie Hill Church twelve miles to the north. Parsonage for our pastor was in the Church yard at Prairie Hill. On second and fourth Sundays of each month, he preached there after their Sunday School. Those Sundays, we had Sunday School only. On first and third Sundays of each month, Pastor and his family came to High Point. After our Sunday School, he brought the message of God to our hearts and minds. (I don't know if we really thought of it that way.) When there was a fifth Sunday in a month, Pastor had a vacation day and both Churches had only their Sunday School.
Whoever was on the list to clean the Church that week, took the Pastor's family home with them for Sunday dinner. They stayed with the host family all afternoon and when evening chores were finished, they all came back for the Sunday Evening Service. Then Pastor and all made their twelve mile trek back home.
In the days of Church in Midway School, they had annual Music Schools. There seemed to be a network of traveling music teachers. One that Daddy especially liked was Mr. Simms. He was about Daddy's age and they seemed to have good fellowship. I don't know where he stayed during that week or most of them were two week arrangements. We still had one or two after moving into the High Point Church. He used a blackboard and wrote up the shapes of the music notes that were already in our hymnals. The eight notes are: do, ra, me, fa, so, la, te, do. When you knew the shapes and the name of the shape, then we could learn the sound that went with the shape.
Music was very important. The Churches wanted to train their congregations to sing the part that fit their own voice. The sound is remarkably beautiful to hear an entire Church full of people sounding like a trained choir. Every year for many, the Church had been providing that kind of training. After we were in the High Point Church, I remember only two singing schools. Years later in the Eldorado Church of the Nazarene Daddy had someone come teach a singing school. That was the last I've heard of them.
There were a lot of good singers in the High Point Church. Papa was a great promoter of music. When he was a young man, Daddy remembers that he ordered instructions and a hymnal for learning shaped notes. The next Sunday after the material came, Papa took the package, after lunch, onto the front porch and studied until he had it all memorized. And then set in to sing through the hymnal. I still remember him in the High Point Choir, sitting or standing in his pew, marking the beat with his hand as he sang out the most beautiful tenor voice I have heard in a life time.
Granny had taken music lessons by correspondence. As a young woman, she had played pump organs in Revival Meetings around their area. It was the time of a Great Awakening in central Texas, early 1900's. Before the Easley children: Thelma, Gordon, Lawton and Kathryn were married, they sang as a quartet on the radio from Vernon, Texas. Later they didn't sing together very often at Church. Granny, Thelma and Kathryn sang a trio pretty often. Kathryn attended a singing school in Dallas a time or two. Granny and Papa sang in a quartet at the Church with Mr. Jay and Oren Weems. That was a good sound, until one of the male voices sadly went off tune.
An insert: About our parents -- Thelma, Gordon, Lawton and Kathryn -- singing at Vernon, Texas. Several of you mentioned you didn't know about that. So I have asked who remembers? Uncle Elbert, heard them singing as a quartet on many occasions. "They were that good. They could have been on radio, but I don't remember hearing that they were." Yvonne, Donnie and Pallie didn't know they sang on the radio. Keith heard Daddy talking about it. Pallie, finally, remembered Daddy and Kathryn talking about when they sang on the radio. Edwin heard his Dad, Uncle Lawton, say they sang every Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. on the radio in Altus, Okla. for maybe six months to a year. He only knows about them singing in Altus. And I remember it was in Vernon. We have to agree, we may never know.
There were good singers at the Odema Church. On fifth Sundays of a month, we had a singing at either, their Church or ours. The Congregation sang hymns, or various groups or combinations of people might offer to sing or be called out to sing. Before my time on Saturday nights or once a month, the community met at someones house for music and fellowship. Anyone who played an instrument came to play, and people sang along, listened or visited until a young farm laborer playing his violin began to play "Home Sweet Home." Everybody knew the evening was over when Dick England played his going home song.