Well, Lineville was not Mayberry but the small town that was located near the base of Mt. Cheaha was an idyllic setting back in 1958. After a busy weekend with study and the teaching and preaching at the church of Christ, Monday was my 'off day'. What did I do? Whether I needed a haircut or not, I found myself sitting in a barber's chair with a dear friend and gospel preacher snipping at my hair. That man was Mansel Carpenter, who died recently at the age of 95. He had preached past his 90th birthday anniversary. He would clip a little and we would talk and talk and talk until the lower part of my anatomy was 'dead asleep' from being in that chair so long. Mansel and I would solve all the problems that might have existed in the church during that era of time. He was a great encourager to me and I loved him dearly. Precious memories indeed!
"Be Fruitful, and Multiply, and Replenish the Earth"
In the Lineville church there were two very large families, the Bing Mitchells and the Hubert Browns. Brother and sister Mitchell had 13 children, 11 of them who lived to be 'full grown'. The Browns had 9 children to live to be 'full grown'. Both families were farmers. I remember the time in the fall of the year we went to visit the Mitchells after they had gathered their apple crop. Virginia (a Floridian by birth) could not believe what she was seeing! There were sliced apples on bed sheets, etc. on top of the truck's cab, on top of every out house on the home place. Why, she asked? In years past, that was the way farmers would dry their apples in order to preserve them for the coming winter. Have you ever eaten a homemade pie made from fresh dried apples?
Country 'Baby Food'
One of the Mitchell's children and family lived not far from them. On one visit, there sat a baby girl sitting in her high chair eating 'baby food' in a bowl - sweet milk and corn bread! It must have been good for her because she grew up to be a successful lady in her profession.
'Dem Boneless, Dem Boneless Chickens'
As you entered the Browns' home in the kitchen, there was a pantry that was stocked full of 'canned goods' from the bottom all the way to the top. These good people were true farmers, not having any secular jobs to make money. They lived off the land. For the first time we saw deboned chicken in quart jars. Sister Brown would take fresh eggs to the store in the small community of Barfield and trade them for sugar, coffee and other items that could not be raised on the farm. We ate several times with the Browns and the 'cured ham' from the smoke house was one of my favorite foods that sister Brown would cook. Say, have you ever wondered what 'cured ham' was cured from?
The Old 'Pull the Finger Off' Trick
Now, John and Tim Rice were in my training class the year I preached for the Lineville congregation. One of the tricks I did to keep a kid's attention was to 'pull off' the index finger on my left hand. That impressed those boys. In fact, whenever I have seen John over the years he reminds me that I showed the trick to them way back in 1958. Now, John has added to the trick and makes like he swallows his thumb and it goes down his arm and reappears. I may not be remembered as an orator or one who has memorized the New Testament but every child who has witnessed that 'trick' for the past 55 years remembers the preacher who pulls off his finger! Both John and Tim became gospel preachers and if you have ever been to the Backwoods Christian Camp in Clay County, Alabama, you know John Rice.