The Old Church

Deep in the Missouri Ozarks within a remote valley stood a two hundred year old country Church, adjacent to the weathered structure was the community graveyard with grave stones dating as far back as the late seventeen hundreds.

The old Church came to life every Sunday morning for worship, but was also utilized for weddings, local funerals, and as a community meeting place. Large hand made tables beneath two hundred year old oaks provided a place in the shade for after church basket dinners. There also was a hitching post for buggy horses at the far end of the church yard next to the custom “three Hole” Outhouse.

On Sunday mornings families would ride horse drawn wagons from miles around to the old church for Sunday worship, visit with neighbors to catch up on the latest gossip and maybe even hear news from the outside world.

In a small hollow next the creek there was a clear cold spring overflowing with ice-cold water. Clear spring water would boil to the surface then flow into a Ozarks stream, then flow down the valley to the river for the long journey to the outside world.

Just down the holler from the old church was the community’s one-room schoolhouse. A little Further south was a blacksmith shop, then the post office and local grocery store. A little further down stream was one of the most important elements in the community, the old Gristmill and feed store.

This remote rocky Ozarks farm area was not really a town, but a community, where people worked very hard to feed and raise their families. My family as well as others, lived without any thought of what may be beyond those hills, in fact, many never left the area their entire lifetime.

One of my favorite stories surrounding that old church was when my uncle Allen and uncle Lee, a young teenager at the time, were painting the big “three hole” outhouse. My uncles and neighbors had gathered at the church for a Saturday afternoon workday, to clean, paint and repair the church and outbuildings.

An old school bus loaded with a wedding party had just pulled in the church for a wedding rehearsal, so my uncles were taking a break from painting. Dusty people unloaded from the buss and headed to the spring for a drink of cold water and to cool off in the shade, others went straight to the outhouse.

After returning to work, my Uncle Allen had just finishing painting the inside walls and gathered his buckets and brushes when a big Cadillac sedan pulled in with the relatives of the bride, including a very huge woman in a bright yellow dress.

As he stepped out of the door he met the woman in the yellow dress, running for the door of the outhouse with a worried expression on her face.

The large women had to turn sideways to fit through the door; the old out house shook as she slammed the door and plopped down with a loud thump.

About that same time uncle Lee was lying on his stomach behind the Outhouse attempting to replace a stone in a hole on the outside foundation next to the ground.

Always the prankster, it’s just too much for uncle Lee when he heard the women crash down on the toilet seat. He cupped his hands around the small hole in the foundation opening and says in a deep firm voice,

“ Hey, would you mind moving over a hole, I’m trying to paint under here”.

With loud terrified screams and the sound of a stampeding buffalo, she breaks down the outhouse door and runs back to the caddie pulling up her polka dot underwear and trying to cover herself with her yellow dress as she goes.

My dad, uncles and cousins were all roaring with laughter, but not so much at the horrified woman, but at my uncle Lee and grandpa. You see, Grandpa, who was not laughing, had uncle Lee by the arm and had him dancing like a organ grinders monkey on a leash, whipping him with a hickory switch down the road, around the bend, and out of sight.


Copyright 2005 Eye on the Outdoors
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