“Gimme That Ol’ Time Religion!”

(For clarification, my ever-lovin’ Daddy’d, come Sunday afternoons, take us out on family “Sunday Afternoon Drives.”  That’d be code for an excuse for an audience for his tales and yarns from his days passed.  And we loved every minute of every story!  This month, I’m speaking in my Daddy’s voice.  Liam.  Other Liam stories, all true, exist on this site.  My Daddy, he’s still tellin’ his stories.  And me?  I’m still passing them on down the line!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey.

Ho.

Liam Elias Ephraim Goodwell here, third son o’ the Denton County Goodwells.

You hear of us?  Grandpap nigh to owned most all Denton County.

Once upon a time, that is.

 

Well, here I am, ag’in an’ ag’in, a’scratchin’ my heart in earnest, a’wonderin’ why in God’s green earth Miss Meadow, down to the school, why she has me a’documentin’ and retellin’ and regalin’ you all with the Goodwell comin’s and goin’s and livin’s and dyin’s and other sorts o’doin’s.

She says, Miss Meadow down to the school, she says right out loud I got me somethin’ to say, but law, I ain’t sure I found it jest yet.

But fer Miss Meadow, I’ll keep after it.

 

So here’tis.  I, Liam Goodwell (don’t nobody but Mama use my middle names.  Who in high heavens has them two middles anyhow, ‘cept me?), am one o’ a slew o’ Denton County Goodwells.  At our house, they be Grandpap, they be Daddy and Mama, they be big brothers Lincoln and Lawrence, they be fluffy puffy Livvie, they be roughy and toughy Luce.

Next comes me, but I done tol’ you that there.  I play me some mean baseball, I got me a fair to middlin’ singin’ voice, I think me some deep thoughts.

Then ‘hind me come Loreen, and them mischief-makin’ scamps Louis and Lawton, twins.

Then they be cousins and aints and uncles and seconds and thirds and twice and four-times remove-eds.  Ever’body, it ‘ppears, wants to be a Goodwell.

Leastways here in Denton County.

 

An’ tonight, we, all us Goodwells, we’ll find all ourselves, plus the whole Pentecostal believin’ population o’ Denton County and beyond, down to the church.

Fer we got us, yessir, we got us a Revival a’startin’!

That there?  A revival?  That’s God’s particular renderin’ o’ Heavenly entertainment!  Now, there’ll be singin’ and ‘clappin’, but not dancin’ cept it be in the Spirit.  If I wudn’t so worried I’d make a plum fool o’myself, I sometimes wish the Spirit would lay some dancin’ down on me!

But either way, I ain’t aimin’ to miss me one minute, I kid you not!

A revival?  Why, “that’s good enough fer me!”

“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s and protusin’s of a country boy)

“Bite the Bullet”

 

This here’s Liam, Liam Goodwell, proud member of the Denton County Goodwells.

And I’m near plumb through with this here doc-u-mention.  I got me too many thoughts and feelin’s a’whirlin and a’swirlin’ ’round my cranium to set them all to paper.  Who the heck’s (don’t tell Mama!) got the time nor the wherewithall?

‘Course, Miss Meadow, down the school, she did put me up to it, and she did say she was a’countin’ on my par-ti-cipation in the exercise.

And Holy Heavenly Days, Lord knows I ain’t keen on disappointin’ Miss Meadow….

So here I am and reckon I ought t’ put the finishin’ touches on our midnight visit to A-dair County to retrieve big brother Lawrence from the bowels of the ju-dicial system lyin’ therein.

He talked his way out, like he’s wont to do.  And Grandpap, well, he talked his way in.  But then, if it don’t beat all, Lawrence, he talked Grandpap’s way out again, halleluhjah and praise be to Jesus!  Ol’ Lawrence, he’s good fer somethin’ after all!

Sun was jest slippin’ up over the shadowed hills yonder past the town square where we was waitin’ on the front steps of the courthouse.  Sleepy town wudn’t even stirrin’, even the judge and the sheriff and the state po-lice done said they goodbyes.  We was only us still left.  But we was all free, and glad of it.

I will admit to my stomach doin’ some odd complainin’ at its inattention.

That back home Daddy’d been summoned by yet another member of them what’s swore to perserve and pro-tect us, to haul hisself the three hours over to A-dair County in the middle of the night to save his kith and kin from whatever befell us,  well, let’s jest say that there’s what family does.  At least it’s shore what all us Goodwells does.

But time shore was a’marchin’ on by.

First time was spent  a’churnin’ over Lawrence’s runnin’ off to join the army.  At age sixteen.  We give that a good long span of spittin’ and hollerin’ and stompin’.

When we run out o’gas on that topic, we started in on Judge Jacobs’mar, how wudn’t he somethin’, and how he took the Lord’s name in vain and him claimin’ Christianity in his soul.  And how he threw hisself some kind of fit and throwed Grandpap down in the hoosegow his ownself.

This here spot’s where we opted to chose a new subject.  Still right raw in Grandpap’s view, we knowed better’n to get him all het up all over a’gin.

Well, then we summoned up stories how Grandpap knew so and so and did sech and sech, and he ain’t never seen the like, and so on and so forthwith.

That was all some time ago.  We run out of words.  We run out of gumption.  We was plumb runnin’ on empty.  All we desired, all us Goodwells, was jest to get on back home, however long it look.

These stone steps a’leadin’ into them hallowed governmental chambers, well, they left something to be desired theyselves.  Switched this a’way and that, leaned back on scraped elbows and Lawrence, he even laid clear down, flat o’his back.  Wudn’t nothin’ comf-terble longer’n a minute ‘r two.

So when Grandpap hollered “Hey!”  and pointed a crooked ol’ finger off down the road, we fair jumped out our britches!  Them two lights fer off down the line,  gettin’ brighter, why that was fer sure our Daddy come to save us and take us back to the land of milk and honey and Mama’s biscuits!

And fer sure, it was!  Daddy pulled right up purty as you please to the steps , brakin’ that International pickup him and Grandpap traded fer some time back real hard, leapin’ from the inside ‘fore the ve-hicle near come to a complete stop!

They was huggin’ and back slappin’ to who laid a chunk, ’cause that’s what we Goodwells do when we got us somethin’ to celebrate.  And right this here minute, we had us bushels to celebrate!  Big brother Lawrence been saved from military prison fer enlistin’ as an under-ager, Grandpap been saved from prison his ownself fer mouthin’ off to a cranky and ornery judge, and me, I was celebratin’ this night o’horrors was past and we’d be on the road straight away.

It did take us some time to simmer down.  We is Goodwells, after all.  Well, finally, it ‘ppeared time to turn that pickup’s nose back home.  Lawrence offered to drive us all, feelin’ contrite, as well he should.  But given his recklessness is what got us in this per-dicament, and given he ain’t got no license to drive, well, we took us a quick vote and Grandpap, he was chose to take the wheel.

My heart was full, and I was singin’ quiet praises to our Good Lord on High, so when I swung the side door of the truck open, I near to fell down dead.

Ol’ Brother Wendzel, weasly evangelist been fer weeks bringin’ down glory in Revival down to the church, why there he sit, ugly mug a leerin’ from ear to weasly ear.

“Well, hey, there, Liam,” his low voice slid slippery and slick, “Been a whall since we seen you at church, boy.  Where you been hidin’, Son?”

That this here is the feller who’d be stealin’ from the offerin’ basket, (I eavesdropped down to the Feed and Seed, so I am fer certain), that this here is the feller who’d be per-tendin’ to be holy and wise, that this here feller ‘ppeared to in-sin-uate hisself into the private and personal business of the Goodwells and show up with Daddy on this night of all nights, well, that there was the last straw what broke the back of the camel.

Time’d come.  Time’d come.

I reckon the Good Lord done plopped this vexation in my lap and here I must draw the line and speak my piece to this feller per-tendin’ to be God’s man.  Fixin’ to say my bit, I opened my mouth wide, vicious words of lamblast-ation linin’ up to be spoke, fists clenched and ears burnin’ like far.

Then what? big brother Lawrence, he give me a hard back shove,  “Get on in, Liam, let’s get on down the line!” and I tumbled headlong into the truck, squooshed right up along side this here affrontation to my spiritual bein’.  Four us fellers packed in tight, like baby chicks what come in the mail.

Well, I figured the Lord was a’speakin’ to my heart once again.  I’d bide my time.

 

Time’d come.  It would.  Time’d come.

But it wudn’t now.

And that bullet what we’s s’posed to bite when we’s holdin’ back?  Well, consider that bullet bit.

 

And it shore don’t taste like nothin’ but blue black metal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s of a country boy)

“By Hook or by Crook”

This here’s Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells?

And I’m still among the livin’, but I shore don’t know how much longer that’ll be the case.

 

My destiny rests in God’s hands, and them of Sister Beane, Eleanor Lucille Beane, newly discovered fearsome better half of preacher Zebulon Magruder Beane, down to the Holy Pentecostal Church of the Saints.  Been a whit closer to a week than not since I ‘pproached her with the learnin’s from my sinful eavesdroppin’ down to the Feed and Seed nigh on one month past.

That she took after me with her gardenin’ shears leads me to believe she wudn’t jest then  a’practicin’ Christian charity.  How-some-ever, fact is, may truly be she is now, as I ain’t seen hide nor hair of neither her nor Brother Beane nor E-vangelist Lyle P.T. Wendzel, them last two being the ones from who I heard them a’schemin’ to split the generous offerin’s of the believers.

I’ll admit to discoverin’ I had me this rash, a small one but it come in handy for my purposes.  (The thin coughin’ spell I manufactured didn’t set well with Mama) Much as I struggled to join the family this here past week at the revival down to the church ever’ evenin’, I found I jest wudn’t up to it.  Mama,  she’s been lookin’ at me sideways, but she ain’t questioned me.  My honest-to-goodness pained appearance, while prob’ly not the result of any rash, give her pause.  She’s laid the back of her hand more’n once to my forehead checkin’ to see if I’d a temper’ture.  She seemed satisfied when she ‘llowed me to stay home from the doin’s down to the church.

I been satisfied, my ownself.

But this cain’t be over, can it?   I sneak peaks over my shoulder reg’lar, but truth be told, reg’lar is gettin’ more and ir-reg’lar, and as time is a’passin’, why, I get to thinkin’ jest maybe my confessin’ to Sister Beane got the wheels a’ rollin’ and may how she put the kay-bosh on whatever tomfoolery them so-called “Men of God” had them hatched.

Or, not.  And I look over my shoulder yet another time.

 

Now here’s a quandry fer you:  Can a bein’ say “I tol’ you so” to his ownself?

‘Cause if I can, I shore am, I kid you not!

 

Not even one hour prior to this here moment, not even one, I’d jest come in from some hoein’ out to the garden, ’round Mama’s tomaters and greens.  We got us some robust black soil, but just below the surface lies hardened red Missouri clay.  Got t’keep after it.  Needs loosenin’ ever so often to keep them roots a’diggin’ deep, keep things a growin’ and keep dinner on the Goodwell table.

Well, here I come in, happy as one o’ them clamdiggers, done worshed up from the pump out by the smokehouse, well my arms up to my rolled sleeve.  Seemed sufficient.  I seem to recall I was a hummin’ a little tune from the Grand Ol’ Opry Hour from Saturday night’s broadcast.  That Roy Acuff at the War Memorial Auditorium out there to Nashville does have hisself a way.

So I’m a’walzin’ in from the back porch into the kitchen, a’hopin’ there might me some o’ Mama’s biscuits basketed on the oil cloth-covered table, left from breakfast or from midday dinner, and clearly my attention was NOT over my shoulder.  Well, over my shoulder was not where the trouble had landed.  No, sir.   Where my attention  should o’been was in the livin’ room up front of the house, where Mama received comp’ny and visitors and the like.

I’m slidin’ my eyes ’round the kitchen, distracted from anything but searchin’ for myself sustenance of any kind, bein’ as I AM a growin’ boy and Mama and Daddy and Grandpap near always chuckle at my heapin’ dinner plates.

What to my wonderin’ ears doth resound but a po-lite little Mama cough.  She got herself a visitor and she wants me to know it.

I stop dead in my tracks.  Time and the tickin’ of the grandfather clock on the wall plumb stopped dead, as well.

Judgement day.

Now, it ain’t like we live in a mansion.  Ever’body clear to the next county would o’heard me a’stompin’ up the back steps and heard the slammin’ of the patched screen door and heard my stomach a grumblin’ for a bite.

It was step up or lay down and die.

Well, being a Goodwell, it was only step up.  No other option.

But that don’t make it easy.

Girdin’ my loins, and knowin’ the probability of a tongue-lashin’ and worst lay in my future, I suck in a big ol’ gulp o’ air and step through the threshold to the front room filled with all the finery Mama sees fit to share.

But none o’ that catches my eye.  Only thing grabs me is the white-worshed look on Mama’s face….

…..and the weasely sneer on that of Lyle P.T. Wendzel.

“What do you say, there, Liam? ” his voice oily, next to a whisper.

“What’s new with you?”

*******

 

 

“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s of a country boy…)

Lord A’mighty!

 

This here’s Liam.  You may remember me.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells.

I been here before.  And I reckon if you know me, you been here previous, same as me.

 

Now, I’m a’gonna tippytoe right light round these here happenin’s.  Cain’t be to careful when it comes to the things of the Lord.  And I ain’t aimin’ to commit no unpardonable sin, though truth be told, to this very day, I ain’t able to lay a definitive solution to jest what that’d be.

Hence my tippytoein’.

So, they’s been lots of excitement and preparation down and ’round the church the last few days.  It’s Friday now, but Sunday mornin’ last, Brother Beane, that’s be our preacher down to the Holy Pentecostal Church of the Saints, he leapt clean vertical from his chair behind the pul-pit after Grandpap give the endin’ prayer and we’d done shouted our amens and hallelujahs, scarin’ the livin’ daylights out of near the en-tar congregation.  Our emotions done been rung clean dry durin’ his “Hellfire and Brimstone”  onslaught o’ shoutin’ and defyin’ the ol’ Devil jest ended.

This here’s where I get me on shaky ground.  And I know the good Lord hears my ever’ thought and sees clear down deep in my heart and I sure hope he understands my queries and questions.

‘Cause if He don’t, I’m plumb headin’ due south once I leave this world, sure.

Well, sir, Ol’ Brother Beane, he shot his skinny bony self, all his over-long spindly arms and legs, heavenward, a’rollin’ his eyes up under his eyelids, then begun a gyratin’.  Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d a said the good Brother was dancin’ hisself a jig.

‘Course that cain’t be, as dancin’, that’d be a sin.  Brother Beane his ownself preached against that particular transgression only a few Sundays past.

Didn’t not one member of the saints move a stitch, nor did one baby cry nor even cloud up.  We all jest set bug-eyed, a’watchin’ the spectacle.

And jest like it begun, it begun to ease.  Ol’ Brother Beane, he pulled his hanker-chiff square from the back pocket of his baggy brown suit, wiped his forehead more’n once ‘fore openin’ his eyes and addressin’ the fellowship.

“Brothers and Sisters,” his voice quivered, thin and overwhelmed with the fullness of what’d been wrought.

“Brothers and Sisters, jest this moment, I seen the Lord.”

Amen, we in the pews said softly.

“I said, I jest seen the LORD!”  He fair hollered.

Amen!  We fair hollered right back.

Well, if he didn’t a start his gyratin’ all over again, then raised his hands, skinny fingers spread upward.

“The Lord done laid somethin’ on my heart!”

Amen, we hollered again.  This seemed to propel him.   We obliged.

“I seen a man!”

Now wait here, didn’t he see the Lord?  (Shaky ground, I know.)

“I seen a man a’walkin’ with Jesus!”

Alright, I’m a’feelin’ a mite more comf-ter-ble.

Amen, I hollered with the rest.

Right’cher, Ol’ Brother Beane,  he struck out stomping first right, then left ‘cross the platform.  Now, our sanctuary ain’t that big.  Maybe a hun-erd seated come Sunday mornin’, and that ain’t but half full.  And Sunday night vespers, there’ll be maybe half that.  We’d be the real Christians, Mama says.  Grandpap, he just smiles.

And bein’ the sanctuary ain’t that big, well, the pulpit area ain’t sizable, neither, so Brother Beane, he’d stomp a couple steps left, turn on his heel raisin’ his knee up to his midsection, then stomp a couple steps right, then do the same.

“There’s a man comin’ our way, comin’ to bring us re-VIV-al!  I say, REVIVAL!”

Hallalujah, we was goin’ t’have us a REVIVAL!  The best ripsnortin’, Praise the Lord feast of Heavenly delights this side of the Pearly Gates they-selves!  Night after night, fer weeks on end, we’d all haul ourselves down the church each and ever’ evenin’ for services and singin’ and bein’ slayed in the Spirit and givn’ offerin’s of our service and our riches to support the time and prayer of the evangelist come to rekindle our Spiritual Far.

“There’ll come a man!  He’ll show hisself soon, I seen it in my vision!”  Brother Beane, was red to burstin’.

Well, that’d be a sight.

But like I’m wont to do, I digress…..

A REVIVAL!

“Jest like it says in the Good Book, none of us knows the day nor the time nor the hour when the Lord Jesus Christ will come back for his faithful?  Well, people, we don’t know the day nor the time when this Man of God will be crossin’ our threshhold, but as in all things, we best be ready!  You hear?  We must make our hearts ready for what this Man of God has in store for us!”

Hallelujah and Amen and Amen!

Trouble was, I had me a creepin’ feelin’ I knew jest who this man was who was a comin’.   I wudn’t a’trying to eavesdrop, I promise to Heaven I wudn’t, but once I was there, I just plain didn’t have the courage to come out from behind the bags of feed, down to the elevator.

See,  Grandpap’d sent me down fer some straps and leather lacin’s fer one o’ his saddles, and lo and behold, there was Ol’ Brother Beane and some feller a’talkin’ off to the side of the buildin’, jest them two.

Couldn’t help my boot needed tendin’, now could I?

Well, durned if I didn’t hear this feller, slicked back shiny hair, nose like a weasel, offer ‘Ol Brother Beane half the takin’s of the offerin’ basket iffin’ Brother Beane’d ‘llow him to come for services.

Didn’t hear ever’thing, but I did see them a’shake hands.

 

That shaky ground I spoke of?  It’s plumb dancin’ and a’bouncin’ under my feet!

Heaven help me!  I’m startin’ to feel the heat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

gyrations