I like this new summer schedule. I work like a dog Monday through Thursday, but have Fridays off. So this morning I decided to take Dad his Father’s Day present early — all of his sermons retrieved from his old 286 burned to CD.
On the way back, I felt compelled to swing by Long Branch Pentecostal Holiness Church. This place is burned into our family memory. Every one of us has threatened to write our story about Long Branch. Even now, when I describe it to people, it sounds like I’m describing something out of the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
My earliest memories are of a white frame building with a small sanctuary and two rooms on either side of the choir loft. The entire time we were there, there were no rest rooms and no plumbing – only outhouses. Dad finally had a pump sunk late in our stay there.
HVAC was unheard of. I remember a coal heater in the middle of the sanctuary with a pipe that exited the ceiling right over the altar railing. When I was six, they replaced the coal heater with oil heat, so the pipe went away, and a decorative plate covered the opening left by the pipe in the ceiling. Honey bees built a nest in the ceiling above the plate, so every spring and summer, honey would drip onto the altar.
The church was at the end of a country road with a hog farm next door so summer brought its own challenges with a lack of AC. We could open the windows and get the stench from next door, or we could swelter.
The brief detour I made today was my first trip back in a long, long time. The church was still at the end of the tiny road, but it looked like the hog farm was long gone. In the field across from the church was now a couple of mobile homes. The church itself had been enlarged with a new brick entrance featuring restrooms – inside even. It looked like more Sunday School rooms had been added along the left side of the church. The biggest change was the addition of a house, which I took to be the parsonage. I guess changes had to be made, even at Long Branch.
One day we will write the book. I’ve even come up with a title. It will be interesting to see how much is memory, how much is myth, and how much is complete fiction.