Pastor Pearl

After living on back street in smalltown for a few years, we moved upon a hill in the middle of town. This was a good move for us for a couple of reasons. One, we moved to a place where the backwater that invaded our town each spring didn’t reach, and, two, we had indoor plumbing for the first time. That meant I didn’t have to pump water, or take baths in a number three wash tub, and I didn’t have to use an outdoor privy unless I wanted to. Our new home upon the hill was located right across the street from the front door of the smalltown Baptist Church and that brings me to why I am writing this short story about Pastor Pearl who was hired along about that same time.

There is one thing about Pastor Pearl that still sticks out in my mind above all others. He could preach his congregation so close to the fires of hell that I could feel the heat of it across the street on our front porch. Now at that time in our little community no one had air conditioning, therefore they kept the church windows and doors open to let in any breezes that might be blowing during those Sunday sermons. So I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for a lot of them folks inside that church. Our house across the street was surrounded by trees on three sides so the front porch was always in the shade but there was many a Sunday morning after the church service was over and Pastor Pearl had said his last amen, that I went in for dinner only to discover that my face was flushed and the hair on my head was singed around the edges. My mother would laugh and say, “It must have been a good sermon, huh?”

Pastor Pearl wasn’t a bad fellow as people go, and some people might even say he was a good preacher, but to make a long story short, “he scared the hell out of me”, as well as a lot of other folks in town. And I guess that’s why his congregation dwindled a little rather than grew during his tenure at the smalltown Baptist Church. Now my daddy was a fearless man and hot-headed as all get out, but even he didn’t go near Pastor Pearl when he was wound up and preachin’ good. I’m not rightly sure how long Pastor Pearl was at the smalltown Baptist Church, but it wasn’t a long time, as I recall. Their next preacher was a little calmer when he preached and as far as a young boy of thirteen could decipher, I think the congregation was a lot happier and a little more relaxed after Pastor Pearl left town. They were almost friendly once again to those of us in smalltown who didn’t attend church on a regular basis. DThrash


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