Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Faith and Realty Street

The true tragedy is that some of the stories have already been lost. The people who lived them have slipped away and I'm left with my memory which is tainted by my perspective and inability to understand the way things were in the South in the 1930's and '40's.

My great grandfather Robert Lee Prestwood was a Baptist preacher. References to him in family genealogy sources list him as Robert "Preacher Bob" Lee Prestwood. I've been told that during thunderstorms he made his wife and children sit in the parlor in case the Lord decided to speak to them directly during the storm. My Mamaw said that her father made them sit quietly so they would not miss any of the Lord's message.

That may sound as if I am being disingenuous but I am not. My great grandfather was a man who knew God and respected him and if he felt close enough to his maker to expect direct communication, I have nothing but respect for him.

He wasn't the only person the family knew who had abilities brought to them through their was an old woman, named Maw Shell who could stop bleeding.

Once when the sidewalk on Realty Street was new, there was a rope tied to the fire alarm box and my uncle Duane tripped on it and made his nose bleed. Mamaw couldn't get it to stop bleeding and told my father to run to get Maw Shell.

When he got to the old woman's house, she told him to go home and the bleeding would be stopped. And it was. According to my dad, there was a verse in the Bible that could stop bleeding but the information could only be passed to a man, not a woman.
I don't know why that would be except maybe because old people didn't use to believe in women speaking in church or ministering at all.

Not that it stopped them. My mamaw felt the urge to spread the word so fiercely that even when she had no money she found a way to minister. One time, in the middle of the Depression, when there was no money and she had a house full of children to feed, she purchased ten penny postcards. When she heard of someone who needed to hear the word, she would send one of her postcards with a bit of scripture on the back. Never did anyone in the family receive a birthday, Christmas or other card that did not have some appropriate scripture.

In her later years, she studied and eventually became an ordained minister. She officiated weddings performed other duties of the ministry. But she was living proof that a minister doesn't need a building to carry out the work of God.

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