I was baptized when I was six years old. My sister baptized some kittens in Grandma’s creek. While we where there, she baptized me too. I must admit, I was much easier to baptize than those kittens. It was apparent that those little kittens did not want to be baptized and it took both of us to hold their little heads under the water. When we would finish baptizing one kitten, we would chase down another one. Thank goodness there were only six of them because not only was I was getting tired, I was getting my Sunday dress wet. By the time we had finished with the kittens, the mamma cat came up. We tried to baptize her too, but she definitely didn’t want to be baptized. We wrestled with that mamma cat for a few minutes but she kept biting us and scratching us, so we finally let her go.
Then it was my turn. I tried to get my sister to just sprinkle some water on my forehead, but no, she had dip my head under water just like she did the kittens. So I laid down beside the creek and she said some holy things and tried to dunk my head under the water. It didn’t work. I kept having to move closer and closer to the water and before I knew it, I was in the water and I got soaked. My dress dried in an hour, but my sister and I were both pretty dirty from wrestling with those kittens. Mom called to us to the house when it was time for us to go home. She was upset that our Sunday dresses were dirty, but when we told her we had gotten dirty during the baptism, she laughed.
When I was little, we went to river meetings and we went to a lot of tent meetings too. Some of the tent meetings scared me to half to death. The preacher would scream and yell for a while, then people would start dancing and jerking and speaking nonsense. When I asked Mom what they were saying, she said they were speaking in tongue. Whatever that meant; to me they were speaking gibberish. It seems like the more tent meetings we went to the more bizarre they got. Each time we went to one we saw a dozen or so people saved. The crippled were healed, the blind could see and a dumb mute would speak. Once during a meeting, I tugged on Mom’s blouse and asked if she thought they could make a midget tall. She just frowned at me and told me to hush. We saw people faint, people cry, people shout and people praise the Lord. Every once in a while someone would come running in from out of no where begging to be saved. The preacher would smack them on the forehead, they would fall to their knees and faint. Others would gather around the person that fainted and they would start shouting hallelujah! and jumping around and dancing. Then the newly saved person would start jerking and twitching and speaking in tongue.
These people scared the crap out of me. Sometimes they would run into the crowd and try to get other people to be saved. They would grab their hands and drag them up front. I always made sure I ducked down when I saw one of them coming in my direction, and I would grab Mom’s hand and hold on for dear life. I wasn’t about to let any of those people grab me, and if they did, I was prepared to bite them. Although we attended several tent meetings, I never thought Mom believed in the healing power nor the whole charades. I think she just found them very amusing and entertaining and she would drag me along for company.
Out of all the tent meetings we went to, there was one preacher I will never forget. He was a tall, thin, dark complected and a very clean-looking man. He had nice clothes and shoes and he had dark black hair. He looked different from the other preachers I had seen at the meetings. He did not speak in tongue. Actually, he had a pleasant-sounding voice. He was very different from the others. He did something that night that I have never forgotten. After he gave his sermon, he did not ask for money like the rest of them had done. Nor did he try to sell us anything. Instead, he asked everyone there to pull out a dollar bill. Of course Mom pulled out her dollar bill like everyone else. The man said, “Now I want each and every one of you to take a good look at that dollar bill. What do you see?” Not waiting for an answer, he said, “I’ll tell you what you see. If you look very closely, you will see the almighty eye of God watching you. Yes. Look at that dollar bill. Look closely at the top of the pyramid on the back of that dollar. You see that eye? That my brothers and sisters is the eye of God and the eye of God is watching you. Yes, the eye of God is watching you and he will see what you do with that dollar. God watches what you do with every dollar you have. Now you can choose to do with that dollar whatever you wish, but I’m telling you right now, God is watching you.” Needless to say he got everyone’s dollar that night, even Mom’s. I thought that was the most brilliant thing I had ever seen. Every time I look at a dollar, I think about that man and I am pretty damn sure he became a millionaire in no time.