I grew up, the last child in a large family. My parents married young, early in the depression years. Dad always had work, sometimes made the work himself. Took an Model T truck, ran a pulley off one rear wheel. Mounted a buzz saw. Jack the rear of the truck up in the field. He sold cord wood. Worked gas service stations, carried ice into homes, businesses and houses of bill repute. Always told me. “Son, even a prostitute has a right to say no.” Good man. Had many friends in the black community, because he respected them, and their women. Said many times, he tried to stop carrying ice, and the plant would come bribe him back with more money, to go deliver in the black part of town. Said a lot of the white guys got down in black town, thought they could get too friendly with the wife of the black men. They trusted my dad around their wives and daughters. That’s the kind of man he taught me to be.
Along the line, he surrendered to the ministry. He worked full-time, wife and a kid, wife pregnant, not doing well. His widowed mother was living with them trying to help out. Right in the middle of this, in WW 2, he gets his draft notice. He went down to the doctor, who had delivered him as a child, who sat of the draft board. he told him about my mother being pregnant and sick. Asked if he could get a deferment until the baby can, said he would go them, no problem. The old doctor told him, “No can’t do it. But i can get you a deferment because you are studying for the ministry.” My father told him, “No Doc, those boys i went to school with don’t have that option.” He turned it down and reported to the draft board. Told me the story many times. I realized later, he was making sure that i understood, you do not accept special privilege, that is not available to the people around you. He had some more stories with the same message. Said, “I am up on this cold metal table. It is winter time, it is cold. I am naked, on all fours. A doctor is looking up my butt. He calls another doctor over there. Now two of them are looking up my butt.” One says, “Boy, aren’t you afraid you going to bleed to death?” He said, “I said, well, i never have.” They 4-Fed him for hemorrhoids. Sent him home to my Mother. That’s the kind of man he taught me to be.
He was a Pastor in a Southern Baptist Association. He was pastoring two churches, seven miles apart, neither of which could afford a pastor by themselves. This was the first time in his ministry, he did not work an outside job to support his family. Not like now. Country churches in working communities, did not pay a lot. He could have had larger churches, did not want them. Said the people lost their zeal for being better people, in the large churches. I went everywhere with my mother and father before I started school. There was a Baptist encampment, a retreat on a mountain stream in that area. Retired preacher got in as the administrator. He stole everything that was not tied down. The encampment was in the red. One of the administrators big pastor pals, got up at a workers conference, and wanted to make a motion for the association to bail out the administration of the encampment, and give them a big chunk of operating money. You could tell most of the other pastors, most larger churches than my father, did not want to do it. But none of them had the BALLS, to stand up and speak up. My father stood up. Said. “Gentlemen, would seem to me that there is a hole in the bottom of the money bucket at the encampment. Now I do not think it wise to keep shoveling money in a money bucket with a hole in the bottom. Perhaps we should concentrate on fixing the hole in the bucket first.” The rest of the pastors then stood up and agreed. There was a change of administration made at the camp, and things got back on track. That’s the kind of man my father raised me to be.
Wife and I was talking yesterday about why I am doing this. told her, yes, there is always danger speaking out against evil. But the thing I fear much more, is when I cross over and see my father again, that I do not have to drop my head and hear him say, Why didn’t you stand up and speak out against evil boy?
That’s why I speak out, because my father raised me to.
John C Carleton