Sunday Trip With the Preacher!
By Lois Zook Wauson
I was in the choir at our Methodist Church in San Antonio. One Sunday in 1957 our choir was invited to sing at Monthalia Methodist Church in the country around Gonzales Texas. We had the good fortune of having the preacher ride with us. This is the Monthalia Methodist Church in Gonzales County Texas.
It was 1957 and a warm sunny spring day in San Antonio. The morning service was over at St. Mark’s Methodist Church, and the choir was gathered around their cars trying to decide who was going to ride with whom. Eddie and I and our two small children walked over to our car to get in. Suddenly, here comes Brother Welch, the preacher. He said, “Looks like I am riding with ya’ll”. Eddie and I looked at each other, wondering if this was a good thing or a bad thing. We had a two hour trip ahead of us. We were going to Monthalia, near Gonzales, to the Methodist Church to do a choir concert that night. And we were going to have the preacher in our car all that time. How was it going to be?
Brother Welch was a tall, gangly man who had been our preacher since we joined the little Methodist Church several years before. He had baptized Trent and Julie, and was a good preacher. We loved him a lot. He was also a strict “tell-it-like-it-is” preacher. The old timey kind! He preached against drinking, smoking, and everything sinful. I was only 25 and a little scared of him. Now he was going to be in the car with us for two hours. He got in, his dark head nearly touching the top of the car because he was so tall.
The first 45 minutes of the ride was uneventful. He teased the kids, sitting in back with them, and talked about the scenery and about our family. Julie chattered away, and Trent was respectful and answered all his questions.
Suddenly there was a loud pop! Eddie struggled to keep the car steady and we knew something was wrong. We pulled over and the men got out checking the car. We had had a blow-out on one of the tires. That was no problem. Several men in our caravan stopped and helped Eddie put on the spare. Then everyone took off ahead of us and we were the last car in line now. We told them all to go on, because we were going to stop at a little filling station up the road, to see if they had a used tire to use for a spare, because our spare was a used one too and not in too good a shape.
All the autos ahead took off in a cloud of dust and sand. We were riding along, relieved we were back on the road, when we heard another loud bang. The car shook and waddled and we pulled over again. Another blowout on the spare tire! Now what are going to do? The caravan was nowhere to be seen.
We saw the filling station about 100 yards down the road, so we all walked down the road to it. They didn’t have any kind of tire to fit our car! They said they would order it from the town nearby. Meanwhile, we were welcome to come into the pool hall/beer joint adjoining the filling station.
We walked in to the dark beer-smelling room, and looked around. Two pool tables were off to the side, with several men playing pool. They were laughing and drinking and smoking and having a good old time. We walked over to a table and sat down. I looked at Brother Welch’s face and saw the disapproval on it. There were also several families sitting around the old oak tables, drinking beer, and their kids were running around the place, their bare feet padding loudly on the old wood floor, shouting and giggling.
Eddie went up to the bar and ordered for us. Julie wanted a red soda water, Trent wanted a Dr. Pepper and Eddie and I ordered Coca Colas. Brother Welch had an Orange Crush.
Eddie told me later that he wanted a Lone Star Beer so badly, he could taste it. But he knew better, because he might get a lecture all the way home.
I teased Brother Welch about taking a picture of him sitting under the Pearl Beer sign, and using it for black mail at the church. He didn’t think it was funny. I wish I had brought my camera.
Well, we sat in that Texas pool hall, drinking our soda water for nearly two hours, while we waited for someone to bring us a tire. The kids got tired, I got tired, Eddie got tired of craving a beer, but he did keep on smoking his Camel cigarettes. That was one thing he couldn’t quit doing that day, preacher or no preacher. Brother Welch kept shaking his head at all the people drinking beer and smoking.
Finally, the tire came. They put in on our car and we took off for Monthalia Methodist Church. We arrived just as the choir was warming up to go in to sing. It was after 6:30. We had missed the dinner, and the rehearsal. I went on in with the choir, while Eddie and the kids went back to the kitchen to see if there was any food left. They were starving. I was too, but there was singing to be done.
But, just before that, another thing happened. Just as we drove in the church parking lot, right behind the very old quaint Monthalia Methodist Church, one of the water hoses burst on the car. We lost all the water in the radiator. Before we left that night, some of the men had to fix the hose. What next?
The choir concert was a huge success; the little church was packed with all the people from neighboring farms and town. Everyone congratulated us, and then we all piled in cars to go back home. This time Brother Welch sat in front with Eddie.
I was so tired on the trip back home. The kids fell asleep. I dozed off and on. But poor Eddie! I am sure he was tired too, and he had to listen to Brother talking about the evils of smoking. He lectured him all the way about quitting smoking.
That night when we got in bed, we were talking about our day. Eddie vowed if we ever took a trip with the preacher again, and the same thing happened, he was going to have that bottle of beer no matter what. It had been a long hot, tiring, discouraging day, and a glass of cold beer sure would have been nice! But at least Brother Welch didn’t preach about our trip the next Sunday. But I bet he prayed for Eddie a lot and all those people in that pool hall-beer joint! Eddie did quit smoking some 35 years later, and some how lost his taste for beer. I guess God heard Brother Welch’s prayers!
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