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CHAPTER TwoMy Father
MY FATHER IS THE REVEREND J. H. ROBINSON, AND AT THE present writing, is minister of the Morpeth Congregational Church in Morpeth, Northumberland, England. I cannot give you his exact age, but it must be close to eighty years. He is, I understand, still actively preaching. Prior to joining the Congregationalists, he was a Baptist preacher, leaving that denomination some thirty or forty years ago because of the closed communion. It seems that the Baptists will not allow those of another denomination to observe the sacrament of the "Lord's Supper" with them. The Congregationalists will. This is not showing a very godly spirit, it seems to me, but that's how it is.
Father was graduated from Spurgeon's College in London, and his first work was at the Costermongers Mission in a low part of London. I cannot give you much of the history of his folks. His marriage certificate, issued on June 11th, 1882, shows that his father was a plumber. The address is not given. His age then was twenty-three which makes him seventy-eight now instead of eighty years of age. That's a ripe age for a minister to be still ministering.
My mother was Hannah Rosella Coope, and her father's name was John Coope. His occupation was "steward." At the time she married my father, she was one, year younger than he, or twenty-two. I know nothing of her folks except that she belonged to the famous family of Ind. Coope and Co., large British brewers. What the actual relationship was, I do not know. Both her mother and father were present at the marriage which occurred in Trinity Chapel in London.
Mother was about the sweetest thing it has ever been my pleasure to know. She passed away while I was but a child—eight years old. I shall never forget the fine simplicity and beauty of her character. She was deeply religious. Every Sunday morning she would take me to church and, finding the sermon rather dry, and perhaps knowing the preacher, I invariably would fall asleep on a black sealskin coat she used to wear. Before her death, prominent specialists were called, but to no avail. Bronchial pneumonia took her. It closed, at thirty-three, the sweetest career I shall ever know. The death occurred at No. 7 Lilac Street in Halifax, Yorkshire. She lies buried in Illingsworth cemetery. I visited the grave a few years ago. There is a custom in the north of England of pulling down the window blinds when a funeral cortege passes by. The popularity of the deceased can be judged by the number of blinds pulled down. I remember that funeral, and blinds were pulled down for miles along the way.
The funeral sermon was preached by the Reverend Henry Davis, a childhood friend of my father. I shall allude to Henry Davis again. So little did I realize what was happening that when we children were put in the carriage, we thought it was fun to get to ride behind a pair of horses. It was the first such ride we had ever had. That funeral will long live in my memory. I remember the hymns they sang: "A few more years shall roll," and "The sands of time are sinking." After the funeral father was pretty well "broken up." Sneaking up to his chair in his little study, I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. "Don't cry, Dad - she said she would see us in the morning." Little did I realize what "morning" she meant. I have realized it many times since.
Perhaps in my nature there is some of my mother's. If so, regardless of how much good I am able to do, I shall never be able to equal the good she did. She was loved by all - a beautiful character if ever there was one. I want to mention here a death-bed scene that has a very distinct bearing on what happened in my federal criminal trial here n Moscow. The night she died, one after another of we children were called in to kiss her "good-bye." It came my turn. After asking father and the physician to leave the room, she said, "Frankie, there is something I must tell you before I go, for I'm going." I shall never forget saying to her, "But, Mother, you're not going for long, are you?" "No, not for long, Frankie—I'll see you in the morning." Then, clasping her dying arms around my neck, she said, "I want you to remember this: There may come a time when your birth-place will be questioned. Remember, you were not born in England; you were born in New York." Little did I dream then, forty-six years ago, the import of those words. Luckily I remembered them. I had always been known by my mother and her folks as "the little Yankee," although when father would hear that, he would show displeasure and change the conversation. However, all my relatives on her side knew that I was born in New York. I shall have more to say about this later.
While in England a few years ago, I visited Long Crendon where my boyhood years were spent - at least, a few of them. On arriving in London, I sent a wire to my father stating that I was in England and asked him if he would not like to see me. He replied by wire that he had no son by my name. I then wired back and asked him for the addresses of my two brothers who I knew still lived in England. His reply was that he knew nothing of their whereabouts. I discovered later that he knew at the time where they were. For some reason, he did not want to see me or have me see my brothers. Strange father this! Strange man of God! I had not seen nor heard from him for many, many years. My letters had been returned to me unopened. Just at the critical time in life when a boy needed the comfort and advice of his father, that comfort and friendship was denied me. Had mother lived, it might have been different - but, she died.
While in England in 1934 visiting old childhood scenes, I met a Mr. Pietts who knew me as a child. I found two other old fellows who knew me and who gave me some very valuable information regarding those childhood years of mine. Mr. Betts was owner of the small village bakery, and I recall the night the old bakery had burned to the ground. I watched it burn from my bedroom window in "The Manse" which is pictured in this book. Mr. Betts invited me in for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The true British hospitality was evident. After the little snack, I told Betts that I would like very much to see the house in which I lived, and more especially the room in which my brother Sydney was born. I remember being allowed to hold him in my arms before the grate fire on the night of his birth. Mr. Betts said he knew the people well who now lived in the old "Manse," and he took me there and introduced me to the good lady of the house. She did not remember me, but she did remember the Reverend J. H. Robinson, and we chatted for quite awhile. "Here is a book you might like to see," she said, going to a cupboard and bringing out a little volume. It contained a history of the Long Crendon Baptist chapel where father preached, and, in addition to having a photo of my father, it had this to say:
"The church remained pastorless until the Reverend J. H. Robinson of Henley-in-Arden received a call at the end of I887, which he accepted, and he entered upon his labours as stated minister in March, I888. The new pastor had recently returned from a long visit in America. (At my trial on charges of passport fraud in Moscow a few years ago, an affidavit was introduced, signed by my father and sworn to before the American Consul in Newcastle-on-tyne, that he had never been in the United States).
The new pastor speedily became known as a powerful preacher, and large, and even crowded congregations frequently gathered together, the people coming in from the neighboring villages to listen. In addition to his ordinary pulpit work, Mr. Robinson found time to devote his eloquence to the championing of the People's rights, and he attracted considerable attention by his boldness and fearlessness in this direction."
This book was published by "The Bucks Advertiser," and is entitled "The History of the Long Crendon Baptist Church and Sunday School." I did not think to secure the book, but had I known what the future held, I certainly would have secured it. I did, however, take down a complete memorandum of the references to my father, because even then there was considerable demand for my life story. If I was born in 1886, it must have been in the U. S. according to this book.
There was a man in Long Crendon, a village of one hundred and fifty souls, who ran a butcher shop and made very famous sausages. His name was George Elton. For years after we had left there, father would send to Mr. Elton for his famous sausages. On my recent trip there, I called on Mr. Elton and introduced myself. We talked old times for, young as I was then, every incident of that young life in that small English village is indelibly stamped on my memory. "Did your father ever tell you about the time he tried to open a barrel of beer?" Elton shot at me. I replied that I had no recollection of father having recounted such an experience to me and requested Mr. Elton to tell me about it.
In brief, a party was being held at the Elton home and Dad and a large group of other "Baptists" were there. This barrel of beer was in the cellar. Dad, feeling pretty good already, asked to be allowed to open this keg of beer. It was the second one to be opened that night. It's a wonder the Baptists don't baptize their "converts" in beer if they love it so well. If beer is good for the inside, why is it not good for the outside, too? Well, father went down with Mr. Elton to tap the beer barrel. Seizing the bung in one hand and the mallet in the other hand, he gave the bung a tap—but not hard enough. The beer, according to Mr. Elton, squirted all over the cellar and nearly drowned the Reverend J. H. Robinson, champion of the rights of the common people and Pastor of the Long Crendon Baptist church. I was somewhat taken aback by the recounting of this happening. I wondered what sort of preachers they had in those days. I wondered, too, if they were not more interested in drinking beer than they were in saving souls. However, lots of water has gone over the dam since that occurrence until 1934, and I have learned many things about those who act as "Agents of God." I never was able to reconcile the drinking of beer and whisky with God Almighty—not even at the Eucharist, or "Lord's Supper" - unless, of course, Almighty God drank beer and whisky and wine, too. Here, however, was one of God's agents tapping a beer barrel in the cellar of a butcher shop. I've seen them do a lot worse than that over a period of fifty years.
Usually drinking and other things much worse go together, and evidently they did in the case of my father. There followed at this time, an affair with a pretty lady member of father's church. I knew at the time, young as I was, that this and one other affair were going on. It must be remembered that at Long Crendon he could not have been married very long. It must also be remembered that he had the sweetest wife God could give to any man. Yet these two affairs persisted. While they were going on, my mother was sitting alone in "The Manse," crying her eyes out and trying to keep her sorrow from me. In the year 1890, the Reverend J. H. Robinson was "withdrawn" from the Baptist denomination. He had always told me that he "left" because of the "closed communion." I should call it a very open "communion."
I have given very serious thought to the recounting of these incidents. There may be those among my readers who might feel inclined to criticize. Yet this was the man who, knowing full well that vicious attempts were being made to send me to some federal penitentiary, swore under oath that he had never been in the United States. He knows full well where I was born, and so do I. I cannot conceive of any man who claims to be a representative of God stooping so low as to deliberately lie when he knows his own son's liberty may be at stake.
However, it is not for this reason I am including these unhappy incidents. They have a very distinct bearing on what followed later, and what followed later was a vital part of my life. I should like very much to leave this part of father's life out of the record; but this is an autobiography. It must be truly written; and it must be written so plainly that you who read may get the true picture of the obstacles I had to overcome before I came to the place where I was qualified to lead hundreds of thousands into the new conception of God. I love that man. I never have understood him. He has caused me lots of pain, and by this thoughtlessness, has made my path immeasurably harder than it should have been. Still, I love him. Would he allow it, I would fly to his assistance, if it became necessary, at any moment
I still believe that what I am recounting here should be recounted. Millions will read this story. I must tell them the truth even though it hurts me to tell it. . . . . . F. B. R.
What may lie in the background of my father, I have never been able to find out, although I have investigated quite thoroughly. A letter in my possession from the Reverend J. Sylvester Poulton to the Reverend Walton, the Registrar of the Spurgeon's College, states, "Robinson always talked about his indebtedness to the Costermongers Mission for rescuing him from the gutter." It is to be presumed, therefore, that my father had troubles of his own in his early years. I have a recent report that, although he is an old man now, at this present writing he is carrying on another affair with a lady singer in the choir.
Now God may be in this sort of thing - that is, the "god" he preaches may be in it. However, I know one God who certainly is not in anything on this order; yet practically every minister in England will drink all the beer he can get. I shall have more to say about these ministers and their beer-drinking later on.
I recall one amusing incident which happened in Long Crendon. Finding a cigarette butt on the sidewalk one day on my way home from school, I begged a match and lit the cigarette, puffing away like a good fellow. Whom did I see coming towards me but my father. Not in the least abashed, I gave an additional puff on the cigarette as he passed by, saying to him in all seriousness, "How do you do, Mr. Robinson." I not only found out "how he did," when I got home, I found out "what" he did. He was mercilessly cruel to me. Why he picked on me, I do not know.
I recall one day in Halifax which was the town we moved to after leaving Long Crendon. What I had done, I do not recall. It could not have been very much, though. At any rate, father ordered me upstairs into the bedroom and made me take off every stitch of clothing I had on. Then he went to work on me with his razor strap. I was mercilessly beaten. The blood flowed, and my mother was screaming down stairs, begging him to desist. Finally he became so exhausted that he was forced to lie down on the bed. I was cowering in a corner of the room. Seeing him in such a state of exhaustion, I went over to the bed and, kissing him, said, "Did you hurt yourself, Daddy?"
On another occasion, I entered his study without knocking. He had a black ebony round ruler on his desk, about one inch in diameter. It was very heavy. Flying into a rage, he threw the ruler at me and it caught me over the left eye. I was knocked unconscious, and a physician was called. I bear the scar to this day. At the federal trial in Moscow, this scar was exhibited to the jury, and it was told how the scar was obtained.
I tried in vain to find out why I merited the brutal treatment I received at his hands. Sometimes one would think the "sun rose and set on me." At other times, I was afraid for my life at his hands. One day, while playing in the front of the house, I climbed up on the little iron railing you will notice in the picture of No. 7 Lilac Street in Halifax. He called me in, and I received, then and there, one of the worst trouncings I have ever suffered. Not satisfied with beating me, he threw me on the floor and, jumping on me with both feet said, "God curse the day you were born."
The strange part of all this is the fact that no matter how rough he got with me, I still loved that man. I still do. We have not written for years. I have told you about the telegrams I sent him in 1934 from London. I have also told you about the lying affidavit he signed when he knew that my liberty was at stake and when he knew the document he swore to was not true. I cannot understand that. However, he was a "great preacher and champion of the people's rights," excepting his own first-born child. He had no rights.
After mother died, there followed a siege of house keepers, and I could tell some interesting incidents here, too. I was not quite as dumb as Dad supposed. At any rate, although my life with him was hell, it probably must have been hell for him, too, or he could not have acted as he did. The wonder is that I ever came through at all; but the protecting hand of the Great Spirit—God—watched over me, and kept me for the work at hand. I do not feel the slightest anger. I would do anything I could to help my father. However, he is not too far from the grim reaper now, and the worst I wish him is that in the infinite wisdom of a Great God, his weaknesses may be forgotten.
The siege of housekeepers came to an end, and father began making frequent trips to Huddersfield which was just a few miles from Halifax. Both cities are in Yorkshire. In a roundabout way, I heard that he was about to be married again. He was, and soon after that, we were moved to that city. Arthur was the youngest, next came Leonard, a beautiful child, and then Sydney and myself. All four of us were moved to Huddersfield, although none of us was allowed to be present at the wedding.
The bride this time was Miss Ellen Haigh, the daughter of wealthy Ben Haigh, a textile factory owner of Huddersfield. It was here the real trouble began. Instead of getting better for me, it got worse. In some unexplained manner, this second wife took as violent a dislike to me as my father did. This dislike became evident immediately after their return from their honeymoon. None of us children fared too well from that point on, but Frank bore the brunt of it. Everyone else, wherever we went, seemed to love me. Only my own family hated me. That hatred seared my young soul. Here I was, misunderstood, beaten, cursed, and trampled upon—but why? You will see later on in this story what the cause of it really was.
The chapel, the pulpit of which was occupied by my father, was the Oakes Baptist Chapel. At Halifax it had been the Lee Mount Baptist Chapel. A report I have informs me that "John Henry Robinson, upon showing signs of regret for past mistakes, was 'reinstated' into the Baptist ministry." I am thankful for that, although I saw no signs of "regret" for the cruel beatings I used to get, for they still continued, only two were after me now—not one. The step-mother was a cruel type, and "hell" was the order of the day in that "home of God." It was not so very long after father's second marriage until she was telling him that the only thing he married her for was her money.
Lavishing in wealth, driving in a "carriage and pair" with footman and butler on the driver's seat, I have seen this second "mother" drive past me scores of times. Instead of picking me up and giving me a ride home from school, she would, in a condescending manner, wave her hand out of the carriage window and let me walk two miles home from school. Whenever I could, I would run behind the carriage, climb on the iron bar which went across the back and "sneak" a ride home in my own step-mother's carriage.
As I look back and think on these happenings now, I find myself more nonplused than ever. Yet I would not have it any other way. I see now how these cruelties drove me closer and closer to the heart of God. There, I found rest. There, I found peace. There shall I ever stay until I know as fully as I am known. Now we see as in a glass darkly - but then? - face to face. The day will come, before too long, in which this whole world will know the glorious truth of the present existence of the Great Spirit - God. As I sit in my bedroom in my home in Moscow, Idaho, once more I pledge my whole life to the work the Spirit of God has given me to do. I shall be happy to forget these childhood happenings—in fact, they have been forgotten. Had it not been for the general insistence for this life story, let me assure you, it never would have been written. The Power of God will be made known to hundreds of thousands through this unusual story, and that is the only thing in which I am interested.
A few months with this new "mother" about made up my mind to the fact that life was becoming too unbearable. Not only was she worse than our father, but she started in on Sydney. He began to get the beatings, and so frequent did they become at the hands of these two "people of God," that Syd ran away. They found him several days later begging for food on a country lane, and they brought him back. in the meantime, Mrs. Robinson the second was doing her duty for "God" by leading several different "church" societies, and by taking an active part in the Sunday School.
Leonard, who was a frail little thing, afraid to call his soul his own, escaped the beatings. Probably they figured that he could not stand them, and, had they given them to him, they might have had to face a serious charge in the criminal courts, as I had to - but not for anything on that order. One day, after work, for they made me work at the carpenter business, I came home. As I approached the house, I heard the most terrifying screams I had ever heard in my life. Knowing that another "beating" was being given to one of my brothers, I rushed into the house, throwing my dinner pail in the front hall.
The screams came from the kitchen. There was Mrs. J. H. Robinson, forcing Arthur to stand up against the kitchen wall. As he stood there vainly trying to defend him self, this brute of a woman of God was hammering him in the face and eyes with both fists. That was enough for me. It was all I could stand—for Arthur could not have been more than ten years old.
They say even a worm will turn. I turned that day. Seizing her by the black hair of her head, I threw her to the floor and gave her some of her own medicine. I gave her a good dose, too. I shall never forget what I said to her in between poundings - "You dirty low - down son - of a-something, I'll teach you to beat my young brother." She will never forget that lacing to her dying day. She was a woman but she deserved it. Or was she a woman?
I knew something desperate would happen when Dad came home, so I prepared for it. Meeting him at the door, I asked him for an interview. He took me into his study, and there I informed him that "that woman" will have to go or I will. A full explanation of what happened was demanded, and I gave it, straight from the shoulder. "You realize that you cannot live here another day?" my father asked me. I replied that I had lived with that "wench" too long as it was, and rather than see my brothers suffer and suffer myself, I chose to get out. There was a hasty "council of war" that evening, to which I was not admitted. The next morning I was informed that I was to take "The Queen's shilling." That meant—join the navy. I was taken down to the recruiting office- that afternoon and actually forced to sign up for the British navy. The British navy is an honorable career, but it was a tough break for a boy of my age. At the trial in Moscow a few years ago, Mr. Casterlin, one of the federal district attorneys who so vigorously prosecuted the case, objected to the words given by me in my testimony, "forced me to join the navy." Yet, those words are true.
It did not take me very long to know that I was in with the toughest bunch of fellows it was possible to meet. I have never been "tough." There is a sense of refinement to my nature which rebels at the faintest suspicion of "toughness," and this life in the navy was worse than the life at home. However, I was duly "signed up" and got the "Queens shilling" which, incidentally, father took away from me. He would not even let me keep that. I was sent to the training ship H.M.S. Caledonia which lay under the Forth bridge, near Edinburgh. This is the bridge the Germans have tried so often to bomb recently. I know the bridge well, having walked over it many times.
One day while on duty, I was caught smoking a cigarette in the "heads." Navy men will know what I mean. The boys on the training ship were not allowed to smoke, but all did - even after we were caught. Then came the "trial" and the sentence was "twelve strokes with the cane." These beatings were always administered at noon, just before dinner. I was "scared to death," for I had witnessed those "canings" many times. My whole nature revolted against them - but there was nothing I could do. Now, here I was, in the same boat.
To try to describe my feelings and fear would be impossible. I was afraid of that beating. My time came, however, and two "jimmy-legs" which means "Master-at Arms" seized me. I was strapped to the "bitts." They tied me hand and foot and there, screaming with fright and pain, twelve strokes with that five-foot, half-inch thick cane were laid on me. It was horrible. It put me in the hospital as it put many others there, too. The ship's surgeons always were present at those "canings" and about half the time, they had to order the "jimmy-legs" to desist. The boys would faint with the pain. Some of them went crazy. Horrible is no name for it.
After about six months of this navy business, I began to do a little figuring on my own account. I did not like the navy. It was foreign to everything in my nature. I began to attempt the almost impossible task of getting out. Father refused to entertain the notion that he buy me out. He wrote me threatening me with this and that and telling me that if I ever did get out, to keep away from his home.
When a bunch of young fellows get together on a British naval training-ship and make up their minds to do some thing, they usually do it; and we did. I had about six extra good friends on that ship, and, in the strictest confidence I told them what I wanted to do - to get out. They promised to help me. One of these chaps by the name of Pry, a Glasgow alley-cat, invited me to the upper deck one Sunday afternoon. "Now listen, Robbie," he said. "I'll tell you how to get out of this man's navy. All you have to do is to fall overboard. Then get rheumatism. Make your knees swell up, and it will affect your heart. Then you'll get an M.C.O. which meant Morbus Corpus Organicus or something like that - organic heart disease."
The Caledonia was anchored in the Firth of Forth, and this Sunday afternoon was a beautiful day. "When shall I fall overboard?" I asked Boy Pry. "Right now—no time like the present," he replied. So overboard I went. The Caledonia was one of the old Nelson flagship type, and I had quite a "drop." "Jump" would be a better word. At any rate, overboard I went. Quite a hullabaloo was raised. At the proper moment, Boy Pry appeared on the scene, and I was sent to the sick-bay. Then Pry did what he was supposed to do. He kept me posted on every move. He fixed the temperature chart. It ranged about 100 degrees. It would have been too bad had the doctor checked up on that temperature, but he didn't.
Under proper treatment, my knees started to swell, and I began to get quite short of breath - all under the direction of Boy Pry from Glasgow. A wise boy that Pry was. In about two weeks, the doctor ordered me ashore to the naval hospital at Rosyth. That worried me. What should I do without Boy Pry? He agreed to come over and see me every few days, and he did. We knew the times the doctors would come around, and always when he put the stethoscope over my heart, it would be palpitating. The way that was done was by jumping out of bed and working my arms rapidly up and down. Then, just before the physicians entered, I would scoot back to bed again. Lo and behold, the heart would be pounding like a trip hammer.
After about two weeks of that, the long-coveted words M.C.O. went on my chart at the foot of my bed. If those doctors could have seen my antics after they had left, I'm afraid I should have been in the ship's brig instead of in the naval hospital. Finally the day came for the medical discharges to be signed. A special doctor of high rank was always called to "survey" those ready for medical discharge. There were a lot of us in that bunch, and I think about twenty-five percent were "working a ticket" as it was called. Unfortunately for me, I was placed at the end of the line. That threw a monkey-wrench into my "palpitations" for the survey doctor held his examinations in the middle of the day, and it was hard for me to "work my arms." However, necessity was the mother of invention. I was too near a "ticket" to slip up now; so the end was accomplished by holding my breath unduly long.
It got by; my "medical discharge" was signed, and I was a free boy. In a few days I was handed the beloved "ticket" home, and was given a few shillings. Not knowing where to go, naturally I went back home again. I arrived on a Sunday morning and, knocking at the front door, was asked by the servant who did not know me, to come in and sit down. Soon my father came downstairs and, seeing me sitting there, said, "What are you doing here - how did you get out of the navy? Did you run away?"
After I showed him my naval disability discharge, he said, "Well, you can stay here tonight, but that's all. You'll have to get out for we don't want you around here." Then, as it was Sunday, he went down to his church and told the people all about God. He was a great preacher. He was greatly interested in the "common people."
My return did not seem to help matters any, for in addition to being constantly treated as an interloper, a couple of lacings were thrown in. My brother Sydney came in for a "dandy," and during the week I was there, he ran away again to escape from his parents. I began to show a bit of spirit which had not manifested before. On one occasion when my father undertook to "teach me how to behave," I looked him squarely in the eye, cocked my fists, and said, "I don't believe I'd lay a hand on me if I were you." Seeing something in my eye which warned him he had better leave me alone, he desisted.
Sydney was brought back, and I had a "show-down" the same evening with my father. The result was that we were to be permanently eliminated from the picture - both Syd and I. We were to go to Canada. This appealed to us, of course, so two wooden boxes of clothing were packed and passage was booked for us in the steerage of the Allan liner Parisian. The stepmother accompanied father, Sydney, and me to Liverpool where we embarked for Canada. Handing me ten shillings and a letter to a preacher in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, father wished us both luck.
Seeing the ten shillings, the second Mrs. Robinson said, "Henry, how much money did you give him?" On being informed that the sum between us was the large sum of $2.S0, she said, "Oh, that's far too much!" Evidently she had forgotten the luxury in which she had been raised. At any rate, the sum of $2.50 wasn't too much to start two boys off in a strange land with nothing more than a letter to a preacher who, by the way, was not a personal friend, just an acquaintance. I'll tell you more about this gentle man later.
Before leaving this chapter, let me give you a picture of the famous Baptist "fraternals" which were indulged in every month. You will understand then how some things which happen later can be accounted for. Every month, the Baptist preachers in Huddersfield met at each other's homes, each taking the "fraternal" in rotation. About every six months, it was Dad's turn to hold one. In these "fraternals" these Baptist preachers would provide a huge feed - usually roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Several cases of beer would be ordered, and the activities would begin. After the dinner, these good men of God would retire to the study, and the beer would be brought in. The air would be blue with tobacco smoke, and as the night wore on, singing and other loud and disturbing noises could be heard all over the house. Usually the "fraternal" kept going most of the night, and they were usually held on Monday evenings. Had they been held on Saturday evenings, I am of the opinion that many Baptist churches would have been lacking preachers the next day.
This was one of the reasons which later caused me to doubt the very existence of God. In another book I stated that I was "raised in the shadow of the church in a Christian home." In this book I am giving you an insight into the "shadow of the church" and also into the "Christian home," for that is exactly what it was.