• Carolyn Steele Agosta

All the News That's Fit to Print

Updated: Sep 19, 2020



Back in the 1920’s, small-town newspapers were pretty chatty. Their columns were primarily filled with local news, and they’d tell you who had out-of-town guests coming to visit, and who had served lemon chiffon pie at their garden club’s party. Every year, the local paper would have had articles on the annual camp meeting. Something like this...


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.....Both the arbor and many of the tents are highly regarded as original and authentic to the campground, dating from the 1830’s. One of the most interesting structures, though, is the hoosegow, or Jail, located on the campground. Every year, due to the size of the crowds, camp meeting is legally entitled to select a mayor and police officers to control disorderly behavior, such as disruptive activities and breaking Prohibition laws.




Two of the more famous, or infamous, frequenters of the hoosegow were the Pike ‘boys’, Gable, now 64, and ‘Ten-Mile’, 66. I asked the two brothers about some of their more notorious escapades.

“Oh, we was just trying to have some fun,” Gable replied. “Just messing. We put some old chicken gizzards behind the pulpit once. They drew a pack of dogs right in the middle of preaching. Another time, we moved the preachers’ outhouse down to the crossroads. And there was the year we added our own padlocks to people’s privies, so’s we could watch them go crazy when they couldn’t get in there. Just little stuff like that.”

I asked them what they remembered most from camp meetings past. “All the pretty girls,” ‘Ten-Mile’ replied.

“And he do mean ALL the pretty girls,” added Gable, and those two old gentlemen commenced to giggling at each other.

“Be sure to mention I said hello to Miss Gaynelle McLeod,” Ten-Mile said. “She was the prettiest of ’em all. Still is.”

Speaking of pretty girls, Miss June Almyre was the hostess for a bridal shower given for Miss Jessamine Howard, right there at camp meeting, at Miss Almyre’s parents’ tent. A profusion of roses and crape myrtle blossoms decorated the main room and front porch, and a selection of cakes, tea sandwiches, and pickles were offered the female guests.

Miss June Almyre is a typist at the Bennetton Bugle, and an ornament to the office. It is her job to type up all my notes before they go to the editor, Mr. Nash, and considering the state of my hen-scratching, it’s lucky for me she has good peepers. Very pretty blue peepers.




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As always, quite a few small-fry can be found at camp meeting. The boys and girls tend to congregate in groups on their parents’ tent porches or run wild through the passways. I witnessed an altercation between several small females, hotly debating whether more than one of their dollies could be named Annabelle, and which girl had named her doll Annabelle first.

Similarly, I saw three small boys, brothers, playing mumblety-peg on their porch. The youngest watched intently but did not play, and his older brother said, “Ma won’t let Ernie play anymore. He keeps missing the board and stabbing his big toe.” Ernie mournfully showed me his bandaged toe. “Does it hurt?” I asked. “Nope,” he said with tears in his eyes. “But they’re using my knife.”




While at camp meeting, discussion came up regarding the increasing numbers of automobiles in the area. “This is the first year,” one man said, “that autos have outnumbered buggies and wagons.” Talk then turned to the rash of automobile accidents this year, and particularly the big accident two weeks ago right in front of the new high school, in which four men were injured. “They all drive too fast, especially on these roads, and usually they’re lickered up,” was the consensus. Certainly, the concerns about illegal liquor have grown in the county, especially after the discovery of 250 gallons of peach beer in Morley Rudisill’s cellar.

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If you’d like to learn more about my book, go to https://www.carolynsteeleagosta.com or go directly to Amazon to purchase a copy of Two Weeks Every Summer – Stories from Camp Meeting at https://tinyurl.com/yyt66mfy

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