Tennessee Mountain Stories

Too Much To Swaller

From 'Pon my Honor by Callie Myers Melton

One time there was this here preacher holding a meetin’ down in the Modock Bottom.  He was sure some preacher, and everbody from far and near was going to hear him preach.

Shoutin Preacher 1.jpg

Back in them days the men and women never set together at meetin’.  The men would always set on the left side facing the preacher, and the women would set on the right.  Up in the corner on the men’s side was called tha A-Men Corner.  This was where the old men and the leading lights in the church would always set, then when the preacher would say something that they agreedwith him on, they’d say “A-MEN!” real loud.  The more they believed, the louder would be the A-men.

This time the meetin’ house was full, and the A-men Corner as well.  And Uncle Bill Sidwell, who was might nigh deaf, was setting on the very front seat.  He was plumb feeble now, and had to walk with two walking sticks.  But he was a mighty religious old man, and as crippled up as he was, he come to meetin’ ever time.

Now this time the preacher really got wound up, and he done some old timey preaching.  Being a Hard-Shelled Baptist, he hollered and he yelled, and he pounded the pulpit and he stomped his feet to drive home his points.  But this was just the kind of preaching the folks was hungering and thirsting to hear, for it was the kind of preaching they had been brung up on.  They were plumb enjoying it, for the more noise he made the better they liked it.

Now Uncle Bill set there on the front seat with both eyes on ever move the preacher made, and his hand cupped up behind his ear so as not to miss a single word.

“Brothers and Sister, ah!” the preacher thundered, “I’m a-preachin’ the pure gospel to you’ens, ah! And iffen I throw out anything, ah! That you’ens, ah! Can’t swaller, ah! Jest hand it back to me, ah!”

“A-MEN! A-MEN!” Uncle Bill said.


Now the preacher was plumb bad to chew tobacco, and he’d clean forgot and got up to preach with a big cud of it in his mouth.  Then when he got in such a big way preaching, that wad of tobacco got in his way, so he just up and spit it out.  It landed in front of the pulpit and rolled right down to Uncle Bill’s feet, and there it layed.  Uncle Bill never could abide the weed in any form, so he set there a minute and looked at it.  Then he got up and took his walking stick and rolled that cud of tobacco right up to the edge of the pulpit.

“Here, Preacher,” he said waving his stick in front of the preacher to get his attention.  “Here’s one thing that you throwed out that I shore can’t swaller!”