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The Most Spiritual (Chapter four)

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posted on Feb, 7 2005 @ 08:12 PM

This chapter is about the day my Aunt Minnie and the town preacher, The Reverend Gilson, got into a fistfight. It’s been a legend in these parts from the day it happened and quite frankly, everyone seems to have their own version of just what happened. You don’t have to worry about whether the story I’m telling is just rumor or hearsay though, I was there and saw it with my own eyes.

I told you before that Aunt Minnie was a very spiritual woman. Everybody in our family came to her when they were hurting or lonely and She always had something or another that would make them feel better. She was a child of the depression and had learned long ago that if you ever needed a helping hand you'd find it at the end of your own arm, or she liked to say that anyway. In truth, she'd bend over backwards to help other members of the family or family friends in any way she could. The woman could fix anything from a broken heart to a broken jaw and usually made you smile while she was doing it.

She made everything that she needed from the plants and herbs and roots she gathered in the Ozark National forest, which we lived on the edge of. She made soap, even that lye soap, and her own shampoo and just about anything else that she wanted. I think the only thing she got from town was toilet paper and considered that some sort of luxury.

Aunt Minnie wasn't a small woman and she was strong as an ox. She chopped her own firewood even when everyone else thought she was too long in the tooth to do that, and she usually had enough to share if somebody else ran short.

She was just a self-reliant woman....

The reverend Gilson, Of the First Pentecostal Church was another story. If there was ever a man that felt the true calling to save souls it was the Reverend, that man never missed an opportunity to preach the word of god. He'd stop people on the street and open his bible just to share a verse and say amen.

And Preach. That man could stand in the pulpit and paint a picture of hell that would have the whole congregation fanning themselves in the dead of winter.

He cared about his flock too.

If someone were sick he came over to pray with him or her, if someone lost their job he'd take up a collection, even if they hadn't been to church in months. More than once he left food on someone’s porch in the dead of night, when they were too proud to ask for help....

Reverend Gilson stood about 5 feet 10 inches tall and probably weighed 175 pounds, he wasn't a huge man but he had some bulk to him. He always wore an old felt hat that was popular in those days and always had a sports coat on that made him look like a detective. He admitted up front that he did have one indulgence, he had 3 gold rings. His wedding band on his left hand and he wore two other rings on his right. He said they had come from his late father and he just wouldn't ever feel right parting with them.

Now Aunt Minnie and The reverend Gilson never really liked each other. He didn't take to reading tealeaves and she wasn't much for being preached at. Seeing as how it was a small community it was almost inevitable that these two people were going to go at it in one way or another.

For a long time it was just an air of danger when they were around each other, Aunt Minnie occasionally went to his church, for weddings and funerals and such, and he was always polite, But they didn't like each other and everyone could feel it. The reverend was always giving sermons about fortune telling and devilry and threatening everybody and their next of kin with hell for partaking in such matters.

Aunt Minnie would laugh when she'd hear about his latest sermon and assure everyone that the reverend wasn't calling the shots when it came to getting into heaven, and if he was then she wasn't going.

Reverend Gilson also didn't like the fact that most folks came to Aunt Minnie when they were in need of advice, He felt as the spiritual leader of the community they should have come to him. Still, there was many a time he
Found out second hand that somebody had been in some kind of trouble and Aunt Minnie had already fixed it. He didn't like that one bit either.

I guess it was the difference in their style.

The reverend would first pray with you and then give you advice strait out of the good book. Then give you warnings about what might happen to your soul if you didn't get back on the strait and narrow path.

Aunt Minnie on the other hand would tell you parables about life and give examples from literature and never once did she bring up hellfire and damnation, then she'd read your leaves or palm or wrinkles, depending on what was being discussed.

A showdown was inevitable.

I can say right now that the fight wasn't like some of the stories that are being told, there were no legions summoned up from heaven or hell, No lightning or thunder rolled across the sky and there was no divine intervention to save either one of them.

It was much better than that.

It was late morning when I had enlisted my cousins, Billy Wayne and chipper, to help me dig a hole in sneads field, which was just across from Aunt Minnie’s house. I had to tell them we were digging a swimming hole cause we were too young to go to the creek by ourselves but actually I had it in my head to make it to China. I was strange like that as a child.

The reverend Gilson waved at us as he walked by and we waved back, then he walked right up on Aunt Minnie’s porch and sat down across from her. I could see them talking when I looked over there and it didn't seem like much was
Going on. Exactly what was said is still a mystery since neither really talked much about that day afterwards.

All I can tell you is what I saw.

The noise level suddenly went up loud and we all stopped digging and looked over at the both of them, they were on their feet and face-to-face yelling:

"MY SHEEP SHALL NOT BE LED ASTRAY SAYETH..." Reverend Gilson was shouting.


And then it got ugly.

The reverend threw his right hand out and grabbed Aunt Minnie by the top of the head and began yelling as loud as he could, "I REBUKE YOU SATAN LEAVE THIS WOMAN IN THE NAME OF JE..AAACCCKKK!"

My Aunt Minnie had grabbed the reverend by the throat and lifted him up on his toes like some kind of ballerina, Together they walked like that down her front steps to the sidewalk.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. You see, some folk’s say the reverend decided that he wouldn't let her go till the devils were all gone but Aunt Minnie’s side says the reverend started an all out attack on her. But I was there, I saw what happened.

The reverend tried to pull his hand back from Aunt Minnie but his rings were caught in metal combs she’d put in her hair, so he yanked to free himself. It didn't work. Instead of getting away he slammed her head down into her chest....

Almost at that same moment Minnie dropped her right hand from his throat and caught him with a left hook right in the temple. The reverend seemed to go limp for a second then he yanked again, Minnie’s head went back into her
Chest and she caught him with a right that time.

By now the reverend Gilson was yelling "JESUS..JESUS...JESUS" as he tried to fend off Minnie’s blows with his left hand and at the same time get his other hand free. They went like that down the sidewalk all the way to the street.

The reverend would yank and yell Jesus and aunt Minnie would get her head shoved into her chest and hit him again. Over and over that happened.

When they made it into the street it got even worse. The reverend tried a new tactic. Instead of just yanking he quit trying to ward off the blows and put his hand against Minnie and started pulling.

Now I don't know if you've ever seen a bull rider coming off a bull only to find his hand is caught in the rope, but it’s not a pretty sight. That’s about how I’d describes what happened next...

Aunt Minnie got to tossing and turning like crazy. The reverend was flying around in every which direction, just when you thought he's going to get his footing back she'd yank back off in another direction and he'd be gone again. I swear at one point she threw him in a complete 360-degree turn and not once did his feet touch the ground.

Violence like that doesn't last long, it can't, and soon the two flew apart, Minnie going back several feet and the reverend rolling across the street a few times. When he sat up he had more of Aunt Minnie’s hair in his hand then she had left on her head. It looked like he was holding some poor dead animal.

I think they were both stunned. They just stared at each other for the longest time, like they couldn't believe what had just happened.

Then Aunt Minnie turned and looked at us. We were looking over the hedges not wanting to miss any of this stuff, and then she turned and walked back to her porch, picked up the reverends bible and his hat and walked back out to the street.

My cousin Chipper whispered, "Bet she's gonna give him a beating with his own bible..."

But she didn't. She handed him his hat and bible and said, "I think its best you not come on my property anymore..." Or something like that, I didn't hear real clear.

Then she went back in her house and he walked back the way he had come.

And with that the clash of the spiritual Titans of Washington county Arkansas had come to an end.

They both had scars from the encounter. The Reverend walked with a limp for awhile and had some knots and bruises, and I don't care how she fixed it up, It looked like Aunt Minnie had gotten her hair cut in a hurricane for the longest time.

Word spread fast about their fight. Several other neighbors had seen it too. Soon it started to take on epic proportions. It’s almost a legend now.

Aunt Minnie never sat foot in the reverends church again and he never came to her place either. According to the story they never spoke to each other again.

But I have another cousin, Bruce. He's Billy and Chippers younger brother, who says he was down on Dickson Street by colliers drugstore when he saw Aunt Minnie walking down the street. He was about to get out to go talk
To her when the reverend Gilson came up. According to him they started talking a bit and then they both smiled and before they left each other they were both laughing.

I don't know if that’s true, but I hope it is. I hope they somehow made peace with what happened between them that day, and made peace with each other.

Still, Every time I hear the story these days about that fight it gets bigger and better with every telling.

Love and light,


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