A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Few Folks from Church

The congregation of Waldron Assembly of God, circa 1972
My formative years were spent at the Waldron Assembly of God Church.  It was what you might call a conservative church; I was 21 years old before I mustered up enough nerve to step into a movie theater.  At my church, “moving picture shows” in general were frowned upon. 

King of Vacation Bible School, along with
Brenda Owens, Queen, about 1966
 I have many happy memories from church; the Vacation Bible Schools we had every summer, the flannel board Sunday School lessons, the gospel singing groups we had on occasion, to name a few. But it was the people who made up the congregation that made the greatest impression on me. They were for the most part simple country people, people for whom a trip outside of Waldron was a rarity. But they loved their church! Here are just a few who stand out in my memory:

Nelis and Margaurite Brewer

Anyone who knew Nelis knew that he was a working man. He had more energy in his little frame than most men twice his size. Nelis was the Sunday School Superintendent, which meant that he directed the first part of the Sunday Service before we were dismissed to our classes. Nelis always wore a smile, which nicely complimented his plaid slacks and plaid sport coat. Margaurite was my Sunday School teacher when I was in Jr. High; she used to call me The Professor. She also led the singing every service and on Sunday mornings led the Booster Band, in which the children of the church got up in front and sang. The Brewer’s were two of the sweetest people ever to walk the planet. When my sister and I left for college, we had expended pretty much every cent we had to enroll and buy books. On the first Wednesday night service after we left, Nelis got up and took up an offering for us, raising a vitally needed $50. This act of thoughtfulness even today almost brings tears to my eyes.

Luke Langley

Luther “Luke” Langley and his wife Lois were mainstays at the church. Luke was always very caring and considerate with Lois, I recall. I had many extended conversations with Luke after services were over as we stood on the porch outside the church house. Luke was a firm believer in the benefits of garlic to prevent heart trouble. He described to me how he would cut up some garlic on the “gritter”, mix it with a little tomato juice and drink it down.

The church record board, with "Enrollment"
misspelled.  Sister Trix would faithfully post
the numbers every Sunday morning.
Thurman and Trix Davenport

Thurman and Trix were also very sweet people. Trix was the Sunday School Treasurer; every Sunday morning, she would give the Treasurer’s report just before Booster Band, reporting on our attendance and offering. After reporting our current balance, she would always say, “taking out 50 cents for the Boosters, that leaves (whatever amount) in the treasury now.” Trix also helped Margaurite with the drawing of the fish, in which one Booster Band member would go home with 50 cents. Thurman was a quiet and soft-spoken man. He was known as a skilled coon hunter, and always had a story to share.

Brother Lee Humphries

You didn’t hear much out of Brother Humphries. He and his wife (Lillie, I think?) sat on the same row as my Aunt Addie and Uncle Joe, near the back. I got acquainted with Brother Humphries when, as a teenager, I and my friends moved to the very back row. Brother Humphries was always friendly to us and never acted like he was bothered by our being back there. One time, Fred Hunt, who also sat on the back row (in a lawn chair that he kept there for that purpose) came through and, addressing the row of teenagers on the back row, said, “Look at all the juveniles.” Brother Humphries heard this and took offense, confusing the term “juvenile” with the less favorable “juvenile delinquent.” After Fred had passed by, Brother Humphries turned in his seat and, frowning, said, “Do you know what he just called you? Outlaws!”

Opal Yandell

Brother Opal was a larger than life character. Part of each evening service consisted of “testimony service,” in which people stood and shared a short bit of praise and thankfulness. Well, Brother Opal didn’t believe in making his testimony short. He would stand and begin to testify, and as he spoke he would become more and more animated until he finally would be pacing across the front of the church. I once clocked Brother Opal at 45 minutes from beginning to end of his testimony. It wasn’t normally that long, but you could generally count on Brother Opal to ensure that you wouldn’t be getting home on Sunday night in time to watch any of Bonanza.

Brother Hubert Barnett

Brother Barnett was not exclusively a member of our congregation; he visited several churches around town. He once explained during testimony service that he believed in having three doctors, three lawyers, and three preachers. Whatever church he happened to be attending, he normally arrived late and made his presence known with a loud and unexpected “Well….Glory to God” delivered from the back of the church as he walked in. This arrhythmia-inducing outburst was enough to shake the cobwebs from even the most sleep-deprived teenager. Brother Barnett had another disarming propensity; if someone was singing a special, and Brother Barnett liked it, he would walk to the pulpit where the singer was standing and place a dollar bill on the singer’s head. Then, turning, he would unleash another “Well….Glory to God!” as he headed back to his seat.

You know, come to think of it, there were times when even Bonanza paled in comparison to that.

The church as it originally looked, circa 1947.  The little house to the right
was the parsonage.


  1. Opal was a wonderful man. I use to ride with him over to your Dads house and played basketball while he plowed the garden. Fond memories.

    -James Jett

  2. Luke Langley was my great-Uncle on my Mama's side. Boy does this stuff bring back memories!!

  3. I was born in Waldron and attended the Assembly of God Church there until my faimly moved to west Texas in search of work in Feb. of 1952. I loved singing in the "booster band" with Sister Brewer.

    Luther and Lois Langley were good friends of my parents. We often took turns eating at each others houses after church on Sunday mornings. Their son, Wayne, and I argued like brother and sisters. My brother, Buffard Wagner, was 10 years older than me, so Wayne and I were closer in age. When I was young, my hair was almost white. Luther always called me "blondie". My husband and I went by to visit him and Lois a couple of years before he died. He came around the house and said, "Well, I have called you "Blondie" so long, I can't remember your real name."

    I was and am friends with Luther's niece, Shirley Langley. We had a great visit a few months ago, while we were going through Ft. Smith, on our way back to one of my cousins in Waldron.

    We lived down the road from the Davenports. In fact, my brother was engaged for a while to Betty. Betty and her sister Doris made the best sugar cookies!

    I don't get to visit Waldron as often as I would like, but go as often as I can. Most of my family, both on the Wagner and Sparks sides, still live in the area. One of my double cousins, Don Wagner is the pastor at the Assembly of God Church at present. (2011)

    Clara Wagner Franklin