Revival and the Young

This is a true story how my mother Etta (Willoughby) Gibson and my dad Herstle "Buck" Gibson met. The events and details have been told over the years. I decided to put all these memories in the form of a short story. This was in the late 1930's. They only met this one time at church. They did not meet again untill World War II had ended. They were married July 4, 1946 and stayed married untill their deaths. Dad died Jan. 24, 1984 and mom died Sept. 17, 1989.
Dan Gibson, author
Copyright 2002


Growing up in Scott County Tennessee during the depression was difficult on everyone. Times were hard and not many places for young people to visit and be together. Going to church was one place the teenage, Willoughby sisters could go. A praying, shouting, and saving revival was being held at the Mountain View Baptist Church! Etta and Hester wanted to go. It was about five or six miles away. The Mountain View community was larger than Black Creek. Etta and Hester knew that their mother would never let them go alone. They decided to ask Clinton to go with them. They went looking for him and finally found him up in the barn loft. Etta told Hester, "Clinton's up in the barn smokin' again! I can see the smoke coming through the cracks. Let's sneak up the ladder and catch him. He won't be able to say no to us now!"
Etta and Hester holding back a giggle made their way up the ladder. When Etta's head poked into the loft she shouted, "We caught you Clinton Willoughby! Dad would wear you out again if he knew that you were up here smokin'." Clinton was startled but was glad that it was only Etta and Hester. "I have been smokin' for years," Clinton said as he took another puff. "What do you girls want?" Etta smiled, "Not much, we just want you to go with us to the revival in Mountain View. We won't be able to go if you don't agree to walk with us." Hester said, "You know that you like the girls from Mountain View."
Clinton took another puff and slowly blew the smoke out, "I would be mighty proud to escort my ugly sisters to Mountain View. You all might just find a boyfriend up there. I sure don't see any Black Creek boys after you all!" Etta and Hester picked up some straw and threw it at him. Etta snapped, "Your just awful Clinton Willoughby!"
Etta grabbed Clinton's country, gentlemen sack of tobacco and papers and held them up in the air and proudly stated, "Let me show you how to roll a good cigarette!" Etta tore out a paper and held it with two of her fingers. She opened the draw string of the sack of tobacco, and sprinkled some into the paper. She smoothed the tobacco out and started rolling it up with her fingers. She held the cigarette up to her mouth and licked it. She pulled the draw string together with her teeth. Holding the cigarette between two fingers she looked at Clinton and said, "Got a light sir?" Hester's mouth was wide open looking at Etta. Clinton struck a match on the bottom of his shoe and lighted Etta's cigarette. Etta blowing out smoke casually stated, "Your not the only one sneakin' around and smokin'!"
Ethel was so proud of Etta, Hester and Clinton wanting to attend the revival in Mountain View. She had been praying for Clinton especially. He had not recieved Christ yet. She wanted all her children saved and baptized! She and Bruce did not have much time to visit other churches. They did try and go to home comings at the other churches. She gave her permission for the girls to go, as long as they minded Clinton. Ethel was pleased to see her daughters so happy!
Etta could hardly wait for the day to get over with. She and Hester had spent the biggest part of the day trying on different dresses. They wanted to look their best. Etta chose a light, blue dress with tiny, white flowers on the collar. Hester decided to wear the navy, blue dress with the pearl buttons. They began to get ready when supper was over. Hester said, "I'm all thumbs Etta. Please help be button this up!" Etta quit brushing her hair and helped Hester with the dress. "Hester, mom doesn't like us to wear much make-up when we go the church. I thought that we could put on a little powder and rouge, and do our eyes and lips when we get a little ways from the house. How does that sound sissy?" "Sounds fine to me." Hester declared. Etta and Hester stood in front of the mirror and decided that they looked pretty good!
Everyone was sitting on the front porch when Etta and Hester came out. Ethel smiled, "You girls look so pretty! I want you children to come straight home after the service. We will be in bed when you all get back, so be quite when you come in." Clinton was sitting on the front steps. He was dressed in his best pants and a starched, white shirt. "You look mighty handsome son," Ethel said as she was smiling at Clinton. Etta laughed, "I do believe that Clinton is blushing!" Everyone started laughing. Clinton rose from the steps, "If were goin' to get there before it starts, we better get goin'!" Etta and Hester bent down and kiss their mother by. Bruce said, "Clinton bring those girls back home safe." Clinton nodded his head at his dad. The three headed down the lane toward the foot log.
When they were down the road a little ways, Etta stopped and took a small mirror out of her purse. "Hester hold this for me." Etta took out her eye make-up and lip stick. She bent down a little so she could see her face in the mirror. Clinton stated, "What in the world are you doing Etta?" "I'm primpin' Clinton Willoughby! We have to do our eyes and lips. You know mom doesn't want us to wear much make-up going to church." Clinton grinned, "You all are gonna look like painted up tarts!" Hester snapped, "You behave yourself brother, or we will hold you down and put some paint on you!" They all three got tickled and started laughing. When Etta and Hester were done, Etta said, "Now we can go."
The evening weather was just comfortable. The walk from the Willoughby farm to the Mountain View church would take about an hour. They had to walk to the end of the Black Creek road and turn right. It was up hill all the way to the church from there.
Etta and Hester walked side by side. They were walking like ladies and talking up a storm. Clinton was a little ways ahead. Etta noticed that Clinton would take his comb out every so often and slick back his hair. Etta speaking to Hester said, "I do declare Hester, Clinton Willoughby sure combs his hair often!" Etta and Hester started snikering. Clinton smoothed his hair back with one hand. "Many a pretty girl would like to run their fingers through my hair!" Etta remarked, "Your struck on yourself Mr Willoughby!" Clinton picked up some gravel and acted like he was going to throw them. Etta and Hester laughing, started running and passed up Clinton. "Clinton, you behave yourself ! Were just hav'in fun with you." Hester said. Clinton grinning at them said, "Get along little girls. We still have a ways to go."
They reached the top of Mountain View hill and headed toward the church. The Mountain View Baptist Church was two, times bigger than the church in Black Creek. Etta could see people standing in the church yard. She knew that the service had not started yet. She took out her handkerchief and patted her forehead. It was hot! She and Hester knew some of the young people of Mountain View but not everyone. Etta felt excitment in the air!
"Where did Clinton go?" Hester touched Etta's arm and said, "He's over there under that big, pine tree with some boys that he knows." Etta whispered in Hester's ear, "I need to go to the toliet before church starts. Go with me sissy." They went around the side of the church. The women's out-house was on the right side of the church a few, hundred feet away. The men's on the lelt.
Etta noticed a young man looking at her as she walked around the church. He was by himself. He had dark, brown hair and the prettiest, brown eyes that she had ever seen. When she and Hester passed him, he smiled at her. Etta and Hester reached the out-house and went inside. Hester said, "Who in the world was that a starin' at you Etta?" Etta looking out a crack in the boards to see if she could see him responded, "Sissy I don't know, but I think he is so cute! My heart is poundin' so hard that I can't hardly breathe! Isn't he just dreamy?" Hester smiled, "Well he sure was lookin' you over!" Etta wondered to herself if this could be love!
The church bell started ringing. People started going into the church and finding seats. Etta and Hester made their way to the front of the church. Out of the corner of her eye, Etta noticed the young man coming toward her. She pinched Hester's arm so she would notice also. The young man stood next to Etta and said, "I've not seen you around here before. My name is Herstle Gibson, but everyone calls me Buck. Etta shyly replied, "My name is Etta, and this is my sister Hester. Buck nodded at Hester and looked back at Etta, "I live in New River. Where are you all from?" Hester said, "We live on Black Creek. Come on Etta, we need to go inside!" Hester grabbed Etta's arm as Buck looking into Etta's eyes asked, "Etta I don't have a car, but I was wonderin' if you would let me walk you home after church?" Hester tugging on Etta's arm, Etta hurriedly said, "I will think about it and will let you know after church." Buck was smiling at Etta as Hester pulled her inside the church.
Once inside the church, Etta whispered, "I want to set next to a window." They walked half-way up the aisle when Etta spotted two, empty spaces next to a window. She pulled at Hester, "Follow me sissy!" They made their way to the end of the bench trying not to step on people's toes. They finally sat down.
When it was hot in the church all the windows were raised with a stick to hold them up. The air felt good on Etta's face. Hester lightly asked, "Do you see Buck standin' out there?" Etta glanced out the window, "No I don't see him." Some young men that was not saved would stand outside and look into the church while the service was going on. Etta looked around for Clinton. He must be standing outside also.
The preacher got up and stood behind the pulpit. He thanked everyone for coming, and asked everbody to stand and turn to page hundred and twenty-four. Etta and Hester did like everyone else. The voices of the church were singing, I'll Fly Away, to the top of their lungs! Etta gazed out the window again. There He was! He was standing leaned up against a tree looking right at her. Etta looked toward the preacher and could feel her face blushing. He must really like me, Etta thought to herself. Etta turned her head a little toward Hester and whispered, "He's out there sissy, he's looking right at me!" Hester squeezed Etta's hand, "Don't let him see you looking at him so much." Etta and Hester exchanged smiles.
The preacher was preaching hell fire to the people. The old, men of the church were hollering a-men! Two, young boys and a girl ran and fell down on their knees at the mourner's bench. Some of the members started singing, Just As I'am. Good, christian men and women knelt down around the young sinners and prayed for their lost souls! Two, heavy set women in the middle of the church started shouting and dancing in the spirit! Etta and Hester stood like everybody else. Two men stayed seated on the back bench of the church. They were sinners. The preacher was preaching so fast that you could not understand every word. He would run back and forth across the front of the church, and every now and then he would jump up on a bench and then jump off! Etta heard a woman in front of her say loudly, "The spirit is sure movin' us tonight!" The woman with her arms raised over her head started shouting! Etta knew that this would be a soul,saving revival!
Etta considered herself a good, christian girl. Tonight her mind was not so much on the Lord as it was Buck Gibson! She had glanced out once more. He was still standing there, but this time he was smoking a cigarette.
Etta knew where New River was located. It was the biggest, coal town in the county. Basil worked at Ritter's, Saw Milll in New River for a few months. She was remembering what he had said to the family. It was two or three miles from Mountain View. Highway 27 went through Robbins, and then Mountain View, New River and through Oneida and into Kentucky. New River was not as big as Oneida but it was a town. They shipped coal down from the Brimstone Mountain and weighed it in New River. Most of the houses were company owned. Most of the men worked for the coal company. New River has a doctor's office, company, owned, general store and a large, boarding house with a restaurant. It also has a school, post office and a baptist church. One thing that she remembered Basil saying that she thought was funny. New River had two streets with board walks. They were named Mud and Rough street!
When she went with her mother to Oneida by train, they had stopped at the station in New River. You couldn't see much of the town from the train. She did remember the train crossing the railroad bridge. The bridge was at least two-hundred feet above the rushing water! The town was named after the river.
The loud shouting and praising the Lord brought Etta's mind back to the church service. Etta asked Hester, "What happened?" Hester looked at Etta strange and said, "They all got saved Etta!" Etta could see people hugging the three children. She looked out the window. Buck was still standing there. He was talking to Clinton. Etta knew the church service was just about over. She was looking very forward to talking to Buck Gibson again!
The church service finally came to an end. Etta knew that everyone had to stand around for awhile to shake hands and say good-by. The sinners did not have to abide by this rule, but the christains knew this was the proper etiquette. Etta sure hoped that Buck would still be outside. She sure wanted that Gibson boy to walk her home!
Etta lightly squeezed Hester's arm, "I want to hurry and go outside." Hester quietly said, "Etta, we will say by to the preacher and his wife and some of the elderly ladies. That should be enough." Etta and Hester made their way to the front of the church. They had to stand in line to shake the preacher's hand. When it came their turn, the preacher shook both of their out-reached hands. Hester said, "We sure did enjoy your sermon." Taking a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiping the sweat from his forehead, "I am mighty proud that you young ladies attended the services tonight. I want you to say howdy to Sister Ethel and Brother Willoughby for me. You all come back tomorrow night and bring some more people with you." Before Hester could say anything, the preacher was already shaking another person's hand. The preacher's wife pulled Etta and Hester close to her ample breast and said, "God bless you girls!" They made their way toward the church door hugging some of the older ladies as they went.
Etta clutched Hester's arm, "Come on and lets get out of here!" Hester whispered into Etta's ear, "Don't walk so fast or he will think that your eager. "Hester Willoughby, I am eager!" Hester said, "I know that, but you can't let him know!" Etta smiled at her big sister, "I know you are right. Hester don't you think Buck is the cutest thing that you have ever seen!" Hester hugged Etta and answered, "I do believe that you are right sissy!" They walked down the church steps slowly with their heads held high.
Etta had spotted Buck out of the corner of her eye. He was standing with Clinton and one of the Whaling boy's. Etta and Hester walked leisurely to where they were standing. Hester stated, "Clinton we are ready to start home now." Clinton turned toward the Whaling boy and told him that he would see him in a few days.
Buck walked up to Etta, "I told your brother that I wanted to walk you home. He said that it would be alright with him." Etta had not even thought of what Clinton might say about Buck. Etta smiled, "I would be most happy if you would walk me home."
Clinton announced, "We better be a goin'. It's gettin' late." Clinton walked up to Hester and whispered, "I guess you just lucked out tonight!" Hester could see a grin on his face and knew that Clinton was teasing her. Hester entwined her arm with Clinton's arm and said, "I don't think so brother, because you are walking me home!"
They started walking down the Mountain View hill towards Black Creek. The conversation centered around the church service, New River and Black Creek. Etta and Buck began talking more to each other, and commence walking slower. A few minutes later, they were twenty or thirty feet behind Hester and Clinton.
Clinton said, " Hester they sure are walking slow." Hester poked Clinton in the ribs, "Don't you dare say a thing to them Clinton Willoughby! You know that they want to court a little." Clinton started laughing, "Hester, I know that you think I am dumb, but I'm sure not that dumb!" Hester began laughing also, "Clinton Willoughby, you are a character!"
Walking side by side Etta asked, "How many brothers and sisters do you have Buck?" "I have one brother and three sisters." Buck was looking into Etta's face. He thought that she had the most beautiful, blue eyes that he had ever seen. He was so pleased that he had decided to attend church tonight. He knew that it would be a long walk back to his home. He also knew that Etta Willoughby was sure worth it!
Etta did not want this night to end. She knew that they were getting close to the lane that went up to her house. She and Buck had talked about everything. He was so easy to talk with. She had let him hold her hand almost all the way. Etta noticed how sweaty their hands were. He has such a strong grip she thought.
Etta saw Clinton and Hester waiting for her at the foot log. She and Buck stopped walking. Etta softly said, "Buck I sure have enjoyed our walk." "I have to Etta. I'm gonna go to church tomorrow also. I was wondering if you would be there, could I set with you?" Etta's head was racing with thoughts. She hoped that her mother would let them all go to church tomorrow night. "Buck I don't know if I can be there or not. If I am there, I will save you a seat next to me." Etta noticed a big smile on his face. The light from the moon was shinning through the trees. Its glow settled on Etta's face and shoulders. Buck still holding her hand thought Etta was the most beautiful girl in the world. "I guess that I had better let you go. Clinton and your sister are waiting for you." She felt Buck let go of her hand. Etta with her head slightly down, turned away from Buck and walked two steps. She stopped and slowly turned her head back toward Buck. She raised her eyes up to meet his and smiled. "By for now, Buck Gibson." He watched her for a few seconds walking toward her family. He thought to himself. What a girl!
Etta could almost feel Buck's eyes on her as she walked. She tried to walk a little sexy but not to sexy. This was her first, real date! She did not consider sitting in her yard with any of the boys from Black Creek a real date. She hoped Buck Gibson would be in her dreams tonight.
When Etta approached the foot log she asked, "Is he gone, or is he standing down the road?" Clinton answered, "Your prince charming has headed back to New River!" Etta took a deep breath and relaxed. Clinton continued, "I can't wait to tell mom and dad about tonight. I might just wake them up when we get home!" Etta gasped, "Clinton if you do I will never speak to you again!" Hester came to Etta's rescue, "Clinton Willoughby, that goes for me also!" Clinton put an arm around each of his sisters. "Don't you all know when your old brother is having fun with you? I'm gonna leave the story telling completely up to you all."
Hester looked at Etta, "I think it will be alright to tell mom you met a nice boy at church. Etta asked, "What about me letting Buck walk me home?" Clinton butted in, "Little sister, I think that you should leave that part out. Dad would skin me alive if he knew that I would let a boy walk you home the first night you met him!" Hester said, "Later on we can ask mom and dad if Buck could come and take Sunday dinner with us." Etta smiled, "That would be so nice."
Clinton bowed and pointed toward the foot log and stated, "Ladies first." Etta walked across first. Hester followed and Clinton was last. When they were all on their side of the creek, they looked up the lane at their house. There was an oil lamp turned down low in the front room window. The lamp's flame cast a small, yellow glow. The light was very inviting. They knew that everyone had gone to bed, and that their mother had placed the lamp in the window for them. Clinton placed an arm around Etta and Hester's waist. "I shall finish escorting you ladies home." The three Willoughbys continued up the lane, each in their own thought.

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