Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
The All-Day Singing and Dinner on The Ground
began by several accounts. Some say that this wonderful event began during the early 1950's and thrived through the early 1960's. These special events began to fade as the areas of church, society, and personal prosperity began to take the place of every first Sunday in May where the entire community met for good singing, preaching, and that deliciius food cooked and prepared by the women of the churches who sponsored the All-Day Singing and Dinner on The Ground.
This Was a Very Good and Sad
day from across the south when the American staple, All-Day Singing and Dinner on The Ground went into history. My family and I even attended a few of these special events and everyone had a great time. So did the thousands have a great time as the years went by.
We were regular visitors at New Hope Church, located on county highway 29, north of Hamilton, Ala, a non-denominational organization, and heard God's praises to His people and we blessed to hear some good, old-time preaching by the now-late Bro. Booker Tice, Bro. Wise Holcomb, and Bro. Larry Shotts, all of Hamilton, Ala., my hometown. They were all very-studied in the Bible and even at that young age, I began to wonder about Jesus, His death, and how He was resurrected on the third day and I was also wondering how I could meet this man.
Incidentally, New Hope Church was not the only church that held the All-Day Singing festivities. No. There were Pleasant Ridge Free Will Baptist, Ballard Free Will Baptist and Cooper Free Will Baptist Church. The All-Day Singing and Dinner n The Ground was a very big event in the timeframe where it was born. And I can say that even today, you can find the older people who can still recall this event very clearly.
The Main Participants of
the all-day singing and dinner on the ground were: (I have already named Our Lord who was THE main participant), our pastor and if a visiting preacher came visiting, he was also welcomed to hold the pulpit; everyone who was a member of New Hope Church and a lot of folks who just loved the singing and preaching.
Oh yes. The singing was handled by the Song director, who led the morning singing before the preacher gave the message. And if a visiting quartet or another group of singers, they were also welcomed to join the singing.
But about a quarter before noon, every lady would conveniently-disappear to put out the grandest table of good food this side of Heaven. I love to brag on these things. Every woman presented her own recipes and she made them all. No store-bought food was every allowed. This rule was challenged just one time, but a few of the women told the person about how God loves the Southern traditions such as Dinner on The Ground, so everyone who came on the first Sunday of May each year, got to enjoy singing, preaching, and a meal that one could not buy in any restaurant.
There were a lot of Southern Gospel Music quartets who made it their business to spread the Gospel by song and the All-Day Singing and Dinner on The Ground. These quartets included Jake Hess and The Statesmen; The Happy Goodman Family and The Blackwood Brothers and these singers brought so much hope and joy to every event of this nature that it would be a tough task to describe.
Now take into mind that the aforementioned singers were not famous right off. No. This was called "paying your dues" to invest their talents and time and with faith and hard work, their Gospel Music careers would be set. Not every quartet did achieve fame. A lot of local singers worked as hard as they could, did not go past these All-Day Singings and Dinner on The Ground.
Things You Needed to Know
about this Southern tradition of the All Day singing and Dinner on The Ground. First of all, you had to have a way to keep cool as the summer sun just loved to bear down the people at this event, but sadly, the sun was disappointed because the people all worked in their cotton fields so the hot sun did not hamper their enjoyment of this yearly-event.
You also had to be aware of the wasps, bees, and hornets who loved to fly around the outside dinner and many times, take a swipe at someone who was not watching them. Yes, once, it came a big rain and almost washed-the festivities away, but with the common sense of the women, the Dinner on The Ground was saved.
There was that occurrence of the teenage lovers who made it their business to hide underneath the long concrete table where the food was placed and the lovers, as it were, also tried to hide in someone's pick-up or back seat of someone's car. I will confess that there were a lot of hearts broken because of the All Day Singing and Dinner on The Ground.
Of course there were those times when a male or males who loved the taste of homemade whiskey would enjoy it a lot more than others would head to the church for the singing and dinner on the ground and until they (these men) were fond out, they kept their "enjoying" as secret as possible.
And in Closing, Let Me Share
just a few of the delicious food that was prepared by the women of the host church and carried to the church and spread-out before the pastorof the church concluded his morning message.
There was Southern fried chicken; Collard greens; Potato salad (many knew it as "tater" salad); Cornbread and Biscuits; Beef stew; Boiled corn; Beans; Peas; Cakes; Pies and that wonderful Southern iced sweet tea.
It is my thinking even itoday in 2021 that this special meeting for neighbors and friends to meet and have a day of great singing, preaching, and dinner on the ground and allow this event that had its Southern roots stage a major comeback due to how good it was for the body, but for the soul.
March 04, 2021__________________________________________
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