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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Importance of faith in Carl Thompson's life

Mary had explained the importance of religion in her life earlier in the interview, and now Carl illustrates the role his faith had in determining his participation in the community. He also describes his conversion experience.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

And we kept boarders back then, too, and we had a fellow boarding with us there that had come there and had a job and they didn't have no house for him, a fellow by the name of Lloyd. And he noticed me every night, whenever I'd get that Bible and start to reading it. He said, "Mr. Thompson, you're going to have a minister when he gets grown." And Papa said, "Well, I wisht he would be." And he said, "Well, I believe he will. Looks like he loves reading that Bible." I said, "Well, I do. I love to read the Bible. I ain't much of a reader, but I love to read the Bible." But I'd read pretty good, to be just in the second or third grade level. I could read pretty good. We didn't go to church too often there in Fort Mill. We'd go once in a while. But every Sunday afternoon, they would have a prayer meeting at one of the neighbors' houses. They would let the neighbors know it the first of the week and say, "We're having a prayer meeting at my house Sunday afternoon at two o'clock, and we want you to come." And so Papa would always go. And every Sunday, whenever he'd start, he'd say, "Carl, you want to go with me?" and I always wanted to go. I'd say, "Yeah, I want to go, Papa." He said, "Well, come on." And so me and him would go on to prayer meeting. My stepmother would never go. But me and him would always go. And both my sisters had done married, and my other brother was about four or five years older than I was, and he didn't care anything about it. And so he was off playing with some of the older boys. And so me and Papa would go, and I can see my daddy now. Whenever they would go to have prayer, he would get up out of his chair. And I'd always sit in a chair right beside of him, and I'd sit there and wouldn't even move or nothing, and wouldn't say nothing. And when they'd have prayer, well, it's just like I could see him now, just getting up. He would get up out of his chair and just turn right around and just kneel right down and put his arms in the chair like that and his face down thataway, and he would start to praying. And I don't remember ever hearing him pray a prayer but what he would pray for his children and ask the Lord to take care of them and nourish them. And so I reckon that's where I learnt a lot about church work and all, was just through him, by the way of going with him to them prayer meetings. And then after we moved to Rock Hill, there was a Baptist church right down there, the West White Street Baptist Church, just about three or four blocks from our home. We started going to that little Baptist church, and we all joined, me and my daddy and my stepmother. Of course, I didn't join for a long time. I went for about four or five years or maybe longer than that before I ever joined. But my daddy and my stepmother joined a good long while before I did. But they was holding a revival meeting there one week, and during that revival meeting the Lord spoke to me and told me to go up and give an account of my sins and be saved. And so I didn't do it. Like a lot of others, I said, "Not tonight. Wait till some other time. I'll wait till some other time." And so I wouldn't do it. And I went on home after the service was over. But it beared on my mind for the rest of that night and all day the next day, too. And so the next night I went back again, and I rejected that night. The Lord spoke to me again, and I said, "No, Lord, not tonight. Maybe some other time." And I rejected him again, and I went home. And the next day I was so restless all that day, it just beared upon my mind. And I was so restless during the whole time I was working, why, there was more of that on my mind than my job was. So Wednesday night I went back again. I said, "Well, it ain't going to keep me away from the church." And so the Lord called me again, and so as soon as He spoke to me that night, I got right up with tears in my eyes, and I didn't go up and give the preacher my hand like they do now, and say anything to him at all. I just went right on up there and fell down on my knees right in front of the church, and I started praying. And whenever I got through praying, I got up wiping the tears out of my eyes, and I got up smiling. And the preacher said, "Praise the Lord." And I said, "Thank the Lord. I am saved. All my sins has been forgiven, and I've let Christ come into my heart tonight. I'm a different creature than what I was whenever I come in here." And then I begin to help carry on the work of the church and all and done everything I could do towards what a Christian could do. And when that revival was over, he went to Clover, South Carolina, and opened up a meeting over there, and me and three or four of the other boys would get in a car and go over there to that meeting over there. And we went to what they called the Businessman's Evangelistic Club there in town. Every Sunday afternoon they had meetings up there, and we'd go up there and take part in it. And then we would go to different places, a group of us boys, and some of them was as much as thirty or thirty-five years old. I was about twenty-two years old then. And we'd go to different places and sing on Sunday evenings. There'd always be somebody that would go along that could play a piano, and we'd go to different places thataway, and we'd sing for maybe two or three hours Sunday evening. And then we'd go back and go back to church then that night. And I sung in the choir. And a few times they called on me to have a prayer service, and I'd carry on the prayer service every week thataway on Wednesday nights, usually from seven or seven-thirty until about eight-thirty or nine o'clock. And sometimes I was in charge of that. And then after I come over here and went to work, after me and her married then, we started going to the Presbyterian Church up here. Preacher Younts() was the pastor, and we went up there untill he resigned. And whenever he resigned and they got another preacher, it was altogether a different church. He wasn't nothing like the preacher that Preacher Younts was. He wasn't friendly, and he didn't visit like Preacher Younts did. He wasn't nothing like Preacher Younts, so we left there then and went to the Whiting Avenue Baptist, and we joined there. And so we've been at the Whiting Avenue Baptist ever since. We've been there, I reckon, about fifteen years. They sold these houses in 1953, and we bought this one and moved in it, and we've been living here in this house now ever since 1953. It was in July of 1953; that's been about twenty-six years ago. So I reckon that's just about the history of mine.