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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Thomas Moore, October 18, 2000. Interview R-0142. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Remembering childhood and the construction of a church

Moore describes his childhood. He was one of three children (three others died) of a lumber mill worker, and he and his siblings loved to play in the sawdust at the mill. Moore's community built a church with lumber from the mill, and it was in that church that Moore felt called to become a preacher.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Thomas Moore, October 18, 2000. Interview R-0142. 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

CHRISTOPHER WEBER:
How many were there in your family?
JOHN THOMAS MOORE:
My mother had six children. It's three living and three dead. Two girls dead, and a boy. Two boys living, and a girl living. [unclear]
CHRISTOPHER WEBER:
What are some of your early memories from that time? Where did you used to play?
JOHN THOMAS MOORE:
We used to love to go play down in the wood and around the barn. We used to love to go get in the sawdust pile down at the planer mill. Go in under the pile like this [makes a burrowing motion]. We used to dig down there, because the more you dig the warmer it felt. But Granddaddy sat us down to talk to us, and Grandmother said, "Look, don't dig in that sawdust pile no more." See, because underneath that sawdust pile is fire burning. I didn't realize that. You go digging in there and after a while you'll hit that main blaze. We didn't do it no more. We obeyed our parents. We went a played somewhere else. It was a great big reservoir; they had dug out a great big place and had it built up with logs and things. Water was in there, and it boiled all the time. They had to send that lumber through there, then go to the planer mill. It'd go through the planer mill and my daddy would work with the lumber and when it come through they'd grade it out. When it went through it was wet, you know. It'd go right though the grader mill; it had a great big saw like this, you know [holding his hands about 8 inches apart]. Granddaddy used to file it; that was his job, to keep that thing up.
CHRISTOPHER WEBER:
So your granddaddy and your daddy worked there?
JOHN THOMAS MOORE:
Yeah, they worked there. Great mens. [claps] Sell that lumber, and that lady, she had a little farm and would build housed for the tenants, and she gave us enough lumber to build a little church on the plantation and everything. Found us a pastor, then I started going to church. That's where the Lord really anoint me and called me to preach. I had my first [unclear] right there.
CHRISTOPHER WEBER:
Can you tell me a little bit about it?
JOHN THOMAS MOORE:
Yeah, we build that church. We build it ourselves, and we had the lamps that you pump and then they would light up—we had four of them in there. We put the windows there, then took wire and put it over the whole thing, so people could open the windows and just let the air come on through. We made the benches and everything. Wooden floors, man. Drums, tambourines, organ and piano.
CHRISTOPHER WEBER:
You must have been pretty handy as a young person to do all that.
JOHN THOMAS MOORE:
Yes. This old man had one of those guitars he'd play, Deacon Tom. He'd play the guitar and we sung. We had a little choir, me and my mom and my grandmomma and granddaddy and his wife and children. Then the Lord send us Reverend Bennett and his wife. They came from North Durham over here. We was in the country, and they found us. We told him about it, and he said, "I'll be your pastor. We'll come." They came and taught us about the Lord. He became the pastor. I was a little-bitty boy; he used to tote me on his back. Look at me now and you wouldn't believe it, would you? They'd carry me all around, and I'd sing and pray and talk. We had a great time. But both him and his wife are dead now. But we done great work. We used to go on the Cheek Road way out—we started a little mission work out there in a house. I met some children in school and got acquainted with them. I told them, "I'm going to tell Momma and Daddy about that little church where they ain't got nowhere to go. We'll be out there Sunday." I told Bishop (Andrews) and we went. Started a nice little mission.