Before I experienced life as a pastor in such teeming south Georgia metropoli as Statenville, Fargo, Bainbridge, and Marshallville, I was certain that my hometown of Chester, South Carolina was the smallest place on the planet. It was so small, in fact, that my father (pictured, left, with my younger brother and me, circa 1970), a prominent member of the City Council, had to commute thirty miles north to the border town of Fort Mill to find gainful employment to support a wife and two children. Meanwhile, his father, my paternal grandfather, was never without work as the local TV repairman and my maternal grandfather (pictured, right) was equally busy as the town barber.
With Chester being such a small town, most of the people would have only two reasons to make the trek to the downtown square. They either needed a haircut or their TV was on the blink. The City Barbershop, as might be expected in any small town, enjoyed a well-earned reputation as a breeding ground for tall tales. There, my maternal grandfather trimmed the sideburns of Chester’s leading citizens for over 20 years and shared with them his abundant knowledge of current events between snips. But he got some serious competition from Gibson’s TV and Appliances, where my paternal grandfather held fort for over forty years, fixing TV sets and somehow finding the time every day to engage in a game of checkers and swap fish stories with the local intelligentsia.It should not be surprising, then, that a story like this would begin to make the rounds and eventually find its way into the local newspaper. The following article actually appeared in the Chester News and Reporter in 1974.
Sunday morning services came at Chester A.R.P. Church recently and City Councilman Jimmy Gibson, garbed in a choir robe, was seated in the choir loft lending his vocal support to the service. His attractive wife, Jackie, was seated in the congregation with their children, when she happened to look out a window and see some boy entering their car, which had been parked along the street.
Hastening to tell her husband, Mrs. Gibson made her way to the choir loft and whispered what she had seen to her husband. Those who know Jimmy can guess the rest, but we’ll tell it like we heard it.
Out of the loft Jimmy came, leaving the church and giving chase to the culprit. The boy, spotting the man running after him, must have been dumbfounded for there was the long-legged Gibson giving that All-American try with a billowing choir robe flapping in the breeze. We understand the boy’s eyes got as big as saucers (maybe a little exaggeration there) and could hardly run for looking over his shoulder as if to figure out what that was running after him. No doubt, he had heard of the “Holy Ghost”, and chances are that’s what he thought was after him.
At any rate, Gibson called for help and a city policeman was close by, joined the chase, and apprehended the culprit.
So the moral is, if one has notions of tampering with automobiles on Sunday, be prepared for a “Holy Ghost.”
That may not be exactly the way it happened, but that’s the way we heard it.