Gratitude in chicken bog

Bill Bowen, Chapin

July 31, 2009 

The Do Nothin' Club, a group of old men from Chapin Methodist Church, who have met for years at a local "greasy spoon," decided to form a "Chain Saw Brigade" in order to attack the ravages of Hurricane Hugo. Almost daily for the next couple of weeks we gathered our tools, lunches, water, chain saws and gasoline and went to the devastated areas.

The Charleston area was the first place we went to help. Some of our friends asked us to check on their relatives in the area but in many cases that was impossible because the street signs were gone. If we missed them there was always someone else in need, so we just pitched in with our tools and But were-ever we were we just went to cutting while sharing the extra drinking water, food and gasoline with grateful refugees.

We were able to find my in-laws’ home in Mt. Pleasant though the house was completely inaccessible because of the up-rooted and de-limbed giant moss covered oak trees. As we cut ourselves in we were amazed to see that the only damage to the house was a downed gutter. It must have been tornado damage as the trees fell out away from the house. That's just one of the many unlikely situations we encountered. But alas, all of them did not turn out that well.

Our Pastor Watson's cousin, the pastor of an old Methodist Church in a small community in the Sumter area sent word that they really needed help. It and many homes in that small farming community had suffered much destruction.

I guess that instead of humorous it is ironic that the congregation had been involved in an extended controversy over whether to repair the old church or to tear it down and build a new one. Well, God solved that problem for them with just one swoop of His hand via Hurricane Hugo.

Of all the trips we took thus was perhaps the most heart breaking as we watched those who's families who had been a part of that church for many generations, going through the rubble of their homes and in the church searching for any artifacts and records which they could salvage from the devastated and rain soaked house of worship.

It was lunch time so we, as was our custom gathered around a tree stump for our usual bag lunch of saltines, Vienna sausage, sardines and a bologna sandwich. Just as the Pastor was finishing asking God's blessing on this less than gourmet lunch someone stopped us and said, wait a minute. Miss Emma (not her real name) has invited you to lunch at her place. (The house was no longer standing)

She had laid out some oilcloth table coverings that she had salvaged from somewhere. From a camp stove over by the tent they were living came the wonderful aroma from a large pot containing a concoction that they called "chicken bog."

It seems that the ladies had caught some chickens (which had blown in from somewhere), dug potatoes, found some rice, pick up ears of corn from the flattened crop and created a feast. They apologized for the lack of corn bread but "the corn meal just got too wet."

We tellers of tales are diligent in our search for punch lines, but once in a while we are rewarded with the discovery of the prospector's nugget of a story so profound that in it's self nothing as contrite as a punch line is needed. This I believe, is such a story ... but let me add the next Sunday Pastor preached on the "Five loafs and two fishes."

-- Bill Bowen, Chapin

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