Good morning, y’all. It’s hotter than I ever remember it being for this time of year. Of course my memory fades, and I don’t look upon hot days as favorable. My desire to forget hot days would outweigh my desire to remember them. That’s how memory works, we try to forget the bad, and reinforce the good. Some would call that a product of evolution, but I don’t want to give my neighbors another reason to distrust me.
Speaking of distrust leads us right back into the retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. As day four begins on Summer Revival 2010, Elder Diggum bends to pick up a Pepsi Cola fruit cup from the ground. Gingerly, he carries it to the nearest trash barrel for disposal. He remarks to himself, “five feet, they couldn’t have made it another five feet”, as he places the cup in the receptacle. The Elder walked towards the fruit bowl booth to discuss the matter with Constance Winer. As much as he wanted to get feedback on the “fruit bowls”, he also wanted to find something to get the sticky off of his hands.
“What do you think, Constance, is it worth the headache?”, he asked as he pulled multiple baby wipes from the box to cleanse his hands. Constance paused from filling the shelves under the counter with Pepsi Cola cups, and looked at the Elder.
“Well, I’ve got nothin’ official, but we spent about a hundred dollars on fruit, and I think we had close to eight hundred dollars in the til last night when we closed.” ,”I like those numbers, how about you?” Constance said as she smiled at the Elder.
Elder Diggum liked the numbers indeed, and he told Constance so. “I’m wondering about the spoilage and the stuff the folks are throwing away.” “What are we doing about that?”, he asked.
Constance rolled back the right sleeve of her dress to reveal an arm covered in rubber bands. “We figured a way to seal the cups so the water doesn’t seep under the Saran wrap and get into the cup.” “It’s going to cut into our profit a little bit, but not so much as to notice it.” “The last cup of the night should be as fresh as the first one after we wrap it tight with the rubber band”.
“Mountain ingenuity “, Elder Diggum thought as he gave Constance a side hug, and moved on. The Pepsi Cola pickup truck was at the pullalong trailer set up for drink concessions. The route man was stacking canisters of co2 and syrup wherever he could find space. The Pepsi man nodded at Elder Diggum as he approached and wiped his hands on his shirt before extending his right hand. “Elder Diggum, how are you this fine morning?”
“Fine, Buck, how are you?” Elder Diggum did not know the man, Buck’s name was stenciled on his shirt. Buck took half a beat and responded, “Well I’m thinking about going back to town and bringing out another load. I think you’ve got enough to hold you until tomorrow, but I don’t want you to run out”.
“Well, you do whatever you think is best, Buck, you’re the expert.” The praise emboldened the young route man, and he forged ahead. “I was thinking, sir, you all are our number one customer right now, and I was thinking that we could help each other out a little bit if you were interested.”
“What are you thinking Buck?”
“Well I’m thinking I could bring back a load of T-shirts and hats that we could give away to folks that come to the Pepsi booth.” “It’d be a memento for folks to remember that they drank Pepsi Cola at the revival”.
“And why would we want to do that, Buck?” Elder Diggum said as he poured himself a Mountain Dew. “I told your boss when we set this trailer up, if you want to donate blank T-shirts and hats, or even T-shirts and hats that say “Provided by Pepsi Cola” on the label, I’m all for it.”, “This revival ain’t about Pepsi Cola, it’s about the Lord, and if you all can’t get behind that, then you need to hitch this little wagon back to your pickup truck and get on out of here!”
The Elder’s voice was much rougher than his true feelings were, he just needed to maintain his advantage while he could. If people started preferring Pepsi to Coca Cola, the Little Church in the Valley would lose their bargaining position. “Call your boss, Buck, if you figure it’s something you need to do.” “Let me know if you’re pulling out so we can make other arrangements. It’s hot and the people have got to have something to drink.”
Buck responded, “No sir, no sir, no need to call, I was just thinking we might help each other out, but I take your point, this revival is about the Lord. ” “I’ll just go back to town and bring out another load to make sure you don’t run out, it’s going to be a hot one today.”
Elder Diggum smiled at Buck and said, “Bless you Buck, we really appreciate your dedication.” “You know, you should drop by tonight, you might find some answers to the questions we all have.” “I’ll see to it that you get a seat in the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s tent, he’s world famous you know.” With that, the Elder moved on. Buck opened his mouth to explain that he was Seventh Day Adventist, but the Elder was already at his next stop.
The Ladies Auxillary at the T-shirt booth were unpacking stock from the cardboard boxes stacked up behind them. Before he could ask, the Lady in charge responded, “We’re running out of the XXL and XXXL”. The Elder shook his head. If anyone wanted to survey America’s battle with obesity they could come to the Summer Revivals. Elder Diggum recalled when “Medium” was truly the medium size. Now it seemed like “XL” was the most popular size, for men and women. Maybe the women were using the larger T-shirts as nightshirts, but from the size of some of the female worshipers, he doubted it. Elder Diggum looked at the volunteer and asked, “How’s the new painter working out?”
“Real good, she took right to it”, “She even had the idea that we could setup an area to do nails and face painting.” “You know, signs of the cross, Bible verses and such, nothing that would take a lot of time”. Annie Howe continued, “And you know what, Ephram’s carpal whatever seems to have gotten a lot better.” Elder Diggum chuckled inwardly, this wasn’t the first time he had effected a “healing” by threatening the afflicted with a little competition. “Well, it sounds like you ladies have got everything under control, keep up the good work”. The Ladies smiled, the Elder smiled, and then the Elder moved on to the snack concession.
The Ladies in Waiting had just returned from the Walmart in Blairsville with a full Ford Econoline of snacks and treats. “What a friend we have in the Walton family”, the Elder thought as he surveyed the plunder from the most recent restocking trip. To be able to purchase goods for resale at an almost wholesale price was truly a blessing for the twice a year events. The variety was unparalleled, as was the convenience. The fact that a few local shopkeepers had lost their family businesses to the big box chain was not a concern to the Elder. His profession was safe guarded, that is until Walmart started displaying coffins. Thank Goodness, Elder Diggum had the Georgia Funeral Director’s Association protecting him from any incursions into his livelihood.
Satisfied that the Ladies Auxillary was on top of things, the Elder headed for the rectory for the committee meeting.