By Leonard Tyler
Granville answered death’s summons April 13, 1996. We, in our evaluation of his life, confidently feel that he is safely moored in the harbor of God’s eternal loving peace. Granville wanted to live for both his physical and spiritual families. He loved us all so joyfully and affectionately that he craved to remain with us and offer his abilities to help guide, sustain, and maintain the purity of faith in our lives. Notwithstanding, he truly concurred with Paul’s statement, “We are confident I say, and well-pleased rather to be absent from the body and be present with the Lord.” Nevertheless, he was moved at the thought of dying, the sting of death, leaving his family and all his friends, but comforted in the hope of being at home with the Lord.
We feel that all is well with Granville, but miss him so and long for his presence; yet reality predominates and we must submit. However, we have and treasure his words of wisdom and example of life which pervades our hearts and influences our lives in the way of righteousness.
Granville was strong in character, considerate in disposition, compassionate at heart, but stubbornly firm in faith, sacrificial in life, and unquestionably confident in hope. However, he understood the need and effectiveness of prayer and freely requested the prayers of the saints.
To him, there was no compromise, substitute, or alternative for God, his word, ‘the faith” and hope it produced. It was accept-the message of faith or reject the God, the hope and every spiritual blessing to which “the faith” so firmly secures one. There is no God but the one true and living God. There is no saving faith but the faith “once for all delivered unto the saints.” God promises through this one faith, working by love the salvation for “whosoever will” come to him. Granville firmly believed this and preached it for some seventy years.
He completely depended upon the “one faith” and said to me, just a few days before surrendering to death, “Leonard, all that I have now is my faith.” He understood that his health condition was terminal. I tremblingly repeated the words spoken to our sister, Hattie, a few days before she answered death’s call. “We understand that the time will come when we can-not do or even know what can be done, and no one else on earth has the answer nor can help. But being a child of God, we “by faith” take hold of our Lord’s hand who can and will sup-ply affectionately our every need: peace, comfort, happiness even eternal life, in a new incorruptible body and a heavenly home with him forever and ever. Just think of that and “what must it be to be there?” We cannot imagine what God has prepared for those who love him. But we can be sure “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” Think on these things and hold fast to the hand of him who can and will help when all others fail.
Family Life How Important
I cannot tell the story of Granville’s faithful, preaching life without mentioning a little family background. It may seem redundant to you but, believe me, it was relative to his life and is to ours. The powerful influence of a true mother and father upon the lives of their boys and girls is inestimable. I hope that relating this will help impress the true value that a Christian mother and father, poor economically or materially, but rich in faith, can and will help mold their children’s lives when they bring them up in the “training and admonition of the Lord.” This is not just vain thinking, family pride, nor simply a glorification of our parents. It is stating the true value of parents who fill their place in God’s divine arrangement and responsibility placed upon mothers and fathers to their own children. As to our parents some facts follow and you judge. But we know what it means to us.
The Fourth Sunday in July 1907
James Edward Tyler and Mattie Derinda McGahey were on their way to worship, riding in a buggy, at Beech Valley, Hickman County, Tennessee. The meeting was to begin that Sun-day. They met the preacher on their way and were married, sitting in the buggy. This was to be a surprise, but turned out a surprise to them. The preacher reached the pulpit, he smilingly turned and announced, “Brother and sister Jim Tyler are to be congratulated. They were married by me on their way to church this morning.”
This was the beginning of their happy, harmonious, but brief lives together of sixteen years. To this union eight children were born: four boys; Granville, Gilbert, Leonard, and Ellis, and four girls; Hattie, Florida, Mary Alice (died at birth), and Florence (Glenda) about two years apart.
Papa and Mama made a paradoxical claim, “We never had a real fuss.” No, it was not Papa’s dictating to Mama. They discussed their choices and made decisions. It is true Papa made the final judgment, but Mama’s voice was heard before the decision was made. He, on going to town (we lived in the rural community), would not even buy an apple without bringing her one and later sharing with us. You may question the statement, but they confidently affirmed it and we had no reason to doubt it. They should have planted this disposition a little deeper into our hearts.
Mama liked to cook and was a good one. She endeavored to keep a cookie jar with cookies in it most of the time, even though most of them were sorghum molasses cookies. But they were delicious and our buddies (playmates) would try to trade us out of them. Al-though Mama had taught us to share, we somehow learned to protect our cookies. If the trade was not a little in our favor, there was no trade.
Mama was more fortunate than Papa educationally. She was a great help to Papa in studying the Bible. It was hard for him to read comprehensively; however, in due time he was a pretty good Bible student and later in life was able to preach some. He enjoyed preaching (Mama never got to hear him). She deeply loved and respected him and taught us to do the same. We were taught to appreciate and obey our parents, or as Papa would say, “If you do not, you will suffer for it.” He didn’t mean just his discipline but throughout life. They believed that respecting parental authority was basic to any and all authority in life.
Mama often reminded us that we were poor financially. We wore home-made jeans and patched clothes “but there is one thing for sure, you don’t have to go dirty.” She made it her business to see that we didn’t. She especially wanted us to have a good education and advised us to use it wisely. She warned us against taking advantage of others’ physical handicaps or weaknesses, “They cannot help these, so be understanding and helpful. Always treat others with respect, for we need the respect of others. But we want to be respectful, regardless. If you will respect yourself, you’ll have respect for others. Remember that God loves and respects you and you should always love and respect him for his ways and judgments are true and eternal. Seek him in your life for his ways are always right and lead to eternal blessings.”
Mother knew that her health was rapidly failing and would soon terminate. One night she was discussing the children with Papa. Granville over-heard their conversation. She explained each of us to him. (Her expressions are not direct quotes. I have repeated them as they were given to me, however I use quotation marks to identify them.) “Granville can be a great help with the other children. He is the oldest and very sober minded. Gilbert is high-strung, quick-tempered, hard-headed and determined. Leonard is light-hearted, talkative, and playful. Ellis is still just a little boy. The girls are so young. Hattie is growing fast and thinks well for her age. Florida is more dependent, emotional, and sensitive. Florence is only a baby and needs so much care. They are all good children but need someone to share with them. Jim, I believe that you can depend on Granville with God’s help you all can make it.”
I wondered why we were respected as we were, being as poor economically as any of the rest. Yet, we were accepted and treated as if we had more. Gilbert asked some of his friends this question. His report was, “They said, your family does not act, look, or talk like the others.” Why was that? My answer: Our parents were trying to make an honest living working, respecting others, being Christians, and rearing us to be good citizens and Christians. Another thing, Papa al-ways found some work sufficient to put bread on the table and clothes on our backs. He believed in work and was busy doing something most of the time.
Mama was sick about eighteen months before death claimed her. Granville, being the oldest, naturally became the leader in helping care for us. Most families were large, at this period in history, and the older would help care for the younger. Granville was serious-minded, tender-hearted, and very protective. We, the other boys, were not too cooperative. We felt that we were able to take care of ourselves and once in a while we tried to enforce it. It was at this period that Granville got one of his favorite stories about my crying to go with Gilbert and him. He delighted in telling it after we began to conduct meetings together. It went like this:
“Leonard was the third boy and Gilbert and I, being older, felt that we should be able to go places and do things with-out Leonard tagging along. We would get permission to do so sometimes; but when Leonard saw us leaving, he would call out, ‘I wanta go.’ We would object and he would appeal to Mama. If she agreed with us, he would start crying and finally Mama would call to us, `You boys let Leonard go with you.’ We did, but the welcome was not too gracious. We walked faster than he could or would. He would holler `Wait fer me,’ and start crying. One day it started to rain, and we took off running. Leonard began to cry and call out, `Wait fer me wait fer me!’ I looked back and yelled, `Stop that bawling and come on! We are getting wet too.’ Naturally, when he told the story, he colored it up to suit his purpose. He drew it out and, I thought, put too much emphasis on crying. Notwithstanding, when problems or challenges came our way, we turned to Granville. He responded, most times, in our favor but gave us a stem warning, ‘Never, and I mean never again.’ But it happened over and over again.”
Mama passed from this life about 4 a.m. March 24, 1924, making her stay upon the earth thirty-five years, four months and nine days. Her funeral was conducted in the Little Rock meeting house, Hickman County, Tennessee, a rural community about fifteen miles north of Centerville, just off of 100 Highway where she attended the services of the church when a small girl and her daddy preached sometimes. Granville confessed his faith in Christ in this same building (it still stands with a little addition) and was baptized in Mill Creek which continues to flow just behind it.
After the burial, we were sitting together by the grave side while friends passed offering their condolences and sympathy. Mrs. Anna Rice, an old friend of the family (we called her “cousin Anna”), leaned over Papa’s shoulders patting him on the back and wonderingly asked, “Jim, what in the world are you going to do with the children?” Papa looked up, then dropped his head, shaking it and stammeringly answered, “I don’t know, Anna, but we are going to stay together.” How? He had not thought about the “how.” Neither had any of us, so far as I ever knew. We all knew that we belonged and that this was some-thing that we must bear together. But hearing Papasay, “I don’t know, Anna, but we are going to stay together,” were the most comforting words he could have spoken.
The marks of Mama’s death we still bear, and the decision, “I don’t know, Anna, but we are going to stay together” we treasure. That is what we all wanted to do and these words still echo in my heart: “I don’t know, Anna, but we are going to stay together.”
The cemetery is on a sloping hill overlooking the building where Mama’s funeral was conducted and Granville confessed his faith in Christ. Mill Creek still flows gently along at the foot of the bluff where he was baptized into Christ. In this beautiful historic landscape Mama was laid to rest on March 26, 1924. Some forty years later Papa was placed by her side where he often requested to be placed at death. Side by side they lie in death’s slumber and we affectionately say, “Mama, you and Papa sleep on in God’s peaceful care until the trumpet sounds and we will meet you with the Lord in the air.”
After Mama’s funeral, we returned home on “Hunter’s Hill,” to begin, it seemed, our lives all over. This tragedy bound us closer together bearing and sharing the responsibilities, successes and joys of life with its disappointments, burdens, and sorrows when reality suddenly bore upon us. Notwithstanding, and factually speaking, we stayed together but our lives were never the same. Yet, the older children had an advantage over the younger. The younger never enjoyed the warm influencing, stabilizing security that we had for a very seasoning, powerful and loving part of the family was lost. However, they accepted Papa and the older ones became advisors, examples, and leaders. But as time passed, one by one, we accepted the responsibilities of life and left home. Granville was the first the next in age became the leader. One can understand the younger had a rougher road to travel. We commend them for maintaining the purity of attitude and disposition in building beautiful characters. We greatly appreciate and love them dearly and they reciprocate freely with an open heart.
Papa was working at the rock quarry ten hours per day, six days a week to provide a living while parenting seven children. Yes, it was troublesome times but we were together. One of Papa’s old friends asked him, “Uncle Jimmy” (as most of his old acquaintances called him), “does all this cause you to doubt your faith?” He unhesitatingly responded, “No, I had to give up Mattie! But my faith is what holds me up and gives me reason to live with a steadfast hope that after a while we shall meet again.” May I insert, “So far as any of us ever knew Papa never questioned his faith, much less doubted it.”
How Our Family Adjusted
Granville continued watching after us in Papa’s absence after Mama’s death. He accepted the responsibility seriously and, all considered, did a commendable job. However, it was needful that more help be obtained since Florida and Geda were under school age. Uncle Mort and Aunt Bessie, Mama’s brother and his wife, were of great help; and with some acquired help, we (with time the two girls reached school age) made it through. During this period, we moved into Wrigley, a little village of company-owned houses for the employees. The environment was not the best. There were a large number of unkept, undisciplined boys and girls just running loose. We joined them and came up with head lice.
Papa’s mother, “Grand Mammy” we called her, came to visit and was sorely grieved at our situation. One day after delivering my Grit Papers, I came home to find Grand Mammy with Geda kneeling on the porch with her head in her lap, a fine tooth comb, combing her hair, weeping. She was talking to herself, “This poor little girl has no mother to care for her and just look what I have found head lice.” She reported it to Papa and he went to Centerville, the nearest drugstore, and got the prescribed remedy. We all saturated our heads with it. It worked. This became al-most a common practice through the years because we got just about every catchable thing that came to school. Papa followed the same procedure go get the remedy, apply it and we were well again. On one occasion, several years later, Papa brought enough medication for the itch to share with our neighbors, took it over to them and requested that they use it. He told them that there was no need curing the itch on his children and theirs giving it right back to them. They accepted it, used it and all was well for awhile.
The summer after Mama’s death Granville’s first job was a water boy at the rock quarry for $1.25 per day. We kids managed ourselves while Papa and Granville were working. It was not as glamorous as we thought it would be, but we pulled through. That fall he returned to school and finished the eighth grade. He then went to work as oil boy at the main plant. After reaching seventeen, he was promoted to engineer over the pumps, large turbines, and blowing engine of the blast furnace. His pay was $3.60 per day, the hours were from six to six, seven days or nights per week, shift work two weeks days and two weeks nights.
Papa transferred to the main plant as fireman in the boiler room on shift work just as Granville. We were still walking to Little Rock for worship, a little over a mile. Several had joined us in the walk. Among the group, a young lady, Nannie Hethcoat, caught Papa’s eye. She was much younger than he; nevertheless, they became very close friends. Their interest grew in each other very rapidly. Soon Papa concluded that she would fit right into our family. They were married in 1925.
Soon after the wedding we moved to the Baker Hollow, about a mile and a half northwest of Lyle. We worshiped at Lyle while living here. Papa remembered the cliché, “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop,” only he substituted the word “boy” for “brains.” His thinking was to keep us out of evil’s temptations, “keep us busy working and the farm would do that.” It did keep us busy. After two years we moved into Lyle about halfway between Dickson and Centerville. Papa rented some land near Lyle for us to work.
The boys who attended “Sunday School” formed the habit of going to town after Bible class. We kind of liked that so we asked Papa about our doing the same. He suggested that we came to worship God and thought that we should stay for the worship. We stayed.
At home this same spirit prevailed. Papa had prayer every night, except when we attended church services and had prayer there. He also gave thanks before each meal. On some occasions, humorous happenings occurred. One noon when Papa was saying thanks, Junior, the youngest, had formed the habit of repeating the “amen” with Papa at the close of the thanks, so he said, “amen.” Papa continued right on with his prayer. Junior said, “hush Papa, Papa hush, I’ve done said `amen.”‘ Papa stopped and we all laughed.
One night it was time for the prayer, but Papa was a little late. The girls were in another room studying or playing; Geda, the youngest girl, had gone to sleep. The custom was for all of us to come into one room for the prayer. Papa called for all to come in for our prayer. We all gathered, except Geda. Papa noticed her absence and inquired, “Where is Geda?” One of the girls answered, “She is down in yonder.” Geda was so sleepy that she had just rolled off the bed and kneeled. Papa said, “Tell her to come in here.” She came in and the prayer was said.
Papa’s sincerity was shown at the church services just as it was at home. For instance, we were engaged in a series of gospel meetings one fall. The weather was extra cold and rainy, a good number had assembled for the service, but the preacher did not show. One of our standard-bearers stood up and said, “I guess we had just as well go home; the preacher is not here.” Papa spoke up, “Don’t you think that we should at least sing, read the scriptures, and have a prayer, since we came to worship God?” This gentleman stood up, looked around and asked, “Where is my old hat? I am going home.” His hat was hanging on the wall. He got it and stalked out.
We stayed, sang, read Scriptures, offered a few words of admonition, sang another song and dismissed. Papa asked us after we got home, “Boys, don’t you feel that we did the right thing? I know I feel better.” We all agreed.
This was typical of Papa’s life. He didn’t practice this only in the presence of others, but in any crisis or trouble-some problem he could be found reading the Bible and in his prayer, he would always ask God to help him make the right decision. He truly trusted the Lord. Mama’s faith was just as strong. She led us early in life, but her powerful influence in our home formation was a cornerstone in our spiritual life. Our parents appreciated, proclaimed, and practiced their faith in the Lord. What a blessing for the children!
This kind of practice and influence ingrained in us an appreciation of Biblical morality, self-respect, reliance, and virtue in all of life. Moral virtues were implanted mostly through conversation arising from some incident or occurrence which happened in our community. And many of various stripes were evident. They explained with feelings toward the guilty, but no mistake was ever “white-washed” or overlooked. The results were pointed out with emphasis. Then they would kindly but firmly suggest how much better the victim would have been had the wrong never been committed. If young people could grasp the tragic results of these flamboyant acts or deeds, surely they would never corrupt their bodies and destroy their lives by them.
During the moves and passing of time to this second marriage three children were born: one boy, Junior; two girls, Hazel and Evelyn. For a number of years everything moved smoothly with no evident problems. But time brings changes in environment, associations, and age which affect feelings, dispositions, and even lives. It seems that these life-affecting influences, as well as an adventurous spirit or attitude, bore upon this relationship until problems arose. The relationship continued until, it seems, that about the time the girls really needed a true mother for love and guidance, she found interest elsewhere and left Papa and the children. There was never a question, “with whom shall the children stay?” They stayed with Papa.
A Broken Home
A broken home is most injurious regardless of how passionately, soberly, and carefully handled. Scars are left in the hearts of all in the destroyed relationship, especially the children. It takes years of sober thinking and patient effort to even free oneself of guilt. Children are not responsible for separations. The responsibility rests upon the husband and wife, both, or the faltering one. The best solution to rebuild confidence in self and others is a strong faith in Almighty God. This will help to reestablish self-respect and even faith in others. There are weak people everywhere one looks. However, there are trustworthy, caring people who will lend a helping hand. One must never allow the failures of the weak and blundering to destroy his life. Yes, you can overcome through determination, patience, perseverance, and years of hard, expectant labor. The goal for which one seeks is peace at heart, self confidence, contentment, stabilization, and hope for the future. This may be attained by scrutinizing your situation and observing the paths of opportunities and start working. When one climbs out of the fog of blame and doubt, he can see the clear blue sky with the sun shining brightly. He can sing, “what once I sowed in tears, I can now reap in joy.” One must remember faith is in God. “If God be for you, who can be against you?”
It is interesting to note that Papa with all the problems, adverse circumstances, unwise choices and misjudged decisions, led the ten children left with him, without a mother, to obey the gospel before leaving home. Papa was very human and made many mistakes (we recognized some of them), but he bore it all with faith and kept struggling. We may wonder, “why did he do some things?” But a greater question is, “How did he do what he did?” The only answer I can give, “He did it with faith in God and love toward all.”
Granville was innately endowed from his family relationship and association with a good mind, not a genius, but a workable, comprehensible intellect applicable to any occasion or situation. His reasoning power was evident and exemplified in his spirit-led physical life. His attitude enabled him to live in the world but not be of the world. His faith in and deep respect for both God and man gave him a moral consciousness of right and wrong with a passionate desire to advance in the right. These characterizing attributes motivated him to advance rapidly in whatever he chose to do. In his work at the Wrigley plant he enjoyed unexpected advancement from water boy in the engine room at the main plant to engineer over the large turbines and water pumps which supplied electricity and water to the Wrigley community, as well as the entire plant plus the big blowing engine for the blast furnace. Within two years from 16 to 18 years of age he went from a beginner’s salary of $1.20 to a top dollar of $3.60 per day. This proved true in his high school work. He completed his courses and graduated within three years.
His becoming a preacher of the gospel of Christ was no exception. He found support and magnified encouragement from the time he began to read, lead prayer, teach a class, make talks, and visit other churches. Their voices were al-most in unison, “You will make a great preacher.” Of course, there was the resounding echo, “Don’t let all this go to your head.” But remember, this was after the missionary society and instrumental music problems and before the institutional-centralization division. The church of our Lord was at peace. A faithful gospel preacher was welcomed wherever the saints met and encouraged to preach “the old Jerusalem gospel in its purity and power.” Oh yes, there were “soft and hard preachers,” but most congregations wanted good sound Bible-filled sermons and the church was growing. The members studied the Scriptures and could quote them to confirm their faith. They even taught others God’s saving power.
Within this setting and time, brother W.B. West, Jr., a young preacher, came to Lyle where we lived for a series of gospel meetings. He learned of Granville’s interests in the work of the Lord and invited him to speak at one of the day services. Granville accepted. Brother West was impressed and from that day on Granville had a dear friend. Brother West encouraged him to prepare himself better for preaching. He went with him to Nashville, Tennessee for a conference with brother H. Leo Boles, president of David Lipscomb College. Granville thought that he might take some special course and start preaching. However, brother Boles learned his age (20 years) and encouraged him to finish high school.
Granville preferred David Lipscomb High School, but the expense was more than he could afford. Brother West recommended the Tallahatchie Agricultural High School at Charleston, Mississippi, where he could work on the farm for his board and tuition. He accepted the proposition and resigned at Wrigley, packed his belongings and tearfully left home for Charleston, Mississippi. That September 11 he was 21 years of age. He said, “That is when I began my education and my life’s work as a preacher of the gospel.” Even here he found favor. The superintendent of the school, Mr. W.W. Gunn, although not a member of the church, learned that he wished to preach and gave him extra time off from farm work to study with no cut in pay. Several of the churches near Charles-ton invited him to preach for them. This helped him financially. He never received a penny from home all through school. During the depression he helped some of the younger ones.
During the summers, while other boys and girls were vacationing, Granville conducted gospel meetings. Hickman County had sixty-five churches with open doors and a welcome to him. He had all the meetings he was able to preach. This continued into the last year of his life. He declined invitations in 1995. No preacher was more appreciative and thankful for such confidence than he. He said to me, “Leonard, I hate to tell people I can’t come.”
These observations do not exalt Granville above human limitations. He was just a common country boy grasping every opportunity to advance in life. He was humble, deeply concerned for others, and emotionally and conscientiously devoted to preaching the gospel of Christ. However, he never forgot where he came from or who he was. This does not imply that Granville was special with God or above others in the favor of God. He was just a young man with a burning desire to live a useful life in the service of the Lord and to willingly work for it. This disposition was recognized by others they freely gave their encouragement and help. I believe that such will be as true today as it was then for those who will dare to set their ambition on living a useful, beneficial, righteous life and are willing to work for it. God’s blessings will be upon them. Our society may have trodden underfoot many of our moral and virtuous standards, but never so low but what she will appreciate and encourage one who lives a virtuous, useful life.
Granville’s disposition made it a real challenge for him to point out differences when it seemed to hurt or stir ill feelings notwithstanding, he would always plainly and positively state his understanding of biblical teaching. Yet, it was done with full consideration of his opponent’s feelings and understanding. Some of his lifelong friends view differently concerning the institutional and centralizational work for the church they take a much more liberal stance. Granville felt that Paul’s question to the Galatians, “Have I therefore become your enemy because Hell you the truth?” applied to the speaker as well as to the hearer. His view, “You do not become my enemy because I tell you the truth. I love you and want you to understand This is God’s truth, not my opinion.”
Could I humbly assert? “No two brothers were ever more closely bound together through blood and faith than Granville and I. We were at times separated for several months without contact, but the love and closeness were ever present and still fills my heart. I seriously doubt if any two preachers ever agreed more understandingly on any and all the “brotherhood questions” and difficult passages of the Bible than we. Yet, as stated before, we had many long and hard discussions on just about all the problems. When a new one would reach the papers, I wondered, will this one be the dividing of understanding between us. It was not. The last one was Jesus Christ is he both divine and human while upon the earth? We both accepted Jesus the Christ as both Deity and human. He is both the Son of God and the son of man.
It seemed to me that he had a little more trouble getting a clear and firm understanding of the orphan problem than I. However, when he studied, he reached the firm conclusion that extra organizations had no right attaching themselves to church for support, claiming to be doing the work of the church. The church is sufficiently designed and equipped to accomplish whatsoever God commissioned her to do even as she did in the first century. The church is God’s divine creation to serve upon the earth his divine purpose as created, de-signed and commissioned so shall we serve and “give glory to God throughout all ages, world without end,” even to the saving of the soul. We must keep “speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ.”
There was no preacher whom I ever knew more sincere and emotionally involved in the Lord’s service than Granville. He believed what he was doing was fulfilling the commission of the Lord for the salvation of the soul. Al-though, I have heard people say, “He cried too much,” that was his deep respect for the Lord, his message and concern for the lost. There was no false manifestation portrayed in Granville’s life to deceive much less in his preaching. He recognized that an account would be made to the Lord for his life and preaching. He sought to make both accept-able to the Lord. He, again, accepted Paul’s statement as his: “Necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I preach not the gospel I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more (KJV).
Yet, Granville cultivated a joyful heart. He loved and often illustrated his lessons with a good, clean, true, comical story. This, he thought, would help relieve the unnecessary tension and help to open their ears to his message. If he could touch their hearts with the word of truth, it would produce the faith and move them to accept the Lord. His illustrations must be subservient to the message, whether a one-liner or a true story.
Granville loved to visit brother Thad Henley, a faithful member of the church and an elder at Ettna, Tennessee. He and his brother, Dave, were born, reared, educated and lived country. They were happy with whom they were and every-body liked them. They had somewhat of a whine, unintentional but pronounced. Each of them had some very interesting happenings in their lives to tell that they could make a grouch laugh. Granville conducted several gospel meetings at Ettna and stayed with brother Thad. He loved the association and the stories brother Thad told. He also loved to repeat the stories to others and even illustrate his lessons by some of them. He would mimic brother Thad’s voice and actions so well that he was often asked to do so.
He was living at Russellville, Alabama when brother I.A. Douthitt conducted a meeting for them. Granville told some of the stories in brother Douthitt’s presence. He was living at Hohenwald, Tennessee, which was near Ettna and brother Thad visited there often. Brother I.A. saw him and related Granville’s imitating him. A few weeks later Granville came to Ettna for a meeting. After one of the services when most of the crowd was gone, brother Thad confronted Granville with: “Brother Granful, brother I.A. Douthitt tells me you can mock me as good as I can talk.” He said, “If you was in one room and I was in one room, side by side, and we was talking and he wanted to see me, he wonten’t know which room to go in.” Granville knew that brother Thad would not mind, but the sudden confrontation puzzled Granville. He responded, “I guess that is right. Would you like to hear me?” “Well, if you want to,” brother Thad replied. Granville started in on one of his stories. The people heard Granville and gathered around. They wondered about it Granville talking like brother Thad and him standing, looking, not saying a word. Those gathered around almost fell out laughing. Brother Thad didn’t say a word. Granville was staying with him during the meeting. He had lunch with him that day and visited all afternoonnot a word was mentioned about the imitation. That night after the services, they were sitting out on the porch, in the dark, in the cane-bottomed chairs, leaning against the wall. They had talked out so they were silent, just kind of pondering. Brother Thad broke the silence, “Brother ‘Ganful’, don’t you think you whine a little bit mor’n I do?” Granville said, “I guess you are right. You know one has to exaggerate when imitating another to make it stand out.” “Well, I thought shorely you did.”
Granville and brother Thad were very close and enjoyed one another as much as two could, I guess, although he had a story or two about brother Dave, Thad’s brother, alike in speech and thought. Granville loved good clean, non-reflective fun and had his share. He always kept a sense of humor and it bridged him over so many hard situations. The statement has been made, “His sermons could have you laughing and crying during his delivery but each emotional response impressed the value of his lesson.” He didn’t use them to entertain nor to attract attention to himself, but to illuminate the thoughts he was endeavoring to present.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 14 p. 16-22
July 17, 1997