My Dad, One of a Kind:
My Dad, Born Frank Benjamin, and the oldest of 12 children. He and one of his brothers were named after Frank and Jesse James, heroes to Grandpa Lonnie in the 1800s.
Dad would be 120 years old. That is hard to wrap my mind around. He has been gone many years and I still miss him and mama.
With a 3rd grade formal education he became a full time farm hand at 9 yrs old. He made more marks in life than many with high degrees. He was self educated. I watched him many nights preparing sermon outlines, he typed with two fingers.
B F Darnell 1903-1972: Farmer, Logger, Weave Loom fixer and finally felt a call to preach and pastored many years. Every church he pastored grew.
He was unique.
He had a friend, a Funeral home director. He asked if he could lay in one of his caskets just to know how it felt.
Once he borrowed a casket for Sunday morning service. It was closed and just in front of the Pulpit. He preached and never mentioned the Casket. Ending he opened the casket saying, “Remember one day your life will end, think about it, If you are curious who lies here, form a line and pay your respects.” He had installed a mirror at just the right angle. There was laughing and a lot of crying, Very impressive.
He loved kids and Sunday School. Once he gave away a pony in Sunday School and another time gave an English Ford away. Most folks down south in the 50s had never seen a foreign car except the Volkswagen.
Picture from Belmont Historical files
Once he asked his friend Governor Cherry of North Carolina if he could visit the State Penitentiary and see the Electric Chair. The governor took dad and some friends on a tour of the Pen. They let dad see the chair, he shocked the governor by asking to be buckled in the chair, they allowed it. The Warden laughingly asked, “Do you want to feel just a little tickle of the electricity Preacher?”
They told me dad laughed and said, “No thanks brother, I think this is enough!”
He once rented a wrecker towing a wrecked car with a sign on the car, “If your life is a wreck or in a ditch, visit our church we will help you get out!” (something like that) He drove it all over town.
Yes, dad was unique and special. His sermons could be 5 minutes or at the most 45 minutes. He loved object lessons whether a worn-out tire or a baby doll. He was convinced that MOST folks could handle about 30 minutes pretty well on a pew.
PS Dad loved a Radio Broadcast, The first pic was in Albemarle, NC before remote broadcasts.
This was from Belmont, once he could get a live remote broadcast, he loved that and broad cast the Sunday morn service.
His ideas and antics would fill a book. He once invited a man to set in front of the pulpit and 'cut a record' of a morning service so his people could actually see a 'vinyl' record. being made.