Friday, June 6, 2008

Brother Al and Brother Roy

During my high school years Roy and I roomed together. Just before bedtime Roy and I would tune our AM dial to 1570 (the 250,000-Watt station, XERF) where we’d listen to Brother Al, a folksy snake-handler who ministered to his flock from his mailing address in Del Rio, Texas. The orthographic Brother Al painstakingly spelled everything, the better to help the wooly-headed of his flock in placing orders for prayer cloths. Brother Al (that's spelled A-L) cravenly and brazenly guaranteed that each and every prayer cloth had been moistened with his own tears. Although Oral Roberts had been healing and stealing for years, I truly believe that Brother Al (again, spelled A-L) was the premier media evangelist of his day -- well, he was the top of our list.

He’d exhort, harangue and shout God’s great commandment, "SEND MONEY!" As compensation for his far-flung congregation's generosity, Brother Al (spelled A-L) offered entertainment that included radio healing sessions in which one could lay ones infirmities on the radio and feel the healing power of the Spirit (especially if one still had an old vacuum-tube set). Headaches miraculously disappeared, acne faded, arthritis pain subsided, hemorrhoids shrank (without the use of astringent or narcotics) when Brother Al's quavering voice appealed to the Lord for restoration of these broken bodies. Brother Al (spelled A-L) also peddled "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs". I must admit I had never heard (and have never heard since) the banjo used to such effect in praising God.

One night we were listening to musical selections of the Deiner Family when Roy said, "Let's order the album for Aunt Harriet." We immediately sat down and crafted the following letter to Brother Al from Aunt Harriet (our mother's extroverted younger sister). I'm pretty sure we spelled "Al" correctly.

Dear Brother Al,
I am visiting my kin in El Paso and I heered your wonderful program on the radio. Please send me all the Deiner Family music records. I don't dare write a check or my husband will beat me, so my nephew Roy has enclosed his check. Please pray for me. I wish I could send you some more money, but we're little short right now.
God bless you,
Harriet Xxxxx

The next morning we popped the hastily drafted epistle into the mailbox, but never heard anything more.

Well, never is a bit of an overstatement. That is I never heard anything more, but Roy (as a new lieutenant going through B-52 Navigator training at Mather Air Force Base) once took a short trip over to Atherton to visit Aunt Harriet. She was ever so gracious and greeted him with, "Roy, you look tired. Come on in and relax. I have some amazing music I'd like you to hear." Roy (who knew Aunt Harriet to be a woman of eclectic tastes) was expecting to hear one of her interesting new musical discoveries. Instead he was treated to the shockingly nasal voices of the Deiners -- in all their cacophonic, jug-and-harmonica, bluegrass splendor.

Aunt Harriet brooked none of Roy’s bosh about his having heard enough. I believe there were six 33-RPM LPs. At 45-minutes per LP, you do the math.


Jerry said...

No good deed goes unpunished.

James said...

I had heard this one before but it still cracks me up.

Mrs. Who said...

Yep...our God is a mighty God (that's G-o-d). Vengeance is His, indeed!

Bob said...

Mrs Who--
Aunt Harriet was a big woman, but no one ever mistook her for God (except maybe Aunt Harriet herself). Nonetheless, she definitely got her vengence. But the puzzlement is how she knew it was Roy. (Surely Mom would never have squealed.)

Yeah, sorry but all the stories are old stories for you guys who've been around a while.

So how do you define "good deed" in this context? Just curious.

Jerry said...

Good deed? Why the "thoughtful" purchase, of course.

BTW, your cousin Dana will be at the shin-dig on the 24th. Maybe you and Roy can regale him with this story about his Mom.

Bob said...

We'll have to make a point of it. (Though just between you and me, you can't believe anything Roy says. Those preachers are such liars.)

Bou said...

I'm thinking Brother Al (spelled A-L) sent a little note with Harriet's gift, telling her they had received Roy's check and were eternally grateful. Heh!

Bob said...

That's a possibility, but my money's still on Roy's reputation fingering him as prime suspect and Mom's being the ratfink. Brother Al (a.k.a. A-L) may have been an able speller, but I'm thinking his writing was limited to endorsing checks.