Riley Hill Baptist Church

 

 

“A SHELTER IN THE TIME OF STORM”

Burdened, heavy with the hand that life had dealt.
Feeling so alone, not wanting to think
Or wonder what tomorrow will bring.
“Let’s go to church, the kind that you like” were the words I heard.
Prayer was the only Sanctuary that I had.
Met by the Holy Spirit as I stepped from the car.
Songs of Glory rang in the air
Smiling faces, children and all,
Started to melt my prison wall.
A and V, two strangers who befriended me,
People that I’ll never forget.
“Welcome” came so easy, they meant every word.
Touching my heart, so kindly,
Having always heard “FOOT PRINTS IN THE SAND,”
I began to understand the powerful meaning it has.
Cleansing tears started to flow,
Lighter and lighter I seemed to grow.
The Message from inside the church rang clear – BE ENCOURAGED, GOD IS HERE!
Rays of hope radiating from above,
A growing glimpse of God’s caring love.
Bringing to reality His Words, “I’LL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.”
Granting the power to face life’s challenges
Strength in Him to carry on.
This I found at RILEY HILL BAPTIST CHURCH,
The Beacon of light,
The “Very Present  Help In The Time Of A Storm”
I’ll give you this message,
If in need, find your Cleft in The Rock,

He is waiting, let Him in.

 (Riley Hill Baptist Church, Riley Hill Road, Wendell, North Carolina)

 

 

The Betty Veale Home Place

This house, listed in the tax office of Bertie County (NC) as THE BETTY VEALE HOME PLACE, is believed to be one of the oldest houses standing at the present time in the Lewiston community, having been built during slavery time.

I’ve been told by family members that there are census records showing that members of the Veale family were slaves on this farm. One slave, named Africa, was thought to be the monarch of the band of slaves. The Veale slaves, last name given by their owners, were recognized in the census as early as the 1880’s. 

After the slaves were freed, they bought the land from their former owners. The farm was divided into sections and passed down to heirs – generation after generation. Over a period of time, some of the land was sold to outside interests.

My late husband James A. Veale, Sr., adored the “OPENING,” a section of the land that was cleared with no trees, vowing, when his family moved to Baltimore when he was a child, to return upon his retirement. He never forgot his dream, always keeping it in his plans as an adult. He realized his dream, was blessed by God to return to his land, work his soil, watch his many trees, plants and huge garden grow, and watch the magnificent views afforded by nature, through the changing seasons.

This home has witnessed many, many births and deaths, and was the site of the first Veale Family Reunion. The winding road running through the farm carries the honored name “VEALE FIELD ROAD.” The legacy of this community has so much history, letting present as well as future generations know that goals can be accomplished when people are united as a family, community and kindred souls.

Knowing that the original Veale owners (who were former slaves with very little formal education) realized that they had the formula for success: a gift of common sense, a strong desire to achieve, coupled with strong moral values, a total belief in God, along with much hard work, lets us know what can still be done today and that the Veale descendants are obligated to pass it on.

“A Refuge”

While driving through the countryside of Wendell, North Carolina, I saw a lake in the distance, behind a beautiful house. I didn’t see a name, just a breathtaking view. The scene was too beautiful to ignore – I was mesmerized. As always, my mind’s eye started to see beyond what was actually there. I began to envision ducks, geese, birds and deer taking REFUGE in the thick bushes and trees, safe and protected from the harm that lurked all around.

Webster’s dictionary defines REFUGE as a place that provides shelter and protection, something to which one has recourse in difficulty. The description was very fitting, with thick underbrush and vines on the bank of the lake, seemingly making entrance unappealing and difficult to gain a foothold for humans.

I saw ducks floating along the marsh, taking a break in their migration to other areas. Food was plentiful and the water gleamed in the autumn sun, full of fish that were jumping, putting on a spectacular show. It’s funny how peaceful and worry-free animals seem, accepting with grace the provisions there for them, enjoying the moment.

Nature really put on a show of color among the trees, hues of earthy vibrant brown, green, yellow and dark red. Taking time to stop, look and meditate on the One responsible has a healing effect, a calming effect and lets us know how to find A REFUGE in our lives.

“Season’s Over” (Tobacco Barn)

This barn is located in Aulander, on highway 11, on the way to Ahoskie, a large town close to my hometown. It is one of the few tobacco barns still in use.

While passing through one late summer afternoon, I stopped to get a real close-up view, enough to let me paint the barn at a later date. When the painting was completed, I was reminded by a farmer that, when the trees are in full fall color, the tobacco season is finished.

I love to paint fall colored trees, relishing the thought that only the Divine Master can create such magnificent scenes in nature like that. Rather than change the trees, I called the painting   “Season’s Over” and showed the farm workers cleaning around the barn.

As a child, I used to ride with my neighbor when she went on her route collecting insurance from her clients in the rural areas. Sometimes we would join the farmers under the tobacco shed. She knew how to work while she visited. The farmers were very kind, but I’ll bet they were relieved when the town kids left! I was fascinated with the animals and loved the smell of the tobacco curing in the barn. I hope this painting causes someone to enjoy their “step back in time.”

“Hide and Go Seek”

My neighbor’s house and yard was the most fun in the neighborhood. Her yard had no grass, and was good for games of hop scotch and marbles, since there were no humps and bumps. She kept the yard swept and clean. Her broom was made from straw found on (drainage) ditch banks and on the edge of the woods. Brooms like this were also used to clean the floors of houses.

My friends and I gained a lot of pleasure from playing the game of “1, 2, 3 … red light!” but our favorite was HIDE AND GO SEEK. There were plenty of places to hide in my neighbor’s big front and backyard that was surrounded by plum, peach and pear trees that were full of ripe, juicy fruit in the summer and fall.

This was good, clean fun that required lots of physical and mental energy … just waiting to be released! Sometimes our dog, Blue, would give the hiding place away, trying to get a hug or be petted.

Thinking about playing “HIDE AND GO SEEK” brings back warm feelings, reminding me that what we do in our daily lives becomes memories that, later in our lives, enable us to “take a step back in time.”

“Once Upon a Time, Part Two” (The Barn)

Listen, with your mind’s eye, and visualize the scenes coming from the barn. Hear the cows mooing, ready to be milked. A few chickens scurry about, having gained entrance through the door that was left open, looking to find peanuts in the stacks of hay.

The farmer, going through the barn, making a mental list of chores needing immediate attention. I can almost smell the strong, earthy scent that was there at that time.

Memories, memories; wish I could talk to the people that once lived and worked there. The peanut fields are still in use. Harvest time for them; stacked up to dry the “old time” way.

Looking across the fence, seeing the old barn, not a human in sight. I think … ONCE UPON A TIME.

“Once Upon a Time, Part One” (Abandoned House)

Riding around the countryside, you’d be amazed to see so many abandoned homes. Each home has an interesting story to tell. In my mind’s eye, I can picture children playing the old, enjoyable games of yesteryear, while mom did laundry outside, boiling water to wash clothes in the big black iron pot that sat over a roaring fire.

Dad would chop wood to put in the “cook stove,” so mom could “boil the pot”, which consisted of putting collards (or salad greens), a piece of “side meat,” potatoes and corn meal dumplings (some called this “wet bread”) on top of the cook stove to boil until tender.

It is mind-boggling to think about how much work was done in one day, starting before sunrise and ending when it became too dark to see. Even the mule knew its way home!

Peace and love, along with strict moral values, were a must in most families. Oh, if walls could talk! The next time you happen upon an abandoned site, imagine the lives it came in contact with – and think of the history that happened there “once upon a time”.

“The Sans Souci Ferry”

 

(“Sans Souci” is French for “No worries”)

This is one of my favorite stories. My parents were teachers at the *Woodard Elementary School, in the Woodard community in Bertie County, North Carolina. The school was near the Cashie (pronounced cash-eye) River, and quite a distance from the next community, named St. Luke, by road. The distance was greatly reduced if you took the ferry instead.

Well, when I was about ten yrs old, my dad decided to visit his friend, the principal of the St. Luke Elementary School – by FERRY!  Mom, to my horror, didn’t object! ALL THAT WATER! I loved to look at it; from a distance, that is. At the start of the journey, I got down on the floor in the back of the car – and stayed there and prayed until we reached the other side! We arrived safely with me worrying and thinking about our return trip. Believe me, I was no trouble to anyone that day!

Even now I like to go down to the ferry and meditate, finding peace as I communicate with the Savior and reflect on my childhood and the memories of my beloved parents. It’s always nice to a take step back in time.

*The Woodard School was built by the Julius Rosenwald Fund
In the 1910s, Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., was approached by Booker T. Washington regarding the sad state of education among African Americans in the rural South. His response was establishment of a fund that provided architectural plans and matching grants that helped build more than 5,300 schools from Maryland to Texas between the late 1910s and 1932.

 

“The Potter’s House”

As a “preacher’s kid,” I was introduced to a variety of churches. One that is clear in my memory is a church that is located in one of Bertie County’s rural communities. It had a small vestibule at the entrance, where the late-comers could wait for a pause in the service to enter.

Riding up to the church and watching the congregation gather was an experience that I have never forgotten. I remember the smiles and the eagerness that shone on their faces. With my mind’s eye, I can still hear the piano playing and the choir singing. The oldest Deacon would pray a prayer – getting caught up in the spirit. It was as if he was alone with God, thanking Him for life, health and giving Him the Glory for all of the things in his life that are so often taken for granted.

They had waited all week to be with other family members and friends – first to worship in Spirit and in truth, the sustaining force behind their existence as a people relying on the fruits of their labor, supplied by God alone. Secondly, the church was a social outlet. I had to be on somewhat good behavior. My nickname, Sassy, spoke volumes. I was a challenge to my parents.

If this church looks familiar, it’s because of the style, popular in that day. Some had Baptism pools located in their side yard, while others still baptized in the local river. I can really appreciate the heritage that our forefathers left us – gifts that keep on giving, special places like THE POTTER’S HOUSE.