Gloria Smith Davis
(Daughter of Joseph and Iris Middleton Smith)
My parents were saved at Hortense Camp in 1949 and began a tradition of attending camp meeting every year. I was born in October 1952, so the first camp meeting I attended was in August of 1953. Of course I do not remember being at camp meeting those first few years, but it is significant to me to know that I was there.
The very first memory I have of being at the Hortense Wesleyan Camp-ground was on a workday when folks with a mind to work had come to prepare for camp meeting. I was probably about five or six years old because this memory is very clear. The men lifted those heavy wooden-slatted benches from the pile under the Tabernacle and carried them out, setting them down outside the Tabernacle. Using buckets of water and brooms or brushes, the women scrubbed the benches. As soon as the sun had dried some of the water from the benches, the men brought the cotton mattresses that had been stored in the block worker's building and laid them on the backs of the benches to sun. Meanwhile, a team of workers had been scrubbing the two-story dorm, using brooms, mops and buckets of water to sweep down and clean every room. Later, when the dorm floors were dry, the men rolled up those cotton mattresses, that had been freshened by the sun, and carried them on their shoulder into the dorm, putting them on the beds. Each man carried one double mattress, holding it in a roll, some downstairs and some upstairs, till each room had a mattress.
I was impressed that these people were working so hard, doing work I'd never seen done before. I decided that if Camp Meeting was worth this much work, then it must be very important and very special. I still consider Camp Meeting at Hortense to be the highlight of every year in my life.