Karis Gunby Lewis
(Daughter of Rev. H.R. and Ada Gunby)
My most precious memories of Hortense Camp Meeting were when I was a child and we stayed in what was known as the Preacher's Cottage, located where the Spaulding building now stands. The prayers coming from the early morning prayer time beginning at 7 AM under the tabernacle would wake me. The special thing I remember was Rev. Ruth Newton's fervent prayer for Brother Gunby's children.
I always looked forward to camp meeting because I would see the friends I had made the previous year. The Sapps, Kerseys, Herrings, Lees and the Days were always there. All the little girls would have new boy friend every year.
My parents made sure that we were in every service, but they did allow us to sit on the back bench of the tabernacle during the morning services. Before the service began we would pull the tender shoots from the palmetto bushes and strip them up so that we could plat them and make rings and bracelets etc. during the service.
Reba and Ruby Day and I would always sit on the front seat during the night service, but we knew not to talk or move around. If the song evangelist was young, good looking and single, we little girls would always fall in love with him.
On Sundays the families from the community would come and spend the day. They would bring a picnic lunch and eat out under the trees. The Kyle Roberson family would come in their horse and wagon and spread their lunch on the back of the wagon. Bertie Lee was my friend so I would get an invite to eat dinner with them. It was a delicious meal, especially the fried chicken and the cake.
When I was about 12 years old, after much begging, our parents agreed for Reba Day and me to spend one night in the Red Hotel up-stairs. We were so excited that we talked and giggled all night and disturbed the other people in the hotel. Needless to say we were not allowed to stay in the hotel any more.
I love camp meeting because it has been a great blessing to me and I hope it will always be here. I look forward to camp from one year to the next.