Hortense Camp

in the Wesleyan tradition

100 Years Celebration: 1904 - 2004

Ruby Day

(Daughter of Dewey and Flora Day)

My family always looked forward to camp meeting when I was a child.  The camp always convened on Thursday before the last Sunday in August and lasted ten days.  This was the last important event before school started again.  By the time camp started, our mother would have made all of us new clothes - dresses for the girls and slack suits for the boys.  Weeks before camp my mother would bake pound cakes and tea cakes, wrap them in cloths and paper and store them to be eaten at camp.

Three weeks before camp the Arnton Lewises, Mr. Harrell and my family would go to the camp to clean and prepare for camp meeting.  We scrubbed the benches and under the tabernacle, every room in the boarding house, and the wooden cabins on the grounds.  We usually went back three times before camp started.

For all those years the kitchen and eating area was at the back left in the boarding house, and Aunt Lou, a large black lady, was the cook.  Aunt Lou was a big talker, always smiled and loved everybody.  She was like a hostess at the boarding house. 

After camp started our parents never allowed us to go into any other cabin or disturb the preachers and workers in the boarding house.

My parents, Flora and Dewey Day, my sister Reba, and my brothers, Glenn, Bobby and Grayson and I all stayed in a wooden cabin with push-out wooden windows.  Curtains made of sheets divided the space where we slept, dressed, bathed and ate to provide privacy. 

Our trip to the outdoor toilet just outside the camp fence was something to write about.  We always tried to get several to go along because we knew the woods around had produced many large diamond back rattlesnakes.  Also, in the middle of the night, many had heard the cries of panthers, which lived in the river swamp that bordered the camp.

My mother was camp solicitor for many years.  This meant she was responsible for collecting money for paying the workers.  She would go to Hortense to the stores and businesses and collect donations.  She always counted on Mr. Bence Strickland, Mr. Alva Adams, and Mr. Talmadge Middleton; these were the businessmen of the town.  They were always eager to contribute to see the camp continue.

Early every  morning at camp the workers and campers would have an early prayer service under the tabernacle, and we children who were still in bed could hear the saints praying out loud around the altar.  Soon the old camp bell would ring and it would be time for Children's Service.  These were wonderful services.  Miss Ruth Newton was our Children's Worker.  She taught us truths that have never been forgotten.  We learned to memorize scriptures, sing beautiful choruses, and she taught us that we could have a personal relationship with Jesus.  One of my favorite songs is one she taught us:

I love camp meeting Time
With friends and songs and prayers
I love camp meeting times
We there forget our cares
I love camp meeting times
With God's blessings so true
I love camp meeting time
Was made for me and you.

Also, this one:

Bye and bye we're going to see the King
Bye and bye we're going to see the King
Bye and bye we're going to see the King
And walk the golden streets on high.

The night services at the camp were always so wonderful.  We were privileged to enjoy some of the very best singers and evangelists.  The wonderful French family and the list goes on and on.  Many haver remained true friends all down through the years.

I am so blessed to have been a part of fiver generations to attend enjoy the blessing of Hortense Camp: My parents, my sister and three brothers, my two daughters, my five grandchildren and my one great grandchild.