I have written previously about ‘paper boys’ and now I want to write about the ‘preacher boys’, as they were called back in the 1940s and the early 1950s at the old Montgomery Bible School/College. Actually they should be referred to as ‘preacher men’ because most of those enrolled in the college were older in age than most students. Several were veterans of WWII and were attending classes with monetary support from their G.I. Bill. Of course many of the men had to support themselves and their families without the aid of financial help from anyone or any organization. These men came to school for one reason and that was to learn more of the Word of God with the intention of preaching the gospel of Christ. It was a time of tremendous sacrifice for these men in their pursuit of a Christian education. Several men gave their lives to preaching the gospel as ‘full time’ preachers while others worked secularly and preached ‘part time’ for smaller congregations. The percentage of men who attended the school/college on Ann Street who began to teach and preach the gospel of Christ was very high. Even now in their advanced age, some are still proclaiming the Word of God. In later life, when brother Rex A. Turner would become discouraged, he would speak of going back to Corner (his home town), I would encourage him by saying that he would never, in his life time, know the amount of good that he had accomplished in the teaching and training of men to become gospel preachers. It was during my early life as a student in Jr. High School that I was greatly influenced to consider becoming a preacher. As I look at the following picture which was taken in the spring of 1949 and reflect back to that day, I am overwhelmed with the kindness and patience these ‘preacher men’ and the photographer had with a kid in the 8th grade by allowing him to stand with these older brethren. You can see how the students and faculty members were dressed in suits while there I stood wearing a windbreaker. How richly blessed I have been by being associated with some or the greatest preachers in the brotherhood. 1st Row, L to R: Leonard Johnson, James Turner, Thomas Weaver, James Dawson, Horace Huggins, Harold Garmon, Houston Alexander, Art Thomas, L.E. Wishum, Wendell Winkler, Bill Huggins, Roy Balkcom, Raymond McLeroy, Raymond Elliott, Truman Boyd, Rex. A. Turner, Sr., R. A. Baker. 2nd Row: Edd Holt, Earl Moore, Lamar Thornton, Olen Willingham, Curtis Landrum, Brooks Williams, Felix Catrett, James W. Watkins, Charles Stidham, Robert Flowers, John Paul Jackson, Jack Howard, Curtis Duke. Two of the ‘preacher men’ who have influenced and encouraged me for over a half of a century are James Watkins and L. E. Wishum. Many of you know that James and I are from the same congregation ( South Commerce Street ) in Summerville , Georgia , and that I rode with him and Foye down to Montgomery in the fall of 1948 where I entered the 8th grade. James used to say that “Raymond and I went to school together” which inferred that I was his age. I finally got it across to him that, “Yes, you and I went to school together but you were in college and I was in Jr. High School.” James is actually nine years older than me and at the age of 83 he is still preaching weekly on television and in gospel meetings. L. E. Wishum was the ‘dorm keeper’ when I was in Jr. High School. I went with him and Betty to his home in the ‘piney woods’ somewhere near Albany , Georgia during that time. I remember that he pointed to a pond along side a sandy road and saying, “There are alligators in there.” Also I remember that for Sunday dinner his mother had fried chicken and it was the first time in my life that I saw chicken feet that she had cooked along with the rest of that hen. Brother Turner would say of L.E. that when he came to school the only thing he knew how to do was to “slop the hogs.” But this South Georgia young man later became a teacher for brother Turner and a very influential gospel preacher. He and Betty live in Gulf Breeze, Florida and in spite of ill health he continues to teach and train others and preach some at his home congregation. A person who surrounds himself/herself with great and godly men and women is indeed wise and blessed. I thank God I have had that privilege.

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