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The late Rev. Mickey Carnes really knew how to spin a yarn.
Every time I crossed paths with Preacher Mickey, as I fondly called him, I left laughing. To be honest, I’m grinning right now.
Preacher Mickey died Saturday. I miss him already, but I can’t quit smiling.
I could sit around for hours at the Buford Little General (and sometimes did) listening to Preacher Mickey’s anecdotes about his own shortcomings, his father, the late Woodrow Carnes, how he left a good job at Morrison Textiles to answer his call into the ministry and well-meaning church members whose good intentions went awry.
The way Preacher Mickey figured it, God gave him a keen sense of humor for a reason.
The man who shepherded flocks at several churches for more than 30 years, exercised his funny bone every chance he got.
One morning a couple of years ago, Preacher Mickey said he had something to show me.
Now, the last time he had something for me, it was a jar of apple butter, a gift made from the 5-gallon bucket of apples I had shared with him.
“You ever seen one of these?” he asked, as he laid a Bible on the table between our cups of coffee.
It was a copy of a 1611 King James Bible written in the original Old English text. The translation was a gift from Jinx, his wife of almost 50 years.
“Given Gutenberg and his printin’ press, I figured you’d want to see it,” he said. “I been wanting one of these for a while.”
Preacher Mickey was right on both counts.
No, I had never seen an honest-to-goodness King James Bible.
And, yes, I wanted to see it.
As I thumbed through the pages, the language differences were quite noticeable.
With its combination of Latin roots and Jacobean style, all of the J’s were I’s, the u’s were v’s and the v’s were u’s.
In the original text, that means John 3:16 in the 1611 King James Version Bible reads, “For God so loued þe world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, shovld not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”
It was definitely different than the translation I was used to.
“You know what I’m gonna do with this?” Preacher Mickey asked.
“The next time I hear one of these young preacher boys say they’ll only preach from the King James (Bible), I’m gonna show this to him, and say, ‘Well here it is, son, preach from it.’
“I figure most of ’em who say that have never seen the real thing,” Preacher Mickey said, grinning. “If he has as much trouble pronouncing the words as me, church is gonna let out early that day. We might have to wait on the fried chicken to cool off.”
Yes sir, Jerry Clower’s got nothing on Preacher Mickey.
Take this story, for instance.
About 20 years ago Preacher Mickey said he was rummaging in his bedroom closet looking for something he had misplaced.
He didn’t find what he was looking for that day, but came across two things on a closet shelf that definitely didn’t belong.
The first one, he said, was a faded gray, cardboard egg carton.
Preacher Mickey said when he picked up the carton, beneath it was a fairly good-sized roll of folding money with a rubber band around it.
“I flipped that egg carton open and there were four brown eggs in it,” he said. “Now, I know good and well you ain’t ’sposed to keep eggs in a clothes closet.
“Son, when I saw that stack of bills, I thought Jinx had hit the education lottery and was scared to tell me about it.”
Knowing both were out of place, Preacher Mickey said he asked Jinx how they got there.
“She told me every time I preach a bad sermon, she puts an egg in the carton,” he said. “I figured she compared it to layin’ an egg.
“I told her, ‘Well, four bad ’uns in 16 years is a pretty respectable record,” he said.
However, this story doesn’t end there.
As usual, Preacher Mickey waited on somebody sitting at the table that morning to nibble at his dangling bait.
Sure enough, almost on cue, someone asked, “What about the money?”
Preacher Mickey grinned.
“Jinx said that was all the money she made through the years from selling them eggs a dozen at the time,” he said, laughing.
Preacher Mickey really knew how to tell a story.
I’m going to miss him.
– Greg Summers is features editor of The Lancaster News.