Jesus is in that Book

This is what I remember from an oral story recently told to me by a fellow citizen of Franklin, IN. It is a first hand, personal experience that dates back to the early 1940’s in Western Kentucky.

Jim and his brother grew up in the Western Coal Field part of Kentucky. The family recovered from the Depression years in the ‘30’s and earned a middle income. The income was enough to hire someone for household help and thus we are introduced to “Miss Lottie.” Miss Lottie lived in a one-room cabin which we might call a shanty or shack without electricity or indoor plumbing.

Jim and his brother loved her dearly.

“Miss Lottie makes the best corn bread in the county,” they boasted and she baked wonderful bread and biscuits too as part of her job. She lived within walking distance of the Ray family and saw the boys off to school in the mornings, and left shortly after they came back home from school. At her aging hands she kept them in ironed shirts and well-creased pants. Often on the walk up the path to the house they would hear Lottie singing songs about Jesus.

Jim knew that Lottie could not read and wondered how she knew about Jesus. One day he courteously asked her. “Jim, the preacher man told me about Jesus out of a nice black book. He said, “Jesus is in this book.” I believed the preacher, and I believed the words about Jesus and learned these here songs I sing.”

Little Kentucky boys know their manners and always addressed her as “Miss Lottie” and treated her with utmost respect. Lottie’s love for the boys was obvious.

One day on a trip into town the boy’s conversation went something like this:

“Miss Lottie needs shoes.

“Well, yes, she does but she seems to be happy without shoes. Winter is coming on though, and she should have something warm for her feet.”

“Yes, something soft and warm, and colored!”

“Mom, can we buy Lottie some shoes today?”

“Boys, we pay Lottie enough that she could buy shoes if she wanted them.”

“But Mom, we just want her to have nice warm feet.”

“Well, when we go into the Mercantile, we can look.”

Miss Lottie often wore a kerchief on her head covering her graying hair that was pulled back into a neat bun. The kerchief was often blue or red, and recently, she found some pink material and stitched herself a cheerful looking head cover. When the boys saw some soft looking, pink house shoes, they begged to buy them for Lottie.

“Boys,” declared Mother, “You just don’t give up.”

Happily the boys brought home those warm looking house shoes and were so excited to give them to Lottie. Indeed, the gift brought tears to Lottie’s eyes. Such love, she felt, must come from Jesus and that Book too. She treasured the house shoes, but continued to come to work barefoot, even as the ground became cold.

Then near Christmas time, Lottie did not come to work. Two days passed and she did not come down the path from her house to the edge of town where the Rays lived. Lottie must be sick. Jim and his brother worried about her.

Two worried boys trudged up that steep incline to Lottie’s humble home. She didn’t answer the door, but it was not locked and cautiously they walked inside. There in her one-room dwelling Lottie lay on her bed, motionless. On her feet were the pink slippers. Under her folded hands lay an open Bible. She died holding the book that told her of Jesus. “Jesus lives in that book” she once told Jim. She died holding Jesus, with those pink slippers on her feet. Feet that Jim feels are now walking on streets of gold.



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