Tuesday, May 7, 2013

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS #25: Memories of "Uncle Bud" Robinson

Albie's Note:  There was once a legendary American preacher of the Nazarene persuasion named Rueben "Uncle Bud" Robinson. (1860-1942) 

I have long believed the greatest testiment to his enduring appeal is that you will, to this day, hear him quoted in not only Methodist/Nazarene, but also Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal and other pulpits as one of the great old preachers of yesteryear.  Trust me, it takes a pretty wide appeal to manage that kind of interdenominational reputation!

A great old book about "Uncle Buddy" is BUD ROBINSON, A Brother Beloved by James Blaine Chapman, Copyright 1943 By Beacon Hill Press.  It is chock full of great biographical info on this unusual servant of God [he was the son of a drunkard, a hard living cowhand as a youth before his conversion, stuttered all his life, and had very little formal education!]

Bud was first converted at a Texas camp meeting in the 1880s.  He preached all over America for decades all the way up to early years of World war 2!  There are even some extant recordings of his unusual voice and style.   One of the best parts of this book is a chapter that simply collects individual memories from fellow ministers of the man they refered to as "everybody's uncle."  I really enjoyed this passage that follows-- a set of particularly touching recollections by one Pastor U.E.  Harding:

When I was pastor at First Church, Pasadena, Bud Robinson was a member of my church. Once when he was at home for the holidays, we announced he would speak on Sunday afternoon. Those who know southern California, know that folks do not rally for a Sunday afternoon service, especially during the holiday season. But Bud Robinson never failed to draw a crowd, even in his home town. While eating my Sunday dinner, I told my family that this service would test Uncle Bud's popularity in his home church. Before the meal was over the custodian called and said to me, "Get the ushers on their job for the house is filled now and they are going to the galleries."  This was long before time for the service.

One day we were invited out together for dinner. A long platter was filled with golden brown fried chicken, everything from light to dark meat, drumsticks to gizzards, was set before us.  The lady hostess, so pleased that Bud Robinson was in her home for the first time, stood back of  him and said, "what is your choice piece Uncle Bud?"

He replied, "Why pick over it; ain't we goin' to eat all of it!?"

He was a man who loved children, and they all loved him. When our little girl, Mavis, at the age of eleven, went to be with Jesus, Uncle Bud was unable to attend the funeral. Some months later we saw him, and when Mrs. Harding and I met him we were all crying. He put his arms around both of us and called us "Children," and said amid sobs, "children, we know where she is when the curfew blows." We received many letters and wires of words of sympathy, but the words of this mountaineer philosopher have cheered us thousands of times and we have passed them on to others passing through sorrow.

Bud Robinson always had good things to say about everyone. If he ate a meal and the lady had only fried apples, he would boost the cook and say she was the greatest cook since Eve fried apples for Adam, and her husband was a miracle worker. Once when he had spent the night with a family in Missouri, in a preacher's home where there was a large family, he bade them good-by and asked God's blessing upon the home, and then gave them the love offering he had received the evening before. Driving away he sat in silence until one of the party asked him what was wrong.

He said, "Well, we will have to go back." They took him back and he gave the preacher's wife some more money and then rode away singing cheer to the rest of the party. That family of children are growing into manhood and womanhood. They are here where I am pastor, attending college, but they still remember Uncle Bud's wonderful visit.

Years ago, we were walking across the camp ground together. A lady came running up to him and looking him square m the face said, "And you are Bud Robinson?"

He said with a chuckle,  "I pay his tax."

She said, "I came five hundred miles to see you." Then she said, "You look like Jesus." He didn't swell up over this, even though it was the greatest compliment any man could receive, but he cried and wiping away the tears said, "Just pray that I will live like Him."

When with a group of his fellow ministers he was the center of attraction and entertained them with his stories. Sometimes professional men get critical of others in like professions, or of the people they serve. Immediately Uncle Bud would lose his interest and you would hear him singing "Amazing Grace" as he twiddled his thumbs. He perhaps knew more human weaknesses and sometimes even sins of the folks under discussion, but he knew it would not help them to tell it, but would hurt him.

Some of his close friends, given to impersonations, sometimes entertained their friends imitating Uncle Bud, with his quaint lisp. Even this writer they say is proficient at it. On one occasion in company with my friend of years, Rev. N. B. Herrell, for whom I was holding a meeting, said to me, "Call up Mrs. Herrell and imitate Uncle Bud and we will have a good dinner today." I did so, and when Mrs. Herrell said, "Well, Uncle Bud, what do you want for dinner?" I said, "Oh, chicken and dumplings, I guess, and some home-made ice cream." When we got to the house, using Uncle Buddie's phrase, "the perfume of chicken broth pervaded the settlement." The nice white linen table cloth was spread and one of the boys was on the porch turning the ice cream freezer.

But I would prefer to imitate him in his humble spirit, his forgiving heart, his optimism, and to look only for the good in everyone. This humble philosopher, Second Reader preacher, and author from the Tennessee hills! He was at home with a King in his parlor, or with a Peasant in the kitchen.

-- U. E. Harding, Pastor College Church, Nampa, Idaho.


"I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds." 
-- Jer. 5:5


Oscar said...

A really interesting sort of preacher.

Albie The Good said...

OSCAR: Yeah, very interesting old "sky pilot"... these anecdotes were just the tip of the iceberg!