By Anita Garner
Here’s Mother’s new pastor’s wife costume. At Daddy’s request, she’d already raised her plunging necklines and toned down the amount of cling in her skirts, but this was as far as she was willing to go. She left honky tonks behind to follow him, but she never renounced her fondness for clothes that were shiny.
My brother and I heard Daddy’s carefully chosen words about the proper apparel for each church occasion and when Mother stepped outside the parsonage to go to the funeral that day, we caught a glimpse of his expression in the second it took him to hide his surprise with a compliment. He told her she looked so beautiful he should take a picture. She beamed. He clicked this one and off we went.
It was a summer funeral on a day hot enough to require the use of the paper fans provided by the funeral home.
Past rows and rows of men in dark suits and church women wearing black and brown and navy, Sister Fern, a beacon glowing in satin and perspiration, stepped near the coffin to sing.
One of the songs requested often for funerals during the 1950’s in the Deep South was “Whispering Hope.” Mother loved a church organ, but not many of our churches had one, and when she recorded her first album this is the only song she recorded with an organ.
Here’s “Whispering Hope,” written in the early 1900’s and interpreted here in the 1950’s by Sister Fern Jones with The Revelators Quartet.