Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dinner on the Grounds

Dinner on the ground at Enon Primitive Baptist Church, about 1970,
before the kitchen and fellowship hall were built

Having visited several of Itawamba County's cemeteries in the past couple of years, I've collected quite a few photographs of the tables that were once used, or perhaps still rarely used, for "dinner on the grounds" following church services. In earlier times, church used to be an all-day event, typically with preaching in the morning followed by a noon-day meal, then more preaching or perhaps singing, but always with lots of fellowship in between. This was in the days before churches built kitchens and fellowship halls. Now, the use of outdoor tables has diminished or altogether stopped. Itawamba County still has quite a collection of tables, although I wonder how many of them are still being put to good use.

Some of the tables are in cemeteries without an accompanying church, such as Bourland's Cemetery, and those tables would be used following Decoration Day services. Following a sermon or some hymns, it was time to pull weeds, replace flowers, and in some cemeteries, scrape the ground of every blade of grass. The meal usually preceded the sermon, and this was the perfect occasion for women to show off their latest recipes and best dishes.

Liberty Cemetery, typical construction, wooden frame
covered with chicken wire

Sturdy concrete table at Burnt Fields Church and Cemetery

Covered table at Benefield Cemetery

Kennedy Chapel, wood top

Mt. Carmel Cemetery

Bourland Cemetery, table to rear of covered meeting


LPM said...

I remember going to my Grandpa and Grandma Ashcraft's church, Gravel Hill Baptist, and eating on those tables. I was 5 or 6 the last time we went, but I still remember the adults calling it "Homecoming". Do they still have those anywhere?

Don Dulaney said...

I think this is one of the best post you have done. I too remember those dinners. Meatloaf, greenbeen cassereole, Sweetpotato pie, and lots of blackeyed peas and cornbread. and getting in trouble for gettin your sunday clothes dirty.

Ma Jean said...

Thanks again for a wonerful memory.I've carried many a dish and eaten my share at Enon. That table is still put to use at our big meetings when the dining hall won't hold all of us. I do believe grace is being said in this picture. That is Bro. McWhirter with his head bowed at the end of the table. Sister McWhirter is the lady in the Red coat.

Arvel said...

Your photos and narrative capture the contrasts of marble monuments and food on the table, the celebration of life on the same grounds memoralizing the dead.

Kirk Robinson said...

I agree with all, Mona.Great post.Those were some nice gatherings.We always had a huge collection of casserole plates and finish with a great choice of cakes and pies.Also, who can forget those old outhouses?

Judith Richards Shubert said...

What an interesting post and pictures! I remember seeing tables like this in cemeteries when I was young, but haven't seen any, or perhaps haven't paid attention, in a long time. Thanks for sharing this with us, Mona.

rebekah said...

I don't see no Sandy Springs tables?