You CAN Go Home Again By Dan Page, Volunteer Storyteller
"hen the Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you."Genesis 31:3
Decades after leaving Fairfield, KY, for “city life” in Louisville, the U.S. Army and eventually California, his boyhood home remains Charlie Hall’s touchstone. He still returns on occasion.
While he fondly recalls family, friends and frolicking as a youngster in the Kentucky hills, his most powerful memory is his declaration of faith and baptism more than 60 years ago at age 12. “There was the Little Union Baptist Church in Fairfield. We would go to church in a buckboard, with a mule in front of it. I sang in the church choir. I enjoyed that,” Charlie said. “I went to the revival at the church and I decided to make the choice to become baptized. I had already decided I wanted to be the right person in life,” Charlie said. “I was baptized in the creek by my grandfather. I’ll never forget it.”
His grandfather looms large in his memories – literally. “He was a big man for those days. Six feet tall,” Charlie recalls. “He had no running water. My job was to split wood to keep the fire in the wood stove. Back then it was the only source of heat.”
His grandparents used coal oil lanterns for light and listened to a battery-operated radio for entertainment. His grandmother would cook breakfast on a hot piece of sheet metal atop a warm morning stove. “It would get blood red,” Charlie said.
Charlie enjoys returning to Fairfield when he can. While his childhood memories remain vivid, his grandparents are gone along with their house and an uncle’s next door. A barn remains on land that belongs to someone else now. “The farm has changed hands a couple of times,” Charlie said.
But the self-reliance, resilience and, most importantly, faith instilled in him as a boy remain strong. “I still go back and visit that church occasionally. The preacher will come up and say, ‘Who are you.’ I say, ‘Well, I was baptized here.’ ”
“It all starts from your heart,” Charlie said. “I had a lot of good people that helped form my life when I was a kid, hard-working farmers who lived off the land and survived. My grandfather depended on the Lord. Everybody needs something to believe in. Faith, you have to have that to make your life complete.”