Of serpents and serenades

The Annie Moses Band

The Annie Moses Band

May is that kind of month where everyone gets awards, graduates and moves on. Two weeks ago, I went to Nashville along with two student editors to pick up an award and attend the tail end of the Evangelical Press Association contest. The highlight of the evening was the appearance of the Annie Moses Band, an amazing ensemble I’d never heard of before. It’s a band headed by some awfully good female violinists that sings/plays everything from spirituals to old stand-bys. They were so good, I gave them a standing ovation and I NEVER give anyone standing ovations. Veeka was there of course and she was in a bad mood all during the awards dinner but she quieted down during the music.

Andrew Hamblin, in red, handles a rattler. The man in black on the left is Jamie Coots, one of the country's best-known handlers. I went to his homecoming last summer

Andrew Hamblin, in red, handles a rattler. The man in black on the left is Jamie Coots, one of the country’s best-known handlers. I went to his homecoming last summer

The next day, the students returned to Jackson and I headed east to LaFollette, where I had gone to report on 20-something serpent handlers. This time I was returning to the church of Andrew Hamblin, now 22, who I profiled for the Wall St. Journal a year ago. Amazing how much has changed over a year. I am now living in Tennessee and the Hamblins now have 5 kids. I tried shooting photos and video of the service but I’ve not loaded iMovie yet, so the video will have to wait. It was pouring rain all weekend, which dampened peoples’ ability to hang around outside, which is where I get into the best conversations with folks. So Veeka played with some of the little Hamblins while their dad opened the service with his classic speech on “There’s death in that box,” pointing to the snake boxes up front. And several of the folks there kicked off the festivities by lighting wicks in Coke bottles placed up front and holding those flames to their hands which presumably weren’t getting burned. The snakes came out around 8 pm and were passed around a bit but everything was over at 11 pm, which is early for this crowd. We headed back to Knoxville, as the Sunday service didn’t start until the afternoon and I couldn’t linger that long. Again, I think Veeka thinks that having boxes of rattlesnakes and copperheads in front of a church is normal.

Veeka and I in one of the pews at Tabernacle Church of God

Veeka and I in one of the pews at Tabernacle Church of God

A few days later, we had awards night for her Awana group, which she had attended all year and memorized Bible verses. Meanwhile, the newspaper I was advising put out its last issue, which included three investigative articles by students in my advanced reporting class. Yesterday is my mother’s birthday; mine comes in a few days and already I am booking Veeka into summer camps. There’s swimming lessons, gymnastics camp, vacation Bible school, music/art camp and one where she will be away from me for three days. By the way, for those of you who want the magazine stacks in stores, be sure to buy a copy of More magazine, a glossy of 1.2 million circ. that is for women over 40. I have a story in this issue about women who want to become Catholic priests. I realize lots of folks may disagree with this. But I’d been talking with the magazine for some time and this is what we agreed on and it took a ton of work last fall to assemble. And they have not posted the online version yet so for now, you have to go out and buy it. Have no control over that – sorry!

Veeka's Awana group sings for the parents. She's on the far right.

Veeka’s Awana group sings for the parents. She’s on the far right.

2 thoughts on “Of serpents and serenades

  1. John Morgan

    That sounds like one busy family! I’m not familiar with the Annie Moses Band, but there are some very good musicians around this area as well – including ladies. If you like gospel music, be sure to check out Karen Peck and New River if they come to town. Karen is a dynamite singer. I also know a young lady who is a banjo virtuoso.

    Reading about the rattle snakes reminded me of the story you did a while back about the preacher who met a different fate. It’s interesting they were 20-somethings. I usually think of older, much older, men doing that.

    I too have wondered why some people seem to be more open to conversation en plein air. Maybe they feel more secure that it’s not bouncing off walls and being heard by other people. Privacy is getting harder and harder to find these days.

    Be sure to show Veeka . . . hamsters. Much nicer.

  2. Mary Ann Kreitzer

    Sounds like you and Veeka are pretty busy. Larry and I have a new venture. As of one week ago we are beekeepers with two hives and thousands of bees with two busy queens who are laying like crazy. We are really excited and look forward to being honey producers next year if we do a good job and get our bees through the winter. If you get up this way come visit. Bees are a popular subject these days. Maybe you can do a story on them as an excuse to come visit Camp Kreitzer!

Comments are closed.