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Ludie Forgiven For Teaching Cooper To Sing

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a good week.  

When I started this week’s column I had planned to go in a different direction, but subsequent events changed that. Pat Bynum called me to let me know that Mrs. Ruthie Joyner had passed away. Everyone knows how I had come to know her and Mr. Chester and how much they meant to me.  I was unable to attend her funeral, so I called Beverly and offered her my condolences and told her how much I had learned to love them.  

Mr. Chester was a genuine war hero, but you would never know it to talk to him. My only regret is that I didn’t know them longer, but I will always treasure the video he made and sent to me and the interviews that I was privileged to have with him.

He had to drop out of school at 14 and go to work at the stave mill. As far as I know, he might have been the last survivor of the people who worked there.  He had promised me that he had some history about the stave mill but unfortunately we never got to that interview before he passed away.  

During the several visits to their home, I could see the pride Miss Ruthie had in him and the joy they both had in having their children and grandchildren near them. They were married over 60 years and raised a great family. They will be greatly missed by me and anyone else who knew them.  Again my condolences to the family.

Next my sister-in-law, Virginia Scanlon, called me to tell me of the death of Gary Redwine. I have known Gary and Lisa for many years, and I knew his dad, Doyle, since I was a kid.  

Doyle and Mother were telephone buddies as both were shut-ins and I know they thought a lot of each other.  Doyle was a quiet-spoken individual, but I saw him defuse a riot once. I mentioned it to him on our last conversation  and he simply said it was something that needed to be done.  

He got out of bed to give us gas one night when some of us boys ran out near his house. He siphoned the gas from his tractor and wouldn’t let us pay him for it.

Pat Bynum was part of the Jumper’s Chapel family when Mother was still able to attend services, and they remained friends for the rest of Mother’s life. Pat’s husband, Don, is the grandson of George Bynum, who was a mainstay at Jumper’s Chapel for many years and was the choir leader most of that time. The only criticism I ever heard about him was that he was usually late, but they would delay the service until he got there. They said the same thing about Bob Myers, but they were both greatly loved by everyone.  

Mr. George loved gospel singing and when I was active in it back then, I would make sure they called on him to direct and I think he really appreciated it. Pat said she has been a part of the Sand Hill congregation and they are doing  a great job. Jumper’s Chapel is hanging in there, and Joel Jones has been doing a good job of holding them together during some difficult times.  

As most of you know I grew up in the Congre-gational Methodist church and it is a very fundamental Christian organization that has been around since the 1850s. I recently looked at a picture of a singing school class that Ludie taught at Jumper’s Chapel, and to the best of my knowledge Dennis McMinn, Doris Ward, and I are the only ones left of that large group of kids. Stamps-Baxter Music Co. was the big name in gospel music at that time and Ludie taught us from their rudiments of music.  

In the mid 1980s my daughter, Terri, went to a singing school taught by Irby Pope in Memphis. He taught from that same Stamps-Baxter rudiments and at the end of the school she was directing like a pro. Unfortunately she only  pursued it for a short time.

A few years ago at a singing convention I introduced Ludie as having taught me in singing school and in typical Ludie speak she said, “I think by now the Lord has forgiven me for that.”  I think she was surprised that she considered me as the least likely student to be the only one who actively pursued gospel music. I’ve heard that teachers always hope that at least one student will go on to great things and sometimes they live to see it.  

In England many years ago, a minister concluded a revival and told his wife he felt it was a failure as he had only converted one little gypsy boy.  Little did he realize then that the little boy would grow up to be Gypsy Smith, a world renowned evangelist, so you never know.  

This will be the first column of our 11th year so keep your input coming and I promise to try to keep Reflections interesting.

My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week and a great year.

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