A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Hot Springs, 1914

By J. Naaman Hall

In our fellowship, we often hear about the great things from our past, but occasionally, there were a few humorous occurrences also.

Sometime around the early to mid-sixties, perhaps about 1964 (during the time of the Assemblies of God’s 50th anniversary), my father, Rev. G. Oliver Hall and I, saw an article in an Assemblies publication, mentioning a story concerning a Rev. Lout, who attended and was ordained with the Assemblies when it was formed in 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I looked over at my father and said, “I wish we could say that our family had been there also, that would be really neat.”

Dad looked back at me, and said with a smile, “Well, you are in luck then. My father attended the meetings in Hot Springs when the Assemblies of God formed.”

“And he joined the Assemblies then?”

“Well, no, he didn’t join for another year and a half because of what happened to him in Hot Springs, but that is quite the story.”

Loving stories as I always have, I pleaded with my father to tell me the story. Following, as best as I remember it, is the story my father told me, as it was told to him by his father, Lee Hall:

Some background: George Lee Hall was a young Pentecostal minister, affiliated with the Apostolic Faith movement since 1905. That year, he and several of his buddies went to one of the Pentecostal “shows” in Eureka Springs with the intention of throwing tomatoes and rotten eggs at “them funny holy rollers.” However, the Holy Spirit convicted Lee during the service, and he was saved and filled with the Spirit, and became one of them funny holy rollers himself. Sometime afterwards (approximately 1907), he felt called into the ministry, and for several years he and several of his friends began to sing and preach all over the Ozark area, traveling to different churches either walking or riding mules to get there.

In 1914, Lee heeded the call for Pentecostal ministers to come to a special convention in Hot Springs, so he boarded a train, traveling from California, to get there. Traveling coach for several days was not exactly a pleasant experience at that time, with the heat and smoke of the train, so Lee dressed in his everyday work clothes to make the trip. Work clothes in those days, although functional, were not necessarily new or neat. The clothes that he chose to wear were worn, a bit shabby, but were clean, comfortable, and they did the job for manual labor. Besides being a minister, Lee was working at that time as a foreman of a ranch in Tulare County, in order to provide for his young family. Needless to say, his clothes were not what you might expect a minister to wear.

Lee Hall, far right, is seen here at about the same time as this story took place,
wearing work clothes as foreman of the Zumwalt Ranch near Porterville, California.

After he arrived, Lee, as you can imagine, wasn’t looking his best and probably needed a shave, and his worn clothes were certainly mussed up from the trip. Hygiene aboard the train was probably poor also. After debarking, he walked around town, where he spotted what he thought was the funniest thing. A man dressed in a nice suit had a dress on a hanger, hanging off the back of his suit jacket. [Note: Anna Jeanne Price says in a book published later that it was a skirt, pinned to the back of Brother Lout’s jacket. Mrs. Ruth Lout (coauthor of the book and Anna Jeanne Price’s grandmother) would have undoubtedly known the truth of the matter.]

Lee began to follow Rev. Lout, wondering how he could tell him, but he also enjoyed the smiles (and some laughter) that Bro. Lout was garnering from others. Brother Lout remained blissfully unaware of the attention he was getting at that time.

However, Brother Lout did notice that there was a man following him, and thinking him to be a beggar or perhaps worse, he stepped into a store to see what would happen. The man followed him right into the store! So, he walked into and out of several more stores hoping to elude the man, but for some reason, the man was still following him.

At that time, it was common for male travelers to carry a walking stick which they could use to defend themselves against the notorious types that congregated at conventions and meetings.

Rev. Hall finally approached Rev. Lout and caught him by his arm, thinking to tell him about the skirt, but Brother Lout, thinking himself about to be accosted, turned around and gave that “beggar man” a stern trouncing with his walking stick until he let him go. Thereupon, Lee high-tailed it out of there as fast as he could. A short time later, someone told Rev. Lout about the skirt, and he then realized that the man had probably only wanted to tell him about it. Much embarrassed, he returned the skirt to their room, chastising his wife about it.

Rev. Lout searched around town until he found Rev. Hall and apologized profusely to him, asking what he could do to make up for his error in judgment.

He even offered to buy Lee a new suit, but Lee replied, “No, I’m originally from the hills, and I don’t accept charity. Besides, I got a suit. I just wasn’t wearing it at the time. Those were my traveling clothes.”

Grandpa had his feelings hurt, in addition to having received a “trouncing.” He felt that if that was the kind of reception he was going to receive, then they could do without his presence at the meetings. So, within a day and a half of arriving at Hot Springs, Lee got back on the train and went back home.

My father concluded the story alleging that his father said, “I thought that I had met up with a real lout that day, and it turned out that I did, Rev. Lout!” We both had a good laugh at Grandpa’s pun.

However, it wasn’t long before Lee Hall decided that the new organization was indeed worth joining, and in 1916 he joined into fellowship with the Assemblies of God and was ordained.

Afterwards, I told my father that he ought to write the story up and send it in to the Pentecostal Evangel, but he said, “Oh, no. I could never do that, for it might embarrass the Lout family, as there are still some of them around.

“Furthermore, I don’t want you to ever write up the story either, promise?”

“Yes, Daddy,” I answered. And I kept that promise until recently, when my wife and I became friends with some of the descendents of Rev. Lout, and they thought the story, a comedy of errors, to be as interesting as I did, and gave me permission to publish the story.

*For additional information on this testimony, see Ruth Lout with Anna Jeanne Price, New-Born Fire (Jasper, AR: Engeltal Press, 1987), 86-88.

J. Naaman Hall, a third-generation member of the Assemblies of God, is editor of the Ol’ Fashion Camp Meeting Newsletter which is distributed to past members of Oak Cliff Assembly of God in Dallas, Texas. He may be contacted at: john.hall@att.net

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