“One night during a revival, we had a very heavy rain. Besides myself, only one other person showed up at the church, a young man. I read a scripture lesson, and had prayer before the young man said, ‘Now, Preacher, you have to go home with me tonight. There is nobody else here.’ Well, we walked for a mile up a steep hill in the red mud.
“The boy hung up his lantern and said, ‘Hey, Paw, guess what we have for breakfast? Preacher!’
“‘Put him in your bed. You can sleep on the cot,’ said Paw. Man and wife were in a bed in the front room.
“The son picked up the oil lamp from the table and led the way up a steep stairway to the second floor. It was a story and a half house, with the sloping ceilings common to such. There were four teenage daughters, lying in two double beds in a room without partitions. The boy put down the lamp, took off all his clothes, and lay down on the cot.
“‘You can have my bed there,’ he said, indicating another double bed.
“‘Do you blow out this lamp?’ I asked.
“‘Nope, we leave her burn,’ he replied.
“What was I to do? I had to get into my pajamas in some way, and while the girls all had their eyes closed, I had no way of knowing if they were asleep, or ‘playing possum.’
“Because of the slope of the ceiling, the bed would go no closer than three feet to the wall. I bent over, after having turned the lamp down as low as I dared, crawled back in the space behind the head of the bed, and changed my clothes. I came out, turned up the lamp, put my shirt over the dirty pillow, and crawled into the filthy sheets.
“In a few minutes, I felt something crawling on my back. I caught the insect and crushed it between my finger and thumb, and knew from the odor that I had caught a bedbug. I fought those bugs all night until about 4:30, when the daylight gave me relief. When I threw back the covers, a whole battalion of bedbugs scurried for cover into a hole in the old straw mattress.
“‘Well, I sung the cooks up; now I’ll sing the preacher up.’ the father said. He sang all the way out to feed the pigs.
“I drove the 26 miles back home that night after church. When I told Elizabeth at the door about the bedbugs, she made me take off all my clothes on the front porch. I even had to leave my suitcase outside. Needless to say, I never went back to that house to eat or sleep again!
“Such are the fortunes of those who would serve the Lord in West Virginia in the earlier days. I found that conditions were worse near the Ohio River than in the mountain areas of the state.”
Rev. Troy Robert Brady
Elkins, WV native