Lawrence – My Hometown
Martha, the Preacher’s Daughter
By Richard E. Noble
It is well documented throughout the annals of history that preacher’s daughters are often problematic for their fathers. I don’t know why this is so universally accepted but this phenomenon is not much debated – except by preachers. I know that many of my male friends have felt extremely “blessed” in having the good fortune as to have bumped into a preacher’s daughter, here and there, while diligently trying to traverse their “difficult” years – assuaging “that hard to be governed passion of youth” as Ben Franklin so aptly testified. Ben went on to state that he felt himself lucky to not have caught “distemper” or something even worse. Yes, yes how often I have heard my contemporaries whisper the very same ejaculation.
In most areas a preacher’s daughter usually accepts the direction laid before her by her father’s testimony. It is only in certain areas that they most often have disagreement.
Martha was her father’s daughter in 99% of his teachings. Her only real conflict came in dealing with the personal anxieties of young men while discussing life in the back seat of a ‘54 Ford or a ‘57 Chevy at a drive-in movie or other acceptable, popular locations.
In these situations her religious fervor was often dissipated by the persistence of a young man not so versed in the scriptures or moral philosophy. Martha was known to be a girl of few words and definite action. This was considered a good thing, if not a sure thing by most of the young men in the area.
But in this tale I am not going to get into those few areas where Martha disagreed with her daddy but rather I have chosen to discuss some of those areas where her faith and trust in the positions of her father were not lacking – automobile radiators for example.
A young friend of mine became extremely infatuated with Martha and certain of her many charms. He had convinced himself that her religious “hang-ups” were of minor significance and could be handled without much difficulty. For example, one could simply agree – until the lights went out and the movie started or whatever. My friend was doing quite well in this regard even to the point where he accepted her challenge to meet her father … at their home … adjacent to the church. This was worrisome to my pal.
“I don’t know,” he said. “This is kind of like making an appointment with God. I am supposed to go there, before God, and pretend that I am not screwing his daughter. And she is going to be standing there beside me pretending to be “unscrewed” herself. I don’t know. I’m worried,” he told me.
“Well first of all,” I said. “This guy is not God. He is just a preacher. He might be on a little better terms with God than you are but he ain’t going to know what is going on between you and Martha unless you give yourself away. Certainly Martha ain’t going to say anything … will she?”
“I don’t know. She would have to be crazy to do that … wouldn’t she?”
“I would think so. I would guess that you won’t have any problem.”
So the two of them met with God the father and there was no problem. In fact, after the meeting Martha asked Dad if she could borrow the car so that her and her new pal could go for a drive to the beach for a little fun in the sun. Dad smiled benignly and handed her the keys.
God the father’s car was a 59 Cadillac, fins and all … red and cream colored. It was heavenly. Martha drove. Martha was very excited about this whole business … extremely excited. When they finally pulled the heavenly chariot to the shore’s edge, Martha was sitting on the edge of rationality. She turned off the ignition and wanted to play “submarine” and take the ship under right there in the front seat of God the father’s 1959 red and cream with matching interior Cadillac car. My buddy absolutely and categorically refused. He felt that this would definitely be in the area of sacrilege or heresy and could be subject to burning at the stake or disemboweling at the least. In consequence, they rushed to the beach and discussed the nature of abstinence between two snuggly beach blankets. Their argument went back and forth and up and down but finally climaxed in a mutual agreement – two or three times.
The first portion of the ride home was very pleasant and relaxing but at about half the distance to home base, my pal noticed that the heat gauge on the Caddy was rising rather rapidly. He didn’t say anything until it entered the danger zone.
“Martha, the temperature gauge is getting over to hot.”
“It will be all right,” said Martha.
A few more miles down the road and the temperature gauge was looking serious.
“Martha, stop at the next gas station.”
“Why? We have plenty of gas,” said Martha.
“It is not the gas that I am worried about. It’s the temperature gauge. The car is overheating. We have got to stop and put some water in the radiator.”
“I have never had to do that before. Maybe the gauge is coo-coo. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
My friend was very nervous.
“Martha, we better pull over and let this thing cool down. I think I see smoke coming out from under the hood. There is something wrong with the radiator.”
“That is ridiculous. I have never had a problem with the radiator. Daddy always has the car checked and serviced. My father wouldn’t let me use the car if there was something wrong with it.”
“I am sure that your daddy didn’t know that there was something wrong with it when he gave it to us. But there is something wrong now.”
“I don’t think that there is anything wrong.”
“Yeah, well I do.”
“I’ll tell you what; let’s pray on it. I am sure that God will help and protect us. Repeat after me ... Oh Lord, my god…”
“Oh Lord, my God…”
“Please don’t let anything be wrong with our radiator and allow us to get home safely.”
“Martha, God is not a mechanic. Henry Ford invented the automobile not Jesus.1 You have got to stop at the next gas station.”
Martha didn’t believe in stopping … she believed in praying. She prayed aloud all the way home. Steam was pouring out from under the hood when they pulled into her drive. The temperature gauge was off the meter. When she shut off the ignition she turned to my buddy and smiled. “You see,” she said. “Nothing happened and we are home safe … oh ye of little faith.”
“Give me the damn keys!” my buddy demanded.
He grabbed a blanket and ran to the front of the car. The hood was so hot he could hardly touch it. He got the hood up. Everything was hissing and pissing all over. He tried to remove the radiator cap. He turned it ever so slightly with his hand wrapped in the blanket and it exploded. He jumped away from the car and watched.
Suddenly there was God the father behind him.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph … have mercy. What in the name of all that is holy have you done?”
“We didn’t do anything, Daddy. It exploded by itself.2 We’re so lucky. I prayed us all the way home. And look here we are both safe and sound.”
“Get in the house Martha and go to your room.”
“Why, Daddy? We…”
“NEVER MIND WHY! Just do as I say and NOW!”
Martha burst into tears and went running into the house.
“What is the matter with you?” God the father said to my pal. “You just sat there and let Martha blow up my new Cadillac?”
“I asked her to pull over or to go to a gas station, but she wouldn’t. She said God would protect us. She prayed all the way home. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell her that God wouldn’t help us. That’s what she believes.”
“I know what she believes, boy. I taught her everything she knows.”
“Yes, really. But I let her go with you because you looked like you had a little damn common sense! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Are you an idiot? Don’t you know that radiators need water? What am I supposed to do now?”
“Ahh … don’t worry about me, sir, I’ll just walk home.”
“You’ll walk home, well isn’t that wonderful. He’s going to walk home,” God the father said looking up toward the heavens. “‘Don’t worry about him,’ he says … ‘he will just walk home.’ Can you believe this Jesus?”3
My pal backed his butt out of the drive as quickly and softly as was reasonable.
In discussing this story over the years me and my buddy have both agreed. One can pray all he wants, but God is still not going to fill anybody’s radiator.
1 I know that Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. Please don’t interrupt me when I’m trying to think.
2 That is what she always said.
3 Need I say, once again, that there was no response?
Richard Edward Noble is a freelance writer and columnist. His local column, the Eastpointer, won the first place 2007 humor award from the Florida Press Association. He has published several books. All of his books can be viewed and purchased on Amazon.com. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for bookstore discounts and volume sales.