Glory Be, Let’s Gather At The River
Tim Moseley recounts this tale
My mom let her nextdoor neighbor at Enid Lake talk her into going to church with them one Sunday, and little did she know that she was going to hear this “Fire and Brimstone” preacher try to scare all those present into both a saintly and a tithing life. She was especially appalled when he called all the young people to the front of the church to publicly and tearfully confess their sins, i.e. “God, I told Mama I did my homework Tuesday and I hadn’t done the last 3 problems.”
This whole deal left my mom more than a little angry, at what she perceived, as the evil done in the name of religion.
To express her lack of respect for the pseudo-devout, Miss Alice created this piece that tells the story of a preacher whose sermon was a rant and a rave against all alcohol and whose final line was,”EVERY DROP OF BEER, WINE AND WHISKEY SHOULD BE POURED IN THE RIVER, THIS VERY DAY.” After the preacher’s fiery admonition, there was a long silence to let the impact of the preacher’s words sink in. The choir director then, quite innocently, asked the congregation to open their hymnals to page 64 and join in singing, “Let Us All Gather at the River.”
Miss Alice would then say, “I bet that if they all did gather at the river, some of them would get as drunk as Cooter Brown.”
Cooter Brown, sometimes given as Cootie Brown, is a name used in metaphors and similes for drunkenness, mostly in the southern United States. Cooter Brown supposedly lived on the line which divided the North and South during the American Civil War, making him eligible for military draft by either side. With family on both sides of the line, he decided not to fight but to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration of the war so that he would be seen as useless for military purposes and would not be drafted. Ever since, colloquial and proverbial ratings of drunkenness have been benchmarked against the legendary drinker: “as drunk as Cooter Brown” or “drunker than Cooter Brown.”
Available print is 10×16 and will arrive unmatted in cardboard tube.
Original not currently part of Museum collection.