Let’s Talk Clovis: ‘Humor in Sunday School’ by Arthur Chedister

Arthur Chedister wrote about the early history of Clovis. His articles were printed in the Clovis Independent from 1953-1954. He was born in Clovis on Dec. 9, 1897 (died May 1975) to William and Anna Chedister. His family arrived in Clovis in 1893. His father worked for the Fresno Flume and Irrigation Company.

Chedister served in the Army during WWI (enlisted May 1817, discharged Oct. 1919). Records indicate he lived in Chico in 1920 and moved to Lemoore in 1922. By age 27, he was a civil engineer for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and also worked on the Friant Dam project.

He stated his “The Story of Clovis” articles were based on his personal life here as a young man, extensive research and talking with “old timers” of Clovis: Mrs. Bessie Beasley, Mrs. Lutie Turner, Mr. James McCord, Mr. Glenn Reyburn, Mr. Charles Reyburn, Mr. A.F. Kepley and Mr. Edward Weyman.

Chedister is recognized as an outstanding Clovis historian.

We are sharing a humorous article that he wrote (date unknown):

“As a boy of 5 years of age, I began to attend Sunday School at the old Baptist Church (northeast corner of DeWitt & Fourth). At the age of 7, I became the owner of a dog known as Spot. Spot was the son of a thoroughbred fox terrier mother. His father, as is often the case among the canine family, was unknown.

One fair Sunday morning, I started for Sunday School with my kid sister and, of course, Spot. I sat down with my class, which was right up in the second row from the front. I became aware that old Spot was sitting right under my seat. Well, I did not know what to do. The children all around me knew the dog was there and they were trying to pet him but for some reason none of the adults saw him.

Finally, the Sunday School Superintendent stood up in front and said Sunday School is now in session and we will start off by singing that glorious hymn, “Count Your Many Blessings.” Well, young Mrs. Clark led off with the piano and we all started singing.

Old Spot sat back on his haunches and gave forth with a prolonged howl, the sort of howl a dog gives when he is lost and utterly lonely. Gosh that brought down the house. The singing stopped, the kids started to laugh.

The Superintendent asked, “What in the world was that noise?” The two Deacons, Mr. Bridges and Mr. Nevins, armed with those long poles the Baptists use to make collections with, started tip toeing around trying to see the dog.

Old Spot was as quiet as a mouse and they could not find him and none of the children said a word. Finally we started to sing “Count Your Many Blessing” again and old Spot really turned loose that time and pandemonium prevailed. Mr. Bridges located the dog and he and Mr. Nevins got after him with the bamboo collection poles and old Spot dashed here and there all over the place, yelping whenever anyone made a pass at him, and in good time, he eluded everyone and dashed out the double doors.

The men took out their handkerchiefs and wiped off their faces for it was a warm day for such unlooked-for exercise. The children quieted down and the Superintendent said, “We will now sing ‘Count Your Many Blessings.’” This we did and Sunday School went on, only about 10 minutes late.

After Sunday School, I went outside and there across the street was the innocent cause of it all, with his tail going many miles an hour, and with a grin on his face a mile wide, my dog Spot.”

The Baptist Church arrived in Clovis in 1895. T.R. Rush was their first minister.

We are quoting the following story of Rev. Rush that was published in the “First Baptist Church, an historical review” by Linda Mae Hollesen: “In 1905, Rev. Rush of the Madera Baptist Church came to preach to some of his members who had worked for the Madera Lumber Mill, and were now working in Clovis. He was entertained in the Clovis Hotel (4th & Clovis) which was owned by Mr. Fault who was a good Baptist.

At that time, there was such a demand for rooms that Mr. Fault had divided larger rooms with partitions which were only seven feet high and did not reach to the ceiling. In the middle of the night, all was quiet except a sound like the sawing of wood. It came at regular intervals from the room occupied by the Preacher.

Simultaneously therefore and from different directions, seven shoes and boots came sailing over the partitions and landed on the Preacher’s bed. He turned over on his side and the sound ceased.”

All of the above are part of our precious history.