Some Recollections
by John V. Moore
 Some Recollections of Collins Memorial Methodist Church in the 1930’s and 1940’s
I grew up in Bolton, in a household containing four generations, of whom I was the only child.  
My great-grandmother and I spent hours together every day until she died at age ninety-nine,
when I was ten.  She taught me to read, spell and write, before I entered first grade at Bolton School.  
She was mentally sharp until the day she died, and I remember her telling me about the morning the Yankee soldiers came to their farm, when she was already a young woman of twenty.
Since my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were devout Methodists,
Collins Memorial played a central role in our lives.  The most ardent churchgoer in our family
was my grandfather, Miles Hughes.  I was very devoted to him and went with him everywhere,
 which meant that I spent a great deal of time in that church, from earliest childhood.  
We were there every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening, at midweek services, and at every revival---
not to mention the many funerals, on which that society was fixated.  
One day my grandfather told me to put on my good clothes, because we were going to a big funeral;
I can’t have been more than four years old.  Walking up Bolton Road, we soon noticed cars parked on both sides of the street, beginning long before we arrived at church, and when we entered the church, we took two of the few remaining empty seats.  By the time the funeral began, standees lined every wall.
The corpse lay in an open coffin before the altar.  I fidgeted during the eulogy, which I was too young to understand, and then something remarkable happened.  While the congregation sang a hymn, a procession of ghosts wearing white robes and pointed white hoods that covered their faces entered one door of the church.  They marched down one aisle, past the coffin, and then up the other aisle and out the other door.  After that, the ritual resumed.
I had no idea what that was all about, and my grandfather told me nothing; rather, we walked home
in total silence.  That was unusual, since he and I enjoyed talking to each other without let-up.  
I had the feeling he was very troubled by what we had seen.  
In June of 1936 I took part in an interesting event at Collins Memorial: a Tom Thumb wedding.  
This was a make-believe wedding ceremony, in which only children from about ages three to seven participated.  I suppose it was an excuse for little boys to put on mini-tuxedos and little girls to dress up in gowns.  Judging from my mother’s notes, the “bride” and “groom” were Louise Mauldin and Paul Garmon.  I remember that the master of ceremonies was Virlyn B. Moore, Jr., and I believe this was a fund-raiser for the church, although I can’t imagine why I would recall a detail like that, after so many decades.  
After all, I was only three years old at the time.
What makes this Tom Thumb wedding interesting to me now is that I have a 73-year-old photo
(copy enclosed) of that event, and my mother wrote the names of the participants on the back of that photo.  Astonishing is the fact that the photo shows over sixty children, presumably all members of the church.  This indicates a total church membership of many hundreds in 1936.  In contrast, when I went to a Sunday morning service there in 2004, no more than forty people were in attendance, only two of whom remembered me: Charlotte Brown, my classmate at Bolton School, and Leo Carlton,
my childhood next-door neighbor on Bolton Road.
I attended Sunday School at Collins Memorial from earliest childhood and remember my teachers,
Miss Annie Mae and Miss Pearl.  They seemed to like me, since I was good-natured and usually behaved myself.  At age thirteen I moved to Japan, and after another year in Bolton at age sixteen, I moved away permanently.  When I returned to visit Collins Memorial in my late 20’s, I remember Miss Annie Mae coming up to me after the service and saying approximately the following: “Jack, you’ve lived in Japan and Germany and gotten three Ivy League degrees, but don’t ever forget us here in Bolton, because we loved you and still do.”  I was very touched that she said that to me.  
My favorite church event was homecoming, held every October, after Sunday morning service,
 under the tall pines beside the Sunday School building.  The ladies of the church brought their most delicious dishes, and dinner on the grounds was quite an occasion.  The deviled eggs and
 Jerusalem artichoke pickles and banana cream pies were especially mouth-watering.  
Occasionally a few families would have attendance contests during Sunday morning service,
 just before the sermon began.  The members of each family would stand in turn and be counted.  
The winner was the family with the most members present that morning.  The McDonalds usually won,
as three prolific McDonald brothers had settled in Bolton in the early days and they and their descendants were faithful members of our church.  But from time to time the Moores would win.  Since my grandmother had been a McDonald and my father was a Moore, there was often a dispute about which family my mother and I should stand up with during those contests.  
I had close family connections to the church.  My mother was choir director there for many years,
and choir rehearsal was held in our living room every Thursday evening.  The choir members made a great to-do over me at those rehearsals, as I was an agreeable and outgoing child.  I still remember the names of several of the most faithful choir members of that time: Margie Smith, Frank Porch, the Bowles twins (Ernestine and Etheline, I believe), and Virlyn Moore, known to all as “Codger.”  My mother’s first cousin, Dorothy McDonald, was church pianist.  Our church could not afford an organ, but around 1940 we purchased a Magnavox, an electronic devise with an octave or two of notes that was attached to the front of the piano keyboard.  The Magnavox had stops (strings, clarinet, etc.) and sounded like an organ to me,
at age eight.  Cousin Dorothy would play the melody on the Magnavox with her right hand and the accompaniment on the piano with her left hand.  My great uncle, Dr. Paul McDonald, sat beside the pianist in the choir loft and played a descant to the hymns on his cornet.  Another great uncle,
Mark McDonald, was an art glass cutter by profession, and played a role in the manufacture or installation of the stained-glass windows at Collins Memorial.  Small wonder that I sometimes felt our church was a family undertaking.
When I turned thirteen and left Bolton School to begin eighth grade at West Fulton High in Center Hill,
 I also left the family pew to join the older boys, who sat on the back row and misbehaved,
especially during Sunday evening service.  The preacher tried to humiliate us from time to time,
 by interrupting his sermon to tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves for “cutting up” like heathens.  
We were contrite and promised our parents we would mend our ways.
Those of us who spent our formative years at Collins Memorial were fortunate to have grown up in such a secure and loving atmosphere, and I believe we became better adults for having had that experience.  
My great-grandmother, who taught me to read and write and spell before I entered first grade,
 is memorialized, along with her husband, in one of the beautiful stained-glass windows in the church.  
They were Alfred Turner McDonald (1854-1943) and Harriet Prudence Irwin McDonald (1844-1943).
Photo will be here soon
Photo of the Tom Thumb Wedding held at
Collins Memorial Methodist Church, Bolton, Georgia, in June 1936
Following are the names of the children in the photo, as written down by my mother:
1st row:  Billy Mauldin, Mary Jo Smith, Carl Hartrampf, Bobby Jean Allen, Katherine Bryant,
 Jack Moore [me], Anne _____, Junior Vinson, Louise Mauldin, Paul Garmon, Joan Vining, Sally Rabun, James Hudgins, ?, ?, Billy Adams, ?, Elizabeth Whelchel
2nd row:  Sammy Adams, _____ Eades, _____ Brown, Pat Rabun, Sara Whitaker, Sidney Daniell,
Ancel Hudson, ____ Wooten, Lorraine Moore, Charles Poss, Gordon Bone, Ralph Rutherford
3rd row:  ?, ?, Anne McLain, ?, Baird Hudgins, Martha Anne Warren, ?, Betty Alverson, Walter Swink, ?, George Brown
4th row:  Dorothy Rogers, Avis Rogers, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?
5th row:  Mary Mayes, ?, ?, Betty Anne Whitaker, Alice Harkins, Jean Blackman, ?, _____ Barton,
 _____ Smith, John Eades
My mother knew most of the members of the church at that time,
 but I cannot vouch that all the above is accurate.
Collins Church 2009
picture by Rob Saye
pictures of Collins UMC
 by Rob Saye
Charles Sherwood Stratton & Lavinia Warren
wedding photo
 Feb. 10, 1863
General Tom Thumb, was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton, Jan. 4, 1838 - July 15, 1883. Born in Bridgeport to parents of medium height, he was born weighing 9 lbs. 8 oz. He developed and grew normally for the first 6 months., at which he was 25 in. tall and weighed 15 lbs. Then he stopped growing. P.T. Barnum was a distant cousin ( half fifth cousins, twice removed), and taught the boy to sing, dance, mime, and impersonate famous people. Barnum took Tom Thumb on the road. It was said to have been, love at first sight, when Charles met Lavinia. The marriage became front page news all over the world. Following the wedding, the couple was received by President Lincoln at the White House. Under Barnum’s management, Tom Thumb became a wealthy man. He owned a house in N.Y., a steam yacht, and a wardrobe of fine clothes. When Barnum got into financial difficulty, he bailed him out, and became business partners. Tom Thumb made his last appearance in England in 1878. In 1883, he died at 45 years old, 3.3 ft tall, and weighed 71 lbs. Over 10,000 people attended the funeral. Barnum purchased a life sized statue and placed it as a grave marker. His wife was interred next to him with a simple grave stone that reads,” His Wife.”
A "Tom Thumb wedding,” refers to a wedding pageant in which all of the major wedding roles are played by small children, usually under ten years old. In a Tom Thumb wedding, there would be children assigned to portray the bride, groom, attendants, and sometimes the minister. Smaller children would sometimes play the flower girls and ring bearers. Everyone would be costumed, and there would usually be many photographs.
Staging Tom Thumb weddings was a big American fad during the 1920s, but they were also staged fairly regularly until the 1970s, often as fundraisers for schools or churches.