Dr. Robert Ellison (better known as Pastor Bob) drove home Sunday night after an enjoyable supper and visit with Frannie Sue and her Momma.

Pastor Bob was 37 years old, a graduate of the Louisiana Theological Seminary, where he had earned a doctorate in New Testament studies. Frannie Sue’s church, The Guiding Light Baptist Church, was the third church he had pastored. His life thus far had been very busy, guiding congregations, studying, trying to be the best he could be in his service to the Lord. He had come from humble beginnings in a small Southern town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.. Here in the town of Hummingbird, Georgia, he found himself in a friendly, warm church filled with good people. Most were hard-working farmers, small businessmen, doctors, dentists, plumbers, auto mechanics, teachers, nurses and town workers. Some were quite well-to-do. Those who were not tried very hard to appear equally affluent.

Pastor Bob hadn’t given much thought to women. He simply hadn’t met any who caught his fancy and he was too busy to take the time to really notice those who were around. It seemed to him that the available wealthy ladies were very shallow and worldly, and even those who were not wealthy liked to put on airs of Southern gentility and affluence. Neither type appealed to Pastor Bob.

Frannie Sue was different. He had noticed her in his congregation and realized she was in a class by herself. Her Momma obviously had some wealth. Their home looked very nice and was well-kept. Momma was always impeccably dressed, never without her pearls or a gold chain around her neck. Frannie Sue, on the other hand, favored denim skirts and shirts, no makeup and no jewelry. She had that fresh-scrubbed look. Her bright red hair usually looked simple, natural and slightly unkempt. Sometimes she tied it back in a ponytail, but there were always loose ends escaping. When he drove to her house this Sunday afternoon and spotted her sitting on the front porch shelling crowder peas, her hair askew, his heart leaped. When he expressed his love of crowder peas, Frannie Sue invited him to supper and he was delighted. He wanted to see more of her and get to know her better.

Frannie Sue had fallen asleep Sunday night thinking of Pastor Bob’s warm handclasp and hug. It had unsettled her. She could not think of him as a “regular” man and didn’t know how to process the thoughts that were running through her mind. Perhaps she should dismiss all thoughts of the entire evening and try to get her feet back on the ground. Had he been any other man, she could have handled her feelings. How did one think romantically about a minister? Should one think romantically about a minister?

Momma spent the next day with a silly smile on her face. Her dear friend, Emmy Lou, knew something must have happened to account for Momma’s beaming face. Momma had watched from the window when Pastor Bob left the night before and she saw the hug that he and Frannie Sue had shared. Momma never said a word on Monday morning as Frannie Sue headed off to work at the library, and she would not divulge anything to her friend Emmy Lou.

It rained most of the following week, turning the red Georgia clay to a muddy rust color. The trees were starting to shed some leaves and the only flowers blooming in the gardens were chrysanthemums and daisies. Summer was winding down and the shops in Hummingbird were already showing displays of Halloween and fall colors. There would still be plenty of warm days left and Pastor Bob hoped to get another invitation to spend the evening with Frannie Sue and Momma. He wondered if there might be a way to spend some time alone with Frannie Sue. Perhaps he could invite her to the concert of gospel music in nearby Mount Silver. Would that seem too forward? What if he asked her out and things didn’t go smoothly? How would that affect Frannie Sue’s dedication to her church? These thoughts whirled through his mind as he prepared for Wednesday’s Bible Study and next Sunday’s sermon. He did remember to send a thank you note to Frannie Sue and Momma. He really did appreciate the fine dinner they served and their company.

Frannie Sue was lost in thoughts of her own as she worked at the library’s reference desk. The last man she was attracted to was back in her college days, and that relationship ended when they each went their separate ways. Frannie Sue returned home to Hummingbird after graduation and moved in her childhood home with Momma. The work at the library was satisfying and pleasant. With computers taking over, much of her work involved guiding students to the best website to handle their assignments. There were certainly no interesting men in Hummingbird who were available or attractive to her. Thoughts of her pastor whirled through her mind. She didn’t know how to handle such thoughts because, up until now, she enjoyed knowing him as a minister, teacher, preacher and spiritual guide. When romantic images formed in her head, she turned them off immediately, as though such images were somehow “off limits” when a pastor was involved.

Pastor Bob spent a lot of time wondering what to do. Should he express his interest in Frannie Sue? Should he invite her to the gospel music concert? She might refuse him and that would be the end of it. He’d feel slightly rejected, but he was mature enough to handle such a situation. The more he thought about it, the more confused he became.

Momma was the only one who seemed to be ecstatic. Momma knew where this was headed and she couldn’t stop smiling. When Frannie Sue and Momma attended church, Frannie Sue would try looking everywhere else but at Pastor Bob. He tried very hard to keep his eyes focused on the entire congregation. He knew it wouldn’t do to be looking too often at Frannie Sue. People would surely notice.

Most folks in the town of Hummingbird ware unaware of the romantic drama taking place in their midst. Only Mary Beth Swanson was sharp enough to notice what was happening, and she didn’t like it at all. Mary Beth was the daughter of the town’s only funeral director. She was beautiful, spoiled, snobbish and self-centered. She had her eye on Pastor Bob for months but he seemed to be oblivious to her charms. She would have to try harder to catch his attention. A woman like Mary Beth had no qualms at all about pursuing a minister. She knew she had to act fast.

The first Sunday in October was bright and sunny. It was still relatively warm. After morning services, Mary Beth pushed her way to the door to shake Pastor Bob’s hand. “What a marvelous sermon,” she drawled. “I was truly touched.” Pastor Bob did not believe a word she said. He doubted that her mind was on his sermon at all. “Pastor, there is going to be an Art Exhibit at the Civic Center next week and I would be honored if you would accompany me on Friday night.” Her voice was dripping with honey. Next Friday night was the gospel music concert that he had planned to invite Frannie Sue to attend. He had to think quickly. “That’s so kind of you, Mary Beth, but my calendar is filled next week. Thank you anyway,” he said.

From where she stood, Frannie Sue could see the blatant overtures that Mary Beth was making. Frannie Sue was furious. As everyone knew, Mary Beth was a brazen hussy. A spark was lit and Frannie Sue was suddenly fired up with a plan of her own. She knew there would be a gospel music concert on Friday night and she felt sure Pastor Bob would attend. She wasn’t bold enough to invite herself to go along with him, but she could invite him for supper that night and see what his reaction would be. She knew he loved her cooking and, if he truly wanted to see that concert, maybe he would invite her to attend. They could have supper before they left for Mount Silver.

When she reached the door to shake his hand, Frannie Sue smiled her brightest smile and brushed her red hair out of her eyes. “Pastor Bob, Momma and I have a wonderful harvest of turnip greens from our garden, and my cousin Buddy caught a mess of catfish that is presently in our freezer. Momma and I would love to have you come for supper on Friday night.”

“Frannie Sue,” Bob replied. “I would love to come to supper, but there’s a gospel concert in Mount Silver that I wanted to attend on Friday night.” He held her hand in a warm handshake and looked directly into her eyes. “Would you be interested in going to the concert with me?”

“I would love that,” Frannie Sue beamed. “Perhaps we can eat with Momma first. I promise you won’t be disappointed with my catfish supper.”

Momma stood nearby, smiling.

 

By Frannie (Frannie516@comcast.net)




The Frannie Sue Stories

Frannie Sue And Crowder Peas Momma Says Frannie Sue: Chapter 3 Frannie Sue: Chapter 4

 

 


 

 




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