Adams brings mountain stories, songs to Brundidge

Published 8:52 pm Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He was 6-feet tall and weighed 400 pounds when, “bless his heart” Amos went on to meet his great reward.

And after two collection plates passed through the Sodom, N.C., Baptist churches, Amos, who had worn overalls everyday of his life, owned two suits – after h was gone. When the undertaker, as they called them in those days, brought Amos for his “setting up” in his green suit, his widow little Betty was disappointed because she couldn’t see if his eyes matched the green.

And so, Betty and her sister decided to inch the 400-pound man from the coffin and change his clothes.

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The catastrophe that soon followed, is what led the then-8-year-old Sheila Adams and her “strong” dad over to Betty’s house to put her deceased husband back in his proper place, with a blue suit

As Adams, now a few years older, told the crowds gathered at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge this story Saturday night, there wasn’t a face in the house without a smile.

Adams said returning to Brundidge for the fourth time was just like coming home, as she appeared at the annual Christmas program sponsored by the Brundidge Historial Society. This year, the program was “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and it featured the stories of the nationally acclaimed storyteller.

“It’s like family here,” Adams said. “It’s just like coming home.”

But this time wasn’t like all the other times — this time she had her son for what marked the beginning of a new milestone in their lives.

“I thought the singing of these old love songs was gonna die out until last night, for the very first time, my son got up here and sang his first love song,” Adams said.

For at least 45 years now, Adams has been traveling all over the U.S. telling the stories she knows best and singing the “old love songs” passed on to her from ages past.

And with tears in her eyes, Adams was filled with joy as she watched her 26-year-old son Andrew Barnhill sing a love song to the crowd at the Brundidge theater Saturday.

It was a big transition in the family’s lives from just a few years ago.

“I asked Andrew a couple years ago if he was ready, and he said ‘not yet,’” Adams said. “In a way, it’s a burden, because you’re not just carrying songs. You’re telling stories.”

Barnhill said he didn’t look at his new task as a burden. Rather, it was something he had to come to fully grasp.

“It’s not so much not wanting the burden, but it’s understanding the tradition,” Barnhill said.

With family stories steeped in tradition, Barnhill definitely has his work cut out for him.

As Barnhill sang a song about his Aunt Robina, “These days were last,” Adams stood up, ready to prompt if needed.

Adams said it was a tradition of those who sang the songs in her young days, that when someone stood up to sing, another would stand and pop the first word if they forgot their next line.

“They would pop them off the first word, and then off they’d go again,” Adams said.

Adams said Barnhill traveled with her as a baby. Now, it was a momentous occassion for the two he was at it again.

“My coming down here was really a response to a mishap at home, and I really had no intention of coming up here and singing my first love song ever,” Barnhill said. “I’ll continue the long song trend.”