The Cracker Lady’s House Roots
The question was asked recently by a Facebook friend, “ What is this cracker lady house stuff all about? I have no idea what the cracker lady house is.” Well, the origin of the Cracker Lady goes clear back to 1977 and I was in my last year of Bible College in Tennessee. Most of the time that I lived in Cleveland, Tennessee, I attended a very large white church. But in my last year of college, I felt the Lord’s leading to go minister in the black church across town. Don’t ask me why He would wanted this country white girl in a black church, I do not know. He had given me a heart for the black people when I first came to Him. And I had made a promise to him then, “Lord, I will go where you want me to go and I will do what you want me to do.” and I meant it from the bottom of my heart. I was a ministry student, but in such a large congregation, I didn’t have much opportunity to operate in my calling, so the Lord did not get much argument from me.
Shannon & me at Bible College 1976
(we both needed a haircut)
So off I went to the black church. Shannon, my daughter, and I were the only white people in the church at the time. I taught Sunday School to teens and conducted a Vacation Bible school. I learned a lot and enjoyed the black gospel worship.
Shannon (first row, first on left) with a VBS class 1977
In preparation for ministering to Southern blacks, this lily white ignorant Western girl read everything she could on Black history and culture, hoping I could glean enough insight to be a blessing.
Shannon, who was eight at the time and a very good reader, came to me one day and said, “Mom, I’m worried.” Concerned I asked, “What about, Shannon?” “Well,” she replied, First you read Black Child Care and then you read Black Like Me. I am worried you are going to turn yourself black and me too.” I slowly said, “Well, Shannon, if I was black, wouldn’t you want to be black too?” She pondered for a moment and then replied, “Yes, I guess so.” With that I assured her we were both going to remain white because that is how God made us, but that we should try to understand as best a possible what other races and cultures were like.
As I had to work after school and needed child care, I had made a deal with another ministry student to live with us in exchange for a 25 volume set of commentaries and child care for three months rent. She was a black girl from Florida and had a brilliant boyfriend from Gayana. Shannon and I lived in a married student housing apartment with two bedrooms so this arrangement worked well for all of us.
So with this back drop, 1977 was also the release of the TV serial, Roots. Many friends and students did not have a television and since my house has always been an open house many people crowded into my living room every night to watch this acclaimed show for the week of it’s airing.
Everything went along just fine until the third or fourth night (I can’t recall). This night there were black students from the Bahamas as well as my roommate and and her boyfriend viewing the show with me and Shannon. This was the episode that the slave got his foot cut off for running away.
We were intensely into the show when off to the side I could hear my roommates breathing become rapid and labored (she was a asthmatic). At the point in the movie when the ax was coming down, she jumped to her feet in the middle of my living room, arms flying wildly in the air and yelled out, “I’m beginning to hate these Cracker’s more and more everyday!!”
Everyone was shocked into silence as their eyes turned towards me, the only Cracker in the room. All I could say was, “I’m not feeling very good about them either right now.” Suddenly we all erupted into roaring laughter. This was not the only time I have been called a Cracker in my life, but it is by far the most memorable.
After my daughter developed her brain tumor two years latter, I gave up my pastorate and was not able to do much ministry, except for those that the Lord brought to me at my house or work. From my house I have counseled, taught Bible study and prayed for those in need. In the inter- cities of Seaside, Oakland and Richmond the Lord has brought many people to the my home - “Cracker Lady’s House”
Cracker Lady’s Houses in Seaside and Richmond, CA
My Cracker Lady’s House blog was originally to recount some of the extraordinary events during my 30 years of ministry from my house in these inter cities. Now, however, I use it as a personal blog to write about whatever fits my fancy. Lately, it has been quite autobiographical, but you never know when the winds may change and my writing may take on a different direction.