About this time we’d found Melvin Steele down near the Dan River. They lived in the bottoms, and Mel’s dad, Mutt, was a plumber. Not only that he was an amateur boxer and taught Mel how to fight. This aided our arsenal.
Fighting was part of the deal and I’d done my share. Being the preacher’s kid my dad got every report. He’d “strap” me for fighting, I’d whip Tuddy or somebody else the next day.
One day E.T. called me into his “study”, a room upstairs in the parsonage where he’d prepare sermons. This memory is very vivid. The study was blue, an- other Sunday school classroom was pink, one was yellow.
My dad sat with his back to me facing out the window, toward the garden.
The conversation went like this, “Son, you continue to get into fights. I’ve strapped you, grounded you, lectured you, and done everything I know. Today we change course.”
Whereupon he removed his big leather belt and took off his shirt.
He turned and told me, “Now you hit me until I tell you to stop.” I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t hit my dad. He demanded, I cried. He demanded. I hit him.