One of the most colorful residents of Wendell was Marvin “Preacher” Todd. Preacher was born in the Wendell area in 1896. He grew up in Wendell and became a proprietor of an automobile service station and a mechanic. There are many true “tales” that could be told about Preacher. One little known fact was that he owned the first automobile in Wendell. He ordered it, and the auto was shipped to Wendell on the flatbed car of a train. Included in the order were several barrels of gasoline. The man who was to come to teach Preacher how to drive never showed up, so he learned to drive on his own by trial and error. It took him a year to find out that there was a reverse on that auto. But that is another story for another day. The most famous story about Preacher Todd had to do with the Church of God.
A Bible salesman came to Preacher’s service station during the 1930s and asked where he could find the Church of God in Wendell? Preacher thought a few minutes and then said, “well, Mrs. R. B. Whitley has the Christian Church in town. Her husband, R.B. Whitley, has the Methodist Church; and Mallie Todd has the Baptist Church in Wendell. Come to think of it, I don’t think God has a church in Wendell.”
This story has been told many times during the years. Sometimes, the influential church members and the churches change, but the punch line always remains the same. Preacher had a very quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. He never missed an opportunity to make a joke.
His granddaughter is Carol Roberts Hinnant. If you have an hour to kill, Carol will be glad to relate some of the family legends surrounding her grandfather. As we say in the South, “he was a card.”
by Ray Hinnant – June 8, 2010