Nov 18, 2008

Mischief and banana pudding: Moon remembers Dr. Falwell Sr.

by Emily DeFosse

Students gathered in a DeMoss Hall classroom to hear Dr. Jim Moon, lifelong friend of Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., tell stories about growing up with Liberty University’s founder.

Moon and Falwell both grew up in Lynchburg, which according to Moon has changed greatly since their childhood. The bridge that suspends the railroad tracks by the River Ridge Mall used to be a one-way wooden bridge, Moon told the students.

Students who were here while Falwell Sr. was alive usually remember him in his black suit and red tie driving around in his SUV, waving and almost running over students. However, Falwell Sr. was more than a man in a suit and tie who drove a large vehicle.

In their youth, Falwell Sr. and Moon were both part of “The Wall Gang,” a group of boys from Lynchburg that hung out at the retaining wall outside of what was then Fairview Elementary School.

“We were a mischievous group,” Moon said.

He went on to describe a Halloween night escapade the boys participated in where they took a railroad tie and dragged it out into the middle of Campbell Street. The group lit it on fire causing the street to catch on fire also. The police and fire departments arrived at the scene but were unable to find out who caused it, because the boys were watching the scene unfold in hiding.

Relating another story about their pranks, Moon also remembered Falwell Sr. figuring out a way to remove the steering wheel from his 1934 Plymouth while driving and controlling the car using pliers. While driving, Falwell Sr. would pull off the wheel and hand it to whoever was in the passenger seat and ask them to drive.

Falwell Sr. also loved banana pudding. Moon recalled Falwell Sr.’s wife, Macel, would try to keep him from eating large amounts of banana pudding, so Falwell Sr. would hide it from her. Moon recalled a time when Falwell Sr. hid banana pudding underneath macaroni and cheese.

“I used to say he had no taste buds,” Moon said. “He could eat anything.”

Jan. 20, 1952 was the turning point for Moon and Falwell Sr. The twosome heard there were some good-looking girls at the Park Avenue Baptist Church and decided to go see for themselves. However, they were both convicted by the sermon and went forward during the invitation. Coincidently, they met the Lord as well as their future wives that night.

The two went on to attend Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo. Falwell Sr. came back and at the age of 22 and began Thomas Road Baptist Church. Moon lived in Indiana and Florida for a while but eventually came back to Lynchburg to work with Falwell Sr.
Moon recalled flying into the Lynchburg Airport with Falwell Sr. Falwell Sr. would look out the window and point to what is now Liberty Mountain. He could see dorms, academic buildings and athletic fields where everyone else saw trees.

Moon finished the evening talking about how much Falwell Sr. loved the students.

“No one ever loved you more than Dr. Falwell Sr. loved you,” Moon said. 

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