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Jana’s Journal: “It All Began With A Prayer”

June 2023

Throughout my 44 years of marriage to Larry Hinson, the question most frequently asked is “How did you two meet“. So I thought I would share this sweet little story of how Larry and I met, with you.
I want to start by giving you a little background information. Early in 1971, around January my dad left my mother and shortly after filed for divorce. It changed our lives completely. I dealt with sadness and depression for the first time. I was 14 years old and thought about suicide several times, but honestly, it was just too scary to think about how I would do it. My friend Karen would talk to me and encourage me. As the year went on, it got somewhat better and I recall in September of that year around my 15th birthday, I started praying a special prayer. I’d ask the Lord to let me meet my husband, not so that I could marry him because I was way too young to get married, but I asked God that I would like to meet him so I could feel hopeful and have something to look forward to. It was silly but I needed hope. I prayed that I would like it if my future husband was raised in the church like me, and had dark hair, green eyes, and was short (taller than me) but I liked shorter guys and that he would love God.
I realized that my parents and their marriage didn’t make it because my dad was not saved during their 16 years of marriage, later on in life, he did get saved, but it was just a few years before the end of his life. I knew I wanted to marry someone who loved Jesus the way I did.
The following Sunday, while my family and I were at church, all of us teenage girls decided to gather around a poster that had been hanging on our bulletin board wall for several weeks and talk about the upcoming concert. The poster on the bulletin board said that the Singing Hinson Family was coming to our church on October 8 on a Friday night. All of us girls begin to laugh and point at different boys on the poster, and say “I’m going to marry this one” and then another girl would point and say “I’m gonna marry that one” and we would laugh and laugh.
October 8 was 13 days after my 15th birthday. I was excited about the concert, our church liked Southern Gospel music. Mom and I and my sister Roxane got to church early so we could get a good seat. The Hinson‘s were already there setting up their sound equipment, their records, and sheet music. I have never seen a group set up before, so it was quite entertaining. They were a lively group of boys along with one girl, who would be introduced later as their sister.
Several of us girls in the youth group were sitting on the back row, and we decided we wanted to sit on the front row so we could see the group better, which was odd because we didn’t like sitting on the front row, we preferred sitting on the back row. But the church started getting full so we moved to the front row.
As the Hinsons began to sing, I was fixated on the little short guy singing in the middle, whose name was Larry. While sitting there, a strong thought came to me as if it was spoken in my ear, it was “you’re going to marry that Guy standing there singing in the middle“. I leaned over to my friend Gennie and I said to her “I’m going to marry that little guy, right there, standing in the middle“. I was completely serious. It was as if I knew something that I couldn’t be talked out of. From that moment on, all I thought about was Larry Hinson! I could not shake the thought I heard in my heart.
After the concert was over, it was hot inside the church, so I stepped out on the porch area where the drinking fountain was located. My friend, Teresa, and my other girlfriend, Rhonda were standing out there with Larry. Larry had left after the concert was over, he also wanted to cool off. Larry had his head leaning against the wall of the porch, it was a stucco church building, and I asked him what was wrong. He said he had a headache and my statement was that I was sorry but Why didn’t he take some aspirin? He commented to me that he did take some aspirin. I was always trying to be funny. We just did small talk between all of us and I can’t recall the conversations, but being teenagers we were just laughing and talking. I found out that he was also 15 years old and shared a birthday with my friend Rhonda, on July 14th.
Just about that time my mother came out of the church and said we were leaving. My mind began to race so many thoughts went through my head like “How am I going to marry this guy if I never see him again” or “I need to get his address so I can write to him”, or “How will he know that I like him????”. So many questions!
It wasn’t very long until those questions were answered.
As I walked to the car to head home, the thought kept running in my head “You’re going to marry that little guy singing in the middle.”
The next day was Saturday and my friend Betty Jean called and asked me if I’d like to spend the night with her. I asked my mother she said that would be fine, so Betty having her own car came and picked me up. She also said oh, by the way, the Hinson family is singing at a church in Pomona, did I want to go tonight? I said absolutely!!! So I gathered some church clothes to wear to the concert in Pomona. That church was pastored by our youth pastor’s parents. So I knew the church well, and I knew the pastors.
Betty Jean‘s parents were not Christian people so they would not give her gas money if she was going to a church function and she was almost out of gas. But Betty Jean said if she and I would clean out her parent’s cars and truck and search the furniture in the house, and the junk drawer in the kitchen we would probably find enough money to fill up her gas tank. Gas was about $.38 a gallon at that time. So that’s exactly what we did, we searched the vehicles, clean them out, found money then searched the furniture in the house, found money, and finally, we searched the junk drawer in the kitchen.
We then got ready for the concert and headed to a gas station and filled up with the exact amount of change we found. Paying that guy at the gas station with all change was pretty funny.
When we walked into the Pomona church, the Hinson‘s record racks were right there at the front doors. I walked up to the records and one of the group members asked me “Hey, were you at Disneyland today?”
I answered no that I was not at Disneyland. Then another member of the group asked me the same question. I thought it was odd, but I just shrugged it off.
Once again, I sat on the front row with my friend Betty and looked at Larry every time I could (without being obvious ) as he sang. He would also look at me now and again, so every time he looked at me I was already looking at him. When the concert was over, the pastor had a fellowship of food happening in the fellowship hall behind the stage, but the church was not invited just the staff of the church and the Hinson family.
My girlfriend, Karen was also at the concert and she said come with me, We’re going back there. I thought we might get in trouble but I didn’t care because I wanted to see Larry again. As we turned down a small hallway off the stage there sat Larry, in the dark, tapping on his tambourine. I said, what are you doing here in the dark he commented that he was just sitting there cooling down. Karen then said have you met my friend, Jana, she’s 15 years old and she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Of course, we all laughed and then Larry said “Were you at Disneyland today?” I had to laugh! I said that I was not at Disneyland and that some of the other people in his group had asked me the same question, and that’s when he shared that there was a girl there that looked like me. Later he told me that he followed that girl thinking it was me until he lost sight of her. Larry also had a crush on me at that time, but I didn’t know it.
Larry decided to walk out front, back into the church auditorium, and Karen and I followed. He went over to the piano and started goofing around on the piano. We were all laughing and talking. All I could think about was this is probably the last time I’m going to see him and I’m too scared to ask for his address.
Betty Jean said that we had to leave because her curfew was at 10 o’clock. So I had to say goodbye and when I told Larry that I was leaving he said to me why do you have to go? I told him about the curfew, said goodbye again and Betty and I walked out the door. Once again, I thought this was it. I chickened out asking for his address.
The next day is Sunday and Betty Jean and I headed to church that morning, after service, my friend Gennie asked me to come home with her for the afternoon. We all would go to each other’s houses on Sunday afternoons and return to church that night. We had a close-knit set of friends, and today I’m still friends with all those girls.
Gennie’s mom came into us that afternoon and said “Hey girls, would you like to go and hear the Hinsons at Bro Carmean’s church tonight?” I knew that I would have to ask my mom, so I called her and she quickly said “No”, she said that I needed to attend my own church. Well, I just about started to cry and I began to beg her to let us go. You see, my sister Roxane had come home with Gennie’s sister Sherry. I begged until she agreed to let us go, but Lois would have to take us home after the concert ended. Lois agreed and I was overjoyed!
We all started getting dolled up to see those Hinson boys!
We arrived at the church and I saw some of my friends from school and camp. Both of our churches were part of the Pentecostal Holiness organization.
Once again the Hinsons were setting up their records and such. I went up to the front row again and sat down waiting for the concert to start. I decided that I would just watch Larry the entire concert and he said that he had decided to watch me.
Of course, they were great singers and the service was amazing. Afterward, I was trying to find Larry and decided to go outside and I spotted him standing in front of their bus along with my little sister, her friend Sherry and another young girl, they were all standing there talking.
I made my way over there and started talking to him too. We were laughing and joking around. As the congregation started leaving the church, the people, as they passed by would say “Wow you have a lot of girls hanging around you!” I piped up and said that’s because he’s paying us a quarter to stand here. That made everybody laugh and we kept that joke going for a while. I guess we were out there 45 minutes or so and Gennie‘s mom came out of the church and said that it was time for us to leave. She had to go to work the next morning. I still didn’t have Larry‘s address, I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know how to ask for it. Finally, I said, “Well I guess we are leaving and I’m going to need my quarter because I’ve hung around you all night and made you look good.” Very quickly he said that he did not have a quarter, in fact, he had no money. I said I’m sure you do with a big bus sitting there, and he said that I would be wrong and stated that he did not have a quarter. So I got the bright idea to say then why don’t you mail me the quarter and he said I’d be glad to, let me get your address. So we exchanged addresses and my goal was met. I was going to be able to write him letters. I was so excited!
He then invited me to come to his home church, where they were singing, a couple of weeks from that day. I don’t know how he expected me to get there, I was only 15 and didn’t drive and I knew my mother would not drive me six hours to go see him. But I did say to him that I would try and come. Within a week I received my first letter from him. No quarter included, he said that he still didn’t have one so he drew one on the last page of his letter, By the way, I have every letter, and every card he ever wrote or gave to me.
We began to correspond through the years, and our feelings for each other grew. Then in 1975, at Christmas time he proposed to me. We soon married in April on the sixth day in 1976. The Hinson‘s were on a West Coast tour and we married on a Tuesday evening during their tour. We never had a honeymoon. What a crazy adventure it was to spend our sorta ‘honeymoon’ on a bus with a bunch of band members and singers.
I would not change a thing, our life was a great adventure, with challenges, along with ups and downs but every one of those challenges was worth it!
I’m in the process of writing a book about our life together. Larry Hinson was a wonderful man who loved God with all his heart. He was very knowledgeable in the Word and loved to study. He also loved me and his children and grandchildren. And we simply adored him too!
I hope you enjoyed reading the little story of how Larry and I met. There is lots more to share but those stories will be in my book.
Blessings to you all.

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