Welcome Y'all Meet Carl Wayne Hardeman
My name is Carl Wayne Hardeman. Like the other editors of this fine journal, I am a God-fearing, family-loving, hardworking, politically conservative, storytelling, tomato-raising son of the South.
My trophy wife, Mimi, our two married children and four granddarlings, and I live in Collierville, Tennessee, but have deep roots in Pontotoc County Mississippi. Mimi's parents are Ralph and Opal Graham of the Hurricane Community in Pontotoc County. They have kept us fed out of their garden and off their heavily loaded dinner table for more than forty years. Ralph is still trying to teach me how to raise tomatoes.
My forty-three plus year career is in computer systems and teaching Information Technology at the University level. I plan to retire within the next five years, but for now I stay busy working, teaching, gardening, writing, and leading a Victory Garden for the needy of our community.
I write under the name Carl Wayne. You may see my columns in the Pontotoc Progress, the Oxford SO & SO, the Tombigbee Country News, and www.usadeepsouth.com from time to time on the general theme of gardening. I am a Master Gardener, but I haven't let that stand in my way of raising tasty heirloom tomatoes and using sustainable gardening practices.
Writing is a labor of love for me as well as a way for me to say things from my heart my otherwise crusty demeanor will not let me say in person.
I feel we have the obligation to pass on to the next generation the stories, wisdom, nostalgia, and lessons we have learned and those passed on to us by the previous generation.
We three editors, Wayne Carter, Ralph Jones, and I, envision The Bodock Post to be written by people who now live or have lived in or around Pontotoc County and neighboring counties, who write about the lives and times of the area on topics such as nostalgia, humor, inspirational, area history, family history, and general interest, such as gardening, fishing, birds, dogs, front porches, snakes, and most anything of interest to a Bodock'er.
Speaking on behalf of the editors of The Bodock Post, we believe there are many of you who have such stories that need passing on, too. We solicit and welcome your stories to share with our readers. Just write something you wouldn't mind your sweet granny to read.
We want to hear from you whether it's a story, a comment, a criticism, or just saying Hello, which we all do in these parts along with a wave of the hand.
Write soon! Your thoughts are deeply appreciated.
Note: For the first three issues of The Bodock Post, a different editor will introduce himself in each issue.
Bodock Understood Why The Bodock Post
Why we chose a word thats foreign to many people and made it a foundational part of the title of this publication is not hard to understand, if youre from Northeast Mississippi. Bodock is a fruit bearing tree that is not limited to north Mississippi, and can be found in most states east of the Mississippi River and from the Great Plains almost to the Rocky Mountains, as well as parts of the Pacific Northwest.
The tree represents many of what are thought to be desirable traits in humans including stress-tolerance, and decay-resistance. It has wood capable of being formed into useful tools and/or objects of enduring beauty. Byproducts of the bodock tree include pesticides, and antibiotics.
The bodock tree is known in many parts of the country as an Osage orange (Maclura pomifera), a name supplied by European settlers, who found the tree thriving in parts of Arkansas, Oklohoma, and Texas and was greatly prized by the Osage Indians for making bows, hatchet handles, and war clubs. Its fruit is more grapefruit-sized than orange-sized, though the bodock is actually a mulberry.
French explorers named the bodock tree bois darc, meaning wood of the bow, a name that has been passed down to us in anglicized form as both bodark, and bodock. According to The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the bodock tree is known by a number of common names with many representing specific usage: bowwood, fence shrub, hedge, hedge apple, hedge orange, horse-apple, mock orange, naranjo chino and postwood.
Though the bodocks density made it hard to cut and work, settlers found its heartwood useful for wheel hubs and railroad ties. Before the invention of barbed wire, bodock trees were planted to create hedge rows or fences. Afterwards, the durable wood was used for fence posts. Its bark was used in tanning leather, and an extract from root bark was used to dye clothes and baskets.
Persons traveling through Northeast Mississippi often express an ignorance of our bodock trees, but most are familiar with its common name in their respective area, usually as hedge apple and Osage orange.
Festival organizers in Pontotoc, Mississippi chose to name Pontotocs annual arts and crafts extravaganza The Bodock Festival, partly because of the abundance of bodock trees throughout Pontotoc and Pontotoc County and partly because the largest bodock tree in the state stood on the grounds of Lochinvar, an antebellum home near Pontotoc. The tree was destroyed by the 2001 tornado that almost obliterated historic Lochinvar. Perhaps the tree bore just enough of the destructive tornado, effectively sparing a sufficient portion of Lochinvar, thus enabling its owners to later restore the house to its former glory.
Here, at The Bodock Post, we proudly include bodock in the title of our publication. We asked potential subscribers to help us choose a name. The voting was close, and in the political world a runoff would be necessary, as none of the four candidates received more than fifty-percent of the vote.
We thank all who participated in the name selection process and have been encouraged by the number of alternate suggestions for our title. While we liked the word play of bodock post as it relates to posts made from bodock, The Saturday Evening Post provided the initial inspiration for our thought behind our new name. We may never match the longevity of the Saturday Evening Post, but we pledge to bring articles of interest to those with roots in rural America.
Addendum 10/29/2008: Recently, I've encountered a number of people, in my travels out of state, who couldn't pronounce bodock. It's pronounced bo-dock, with both syllables stressed equally. Bo is pronounced bow, as in bow and arrow.
~ By Wayne Carter/ Associate Editor
Indians, or to be more politically correct Native Americans, no longer traipse the trail from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, MS, an old pathway whose modern counterpart, a parkway named The Natchez Trace, cuts diagonally across the eastern side of Pontotoc, County. As more settlers pushed deeper into frontier America, local tribes of Indians were pushed off their native land or else through treaties with the U. S. Government ceding lands under Indian control.
In 1832, the U.S. Government and the Chickasaw Indians signed the Pontotoc Creek Treaty in which the Chickasaws sold their lands to the white man. Less than four years later, Pontotoc County, Mississippi was established on March 1, 1836. Suffering the same fate as other civilized Indian tribes of the Southeastern United States, the Chickasaw nation was then relocated to the Oklahoma Territory hundreds of miles from their homeland. The resultant Trail of Tears in which hundreds and hundreds died in the emigration, was hardly Americas finest moment. Today, there is a Pontotoc, Oklahoma as well as a Pontotoc County Oklahoma.
I count myself fortunate to have been born a Southerner, and Im proud to claim Pontotoc, Mississippi as my birthplace. My hometown and its county of the same name are steeped in history, not all of which comes with bragging rights, but its a history and a heritage that has helped shape the land and its inhabitants for almost two hundred years.
Ask anybody from Pontotoc how the town got its name and most people will state its the English translation of Chickasaw words meaning land of hanging grapes. However, most of us cant recite the Chickasaw words, panki takali or pa-ki-tak-oh-lik, which refer to the hanging grapes.
Juice extracted from the pulp of muscadines makes a delicious jelly, and a muscadine juice roll (like a cobbler) is about as close to experiencing a taste of Heaven on earth as it gets. And, as with most grapes, muscadines can be fermented into fine wines.
Not all historians agree that Pontotoc means land of hanging grapes. Some claim Pontotoc means "weed prairie" as suggested by panti meaning "cattail flag" and oktak meaning "prairie." Others insist a better rendering is battle where the cattails stood, a reference to the site of the defeat of the French, led by DIberville, in 1736. In the Chickasaw tongue, ponti' or `panti', means "weed" or "cat-tail" and from `tokali' which means "battle." (source: http://www.pontotoc.net/poninfo.htm)
It is worth noting that the Chickasaw were fierce warriors, who, as a nation, retired from warfare as unconquered and undefeated. French armies made several attempts to conquer the Chickasaw, but finally gave up their quest.
In making a personal choice regarding the origins of the word Pontotoc, and to borrow phrasing from the ancient Jewish warrior, Joshua, I know not whether it is right to choose weed prairie or battle where the cattails stood, but as for me and my house we will choose land of hanging grapes, because the prevalence of wild muscadine grapes rivals or exceeds stands of cattails.
~ By Wayne Carter/ Associate Editor
Country Invitation An Experssion Of Love
Sitting before me were fresh made cornbread, corn on the cob, boiled cabbage, fried pork tenderloin, squash, string beans, fresh cucumbers and assorted other things all topped off with fresh vine ripened tomatoes and sweet iced tea.
Had I died and gone to heaven, or was I transported back forty years to my mothers table?
Neither, but it seemed so. With my mouth watering so much for such a terrific meal, I could hardly get words out. Only a country-raised boy would get so excited as I was when given this opportunity.
Were these friends who invited me? You could say so, and a million times over, and it would still not be enough. Friend, is not a big enough word for these folks, who are family, almost.
Howard and Peggy have been my friends for about forty years, and I worked side by side with Howard for twenty of those years. However, our paths have sort of gone in different directions for the past several years.
I had not eaten in their home in a decade or two and was not dressed to be invited out, but that did not keep me from accepting the invitation. Peggy was not cooking for company, just for family. I felt right at home. One of their daughters, Leslie, her husband and their three-year-old daughter had traveled almost a hundred miles for a visit and to help out with work for some of their friends.
Entering their home through the kitchen door, I was greeted with a big hug from Peggy and Leslie both, as they put the finishing touches on the noon meal. The thought of having to set another place at the table only drew some big smiles from them. So it is with friends. What a grand time we did have. After grace, thanking the Lord for his blessings, we dug in. It was so refreshing to enjoy once again a good country meal with all the trimmings. My hurried schedule does not allow many country style meals like this.
News of family and friends was discussed and much information was shared, but the reminiscing was the part I enjoyed most. Catching up on what has been happening in their lives was interesting. We asked who was where who had new children who had new jobs and who had moved? Ours was typical and ordinary stuff shared around a large friendly table by each of us. It was not long until Howard, Leslie, and I had to think about getting back to work.
Not one single time was the word LOVE said during our meal and fellowship time, that I can remember. But, I felt it with each, Here, have some more corn, or How about some of these pickled beets with your meal, or Let me fill your glass with more tea, and Do you remember when...
More love could not have been shared if it had been every other word. I can only imagine this is what Jesus meant when he says I will come in and sup with you and you with me. What a wonderful sharing of love we had together and it will only be topped when we get to heaven and have that sweet fellowship of dining with Jesus Himself at His table. Love may also be shared in heaven more with deed and action than the word LOVE itself . After all, on one occasion Jesus showed His love to the disciples by washing their feet at a time of fellowship
~ By Ralph Jones/ Managing Editor
A State Of Mind Of Yesterday And Today
A friend and I were talking the other day about how old our mind says we are and how our mirror has another story to tell. If it werent for the mirror, some mornings Id be ten years old again, not the seventy plus years that is reflected in my mirror. One of these days that confounded mirror may find itself facing the wall, nailed tight with a handful of sixteen penny nails.
While looking out at our lawn and realizing its time to mow again, I start planning what will be my chores for today. They will include mowing and edging the lawn, raking up and bagging some of the leaves left over from winter that are trying to hide among the flourishing hillside ivy, digging up some of our flower beds so my wife can plant her lovely flowers, cleaning out the carport and patio, taking some of the yard tools to the shop and sharpening them, working on some pet projects while there, and finish off with washing the car.
It all sounds good to my eighteen-year-old mind. Why, Ill probably be through by middle of the afternoon, with enough time remaining to go to a matinee movie at the local theater. Ill even have time to stop by the Krystal burger store afterwards for a handful of those little square hamburgers then get home in time for the eight oclock TV movie.
Wrong! The sand has shifted jist a trifle That eighteen-year-old thought pattern has got me in trouble again.
This seventy-year-old body is winded after just trying to start the silly lawn mower. And although the yard is not that large, by the time its been cut over with the mower, Im sweatin like a hobo at a free dance.
After a refreshing drink of water, I realize that the yard does not need edging as previously thought. The leaves have almost vanished under the green of the ivy, my wife isnt going to plant any flowers today, and no one is coming by to see the carport anyhow.
After a little nap in the glider on the patio a little time lapses, no, actually a lot of time lapses. Its late afternoon, and the matinee is already half over; those tools dont need sharpening until I use them next, and the project at the shop can wait until a rainy day when outside work is impossible. Everyone knows that you dont want to wash the car when there is a good possibility of rain.
With all these chores completed, Im getting hungry, after all its been a busy day. Those Krystals sure sound good, but that means getting out of these dirty work clothes and driving all the way over to the restaurant; pepperoni pizza sounds almost as good, and they deliver. Maybe on the next big work day Ill get those Krystals, as theres no need to over-do it today.
Sweetheart, will you get the door, I think its the pizza guy.
~ By Ralph Jones/ Managing Editor
Front Porch American Classic Disappearing
A front porch is an institution fast dying in our beloved Old South. My wife Mimi and I recently loaded her puppy, Belle, in her van (Mimi's van, not Belle's) and drove through the greening countryside to my in-laws' small farm in Pontotoc County MS.
We drove east on US 78 to Potts' Camp, then south cross country another
thirty-three miles past old and new country homes, row crops, pastures, tree
farms and apatches of the Holly Springs National Forest.
My in-laws, Ralph and Opal, see us coming a long ways off. They're usually sitting on the porch waiting for us, him in his chair, her in the swing, delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen, and the loaded dinner table.
We eat dinner in the day and supper at night in the country. Actually, we eat dinner around 11 a.m. and start talking about it by 10 oclock. We had turnip greens, skillet corn, chicken and dumplings, crock-pot BBQ pork, cornbread, and the sweet coconut cake Mimi made and moistened with a special rich sweetener she puts in holes punched in the cake.
You can't get fresh homemade meals like that in restaurants much anymore. What vegetables you do get are from large cans and are lacking the flavor and drippings and seasonings and aroma of country cooking.
Those days are passing. Mimi keeps up the country style cooking tradition in our home as well as the new healthier style, like Rotel-corn-bean soup accompanied by asparagus sautéed in oil with garlic.
We don't have a functional front porch. We have a large covered patio in the back. We are more likely to be watching birds on our feeders and FedEx planes coming and going than greeting every neighbor who passes by.
My in-laws see their world from their front porch. They see friends and neighbors and wave or nod to each one. They know who is in a hurry, who is on their way to or from the doctor, and who has a new car or truck. From their front porch, they can see their garden, the rain and sunshine, and know when to plant, plow, and pick.
In my youth, the front porch was where the extended family gathered after supper. The old folks would share scary stories, funny stories, and the wisdom of their forebears and their own hard won experience.
We learned from them the world would not pass away until the moon turned to blood. We learned about Junior losing his chewing gum in the chicken yard and not finding it for nearly thirty minutes. And we learned when to plant, when to plow, and when to pick.
They were on the front porch when Poppa Graham's brother went for a ride in William Faulkner's brother's airplane. It was their last. His only brother's name was on Poppa's lips as he lay dying a lifetime later.
That world is passing far too soon for us and will be quickly gone. Most people don't have homes with large front porches, and if they do, they have no time to invest in that pleasure.
Few people garden, and if they do, they do so as a hobby and not simply to eat. Most food today comes from cans or microwave dinners, or worse yet, fast food places. It does my heart good to see our granddarlings eating a biscuit and the purple hull peas and butterbeans Ralph and Opal lovingly raised.
Ralph and Opal have a container garden this year. Aches and the wear and tear of a lifetime of gardening and other work have taken their toll. They have worked far beyond being just tired and hurting to keep their family and many friends fed.
Fortunately, the smokehouse is full of canned goods, the freezers are plentifully stocked for their daughter and son-in-law, and their children and grandchildren. No one will go without, at least for another year.
Ralph liked the 'maters in containers he tried on this city boy's suggestion last year. This year he has twenty-four tomato plants in containers, along with okra and Irish 'taters.
These days, they don't have a pig to kill or their own chickens and fresh eggs to gather as they did much of their lives. Life has changed for them, too.
My in-laws have blessed me in so many ways, from Mimi, the love of my life, to a rich life of country living, eating, sharing, and seeing the world from their front porch. How many people can now say they are going to the country for the weekend?
We can, and we are blessed.
Aint God good! Carl Wayne
Country Garden Dateline: Near Hurricane, Mississippi
My wife Mimi is a Graham, one of the most numerous Scottish clans in the world. The Grahams, Russells, and Warrens settled in Pontotoc County MS in the mid 1800's. Family lore says those three families immigrated together to South Carolina before moving to Alabama and Tennessee on the Tennessee River before settling in Pontotoc County.
A body from the burns and braes of the old sod would today feel quite at home reading the names on the headstones in the Sand Springs Cemetery. One set of Grahams migrated to east Texas to raise cotton, and until the last few years had an annual reunion with the Pontotoc County Grahams in the old Hurricane Community schoolhouse. They had one together in Hurricane, July 2008.
Family love and pride are dear to their hearts. Many men in the Graham family have James as their first name, but are known familiarly by their second name, like my daddy-in-law James Ralph, and his daddy, James Sanford. I suspect some Jacobite loyalty in their history.
Another tradition is naming the eldest son the mother's family name, thus Graham has become a common given name, too. The family suggested James Carl for our son which would have parts of my name and Mimi's daddy and both of Mimi's granddaddies. I don't know why we didn't think that was important at the time, and frankly, he was and is Michael to us.
These families of Scottish descent are good, hardworking, God fearing, self sufficient people. Most of them were farmers, and some still are, and most keep a garden to eat from. My daddy-in-law Ralph and Opal, my momma-in-law, have had to scale back their gardening due to the effects of about eighty years of hard work.
These families farmed the rich loam of the bottoms between the heavily wooded ridges of the Pontotoc Ridge system in northwest Pontotoc County, where the ridges begin to trend to the east. Smoketop Hill is a prominent ridge, and Duncan Creek and Mud Creek flow through there.
When we visited them Saturday before Father's Day 2006, Ralph said he wanted to show me Mr. Clovis Russell's garden. Clovis is his second cousin, and maintains a large garden and many fruit trees at the golden age of 86, soon to be 87. I suspect Ralph wanted me to get a second opinion in addition to his on how to garden, which might not be exactly the same as my Master Gardener training.
The first thing I wanted to see was his large fig trees, which were loaded with small green figs. They turn golden when ripe. His pear tree and several apple trees were also laden with green fruit. He must stay very busy when they get ripe.
My other interest was his two long rows of lush Better Boy tomato plants, covered in green tomatoes. The ground was dry enough to look and feel like powder. He hills it up around the vines. Clovis does not believe in watering tomatoes, saying they will get waterlogged and the skins will split. I know enough not to argue with a man who has raised tomatoes all his life, though my Master Gardening training screamed inside me to get those vines some water.
Certainly the vines were lush, and the leaves were not curling. He was hoping for rain that weekend. I suspect the dryness helps prevent early blight since the bacteria thrive in warm wet dirt.
My momma always said hydrant water will keep a garden alive, but it takes rain to make one grow. I suspect something to do with the ions in the air.
Since all gardening is an experiment, which Mimi says is so true in my case, I'll have to try some of my tomato vines next year like Mr Clovis Russell.
Aint God good! Carl Wayne
Aphorisms A Short Collection
And what exactly is an aphorism? Its a short, pointed sentence expressing a wise, clever observation, a general truth, or adage. We like these examples but as yet have found no individual to credit for the compilation:
1. The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.
2. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
3. If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all.
4. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
5. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water.
6. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
7. Business conventions are important because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
8. Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
9. Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job.
10. No one has more driving ambition than the boy who wants to buy a car.
11. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
12. There are worse things than a wrong number at 4 AM. Like this: It could be a right number.
13. No one ever says "It's only a game" when their team is winning.
14. I've reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.
15. Be careful reading the fine print. There's no way you're going to like it.
16. The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
17. Do you realize that in about 40 years we'll have millions of old ladies running around with tattoos? (And rap music will be the Golden Oldies!)
18. Money can't buy happiness - but it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than in a Yugo.
19. After 70 if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.
Finally, If youre having a bad day, you probably havent read your Bodock Post.
Subscriber Gripe Sour Grapes Expressed
The Thumpin Gizzard Gazette wuz whut I wanted to calls it, but nooooooo, had to be somethin with Bodock in tha name.
Nen I came up with a good un, Bunions of Bodock Bottoms. The vote again wuz unanimous, their favor. Shucks!
Nen Bodocks R Us, jis popped rite in my head, does have a good modern rang, dont it! But onced more, nothing doin!
Then I really put my thinkin cap on and come up with as good a name as anyone could ever want, are you ready fer it? The Land of the Hangin Bodocks. Now that there has history, class, and realisms; even got the word Bodock.
All them new TV shows has got yore down home realisms subjected rite in the skripts. But youd a thought it was Christmas time the way the votin board lit up, yore red lights ah blinkin, neon lights ah flashin and horns ah goin off and the signs on the monotors what said: Invalid Entry, Gross Error, Abort Program, This voting machine has received an illegal response and will shut down in 10-9-8-7 . Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep .
Sos I jus go along wif Bodock Post iffin thats what they wants, but I still likes The Thumpin Gizzard Gazette bettern all da rest (Daddy always said sum folks dont have no heart, jist a thumpin gizzard).
I may have to fix dat votin machine.
Submitted by Cuzin Cornpone
Bubba Bodock Humor Selection
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept
staring at a drunken woman swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby
Submitted by Ken Gaillard, Albequerque, NM
Our Mission Purpose - The Bodock Post
As this is our very first edition or issue of The Bodock Post, perhaps it would be in order to state our purpose or our mission, if you please.
It is our desire to provide a monthly newsletter about rural living with photographs of yesterday and today, including timely articles about conservative politics, religion, food, restaurant reviews, gardening, humor, history, and non-fiction columns by folks steeped in our Southern lifestyle.
Copyright © 2008 The Bodock Post