From The Arbor Our First Anniversary
As I sit here this morning eating a piece of toast with Kudzu Blossom Jelly smeared on it, things are beginning to come alive. It must be something in the jelly. Anything that tastes this good and comes from a plant so worthless must have a medicinal effect on me somehow.
Here we find ourselves in September already. Kids are, and have been, in school for a while. It doesnt seem like it was long ago when school did not start until after Labor Day.
If I remember correctly, we had three full months of free time to roam and play; now kids get only two months at the most. After a family vacation, a mission trip with the church, and a visit to Grandma's, its time to start hunting for a new book satchel, some white paste, and a new box of Crayolas.
Whats that you say? You dont carry book satchels anymore, and whats a Crayola? I dont suppose youll be getting a new pair of Keds either!
My, my, how things have changed over the past few years, er, few decades! Well, all right, over the last sixty-five years! Time sure flies when youre having fun.
Speaking of time flying, it was this time last year that The Bodock Post published its first issue.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!
It has been a fun and fascinating year for the editors of The Post. So many people receive, and hopefully enjoy the articles and pictures. The editors have certainly enjoyed producing this monthly eMagazine.
Many of you have had such nice things to say about our effort, and others have sent in stories of growing up in and around Pontotoc and North Mississippi. We are blessed to have become reacquainted with friends from long ago. They may have moved away, but their roots still run very deep in this red clay soil of our home. Some of our contributors we did not know personally, but their love for home shows through their remembrances loud and clear.
We would be a poor lot if we did not thank all of you who helped and encouraged us in this fledgling endeavor: The Pontotoc Progress, Tombigbee Country Magazine, The Pontotoc Library, The Post Office Museum, and so many others. Then there were those who recalled stories from the folds of their minds to make The Post an enjoyable and entertaining journal to read. To each of you we offer our heartfelt thanks!
If you have a friend or relative who does not receive The Bodock Post, tell them to click on www.bodockpost.com and signup to receive, totally free, the monthly publication. They will be glad you told them.
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor
Note: From The Arbor is a regular feature of our newsletter from which our "Editor of the Month" introduces each issue, season, or theme, as the case may be.
Modern Mowers Labor Savers
The last couple of weeks of July were particularly wet ones here in Pontotoc, Mississippi, where the words wet and July seem ill-suited for use in the same sentence. Hot weather and plenty of rain provide a combination that spells extra work for those of us who look forward to enough dry days of summer to inhibit the growth of grasses that comprise our lawns.
The last week of July found me mowing on three consecutive days, the second of which was due to rainfall before my task was completed on the first day. My already overgrown yard needed more than a trim; it needed a cutting. Im not one to leave my lawn looking like a hay pasture when the mowing is done. So, I raise the blade for the first mowing and then go back for the final cutting with the blade lowered. This technique helps the economy because it burns twice as much gasoline, and the second pass helps mulch the clippings better.
Through the years, Ive played with various methods of handling grass clippings from manually raking and bagging to the use of a bagging attachment on a lawn mower. Those methods worked well when I had less lawn to mow. These days, I simply make an honest attempt to scatter the clippings over a large enough mowed area so that my neighbors are not left wondering when the hay-baling crew is coming.
The invention of the rotary-blade, gas-powered lawn mower stands as one of mankinds finest achievements. We who cut our teeth (figuratively speaking) using push mowers with blades wrapped in cylindrical fashion like that of a McCormick Reaper, may have a greater appreciation for the rotary mechanism than those whove scarcely heard of, let alone utilized, the original, labor-intensive push mower. With the original push mower the blades were mechanically propelled by the wheels, which were powered by the pusher, who might aptly be called the pant-er, as pushing eventually led to panting.
Happily, my push-mowing days were few, and in this respect I may have been born at the right time. The gasoline engine on the rotary mower took away the work of the pusher in propelling the blade, but the mower still had to be pushed.
Yet, an entirely new set of axioms needed to be learned and applied to the new technology if the "mower" of the lawn was to keep his fingers and toes while operating a rotary lawn mower. (For those who think in terms of political correctness, I would point out the use of "his" is appropriate in the context of its use in the previous sentence, for few if any "hers" were asked to mow in the early years of rotary mowers.)
Reel lawn mowers ejected clippings, almost gently, directly behind themselves. Rotary mowers blasted clippings to their right side. However, the workhorse of its day, the big wheel Yazoo, was open on three sides. Only a chain-link curtain prevented something being thrown onto the operator. For tough mowing chores, the Yazoo was hard to beat.
There was a time when fathers trained their sons how to mow, not just the mower-cranking part, or the dos and donts, but also a mowing technique called blocking. Blocking was a sensible approach that utilized a rectangular mowing pattern. The operator laid out the largest possible rectangle, often the perimeter of the front yard, side yard or back yard and began mowing the edges of the block. With each pass, the block became smaller, until the un-mowed strip vanished or became so small the pattern was broken by simply mowing end to end.
An unwritten rule of mowing was one so obvious the need to write it down was not considered. Simply put, the rule stated, "Mow so that the clippings are not scattered in the street, drive, or walkway."
In hindsight, someone should have written it down. I see all too many violations of this unwritten rule. Persons, who mow grass in such a manner as to discharge the clippings into the street leaving a mess for a motorist to drive through, rank right up there with gum-chewers in church. Both actions border on sacrilege. One is a sacrilege to God, and the other is a sacrilege to one's fellowman.
During the first dry spell after a few days of summer rain, I cant find a route from my house to the Court House without driving through an obstacle course of grass clippings drying in the road. While Im not advocating a return to the good old days of reel mowers, I would enjoy seeing a little more consideration expressed by the operators of the present-day lawn mowers.
~ By Wayne Carter, Associate Editor & Publisher
Viva La Eggplant Prolific Bearer
"Plant several eggplants to find out how many friends you have. "~ moi
Perhaps the most striking veggie being sold at the farmers market in midsummer is eggplant. Not only do they come in various sizes from fat to skinny and shapes from round to oblong, like cousins do, they come in several colors.
The best known are a gorgeous oblong sable colored fruit. The green ones and white ones quickly catch your eye, but it is the lavender fruit which are most striking, especially the lavender and white Rosa Bianca variety.
Many people dont know how to eat them. The eggplant fruit we harvest from the Collierville Victory Garden for the Food Pantry have been generally ignored by the clients. They just dont know how to cook them. After I explained how Mimi slices and fries them like green tomatoes or cubes and fries them like okra, they were quickly taken.
Perhaps, because the plants are prolific bearers or because they have a lot of bulk for your meal, or because, like potatoes and rice, they make a good extender, eggplants are used a lot in many cultures. An extender does not have a lot of taste of its own, thus a little meat and gravy on rice makes a big meal of meat and gravy. Similarly, eggplant pulp can be mixed with other ingredients to extend them.
One year, I had a dozen plants. With each plant producing one or two fruit per week, I learned how many friends are needed to consume 18 to 24 fruit each week, every week, for a couple of months. Actually, I didnt learn how many friends are needed, just that I dont have enough close friends to consume that many. Mimi and I can eat one once a week, but our children and granddarlings havent acquired the taste. Maybe if we cooked some with chicken tenders and French fries?
The French make an eggplant dish called ratatouille, which is basically a stew of whatever fresh veggies and seasonings you have extra. Our Greek friends make a wonderful eggplant casserole they call moussaka, which is a mixture of meat and garlic with olive oil and breadcrumbs and cheese and whatever else suits their fancy.
When I lived in Cajun country, Momma would make a similar dish she called eggplant casserole. She would slice a large black fruit lengthwise, scrape out the contents, mix it well with ingredients similar to moussaka, refill the emptied shells, and cover with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake. Aieeee!
With fried foods being less an option for me, Mimi nowadays either sautés or grills veggies for us with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic salt. Aieeee!
~ By Carl Wayne Hardeman, Editor
Hobos & Hunger I Was Hungry And You Gave...
Things, places and people were different sixty-five years ago. The role of mom was different as well. Moms were stay-at-home people during the 1940s. For the most part they were always there and they took care of the children who happened to be near their home. Kids that were playing around their place when lunchtime came were called in to eat. Our moms had us wash up, sit down at the table, and bow our heads as one of their family said grace.
I remember our neighbor, my other mom, Mrs. Huey, would run a tub of water and call her son, Howard, and me in for a bath after a hard hot day of playing together. No big deal, just a mother taking care of "her children." On those dry summer days as Dad would water the garden in the late afternoon, if we boys came around, he would squirt us with the hose. We would yell and holler but still come back again and again for more spraying. That was the way it happened in Happy Hollow around 1943.
Our happy little hollow was on Marion Street just down the hill from the town of Pontotoc. Our street formed the North side of the Court Square. Traveling from our little hollow into town over the ridge and down the other side you would find the steel ribbons of the GM&O Railroad.
In those days there were at least two trains each day, one was a local that delivered freight to all the towns along the way. There was also a passenger train called "The Rebel" that traveled that line each day. I do not recall if there were many passengers on The Rebel or not, but our town seemed to have its share of travelers, both paying and nonpaying. The nonpaying travelers were what we called "Hobos." Many folks called them bums, but they were not. These, by in large, were honest men out seeking honest work.
Having read a little about these men, it seems they could find a friendly house in whatever town they stopped. I have seen pictures of the markings they used to show others the way to a house that would share a meal with them.
They must have used a neon sign to get to our house, because it seemed that every one of them came directly to our place. They passed a dozen or more homes on their trek to ours. Most likely any of the other houses would have given them a meal, but somehow ours was the place to find.
Mom treated them well and whatever there was to eat, they were welcome to it. She did not cook extra for them; usually, whatever was left over from a previous meal she would heat and serve to them. She usually fed them outside on the back porch and was friendly and courteous to them. She talked to them about where they lived, their family, and when they would be getting home. Mom fed them regardless of their race or how decrepit they might appear. If they needed something to wear, she would share whatever we had that they could use.
As a boy of six, it did not surprise me to see a strange fellow sitting on our back porch eating a meal and drinking a large glass of Moms delicious iced tea. At that age, I never thought to ask why she did this. She was a loving and caring person, I knew, but this was a little more than the norm.
She and Dad were married in 1930, smack dab in the middle of the depression, they knew about hard times. Life in many of these rural areas was already hard. People were barely getting by on their farms, and if there was a bad crop, it was even worse. She knew of men who had left home to seek work, any kind of work, just to send the money home to their families. They did not want to leave, but they did what they had to do to feed their loved ones. They were not abandoning their families; they were simply looking for work to secure their welfare.
These men turned to the railroad to travel. It was the best way to cover the large distances needed to find work. They would hop a freight and ride and hope for the best. Along the way, they worked at odd jobs until the jobs played out, and then they moved on. Most were not beggars; they would work for their food if allowed to.
Later in life as an adult, I asked Mom why she did this. I will always remember her answer, one that we all should remember.
She said, "If Anderson (my Dad) or Ralph were far from home, alone and hungry, it would sure bless my heart to know that some kind lady gave them a good meal as they traveled through."
Jesus himself said, "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink Then the righteous will answer Him saying, Lord when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink the King will answer and say to them, assuredly, I say to You, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:35,37,40 NKJV
Thanks Mom, for teaching me a biblical lesson of love without even opening the Bible.
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor
My Nakedness When Clothing Is Not Enough
Im a creature of habit, but dont think thats an oddity; most people are. I wear two rings, one on the ring finger of each hand, and have done so for a number of years. When I was in the meat cutting business, my college class ring would hang on the wrapping film used by meat department personnel to package meat that is cut and/or processed on the premises. As a result, my class ring got very little wear for about a nine-year stretch in my multi-faceted career.
Collegiate rings can occasionally lead one to false assumptions. A speaker at the high school sports banquet I attended with a young woman who ultimately became my bride told of his experience.
"I was approached by a gentleman after a speech I had given at a banquet very similar to this one," he recalled. "The man commented that I had obviously attended The University of Mississippi. I presumed him to be an astute individual by his accurate observation, and thinking I must have impressed him with my eloquence and suave demeanor, asked, and, how did you come to that conclusion, good Sir? He responded, I saw your ring when you were picking your nose at the dinner table."
The ring that symbolizes my commitment to my beloved wife lies in a ring-box in a dresser drawer somewhere in my house. Ive not worn it for the past fifteen or so years. I wasnt mad at my wife at the time I removed it from my finger, but I took it off to try on a new ring.
The new ring was a signet ring with the official seal of The University of Mississippi etched deeply into its flat surface. Officially, the brochure that came in the mail, the advertisement if you please, described it as an alumnus ring.
At the time I decided to purchase the signet ring I imagined using it with sealing wax to add a unique touch to personal correspondence, but the rapid deterioration of my handwriting that coincided with the purchase, largely ruled out my ostentatious plans for it. Instead, Ive been perfectly satisfied with merely wearing the ring on my left hand.
I dont wear my rings constantly, and I dont sleep with them. In doing physical labor (think chores at home) such as operating power tools and equipment, I remove my rings. I dont do so for safety concerns any more than my concern for wear and tear on the rings, but I may do so for reasons of comfort.
One things for certain, about my rings, if I leave the house to go to work, church, a meeting, or a social gathering, I feel naked without them. Of course, two rings are hardly sufficient to cover ones nakedness, but even in their smallness, their absence creates the feeling of incompleteness, which is certainly characterized by nakedness.
Rings on my fingers are not the only items that have crept into my life, whose absence imparts a sense that something is wrong with my universe. I, also, need a wrist watch to abate feelings of incompleteness or nakedness.
My grandfather, Hayden Carter, could tell time by glancing at the position of the sun in the sky, but even he carried a timepiece, at least during the seventeen years I knew him. Granted, his was a pocket watch, and Im not sure that he carried it with him on trips to the fields he tended, as he was pretty good at reckoning time without it.
Pocket watches and their associated watch fobs are no longer in vogue, and the prevalence of cell phones has ushered in an era in which many people find they dont need a wrist watch. I need one because my left arm feels strange without a watch attached to it.
I could probably extend this article into a series, as it would take several thousand words to fully develop the accessories in my life that provide a sense of well being. However, allow me to conclude with one more selection.
Because computers play an important role, not only in my work, but also in my personal life, theres a device thats been on the market, perhaps, for less than a decade thats about as indispensable to my "wholeness" as my rings and wrist watch; Im referring to a "jump drive," which is another term for "memory stick," or "flash drive."
These highly portable devices, which have a diameter roughly the size of a carpenters pencil but are roughly one-fourth as long, are great for transferring or storing data, program files, even pictures. I carry one in each front pocket of my pants, but because they could so easily slip out and fall unnoticed when Im retrieving my car keys, house keys, or loose change, I fasten each to something else I consider a pocket necessity. One is tethered to my nail clippers; the other to my house keys.
Its a terrible thing to even imagine, and I wouldnt wish it on anyone, but if you want to see me naked, your best chance is to catch me without my rings, watch, or jump drives. Good luck!
~ By Wayne Carter, Associate Editor & Publisher
The Cucumber Enjoyable Garden Product
"A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing ." ~ Samuel Johnson
I disagree sharply with Mr. Johnson. Cucumbers are both delicious and easy to grow.
Cucumbers are one of the many veggies in the cucurbit family. This includes squash, zucchini, gourds, and melons. They can cross-pollinate and create odd veggies which we Master Gardeners are asked to identify. We just say it is a cucurbit and leave the asker to mumble and walk away while we look smart yet have no idea what it is.
There are many lessons to learn in a garden. The Good Lord told us to consider his handiwork; of which I am ever more fascinated each passing year. There are lessons to be learned from a cucumber.
Their vines have male and female flowers. They only have male flowers when they first bloom. Female flowers grow a fruit between itself and the vine. And, cross-pollination must occur. Its a simple explanation for children about the birds and the bees.
Another lesson is the wonderment of how cool the inside of a cucumber is compared to the ambient air temperature as much as twenty degrees. This makes them a gardeners popsicle or a balm for a sting or burn. One of my fondest pictures of this years farmers market is two children each eating half a cucumber. They were learning the delicious taste of fresh, locally grown veggies.
And finally we see the efficiency of nature as one goes over a just picked patch for the second or third time and continues to find large cucumbers hiding. We can learn patience as well as marvel at natures ability to protect her plants.
Cucumbers are either small knobby ones called picklers, or large sleek ones called slicers. Dark green is better as the fruit is ripe and well pollinated, unlike the ones with a lot of white. Yellow ones are past their prime. That must have been what Samuel Johnson was eating, and they must not have had a locally grown produce farmers market in his hometown.
Thinly sliced cucumbers are good in salads or as a side dish with your favorite dressing. I also like a Mediterranean salad of cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in light vinegar. And, who doesnt like pickles? I like dill, sour, sweet, and bread-and-butter pickles. I am amazed restaurants dont offer appetizer trays of pickles and olives.
~ By Carl Wayne Hardeman, Editor
A Cemetery Lost A Boyhood Find
Long ago when kids made their own fun, there was a favorite place where two of us boys went occasionally to enjoy some peace and quiet. Kenneth Hodges and I were the two boys and went there to get away, as kids would say today, "just hang out." It was an old cemetery east of the town of Pontotoc, out in the middle of Mr. Lowry Simmons pasture. Most of the headstones were inscribed with the name "Winston." Those gravestones dated back to Civil War days and a few, beyond.
It was a secluded spot with several cedars and other trees growing there. Near the center of the cemetery was what we called an "Old Forest Pine." It towered above the other trees and did not have many branches until it reached above the other growth. It was very large around the base and stood majestically straight. Beyond the cemetery and its growth was open pasture with no trees within a hundred yards or more in any direction; it was sort of a wooded island in a sea of green grass. It was the most serene place we ever frequented. Kenneth had found the place sometime earlier and dubbed it "The Lonesome Pine Cemetery."
We were about twelve years old in 1949 and were fast friends. We took our BB guns with us until we got real rifles then we took them. Its not that we were huntingwe were just shootingboys do that. A boy could carry a rifle or shotgun across his shoulder back then, and no one thought anything about it. By the age of twelve, most boys had a shotgun or a .22 rifle, or both.
It was about this time that we decided to experiment with tobacco. After all, most adults smoked and most of the movies we saw had actors and actresses with cigarettes. This secluded place was ideal for this experimentation.
We would bring what few cigarettes we could muster and sometimes a little chewing tobacco. If we had a pipe we would bring that along too. I particularly liked a pipe, provided some good sweet tobacco like "Rum and Maple" was available, it always smelled so good. It gave you an air of sophistication having the pipe between your teeth, then removing it occasionally holding it by the bowl, and pointing at some distant object with the stem.
Anyone approaching our "island" had to cross the wide-open space and would have given us time to stash our "ta-bacca" well before they got to our hideout. However, no one ever came. We began to think we were the only ones that knew the cemetery was even there.
There was no road or path that would lead one to the site, and there was no sign of any new graves in recent years. No work had been done to improve the site during the times we visited there. Many headstones were lying on the ground and many of those were broken in half. Most were white but had turned black with age, unreadable. We both made sure we left them all just as we found them. Harming this sacred resting place was not on our minds at all.
Many years later, Dad and I were out driving in one of the newer industrial areas on the east side of town and drove by a good-sized hill seemingly bypassed by the grading that had been done. Asking Dad about it, he said that a small cemetery had been found as the bulldozing work was done. I stopped the car and the two of us walked up to the site; it was, in fact, our "Lonesome Pine Cemetery."
All was there just as remembered, except for the large pine and one new grave. Mom had mentioned sometime earlier that Mr. Winston had requested to be buried in some little known cemetery out east. Mr. Robert Lawrence Winstons wish was granted, and he was buried there among his relatives in April of 1982.
Our old sanctuary was still intact, and oh, what memories drifted back through my mind: of a half plug of "Days Work," a partial package of "Pall-Mall," a rifle with a handful of .22 cartridges, and two happy and contented boys off on a lark. We could not have been happier even if our names had been Tom and Huck.
I do not recommend using tobacco in any form, and it was not long after this time that I quit altogether and have not touched it since. However, the fun Kenneth and I enjoyed at the "Lonesome Pine Cemetery," tobacco or no, will linger with me as long as my memory allows.
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor.
Bubba Bodock The Ticket
The other day I went downtown to run a few errands. I went into the local coffee shop for a snack. I was only there for about 5 minutes, and when I came out, there was this cop writing out a parking ticket.
I said to him, 'Come on, man, how about giving a retired person a break'?
He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. His insensitivity annoyed
me, so I called him a 'Nazi.' He glared at me and then wrote out another
ticket for having worn tires.
A pirate walks into a pub and the waiter says, "Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible."
"What do you mean?" said the pirate. "I feel fine."
"What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before."
"We were in a battle and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I'm fine now."
"OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?"
"In another battle I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off and I got fitted with a hook. I'm fine, really."
"What about that eye patch?"
"Oh, one day we were at sea and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up and one of them pooped in my eye."
"You're kidding me! You lost an eye from bird poop?"
"Naw, it was my first day with the hook."
Our Mission Purpose - The Bodock Post
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 - 2009 The Bodock Post.