Under The Arbor God's Love Expressed
May we be among the first to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As editors, it has been our pleasure to have spun a few tales and stories for you this past year. These were not only our stories but those of our fine guest columnists as well. From their lives, they have shared with us great stories and experiences and have allowed us to peek back into the past through their eyes. What a pleasure! We wish to thank them and encourage them to continue.
If you have a story you would like to share, please do so. If you do not feel up to the challenge of writing it, get it to us in one form or another, and we will take it from there.
A most wonderful Thanksgiving season has just passed, and when we think of it, most of us have received many more blessing than we deserve or will ever stop and give thanks for. We are somewhat like the hog that never even looks up at the tree from which the acorn fell, nor do we even offer a grunt in thanks.
As we approach the Christmas Season, may we stop long enough to remember what the celebration is all about. It is more than grabbing for the right to "out-give everyone else," it is more than trying to collect more "toys" than our friends, and it is more than showing off our home, cars, boat, and whatever. However, it is a time of sharing with those around us.
Two thousand years ago the greatest of all gifts was shared with all of mankind; the gift of Jesus. Since the beginning of time, man has unsuccessfully tried to fill a void in his life. No matter how hard he tries, the void is always there. In His great love for us, God gave the ultimate gift, His own Son. That Son was not to be just a good man, nor a wonderful healer, nor even another prophet; although he was all these and more; Jesus was the supreme gift of love that completely fills the void in mans life.
We usually think of the Christmas Story as being found in Luke chapter two, "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that ."
But, I submit to you that the heart of Christmas is also found in another popular verse in Johns gospel that says, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV)
May we all accept this most wonderful gift from God Himself, fill the empty void with it, and pass it to those about us. I trust that the Peace of God will saturate your holiday this year and the joy of the season will overflow your life and spread like a wild, sage grass fire to your family, friends and acquaintances. Merry Christmas to each of you from all of us here at the Bodock Post.
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor
Snow Days Packed With Memories
When is the last time that we have had snow around here? I moved here to New Albany in late 1992, and I dont really remember a good snow. Weve had a few little dustings, and I remember one fair little snow in the mid to late 90s and one in 2004. During the snow in the 90s we managed to build a large snowman and a fort with lots of snowballs to throw at people.
The snow that came in 2004, my neighbors kids got a four-wheeler for Christmas, which was good cause their riding trail came right past my porch. There were three of them, and I got em all on the first round. Kids wise up fast though, on the next round they all had helmets on, and the two on the back were ready with their snowballs. What a fun day that was, it was great to be a kid with the kids next door. Seems like as the years pass by we get less and less snow, oh what I wouldnt give for a foot of snow on Christmas morning.
I can remember a few good snows when I was a kid, when we lived in Memphis, TN. We had gone to Grandmas house in Humboldt, TN, and we got stranded. We had to leave our car at Grandmas and take a train back to Memphis. Everywhere we went that next week we had to walk or take the bus. It was a great time as I remember, but Pop was an insurance salesman and worked what was known back then as a debit route. Most people those days paid their premiums by the week and the salesman had to run a route and collect each week. Needless to say after a week of this on foot and Pop was not a happy camper. He was glad to see clean streets to be able to retrieve the car back from Grandmas house.
The next big snow I remember was in the mid 60s. We lived out in the country between Crenshaw and Como, MS. We went to bed that night with a misty rain coming down and awoke to 18 inches of snow on the ground. It was great, but we lived in a mobile home and back then the doors opened to the outsidewe couldnt get out of the house.
My family had a country store and people depended on us for nearly everything in the way of groceries and feed for livestock along with gas and diesel. We also raised calves and pigs to sell.
Back then, mobile home windows didnt raise up and down, they rolled in and out. The only one in the house that we could get open was about eight feet off the ground and I was the only one small enough to be shoved out. I landed on my head. No wonder Im so goofy. After digging out the front door, we all got busy doing chores as if nothing was out of the ordinary. The livestock were all glad to see us because they were used to getting fed before the sun came up, and it was mid morning by now. After all the chores and between customers we got to get out and play. Even Pop enjoyed the snow because he could run in and out and wasnt stuck walking miles in the snow to make a living.
Snow days, I really miss them. We always had hot chocolate with marshmallows and snow cream. How many of you remember snow cream? Now that was a treat. These days, all we think about now is running to the store and hoping nobody beats us to the last loaf of bread, jug of milk, or bottle of water. We need to keep our pantries stocked, and if we happen to get a good snow, we can get out with the kids, or grandkids, neighbors and neighbors kids and enjoy.
It would be fun to build a snowman or have a snowball fight, sled down a big hill on a piece of cardboard or an old corn scoop, or an old car hood. Yipeee! Be a kid again, and if you happen by my house, look out, I like to throw snowballs. Dont forget, when you stock your pantry to keep extra cans of Eagle Brand milk and a full bottle of vanilla so that you can have a big bowl of snow crème and dont forget the hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.
If youre reading this after the fact, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and all your families are well. Have a great Christmas, and be safe. Enjoy your family and take in as many Christmas programs as you can. Be sure to give thanks to the Lord for all the many blessings that you have. Most of us are rich beyond the imagination of some folks in this world. Help someone in need, and there will be great blessing in it for the both of you. Merry Christmas, and may God bless.
~ By Tim Burress, Contributor
Electric Trains A Hobby For Some
Can there be a Christmas toy more dearly wished for by a small boy than an electric train set? With all the toys to choose from today, electric train sets may have lost much of their appeal, but for my generation, a train set would have topped the list for most little boys less than eight years of age. For older children of my generation, a Red Ryder BB gun might have been more desirable, but cap pistols had to suffice the younger crowd, whose family could not afford an electric train.
Its true for most little boys that as they grow into manhood they put away childish things. Cap pistols give way to BB guns which give way to firearms for hunting or target practice. Toy train sets have no similar progression, short of one choosing a railroading career, but many a man has returned to the joys of his childhood by becoming a basement engineer of an elaborately designed scale-model railway system in his own home.
Bruce Dellinger of Pontotoc, Mississippi, is such a man. Bruce grew up in North Carolina, attending a school that was a stones throw from a double-track railroad. His father and a brother worked for the railroad.
"During the war [WWII]," Bruce remembers, "a train was going or coming about every five minutes carrying materials needed in the war effort."
How exciting that must have been for a small boy! Surely thoughts of adventures riding the rails filled the minds of all who grew up near a railroad.
Bruce remembers the Southern Crescent that ran from New Orleans then along the East Coast all the way to New York. And, these days, Bruce Dellinger relives those days of yesteryear in a converted garage adjacent to his home on old Hwy. 6 in Pontotoc County, where he controls four trains from his "engineers chair."
"Train enthusiasts are not as numerous in the South as they are in the northern states, where almost every house has a basement," Bruce stated, somewhat disappointedly, "As you can see, a lot of room is needed to setup a train system. So, you have to have a basement or do what I did and build a shop or garage apart from your house to support your hobby."
Bruce, like many of our generation, had a small electric train set when he was a child.
"I had a Marx set, that didnt last very long," he shared. "But my dream was always to have a Lionel set."
Bruce starting collecting engines and cars, tracks and switches, and all the paraphernalia the typical enthusiast needs, back in 1980.
"I saw that red and yellow one," Bruce stated, pointing to a display of several Lionel locomotives and freight cars on a nearby shelf, "at an estate sale. I asked the lady how much she wanted for the two pieces. She wanted thirty-five dollars. I knew it was a steal at that price, but I didnt have it on me and didnt have a check, so I drove home and borrowed it from Melna [Bruces wife]. Thats how I got started."
More than one hundred engines and railway cars of all types sat on more than a hundred feet of tracks on the huge board laid in front of us or else among the wall displays in the garage area where he spends hours with his hobby. One hundred fifty additional cars and engines are boxed in a storage room. In slightly less than thirty years, Bruce has invested untold time and a great deal of money into his train collecting hobby. It will be something to pass on to his children, none of whom share his enthusiasm for model trains.
A year or so ago, Bruce broke down his elaborate railway to convert his exterior garage and shop into living space for a son. Thus, the tracks and landscape still are "a work in progress." Yes, there are lots of small downtown buildings, a depot station where small plastic people wait for the next passenger train to arrive, probably the City of New Orleans Amtrak passenger line. In the center of the massive layout, the rail yard is incomplete, but a "roundtable" sits ready to move cars to various rails and engines to the engine house for repairs. Bruce has enough to keep him busy for several more years before he gets everything the way he envisions it. (See Bruces railway on YouTube)
Bruce is a fortunate man. He doesnt have to read a book of poetry or prose to enter his dream world. He surely doesnt have to rely on beer, liquor or drugs for a "high." He can walk a few feet from his house to his garage, sit at the controls of four separate train systems and become a kid once more. Who wouldnt enjoy that?
~ By Wayne L .Carter, Associate Editor & Publisher
Whos Your Daddy A Loving Tribute
Whos your daddy is a trite question posed mockingly nowadays. But the question does call for considering complex situations. My own biological daddy died in an accident when I was twelve years old. Momma raised us five children by herself, and did an admirable job, since most of us finished college, and all of us have Christian families.
But, I have had a daddy most of my life all of my married life. When Mimi and I made our lifelong commitment, her momma and daddy, Opal and Ralph, took me as their own child. Ralph has been my daddy for over forty-two years, so I have not gone alacking for one.
In the last edition of the Bodock Post in the Under The Arbor section, I mentioned Ralph was home under hospice care. Since then, he has been gathered home by the angels. We miss him very much, but would not want him to be suffering as he was at the end. Opal, Mimi, and I were at his bedside when he simply did not take another breath. Even with thirteen weeks of being near the end, the end was hard to bear.
For whatever reasons, whether the Good Lord made us this way, or our parents raised us that way, we men generally do not express our grief as openly and freely as women do. We do that alone. Robert Frost sort of explained it in his poem: The Home Burial. http://www.bartleby.com/118/6.html.
A day or two later, I drove the back roads near their small farm in rural northwest Pontotoc County, MS. A flood of memories came back as I remembered walking those woods with Ralph squirrel hunting, picking up wild muscadines, gathering pine knots for kindling, and learning the kinds of trees. I drove past the government lake where we fished together, and I learned more useful and enjoyable ways. I passed the fields where we shot quail and dove. Actually he shot them and I shot at them. I passed the field where we cut and gathered hay, and raised a fine calf, which paid for mine and Mimis first new refrigerator. These are treasures to learn from a daddy.
Much of what I know about gardening came from him and Opal. He knew dirt, and seasons, and when and what to plant. I will never grow better tomatoes, sweet potatoes, purple hull peas, or greens than he did, though I may have him beat with arugula. But, I am playing gardening, while he gardened for his extended family and many friends and neighbors.
But more than that, from countless hours on his front porch, I learned to appreciate his deep love for God and his family, and what it means to work hard and make do with what you have. He and Opal grew up in the Great Depression. They have not forgotten those lessons.
Ralph will not be with us physically this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. For the first time, we will celebrate Thanksgiving with family in our home instead of us all gathering at their home. We will miss him a lot. But this Thanksgiving I am grateful for having been blessed with Ralph Graham as my daddy for all those years.
~ By Carl Wayne Hardeman, Editor
A Simple Christmas Twenty Dollars Was Enough
Many think of Christmas as being that big spending spree starting the day after Thanksgiving and lasting until midnight on Christmas Eve. Some think it is a time to buy gifts for everyone and his brother, with tips and gratuities for anyone who has ever performed the smallest of services.
In older days it was simple; it seemed no one had money, and no one expected much. Folks did not feel they had to "out-do" all the family and neighbors.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Dad usually said, "If everyone is well and happy, thats enough for me." He and Mom grew up when there was no cash to spend for the holiday.
Oh, there might be enough for a little candy to go into a stocking, and possibly a piece or two of fruit, but not much more. Sometimes a homemade doll or toy of some kind was given. There was hardly money for shoes, coats, and the necessities, much less toys and gadgets.
When I was about five, just old enough to know about Christmas, there was only one toy under our tree. It was a small army truck with six lead soldiers. This was 1942, and the war was going on hot and heavy; the truck and soldiers seemed appropriate. A few pieces of hard candy and some nuts were in my stocking, with a tangerine and apple to complete the gifts. It was enough!
After the war years, things began to get better, money became a little easier to come by, and each year more presents were appearing. At nine, odd jobs began to afford me some money, and I began to save back some for holiday gifts. When college days rolled around it seemed there was always someone who wanted me to do a little fix-up, paint-up, clean-up job here and there, and I was working half time while in school. Money had become more plentiful. At Christmas there were many, many presents under the tree. Fruit and hard candy was just a "by-the-way" thing now. Chocolate covered cherries, fruitcakes, ice cream, nuts, fruits, and all kind of fancy "sweet tooth" delicacies were in abundance. But, I dont remember being any happier than when there were not so many "things." When there were just a few things we seemed to enjoy them more.
Carol and I married the year before college was over, and by the next year our family was on the way. Work was found in Memphis, and our first son, Joey was born just after we moved there in October of 1959. It was our first Christmas on our own. A rented three-room duplex was home, and finances were very tight.
The job I had accepted with a homebuilder was a good job but was a low paying position. We worked out a written budget that allowed us to survive until I could get my foot in the door, so to speak. However, there was no "fat" in the budget at all. After the bills were paid and the merger allotment for groceries spent, we had two dollars to share. With a new baby, a new job, in a big new city, Christmas was the last thing on our minds. Thank the Lord, we were not sick, and Joey was a robust and healthy little guy.
It dawned on us that Christmas was coming fast and we had nothing set aside. By scrimping on groceries, we managed to come up with twenty dollars to split between the two of us. We decided not to give each other presents and took our ten dollars each and began to stretch it like a rubber band.
I was foreman in a large subdivision building hundreds of homes in South Memphis. On the job we cut our own shelves and wooden rods for closets and used four by four wooden columns for the porches. I could picture a lamp in those scraps that we hauled to the dump. From the column cut-offs, a stand was made and a base was made from a left over piece of shelving. Short pieces of round closet rod were used for decoration. Part of a can of varnish that we had moved with us, was enough for the finish. I would make a couple of lamps for Mom and Dad. With my ten dollars, I bought two inexpensive lampshades, a light fixture for each, and two electric cords.
Carol, being an excellent seamstress, found a pattern for throw pillows and began to sew. She used left over material she had saved from another project, and with her ten dollars she bought padding, buttons, piping, and thread to make several beautiful sofa pillows.
When the "dust settled" we had gifts for our parents. We made our gifts and did not go into debt for what we could not afford.
We both cheated just a tad; with the dollar and change left over from the purchase of the materials we bought a very small and simple gift for each other. Who could ask for any more; loving parents, a loving spouse, and a baby boy asleep wrapped in a warm blanket. While giving ourselves to others we found great happiness. That was one of the happiest Christmases we ever had.
May your Christmas reflect the Love that God had for each of us on that grand and glorious "Birthday of the King!"
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor
Christmas Bounty Continuing The Tradition
The same day that my old friend Wayne Carter asked me to write a Christmas memory piece for the Post, somebody else asked me for two or three sentences summing up "what Christmas means to me." My reaction to the second request was, "Well, thats easy." But then I realized it isnt easy at all. I'm always conflicted during the holidays, trying to hold on to the memories and family traditions I cherish and want to pass on to my children and grandchildren while somehow balancing the demands of the season. So I began to think seriously about what drives my love of Christmas.
I do love it. If anything, I idealize it; I want the Christmas I remember: The big, multicolored lights on a fresh-cut cedar, the bubble lights, the secrecy of wrapped gifts (picked up, listened to, shaken), and the telephone call from Santa, asking if Id been a good girl. The pageants, the scratchy tinsel garland on my hair and the angels wings edged with tinsel, too, the shepherds and wise men (boys in bathrobes), and the older girls who got to be Mary, and the singing of carols. And, the year that Santa managed to slip a piano into the house. How was that possible? I cant imagine it, but I still believe.
These memories are like snapshots of my childhood, but theres another that strikes me as significant. When I was a child, our family Christmas was marked with breathless anticipation, not of decorations or presents or pageants or parades, but of the rituals of food.
I remember the excitement when the first coconuts and candied fruits arrived at Uncle Holliss grocery store on the corner across from the square. The candied pineapple, cherries (red and green), and citron glistened like jewels in their packages. And the coconuts! I loved their rough, hairy skin and their "eyes" (I pretended they were monkeys heads). I stood on tiptoe and helped Mother choose just the right one, and at home, if I was lucky, I was allowed to "help" pierce the coconut, releasing the milk before my grandmother cracked it open.
My mother and grandmother sat for hours, cracking pecans and picking out the meat. Sometimes Daddy helped; he was the best at getting the halves out without breaking them. When all the ingredients were assembled, the cooking began: the fruitcakes baked, wrapped in cloth, soaked with something mysterious, and stored away in a cool, dark place weeks before Christmas; the "amalgamation" cakesix layers of homemade white cake with filling as thick as the layers, rich with raisins (dark and golden), pecans, coconut, sugar, and butter; and fudge, divinity, toasted pecans (yes, more pecans), and sometimes ambrosia or custard or a pecan pie for good measure. Those were the sweets! Then there was the Christmas meal: a baked hen (later on, a turkey), ham, cornbread dressing, candied sweet potatoes, congealed cranberry salad made with fresh cranberries and oranges and pecans, and homemade rolls . . .
What was it about that bounty? What did it have to do with Christmas, and why, to this day, does the tradition of good food prevail in my household and continue to be important to my grown-up children?
My oldest son said to me the other day, when I was talking about simplifying the Christmas meal for the sake of the grandchildren: "But Mom, they need to experience it."
He is particularly keen on family tradition, and it moves me that he is. He remembers the times when he was a child, when we still gathered around that table with my mother and daddy and grandmother, all of us blessed and grounded not so much in abundance, but in the strength of family and the love of God whose gift of His Son sustains us, no matter what.
Im glad that Wayne and that other person asked me to remember. All this remembering will make Christmas richer than it might have been. It will be easier to set aside the busyness that gets in the way of the true meaning of Christmas and focus on sharing with those I loveone more timethe good food (the same recipes my grandmother and mother made), the music, and most important of all, the gifts of memory and story.
~ By Gerry Wilson, Guest Contributor
Biographical Sketch: Gerry (Gooch) Wilson is a native of Pontotoc. Growing up, she spent many hours watching life unfold through the window of her daddy's NAPA store on Main Street. Her yen for storytelling began there. She taught English and creative writing at Jackson Academy (Jackson, MS) for twenty-plus years.
Now retired, Gerry spends her time writing and pursuing her other interests: reading, genealogy, music, and (depending on how hot it is) gardening. She and her husband Austin enjoy cooking together, good movies, and travel.
Who Knew Suprisingly Talented
Afew weeks ago, I watched a program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting that featured someone I knew, Zack Stewart of New Albany, Mississippi. I dont think Zack and I have ever met, but his older brother John Alvis was married to one of my mamas cousins. So, Ive known something of Zack for many years, and also Zack once served this area as Northern District Highway Commissioner.
It seems, in his retirement years, Zack, has acquired an interest and some considerable skill in turning wood on a lathe. He explained he purchased a number of pieces of used machinery from a man who tossed in the wood lathe as part of the deal. Zack doesnt think it requires a great deal of skill or know-how to turn blocks of wood into beautiful carvings, but Im not so sure about that.
In the TV program, Zack explained he found the Internet to be a good resource for demonstrating the tools and techniques needed.
"On the Internet, you can find something on most anything you want to do with a lathe," he assured listeners.
Zack showed some beautiful and intricately made pieces he had turned, but stated none were for sale. Instead, he finds enjoyment in giving away the works of his hands, finding generosity to be as rewarding as the work itself.
I found the program quite interesting and informative, though I found myself asking, "Who knew Zack Stewart could do that?"
After all, Zack is more widely known for his public work.
Many of the people we encounter in life are constantly changing and learning to do new things, while were busy in our own small world. Thus, when we finally learn of the accomplishments of others we are prone to ask, "Who knew?"
Near the end of October, I accompanied my wife to "The Gift Shop" in Pontotoc, not because I particularly cared to go shopping with my wife, but as I expect to retire one of these days, its time I started getting used to being around her. While Barbara was shopping for a gift for someones shower, I browsed the various collections, admiring and testing the tone-duration of selected wind chimes, perusing the pottery section, and making small talk with the proprietor, Paulette Reese.
"Do you have any bodock pieces?" I asked, thinking of the jewelry items she and husband Ray Reese had made a few years, prior.
"No, we dont make those anymore. Ray burned up a couple of saws working with that hard, bodock wood, and the shop he uses isnt air-conditioned. We decided we couldnt make enough money to justify our efforts," Paulette explained.
Barbara and I were the only customers in the store at the time, so after our purchases were completed, Paulette walked with us toward the front of the store, where I stopped to inspect the painting of a rooster that caught my eye. I didnt see an artist signature and looked on the back for more information.
"Do you like my rooster?" Paulette asked.
"Yeah, I do. Its quite colorful," I stated.
"Did you paint that?" Barbara asked, picking up on the verbal clue "my rooster" that Id completely missed, as I figured everything in the store was Paulettes.
Paulette explained that the rooster was her creation, and suddenly we were talking artistic mediums and inspiration.
"I was helping Ricky Hodge decorate his daughters condo in Oxford, year before last," Paulette shared. We needed a large painting on one wall, but Ricky thought $399.00 was too much for the one I found for him. It was a modern art painting. He said I could paint one that looked that good. I told him the only thing Id ever painted was a wall. Well, I decided, Id give painting a try. That weekend Ray went with me to the Hobby Lobby in Tupelo, and we came back with about two hundred fifty dollars worth of supplies. Ricky was thrilled with my first painting and asked how much I wanted for it."
Barbara guessed $399.00, while I reasoned $250.00 would have gotten her money
back on the supplies.
Interestingly, Paulette signs her paintings June r. The lowercase r is for Reese, but I had no idea about June.
"My mother didnt give me a middle name," Paulette explained. "She named me after the movie star Paulette Goddard. I always wanted a middle name, so I chose June. When I turned in my assignments for school or test papers, I signed them Paulette June Sheffield. But, I thought my name was too long to sign a painting, so I decided to use June r."
Looking around, I noticed a number of paintings Id scarcely noticed before. Suddenly, I was seeing paintings everywhere. Earlier, I had noticed a still life of a large green apple near the back and I asked if that was one of hers, too. It was.
Near the front where we were standing was a "modern" painting, which actually looked as though the artist had put some thought into the design. It reminded me of some of the works by another local artist, Barbara Baldwin. I was curious about the textured look, and, upon asking, was told by Paulette that instead of thickened paint, she had used sheet-rock mud on the canvas to create the desired effect and painted over it. I would later learn that my niece, Felicia B. Pollard, had suggested this technique to Paulette.
While I was certainly surprised to learn of Paulettes "hidden" artistic talent, I was just as surprised that it came into fruition from the mere thought shared by someone else whose confidence proclaimed, "You can do it."
Seldom do we realize the power of suggestion or dare imagine the things we might accomplish if only we set our minds to it.
Again, I was stopped dead in my tracks with the thought, "Who knew?"
~ By Wayne L .Carter, Associate Editor & Publisher
Fall Gardening Extended Produce
Hear! hear! screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it. ~Henry David Thoreau
We may miss a wonderful garden if we omit the fall season. The Victory Garden is verdant and growing in the crisp air. She is not afraid of cold, short of a killing frost. We are past the earliest recorded frost date of Oct 27, so it could happen most any time. The real bane of the garden is shorter days with less sunshine for the plants to do photosynthesis, make sugar, and grow.
We volunteers know the needy are hungry in winter, too, so we continue our efforts with renewed vigor and optimism. We rescued bedraggled cabbage sets from a local nursery and are giving them a try. Our radishes, chard, cabbages, and turnips are lush. The turnip plants have turnips, some larger than a baseball. We have picked and taken eight bushels of greens to the Food Pantry and have over twice that many more for Thursday morning deliveries in November.
I continue to garden in containers in my backyard. I wonder why I never did so my previous sixty years. I take a few minutes to sprinkle seeds in containers and grow lush pots of arugula, micro greens, garlic, and turnip greens. There is no tastier salad than one fresh from your own patio, and tonight my sweet Mimi is cooking turnip greens from my backyard containers, along with baked sweet potatoes, cream style corn, and cornbread slathered with real butter.
I planted the garlic mid October thinking they would sprout next spring. Alas, they will need to be covered when Jack Frost blows into town as they already have foot tall shoots. I have 5 containers of garlic plants. I dont eat them much, but some things gardeners do for the sheer joy of watching things grow, learning, and sharing bounty with friends and neighbors, plus bragging rights.
My bat faced cuphea and nepenthes serracenia carnivorous plants, the Addams Family, need to be brought in under the patio. I may sneak the bat faced cuphea, Count Dracula, into a spare bedroom to see if it will live. It will live, at least until Mimi discovers it. They are annuals in the desert southwest.
For next year I have twenty seeds of naga jolokia peppers from India. They are over a million Scoville units of heat twice that of red savina habaneras. Mimi asked why. Im still thinking up a plausible answer.
One of my granddarlings, Courtney, helped me rake the leaves today to mulch my flowerbeds. I paid her more than I made chopping cotton for a whole day. Maybe she will associate this with fun and nature and His creation!
~ By Carl Wayne Hardeman, Editor
Southern Heritage Visiting Historical Places
Back in November Peggy and I took a few days off and set out for the eastern part of Virginia, taking with us Peggys sister Elizabeth and her husband Elmer. A different venue helps clean out the cobwebs in the mind, dont-cha-know.
I doubt that the trees and undergrowth could have been any more beautiful. All along the nine-hundred mile trek were sweet gum trees that showed forth their brilliant yellow; hickorys had their old pirates gold; sumac gleamed with brilliant blood red hue, and the maples layered their cloaks with a reddish outer coat, a yellow vesture, and a green shirt inside. All of nature seemed to be putting on a brilliant show of color.
Our Lord sure did some fine painting across the state of Tennessee and Virginia. As the Smokey Mountains began to show their heights, so does the "smoke" from which they derive their name. Although knowledgeable people tell us that the smoke is really just fog, it sure does appear that those hills are actually on fire.
The mountainsides were covered with a blanket of colors, much like my Moms patchwork quilts she so cleverly stitched together. It was hard to keep our eyes on the road with all that beauty that lay just beyond the highways commercial twists.
As we drove along, Elmer and I wondered aloud if anyone has ever been to the top of this mountain or that pointed peak. Did our friends, the Native Americans, camp on that high spot while hunting or has the foot of man never pressed the leaves on that remote location. No matter, to us, they are just as mysterious as if none but God has ever tread there.
Gleaming white fences surrounded the meadows at the base of the hills. Horses cavorted over the acres of lush green fields as cows lay down to chew their mid-morning cud.
Upon reaching our destination of Colonial Williamsburg, we found that our abode was just across the street from a re-constructed 1700s town. All the friendly townspeople were dressed in colonial dress and spoke a bit of the "Kings English." There were no automobiles on the streets, no electric power lines, no visible heating and cooling units, nothing we would not see had we been there in the 1700s. Although modern services are present, they have been discreetly hidden. The army drills up and down the street, men on horseback ride across town, and teams of beautiful, matched horses pull carriages through the streets. Blacksmiths, wheel makers, silver smiths, and craftsmen of all kinds ply their trade just as they did over two hundred years ago.
The area is beautiful, almost beyond description. The restoration of the buildings is superb and to the most exacting specifications. Most buildings are rebuilt on the original foundations. There are some structures that have survived all this time and are maintained to the highest level. The restoration group has tried to take everything away from the area that would not have been seen in that day. Sizeable amounts of firewood were being laid in for winter, and although the magnificent fireplaces are not required to heat the buildings anymore, they still use them for the effect.
William and Mary University is at one end of Colonial Williamsburg and was there before the British moved their government headquarters there. The period is set just prior to the American Revolution, still under British rule in the mid 1700s. Many street plays and depictions characterize events leading up to the Revolution.
Because of the poor economic conditions in Britain at the time, more and higher taxes were placed on the goods bought by the colonies. This, among other unjust conditions imposed by England, led to the revolt. Statesmen began to take a stand in Williamsburg as they were doing all along the East Cost. The Boston Tea Party took place; free men were killed by British troops without provocation, and with Boston harbor blockaded by the English, war was inevitable. Those leaders who chose to side with the Colonials basically signed their own death certificate, should the war go badly for the colonies.
Colonial Williamsburg is a wonderful place to step back into history, so much history, and so little time too for us to absorb it all.
Leaving Colonial Williamsburg we traveled to Monticello, Thomas Jeffersons magnificent home near Charlottesville. Mr. Jefferson was a brilliant man and a staunch leader of early America. The home is a regal monument to his ingenuity; it seems that everything about the house and grounds had a useful purpose.
As we began to wiggle our way back home, we were drawn to stop at Appomattox Court House, where our beloved General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant came to a simple, yet effective, agreement to suspend the hostilities of the War Between the States. After passing several notes back and forth, a peace was reached that had evaded politicians for months. Words like "treason", "criminals", "rebels", and the like did not show up in the discussions between the generals. Our Southern Boys were allowed to keep their horses/mules and the officers were even allowed to keep their side arms. Being Sunday, they could not meet in the courthouse, so they met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer McLean, and in less than ninety minutes had all the formalities worked out. Our boys were given a written pardon, allowing safe passage home. They were free to go; the war was over!
Most of us came away from the McLeans house with a lump in our throat and some with tears in their eyes. We realize what a long, hard, four-year struggle it had been, so much suffering and death. How sad!
It was a great trip! The Cracker Barrel Restaurants, gas stations, and souvenir shops were all glad we came. Our grandchildren will rue the day we went, after hearing the tales and looking at all the pictures for a thousand times.
It makes us proud to be Americans!
~ By Ralph Jones, Managing Editor
All In The Heart Finding The Joy Of Christmas
In every girls life, there rolls around that time when parents can hardly manage a single sentence that doesnt contain the word "no," or some variation thereof.
"Is it all right if I go to the movie tonight? Everybody else is going."
"Not on a school night."
"Cant I wear just a little lipstick?"
"At twelve years old? I should say not!
In 1953, the worst thing to be in the whole wide world was twelve years old, for me anyway. And, it wasnt going to get any better just because Christmas was coming.
I was already dreading going to school after New Years when all conversations began with, "Whatd YOU get for Christmas?"
Id told my parents what I wanted for Christmas, but I knew I wouldnt get it. They said as much at the supper table one night.
Shannon thought I was too old for a bicycle, and Mother had chimed in with, " You have five presents under the tree already! Were not made of money, you know."
In a matter of seconds, they had managed to make me feel small, selfish,
and ungratefulmisunderstood, true enoughbut definitely a worthless
human being. Over the next few days, I retreated often to my bedroom where
my best preadolescent strategies had always been devised. Not working. Only
one thing I was sure of. They werent going to blame me for what was
shaping up to be a dismal Christmas. I had to think of something!
First I went to Hardys Department Store to buy something for Mother. Mrs. Jackson mustve shown me every gift-worthy item in the Ladies Department, but my mother wasnt easy to shop for. Mrs. Jackson knew that, having waited on her many times before. After narrowing the choice to a sky-blue elegant-looking nightgown or some soft bedroom slippers, I settled on the gown, mainly because it didnt come in a shoe box which any dummy can recognize no matter how pretty the wrapping paper.
Shannon was harder to shop for. He was a sweet-spirited man, and the wisest and most understanding dad that God ever made. He didnt have much time for hobbies, since he was always working. Mother was no help.
When Id asked her what he would like for Christmas, shed simply said, "Hell love anything you get him."
Baloney; he already had bottles of Old Spice hed never live long enough to use up-courtesy of Christmases and birthdays past. The same went for socks and ties.
Lucky for me I stopped in at Furrs Drug Store for a frosted coke to shore up my slipping energy, and there it was, the perfect present for the perfect dad! White, sleek, and regal, and displayed in its own satin cradle, was a white-bowled Kaywoodie- the most beautiful pipe Id ever seen!
Of course, Shannon didnt smoke pipes-yet. But I knew hed love it as I did! I sipped on my frosted coke while the greatest present ever was being gift-wrapped. My first Christmas shopping had been a big success! I couldnt help being glad I didnt have to buy a baby present for my sister, Julia. She was only two months old. What could you do with that?
What a feeling! In my heart, it was Christmas already. Cold and happy, I made it back to Shannons in time to ride home with my dad when he closed up shop. For a smart man, he wasnt quick to pick up on the clues I gave him about his present.
Home again and out of the December cold, the house was full of the good smells of supper coming to the table. Tomorrow would be full with Breakfast First as was the rule. Then the Christmas Tree, and then "over the meadow and through the woods, to Grandmothers house we go," for Christmas dinner where my Shannon grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would be waiting for us to show up so we could have the BIG tree.
As it turned out, my parents went by car, and I sped ahead of them on my brand new, electric blue bike on that sun-shiny Christmas Day in 1953.
~ By Louanna Cox Fitts, Guest Contributor
Biographical Sketch: After forty years in Gulfport and Biloxi, Louanna Cox Fitts and husband Jerry prove that you can come home again. They live in Pontotoc with their two dogs, Barney Fife Fitts and Beau Brummel Fitts.a
Louanna limits time in the kitchen to holidays when the bill of fare is exactly the same as when her mother, Pat Shannon, cooked. Together, she and Jerry have six children
Highlighting her life these days are a "fun" part time job, serving on her church's Benevolence Committee, experiencing the joys of Community Theater, and keeping up with family and friends on Facebook. She also enjoys summer visits with Jerry's boys in Biloxi.
Grannys Magic Rag Old-Time Remedy Worked
The grandchildren called her Momo. She was my mothers mother, and would rival Granny on T.V.s Beverly Hillbillies for her doctoring skills. During the mid 1940s, and in the red hills of Pontotoc County, Mississippi, times were hard in our farming community; cash money was almost non-existent. Our hill country farm was located way back up in the hills on a dirt road, which turned to mud after the winter rains set in. For this reason the only means of transportation was by mules and wagon. Going to the doctor was out of the question except in the matter of life or death.
It seems that every community had someone who could handle the doctoring of minor medical problems. In our case, if you were sick, you wanted Momo. It seemed to me as a child that she could cure just about anything, though when I think back on it now, some of her cures hurt worse than the sickness.
One of Momos treatments that I remember as one of the bad ones was her cure for the croup, or chest colds. She would make what she called, a poultice. I never knew exactly what all she put in that thing, but I remember that it was made with a piece of flannel cloth, which was soaked in Vicks Salve, a little coal oil, and other things that only Momo knew about. She would heat the cloth, and then slap it on your chest. I am surprised that she did not blow us up. It did seem to help, but after about two days of smelling it, you began telling everyone that you were better, just to get rid of the poultice.
Momos cure for insect bites and stings was one that is still used today. She would use snuff on the stings, which she said would draw out the poison. The only problem with Momos snuff was that it usually had already been used. If your sting was on your face, or body she would just take a little of the snuff and place it on her finger, and as she called it, smeared a little on the bite.
However, if the sting was on your fingers, she would just say, "Hold out your finger."
Then it was spat, "pa-touy," and you had been doctored!
The cure for warts was one that involved Momo, though she was an innocent by-stander, and as far as I know, she never even knew about it.
When I was very young, probably seven or eight years old, I had warts all over the back of my hands. My mother said they were caused by playing with toad frogs. They had become an embarrassment to me, and my mother had tried about every remedy known to mankind, even to the point of having someone ask a doctor about a cure. Nothing worked. One day during recess in school, one of my friends said that he knew a sure cure for the removal of warts. He said that it was very simple and never failed if you followed the instructions to the letter. All that you had to do was steal a dirty dishrag, rub the warts with it, hide it, and never tell anyone where it was hidden.
I had tried about everything else to rid myself of the warts, and besides, my friend, even though he was probably only about eight years old, in my mind probably knew much more than the doctors, and adults, so I decided I would give the dishrag theory a try.
I waited for my chance, and not long after there was a big holiday dinner at Momos house. I waited, and watched for an opportunity to steal the dishrag. After dinner that day, I saw Momo finish washing the dishes. She then wiped the table and placed the dishrag down by the dish pan. I saw my chance, and grabbed that dishrag, placed it in the bib pocket of my overalls, and headed for the woods. I must have picked a good time to steal that dishrag, because it was sure enough dirty. It was a well known fact that Momo dropped a glob of hog lard in about everything that she cooked, so there must have been plenty of hog grease in that dishwater that day, and in addition to that, dishwashing detergent was non-existent in our world. Momo used lye soap for washing dishes.
I gave those warts a good rubbing with that dirty dishrag, and then I hid it. Low and behold, just a couple of days later those warts were gone, and left no scars. It was if they had never existed. Now, I ask you. Was it mind over matter; was it the fact that I did indeed steal the dishrag; was it the hog lard; was it the lye soap that removed those warts, or could there have been a little magic in Momos dishrag? I dont know about any of those things, but one thing that I do know for sure. I have never until this day, nor will I ever tell anyone where I hid that dishrag!
~ By M. G. "Russ" Russell, Contributor
Bubba Bodock Enjoy A Laugh Or Two
Years ago an Alabama grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe (this is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook - with spelling errors and all):
Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.
Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.
Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don't boil just wrench and starch.
Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.
Hang old rags on fence.
Spread tea towels on grass.
Pore wrench water in flower bed. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs..
Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.
Note: Paste this over your washer and dryer next time when you think things are bleak, read it again, kiss that washing machine and dryer, and give thanks.
PS: For non-southerners reading this - wrench means, rinse.
A firefighter was working on the engine outside the station, when he noticed a little girl nearby in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides, and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.
Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet, who insisted he didn't need my help to leave the hospital. After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator.
On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him. 'I don't know,' he said. 'She's still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.'
Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says: 'Slim, I'm 83 years old now and I'm just full of aches and pains. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?'
'Really!? Like a newborn baby?'
'Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.'
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