From The Arbor The Merry Month Of May
Wow! What a month! May is a fantastic time of year. All the blooming things are showing off, trees are about as full as they can get, and the water is just about right for pleasant fishing, boating, or swimming.
When I was in LeTourneau University at what had been Harmond General Hospital there in Longview, Texas, the swimming pool opened the first day of May each year. Some years the water was still icy cold, other years it was warmer. At any rate, us guys (an all boys school then) never missed an opening day.
Not only is spring in full blossom, but there are several big days we celebrate during the month. Although our current administration has tried to cancel it, The National Day of Prayer, is still observed on the 3rd of May. We remember and honor our mothers on Mothers Day the 13th and we honor war heroes and other loved ones on Memorial Day on the 28th of May.
I would not feel right about praying if it werent for my own sweet mother. She loved the Lord, loved her family, and cared for others; but was a strict disciplinarian. She was one who believed that where the scripture said, "Six days shalt thou labor " meant just that, one must work the six days.
And, who, regardless of all else, could not stop long enough to remember and honor those who fought and died to preserve our freedom. Men and women, who had little or nothing to gain from wars, did so to protect our country from those who would enslave us.
We owe a great debt to our mothers and our military. A debt that we can only pay partial interest on by being the best parents, people and citizens we can be. Few will remember to pay homage to the military on May 8th, V.E. Day, but those who fought in Europe will remember, as we should also.
I read somewhere recently that there were only two that would die for us; that is Jesus who died so that we might have life after death, and the soldier who died so that we might have freedom during this life. How true!
You knew that I was going to find some less serious things to celebrate in May. Such as "Older Americans Month," "Barbecue Month," "Get Caught Reading Month," and "Schools Out Month."
There are a few specific days we should not overlook: "Mother Goose Day (1st)," "Save the Rhino Day (1st)," "Hug your Cat Day (15th)," and most important, "Return of the Slug Day (28th)." If you dont have a Rhino to save, or a cat to hug, just go out and see if you can find a slug to pet. Youll be glad you did .
Thanks for reading the Bodock Post! We here at the Post hope you have a wonderful month of May.
~ By Ralph R. Jones, Editor
The Fishing Trip By M. G. "Russ" Russell, Contributor
When most people speak of "the big river", they are probably talking about the Mississippi, but in my youth when we spoke of the big river, we were usually talking about the Tallahatchie.
If one studies the history of the Tallahatchie they would find that it comes from a Choctaw word which is said to mean "Rock of Waters." The river originates in Tippah County up above the town of New Albany, Mississippi, winds its way through the hill country, furnishes the water for what was once said was to be the largest earth-made dam in the world, Sardis Dam, before finally ending a little less than one hundred miles away when it merges with the Yalobusha near Greenwood, Mississippi.
The Tallahatchie has lots of history, some bad and some good. To us it was all good. First of all, my mother was born in 1910 near the banks of the Tallahatchie in the little town of Abbeville. My grandfather, her father, was one of those that helped build Sardis Dam. It was a government project built for flood control. His part of the building of the dam was by working with his team of mules and a hand scoop.
The part of the river that I write about in "The fishing trip" was several miles above Sardis Dam, and was about twenty miles from our farm. In the springtime the water from the dam backed up to our part of the river and flooded the bean and corn fields, but in the summer the river went back into its banks. Thats when we fished the river for catfish, crappie, and blue gill bream.
The best way to describe the river where we fished and hunted is that it was about the width of three lanes of a highway, and probably was about twenty feet deep in the middle, though there were several blue holes that were much deeper. This part of the river had many curves and double-backs, and was covered with trees and brush stacks. Though there are several boat ramps along the river and on Sardis lake, the place of "The fishing Trip" was in a large wooded area that in the summer was surrounded by bean and corn fields. There was no real road back to that part of the river, but could be reached by high axle trucks or farm tractors when the water dried in the fields. There was no boat ramp so only small boats that could be unloaded by hand could be used.
The time was somewhere around 1953 or 1954 when I was about 14 or 15 years old. My two first cousins and I had planned for this trip for years, but it was not until that summer that our parents finally agreed for us to take the trip. For one reason, they felt that we were still too young to spend a week camping and fishing with no adults around, but another reason was that in hill country cotton farm country, for thats where we lived, the children were the work force. If we were gone for a week, then someone had to handle our chores. For me, and at the time, even though it was during that time when the cotton was in a growth period, and required no work, that meant that my father had to handle the milking of the cows. That was quite a job for two people, but was a nightmare for only one person. If I remember correctly we were milking about 16 cows at the time, and by hand.
Finally, and after much planning, and probably some begging, our parents agreed to allow us to make the trip. Of course because of our age, we had no transportation so someone had to drive us the twenty miles to the river. My two cousins were the sons of my fathers brothers. My Uncle Dewey and my Uncle Raymond helped us load our camping equipment in the back of a pick-up truck and drove us to the river. They fished all day that Saturday, and then left us to fend for ourselves. My father would come back and pick us up the next Saturday.
These days, one would think of camping with a motor home, a trailer, or at the very least, a tent. We had none of that. We each carried a quilt for sleeping, a black iron pot, and a frying pan for cooking, a coffee pot, and I seem to remember that we took a ten gallon milk can for our drinking water. We made our coffee from water of a little stream that emptied into the river.
The food that we took for the entire week is a thing of amusement to me now. We took corn meal, which we would use for making bread, and for frying fish, flour for making pancakes, or what we called "flap-jacks", a big bucket of hog lard for frying fish and flapjacks, but the most amusing thing of all was that we took one old chicken, a live one. We had planned on catching enough fish to eat so that we would not need any other food, but just in case, we took that one chicken. We tied it on a long string and fed and gave it water the whole week. When they came back to get us a week later, we still had that chicken. I think that it had become a pet. We took it back home and turned it loose in the yard.
We did indeed catch fish. We fished for crappie, or what we called, "white Perch", and bream during the daytime, and set out lines for catfish at night. Our bait was of course red worms for the catfish and bream, and minnows that had been seined from the creeks and ponds for the crappie. We kept the minnows alive by keeping them in an old drum.
We ran our lines at night, fished for crappie and bream in the cool hours of the day, and something I would not dream of now; we swam in that old tree and brush-clogged, muddy river in the hot hours of the day.
There was one thing that we had not planned for, and that was the number of mosquitoes in that river bottom. They came out about sundown that first day, and there was no way that we could sleep. We finally gave up and walked out to the hills to sleep. That was a huge problem in itself. To begin with, it was about a two mile walk each way, and once we were there we were scared to sleep because we had heard of the rattlesnakes that resided in the hills. We did not get much sleep that first night, but by night two, we were so tired and sleepy that we sort of forgot about the snakes. My two cousins just rolled up in their quilts and slept on the hard ground, but I felt safer up high. I climbed a huge old oak tree and slept in the fork of a branch.
We did not see another person, even on the river, that entire week. We were probably five or six miles from the nearest farm house, and fished in an old wood flat bottomed boat, and swam in that old muddy river. We had no life jackets, no transportation if one of us should have gotten sick or hurt, but "The Fishing Trip" was probably the highlight of my life when I was growing up in those red hills of North Mississippi.
Watery Grave By Wayne L. Carter, Editor and Publisher
Persons that have served in the military qualify to be buried at sea. The catch is that civilians are not permitted aboard the ship for the ceremony. Of course, anybody can be buried at sea, but expenses would be borne by family or the estate.
It wouldnt bother me to be buried at sea, but for my mother, a watery grave or death by drowning was horrific. Some of her fear lives on in me, for each time I drive across the Mississippi River I fear a barge or earthquake may send me to the water below.
My mother's fear of accidental drowning prevented me from learning how to swim. Somehow, she felt I should not go swimming until I learned how to swim.
Mom was not a swimmer, and if ever she was near a body of water she was uneasy. There were times when our family traveled to Senatobia, MS, to visit Dad's brother Earl and his wife Billie. In the days before the completion of Interstate 55 made a route through Batesville logistically sound, we would travel across the Sardis reservoir dam where Mom would not breathe easily until we had crossed the mile-long dam. Since the events of 9/11/2001, motorists are no longer permitted to enjoy this scenic ride and are routed below the dam.
Dad drew great pleasure in stimulating Mom's fear of the water. Once, when I was a small child, in my Iuka days, our family (Mom, Dad, Fred, and me) attended a community fish fry at nearby Eastport Lake. I remember Dad driving on a grassy slope in the general direction of the water and Mom was having a "fit," fearing he would loose control of the car and plunge into the lake. She was yelling for Dad to stop or else she was jumping out. He just laughed and kept driving, until Mom opened the car door and hung a leg out. About then, he figured she was serious and either stopped or turned from his previous heading. I was too young to remember the choice words Mom surely doled out to Dad, but I've heard both of them recount the episode in the years that followed.
Later, in my teen years, Dad decided to drive Mom and me down to the lake beside Billy Todd's sawmill, which was across the road from our place on Woodland Street. Today, the land around the lake is devoid the thick brush and most of the trees it harbored in the fifties. The owner of the nearby factory cleaned it off years ago, and today, you would be hard pressed to find a snake in the grass at the water's edge. Yet, when I fished there, as a youth, the snakes were abundant.
There is no trace of the dirt road that led off Woodland St near the sawmill and meandered to the shallow north end of the lake. However, a trace of memory remains with me of another time I thought my mother was going to bail out of a car that she believed was going to end up in a lake. She was hollering at Dad, and I knew we were in no danger of plunging into the lake, but Mom's fear was such that she was about to spring out the open door by the time Dad got stopped. That time, both Dad and I enjoyed a laugh at Mom's expense.
With Mom's fear of the water and of drowning, you can bet she never even considered being buried at sea. On many occasions, Mom expressed how she feared being buried and water getting inside her coffin. You'd think anyone contemplating the afterlife would not be worried about the shell of the body left behind, but Mom made it clear to her children that she didn't want water in her grave. Therefore, when final arrangements were being made, we requested a waterproof vault. I surely hope it doesn't leak, because Mom will let us know about it "in the sweet by and by."
Birds In The Belfry 4th In A Series by Ralph R. Jones
An old building the boys liked to explore was what we knew as "The Old Hospital Building." It was originally the Dr. R. P. Donaldson Clinic and sat more or less across from the Pontotoc Progress Office on the east side of Liberty Street, near the old stock barn and the old "castle like" jail building.
The ground floor level of the old clinic was still used to some extent for years by the County Health Department. I seem to remember getting many shots there for typhoid fever, tetanus, and others, probably. Man, did I detest going there. It was run down, dark, and forbidding from the outside and not much better on the inside. The upper two or three stories were unused by anyone and were deteriorating rapidly.
There were some back stairs that we found and we could get access to these upper floors. We took great joy in climbing up through the ruins of the floors. Many of the windows had been broken and it was really in bad shape. It was an intriguing and sometimes scary place for us kids.
The soft cooing of pigeons roosting in the nooks and crannies could be heard on every empty floor. Because of the more or less confined space, us boys devised ways to capture the birds. Most every boy had at least one pigeon as a "pet." They were kept for a while then released when the novelty wore off. Besides, they had to be fed and watered on a regular basis and that got old in a hurry. However, exploring the upper levels of that old building never became boring.
The building was renovated in later years and the top floors were demolished and removed. I have no idea where the pigeons live now. Only the lower level remains today.
On my last visit to the building it seemed to be used for storage of some kind.
Neighbor Cookies By Anne Lott, Contributor
There's a Princess living in my realm. Just next door as a matter of fact. I had a visit from her a while back when her little doggie escaped and ran into my yard with the Princess in hot pursuit.
I heard her call my name loudly and then, "I need that dog."
I picked up the puppy, Tara Sue, and handed her over. Don't you just love the puppy's name; how much more Southern could a little pooch be with a double name like Tara Sue?
The Princess took her dog home and returned with a bouquet of flowers plucked from her Mom's yard. She had Formosa Azalea and even a Louisiana Iris clutched in her hand before presenting them to me. I put them immediately into a vase filled with cool water and returned to the patio for our visit. Before she left me that late afternoon, she swept my sidewalk talking all the while about how Tara Sue "just stays in trouble all the time" and that her favorite cookie is Chocolate Chip.
When she crossed over into her parents yard on her way back home I promised her a batch of cookies fit for a Princess in return for the flowers and sweeping my sidewalk.
I made a big batch of cookies, as promised, using the recipe on the back of the Nestle's Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip package. No secret here, that recipe is just the very best. Chewy, chocolaty sweetness with chunks of toasted pecans added. Its hard to beat that cookie when paired with a tall glass of icy cold milk.
I delivered a container of cookies, and I'm pretty sure she'll get more treats from future cookie batches. One last thing. I actually had one more visit from the Princess that evening that defines what it takes to be a real Princess.
Just before I was heading into the house for the evening she popped up at the end of my patio and said, "Miss Anne, if you ever need me, I'm your neighbor; just call me, okay"?
Wheres The Fire By Carl Houston, Contributor
We are very fortunate to have modern technology in place to warn us to weather hazards and local emergencies these days. In case of an emergency, flip out your personal phone from your pocket or purse and get the assistance you need by dialing a common three digit number for any problem. Also, if you choose, use that same instrument to get warnings and news updates automatically. If anyone needs you they can notify you most anywhere that you may be. Simple. It was much more complicated up until a few years ago.
Our town started out like many other small towns, having the bare essentials to get by. My granddaddy once told me of a way to get attention back in his day; if an emergency developed, a loud beating noise was started, like a gong or something that resonated for a long way, which was then repeated by others beating on their washtubs or whatever they had. That caused people to come outside and try to see what the problem was. The loudest thing to make noise with in those days was a steam whistle and that was also used to get attention. Sometimes a rider was dispatched to get the news out.
Eventually Baldwyn got a loud siren to summon help and announce danger. During our "young years" in Baldwyn, when a fire was reported or another happening of importance needed to be announced, the person in charge "blew the fire whistle" as we used to say. That got a lot of response from the citizens. The siren was mounted about halfway up the towns first metal water tower directly behind city hall and could be heard for at least a mile or two. It is indicated by the arrow in the photo.
Sometimes a person in a car had to speed downtown to the city hall or to a house that they knew had a telephone to report an emergency or fire.
When the siren started howling, most of the neighborhood dogs did, also. We would all stop what we were doing, run outside and scan the horizon for smoke and when spotted, make a "bee-line" for it. Some of us on bicycles would get to the fire before the truck did. Once, we saw a huge fire start at Gentry's slaughter house on North Fifth Street, just up the road from the Gentry home. They were rendering "cracklins" and the pot boiled over, setting the dry grass on fire. Several of us youngsters helped get it under control before the truck got there.
If we didn't see any smoke when the siren blew, that usually meant one of two things; a false alarm or something else was up, which required a trip downtown to see what was happening. Robert Thomas and I recalled recently about one late summer day (actually August 15, 1945) when the siren started blowing incessantly. Someone found out what it was - the Japanese had surrendered and World War 2 was over.
The townspeople had predetermined that when that happened, the whole town was to meet at the First Baptist Church. That was one trip to see what was happening that everyone in town was glad to make. Business and everything came to a stop while we met at the church and gave thanks for the ending of that long, costly conflict. Now all our men could come home.
Another use for the old siren was to warn of possible bad weather approaching. Granddaddy already had that one figured out due to his aches and pain starting in his shoulder and hip. He just didnt know what kind of bad weather was on the way, but opened the storm house door and shooed the rat snakes out anyway. If the wind picked up considerably, we would grab some blankets and the kerosene lanterns and get in the shelter.
During World War 2 we practiced being ambiguous quite a bit. Some early evenings after dark the siren would be blown twice, I think it was, and we would be in "air raid mode". The power to the entire town would be shut off and we were then in complete darkness. The reason given was not that the Germans would bomb our little town, but rather use the city lights as a navigational aid to get to other targets. Little did we realize they had no aircraft with that much range oh, well.
Baldwyn eventually got some good firefighting equipment and dedicated volunteers to help with fire emergencies. A photo of some of those folks recently was brought to my attention. It can be seen on the New Baldwyn Bearcat Blog: http://newbaldwynbearcat.blogspot.com
The Old Studebaker By Ralph R. Jones, Editor
Many years ago, sometime in the mid to late 1950s, dad bought a Studebaker pick-up. It was old and wore-out when he bought it. Not only that, but it had been up north where there was much salt on the roads in winter that rusted out the doors, fenders, and undercarriage. However, it still started when asked to do so and did the hauling Dad asked it to do. It rode reasonably well, but its looks left something to be desired. The fact is it looked terrible. Fenders that had been rusted loose, flapped at the slightest bump and at every turn. The metal skin on the doors sort of hung on and rattled as the door was closed, yet the old blue-green lady kept on going.
Dad seemed to like the unsightly thing. I think the reason was that it did what he needed done and was reliable in doing that job. Although much was wrong, it continued to be a useful tool for him.
One year while I was home from college he decided that it needed some work and he enlisted me to help. The truck was burning a lot of oil and needed some new rings in the engine. He purchased the proper parts needed for the operation and he and I proceeded to stop the smoking.
There on the west side of the house we parked the Studebaker, jacked it up and proceeded to do the work. Although neither of us had much experience in doing this sort of thing we never-the-less tackled the chore. Draining the oil, we removed the oil pan, and one by one we removed the connecting rod from the crankshaft and pulled the piston with their worn and/or broken rings. We inspected each piston and rod then carefully put the new rings on the pistons. There was some wear, but the pistons and rods were in relatively good shape, no other damage or leakage could be seen. Dad had borrowed a ring compressor and we eased each one back into the proper hole and began to put it all back together.
When we finished and had replaced all the fluids and parts that we had taken off, we fired her up and she ran like a top. The oil consumption was eliminated and the compression was relatively good. The truck performed well for many years from the attention given by the father and son mechanics.
I think some, or most, of this endeavor was the result of Moms encouragement. This was never told to me, but there were lots of things she would suggest and Dad would do. She liked for us to work together. We seemed to fit together nicely when working on a project. We hardly ever played together; I suppose that was left to me and my buddies. The nearest thing I ever saw Dad do that even resembled play was fishing.
He got pleasure from helping others and the ole Studebaker helped him do that. He would haul things for other people just for the pleasure of doing so. The pick-up helped for many years.
For the life of me I cannot remember what happened to that truck. He probably sold it while I was away at school, and since I did not get attached to it, there was no sense of loss when it did leave. I do often wonder if the ring job we did on the engine held up for the next owner. Whether it held or not; Dad and I sure had fun getting greasy and gunky while we worked on the engine.
Politics As Usual By JoAnn Stone Wilder, Contributor
Are you pessimistic, distrustful, skeptical or just plain cynical? Never intending to fall into these categories, I find myself there. Cynical and distrustful best describe my attitude toward politicians, from local to national. Having grown up during a time that most of us trusted our government, and failing miserably over the years at keeping informed, I realize that I am part of the problem, as are many in my generation. Believing everything Washington fed us was my first mistake, but rest assured I am not making that mistake again. In fact, I may be ingesting too much information and regurgitating it, ad nauseam, to all with whom I come in contact.
We tend to believe that if our chosen candidate takes us to lunch, pats us on the back and makes promises, that he will follow through oh yes, and he will until there is a better deal. Can they be trusted or believed? It is very easy for us to fall into the category of "sheeple," those who believe and follow without question. I suggest that you can trust them about as far as you can trust a piranha in a tank of fish. So researching your candidate is a must, you must dig deep and you must not become a sheeple.
A friend of mine once told me that politics is like sex, you have to take responsibility for yourself; otherwise you may end up with something/ someone you never expected.
Remember that the person who has the most marbles wins the game. They have their personal agendas, owe political and personal favors, are recipients of dirty money and engage in the old, "you scratch my back and Ill scratch yours practice." They continue to pollute our democracy like acrid smoke pollutes a room. Unfortunately, they carry no warning label like a pack of cigarettes. Perhaps they should all come with a warning attached to their foreheads to the effect, "A vote for me may be dangerous to your health and well-being."
Politicians who are new to the game quickly find that they have real power and they start believing they are little gods, now in a position to ensure we get what is best for us, in their opinion. They are quick studies and learn how to play the game from the old apes roaming the aisles and beating their chests. Engaging in under the table deals, dirty money, empty promises, is but a few of the traits that they quickly adopt.
Have politics always been this way? Probably so, and maybe worse, but we never realized it until the advent of instant information on the Internet and coverage 24/7 on the so-called news networks.
Surely, there are honest men/women who could represent us; surely there are some who cannot be bought and some who will not succumb to greed. I know in my heart they must be there, somewhere; the ones who have spines of steel, who are not afraid to speak up and contradict what they know to be wrong.
Surely, there are those who are still patriotic and in love with this country and what it has stood for.
Surely, there are those who believe in free speech and freedom of religion, who will not bow to the pressures of special interest groups, and who know that we, the people, should be in charge of our healthcare, our eating habits, the rearing of our children, our reproductive habits, our finances and our lives.
I know they are there somewhere. Wont you please stand up?
Many believe the turmoil we see today is indicative of the approaching end times, when it is impossible to distinguish right from wrong. We have already lost many of the things we hold so dear as citizens of the United States of America, and this will continue, like a massive avalanche roaring downhill, unless we stand up and take personal responsibility. Yes, you, take responsibility!
My Nanny By Tom Campbell, Contributor
I hope ,in this introduction, to grab and keep your attention, because the topic is not what you would usually call "fun, warm, and fuzzy. My fear is when you discover what Ive been doing, you will tuck tail and run.
I go to the cemetery to visit family. In the middle of the upper section, as you drive west into the Pontotoc Cemetery, theres a plain, grey marker. On it, in large, "Times New Roman" font, and in all capital letters, it says, "CAMPBELL." It is not a lonely plot. It is quite full.
I remember great things about my Daddys mother, Nanny and adopted many of her ways. For instance, when I was a bachelor I didnt make ice cubes. Folks in the 1980s used plastic twist trays to get their ice unless they had a fancy ice-maker in the refrigerators freezer. I, however, did it the way Nanny did it. She made ice in aluminum trays and chipped it with an ice pick in a large bowl.
When I moved to McComb, Mississippi, I was prepared. I had a big, glass bowl and made ice in some old aluminum ice trays she used. When I found them in a box of her things at our house, I knew I would make them mine.
I remember drinking iced Coca Cola in jelly jar glasses. The chipped ice was fun, and different, and to me it made the Coke colder and sweeter. She would cook us hamburgers and rice or sometimes we would have potato chips. I also remember my brother Preston cooking us hamburger steaks and Minute Rice when he baby-sat me. I suppose he learned about that from Nanny.
Nanny taught me how to spell all the presidents names. Nanny went to the living room mantle over her fire place and reached into a small box where she would pull out a newspaper clipping. The clipping had all the presidents listed in order. There is no telling what the story was about, but I didnt care. All I knew was that she told me she cut it out so that she and I could sit and learn the presidents.
I would sit in her lap as she would say a presidents name, and I would spell it back to her. If I got one wrong, she would always help me. The most difficult ones were Eisenhower and Roosevelt. Lincoln was a little tricky because of the extra "L."
She died in the middle of Richard Nixons first term. There would be no more spelling lessons by the fire place. No more would I enjoy burgers, and chips, and chipped ice Coca Colas with Nanny.
As I have told you in a previous article, I did enjoy mowing Nannys yard years after she had passed. Her old wrap-around porch made for a cool place to go sit and wipe the sweat off during breaks. I loved that porch so very much. We dont have enough porches these days. I think we would have more friendly neighborhoods and less crime if we built more porches and spent more time on them.
Back to the cemetery: I was six when Nanny died. Hers was my first, bona fide funeral. We didnt conduct funerals in 1970 the way folks do today. Today, folks turn it all over to the funeral home and the body stays there for the duration of visitation and then the funeral, unless the family wants the funeral at the family church.
Back then, we did it the old fashioned way. Nanny went to the funeral home for preparations and then came to our house to stay a couple of days. I remember it so very well. Not one minute did I think it was even the slightest bit strange that we had a body in the house. Not once for two days did I realize Nanny was doing anything other than sleeping. She looked so real, and content.
Also at the forefront of my memory are the long lines of people. Lots of people dressed in dark colors came to pay respects. Looking out the front window, I remember thinking that someone was going to have a wreck dodging the cars parked on the curb of Pontotocs busiest street...Oxford Street...or Highway 6 as all the truckers knew it.
Everything in my memory about Nannys passing until the day of the funeral is actually in black and white, except for the long stretches of time I stood at the casket gazing at Nanny when people were not there (usually just after supper). Nanny is always in color in the memories. She had been made up with rosy cheeks and her hair coifed in a beautiful, white, round top, just like I remembered her.
I did not cry once for the two days she spent the night in our dining room. I remember my sisters Susan and Carolyn standing at the casket looking lost and sad, weeping over Nanny. They wanted to put a handkerchief in Nannys right hand. I remember thinking that was sweet.
I might have been crying, too if I had been old enough to appreciate the sadness my brother and sisters had experienced. I dont have a memory of brother Preston during the whole experience. He was fourteen in January 1970, and has never been very spiffy about handling funerals, so I figure he just made himself scarce until he absolutely had to make an appearance. When Daddy died in 1963, Preston was eight. Mother said it affected him deeply, so he really has never cared much for funerals. Id say Id have to agree of I were in his shoes.
I do not know what set me off. It might have been something someone observing her at the casket said. It might have been seeing my sisters cry. It might have been a whisper Nanny made in my ear that it was almost time to say goodbye. I just remember someone nearby was talking about "that little boy at the casket," and that, "hes looking at her like she might wake up any second." I got a chill, and then just turned to look for somebody. There was mother who took me in her lap while I finally cried. My sweet Nanny was gone.
Nanny had worked hard all her life and had finally earned a rest. Nanny knew what grief was, too. Nanny, Verdie Belle Waldrop, was born in 1892 and married my grandfather (born in 1888), George Washington Campbell. They had four children; James, George, Jr., Virginia, and my daddy John Preston, Sr.
Someone from one of the local churches in Pontotoc was selling a book about grief door to door. Nanny was polite and thanked them as she turned them away without a sale. She told her guest with a whimpering laugh, trying her best to hold together, "A book about grief? Humph...I could have written all of that book and more." She could have. She buried all her children and her husband, too.
Swimming By Ralph R. Jones, Editor
Some would say that I may have been kin to a duck when I was younger. If there was a water hole, the ole red-head was in it trying to swim. I cannot remember when I could not swim. However, I do remember learning at the "wading pool" there in Pontotoc.
It was a very small concrete pool, with water probably no more than thirty-six inches deep at the "deep" end. It was located south-east of the elementary school building and the Boy Scout Hut was nearby. Kids from all over town came to the cool clear water on those hot summer days. Mrs. Dow Moreland, "Miss Willie" to us kids, oversaw the pool, its operation, was high sheriff, and chief life guard. Early in the spring she would secure two empty refrigerator cartons from Rutherfords Appliance Store to be used as dressing rooms; boys over here, girls over there. She hung a curtain over the open side for a door. A picnic table was her headquarters and also served as a live-guard tower. The cost to swim was a dime.
Oh, what a time we would have with one another. I learned to swim underwater first, then gradually learned to swim with my head above the water. We made up games of all sorts; one of our favorite games was "Torpedo." We would all stand on one edge of the pool (deep end) and someone would shout out, "Torpedo 1, Torpedo 2, Torpedo 3, etc.; as our number was called wed dive in and try to go all the way to the shallow end underwater like a real torpedo might do. We knew about torpedos, the war was still going on then. When we went home we were totally wiped out. Our moms would have something good prepared for us to eat, since wed be starving. Another thing we liked was the fact we did not have to take a bath that night. Any alien substances we had gathered during the day of play had long since been washed away by the pool water, our fingers and toes would be as wrinkled as a raisin.
Swimming did not stop there. When I was about eight years old, we often went to Sledge, MS, and visited some of our relatives there. On our return trip Mom and Dad would let me swim in that huge lake on the North side, it didnt intimidate me in the least.
Tommy Douglas, Jimmy Crausby, and I were out exploring one Saturday and came upon a small creek not too far south of Prof. Henrys house. We just shucked off our clothes and went skinny dipping in the creek in sight of Highway 15. We kids did this often at a cow pond way away from everyone, but not in sight of the highway.
As the kids of town grew up to be pre-teenagers the "wading pool" became too small. We found out that Okolona had a nice public pool and whenever we could get someone to drive us we would go there. Betty Hatchers dad had a Standard Coffee business and drove a panel truck. Wed load the back with kids and head for Okolona. At other times my Dad, Mr. Douglas, and or some other adult would take a load of us there on Sunday afternoon. They had a nice large pool with several diving boards, and at least two water slides; it was a wonderful place.
Once some of us obtained our drivers license and obtained some resemblance of a car, we began to go to Houlka, to a large lake called "The Game Area." It was a nice fishing and boating lake that had a swimming space on one side with a pier out in the deeper water. We enjoyed diving to the bottom of the lake with our diving goggles. Of course, the fact that there were usually a lot of pretty girls there did not deter us from going in the least.
In about 1955 Pontotoc finally built a very nice pool. Fact is, I was in high school and old enough to help build it. While working for G & K Construction Company we built the elementary school and many other things there in town. I do remember helping Mr. McVay finish the concrete in the deep end of the pool and his pocket watch kept falling out of his bib overall pocket, you remember the pockets on the upper portion of the overalls. After about the umpteenth time it fell, he just took his finishing tool and hammered the watch down into the wet concrete and finished over it. "It wont fall out of my pocket again," he said with a sadistic grin. Do you reckon they found the watch when they tore up the pool in later years, was it still running?
But the pool was a little late for me as I was about to depart for college in Texas that fall. But, the college had a good pool, a round one. I can still remember how cold the water was on the first day of May when the pool opened. Our last class of the day was held near the pool and we would all take our bathing suit, and a towel to class. I doubt we got much studying done on those days.
I worked in maintenance at the LeTourneau factory while in school there and had a master key for most every lock at the factory and the LeTourneau Campus. One night my girlfriend, Carol, and I had an idea to spice up life a little and decided to take a late-night swim. My key unlocked the gate and we jumped in, clothes and all, and swam across and back. Its a miracle we did not get caught. However, we did no damage, locked the gate behind us and left. We decided to extend our prank a little further. We parked the car out of sight and walked to the dormitory and called my roommate out. We made up this big tail of how we had run Carols car into the Sabine River and had to swim out. He believed the whole story; after all, we were standing there in our dripping wet clothes. But before we got his car all wet, we did tell him the truth. He was really taken back, since this was so foreign to our normal behavior.
While growing up I loved to swim so much that I declared when I was grown I would swim every day. However, things change. Life got in the way and I have hardly gone swimming anywhere since those college days. About the only time I have been in a pool is to help teach my grandchildren to swim and to keep them safe and happy.
Now I dont know if I can still swim or not; probably so, but not very far, for sure! It sure was fun back when, and whatcha reckon happened to that "duck" anyhow?
Bubba Bodock Old Endings
Ever since the expression, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away," was coined, folks have been spinning the original. Here are some we like:
Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance.
Old actors never die, they just drop apart.
Old archers never die, they just bow and quiver.
Old architects never die, they just lose their structures.
Old bankers never die, they just lose interest.
Old basketball players never die, they just go on dribbling.
Old beekeepers never die, they just buzz off.
Old bookkeepers never die, they just lose their figures.
Old bosses never die, much as you want them to.
Old cashiers never die, they just check out.
Old chauffeurs never die, they just lose their drive.
Old chemists never die, they just fail to react.
Old cleaning people never die, they just kick the bucket.
Old cooks never die, they just get deranged.
Old daredevils never die, they just get discouraged.
Old deans never die, they just lose their faculties.
Old doctors never die, they just lose their patience.
Old electricians never die, they just lose contact.
Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.
Old garagemen never die, they just retire.
Cuzin' Cornpone A Bodock Post Exclusive
Our loveable friend, Cuzin' Cornpone, appears only in The Bodock Post.
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 © 2012 ~ The Bodock Post.