March 10 '01
Surprise Visit Dena & Caitlyn Kimbrell
I have not seen one since before my mother died, but I could surely use one. The one mother had, I last remember seeing lying in a junk drawer in her kitchen cupboard. It was about the size of a wooden nickel. If you are unfamiliar with a wooden nickel, then I would describe it as a wooden disc with a diameter of something less than a half-dollar but bigger than a quarter. Burned or stamped onto the wooden disk that Mom had were the words "A Round To It." Though, right now, I can't say if the word was "to," or the numeral "2."
For persons having trouble "getting a round to it," the disc provided a humorous solution to the age-old problem of finding the opportune time to do something. I've often wished for one to give to someone or to remind myself that getting something accomplished is not so much a matter of timing as it is having the will to do it.
A few weeks ago, readers learned of my meeting the mother of a friend of mine at First Baptist Church in Pontotoc. After having the pleasure of meeting and talking with Jo Bennett, formerly of Indianola, MS, but now living near Thaxton, MS, Barbara and I decided to pay a visit to Miss Jo and her daughter Dena. It would be the first time for either Barbara or me to meet one of Kim Goslin's sisters.
Yet, it was not like meeting a total stranger for the first time, because I had heard about Kim's sisters for years, and I couldn't help noticing that both Miss Jo and Dena expressed the same sentiment to me, "Yes, I've been hearing about Wayne Carter for years."
I didn't ask either of them if the reports were favorable or otherwise. I just presumed I had been presented in a good light.
It seemed appropriate for Barbara and me to express our belated welcome-to-Pontotoc-County through a food gift that included country ham and sausage. I've not known many folks who wouldn't appreciate such a gesture and the recently transplanted Deltans were no exception. I later thought that I should have carried along written instructions explaining how to enjoy the Golden Eagle syrup that was also included with the meat items. However, I reasoned, at the time, that the former flatlanders would know how to enjoy it, even if they didn't use the "Carter method" of transferring the syrup with a knife over to the buttered side of a buttered biscuit.
We visited for about an hour before returning to our Pontotoc home but not before discovering an interesting fact about their community. It seems when the family registered to vote, they did not coordinate their registration times with each other, and it happened that Dena and her mom registered one day, while Dena's husband, Bob, registered a different day.
Bob tells that he was asked to point out the location of his home on a county map, and, upon doing so, was instructed that he lived in a ward associated with Hurricane. However, when the women of the family registered, they were declared as voters in a Thaxton precinct. Three adults living on the same 19 acres, a rock's throw from each other, but voting in different districts, now that's something.
A couple of weeks passed by, and as I was exiting a checkout lane at the Wal Mart store in Pontotoc, an attractive, thirty-something year old woman pushing a buggy toward the front exit stopped me dead in my tracks by asking me if I were Wayne Carter. I was still trying to stuff my billfold into my back pocket, as I looked into the eyes of a familiar face. I'm sure you can relate to my plight trying to put a name with a face, while rapidly rummaging through mental filing cabinets.
"Is that someone I taught?" always comes to mind when someone younger than me asks the identity question.
It doesn't matter that I've not taught school in almost thirty years and that anyone I taught then would most likely be in their mid-forties now, I still mentally run the face asking the question through the sieve of my teaching years.
Thankfully, only a few milliseconds passed before it hit me, "That's Dena Kimbrell, Kim's sister."
Later, I realized that it was Dena's daughter, Caitlyn, who gave me another visual clue as to the identity of the person to whom I was speaking. The day that Barbara and I met Dena, she was wearing her "around the house" clothes. She had been doing household chores and nursing an injured dog. Thus, she was somewhat disheveled. When I saw her in Wal Mart she, was "fixed up." It's the reverse of seeing someone in everyday apparel that you normally see dressed to the nines, but the recognition factor is still a valid concern. All things considered, I was pleased that I recognized her.
As we walked onto the parking lot, I invited Dena and Caitlyn to see our house on Dogwood Circle, which is approximately a mile away. They accepted the invitation and followed me home in their own black Ford Taurus. Barbara was away on business that particular weekend, so I gave the Kimbrells a "nickel tour" of the place, and while seeing them off, invited the whole Thaxton bunch to stop by again when they could all stay longer.
To my surprise, in the course of a half-hour, Dena had accomplished what her sister has been unable to do for the past six years. Dena found her way to my house, but Kim simply hasn't gotten around to it. Even before Kim moved to Carrollton, which is an hour closer to Pontotoc than is Indianola, she had promised to visit us some weekend. Long ago, one of her friends, Diane Stone, had moved to New Albany, and Kim planned for the two of them to get together some Saturday and drive down to Pontotoc from New Albany for a visit. As recent as two weeks ago, I heard Kim's promise repeated again, and it was almost as hard to believe then as it was the first time I heard it.
Coupling the six-year old promise with the fact that Kim now has family members living in Pontotoc County, one would suppose there's a chance of that long, elusive, weekend visit happening sometime this year, but perhaps, she first needs "A Round To It."
Racing Thoughts Mourning In Perspective
Dale Earnhardt died doing what he loved doing, and many racing fans mourn his death with perhaps the same amount of passion that he drew upon to pursue his dream. Apparently, there's more to appreciate in NASCAR events such as Florida's Daytona 500 or Alabama's Talladega 500 than my small mind can absorb.
I feel at a loss to explain why there is no void in my life following the accident that claimed Earnhardt's life. If it weren't for seeing his name in the news for the past twenty-odd years, I would have no knowledge of his racing fame. Thus, once more, I've fallen out of step with the average American, and I have no idea where the parade went. Resisting change is a habit I've developed along life's journey, and it's probably not a good habit either, as I find myself at odds with others more often than I care to admit.
For one to be as ignorant of the appeal of racing as I claim to be, it would seem one would have been living in an underdeveloped country without access to the larger world. It's true that I have watched the Indianapolis 500 during the days of my youth. At least, I watched part of some of the races.
As I understand racing, it seems that the whole purpose is for racecar drivers to gather in one location and drive around in circles for a few hours. I see it as an endurance contest involving cars, drivers, and fans which cars can last until the final lap, which drivers can keep from wrecking their cars, and which fans can survive the boredom all the way to the finish line.
Living in a sports-crazed world, you'd think some of it would have rubbed off on me. Actually, some of it did. It just didn't make me crazy in the process. There are some sports that I find enjoyable. From a participatory standpoint they are few, unless you count standing in a hot shower until the hot water plays out. From a spectator point of view, I continue to enjoy the occasional baseball or football game. Nonetheless, give me Chinese water torture or shove splints under my fingernails and set the splints on fire before making me watch "professional wrestling" (I think that's an oxymoron) or nine-foot tall black dudes slam-dunking a basketball, in the NBA. For me, attending a NASCAR event would fall somewhere near the end of the last grouping.
Obviously, I'm missing something that racing fans find alluring, yet I can't imagine what it is. It's not a morbid desire on my part to watch drivers crash their expensive, high-speed vehicles, bringing injury to themselves or others. I surely don't wish to be close enough to the raceway for a tire or piece of a smashed car to smash me. If I have a weird craving for loud noise, I'll buy a house near an airport or sit on my deck while my son's practicing a new musical selection inside our guesthouse.
The pit-crew teams, those guys that the drivers rely upon to refuel their cars, change all four tires in a few seconds, or adjust a carburetor, are really something to see, but they won't be around when I need them. When will I ever need their skills? As to traveling bumper to bumper with other automobiles moving at insane speeds, I can do that most any day of the week as commuting students of area colleges and universities of the Mississippi Delta vie for position or capture the lead en route to school each morning.
Yes, there's something I've missed when it comes to understanding racing's appeal to millions of Americans. I don't know what it is, and while I am sorry the sport has lost a hero, I'll mourn humanity's loss, not any void left in the world of sports.
Reader's Share Their Point Of View
Karyn Lamb, co-editor/owner of Shingletown California's Ridge Rider News' newspaper, wrote asking if our Pontotoc relatives and home had escaped injury or damage from the tornado that made national news. She also shared a favorite candy memory:
"Even though Hershey with Almonds was never my favorite candy bar as a child, I have wonderful memories of them. Come to think of it, almost any candy was a favorite because I rarely had candy bars as a child. My parents weren't exactly poor, but candy bars and bottled soft drinks were a luxury that we rarely had.
Anyway, to get back to the Hershey bars. Once on a summer car trip, I accidentally put the candy on the dashboard and forgot about it for a short while. When I remembered the candy, I opened it up and found that it had melted. This, of course, did not discourage me in the least. I promptly licked the chocolate and almonds and discovered that this was heaven! I often recreated this melting process, and to this day, still like my Hershey's melted. Now with the advent of the microwave, I can do it any time of the year."
The remainder of this article relates to the recent article, "Prophets & Dinosaurs."
On the morning of February 24th, I was surprised to hear a recognizable voice over the phone say, "To an old dinosaur from an older dinosaur "
There was not even a hint of antagonism in her voice, but knowing that some folks don't agree with my varied points of view, I braced myself for whatever might flow from the tongue of a wrathful reader, bent on expressing a different opinion.
However, the ensuing conversation was one of praise for the recent religious piece. Apparently, I struck a harmonious chord with her opinion, for she told me that after every few sentences or so, she could be heard responding with an "Oh, yes!" "That's right," or an "Amen."
Brenda Young (Mrs. Durwood) wrote "...talking about churches, pastors, etc. I applaude your comments. I would love to see us go back to the faith of our parents and grandparents. That 'old time religion' was always good enough, and church services went as he Holy Spirit led. Time wasn't as important then.
We didn't have social activities as we have today or Friendship Church didn't, but we had a strong desire to be there every service. I saw far more souls saved and lives truly changed during my youth than since I became an adult. I really get homesick for those days; also the quartet singings we had every third Sunday night. We so looked forward to those singings and didn't mind how late they lasted. We always walked to and from church. We had quartets and singers come from all over, and you'd have to get there early or you could't find a seat. To me, those were the good, church-going days that I'd love to see return. All things were much simpler back then. We'll never live those days again."
Gwen Howell Cottrell was kind enough to email her response to the same article.
"Hi, Mr. Dinosaur. You have a gift of gab. What is so unique about yours is that you are creative in approaching the point of the story. You cover the bases, express your opinion, but allow space for others to differ. I finished the article singing. It brought back memories of family gatherings. Mom hated gospels, so what did the boys do? They would sing, "Give Me that Old Time Religion. It was good enough for Momma...." Mother never sang along. Over the years it became an affectionate expression. She gloated in the loving attention, yet never sang it.
Editor's Note: Gwen is one of eleven or so children born to Reverend Herbert and Coy Howell, both of whom are now deceased.
Bodock Beau A Few Chuckles
By coincidence, the first bit of humor that follows was submitted by Dena Kimbrell, the same individual who was featured in the first article of this week's newsletter.
Three Mississippians go down to Mexico one night, get arrested, and wake up in jail only to find out that they are to be executed in the morning, though none of them can remember what they did the night before.
The first one is strapped in the electric chair and is asked if he has any last words.
He says, "I am from the Millsaps School of Divinity and I believe in the almighty power of God to intervene on behalf of the innocent."
They throw the switch and nothing happens, so they figure God must not want this guy to die and they let him go.
The second one is strapped in and gives his last words, "I am from the University of Mississippi School of Law and I believe in the power of justice to intervene on the part of the innocent."
They throw the switch and again nothing happens.
They figure that the law is on this guy's side, so they let him go too.
The last one is strapped in and says, "Well, I'm a MSU Bulldog Electrical Engineer, and I'll tell you right now you ain't gonna electrocute nobody if you don't connect them two wires."
An Arkansas hillbilly came to town carrying a jug of moonshine in one hand and a shotgun in the other.
He stopped a man on the street, saying to him "Here friend, take a drink outta my jug."
The man protested, saying he never drank. The hillbilly leveled his shotgun at the stranger and commanded "Drink!"
The stranger drank, shuddered, shook, shivered, and coughed. "Gee! That's awful stuff you've got there."
"Ain't it, though?" replied the hillbilly. "Now, you hold the gun on me while I take a swig."
The Senility Prayer
Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do and the eyesight to tell the difference.