March 01 '08
Volume 613

Gaither Concert Episode Three

This is the concluding article of the three events (getting there, being there, and leaving there) associated with the Gaither Concert in Tupelo, on February 9, 2008.

At ten-fifteen p.m. my thoughts of the three of us going out to dinner at a nice restaurant in Tupelo had long vanished, and my thoughts were more occupied with finding a restaurant open at ten-thirty. We had a late afternoon sweet snack before going to the Gaither concert, and we planned to eat following the concert. But first, Barbara and I had to get Miss Virginia down the steep steps of the mezzanine seating, down two flights of stairs, and select a pick up point as close to the arena as possible.

Church busses were lined up alongside the building for quite a distance in spots that would be perfect for me to utilize if only I could get my car through the maze of vehicles whose movements to exit the parking lots reminded me of fire ants spilling out of their mound in search of whatever or whomever might have disturbed it. Vehicles were moving in most every direction away from the arena.

Walking to my car, I wondered how I’d ever get back to where I needed to pick up Barbara and Miss Virginia. It actually took less time than I had imagined as most everyone was jockeying for an exit line, and I was among the few trying to get closer to the arena. I made a few aggressive maneuvers, slipping across empty parking spaces and through gaps of vehicles in exit lanes and was soon near where I’d left Barbara and Miss Virginia. I gave up on them spotting me, so I got out of the car and was half-way to an entrance/exit when they finally saw me.

Both side streets that parallel the arena were packed with vehicles as was every parking exit feeding into one of the side streets. However, almost nobody was using a major exit that passed through the parking area of the Hilton Garden Inn and onto West Main. I figure I saved us a good ten or fifteen minutes by taking the less traveled route.

"Let’s find a restaurant," I gleefully stated once we were out of the parking lot, "I’ve got a handicap-dangler on my rearview mirror, and I’m anxious to park in a handicapped parking space."

"I-Hop is probably open," someone suggested, and given the limited choices of twenty-four hour restaurants, it was fine with me.

I couldn’t have told anyone where the restaurant was located, but both Barbara and Miss Virginia knew it was on North Gloster near the Mall at Barnes Crossing. I’ve driven by the restaurant hundreds of times, but like a lot of businesses along the highway, I’d not paid it any attention. At night it’s hard to see an entrance to a specific business, and I overshot the entrance to I-Hop and had to turn around and drive back to it. To my amazement every single handicapped parking space was occupied.

"Well, I’ll be danged," I mused, "I’m not getting any good out of this handicapped dangler."

Still, we were able to find parking near the front of the restaurant and were soon inside. There were perhaps a handful of people waiting to be seated, but the restaurant was no where nearly filled, and I pointed this out to the hostess who told us our wait would be a ‘minute.’ Her response was the restaurant had not scheduled sufficient help to handle the ‘concert crowd,’ and felt it unwise to seat more than could be waited on in a timely manner.

"I don’t want customers getting upset, seeing a waitress walking by them and feeling ignored," she elaborated.

I said nothing but supposed it was okay for customers like me to stand and wait for the help to get caught up before being seated.

Soon, more customers were piling into the waiting area asking about wait times, which were then announced as thirty to forty-five minutes.

Rather than complain about the circumstances, I opted to enjoy myself. I began to role play the hostess, who was off attending to whatever it is that hostesses do when they’re swamped with customers.

"Y’all come on in, and make yourselves at home," I chimed to the next group of arrivals, "Someone will be with you in a moment."

Several smiled in amusement, and one asked about the empty seats I had previously noticed. I provided the ‘corporate response,’ given me.

"Have y’all been to the concert?" I asked; heads nodded agreement.

"Wasn’t that great?"

The crowd was beginning to warm up.

"We could sing, while we’re waiting," I shared.

Several laughed.

I stopped short of leading a chorus of "Let’s Just Praise The Lord," mostly because I don’t know enough of the verses to lead it, and I’m not much in the way of a song leader.

Persons continued to spill into the foyer of the restaurant, and though we’d been there for fifteen minutes or so, they too were told the wait would be thirty to forty-five minutes.

"Our options," I shared with Barbara and Miss Virginia, "are to wait here for a table or head back to Pontotoc. We could go to our house and fix a waffle or we can go to the Huddle House in Pontotoc. Either way, it’s gonna’ be after midnight before we’re done."

While we were mulling over the possibilities, a woman standing nearby who’d heard me mention Huddle House, stated, "That’s a good idea. We’ve got a Huddle House in Booneville."

My folks and I decided to leave I-Hop and hop on back to Pontotoc. As we left, I commented I might still get to use the handicapped dangler, after all.

It was around eleven thirty when we pulled onto the parking lot of Huddle House, and if there was an open handicapped parking space, we couldn’t locate it. Once inside, I felt like we’d entered another world, or at least another county, where the citizens looked strangely different from us. Oh, they were most likely Pontotoc County people, but they’re the ones that come out after dark, way after dark.

The smoking section of the restaurant comprised roughly three-fourths of the seating and was mostly filled. The non-smoking section had a couple of empty booths, and we made our way toward the cleanest of the open seats. A cleaning cloth had been left in the middle of the table, and we avoided touching it as we sat down.

I remembered hearing from a reliable source how I shouldn’t eat at Huddle House because of the caliber of folks working there, but I’d shaken off such admonitions as judgmental and perhaps based on too small a sample to be accurate. However, as I had a good view of the behind-the-counter help, I wasn’t so sure we’d made a good decision as to where to eat.

Eventually, a waitress came looking for the cleanup towel, and we asked her for a round of coffee while we waited to order. Barbara and I chose a waffle with a side order of bacon and sausage patties, respectively. Miss Virginia said the waffle with a toping of strawberries and cream appealed to her.

The smoking section stayed filled most of the time we were there, but we pretty much had the non-smoking area to ourselves. Once served, Barbara complained her waffle was cold. Mine wasn’t hot, but it was warmer than hers. Miss Virginia’s waffle suited her.

I know this world has changed a lot in my lifetime, but I’m not ready to accept an all-night restaurant in Pontotoc that’s busy at midnight on a Saturday night. What all those people were doing up at such a late hour still puzzles me. We, on the other hand, had an excuse, and one could tell by our mode of dress we’d been somewhere. The same could not be said of the other diners.

Barbara and I had Miss Virginia back home shortly after midnight, where she was greeted by Angel, her housecat, who was more than anxious to get back inside. Ten minutes later, I was in bed and reflecting on the events of the day that included our run to Belmont for a Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary celebration, our trip back to Pontotoc to pick up Miss Virginia, desserts at Peppers in Tupelo, attending the Gaither Concert, finding a place to eat afterwards, and finally getting back home. It had been a full and enjoyable day for me, and I believe both Miss Virginia and Barbara would agree it was for them, also.

Garden Gnomes By Carl Wayne Hardeman

Gnomes live in our garden. They are gentle creatures, unlike their more fierce cousins, the trolls, who live in the water culverts underneath the railroad tracks, which run beside our garden. We never see them, but we know they are there. Sadie, our garden dog, often can be seen sniffing and talking to an eggplant or cabbage or toad in a low growl. She is communicating with them. 

Our gnomes, Parsnip and Sweetpea, are over three hundred years old, and have been married over two hundred years. Their children, Rhubarb and Rutabaga, have grown up, married their college sweethearts, and now live in fine gardens in Germantown and Cordova. Sweetpea was a legume of the Fabaceae family while Parsnip is an Apiaceae. 

Parsnip and Sweetpea work in the garden in exchange for food. They don't eat much. Their work is worth far more than they eat. They each eat one pea or bean or sunflower seed per day. We humans never miss it. For dessert they nibble on a sweet potato overlooked in the garden where they lived last year. It is stored in their mole tunnel. 

They are very small, and live in an abandoned mole tunnel. They sleep during the day and come out at night to work and play in the moonlight. Sometimes their troll cousin, Grock, visits them from underneath the railroad tracks. He keeps marauding cats and raccoons away. They give him a pea or a bean or sunflower seed each time he visits. 

Gnomes are very powerful, and know how to be even more powerful. They use the power of sunshine, wind, rain, soil, and rocks. Garden plants know this, too, and grow fine peas, beans, and tall sunflowers, with just a little help from humans and their garden's gnomes. 

Gnomes never plant their own gardens. Instead, they find a human's garden, and live in it. Their main occupation is correcting and recovering from the mistakes the humans make like tilling and killing beneficial microbes and maiming earthworms. 

Parsnip and Sweetpea were excited to find out about this new garden from Grock. Word had spread from troll to troll up and down the railroad track that humans had been seen taking a soil sample, and been heard talking about adding lime and rotted horse manure to the garden. How excited they were. 

Finally some humans were starting a new garden correctly. This would save the gnomes a lot of night time work hauling in worm castings and rotted leaves to enrich the soil. This new garden should grow very tasty peas, beans, and sunflowers. 

So Parsnip and Sweetpea were very disturbed one fine spring day when they were awakened by the sound and vibrations of a tractor tilling up the garden, plowing the lime, rotted horse manure, and rich alfalfa pellets deep into the ground. 

Humans are so impatient. If they had spread the lime and other amendments last fall and covered the soil with a nice blanket of mulch of leaves and grass, only a light scratching of the soil surface would be needed. Instead they were digging deep, bringing weed seeds to the surface, and destroying the earthworms and their homes. 

Parsnip and Sweetpea worked late that night. They patched up the earthworms which had survived, and brought thimble load after thimble load of earthworms from Ronnie's garden next door. 

When will humans ever learn how valuable their earthworm friends are and how to care for them? After mending the hurt earthworms, they worked three more nights carrying off all the weed seeds tilled on top of the ground by the tiller and ready to sprout.

"Gnomes sometimes reveal themselves to humans as foxes." ~Carl Wayne

Send comments to Carl Wayne…

Bodock Beau Dusty Places

Ralph Jones sent the following, which he likens to responses TV host, Art Linkletter, once received on his program, "Kids Say The Darndest Things."

JACK (age 3) was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: "Mom, why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?"

MELANIE (age 5) asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie said, "If you don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six."

STEVEN (age 3) hugged and kissed his Mom goodnight. "I love you so much, that when you die I'm going to bury you outside my bedroom window."

BRITTANY (age 4) had an earache and wanted a painkiller. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a childproof cap and she'd have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: "How does it know it's me?"

SUSAN (age 4) was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. "Please don't give me this juice again," she said, "It makes my teeth cough."

Dee (age 4) stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: "How much do I cost?"

MARC (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: "Why is he whispering in her mouth?"

CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried. When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, "I don't know what'll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in?"

JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt. Concerned, James asked: "What happened to the flea?"

TAMMY (age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, "Why doesn't your skin fit your face?"

The Sermon: I think this Mom will never forget this particular Sunday sermon...

"Dear Lord," the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. "Without you, we are but dust."

He would have continued but at that moment my very obedient daughter (who was listening!) leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl voice, "Mom, what is butt dust?

Formula For A Successful Marriage

At Saint Mary's Catholic Church they have a weekly husband's marriage seminar. At a session, last week, the Priest asked Luigi, who was approaching his 50th wedding anniversary, to take a few, minutes and share some insight into how he had managed to stay married to the same woman all these years.

Luigi replied to the assembled husbands, "Well, I've a-tried to treat-a her nice, spend the money on her, but best is that I took-a her to Italy for the 20th anniversary!"

The Priest responded, "Luigi, you are an amazing inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what you are planning for your wife for your
50th anniversary."

Luigi proudly replied, "I'm a-gonna go to get her."

Shared by Larry Young


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