Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gotta Tell You A Story

First let me describe what you are seeing. The historic Noxubee County Jail in Macon Mississippi was converted some years ago to a public library. Up stairs was the gallows.
Just a quick note about the history of the area. Noxubee in Choctaw means something like "stinking water or odor of dead fish." The Noxubee River runs just outside the town. Hold on, I've got to tell you a true story about an ole boy I met.
Just about fifteen miles S.W. of Macon is an old meeting ground of the Choctaws. It was here that the white man stole thousands of acres from the Indians at the "Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek" just prior to the trail of tears removal. The time was somewhere around 1832 give or take year or two. Now for my story. This ain't no shit. My friend J.W. who retired a few years ago told me this story about himself and a friend.
It seems that J.W. and his buddy were drinking and having a high old time at the Southern-Air Club which is on the West side of the Tombigbee River in Columbus. Tombigbee in Choctaw means "Box Maker" probably a crude box for carrying the bones of the singing people's ancestors. Anyway these ole boys were starting to feel real bullet proof after midnight. This was back in the spring of 64. It was Saturday night, actually Sunday morning. J.W. had a 63 Plymouth which he says "was purdy fast." Around 1:45, am one of them came up with the exceptional idea of setting a land speed record to New Orleans. Grown men do their most rational thinking in these situations. So J.W. said they lit out at 2:00 am straight up. He said, "I looked at my watch right after they slammed the jail door behind me in Macon. It was 2:20.
His car was impounded inside a chain link fence next to the jail. He described the events just after daylight.
"They come to my cell with some kinda bologna and eggs or sump'um. I could'nt eat that stuff. They didn't put my buddy in jail, I was the one DUI, and goin' too fast. He was leaned up against a tree on the other side of the chain link fence. I hollered down to him and ast him to go and get me some cheese and crackers or sump'um cause I was starvin. Directly he come back with some crackers of some kind. He'd throw them crackers up to the winder and I was missing most of'um. Them crackers wus fallin' on the ground whur my car was impounded. There was two or three German Shepherd dogs down there. Ever time I'd miss a catch, it'ud fall down amongst them dogs. They'd growl and fight over that stuff, you never seen the like. I looked like a damned monkey with my arm run through them bars tryin' to catch that stuff."
Now J.W. didn't tell me how or when he got out, or if he ever caught a cracker. The story was always ongoing.
He lives in Louisville. That's Louis-ville, not pronounced like the town in Kin-tuck-ie as the native Americans would say. Now Winston County didn't sell beer so J.W. would have to go to Noxubee County to get a couple of six packs. They could take the highway around through Starkville to Brooksville and Macon or they could take a gravel road through the river bottom and save several miles. One Saturday J.W. and his buddy decided that they were thirsty. A trip to Noxubee county had to be made. Now again, wise men think alike and fools seldom differ. So after days of spring rains, these ole boys made the decision you would expect. Yes they took the short cut across the river bottom.
"We got over there in a that river bottom. Tha road was bad. We sunk down to tha frame on that ole truck. We messed around there and decided to walk to some body's house and git'um to pull us out. We got this ole boy over there with a tractor. He hooked on and yanked the bumper clean of tha truck. Finally he got us out. I ast him how much we owed him. He said ah bout five dollars. I give him our beer money. We come on back home. HEY! that ain't the only time I crossed that bottom. I remember being out in front of the truck with a pole, feeling around to see how deep the water wus. My wife would be drivin' and them kids would be cryin' and takin' on. Boy it was sump'um."
"I used to wake up on Sunday mornin' and there would be knuckle bumps all over my ole head. One morning I was shavin'. I had a little ole cut on my lip a while back that was healed up. I messed around there and hit sump'um with tha razor. I pulled it out and it was a little piece of asphalt."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bring Up The Twelve Pounders

bring up the Twelve Pounders!

- all the horses are dead here, sir

bring'em up by mule then

- all the mules are dead here, sir

well bring'em up by hand, boys

- all the battery men are dead here, sir

well I need them Twelve Pounders

- there ain't no artillery left here, sir

Lyrics by: Paul Kennerly from "White Mansions"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Moon Shot

I took these five or six years ago maybe longer. Olympus OM1 fully manual with tripod, cable ,and 400 speed film. Sorry, I kept the good ones.
Now I remember why I like film. There are some really beautiful streaks in some of these shots that digital just won't make.
Is photography fun or what!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

High Flight

High Flight

If any of you remember President Regan's speech after the crash of the Challenger, the click above may be interesting.
His speech writer Peggy Nunan being a voracious reader pulled a line from this and made it immortal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008


These relics just north of Vicksburg may or may not go back to 1863, but they did remind me of the area's history. Gen. Sherman burned so many homes in and around Jackson that it was called Chimneyville for decades. Meridian got the same treatment. Vicksburg didn't celebrate July 4th for 89 years. Theis pyromania was just a dress rehearsal for Billy's march to the sea.

Well so much for Independent Sovreign States. Hey we tried to warn you but you kept shooting at us.

Lets raise a toast to our Masters in Washington.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Check On The Hog

It has either been raining for days here in Mississippi or cold. It snowed in Jackson, Slidell, and Baton Rouge this week.
It's been several days since I have cranked up my little Harley (If I haven't told you my daughter and son-in-law got it for me as a birthday present two years ago) Now my kid is very special, not to mention, how many sons-in-law would give an old grump ass a gift like this? Yeah no kidding.

Anyway I went out into our closed in garage this afternoon and turned on a portable heater while I fetched Christmas decorations from the attic. After looking past boxes labeled "kitchen stuff" for an hour, I came down for a break. My wife sent me back up there and I decided to open boxes regardless of their markings. Sure enough, I peaked in expecting to find a spatula and there they were, little green thingy doos, and blue rinky dinks, yes sir, yes sir, three boxes full. How's that for a run on sentence Billy Faulkner?

So, with honey doos over I uncovered "Red Molly." When a man pulls the covers off Red Molly and his eyes lock on her luscious curves his heart beats a little faster. If this doesn't cause the pulse to quicken in a male, he must be a golfer or worse. Men give her longing glances when they think I don't see. Some would take her from me in a second, others are afraid that she may be too much to handle.

I pressed the garage door button (actually I mashed the button) we don't press anything here in the South, not even shirts, anyway, backed her out in the driveway, pulled the choke (fuel enricher) and hit the button. She came alive. By the way I got her name from a Richard Thompson song called " 52 Vincent", a British made Vincent Black Lightning 1952 model. His girl was a sexy red head named Red Molly wearing black leather. I'm pretty sure most young people know the song. If you haven't, find the song and tell me this isn't one of the best guitar players you've ever heard.

With the rich fuel Molly talked fast like she'd had the most wonderful dream. She warmed up to me as I held her close.

In a couple of minutes she was warm enough to push in the choke and she smoothed out. Those Vance and Hines pipes rumbled more quietly. Man, she whispered softly, begging, begging me to run away with her. It happens every time we meet. She's a seductress, a siren. But it was just too cold today. The wife and I had to visit neighbors bearing goodies.
Beneath the covers she settled in quietly. I promised that I would be back for her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shout It From The Mountain Top

This is a photo from the top of Cheaha Mountain in East Central Alabama near Anniston. (Cheaha State Park)Cheaha is a Creek Indian word for pain.

It seems there was a brave named "Turns His Head" who was cracking hickory nuts between two rocks, holding with one hand and smashing with the other. No one knows exactly what happened. Witnesses said the last they saw of him, he was going over this point at a full run Screaming the word.

Others say it was that cheap scratchy wool loin cloth he traded for. coupled with an infestation of chiggers while picking black berries that drove him over the edge.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Can you dig it?

To the left is an old shovel. They started out as steam shovels. This one is gas or diesel. Note the operation is all done with cable. This was long before hydraulic pump operated like today. My guess is that the one above is a huge cauldron for molten steel that could be dumped. The bottom looks like an ore carrier.
See the previous posting for the story.

Ah Sweet Home

This is a picture of Sloss Furnace. Birmingham Alabama was once a great steel town. My understanding is that there was an abundance of coal in the area. This made a perfect situation for making steel since iron ore was abundant as well. Sloss glowed bright red with magma-like steel.

There is a town in the area named Bessemer. Bessemer is actually a method of making steel. There is an iron statue in the city of Birmingham. It's called Vulcan, "god of fire" or something of the sort. It's the largest cast iron statue in the world.

It amazes me how man learned to make bronze and more so that he advanced to make iron.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Flood of 1927

I was traveling up Highway 61 Wednesday, The Blues

Highway through the Mississippi Delta. Off to my left I caught sight of this house. I was three hours away from home and clouds were coming in but I had to get closer and get a picture.

In 1929 or was it 1927the Mississippi overflowed its banks. Water was several feet deep all across the Delta from south of Memphis to Vicksburg. Those who could, fled on trains, wagons, automobiles and on foot. Others were caught in the rising water. I don't know the death toll. I am told that eventually the levees were blown further to the south in order to give relief to miles and miles of Delta to the north. People waited for days on tops of houses. Some huddled on little humps of high ground though I haven't seen any high ground.

I guess "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" or the Odessey gave us a visual glimpse.
When I saw this beautiful home, I knew immediately what it was all about. You may ask, "Why would anyone live in a place like this?" Some of these farmers own huge plantations. They do very well. Where I'm from in the West Tennessee rolling hills the soil is six to twelve inches deep. Below that is sub-soil or parent material, that is, if you give it a few thousand years, it may become rich soil in the right conditions. In the Delta the soil is dark, rich and deep. It has floated down from many states in North America, a little of Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky, and Montana, to name a few. I watched a backhoe once dig out a ditch on a pipeline there. It was over twelve feet deep and the soil at the bottom of the hole was just as rich as the soil at the top! There is something beautiful about the Delta in the fall.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Beautiful Town

I passed through Canton Mississippi Tuesday. It's s beautiful little town. Since much of the downtown area hasn't changed much in the last fifty years it has been the perfect place to make movies about the old south and what is perceived by the rest of America as the new South. A Time To Kill, and Oh Brother Where Art Though among others had many scenes shot in Canton.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Elvis Spotted in Gordo

Word has it that Elvis was spotted again in Gordo Alabama. Gordo is a raging metropolis just across the state line. The traffic light works except for the yellow that has a bulb out. Local people are keen on the fact that when no light is on, it means yellow and don't get pulled over. Poor travelers have a difficult time. The mayer says it's just not safe to fix the light at this time. It would be too dangerous to put up a sixteen foot step ladder in the middle of U.S. 82.

Dora Lee Biggs told my wife about the sighting. It seems that he was spotted on a bench outside the Gordo Grind, that's a foo foo coffee bar in a portable shed next to the quick stop. They have learned to combine Maxwell House and Folgers coffee with a just a shredding of sweet potato delicately floating on the surface. People in west Alabama are nuts over it. They're comming from Mississippi now. The line was backed up the other day all the way to Gene's saw shop and hog feed.

Anyway Dora said that Elvis was wearing overalls. It seems that his belly hasn't shrunk so he was wearing them with the buttons loosened on both sides to let some air circulate. What caught her attention was his workshirt with the collar turned up. Then he whipped out a little sack of groceries and made up a peanut butter and nanner sandwich right there. Well, that really got her interested cause she knows his favorite food. She said there was no doubt when he reached in and pulled out his upper denture to lick off the peanut butter stuck on them because she saw his big ring that he always wore on his right hand. Before she called my wife she rushed over to the pawn shop to see if that big ring under the glass was the one off his other hand but she said it turned out to be one of those Cupid Zarcondoms.

Dora said, " it was like one on them aberations cause he wudden there the first time she walked over to the liquor store."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jim Ed's Wild Ride

Years ago a friend of mine told me about Jim Ed's ride.

It seems that somewhere back in the 40's or 50's some young men were hanging out by the depot in Middleton Tennessee. As it often happens, three girls drove up in their car to see what was going on. Now you would have to see Middleton to understand that there isn't much there at all, a hardware store, small tire store, masonic hall, and maybe a service station at that time. The boys were eying the girls as boys always do unless something is wrong with them. The girls were uninterested or at least pretended to be. The more disinterest shown the more the guys began to act fools and grab-ass around.

Well as luck would have it, Southern Railroad's passenger train number 36 rolled in, picked up a couple of passengers and some mail. Jim Ed saw his chance to go down in history as a dangerous man. Girls like reckless guys though not all of them will date these dare devils. So three or four minutes passed. The conductor walked up the steps of the passenger gar with his little stool and closed the door. The train was already moving. Jim Ed ran for one of the steps on the mail car. He jumped on and held to the vertical hand rails glancing over his shoulder to catch one of the girls covering her mouth in amazement. The other two were riveted to the scene. Now you understand that Jim Ed planned to ride for less than one hundred feet and jump off, but he didn't consider the line of box cars on the side track preventing him form making his exit without crashing against one of them. So by the time Jim Ed was clear of a half dozen freight cars the train was going too fast to jump off. There was nothing to do but hold on. The girls were half screaming half laughing in amusement but with a hint of concern as Jim Ed continued to accelerate. His buddies realized that their friend had to hold on until he reached Corinth Mississippi some twenty miles away. They jumped in an old Mercury throwing gravel as they hit the pavement making a small squeal as the tires grabbed. The glass pack mufflers roared as they made their way to U.S. Highway 72 and turned east toward Corinth. The old car sat low to the ground and bellowed toward their lost comrade. Somewhere just west of town they met Jim Ed walking home. He smiled from behind an embarrassed face and beneath a shock of uncombed hair. The boys did a U-turn in the highway and pulled over in front of the hiker. They bailed out and met him as he came upon the rear bumper. He looked a little shaken but did his best to cover his mild shock with " boys, how bout that ride?" They laughed and smacked him around a little, then noticed that the windy ride had beaten every button off the front of his shirt.

This ain't no shit

In the belly of a B-17 flying fortress

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, and I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze, six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life, I woke to black flack and the nightmare of fighters, when I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Randall Jarrell

Most know all its meanings but for those who don't:
Small men had to man the ball turret guns, they could hunch up and roll upside down and shoot at planes coming from below
They wore leather jackets with fur collars
Flack is antiaircraft shells from the ground exploding at a designated height set by the gunners
Nightmare of fighters - German fighter planes much faster than the heavy bomber trying to defend itself

Thursday, November 20, 2008

He swore that it was the truth

I had a professor in college form West Virginia. He talked about how steep the hills are in his home state. Since there is not that much cultivatable land there, some people were forced to put their gardens on the hillsides. He claims that his neighbor was plowing one day and to the man's shock and amazement his mules fell out of the garden!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sleeping Chickens

As most of you know, the old farmers have small rods in their chicken houses so the chickens can to into the houses at sundown, jump up on the poles and go to sleep. It seems that the grip of the chicken's feet doesn't let go even though he is sawing some logs. (the same for wild birds)

When I was a kid there were still sharecroppers around the South. The ones I knew were white. They would work for a large or small farmer tilling the land for part of the harvest. Most of the time they would become disenchanted after getting such a small part of the crop, and move to another run down house and try their luck on another farm. When they moved they would go out to the chicken house the night before, catch their chickens and tie their legs for traveling.

I knew a family once that moved so much that every night the chickens would go on the roost and cross their legs in anticipation of another move.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ole Hammer

My papaw loved dogs. He always had dogs partly because he lived in the wilderness of Southwest Tennessee. He had squirrel dogs, possom dogs, bear dogs and they were, according to him, very intelligent. One of them was actually a member of Mensa. But his favorite dog was Ole Hammer. Years later when he spoke of that dog, tears would fill his eyes and my mamaw would come stand by his chair and put her arm around him with comforting words.

Now I have to fill in some valuable information before I can go forward. A coon hide was skinned out without cutting down the belly, that is, his hide was taken off like one would remove a sock. A trapper would have boards to slide through the hide and stretch that pelt until it dried ready for market. These boards were about 1/2 inch thick 8 inches wide and about 24 inches long gradually tapering to a rounded point on one end. The coon hide would be pulled over the board with the pointy end fitting in the upper lip of the pelt. (do you have a mental picture of this?)

Well, the thing about Ole Hammer was that my papaw didn't have to trap for his coons. He would pull out a certain size board, show it to Ole Hammer, he would go off and come back with a coon that fit that board exactly. If papaw showed him a small board, the dog would bring back a small coon. If he pulled out a larger board Hammer sometimes would be gone for two or three days but he never failed to bring back a coon that fit the board presented to him.

Now my mamaw didn't like this dog, mainly because he sucked eggs. A woman don't like an egg sucking dog. She never saw him do it but she saw the broken egg shells. Her proof was that Ole Hammer's coat was growing slick and shiny. A hound doesn't get that slick eating bacon rinds.

Well, one day she'd had enough. She went in the back room and brought out the ironing board, took it out on the porch and called Ole Hammer. Hammer crawled from under the porch shook himself free of dust and took a gander at that ironing board. He went trotting off into the woods that morning and never came back.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Horse collars

This posting will have no meaning except for the very few people who work with horses and mules or William Faulkner fans.
I finally ran across a man who could identify the little horseshoe shaped hooks that hold the trace chains to the hames on the horse collars.
I was visiting an eighty something year old man (Barney McMahan) back in McNairy County Tennessee. He was showing me his car shed/workshop. We went upstairs to look around. I saw his old horse collar with the hames attached to them. On the hames were the hooks. I asked him if they had a name. In a blink he said. Loggerheads. I knew it but I couldn't find anyone from the generation before me to verify it.
Thanks Barney
Now when you read "Barn Burning" by Faulkner you will know what he is talking about when Snopes adjusts the loggerhead on the hame/collar.

Is this trivial or what?

Friday, November 14, 2008


"To my mind Judas Iscariot was nothing but a low, mean, premature congressman."

Mark Twain

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Writer's View of Washington

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Today was a long one. I worked in Tuscaloosa Alabama. They are happy in that little town after knocking off LSU or as the Cajuns call it LUS. Believe it or not Cajuns call themselves "Coon Ass" and don't mind being called that. I have several Coon Ass friends but I'm still not 100% on the meaning. I think its just a society of people with a rich heritage of French, African, Native American ancestry and maybe some Spanish.

Anyway, Alabama fans are fired up. They are undefeated and can smell another national championship; what a game down in the valley of death. Overtime no less. They are the Western Division Champs but will probably have to face Florida. They are bad boys standing on the corner with brass knuckles in their back pocket. Then again Ole Miss went to their hood and left them on the ground. (any given Saturday)

After working twelve hours I hardly had time to stop and pay silent tribute to all the men and women who have served their country.

I'm fascinated with ironies. I don't know why. I think that I just like to look on both sides of every issue. Now I realize that this is not Memorial Day, but many of us think about those who fell in battle as well as the veterans.

Arlington Cemetery began in a shameful way. Some of Lincoln's people thought it would be hilarious to confiscate General Lees beloved plantation for taxes. They began to bury the union dead on his farm until he could never return home to any semblance of normalcy. (it takes a hell of a man to turn down the head of arguably the greatest army in the modern world, an army that is assured victory because you are a Virginian first and an American second. By today's standards we can't understand it, all vestiges of Tennessee first or Montana have been wiped away by centralist.)

I do believe that probably every one of those brave men resting in Arlington waiting on the last roll call admired the old General, those of the Union, from the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and other scattered wars.

The South has its own memorial day. I believe Mississippi's is April 26. It actually started in the town where I live, Columbus. Women decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate that April day in 1866
I always think about those who displayed the same valor as those so tenderly cared for in our national cemeteries with crosses perfectly aligned. I am referring to the boys in grey who fill burial bits at Shiloh, Gettysburg, Sharpsburg, and on and on without markers, known only to their maker.

Soldiers where they admit it or not have a respect for a brave foe as well as Friend. You see, an army or a football team is not truly powerful unless their opponent is equally so.

I believe that the old white haired General would remove his hat for every last soldier who faced his enemy with honor.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Log Haulers

It's about time that I wrote a totally useless blogg, but I guess they all are.

South of Chunky River I met a eighteen wheeler hauling a load of logs. The bug screen on the front of the truck said "Cane Clutter." I laughed to myself. Now I've seen loads of logs in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Maine, New Brunswick and British Columbia to name a few. I don't know If they display their handles or AKA's on their rigs like some of our old boys down here. They are all working men and have my respect.
The name brought back many memories. I didn't know if the name meant someone who cut logs like one would cut sugar cane. It seems plausible even though no cane is grown in the Pine Belt (a region in the general area between Meridian and Hattiesburg that grows mostly native pine.)

But then I thought about when I was eleven years old and got my first shotgun. We hunted squirrels and rabbits mostly, before I got into ducks and deer. Now I don't know much about lagomorphs except that they have an extra pair of upper incisors for cutting off vegetation.

Sometimes we would hunt the river bottoms of West Tennessee. There is a large rabbit that lives in these watery places. They are called Swamp Rabbits or Cane Cutters. These critters are chased with beagles. I don't see it much anymore. Southerners at one time loved to hear the hounds whether it was running fox all night (three or four men standing by a fire talking about which hound was taking the lead) coon hunting, (we should talk more about this) or even deer.
Apparently we brought this sport from the British Isles. The British still love it. William Faulkner loved to hunt on horseback.
Anyway when a dog or pack or dogs jump a rabbit from a thicket or ditch bank, I'm talking about smaller cotton tails now. He scampers fast. Beagles are short legged and slow. Our objective wasn't to catch the rabbit. We wanted him to run his circle. When a rabbit runs from the dogs, he gets out ahead and runs along just enough to stay ahead. If the hunter will stay close to where the rabbit was jumped, the critter will run back to the same area and start the circle all over again. The hunter will shoot him usually on the first circle.

With a Swamp Rabbit (he's big and husky, but doesn't look like a Jackrabbit.) When he jumps, he runs a much wider circle. Sometimes the dogs will almost go out of rearing range, but eventually he comes back. Sometimes you will think they are running a deer because of the distance he runs. The hunter places himself along a stream or slough. I have shot these big boys running in the shallow water. They are not plentiful anymore fore several reasons.

For people who were raised on concrete or in another part of the country, you may have never thought about it, but there is a proper way to skin a rabbit. The helper holds the rabbit by the Nap of his back with a couple of inches between his hands. The skinner sticks the knife through the skin above the mid-spine. One sticks his eight fingers in the cut pulling toward the head. The other puts his eight fingers in the cut and pulls toward the other end. His shirt and pants are removed simultaneously. Then the head and four feet are removed with the skin. He is gutted washed and ready to cutup and put in the pan.

A squirrel takes more skill. The helper holds the squirrel upside down by the hind feet. The squirrel's belly is facing the helper's belly. The skinner makes a perfect cut across the base of the tail just millimeters above the anal opening. He methodically works his way around the tail with his small knife then severs the tail bone leaving the tail in tact. He cuts a little more to the top of the hips. While the helper holds the hind feet, the skinner digs his fingers under the skin and pulls the squirrel's shirt over his head. Then he cuts the feet off leaving the head with the skin pulled over it. The helper then holds the ball of reversed fur with the head inside. It's just a little knob. The skinner works the squirrel's pants loose at the top around his pretend belt area then pulls the skin down to the feet and cuts them off. The helper takes the bare hind legs. The skinner cuts off the head then inserts the blade into the pelvic area cutting it open and slowly cuts the thin skin down the belly to the breast bone, empties the guts. They wash him and cut him up for dinner. (We'll have to talk about fur bearing animals later. They are a totally different animal. Oops)

Now I don't know if this is common knowledge but I'm told that there is more than one way to undress a feline.
Down here we still have wild game suppers but I don't know of anyone who eats rabbits and squirrels.

You will never need to know things like this unless we have a depression. What are the chances of that?

Oh, one last thing. The National Fox Hunting Association was formed in the parlor of Waverly Mansion just fifteen miles from my house. The home is open for touring every day of the year except Christmas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Like Trains

On a three hour trip home today I was following U.S. 11 northword just south of Meridian Mississippi. The foliage was beautiful. Autumn comes late in Certral Miss. The Forfolk Southern Railroad runs parallel to the highway. Suddenly bursting out of the November conflagration was the City Of New Orleans. She was rolling toward the Crescent city as if the engineer's crawfish boil was starting without him. Trains are beautiful. Passenger trains glide on a loud whisper until the man at the throttle makes her speak.

For those who have never been to Meridian, back in the 20's or 30's, I don't remember; anyway, the Key Brothers set a world record for the longest time in the air. You can google it but I believe it was 28 days. They fueled from another plane and got their food in a similar manner. Later all military planes would learn to refuel in the air. Their little plane was called "Ole Miss." She is in some aeronautics museum in Washington D.C.

The Jimmie Rodgers museum is in Meridian. He is in both the country music and rock-in-roll halls of fame. He was a brakeman for the railroad.
Peavy still makes amplifiers here.

Hey. I love trains.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is a true story

Do you know the difference between a fairy tale and a sailor's story?

A fairy tale begins with "once upon a time"
A sailor's story begins with "this ain't no s--t

You know how this story begins. For those of you who are old enough to remember the "Walking Tall" movies.
I was born and raised in McNairy Co. Tennessee. I actually rode in the car with Sheriff Buford Pusser and I wasn't going to jail. He gave a ride to three of us kids one Friday night, just two miles to the next crossroads. He always wore a grey suit and carried a service revolver in a shoulder holster. That night he was in a 64dodge two door hard top with a 383 engine. The car had a console with an automatic shift. On the console was a sawed off double barreled shotgun partly wrapped in a towel. He was talking about Toe Head White. Even as kids we figured that one of them would die. (Hollywood must have invented that big stick the actor carried in the movies)

If this person interests you at all, there is a book " The State Line Mob" I forgot the writer but I know the places and some of the people. One of the mobsters had a daughter in my school class. Her body was exhumed ----- no that's enough

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bois de Arc

On the way home today I pulled into a quick stop down in the black prairie. I saw fruit on the ground and immediately recognized the big grapefruit like balls. (stay with me to the end) They are not for human consumption, but the plant has always interested me. The French called the brushy tree "bois de arc" or wood of the bow. Botanists believe that the original growing region was in the Oklahoma Arkansas area. Native americans used them to make their bows as you may have guessed. The local tribes traded the wood to other tribes out of the area. The plant has spread to several southern states and perhaps some midwestern areas. It grows along fence rows where it bares its long thorns and drops its fruit. Cattle, deer and squirrel will eat the fruit if there is nothing else around and spread the seed with their patties pills and scat.
English speaking pioneers translated bois de arc to bo-dark, board arc or bo-dock. This stuff is one of the hardest woods I have come across. Farmers cut them to use as fence posts, but they nail the fence to them while they are still green otherwise it may be impossible later. This is the only tree when dead and dried that has ever caused sparks to fly from my chain-saw bar.

We have a hardness scale not unlike the one geologists use: examples

"harder than Japanise arithmetic" is that politically incorrect?
"harder than, how do I say, a preacher's anatomy"
"harder than a bo-dock chunk"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Oldest Daughter

I friend called me this afternoon. He wanted to talk about my daughter's blog and about her late friend Ray. He was so impressed with the way she could write her story, the way she made him feel like he was along with them as they explored their world. Ironically she constantly tells me that she wishes she could write well. My freind couldn't get over what a free spirit she is, how confident she is. He talked like he had found a rare gem.

This posting is not to boast about my kid though you find that hard to believe at this point.

It is this. People are horrified even at the thought of being rediculed, ostracized, scoffed at. This fear is magnified many times over when you are seventeen. Kids can even deal with parents brutally opposing them but not their classmates and buddies. This is worse than death.

My daughter's friend was troubled as a teenager years ago and never recovered. He wasn't popular in high school. My daughter on the other hand was very popular. When she became homecoming queen she chose Ray to escort her for the school festivities with teachers protesting that it was poor taste. I am so proud of her because she has always understood that people are very much alike regardless of their social standing. Perhaps that is what scares people about themselves. Some of her friends wanted to shun her friend and others that didn't meet their standards. She stuck to her guns. Everyone was welcome around her. Some couldn't deal with it. I suppose that is OK. We hang out with those we choose.

He died too young not yet forty. No one was surprised after all, it was just old Ray.
He learned much from my daughter. She learned more from him. Someone once said, "wisdom is often found in rags." His own two daughters are very well adjusted. He taught them that they were homecoming queens. They are.

The punch line:

We as teachers tend to be followers. I suppose we have little choice since the mandates come down from the national level. We need to have the courage to step out when possible and encourage kids to be individuals. Maybe we need to do tougher role play to teach them how to resist peer pressure, to be who we were made to be. Perhaps kids could find the courage to split with the group from time to time. What greater lesson is there than to learn how to be truly free. In a time when schools more frequently than not teach that decisions should be made as a group, is there anyone left to point a child in the direction of freedon?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Today I planted some crimson clover in the vacant lot next to my house. I made big curving beds by scraping the earth with my rake. Next spring this poor soil will be bursting with red flowers nestled in green. There is something magic about planting a seed especially legumes on the poorest of soil. That which is dead is risen.


I don't get too torn down over this green movement. I sense that it is tied to something larger. By just having fun I probably do more by accident to enrich the earth with flora than those who cry "the sky is falling." The earth is in trouble. Perhaps it is wearing out. Perhaps it's ment to. A famous writer once said "all creation groans." I have planted hundreds of acorns. It's not like I'm on a mission, but one day a kid will play in the shade of a tree that I planted.

Acorn is an interesting word. In the south we call them acerns. Sometimes we are laughed at for these strange pronounciations. I did some research on the word. The Old English is Aecern. That would make sense wouldn't it.

Yes I digress but I'm an N as INTJ