As Troy Clyde Eaves lay dying, his seven children gathered round to do what they had done with their father all their lives, play music. Bluegrass and gospel music. Around midnight, a curious thing happened.
Years ago, when our firstborn was small enough to carry around in a basket, a night on the town was often dinner at the Old Hickory Steakhouse.
Pat Burwell is telling me how to get to her house in Steens, but I'm not getting it.
It's Friday afternoon and I'm sitting on the front porch of an uninhabited trailer that until recently was the home of Homer Cantrell.
Omar is having trouble with his bees; they're not producing honey. This according to Rashita, the woman who manages the inn where I am staying.
A woman in our group wonders aloud if the birds were singing when the air was filled with ash. I walk over to the fence and balance my recorder on the rusting strands of barbed wire.
About four years ago a friend visiting from the North rode with me to a rural church outside of Caledonia to photograph the tombstone for a woman's leg. The woman had the leg removed for medical reasons, and, perhaps thinking it would be useful later, had it buried next to the spot her remains would eventually (and now) inhabit. Her husband's grave neighbored her on the other side.
Last weekend I attended the funeral of a dear friend who died after an almost two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Though not a religious man, Bob's funeral was held in a Catholic church in a scruffy section of Syracuse.
One afternoon last week I walked into the house to find our grandson helping Beth develop a personal emoji. You know, those little icons that go with emails and text messages to communicate emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise.
Eighty-five million years ago, sharks swam where Gardner Boulevard is now. Carnivorous raptors roamed nearby beaches. Ten-foot-long crocodiles thrashed about.
Tuesday afternoon, in a warehouse in Fayette, Alabama, Kimberly Bowling, a 45-year-old mother of three, Auburn University graduate and business owner, maneuvered a pallet jack up the ramp of a semi-trailer and pushed it under a listing tower of glass jars. The jars, $20,000 worth of them, had just arrived by truck from Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Back in the 60s when he was a student at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, and dating a pretty young coed named Jessie, Melchie Koonce had an idea.
If you want to find Billie Noland on a Thursday morning, the best place to look is Friendship Cemetery. Such has been the case for 29 years.
A letter from a 93-year-old woman in Bartahatchie leads to living room in Brooksville. There on Thursday afternoon I heard stories about long-ago teenagers dancing barefoot in a local dance hall and learned some of the finer points of making Jerusalem artichoke relish.
Mrs. Leonard Ross sent us a letter last week. Enclosed was a check for six months of The Dispatch and a year's subscription to Catfish Alley. In a note with her check, Mrs. Ross wrote, "Have been subscribing to your paper since water!!! Keep it going to print!"
She also wrote, "Tell Birney to keep 'Partial to Home' articles going. Printed news very important for us 'oldies,' who are not 'computer involved.'"
New Year's Day -- Late morning as I was driving up College Street on my way to the grocery store, I switched on the radio and The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was playing "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss. I thought of my father.
Christmas Eve -- It's early morning and Val, our lost-and-found dog with a bad eye and I are on our way to Noxubee County to spend the morning in the woods.
On a recent afternoon, the beekeeper Buck Hildreth walked out the back door of his home and down his driveway to a white cabinet near the road that runs in front of his house.
Do people talk with each other anymore? Here's an idea: Call and invite someone to lunch, or coffee or for a drink. Both of you agree to put up your "devices." Better yet, invite someone outside your usual circle, someone different, maybe even someone of a different race, different politics or with different views on religion. Amazing what a face-to-face conversation can do for understanding.
As we approach a holiday that celebrates the charity of a native people to a refugees fleeing persecution, we would do well to consider our response to the plight of another set of refugees in the aftermath of terrorist attacks that slaughtered 129 innocents in Paris on Nov. 13.
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