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.
A friend and I were talking about law enforcement the other day.
"How many times have you been stopped and searched by the police?" J. asked. We're about the same age.
"None, at least not since college," I said. "What about you?"
"Four times," he said.
He happens to be black, well educated and prominent in his community.
In early January of 2014, Jessica Austin boarded a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines jet in Washington D.C. and flew to Istanbul, Turkey. She knew no one in Istanbul. She did not have a place to stay, nor did she have a job waiting on her.
A thick down comforter of gray clouds pressed against the morning sky. The fringe along the eastern edge of the clouds was the color of July peaches.
Before sunrise late last week, I had come outside, coffee in hand, to admire the explosion of yellow swamp sunflowers in our otherwise fading backyard. The sunflowers are perennials that grow and grow -- some are as tall as 12-feet -- and you wonder if they will ever bloom.
"Oh the places you'll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all."
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Thanks to a soccer-playing granddaughter I have a new Tuesday/Thursday afternoon ritual.
"Now, that's somebody y'all need to do a story on."
Mike Perkerson was standing behind the counter of his family's hardware store on Military Road. He was nodding in the direction of a man outside his front door standing next to a motorized bicycle.
After several unsuccessful tries to reach him by phone, I caught up with Dick Mahoney in his wife's beauty shop Friday morning. Dick is a baseball fan par excellence ... of the Red Sox variety. I figured he, if anyone in these parts, would have had contact with the recently departed and much beloved New York Yankees catcher, coach and sage, Lawrence Peter Berra.
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