Sunday afternoon, a week ago, the idea entered my head I should ride over to Gordo and look in on Glenn House and Kathy Fetters.
It was Hemingway, I think, who said the best early training for a writer is an unhappy childhood. While I expect there is some truth to Papa's observation, it is not the training regimen any of us would choose for ourselves or our offspring.
When our almost 8-year-old grandson, Benjamin, announces he's ready to go to Dudy Noble, he initiates a time-honored sequence of events. He goes and gets a metal bat and a small cloth bag containing six to 10 worn-out tennis balls, and I begin looking for my shoes.
Wednesday in the aisles of Kroger I ran into a high school friend I had not seen in years, Joey Hendrix. As a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, Joey's career included postings in Vicksburg, Baghdad and New Orleans. He is now retired and has come home to take care of his mother, who lives in New Hope.
Mr. Mayor, do you have any idea what effect your actions Wednesday have had on the people of Columbus?
You are the face of Columbus. Friday your face appeared in the state's largest newspaper under a headline proclaiming you had given yourself a $10,000 raise after a discussion of the city's budget deficit.
Donna Grant deserves a byline on today's column.
Several weeks ago someone mentioned Al Puckett had been named distinguished hospital trustee of the year for the state and wondered why it hadn't been in the paper.
When it started raining I walked down off the railroad tracks through briars into a dense stand of sweet gum. This will be just fine. Just like the deer I had seen near the trestle would likely do, I'll wait out the storm here under the trees.
It was 94 degrees in the shade, a scorcher of a Saturday afternoon. Slim Smith and I were standing in the alleyway behind The Dispatch talking about the next day's paper, taking refuge in what little shade there was.
Everywhere you go there is the South. The woman at the motel desk this morning in Effingham grew up in New Orleans. Her late husband was from Alabama. Her great granddad was governor of the state of Louisiana, Gov. Nicholls. Julia Street, where you find many of New Orleans' art galleries, was named after her grandmother. (There is a Gov. Nicholls Street -- and wharf -- at the downriver end of the French Quarter.)
When Melchie Koonce was growing up in Stuttgart, Arkansas, he worked summers with his brother-in-law opening and closing floodgates in rice patties. The mosquitoes were so thick the boys wore nets over their heads while they worked. To combat boredom one of them came up with the idea of seeing who could catch the most snakes. They would grab the snakes and throw them into croaker sacks.
"A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody."
In case you missed it ...
This past week our city council did something utterly stupid and repressive. It placed onerous restrictions on its public-input policy. Before Tuesday evening any citizen who wished to address the council on any topic simply had to show up and put his name on the list to speak.
A friend, who by day is a buttoned-down lawyer, has for years driven a pickup truck. He's not the only person in that line of work to do so. Last time I checked, our D.A. drove a Toyota Tacoma. I suspect the truck for these guys is an antidote for long hours reading tedious legal briefs or time spent in the bowels of the courthouse doing title searches.
In the spring Columbus residents quietly and with little fanfare transform their town into an oversized botanical garden.
Elbert came in the back door shaking his head. "You ought to go see that cabbage; it's as big as a tire." Elbert Ellis is the maintenance person here at The Dispatch. He doesn't get excited easily.
"Down at the Shell station," he said, pointing east.
Some stories are so tender, so close to the bone, so rich in human emotion, the teller entrusted with them feels daunted by the responsibility that goes with the retelling. This is one such story.
By any measure Lee Frederick was a brilliant child. Brilliance, in most cases, comes with obsessiveness. Lee had plenty of that too.
Thursday afternoon son John and I attended the Eighth of May observance at Historic Sandfield Cemetery. There Chuck Yarborough and his Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students presented a Tales-from-the-Crypt-style performance, complete with gospel music and visitations by the African American luminaries buried there.
By 10 o'clock Tuesday morning Bobby Ray had almost finished picking up storm debris in his yard on Tabernacle Road when neighbor Ricky Ward showed up. The two are old friends, their friendship rooted in their shared passion for dirt-track racing.
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