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.
Six days a week Doris Martin rises at 3 a.m., dresses and makes the five-minute drive from her home on Buck Egger Road in Caledonia to the Cal-Kola Express, a convenience store/gas station on Highway 45 not far from Columbus Air Force Base.
Martin arrives shortly after 4.
Here in the South hand-painted signs are among our most irresistible roadside attractions. The best of them exert a Siren-song pull on innocent motorists. Take for example the clutch of signs at the intersection of Highway 50 and Lone Oak Road just west of West Point.
Over the course of his long life, William Jacob Propst was a college athlete, World War II fighter pilot, professional baseball player, cattle farmer, insurance salesman ... and he played tennis.
Lately, I've been thinking about buying a digital camera, one with professional features. While I've taken plenty of pictures with point-and-shoot digitals, I've yet to fully embrace the trend that almost overnight relegated film to the same status as record albums.
Charlie Slayton had just come home with Chinese take-out for his wife when I got him on the phone Wednesday evening. A few days earlier, Charlie, a high school classmate, had emailed a suggestion on how to rid a house of fleas.
"I was told that taking a walnut branch and dragging it through the house and yard will repel fleas," wrote Charlie. "Something about walnuts they can't stand."
Sometimes, when driving, I listen to a learn-to-speak-French CD, one of those language programs where you repeat phrases spoken in French. One of the phrases is "Je ne parle pas anglais, je parle American" ("I don't speak English, I speak American.")
I smile every time I hear it, for it's certainly true. And then there is the matter of we in the South with our own lingua franca.
After the visitation I went home and made two tomato sandwiches.
There seemed something life affirming about eating tomatoes from your own garden in the heat of summer.
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