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.
Maybe there is something to that old saying, "The good guys wear white hats."
On a recent Saturday about 40 beekeepers stood in the twilight on a cement pad outside a metal farm building in south Noxubee County.
Friday afternoon at 6:30 I was standing in front of Shattuck Hall on The W campus watching honeybees fly in and out of a Corinthian column.
Kenny Lang, who pedals his bicycle around Southside relentlessly and who could do voice-overs for Disney's "Song of the South," was watering his garden on Thursday, the first day of spring. Kenny is cultivating a sliver of earth near the intersection of South Fifth Street and 16th Avenue. He was using two plastic soft drink bottles to sprinkle his Georgia collards, kale and onions.
On March 1 Louie Little left Germantown, Tenn., on a bicycle pulling a trailer filled with musical equipment and a Jack Russell terrier named Sprocket.
Not everyday do you run up on someone who has crawled into a bear's den, roused its hibernating inhabitant, jabbed him with a sharp stick ... and lived to tell about it. Craig Jamison is one such person, and if you were among the 800 or so folks at the wild game dinner at Fairview Baptist Thursday night, you heard his story.
As Jeff Shepherd was pulling out of the parking lot of Columbus Inn and Suites Friday, he stopped his red Ford F-150, rolled down the window and shook his head. "You better be careful what you ask for," he said. "I told Lou Anne I wanted a red-hot Valentine, and I got this."
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