There are those times when the pain subsides and the fog lifts for awhile. For me, it usually has to do with some word from a small Texas town where I did my growing up.
This week I got a letter from my friend, Rufus Potter, from Joshaway, where his family still owns the Hay and Grain Store. Rufus never quite finished grade school but has made a fine business owner; honest and hard-working.
He sent me this newsy letter, which I reprint much as I got it (expletives deleted).
Wall, it is Christmas time again here in Joshaway. I went out the County Road, took the Farm and Market down to the gravel and cut over the field to the dirt road to pick up Meemaw and Peepaw for the Joshaway Big Buck Contest Award Presentation and Christmas Parade. Meemaw was sick with the blue appazoody’s last year, so did not wish to miss this year. She was slow gittin ready but then had her a good chaw and was loaded for bear.
Wall, the parade route was almost a block long this year, so one of our biggest. Mayor Grimmley announced he won the Big Buck Contest again this year with a ten pointer, which Ethel Holloway said he was doin about fifty when he hit it last August and froze it down to the school cafeteria freezer but no one ever proved it and he took the prize.
The junior hi and hi school bands led out, twelve horns now and a drummer playin the school fight song, or maybe it was the national anthem, we couldnt be sure which it was but it was good and everyone stood quiet while the band passed, just to be sure.
The Home School float came next. They had their kids sitting on hay bales on a trailer, readin some magazines by lamp lite but we figured they wuz just showing off for the public school kids.
The Nascar club from down to Mac’s Repair shop had a float but they kept turnin left and was soon out of sight behind the gin. We heard someone got up under em and put em into the wall but we caint be sure yet.
The Old Hippies Head Shop and Health Food Emporium had a float. The Police Association put their float right in behind em and kept pullin the hippies float over but we finally decided it was just for show and a good laugh was had by all.
Mayor Grimmley stepped in some horsemess left by his wife’s old nag but that aint the way the paper reported it.
The church floats was pretty disorganized this year.
The Episcopalians pick-up would not start and the Methodists had to jump them off but our Episcopalian Church is affirmin and acceptin, so the Methodists did not want to get too close. It took several tries to get them charged up. The Escipals, I mean.
The Church of Christ wasnt there, of course, nor nine of the baptist churches that had split and withdrew fellowship but that still left the other twelve baptist churches and they done pretty good.
The paper mache on the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Center for Holyness (you know the one, they have that big sign, and their buildin used to be the Piggly Wiggly) float caught fire and melted down their plastic baby Jesus somethin awful. I think it was Mayor Grimmley’s cigar that caught em afire while he was hoppin along tryin to get the horsemess off his shoes but his wife, Mizz Grimmley, she is the pastor over to the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Center for Holyness church and she said it was the Holy Ghost come down, though I cant tell you why the Holy Ghost would set fire to the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship Center for Holyness float and melt down their plastic baby Jesus they use every year. However, Mizz Grimmley has took correspondence Bible lessons from their big school in Centralia, Missouri and some cosmetology, so I guess she knows the Holy Ghost when sees Him.
Wall, that was about the whole shebang, cept for Santa, who came last as always. Old Mister Green was Santa again, for he needs the least paddin. Poor old fellow, he fell off the back of the sleigh last year, broke his tail bone and now has to ride everwhere on a big air cushion. He dont miss though and was here for the whole thang.
Wall, I don’t know much more to say. I guess you think we’s all a bunch of redneck hayseeds down here now and most would agree. I guess we aint got much culture, cept our own, and it is more than good enough for us. I noticed all in the crowd stood up straighter when the flag went by and called out to Mr. Pettijohn who rode with the Sheriff’s Posse, you know he lost his boy in Iraq last summer. Most was dabbin at their eyes went he went by and I got a lump in my craw too.
We kept that old bench in front of the post office, you know, the one the colored folks had to sit on when they transfered buses here. Ya remember, in the hottest summer and coldest winter and the wettest spring, they had to stay fixed right near that bench while they waited for the next bus to come. A lots of folks wanted to git rid of that bench but I made a fuss and we kept it.
I guess I’m wrong about that too and that’s why I am just an old bachlor livin in a double wide but, ya know, I dont want us to jest ferget. I think we ought to get a reminder every time we look at that old bench in the middle of town, in front of the post office, just under the big flag. We ought to remember where we wuz just flat wrong. We ought to take mind of it.
The bus dont stop here no more but the bench is there and I look at it whenever I open the store. We have a lot of makin up to do.
We fixed it up some. I saw an old negra man settin on it with a big smile on his face durin the parade. He got up and walked up and down the side walk now, not stuck to that bench like in the old days.
We’re white and black and brown and yeller here now, like everybody. We’re better for it and we know it. We didnt go anywhere for a hundred years an then the last fifty we moved from hell to heaven, or in the same area, anyways.
Ain’t nobody here fancy ner famous, I know, but we still dont lock our winders at night or our doors when we leave durin the day. I wuz born here and guess I will die here and all of that is alright with me. They aint much like a small town Christmas.
Hope you can get down this way before long. We got some fish that aint been caught yet.
Me, too, Rufus. Me too.