Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Random North Mississippi Writings

Postings have been light because I've been out of town on business for a few days. I got to visit my favorite bookstore in a brief bit of fun and I found a couple of H.L. Mencken books for 75 cents apiece. They should make for some good reading and maybe even help me with my blogging. I'm also busy trying to finally put together a bunch of short stories I have written about the summers I spent as a kid in North Mississippi titled Under The Shadow Of Colonel Falkner in reference to William Faulkner's grandfather. So how about a random bit of my notes from this pursuit. A little backstory: I used to visit my grandmother every summer in Ripley, Mississippi. I also lived there for about a year when I was around kindergarten age. My grandmother didn't have a television, no air conditioning, and the bathtub didn't work. So everybody took turns bathing in a big tin bucket. It would be brought into the kitchen since the bathroom was too small. On with the brief snippet of notes:

When we'd get bored, there was always Grandma's photo album to look through. It was the same every year, except maybe there would be a baby picture of some new grandchild. The main reason to leaf through the thing was because of the funeral pictures of one of our cousins, a little girl that was run over in front of Grandma's house. There was page after page devoted to her. News clippings were also present, but the most macabre were the photos of her sweet face serene in her coffin. The adults would always admonish us to stay in the yard. We would end up like her if we played in the street. While they meant well, I never really listened to them. I was too busy being creeped out by the fact that they would take photos of a dead body.

We used to climb the trees in Grandma's yard. One tree was big enough for a gang of us to climb. We would dangle from a limb about 12 feet off the ground and dare ourselves to fall to earth. It took several minutes to work up the nerve, but we always did and we would tumble to the ground at the speed of gravity. We liked to call it taking the elevator. It was fun to climb, but ultimately not a challenge.

A maple tree on the side of the house provided the most fun. You could climb to the very top of this tree. I could barely get to the lowest reaches of it during the summer of the slingshot craze. I remember my older cousins going toward the top, spitting on us poor kids at the bottom. A year passed and it was a summer visit without cousins. It was just my bored self. So I learned to climb the maple. I was never as brave as my cousins when they were around, but I knew in my mind that I was just as good as they were. A few days into my visit I had gone higher in the tree then anybody before. I was just small enough to reach the very top with nothing but sky above. I tucked myself into a position where I believe I could have slept without fear of toppling out. I liked to imagine I was a barnstorming crop duster doing barrel rolls. I was so far up I could barely hear my mother call me into the house for supper. I would eat as fast as possible so I could escape the dreaded heat of the house so I could scamper back up the tree where the air was a little bit cooler. My soul would take a little hit the next year. The tree would be chopped when I came to visit again. It was like Boo Radley's father cementing the hole in the tree.

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