Chapter Titles

Memories of Big Creek
Only Memories Are Left Now
God is Still Speaking
People and Their Personalities
Insulated From It All
At Peace With God and With Life
Business on Big Creek
Fishing on the Creek Banks
Who’s in Charge?
The Value of Character
Being Quiet and Resolute
At Wit’s End
A Woman’s Place
Front Porch Bonding
Expecting Too Much
Getting Rid of Garbage
Finding Time for Down Times
Poverty, Blues and Greatness
A Simpler Time
My Uncles and Their Booze
This Is the Day the Lord Has Made
An Audience With the Governor
Politics in Mississippi
Election Year Decisions
Cleaning the Hen House
Experiencing a Southern Funeral
Being Careful About Predictions
Together on Easter Sunday
We Called Him Big Daddy
There’s Always Sumpin’
Remembering Dad on Veteran’s Day
Babel, Babble and Babylon
Is It Faith or Farce?
Extremes in the Weather
Never Turn Your Back on a Goat
The Heart of Christmas
Enduring the Cold of Winter
Walking the Ditches
Washing the Dishes
Rescuing the Leftovers
Did You Ever Try Being Crazy?
Out of Place in the City
Southern Parodoxes
The Less Fortunate
Eating Soup From Wooden Bowls
Problems on the Party Line
The Sweet Taste of Dewberries
Hearing a Reminding Rooster
Harvesting the Pears
Hog Jowls and Black-Eyed Peas
Gathering Pecans for Christmas
It Don’t Make Sense
It’s All a Matter of Grace
Judgment Day at Big Creek
Common Folk With Uncommon Faith
Plain Vanilla, Please
He Was Larger Than Life
Leaving the Baby in the Barn
The Easter Parade
Mothers Do Things Like That!
Politicians and Promises
Being Politically Correct
Opening the Windows
Sundays and Families
When the Leaves Turned
Getting the Best of Us

Selected Quotes
Loving Life at Big Creek

I remember Easter’s Bible. Her favorite chair sat by the side of a pot-bellied stove in her front room. There was a table there, too, and a Bible on the table. The stove beat back the chill of winter. Her Bible beat back the trials of life. She was warmed by both. — "God is Still Speaking"

My grandparents were people who lived generally happy and contented lives. They were satisfied with their station in life. And as Jesus said, “having food and raiment” they were content. — "At Peace With God and With Life"

Easter lived alone. Since I had no other children my age with whom to play, she became a prized playmate and cherished friend. We talked, laughed, walked, worked and fished together. We built a relationship borne out of necessity. Together we avoided loneliness. To that extent the relationship between a white child and a black woman served a worthy purpose. — "Fishing on the Creek Banks"

When my mother was a young girl, granddaddy brought a calf home. She raised the poor thing as a pet. Unfortunately he had other ideas. Pets weren’t important to him. His family’s needs were all that mattered. The day came when the poor beast was slaughtered for meat for the family. To this day my mother will not eat beef. — "Expecting Too Much"

I paid little attention to the hens as a small child roaming the recesses of that backyard. I did shy away from the roosters. We had one especially aggressive bird that cornered me in a section of the backyard where I had no escape route. I had been inspecting the fig tree. Green figs were everywhere on the tree, and I was trying to decide when they would ripen. When I turned to leave that corner of the yard, I was confronted by this red and black devil. The feathers on his neck were raised menacingly. He was prancing and about to charge me. Having a 6-ounce Coke® in a glass bottle in my hand, I threw the bottle at the bird. The bottle flew straight and true and collided with a thud on the rooster’s head. He fell as if dead. — "Cleaning the Hen House"

Levi Lunceford’s flaws were easy to see. Other men, like Judas, managed to hide theirs from public inspection. Nevertheless, we are all flawed. Andy Rooney once said, “No one is perfect until you fall in love with them.” We did that with Big Daddy. I know we did, because we all cried when he died. — "We Called Him Big Daddy"

As I leaned over the top rail of the fence, suddenly and without warning, the goat attacked. I never heard him coming. He never made a sound. I was totally unaware of my peril until that goat struck me from behind, lifting me up and over the top rail. I fell in a startled heap on the outside of the fence. — "Never Turn Your Back on a Goat"

Having obtained and erected the tree, my grandfather was done. From that point on Christmas was my grandmother’s domain. My grandfather’s job was to stay out of her way, to keep all observations to himself, and to offer no suggestions for how anything might be done better. Apparently he had mastered these requirements from mistakes made in the first years of their marriage. — "The Heart of Christmas"

At Big Creek I went to bed each night listening to the cooing of the doves and rose each morning to the songs of a mockingbird. I knew how to pick cotton and hoe the fields. I hunted coons, quail and squirrels with my uncles. I ran trotlines in Big Creek. I fished for bream with Easter on the banks of the same creek. I shucked corn, snapped green beans, and shelled peas, pintos and butter beans on my grandmother’s front porch. — "The Less Fortunate"

I couldn’t believe that my grandfather could move so quickly. In a blur he retrieved the shotgun from his bedroom, ran to the back door, and out onto the back porch. My mother and grandmother were ushering the rest of us toward a bathroom that had a lock on the door. Before we could get there, we heard the shotgun blast coming from the back yard. — "Problems on the Party Line"

My grandmother produced a fine meal each New Year’s Day. Tradition was kept. Superstition was pacified. But to my grandfather there was another element more important. Each New Year’s Day before the lunch was served he voiced a prayer for the family. He was careful to thank God for the past year’s blessings. Occasionally he would give name to those blessings. And he would pray for the coming year asking God to continue to bless us all. — "Hog Jowls and Black-Eyed Peas"

Judgment day would occasionally arrive. This occurred when Maudie Dye had had enough. When that happened, she always grabbed me by an arm, squeezed tightly, and demanded, “Son, you go out front to the hedge bush and bring me a ‘king’ switch. And it had better be a good one!” — "Judgement Day at Big Creek"

To his family Eddie Dye was a larger-than-life figure of a man. He was feared, respected and loved. Even my father who enjoyed success and rank in the military referred to him publicly and privately as “Mr. Dye.” I never remember anyone calling him by his first name not even my grandmother. She always called him “Father” or “Grandfather.” — "He Was Larger Than Life"

Bet and I were both crying aloud. My mother pointed a finger in Bet’s face and said, “It will be worse next time if you ever lay a hand on Keith again!” Then she turned to me and said, “Young man, go to your room. I don’t want to hear anything else out of you tonight!” Mothers do things like that! — "Mothers Do Thinks Like That!"