On The Mudline

Bill SIssell

Farm Dealing Brought Lifelong Friends

Once in a while I am asked the question—“How do you know and remember so many people.” Today my usual answer is that I’ve been around a long time.  But then there is that great pool of people who have been my former students.

When we met one of those former students recently the question just popped out, ”Mr. and Mrs. Sissell, you mean you are still living?”

You might think that a former teacher who for many years spent some five hours per day talking to people—they were a captive audience most of the time—would not  say that he was a good listener—but I was.  Once I was invited by one of the school principals to come to his school for a few minutes—he wanted me to visit a young teacher’s classroom with him.

As we entered the classroom he let the young teacher know that we just wanted to listen.  One young man  was sitting with his head on his arm as if he was taking a nap. In her lecture she asked that student a question about what she had just related.  Without hesitation, the young fellow answered correctly. The lady had her students attention, she was a good story teller and he was a good listener.

Sometimes we just need to listen. In last week’s article I purposely omitted referring to a couple of friends that I gained on those trips to the South Memphis Stockyards.  As I moved around the alleys of the yards I met a number of the workers. It didn’t take long to get to know “Doc” Carter.  Dad used the Burnett Carter Commission Company to sell his stock and Dr. Carter, a veterinarian,  was the hog man of the company.

Dr Carter had two sons who usually were there on other than school days. The boys, George and Billy became my friends.  Because of the acquaintance, I found out that they had a farm in the vicinity of Winona where about the only crop grown was corn. Their corn crop was totally “hogged down.”  Since their dad had the opportunity, because of his continued contact with people who brought good and poor gainer pigs in for sale, they gathered their corn crop with purchased feeder pigs.

I always thought their system was unique.  At the farm they had a closed bed truck fitted with wire about six inches apart around the inside of the bed.  They backed their loaded pig truck up to the wired truck and plugged the fence charger into the socket.  The boy’s job was sitting on the side planks and being sure that every pig found out that that wire was bad news. 

In the corn field the feeding was controlled by like electrified wires fastened to corn stalks for posts.  Just take a twenty penny nail, slide it through an insulator and a corn stalk and attach the wire to the insulator.  It worked like a charm as long as the wire was moved over to enclose fresh rows of corn at regular intervals. They sold their corn for several dollars a bushel rather than fifty cents or a dollar.  

Can you imagine my surprise when, sitting in a class at Mississippi State as the roll was being called I heard the professor say,  “ Mr. George Carter.”  Yes it was the same George Carter and his younger brother was there too.

Many years later I called the yards and got a truck to come pick up a load of calves.  When the calves were being unloaded, there stood George Carter, the cattle man for Burnett Carter.  George told me that because I called ahead he knew what was coming,  had several special buyers there. 

Many years later, after my son got into the cattle business, we found out that the South Memphis Stockyard was being opened again but as an auction.     We had met the man who was opening the yard at the sale at Pontotoc. In a conversation, he asked us about bringing cattle to the old yards but never told us who was actually managing the business. 

Since the distance was about the same and disregarding the traffic we took a load to his sale.  As we walked around in the alleyways who did we run into—George Carter.  Their sale only stayed a couple of years before it was discontinued.  George told me about his brother but  that was a long time ago. I know that I could probably pick up the phone and my friend, George, would be there if I needed him.  There are others too. 

One, in the cattle business  in Montgomery, Alabama or probably retired now calls occasionally. He was always the wheeler-dealer of our bunch. 

We hope that you have had a  good week.  I’ve spent the last day and one half planing  (yes a landplane)  the field across the highway  from our house.  It has been a long time since I rode a tractor that long without a break—that little tractor that I bought from Mr. Bill Trusty in the 70’s is still running fine even if it did get struck by lightning—we think. 

You can always get in touch with me at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or and note the new e-mail, wsissell@bellsouth.net.

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