As I See It

Machete, Ole Miss in 1962: A Close Call

   Thanks for the comments I received on my boyhood adventures. And yes, I did in fact go to school. I attended Sarepta School until I was in the eighth grade and was transferred to Bruce at the beginning of my eighth grade year. The school at Sarepta had become so small that there were no alternatives but to consolidate it with Bruce although it did cause a few battles. It definitely was the best thing to do for the good of the students and I am thankful for my years at Sarepta and at Bruce.

   When I was in the 9th grade all boys had to take Agriculture whether or not you wanted to or not. I preferred a science class but I like all the 9th grade boys took agriculture. Mr. W. D. Guest was the Agriculture teacher and was a good teacher but it is difficult to motivate students who did not want to be in the class. We had a unit of study on poultry judging. While we had chickens on the farm I did not like them one bit and hated the unit on poultry judging. After the unit was complete Mr. Guest took some of the boys to Mississippi State University to a poultry judging contest. He choose me as part of the team!! This was one big mistake. None of us wanted to be on the team. At the end of the contest our team was successful in rating all the hens in reverse. In other words we rated the worse hen as number 1 and the best hen ranked last. Mr. Guest promised never to take our team out of the county again which suited me just fine.

   My one successful project in the Ag class was a machete made from an old cross cut saw. It was a great machete and was excellent in cutting canes to use for fishing at night on the Yocona River. It got plenty of use for several years but almost got me into big trouble!

   In September, 1962, I was serving the Pittsboro United Methodist Charge as a student pastor (45 years later I am serving this charge as a retiree) and attending The University of Mississippi. On Sunday, September 30, 1962 at 5 P.M. I was returning from Memphis when all traffic stopped at the entrance of Ole Miss. Suddenly Federal Marshals were everywhere and army planes roared above us. James Meredith had just been escorted onto campus by Federal Marshals. I knew then that trouble was brewing and so my parents, who were with me, and I finally cleared the area and went home as fast as possible. On that Sunday night 16,000 troops had moved in to Oxford. My Church members begged me not to attend classes the following morning but I was working hard to finish my BS Degree and felt I could not afford to miss class.

   The next morning, October 1, 1962, I made my way from Pittsboro to Oxford. As I approached Oxford I thought about having to get clearance from the troops and then a terrible thought came to me. My prized machete was in the trunk of my car where it stayed! I knew without doubt it could not remain there or else I would be placed in the prison compound. I stopped, got the machete and threw it into the woods as far as I could throw. I never recovered it.

   I did not want to take the Ag class to begin with.

“Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM Churches in Calhoun County. He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: billymc@tycom.net)

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