Long Ago Neighbors
In most of the years that we lived on the Mud Line we could anticipate Mr. Noel Johnson coming down through the place (then called the Cottoner Place) in his wagon every Friday on his way to town.
At one time, in the summer months, he had Jimmy Ware with him – Jimmy worked for Johnson in the summer for several years and Mr. Johnson carried him home for the weekend on Friday or Saturday. I think this went on until Jimmy and a friend saved enough money to pay five dollars for a Model T.
When I started to school the older Johnson daughter, Rachael, was starting to high school. The Johnsons made arrangements for Rachael to stay with someone in town during the week and ride the bus to our stop on Friday afternoon. I already knew Rachael as a neighbor and thought she was about the prettiest girl I had ever seen.
When I found out that she was going to ride our bus I made certain that I saved a seat for her every Friday afternoon. Several years ago, I, in an article, told you about my first girl friend. One Friday afternoon Rachael and sister, Betty Sue, told me to come half way up the road to their gap after we got home for they had a gift for me. The gift was a Collie puppy, offspring of Mr. Johnson’s dog Jerry, who would go and bring a named horse to the stable. I named my dog Mickey and have written about his capabilities several times.
Rachael finished high school and then Mississippi College. She began teaching in south Mississippi, but things were to change for her. She moved to Raleigh, Mississippi and began working for a factory. Through the years we have kept in contact.
Rachael Captures a County
Yesterday, in the mail, I got a letter from Rachael’s younger sister, Betty Sue, telling me that Rachael passed away June 9, 2007 at the age of 91. Rachael had not been idle all these years.
In the years after retirement several of us worked, often delivering and picking up school buses for a friend here in Batesville. Several of those trips were deliveries to Raleigh, in Smith County, where Rachael had lived and worked most of here adult life as personnel director for a factory. On a visit, she told Nannette and I that when she came to Raleigh, the central highway was flanked by gullies. That is not the case today. .
I think that there were few in Raleigh, Mississippi who didn’t know Miss Rachael and we might add the county to that. The Smith County school bus shop foreman, a very plain spoken individual, told me.
“She lives right over there,” pointing to a particular house and he followed with, “Most everybody in Smith County knows her and loves her.”
This Small World
In 1949 Nannette and I moved to a new farm in Quitman County, in Crowder. At that time, in the town of Crowder, if you said good morning Mr. or Mrs. Moore to everyone you met you would be right close to fifty-percent of the time. One of those Moores married a lady named Lottie Johnson who was kin to Miss Rachael. Lottie was from the Yocona area of Lafayette County.
In the middle fifties we moved to Panola County where we now reside. “As the crow flies” from our house—probably six miles, there is a Baptist church—Liberty Hill. The people there think of their founder as Reverend Johnson. I do not know whether Reverend Johnson was Noel Johnson’s brother or father. At any rate he rode his horse from the Robinson’s Mill area along the Mud Line, across Bynum, up Peter Brown Hill over to Liberty Hill to preach for those people on Sunday.
Her mother and father are buried in The Walker Cemetery near Water Valley, but Rachael lies at rest – beside a good friend in a cemetery close to Raleigh—where she wanted to be buried.
Everyone knew and loved her and she knew most of them.
Our prayer for you is that you have a good week. You can most always reach me at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.