Out On The Mudline

An Early Industry

One of the things that communities strive for is a year-round monthly income for their citizens.  Many years ago, and there is a lot of history about this, the railroad was important in this respect.  

Many people were employed there and  many Water Valley families are descendants of those people.  There are many tools that keep hanging around. Examples; a drift chisel in our farm tool box has ICRR stamped into its side; there is a giant pry bar, once used to pull railroad spikes (another one is fashioned from a buggy axle).  

In my son’s and grandson’s shop you will find an anvil (minus the usual horn) that has ICRR stamped on the bottom.  Without the horn, that anvil weighs 80 pounds. It has been a part of our farm shop all my many years.  Yes, I can sharpen plows etc. the hard way. Dad probably paid fifty cents, or so, at a sale of broken tools.  

If you look closely in one of the storage sheds you will find a ten-gallon milk can with the number 46 painted on the shoulder.  That is the number assigned to William Parks Sissell at the Kraft Cheese Company Plant in Water Valley.

My father’s number was 26 and although I should have many cans with 26 painted thereon – they are all gone.  My father’s daily shipment was between six and ten cans.  As I recall, however, those cans probably went with the milking machine, can cart and other miscellaneous items when the dairy herd was sold (note that milking machine—that’s what they replaced me with when I went into the service—that’s my story only).

Those two businesses put much money into the hands of the citizens of  Yalobusha County – for a long time.  Now both are gone, but not completely forgotten.  As I grew, Mother and Dad allowed me to have my herd, within theirs.  My first one was a cow that I named “Boots” because of her leg markings.      

One of my chores—that’s jobs that you attend to daily without prompting—was feeding the calves.  Not many months ago a young woman in Batesville asked if I knew anything about feeding calves.  When I told her I was an expert she looked at me skeptically, but listened intently.  When she tried my instructions, she was amazed at the ease with which she accomplished a job that her husband hated (they only knew me as a chemistry teacher).  

My dairying income when I entered the service was something like three times my service income.   

Many of you who read this know that I cannot go very far without mentioning Mr. Frank Tucker who served as Kraft’s field man for the scattered group of farmers who produced the milk which the cheese plant processed.  

Mr. Tucker was our personal friend, and liable to show up at any time.  He could tell you all kind of things about what went on inside that plant as well as tell some good stories – especially about his travels.  On an occasion when he had to make a meeting in Greenwood, he lamented the fact that a highway patrolman gave him a ticket for running the stop sign at the intersection of highways 82 and 7—saying that nothing was coming so he “just eased through.”  The patrolman spelled S-T-O-P and said,  “That does not mean ‘ease through.’”

 Thanks for all the encouraging remarks.  Our wish for you is a great week—I hope it will rain on you, too.  It’s getting dry again.  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or wsissell@bellsouth.net.

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