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Out On The Mudline

Elevator Man Is One Of Water Valley’s Own

A Visitor

As I worked at the computer I heard our dog “Pug”, at the front door, announcing that a strange vehicle with a strange human attached had driven up to out front door.  Pug has a special bark—one which includes a partial growl—to make us aware of the situation.  

This time the person alighting from the vehicle was only a stranger to Pug, not us.  We were being favored with a visit from our good, young friend, Billy Ray Stribling.  

I have told you several stories about this young man’s family, especially his father.  Go back to the dredge boat stories.  Most of those came from Billy Ray’s father, Joe, who worked for and on the dredge boat as a young man.  Joe worked for my father as I grew up so he had a part in raising me. When we  moved to the delta farm, Dry Bayou, Joe and family including a brother Mitch, went with us.  

Although this is not Billy Ray’s first visit since we moved to our present location, this time he seemed to be in less of a hurry than usual.  Nannette and I feel close to Joe and Lovie’s children. Mom and Dad are gone now and they call us once in a while—we keep in touch.  

I think our first conversation was telling us about his older sister’s condition.  We knew that she had been in failing health some months ago but now is, hopefully, regaining a stable situation.  Next he told us a lot about brother Bobby Joe who now lives back in Water Valley—in the Sylva Rena area and works in Grenada.  

Next he told us about his son’s very successful ventures.  After that he talked about himself. Nannette and I had heard some of his story—for we kept up with him as he went thru Northwest Junior College. This time he got into his job with Dover (then) Elevator.  

Take A Test?

Someone (and I’ll just leave it at that) told him that he would never find a really good job if he stayed in Water Valley. The teller had a job in Jackson and persuaded Billy Ray to go there. On the first day in Jackson, after putting applications in at the employment office, someone asked him to accompany them to the place where Dover Elevator was taking applications in the form of a multi-paged test.  When he asked the person in charge about taking the test he got an affirmative answer.  

About 45 minutes after getting the test he had finished.  When he looked around the room he could see that most of the people were on pages one or two.  This disturbed him a little so he ran through his paper again.  Satisfied, he handed the paper in and asked about how long it would be before he heard from Dover.  The people told him that the papers would be sent to Dallas, Texas for grading.  He had given a Water Valley phone number along with a Jackson number, knowing that he had to be back in Water Valley to go to work the next morning.  

Later that afternoon, before he left for Water Valley, there was a phone call for him.  Could he come back to the place where he took the test immediately? Of course the answer was yes.                     When he arrived—there were several people there to talk to him—“Can you go to work tomorrow?”

“The only clothes I have with me are these I have on.”  “By the way, how much does the work pay?”  

“$5.00 per hour.”  

“Yes, just tell me where to go and at what time.  I’ll go buy me some work clothes!”  “I’ll have to go home Saturday and resign from my job there.”  

Billy Ray got about as excited relating this as he was that day, now long in the past.  He did not use even a mild expletive. This he got from his dad, Joe Flavius Stribling.  

Fruits of Good Labor

By my “exact time, radio controlled watch” in almost three minutes the football will be kicked off at the stadium in Oxford, Ole Miss, to be precise.  If you could look up in one of those “Sky Boxes” you would see Billy Ray Stribling and a couple of his cohorts.  They are on duty – in case of elevator trouble.  That “Sky Box” is reserved for them.  Billy Ray Stribling is one of the “mainest elevator fixin’ men” at that elevator company.  It’s not Dover any longer for Billy Ray says that some company, he thinks, from Stuttgart, Germany, bought Dover.  

He’s one of your own, Water Valley—as another one said—just a little “ole redneck country boy” whose ancestors lived out on the road that was called the Mud Line.  I dedicate this article to Joe Flavius and Lovie Greer Stribling.

Thank you for your many compliments—Do have a good week!  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606. My email address is  or 662-563-9879.

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