Out On The Mudline

Know How To Teach A Blue Racer To Chase You?

By W. P. Sissell


A Worthwhile Sunday Morning

Sunday morning a Water Vallian, Tom Byars, was the speaker at our United Methodist Men’s monthly meeting.  Tom’s hobby—theme in life—favorite thing to do—is destroy any organism that attacks the home of/or a fellow human being. Tom kept us close to the edge of our seats for almost an hour, primarily talking about termites.  If you know Tom you probably already know a great deal about termites. We really were enlightened and enjoyed his, we thought, excellent program.  

Reuel, Jr.

Last week I told you a few things about my older brother,  Reuel, Jr. and promised that I would bring you more. We, of the close family, called him Reuel.  He was eight years my senior and I think that I need to think of him as my mentor in many ways, or things.  

On the shelf in my closet there is his little pocket New Testament—I just went to assure myself that it is still there.  It is inscribed on the first page, in his bold and neat printing, Reuel Sissell, Jr., First Methodist Church, Water Valley, Miss. The Bible came home with his “things” after his death on a mine sweeper in Kobe, Japan Harbor.  The things I will relate to you will be my alive memories of him.  

Catch or Be Caught

Reuel and I (just a kid tagging along with big brother and probably in the way) were checking the fence along O’Tuckalofa Creek where it met the levee. Reuel had, just a few minutes before, as we walked along the fence, told me to watch for snakes for he often found some in this area.  Suddenly he put his hand on my shoulder as he said, “Look, there is a Blue Racer.     

What do you know about a Blue Racer?”  

I saw the snake but all I could think of was, “It’s a snake.”  He replied, “You watch, I’m “gonna” make him run.”  As he finished the statement he suddenly took a fast step or two toward the Racer and then began running.  The snake fled and I realized where his common name came from but there’s more.  

Suddenly Reuel stopped running and stood very still.  That Blue Racer stopped, raised his head above the grass and started back toward Reuel. As he came toward him, Reuel,  slowly at first and then increasing his pace, got up to a slow run.  The snake was chasing him.  

I saw a somewhat like action a number of years later involving my wife, Nannette and a pair of Blue Racers in our garden.  When I arrived at the garden in answer to her scream a pair of racers were looking at her over the top of the grass next to our beans.  

By the time we stopped playing with the snakes we were at the entrance to the “Swinging Bridge” that my Dad had built to eliminate wading  the creek at the ford.  We got into the pasture at the bridge entrance to get behind the cows and take them to the barn for the evening milking.      On the way Reuel told me that he and the boys, meaning Frank Jr., and James Landtrip, and Russell Wright, were going swimming the next day down on Yocona.  I could go with them if Momma would let me go.  As we brought the cows to the barn, we stopped by the Black Cherry tree to eat a bait of cherries.  

Momma did agree but that’s another story. This little boy was going to have one great time tomorrow for he was going out with the big boys at big brother’s invitation!  

I might add that several of us have been talking about another Camp Ground Reunion.  Talking is all that we’ve gotten done to date. We thank you for all your encouragements and hope for you a great week.  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, wsissell@bellsouth.net or 662-563-9879.

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