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Out On The Mudline

Chemistry Not Taken Just For The Fun Of It

By W. P. Sissell

I guess it’s bound to happen but sometimes we who write columns talk about the same people.  I, once in a while, read most of the other columns in the Herald. The last issue was one of those times. Along toward the end of Miss Betty’s column I found the name of one of my former students, Eileen File, whom Betty referred to as a great cook.

I knew Eileen as one of those students who make teachers look good.  Many years ago this young woman was in my chemistry class. chemistry is a course which few people take just for the fun of knowing chemistry. Eileen was a straight “A” student.  

In the first year of the nursing program at Methodist Hospital, Memphis, she and a friend (also a former student, Pam McMinn) stopped by the high school to visit their former classes. After a short visit to my chemistry class they left.

My students immediately besieged me with a volley of questions—that I could not answer. Stepping into the hallway I called the two young women, Eileen and Pam, back. They spent the remainder of that period answering questions about their nursing programs. Pam was in the Baptist Hospital program so the students got stories from the two programs.

Several years later, during my father’s final sickness, those two young ladies (now registered nurses) showed up one day at the hospital in Batesville. They were both on a visit home and wanted to sit with Dad that night. Most of the night was a lesson for us in how to care for a bed-ridden person. It is my hope that they both get to read this article so that I might be able to say “Thank you, Eileen and Pam,” once more.

In later years, while serving as Title One Coordinator for South Panola School District, my boss, Superintendent Mullins, hailed me from his office down the hall, “Bill, do you know an R.N. , Eileen File?” My immediate reply was, “Yes, and if she’s applying, hire her now!”

Twice in One Week

As I perused Mr. Cooper’s column relative to names of communities and railroad work “gangs” I found that he did not cover one of the several kinds of railroad work forces.

Many people know Miss Jo Bryan who worked at the entrance desk at the hospital in Oxford. Miss Jo’s husband Leden was a section foreman and I think that the story of the maintenance people of the railroad is incomplete without a mention of Leden’s kind of “gang.”

Leden’s home, especially during the work week was a special railroad car—it looked like a boxcar but was far different on the inside.  Mr. Bryan was quite a droll person—as he and Miss Jo shopped for a week’s supply of groceries, each with two carts, for their home and the railroad gang—a man commented, “Man, you folks must have a big family,” Leden replied, “Yep, I’ve got quite a gang.”

There was an occasion when Leden contacted me about hauling some cross ties.  He was working on replacing the ties on a siding in West Point and had many good used ties at a good price.  He knew that I was doing a lot of fencing at the time and offered to let me haul them on halves. Thinking that this was a pretty good deal I arrived at his weekday office—attached to his week-day home— at the appointed time of 7:30 a.m.

When I asked about Mr. Bryan I was told, very explicitly, that Mr. Bryan had not arisen and no one would dare to awaken him until 8:00.  In fact the cook told me that one of his duties was to see that Mr. Bryan was not disturbed—ever—before then!  Leden was awakened at 8:00 and we had breakfast together.

It appears that we are going to have another beautiful day.  Grandson Parker has most of the land around our houses cut and windrowed for baling—he’s trying to get a hundred count before he returns to Northwest on Monday.  

Nannette and I plan to go visit Bob and Mary Samuels next week. I may have trouble getting next week’s column in. Do have a good week.

You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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