Out On The Mudline

Still Not Really Lost, Just More Misplaced

By W. P. Sissell

A Little Figuring

If I put the figures to last weeks article I hope that you will realize that when I was getting to go on those basketball trips I was a pre-teenager. I did not know the roads and country because I didn’t drive them.  

Just recently I carried a man to a house in Taylor. When he started to get in on the passenger side of my vehicle I said, “Whoa—you drive, I will give you directions.”  This pleased him for he did not know the way to Taylor but realized that if he drove he would/could make landmarks in his mind.

Friend Lee Rowsey said I lost him in the description of where we traveled. I do not think that I ever admitted to him that I lost myself in my first writing—what you got was a third trial.

In our moving to the delta most of my trips were down the Mudline to the Will Austin Levee—across the river—then westward to Rocky Point road where we intersected the Pope—Water Valley road.

My Memory Pegs

As I grew up, just across the O’tuckalofa Creek bridge, I knew that if I followed that road westward I would, if I made the right turns, get to Batesville. Sometimes I was allowed to go with Dad when he carried a load of hogs to Memphis. This was some kind of a treat for me for I got to eat at the Stockyards cafe and you could see the big river from the unloading dock.

I knew that if I did not turn left just after passing over the old and the new Yocona  River bridges and past Jug Lake I would wind up at McCullar’s store near the old covered bridge (Prophet Bridge). When you turned left you were passing Bynum Ridge where my Dad had told me about the Union soldiers names scratched into the enormous sand rocks (in a recent conversation with Frank West he reminded me that he found them years ago).

Most of those rocks have been destroyed several years ago although I had copies of orders to the union commander there from the records. I left these with the custodian at the railroad station.

If Henry happened to follow that path he could have passed near where Kelly Tidwell once lived. If he turned right on the county road there (Hwy. 328) and gone to Taylor or crossed the Dallas Jones Crossing (over Yocona River) and been very close to Camp Ground and his home.

There were two bridges on Bynum Creek, a new steel bridge and an old concrete bridge. That concrete bridge is still there, or was a few years back.  The side walls are about  (as I remember) three feet thick.  My Dad was working for Will Wilbourn’s bridge building company when that bridge was poured. It may be covered over with sediment by now.  

If Henry followed this route he surely would have recognized some feature of the country and realized that he might be covering ground he had already traveled. We did get home a little later than expected and most of us, with the exception of Henry, had gotten some sleep.

One More Peg

One of my ID points on the Eureka Road (The one time Batesville-Water Valley Road) is the point where it once ran close to the bank of  a creek (I’m  not sure but I think it was Long Creek). For almost the entire first semester that my brother, Reuel, Jr. attended Northwest Junior College, he and his fellow mechanic friend worked on the old Oldsmobile Coupe that Grand Daddy Sissell had given him. Finally they got it to the point that they thought it would carry Reuel back to school.  

He, along with a couple of buddies (also students at NWJC) left early. Along the road by that creek he had a flat which pulled the car off the road. It wound up wedged between a couple of willow trees which would require some maneuvering to remove the car. Now this was the day when having a car on campus or even in high school was not a given right. It was a busy season and Dad left that car between the trees until Reuel could remove it.

I started this memory because of what Reuel, Jr. and Russell Wright became. Reuel, Jr. joined the Navy after his two years at NWJC. He became a Chief Petty Officer, Machinist Mate.  Russell became an aircraft mechanic in the air force.  When he got out of service he became the transmission expert at a business in Clarksdale.

They were growing up as the automobile became “the thing” of the world—or one of them.  

They loved to see what made a motor tick.  They taught me to swim just down below the Will Austin Levee—they tricked me into jumping in water over my head—been swimming every since.

I think we had five rain free days in September—even got .40 inch the night of the first of October.  This is my time of the year—I used to be the “carry it to the gin” man and worked night and day-sleeping in the cotton whenever I got the chance.

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

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