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Out On The Mudline

Load Of Melons Takes Swim In River

By W. P. Sissell

The Cutoff Bridge

I was a little late for my date with Nannette and was taking the cut off road from Hwy. 7 to the then Taylor Road (now Hwy 328). As I approached the bridge over the new Yocona canal, I knew to be careful for the bridge was a story in itself. The main section of the bridge was elevated about six feet and a ramp led up to that section on either side of the canal. I could see no dust so I was fairly certain that there was no traffic approaching from the north side.

I made the crossing without difficulty and was on my way to the old covered bridge. Just before I got to that old bridge I recognized the truck emerging from it as that of Mr. Bill Tatum and waved to him as we met. Mr. Tatum was quite a fellow. I had gotten to know him as he hauled about half the corn we gathered on the Otuckalofa place to Humphrey’s Mill in Memphis. This time, I noticed in my rear view mirror, he had a load of watermelons.

My mind went back to the old covered bridge that spanned the old Yocona run. The latticed timbers all pegged together had seen many things in their day. I had been introduced to Mr. Jim Bundron who as a boy helped whittle those pegs that held the bridge together.

Our daughter Susan has one of our family treasures, a rolling pin made by Mr. Bundron. Susan impressed her class on day as she told them about her ride to Taylor in the grain hopper of our combine. When the cutoff road was accepted as a part of the Farm to Market system, the old bridge was torn down.

The Alarm

As I got out of my pickup (a wartime built vehicle with all plastic ornaments), a 1946 Dodge Dad had purchased from Jimmy Wilbourn and given to me, someone turned into the Shipp’s driveway with gravel flying and horn blowing. Once we got the young man calmed down a little he told us that the Yocona bridge center span had fallen in—with Mr. Tatum.

Nannette made a few phone calls—her Dad, Mr. Shipp—and the Supervisor had to be notified at once but he was at the Union Church attending a revival service. Two of the county work force lived close by that church and we could notify them of the accident. Nannette and I left immediately for Union Church to tell her father. When we arrived there and interrupted the service (we did not know how Mr. Tatum had fared in the incident) they accepted our apologies graciously and we left with Mr. and Mrs. Shipp.

It turned out that Mr. Tatum was not seriously injured and I think that he got another truck. I really do not know about the new truck but I hope that if he did he got one with one of the new type heaters. Many of you do not remember when heaters (and air conditioning) were not standard equipment on vehicles. My dodge did not have air but it had “wind wings” at the front edge of the windows and we bought scoops to clip onto those wings—these directed the bugs that sometimes got scooped into the cab toward the floor (have you ever had a dazed bumble bee in the cab with you)? When Mr. Tatum was hauling that corn his heater was a lit coal oil lantern and a robe across his legs.

How’s that for an eventful date. Life’s been like that for a lot of our sixty four years.

I was sorry to see about the death of Mr. Steele in last week’s paper. I did my practice teaching in his school under D. R. Roberts. When I finished that stint, Mr. Steele put a note in the file telling his successor to call me when they needed a second science teacher at Batesville—now South Panola. They did. I can hear Mr. Steele now—”boys, it’s too quiet—watch the halls—be on the alert—it’s just too quiet.” He was usually right. I worked along with D. R. Roberts as his successor’s assistant principal for a number of years.

Do have a great week—this is my favorite time of the year although I do not particularly like the cold that is attached. It was much colder that winter I spent in Europe during World War II although it was mild for them. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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