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Out On The Mudline

How Does A Bear Cross The River?

By W. P. Sissell

The Road

Although we might not think of the cutoff as being an old road, it was. This road  became a shorter way of getting to Taylor than crossing the bridge on Hwy. 7 and traveling west on Hwy. 328.  The distance across the floodway of old Yocona was narrower at this point and the old folks built the covered bridge in this narrow bottom. The dredging of the new Yocona canal created the need for the bridge that I talked about last week.    

There were, in the days when I became familiar with the road, only a very few houses on the road. Coming north on Hwy 7, after passing Anchor Church, there was a house and store building on the left of the highway at a crossroad. The buildings were the property of Dickey, Gardner, Brown, Renfro, and a couple of others whom we cannot remember. Past the store Charley Whitesides, one of the county road men, lived almost on the edge of the drop off into the bottom.  

The property on the north of the road was much more stable than that on the south side, except for the Whitesides’s home. It belonged to our friend Taylor Shaw who was noted as a cattleman. When he got this property, he astounded most people by planting first rate cotton land alongside the new canal in hay and other feed crops. He bought cattle yearly to use the hay produced.  

This is the man from whom we bought the cattle horse, “Doc” that I’ve written about before. “Doc”  knew the difference between a child and an adult rider.  One afternoon when Nannette and Susan were riding the horses Susan complained because her mount, “Topsy,” would walk only.  When Nannette swapped mounts and said,  as she got into the saddle, “Alright Doc, lets go to the house,” Doc did just that taking her to the stable door, at a full gallop.  

The Missing Tractor Again

Taylor Shaw received a call one day from the Mississippi Highway Patrol to ask if his Ford tractor was missing. It was winter and the tractor was parked in the barn most of the time. When he went to check on the tractor it was indeed missing. When he called the MHP they told him that the Indiana Highway Patrol had impounded a tractor west of Indianapolis, Ind., which, according to the serial number, had been sold to him. I don’t know the details of how he got that tractor home but I hope he did not have to pay a number of service charges as one of my son’s friends did before getting it back home.  

“Bar” On the Bridge     

In later years, after the removal of the old covered bridge, a relief bridge was placed in the levee between the Yocona bridge and the site of the old covered bridge. This relieved the pressure on the levee in flood conditions.  I had come to Taylor early one morning so that my mother could drive me home from the optician in Water Valley. Nannette was teaching and we knew that the optician would dilate my eyes and I would be an unsafe driver.  

As I crossed that new bridge I saw some movement and glanced up into my rear view mirror and there, in a bear trot I suppose, came a bear trotting across the cutoff levee bridge.

I told mother to look back quickly and she barely got a glimpse of that bear as it disappeared into the growth along the levee. I can see that animal, in my mind today. When Lee Rowsey told me several months ago about something causing his penned up yearlings to break an almost unbreakable fence—I saw that vision again and wondered if my bear was still roaming the hills along Yocona—but that was too long ago. It could be a descendent.

The first bridge on the north end of the levee was a covered bridge built in 1886 by Mr. Jim Bundren’s father (I misspelled this name last week—I apologize but my proof reader, Nannette, was absent).

Not too many people remember that old bridge today but Nannette, although she is very afraid of snakes, remembers going  to that bridge and fishing. She does have a picture of the bridge.  What a shame it succumbed to time and was torn down.  

The cutoff road ends when it joins Hwy. 328. There at that junction on the right side of the road is the home that my mother and father built when they had to move out of Enid Reservoir. That house was built on the site of the old Kimzey home by Dean Hill’s father Bennett Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Charley Kimzey bought the farm and built a home on the left side of the road.  

We hope that you enjoy these bits of nostalgia. We thank you for your compliments and interest. Our wish for you is a great week. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Hwy 6 – U S 278, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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