Christmas Card From ‘Pudin’ Makes Holiday Bright
By W. P. Sissell
In the first houses we occupied on the place we owned in the delta, “Dry Bayou,” Joe had the honor of living closest to the road. Joe lived ten feet off the road on the south side of the barn and Nannette and I lived about twelve feet from the road at the north line of the farm. As soon as the main house was vacated Nannette and I would live closer to the Bayou and a little farther from the road than Joe, who like most of us, tried to accommodate anyone who had trouble on the road.
Late one afternoon one of our “further down the road” neighbors, pretty well drunk as usual, missed the bridge over Dry Bayou just to the east of Joe’s house. It was getting dark and the two men in the stalled vehicle were using some vile language in their requests for help.
Joe and Mitch (Joe’s brother) went to their aid. They knew who these folks were, but nothing about their reputation. With Joe’s and Mitch’s aid they got the car out of the ditch and into the road once again. When we told someone about the incident those who heard immediately asked, “Weren’t you afraid?” “Don’t you know that the last time someone helped those two they tried to cut their throat and we all now call him “Ole Throater?” You can be sure that although we tried to help him when he needed help we were very cautious in the helping.
The Big Ole Man
Another of our friends who worked land in the “Hurricane Bayou” area was Clint Turner. Although they lived almost on the north Quitman County line, the Turners rented a block of land south of us and travelled the road by our place daily. Our baby daughter, Susan, gave him a very descriptive (and accurate name), “Dat big ole fat man orta be shamed ridn in dat litl bity car” (Clint’s vehicle was a jeep). Later Clint became one of the most respected sheriffs Quitman County ever had.
On one of those trips through our place, Clint ran over a pig (one of ours that had gotten out). Seeing Nannette in the yard he shouted for her to bring him a butcher knife. When she did, he stuck the pig and carried it to the house. I went and got Emit Morgan from the field to come and finish the dressing of the pig.
By the Side of the Road
Sometimes there are benefits gained by living in a house close to the side of the road and sometimes otherwise. Several days ago we stopped by and told our neighbor, Mr. Goolsby at the Mobile Home Place, about our experience at the highway last week. He had not noticed the tracks across his area. One thing that’s certain, we never know who is passing our way—east or west.
Yesterday we had a call and our neighbor from those delta days, Ralph and Delores Monteith’s daughter, Kathy, husband J.C. Burns, and daughter, Abby, were on their way to our house via that same road. I can not count the times that Ralph stopped here to ask if I would like to accompany him to Water Valley. How well I do remember the call early one morning from Ralph relative to getting a homesick young lady into Northwest late—with grades like hers that was no problem although, for the record, I cleared it with the College President. Another friend, Chad Williams, became her advisor.
To top all these things, as well as to make our Christmas, our mail carrier left a Christmas card in our box from “Pudin.” That was her mother’s and father’s name for their beloved girl. “Pudin” was Sherry Oliphant. We haven’t heard from her in some five years but hopefully now she has returned to a great circle of family and friends here in the Batesville area.
When we moved to this area—in a very short time—the people of the area accepted us as their friends although they knew little about us. I will tell you about this area in the next few weeks.
As I’ve said our visit with the Burns family and the Christmas card really made Christmas for us. Nannette, Bonnie Hendrix and Brucie Newcomb have been praying that we would hear from “Pudin”—and God answered those prayers (although Bonnie was kin folk to Sherry she really got to know her when Sherry did her practice teaching with Nannette while they set up the library at Pope). We hope that you have as great and Happy Christmas and Happy New Year as ours is already.
You can get in touch with me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879