Lake Displaced Families, Changed Many Lives
By W. P. Sissell
I often tell people that I, very possibly, would have never known them had Enid Dam never been constructed. Life has been like that for many people of the world. The group of men that I trained with in the field artillery was my “family”. For almost two years we worked, ate, slept and ran round together. Had we gotten into serious combat we might have died together.
I will not even take a guess as to the number of days I sat in that window at Birkenfeld, Germany, doing traffic count. We did not have the hose to place across the main highway like the highway department uses today. At times there would be hundreds, no thousands, of people walking home (we called them “DP’s or displaced persons). They had been transported, usually by railroad box cars, to all parts of Europe as slave labor. I’ve talked before about putting DDT powder on these walking people who walked all day and slept by the side of the road at night. I’ve also told you about Walter, my helper in the supply room. He ate with our 751 field men, and slept in a building crevice until I finally found space with some of our men.
When I read the article about Verdia Haywood in last week’s Herald, I thought of his great grandfather, Jackson Haywood, who was the McFarland sisters on-the-farm supervisor. He gave us young folks permission to swim in the stock watering pond on the McFarland farm as long as we behaved. Now his descendents are scattered widely. This morning I talked to Percy Haywood, Jr. I know where many of the people who once lived out on the Mud Line are today. One of Sam Adams grandsons helps friend Lee Rowsey with his cattle operation. Cubell Morgan makes her adopted home in Crowder.
If Enid Reservoir had not been built, I very likely would live in a house constructed in a place that Nannette and I had picked out at the foot of (we called it Rattle Snake Mountain) one of the high hills right by the side of the road. The flood level marker would have been about one hundred feet away.
Earlier in the week I talked to Roberta McFarland Morgan. Almost all of her family is in the Chicago area. In the conversation she asked why I never wrote about her brother Abner—and I did in the earlier days of this column. Abner taught me many of the workings of farm life. I remember well his showing/teaching me how to load the hay wagon—especially one field that was all Bermuda which, after drying, becomes slippery and will unload from the wagon very easily. I was a very little boy but he kept on until I learned.
One of Roberta’s brothers, I remember him well for through him I learned that I didn’t want to become a doctor. It was molasses making time and we were hard at it. Ezekiel was feeding the cane crusher (sorghum mill). It was cool and Ezekiel had on an old ragged sleeve jumper. When Dad saw him he asked that he remove the jumper for safety. Zeke did this but came back after lunch wearing the same jacket. In only a few minutes that ragged sleeve caught in the cogs of the crusher, tearing a deep gash in Zeke’s forearm.
After stopping the bleeding as best we could, Mother was on the job quickly, and we got Zeke to their home. In a short time Dr. Cox arrived. Pulling a flashlight out of his bag, Dr. Cox handed it to me asking that I hold the light so he could thoroughly clean the wound. Well, one look at that torn forearm was enough for me—I gave the light to someone else. Zeke’s arm was not broken and healed well.
Percy Haywood, referred to above, is a retired teacher and went to college with a couple with whom I taught at South Panola.
It looks like we’re going to have a fine weather week, although we got over an inch of rain last night (Wednesday). Our Jonquils have shot up about four inches in the last few days. We do hope that you have a great week. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or (662) 563-9879.