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Out On The Mudline

Bad Happenings Foretell Coming Depression

By W. P. Sissell


    When Sadie got sick, Reuel had to  make some new arrangements. They had a home close to the creamery, which he had bought, but was not greatly satisfied with this business. Dad accepted it in favor of another project he had in mind—The Community Grocery. Brother-in-law Arthur Crocker owned the building, which was directly behind Arthur’s and Ethel’s house.

    In addition, Arthur and Reuel had the low bid on hauling gravel from the rail yard for gravelling State Highway 7 from Water Valley city limits to Sprigndale. They built the fancy dump beds I have described previously. I vividly remember the day Dad brought the new 1929 Chevrolet truck home. Our house was on the east side of the railroad tracks, just below the railroad station. Dad pulled over and waited for me to get there to ride around the station and back up the alley behind our house.

  Everything was going great. Mother was getting better and could see to the swimming pool in the summer, although the afternoon picture show was cutting into the swimming pool business. In addition, she was still keeping books for Mr. Martin at the creamery. Mr. and Mrs. Grady Willingham were renting an apartment from Sadie and Reuel. When Mother had to leave the house Mrs. Willingham kept me.


  It was 1928—On the wall of our kitchen-den there is a part of an orange crate slat. Dr. Cox whittled it out to splint his three-year-old neighbor’s left arm. I broke my left arm that time when I rode my tricycle off the back porch (I broke that same wrist again many years later). Bad things were happening to us. The economy was bad. It worried Mother and Dad, but a three-year-old doesn’t know much about things like that. Mother and Dad were fixing to carry us to the country—out on the Mud Line.

We Move

    We had lots of room in our new house and before long mother made a home out of it. She and Dad changed things around and before long invited the family to share a Sunday dinner. There were many sheds around and a gigantic barn. Before long, Dad began putting a dairy heard together again. At first Claude Woods let him supply his milk needs.

    On a high shelf on the back wall of the smoke house there was a collar box. In those days men’s shirts had attachable collars. The box was a storage place for those collars. It was round, about eighteen inches in diameter, with a draw-string at the top of about a six inch tube. IT WAS STRICTLY OFF LIMITS!  

    The previous description relates to our smoke house out on the Mud Line. It was probably used for its intended use when we lived in town.

    Now most of you know little boys. To place something off limits makes it mighty attractive. As I got older that collar box increased in attractiveness. Today (and my mother and father may haunt me) I can tell you about the contents of that collar box. It was filled with unpaid grocery bills from the Community Grocery. It, like one of the banks in Water Valley, went broke. The grocery companies would deliver only on a cash basis.

  Our wish for you is that you have a great day. Our weather continues to be very hot, although we had a small shower yesterday afternoon. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, or (662) 563-9879.

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