By Betty Shearer
I stayed home on Friday, actually did a little house cleaning. I tackled a cabinet, which had not been touched since Ed died. This thing held all the extra cables and other stuff for his sound system, lots of music, and then some mysterious folders. I put all the cables and stuff into a storage box—they’re probably all obsolete, but I’ll let Jim decide that when he’s home. Looked through and straightened up the music. There is some fabulous stuff in there, if I just knew how to play it. I was hoping to find my 1st Division Flute Book. I found two covers (mine and Jim’s) but both books were missing. I’m sure they’re where I last stuck them. Then I ventured into the files. One was mostly Jim’s. It contained a few letters from high school, band camp, and Delta State friends. A couple of the letters were from a friend in all three of these categories and she was also a dear friend of Ed’s and mine.
Mitzi Roane from Bruce and Jim were never romantic friends, but they were good friends for many years. Mitzi was my first chicken friend (have several of them now). In her letters, she told all about how the chickens and peacocks were doing and all the other stuff going on in her life. Reading her letters was like enjoying a face to face visit with her. Mitzi is a fine actress and played Mame in the Bruce High School production of this musical – it was wonderful. She was in many productions during her DSU days and the last time I heard from her was still in this profession.
Another item in this file was a box of stationary, with envelopes pre-addressed (and stamped with 21-cent stamps) to a former girlfriend, Mary Katherine Sheffield of Tupelo. There were no letters and I know why. Mary Katherine and Jim spent hours every night on the phone, so he never used any of the stamps and I’m sure she never sent a letter.
After a phone bill of over $300 (and service was much more reasonably priced then than now) the calls were severely limited. MK had her own phone, it was taken away and her calls on the family phone were also limited. This relationship cooled after the phone visits diminished.
I found several pictures from band camps, school, and DSU. A bag with three identical pictures of Paul Forsyth, Benji Gurner and Jim was in this file—I’m sure that Ed made a copy for each family and the other two never got delivered. I’m calling Dot and Wallace and Bet, so they can come and pick theirs up if they want them. If left for me to get delivered they’d never get them. I’m sure the picture was made at some band clinic.
Jim attended band camp every summer from the time he was out of fifth grade. The letter I found read: “Hi, I realized today that in all my years I had never written a letter home, not even to ask for more money! I hope you haven’t gotten the wrong idea about my views of this place. I really love it here. I just don’t agree with all the rules, they just go too far or are pointless. I clipped these two cartoons from The Detroit News. Thought you might like to see them. Have a good trip on your way up and I’ll see you in two weeks. Love, Jim.”
This was written from Interlochen, Michigan. Jim spent a month at camp there between his high school graduation and entering DSU. It was a great experience and he did enjoy it, as did we. However, he was right, some of their rules were a bit much. One was that he had to swim in freezing water on a 58 degree day—that’s a bit much for a kid from the deep south. The cartoons were two little boys talking, “It must be tough bein’ an only child. You’re out numbered by parents.” I’m sure Jim often felt that way. The other was: Authur’s hints on how to survive a summer at camp. First frame: “Arthur, How can I keep from getting homesick for my parents?” Second frame: “Just try to remember the unbridled joy with which they shipped you off to this crummy place!” I think these tid-bits mean more now than they did when they were received – memories are wonderful.
In Ed’s file there was mostly music and programs, from Jim’s performances, WVHS concerts, and many others from various concerts, musicals and plays, that we attended through the years. The prize from this file was an original piece of music I’ve searched for since Ed’s death. He wrote the featured piece of music used during the Northwest homecoming half-time show his last year. It carries the name of the HC Queen that year, but he always said it was really written for me. I’ve never heard it played – got sick, which is unusual for me – and did not get to attend HC. I plan to have it framed and hang it on my den wall.
Enough of this—need to get to the present.
After all this “dive into the past” Jim called. Really had no reason he said, just wanted to check up on me. While we were chatting he says, “Boy, this working with Celeste is hard.” Jim and Celeste have been doing what Ed and I did for almost 20 years—working on a house together. Celeste and I are a lot a like, and Jim and his Dad are just a like – They’re both perfectionist. Celeste and I know how carpentry is supposed to be done and that is not in printer fashion.
There needs to be space in sheetrock – more than a point – and boards on a deck don’t need to be jammed completely together, get down to mostly bare wood, etc. Well, I sympathize with them – renovations and weekly deadlines came close to wrecking our marriage several times. They’re both back in school and it seems to be going smoothly.
The family got to eat what I wanted this weekend. Usually I’ll ask what they want and cook it if possible. Occasionally though, I cook what I want and they eat it or they can go to a restaurant – hasn’t happened yet. Sunday I wanted dressing and was going to make it with chicken, but I found a great looking ham so it was ham and dressing with veggies, salad and for dessert Carolyn brought up a quart of muscadine juice so I made a muscadine roll. Probably the only one we’ll get this year, since the squirrels ate all the fruit. They’re even eating the pears. Bo says the orphan dog that’s been adopted by the family also likes muscadines and pears. I remember that our dog, Pepper, always ate muscadines with Ed.
My problem is with the deer again. They’ve eaten all my hostas and are working on the hibiscus. These animals pick strange plants to consume. I have lush ferns, gerber daisies, inpatients (which they used to eat) and other plants much more enticing than the hostas, but so far they have not bothered them. Also, they’re crossing the driveway and I’m going to hit one if I’m not very careful.
On Friday night, as I went into town, I was surprised to find so many cars at the football stadium. I actually forgot that it was our first game – just as well – don’t think there was seat for me. In all my 53 years of football in the Valley, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many cars at the stadium. The Devils were playing Bruce, though, and they always bring a crowd. This, coupled with the strong support Vallians have for our team, amounts to a bumper crowd. Do wish the Devils much success this season.
In town on Monday was Congressional candidate Alan Nunnelee. He and a staff member stopped by the office. They were accompanied by Vallians, Bob Tyler and Bob Brooks. He couldn’t have been traveling in finer company. It was good to meet Mr. Nunnelee and I wish him well in his bid for this post.