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New Year Means New Topics, New Friends

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, and I hope you had a happy New Year.   

After work New Year’s eve, Lupe and I took Shelby out to eat and that was the extent of our celebration. I can remember when we always went out on New Year’s eve and even back then how crowded every place would be.  In those days El Paso was just like a big overgrown country town and nobody met a stranger.  Sometimes the waiter would ask if we minded sharing  a table and I never saw anyone refuse.

Once we were asked and we said OK and it was a German Luftwaffe pilot who was training at Biggs Air Force base. His English was much better than my German and we got along great. We even laughed about how if it were twenty-five years earlier we would have been shooting at each other instead of sharing a table. I suppose as we get older things that once seemed important are not such a big deal any more.   

As incredible as it seems, this month will be starting the eleventh year for Reflections and it is still such a joy to write it each week and receive  the emails and letters and phone calls from you. I’ve revived old friendships and made so many new friends–some I’ve never met in person but I feel I know you just the same.  

Sadly I’ve lost good friends such as Jim Oakley, Chester Joyner and Gloria Gardner but my life has been enriched by knowing them.  I still hear from Cathy Ward from time to time and she was the first person to write me after I started this column. As I recall the first column was about Martin Boydston and the second was about Dr. Tom Pulley.  I was privileged to know both of these gentlemen personally and I only wish they had been around to read them.  

The original premise was to honor those individuals who never got much recognition other than an obituary. Mr. Brick Knox ran a drug store since the eighteen eighties and Martin Boydston worked for him from his teen years until Mr. Brick retired and sold the business and building to him for a token amount as he had never married and had no family.

Nannie Badley’s brother, Elijah Haddox worked for Jennings mercantile for thirty years and when they closed the store he got a hand shake and their best wishes and not even a gold watch.  He moved to the country and cared for his parents until they died and sold tombstones in his spare time.  He had never married but raised his brother’s orphan children Willie and Callie Haddox and in his last years  lived with his niece Callie Haddox–Walker who operated the famous Walker boarding house on University avenue near Ole Miss.

Among her famous ex-boarders were Governor J.P. Coleman, Congressman Jamie Whitten, and Senator John Stennis. They would always make a point of visiting her when they were in Oxford, probably because she served some of the best food in Mississippi, and I can speak from personal experience.  Her daughter, Elizabeth, married my uncle, John Cooper, but as usual I digress, so back to Water Valley.  

This is why I’ve enjoyed writing this column for the last ten years–one thing leads into something else, and if I make a mistake, someone always lets me know.  Someone told me a while back that I had made several errors.  I really gave him something to think about when I thanked him.  I said, “how do you know I don’t deliberately put some mistakes in there to see how closely you’re paying attention?”  Seriously, I welcome you bringing mistakes to my attention and in ten years I’ve only had three instances of severe criticism.

In spite of the negative news today  I still remain an optimist as I believe that most people are basically good, with the exception of  democrat politicians.  Just remember, we put them in, we can take them out in the next election, a fact they seem to have forgotten.  So don’t make a bunch of resolutions you probably won’t keep. just make one that you resolve to adopt a positive attitude to try to make this the best year ever. My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great year.

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