By Betty Shearer
As we waited to speak to the family of Mrs. Dessie Caulfield at Seven Oaks Funeral Home Wednesday night, I was between Snooky and Mary Lou Williams. Butler McLeod (Daliah) was seated across from us and also in the area were Kenny Taylor and Linda Maynor.
I had not seen Linda or Kenny in a while, so I caught up on what they were doing. As usual Snooky was kidding me about something. After awhile he says, “Betty if you can’t walk and talk at the same time, you need to get out of line.” I’d turned around and was talking to folks (him included) behind me and had let some ten feet get between me and Butler. He didn’t know that his comment would be used as an illustration in my Sunday school lesson on Sunday. The lesson included an admonition to not only walk like a Christian, but also to talk like one at the same time – in other words do both and make sure they are in line with each other.
Then more material came for the SS lesson when Daughter Dorothy told me about Dessie’s final words. Dessie told the family that she had served God for many years and now was going home to be with Him, but they must remain here on earth and keep on serving Him. That I know was a blessing to her family and also to each of us who knew and loved her – we all knew this to be true, but it’s always a joy to hear it spoken one last time.
It was so good to see Mary Alice, her husband Jim Patterson, their children, and grands; Dor-othy, and her husband; Richard Wiman, and their children. It’s always great to visit with Barron and Elizabeth, Barry, Lloyd Lee, and Bethany, and I met her husband, and learned of the expected arrival of their daughter in June. I also met a niece and other family members. Dessie’s visitation was indeed a celebration of life and a rejoicing of her home going.
When I turned on the ten o’clock news last night (Monday, April 4) the announcement being made really brought back some vivid memories. The news caster was stating that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis. We had not heard this announcement when it was originally made. Ed, Jim and I were on our way to St. Louis to check out a press we were considering purchasing. Actually we were in Memphis when this crime was committed, in a restaurant eating. We’d left the Valley mid-afternoon, without having lunch, so we stopped at a favorite eating spot. The weather on that day was similar to yesterday’s tempt wise. It had been warm, but suddenly turned much cooler.
The wind off the river made it seem very cold to folks with short sleeves on. We were only going for an overnight trip and had not packed any sweaters. After lunch we went to Goldsmith’s to buy warm clothing, then got back into the car, headed for St. Louis. As soon as we cleared the Memphis traffic, Ed swit-ched on the radio and we heard the news, we were so sorry to hear. We got into the city late, with the car on empty and without a clue where we were or how to find a motel.
We quickly realized we were in an African-American section, and we had no choice but to stop for gas. It wasn’t very comfortable, with us being white and having Mississippi plates. We’d always had very close black friends and we knew them to be kind and helpful, so Ed says I’m sure we’ll be okay. We were. Ed got out, introduced himself to the nice man. Found that he was from Kosciusko and couldn’t wait to retire and come back to Mississippi. We talked for about half an hour, about the horrible tragedy, the wonderful south and what a blot this was going to put on our image, and then he gave us directions (even drew us a map) to an excellent motel.
Finished our business next morning and then ate my first, and last, fish burger at McDonald’s. This was Jim’s choice for his birthday lunch – he was four years old.
Coming on home, as we arrived at the Mississippi River Bridge in Memphis, we knew that the traveling was going to be dangerous coming through the city. News reports were not encouraging. We made it fine, but at home we saw cars with windshields broken by bricks, which happened in the time frame that we were in the area.
Just a few years ago I read Rev. Abernathy’s book about the years leading up to this tragedy and came to more fully grasp just what happened during these years. I think that much of the blame for all this strife can be laid at the feet of government and law officials. I truly believe had the people been left to work out the problem, we’d have done a better job of it. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have wonderful, close black friends, and I’ve loved them all.
Now to a happier April 4th and 5th. This one was four years earlier—the birth of Jim. It was early Sunday morning, one week after easter, and another cold day. Spent the night in Dr. Spears’ clinic and Jim was born at 6:10. I think he was the last baby to be born there and since Jim and I are the only two left of this sextet delivery team, don’t think anyone will dispute it. As I was thinking last night, the thought passed very quickly that I’d enjoy living those years again. Certainly many events would be great—and I’d get to spend almost 40 years with Ed. But then we’d have to go through the afore mentioned tragedy, our ‘84 tornado and ‘94 ice storm, many other weather catastrophes, all the wars and the list just goes on. Maybe it’s best to just go forward—coming days may be better.
Happy 47th Jim—wish I could send you a Lela Mae cake.
I’ve been really lucky this year – have got to attend all of the Methodist Lenten Luncheon so far. Last Thursday I got to hear Brad Sartor preach for the first time. His message was very encouraging—Joseph and God’s watch care over him throughout his life. We have to know that if God cared for him He’ll also take care of us. Brad also sang an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” that I’d never heard and it was beautiful. That was Ed’s favorite song and it’s one of mine—I like them all. Again the kitchen crew did an excellent job—fed us some delicious food.
This week I’m looking forward to hearing Rev. Raymond Aven again—I’ve never heard Raymond preach a bad sermon. He just gets better and better. Everyone is invited to come out for these services. They’re held at the noon hour in the Fellowship Hall.
Again we missed the worst of the weather on Monday. On the news I saw many trees and lines down in other parts of our area. Several wrecks were caused by the storm, with an 18-wheeler flipped over by the high wind. We need to stay prepared because I’m sure we’re in for more of this in the coming weeks.
Lucia Holloway was just in. She had been to the opening of the new pizza shop on Main Street. It’s owned by Michael Green, son of Lee Ann Berry and Jimmy Green, and grandson of Janice and Curtis Berry, and the late Christine and Simp Green. Go by and check it out.