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Chasing Mule Provides Holiday Memory

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. We did at our house with our entire family together for the first time in years. This is our 12th year of writing Reflections and, as I’ve said many times, it is indeed a labor of love.
As all  of you know, I close each column with an invitation for your input, which is greatly appreciated. This includes compliments, corrections, or constructive criticism. However,  I would prefer you email or write me rather than discussing it with someone else.
I would also prefer that you read the entire column instead of taking a word or sentence out of context. This column has largely been built around your input and my personal recollections and I intend to follow that concept as long as I am able to turn out columns that are interesting.
Now as  Forrest would say, “that’s all I have to say on that subject.”
I’ve noticed that as I get older that on holidays I tend to remember  past events on that particular day. In 1944 I was still living on the farm with Papa and Nannie Badley. Papa was house confined with a broken hip and Mother was working at the Shell plant in Grenada. On Thanksgiving we had a not-so-unusual farm problem.  Papa had a wagon team of mules named Pat and Mike—Pat being a Molly (female) of mustang heritage and Mike, for want of a better word, was called a horse- mule.  
Pat was a hard worker and Mike was lazy. Many times I’d seen them hitched to a wagon and Pat would be pulling with all  her might while Mike’s traces were slack as if he was merely going along for the walk. He was also roguish and could open the simple latch on the corn crib and the corral gate with his nose. Once he got out he was on his way.  
Papa thought he had solved the problem of locating him by hanging a cow bell around his neck  Mike solved that problem for him by rolling in mud until the bell was so mud-filled that it wouldn’t ring. This particular Thanksgiving he had been missing for a couple of days. Until I got out of school for the holiday, I couldn’t look for him.  
Since Mike had bypassed the bell, Papa had put a chain around his neck and attached the end to a heavy piece of wood thinking he wouldn’t stray far dragging that weight.  After saddling Papa’s saddle mare, Bessie, I started out early not realizing what a wide range was ahead.   Papa’s farm went north from the Yalobusha county line and by noon I was in the Pleasant Ridge community on Old Oxford road only a few miles from Anchor Church.
I had asked at every house if anyone had seen Mike but no luck and finally after nearly giving up, I spotted him grazing in a field. He had solved the problem of dragging the block of wood by rolling until he had the chain around his neck again leaving the wood swinging in the air. In retrospect if I’d had my gun with me I would have put a bullet between his eyes, but like most old rogues, he skated again.
Nannie had two baking hens and dressing with cranberry sauce when I finally got home in mid-afternoon and a sweet potato pie for dessert – all in all it wasn’t a bad Thanksgiving. It’s remarkable that after all the Thanksgivings I’ve enjoyed since, that one stands out in my memory.  
As I promised in a previous column, I would include more local events and this seemed light hearted enough for the holiday season.  
Let me hear from you at my email address, or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great holiday season.

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