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Reflections

Christmas Tradition Lands Some In Jail

By Charles Cooper


Hello everyone, hope you had an enjoyable Christmas,  as we did at our house.  
I’ve heard people speak of getting the blues during the Christmas season and Elvis even had a song  entitled Blue Christmas. My personal feeling is that maybe they’re not putting Christ-mas in the proper perspective. I’m not offended when I hear someone say that they  hope they have enough Christmas money, but I am a little uncomfortable with the expression.    
I’m sure that someone will probably say that Cooper should have written this column before Christ-mas, not after. Let me ask you,  with all the lavish displays in the stores and malls, how many would have paid attention to stories about  the modest celebrations of  Christmas by our ancestors?  
In the days following Christmas, rabbits, squirrels, and birds lived in misery as every Southerner old enough to pull a trigger would  be out shooting hard-kicking breech loading shotguns or single shot .22 rifles.  Of course, to some poor families, this was a chance for fresh meat as a change from their usual poor diet.  
Nannie Badley said it was a tradition in the Jumper family to have fried oysters for breakfast on Christmas morning. I’ve wondered in later years how they got fresh oysters on the remote farm or did they get them out of a can?
Papa said that in his day you could buy black powder in bulk from the store. Some people would take two anvils and fill the square hole on each with the powder, set one on the other and use a straw as a fuse.  
He said the noise could be heard for miles. The down side to this was that many times the curved “horns” were blown off and “muley” headed anvils for years showed the results of a boisterous Christmas.  
Another Christmas tradition back then was liquor, which many impoverished individuals considered a  part of the season. Generally it was tolerated once a year by everyone but the small town law officers who used the occasion to lock up a lot of people.
One Christmas I was called to take Mr. Brick Knox to his Memphis doctor. My long time friend, “Boopy”  Cook wanted to ride with me, as on those trips only one employee would go. Mr. Brick’s good friend, Frank Carter, accompanied him and it gave “Boopy” and I a chance to visit Tuffy and Minnie Williamson ,who were newlyweds. When we picked up Mr. Brick from the doctor he smiled at us and asked, “Did you boys  get your Christmas whisky while you were here?”  Frank told me later that Mr. Brick had found out his cancer was terminal, yet he was still able to joke with us.   
A side bar here: In last week’s column you changed the spelling of Flxible funeral coaches to read Flexible.  The company legally changed the spelling so they could use the word Flxible as their logo.
Since this will be the last column before the New Year, let me wish you and yours a safe and joyous New Year from our family to yours.
My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and again thank you for your support over the years.

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