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Hill Country Living

Old McLarty Sure Had His Share Of Fun


I haven’t done a Wagner Week in a short while so here goes. As mentioned last week, I spent a few days in New York City. I always love New York but, by far, the best part of my latest trip was that I was there with my hometown best friend, Amanda. She is hilarious and has this incredible job where she works on eliminating childhood hunger in urban Birmingham. 

So, she’s got this enormously big heart and real world experience to boot, which is really a good combo. She’s full of love but sugar coats nothing and that’s rare. But I’m partial to her because we have been best friends since we were fourteen years old. 

I have my very closest friends who I met later in life who I love equally and who definitely have to put up with much more of my day to day drama than Amanda, but there just something about that childhood best friend that is so easy and free because you don’t have to explain yourself or answer to anything. 

I see my kids grow up here in Water Valley and know that they will probably be close to some of these kids for the rest of their lives, even if they all move away. Sometimes I wonder which Water Valley kid my oldest son will still call and go on trips with when they are grown with their own lives far away. I don’t wonder this about my youngest son, as he insists that he will never move away and is “gonna live with my Mama forever because why would I move? What’s the point?” I wouldn’t put it past him. 

Here is a letter to John Henry from one of his closest hometown friends while off at school. Let me just say, McClarty with the dirty joke! I was not ready for that while fishing through these letters at 6:45 am on a Tuesday morning. Also, his trip to St. Louis and the recovery time needed thereafter much reminded me of my latest trip to New York. 

I assume the “box” is a victrola and the second girl is a second girlfriend. Old pal McLarty sure has his share of fun.


Water Valley

Oct. 9 ’86


Dear John,

Old boy, I just returned from St. Louis where I had an immense time. Never had such a picnic in my life. Spent all my money and got busted and came back, got through school and loafed a week and came home.

How are you getting along? Do you have any fun? I cant have any now. My girl has gone, you know. The one I mean is Miss Lill, The Flower of Panola Street. She has gone to school. I suppose she is trying to learn some sense. But you bet I know her love for squeezing can safety predict for her an early rising in this world, physically speaking.


Did you get my old box? I supposed it was up at your house. If it is I will send up and get it and learn some new tunes by the times you come home. 


I am thinking about going out with my girl riding so I will close. Hoping to hear from you soon, 


M. E. McLarty

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