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“I had been writing for twenty-five years before I realized that the subject of all my writing is . . . LOSS!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“For all of my great love of the Delta, Mari says my basic problem is that I have never left Selma!”
(See my earlier post titled “The Way We Were.”)
—Jimmy Peacock

In this post I reprint an article published by the Dumas Clarion newspaper on December 31, 1980. It is a personal story recounted by my maternal grandfather, Rev. Willis Barrett, of my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas. It is presented just as he told it to my mother, Vivian Barrett Peacock, who recorded it in pencil on a Big Chief writing tablet still in my possession.

A Big Chief tablet like the one in which my mother recorded her father's life story

A Big Chief tablet like the one in which my mother recorded in pencil the life story of her father, Rev. Willis Barrett of Selma, Arkansas

I submitted the story to Charlotte Schnexnayder, editor of the Clarion, who published it along with three photos from my mother’s private collection of family photos. I have reprinted the article below just as it appeared in the Clarion thirty-four years ago with the photos and original captions in approximately the same positions as in that article.

The only change I made in this post is the date of the tragedy which occurred in 1904 rather than 1902 as reported in this newspaper article and the spelling of the word “Shanghai.”

The event described in the Clarion newspaper article includes the death of my grandfather’s first wife, Edna Ella Fox Barrett, who was carrying their first child at the time of her brutal murder at the hands of unknown assailants.

I am indebted to Estelle Fox, whose husband Meritt Fox is a relative of Edna Ella Fox.  It was E. Fox, as she prefers to be referenced, who provided me two Arkansas newspaper articles from 1904 which described the event in detail when it occurred a hundred and ten years ago

Homemade tombstone of Edna Ella Fox Barrett in the Selma, Arkansas, Cemetery

Homemade tombstone of Edna Ella Fox Barrett in the Selma, Arkansas, Cemetery (to magnify, click on the photo)

Now here is the Dumas Clarion presentation of my grandfather’s story from his childhood to that unthinkable and unforgettable event that changed his life forever. The opening editor’s note is part of that Clarion account. I have made some minor editorial changes and insertions set in brackets, capitalized and lower-cased some words for consistency of style, and divided some longer paragraphs into shorter ones.

“Unsolved Murders at Selma Remain a Memory”

(Editor’s note: Desha County Historical Society members recently heard the story of triple, unsolved murders near Selma in 190[4]. The community then was known as Shanghai. Vivian Barrett Peacock prepared this paper, and permission for it to be used was given by her son, Jimmy Peacock of Sapulpa, Okla. The paper was read to the Historical Society by Mary Gail Tutt.)

If you should happen to meet my dad, you would see a small man of fifty years who really shows his age. He works hard all the week on the farm and rides 12 miles horseback, every Sunday to preach at a country church. He always wears a sad, far-away look. Yet he goes about his work whistling a low tune.

I used to wonder when I was at home why he asked, “Where is your mother?” the minute he hit the door when he came in from work. And he never stopped until he laid eyes on her. As I grew older I learned from other people that there was a story in his life.

I always buy the True Story [a popular magazine of the time] and save it for Dad and Mother to read. One night after supper Dad came over to get it and sat down to talk awhile. He seemed to be in a mood to unload his troubles so he told the following story to [my] husband and myself before he realized it was twelve o’clock and Mother would be wondering why he had not come back.

This is Willis Barrett’s story as told to his daughter Vivian Barrett Peacock.

I was born in the backwood of southeast Arkansas. The youngest of a family of seven children. My father died when I was eight years old [possibly as a result of his imprisonment as a Confederate soldier in a Union POW camp during the Civil War], leaving my frail mother only a small farm, heavily in debt. Yet the memory of their years of love and companionship gave her the will-power to carry on for the sake of their children.

The education I received came from riding a mule three miles to Shanghai school. Sometimes in the winter I was forced to study at home, for I could not cross the creek that ran close to our house after the rains set in.

Our best farming land was in the lowlands or bottoms along the creek. Many times after our crops came up in the spring a big rain would come and the water would rise, washing our crop[s] out of the ground. Then by the time we would get them up again the weather would be so hot they would burn up and we would not make anything.

I often wonder how my little mother (who weighed hardly more than a hundred pounds) had the courage to keep trying. Always saying, “Everything will turn out all right.” Or I suppose it is the Lord’s Will.” Even when the fall payment was due on the place and the winter food and clothing had to be bought and not a dime in sight. She had a way of saying, “Don’t worry children, the Good Lord will provide.”

I know it was her continual praying, hard work, and good management that kept us from actual hunger at times. But the “Good Lord” did provide and by the time all the children were gone from home but Tom (a brother) and myself, the old place was clear and we were living fairly well.

In my boyhood days the people of Shanghai gave me the name of being a tough kid. There is no wonder they thought that of me. For I was the leader of a mischievous gang of boys who wanted to have some fun. But most of them were afraid of the consequences, should their parents find them out. So to clear themselves they laid the blame on me. In time I accepted it as my lot and made no effort to deny anything I was accused of.

I know that the mothers gossiped to each other about what an outlaw I was going to be, since my father had died right when I needed a strong hand to control me. For when one of the boys happened to get mad at me he never forgot to tell me, “Ma said you never would amount to anything.”

I will admit that I couldn’t resist the temptation to knock the windows out of a vacant house with my bean shooter, or sometimes make a kid sick on a chew of homemade tobacco (that I slipped just for that purpose), and all such things that many a boy does. Especially after he learns that all the women are wondering what in the world he is going to do next.

Shanghai consisted of the post-office, a general mercantile store, the one-room school, church, a saloon, a one-room log calaboose [jail], and a grist mill.

Sometimes on Saturday afternoon I would take a sack of corn on my mule and go to the mill. While I was waiting to get the corn ground I would slip off over to the saloon where the men were always drinking, playing cards, cursing, and spitting on the floor. When they saw me they would nod to one another with a look of understanding. I knew from their slow grin and sly wink that they were thinking it wouldn’t be many years until I was in their midst.

As I look back now I don’t doubt that the so-called “Christian Mothers” would want their boys to shun me, although my own mother never seemed to worry about what I was going to “turn out to be.” She did lecture me on the importance of right and wrong and I surely was not sassy or disobedient. If it had not been for her love and the confidence I learned to know my mother had in me, who knows what I might have been just what everyone expected of me.

Young Willis Barrett, husband of Edna Ella Fox Barrett, one of the three victims of the triple murder near Selma in 1904

Willis Barrett, husband of Edna Barrett who was one of the three victims in the triple murder near Selma years ago.

How well do I remember the first kind word or praise that I received from a grown person. The first respect anyone showed me as a kid came from an absolute stranger.

What a sight I must have been to her. Dressed in my homemade jean pants that struck me two inches above my heavy brogan shoes, which were about two sizes too big.  In an outgrown coat and an old corduroy cap with the bill flopped over my left ear. I was riding a tall raw-boned horse with a turtle-shell saddle and using a blind bridle with a rope plow line for the reins. And this is how it happened.

I was on my way home from the post office riding Tom’s horse in a slow gallop. I was wondering about the creek water, for it had rained all night Friday night and the water was nearly out of the banks and rising fast when I went over right after noon. I could hear it roaring before I reached the top of the hill that led down to the flats.

When I came to a halt at the top of the hill I could see nothing but one mad whirling stream of water, foaming and churning, sweeping away logs and chunks. It must have been about 300 yards across the flat and the water was from hill to hill. In this distance the road formed the letter “S” and I could not tell whether the bridge was there or not for it was around the bend from me. I could tell just about where the road lay by the tops of the bushes that grew along the sides and the opening in the trees. I was not afraid for I had crossed it many times and I knew my horse was not excited.

It was getting late so I drove on without a thought of danger for mother was waiting for the mail which we only got on Saturday afternoon.

As I came around the bend a woman began to scream at me from a buggy sitting on the bridge. My heart gave a leap for I saw the harness piled on the dashboard and no horse in sight. She was telling me not to come on for there was a hole in the bridge.

What could a woman be doing sitting there at this time of day alone? Where was her horse? I rode closer to the foot of the bridge and saw that a plank had washed away but a horse could step it. She explained that she and her son had come from Blue Ridge, 16 miles away, to spend the night in Shanghai with a sick relative. When they reached the water it was too late to go back so they had decided to tackle it. But when the horse saw the hole he began to buck and pitch, so the boy rode the horse back to Old Man Will Stacey’s house at the top of the hill, to get some help. The woman was scared half to death and her teeth chattered so she could hardly talk.

I rode my horse up to the hole. He snorted a little and all at once made a quick step and was standing beside the buggy. I jumped down on the bridge in the water that was splashing over the bridge and with the woman crying, talking, and protesting, hitched my horse to her buggy. When the boy returned with a plank and a couple of Negroes on mules, I had piloted the lady with her buggy all high and dry to the other side.

You should have heard the praise I received. It would have been a treat to any boy’s heart and it was more than that to me for I had never known what it was to even hear such words. She raved about what a brave boy I was. What a big heart I had in me to help an old lady like her. And saying that she knew I must have a good mother to raise such a fine boy.

I could not say a word for my heart was nearly bursting and I could hardly hold back the tears. I muttered some quick excuse about having to hurry home not even realizing that I was shaking and numb with cold. I rode back across the waters home.

From there I grew into young manhood never forgetting that I had at least one good deed in my life, although I never told anyone about it—not even my mother.

The mother of Willis Barrett and widow of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War

The mother of Willis Barrett and widow of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. (Photos, courtesy of a grandson, Jimmy Peacock)

During these years my older brother had died, leaving a wife and several small children. She had a hard time trying to fee[d] and cloth[e] them so it was only natural that Mother was always sending them something and visited them as often as possible, doing everything we could to help them along. I grew very fond of the children so when my sister-in-law married an old man (more for a home than love), I still visited the children. It was there I met the girl of my heart. They lived so far from our home that I would always go on Saturday afternoon, spend the night, and come back home Sunday. The boys, Dick and Ralph, always went with me to put up my horse for the night.

[Here the original newspaper story was broken to be continued on a later page]

Historical Society hears about mystery 

[Continued from the front page]

On this particular day, I related that Dick was eager to be off to the barn. Before we were out of hearing distance of the house, Dick ran up beside me and said, “Uncle Willie, I have found you a girl. She’s one of Mr. Cox’s (their stepfather) girls. Ma knew he had some grown children, but she didn’t know any of them was going to live with us. Her name is Edna [though she came to be called Ella]. She’s been living with an aunt, but quick as they found out her Pa was married, they sent her home. Her and Ma don’t get along very well and I don’t see why. She’s purty and I like her. She works hard.”

I let him rattle on for I had always been too bashful and awkward to pay any attention to girls and I wasn’t much interested. Yet his brief story put me to thinking. I had noticed someone sweeping in the back yard when I drove up but I did not see her face for she wore one of those old time sun bonnets and darted in the kitchen door as soon as I got down from my horse.

At supper, I saw her again for she had to wait on the table. I know the boys had given her a history of me for I could feel her looking at me when she slipped in at the end of the table after everyone else was nearly through eating. Of course she had to wash the dishes so I pretended to get a drink from the wooden bucket on the back porch just to peek in and get a good look at her.

I didn’t like the looks of the old man and I was really surprised at the girl. She was actually beautiful, dark brown eyes, auburn hair and a complexion as soft and fair as a lily. She carried herself in that kitchen as if she were in some beauty parade. I could not resist the temptation to go in [the kitchen]. I soon found that I wasn’t as backward as I had thought. I even put away the dishes for her, something I hadn’t done since I was a small boy helping Mother.

We sat at the kitchen table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other all our lives, until we were reminded that it was bed time. When I went to bed that night, I knew she was the girl for me. I knew life would be different and it was nearly daylight before I could go to sleep, for dreaming of the future. After that I went there nearly every Saturday night and it wasn’t many months until I brought her home with me to live with Mother and myself.

It is strange how the love of a good woman can change a man’s life. I didn’t need a drink of booze to make me feel carefree and light. I noticed the beauty of the world about me. I walked on air. I had always thought that life was cruel and unhappy. I never had anything particular to love for. I [had] merely existed, getting on a spree nearly every Saturday night and feeling bad all the week from the effects of it.

For the first time in my life, I was actually living and enjoying it. I had someone to love and to work for. Someone loved me and showed it in every word and move. Edna was so gentle and kind. I got a job hauling stave bolts that fall after the crops were gathered and sometimes when I was late getting in she would already have the feed and water put out for my team.

I begged her not to overdo herself, for she had already whispered a secret that makes any man’s heart swell with pride. But it made her happy to do things for me. After supper when we sat before the open fireplace, I would smoke my pipe while she sewed the tiny garments that we both loved to touch. Oh! we were so happy it makes my heart ache to think of it. I sometimes wonder if it was because we gave no thought to anything else but ourselves that she was taken from me.

I dreamed of the boy through which I was going to relive my boyhood. Through him I would enjoy the childish pleasures I had missed in my own life. He was going to be treated like other boys—not shunned and scorned. He would not be hurt by the gossip of wagging tongues. I pictured him in school. The head of his class, appreciated and honored by well-to-do people. All day at my work, I thought this out. It was my guiding star and caused me to work even harder and faster as my thoughts ran on. But oh, how soon were my hopes and happiness shattered.

Vivian Barrett Peacock and Arthur on their honeymoon in Fort Worth in about 1927

Vivian Barrett Peacock and her husband Arthur on their honeymoon in Fort Worth. She related the story told to her by her father about the events leading up to the Selma tragedy. (Photo, courtesy of Jimmy Peacock)

We lived about a quarter of a mile from Mr. Sturgeon (Stephenson) and it was his bolts I was hauling.

One Friday in late December, I carried a load over to Shanghai and Mr. [Stephenson] asked me to stop at the store and bring him some money that a certain fellow was going to leave there for him as a payment on some of the timber. I well remember I brought him 30 dollars in paper and three silver dollars.

When I stopped to leave the money on my way back home he [Mr. Stephenson] asked me if we were going to the dance that night. His daughter, Bertie, wanted to go but she was only fifteen years of age so he would not let her go unless some married person was along, I was in a hurry to get home for Edna was alone. Mother was off visiting my sister, but I told him we would go if Edna felt like it.

The moon had already risen when I reached home and Edna was at the lot with the gate swinging open when I drove up. What a picture she was, the soft moonlight shining on her face. She ran into my arms as soon as I stepped from the wagon. I hated to mention about the dance for I had rather stay at home with her and I knew too that she would not want to go in her condition.

When I did tell her I saw a disappointed look come over her happy face. She hesitated a moment then she cried, “Oh, Willie, I had a little party all planned for just the two of us. You know tomorrow is our wedding anniversary and we were going to make a cake and some candy tonight. You know we seldom ever get to be alone, not that Mother is any trouble or in the way, but wouldn’t you just love to have a little party all by ourselves?”

Of course I would enjoy it but after all Mr. [Stephenson] had been good to us. He gave me work and was our nearest neighbor, so in a way I felt like I ought to go. Again he was old and childish and used to being humored.

So we decided that we would hurry on back and she could stay with the old folks while I went with Bertie and her half-brother to the dance. I promised not to stay long. The dance was about two miles over across the creek and we would go horseback instead of in the buggy.

Arm in arm we walked to Mr. [Stephenson’s] in the moonlight, leading my horse. I kissed her at the gate before [she went back] in the house. She clung to my neck with such a grasp that I asked her what was the matter. “Oh, nothing, I guess it’s because I’m not well that makes me feel like this.”

What was the trouble? It wasn’t like Edna to act like this. I wanted to tell her I wouldn’t go. Yet, in some unknown way, I felt obligated to Mr. [Stephenson] so I never said anything. There was something telling me to stay and another feeling that I ought to go. By this time our appearance was known and Bertie and Fred were grabbing their coats and hats, ready to be off.

When they were ready we went out. Mr. [Stephenson] was sitting straddle of a cane chair looking over the back of it into the fire. Mrs. [Stephenson] had brought out her sewing basket, preparing to do some mending, and Edna still had her coat on when I left.

The dance had already started when we got there so Bertie joined in with the fun. But somehow there was a cloud about me. Something I could not shake off. I stood out on the porch and smoked one cigarette after another while the others went on with their fun.

I guess God printed that picture [of the Stephensons and Edna] on my mind for I never saw them alive again.

Everyone undoubtedly thought old man [Stephenson] had a lot of money in the house and came that night to rob him. No one will ever know what happened, for the house was burned to the ground. The charred bodies [of the Stephensons and Edna] were found on the bed springs. The head was completely severed from Mr. [Stephenson’s] body. [On December 18, 1904, an Arkansas Gazette newspaper report of the triple murder noted, “When found Mr. Stevenson’s (sic) head was about four feet from his body, apparently having been severed with some instrument, and his skull was cracked.”] They were identified by their teeth. The sewing thimble was still on the bone of Mrs. [Stephenson’s] hand.

This is another one of those unsolved murders, for there was never any evidence found to start on in trying to find who did this horrible thing. If I only knew who did it and that they were being punished, maybe I would not think of it so much.

This is the story that Willis Barrett told concerning the tragedy that took the life of his beloved first wife.

Since this story was started my father passed away with a sudden heart attack. We all feel that maybe it was brought on because of this thing that had bothered him all these years. We cannot grieve too much for him because maybe he is with the one he once was so happy with–his first love. Now we can truly understand why he always asked us, “Where is your mother?”

[Blogger’s Note: Willis Barrett eventually became a country Southern Baptist preacher, married the daughter of an Irish immigrant, and produced six children: three boys and three girls, one of whom was my mother Vivian Barrett Peacock who recorded this story on that Big Chief tablet so long ago. Together, she and my grandfather and a small group of others established the Selma Baptist Church of which my grandfather was the pastor during my childhood in Selma until his sudden death not long before my family moved to McGehee, Arkansas, in 1948. He is buried in the Selma Cemetery between Edna Ella Fox Barrett and my grandmother Ola Emery Barrett.]

Selma Baptist Church as co-founded by Vivian Barrett Peacock, her father, and several others with Rev. Willis Barrett as pastor

Selma Baptist Church which was co-founded in the 1940s by my mother, her father, and several others with Rev. Willis Barrett as pastor (to magnify, click on the photo)

Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife, my grandmother, Ola Emery Barrett, in later years

Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife, my grandmother, Ola Emery Barrett, in later years (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources

The photo of the Big Chief tablet was taken from the following Web site:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-frYGbaQoNwU/ToiI2A70-wI/AAAAAAAADuY/IuM8FjtXFkk/s1600/BigChiefTabletScreenShotBON003.jpg

The two 1904 newspaper articles about the murder of Edna Ella Fox and the Stephensons were provided by Estelle Fox from the December 17 and 19 issues of the Arkansas Gazette and titled “Triple Tragedy Near Monticello, Arkansas.”

The photos of Edna Ella Fox’s tombstone, Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife Ola Emery Barrett, the Selma Baptist Church, and Arthur and Vivian Peacock on their honeymoon in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1927, were taken from the original family photo collection.

 “May good Saint Patrick bless you
And keep you in his care,
And may Our Lord be near you
To answer every prayer.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends Poems & Greetings 

“There’s music in Irish names—
Kilkenny . . . Tipperary . . .
There’s beauty in the countryside,
From Cork to Londonderry,
And whoever makes his earthly home
Close to the Irish sod
Has found a bit of heaven
And walks hand in hand with God.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends, Poems & Greetings

Two years ago, on March 14 and 21, 2012, I published two blog posts titled “St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia” and “Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes.”

Here at the time of St. Patrick’s Day 2014 if you are looking for something to read about Irish quotes and blessings, I suggest you visit (or revisit) those sites in which I offer information and quotes from a variety of Irish books in my personal library.

On the subject of Irish saints, names, and quotes there are of course many other sources that can be accessed by simply searching online under those subjects.

One of the most recent sources of interesting Irish saints and names was an article in the Tulsa World that appeared on Sunday, March 2, 2014, titled “Not Just St. Patrick: Ireland home to many saints.”

In that article there is a striking photo of a statue of St. Patrick in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in which the beloved saint stands in front of lovely stained-glass windows honoring “the fifth-century saint who brought Christianity to Ireland.”

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

At the time of the writing of this blog post that article could be accessed at:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/features/not-just-st-patrick ireland-is-home-to-many-saints/article_0767c1c6-adb6-534e-a9b5-b0bc9cd4f341.html 

St. Ciaran (St. Kieran)

“Clonmacnoise [the Irish monastery founded by St. Ciaran or St. Kieran] remains a Celtic Christian site worthy of a visit by anyone interested in ancient things Celtic. To this day tourists and pilgrims still visit Ciaran’s monastery to see some of the finest monastic ruins and high crosses in all of Ireland.”
—“Commemoration of St. Ciaran (St. Kieran)”

Besides the universally known and revered St. Patrick, among the lesser-known Irish saints (and their areas of ministry) discussed in that Tulsa World article were: St. Kevin (Glendalough, County Wicklow); St. Brigit (Kildare, County Kildare); St. Declan (Ardmore, County Waterford); and many others.

The one lesser-known Irish saint (and his area of ministry) featured in that article of most interest to Mari and me was St. Ciaran (pronounced KEER-un) who established a now famous monastery at Clonmacnoise in County Offaly from which Christian missionaries were sent out all over Europe. To learn more about this equally famous saint—famous at least in his native Ireland, if virtually unknown in the United States—read the following excerpt from that Tulsa World article below.

St. Ciaran (Kieran)

St. Ciaran (Kieran)

“Clonmacnoise, County Offaly: St. Ciaran”

In neighboring County Offaly, visitors can explore the magnificent remains of the sixth-century monastic site founded by Ciaran in Clonmacnoise. It includes the ruins of a cathedral, two round towers, three Celtic crosses and the largest collection of early Christian gravestones in Western Europe.

Ciaran’s path to sainthood was launched as a young man, when he supposedly restored a dead horse—just one example of his way with animals. Legend has it that a fox carried his psalter (psalm book) and a stag held his books on its antlers while he studied.

After performing the usual round of miracles, Ciaran decided to build a monastery at Clonmacnoise, smitten, he said, by the beauty of the lush green plains and sweeping river Shannon. First though, he had to settle a boundary dispute with a neighbor who offered him land as far as he could throw his cap. After Ciaran uttered a prayer, a gust of wind swept his hat across the fields. To this day, a sudden squall in the midlands is sometimes called ‘Ciaran’s wind.’ The neighbor was eventually made a saint as well—St. Manchan.

Ruins of Clonmacnoise monastery founded by St. Ciaran (Kieran)

Ruins of Clonmacnoise monastery founded by St. Ciaran (Kieran) (to magnify, click on the photo)

The reason this relatively unknown Irish Catholic saint from the Middle Ages is of such interest to two modern-day “Baptiscopalian Methodist Arkies” who have lived half their lives in predominately protestant-evangelical-charismatic Oklahoma is quite simple: We named our younger son after him!

As our Yankee friends say, “Go figure!”

But Why Ciaran?

“Because of his prominence in the early Irish church, St. Ciaran is known as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.”
——“Commemoration of St. Ciaran (Kieran)”

Although we wish we could say that we named our second-born son Keiron (our spelling of Ciaran) because we were divinely informed that he was destined to become a great Christian apostle, the truth is much more romantic and adolescent, perhaps indeed a bit mundane.

The simple fact is, the reason we gave our second-born son the Irish name of Keiron is the same reason we gave his older brother, our first-born son, the Irish name of Sean: We learned the name from the movies and liked it!

The story goes like this.

Being a professed lifelong “hopeless romantic” from childhood I have always loved movies. In fact, when growing up in small-town McGehee, Arkansas, which had only one movie theater, I used to go to the “picture show” every time it changed features, which was usually four times a week.

Each week the local theater showed a different film on Sunday-Monday, Tuesday (only), Wednesday-Thursday, and Friday-Saturday. And I never missed a one of them. In those days, parents could allow their youngsters to do that because the admission price was so low and because there was little danger of their little darlings being exposed to anything they shouldn’t see! (See my earlier post titled “The Way We Were.”)

For the first few years after Mari and I were married in December 1962, though our first purchase was a nineteen-inch, black-and-white Zenith television set (see my earlier post titled “A Thing of Beauty Lasts Forever”), we continued to frequent the closest movie theater whenever possible. In our first teaching position in the little East Arkansas cotton town of Holly Grove, that nearest movie theater was in Brinkley (see my recent post titled “Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary”).

About that time in 1963 we saw our first James Bond movie, Dr. No, starring the now famous/infamous Scottish actor Sean Connery.

Dr. No

Dr. No

That Celtic name “Sean” for the English “John” was known to few Americans, especially in the cotton fields of East Arkansas. However, we were already familiar with it, having seen the 1960 film The Sundowners, which was set in turn-of-the-century Australia and starred Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, and Glynis Johns.

The Sundowners

The Sundowners

In that engaging film Mitchum played a rugged individualist, an itinerant sheepherder of Irish descent named Paddy Carmody. Naturally, his only son, played by Michael Anderson, Jr., was named Sean. Since Mari and I were already planning our first child, correctly assumed to be a boy, since Peacock girls are scarce, and since I wanted to honor my Irish grandmothers, we immediately looked up the “correct” Irish spelling of that name and chose it for our future firstborn, though his birth would not actually occur until 1966.

As might be expected in that era and area, not many residents of SEARK were as familiar with the name “Sean” as were we “down-home intellectuals and rural sophisticates.” Not long after the “blessed event” the rumor went through the neighborhood, “Did y’all hear? Jimmy ‘n’ May’un named their new baby ‘Seen’!”

Of course, through time, especially with the growing popularity of the James Bond moves and the actor who played him in those early films, Sean Connery, the name of Sean because known and even poplar—though often appearing in America with a variety of spellings such as Shawn, Shaun, Shon, etc.

However, a problem arose when we began to search for an Irish name for our second son since none of the usual such names (Patrick, Michael, Timothy, etc.) seemed to fit.

Finally, fate (or something a bit more spiritual) intervened through the same source as the inspiration for the name Sean: the movies.

But Why Keiron?

“Keiron: ke(i)-ron\ as a boy’s name is a variant of Kieran (Irish, Gaelic) and Kyrone, and the meaning of Keiron is ‘black’.”
—“Keiron meaning and name origin”

About that time we saw a Walt Disney film titled Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Besides starring Sean Connery as a “handsome, strapping young Michael from Dublin,” this lilting Irish fantasy also included in its cast an unknown (to us) Irish actor named Kieron Moore (real name Kieron O’Hanrahan).

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Darby O’Gill and the Little People

Mari and I liked the Irish name Kieron right away and began to try to learn more about it.

Meanwhile, two years after the birth of Sean in 1966, we happened to see the 1968 futuristic sci-fi movie titled 2001: A Space Odyssey which starred a young actor named Keir Dullea as one of the leading characters: two American astronauts on a daring voyage to the planet Jupiter.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (with the face of actor Keir Dullea)

Coincidentally, on the very morning I was writing this part of this post, there was an article in the Tulsa World about the fact that American rocket scientists were “plotting a robotic mission” to one of the two moons of Jupiter. The thinking is that these moons might have more chances for water—and thus life—than either earth’s moon or the planet Mars, both of which have been explored by unmanned probes. For more on this subject, see “NASA plots daring trip to Jupiter moon” published in the Tulsa World on March 5, 2014, accessible at the time of this writing at:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/usworld/nasa-plots-daring-flight-to-one-of-jupiter-s-moons/article_fcfc475c-6ef7-591d-8601-3f5d57ac312a.html.

Adopting the “K” and “on” spelling from “Kieron (Moore),” and alternating the “i” and “e” as in the first name of “Keir (Dullea),” we came up with the unique spelling of “Keiron.” Of course, as a shorter version for family use, we often called our son “Keir,” as we have continued to do since his birth on March 29, 1970.

But as soon as Keiron/Keir was able to learn to use his name and especially to be identified by it by others outside the family, he hated it!

For many years, he avoided using it to identify himself, choosing rather the family name. Even to this day, he tends to follow that same practice, in keeping with his required name tag on all his military uniforms: Peacock. (To read about Keiron’s military service with many photos of him from childhood to the present, visit my blog post titled “A Soldier’s Story.”)

Keiron in Iraq

Keiron in Iraq (click on the photo to magnify it and see Keiron’s name tag: Peacock)

While he was a child, although we had never particularly celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday or holy day, in an attempt to convince Keiron/Keir that his name was one to be proud of, we began to emphasize our Irish family heritage. It was then that we started celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with cards, gifts, parties, etc., and to magnify the life and ministry of St. Ciaran.

Through these intervening forty-plus years Keiron/Keir has seemed to reluctantly accept his name (if not to embrace it) though he still tends to avoid using it whenever possible, calling and identifying himself simply as Peacock.

It has helped that through these decades the name Ciaran/Kieran/Kieron/Keiron has become more popular and has appeared more often in public use.

For example, several years ago there was an American Country-Western singer named Kieran Kane. 

In the 1990s the movie series titled Home Alone, starring the child actor Macauley Culkin, became enormous popular. It turned out that Macauley had a brother named Kieran, “a former stage actor with a long career on Broadway.”

Then in 1998 popular Hollywood actor James Caan starred in a film titled This Is My Father, in which he played a character named Kieran Johnson, “a lonely, middle-aged, Chicago-based high school history teacher who feels disconnected to his life . . . [and] decides to take a trip to his mother’s small old hometown of Kilronan, County Galway, Ireland.”

This Is My Father

This Is My Father

All such instances of the name Ciaran/Kieran/Keiron/etc. only serve to make the proud and ancient name more widely known, used, and respected. For that blessing, as for the one on whom we endowed it, we are greatly appreciative.

 Conclusion:
St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Blessing 

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish . . . you’re lucky enough.”
—Irish Blessings

So now you know why we gave our two sons Irish names; why we give St. Patrick’s Day cards and gifts to our two grandsons aged thirteen and eleven; why our house is always decorated for St. Patrick’s Day with Irish music playing in the background; why we send annual St. Patrick’s Day greetings to friends and family; and why I publish blog posts with an Irish theme, often closing with an Irish blessing, such as this one, my favorite:

 “May God give you many years to live,
For sure He must be knowin’
That earth has angels all too few,
While heaven is overflowin’.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends Poems & Greetings 

PS Keiron has two sons to whom he gave double ancestral Peacock names: Levi Jesse and Thomas Benjamin. But the boys prefer the shorter versions of Levi and Ben.

Sources

The photo of St. Patrick was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Images+of+St.+Patrick&v_t=keyword_rollover&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dkeyword_rollover%26q%3DImages%2Bof%2BSt.%2BPatrick%26oreq%3D42138ee5a4b24dbea859f71638d997ca&img=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.irishcentral.com%2Fimages%2FSaint%2BPatrick%2BShamrock.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishcentral.com%2Fopinion%2Fpatrickroberts%2Fst-patrick-was-never-canonized-a-saint-by-the-catholic-church-118153804-238171911.html&width=83&height=85&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft2.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcTUoUbI4zIUkzgcJ5-tdHyV2s6NnJfOSzdyU9QOMHTnLnXDsoZ_GdpPIQ&imgWidth=640&imgHeight=659&imgSize=69830&imgTitle=Images+of+St.+Patrick

The photo of St. Cieran (Kieran) was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=St+Ciaran&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DSt%2520Ciaran%2520%26oreq%3D6f7d37c342d74c5eb4dfb3e699eaa71b&img=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allsaintsbrookline.org%2Fceltic_saints%2Fsaint_images%2Fkieran.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allsaintsbrookline.org%2Fceltic_saints%2Fkieran.html&width=56&height=83&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft1.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcRnUcGp_8ozx-Wdkm4fP5-sS4YnRw0bz-jk8EMy0DHp0PzYIZcYzshaxQ&imgWidth=200&imgHeight=296&imgSize=23406&imgTitle=St+Ciaran

The photo of Clonmacnoise was taken from this Web site:
http://www.historvius.com/images/original/1366-Clonmacnoise 1E.jpg

The photo of The Sundowners was taken from this Web site:
http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjA2NDczMjkwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjE2ODI0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR23,0,214,317_.jpg

The photo of 2001: A Space Odyssey was taken from this Web site:
http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNDYyMDgxNDQ5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc1ODg3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_.jpg

The photo of Dr. No was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Images+of+Dr.+No&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dtopsearchbox.search%26v_t%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DImages%2Bof%2BDr.%2BNo%26oreq%3Daa1734483ad8482899ce3ee96ed31c87&img=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.francescofrancavilla.com%2Fgallery%2Fimages%2F007_DRNO_connery_low.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.francescofrancavilla.com%2Fgallery%2F007_dr_no.html&width=58&height=85&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft0.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcQ0UvRPEO76zhCvsGmG4nRW2qKHG85ZcJQQA7ErKCpt0jpiPCZ5WcZquQ&imgWidth=522&imgHeight=761&imgSize=100440&imgTitle=Images+of+Dr.+No

The photo of Darby O’Gill and the Little People was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Darby+O%27Gill+and+the+Little+People&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DDarby%2520O%2527Gill%2520and%2520the%2520Little%2520People%26oreq%3D8a4dc4a4c24947d4bf6dc5d31c615e73&img=http%3A%2F%2Fia.media-imdb.com%2Fimages%2FM%2FMV5BMTQzNjgxMTQ3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU3NTYyMQ%40%40._V1_SY317_CR3%2C0%2C214%2C317_.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imdb.com%2Ftitle%2Ftt0052722%2F&width=61&height=90&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft3.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcRfH8Eiwwae4soyuPEX4x2azXAiHLY-XOJS9XOeX3ckz9_SJ-ew_ri2Lw&imgWidth=214&imgHeight=317&imgSize=25413&imgTitle=Darby+O%27Gill+and+the+Little+People

The photo of This Is My Father was taken from this Web site:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_My_Father

“Southern writers embrace the freedom of going out West, but once they get out there, it’s almost too free—there’s not enough community or settlement—so in the literature the characters swing back South, or they settle down in the West and embrace Southern ideals of community. They discover their Southernness by leaving the South.”
—Robert H. Brinkmeyer,
quoted in The Southern Register, Winter 1999

“After the end of the Civil War, and for several generations afterward, thousands of Black Southerners left the South to move to Oklahoma in an attempt to escape racial discrimination. But too often that attempt proved to be less than successful. That’s why the notorious and destructive Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 is often referred to as ‘Death in a Promised Land.’”
—Jimmy Peacock

I am publishing this post in recognition of Black History Month on the next to last day of that month for two reasons: first, because my age and health have not allowed me to compile and compose it any earlier; and second, because my ancient and outdated computer has caused me as much trouble as my advancing age and failing physical health.

Obviously, this mini-post is shorter than my usual full-length posts for the same reasons. As such, I have made it easier on myself and my computer by simply reprinting, with permission, a July 1996 article I wrote for the Trinity Life monthly newsletter of Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa where Mari and I were active members for almost twenty years.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it appeared in 1996

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it appeared in 1996 at the time Mari and I were members (photo taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used by permission)

That permission to reprint came from our longtime friend and the Trinity educational director Ed Roling. Ed, or as we often called him “Christian Ed,” was the editor of Trinity Life. Thus he chose the subjects of each of my monthly “Peacock Profiles” which I wrote for eleven years about various Trinity parishioners and their personal ministries in the church.

This post, published in July 1996, was a tribute to Florence Fairchild, a longtime member of Trinity, and her husband Robert, a survivor of the notorious 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The Fairchilds contributed greatly to their separate church families and their shared geographical and ethnic communities.

The photocopied article appears just as it was presented in Trinity Life. The captioned colored photos that I have inserted to help illustrate the post were taken from a Trinity church publication.

Interior of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa in 1996

Interior of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa in 1996 (photo taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used by permission)

Florence and Robert Fairchild:
Fleeing Prejudice, Finding Purpose
 

Original July 1996 article in Trinity Life about Florence and Robert Fairchild

The original article about Florence and Robert Fairchild as it appeared in the July 1996 issue of Trinity Life (used by permission of Trinity Episcopal Church Tulsa)

Trinitarian Florence Fairchild and her husband of 64 years, Robert, have witnessed a great deal of change in their lifetime—much of it positive but some negative, as evidenced by the reason for their being in Tulsa in the first place.

Born in Alabama and Arkansas respectively, at an early age they were brought to Oklahoma by their respective parents in an effort to escape discrimination—an attempt which was to prove less than totally successful.

“My father was killed by the riders of the Ku Klux Klan,” remembers Florence, “so my mother brought us to what was then called Indian Territory. I graduated from high school in Muskogee. From there I went to the University of Kansas and later became a teacher.

“I retired from teaching first grade for more than thirty years. I loved teaching those little children, they keep you honest.”

Robert, who has recently been interviewed several times by the local and national media in reference to the 75th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, recalls a similar negative experience in his early childhood. “My father had been sharecropping in El Dorado, Arkansas.

“At the end of the year, he went to the man he was sharecropping with and said, ‘Where do we stand? What’s my share?’

“‘You don’t have any,’ said the man, ‘you’re still in debt.’

“My father then moved to Tulsa, where my uncle, who was a barber, had moved earlier. We got here on December 24, 1913. We were really fleeing from tenant farming.”

Robert attended high school in Tulsa, then went on to study business administration at the University of Nebraska, graduating as one of only six black students in a class of 956.

After years of discriminatory treatment by both whites and blacks, he was to use that degree as his ticket out of the economic malaise so prevalent among many black Tulsans—especially after the destruction of the riot and the depression of the oil boom.

Like Florence, Robert dedicated his talents and education to the service of God and his fellow man, working with young people through various public service organizations primarily for the city of Tulsa.

Although they have remained members of separate churches throughout their long marriage (he has always belonged to Mt. Vernon AME Church), both Florence and Robert attribute the success of their marriage, their careers, and their lives to the faithfulness of God.

“It doesn’t make any difference which church you attend,” says Florence. “There’s only one church, and that’s the one the Lord Jesus is building.”

When asked why she likes Trinity, Florence replies, “I like Trinity because everyone seems to be trying to do what God told them to do. If every church in town helped the street people the way Trinity does, there wouldn’t be any hungry people here.”

Florence and Robert Fairchild know what it’s like to be outsiders. That’s why they have worked so long and hard for unity and harmony among all of God’s children regardless of their differences.

 —Jimmy Peacock

Notes and Sources

To read about or purchase the book titled Death in a Promised Land on the subject of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, visit this Web site: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Promised-Land-Tulsa-Race/dp/0807117676

To learn more about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Google it online or visit the Wikipedia Web site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_riot

To learn more about Trinity Episcopal Church, visit its Web site at http://www.trinitytulsa.org/

The black-and-white photo of Florence and Robert Fairchild was part of the original Trinity Life article and appears with permission of Ed Roling, the former editor of Trinity Life. As noted in the text, the color photos were taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used with permission of Trinity Episcopal Church.

For more about Trinity and this book, visit my blog post titled “A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage.”

“Ah’m sa glad to git back down home whur they call it a ‘bush hawg’!”
(and not a “brush-hahg”)
—My SEARK country cousin after returning from
agri school in Fayetteville in the Ozarks

Although I keep saying that I must stop blogging due to my increasing age and declining health, I keep being provided fascinating tidbits sent to me by faithful friends, family members, and readers.

I have accumulated some of these tidbits, organized them into categories, and now offer them here in this post for your enjoyment and benefit. I hope you will at least skim through these quotes, links, excerpts, and photos and examine those that appeal to you most.

Dialect

  “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
—Matthew 26:73 NIV

“An [American's] way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
The moment he talks he makes some other
[American] despise him.”
—“Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak,”
from the musical My Fair Lady

In a recent issue of the New York Times there appeared an interesting dialect quiz in which Americans’ geographical area of the United States can be deduced by their speech or accent. To read that article titled “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” and to take this quiz, click here or go to this Web site.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?_r=0

Incidentally, my test results showed that I speak like a native of a triangular area bound by Little Rock, Arkansas, on the top; Shreveport, Louisiana, on the bottom left; and Jackson, Mississippi, on the bottom right. That area is precisely correct since it basically centers on the Delta of Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised and spent much of my adult life.

Mari’s quiz results showed her speech to be closer to that of residents of a similar area farther south and east bounded by Little Rock, Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. That is a bit of a surprise since we both came from the same area in SEARK and have lived in the same cities in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.

I encourage you to take the quiz and to see how accurate you feel your results are. (To read my earlier post titled “Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern?” which includes another similar dialect quiz, click here.)

The Delta

Aerial photo of the Delta flatlands

Aerial photo of the Delta flatlands by Sarah Beaugez (to magnify, click on the photo)

To learn more about Sarah Beaugez and her photographs of the Delta and her writings about it, click here or go to her Web site at http://sarahbeaugez.zenfolio.com/p186231761. Once there, to watch a slideshow of some of Sarah’s Delta photos set to the song “Ode to Billie Joe” sung by Bobbie Gentry, click on “Slideshow” in the upper right hand corner of the home page.

I have always loved the song in this video since I remember so well the first time I heard it. It was back in the summer of about 1967 or 68 when Mari and I were home in McGehee from the University of Arkansas where I had gone back from Holly Grove to get my master’s degree in French.

While there I received a call from one of my former Ouachita Baptist College teachers who invited me to come to Judson College (a Southern Baptist girls’ college) in Marion, Alabama, for an interview for a teaching position in business.

Mari and I were driving on Highway 82 between Greenwood and Columbus, Mississippi, near Starkville when we heard this song by Bobbie Gentry on the radio. Thinking it was a local production I turned to Mari and said, “Boy, that is really good. Somebody ought to take that song and put it out nationally.” Of course, “somebody” did do just that, and it became a monster hit.

Now whenever I hear it I am transported back to the hills and two-lane highways of East Mississippi and to a simpler, happier, and healthier time and place in my past. I wish I could go back now—but as I say in one of my nostalgic poems, “. . . time never runs in reverse.”

So thanks to Sarah Beaugez for taking me back there for a few precious moments.

Incidentally, here is what Sarah has to say about a person with passion. It could have been written about me and my passion for the Delta (italics mine):

“His passion for the land was palpable. He knew each and every curve and line in each field. They were not simply parcels of earth; they were intimately known patches of rich, black, Delta dirt; each with a name; each with their own identity. He was most certainly passionate about each one.

“Passion does not begin with love. Passion begins with the way that one lives life; living as though everything that one encounters is unique in and of itself. The object of passion can be a thing, a concept, or a person. It matters not. If one is passionate about anything then it seems one is passionate about all things. The only thing that one who is passionate seems to care about is that anyone could be dispassionate… about life. About living…”

Page from 1958 Look magazine article titled "The Shrinking South"

Page from 1958 Look magazine article by Hodding Carter of Greenville, MS, titled “The Shrinking South” with photos made in Arkansas City and showing the migration of Southern blacks to the North. The caption reads “Even the river’s moved away.” (To magnify, click on the photo.)

To view a musical video titled “Darkness on the Delta,” sent to me by Pat Scavo, click here.

To view another version of “Darkness on the Delta” by Duff Dorrough of Pocahontas, Arkansas, from Best of Duff album, published on October 8, 2012, click here.

To learn more about the theme song of the Delta, “Darkness on the Delta,” click here.

To hear Jimmie Rodgers, a 1930s folksinger with a distinctive Mississippi accent, singing the classic, must-hear “Mississippi Delta Blues,” click here.

To view a musical video with an original song by Marty Denton of McGehee, Arkansas, titled “Their Shadows” about the Japanese Relocation Camps in the Delta of Southeast Arkansas, click here.

To learn more about the WWII Japanese-American Relocation camps in the Southeast Arkansas Delta, go to: “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum,“Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta,” and “The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps.”

Woman from the past picking cotton in an Arkansas Delta field

Woman from the past in an Arkansas Delta cotton field (to magnify, click on the photo from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)

To visit a Web site about the historic Mississippi River port city of Helena, Arkansas, and its Delta Cultural Center, click here.

Mississippi River 

The Kate Adams steamboat on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City, Arkansas

The Kate Adams steamboat on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City, Arkansas, historic riverport and our county seat

“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is virtually impossible to get out . . . assuming any fool would try.”
—Jimmy Peacock

Recently my longtime friend Danny Lynchard, a native of the Mississippi River Delta town of Cleveland, Mississippi, and director of the Tulsa Police and Fire Chaplaincy Corps, had this to say about the Mighty Mississippi (italics mine):

“I often thought of the Mississippi River as the spinal cord of America. Everything came through it and filtered into the body of the country around it. It was deep in legend, mythology and livelihood.  Everything was bigger in the Mississippi. The boats, the trotlines, the bait you used and the mighty catfish.

“It was part of many of the family stories of both tragedy and triumph. It belonged to us and we belonged to it. It could give life or take life giving it an almost human quality . . . at least a personality. It could permanently stain your clothes but more importantly and less noticed, it would stain your soul with its presence and power. Like its rushing waters, it forced itself into your heart bringing both hope and fear. No man could tame it yet all men claimed it as their own. In some ways, it even helped me understand the Almighty. You could work with Old Man River and he could bring many a blessing and joy. You could work against him, and one day, pay the price.”

To read an article titled “Mapping the Lower Mississippi Water Trail” sent to me by Pat Scavo on November 16, 2013, click here.

To read an article sent to me by Pat Scavo on December 2, 2013, titled “Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year” for cleaning up the Mississippi and other rivers, click here.

Nostalgia

An antique Arkansas gas pump from our childhood days

An antique Arkansas gas pump from our childhood days

“Nostalgia is just not what it used to be.”
—Anonymous

“. . . nostalgia for certain values tends to set in just as they’re disappearing.
Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too. . . .
We can choose how we live.
With cheer and faith or temper and worst behavior.”
Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013
(For more on this subject, see my previous post.)

To view a video by McGehee native Marty Denton singing his song about yesterday with photos from McGehee and the Vietnam War, titled “Never Forgotten, Only a Dream Away,” sent to me by Pat Scavo on October 24, 2013, click here.

To view the Statler Brothers singing “Do You Remember These?” with nostalgic photos sent to me by Andy Herren on December 6, 2013, and titled “Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane,” click here.

To view a musical slideshow sent to me by Pat Scavo from Facebook on January 7, 2014, of a song by Marty Denton and others titled, “Everything that’s blue won’t make you sad,” click here.

And as a Grand Finale to the subject of nostalgia, here is a link to “Railroad Jack’s Photostream from the 1950′s” sent to me on January 24, 2014, by Pat Scavo, who writes: “Be sure and  ‘mouse-over’  each photo and  look at the link at the top to FAVORITES to  see Liz!” Liz, of course, being Elizabeth Taylor, my Screen Idol! (For more on this subject of the Lovely Liz, see my earlier post, “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.”)

The 275 photos in three sections from the 1950s featured on the site include places (drive-ins, supermarkets, car dealerships, gas stations, etc); musicians (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, etc.); cars (Fords, Chevys, Chryslers, hot rods, dragsters, etc.); movie stars (Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert Mitchum, Natalie Wood, etc.); sexpots (Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, etc.), and many other 1950′s icons.

“If you look like your passport photo, then in all probability you need the journey.”
—Earl Wilson

“The journey from ego to soul takes going from a me-full life to a meaningful life.”
—Rabbi David Aaron, quote provided by Dr. Paul Talmadge

In my previous post, titled “Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary,” I offered some quotes, photos, links and other materials on these subjects that had been sent to me after my final regular blog post.

Since that time I have received several related contributions on nostalgia for the past from interested readers. I have also received some fresh inspiration from a current Walt Disney movie titled Saving Mr. Banks that seems to relate to me in a special personal way. Finally, I have also been inspired by two entries from a daily devotional to describe an incident that occurred during the recent holiday/holy day period that spoke to me about my life in a way that may also speak to the lives of many of my readers.

Perhaps each of us needs to begin this “journey from ego to soul” as we enter this new year in our daily lives.

Nostalgia and the Power of Storytelling

“. . . nostalgia for certain values tends to set in
just as they’re disappearing.
Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too. . . .
We can choose how we live.
With cheer and faith or temper and worst behavior.”
—Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013

“Did you think that Mary Poppins came to rescue the children?”
—The author of the Mary Poppins books
to members of the Walt Disney film organization

In a composite of several online reviews of the current Walt Disney movie titled Saving Mr. Banks, Disney is quoted as saying to Mrs. J. L. Travers, the author of the books on which he based his 1964 movie Mary Poppins (italics mine):

“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order through imagination. We inspire people, we give hope. Again and again.”

Then he concludes his remarks to her by stating: “Forgiveness. It’s what I learned from your books.”

In this same vein, Willa Cather, noted author of days gone by, once wrote: “Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”

That’s why throughout this entire blog my goal, purpose, and efforts have been to share some of my life experiences with others in hopes that through them not only will I somehow “Save Mr. Peacock,” but that I will also perhaps help to save others—even you!

Saving the Present by Recalling the Past

“I’ve got to the age and stage of my life that
the only things I can remember
are the things I cannot stand to recall!”

—Jimmy Peacock

Writers are exorcists of their own demons.”
(This is my favorite quote—
it’s what I am doing when I write,
and why I share it on my blog.)
—Mario Vargas Llosa

In one of my endless self-quotes I note: “We preserve the past by writing about it.” But not only can we preserve the past by writing about it, we can also redeem it and benefit from it in facing a new and different set of life experiences.

If you saw that classic 1964 Walt Disney movie titled Mary Poppins, you will recall that Mary Poppins came to the George Banks household in London in response to a simple, childish letter requesting a new nanny written by the two Banks children: Jane and Michael.

In that original Disney version, a sort of compilation based on eight books by author P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins was a pivotal character in the struggle to “save” the seemingly secure Banks household from their daily unresolved and even unacknowledged failures and conflicts.

But Mrs. Travers, the author of the series of Mary Poppins books on which that movie was based, did not approve of the proposed Disney musical film version of it. As such, she would not formally sign a legally binding contract for Disney to produce the film version of her works that she imagined him making: a sort of happy-go-lucky, “feel-good” family musical with a typical Disney “happy ending.”

The new 2013 movie titled Saving Mr. Banks, currently playing in “select theaters” across the country and indeed around the world, is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into the reasons Disney wanted to make that “frothy” movie back in 1964, and the conflicting reasons Mrs. Travers did not want it made that way.

I will not spoil the film for those who have not yet seen it, but I will say, as noted by its title, that the story behind the film involves the early life of Mrs. Travers as portrayed through her flashbacks of her childhood, especially those memories that reveal her special but questionable relationship with her own father.

Finally, after repeated conflicts between the “irascible” Mrs. Travers and the “frustrated” Disney screen writers and music composers, the unresolved issue is appealed to the renowned and revered Walt Disney himself.  In a crucial conversation between Disney (Tom Hanks) and Mrs. Travers (Emma Thompson), the exchange between them reveals much about her way of dealing with her own life, especially her troubled childhood, through her writings.

That crucial confrontation allows Disney the opportunity to draw upon his own difficult childhood in a final attempt to convince Travers why she, as a storyteller, should trust him and his staff to present the message of her precious personal family story in the way they envision it.

Since I am also a storyteller who experiences flashbacks of scenes and incidents from my own idyllic childhood and less than idyllic adulthood, naturally the film was as fascinating to me as it was disturbing and insightful. In a way, and to a certain extent, it was also cathartic, as the final Disney version of her story was to a very reluctant and even skeptical Mrs. Travers.

By some mysterious, “magical” means the final film version of her personal and painful story is brought to the screen in a way that moves her to tears of release and hope for a new life free of those “demons” from her own past. In fact, in a sense, the final resolution of the ongoing conflict between Disney and the author might also be titled “Saving Mrs. Travers.”

That’s why I titled this post “Saving Mr. Peacock.” Because for at least forty-plus years I have been trying to do that very thing—save myself by exorcizing my own demons through my writings and through carefully selected citations of self-quotes and quotations and excerpts from the writings of others.

It is also why I highly recommend viewing this film with that understanding, purpose, and goal in mind. Who knows, it might just save you from your past, whether that past is troubled like Mrs. Travers’, difficult like Mr. Disney’s, or idyllic, nostalgic, and painful to recall like Mr. Peacock’s.

Recalling the Past through Stories 

“The road to the future runs through the past.”
—Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith:
Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World 

“What are we but our stories?”
—James Patterson, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer 

In the January 4, 2014, entry in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day, the writer says of the importance of stories and storytelling (italics mine):

“Stories unite us and keep us connected. . . . [they allow] us to recall and share with others what has meaning in our lives; the people, places, and events, and all that we hold sacred. Stories are the gospel of our lives. They bear witness to where we have been, what we’ve come through, and Who brought us here. . . . They are the modern stones of remembrance we lay to recall, to impart to others, and to remain connected to God.” (Copyright 2014 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) (www.forwardmovement.org)

In the January 7 entry of that same devotional it is stated about memory (italics in original):

 “When we remember, we do not simply recall, but we reconnect. Our memories keep us connected to home, family, friends and God. . . . Don’t ever forget who you are, where you have come from, and the God who brought you here.” (Copyright 2014 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) (www.forwardmovement.org)

For more on this subject of recalling and redeeming the past through memory and stories, see my earlier post titled “A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage” based on Frederick Beuchner’s philosophy of “biography as theology.”

In “American Stories: My Family Tree” by David Laskin in the December 29 issue of Parade magazine, Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan states: “We are where we come from.” This statement reflects my own self-quote and philosophy that “where you’re from is who you are.”

In that sense, “where you’re from” includes not only where you were born and raised but also every place you have ever been, everything you have ever done or experienced, and every person you have ever known, even every story you have ever heard or told.

This is what Disney was trying to tell Mrs. Travers about her stories of the imaginary Mary Poppins, whom it turns out was a real person and not a figment of Mrs. Travers’ fertile imagination. He wanted her to realize that as a storyteller himself, he knew and appreciated the value, importance, and power of storytelling not only to preserve and redeem the past (whether good or bad or otherwise) but also to inspire hope for a better future.

In that sense, storytelling is not only entertaining, it is therapeutic—as much for the ones who recount the stories as for those who hear them and benefit from them.

In conclusion, the following anecdote written at the end of 2013 is an example of the power of a simple story to relate a seemingly insignificant incident from the past and to draw from it a very significant lesson for the future.

“Did You See Any Angels This Christmas?” 

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2 NIV

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
—Matthew 25:40 NIV

After publishing my Christmas/fifty-first wedding anniversary addenda post (see previous post on this blog), I was reminded of another “holiday/holy day” incident that occurred in my life recently. I hope you will draw the same lesson from it that I did.

In light of all the Christmas messages to which we are rightly exposed every year, as a Christian and a religious copyeditor I could not help but do as the Virgin Mary and “keep all these things and ponder them in [my] heart” (see Luke 2:19 KJV).

Here is the incident about which I am still pondering the spiritual significance at this waning time in the year and in the fading years of my earthly life.

Returning to Sapulpa from one of our twice-to-thrice-weekly medical trips to Tulsa, Mari pulled into the local drugstore parking lot (I don’t drive anymore) and got out to go in and leave or pick up another one of my endless prescriptions.

While she did so, I sat in the car on the passenger side since one of my health issues is dizziness and a lack of balance, and I did not want Mari to have to help me in and out of the car and the store.

Looked to my right I saw Mari in the middle of the drugstore parking lot conversing with a very thin young woman who was holding the hand of her son, barely more than a toddler. I could tell from their brief conversation that the young woman, whom I did not know, had asked Mari for some money and that Mari had said that she was sorry but she did not have any small bills to give her.

When Mari turned and entered the drugstore and the young woman turned in my direction, I could tell by the pained expression on her face that she was greatly distressed.  So carefully I opened the car door, eased my way out of the vehicle, and cautiously wobbled toward the young woman who looked up at me with a blank stare.

As I approached her, I asked simply, “Do you have a problem?”

She quickly began to explain that her car had run out of gas in the parking lot of the adjacent farm and ranch supply store. She went on to say that she had to get her son back home to a neighboring small town about forty miles away on the other side of the bustling Tulsa metroplex. She concluded her remarks with the woeful lament, “I only have two dollars, which won’t buy anything, and no one will help me.”

At this last statement, her pent-up tears began to flow freely down her face as she looked down at the innocent, grinning face of her son, and then back up to my own with a pleading look of need and despair.

Reaching into my back pocket, I retrieved my wallet, took out a twenty-dollar bill, and handed it to her, saying, “Here, will this help?”

“Oh, yes,” she exclaimed gratefully. “Thank you so much!”

Then looking back down at her little boy she tugged at his hand and said, “Say ‘thank you’ to the nice gentleman.” (She might have said “nice old gentleman” for I am sure that is what she meant, given her age and mine.)

“T’ank kew,” the little type murmured as he pulled the candy lollipop he was sucking on out of his generously smeared mouth and cherry-stained lips and teeth.

After I had made my way carefully back to the car and sat down in the passenger seat, I looked to my right to see what happened to the young woman and her somewhat bedraggled minion. She was nowhere to be seen. Quickly my eyes ranged all over the drugstore parking lot and the one in front of the agri store next to it. But there was no mother and child anywhere in sight.

Suddenly it hit me. Of course, she would not be going back to her car in the parking lot on the right, but to the gas station to the left.

Sure enough, there she was, taking toddler steps and leading her dawdling darling across the parking lot of the storefront church toward the Quik Trip station and convenience store on the far street corner.

Then it also occurred to me that once she got there she would have to purchase a gas can and fill it up, and then make the arduous trek on foot back across those parking lots to her disabled car with a full two-gallon can of gasoline in one hand and her little tyke’s tiny, grimy hand in the other.

By this time Mari had returned and gotten back in the driver’s seat. So as quickly as possible I told her what had happened as she deftly guided the car out into the four-lane, late-afternoon holiday traffic and stated speeding away so that I quickly lost sight forever of the young woman and her grungy son.

Of course, I had already realized that unlike the biblical scribe (which is what I have been for the past thirty-plus years as a religious copyeditor) in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, I had not “passed by” the helpless young woman and her child “on the other side.” However, at the same time unlike that Good Samaritan I had not stayed with the lady and child and truly met her need and his.

I realized that I should have told her to wait until Mari returned. Then we should have driven her and her youthful charge to the Quik Trip, helped her buy a gas can and fill it up, and then driven her and her son back to her car and made sure that it started after being drained totally dry.

I also realized that although I had given her ten times the amount of money she had on her before my act of kindness, she still had to drive forty miles home through horrible holiday traffic and widespread highway construction with her little tyke . . . and then what? How much would she have left of my “great gift” to buy food for their evening meal? And what kind of Christmas was she and the boy going to have with her two dollars and the few “loaves and fishes” left over from my “largesse”?

So I was immediately stricken with mixed emotions. At least I didn’t go away from that experience like Ebenezer Scrooge, who lashed out at a couple of gentleman who dared to ask him to donate something for the care of the hungry and needy at Christmas, and then as Dickens tells us of the old miser, “went away with a raised estimation of himself.” At the same time, did I truly “show hospitality to strangers” and thus perhaps “entertain angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2 KJV)?

But perhaps the most important question at this holy time of year is: Did I act more like the traditional but nonscriptural “kindly innkeeper” in the Nativity Story and provide only the barest of comfort to a Mother and Child in their time of greatest need?

And will I learn from this incident and resolve that in this New Year I will “do for the least of these” as though I am doing it for the Holy Child of Bethlehem and His Beloved Mother?

Will you? Will all of us? Will any of us?

Jimmy Peacock
December 19, 2013

“I have a great confidence in the revelations which holidays bring forth.”
—Benjamin Disraeli 

“Mari and I spent our formative years in the ARK-LA-MISS
and the rest of our lives in the HIT-OR-MISS!”

—Jimmy Peacock

In my last and final regular blog post I offered quotes (mine and others’) about women’s issues which led into a summary of many of my favorite things discussed in the blog, and then closed with a tribute to my most favorite thing of all: Mari.

Since that time, faithful friends have been so thoughtful as to keep sending me quotes, photos, links, and other materials they were sure would be of interest to me. In return, I have taken most of these contributions that relate to Christmas and added one or two of my own, especially about our fifty-first wedding anniversary on December 27.

Hopefully, later I will begin the new year by publishing a second addenda post with some additional closing tidbits to my blog, featuring quotes, links, photos, captions, and other memorabilia, especially about the Delta.

Christmas, Elvis, the U.S. Air Force,
And the “Real Sister Act”

Arkansas country church in winter

Annie’s Chapel, an Arkansas country church in the snow (to magnify, click on the photo sent to me by Pat Scavo from a Facebook entry posted by the Arkansas Department of Tourism)

To view a video sent to me by Pat Scavo of a great Elvis impersonator from French Canada singing the Elvis Presley version of “Blue Christmas,” click here.

To view a wonderful video sent to me by Ed Snider, a Ouachita Baptist College classmate, of a flash mob of the United States Air Force surprising visitors to the National Air and Space Museum with a medley of Christmas classics, click here.

To view a reverent yet rousing video, sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell, of the “Real Sister Act” under the direction of Andre Rieu singing “I Will Follow Him,” click here.

Christmas and the Past

“I have always thought of Christmas . . . as the only time I know of . . . when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people as if they really were fellow-travellers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
—Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew
in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

The reason I dwell on the past so much is because that is where most of the people and things of my life have gone, and where I will soon join them. Most people don’t realize that we are all destined to become—sooner or later—“a thing of the past!”

The difference between me and most other people is that I recognize that fact, I am honest about it, and I am actually looking forward to it! It’s the only way I will ever get to “go home again!” 

Nevertheless, in the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Christmas and My Homesick Exile, Our Wedding Anniversary,
and Our Second Honeymoon

“I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree.

“Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.”

Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, GANNON & KENT MUSIC CO, CARLIN AMERICA INC
(To hear this song sung by Bing Crosby, click here.)

To read my earlier Christmas post titled “The Three Unwise Men: An Arkansas Christmas Memory,” about my “lonesome exile” at the University of Arkansas in graduate school back in 1960-62 before our wedding at Christmas 1962, and featuring this song, click here.

On Sunday, December 29, I plan to go forward in church, put a dollar in the Joy Jar and announce: “On Friday, December 27, Mari and I celebrated our fifty-first wedding anniversary. We were married at Christmas time in 1962 in the First Baptist Church of McGehee, Arkansas. Some of y’all have expressed appreciation for Mari’s reading of the Christmas scriptures in church recently. We appreciate your spiritual judgment in wanting to hear them read by someone who is actually from the Holy Land!” (For additional birthday/wedding anniversary Joy Jar statements, see my earlier post titled: “Mari: Anniversary Remembrances.”)

My New Orleans Honeymoon/Anniversary Story

“Mari and I spent the first night of our honeymoon on December 27, 1962, fifty-one years ago, in Monroe, Louisiana. Monroe is two hours south of our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, and the current location of the popular real-life TV show ‘Duck Dynasty.’ It’s where we took our first exciting lap on our planned journey to New Orleans and our first tentative step toward the foundation of our ‘Peacock Dynasty’!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life really never grows old.”
—Franz Kafka, Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, 12/16/13

In the December 1 post of his blog titled Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, my Ouachita Baptist College classmate and longtime friend Joe Dempsey of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, made this statement about some Delta musicians in New Orleans:

These performers were making good music. After I salted their bucket and engaged them in a bit of conversation, I discovered that like me, they hailed from Arkansas. I failed to take note of their hometown, but I do remember that it was far north of my Delta home stomping grounds.” (To read Joe’s full post, click here.)

What’s interesting is that Mari and I had something of the same experience that Joe did. Back in about the time of spring break in 1963 we returned to New Orleans for a “second honeymoon” since the first one in December 1962 went so bad, as I described in one of my blog posts. (For the full story see “Our Honeymoon Was No Honeymoon for Mari.”)

After having Mari’s portrait painted by a sidewalk artist (see photographic facsimile below), we began walking north up one of the virtually deserted side streets. There we encountered an old black man and two women who seemed to be his daughters. He was wearing sunglasses and sitting in one of those narrow doorways right on the street with his daughters standing on each side of him.

I had stopped near them to reach in my pocket to see if I had forgotten my car keys when he must have heard me jingling change. So like blind Bartimaeus who called out to Jesus, he called out to me and reached out his tin cup for alms.

Being soft-hearted and not wanting to disappoint a poor old blind black man I reached back into my pocket and gathered up all the change in it which I dropped into his waiting cup.

Immediately he smiled an almost toothless grin and said with the traditional rural Southern black dialect and deference of that day, “Thankee kinely, Cap’n, thankee. God bless ya, suh.”

When I replied something like, “You’re welcome,” he must have recognized my distinctive Southern white accent and drawl because he asked, “Whur you frum, Cap’n?”

When I said, “Arkansas,” he immediately asked, “Whur’bouts in Awkinsaw, Cap’n?”

“Holly Grove,” I answered because that’s where Mari and I were living when we first started out teaching in 1962.

“Holly Grove, Awkinsaw!” he responded immediately and perked up noticeably.

“Do you know where that is?” I asked, a bit surprised.

“Aw, yassuh, I sho’ does,” he responded eagerly. “I used to pick cotton in Brankley [Brinkley], Awkinsaw [the seat of Monroe County in which Holly Grove is located].”

Arkansas Delta cotton pickers from days gone by

Cotton pickers in the Arkansas Delta from days gone by (to magnify, click on the photo taken from A Photographic Legacy by I. Wilmer Counts Jr, copyright 1979)

Then, as if in reminiscence of an earlier, happier time in his life he remarked wistfully, “I sho’ does wish I wuz still back in Brankley, Awkinsaw, pickin’ cotton. Yassuh, I sho’ does.”

So as we bid farewell, he called out after us again with heartfelt emotion, “Thankee kinely, Cap’n, thankee kinely. God bless ya, suh!”

That’s one of those “Kodak moments” that stick in your memory “’cause I sho’ does wish I wuz back in Holly Grove, Awkinsaw, ‘in them ole cotton fields back home’! Yassuh, I sho’ does!” But unfortunately, gone are the days, and now I am old and sick and tired and worn out and almost blind and left to “languish in lonely exile here.”

But as the opening Christmas song quoted above from my earlier, youthful exile in Fayetteville says: “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”

And as I always add to such longing reminiscences of bygone days, “At least my wife is still young and beautiful!” As evidence see the photo of Mari on our fiftieth wedding anniversary that I used to close my last regular blog post, and the photo of her below as she looked when the New Orleans sidewalk artist drew her portrait in Jackson Square on our honeymoon at Christmastime in 1962.

Mari engagement photo

Facsimile photo of New Orleans artist drawing of Mari

“The reason God quit creating after He had made woman is because He realized that even He could not improve upon Perfection!”
–Jimmy Peacock

“I had been writing for twenty-five years
before I realized that the theme
of all my writing is . . . loss!”

–Jimmy Peacock

In the previous three posts I have presented a series titled “A Few of My Favorite Things.” In this final post in that series, and as a summary of my blog at the time of my seventy-fifth birthday, I close with some of my favorite quotes about women’s issues. These quotes then lead into a conclusion to the primary themes of the entire blog, and my “last word” on it.

As always, my comments within the quotes are set in brackets, and my comments after the quotes are set in parentheses. My emphases are indicated by italics.

Women’s Issues

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”
—Joseph Conrad, Celebrity Cipher,
Tulsa World, 11/09/13

“I never have a conversation without talking about the two loves of my life: Arkansas and Mari!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Woman is the dominant sex. [That is certainly true in my marriage!] Men have to do all sorts of stuff to prove that they are worthy of woman’s attention.” (And then they don’t always get it the way they want. As Jeff Foxworthy once said, “I must admit that I married my wife for her looks—but not the ones she’s been giving me lately!” I know the feeling!)

—Camille Paglia, Celebrity Cipher,
Tulsa World,
February 22, 2013

“Whenever ‘soft, sweet Mari’ gets riled up and goes into her hard-headed, tight-fisted, fire-breathing, tongue-lashing mode I call it ‘Gone with the Mild’ and I call her ‘Starlet O’Terror’!” (See my earlier quote that if I ever come back in another life I want to be called Rhett Butler ‘cause I know what it’s like to be married to Scarlett O’Hara—even a blonde one!)

—Jimmy Peacock

“The emergence of spirituality in early humans began with the ability to recognize beauty, to distinguish ‘betterness’ in some forms of reality over others and to conclude that there was something or someone who made it that way.” (That’s why I am thoroughly spiritual because I virtually worship beauty—especially feminine beauty!)

—Dr. Paul Talmadge,
Southern Baptist educator

(To view and hear a musical site provided by Dr. Talmadge of “morphing” photos of fifty of the most beautiful women of our time, including at least fifteen I have featured as my favorites in earlier posts on feminine beauty, click here.)

“The contemplation of beauty causes the soul to grow wings.” (It also causes the heart to ache or even break, as when someone once described Elisabeth Taylor as “achingly beautiful.” I agree. That’s why every morning I look at the five photos of her I have taped around my shaving mirror—and the seven around my computer screen—and I sigh!)

—Plato, quoted in Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, June 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor (to magnify, click on the photo)

“Elizabeth Taylor is the most beautiful creature that God ever made—except Mari, of course!” (As I say, “There is a word for women like Elizabeth Taylor: exquisite! The problem is that there are no other ‘women like Elizabeth Taylor’—except Mari, of course!”)

The photo of Elizabeth Taylor was provided by Pat Scavo in an email on July 23, 2013, from this source:
http://www.shorpy.com/node/15652?size=_original#caption

Final Note on A Few of My Favorite Things

“The only two titles I ever coveted were those of Southern Gentleman and the Will Rogers of Arkansas. Now approaching the end of my life I can clearly see that I don’t deserve either one!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
may just be passing fancies and in time may go. . . .
In time the Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble,
They’re only made of clay.
But our love is here to stay.”

–”Our Love Is Here to Stay,” by Ira Gershwin and George Gershwin
(To hear this song sung by Johnny Mathis, click here)
(
To read an article about 10 things that will disappear in our lifetime, click here)

In the November 17, 2013, post on his blog titled “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” my Ouachita Baptist College buddy and designer of my blog, Joe Dempsey, wrote: “The ominous truth is, our societal structure cannot and will not preserve most of what ‘was.’”

That seemingly fading and failing effort to “preserve most of what ‘was’” has been precisely the point and purpose of my entire blog.

Yet despite what may be presumed from my voluminous writings in this blog about “a few of my favorite things,” the truth is that none of the following items featured in the previous posts represent the “last and lasting word” in this blog—NOT . . .

  1. . . . the South, Arkansas, the Delta;
  2. . . . the Mississippi River, riverboats, levees;
  3. . . . plantations,  cotton and rice fields, antebellum mansions, Civil War battlefields;
  4. . . . shotgun houses, dogtrot houses, sharecroppers, tenant farmers;
  5. . . . home, land, tradition, memory, the past;
  6. . . . my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, my alma maters of Ouachita Baptist College (“Go, Tigers!”) and the University of Arkansas (“Wooooo, Pig, Sooooey!”);
  7. . . . childhood memories of fourteen-cent “Sairdie-nite” double features with a “shoot-’em-up” (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, et al.) Western; a Bowery Boys comedy; a Warner Bros cartoon; previews of coming attractions; and commercials for RC Cola and the local Chevy dealership;
  8. . . . birth and childhood in a farmhouse without electricity, running water, indoor plumbing (only a “slop jar,” i.e., chamber pot, for “calls of nature” in the middle of the night), air-conditioning, TV (only a battery radio);
  9. . . . Southern Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, grade school (without any kindergarten), high school (without any middle school or junior high school);
  10. . . . Southern fried “chickin an’ mashed ‘taters with ‘nanner puddin’” for dessert, fried catfish and hushpuppies, “bobba-chew” (the “whole-hawg kind” cooked “awl nite lawng in a hole in the groun’ and basted reg’lar with gen-u-wine East Arkansaw brown sauce”);
  11. . . . magnificent Southern magnolias in full bloom, sluggish bayous and sloughs (swamps to you Yankees) lined with cypress trees trailing Spanish moss, palmettos (miniature palms), alligators, cottonmouths (deadly poisonous water moccasins);
  12. . . . my three folk heroes: Will Rogers, Elvis Presley, and Robert E. Lee;
  13. . . . Southern Gospel music, Delta Blues music, Grand Ole Opry-style Country-Western music; 1950s Rock ’n’ Roll music, Elvis Presley music, Doo-Wop music, college boys’ quartet music, etc.;  
  14. . . . feminine beauty, charm, grace, gentility;
  15. . . . soft Southern nights, soft Southern accents, soft Southern belles;
  16. . . . even the Exquisitely Beautiful Elizabeth Taylor (whose thirteen photos surround my daily life, stir my soul, and torment my yearning mind and aching heart daily).

No, as vitally important as any and all of these things and people (and countless others) are to me—none of them is what I want my “last word” to be in this post . . . or in this blog . . . or in this life.

That “last (endearing, enduring) word” from Jimmy Peacock—in this life and in the life to come—is now and always will be . . . Mari!

(To view my opening May 12, 2011, dedication of this entire blog to Mari with a photo of her in her wedding gown made on December 27, 1962, click here.)

Mari

To magnify, click on this fiftieth wedding anniversary photo of . . . Mari!

“You are a real conservator of a special place and time.”
—Paul Talmadge, Southern Baptist educator,
to Jimmy Peacock in email dated May 24, 2013

“Maybe our favorite quotations
say more about us
than the stories and people we’re quoting.”

–John Green, Celebrity Cipher,
Tulsa World, November 8, 2013

In the third of this series of posts titled “A Few of My Favorite Things” I continue to summarize the basic message of this blog. I do so by listing some of the best quotes I have discovered on a variety of subjects since my previous posts were published. Afterward, in the fourth and final post in the series, I will identify and emphasize the “last word” in all my writings and in fact in all my life.

But to learn that final word, please continue to at least skim through these other “final words” that lead up to that concluding expression of everything I have ever written.

Now let’s begin with a few of my favorite recent quotes on a few of my favorite longtime subjects. As always, my insertions in the quotes are set in brackets while my personal remarks about the quotes are set after them in parentheses. My emphases are indicated by italics.

Books and Writing

“In the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.”
–Anonymous

“There are different rules for reading, for thinking, and for talking.
Writing blends all three of them.”
—Mason Cooley

“I hate writing but I love having written.” (Me too! But as I say, “You preserve yesterday by writing about it today!”)

—Dorothy Parker

“[In writing] One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time.” (This is precisely what I have been trying to do in this blog!)

—W.S. Merwin,
quote provided by Pat Scavo

“Brevity is the language of the gods.” (Which is why I have never been able to claim that I speak for God, and why I have doubts about many of those who do! I have often wondered how many would want to be “spokesmen for God” if they were required to take a vow of poverty, chastity . . . and silence!)

—Anonymous, quoted by Vivienne Schiffer,
author of Camp Nine, a historical novel about
the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps
near my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas

“Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.” (So I am not alone but am marvelously equipped!)

—Edward Gibbon

“As for writing, most people secretly believe they themselves have a book in them, which they would write if they could only find the time. And there’s some truth to this notion. A lot of people do have a book in them—that is, they have had an experience that other people might want to read about. But this is not the same thing as ‘being a writer.’ . . . [As a writer] you represent mortality, whether you like it or not.” (And that mortality is what has motivated me to collect, compile, and publish my writings on this blog!)

—James D. Watts Jr,
“Learning what ‘The Dead’ have to say,”
quoting Margaret Atwood in her book
“Negotiating with the Dead:
A Writer on Writing,”
Tulsa World, March 17, 2013

Religion, Politics, and Philosophy

“The last time we mixed religion with politics people were burned at the stake.”
–Bumper sticker seen in Sapulpa, Oklahoma

Listen to your life, see it for the fathomless mystery that it is . . . . because, in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
—Frederick Buechner, Now and Then 

“All I know about religion is basically what I learned in forty years of Southern Baptist Sunday school—plus some additional information I have picked up over the past thirty-plus years of laboring daily ‘in the Lord’s vineyard.’” (See my previous post titled “Life Is Reg’lar/My Mother’s Bible” in which I explain how I became a religious copyeditor with absolutely no qualification or credentials.)

—Jimmy Peacock

“Spiritual writer and speaker Paula D’Arcy has said, ‘God comes to you, disguised as your life.’” (For a fuller discussion of this subject of what Frederick Buechner called “biography as theology,” see my earlier post titled “A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage.”)

—Paula d’Arcy quoted by Ed Roling
in personal email to Jimmy Peacock
on August 22, 2013

“If the splendour and glory of God are to shine forth from your service, then you must be prepared to enter the night.” (Then I must be bringing great splendor and glory to God in my service because I have been in the dark night of misery and exile for thirty-six years!)

“God’s blessing will be on your service only if you serve Him at the place He has called you to. If you choose the place yourself, His judgments will come upon your service and no matter how successful it may appear, it will bear no true fruit.” (Then my thirty-six years of service in My Oklahomian Exile must be fruitful and a blessing to someone because I certainly didn’t choose it or its place!)

–Anonymous quotes sent to Jimmy Peacock
by Ed Roling on October 31, 2013,
the thirty-sixth anniversary of the day
Jimmy moved to Sapulpa, Oklahoma

“It’s not enough to know God’s WILL, you also have to know His WON’T!” (For example, it is obvious that God is not going to restore me to my beloved Arkansas homeland any more than He is going make me twenty-one years old again, no matter how strongly I believe it or how fervently I confess it!)

–Jimmy Peacock

“The study [of religious faith] also theorized about the rise of ‘none’ in the U.S., from 8 percent of the population in 1991 to 20 percent in 2012. It noted young adults are less likely to engage in community participation of any kind, including church; and are more likely to consider religious people as insincere and hypocritical.

“So what are the millennials looking for? Uncompromising truth; substantive, serious faith and not entertainment or theatrics. The study’s advice for parents: create homes where children ‘witness a vibrant faith that’s lived out honestly and intentionally.’”

–Bill Sherman,
“Young adults exiting church, study shows,”
Tulsa World, November 4, 2013

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” (As Josh Billings said, “The trouble with most folks ain’t so much ignorance as it is knowin’ so many things that just ain’t so!”)

—Thomas Jefferson

“It is said in some circles, with a ring of truth, that expectations sow the seeds of resentment.” (Or as I say, “No one can be fully enlightened until he has first been totally disillusioned.”)

—Saying attributed to AA meetings

“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” (And yet knowing that fact full well, I constantly feel I have no other choice!)

—Henry Garcia, Celebrity Cipher,
Tulsa World, June 27, 2013

“What we anticipate seldom occurs, but what we least expect generally happens.” (Which is precisely why I have learned to always expect and prepare for the worst case—because if I don’t, I will be blindsided every time! I am neither a cock-eyed optimist nor a pop-eyed pessimist, I am a bull’s-eye realist!)

—Benjamin Disraeli, Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, June 27, 2013

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass . . . It’s learning to dance in the rain! . . . We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” (Unfortunately, being raised Southern Baptist I never learned to dance and being a land-lover never learned to adjust sail!)

—Anonymous quotes provided by
Dr. Paul Talmadge,
Southern Baptist educator

The South/Home/Sense of Place/Land/Past/Memory

“Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
And don’t you remember?”
—Jesus to His disciples in Mark 8:17-18 NIV

“In the South every man has a bit of Rhett Butler in him.” (See my earlier self-quote on wanting to come back in another life as Rhett Butler because I know what it’s like to be married to Scarlett O’Hara, even if she is a blonde one!)

—Ted Turner

“The Promised Land [home] is not a place to be conquered by armies and solidified by displacing other people. The Promised Land is a corner in the heart, or it is any environment that has been mythologically spiritualized.” (That’s why I say that Oklahoma is not my Promised Land, it’s my Purgatory!)

—Joseph Campbell,
quote provided by Pat Scavo

“. . . how do you explain a sense of place to someone so unburdened (and unblessed) by one? It is more than a geographical designation, a sense of place. It has to do with identity, with roots sunk deep not just in the land but in the language and look and feel, and maybe death, of a place.” (You don’t explain it because you can’t.)

—Paul Greenberg,
“Above all, a sense of place,”
Tulsa World, March 6, 2011

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.” (A spokesman for the Chickasaw Nation here in Oklahoma says in a TV commercial for his people, “My task is to preserve the past for the sake of the future.” That is my task and my purpose too, for as long as I have left!)

—Aldo Leopold, Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, October 22, 2011

“The 1950s are considered the last days of innocence. Pop music was loved by parents and kids alike. . . Rock and pop legends bring back the best songs from the late 1950s and early 1960’s rock, pop, and doo-wop era . . .”

—Ads for “Magic Moments:
The Best of ‘50’s Pop” and
“Rock, Pop and Doo Wop”
musical programs broadcast on OETA
in the Tulsa World, August 5, 2013
To listen to old-time 50′s music, click here
and then click on Pop Years.

“Nobody can be a cowboy forever.”
“I never had to get used to so much [change] in my whole life.”
(Neither have I since I had to quit being a cowboy at age fifteen!)

–Two aging cowhands talking about
the disappearing Old West lifestyle
in the 1970 movie Monte Walsh  

“The most vivid memories aren’t those carved in stone but the ones etched in the mind. Memory deepens with the years, the way a river carves through rock, slowly creating canyons, revealing old layers, and unveiling pain you’d kept decently covered before, bringing it all back. Sometimes the river cannot be contained and will overflow its banks. You feel the emotions swelling. Maybe on an anniversary, or when you hear a certain song, or for no discernible reason at all. And it all comes back, the joy and anguish of the past cresting in your mind. . . . Even as those who treasure their memory grow older, then elderly, and then they, too, are gone.” (I totally agree because I am experiencing it myself with the increasing passage of time!)

—Paul Greenberg, “Changing memories
of the old lady in black,”
Tulsa World, May 26, 2013

 Humor

“I believe that laughter is the best emotional Band-Aid in the world. It’s like nature’s Neosporin.”
—Matt LeBlanc, Celebrity Cipher,
Sapulpa Daily Herald, July 17, 2013

“I summarize my life’s goal and desire in my self-composed epithet: ‘I want to live in joy, die in peace, and leave a legacy of love and laughter!’” (So far I have already failed in the first goal and am sure I will fail in the latter two also!)

—Jimmy Peacock

“Three men from the United Arab Emirates were expelled from a religious festival in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadn. The Saudi Morality Police deemed the trio ‘too handsome’ harboring a potential to lead the local women astray.” (That very same thing happened to me thirty-six years ago when I was banished from the Holy Land (Arkansas) to Babylon (Oklahoma) for the very same reason!)

Sapulpa Daily Herald, August 24, 2013

“Ain’t it funny, we can see our friends or neighbors go out and make bad investments, do fool things, but we never say a word. We let him risk his life and his money without any advice. But his vote? We got to tell him about that, for he is kinder ignorant and narrow-minded and don’t see things our way.” (As I say, “You start out telling people your business, and they will end up telling you your business–and it won’t take very long!”)

—Will Rogers, quoted in the Tulsa World,
Sunday, March 17, 2013

“The quest of every life, whether realized or not, is to get back home.”
—Anonymous

Find solace in things that are culturally connected, not politically connected. Music or literature [or photos or videos, or old movies or TV shows, or Web sites or blogs, like this one] can bring you back to your cultural roots, taking your mind to another place—which is home, in a sense.”
—Andy Garcia, Cuban born actor

As noted in the previous post titled “A Few of My Favorite Things, Part I,” that post and this one and the one to follow them should bring the total number of posts on my blog to one hundred and beyond. At the same time, they should bring the total number of visits to my blog to fifty thousand and beyond.

As such and as noted, I hope to mark these milestones with primarily new quotes, photos, and links to other sites and videos that I have accumulated since I published the first ninety-nine posts. Interspersed are some others that I featured in earlier posts on these subjects.

Again, I must give credit to my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate from the Class of 1956, Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) who has provided me much of the information and many of the photos and sources in each of these three posts.

As indicated, I began this series with a post about my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas; the Mississippi River; and the Arkansas Delta. In this second in the series of posts about a few of my favorite things I continue with quotes, photos, and links about my beloved home state of Arkansas; the South; and a couple of Southern icons: Elvis Presley and Gone With the Wind.

As always, my insertions in the quotes are set in brackets, and my comments after the quotes are set in parentheses. My emphases in the quotes are set in italics. The sources of the quotes are set in the copy. Additional attributions and the sources of the photos and links are found in a separate section at the end of the post.

Arkansas

“God loves not him who loves not Arkansas.”
—Anonymous

“Such a beautiful place , I never saw
Oh, let me live once more in Arkansas!”
–James William Jewell,
poet, Arkansas, 1950

“Little Rock [the capital of Arkansas] tops list of best places to live.”

— Cameron Huddleston, “Money Power,
Tulsa World, August 18, 2013

The riverboat Mark Twain at Little Rock

The riverboat Mark Twain on the Arkansas River at Little Rock (to magnify, click on the photo)

“I wanted to share [that history of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957] with others so we can understand where we came from, to keep us from going back.”

—Charlane Hunter Gault,
quoting Amaree Austin,
Southern Living, September 2013

“Most of us have to be transplanted, like a tree, before we blossom.” (I wish that were true for me. But the sad truth is that my thirty-six-year “transplant” from the Holy Land (Arkansas) to Babylon (Oklahoma) has not produced blossoms and blooms but brambles and burrs!)

—Louise Nevelson, Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, 06-18-11

Two replica Bowie knives made at Old Washington, Arkansas

Two Bowie knives made at Old Washington, Arkansas, replicas of the original one made there for famed knifefighter and Alamo defender Jim Bowie (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read about the historic Goodlett Cotton Gin near Old Washington, Arkansas, click here.

To watch a video about Arkansas Delta Blues music and food, click here.

The South and Southerners 

“The whole problem of the South seems to be the result of its long history of good manners and bad judgment.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Southerners can get more tone in a vowel than any Italian Opera Singer!”
—Bellamy Young

“The South is not just a geographic location—it is a way of life. I live in Los Angeles, but being Southern is constantly with me, in large part because I’m always on the phone with someone in North Carolina. My body is here [in L.A.], but my heart is there. . . . I’m a dogged defender of the Southern Idiom. For example, ‘y’all’ is a very undervalued word in the English language. It speaks to everyone, and it speaks to you. What other word serves the purpose it does? No. Other. Word.” [Amen, Sistah!]

—Bellamy Young, quoted by Caroline McKenzie,
Southern Living, September 2013

“A SOUTHERNER is a person born or living in the south . . . . gracious, easy-going, slow–talking, friendly folk, devoted to front porches, cool breezes, oak trees, dogwoods, peaches and fried chicken.”

—Quote provided by Pat Scavo from a plaque
she bought at Cracker Barrel
twenty-five years ago

“Music is as much a part of the South as humidity, thanks to our heritage, the Church, Bourbon.”

—Allison Glock, “Song of the South,”
Southern Living, September 2013

Speaking of Southern food and drink, here are some links to other Southern culinary delicacies and a saying about the laid-back Southern way of life:

To hear Elvis Presley sing “Crawfish” click here.

To learn about Poke Salad, click here.

To watch a video about Arkansas Delta homemade pies and hot tamales, click here.

Ad for Southern pecans

Ad for Southern pecans

To read my blog post about the proper Southern pronunciation of this word “pecan,” click here.

To visit a great Southern Web site titled Bourbon and Boots, click here.

Southern saying from Sweet Tea and Cornbread

Southern saying from Sweet Tea and Cornbread

To view a site with more Southern sayings, click here.

To view some photos of the Great Depression South by Eudora Welty in Oxford American, click here.

To view a photo and hear the famous Southern Staple Singers sing “Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home,” click here.

Elvis Presley 

“One reason Elvis was so successful is because he never got too far from his roots [or never strayed too far from home].”
—Anonymous 

“One thing I learned . . . is that Elvis Presley himself once entered an Elvis-impersonator contest—and came in third.”
—John Paget, documentary film maker

Elvis' pink Cadillac in front of Graceland

Elvis’ pink Cadillac in front of Graceland (to magnify, click on the photo)

To watch a video about Elvis’ boyhood home in Tupelo, Mississippi, click here.

Elvis with a group of young people

Elvis (center with only face showing) with a group of young people from Memphis (to magnify, click on the photo

Elvis with a group of Sun Records artists from his early career

Elvis with a group of Sun Records artists from his early career: (from left) Jerry lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash (to magnify, click on the photo)

Elvis with singer Tom Jones in Elvis' later career

Elvis with singer Tom Jones from Elvis’ later career (to magnify, click on the photo)

To visit a great Web site with a montage of nostalgic photos from the 1950s including singers like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, etc.; actors and actresses like James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood; 50′s cars, clothes, drive-ins, dances, TV shows; etc., click here.

Gone With the Wind

“Oh, Rhett, don’t let’s look back!”
—Scarlett O’Hara to Rhett Butler,
Gone With the Wind

“At age seventy-four most of my life is Gone With the Wind. But if I ever come back in another life I want to be called Rhett Butler, ’cause I know what it’s like to be married to Scarlett O’Hara—even if she is a blonde one!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“In the South every man has a bit of Rhett Butler in him.”

—Ted Turner

My friend and classmate Pat Scavo (i.e., Patsy Mc) sent me this photo on June 14, 2013, with this message: “And now you have a category.”

Rhett Butler

Rhett Butler (to magnify, click on the photo)

Young Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind

Young Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind (to magnify, click on the photo)

Mature Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind

Mature Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind (to magnify, click on the photo)

Addenda to “A Few of My Favorite Things, Part I:
McGehee, the Mississippi River, the Delta and Cotton”

Arkansas Great River Road along the Mississippi River

Arkansas Great River Road along the Mississippi River (to magnify, click on the photo)

“It was just a ‘place’ I thought [until] years later [when] I went to Mud Island in Memphis and discovered all sorts of river facts and lore. It made my information of many stories told in my youth by the adults ‘click’ into the bigger picture. I  really need to go back for another visit there.”
–Pat Scavo in email titled
“Those Places of Our Youth”
sent to Jimmy Peacock on September 7, 2013,
about Mud Island in the Mississippi River
at Memphis

To visit the Web site of the Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island in Memphis, click here.

To view a great Web site for riverboat cruises on the Mississippi River, click here.

Interior of the Arkansas City, an 1890 Mississippi River boat

Interior of the Arkansas City, an 1890 Mississippi River boat (to magnify, click on the photo)

Traditional cotton bales in McGehee, Arkansas

Traditional cotton bales in McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources, Photos, and Links 

Arkansas:

The poem about Arkansas by James William Jewell, poet, Arkansas, 1950, was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
https://sphotos-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/270337_10151579041517817_412518852_n.jpg

The quote “Little Rock tops list of best places to live” was the title of an article in a column titled “Money Power” by Cameron Huddleston, a contributing editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, published in the Business Section of the Tulsa World on August 18, 2013. It was accessed at:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/Money_Power_Little_Rock_tops_list_of_best_places_to/20130818_46_E3_Whatma860278

The quote about the history of the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957 was taken from Charlane Hunter Gault, quoting Amaree Austin, grandniece of Thelma Mothershed, one of the Little Rock Nine, in an article titled “Students of Little Rock High School for Protecting the Future by Understanding the Past,” Southern Living, September 2013.

The photo of the Mark Twain riverboat on the Arkansas River in Little Rock was provided by Pat Scavo from a Facebook entry on July 30, 2013.

The photo of the Bowie knives at Old Washington State Park was provided by Pat Scavo from the following source:
https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/p480x480/1017253_10151489130519142_1397528172_n.jpg

The link to the Goodlett Cotton Gin near Washington, Arkansas, was provided by Pat Scavo from the following source:
http://www.arkansasties.com/Hempstead/Structures/GoodlettGin.htm

The video about Arkansas Delta Blues music and food was provided by Pat Scavo from the following source:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDP5xqgvlnU&feature=share

The South and Southerners:

The definition of a Southerner was provided by Pat Scavo from an unspecified source and was taken from a plaque she saw at Cracker Barrel: http://www.crackerbarrel.com/

The piece about Poke Salad was provided by Pat Scavo from the following source: http://www.southernfoodways.org/

The advertisement for Southern pecans was provided by Pat Scavo from an unspecified source.

The Web site titled “Bourbon and Boots” was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source:
http://www.bourbonandboots.com/

The video about pies and tamales in Lake Village, Arkansas, was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA11-4TARYg

The piece about Sweet Tea and Cornbread was provided by Pat Scavo from an unspecified Facebook link.

The Web site of Southern sayings was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/148536_401260463311190_746886848_n.jpg

The Web site of the Southern Depression photos by Eudora Welty in American Oxford was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://theoxfordamerican.tumblr.com/post/62179480316/eudora-welty-27-portraits-a-year-before-her#notes

The Web site of the Southern Staple Singers was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynlaXo_qdRc

Elvis Presley:

The photo of Elvis’ new pink Cadillac in front of Graceland was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source:
http://www.elvis.com/news/images/Image/ElvisCarsDailyMail.jpg

The link to the video about Elvis’ boyhood home in Tupelo, Mississippi, was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMnYvQK9aKo

The photo of Elvis and the group of young people was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source: https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1044998_355393647920420_949384603_n.jpg

The photos of Elvis with the group of Sun Record artists and with singer Tom Jones were provided by Sonny Henley, a native of McGehee, Arkansas, from an unspecified source.

The Web site with nostalgic photos from the 1950s titled “Olga’s Diner 1957″ was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/blast_of_the_past/

Gone With The Wind:

The photo/saying titled “Rhettrosexual” was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the following source:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/942585_10151402716100947_1286000010_n.jpg

The photos from Gone With the Wind of the young and mature Scarlett O’Hara were taken from a wall calendar with the notation: The characters and elements are trademarks of Turner Entertainment Co & The Stephens Mitchell Trusts © Turner Entertainment Inc. Gone With the Wind MWV Consumer & Office Products, P.O. Box 290001, Dayton, Ohio 45429, www.mead.com © 2012 MeadWestvaco Corporation.

Addenda from “A Few of My Favorite Things I: McGehee, the Mississippi River, the Delta and Cotton”:

The photo of Arkansas Great River Road was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/1383672_10151765314695975_825734731_n.jpg

The Web site of the Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island in Memphis was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.mudisland.com/c-3-mississippi-river-museum.aspx

The Web site for the riverboat cruises on the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/destination/lower-mississippi/new-orleans-memphis-nov29/

The photo of the Interior of the Arkansas City, an 1890 Mississippi River boat, was provided by Pay Scavo and was taken from the Tennessee State Library and Archives at the following Web site:
https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1378235_652323724790199_834507253_n.jpg

The photo of the traditional cotton bales in McGehee, Arkansas, was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/555719_382382391794756_399929242_n.jpg

“Someday all you may have left . . . are memories that make you smile.”
—Andrea Eger, “Godfather a precious memory for a smile,”
Tulsa World, June 15, 2009

This post and the two or three to follow it should bring the total number of visits to my blog (with more than one hundred posts) to fifty thousand and beyond.

As such I hope to mark these milestones with primarily new quotes, photos, and links to other sites and videos that I have accumulated since I published the first ninety-nine posts. Interspersed are some others that I featured in earlier posts on these subjects.

I must give credit to my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate from the Class of 1956, Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) who has provided me much of the information and many of the photos and sources in the posts in this series.

As indicated by the title, I begin this particular post with quotes, photos, and links and videos about our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, the Mississippi River, and the Arkansas Delta and cotton production.

As always, my insertions in the quotes are set in brackets, and my comments after the quotes are set in parentheses. My emphases in the quotes are set in italics.

McGehee, Arkansas

The American Queen on the Mississippi River

The American Queen on the Mississippi River which passes near my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

“‘This trip [a youth church mission trip from Colorado to McGehee, Arkansas] is really a cross-cultural experience for our students. There’s so much we can learn from each other. The hospitality here, you just cannot describe it in words.’

“The students agree that they have witnessed McGehee’s ‘southern hospitality.’

“‘So many people have opened their doors,’ said 17-year-old Jon Comisky. ‘We’ll take back the hospitality with us. My mom’s from the south, but it’s nice to kind of see it. We’ll bring back home the relationships we’ve built here.’

“‘This is my first mission trip,’ said 16-year-old Meredith Miller. ‘It’s been really awesome and this community has been so welcoming. We were sitting at the Ritz [Cafe] the other day just watching people wave at one another at the stop sign. We don’t really see that at home. We don’t take this hospitality for granted.’

“Some of their experiences this week will include eating barbecue on the Mississippi River, fishing at Lake Chicot State Park, local boat tours, shooting skeet, and riding tractors.

The Mississippi River at Potlatch Bend

The Mississippi River at Potlatch Bend near McGehee, Arkansas, the exact spot where Mari and I once caught a five-gallon bucket full of crawdads before we were married (to magnify, click on the photo; to view a musical video made at this spot, click on the link to “You Are the River” in the sources section at the end of this post.)

“The group is also hosting a Vacation Bible School at First Presbyterian Church of McGehee and will participate in a gospel sing-in sponsored by the Delta Minister’s Fellowship Thursday night at the church. The community is invited to the gospel sing-in at 6:00 p.m. Thursday with a potluck meal to follow.”

—Rachel Denton Freeze,
“Community opens doors
to Colorado volunteers,”
McGehee Dermott Times-News, July 18, 2012

To view a slideshow of photos of McGehee, Arkansas, from the past, and the 1965 graduating class of McGehee High School, prepared and set to music by McGehee native David Kersh, click here.

 The Mississippi River

“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is virtually impossible to get out, assuming any fool would try. Heaven better look a lot like home or I’m comin’ back to haunt the Delta Queen.”
–Jimmy Peacock

The Delta Queen awaiting return to the Mississippi River

The Delta Queen awaiting return to the Mississippi River (to magnify, click on the photo)

To view a Web site about the return of the Delta Queen to the Mississippi River, click here.

The Delta Queen

The Delta Queen (to magnify, click on the photo)

“The Mississippi River is the nation’s primary transportation channel for oil, coal, sand, gravel, steel, and agricultural products, serving as a lifeline to the world. . . . . The Mississippi River is one of the world’s largest river systems in size, habitat diversity, and biological productivity. . . .

“Agriculture has been the predominant use for land in the Mississippi basin for nearly 200 years. The agricultural products and the major agribusiness industry that has developed in the basin produces 92% of the nation’s agricultural exports, 78% of the world’s exports in feed grains and soybeans, and most of the livestock and hogs produced nationally. Sixty percent of all grain exported from the United States is shipped on the Mississippi River through the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana.

A Mississippi River towboat pushing barges downstream

A Mississippi River towboat pushing barges downstream (to magnify, click on the photo)

“Local farmers have access to a public port on the Mississippi River—the Chicot-Desha Metropolitan Port at Yellow Bend. . . . This week marks the port’s 20th anniversary. . . .

“River transport has a number of advantages over other methods. . . .

“For example, it would take 60 semi-trucks or 15 railcars to equal the amount of grain one barge can carry. A single towboat can transport up to 30 barges at one time down the river. In reality, it would take 1,800 eighteen-wheeler trucks or 450 railcars to transport the same amount of grain to New Orleans. . . .

“Kenny Gober, . . . on the board of directors for the port, says he sees a bright future.

“‘For me, I would like the people of Arkansas to realize that they have the greatest interstate highway system in the world running down the east side of their state.’”

—Jessica Whitaker, “Local port offers vital service to farmers,”
The [McGehee-Dermott, Arkansas] Times-News,
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sunset on the Mississippi River

Sunset on the Mississippi River near McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

To view a Web site of Gayle Harper’s trip down the Mississippi River from its source to the Gulf of Mexico, especially the posts on Arkansas City and Lake Village, Arkansas, click here and then click here.

To view an update/book on Gayle Harper’s 90-day trip down the Mississippi River, go to www.gayleharper.com. To read her entry on cotton production in the Missouri Bootheel, “where the Mid-West ends and the South begins,” see the Delta-Cotton section below.

The American Queen on the Mississippi River in a side view

The American Queen on the Mississippi River in a side view (to magnify, click on the photo)

To view a video of Paul Robeson singing “Old Man River” from the musical Showboat, click here.

To read a review of a book on the Mississippi River titled Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History by Paul Schneider, as recommended in Parade magazine, the Sunday supplement, click here.

To read about a book titled “The Sultana Tragedy: America’s Greatest Maritime Disaster” published in 1992 by Pelican Publishing Company in New Orleans and copyedited by Jimmy Peacock, click here.

The Kate Adams riverboat

The Kate Adams Mississippi riverboat (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read an article in Arkansas News titled “Kate Adams wears history well” by columnist Joe Mosby posted on September 7, 2013, click here.

To read an article in Oxford American titled “Arterial America: Dispatch from the Mississippi River” by John Cline, click here.

To read an interview with Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, authors of The Tilted World about the historic 1927 Mississippi River Flood, click here.  (Warning: reader discretion advised due to some coarse language.)

To read Joe Dempsey’s recent blog post about a photographic trip down the Arkansas and Mississippi river levees from Pine Bluff to Arkansas City, click here.

The Delta/Cotton

“I have a love-hate relationship with the Delta;
I hate
I love it so.”
—Danny Lynchard, a native of Cleveland, MS

“I have loved my time with old friends, new friends, and mostly the Mississippi Delta, the nearest thing we have to a foreign country.”
–Jane Robbins Kerr, quoted in
“American South Red and Blue,”
The Southern Register, Summer 2013

“Fields are deathly silent,
Where the cotton used to grow.
I’m a stranger in a land
That I used to know.
In a land, a land I’ve not forgotten,
Look away,
Far away.”
–”Far Away” from the movie All the Pretty Horses
(To hear this plaintive song sung by Marty Stuart, click here.)

In regard to the once abundant cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta, many of which are now “deathly silent,” my longtime friend and classmate Pat Scavo (Patsy Mc) recently sent me email reports after her trip to OWLFEST in our hometown of McGehee:

“I will tell you this . . . not much cotton to look at . . . almost everyone has switched to corn and soybeans. I was really surprised that there were hardly any cotton fields left . . . And another part of the equation is that all the gins are going out of business because of the lack of production, and that makes the decision not to plant cotton become easier to make. When we stopped at the Pickens [Plantation], it was the same thing. That was very disappointing. However, the food [at the Pickens Restaurant in the former plantation commissary] was good!”

Note: In an email dated October 14, Pat quoted Taylor Prewitt, who owns a sizeable acreage in SEARK: “The Pickens cotton must have been picked and [the] fields cleared. Besides ours, I think the Pickens cotton may have been the only cotton from PB [Pine Bluff] to McGehee [about sixty miles].”

To read more about the Pickens Plantation, the largest in our home county, click here. For more information about the Pickens Restaurant and Commissary (plantation store), click here.

Finally, Patsy Mc noted sadly: “Soon the only cotton left ‘in the fields down home’ will be at the Lakeport Plantation.”

Cotton fields ready for harvest at the Lakeport Plantation in the Arkansas Delta

Cotton fields ready for harvest at the Lakeport Plantation in the Arkansas Delta with the Mississippi River bridge in the background (to magnify, click on the photo)

A close-up view of Lakeport Plantation and cotton fields

A close-up view of the Lakeport Plantation and its luxurious cotton fields (to magnify, click on the photo)

To view a six-minute video titled “Balancing Act” about the Arkansas Delta, including the phrase, “a love-hate relationship,” click here and then click on the video icon on the top right of the opening page:

To view a video on the making of a movie about the Delta, click here. 

Cotton chopper in Marianna, Arkansas, in the Delta of the past

Cotton chopper in Marianna, Arkansas, in the Delta of the past (to magnify, click on the photo)

Palmer's Folly, a restored Delta plantation house near Holly Grove, Arkansas

Palmer’s Folly, a restored Delta plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas, where Mari and I started out teaching when we got married in 1962 (to magnify, click on the photo)

The tragedy of the burning down of Palmer's Folly, a restored Delta plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas

Tragedy of the burning down of the restored Palmer’s Folly, a Delta plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

The Burris (or Baby Doll) House with cotton fields in full bloom near Benoit, MS, across the Mississippi River from McGehee, AR

The restored Burris House (also called the Baby Doll House) and fields of cotton in bloom near Benoit, MS (across the Mississippi River from McGehee, AR), where the 1950s movie Baby Doll was filmed (to magnify, click on the photo)

Close-up view of the Burris (Baby Doll) House, now beingg called the Hollywood Plantation, near Benoit, MS

Close-up view of the recently restored Burris (Baby Doll) House, now being called the Hollywood Plantation, near Benoit, Mississippi (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read about a book about the rigors of pioneer life in the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas titled Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton, click here.

Several years ago someone gave my teacher-wife Mari some seeds to produce colored cotton to show her students, which she does each year by planting the seeds in our backyard in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. To read more about colored cotton, click here. For photos of different colors of cotton, search for Images of Colored Cotton.

Mari's crop of brown cotton thus far this fall

Part of Mari’s crop of brown cotton so far this fall (to magnify, click on photo)

To visit Gayle Harper’s Web site titled “A Little Cotton Pickin’ Lesson: Roadtripping with a Raindrop Lesson #11” featuring cotton production in in the Missouri Bootheel “where the Mid-west becomes the South.” click here.

To view a Web site featuring handmade Mississippi jewelry and a cotton boll necklace that I purchased for Mari on her recent birthday, click here.

To view a video of Star Trek actor George Takei (Mr. Sulu) talking about his family’s internment in a WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camp in the Delta near McGehee, Arkansas, click here.

WWII Japanese-American internment camp cemetery in the Delta near McGehee, Arkansas

World War II Japanese-American internment camp cemetery in the Delta near McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read an earlier post about the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Internment Camps Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, click here:

To read a review of a book titled Camp Nine about the Rohwer Japanese-American Internment Camp near McGehee, Arkansas, with many quotes and photos of the Arkansas Delta, click here.

To read a book titled The Red Kimono about the same camp from the perspective of one of the Japanese families interned there, click here:

Source of Photos and Links

The photos of the American Queen on the Mississippi River; Potlatch Bend on the Mississippi; and the sunset on the Mississippi were provided by Pat Scavo. To view the musical video titled “You Are the River” click on the Web site below:
http://www.youtube.com/watchv=QYVQCZOoUco&feature=more_related

The photo of the Mississippi River towboat pushing barges downstream was taken from the book The Mississippi River by Ann McCarthy.

The first photo of the Delta Queen and the article about its return to the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://www.wjtv.com/story/22955516/work-underway-to-get-delta-queen-back-on-the-water

The second photo of the Delta Queen was also provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the Stewart Files at this Web site:
https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/1005650_402100626560507_655601493_n.jpg

The article about Gayle Harper’s trip down the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and taken from this Web site:
http://gayleharper.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/blessing-of-the-journey/

The information about the book “Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History” by Paul Schneider was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: http://www.amazon.com/Old-Man-River-Mississippi-American/dp/080509136X

The information about the book “The Sultana Tragedy: America’s Greatest Maritime Disaster” was taken from this Web site:
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Sultana_Tragedy.html?id=KGtCtH3PKrEC

The information about the Arkansas News article titled “Kate Adams wears history well” by columnist Joe Mosby was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://arkansasnews.com/sections/columns/sports/joe-mosby/kate-adams-wears-history-well.html

The information about the article in Oxford American titled “Arterial America: Dispatch from the Mississippi River” by John Cline was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2013/sep/30/arterial-america-dispatch-mississippi-river/

The interview with Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, authors of The Tilted World about the 1927 Mississippi River Flood was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2013/oct/01/author-interview-tom-franklin-beth-ann-fennelly/

The update and book about Gayle Harper’s 90-day trip down the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: www.gayleharper.com

The photos of Lakeport Plantation and its cotton fields were provided by Pat Scavo and were taken from the following Web sites:
http://lakeport.astate.edu/ and https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/994951_10151698243249142_146830523_n.jpg

The photo of the cotton chopper in Marianna, Arkansas, was provided by Pat Scavo. It was obviously taken from a book titled A Photographic Legacy by I. Wilmer Counts Jr. published in 1979 in Bloomington, Indiana, and was captioned “Carl Mydans, June, 1936 Storefront in downtown Marianna.”

The two photos of Palmer’s Folly plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas; the photo of the Burris (Baby Doll) House and cotton fields in bloom near Benoit, Mississippi; and the WWII Japanese-American internment camp cemetery near McGehee, Arkansas; were all provided by Pat Scavo. For more information about the Burris (Baby Doll) House, now called the Hollywood Plantation, visit its Web site at: http://www.hollywoodplantation.com/index.html.

The information about the book Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://www.amazon.com/Trials-Earth-Mary-Hamilton/dp/0615674917

The article titled “A Little Cotton Pickin’ Lesson: Roadtripping with a Raindrop Lesson #11” was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
http://gayleharper.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/a-little-cotton-pickin-lesson-roadtripping-with-a-raindrop-moment-11/

The information about the Web site with the cotton boll necklace and other handmade Mississippi/cotton jewelry was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: http://www.jewelrybyrandy.com/

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