Snow For Christmas By Ralph Jones
Our new little home in Desoto County, Mississippi was just being completed. Even though it was not quite finished we had moved in that fall of 1963. We longed for the wide-open space of the country. Having sold our house earlier in the year, the tiny apartment we rented for the interim was much too small for our family.
"The Country," as we called it, was just that, way down in the rural dairy farming area of the county. It was south of Olive Branch, off US 78 highway and the Ingrahams Mill Road on a little lane called Fairview. We had bought twenty acres some years before and were building a small house there so that our children could grow up in this rural type atmosphere.
Since snow of any consequence is a rarity in the northern most part of Mississippi, no snow was expected. Oh, possibly a dusting of the ground from time to time, but most winters there was no snow at all. However, a few days before Christmas the weather decided to make up for lost time and dropped over twelve inches of beautiful snow. I tried to get out but the snow was so deep it just rolled up in front of the car and finally stopped me altogether. There are no snow moving devices in the county for clearing roads and such. Memphis, twenty-five miles or so to our north, had limited snow equipment for the airport and a few vehicles that, in emergencies, could be fitted with some sort of snowplows for city streets. Our county, Desoto, had none to my knowledge.
It came to my attention, we were snowed in! Our food supply was more than adequate; the electricity, which ran the heat and the deep well for water had not gone out, so no problems there. Knowing that we could not get out, we settled down to enjoy the winter wonderland that the Lord had sent to us. Jan was almost a year and a half old; Joey was a little over four. We had a "blast" playing in the snow. The kids and their mom, Carol, built an igloo in the back yard. Taking an empty cardboard shoebox; the children would pack it full of snow and then stack the blocks of snow into a cute little igloo. It was small, just large enough for the both of them to get into. They had so much fun making it, and then, playing in it for the duration of the cold weather.
There was a situation that bothered me during this time. Some of our Christmas presents had not been purchased. Part of what Santa Clause would need was still unaccounted for. My wifes gift had not been purchased as well as for other family members. I kept trying to think of a way to get out. What to do? Early on Christmas Eve morning it was evident that if any more presents were to be had, I would have to walk out and get to a town somewhere, somehow. If Ingrahams Mill Road was not passable it would be a long trek through deep snow to get to US 78 Highway. Surely the highway would be open. Olive Branch, although not a large town, would do, if that was as far as I could get.
With two pair of pants, shirts, and socks and with gloves, a heavy coat and a warm cap to ward off the cold, I started down our long driveway. Carol and the children waved good-bye to me as I trudged off into the white powdery fluff. It was very cold, but bearable. The walk to the main road was about a half mile and after walking down our little lane I did not expect to find it passable either.
To my surprise a vehicle had been down the road. About that time, a truck came into view, heading in my direction. I automatically "thumbed" for a ride and the truck came to a sliding stop. Two men had taken cow feed to Mr. Herringtons dairy farm not far away, and were headed back to Olive Branch. The truck was not too warm, and the men had a strong aroma about them not taken from a bottle of after-shave or cologne. However, it was a set of wheels and I was most grateful to get the ride. The highway was passable with a reasonable amount of traffic. Once in Olive Branch, I hitched a ride with a traveling salesman headed to his Memphis home for the holidays. He took me as far as the intersection of Semmes and Lamar; there I could catch a city bus.
Opting for downtown and all its good stores, Lowensteins, Goldsmiths, Breas, Black & White, and the like; I got off on Main Street. My wife had given me a list of things needed for the children. I got her a present or two, and a gift for my Mom and Dad. Then with about all the packages one man could successfully carry, I hopped on a bus and headed for our friends house in East Memphis, where we had formerly lived. Having seen the roads, and knowing they were passable, I hoped that one of them would volunteer to drive me back home, or within walking distance at least.
Our friends, Ben and Barbara, lived out near Getwell Road and Willow. We went to church together and their children were about the age as ours. Ben was gracious enough to offer to take me home. He had a Plymouth Valliant automobile and had rigged up some homemade snow chains for the tires. So we loaded all the packages into his car and away we went. The main roads still had some snow, but passable. When we turned off US 78 onto Ingrahams Mill, we questioned if he could make it down that road in a car or not. However, not only the feed truck, but also another vehicle had traversed it as well, so Ben decided to give the cold, dark road a try.
As we came upon our little lane we paused. Not a single vehicle had been down the road since the snow fell. The chances of driving to our house were slim to none. Ben managed to get the car turned around and we began to unload all packages for my walk home. I put all the small ones in my pockets and gathered all the sizeable ones in my arms. But there were still more. Fortunately, some of the stores had tied their packages with string. Ben hung two or three of the stringed packages on the fingers of each hand. It must have been a "sight for sore eyes," as my Momma would have said, an overstuffed, rag-tag looking guy, with packages, sacks, and boxes protruding and hanging from every conceivable place; shuffling off into the blackness of a snowy country lane.
Because of its depth, the snow was hard walking and I was becoming so very tired. My mind kept asking, "If I fall down, will it be possible to get back up again?"
Once out of Bens sight but not yet close enough to see our house a strange thing happened. Walking alone in the cold dark, there was a feeling that I was not alone. It seemed something rather large was coming toward me along the lane. But because of the blackness of night, I could not determine what it was. It moved slowly and did not make a sound, except for the crunching of snow. I would have broke and run, only with the packages, the amount of clothes, and with my depleted energy; that was not an option. Whatever it was, if it was going to get me, I was just got. Evidently the mysterious being was oblivious of me. When no more than ten feet separated us, I made out the form; it was one of Mr. Allisons dairy cows. When she finally did see me, she wheeled around, grunted loudly, and took off in the opposite direction with tail high in the air. Evidently our encounter scared her as much as it did me.
Though weary, cold, and with a heart rate of ten thousand from the scare, I trudged on to the house. The lights of home never looked so good and inviting to this country boy. Since every arm, hand, and most every finger was carrying a load, I had nothing left with which to open the door. I used my near frozen foot to kick on the door to get someones attention. Opening the door, Carol burst into laughter as she saw me standing there in the snow, bulging with packages. Once inside, she began taking the packages off my fingers so I could unload the remaining ones.
After unwinding a bit and eating a good warm meal, the adventures of the day were shared. As Christmas Day dawned, one could hardy detect the experiences that had preceded this day. Christmas was a glorious day, all that any one could ever want or ask for!
Over the years we laughed and wondered what ever happened to that poor cow, she probably went permanently dry after snowy encounter. We agreed that this would be a holiday that would not soon be forgotten; it was one of the few times that we ever saw a big snow for Christmas.
By Ralph Jones, December 2007
Volume 600 Pardon Our Boasting
The staff at our humble shop passed a milestone last week. We published the six hundredth weekly issue of Ridge Rider News. Such is certainly no small task, considering the publication has been faithfully written and published in spite of occasional vacations, family emergencies, hospitalizations, and other activities that would prevent most folks from maintaining the continuity of a project of a similar nature.
Our accomplishment is not likely to ever be immortalized by a poet of Tennysons stature and is certainly of lesser historical importance than the Charge Of The Light Brigade in which is written of six hundred plus disciplined British soldiers fighting overwhelming numbers in the Crimean War:
Cannon to right of them,
My boss, Bob McGehee of Atlanta, once strung together an impressive series of consecutive Saturdays in which he played nine holes of golf or more, but his string ended with three hundred six. Our record at RRN eclipses that and almost doubles his playing streak.
Be assured our success has not gone to our heads. The largeness of six hundred is relative to that with which it is identified. Surely six hundred weeks is a long time, but compared to the age of the earth, its an insignificant period of time. Six hundred drops of water is roughly one ounce of the most commonly occurring liquid on this planet. Of the ten thousand stars visible to the naked eye on a clear, moonless night, six hundred doesnt amount to much.
Thus, our celebration is tempered by our perspective. Please indulge our pride of accomplishment.
Coming Attraction Sixty-Six Performers
Put it on your calendar, as you wont want to miss this musical extravaganza. Do it now; dont delay; mark Thursday, December 27th for seven oclock in the evening at First Baptist Church, Pontotoc.
Sponsored by the Pontotoc Music Study Club, and coordinated and directed by Patricia Young Henry, the program for the evening is entitled, "Christmas Celebration On Pianos And More." Patricia states the program will feature six pianos, six keyboards, two flutes, a clarinet and some percussion instruments.
Approximately a year and one-half ago, Patricia Henry and the Music Study Club held a similar event that was well received and was the talk of the town for weeks following. Patricia hand picked six of her former students and six others for a performance the magnitude of which is seldom found beyond Broadway.
This years presentation involves more players and more instruments. All players are either current residents or former residents of Pontotoc, representing twenty-five churches and five cities. Of these, twelve are or else have been music teachers and two are band directors, so talent will be in abundance.
Patricia also stated there will be 11 sets of parent/ child performers, four sets of grandparent/ grandchild performers, three sets of three generations performing, and four sets of siblings performing. Additionally fifteen of the sixty-six players are either children or grandchildren of members of the Music Study Club.
Not one to skimp on details, Patricia further stated there will be 17 guest performers, 13 members of the Pontotoc Music Study Club, 2 college students, 12 high school students, 11 Jr. high students, and 11 elementary students. Off the sixty-six performers, forty-one are former and current students of Patricia, who, believe it or not, is in her 57th year of teaching.
There are a number of music programs scheduled in churches prior to Christmas that are sure to please even the "Scroogiest" among us, but I have the feeling the best can be seen at FBC, Pontotoc on December 27th.
There is no admission and the public is cordially invited to attend this holiday extravaganza.
Bodock Beau Insults With Class
Psst! The Editor said it still isnt too late to submit your Christmas Memory. I think hes used up all of his in past issues.
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." --Winston Churchill
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." -- Clarence Darrow
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." -- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." -- Groucho Marx
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." -- Mark Twain
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." -- Oscar Wilde
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend...If you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill...followed by Churchill's response "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second, if there is one." - Winston Churchill
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -- Stephen Bishop
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." -- John Bright
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." --Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -- Samuel Johnson
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." Paul Keating
"He had delusions of adequacy." -- Walter Kerr
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -- Mae West
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." -- Oscar Wilde
Lady Astor once remarked to Winston Churchill at a dinner party, "Winston, if you were my husband, I would poison your coffee!" Winston replied, "Madam if I were your husband I would drink it!"
Thanks to Carl Wayne Hardeman
Boudreaux asked the clerk, "Which aisle is de one whar you keeps de Cajun sausage?"
The clerk looks at him and says, "Are you Cajun?"
Boudreaux kind of stiffens and says, "Mais yeah. But let me ax you somet'ing. If I had axed for Italian sausage would you ax me if I was Italian? Or if I had axed for German bratwurst, would you ax me if I was German? Or if I axed for a kosher hot dog would you ax me if I was Jewish? Or if I had axed for a Taco would you ax if I was Mexican? Would you? Well, would you?"
The clerk says, "Well, no!"
With deep self-righteous indignation, Boudreaux says, "Well den, why did you ax me if I'm Cajun, just 'cause I axed for Cajun sausage?"
The clerk replies, "Because you're at Home Depot."
Submitted by Ed Dandridge
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