On Saturday of last week Jerry went to the Lynchburg Winery in Lynchburg, TN. It is a most delightful place to visit and have a sample of some of there delicious home-made wines. Who would of thought you could that right a small town in Tennessee? We encourage you to pay them a visit. We promise you will enjoy it.  Please tell’em we sent ya!  🙂

(Click the Pic below to check out the Lynchburg Winery website)

Betty West and Jerry at Lynchburg Winery

Brittany and Jerry
Thanks Brittany for the wonderful tour!

 

My good friend (and sometimes red-head) Pat and I were off on another adventure, this time across the purple sage to Taos, New Mexico. It has been described by one resident as “wacky and weird.” That’s where my daughter, Shannon lives. As usual everything started off going my way – downhill.

First, I had a toothache. Then, when I presented plastic at Huntsville Airport to pay a $25.00 baggage fee, it was rejected – and in front of many people. “There must be a mistake,” I said. She swiped it again. “No mistake.”

When we arrived in Atlanta I called Barclay Bank. Someone in North Dakota had charged $6.30 on my card. I’ve never been to North Dakota. My card was cancelled on the first day of our vacation. Perfect timing. And my tooth was about to jump out of my mouth.

On the flight to Albuquerque, we encountered 100 mph head winds. “Look!” Pat exclaimed. “The wing is flapping.” I needed tranquilizing. I ordered a scotch and handed the hostess a ten.

“Sir, we don’t accept cash,” she said. What kind of country rejects your credit card and doesn’t accept cash? And on the first day of vacation! It’s written on the face of a bill, “Legal tender for all debts.” And that includes scotch!

It was dark in Albuquerque when we went to pick up our Thrifty rental car. Pat had arranged for an economy car, knowing that I’m a thrifty kind of guy. The young clerk explained that we needed to upgrade. “It’s a Mitsubishi Mirage and has only three cylinders and isn’t suitable for mountain driving,” he said.

“Does it also have three wheels,” I asked. He frowned. No humor. We couldn’t find it in the parking lot. No wonder. It was parked between two VW beetles. It was aptly named Mirage. It sort of looked like a car, but it really wasn’t. Pat christened it, the “three wheel sewing machine.” I call it the “Runt.” We hummed up I-25 looking for a Best Western. Had to call Siri. That hussy kept yelling, “TURN AROUND NOW!” I didn’t like her tone of voice. She’s probably a red head. How could I turn around in six lanes of 75 mph traffic?

The next morning, we hummed northwest on State 550 into Indian country. Big blue skies, distant buttes and mesas, endless purple sage, pinon and juniper trees and chamisa, a gorgeous plant that hates my guts, filled the landscape. Everything was still going my way; sinuses in panic mode, nose stuffy and bleeding, and tooth aching. On the edge of the Jemez Reservation, we stopped at CWW Feed Store in tiny San Ysidro and asked directions. Several Indian children were out front near pens holding goats and the fattest hog I’ve ever seen. Nearby was a corral of horses. Chili riestas hung from the front porch of the old store building. That’s where I met Connie Collis, the proprietor, a friendly, late fortyish blonde. “I’m from Alabama,” I said. “I own a Bible, have a permit to pack heat – and I’m lost.” She grinned. “Sounds okay to me,” she said. Connie has been living in San Ysidro for 20 years. Her husband, a big game hunter, had died on a hunting trip in Mexico. Afterwards, she dedicated her life to rescuing critters. She cares for 51 rescue horses – some are wild mustangs – including others, for a total of 92; one fat hog, one cow, 7 goats and two dogs.

“Why do you do it?” I asked.

“It is my heart,” she said. “It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”

The store name “CWW” stands for crazy white woman, a handle given her by local Jemez Indians. Working with Connie was Taylor Clark, a 24-year-old, attractive red head originally from Albuquerque, who is a rock climber. Taylor was working on a volunteer therapy horse ranch and studying for a masters’ degree when she went to work for Connie rescuing horses. Two thumbs up for these ladies. I yanked the crank cord on the Runt and we hummed up State 4 and across the beautiful Jemez Mountain, toward Los Alamos.

There we toured the museum, learned about splitting atoms and saw where some of the scientists had lived during WWII. “Fat Man,” the first atomic bomb, was developed at Los Alamos and dropped on Hiroshima to bring WWII to an end. From start to finish, it took only two years. When our backs are against the wall, Americans excel. Why can’t we discover a cure for cancer? If we can develop a blue pill to raise the dead, surely we can find a cure for cancer.

In old Santa Fe (elev. 7198 ft), we had a late lunch at La Fonda, a Pueblo style hotel on the plaza. That’s where, after eating a burrito smothered with red chili and black beans, I developed my new theory about atom splitting. That lunch also led to me to make a pact with the Lord that night. Why split uranium atoms and endanger the environment? Split the bean! A plate of black beans produces enough methane gas to power every taxi in New York City for a day.

That night, I woke in a miserable state. My tooth ached, my nose bled, I couldn’t breathe, and my stomach was about to explode. I was desperate. I reached for Mama’s favorite cure-all- Vicks Salve. Rub it on the chest for coughs, apply to hemorrhoids, and poke it up the nostrils for a stuffy nose. I figured if I could scare off a hemorrhoid, it could open a stuffy nose. The label warned: “DO NOT PLACE UP NOSTRILS,” but I figured that was meant for idiots who used the same finger. Anyway, up the nose it went. Ahh, thank you Mama.

It was around midnight when I asked the Lord to strike me dead if I ever ate another black bean. There ought to be a law requiring black beans be sold with this warning: “Consumption may result in loud praying, methane emissions, and global warming.”

We overnighted at El Rey Inn on Cerrillos Road. Very Santa Fe-ish. First constructed as a motor court in 1936, it reminded me of Melody Ranch, Gene Autry’s cowboy movie set. Next morning, we breakfasted nearby at the Pantry, opened in 1948. Nothing slick about it, simply the best. I ordered an egg white veggie omelet. Old Satan was up early, tempting me, having heard about my pact with the Lord. “Sir, do you want black beans with your omelet?” asked his servant, our dark eyed waitress.
“HECK NO!”

I’ve since learned that a raw carrot cooked with black beans will absorb the methane gas. Don’t eat the carrot! He-he-he. Give it to your ex.

To be continued….
By: Jerry Barksdale

Several years ago, my two grandchildren, Joshua, 8, a third grader and Faith Ellen, 6, a first grader were enrolled in a private school in Cullman, Alabama. They spoke proper English, played complicated computer games and can find Africa on a map. Poor kids. When I was their age I knew real important stuff, at least I thought so at the time. Learning to roll a smoke, cuss and knowing about girls were the three most important. This southern humorous story and scores of others can be found in my book “Cornbread Chronicles”. And by the way, it’s going to be available in audio book form from Amazon soon.

A Good Day

Yesterday was a real winner. I got up at 6am, worked on a forthcoming column about my good friend and former Athens Mayor, Dan Williams, then prepared to emcee an event at High Cotton Art Center to take place on Feb.16. Jim Nesbitt and his latest novel, “Right Wrong Number” will be featured. More about that later. Afterwards, I drove over to my good friend (and sometimes red-head) Pat’s place on Elk River for a cholesterol feast of ham, bacon, fried potatoes, gravy, biscuits, eggs, juice, honey and fruit. My former Marine son, Matt and his good friend, Kris were present. Then it was off to build wooden steps down to the river. I was assigned to dig the holes on a 30% grade. Began raining. Quick shower and we headed to Lynchburg, Tn., home of Jack Daniel sipping whiskey to meet Betty Jones West who is helping me market my books. By the way, I sued Jack Daniel years ago after they were accused of “stealing” my clients Lynchburg Lemonade drink. Betty has been successful in getting Cornbread Chronicles marketed on audio by Amazon. Should be available in a week or so. Ate more food at BBQ Caboose Café in tiny Lynchburg and hopefully opened the door to appear on a live Saturday morning broadcast in the near future to tell a story. Went to wine tasting across the street at Lynchburg Winery . Highly recommend you visit there. Hope they will sell my books, Cornbread Chronicles, Duty, When Duty Called, Fuhrer Document and Revolutionaries and Rebels. More later. Until then–soo long until tomorrow.

I often think about the good old days back in 1968 when I returned to Athens to practice law. It was a time of parking meters, weeds growing out of the sidewalks and businessmen wearing white socks.

And when decent folks didn’t drink in Athens, they’d sneaked off to Huntsville. Coffee was 10 cents a cup and downtown businesses closed on Wednesday afternoon. Only few years earlier, men had gathered around the square with shotguns and blasted away at pigeons roosting on the courthouse dome. It provided citizens an opportunity to improve their shooting skills, have fun and rid the city of pesky pigeons. And more important, it was a time when criminals were honest and respected the law.

My former law school classmate, Henry Blizzard and I set up practice late November 1968 in two small $30-a-month rooms in what had once been Booth’s Pool Hall on North Marion Street. At the front entrance was Donna Mae’s, home of strong coffee and delicious burgers dripping with grease.

Oh yeah! Henry and I needed a typewriter, office furniture and a part-time secretary. My share of the capital was $1,800, which I didn’t have. I went across the street to Limestone Bank (present location of Limestone Drug) and asked John Huber for a loan. Mr. Huber wore white socks and had never made a bad loan, and he wasn’t about to start. His test was simple: if you needed to borrow money you were a bad risk. Anyway, I was a lawyer and lawyers weren’t to be trusted.

“Hmm, that’s a lot of money,” he said.

After hemming and hawing awhile, he finally lent me the money, provided Mama co-signed the note. Mama was a sales clerk at Ben Jaffee’s Department store and earning about $30 a week. I was her only child who she still called “Punk’n,” and was happy to oblige.

Everyday, Athens policeman, Kenny Cooper rode a three-wheel motorcycle around town, checking for expired parking meters. The roar of the motorcycle sent people scurrying to feed pennies, nickels and dimes to the meter. No one wanted a parking ticket which cost more.

Most mid -mornings I walked across the street to the spudnut shop and joined several businessmen for coffee and donuts. Alex Markowitz, a Jewish businessman, was usually present. All wore white socks, and all had money. At first, I figured they had a bad case of athlete’s feet, but later discovered it was a mark of wealth, sort of like wearing monogrammed shirts and a diamond pinky ring.

One morning, Alex said to me, “You and Henry need your office down on Jefferson Street so you can be seen.”

We agreed. He showed us a vacant lot he owned and made us a deal we couldn’t refuse. The price was below market, and he agreed to finance it. I offered to draw up a sales contract. He looked stunned. And that’s when he taught me an important lesson.

“Young man, you can hire the best law firm on Wall Street to draft a contract, but if the parties don’t want to honor it, all you’ve done is bought yourself a lawsuit,” he said. “If you decide you don’t want the lot, tell me and I’ll sell it to someone else.”

As I was to learn over the years, he was correct. And he taught me something else about business: “Make a little bit on the deal, and leave a little for the other guy.” That’s why he wore white socks and I didn’t.

We constructed a law office on South Jefferson street and hung out our shingle. Parking meters were located up and down the street. Every hour Kenny Cooper rode by on his three-wheeler, checking for expired meters.

During this time, Henry was appointed by the court to represent a man accused of killing his wife.

He “allegedly” (a weasley lawyer word meaning guilty as sin) murdered her, then neatly and respectfully rolled her body in a rug and stuffed her under the bed. I can’t say why he killed her. He may have been tired of hearing her mouth but didn’t want her to leave home. The cops found her body putrifying beneath the bed.

While out on bond he came by our office to prepare for trial. He and Henry were deep in conference when Kenny Cooper’s motorcycle pulled up front and stopped. The defendant, without explaining, jumped up and ran out the front door. Shortly, he returned.

“Where did you go?” Henry asked.

“To feed the meter,” he said.

Now there was an honest, law-abiding criminal who respected the law.

I sure do miss the good old days.

Henry went on to serve as circuit judge and earned the right to wear white socks. As for me, I’m still paying alimony and wearing Walmart socks. But I do have good news to look forward to – when I die the alimony will end. Thank the Lord!

Next Tuesday, January 10, I will participate at the Huntsville DAR program and portray the leading character in my historical novel, Revolutionaries and Rebels. Most the story is set in Lincoln county, Tenn. and Limestone county, Alabama. If you are a history buff you might enjoy reading the novel. The characters are real as are the events.

In 1987, I traded a pork’n bean and banana sandwich diet (along with my independence) for Pat, a firecracker gal from Arkansas who stood 5’1” and smoked Virginia Slims.

It was a good swap. I got a beautiful and intelligent wife, and also two step daughters, Harley and Lucy (names changed). Unfortunately, they were afflicted with a dreaded curse. They were teenagers!

I quickly learned that Pat’s stress level could be measured by the number of Virginia Slims she smoked in our house, and how fast she nervously twisted a tendril of her long black hair. It was a dead giveaway that “Little Mama,” as the girls called her, was about to take to the war path.

We made a pact. “I’ll discipline my girls and you won’t have to be involved,” she said. Great news! I’m an only child and my experience with young girls was limited to my daughter; precious little Shannon who was age 7 when her mom and I divorced. She was blonde and blue-eyed with a cute pony tail and would climb on my lap and say sweet things to me. “I love my Daddy” and “my Daddy can do anything.”I didn’t know honey from bee droppings when it came to girls. I didn’t know that sweet little girls grew up and became hellions. I was ignorant of teenager hell.

Harley was three years older than Lucy and didn’t want her in her room and, especially didn’t want her wearing her clothes. “Don’t touch my stuff!”

Otherwise, they appeared to be well mannered, sweet and courteous young girls; that is until one evening at dinner. I was enjoying a platter of pork chops, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy when Harley accused Lucy of entering her room. Lucy denied it. “LIAR!” Faster than Ali could throw a right hook, Harley struck Lucy with a pork chop. POW – BAM – BANG Pork Chops were flying. Little Mama sent them to their room and fired up a Virginia Slim. “I’m soo embarrassed,” she said. “I don’t know what got in the girls. They are usually sweet girls.”Hmmm, I was beginning to doubt that.

Later, Pat and I arrived home to see the only tree in our front yard decorated in white. “Somebody’s rolled our yard!” she exclaimed and fired up a cigarette. A cursing investigation revealed that Lucy had been in Harley’s room again and borrowed a sweater. Harley retaliated by throwing all of Lucy’s underwear out a second story window where it landed in the tree.

Pat was proud of her blue LTD Ford that she got in the divorce settlement. It was the apple of her eye. She kept it washed, shined, and serviced and planned to drive it for many years to come. Harley asked to drive it to the beach during spring break and carry her high school buddies. Pat reluctantly agreed. “I don’t want one scratch on it,” she warned.

Several days later, Harley returned and the blue Ford looked like a speckled guinea, white spots dotted the lower half. Little Mama fired up a Virginia Slim, twisted her hair and interrogated Harley. “Uh-uh, I parked near a construction site where there was some sand blasting,” Harley said. “If that’s true, why aren’t white specks on the top?” asked Little Mama. It wasn’t until years later we learned the truth: they were driving in the salty surf. “YEE HAW! GIMME ANOTHER BEER.”

Not long afterwards, Pat slammed into a rock wall and buckled the hood where rain water collected and birds bathed. The Ford was tough, but not tough enough. Lucy was learning to drive. She begged to drive one block to visit her friend, Julie. Minutes later we were called. “Come quickly! There’s been an accident.” We arrived at a war zone scene.Lucy had taken out a basketball goal, plowed into the back of Julie’s car, and pushed it through the garage wall. The old Ford had finally come to a violent end.
It was during this period that Little Mama developed her immutable rule regarding teenagers – never give a kid an equal break.

Her teenage daughters sent Little Mama reaching for a Virginia Slim on many occasions, but it was nothing compared to what an upcoming Auburn Tigers game did to her psyche. By 6 p.m. on Friday evening, she was hot boxing cigarettes. By 9 p.m., she was racing to the bathroom with diarrhea.

But it was Lucy skipping classes that sorely tested Little Mama’s resolve. We had no idea until the school counselor called and informed us. Little Mama developed a plan. She decided to go atomic. Each morning, she drove Lucy to the front door of Grissom High, marched her down the hallway and into the classroom. “This is my daughter, Lucy,” she announced to snickering class. “She isn’t responsible enough to attend class.” Talk about embarrassing her! She picked up Lucy in the afternoon, using the same method. Lucy begged her mother to stop and promised to never miss class again. And she didn’t.

When a young high school thug drove up in front of our house with his thug buddies after being warned to stay away, Little Mama took action. She grabbed her grandpa’s old .32 revolver and charged out the front door, waving the pistol and swearing loudly. “GET OUTTA HERE, YOU LITTLE S.O.B.S!” They peeled rubber fleeing the scene.

I’m happy to report that both daughters graduated from college, Harley with a medical degree and Lucy with a Masters’. They are both married and have teenage girls, who are no doubt afflicted with the same dreaded curse their mothers had – teenage hell.

The law of Karma is also an immutable law – what goes around comes around. Good luck ladies.
By: Jerry Barksdale

Peroxide a magic potion

Elk River–Last Sunday night I went to bed with a tickle in my throat. I gargled with Mama”s magical potion-peroxide. Mama swore by it. Get a cut, rub it on. Need to become a blonde, rub it on. Bad breath, mouth canker sores and sore throat, rub it on. I woke Monday morning with a cold, the first I’ve had in two years. I was diagnosed with “something else” a couple of years ago which just about killed me. I thought it was flu, but my personal physician said, “No, it’s something else”. Pray you don’t ever catch it. Anyway, I dressed in my “beer drinking” stretch pants, stoked a fire, levered back in my Lazy Boy knock-off and read all day. I finished a bio on Gen. Jimmy Doolittle of WW11 fame, then started Between Black and White, a legal thriller. It was written by my friend and fellow Huntsville lawyer, Robert Bailey. Great read and set in Pulaski, Tn. Feeling much better this morning. A cup of Seattle Best, dark roast # 5 is almost as good as a swiggle of peroxide.
S-o-o long until tomorrow.

Author’s Note. The following story was inspired by Barksdale’s recent historical novel, Revolutionaries & Rebels.

Athens, December 1864. That terrible war is in its fourth year. It’s cold, snowing and folks are hungry. Barns lay in ashes, and where fine homes once stood, there are blackened chimneys. Cotton and cornfields are overgrown with brambles, bushes and briers. Yankee soldiers occupy Athens.

To add further insult, they torched the courthouse a few days ago. Hardly a bird can be heard chirping. Just last week Yankees showed up at our place and stole my mare, most of our corn, all the chickens they could catch and took the meat from our smokehouse. What an awful time it is. I wake up at night and wonder how we survive. And Christmas is just around the corner.

In spite of all, Ma has declared we’re going to have Christmas, just like always, Yankees or no Yankees. Ma is a determined woman.

“They can whip us, but they’ll never conquer us,” she says.
Pa sits in front of the fireplace and worries – and for good cause. My brother, James Greer Barksdale, and brother-in-law, James Martin Newby, were captured at Missionary Ridge last November and are prisoners at Rock Island where Confederate are starving, freezing, and dying of disease and trigger-happy guards.

Two other brothers, William Coleman and Dudley Richard, are fighting with General Hood’s Army in Tennessee. We just heard they suffered over 6,200 casualties at Franklin. And they are retreating back toward Florence. Oh, how I hate to think of their misery.

Another brother, Robert Beasley, is riding with old Preacher Johnston’s Partisan Rangers over in Madison and Jackson County. The Yankees call him “Bushwhacker” and have put a price on his head.

I’m Thomas Barksdale and I live with Ma and Pa, along with two sisters and a passel of nieces and nephews about three miles east of town on the Athens-Fayetteville Pike. We’ve been living in the same log house since moving from Fayetteville in 1833. Oh, I forgot to mention, older brother George and his family live down the road. George drives the stagecoach from Athens to Fayetteville.

I’d be off fighting like my brothers, but I can’t hear thunder. Ma said I got an ear infection when I was a baby, and it left me nearly deaf.

Last night, after going to bed in the loft, I heard Ma tell Pa, “I can’t stand the thought of our boys not being here for Christmas. We don’t have decent food to eat, nor presents, not even a tree.”
“I’ll think of something,” said Pa. “Now go to sleep.”

Next morning, Pa took charge. “Ma has declared we’re having Christmas, and by crackies, we are,” he said.

I was dispatched to Swan Creek to snare rabbits and squirrels. My nieces were told to search the barn and woods for eggs, and the boys ordered to dig dirt from beneath the smokehouse and boil it down for salt.
“I’m gonna walk to Athens and ask Aunt Sallie if she can spare a dab of flour,” he added.

Sally is Ma’s older sister and married to postmaster, Robert D. David. They have more than most folks.

Ma brightened. “We’re gonna have squirrel dumplings for Christmas?” she asked.

“Yep, and a Christmas tree too,” Pa boasted.

That afternoon Pa returned from Athens with enough flour to make dumplings. After the children went to bed he sat in front of the fireplace and made corncob and shuck dolls for the girls and carved whistles for the boys.

“I heard in town that Hood’s Army is starving and freezing,” Pa said. “They’re leaving a trail of blood in the snow.”

Ma walked in and overheard the comment.

“Ohh Lordy! I can’t stand the thought of our boys suffering. We don’t even know if they’re dead or alive.”

Christmas Eve morning, Pa and I went with the children, looking for a Christmas tree. Ol’ Luther wobbled in front of us, sniffing the ground and dragging a bad hind leg. Last year a Yankee shot him for no good reason. The children were excited.

“Pa, cut a tall one.”

Finally, after a couple of hours of wading through the woods, Pa was give out and chopped own the first cedar tree he saw. The day had been fruitful. Two rabbits and six squirrels were snared; a handful of salt had been retrieved, and the children found two dozen eggs.

Ma spent the afternoon rolling out dumplings and cooking meat in a black pot hanging in the fireplace. It sure did smell good. When Pa lifted the lid Ma ran him off with a ladle and warning, “Stay outta that! It’s for Christmas!” My mouth watered thinking about dumplings and cornbread.

I erected the tree and the children trimmed it and decorated it with popcorn rope and pine cones. It smelled wonderful.
“Uncle Thomas, it don’t have a star,” my nephew, Luke Newby, complained. I carved a star and attached it to the top. “But it is isn’t silver,” he said.
Christmas Eve Night, with snow falling, Brother George and his family came over and we gathered in front of the fireplace and Pa read from the Bible about the birth of Jesus and told the children about the three wise men bringing gifts.
“That’s how Christmas came about,” he said “and why we exchange gifts.”

Pa shushed us. Then he prayed long and hard that all the boys were safe and would soon return home. Afterward, he shouldered his fiddle and played a mournful tune, one we all knew. George’s baritone voice sang, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” We joined hands and sang along with tears streaming down our cheeks.

“Y’all sing louder so I can hear all of it,” I said.

Then we sang it again.

It was just past midnight – Christmas morning – and bitter cold. A north wind whistled between the chinked logs, sending shivers up my back. Pity any poor soul outside tonight. I pulled the quilt to my chin and was almost asleep when I heard Ol’ Luther barking and snarling.

Yankees!

Those devils were back again. I cupped my good ear and listened. Someone was in the yard. More barking and snarling. Then I heard a thin, plaintive cry.

“MA! PA!” The voice was familiar. It couldn’t be!

Pa got up and lit a candle. I scrambled from bed. Outside, Pa held the candle high, and it its soft glow, stood a bedraggled man with a scraggly beard.

“Who is it?” Pa demanded.

“Pa, it’s me, Dudley Richard. I’m home.”

Ma came out the door and stared at the man. “Dudley Richard?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yeah Ma, I’m home.”

Ma rushed toward him, arms outstretched. “My son, my son!”

Pa was trembling, tears running down his grizzled face as he hugged his son. I hardly recognized my brother – even ol’ Luther didn’t. Dudley was ill, half frozen and starving. He hadn’t eaten since leaving Hood’s Army two days earlier near Lexington, Alabama
.
“The Lord has given me a wonderful present this Christmas.” Ma said. “My son is home.”

Soon the household was awake and hugging Dudley. Everyone was too excited to go back to bed. Pa stoked a big fire in the fireplace. Ma declared it was dinner time, no matter that it was only 2 a.m. We gathered around the table, and after Pa thanked the Lord long and hard, we ate squirrel dumplings and cornbread until we were full. Then we ate some more.

Ma declared it was the best Christmas ever. And it was.
By: Jerry Barksdale

Correction

Misspelled Chronicles. Sorry about that. As soon as I learn to edit, I will do so. Thanks to Teddy Wolcott, I just learned to make a paragraph. I’m making progress, considering I planned to shotgun my new Dell only last week.