Jerry will be story telling — “Saving Mama’s Religion” — on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at the luncheon meeting of Retired Teachers Assoc., meeting at the Holiday Inn, I-24, Manchester, Tn.
He will be signing books and talking about the audio version of Cornbread Chronicles produced by Amazon.
The “Runt” (Mitsubishi Mirage) was straining all three cylinders as it putt-putt-putted up the steep mountain road and out of the Rio Grande Canyon. “Do you want me to get out and push?” asked my good friend (and sometimes red-head) Pat. Finally, we crested the mountain and the view that lay before us was breathtaking. Taos (elev. 7000), nestled against the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains, sparkled in the afternoon sun. Across the valley, the Rio Grande River sliced 565 feet deep into the earth. Below us pearl gray smoke curled from squat, brown adobe houses. We followed a dirt road lined with ancient cottonwood trees and past a Hindu Ashram to our destination – a one bedroom casita. Our landlords, Tara and Jean (French for John) – greeted us. Like most everyone in Taos, Jean has an interesting story. Later, while tending his winter garden, he told me he was from Paris; that his father fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s and afterwards, was a member of the French Resistance and fought Germans.
Shortly, my daughter, Shannon, arrived rubbing her ear and complaining that she couldn’t hear. She had come to Taos 17 years earlier driving a pick-up with a dog and no job. She has prospered. Now she has two dogs, a cat and a dusty Subaru, a good job at the Bavarian in the Ski Valley and many fans of her band, Shannon and the Southern Souls. She was nearly deaf. “We’re going to a doc-in-a-box,” I said. She made excuses and promised she would stop by on the way home. Pat, who raised a daughter, has a nose for deceit. “I’m going with you, NOW!” she said. Shannon turned pale. She hasn’t changed one bit since childhood when I had to hold her down while her mother gave her medicine. A glob of wax was removed and amoxicillin prescribed. Problem solved.
Next morning, I rose at daybreak and looked out the window. Snow was accumulating on mountain peaks. I made strong coffee, sat near the stove and worked on a Christmas story set in Athens during the Civil War. It was very cold outside and the wind howled, and in my story it was cold and snowy and the wind howled between the chinks of the log house. I sipped coffee and was warm and well into the story, but getting tired when Pat got up and prepared a big country breakfast of eggs, biscuits, jam, gravy, bacon and brewed more coffee. Shannon joined us. In my story, the family had squirrel dumplings and cornbread for Christmas. Pat cooked chicken and dumplings for lunch and made johnny cakes. I was greatly restored.
The Taos News carried sad tidings for many locals. Trump won! He received only 17.92% of the vote in Taos County. “It’s a nightmare made real,” said a Democrat. “The sun still came up. My dogs were still glad to see me.” I figure her dogs were Trump supporters. It reminded me of my reaction to Goldwater’s landslide loss for the presidency in 1964, when I was an idealistic 23 year old university student. I wept that night. The world was doomed. But it never occurred to me to seek counseling, throw a temper tantrum and block a highway. I moved forward and made a noble contribution to mankind. I became a lawyer. Youthful idealism has long since vanished. The way I see it we have two gangs of thugs in Washington called Democrats and Republicans. They remind me of Al Capone and Bugs Moran’s Northside gang, each vying to control the rackets. They swap power, scratch each other’s back, and feed out of the same trough. Their major goal is to remain in power and live country club lives on the taxpayer’s largesse.
We drove the Runt down into the Rio Grande gorge to hike. Getting there proved to be dangerous on a narrow gravel road with no guard rails. A large Rocky Mountain ram stared at the Runt and shook his head. Uh oh! In a head butting contest, the Runt would lose. Finally, he wandered off to join his harem.
On the hike down, we kept a watchful eye for rattlers, saw numerous sheep clinging to the rocky walls, and inspected an ancient Indian Petroglyph – perhaps their version of men writing on a bathroom wall today. I was gasping for air and my tooth ached as we hiked out. I needed a slab of fat back bacon to tie to my jaw. The three cylinders of the Runt strained mightily as we climbed up the gravel road. Near the summit it choked down. I pressed the accelerator. “Come on little feller.” I remembered the Thrifty rental clerk telling me it wasn’t designed for mountain driving. Finally, we putt – putt – putted out.
Shannon and the Southern Souls were playing at the Tap Room of Taos Mesa Brewing and invited us to attend. We were running late. I missed the turn off, but being sharp of mind, saw a solution. I turned in at a nearby McDonalds with the intention of circling back. “I wouldn’t do that,” Pat said. I fell behind a long line of cars going through the drive-thru and was blocked. “I told you,” she said. Grrr. One of these days Alice. POW! Right in the kisser. Many of Shannon’s friends were present and greeted us with hugs. I was especially glad to see Brendan, who is a long-haired, head slinging, guitar playing rocker. He made a special visit to greet us. I won’t relate his history, but his life is now exemplary. Cleaner than a hound’s tooth, as we say down South. He was recently married, has a new baby, and doesn’t touch alcohol. “I’m proud of you Brendan,” I said.
The band is all acoustic. Dave Kinney, originally from Chicago plays anything that makes a sound. Willie Hunton plays Dobro and mandolin. Shannon sings mostly soul and blues with a little Hank and Patsy Cline thrown in to make it real music. Jamie, who Shannon calls “my sister,” arrived. She is Northern Cheyenne born and raised on the Lame Deer reservation 42 miles east of Custer Battlefield where her ancestors defeated Custer in 1776. When Shannon is down, Jamie is always there to lift her up. One evening while enjoying wine, Shannon decided to seal their friendship. They would become blood sisters. Jamie watched in amazement as Shannon sliced their palms with a butcher knife and then pressed them together to mix their blood. Jamie was puzzled. “I saw it in the movie,” Shannon said. Jamie had never heard of such a practice.
Next day, Pat and I went to Walmart and purchased diapers, baby clothes, and a Huggy Bear for Brendan’s new baby. Pat and Shannon delivered them, along with left over chicken and dumplings. Now, the kid is prepared to face life head on.
By: Jerry Barksdale
Come by, “sit a spell” and learn a little about your own county’s local history and be amazed at what you learn!
Jerry will be present at the Athens Bicentennial event Saturday, March 4th from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Presbyterian Church annex – 303 West Washington Street Athens, AL
He will appear in an 1860 era costume and talk about local history. He will be signing his newest book ,”Revolutionaries and Rebels”. His book is a historical novel mostly set in Limestone County before and during the Civil War.” You will be thoroughly pleased that you stopped by.
Saturday, March 4th from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm
“Hey folks! Y’all have been asking me how to order the audiobook version of Cornbread Chronicles. Well, here is the direct link to Audible.com with instructions on how to get it free, if you are a first time Audible.com user.
If you just want to order this one audiobook, Audible will guide you through the process, with no monthly membership. You will select the device you use for audio downloads, such as a smart phone, iPhone or android, iPad or other tablet, laptop, desktop, etc. Happy listening!”
PLEASE… If you enjoy the audio version of Cornbread Chronicles then pass it on to all your Facebook friends. We sure’nuf appreciate it. Everyone needs to laugh and enjoy a moment during their day.
Please enjoy and keep coming back for more of that good medicine, LAUGHTER!
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)
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.
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.
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!