By: Jerry R Barksdale

It was nearing 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 1, 1959, in the tiny community of Gourdsville in northern Limestone County when evil struck. The Limestone Democrat proclaimed it “the county’s most brutal crime in history.” It guaranteed 17-year-old Joe Henry Johnson a seat in “Yellow Mama,” Alabama’s infamous electric chair. He would be the last person from Limestone County to be put to death at the hands of the State. This most odious crime would set my life on a new course.

Johnson, who lived nearby with his parents, raped and brutally murdered Miss Dicie Boyd, age 60, in her barn. He then entered the family home and savagely beat her 89-year-old mother, Rowena Boyd. She survived.

Johnson, with innocent blood still on his hands and underwear, signed two confessions. Bruce Sherill and David Patton, both WWII veterans, were appointed to defend Johnson. The best they could hope for was to save his life. I turned 19 two days after the rape/murder and at the time was a senior at Athens High School in the Diversified Occupation Program, working 70 hours a week at McConnell’s Funeral Home. My goal was to become an undertaker. But Johnson’s trial on January 20, 1960, changed my life and sent me in a different direction. I wanted to become a lawyer like Bruce Sherill. Struggling to save a human life in court seemed romantic and exciting to me at the time. Carrying a briefcase chock-full of mysterious law books and wearing a pinstripe suit looked pretty cool too. On trial date, Johnson plead guilty and asked for mercy. None was given. Twenty-four months and 23 days later, just past midnight, he was electrocuted.

At the time, I knew Bruce only by reputation and sight. His wife, Mary Kate (Garth), had died 9 months earlier at age 37, leaving 7 minor children. Bruce, who never remarried, raised them in the old antebellum Tanner-Garth house (1845) on N. Madison Street. Bruce was handsome with thick gray-blonde hair parted slightly off center, spoke with a cultured Southern accent, and had great command of the English language. He had attended George Washington University before WWII and graduated from Alabama Law School in 1948. I was to learn that Bruce also had a mercurial temperament as well as a humorous side.

In 1971, I met Bruce for the first time in court. It didn’t go well. He had scheduled a deposition before a court reporter on a Saturday morning without consulting me. I called and told him I had two young boys and spent my Saturdays with them. I requested that he reset the deposition to another time. He gave me a lecture. “No sir! Young man the law is a jealous mistress and he who would pursue her must woo her.”

I moved for a protective order and the hearing was set before Judge Newton Powell. Bruce and I were seated across from each other at a small table. He began lecturing me and pretty soon we were standing, nose to nose, shouting at each other. The judge reset the deposition. I won. I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. I knew what I had to do. I called Bruce.

“Bruce, hear me out.” He was silent. “I apologize for my conduct. I’m just a young whipper-snapper and I disrespected you. It was your representation of Joe Henry Johnson that captured my imagination and motivated me to become a lawyer – just like you. I wanted you to know that.”

“Is that all?” he asked.

“Yes sir.” I didn’t know what to expect.

“Whyyy, Jerreee, that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” And that day we became friends, as close as courtroom gladiators battling each other can be. Bruce was full of great stories. The “keeper of the lore,” I called him.

While he was attending George Washington University, WWII broke out. The clerk of the local draft board summoned Bruce home. “I’m already contributing greatly to the war effort,” he told her.

“Doing what?”

“Operating the elevator part-time for the Department of War,” he replied.

“Pack your bags, Bruce.” And he was off to war.

I loved Bruce’s humor. In his later years, Bruce talked loud, like someone who had learned to whisper in a sawmill. During the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the end of WWII, I interviewed and wrote over 65 stories of local WWII vets. One day at lunch, I asked Bruce about his war service in the South Pacific, thinking he might have a hair-raising tale of life or death with Japanese. He said that Charles Lindberg, America’s hero who flew the Spirit of St. Louis non-stop from Long Island, New York to Paris in 1927, was at his base. Lindberg, a civilian, was there as a consultant for United Aircraft Company, who manufactured the Corsair Fighter. He was helping squeeze more performance from the airplanes. “My buddy and I were sitting in our tent with the flap rolled up,” said Bruce, loudly, “when Charles Lindberg walked past carrying a roll of toilet paper, headed to the latrine. I said to my buddy, ‘Who back home would believe I saw Charles Lindberg on the way to take dump?’”

Every head in the restaurant turned our way. “That’s the most interesting thing that happened to me during the war,” Bruce added.

“Bruce,” I said, “I don’t think I’ll write that story.” The truth is Bruce was a Lt. Col. In intelligence.

The last time I confronted Bruce in court was during a heated divorce case. He represented the husband, a rather subdued fellow, and I represented his wife who had a volatile temper when angry. And she was angry that day. The judge ordered us into a witness room to work out a settlement. That’s not going to happen, I thought.

“Bruce,” I said to him privately, “my client will go off like firecracker on you and your client. For goodness sake, don’t say a word when she does or we’ll never get this case settled.” And I was correct. She verbally attacked her “sorry” husband and his “crooked” lawyer. Bruce never uttered a word. Finally, after she vented, we settled the case. I couldn’t believe it. Afterwards, I said to Bruce: “You just sat there and never said a word, I just don’t understand.”

“Whyyy, Jerreee, you asked me not to.” I like to think that phone call I made to him 30 years earlier, apologizing for being a young whipper-snapper, contributed to his silence.

Bruce served as Chairman of the City Board of Education, Scoutmaster of Troop 21, Director of Athens Housing Authority, President of Limestone County Bar Association, Alabama Bar Commissioner, and member of the Rotary Club. He was an elder and Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church of Athens. He represented both the Limestone and Athens Boards of Education during the turbulent days of school integration. His steady hand helped bring about a peaceful end to school segregation in Limestone County. Bruce died in 2008 at age 87.

Good lawyers are like chicken teeth. Scarce. Bruce Sherrill was a good one.
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry Barksdale

Why do men make a “bucket list”? It’s mostly a male disorder. Sky diving and running with the bulls in Spain top the list. Why does a man want to jump from an airplane and break his leg? Why does he want to try outrunning a bull? It can’t be done.

The idea was popularized in the 2006 movie, The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, one rich the other poor. Both were terminal and in same hospital room. They decided to make a bucket list of things to do before they kicked the bucket. Women snicker at such foolishness. You never hear about a woman who wants to wrestle an alligator or go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. No sir! Women aren’t that dumb. They dream of owning 100 pair of shoes with matching leather purses, sleeping late, Bloody Mary’s with breakfast in bed, weekly massages, hairdos, pedicures, shopping seven days a week, and driving an SUV with a butt warmer. Very sensible things indeed.

The male disorder begins at about age 16. All he thinks about is dating a cheerleader, playing football, wearing Izod shirts and Nike shoes, driving fast, and playing in a rock band. It makes him feel manly. He finally snares a cheerleader, marries her, and they have three ugly kids with buck teeth and big ears. He maxes out his credit cards paying for braces. Unfortunately nothing can be done about the car-door ears. The kids have an average of three car wrecks each, too many speeding tickets to count, at least one DUI each, and spend a couple of nights in jail. A king’s ransom is paid for their college tuition, but they flunk out. The daughter gets a booger catcher through her nose, tattoos on her ankle, and marries a dude she met at rehab, who is unemployed. The boys live in the basement, won’t work and won’t leave home. Thank God they are all normal kids. Is it any wonder that a man wants to outrun a bull? Just for distraction, if nothing else. One morning the man looks in the mirror and his teeth aren’t his, he’s balding, has a double chin and a turkey neck, his prostate is enlarged, and he has ED. He takes action. He begins wearing $150.00 Ray-Ban sunglasses. No help. He’s still bald. He grows whiskers, shaves his head, buys running shoes at Walmart, and takes up jogging. Pretty soon his knees and hips are killing him from pounding the ground. He has knee and hip replacement for which the insurance company refuses to pay.

Meanwhile, his once beautiful cheerleader has gotten fat. She takes action too. She goes on the latest starvation diet, gets a $50,000 bondo body job, along with new bumper gadgets, dresses fashionably, and wears red high heels that match her red toenails. She frets over whether her new dress matches her underwear. Younger men begin paying attention to her. She buys a new SUV with a butt warmer. She purchases more shoes on QVC. Then she gets a tattoo of a feather on her ankle. Running with the bulls is the farthest thing from her mind.

Husband panics. He doesn’t feel manly anymore. He begins consuming mega doses of ginseng. He has more hair growing out his ears than on his chest, and it takes him 30 minutes to pee. Life is fleeting. That’s when he decides to make his bucket list. One would think he has grown wiser with age. Nope! Dumber. He buys a $100,000 bass boat. His little Ford pick-up won’t pull it so he spends another $65,000 on one that is larger than a house trailer with 4-wheel drive. Now, life is really exciting. The bank calls every day demanding payment, he considers suicide. Too chicken. He vows to play every Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Alabama. It gives him no satisfaction.

He needs to live closer to the edge. He considers making a pass at a checkout lady at Walmart, but thinks better of it. Her boyfriend is a former Green Beret and a bouncer at a strip club. Maybe that’s living too close to the edge. Life is passing him by. It’s time for a real bucket list.

I’ve made my list. It’s not what I want to do in the future, it’s what I don’t ever want to repeat.

1. Never pee on an electric fence. Electricity isn’t racist, sexist, homophobic, liberal or conservative. It doesn’t care. It will burn your butt to a cinder. I won’t do that again.
2. Never challenge a yellow jacket family and say such things as “Come out an’ fight like a man.” You can’t outrun a bull and you sure can’t outrun yellow jackets. I won’t do that again.
3. Never mess with a married woman. Some are married to men who have never attended anger- management class, are jealous and unchristian-like and won’t turn the other cheek. I won’t do that again.
4. Never become delinquent with the IRS. They’ll slap you with a 10% penalty and charge you 12% interest. They will file a lien against your home and levy your bank account. They are the most uncaring, insensitive bunch of non-Christian bureaucrats in our government. You can’t beat the IRS. I won’t do that again.
5. Never play Tarzan by swinging on a fuzzy muscadine vine in the woods. Muscadine vines aren’t fuzzy, poison ivy is. It will cause your hands, arms and face to swell with itchy blisters and send you to see a physician who practices euthanasia. I won’t do that again.
6. Don’t ever purchase a parachute by mail order and pack it yourself. No matter how carefully you read the written instructions you can make a mistake and the chute won’t open. Having a properly packed reserve chute packed by a certified rigger is essential and will prevent you from splattering on the ground. It’s good to have that when you are falling at 120 mph and your main chute won’t open. I won’t do that again.

Nowadays, I get my kicks from riding my zero-turn lawnmower. It makes me feel manly. I feel like Attila the Hun leading a marauding Army across the plains of Eastern Europe as I fly across my pasture slinging grass clippings, pine cones, and fire ants. Now that’s living!

Afterwards, I lay back in my Lazy Boy knock-off and daydream about my favorite high school cheerleader from 50 years ago when I was single. Ah, yes! Then, I am rudely jerked from my daydream.

“Will you please get off your lazy ass and take out the garbage?”
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry Barksdale

We were off on another “man trip” (our fifth), this time to the Aliceville Museum in Aliceville, Alabama. During WWII the small, rural town of approximately 1,500 hosted the largest German POW camp in America. More than 6,100 soldiers of Field Marshall Rommel’s once vaunted Afrika Korps were imprisoned there. Another 1,000 American military guarded and cared for them.

As always, women weren’t allowed on this trip. As I’ve written before, we didn’t have time to stop for pedicures, shoe shopping, engaging in petty gossip, and arguing about where the fork and napkin go on the dinner table. We gossip about major stuff. And men don’t give a darn where a fork and napkin are placed. Just set a bucket of fried chicken on the table and move back.

Retired Athens cop and Alabama Veterans Museum president, Jerry Crabtree, was driver and official wise cracker.

Museum board member, Bill Ward, retired mathematician and native of Pickens County was guide and color commentator.

Ewell Smith, Museum board member, former Athens Volunteer Fire Fighter, and retired business manager at Athens State University told us a story about an Athens “fire bug” who had numerous blazes that conveniently began when the firemen were at church on Sunday morning. The blaze was always extinguished and the rental house saved, but all contents were damaged. The insurance company stopped paying claims and the fires stopped. We talked about other things, but that’s none of your business.

Aliceville is 45 miles West of Tuscaloosa. There are two routes to get there. One is I-20 west from Tuscaloosa. We took the scenic route through Bankhead National Forest. Both routes are about the same distance, but you won’t see beautiful kudzu, endless trees, spattered squirrels, and trashy front yards along the interstate. I recommend the scenic route.

Bill Ward was also our trip humorist. Knowing that I take two Lasix pills a day, and sensitive to my needs (when you gotta go – you gotta go!), he pointed out trees large enough for me to hide behind and pee. Good friends are invaluable. If we had been on I-20, I could have been arrested for answering nature’s call. A retired mathematician, Bill once worked out complicated formulas before computers did the work. I tested his knowledge.

“Hey Bill, can you do long division?” He’s quick.

“Sure, bring down your nought and carry the zero.” Wow! He knows his stuff.

In Fayette, signs were posted along the curb that said, “Peace be to these streets.” We figured the mayor was planning to install “squeeze chutes” and “tire busters” around their square like in Athens. Once peaceful little Athens where folks attend church three times a week, the women carry guns, and there is no sin (until the sun goes down) has become a divided town. Many citizens complain they can’t circle the courthouse like they used to.

“We need those signs in Athens,” quipped Crabtree. I agree.

We stopped at the Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton where Bill showed us “the face in the window.” According to Bill, after Henry Wells was arrested for burning the courthouse in 1876, he was placed in the garret of the newly constructed courthouse for safe keeping from a mob. While looking out at the mob, lightning struck and imprinted his likeness on the glass. I saw the image but can’t swear it was Henry since I never met him.

Aliceville (pop. 2397) is quiet and friendly, reminiscent of earlier times in the South when folks sat on their front porch in the evenings and gossiped about their neighbor. Gossip is far more reliable than the evening news and certainly of more interest.

John Gillum, executive director of the museum, was our tour guide and, an excellent one at that. “The POWs had been told that New York City was in rubble and the Statue of Liberty was twisted metal,” John said. “They rushed to the ships railing to see the destruction. Instead they saw a pulsating and vibrant city.” Many POWs thought they would be shot. Such is the power of propaganda.

The first group of POWs arrived in Aliceville by train on June 2, 1943. Locals turned out to gawk. Instead of seeing a “super race” they saw malnourished, bedraggled, and disheveled men in worn out uniforms. They were marched two miles to the 400-acre barb wire enclosure. Still, many thought they were going to be shot. Instead, mess halls were opened and they were fed. It was their first time to eat peanut butter. They squeezed white bread into a blob (Germans ate brown bread) and rubbed on peanut butter. They liked it. Who doesn’t like a peanut butter sandwich?

Over the years, many of the POWs returned to Aliceville bringing with them memorabilia, now on display. They also told many stories. Food was rationed during WWII and the POWs often ate better than the locals. (See Alabama Heritage, Winter 1988, No. 7 for an in-depth account of the POWs.) Corn was plentiful in the area and it was fed to the POWs. In their mind this was an insult, since in Germany, corn was fed to hogs. They didn’t want to eat it, yet they didn’t want to offend their captors. They hatched a plan. They buried the corn in numerous places to conceal it. Corn began sprouting up all over the compound. The locals thought they liked corn so much they were planting their own crop. They sent more corn!

Many of the POWs picked cotton, gathered peanuts, and worked in sawmills for which they were paid. The officers and NCO weren’t required to work pursuant to the Geneva Convention. All lived well. However, two POWs were shot and killed while trying to escape.

The POWs organized an orchestra, produced plays and concerts, wrote poetry, painted and promoted the arts, and pretty much lead a good life, except for being away from home. The museum is also chock-full of American military memorabilia, including a display of Pickens County’s two Medal of Honor recipients. There is also a large display of 1920s clothing.

Following our excellent tour, we lunched at Angie’s Place on pulled pork, smoked chicken, and fried catfish. Fine eating. A meat and three with a drink was $11.00.

It’s a good day trip and I recommend it. You can visit their website: www.alicevillemuseum.org or phone: 205-373-2363.

And for those of you taking Lasix, don’t worry there are many large oak trees along the scenic route.
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry R. Barksdale
The girls were excited. We were going to the 1989 Cotton Bowl in Dallas where the Arkansas Razorbacks would rub the noses of the UCLA Bruins in a mud hole. I’d never attended an out-of-state football game. And I’d never been trapped in a car for 667 miles with three women who were rabid Razorback fans. The bloom of my 15-month marriage to “Arkansas Pat” (not to be confused with my good friend and sometime redhead, “Tanner Pat”) was still on the rose. Pat’s two daughters, Audra, 21 and Leesa, 17, were two of the finest and prettiest little hellions I ever met. Both had been born in Auburn to parents from Marked Tree, Arkansas, the center of the universe and the largest and most cultured wide speck in the road. In other words, the Paris of Arkansas. They loved Auburn and they loved Arkansas. My point in this: Crossing a rabid Auburn fan with a rabid Arkansas fan is like mating a wild hog with a feral tomcat. Nature never meant it to be.

My experience with girls was limited to my sweet little Shannon who use to climb onto my lap and says things like: “My Daddy is my hero.” I didn’t know that little girls grew up, drank beer, smoked cigarettes and wrecked cars. Audra and Leesa are the reason Pat developed her immutable law, “Never give a teenager an equal break.” They are always up to something, you bet.

It was decided that we would travel to Dallas in my modest little Ford Escort, a runt of a car I drove from Huntsville to my law office in Athens. “It’s gas efficient,” I said.

The plan was to drive from Huntsville to Memphis, spend the night with “Nana Sue,” the girls’ grandmother, then proceed to Dallas. We hadn’t gone a block before Audra began slandering my car. “I don’t want to ride in a ‘box on wheels.’” That’s what she called my little car!

The girls hatched a plan to borrow Nana Sue’s big land yacht Lincoln Town Car so we could ride to Dallas in style. I smelled trouble. Nana Sue wasn’t the grandmotherly type who wore her hair in a bun and baked cookies for neighborhood kids. In earlier years she had partied at Elvis’ mansion, operated a liquor store, and had firm opinions about every subject and wasn’t hesitant to express them. I was afraid of Nana Sue and answered yes’um and no’mam. She was very particular about her Town Car. When a kitten crawled beneath the hood and took a nap on the fan blade, Nana Sue complained loudly about the blood and cat hair slung on her car.

We departed for Dallas in Nana Sue’s 18-foot, two-ton, 8-cylinder behemoth, blowing out gas, the stereo surround sound blasting, and the girls calling their hogs.

“Wooooeee pig! Soooey!
Wooooeee pig! Soooey!
Razorbacks – Razorbacks
Soooey!”

In Dallas, we stayed at Loews Anatole, the same hotel where the Razorback team and fans were lodged. An atrium ran from the ground floor to the top. When someone tooted in the lobby, we could hear it on the 15th floor. We all piled into one room. Our single bathroom quickly looked like a Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was crammed with oils, lotions, ointments, sprays, cosmetics, powders, perfume, emollients, rubs, combs, brushes, dryer, tweezers, curlers – a veritable nightmarish hell for a man. I couldn’t find space for a toothbrush! And another thing, I discovered women don’t use three towels when six are available. They use every one of them and right away.

Leesa saw a candy bar inside a drawer that was fastened with a plastic tie. She threaded her hand inside and pulled out a chocolate bar. “Look what I found,” she said and reached for another one.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Audra said.

“It’s complimentary,” Leesa said. Then she pulled out cheese. We ate all of the candy and cheese. It sure was delicious. The hotel even provided complimentary wine. We helped ourselves to that, too. Nothing like staying in a classy hotel.

The girls wanted to attend a big New Year’s Eve party at the hotel. Leesa was underage, but determined to attend. Pat hatched a plan. I would pretend to be an old, oil-rich Texan escorting his young wife. “Rich Texans have young wives,”

Pat said. “They won’t even notice.” Leesa wore a black velvet dress and Pat’s mink, and we were ushered in like celebrities. No I.D. check. Even though it has been 28 years, I hope that information never becomes public. A 48-year-old man with a 17-year-old on his arm! Gloria Allred will sue my socks off. I’ll be kicked out of the Senior Center.

It was past midnight when we finally got to bed. Then the Razorback fans in the lobby began calling the hogs. “Wooooeee pig! Soooey!” It sounded like they were in bed with us. I finally dozed off around 5 a.m. The Razorbacks got their noses rubbed in a mud hole, a 17-3 loss. I figured they didn’t sleep any better than I did. We checked out and that’s when I learned the candy, cheese, and wine weren’t complimentary. About $175, as I remember. I learned that you pay to stay in a classy hotel.

We departed for Memphis in Nana Sue’s land yacht; a quiet bunch we were, no blasting stereo and no calling the hogs. I pulled in for gas. “Look! We get a free car wash,” Pat said.
“Something tells me we shouldn’t do that,” Audra said.

“Why not? It’s free,” Pat said.

“I wouldn’t do it, Mama.”

The car came out of the wash tunnel, and we tore out for Memphis. “Oh my God!” Audra exclaimed.

The antenna had been pulled out by the roots and it was dragging behind the car and sparking on the pavement.

“Nana Sue isn’t going to like this,” Leesa said.

And she didn’t, she really didn’t. I bought a new antenna and had it installed. All in all, including “free” chocolate bars, cheese, wine, and a new antenna, the 1989 Cotton Bowl trip was expensive. We should have gone in my box on wheels. I never borrowed Nana Sue’s land yacht again. Years later, when they invited me to accompany them to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, I declined.
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry R. Barksdale
It was Wednesday, January 11, 1967.

Specialist 4 Paul A. Lauziere, age 20, a cryptographer/messenger with 121st Signal Company, 1st Infantry Division, hunkered inside his tent at base camp in Dian, South Vietnam, and wrote a letter to a total stranger 9,000 miles away in Athens, Alabama. He was lonely and needed a pen pal.

Earlier, after receiving a “Dear John letter,” he had gone to Red Cross in Siagon where there was a pen-pal box. He pulled out a name. It was Miss Sally Johnson, a 16-year-old sophomore at Athens High School.

“I would like very much to be pen pals with you,” he wrote. “Believe me I need the mail. You never get enough in this place. I have 17,280 hours left in Vietnam which makes it 104 days before I leave the country and go back to the world, as they say.”

Lauziere, a native of Lewiston, Maine, had been in Vietnam 9 months living dangerously and counting the days. When atmospheric conditions prevented him from sending coded messages, he had to personally deliver them. His worst days were during the first time. He landed at an LZ, delivered the message, and asked the Commander about a return ride. “That’s your problem, son. I’ve got 200 other men to worry about.” Paul set out on a one week walking and hitch-hiking journey through dangerous country, armed with an M-14 and three clips of ammo.

He longed for home, the sweetest word in the English language … “Well Sally, when I get a letter from a girl,” he wrote, “it makes me happy. Make me happy, okay?” He requested her photo, asked her age and what she liked to do.
Sally, the daughter of Philip and June Bowers Johnson was a busy young lady. Her life was filled with sorority activities, band practice, singing, running track, sports, and her favorite love – marching with the Golden Eagles Band as a Majorette.
Patriotism and love of country also tugged at her heart strings. “I tear up when I hear the National Anthem,” she recently told me. Someone wrote long ago about soldiers, “You can lock him out of your house but not out of your heart. You can take him off your mailing list but not off your mind.”

Just ten days earlier, Athens became the first high school in the nation to sponsor a blood drive for troops in Vietnam. They collected 557 pints. Sally answered Paul’s letter, told him about her singing, and in particular the blood drive. She also included her photo.

Two weeks later Paul replied. “I must say that you are a very attractive blonde and I know you must have a wonderful personality or you wouldn’t be writing me,” he said. “They call me Frenchy because I speak French. Please send more pictures. Oh, I am glad your school is trying to raise blood for us over here but I tell you a little secret, they would rather have beer and liquor than blood.” And “good food,” he added.

Sally replied in early February, telling him that miniskirts were in style. Paul immediately wrote back. “One day after college, I’ll get married. At least I hope so. So the fad around the states are [sic] miniskirts. Boy, I can’t wait to get back there and see for myself.” He said he was going to Japan on February 26 for R & R. “I can’t wait to get there and take my first hot shower and hot shave in 11 months and also not to be worried about being shot at all the time. Please write back as soon as you can. Love, Paul.” Again, Sally replied and Paul answered. “I’m leaving for Japan in three days.” he wrote. “I’d love to have a letter from you when I get back on the 26th of February. I can’t hardly wait to be there. There is only one thing wrong about the whole thing. I have to come back to this place. I will have about 52 days left in Vietnam when I do get back. That’s not too bad I guess.” He concluded, “You make me feel special. Keep on writing. Love, Paul

Paul returned from Japan and was happy to find Sally’s letter waiting for him. On March 5 at 2 a.m. he replied telling her about the beauty of Japan and friendly people. “Next month I will be home by the end of the month. I hope that you will still write me because I like to keep you as a pen pal.” He told her he might drive to Alabama and see her once he is stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

The letters were written 50 years ago, the last one on April 15, when Paul was leaving Vietnam. “I will be waiting for your letter,” he wrote. “It felt good this morning when I turned in my flak vest, ammo and M-16. And it will feel good getting on that plane home. I hate to leave my buddies… but I can’t wait to see my family and drive my own car. I think I could really get to like you.” Then he added, “I already like you.”

Sally had no further contact with Paul. She didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Her life went on. She graduated from Athens High in 1969, was a Majorette at Florence State and received her Master’s degree at Memphis State. Following marriage and divorce, she returned to Athens, became active in the community and retired as Limestone County Victim Service Officer in 2013. She hadn’t thought of Paul in years. Then one day while cleaning her closet she found her Athens High scrapbook along with nine letters in a box. “They were all in the closet together,” she said. Old memories, clouded by 50 years, rushed in. Was Paul alive? she wondered. Finally, she sent a message to Paul Lauziere in Maine. “Are you the Paul that had a pen pal from Athens, Alabama, in 1967? If so, I’m that person.” He replied. “I only had one.” Sally called him. A soft-spoken man, he said when he got home he was a “real mess” and couldn’t find a job.

After swapping missed calls, I finally got Paul on my black, flip top cell phone. He had enlisted in the Army at age 18, went through basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey; Advanced Infantry Training at Ft. Gordon; then to Vietnam. After leaving Vietnam, he was ordered to Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was transferred to 3rd Army at 333 Signal Company and assigned to the communication center for the 18th Airborne Division as a cryptographer.

Following the Army, Paul went to work at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland for approximately 8 months as a cryptographer. He never ventured down to Alabama to meet his pen pal. “I came back to Maine and was a hermit for three years. Did nothing,” he told me. “I got up in the morning and went to the woods. Just walked around. It felt comfortable.” While working on his B.S. at Thomas College, he met Helene – “the love of my life.” They married 42 years ago and have a daughter, Anne Sauceir (36) and John Lauziere (39).

Paul retired from the post office after 35 years. “I have PTSD and still under treatment,” he said. He is also taking treatment for cancer.

Sally, married to David Marks for 29 years, chuckles when she thinks about some of the things she wrote as a sophomore. She doesn’t remember who put her name and address in the Red Cross pen-pal box. Too many years have passed. Sally is a member of the Alabama Veterans Museum and continues to show her patriotism and community spirit. She is a former board member of the Chamber of Commerce and Athens-Limestone Tourism Association and Spirit of Athens volunteer. She was an actress in Poke Sallet for years and can always be counted on where veterans are concerned.

Back in the “Sixties” when some young people were burning our flag, others were fighting under its banner in Vietnam. And, on the homefront, there were Sally Johnsons offering them hope and encouragement. Sally purchased a memorial brick for Paul and is gifting his letters to the Alabama Veterans Museum.

Sally and David decided to take a fall trip to Maine, see the foliage, and visit Paul. She talked to Paul. “He didn’t say come up. I think he may have been a little skeptical,” she said. They flew to Boston, rented a car and drove to Lewiston, Maine, and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn where they agreed to meet. Sally was nervous. How would his wife, Helene react? What would they talk about? “Out stepped Paul, we hugged. Helene got out of the car and we hugged.” So far so good. Paul invited them to lunch; David and Sally followed behind in their car. At lunch, Paul, who is a man of few words said, “I didn’t have any idea what you looked like.” Later, he took them to their War Memorial where his name is chiseled on the monument, his Shriner’s Temple, and gave her a Vietnam Challenge Coin. Paul also took them to dinner. As Sally and David were preparing to depart the next morning, Paul walked over to Sally’s side of the car and said, “You don’t know what you’ve done for me.” Everyone got out of their car and hugged goodbye. “I’m coming to Alabama,” Paul said. “Come ahead,” Sally replied.
By: Jerry Barksdale

By: Jerry Barksdale
I’ve had a lot to worry about this year. Horn worms attacked my tomato plants, Japanese beetles ate my grapevines and groundhogs stole my okra. Messing with a Southerner’s okra and tomatoes is worse than someone cuss’n his dog or telling him he can’t date his cousin. Then there is global warming, paying my alimony on time, and resisting Russian mind control. It’s been a stressful year.

Now I have another worry – getting busted for culture theft. It’s a new offense hatched up by a pinhead college professor who can’t park his bicycle straight and, to quote Jerry Clower, whose education exceeds his intelligence.

It’s also called cultural misappropriation and occurs when someone of one culture adopts or uses elements of another culture. For example, a cornbread eating Southerner like myself eating a Mexican tortilla is considered cultural theft. It’s claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture. White folks calling their football team “Redskins” is definitely culture theft. Another example is mascot Oceola riding a horse at Florida State Seminoles football games or a non-Indian wearing a Mohawk haircut and white folks wearing dreadlocks and cornrow hairdos. Non-aboriginal people piercing their body and wearing what I call “booger catchers” (nose rings) is definitely cultural theft. Tattoos of Chinese or Japanese characters is also misappropriation.

In 2011, Prince William and Kate were busted in Canada for wearing cowboy hats and western shirts. “Tasteless,” said culture cops. Recently in Portland, Oregon, two white women were forced to shut down their burrito cart after traveling to Mexico and learning how to make a good burrito. They were accused of culture misappropriation. (Note to self: Portland is vying to become the wacko capital of the United States. Too much wacky- backy, I think).

In 2012, during the annual Victoria Secret Fashion Show where salivating men watched nearly naked women parade down the runway in skimpy underwear, a model wore an Indian headdress. She was accused of misappropriation by the culture cops and forced to apologize. I agree. It was inappropriate. Spike heels would have been ideal. Many men love to go shopping at Victoria Secret with their woman. Imagine this? “Darl’n, do you like this negligee?” she coos.

“Shucks no! I’d prefer, an Indian war bonnet.”

Ridiculous! I don’t want my woman looking like an Indian Chief in those situations. I’m biblical. I want her looking like Eve running around the Garden of Eden wearing a fig leaf.

In 2013, pop singer Katy Perry was busted by culture cops for wearing a geisha style outfit at the American Music Awards. “I didn’t know I did wrong,” she whimpered. Boohoo. Wimp. She’s probably from Portland.

There are well recognized customs, traditions, habits and foods that identify us as Southerners, and I don’t want outsiders stealing them. Already spineless, feckless, panty-waist politicians, who will soon be offering over their daughters in order to remain in office, are taking down our statues and destroying our Southern culture. We must remain vigilant and protect our culture.

If you see someone dressed in black with a $75.00 haircut and speaking in complete sentences and using two-syllable words while eating fried catfish and hushpuppies, they are probably from a foreign country like New York engaged in stealing our culture. We don’t talk that way.

If someone says “youse guys” while eating goat stew, poke sallet, fried okra, turnip greens, chitlins, scrambled hog brains, bologna on a cracker or moon pie and R.C. Cola, they are from New Jersey stealing our culture. That’s our food!

Someone wearing a brand new John Deere cap with no grease on the bill, sucking their teeth after a meal or mining ear wax with a toothpick is an imposter stealing our culture. (Warning! Mining ear wax with a toothpick is dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted by a non-Southerner). Saying “cotton pick’n right,” “doggone it” or “shucks” is even more offensive. That’s our lingo. Keep your mouth off it.

If they attempt to blow their nose with two fingers, they are misappropriating our culture. That is a highly technical maneuver perfected by Southerners over generations. It’s ours. Leave it alone.

Sometimes it’s difficult to identify an authentic Southerner from a pretender. Here are a few markers. If a man opens the door for a woman and says, “Morn’n, Ma’am,” he’s a genuine Southern redneck who hasn’t been told his behavior is considered sexist. If he calls you “hon,” he considers it a term of endearment. If a hound’s tooth hat is in the rear window of his car and a “Roll Tide” plate is on the front, he’s the real deal. If he says “yessum and no ma’am” to his elders, he is a Southerner, all right. If a woman attends church three times a week while packing a pistol in her purse, she is a Southern gal. If a woman gets diarrhea the night before the Iron Bowl, she’s a born and bred Auburn fan for sure. Southerners eat cornbread instead of “light” bread, and will ask a total stranger, “How you?” on the street, he’s Southern. If a person stands and places hand over heart when the National Anthem is playing, he’s definitely Southern. Wackos claim it’s racist to ask, “Where you from?” Southerners think they are just being friendly.

If you are unsure about their origin, ask a trick question: “Will a Alice Chandler (Allis Chalmer) outpull a John Deere? A real Southerners know that a John Deer can do anything better.

The acid test to determine if a man is authentic Southern is call him a redneck. He will laugh and say, “Yeah buddy, I got it honestly by working all day in the field chopping and picking cotton. It’s a mark of hard work.” Southerners have a sense of humor. It’s what sustained us during Reconstruction and the Great Depression. A non-Southerner will be offended and threaten to sue.

Call me redneck – it’s a mark of honor – make fun of my pickup or tractor, but don’t cuss my dog or tell me that my female cousin is ugly. And don’t tell me that cornbread crumbled in sweet milk isn’t good. That’s where the humor ends. Doggone it, get your cotton-picking hands off my culture.
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry R. Barksdale
I became aware of my unusual interest in having a beautiful lawn shortly after my marriage ended and I moved from Huntsville back to Athens in 1999. At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms. Little did I suspect that I would soon become afflicted with “Lawn Warrior Syndrome/Compulsive Disorder Overlay.” It’s a malady that targets mostly middle-age men, but can affect women.

Mama died in 1998 and I inherited a small house on Market Street. The front yard was mostly crab grass and weeds.

Miss Mable Romine, a spinster, lived across the street in a fine brick house surrounded by the most beautiful Zoysia grass lawn in Athens. It looked like a green carpet. Miss Mabel took great pride in her lawn. She was always inspecting it, sweeping it with a house broom, and picking up debris. If a leaf floated down, she would run over and remove it. I would wave at Miss Mabel, but she ignored me. She didn’t approve of my lawn. I wanted to have a pretty lawn, too, and be accepted by Miss Mabel and my neighbors. I didn’t have a wife ordering me to vacuum, carry out garbage, wash windows, and scrub the bathrooms. I was free to work in the yard. That was the beginning of my psychology problem. I sprayed my yard with Round Up and killed existing grass, tilled up the soil, and raked up a ton of rocks. Miss Mable kept a watchful eye on my activity but didn’t say anything. I hadn’t considered how to dispose of the rocks. The City furnished a large, green plastic garbage can. Just what I needed. I filled it with a ton of rocks.

I was still in bed one morning when I heard the strangest sound—“Er-Er-Er-Er,” like an elephant trying to have a bowel movement. Then a crashing noise like a rock slide colliding with a tin building. I peeked out just as a cloud of dust rose above the rocking garbage truck. The rocks were gone, but I did receive a visit from a representative of the Department of Sanitation. He asked if I put rocks in my garbage can. “I allegedly did,” I said.

Next, I laid Zoysia sod, the same variety that Miss Mable had. A couple of weeks later, the sod turned green and beautiful. Miss Mabel was out in her front yard picking up debris when she yelled across the road, “Your lawn sure is pretty.” Finally she approved of me.

We all have a need to be accepted. I get a warm feeling when I insert my credit card and the screen flashes “approved.”

Later, I sold my little house on Market Street and moved to 407 Washington Street. I hired my cousin’s husband, Chuck Farmer, to landscape and sod my front yard with fescue. It took a while. Chuck was a popular landscaper, and there was crappie fishing and then deer hunting, but when Chuck showed up, he did a magnificent job. My front lawn was beautiful. I hired Pure Green to spray monthly, pulled stray grass and mowed it in one direction, then crossways and caught the clippings. People would stop and compliment me on my yard. I was happy and loved my lawn, never realizing that it was my sickness at work. I just thought I was having fun.

After retirement, I moved to a 9-acre farm on Elk River with about 6 acres of grass. I also purchased the seller’s riding mower. My plan was to mow a strip on the inside of the pasture fence and keep it weed free, then bush hog the remainder.
I mowed one round along the fence and it looked so neat that I mowed another one. It looked even prettier. I kept mowing. At the end of the day I had mowed the entire pasture – and busted most of the rocks and whacked up fallen walnuts and limbs. My neighbors called my mower the “rock crusher.” I tore up the mower – many times – so many, in fact, that I had to buy a trailer to haul it to a repair shop weekly. It finally died. Then I purchased a Craftsman from Sears. Same story.
My neighbors Buddy Stokes and Ken Hill have zero turn mowers. While I was bumping along at snail speed, they were flying by at warp speed. Show offs! The Craftsman began smoking, a little at first, then really bad.

My good friend (and sometimes red head) Pat urged me to buy a zero turn. I think she was embarrassed by my unmanly smoking mower. Which do you think a woman will fall for — a guy bumping along in a jalopy or in a fast, sleek T-bird? You get the picture.

We went to H & R Agri-Power on Highway 31 South andlooked at mowers. Daniel Bates showed me an Exmark zero turn with a 52” cut. He insisted that I drive it. I’d never seen a lawnmower that looked like a pre- historic beast. I cautiously climbed aboard and headed out. Wow! I felt like King Tut at the controls of a D-6 Caterpillar. It was fast — two-barrel carburetor, seat belt, and roll bar. I would be the Cale Yarbrough of lawnmowers on Dement Road and the envy of my neighbors. I bought it.

An employee drove the new mower forward on my 56” wide trailer. I thought nothing of it until I arrived home and tried to back it off. The wheels wedged on the side. The mower was stuck. I read the owner manual. “Back up ramp and drive forward down.” Now they tell me. I powered up and threw it in reverse. I almost took the tires off, but I unloaded – fast! I was going backward and headed toward the woods. I shoved the control bar forward, slammed into a metal fence post, backed up, then hit two dogwood trees in succession, went beneath another tree, and the mower reared straight up. “Whoa! Down Trigger! Down you fool!” The roll bar had caught on a limb. The mower was dangerous, with a mind of its own. I started talking to myself. “I’d better get in the middle of the pasture before it kills me.” There is no steering wheel, only two control bars, sort of like flying a B-17 on a bombing mission – and just as dangerous. It took off at warp speed. That’s when I knew why there are roll bars and seat belt. I was going in every direction at the same time, cutting a 52” swatch and slinging grass clipping and fire ants. The pasture looked like a UFO landing zone. Oh, I forgot to mention, the mower went rogue again and crashed through a patch of poke sallet.

My symptoms are worse, I know they are. Recently, someone stopped and asked a neighbor directions to my house, “You mean that nut that mows his cow pasture with a riding mower?”

That’s me folks – lawn warrior.
By: Jerry R Barksdale
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By: Jerry R. Barksdale
The morning broke cool and clear in the high desert country of Taos, New Mexico. The day held promise.

“Dad, let’s take a trip to Valle Vidal,” said my daughter Shannon. My good friend (and sometimes red-head) Pat and grandson, Joshua were all in. I was eager to return there.

Valle Vidal (Spanish for “valley of life”) is 102,000 acres of pristine wilderness 69 miles north of Taos and inhabited with elk, bear, bison, and bisected by a wild river teaming with cutthroat trout. If God ever vacations, He surely goes there. It’s where I had planned to live in a tepee part time following retirement. I had purchased “Little Red” my devoted Toyota pick-up specifically for that purpose. Shannon helped me select a tepee and I planned to acquire a dog for company and to keep me warm on cold nights.

Then I met Pat. She’s a “Tanner-tested” lady (similar to Good Housekeeping seal) who can cook like a gourmet chef, paint a house, mow grass, and operate a Farm-all tractor. What else does a lazy man need? For several years she has waged an unrelenting battle against ugliness in Athens at her modest beauty shop, The Total Look. If a customer is short of money, Pat will give them a “half look.” She doesn’t cuss much, smoke, drink or use drugs (except Sundrop); is slow to anger; and never throws cups and plates. A fine lady who looks and smells a sight better than a dog. I forgot about the tepee and dog. I’m glad I did.

We drove down a narrow, winding gravel road and across Valle Vidal. In four hours we met fewer than six vehicles. Turquoise sky, blooming mountain flowers and rushing streams took our breath. Such peace and tranquility. Then a loud scream! “EEooow!” Joshua slammed the car door on his hand. Tranquility ended. “There goes his good job at Anasazi Hotel,” I thought.

We emerged back in civilization at tiny Cimarron, a speck of a town on the old Santa Fe Trail. We stopped at the St. James Hotel. Back in the day it was frequented by Jessie James, Bat Masterson and Clay Allison, just to name a few.

Numerous bullet holes dot the tin ceiling. Twenty-six killings occurred there. Clay Allison, from Waynesboro, Tennessee, killed several men in the bar. He was discharged from the Confederate Army for psychological problems – “part manical” – but later served in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry and rode with Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Allison always said he never killed a man that didn’t need killing. How many of us can boast of such sterling civic accomplishments?

That evening Pat made pasta, garlic bread and salad, which we washed down with a good red wine. Afterwards, we sat outside where an ancient acequia the Spaniards constructed to irrigate the valley, gurgled past us. We talked as a night breeze rattled leaves on ancient cottonwoods. There was so much love among our little tribe. Since the death of Carol, my children have grown very close to Pat. And it’s good.

Later, we built a fire in the kiva fireplace and temporarily adjourned to the hot tub on the patio. Our fun was interrupted by a woman who appeared out in the night decrying that her husband was allergic to smoke and was choking to death. Not wanting to be responsible for his death, we put out the fire.

Joshua woke at 2 a.m. whimpering with pain in his hand. I gave him two Advils and worried that he wouldn’t be able to return to work that afternoon at the Anasazi Hotel in Santa Fe. He had worked one day before asking for four days off. Not good.

After Joshua returned to Santa Fe, Shannon, Pat and I drove 20 miles north of Taos to San Cristobal, location of the 160-acre D.H. Lawrence Ranch (elev. 8600). Lawrence, a famous English writer, who wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and his wife Frieda came to New Mexico in 1922. They lived in a small, rustic cabin on the ranch where Lawrence wrote. Lady Dorothy Brett, a Lawrence admirer of English nobility, came to the ranch in 1924. The cabin grew too small for the two women and Frieda banned Lady Brett to a tiny closet-size cabin in the back yard. Cat fight? Lawrence died in Venice, France, 1930; and his ashes eventually ended up at the ranch.

One evening we had dinner at the Kyote Club where Shannon and her band performed. Shannon introduced me to Roe, a beautiful woman with long black hair, who is a sixth-grade school teacher. Her father fought with the Philippine Guard when the Japanese overran Manilla during WWII. He, along with others were lined up by an open trench and gunned down. He survived, escaped to the jungle, and fought with the guerilla against the Japanese until Gen. McArthur returned. Roe moved to Taos after her son was killed in a car accident “to find peace,” she told me.

On another evening we went to the Alley Cantina to hear Shannon sing. They play rock’n roll, blues and funk. Shannon is lead vocalist and Dave Kinney plays guitar and harmonica. Rick, keyboard player, is a Taos lawyer who moved there from Beverly Hills. Brendan Devlin, a lederhosen-clad waiter at the Bavarian restaurant during the day, plays lead guitar and sings. He slings his long black hair like he has water in his ears. It drives women crazy. Long hair is stupid. I’m bald and don’t have to go around slinging my head. “Ohhh, he’s so cute,” Pat cooed. “I’m going to take him home.” The little punk.

We headed back to Alabama. I yearned for humidity, ripe tomatoes, and fried okra from our garden on Elk River. I watched as the mountains faded in my rearview mirror and knew I would return to Taos. I always do.
By: Jerry Barksdale
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By: Jerry R. Barksdale
My good friend (and sometimes red-head) Pat and I spent the night with my grandson, Joshua at his adobe house outside Santa Fe. There was no air conditioner and none was needed. Open windows let in cool air from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains along with the lonesome call of coyotes. Joshua, age 19, had worked at the upscale Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi for only one day and immediately asked four days off to visit with us. I appreciated his desire to be with us, but it brought on grandfatherly advice. “The secret of job security,” I said, “is arriving early, sober and clean; leave late, don’t complain and always be available. Others won’t do that. Pretty soon you’ll be on top.” Of course, that’s old fogey thinking. Nowadays, it’s popular to whine, become a victim and sue someone – anyone.

Next morning, I departed Santa Fe, leaving Pat and Joshua to shop and, drove the high road through the mountains to Taos.

The ancient village of Chimayo, settled by Spanish colonists around 1680, clings to the brown foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I stopped at Ortega’s weaving shop and looked at several hand-woven, wool rugs, but resisted the temptation to purchase yet another one. Later, I visited Santuario de Chimayo, a Catholic sanctuary built in 1810. It’s claimed that the soil beneath the floor has healing power. Scores of crutches hanging on the wall attest to its miraculous power. Who am I to say otherwise? When I was a kid many older folks drank Hadacol, an over the counter potion high in alcohol content, that worked miracles on some folks. Many women swore by it. It was rumored that an old fellow at Piney Chapel with a wooden leg drank it daily. It was so potent he had to carry a hatchet to keep the sprouting limbs trimmed off his leg. Not only that, when I was 11 years old, Uncle James Burch purchased all 16 warts on my hands for a penny each. They disappeared within days. Was it a miracle? For me it was.

In Taos, I took a room at Kachina Inn, next door to the Indian Pueblo, and read the Taos News while waiting for Pat and Joshua to arrive. Citizens were in an uproar, as usual. They opposed Walmart, the Dollar Store, burning porch lights at night (it pollutes darkness) and the expansion of their tiny air strip. Tempers flared at a public meeting and one official was properly dog cussed. One lady was fearful, that “the military could possibly use it.” Gasp! According to a recent survey residents described Taos citizens as “a little crazy,” “wacky and weird,” and “unable to show up to anything on time – preferably two hours late.” Here’s my definition: Imagine a powerful magnet located in the center of America strong enough to attract every nut and loose screw from both the East and West Coast. That’s Taos. I love it! But I don’t want them running our country. Later, I sauntered into the Broadsky Book Shop on Paseo del Pueblo Street North and mentioned that I was from Athens, Alabama. “What street?” asked the long-haired clerk. It was Chipper Thompson, son of the well-known Athens artist, Bob Thompson. Chipper and my son, Mark were childhood playmates when we lived on Aston Street. Chipper married Huntsville artist, Langford Monroe and they moved to Taos several years ago. Unfortunately, her career was cut short by death. Chipper is a well-known Taos singer and musician and recently published The Substance of Things Hoped for, his first novel (www.chipperthompson.com). Being a high brow reader, I purchased a used copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence who is buried north of Taos. Lawrence was hounded out of England in 1922 and the book banned. Nowadays its probably required reading in the third grade.

The sky was turquoise blue and the air cool and thin when Pat, Joshua and I joined Shannon and her best friend, Jamie for lunch on the deck of the Bavarian Restaurant high in the Taos Ski Valley. Jamie is Northern Cheyenne, born and reared on the Lame Deer Reservation in Montana. Her Indian name is “One Who Kills In The Morning.” I know a woman like that – my ex. Contrary to her name, Jamie is sweet, kind and beautiful. The name was given her by her people for standing up to the U.S. Government. She and her German-born husband operate the excellent restaurant. Shannon loves Jamie and considers her the sister she never had. “Jamie and I are blood sisters,” Shannon announced over a platter of bratwurst and fried potatoes. Several months earlier, while enjoying wine, Shannon proposed that they become blood sisters; went to the kitchen, returned with a butcher knife; slit open their palms and mixed their blood. Jamie had never heard of such, but went along with it. “Why are you doing this?” she asked. “It’s how they do it in the movies,” Shannon replied. Jamie just shook her head and laughed.
By: Jerry Barksdale

To Be Continued

Saturday, August 12, 2017 from 10am to 2pm:

Jerry will be leading a 4 hour Civil War tour of the Athens area. This will be a very informative tour and Jerry will make you laugh while you’re learning.

LOCATION:

CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

 

Jerry Barksdale

Jerry Barksdale

 

 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 4pm to 8pm:

Jerry will portray his great-great grandfather, Daniel Barksdale at the Huntsville Bicentennial Celebration.  Later that evening Jerry will switch roles and costumes and tell a humorous story set at Madison Cross Roads in 1954 when he was age 13.

STORY:  “Saving Mama’s Religion”. Too many dogs will drive the best Christian women over the edge.

LOCATION: Huntsville Roundhouse

CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

 

Make sure to check out Jerry’s AUDIO BOOK version of “Cornbread Chronicles”.  He will have you laughing before you know it!