Things change. Life is like a train rolling down a one-way track and we must stay on board, like it or not, so we might as well find some humor in the journey.
Above is a picture I found in an old box. It is one of my great uncle Jim standing in front of the house that my great grandfather built a very long time ago in Bezer, MS, just outside of Raleigh in Smith County. I’ve visited that site several times. The family that owns it now are distant cousins. Today however, that building is gone and a new home sits in its place. The den of the new house has wood from the former as paneling in one of its rooms. The land is much as it was then though. Smith County, Mississippi is primarily farming country. It’s mostly flat, as is the whole state, and produces a number of crops from cotton to catfish, but Smith County is known for its delicious watermelons.
I digress however, what sparked my memory was a story I had been told for years about Uncle Jim. Now, Uncle Jim was a lawyer and later a judge, who lived in a small town in Texas. Many in my family migrated west to Texas during a banking scandal here in the state that cost lots of folks their homes and land. Uncle Jim just went there I believe. Anyway, the story takes place after he was older and his vision was failing him. He would roar through town in his T-model Ford and everyone would have to jump out of the way, move obstacles from in front of him, and generally just “make way!” Uncle Jim was a character now.
This went on for some time with him threatening life and limb of the citizens until the sheriff finally was made to go before the judge and tell him (ask him) if he didn’t think that he should have someone drive him, him being such an important man there about. Well, the judge wasn’t thrilled at all about the suggestion, but with the coaxing of his son, he agreed to think about it.
A few days later you could hear the judge coming into town in his T-model, but there was an unusual sound accompanying him. “Bark, bark, bark!” It was T-bone, his little terrier mutt out in front of the car.
They say he would run in front of Uncle Jim and guide him through town. Uncle Jim was just a plowing through as always, but following the barking of T-bone. He would do that until he reached the edge of town where a small one-way bridge went over Brasher Creek. There T-bone would cross the bridge and bark. Uncle Jim would ease across. Then open the door of the T-model. T-bone would jump in and off they’d fly until the next time Uncle Jim needed to come to town.
The old house Uncle Jim stood in front of in Smith County, Mississippi was evanescent and has long since been gone. Uncle Jim is gone too. He got sick and they put him in the local hospital, but they wouldn’t let him have his nightly “hot toddy” so he proceeded to leave in his hospital gown. It was raining and twenty-four degrees outside. He got his hot toddy, but also got pneumonia and passed away about a week later. Everything comes to an end. Even this tale of Uncle Jim and T-bone, but I believe that humor might live on forever. Let’s at least hope so.