Christmas Time, 1991
'A Brister Christmas'
Since the newspaper reports about us moving to San Antonio and about me being a schoolteacher and a sharecropper at Doug Hart’s farm, my cousin Billy Joe figured we should let folks know what really happened to us.
The rains of ’91 nigh washed our pea and watermelon patch into King Creek, the leaky roof never got fixed and we ran out of pots and pans to catch the water. In October, when Bubba Earl emerged from his bedroom wringing out his pajamas one cool morning, he said, “Why don’t we move to my trailer house on Dorcheap before we catch a cold?” He told about his ex relocating to Alabama with her mother and how she wouldn’t need the trailer house anymore.
In November, Bubba Earl was so moved when he discovered the destruction caused by the rains, that he went on a Columbia County fact-finding tour with his sometimes romance, a former Miss Texas, and decided to run for county judge after he inspected the damaged roads and bridges. In his run for the judgeship, he promises no new taxes, a county lottery, a garbage truck at every door twice a week, and a new county justice center courthouse complex on Nations Creek across from Wal-Mart complete with Japanese gardens, fountains, a river walk, a catfish café and bowling alley. He got so involved politicking and talking to a courthouse architect who personally knew Frank Lloyd Wright that he plum forgot about promising to drive his beauty queen to the “Big is Beautiful” shop for stout women in Texarkana. Well, she up and quit him again and told him she was fixing to move to Austin and promised she wouldn’t be around to be his campaign manager.
We moved to the trailer house on Dorcheat, fished from the back yard and filled our freezer with deer, possum, fish, turkey and squirrel. And on Thanksgiving morning, Bubba Earl’s ex came home for a surprise visit without the holiday spirit. She went whooping and yelling around the trailer with her sawed-off double-bitted chop axe preaching temperance, cussing Tichenor’s and bashing out window lights before we had time to get out of bed. Then she told Bubba Earl how she and a Louisiana lawyer were taking him to the cleaners, before she lit out to get the sheriff. By noon that same day, we had rented and moved into a house near Brister, had gone into the firewood hauling business and cooked a wild turkey with dressing. Bubba Earl’s inquiry, “Whose gonna cut and split all that wood for our new bidness?” caused a bit of finger pointing and panic, the likes of which has ruined so many illustrious careers.
Three weeks before Christmas, my cousin Billy Joe and his friend Bubba Earl were out looking for gifts and a job. Margie and I figured they would find the gifts before they found a job – with the recession and all – so we started picking greens out of an abandoned turnip patch we restored and started a produce outlet off Columbia County Road 8.
Bubba Earl and Billy Joe cut a Christmas tree, brought in sacks of pecans
and walnuts they found and swapped some fish for a bushel of fruit.
They decorated with strung popcorn, silvered pine cones and
sweetgum balls wrapped in foil. As
we lay back and ate all we could hold, we retold stories about homeless
people freezing to death and how people the world over are running from
someone with a gun. We
watched the fire flickering in the fireplace as it crackled the oak wood.
Warm as toast, we talked about how those communists in the Soviet
Union and Little Rock should be so lucky to have a Brister Christmas.
We are certain to remember this Christmas as the most bountiful
ever; we hope your luck will be as good!
Pea Festival &