Glen Eades – He Had an Idea
the father of the
PurpleHull Pea Festival &
Rotary Tiller Race.
Sadly, Glen passed away November 8, 2006.
Here is our
Everything starts with an idea. It was no different for the PurpleHull Pea Festival.
The festival owes its existence to one person, Glen Eades, who, in 1990, had an idea for a festival that would pay homage to the delicacy grown in almost all local backyard gardens of the area, the purple hull pea.
It was also Glen who thought it’d be a good idea to have a race of a particular garden implement – and thus the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race was born.
During the time he was proposing that Emerson host a festival, Glen was also writing a bi-weekly column for the newspaper in Magnolia, the Banner News. Most citizen-reporters from around Columbia County would write about who-visited-who in the hospital, or who had the local pastor over for Sunday dinner. Finding such run-of-the-mill news from the local populace not easily forthcoming, Glen came up with a solution: He made stuff up.
Glen created two fictional characters, Billy Joe and Bubba Earl. He wrote about their exploits as they interacted with real people in the community. Occasionally, he’d throw in one other character, Bubba Earl’s mother, the itinerant medical practitioner Earlie Pearl.
The result was a level of hilarity rarely seen in print in our parts.
We thought we’d share some of Glen’s early writings with you. The links below will direct you to some of Glen’s more entertaining columns from 1990 and 1991. The titles for each article aren’t Glen’s – we added titles to help you remember which article was printed on which date. Enjoy.
Our thanks fo the Banner-News
for permissionto use those articles
Stories continue to surface regarding last month’s tornado warning. The memory of husbands and wives spending the night in hallways and closets – the closest some had been in 30 years – brings smiles and chuckles. And there are accounts of panic stricken residents who paced the floor in their BVDs during the storm while trying to remember when they went to church last. Many who stay in trailers became overnight guests of friends and relatives who reside in plank houses; and discussions linger about the possibility of trailer houses attracting tornadoes.
Last week, my cousin Billy Joe and his friend Bubba Earl donned their pressing-shop cleaned double-knit leisure suits, jumpered the pickup and attended some young ladies on a blind date. Returning home a short time later, they charged through the door like a jersey bull and sat motionless until bedtime. Their week was ruined on account of two gold-digging females more interested in an expensive Magnolia café than romance. They admitted to a restaurant bill big enough to embarrass an Arkansas politician with a state credit card. Broke, the pair returned to Brister while Bubba Earl complained, “I’ll never go out with any Magnolia wimmen again.”
After the romantic interlude, my cousin and his friend dug some worms, loaded the pickup with food staples and a jug of stump-rot, and made plans to spend the week fishing with Elvis on Dorcheat. They returned the next day after a conflict of interest involving musical tastes. It appears Bubba Earl preferred listening to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart recordings while the opposition demanded Willie and Tammy. Billy Joe remarked, “Too much talk about vintage wine and long-hair music from people who wear 50-cent gold chains and drink a liquid recently brewed at Shongaloo.”
Following an incident involving a man who was shot for driving too slow, Mayor Mullins reports Emerson residents rushing to and fro and driving too fast. It has been reported that dogs and cats, and even the train, have been moving faster than normal. The mayor reports Emerson folks figure all honors concerning the recent frontier image, credited to the likes of John Wesley Hardin, would be more befitting to Deadwood or Lorado. (Mr. Hardin once shot a man for snoring.) Can anyone imagine Winston, Larry, Herbert, Thomas, Curtis, Louie, Talmadge and Tommy packing a loaded six-gun while strolling down Mainstreet Emerson on their way to the OK Corral?
A letter arrived at Mayor Mullins’ office announcing the upgrade of the Emerson Fire Department to Class VII. Hard working volunteer firefighters continue to lower home insurance rates, and Emerson residents should qualify for another rate adjustment after March 1.
The Emerson Purplehull Festival, scheduled for June 23, is expected to attract arts and crafts, dated artifacts such as “one-lung” engines and horsedrawn wagons, food fair, country and gospel musicians and a bike race. The first World Championship Rotary Tiller Race will be held at the festival. Tiller race entries from other states and countries are advised to write Mayor Mullins at Box 275, Emerson, Ark. 71740, or phone (501) 547-2220 for details on the world class event.
After Bubba Earl got out of the hoosegow Friday morning, he walked into Brister before daybreak and made such a commotion that he scared the guineas and chickens off their roost in the gum tree; and he demanded we drive him to Kerlin to look for a job. He seemed powerful nervous about a confrontation with a judge while he described a rowdy patron at a roundhouse near Haynesville who attempted to wrap a jug of pickled eggs around his neck while he danced. Then he went on about how he had to commence paying for damages that week. We had heard they were hiring at Kerlin, so after Billy Joe and I made some calculations, we advised Bubba Earl of a practical way to settle those damages that would not place us in the awkward posture of refusing a job on account of the awful weather.
After Bubba Earl calmed down from his state of excitement, we slept until noon, watched some daytime TV drama and listened to Billy Joe compare our government to Castro’s Cuba, because he didn’t like what he heard about deputies destroying his friend’s cash crop near Emerson a few weeks ago. The pair agreed that deputies in Magnolia should mind their own business and stay out of other folk’s woods before the Soviet ambassador hears about it and charges our government with human rights violations.
Tommy Butler ran out of festival T-shirts and had to order more. The demand far exceeded the anticipated sales of shirts. Shirts may be purchased at Buzz-Buy or from Purplehull Committee persons.
Class reunions, many vacationing relatives and tiller race fans are expected on festival day. Ludine Smith, Linda Mullins, Herbert Evers and friends made a highway banner. Community cooks who will prepare peas, cornbread, and other country delights are making plans. There is an aura of excitement at the Tuesday and Thursday meetings.
Herbert Evers wishes to welcome all farmers, gardeners and fresh vegetable shoppers to the festival. There is no fee to farmers selling fruit and vegetables. Parking space will be provided.
The Purplehull Queen nominations ended on June 13, and a list of candidates was published in the Banner News. The voting will be June 18-22. The queen must be over 60 and reside in the Walkerville-Emerson-Atlanta area. The queen will be elected by popular vote determined by Walkerville, Atlanta and Emerson residents. Voting will be by letter, either mailed or brought to the Emerson City Hall. One vote per letter is allowed, and the letter must bear a return address. The votes will be counted and the queen will be announced at a reception for queen candidates at the Emerson Community Center on June 22. Alternates will be selected, and princesses (all queen candidates) will ride in the parade on June 23.
Bubba Earl and Billy Joe will be at the festival to greet everyone and auction pies for the Ladies Auxiliary. Bubba Earl has suggested that patrons bring a folding chair.
Debbie McNiel hit a large deer while returning from a festival meeting recently. Debbie was slightly injured and the van sustained some damage. Debbie is a hard worker for games and other activities for children who will attend the festival.
Bicycle riders are encouraged to join the parade. There will be horses and wagons, and antique car owners are encouraged to ride their vehicle in the parade.
The winner of the championship tiller race will be awarded $100 and a trophy. Second and third place winners will receive trophies. Rules apply to tine driven tillers only. No wheeled tillers will be allowed in the race. Plows and attachments must be removed before racing.
While Bubba Earl was in Emerson for the festival, he liked the town well enough to inform Mayor Mullins that he will move his trailer house to Emerson in the fall. When I asked him why he didn’t move it to our place in Brister, he told us we did not have enough automobile bodies, fenders, used tires, and hoods to accommodate a trailer house. He asserted that a car body landscape is appealing and practical because it provides guest rooms when company comes; and he said aluminum siding and insurance peddlers, bill collectors and prowlers avoid his yard like a plague. With help from Tommy Butler, the only real estate person in town, Bubba Earl is considering at least two solutions at Emerson.
On Wednesday, Tommy told us he may get sick following his ingesting a large horsefly while he was running. Tommy and the horsefly had other plans when the incident occurred, and it is reported to have ruined the whole day for both. Linda Mullins said, “Horseflies have been bad this year, but I don’t think it helped for Tommy to eat just one of them.” Anyway, Mayor Mullins dispatched a crew to spray the varmints so we could enjoy the festival.
Mark, the city worker who drives the bush hog was sick for a few days following a wasp sting to his face. Mark and other workers had a long day during the festival.
John Cary, reporter for the Banner News, was the master of ceremonies for the Purplehull Festival entertainment. We could not have done better. John was a hit with the children who performed onstage, because he was capable of providing a relaxed atmosphere, which allowed performers to do their best.
Billy Joe and Bubba Earl ran into a little trouble during a pie auction where the pair decided to become pastry gladiators. Local talent, cloggers, Steve Reeves Band and the Sam, The Humana Senior Performers, Emerson and Brister church choirs, Tarrah McNiel, and Pirate Pride entertained in the school auditorium Saturday.
The parade, led by Grand Parade Marshall Thomas Talley, featured Purplehull Festival Queen Boyd Green, the Emerson princesses, riding clubs, a few politicians and Riders of The Purple Hull. Columbia County deputy sheriffs provided safety during the parade, and officers were around all day. Magnolia Deputy Sheriff Jerry Walsh returned to Emerson with his lovely wife, Linda, for the Saturday night barbecue.
The National Tiller Drag Race was won by Jason Hines. The race was played back on television Saturday night. The race is expected to gain more national exposure. Mike Ingram, a Buzz-Buy, Inc. executive, provided the purse for the winners. Handsome trophies were awarded, and the race is expected to become an annual event. Globetrotting tiller pilots will be invited to the 1991 Purplehull Festival.
So many out of state guests were present for the festival. We neglected making arrangements for guest registration for a mailing list. Perhaps they will return next year and give us another chance. The event was homecoming for many of our former classmates and teachers, and subsequently, many states were represented. Dr. Ben Warren represented Cedar Hill, Texas, during his visit.
Shortly after Bubba Earl fell in love with a Texas beauty queen at the Clairborne Club one night last week, he rushed to Brister to inform us of his intent to drive his fiancée to Memphis for a visit at Graceland. So Billy Joe and I accompanied him to several area used car lots and waited for his decision among several “classics.” When Bubba Earl found the car he considered in his price range, he paced around it a few times, positioned his mouth like LBJ did just before he was about to say, “My feller Americans,” and offered the salesman $25 down.
The car was real nice, except for a missing grill and a smokey exhaust which obscured visibility for drivers behind us; but Bubba Earl was all smiles as we surged down the highway toward Brister. The proud owner of a rare automobile, Bubba Earl washed and polished his gem and was real fussy about anyone touching the vintage paint. On our way to Emerson the next day, what the car salesman referred to as a “little jewel just barely broke in,” developed fatal engine trouble. The next morning, the lady-in-waiting grew a little impatient with her new found love, and she was last seen near the state line talking to a melon hauler headed north.
For several days, Bubba Earl listened to songs about lost love and broken hearts, and heard my cousin Billy Joe add more grief with a dissertation on the capricious ways of women; until Bubba Earl got enough of it, grabbed a pen and paper, and went to Emerson to find someone to write a grievance letter to the governor about Stalinist used car dealers and watermelon haulers.
Except for the romantic interlude, our attention has been focused on our pea patch and garden. We picked peas, corn, okra and dug potatoes. Emerson got a quarter-inch rain Tuesday, but Brister remains dry. Lillian Roden canned pickles and froze peas. Mary Frances reports that her pea patch is doing well. There have been no reports on Herbert’s showcase garden lately.
Bennie F. Dodson and Robert Roden were luncheon guests at the Jack Roden home last Sunday. Karol Williams visited at the Dodson home on Monday, and Miss Effie and Mary Frances visited Viola Tooke at Shongaloo Tuesday. I saw Miss Viola at the Purplehull Festival and she complained about me jumping up and down on a water well cover when I was three. The Dodsons stayed home for the 4th. Mary reported the weather being too hot for fireworks.
Miss Lucy Joiner celebrated her 4th of July with a 94th birthday. Dorwin Young and Mary Frances helped Miss Lucy celebrate by delivering a holiday feast to her. Joyce Young’s house guest last weekend was Kitty Stocks of Cabot. Mary Lee Yates traveled to Ruston and visited Juanita Barnette last week. Linda and Joe Mullins’ wedding anniversary was Sunday, July 1.
Mayor Mullins of Emerson remarked, “I think we are winning the war with the horseflies; several battles have been fought.” Recent applications by the city bug sprayer have reduced insect pests to a tolerable level, but more applications are expected.
The Purplehull Festival Committee will meet soon to discuss the 1991 festival. Some minor changes will be made to improve the activities regarding contests. At least two classes of tillers have been proposed for the National Tiller Race. A bigger purse is expected, all tiller pilots will be awarded a prize, and efforts will be made to register participants. The Purplehull Queen will be selected again by popular vote following a nomination by a loved one. Again, the contestants will be over 60. A number of proposals regarding the contest are expected. A minimum voting age has not been determined, but children are expected to be eligible to vote.
The Purplehull Festival Committee will sponsor a program of entertainment for all ages during the 1991 festival, and staged events will be similar to the 1990 show. A larger crowd is expected, new attractions will be added, and the arts and crafts show should double in size. The festival farmers market will get more attention; many people were disappointed in not finding purplehulls for sale.
While Billy Joe, Bubba Earl and I were having a garage sale before the summer heat did us in Tuesday morning, a gentleman who represented a utility company stopped by. The stranger bought some squash, glanced at the other merchandise and then offered us a job clearing a right-of-way. The man pointed to some axes in the back of his pickup when Bubba Earl asked him if his tractors were air conditioned. No other words were spoken while the utility man hurried down the road toward Emerson. We figured the fellow was a little embarrassed because his company couldn’t afford tractors or dioxin type brush killers like the other utility companies and highway departments use.
We tried to pick peas for our garage sale, but the weather was too hot. Anyway, we heard a report from a TV weatherman that a rare July cold front was on the way, so we figured we would wait. Well, we did not pick the peas because the cool snap was 97 degrees. Besides, we were too tired out from last week’s activities.
Tommy Butler gave up on farming after five consecutive crop failures. Every summer the weather got too hot for his business partner and mule, so the whole pea patch turned into a hay field that looked like it had more snakes in it than peas.
Tommy purchased a few extra Purplehull Festival shirts last week. Most of the shirts are already sold. The shirts are expected to go quickly. Tommy reports that he made a trip to the Chicken and Egg Festival and bought a watermelon from a former Brister Church pastor, Bro. Gordon Rogers, who resides near Hope. The preacher reported that he has sold over 300 bushels of peas this summer, and plans to bring peas to the 1991 Purplehull Festival.
Mary Frances Dodson visited Floy Fitzgerald at Haynesville Tuesday. Mary and the Brister Baptist Church ladies traveled to a Magnolia nursing home to manicure nails and visit residents.
Jack and Lillian Roden were in Magnolia to visit Janis and Wendel Stroman last week. Robert Roden visited with his parents, Jack and Lillian, on Sunday. Like most area gardens, Jack’s garden has been too dry. Lillian reports a scant pea crop, but she said her tomatoes had done well.
I understand how Lillian and Jack feel. The drought got in my watermelon patch, the melons got no bigger than a two-quart bucket and I was ashamed to carry them over to James Earl to pay for pickup repairs. If I ever have a good year, James Earl will be paid off all the years I owe him.
Burt Yates of Springhill visited Charles Yates last week. Mary Lee said she missed seeing Burt, but perhaps his former neighbors will see him next visit. Mary Lee’s cousin, Juanita Barnette of Ruston, visited the L.E. Yates home last week. Mary Lee and Juanita traveled to Magnolia several times to shop and visit Juanita’s sister and brother.
Gina Hudson, Lurline Wilbanks’ granddaughter and daughter of Marjorie and Larry Hudson of Lewisville, was married Saturday to Steve Grant in Lewisville at the Hudson home. Lurline, Rickey and Debbie Matthews and children attended.
Friday morning at 3 a.m. my neighbor phoned me to inform me that hundreds of blue lights were blinking in front of my house and wanted to know if we were hosting a Kmart assistant manager’s convention. I went outside and saw what must have been every lawman in the county. As it turned out, the cops were waiting on bloodhounds to track a gentleman who had bailed out of his car in an escape attempt, took to the woods and was captured a short time later.
Lurline, Debbie, Whitney and Matt Matthews, and Kevin McBride, attended a watermelon party at the Eades home Tuesday.
Mayor Joe Mullins announced that free blood pressure checks, free blood sugar and other examinations will be offered by Humana Hospital of Springhill at Emerson on Aug. 21. The clinic will be held at the city hall from 9-11 a.m.
Mary Frances and Miss Effie Dodson traveled to Arcadia last week and visited Ruth Thrailkill. Bennie Murray Dodson of Magnolia spent Thursday night with Miss Effie and Mary, and Viloa Tooks of Shongaloo visited the Dodsons and picked a bushel of peaches to make peach pickles.
Lurline Wilbanks and Majorie Hudson went to El Dorado Wednesday to visit Gina.
It has been too hot to do anything but sit on the front porch and whittle. Bubba Earl hauled up a few watermelons Wednesday and claimed he hurt his back. Then he drew a bucket of water out of the well and lay on the porch pouring it over his face with a gourd dipper until he cooled off.
While Bubba Earl comforted himself, Billy Joe commenced telling us about Uncle Jess Bear and how he suffered with back trouble after he used one of those brush hooks while working for the county one day. Jess never got over the arthritis that jumped on his back that same night and lasted the rest of his life, just because he cut bushes that time. Bubba Earl said his mom could have cured that back trouble if she had known about it.
The last time we got sick, Bubba Earl’s mother, Earlie Pearl, proved she knows more about medicine than any doctor in the free world. We all got nigh graveyard dead last week with fever and something she called “firetods”, an illness of unknown etiology. She said most doctors don’t even know about the ailment and none of them know how to cure it. She administered a poultice made of mullein, asafetida, garlic, pond scum, turpentine and coal oil with secret herbs and spices. We got well in no time. And horseflies and mosquitoes never came near our place during treatments, which was a welcome relief, after Billy Joe claimed he heard a prowler one night and shot holes in all the screens. Earlie Pearl claims her treatment to be an old Indian remedy. She also recommends Tichenor’s, which she takes frequently to prevent colds and flu.
Earlie Pearl told me about everything in her arthritis treatment except for her 12 secret herbs and spices she keeps in a coal oil can. The remedy calls for a paste made of Cardui (or red wine), sassafras root, Sloan’s liniment and dental snuff applied with a mullein leaf daily for a month. (Mullein is a light green fuzzy plant, looks like cabbage and grows wild in south Arkansas.) She said, “If that don’t cure it, or if treatments are refused, the victim don’t have arthritis in the first place and the worthless loafer is faking so everyone has to wait on him hand and foot.” She claimed her own papa was like that. She added, “That old cuss claimed mullein leaves gave him yellow janders when he was 12.” Earlie told us she would someday pass her medical knowledge on to her son, Bubba Earl.
After Bubba Earl bought a white shirt, tie and a pair of green britches at a yard sale in Shongaloo, he announced his plans to become a successful businessman. When he got all dressed up and put his tie on, he looked real nice. Folks around here thought he had gotten the call. Later that afternoon, he washed the pickup and asked to borrow some mouthwash and hair tonic.
With a line of credit from Travis Starr, Bubba Earl hauled a load of peas and watermelons from Travis’ patch to the big oak shade tree near Wallers’ Store and waited for customers. When Bubba Earl made himself comfortable and rested his eyes, he fell from the pickup tailgate and busted a brand new pint of Tichenor’s. There was a bit of knee slapping from the direction of the store where Larry was talking to our local bootlegger, a loafer, and railroad worker who came by to get an oil change for his cap. The humiliation sent our friend back to Brister where he swore all that day and told how he would “whup that Larry Waller, and smash his face so flat he can see his chin.”
The next day, Bubba Earl went into training to become a fighter. He curled a pipe with buckets of water at each end, gave a croaker sack filled with dirt a merciless beating, tried skipping rope with a plow line and jogged a hundred yards. That night, a storm left the back yard training facility in ruin. The croaker sack unraveled, filled our wash pot with mud and the plow line was soaking wet; but Bubba Earl told us he was ready for the fight anyway.
Saturday, Bubba Earl walked out to the pickup with a cheroot in his mouth swaggering his hips like he had a six-gun on each side and told us, “The hour has come.” Billy Joe and I shuddered thinking about the Waller family starving while Larry spent months in the hospital.
We parked the pickup near the street and saw Larry slinging a big truck wheel around like it was a bowl of grits. Then we watched him unload several sacks of cement without breaking a sweat. But, good ole Bubba Earl, being a sensitive man, started feeling sorry for Larry and how he figured Larry meant no harm with his little chuckle and how he reckoned Larry would be too tired to be beaten up just now anyway. The fires of the campaign no longer burned in Bubba Earl.
As we drove back to Brister, the pair talked about the high price of gasoline and the expected big demand for good siphon hoses. So they made plans to buy up a large volume of garden hose as raw material for their latest entrepreneurship and no other words were spoken about Larry.
Mayor Joe Mullins talked to my cousin Billy Joe about the anxiety recent mechanical problems with the space shuttle that has caused Anita and other students at Emerson High while they wait to talk to astronauts on a ham radio hookup. No more trouble is expected at the Cape since Billy Joe mailed NASA a sack of corn meal to stop the leaks in the hydrogen tanks and sent them a pair of our best jumper cables along with a discount coupon on a good battery for a trouble-free jump start.
Earlie Pearl, our local medical practitioner and Bubba Earl’s mother, was in town this week healing the sick. Our neighbor’s mortal illness allowed Doctor Earlie an opportunity to visit us while she waited around to eat supper and administer a dose of salts to work the bile out of her patient, because the astrological signs would be right after 8 p.m. Earlie Pearl said she was certain our neighbor would come down with a case of yellow janders if she didn’t stay around and give that salts treatment. Anyway, the next day, our neighbor chopped wood, gathered eggs, and skinned a nice fat possum my cousin Billy Joe caught.
We are fortunate to have Earlie Pearl practicing at Walkerville, Emerson and Brister. She is affordable and her level of expertise is beyond those Little Rock doctors who have receptionists use a .45 to collect their fee. With gratitude, we wish to credit Mrs. Boyd Green of Walkerville for recommending her cousin and personal physician.
Earlie Pearl spoke of several new cases of firetods around the community and denounced Thomas Talley and doctors around here who are plum ignorant about that illness which causes kidney failure, fever, yellow janders, strokes, heart attacks, gall stones, diabetes, gout and 75 categories of sickness described by Medicare DRGs. My cousin Billy Joe asked Earlie Pearl if any deadbeats had tried to get out of paying her $2 fee. She said, “One time.” Then she commenced telling us about a man who lived near Walkerville 35 years ago named Zeke Greene. He lived miles out in the country on a muddy road.
“It was 1951; a bad year. Awfullest case of firetods complicated with lumbago and visceritis you ever saw,” she said. “The man was clearly on his death bed when I got there. I rushed in and made up a brand new potion I just learned about at a medical meeting at Three Creeks. The name of the meeting was: Complicated Diagnosis and Treatment,” she said. She went on to tell that Mr. Greene was a case exactly like she had seen at Three Creeks Medical School. She had never used Jalapeno pepper in a prescription before, but she measured a dose of red and green pepper, coal oil, mullein, secret spices and turpentine and applied the poultice to the affected area. She told, “Well, we have the oldtimer roped to four bed posts according to accepted medical practice, but when he commenced to scratching, bellerin’ and hollerin’, it sounded like someone learning to play a fiddle while a panther and a bull fought in a briar patch nearby. Awfullest racket I ever heard.”
“Against my better judgment, his wife cut him loose, and I saw what appeared to be world class speed while I walked to where my horse was tied. With his hat in hand, the old man was diggin’ ‘em up in the direction of the horse trough – faster than a mule who had just eaten a whole sack of sweet feed. And all he was wearin’ was his upper denture and a rubber boot on one foot. I looked back and saw him in that horse trough up to his Bill Bailey straw hat, and the water was gyrating and foaming like he was gonna put out a washin’. I could hear him more than a mile as I rode home. Awfullest racket I ever heard. He never spoke to me after that – after me saving his life. Lived 10 more years, ‘til he was 98.” After a long pause, she stated, “Medicine has come a long way since them days.” I don’t use peppers anymore. And with modern drugs like Tichenors and Gas-X, I’m gonna have to attend a heap of meetings to keep up.”
Billy Joe cheered her up when he told her, “Some people wouldn’t be satisfied if you hung ‘em with a new rope.” And Bubba Earl and I reassured her she was better than any of those store-boughten doctors and pharmacists in white long tail coats.
We were talking to Miss Effie Dodson this week about medicine and she gave me family recipes for several lifesaving medical procedures and one for mullein cough syrup. The medicine is made by boiling mullein leaves and straining the water off. Then liquified corn is mixed according to taste. Well, we know for a fact – it works. So we are talking about a new industry in Brister. Right now, we are lobbying Joe Mullins to build an industrial site here for research and marketing the new product. But Dorwin Young informed us that we may run short of one of the raw materials, mullein – a plant in the figwort family, unless we learn how to grow it. Readers who have information on the cough syrup and other useful medical knowledge, please write me at 3730 Hwy. 79 S., Emerson, AR 71740, so I can inform the public.
The Brister summer is gone and Bubba Earl has exited the scene to greener pastures. He announced his decision Monday after we smoked nine fat possums out of a hollow log and invited the neighbors to dinner. We also invited a young lady who claimed to be a former Miss Texas. We met up with her again at the court house in Magnolia where she was required to attend a meeting. The meeting followed a misunderstanding between her and a gentleman who claimed some paper she wrote on was worthless.
A week before the possum windfall, Bubba Earl had taken the beauty queen and a jug of stump-rot for a ride in our pickup to commemorate the happy reunion. But his safe return took several days longer than we expected. Well, my woman is a little edgy since the pea patch is gone and winter is close. And the lack of job opportunities for Billy Joe and I probably created a little more concern than usual. She knows cold weather is only a few weeks away, and how hard it is to find our kind of work when the weather is frightful. Anyway, she wore no smile while she cleaned peanut hulls, sugar cane peelings and possum bones from the pickup. Then she wasted no time getting to the source of her anger.
My better half had prepared a dissertation for Bubba Earl before he returned from his vacation. Leaving out the small talk, she scolded him for being a no account loafer, for sponging off his poor old maw, for sleeping on the front porch while she picked and canned peas, and for what she claimed was disgusting behavior. Then she chided him for riding the pigs around in the pickup and getting the seats all dirty and not being able to go anywhere without getting her clothes filthy.
After the lecture was over about his leading the life of a completely normal male, he told Billy Joe and I that he was fed up; and said he would never set foot in Brister again as long as he lived. Then he grabbed his two-string guitar he bought off Winston Waller, and stormed off in the direction of Walkerville carrying new luggage, a croaker sack and a brand new syrup bucket. The man was obviously in no mood for a woman’s scorn after being called “Bubbie Earl” and being charmed by a Texas beauty queen for a solid week.
We hadn’t heard from the couple until we saw the beauty queen Friday at Emerson just before she and a hauler headed south toward Waco to visit someone’s sick mother. She told us Bubba Earl was to be interviewed by his cousin, Don McMahen of Magnolia, for a position of considerable importance. Billy Joe and I didn’t know about the job opening; we could have applied. I reckon Bubba Earl would have gotten it anyway – he and Mr. McMahen being kin and from the same community and all. We wish them luck.
Since Steven’s Store closed, Herbert has one less sitting chair. With a little help from Joe Mullins’ new store and a few chair donations, Herbert could become a contender for the world sitting chair title, which will be awarded at the 1991 Purplehull Festival. Imagine, Emerson with another world record!! The old world record is currently held by my late uncle, Jess Barfoot.
Earlie Pearl has requested that I continue asking the public to support her medical practice by mailing folk remedies and cures to me at 3730 Hwy. 79 S., Emerson, Ark. 71740. She also wishes to remind everyone of the Walkerville fish fry on Nov. 10. Joe Wood of Springhill said he would be there, too.
The Mullins’ dog, Mitch, is all stove up from being hit by a car and spends most of his day in his box and has to be handfed. The old dog jumps up into the porch swing, but he is too sore to jump down, so he howls for Joe to help him. The vet said Mitch has nerve damage and possibly won’t recover. Perhaps someone has a new pup of the same breed, a variety common to Emerson for generations, to replace Mitch. (There must be some wisdom about old dogs here.)
Billy Joe and I were sitting on the front porch Monday talking about the abundance of leaves in the yard, wondering why the hounds howl at the train whistle and why Bubba Earl disappeared without a trace. We had started doing some serious talking about sweeping the leaves, until a fellow who thought he was a bill collector drove up and demanded to know where Bubba Earl was. We told the man that our friend was on vacation.
We heard news from Magnolia that Bubba Earl was laid off his new job, had eloped with a Tupperware woman, and was living in Fort Worth. We also heard Bubba Earl got married, but we figured that was about as likely as him volunteering for an IRS audit. Well, we figured he could be on honeymoon, anyway.
We offered to loan our mule to the collector so he could ride to Bubba Earl’s trailer house on Dorcheat. He refused our offer and said he was fixing to get the law to put Bubba Earl’s picture in every post office in the country. When my cousin Billy Joe asked him for a job putting up pictures, the man used a combination of cuss words I never even heard on television before. Then he sped back to the highway and drove toward Emerson. And the leaves are still in the yard.
Billy Joe and I rested this week – after a worrisome and busy weekend. We hunted until we got enough meat for winter. All we need is firewood, so we can stay inside and watch our shows and not have to go out looking for a job. It looked so dreary outside over the weekend. How could anyone be expected to work in weather like that?
Our pickup has been so much trouble lately; jumper cables wouldn’t even help. We took it to Emerson Automotive for a tune-up. When our exhaust smoke cleared, James Earl said, “We’re talking a three-figure overhaul; a tune-up might not get you back home.” Well, our credit rating wasn’t that many figures.
My cousin Billy Joe blames crooked politicians and the savings and loan scandal for the recent trend in downward mobility. But, he approached the problem like he would have if we were rich and owned a hundred junkyards. He rounded up parts from several wrecking yards; and he found a 1991 tag and an inspection sticker, too. At least, with the new tags and sticker, Mr. Ghengis Blue Lights won’t treat us like criminals anymore. The pickup doesn’t smoke as bad; but it still loses water. Billy Wayne thinks we should add some flour to the cornmeal in the radiator to slow the leaks.
Mitch Mullins, the mayor’s dog, got well. Mitch was on the critical list for two weeks after being hit by a car. But after a trip to the vet – and TLC from his family – he snapped out of it and is reported to be visiting cats and dogs all over town again.
Earlie Pearl, the best doctor in the state, worries about her son’s disappearance. We told her not to worry about Bubba Earl and stay busy until he comes home. She has been making her rounds and preventing the flu with her castor oil, honey and epsom salts treatment. She gives a dose of honey and salts at 7 a.m. and castor oil at noon to work the bile out so the patient won’t get the flu. It works and costs much less than a flu shot. She went into preventative medicine after most cases of summer firetods were over. She reported treating one case of measles. She used boiled corn shuck water to bring the measles out so the patient could get well. Anyone with knowledge about Bubba Earl’s whereabouts, please write to Mrs. Green at Walkerville, or write to me at 3730 Hwy. 79 S., Emerson, AR 71740.
An unusual and historical event happened in Brister last week. We sat on the front porch and watched the colors of autumn change most days. And we figured on applying for jobs one afternoon, but a man with a pillowcase tied around his head, who claimed to be an Arab, came calling. The first foreigner we ever saw; he was a refugee of the Middle East oil grab, and turned out to be the Emir of Cashmere, a member of the Royal family, and next in line for the throne in that oil rich country!
He told Billy Joe and I about being deposed by fascist soldiers and about escaping on a loaded Saudi banana boat headed for New Orleans. The Emir witnessed the murder of his relatives; he shot his way out of his bombed-out and ransacked country. He told of melancholy, and of being so frightened of the Marxist thugs that he rode all the way to Arkansas without eating or sleeping – just so he could feel safe. The man is well known by high government officials in Washington and Little Rock, but he said he could not notify them just yet, because he did not know who he could trust at that time. Billy Joe told him he knew exactly how he felt, because people in this country can’t trust them either.
The Emir stayed with us for several days, insisted we address him as your highness and taught us how to behave around nobility; so we wouldn’t make the mistake of kissing a subject of the crown on her lips like a former president did, or curtsy a butler. We were honored in the company of the Emir, but we were a little nervous about royalty taking refuge in our home until he promised us millions for our hospitality after the Persian Gulf War is over.
We learned so much about the noble people. We didn’t know royalty drank their tea hot, loved Tichenor’s and liquefied corn, always had their meals brought to them on schedule, wiped their noses all the time and hated hominy and possum meat. The Emir figured on staying until the war was over.
One night, we were listening to a police scanner report about a savings and loan executive who had jumped bail at Lake Charles. The crook was believed by police to be headed north. The Emir suddenly felt faint at the mention of lawlessness, went to bed early and completely disappeared after dark. And that same night we were to take him deer hunting. That’s when we figured out the conceit and the lack of gratitude shown by royalty.
After the Emir left, we were in awe at the honor of his surprise visit to Brister. He had told us about his castles with boiling oil moats, gold toilets, knights in armor, ivory staircases, dining fit for a king and about his valet who waited on him hand and foot. And beautiful princesses were forever trying to lure him into some kind of monkey business. Then he talked about some of his friends in Washington – public servants who wish voters would mind their own business and stop meddling with American interests. He told how his government friends are getting tired of people back home running to the polls and causing trouble. The Emir complained of anti-American factions enlisting voters help in giving the rightful owners of government jobs – jobs they had worked in for decades – to a rival gang.
We haven’t heard from Bubba Earl in weeks. I guess he meant what he said about not coming back to Brister. Billy Joe rode the mule down to the small community of Ralph, between Dorcheat and Walkerville, where Bubba Earl’s house is parked, but no one was home. He reported the place being deserted so long that the junk cars in his front yard could hardly be seen for the weeds and grass. B.J. said the place looked spooky with dead branches of an old oak tree still in the wind. Information concerning Bubba Earl’s whereabouts would be appreciated. Please write to us at: 3730 Highway 79 S., Emerson, AR 71740.
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.
Yesterday, 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!
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