Jamie Patterson Managing EditorThe Patterson home was filled with chatter this week as we prepared for Valentine’s Day.
My husband Jason sneaked around getting presents and other tokens of love.
Our daughter Elsie tried to steal every piece of candy she found, even though I had a secret stash especially for her.
And our son James helped with all the necessary preparations for his party at school.
He was very excited all week about the party that would be held with his classmates last Thursday. From packing goody bags with treats to filling out Valentine cards to making cupcakes with Momma and Little Sister, James was all about the “day of love” this week.
And his little mind is starting to get more curious about the emotion of love, romance and all that comes with it.
“What does breaking up mean,” he asked, as we made our goody bags for school.
I shot Jason a look across the table. I wanted to smirk, and Jason was already making a face.
“Why,” I asked, grabbing another chocolate heart. “Did somebody break up with you?”
Apparently, a little girl in James’ class “broke up” with another little boy. I’m sure it was a very difficult experience for the five-year-old lovebirds.
Jason and I laughed a little as we explained to him what it meant. I think he was more confused than when we started.
“I’m learning all about the gossip of a kindergarten classroom,” I told Jason, as James made his way to his room.
And just last week James asked me about the woes of a broken heart.
We were listening to a song about a man who was down on his luck because his true love ended the relationship. It was a typical “my lady left me and my dog died” tune. The main line of the chorus was even “I would be sad because you left me all alone.”
That got the wheels in James’ head turning.
“Momma, is he serious,” James asked. “Is he really that sad.”
“I guess so,” I responded, looking in the rear view mirror at him. “His girlfriend left him, and he really is sad about it.”
“Why doesn’t he just follow her,” he asked.
I smirked as I explained to him how it usually doesn’t work that way.
Being a mother and extra nosey, I playfully asked James if he had his own girlfriend yet. It seemed like the perfect time to ask.
“No,” he said, looking out of the window. “I ain’t got time for all that.”
It took all I had not to erupt into a fit of laughter.
“You will change your mind about that one day,” I said.
It struck me as kind of cute how James is starting to wonder about “romance,” and apparently how he “doesn’t have time for it.”
When I was a little girl, I had a different crush every week or so. And half the time, the boys were more interested in bugs, slime and other gross things. They really didn’t have time for us girls, and we never could figure out why.
And then I became a teenager, and it was a whole different ball game. Boys began to think about girls constantly. It was always girls and gasoline.
For now, James isn’t too worried about it. He has hunting, fishing, rough housing with his Dad and other things to worry about.
And during those occasional times when he snuggles with me as we watch television, he doesn’t have a clue that he already holds one girl’s heart in the palm of his hand.
Jamie Patterson is the managing editor of The Yazoo Herald.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistDo you ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking about one of your favorite high school teachers?
Perhaps you wake up thinking about a teacher who was not your favorite, the one that stayed on your case and made you study.
Teachers, whether we like it or not, have a great influence on the lives of their students. I can think of several who taught at Anding High School who somehow penetrated the density of my brain and gave me academic skills that I still use today.
Mrs. Crisler, for example, taught typing. Throughout college and graduate school, I used this skill almost every day. The good thing about it was that I didn’t have to pay someone to type my papers.
Coaches have enormous influence on the individuals they coach, especially young men. High school is when a young man comes of age, and a coach is usually the authority figure who makes the most difference.
When I was younger, I doubted the value of high school sports, but as I have matured and as the years have passed, I have changed my mind. Sports are important to all students, but they are especially important to young men.
I learned at Christmas that one of my former coaches had died, Coach Wendell McDowell. Coach McDowell was the assistant football coach and the head basketball coach at Anding High School in Bentonia. He also taught chemistry.
One day in chemistry lab, the assignment was to produce hydrogen. Coach McDowell lectured us on how to accomplish this task before he issued the lab equipment. He emphasized that hydrogen, when mixed with oxygen, produced water, but it did this when it exploded.
Soon, Watson “Bo” Warren, Pricilla O’Neal Martin, Kenneth “Poochie” Ketchum, and I were at our stations blending the proper chemicals to produce a small amount of hydrogen. In a few minutes, we could demonstrate that we had produced hydrogen by lighting a match and holding it to the end of the test tube. There would be an abrupt “puff” as the hydrogen exploded, and there would be a drop or two of water remaining in the test tube.
This was fun. What would happen if I collected a lot of hydrogen?
I soon had a five gallon glass jar in hand, and I was determined to find out. None of my lab partners, Warren, Martin, and Ketchum bothered to tell me that I should run this by Coach McDowell before I proceeded.
Soon I began collecting hydrogen in this enormous jar. About the time I thought the jar was full, Coach appeared at our station. “What are you doing, Patterson?” was his question. “Collecting hydrogen, Coach. I want to hear a big bang.”
With that statement, Coach McDowell cleared the lab. I don’t recall him ever scolding me or pointing out how dangerous this idea was perhaps because he concluded that I was too “mentally challenged” to benefit from a scolding. I never heard that “big bang” that I thought I wanted to hear, and that’s a good thing, thanks to an alert Coach McDowell.
We played a basketball game on Friday night, and if memory serves me, we won. When we showed up for practice on Monday, Coach told us to hit the football field. We ran, rolled on the ground, sprinted 40-yard dashes, ran backwards on the balls of our feet, and did all kinds of weird things for about two hours. We had a large squad, and for the life of all of us, we could not figure what we had done wrong.
Years later I learned why he had worked us so hard. We had too many players on the team. He wanted to run some off so that he could spend more time with his talented players.
Well, he tried, but failed. Not a single player quit. Country boys are like that.
Coach McDowell passed away on October 22, 2012. Three years ago, he visited Jerry and Lynda Burton’s home near Dover, and I had the opportunity to renew old acquaintances.
Time had taken its toll, but still, his mind was as active and as sharp as it was 50 years earlier. We had a great time recalling our time together and the fond memories we shared.
Then he left as quickly as he had come. He had made his mark. His work was finished.
But I had learned one important final lesson: he appreciated us as much as we appreciated him. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorThrowing around piles of clothes on the floor of my grandmother’s closet, I found the one thing that would forever change my destiny.
It wasn’t a pair of mile-high shoes that would transform me into a future movie star.
It wasn’t a vintage dress that could use a little altering to make me that potential fashion designer.
It was an antique, black typewriter.
My skinny fingers ran across the keys that had an almost imitation pearl finish. The coldness of its metal rubbed against my little hands.
I wiggled it out from Maw Maw’s closet into the middle of her bedroom. I am not sure if what was because I was a child or what, but that thing sure was heavy.
Grunting, I finally got it where I wanted it.
Amazingly, the typewriter still worked. I grabbed some of my mother’s paper that was left in a drawer and began to hit the keys for practice. Confused as to why the letters weren’t in alphabetical order, it took me a while to get the hang of it.
Before long, I was pounding keys, kicking rollers, popping levers and ripping off paper.
The next day I had the typewriter moved to an old student desk in my bedroom. That is where my destiny unfolded.
Grabbing a pile of construction paper and watercolors, I made a sign announcing my new business venture. It simply said “Press,” and I taped it on my door.
I took one of my Paw Paw’s old tin lunch boxes from when he worked at the paper mill and filled it with a cookie, a ham sandwich wrapped in wax paper and a thermos of Kool-Aid.
Carrying my lunch and grabbing an old briefcase I found, I strutted through the kitchen.
“Well, I am about to head to work,” I said, grabbing a biscuit.
“Where are you going,” Paw Paw asked.
“The paper,” I said, heading down the hallway. “I’m a reporter now.”
I closed the door to my room so I wouldn’t be disturbed. I grabbed a pink Barbie note pad. Sitting my lunch box and briefcase on my bookshelf next to my Mr. T piggy bank, I was ready to get to work.
I arranged my stuffed animals and baby dolls along the wall. I interviewed each one about anything from the sleeping arrangements at night to who should be allowed in the tub during bathtime to whether or not Barbie or Ken would make up from their big public fight. (Ken was caught talking with Rainbow Bright last week).
After my interviews, I sat at that old typewriter and put my stories together.
The writing was pretty simple: Ken talks to Rainbow Bright. Barbie is mad. Teddy has to go to doctor for missing eyeball. Army men try to invade dollhouse.
With such excitement, I would rip the final product out and head into the living room. Handing out the paper, my grandparents would read each piece of paper with interest.
My work was done. The home was informed of the daily activities from inside a child’s toy box.
I kept at it for about a month. Then I began to play with my cars more. Tea parties became more popular. And paper dolls were on sale at the local Piggly Wiggly.
But that typewriter sat on my desk until we moved from that old house. I am not sure where it ended up, but I will always remember it.
I smiled as I typed this column because I wasn’t sure about what to write about this week. Trying to figure out the lead to one of my stories, I typed: Barbie and Ken have it out again in the middle of Main Street.
I laughed to myself as a hit the delete button.
The times have changed for me. I have a computer now instead of an old typewriter. I have politicians, heroes, villains and other characters to chase down for a quote. And my work goes out to thousands of people instead of just my grandparents.
But the excitement of pounding those keys, rubbing black ink off my fingers, grabbing that notepad and making a paper is just as high as it was when I was a kid.
That is why I know I am where I am supposed to be. This is the job for me.
Norman Mott, former Herald owner and a man whose opinion I greatly admire, once told me “when you get that ink on your hands, you can’t wash it off.”
He was right.
It’s been there since I was a kid.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistAnyone who has ever experienced war can tell you that it is a terrible thing.
Take World War II, for example. The Russians lost 20 million of its citizens, and Joseph Stalin killed many more during his psychotic rein. Germany lost millions of its young men. America lost over 300,000 of it best and perhaps brightest. Many were highly intelligent young men. Perhaps one of them, had he lived, could have discovered the cure for cancer or could have figured out how to build a spaceship that could travel through space using some innovative futuristic technology. We will never know because this person is dead.
I had an uncle who fought in Korea. He experienced war in a way that no human being should experience. He, along with 160 American soldiers, was attacked by a large force of Chinese soldiers. My uncle said that the battle lasted for over 5 hours and soon, the Americans began running out of ammunition.
Resupply was impossible. Soon, the Chinese communist overran the American lines. All that escaped were 5 American soldiers who were able to hold the Chinese off with “grease guns,” small automatic weapons, that allowed them to retreat back to American lines and safety.
Physically, my uncle recovered, but mentally, he never fully got over this terrifying experience that almost cost him his life. He lost several friends that fateful day, and he told me that never a day went by when he did not think of them and sometimes cry.
Enter Democrat politics into this equation. The “get a vote at any cost” crowd is at it again. Last week, our distinguished and valiant Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, declared that women could now become combat soldiers.
Before the feminist attack me and label me a “male chauvinist pig living in the dark ages,” let me explain that I am the father of 2 daughters and have been married to the same “Miss Judy” for over 45 years. I admire and respect women.
If pure brainpower is the measure, they may be smarter than males. They are great teachers, doctors, lawyers, surgeons, researchers, airplane pilots, and most importantly, great mothers. I know that this may come as a shock to Panetta and the other “metro men” who dominate the Democrat Party today, but men and women are different. They have different roles in the human life cycle, and there is nothing that you and I can do about it. Nature has made this assignment. No amount of “social experimentation” will ever change this.
For political reasons, the Obama administration has made a deliberate decision to hide behind America’s women by claiming that women now have an “equal opportunity” to get their limbs blown off or worse, die on the battle field. What kind of man does it take to make this kind of decision?
When I was about 13 years old, my father gave me the “birds and bees” speech. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when out of the blue, dad said, “Son, always treat women with respect.”
That was it. Looking back over the years, those simple words had a profound effect on me and to this day have served me well.
Losing a son in war is bad enough, but losing a daughter is unimaginable to me. Sending women to the front lines to fight in a conflict that has been created by inept and corrupt politicians, regardless of their party affiliations, is beyond my ability to comprehend. Thank God that I was born in the South. No Southern man would ever make such a wrong-headed decision.
I am acutely aware that some wars are unavoidable, but remember this. If a nation becomes involved in a conflict, the purpose is to win. The unthinkable consequences that will be produced by this weak and reckless decision thrust upon us by this administration will come back to haunt Americans for as long as we remain a nation.
I have too much respect for America’s women to sacrifice them in an experiment that we already know will fail. Women do have an important role to play in America’s armed forces. Getting blown up on some distant battlefield, in my judgment, is not one of them.
If Obama and Panetta want to place women on the front lines, let them start with their own daughters. That would be a real commitment, one that I’m sure they won’t make.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorNow that deer season is over, maybe things can go back to being normal in the Patterson home.
Ever since November, things have been turned upside down as my husband Jason and our son James experienced their first hunting season together.
At five years old, James was allowed to go into the woods with his Daddy during the beloved “rut” and any other time to bag a deer.
But trust me, they left their mark the entire time.
Our house, that is usually very organized, was covered with a variety of hunting tools that I wasn’t allowed to touch. Now that the season is over, I can pack them away until another season.
The doe urine left on top of the microwave can be hidden back inside the drawer. The scent-hider-shampoo-goo can be removed from the shower caddy. The feathered urine “dragger” thing can hopefully be thrown away.
Hunting knives can be put on the top shelf. The skinning rack can be shoved into the storage shack. The antlers can be put away in the hopes that the chandelier, frame, or whatever other project Jason has in mind for them can one day be completed.
And my truck can be completely washed and detailed from loading, carrying and moving deer bodies around.
All jokes aside, hunting season really isn’t that bad for me. I actually enjoy seeing Jason getting that little skip in his step. And seeing James ready with his cap gun was kind of cute too.
Those two really enjoyed themselves this year. Being able to hunt together for the first time was truly a memory.
Complete with his toy gun and binoculars, James would walk side by side with Jason to hunt.
I know it truly was a bonding experience that Jason is looking forward to every year.
And I would be telling stories if I didn’t admit to enjoy my “girl time” while they were in the woods. Our daughter and Elsie and I had plenty of time were really able to bond while the boys were hunting.
Our mornings were filled with snack food, girl movies, hairstyles, baby dolls and cuddle sessions.
James calls it “chick stuff.”
But Elsie and I did show interest when the boys returned from their outings. If they bagged a deer, we took photographs of it. Elsie even tried to help clean one or two. And we all enjoy the fruits of their labor when we have smoked, grilled or fried deer meat to eat at supper.
The boys will hang their heads low as they pack away their hunting stuff. They will spend hours reading hunting magazines about what to expect next season. They will go outside and try to assemble that antler chandelier. And when the last package of deer meat is consumed, they might even shed a tear.
But don’t you go pitying the Patterson boys. They truly love to live off the land.
As soon as the deer stuff if put away, another season will begin.
I will have to dig rubber worms out of James’ pants before I throw them in the wash. Hooks will be found scattered along the kitchen counter. Poles will be sticking out of my back window of the truck. Rubber boots will be left on the porch. The old boat will be moved into my parking space. And the freezer will be stocked with anything that has gills.
Maybe when fishing season is over, things will go back to normal.
But judging by the little pink Cinderella fishing rod that recently appeared among the pile of gear in the corner, the boys might have a little company this year.