Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistI have some good friends who have a deer camp off of Highway 3, and the other night, I dropped by for a visit. I timed it so that supper would be on the table, and just prior to the advice that I was going to hear. If a man wants to hear volumes of advice, this is the place to come. Believe me, it’s worth about as much as you pay for it.
So as not to embarrass my friend, I will just refer to him as Oracle. He is always predicting future events like a stock market crash or some other catastrophe. He is highly intelligent so when he talks, it sounds as though he might know something that other people don’t know. My other close friend I will call the Interpreter. Oracle speaks and Interpreter breaks down his profound thoughts into language that we intellectually challenged people can understand.
After feasting on some deer steaks and hot biscuits, we retired to chairs that sat dutifully in front of the fireplace. Oracle took his pipe from his pocket, struck a match, and then proceeded to light the pipe. Soon, he was blowing puffs of smoke throughout the room. He leaned back in his recliner, cleared his throat, and then spoke.
“We’re in trouble, folks,” he began. He immediately had everyone’s undivided attention.
“It’s really bad,” Interpreter offered.
Oracle continued. “I’ve given a lot of thought to this apocalypse that the Mayans predicted would happen on December 21, 2012. The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar may have begun in 3114 B. C. and continued unerringly ever since, but it comes to an abrupt halt this December 21st.”
“That is bad news for the planet,” the Interpreter interjected. “Less than 12 days and it’s all over.”
“Have you ever heard of a giant sun named Betelgeuse? It’s in the Orion Constellation.” Oracle was getting my attention now.
“How do you pronounce that sun’s name?” I enquired.
“Beetle Juice. Just like the bug,” he explained.
He took a puff from his pipe and continued. Betelgeuse is located exactly 600 light years from earth. We know that someday it is going to explode, go supernova, light up the sky like you’ve never seen.”
Interpreter sat nodding his head. “It’s going to be bad” he muttered.
“Exactly 600 years ago on December 21, Betelgeuse exploded. Since it takes 600 years for light to travel from there to here, we won’t know it exploded until the light finally reaches here.” Oracle sounded like he worked for the Science Channel.
“Now that’s a problem,” Interpreter said. “When we see the explosion, it’s gonna be too late.”
“The Mayans knew this. They knew that Betelgeuse exploded because the aliens told them. That’s why the calendar ends,” Oracle proclaimed. He said this with the conviction of a man who had figured this whole thing out.
“The aliens like South America. They knew a lot of stuff, and they told the Mayans,” Interpreter explained.
“Just before we see the explosion, a greenish fog is going to settle over the earth. It’ll be like something we never seen. Now most scientists don’t think very much is going to happen, but believe me, Walter Patterson, they are wrong.” Oracle was getting a little worked up.
“Scientists are not always right,” Interpreter said. “They are wrong about this.”
“Two minutes past midnight, it’s all over. Betelgeuse has engulfed the earth with a firestorm that stretches all the way to the sun. The calendar is right. Time ends on December 21st.” There was a tone of sadness in Oracle’s voice.
“You can’t get prepared for this,” Interpreter explained.
“How do you know all of these things?” I asked.
“It’s a gift. I’ve always had it.”
“He’s always had it,” Interpreter explained. “Even when he was a little boy. I’ve known him all his life.”
Now I was depressed. The wise men of the deer camp had proclaimed that December 21 was in fact doomsday. I felt a little sick to my stomach. How was I going to prepare Miss Judy for the end?
I thanked them for a nice meal and headed for the front porch. Oracle followed. Just as I stepped onto the grass and headed for my truck, Oracle said, “It looks like there's going to be some water in that creek next to the T-Model stand. Come on down after Christmas, and we’ll shoot some ducks.”
My depression faded. The world once again had order. The green fog had lifted, Betelgeuse was back in its orbit, and ducks would be flying after Christmas.
Earth was once again a fine place to live. Merry Christmas!
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorThere is a slight skip in my steps here lately.
Moments of sudden laughter have happened a time or two.
My level of excitement has went through the roof.
I am going to Disney World next week with our son James and my mother.
Come next Tuesday, I will be on my way to the happiest place on earth.
My husband Jason will be staying home with our baby daughter Elsie because he claims not to be ready for the whole Disney experience just yet. But I have a feeling that his mother will be doing some babysitting while he sneaks off to the woods for a hunt.
“But it’s hunting season” was his reaction when I asked if he wanted to join us in Florida.
With Elsie being so young, my mother and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for James to have his own little mini-vacation. He has never been to Disney World, and I am not sure he really understands how exciting it is going to be for him.
I am just as anxious to watch his reactions to all the sights and sounds of the whole experience. When kids are teenagers in Disney World, they are either “too cool for school” or they wander off to do their own thing.
James is at the age where he will be excited to meet Mickey Mouse and get an autograph. The rides will seem amazing to him. And the fun will be unlimited.
I hate to admit it, but I begin to act like a big kid when I am at Disney World too.
Disney World trips have been a tradition for my mother and I since I was two years old. Until I got married to Jason, my mother and I went there every year, sometimes twice in a year.
I can vividly remember the feeling that came over me when I saw the huge Disney World sign you go under on the freeway into the resort area.
There was no time to eat, catch a nap or even take a break. My little body couldn’t hold all the excitement that I had bottled up.
Looking back, I can remember how my Momma would sit back and just watch me. I never understood it then. But now that I am a parent, it’s starting to make sense.
I am sure she enjoyed watching my ear-to-ear grin when I first met Goofy, my favorite Disney character. I would run up to him just like he was a real celebrity. I would wrap my arms around him and shove an autograph book in his face. Flipping through the pages, I would brag about every signature I had in there.
Momma would laugh and wipe my face when I shoved an ice cream snack shaped like mouse ears in my mouth. Those chocolate stains would remain around my mouth for the rest of the day.
Momma would spend more than she probably should on a mouse ear hat with my name stitched on the back of it. I think she must have enjoyed my excitement to have my own hat like they did on the Mickey Mouse Club.
Momma never really watched what was going on with each ride. She always kept her eyes on me to see how I would react. I would cringe at the Haunted Mansion. I would laugh on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I would smile as Dumbo lifted me up into the air. And I even sulked a little on It’s a Small World.
And each night would conclude with a viewing of the Electrical Parade and the magnificent firework show, complete with a flying Tinkerbell.
Tugging at Momma’s shirt, I would point out every light and sound that caught my attention. A few times I would sit in her lap, watching the final seconds of the parade.
And as we made our back to our room, I would usually fall asleep against her chest on the bus.
During all those memories, I can remember how Momma would transform into a carefree, happy person.
She would run with me to hop on a ride. She shoved ice cream on her nose. She would pose with Donald as I took a picture.
She became a kid again.
I know it will be a long drive there. I am sure there will be some lengthy lines. And I know we better have our pocket books ready.
But I am looking forward to making new memories with my Momma and my own son.
I have a feeling I will be running with James, shoving ice cream in our faces and chasing down some characters. I will be more than happy to turn into a kid again with him.
And I have a feeling, Momma will still be watching me.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistWhen it comes to implementing Obamacare, Mississippi finds itself, like many states, between a rock and a hard place. Obamacare will have far-reaching effects on our healthcare delivery system, some of which we don’t know and can’t anticipate. Like all federal legislation, you can bet the farm that Obamacare is loaded with a covey of “unintended consequences.”
There is a reason why this law was opposed by so many of us who knew what the Democrat Party was doing. The Democrat Party’s sole mission is to create dependency.
That’s right. The more people dependent on the federal government, the more power the Democrat Party has. Obamacare is just the culmination of years and years of work by the socialists to control the population. If a party can control the population through legislation, that political party will be in power forever – or until they destroy the country.
Those of you who read this column already know that I opposed Obamacare from the very first because I realized what was happening in Washington. Remember, the Democrats took control of one-sixth of the economy of the United States when they voted to approve Obamacare. They did it without a single Republican vote.
Do you believe that Republicans want to prevent sick people from getting the healthcare they need?
Do Republicans stand at the hospital door turning away “granny” who is in need of a hip replacement? Republicans are the only ones who thus far have tried to use common sense and create a healthcare system that is financially sound.
In other words, when you or I get sick and go to the doctor for treatment, the doctor will bill our insurance for his services and know that the insurance company has the money in the bank to pay him. In the case of Medicare, the doctor needs to know that the check he receives from “Uncle Sam” is good. Today, all of us are beginning to question “Uncle Sam’s” business practices and his ability to pay. How much more spending can the federal government do before the economy crashes? I don’t have an answer, but with the national debt at $16.6 trillion and rising, my guess is that it will be unable to spend a great deal more. Obamacare will only add to the amount of debt this country has amassed.
In August, 640,427 individuals received Medicaid in Mississippi. Once Obamacare goes into effect, another 270,000 people will be added to the rolls. How can Mississippi add that many people to the Medicaid rolls without adding a sufficient number of doctors? There is already a doctor shortage. It doesn’t make sense. A Medicaid recipient may have great insurance coverage, yet there is no one available to deliver treatment. Over 30,000,000 individuals will be added nationwide, yet we have no new doctors available to treat them. Does the word “chaos” come to mind?
Last week, two thoughtful people wrote opinion pieces on this very subject, Mike Chaney and Cecil Brown. Chaney is the Republican Commissioner of Insurance and Brown a Democrat serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives. In his op-ed, Chaney stated, “The bottom line is simply this – if we do not implement and operate a state-based health insurance exchange by January 1, 2014, the federal government will implement and operate one for us and we will forever give the keys to health insurance in our state to Washington.”
Chaney went on to say, “I hold to this belief and am doing everything I can to ensure that Mississippi’s exchange is a free-market, consumer-oriented exchange.”
Cecil Brown attacked the problem from another angle. The benefits he sees from Obamacare is a more vibrant economy, more money going to the University Hospital, and many local hospitals able to stay financially solvent. He states, “The expansion will immediately create 4000 jobs at no net cost to the state and, by 2017, a total of 9000.”
But Mr. Brown’s important line is this: “The federal share of the cost is funded by a series of new taxes that are part of Obamacaare and will be imposed whether Mississippi participates in the expansion or not.”
Both of these gentlemen wrote convincing articles trying to deal with the reality of Obamacare. Both are trying to make a bad situation better. I hope that both of them are proven to be correct.
But as an old experienced government watcher, I predict today for the entire world to see that you are not going to like Obamacare. Neither will the treasury.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI was in first grade when my grandparents took me to see their old home places in the country.
I can remember the temperatures were starting to cool down because we had all the windows down in the old station wagon that afternoon.
With my head hanging out the window, I listened to Maw Maw and Paw Paw share stories about the backroads we were traveling on that day.
The house that my Maw Maw grew up in had been torn down years ago so all that was left was a barren field. But there were still traces of flowering plants and wild ferns lined along the path that led to their house.
The Jackson homeplace was a little more exciting. The family’s old land was nestled close to the border of Lawrence and Lincoln counties near the small community of Lucien.
There was a wooden building in the middle of a pasture, topped with a rusty tin roof. The walls were caving in on the old structure, and the roof was starting to bear down its weight on the remaining walls that were already halfway rotted.
But it was clear that it was once a home. It had been renovated and housed by generations of Jacksons through the years. Now it was just an abandoned shell of a former life.
How did they do it back then, I asked myself.
The four room shack somehow housed 12 people. There were my great grandparents Howard and Della Jackson, nine kids and a cousin they took in for good measure.
The Jackson family were a tough bunch. They had to be for the times they lived in.
They were a family of sharecroppers. The older kids carried their load on the farm. The younger kids were even put to work picking crops as soon as they could walk.
They lived off the land. Their meals consisted of whatever they could put together. Their clothes were tattered and worn except for their one “Sunday best” outfit that they wore to church.
All the children had only one pair of shoes, usually bought in the winter time. In the summer, all the kids ran on their bare feet.
They woke up when the sun came up. And they all went to bed when the sun went down.
The icy wind blew up through the holes of their floors. And the sun beat down on the hot tin roof during the summer.
When they got sick, they tended to themselves. There were no doctor’s clinics around.
Agreements were made with a handshake. Arguments may have been settled with a fist. And a man’s word was as good as a written contract.
When the Great Depression hit, things didn’t change that much for the Jackson clan.
“We were already poor,” Paw Paw would say with a laugh. “The Depression didn’t matter much for us.”
Pieces of scrap wood and a rusty can provided entertainment for the kids. With no television or radios around, a porch filled with fiddles and banjos might provide the entertainment for the evening. There were no fancy dresses or social engagements.
As an adult with a family of my own now, it amazes me how they were able to pull it off during those days.
When I start to complain or worry, it begins to seem silly when I look at how they pulled it off.
They didn’t have a fancy house stocked with new furniture or a “color scheme.” Their closets weren’t lined with designer clothes or mountains of shoes. Their children’s rooms weren’t filled with toys, books and video games. They didn’t take expensive vacations. They didn’t throw big birthday parties that were equal to a week’s paycheck.
They didn’t overdo it.
But they did have a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food on the table.
Times were tough, but they all loved each other and took care of each other. Family was all that mattered.
When Maw Maw and Paw Paw would share stories of their childhood with me, I can remember that they never complained about it.
They would give me the details of working in fields, slim food pickings or other hardships. But I think it was mostly done to show me how blessed I was as a child to have what I had.
They were a rare breed, and I don’t think they make people like them anymore.
I only pray that my own house will hold the love and memories that theirs did in a time when it may have been hard to smile through it.
If a little shack can hold such love and family pride, then there’s hope for every home in our community.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherI arrived to work early one morning to find a little lady with a big smile waiting for me.
She didn’t get her paper in the mail, and she wanted one. That was six years ago, and I was new at The Yazoo Herald, so it was the first time I met Mrs. Mary Brister who passed away last week at the age of 96.
I didn’t realize how significant that meeting was at the time, but I came to know her as a very special person. She often visited the paper, and I began to use her as a resource for historical information at times.
She had a way of explaining things that appealed to a newspaper editor looking for details that were sometimes complicated to be explained in a simple matter so that I could make it clear for our readers. Perhaps that came from her many years as a kindergarten teacher. There is no telling how many people’s lives she touched in Yazoo City.
She organized a kindergarten that met in her home for several years before being named the first teacher of the kindergarten program at First Presbyterian Church, where she taught for 18 years.
A lifelong Yazooan, she was a stanger to no one. She was one of those people who had the gift of being able to make anyone feel as if they were speaking to an old friend on the first meeting. She was just as loving to animals, taking in dozens of stray dogs and cats over the years.
She was active in our community throughout her life. She was a lifelong member of Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the founding members of Yazoo’s Junior Auxiliary chapter in 1957 and taught hundreds of Yazoo children over the years. She loved to play the piano, sing and plant flowers, but more than anything she loved to visit with friends. Her kitchen table served as a meeting place for decades.
Mrs. Brister’s family described her legacy as one of kindness - a kindness that knew no race, color or creed. That may have been the most important lesson the veteran teacher had to share.
One of my favorite memories of Mrs. Brister was shortly after my wife Jamie came to work for The Yazoo Herald. Mrs. Brister called one day and said she had a story idea she wanted to share. I guess she knew Jamie would be better suited for the story because she bypassed me entirely. Jamie said that Mrs. Brister had called her about a story, and I told her that it had to be something interesting.
Jamie met Mrs. Mary at her house and Mrs. Mary drove her all over town. She was about 90 at the time.
The purpose of the drive was to show Jamie all of the wildflowers that were popping up around the city and providing natural beauty. She was concerned that too many people weren’t taking the time to notice and appreciate such beauty these days.
I was one of the people who didn’t always notice, but I have ever since.
And I’m grateful for the chance to spend some time with Mrs. Mary Brister, who taught me how to see some of the beautiful things that might have otherwise gone unnoticed right under my nose.
And each year when spring comes and those flowers return, I will be reminded of her beautiful life.