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.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorOur son James strutted into the living room with a look that meant he had something very important to share.
“Do you want to see my Band Aid,” he asked, tugging at his pant leg.
My husband Jason told James that he did, but I had seen enough of it for one day. I had the misfortune of taking both of our children to get their flu shots earlier that day.
Dropping his pants to the floor, James pointed to the Spiderman Band Aid on his thigh. He was proud of his wound and wanted the world to see it.
“You know what,” he asked. “It really didn’t hurt that bad.”
I almost spit the water I was drinking out of my mouth.
It didn’t hurt that bad?
This is the same kid who had to be restrained at the doctor’s office. This is the same child who broke a nurse’s ear drum with his screams of anguish. This is the same little angel who attempted to escape the office by clawing his way through me earlier.
It took another glass of water and an Aspirin to settle my nerves down again after he gave Jason his “battle” story with his Band Aid.
It all began at 8 a.m. that morning. I decided to leave the kids out of school for the morning since our doctor’s appointment was at 9:30 a.m. in Jackson.
After hearing the horror story of James’ production at a local doctor’s office during his strep throat test, I decided to get out of town for this one.
The kids have a regular pediatrician in Jackson, and our daughter Elsie had to go in for her 18-month check-up. I decided to bring them both in to get their flu shots as well.
What was I thinking?
I can tell you that at the time I thought I was Super Mom. I would take both the babies in to get their shots with no complaints. I had this under control. I expected a few tears but nothing outrageous. I even told Jason I was going to show him how it was done since he lost control of the situation the last time he took James to the doctor.
Those were my famous last words.
I went ahead and broke the news to James that he would more than likely have to get a shot. There was no sense in misleading him, right?
I began to promise presents and gifts for good behavior. When that didn’t work, I vowed to take his hunting game away if he misbehaved.
And during the ride to the big city, I never heard another word about “the shot.”
Until we got to the doctor’s office, all was well.
After they called our names, James slowly made his way back to the check-up room. He kept twirling his thumbs, looking around every corner and jerking with every noise he heard.
This kid was onto everybody.
Once we made it to the back room, he planted himself down in the chair and didn’t make a sound. I could see his eyes scanning across the room. He was on the lookout for that dreaded shot.
When the doctor came into the room, James remained calm. He even laughed a little when Elsie was poked with every gadget out of the doctor’s pocket.
“Now, are we ready to get our flu shots,” the doctor asked, with a smile.
“Nooooo,” James yelled at the top of his lungs. “No shot!!”
The same kid who had remained seated and quiet was now up in the corner trying to claw his way out of the room. He even took a swing.
Poor Elsie stared at her brother in confusion. She had never seen such a tantrum.
I told James that Elsie would go first to prove it wasn’t that bad. She would cry a little, but it would be over in seconds.
James stood in full attention as he watched Elsie get the shot in her chubby little leg. She cried and quivered her lip for a second, but she handled it quite well.
And then James went back into “flight” mode, barricading himself against the wall.
“Do you want me to go grab another nurse to help,” the nurse asked.
Defeated and embarrassed, I agreed that it was time to call in help.
Within seconds, these two nurses had James on the table. It was clear that these two ladies were in charge and had done this before.
Before I knew it, one nurse had James hands behind his head. The whole time she was trying to calm him down with sweet, soothing sounds.
James continued to scream at the top of his lungs. Elsie was so upset that she thought they were hurting her big brother. She even hurled her pacifier at them and began to scream too.
When the other nurse let go of James’ leg to prepare the shot, he began to kick them around like a crazed Ninja. At one point, I thought he was going to kick the window out.
But the “stick” happened.
And would you believe that as James watched the needle go into his skinny leg, he quit hollering.
The spectacle was over. Elsie grabbed her pacifier back. James had two stickers and a red sucker.
And two wonderful nurses went back to work like nothing happened.
By the time we got back into the car, I was at the end of my rope. I was more stressed than the kids.
We will have to do this every year, I said to myself.
Well, I hope Jason can handle it.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistRepublicans on the national level find themselves in an untenable position.
Not much of what the GOP stands for today can be sold to the public. The Democrats, on the other hand, have outmaneuvered the Republicans, and almost anything they want will be passed in congress and signed by the President in short order.
We hear talk of going over the “fiscal cliff,” and all of us worry that no compromise will occur to keep us from sliding over the edge. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we went over the “fiscal cliff” when Obamacare was declared constitutional by a heavy handed Supreme Court.
Now we face another economic deadline. When the New Year begins, all of Obama’s taxes will kick in and the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” will expire. Everyone who is working will pay more taxes – a lot more taxes. Unless something is worked out in Congress, this is the “fiscal cliff” you’ve been hearing about. Additionally, the “debt ceiling must be raised, and Tim Geithner has stated that it should be raised to infinity.
So what are the Republicans to do? Should they vote to raise taxes on the rich or should they cave in and just give the Democrats their way.
Unfortunately, they will cave. They have no other choice. If you make more than $250,000 per year, your pay check is going to get smaller. Will the Republicans try to curb spending and modify the entitlement programs that are gobbling up billions of dollars each year? They will give lip service to trying to curb the growth of these programs, but in the end, they will give in and let the Democrats have their way. If they don’t, the Democrats will simply blame them for letting the country slide off the fiscal cliff and causing another recession.
Do you honestly believe that Harry Reid will compromise with the Republicans? Do you believe that Barack Obama will compromise with the Republicans? Why should either of them compromise when in the end they are going to get what they want?
Harry Reid is one of the most partisan politicians I have ever seen. He hates the Republican Party and what it stands for, and he will do or say anything to get his way. During the recent election, he stated publically that if Romney won, “none of his proposals would be considered in the Senate.” That’s compromise for you.
Senator Patty Murray, the Democrat Senator from Washington has stated that she wants to see us go over the “fiscal cliff.” This woman is a multi-millionaire, yet she wants this economy to tank. Well, not really. She says that she is willing to go over the fiscal cliff, but in reality, she knows that the GOP will fold like boiled spaghetti.
The Democrat Party has managed to get the Hispanic vote squarely in its corner. The Democrats have done this by making things like food stamps and Medicaid available to those who have illegally crossed the border into our country. Then they have managed through hook or crook to get these same people eligible to vote. The truth is that the GOP may never win another national election.
Freedom and the ability to rise or fall on your on talents and work ethic are now just memories.
The government will take care of all of us from the cradle to the grave. We will morph into France or Greece, and we will only become upset when our “benefits” are denied. Mr. Obama has promised that he “wants to fundamentally change America.”
In four short years, he had managed to do what he said he was going to do, and we became a socialist country with not so much as a whimper. The GOP talked a good game, but the talk was cheap. As a result, conservatives have found themselves in an untenable position without a leader and without a cause.
The Democrats, after more than 50 years of dedication to the socialist movement, have won this battle. I wonder if I’m too old to learn to speak French or Greek?
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI really wasn’t quite sure what was going on when I discovered my husband Jason shifting through a mountain of sale papers.
Wednesday’s edition of The Yazoo Herald was stuffed with an assortment of inserts highlighting the best after Thanksgiving Day sales or “Black Friday” deals as many of us call it.
Apparently, Jason was clueless about this.
“Look at all these deals,” he said, pointing to an air hockey table. “This place is practically giving the stuff away.”
Like a child at Christmas, I had to listen to Jason “ohhhh” and “ahhhh” over everything from a portable pool table to a Polo shirt to flat screen television.
Patting him on his back, I tried to explain to him the significance of Black Friday.
“Now, do you see why I get up so early,” I asked. “This is what Black Friday is all about. You can get some really good deals, but you have to battle the crowd and have a game plan.”
Black Friday has been a part of my life ever since my earliest memory. It was a day of excitement, frustration. It was every emotion you could think of, all wrapped up in one day with a giant bow on top.
My Maw Maw was the best Black Friday shopper in three counties.
She would study and mark all the sale papers the night before. She reminded me of an Army general, plotting her plan of attack for a very important battle.
Then we would wake up at 2 a.m., load the Ford station wagon up and head out.
Poor Paw Paw wanted to tag along one year but Maw Maw refused. Paw Paw was restricted to a wheelchair, and Maw Maw felt it “would slow things down.”
I felt bad for Paw Paw that day, but after I told him about the fight that broke out between two women over a Cabbage Patch doll, he was glad he stayed home.
The station wagon would come into the mall parking lot on two wheels as my face was shoved against the glass.
I was dragged to every store from Sears to McRae’s (now known as Belk) to Dillards to Toys R Us to Wal-Mart. I can remember the box of Cracker Jacks they would give you at McRae’s.
I thought I would settle in for a delicious snack of caramel popcorn only to have Maw Maw snatch the box out of my hand.
“You gotta dump it,” she said, throwing the popcorn into a huge trash can the store provided. “There might be the diamond ring inside.”
For hours, I was shoved into glass doors, pushed down crowded aisles. One time, my cousin and I were instructed to sit atop a giant stuffed polar bear to prevent any other shopper grabbing it before Maw Maw got to it.
And at the end of the day, we returned home with a station wagon full of gifts and toys.
My mother was the same way. She even got up at midnight one night to purchase the next craze in technology at one of those giant super centers.
I have even camped with Momma outside a store before.
I am proud to say that I am carrying on the tradition of the Black Friday madness.
I haven’t camped outside a store yet or tried to get to those midnight sales. But I do wake up at 4 a.m., fueled with coffee and my plastic card.
And judging by Jason’s excitement over the sale papers, I probably could have a helper the night before as I route my plan of attack.
But Jason must stay at home when it gets down to it.
Black Friday can be a chaotic time with both laughter and tears.
It’s no place for rookies.