Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherThis Thanksgiving I find myself thankful for so many things.
When I was younger I always imagined the mid-thirties as a boring time in life, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an age when you really start discovering who you are.
I’ve found that there is more time in the day than I ever realized before as I’ve been forced to squeeze the most out of every day. Having a demanding job and a young family equals a lot of responsibility, but I’ve been blessed to have a job that I truly enjoy and a family that I love beyond measure.
I haven’t done this in awhile, but I think it’s worthwhile to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. Here are some of the things on the top of my list:
n I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who helped shape me along the way. From my family, to my church family, to great teachers and those who taught me in my career, I have been blessed to encounter some great people in my life.
From a career standpoint, Mrs. Marie Downs was easily the most influential person who led me to writing. She was a talented English teacher, but the biggest thing was that she believed in me so much that I felt obligated to try to meet her expectations. I haven’t had to write a term paper in nearly 20 years, but I still feel that way. Sometimes when I make a stupid mistake in the newspaper, I’m tempted to go steal Mrs. Downs’ copy out of her mailbox.
When I came to The Yazoo Herald I had a lot of writing experience, but I was totally ignorant about the business side of a newspaper. I was very fortunate to work for Gary Andrews, who taught me those things and had the patience to teach them to a sometimes slow learner.
n I’m thankful that there are so many positive people in our community. Like any place, Yazoo has no shortage of people with negative attitudes who love to complain but rarely lift a finger to improve the things they’re mad about.
Fortunately, there are more people who see the good things in Yazoo and are willing to work to make the most of those things. It wasn’t that long ago that some of the people making major investments in downtown Yazoo City were regarded as crazy by some people who believed all hope was lost. Now those “crazy” people look like visionaries as new activity continues to appear on Main Street and more is on the horizon.
The same phenomenon is taking place on Fifteenth Street, where new life is appearing in once vacant buildings.
If these things can happen during a struggling economy, imagine what can happen when things improve.
And it will improve.
n I’m thankful that my father taught me to appreciate the outdoors. Whether it’s hunting, fishing or just exploring, I find no greater peace than when I’m outside enjoying God’s creation. I hope that my children will understand the value of turning off the cell phones and computers and experiencing nature.
I’m thankful that our four-year-old son seems to have been born with a love for these things. He provides me with an additional incentive to break away. Our little girl is already showing an interest in tagging along.
n I’m thankful that God gave me the ability to learn from my mistakes because I have made many. I’ve made a lot less since I met the girl who has now been my wife for five years. I’m certainly thankful for Jamie. My life has improved immensely since she came into the picture.
n I’m thankful to live in a free country, and for all of the brave men and women who have fought to keep it that way.
n I’m thankful for all of you who are reading this newspaper. Thanks to you I’m able to do what I love the most in the place I love the most. I appreciate each and every one of you.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI knew something was up the second my husband Jason starting encouraging me to get out more with my friends.
Over the past month, he has been more understanding and willing to keep our children while I do things with my friends.
As a working mother of two, the idea of meeting a girlfriend for supper, going shopping with some old friends or even taking a movie in alone is a luxury. So I started getting suspicious when Jason was recommending I do some of these things.
No, dear readers, it’s not another woman or other life. It’s something far more complicated. I don’t have a dog in the race on this one.
Deer season begins this weekend.
I first noticed the “signs” when I discovered a bag of fertilizer, oats and other seeds in the back of my truck.
Then his younger brother Eric started popping in almost every weekend. The two would frolick out to their land and not return until after dark, smelling like a tractor.
Eric even had that gleam in his eye.
Then Jason began to cook just about every package of venison we had in the freezer. From sausage to burger to steak, I have had just about every form of deer there is to eat over the past few weeks.
Jason started to get a little skip in his step. Pretty soon, he was obsessed with the weekend weather forecast.
“Why can’t it get colder,” he mumbled with frustration, as he left the room.
Then the gun cleaning boxes start to get left out on the dining table. The guns that were hidden began to make an appearance.
I found a bag of bullets under my car seat last week.
Our son James began to let the cat out of the bag too.
“We put up a deer stand today,” he said, strutting inside from an afternoon with Dad.
And then there comes the printing of deer camera pictures. These are pictures of bucks that he shows to friends and keeps on standby in case a complete stranger sparks an interest.
And, more importantly, he doesn’t complain about my requests.
“Could you watch the kids tonight while I go get some shopping done,” I ask.
“Sure, I’ve got nothing to do tonight,” he said. “Take your time. Be sure to keep your eye out for Christmas presents. I’ll bathe and feed the kids too.”
I freeze with concern and confusion. He is grinning at me like a madman.
“Oooookkkkk,” I respond.
And when I return home, the laundry is done and put away.
Yep, that is when it occurred to me.
“You know next weekend is deer season,” my friend told me over dinner earlier this week.
“I knew it,” I said. “I figured it was coming up.”
We both stare at each other with an understanding. We know what that means.
To me, hunting season means early morning exits, late afternoon retreats, weekend getaways, a house full of kids, bullets found in the dryer, deer urine containers left on my nightstand, deer calls left in the bathroom, skinning racks outside my bay windows, obnoxious brothers barreling down my driveway blowing the horn with Bambi’s dad loaded in the back, tall tales, “baby, look at this” moments and skinning knives left in my kitchen sink.
This happens everyday until February. Every...single...day.
I have to sneak my “girl time” in during the week after I get home from work.
The once accommodating husband is nowhere to be found.
What do you mean...entertain? It’s hunting season.
Well, who is gonna watch the kids? I’ll be in the woods.
It will be dark before I can get to that.
I don’t care about after Thanksgiving Day sales. You can’t leave at 5 a.m. cause I’ll be in a tree.
Did you wash my camouflage pants?
Where is my grunter?
Smell this new doe urine I bought.
Ridiculous if you ask me.
Well, I just better accept it and get ready.
I can tolerate this for a few months.
Trust me, when he gets my shopping bill from “the season,” he might reconsider next year.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherBy now everyone knows which candidates prevailed in last week’s elections.
But what about the people who weren’t on the ballot but still received votes?
One thing about the new electronic voting machines is that it makes it much easier to write in a candidate who doesn’t appear on the ballot.
Some Yazooans took advantage of that feature last week and the results were often comical – literally.
Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson both received votes in more than one race.
Donald Duck and Daffy Duck also received a vote apiece with Daffy getting the a vote for Supreme Court District 1 and Donald picking up a vote for levee commissioner.
Superman also got a little support in the levee commissioner race. That was a wise choice because he’s probably the only person who could fix the issues with our aging levee system.
But all of the write-in votes weren’t inspired by the funny papers. Philip Gunn, speaker of the state House of Representatives, got a vote for election commissioner 2. Gunn would probably consider that a demotion from his current position, but considering the way things have been going with the economy he might welcome the change of pace.
Local Farm Bureau agent Lance Davis will probably be happy to know someone has enough confidence in him to give him a vote for U.S. representative in the Second Congressional District. I grew up with Lance, and I think he’d probably do as good as anybody else who was on the ballot. I would have probably given him my vote too if I had known he had some support.
The presidential race received the most write-ins.
Ron Paul received three votes. I’m surprised he didn’t get more because so many of his supporters were bitterly disappointed that he didn’t continue his campaign as a third party candidate.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who was a Republican candidate four years ago, received two votes.
Former president George W. Bush, who served two terms and couldn’t run again due to term limits, got a vote in the Freerun Community.
Country singer George Strait got a vote for president in the Dover community. His speeches would probably be much more interesting because he could set them to music. Some of the woes our country is currently facing would make for some great country songs.
And finally, God received two votes for president. That would certainly be quite a demotion for God.
But that’s probably the most important thing to remember anyway. No matter which candidate won in any of these elections, God’s still in charge. And unlike most politicians, He knows what He’s doing.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorJames JacksonThe wind had a slight chill to it as Paw Paw buttoned his light wind jacket up to his neck.
He was sitting under the carport that November day, all alone. I watched from behind the kitchen screen door as he packed his pipe with his signature Prince Albert tobacco.
I slowly made my way outside to Paw Paw, who had a brand new flag in his lap.
Tomorrow was Veteran’s Day, and he wanted to replace our old flag with a new one he purchased at Hudson’s Pharmacy.
“Can I help you,” I asked, grabbing the back of his wheelchair.
“Why sure,” he said, shoving the pipe in his mouth.
I pushed Paw Paw’s wheelchair out to the flag pole. His arms weren’t as strong as they used to be, and it was becoming more difficult for him to push his wheelchair through the grass.
As the wind brushed past my face, Paw Paw began to fish through the series of ropes that held up the flag. I could tell he was getting aggravated with it, but he never complained.
Leaning forward as much as he could in his wheelchair, Paw Paw pulled on the ropes until the new flag could be seen flapping in the breeze.
And then he just sat there. He didn’t say a word. He just looked up at the new flag for a little while.
“It’s pretty, ain’t it,” he asked, as I ripped up a few blades of grass.
“Yeah,” I responded, not really thinking about it. “But it’s just a flag.”
I didn’t really think about what I said that day. I was only a child and meant nothing by it. But now as an adult, I understood why Paw Paw looked at me so strangely that afternoon.
“It’s more than that,” he said.
I nodded my head and jumped onto my tire swing. Paw Paw kept smoking his pipe and began making jokes about Maw Maw’s new haircut.
But he was right...it was more than just a flag.
It was something he risked his life for during World War II. He was only in his early 20s when he headed off to Germany, but he was ready to fight and possibly die for a country he loved.
While his family carried on with their lives, he fought for his own. When Maw Maw was busy clipping ration stamps, he was clipping strips of clothes to bandage the wounds of friends.
When his younger sister was complaining about the Mississippi winter, he was struggling to stay warm in a German forest as his friend’s foot showed signs of frost bite.
When his nephews were writing letters to Santa, he was writing a letter to a woman he never met to give her words of encouragement after the death of her son.
While his neighbors were wondering what the weekend would hold, he was wondering if he would live to see tomorrow.
And while his little brother waited in the woods for that next squirrel to shoot, he was waiting on a German tank to cross over the snow-covered hills.
Paw Paw returned home from the war with a warm response from friends and family. His entire community even assembled a parade for many of the county boys who made it back safely.
But there were also a few new tombstones in the rural cemetery.
Paw Paw slowly made his way back into the woods and began his hunting obsession again. It took him several months to even fire another gun. He never complained about the bitter winters again. And he always honored Veteran’s Day with a phone call or two to an old Army friend.
He got a job at the paper mill. He got his garden back in order. And he made a living for his family.
Paw Paw may not have been a millionaire, and his name isn’t found in any history book. But he was a good man who served his country, loved his family and held his chin high.
And I am extremely proud to have his blood running through my veins. Not a day passes that I don’t ask myself what he would do in a situation.
As this Veteran’s Day rolls around, I understand now what he meant that day several years ago.
It is more than just a flag. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing. It’s Paw Paw. It’s every veteran.
I pushed Paw Paw into the house that night, and we settled in with a hot supper and a few moments in front of the television.
Later on a cousin from down the road stopped by for a quick visit.
“I see you got a new flag,” he said. “It looks good.”
“Somebody’s got to do it,” Paw Paw said, with a laugh.
And now I know why he did.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherSome observations while preparing for a long night of awaiting election results:
A penny saved may be a penny earned, but a penny made is two pennies lost.
At least that’s the case these days for the federal government as the cost to produce a penny in 2012 is more than twice its actual value. After the pennies are manufactured the taxpayers cover the difference.
That, my friends, is one of the many absurd examples of what’s wrong with our country today. Common sense is all too uncommon these days when it comes to government. I would love to believe that Tuesday’s elections will change everything for the better, but I’m skeptical – no matter the outcome.
But there’s no sense in picking on the federal government when we have so many problems of our own right here in Yazoo.
Business and job creation have been the hottest issues of this election cycle. That’s been the case on the national stage, and it’s true here as well.
Most of our local politicians list promoting business as one of their top priorities when they’re seeking your vote, but you would probably be surprised at how many of them have never set foot in many of our local businesses, even businesses in the areas they represent.
It was surprising to me at least, and it’s a common complaint I hear when I visit with many local business owners.
Don’t take my word for it. Go ask them.
No wonder so many decisions seem counterproductive as far as the local economy is concerned. It’s hard to represent local business if you have no idea what the needs and concerns of the owners are.
The Jones Saga
One thing I can say about Ward 3 Alderman Clifton Jones is that he definitely does things his own way.
Whether he’s voting against paying the bills, claiming to have an understanding of city finances that none of his peers comprehend or making controversial statements, Jones attracts plenty of attention. Unfortunately it’s usually for all the wrong reasons.
Jones seems like a pretty nice guy on a personal level, but for the most part he has been hard to get along with as an alderman. He’s done a lot of things during his tenure that I have considered strange, but suing his fellow board members over a Public Service Commission Appointment takes the cake.
If Jones had shown similar concern when the board hijacked Ward 2 Alderman Jack Varner’s school board appointment, I might be able to take his argument a little more seriously. But this is business as usual for Jones, and I can’t imagine that the citizens of Ward 3 will be in the mood to tolerate any more foolishness when his term is up.
Parade Needs You
If you are a member of a church group, school or civic club, I urge you to consider participating in the Christmas Parade this year. The parade has declined some recently, and some people have been discouraged by the bad acts of a few.
We’ll never have anything good in this town if good people give up when things aren’t going their way. As one of the organizers of the parade this year, I can promise you that we’re making a good faith effort to eliminate the problems we’ve experienced in the past.
If you think that’s a worthwhile effort, we sure would like to have your support. The best way to do that is to either participate in the parade or come out and enjoy the festivities.
Don’t let yourself become one of those people who sits around complaining about what we don’t have while never lifting a finger to help us improve.
End of the Election
This paper will go to press before Tuesday’s elections are decided, but I am glad it’s finally over. On the national scale it seems sad to me that undecided voters are probably going to determine our next president. It troubles me to think that that people who are so uninformed that they don’t know who they’re going to vote for until the final days could decide the outcome of the presidential election. No matter who you support, that just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
On the local level I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such a spirited campaign for a local supervisor’s race. Looking at the numbers it’s likely that there will be a runoff for District 4 Supervisor. I’m usually pretty good at forecasting local elections, but I really don’t know how this one will turn out. Maybe someone will win it outright this week, but I doubt it.
The good news for Yazoo County is that a lot of very qualified candidates entered the race. Hopefully those who don’t win will continue making positive contributions to Yazoo County. You don’t have to be an elected official to make a significant difference.