Might need to hire someone


A few days after Christmas, dawn was a golden brush stroke across the sky when I headed home on the Natchez Trace from visiting my son Bob's family in Tennessee. As I have done several times in the past, I stopped at the Council House Café in French Camp. Not hungry yet, I got a to-go lunch to carry with me and once again hit the road.

Sometime later I saw a River Bend sign, pulled over and sat back a moment. Memories came back of other times at this same spot. Even though I’ve often called the Trace my trail of tears, at this moment, my thoughts weren't drenched in pain. No, this time I smiled.

When I was in the eighth grade at Liberty Grove School, (now Watkins), I was on a Christmas hayride with my then boyfriend, Bibsey Thornburger and our destination was where I now sat.

On that night, standing at the edge of a hill overlooking the Pearl River, we sang Christmas carols. Then Bibsey hollered, "Lottie. Watch out for the alligator." Giggling, he jumped backward.

My boyfriend fell from a high hill into the Pearl River, hit his head, and almost drowned. Of course there was no alligator.

Long time passing, I thought. "Oh Bibsey, wonder where you are now?" I chuckled on this afternoon in 2019 as I spread food out and opened a drink.

As I looked out over the water the hands of time turned back and another memory in this same place invaded my brain. Once again, I began laughing.

Years ago, newly divorced, I was working at University Hospital. One of the medical students asked me for a date. He wanted to take me to dinner, he said.

Back then I was of the old-school, believing that no one would ever want to take me, a divorcee of 23, out. That part of my life was over. So, oh my. I was overwhelmed with delight.

My companion for the night picked me up on Eagle Avenue but he didn't come in to meet my parents, which I thought was a little odd.

Well, we didn't go to The Mayflower, Green Derby, or the Rotisserie for dinner. My escort stopped at a drive-in on the edge of town, picked up a sack of food at The Pine Lake Club and we turned onto the Natchez Trace.

I had no clue what was going on. He isn't from Jackson, so maybe he wants to take me to meet his family, I thought.

My date swung onto a cut off, now called River Bend, drove past a few parked cars and turned off the motor. "We'll eat after a while," he said, pushing the seat back.

What in tarnation's going on? I wondered. Then it dawned on this southern belle of yesteryear. Yours truly recognized when bad manners crossed the line into sinful behavior.

Now, I don't think there would have been any lawyer I could make one call to, a TV program I could go on, or a newspaper that would have had space for this River Bend event. Take a deep breath and use your head, I told myself.

"How long have you had that doohickey on your nose?" I asked.

"Huh!" Leaning back, the med student raised his hand to his face.

I hoisted my drink, "Here's to you." I flipped my wrist, doused him in Dr. Pepper and ice, then leaned over and began honking the horn.

In fairness, I must say, the young man regrouped in record time. He jerked the seat forward, cranked the engine, and with no words between us drove yours truly back home to Eagle Avenue.

"See ya later, you alligator," I slammed his car door.

And on this day, in 2019, done with my lunch and headed home in time to pick up my doggies, Petey Poo and Roo Roo, unlike the trip up to Tennessee where I had shed tears along the way, I thought about my family and the life I've had. Filled with comfort, peace and joy, I remembered an old southern saying, "If things get any better, I may have to hire someone to help me enjoy it."

On the drive home, there had been no trail of tears, but I did slurp on a Dr. Pepper.

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