Following Governor Phil Bryant’s signing of the Religious Freedom bill yesterday, and the accompanying firestorm of controversy that has ensued, mostly from the liberal LGBTQ world (and their supporters), I have been thinking how I really feel about this, and would like to offer my humble comments.

I am a Christian, have been all of the 70 years I have been on this Earth.  Most of that time was spent in The Episcopal Church, the Church of the Nativity, in fact,  Baptized by the elder Bishop Duncan Gray, confirmed by his son of the same name, and spent nearly 50 years there. About 3 years ago Rebecca and I moved to the Westminster Presbyterian Church on E. Park Ave.   I find that my Christian life has been gloriously re-awakened there.

I am very troubled that so many people I know personally seem to think that Gov. Bryant’s actions have set Mississippi back 200 years.  I am troubled by the hate that spews forth on both sides of this issue.  But at the same time I am tired personally of feeling like I have to apologize to anyone for being a Christian.

I cannot speak for anyone but myself.  First and foremost, my personal relationship with Jesus Christ is MY primary responsibility as a Christian. I am responsible for making that relationship work, and to be the person He would want me to be.  I hate no one.  And that’s all I ask in return.  But I am tired of feeling persecuted for my Christian faith.

I don’t care what any of you do, what your sexual orientation may be, none of that. As far as I am concerned. you have your rights to do as you please. Just recognize that so do I , and so do all Christians. I do not judge you or criticize you.  Someone else will do that at the appropriate time. Until then, please understand that I don’t hate you. Can you return the favor ?  We are all sinners, me especially.  Let’s show a little more love in this world, and stop the bullying, the hate and the arguments.

I for one will mind my own business, but I will not be persecuted for my faith as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is too late in my life for that.  I want to enjoy my 8 grand children and try to be the man my Savior would want me to be before my time is up on this beautiful sphere.  I won’t succeed of course, but I will try my best.  Now please, can we move on ?


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At the end of the War Between the States, President Lincoln freed the slaves, right?  The Emancipation Proclamation? 1865 or so?  No more slavery.  Evil slave masters like Thomas Jefferson and hundreds of other plantation owners across the South could no longer make their fortunes on the backs of their black “property”.  Thousands of slaves were free to go their own way, choose their own way of life.

There was just one catch:  they had no education, they knew no other way of life. They had no experience, no money to move anywhere to start over. So the vast majority of them just stayed put.  The men and boys continued to work the fields for their former master, now “employer”, and the women and girls continued to clean house for the boss’s wife.  Most were perfectly happy with this arrangement. They were for the most part, treated well, and content to have a place provided for them. They began to participate in public education. Some found jobs off the farm.  They began to be integrated into modern society as best they could.

By the time John Deere came rolling along into the world of Southern Agriculture in the 1950’s. most all of the old time racists and bigots had died out (certainly not all of them, in fact a good number can still be found today, if  you know where to look). But generally speaking, slavery was dead.  By the time the 6 row cotton picker came along at the end of the 20th century, you could hardly find more than a handful of blacks working as farm labor, There was just nothing left for them to do, so they migrated away, many to the urban centers of the North, like Chicago and Detroit.  Slavery was essentially DEAD.  Right?  Surely you would agree with this statement, especially now in 2016 ?

As ESPN’s College Game Day’s Lee Corso  would say….  “Not so fast, my friend”.

While many would think that slavery was dealt a death blow, and “GOOD RIDDANCE” to it, let’s take a closer look.  Yes, the old slave masters are long dead and gone, but a new, more cunning and more evil slave master has risen in the past 50 years to enslave the same black population, just in a more sinister way.  These slave masters are the modern Democratic Party.  You know their names…..  Barack Obama, Hillary (and Bill) Clinton,  Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and some of the lesser luminaries like Jessie Jackson (Sr. and Jr.), Al Sharpton, John Conyers, Sheila Jackson Lee, and dozens of black mayors now in power in many American cities.

Where once the old slave masters employed a straw boss armed with a “Black Mariah” – a whip for beatings, the  NEW slave masters now use ENTITLEMENTS as their “soft weapon” of choice – EBT cards, Obama phones, food stamps, crazy checks, Medicaid, of course at expense of the taxpayers…   and not just for the needy and poor, who deserve it, but for any deadbeat that wants to sign up and sit on his ass. (and not just blacks).  Deadbeats have no color of choice.  And the NEW generation of slaves not only cannot see that they are selling their souls to the DEVIL, they are clamoring to give their votes as well, to continue the theft.

And there is another slave master trying to elbow his way into the conversation beside the lying Ms. Clinton, (yep, feeling the Bern yet)?   to add hundreds of thousands of new slaves to the mix, the millennial air headed college kids from the corrupt liberal colleges and Universities across the country, whose thirst for FREE TUITION has been aroused.  They see the new black slaves with their hands in the Democratic pocket, and they want their cut as well, all at the expense of ________________  (Insert your guess here).

Call it what you want….  Progressive Liberalism, Socialism, Communism…….  I call it simply the NEW, MODERN, INVISIBLE SLAVERY THAT ENSLAVES PEOPLE AND THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IT ! ! !

 The old slavery was bad enough. This new strain is much more virulent and deadly. Because when it finally becomes epidemic, it will kill an entire Nation, both the infected slaves, their evil masters, and the innocent as well.

I am 70 years old, so I don’t really have to worry too much about the outcome, but I am saddened that my three children and 8 grand children will have to live it, and perhaps die because of it. I don’t really care who you vote for, be it Trump, Cruz, Rubio or Kasich. Just PLEASE don’t continue to empower the evil Democratic Party and their  oblivious  slaves (old AND new), to continue enriching themselves at your expense.

We MUST stop the fighting and arguments. If we cannot come together as one people, under one Name, we are doomed. We are not Democrats, not Republicans, not Independents….   we are children of God (for the most part)  But we sure don’t seem to act like it.



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It’s bearing down on me….  will be here in a couple more months.  August 19th, 2015 – I’ll be 70 years old.  I was born just 10 days after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. One of the very first of the baby boomers.

All my life I have been pretty upbeat, never really worried about getting old, always felt pretty good, even when I got to be 60, still felt pretty good.  If I got sick, or injured in some way, I would usually shake it off in a day or two, and go right back to feeling like a teenager, like I always have.

I don’t know EXACTLY when that started to change, not long after 60 I think, but the change has been more noticeable, and accelerating with each passing day. Little aches and pains aren’t so little any more.  Where did that teenager that lived inside me go? By 65 it was apparent that something was definitely up.

I will be the first to admit that I have never taken particularly good care of my self. Mostly overweight most of my life.  Smoked cigarettes starting at age 15.  Finally got smart enough to quit about age 50… cold turkey!  Then got stupid enough after 5 years as a non smoker to start up again.  By the time I was 64 my arteries in my legs were letting me know they couldn’t take it anymore.  It reached the point where I could walk one block and experience crippling “claudication”, severe cramp-like pain from not enough oxygen reaching my leg muscles.

After John Lucas 3 did a “fempop” (femoral artery bypass surgery) on my left leg, and having three stents placed in my illiac region, and having my left carotid cleaned out, and having my right little toe amputated due to poor circulation in my right foot, I stabilized (for a while). When the claudication returned about 3 months ago in March of this year.  I knew the situation was going to be grave.  For the second time in my life I quit the cigarettes. I asked the Lord for His help. He graciously made it easy for me, and I thank Him for that.

This time John 3 was too busy to do this type of procedure, so his partner Dr. Capel explained my options.  I won’t go into all the details, but basically he used something like a 21st century roto-rooter machine for arteries.  It was marginally successful, but did not produce the desired increase in blood flow to my right foot, which was in danger of being lost to gangrene.  Dr. Capel immediately suggested a second procedure, a bypass from my right groin area to the right ankle. Since this length is approximately 36″, and the human body does not have any arteries this long, and mine were not any good to start with, he would use bovine carotid segments (2).  Yep, that’s cows !  As I didn’t have a lot of choice at this point, this procedure was accomplished, and I was sent home in a couple of days.  (I go to sleep at night wondering when the horns will begin to appear on my forehead, and when I may start mooing instead of snoring).

Dr. Capel explained that although I now had a veritable pipeline delivering a large amount of blood to my right foot, the healing would be slow as a result of my type 2 diabetes.  After about 4 weeks of being confined to either the bed or the recliner, to keep the leg elevated to reduce swelling, I was finally able to get up and move around on a very limited basis.

The problem was that I was now experiencing what it felt like to be a 70 year old man, or very close to it.  I didn’t hurt, or feel bad, but I didn’t feel good either. I was depressed at the length of my recovery.  My family noticed that I was unhappy.  Even the nurse from the Sta-Home health agency suggested that I ask Dr. Wally for a “happy pill”, like Prozac, Zoloft or Lexapro, for treatment of anxiety.

I had come to the realization that I was now “officially” an old man, and I needed to just get used to it, and deal with it, and since I had an appointment with Dr. Wally tomorrow to get most of my other meds refilled, I would just ask him for a “happy pill” as well, and hope that I wouldn’t kill myself or my wife!

And on top of that, I realized that I was experiencing way too many of my friends leaving this earth, some even younger than me, and others in very bad shape, and who knows if I might be soon on the list?


That’s when my epiphany arrived.   Rebecca and I have been attending a new church for the past year or so (well, new to us). Westminster Presbyterian Church here in Greenwood. We love the preacher, and while we know a good many of the folks that attend, there are many new and younger folks we don’t know, but we have been made to feel welcome, and have come to love this church, and the people that attend.  It feels the way I think a church should feel… like a House of God, full of His people, and very glad to be there!

Rebecca and I went this morning, and almost as soon as we sat down, I began to feel a presence steering my thoughts to my recent medical adventures, and my depression and anxiety.  It was almost like the Lord was sitting there next to me, and he and I were having a conversation.  Well,  I mean, not literally a real conversation of course, but it sure did feel like it.  Maybe a “silent exchange of ideas”.  It was almost like He was saying, “Joe, why are you so unhappy?  You’ve come through some pretty serious surgery, and are still here, right?  And didn’t I take those cigarettes away from you, and make it pretty easy for you?  And, if you would take a look around, haven’t you got a whole lot of things to be thankful for?”

Well, perhaps it wasn’t so much a conversation between me and the Lord…. since he was supplying most of the ideas, and I was just occasionally nodding  and thinking “Yes Sir”.   But it did make me think “He’s right of course… why am I being so selfish?   I have been showered with blessings all my life, too numerous to count, a wife of 47 years who loves me like crazy (well MOST all of the time at least), three terrific children, and their spouses, 8 marvelous grandchildren.  I even worked for almost 30 years as the Director of Product Design for America’s greatest piano company, personally designing musical instruments that enriched hundreds of thousands of peoples lives with the joy of music.   And I have a bucket list that probably only has one or two items left on it, since I have already done most everything and been everywhere a man could want, and here I sit feeling sorry for myself because I don’t feel good, or because I am feeling old.  I should be rejoicing that I am among wonderful friends and neighbors, and yes, even strangers in this church, who were kind enough, and CARED enough to pray for me every day during my illness and surgery, and lengthy recovery, to the extent that I could literally feel the prayer bombs going off around me.

These people surrounding me today have been instrumental in my return to my faith, and I thank my God for leading ME in THEIR paths, as well as in HIS.  At some point I need to thank them all, and tell them what they have meant to me and Rebecca. I couldn’t do it this morning, after Church was over, and the Lord and I had finished our “conversation”, or at least after He had finished His teachings to me and I had finished saying “Yes, Sir” about a hundred times.  I was just too emotional then.  Heck, I just knew Rebecca was going to ask me why I kept wiping my eyes during the whole service.  Maybe she noticed and was just being nice, not wanting to embarrass me.

I think that may be why I am sitting here writing this down…  maybe I will post this on my blog, so those that want could read it, and see how I feel about them. To know that I appreciate them and the love they have shown me. The very same love that Jesus Christ shows to us all.  I know I could not get through telling them without an emotional break down (like old men are prone to have)!

I now know one thing I did not know when I got up this morning…..  When I go to see Dr. Wally tomorrow, I will not be asking for a “happy pill”…  I found a whole church full of them this morning, and they were all worshipping a Savior who has more medicine in the hem of his garment than all the drug stores in town!

Thanks be to God !


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On Friday morning, September 14, I received the news from my good friend Fish Michie that Duff’s third try to receive a new liver had ended in failure, when his surgical team discovered that the liver cancer had progressed to stage 4, to a point that made the liver transplant impossible, and the doctors were forced to close, ending forever his prospects for a new liver, and a new chance at life.  The first two transplant attempts had ended prematurely when problems were discovered both times with the donor organs, before any surgery could be done.  My dear friend Duff was now destined to die, and very likely, soon.  I remember the bitter disappointment and sadness I felt then, and how this sweet man had touched my life over the years. And the crushing loss I would surely feel when he would be eventually taken from us.

And now, only 18 days after the third and final attempt at a liver transplant, I received the call about 6 AM this morning, October 3, that Duff was gone.  The sadness and feeling of loss was indeed crushing, and I sat holding my phone, too numb to even grasp the moment.

And then I thought, “How selfish of you, Joe, to think of yourself”.  I thought of his family, and the thousands of other lives he had touched, and the loss to this world.  You see, Duff Dorrough was a man of infinite kindness and love.  His down-to-earth spirit and infectious personality could light up a room with smiles and happiness, and his talents as an artist and musician were splendid, beautiful gifts from God. I have been richly blessed to have known him for over 35 years, and have been inspired and uplifted by him on so many occasions.

In those 35 years, I shared a stage with him hundreds of times, and always marveled at his excellence and virtuosity as a musician, without question the best I ever saw in my 50 year musical career, but more importantly, his excellence as a person.  I don’t think I have ever in my life seen anyone quite like Duff.  In all the years I knew him I never heard him speak an unkind word, lose his temper, or ever fail to lift another person’s spirit, or fail to put a smile on someone’s face.  It’s what he did, and it will always be how I remember him.  He was perhaps the most beautiful personification of God’s love that I was ever blessed to know.  I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love posted this morning on Duff’s facebook page. It is a testament to his heart and his soul, that so many people would post so many loving and caring thoughts.

And I know that the Delta, Mississippi and even the world will remember him that way as well, a very unique and special person.  And I am quite sure that his last wish would be for all of us to CELEBRATE his life, and what he meant to all of us.  He would have no time for the sadness, the mourning, only the celebration.  As he famously said to the crowd years ago at one of Bo Devine’s Green Lizard parties, “Y’all, after the party, there’s gonna be a BIG party, right here at the party, so….  stick around for the party”.

I think that sums up Duff’s approach to life, and I am sure that he will find his way to center stage mike in God’s Rock n Roll Band, along side all the other greats that have gone before, and he will make them all better people just by letting his brilliant light shine among them, as it shown so brilliantly for us once.

I love you Jurl Durl, Ole Son, and I thank you for your friendship.  For all my faults, failures and weaknesses, I know that somehow I am a better person for having known you!

Joe Seawright    –    Greenwood, MS    –   October 3, 2012

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Okay, first of all, remember that I am now 67 years old, and while the short term memory is almost COMPLETELY fried, I will attempt to reach way back into the mists of time, and see what I can come up with.  I believe I may have posted somewhere in an earlier piece that my earliest childhood memory is from about age 5 or 6, running out to meet my Dad when he pulled into the driveway each day about 5:15, coming home from work at Delta Electric.  He would pull in, driving some old black sedan (have no idea what make or model, just that it had running boards) and would stop and let me climb up on the driver’s side running board, and then with his left arm out the driver’s window, and wrapped tightly around me, ease up the remaining 50 feet or so to the sidewalk, where he would park it for the evening.  Just can’t pull out anything earlier than that, so that’s where we have to start I guess.

I remember we had a pretty good snowfall at the new house on Jefferson Street, when I was 5, about 1950 or ‘51 or so, maybe 3 or 4 inches, and that provided a couple of days of snowman construction and generally freezing my hands off making snowballs. The McCormick girls lived just to the left of us on Jefferson. We were 303 E Jefferson, they were 305, and Cathy, who was 1 year older than me, was my closest playmate and co-conspirator in neighborhood mayhem.  We would constantly play Cowboys and Indians, but I always had to be Dale Evans while she got to be Roy Rogers.  Age has its privileges, I guess, but it warped me for life, I think. Margaret was several years older, so she was too cool to join in, approaching her teenage years, and Sharon was just a tot, and too small. Our family was always very close to the McCormick’s…. until the day I managed to hit little Sharon in the forehead with a baseball bat, while taking a few practice cuts during a front yard game.  Big Frank exploded into a fury and banned me for life from their yard (can’t really blame him, but fortunately Sharon was not seriously injured, and made a rapid recovery, although the neighborly relations were frosty for several years to follow).

I also remember sitting on my front steps one bright sunny afternoon, and I just happened to be looking across the street, when a gigantic meteor slashed across the sky, from left to right, right above the roof of Prentiss Webb’s house, a huge fireball, leaving a blazing trail of fire and smoke, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!  WOW!  It burned up in the atmosphere, before it hit the ground (probably thousands of miles away from Greenwood), but that impressed me mightily, and probably got me interested in astronomy at an early age… that, and listening to the sound of my older brother grinding his own telescope mirror in his bedroom, right next to mine one summer, night after night after night, for hours and hours, ’til I thought I would scream. I think it irritated me so much because he wouldn’t let me help, only watch. Any time he left the house he would tell mama, “don’t let Joe meddle in my room and DO NOT let him touch the mirror!

And we all chased the DDT/mosquito truck EVERY night when it came by in the Summer (and it seems like it WAS every night), and somehow lived to tell about it, and even more amazingly, ended up having offspring with the appropriate number of arms, legs, fingers and toes.

Our neighbor to the right, whose name I can’t remember, had a beautiful Irish setter, very friendly, that I managed to spray down with some tank of insecticide I found in their garage one day. Why I did this I have no idea, just though it was like some giant water pistol on steroids I suppose. Didn’t know it would hurt the dog, and thankfully it did not, but I got a good whipping for that one…. with a switch.  We had hedges on both sides of your yard, from the street to the alley behind the house, so an endless supply of instruments of punishment were in an inexhaustible supply for any transgressions, and the worst part of it all was having to go and pick my own switch, and having to wait in an ever building crescendo of terror as Mama slowly stripped away the leaves. And once the flogging would begin, I would dance and gyrate, unable to get away from the left hand that seized my left wrist, while her right hand striped my bare calves with the implement of torture.  To this day I hate hedges of every description!

I went to Martha Parker’s Kindergarten, but can’t remember actually where it was.  Maybe over by the west end of City Park???  I liked it, I remember that.  And by age 6 (September of 1951??) I was ready for the first grade, but I think by then the Little Red Schoolhouse had already burned down, and Bankston was not quite finished yet, so we had to do the first half of the first grade in the Legion Hut, maybe even the whole first year of first grade.

But by 2nd grade, Bankston was ready to receive its first charge of elementary kids, and what a wonderful schoolhouse it was.  Three long wings of classrooms, spotlessly new and clean, a gym, a cafeteria, an auditorium, and a playground as big as the Sahara Desert but a lot greener, it seemed to us.

I can remember a few of my teachers, but not many…  lets’ see:  a Mrs. Eggleston, (3rd grade?) Miss Schoonover (4th) and Murdering Murdock (6th) and a practice teacher named Mrs. Eubanks, who lived with Mrs. Ethel Bowman up the street from us. I think maybe Miss Betty Jane Kennedy was another of my teachers, but I just can’t remember any more, sorry.

Bankston was a great school, we all got a pretty fine elementary education, and had  a wonderful time, cared for by dedicated teachers and the ROCK herself, Kathleen Bankston, one of the originators of the blue hairdo!  She looked pretty mean, but was really a very sweet lady, long as you didn’t mess up too bad, and get sent to her office, which of course I NEVER did.

It was a different time back then, no doubt. We could play outside in the evening ‘til it got pitch black dark.  All the neighbors took a personal interest in all of us kids, would look out for us, give us snacks and such, and they all pretty well maintained a “network” that watched over all of us, no matter at whose house we were playing.  Portia Peteet was across the back alley, directly behind the McCormick’s’. Perry DeLoach directly behind my house, and I can remember almost every night her mama coming out the back door to call her in for the evening, in a loud, searching voice, starting somewhere around middle C, and at the end jumping up a fifth, something like… “Mae PeeeeerrrrrrrrriEEEEEEEEEE!” In a minute or two here would come Perry scuttling home from somewhere close by.  Art and Chris Eidman were a few doors down on E. Adams, and Marcia Kantor across the side street from Portia and Mary Lynn and Rebecca.  Louie and Prince Spencer, and their little sister were opposite the Kantor’s on Adams, and down past the Eidman’s were Sandra, Stevie and Bonnie Stigler They had a little brother, maybe his name was Jeff??? . Hite McLean was across from the Stigler’s somewhere. Further up Jefferson were the Colvin girls, Judy and Joan, and the Hony boys, Bill and John, then Annette Anderson, Billy Boy Bowman and all his sisters, Susan, Mary Lynn and Betty Lou, and his older brother Charles Jr.  I could go on, as there were dozens of us kids in the neighborhood, and we were allowed to roam pretty much all over North Greenwood, on our bikes, on foot, without the first thought of safety concerns.  Even downtown on Saturdays, to go to the Leflore Theater, or the Rebel.  The Rebel had the best double feature westerns, with serials featured as well, and cartoon shows in between the movies. Loony Tunes, with Bugs Bunny, Porky, Daffy and all the crew, as well as an occasional Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, my personal favorite.  We couldn’t get enough of Roy Rogers and Dale and Trigger and the dog (was it Bullet??), along with Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger & Tonto, even Lash LaRue, who once made a live appearance at the Rebel, smelling a bit like bourbon, but he had his whip with him, and put on a reasonable demonstration for the kids. Plus, we had Buster Crabbe, Johnny Weissmuller, Abbott & Costello, the Three Stooges and of course the Bowery Boys, and who can forget the Little Rascals.  We had the world on a string.  Looking back from today’s different world, it seems like a dream, sweet and simple and carefree.   Nobody locked their doors when they left the house, or even at night, just no need to do so.  We climbed every tree in sight, never broke any bones that I remember. I do remember being run off the road into a deep ditch on my bike by Little Art, although it wasn’t his fault, we just got too close, and I ended up in the ditch with a broken right arm! Of course I got a free trip to Dr. Sandifer’s office, to have a cast put on, and had to listen to him grumble about everything under the sun, as he was a gruff old codger, or at least that was the front he liked to present.  I was scared to death of him, but I got some ice cream out of the deal, I think.

Same deal when I had to have my tonsils taken out, around age 8 or 10, I believe ( I think that has fallen out of vogue nowadays in the medical community – maybe still on rare cases of extreme infection, but generally you have to ride it out now.  Back then they would chop ‘em out if they even looked pink or puffy).  It was my first, only, and hopefully last experience with ether.  I can remember the nurse /anesthesiologist approaching with some sort of mask that looked like what fighter pilots wear, with a long black hose running out of the bottom, and after a few whiffs I began to see these big sets of eyes floating in front of my face, staring at me.  Several pairs in fact, big cat eyes, little snake eyes, bug eyes, all floating and swirling just above the top of the mask, right in my face. Next thing I knew I was waking up, blinking, wondering why my throat felt like a large Mack truck and driven into my mouth and down my throat, scraping all the flesh from inside me.  Hurt like hell, and I had a violent headache from the ether I suppose. After suffering a few hours of this torment I was finally treated to all the ice cream I could eat, and I milked it for all it was worth, several different flavors in fact.  A day or two later, after I had returned home and was recovering in my own bed, lightly sleeping late one afternoon, my mother caught my older brother Jimmy creeping stealthily across the floor of my bedroom on his hands and knees, with a fighter pilots mask in one hand, exactly like the one they used in the hospital (who knows where he got it, but he was a resourceful fellow), fully intent I’m sure on scaring the life out of me by clamping it on my face as I slumbered.  He was too big to get the switch treatment, but she figured out some other appropriate punishment I’m sure.

Jimmy also had a cat’s brain in formaldehyde, in a jar on a shelf in his room, that I think he swiped from the high school biology lab. I was terrified of that thing too, would wake up at night thinking about a real cat brain, just sitting there, waiting to attack.  If being Dale Evans didn’t completely warp me, that cat brain finished the job!

Part of the fun of growing up in Greenwood was discovering new places to hang out, as we became older, and with virtually no restrictions on where we could go, as we became more adept with our bicycles, and our familiarity with the lay of the land. One favorite in particular of mine was the original Crosstown Pharmacy, on the corner of Grand & Claiborne, right beside the downtown Yazoo River bridge, tucked in behind the Shell Gas station.  I can still see Mr. Applewhite, the pharmacist, his young new assistant Ben Feigler, and Mrs. Love, a Crosstown fixture. They had a terrific magazine stand in the back (comics, in todays vernacular), and even though they had a sign posted to not read the magazines, they seemed to allow certain ones of us plenty of latitude, and I would spend an hour or two each visit checking out the Superman, Batman and other top rags of the day, while munching on Necco wafers purchased from Mrs. Love, and charged on the family charge account.

Another unique spot that Billy Boy Bowman, Davo Pittman , Kirk Carter and I found to hang out was the wooded area, just E of where Weightman Avenue makes that weird dogleg jog to the right, and runs almost up to the Tallahatchie River. There are all kinds of houses there now, but back in 1956 Weightman was the last road going north up the E side of North Greenwood, and the area to the right was all woods. We called it Skeleton Forest, and it was the perfect hangout, principally because it provided a ready supply of cross vine for 12 and 13 year old adventurers to smoke. Since we couldn’t buy cigarettes yet, it was a semi-reasonable alternative.

As we graduated from Bankston, and moved across the river to Junior High, we thought we were big stuff.  We could now go to lunch downtown, if we could do it in an hour and not be late getting back to school.  Of course this meant walking, as we were still too young for a driver’s license, but that was no big deal.  Some of our favorite places were Gelman’s Café (or was it Cafeteria?), the Post Office Café, Thompson Turner Drug Store, across from the Court House (where they had a real soda fountain serving cherry cokes). Others would head west to Carr’s Grocery at the corner of Dewey St and Johnson St., and even to the Cotton Boll a little further W on Johnson, for the famous foot longs.

Junior High was the time when we guys really began to notice these things called girls, and from that point on, it was as if the Earth’s polarity flipped over, maybe even more than once in the next two years.  We didn’t really seem to know what was happening at the time, just that the landscape had changed, and there were new rules to learn.  This finally became clear to me about 15 years ago, when Johnny Jennings and I started doing the annual Christmas Debutant party for the pages and their escorts, held each year along with the Gold and White Debutant Ball, at the Greenwood Country Club. We have been doing this now for at least the last 15 or 20 years, and every year we see the same pattern. The pages and their escorts are all 7th or 8th graders, and even thought the faces change each year, the behaviors are identical.  The girls are there for one thing, to meet boys!  And the boys are there to goof off and play grab ass with each other and pretty much ignore the girls, even though the girls are hoping that someone will want to dance with them. It doesn’t matter what music we play, old rock or brand new rap, it always takes an hour or so before the ice begins to melt, but sooner or later, just like clockwork, some of the sharper guys begin to realize that they are indeed in the middle of a target rich environment, and they take the plunge, and start asking the girls to dance. Pretty soon it’s love at first sight (well, maybe only the puppy love version, but it’s a start down a whole new path).  After that, nothing is the same again I guess, and so it was for us in 1957 or ’58, as we hit Junior High.

Add to that the fact that Elvis had just turned the world on its ear, with this rock and roll stuff he was selling, and it was like a rocket ship blasting off, with us hanging on for dear life!

Greenwood was a special place, no doubt, but probably no more special than any other small, Delta town of that era, 1945 to 1960. I think everyone has a special feeling for the place they grew up, came of age, and started to learn about life, the warm, happy feelings and memories, and even some of the bad times that taught us some valuable lessons as well, all of it mixed together. It seems like such a long and distant time ago, probably because it is exactly that, or as George Lucas famously introduced each of his Star Wars movies, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”..

Thomas Wolfe once reminded us that, “You can’t go home again” in his novel of the same name.  Specifically, he said, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

Perhaps he was technically right, but we can still dream, right?  It is certainly a different world today, certainly more complex, more dangerous, more stressful, more divisive, and yet we still remember our formative years with a smile.  I know I do. I bet most of you do too.

– –  Joe Seawright

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Mississippi Good Ole Boys 1, Westboro Baptist 0

I saw this earlier last week, on the local news, when it occurred, but here’s a link to a better re-counting of the whole story, with dash-cam video of the crowd lining the route to the cemetery.  A special “hat tip” to my favorite milblog, for the link.

Mississippians get a lot of bad raps, some of it certainly well deserved, but this is one case where the “ignorant rednecks” of Rankin County, MS had the Westboro Baptist crowd figured out. Perhaps others around the country should take note.  To paraphrase Charlie Daniels…..  “Westboro, ya’ll just come on back, if you ever want to try again”!


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I’ve been thinking about what to write for my next blog post.  I had a lot of fun writing the last two, about the “Teenage Years – Growing up in Greenwood, MS”, and the “sequel”, I guess you could call it, “A Day That Will Live in Infamy”, about the notorious “blowout” party we had at the Legion Hut, in 1963.  Perhaps much more fun that the actual writing of those two pieces, was reading all the wonderful comments posted by readers. I had no idea I would reach that many folks, and that so many of them would respond with such richly detailed accountings of their recollections of those times as well.

It’s been about 6 or 8 weeks since I posted those, so I guess it’s time for another offering, to fill up the blank space that seems to keep calling my name.  I told myself when I launched this blog, that it was just an experiment, something to entertain myself primarily, and that I would not feel any pressure to post anything on a regular basis, but at the same time, the response I have gotten has been very gratifying, and it’s nice to know that somebody reads this stuff, so I DO feel a little obligation to keep the thing fresh, so to speak.

As I was thinking of a topic for this one, it came to mind that I’ve had a pretty good run over the years, and some really good things have happened to me.(No, I am not entering a morbid phase; not getting ready to die anytime soon – at least I hope not.). So I decided to take a look at some of that, if for no other reason than to refresh my own memory (which has gotten pretty foggy here of late, especially the short term areas of my brain).  And hopefully, this won’t be a long, drawn out, boring diatribe of every event that has happened in my life, just some of the highlight reel stuff.

I will immediately get off on the wrong foot, and earn a two week vacation in the dog house, if I don’t start with my wife Rebecca (yeah, she reads my blog too)!.  We had our 43rd wedding anniversary back on January 26, and as Jerry Garcia once said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”.  LOL!  Indeed it has been, and I am the one who has been the beneficiary of having met her, and loved her so well, for so long.  She has truly changed my life, and kept me pointed in the right direction, and kept me focused, and mostly out of trouble all these years.

Now that I have gotten my brownie points in, let’s talk about my next greatest lifetime achievements, what I like to call “Joe and Rebecca’s Greatest Hits”. Our three children, Keirn, Power, and Rebecca Durden (known to most all as RD.)

I know that all parents think their kids are the smartest, prettiest, best behaved kids in the whole world.  Of course I do too, but I also know that raising them has been an education for me and Rebecca, to say the least.  As I think back over the past 39 years, since we were blessed with Margaret Keirn Seawright on October 13, 1971, there are thousands and thousands of memories to recall of their three lives, both the good and the bad.  The rainfall and stormy weather that has occurred only serves to make the sunny days that much warmer, brighter  and sweeter, I think.

Keirn just found out this week that she has won her lengthy battle with the MS Bar Assn. and the Bar Exam Ethics Committee, having been finally granted permission to sit for the MS Bar Exam in July.  It has been a long struggle, but she has shown the determination and perseverance required to come to this point, after such a long period of darkness in her life, overcoming great difficulties to arrive here at this moment.  And it makes me the proudest Dad alive, to say that she is my own.  It has been a long time coming, and no one has worked harder to turn her life around.  She has had much help from many people, including Brother Glenn Seefeld and the wonderful folks at the First Methodist Church, where she now works as Program Director, and we are grateful for all of that, but we especially thank God for His love and guidance to her.  And I think Miss Lillie Belle (our first grand daughter) may have had something to do with her reversal of misfortune as well !  It’s all good! (If she passes the Bar!)

My son Power, at age 36, has settled down in Memphis with his wife Courtney, has a good career going in the information technology field, and they have been blessed with two beautiful little girls, Annabel and Mary Sutton.  Rebecca insists on driving to Memphis at least every two weeks to see them, regardless of how high gasoline gets, and that I just better learn to live with it!   For a long time Rebecca and I wondered if we would ever have any grand children, when all our married friends were being so blessed years earlier than us.  But as it finally came to pass, it reminded me that as the generational cycle begins another turn, what a true blessing from God children are to their parents (and grand parents), overcoming all the troubles, difficulties and expense of getting them “raised up”. I look at Power sometimes and think, that’s me, 25 years ago, except he is so much better a father than I was.  He devotes every minute of his life to his wife and those two little girls. (Just won’t let them eat sugar.  Maybe he could loosen up, just a little)?  It’s all good!

And finally, it looks as if our baby girl RD will indeed avoid having to bear the burden of being an “old maid”, as she has finally fallen for Mr. Right at the ripe old age of 29, and they will be married on June 4th.  Mr. Right is a fine young man named Matt Bishop, and Rebecca and I  are so pleased that he has come into her life.  He is big, strong, handsome, smart, stable, hunts and fishes, not crazy like some of the others she has brought home, and we really like him, A LOT!  She is currently working full time on her Masters degree in English at Ole Miss, and he is the advertising manager for the New Albany newspaper, and they are so in love!  Plans for the upcoming event are reaching a fever pitch here at our house, with my daily pleas for a budget priced wedding falling on mostly deaf ears, and what does trickle through being given mostly lip service, and my honey-do list picking up more and more runs to fetch wedding gifts from all over, most annoyingly, a weekly trip to Merigold to fetch McCarty Pottery, that cannot be allowed to accrue for two or three weeks, but must be gathered weekly! (“It’s too delicate to ship”, I am told with withering looks from both mother of the bride and bride to be).

I am seriously considering an extended 5 week trout fishing trip to my brother-in-law Bud’s house in Mt. Home, on the White River, beginning in the next day or so, and returning perhaps on the morning of the rehearsal party, June 3, to escape some of the rising female tensions around here.

But I know that as RD and Matt drive away to begin their life together, it’s not the end of the book, merely another chapter drawing to a close, and another one beginning.

There are many, many lesser blessings that have come my way in my lifetime, and I know that I have had way more than my share of them than most guys. But nothing can compare to the four blessings I have mentioned above. I am appreciative of all that I have been given, but of none more so than these that my family have given me. 


–Joe Seawright–

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