I wish every little boy could …
July 1, 2001
Dedicated to the loving memory of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Billie Smith. Affectionately known to all little boys and girls in Greenwood, Mississippi as "Uncle Billie and Aunt Edna."
I wish every little boy could have experienced the childhood I did growing up in Greenwood.
I wish every little boy could have spent one Saturday evening in Uncle Billie and Aunt Edna's yard playing, "two chase two," "devil in the ditch," basketball or football, "socahna" with a tennis ball or riding the "big bag swing" down through the woods.
I wish every little boy could have had a piece of Aunt Edna's chocolate cake or a bowl of Uncle Billie's Brunswick stew.
I wish every little boy could have had one of his birthday cakes made by Aunt Edna. They were the prettiest birthday cakes I've ever seen. She made all the decorations she used on the cakes. Uncle Billie would get mad cause Aunt Edna wouldn't charge for her cakes even though nobody ever paid a dime for all the things he built or fixed in our back yard.
I wish every little boy could have gone on a trip to Memphis with Uncle Billie and hear him tell you, Son, one day you'll be all grown up and have a little boy and you can take him to Memphis or to a ball game, or hunting or fishing at the lake. (It comes a lot quicker than you think.)
Just one more game
I wish every little boy could play just one baseball game with no uniforms, no umpires and no parents watching.
I wish every little boy could have a paper route. I delivered the Greenwood Commonwealth more 50 years ago. I delivered the papers on my new Schwinn bicycle I got for Christmas. I was quite the young businessman: Of course back then the IRS never gave paperboys a second glance.
Mr. Sumpter Gillespi was the Editor and Publisher and Susie Beall's daddy kept the press running. I wonder if ole Susie's still around?
I wish every little boy could have climbed a water tower in a little country town. My town was Benoit, Mississippi, where my cousins named Litton lived. Up on that water tower was where I smoked my first cigarette and had my first chew of tobacco. I remember getting so sick up there I leaned over the side and threw up all over Benoit, Mississippi.
I wish every little boy could ride in a mule-pulled cotton wagon full of cotton on the way to the gin. It was a lot more fun than coming home in an empty wagon. You felt like it was going to shake you to death.
I wish every little boy could have had one of Grandmother Smith's mayonnaise sandwiches, made from brown bread and bought mayonnaise. We'd get our sandwiches and Kool-Aid and go out on the front porch to listen to some of "Dr. Smith's" (my granddaddy) stories.
When it got dark outside, my Uncle Bob would show movies to all the kids and grownups. With all the Smiths and the Abbots and neighbors it would be as many as 30 to 35 people.
I loved all my cousins, but Adah Abbott was just a little older than me and she was my favorite. She married the hometown football hero, Walter Moses. They had three boys … two are doctors there in Greenwood and (I think) the other is a state employee.
I wish every boy could have heard my other grandmother, we called "Bobba," tell her stories in the old southern dialect. She was a very big Christian lady that everyone in town, black and white alike, loved.
I wish every little boy could have had a school principal like Kathleen Bankston. She was a very strict person that all the children and parents appreciated and loved. A note to you teachers and principals: Don't think you can't make children mind and study and still love you. Kathleen Bankston did.
I wish every little boy had grown up going to a little red schoolhouse like I did in north Greenwood. It was where we learned things early in life during the week and it was our playground on the weekend. Botts Blackston could swing higher on the swings and throw a football further than anybody I ever knew.
Many good times were had and many friendships were made at the "Little Red School House".
I wish every little boy could have a real close friend growing up. I was lucky I had two. Of course we had a lot of other friends, but I mean over the years. I lost one early in our lives, his name was Robert Howard and, boy, I have missed him. His lovely wife, Marion, still lives there in Greenwood. The other one, Charles, now Dr. Charles Purifoy lives in Greenwood and is semi-retired. I think when he became a dentist it was the first real job he ever had. Talked to him the other day for hours, boy, did we reminisce.