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Partial to Home: The ever-evolving South

Posted 9/15/2018 in Local Columns

Partial to Home: Pied piper with a harmonica

Posted 8/25/2018 in Local Columns

Someone was playing a harmonica in Kroger the other day. I was punching in my customer number at the auto-checkout when the music started.

 

Partial to Home: A single photograph, a glut of memories

Posted 8/18/2018 in Local Columns

Rufus Ward called one day last week about a picture of Bob's Place, the now-mythical drive-in that was the high-school hangout for generations of Columbus teenagers.

 

Partial to Home: Cultural exchange

Posted 8/11/2018 in Local Columns

KREIENSEN, GERMANY - My friend Axel and I were standing at Track 2 one day last week waiting for the 7:33 a.m. train to Hannover when he shouted greetings to someone across the way. "He's an Elvis impersonator," Axel said. "He's quite good."

 

Partial to Home: Avalon, my hometown

Posted 7/14/2018 in Local Columns

Sometime in the mid-1970s, I got in my car and drove to Avalon, Mississippi. While I was by no means a blues aficionado, I loved Mississippi John Hurt's music, and Avalon was his hometown.

 

Partial to Home: Star struck

Posted 7/7/2018 in Local Columns

Saturday we were having lunch in a small, overcrowded barbecue joint in Avondale, a revived neighborhood northeast of downtown Birmingham. One of the two young women waiting in line to order in front of us turned to Beth, who was pondering her choices out loud.

 

Partial to Home: A son returns to his musical roots

Posted 6/30/2018 in Local Columns

It was too much to get into a single photograph, the scene in front of us.

 

Partial to Home: Sounds of summer

Posted 6/23/2018 in Local Columns

Sitting astride his bicycle, his foot on the curb, a man with a small dog was having a conversation with an unseen person on the other side of the street. Though they were a block away, the cyclist's voice reverberated down the street blending with the chorus of katydids, cicadas and crickets.

 

Partial to Home: A turtle swimming across the river

Posted 6/16/2018 in Local Columns

Turtle has just one plan at a time, and every cell buys into it. -- Ted Kooser, poet It's not often you see a box turtle swimming across a river. At first glance, it appeared to be a snake engorged with prey it had just swallowed. When I pulled close and realized what it was, I turned the boat to watch.

 

Partial to Home: The irrepressible Mr. Harris

Posted 6/9/2018 in Local Columns

Call someone obsessive, and you run the risk of sounding critical. Yet, I meant it as the highest compliment for the late Gill Harris, the beloved engineer, musician, raconteur, gourmand, father and husband.

 

Partial to Home: A country funeral

Posted 5/19/2018 in Local Columns

We are standing in the graveyard of a country church talking in hushed voices, about 60 of us. Hollywood could not have come up with a more beautiful setting for a funeral.

 

Partial to Home: Irrepressible gardeners

Posted 5/12/2018 in Local Columns

I was almost to the church that lost its steeple to the tornado, when the rooster started crowing. It sounded like he was a block away, somewhere on Third Avenue South. I was driving down College Street, windows down, headed to Mark Stokes' to have the pick-up's brakes checked.

 

Partial to Home: Growing Aunt Zada's white eggplant

Posted 5/5/2018 in Local Columns

In a world trending toward one-click-and-it's-on-the-way commerce, it's reaffirming to run up on someone who grows and sells watermelon plants from seeds found in a deceased uncle's freezer 20 years ago. Or white eggplant from seeds stashed in a baby food jar in the house of a grandmother named Zada.

 

Partial to Home: Bayou sojourn in Cancer Alley

Posted 4/28/2018 in Local Columns

At 5:30 in the morning it sounds as if the motel I'm staying in has been transported during the night to trackside at Talladega where time trials are going on. Outside on Airline Highway, pickup trucks, bumper-to-bumper, are roaring east in the dark toward the refineries at Norco and Destrehan.

 

Partial to Home: Mr. Biddy exits stage left

Posted 3/31/2018 in Local Columns

On a rainy morning last week, William "Peppy" Biddy stood in front of a computer next to his desk in Cromwell Hall talking via Skype with a student in Italy. The student's name is Tristan, and he and Biddy were going over a marked up version of the student's M.F.A. thesis discussing Biddy's suggestions for improvement.

 

Partial to Home: A teacher's legacy

Posted 3/17/2018 in Local Columns

OK, here's a math problem for you, one I was faced with one day last week. A 1-cubic-foot bag of topsoil at a big box store costs $1.50. A yard of topsoil from the Lowndes County Co-Op is $40.

 

Partial to Home: Being there

Posted 3/10/2018 in Local Columns

The only time I ever went deer hunting was when Bull Sullivan was recruiting me to play football at Scooba. A group of fellow recruits and I spent a night or two at a deer camp somewhere in the wilds of Noxubee County. (A friend who was similarly recruited two years earlier said the deer camp belonged to the Sparkmans of Macon.)

 

Partial to Home: A morning in Steens

Posted 3/3/2018 in Local Columns

Ross, a kayaking buddy, likes to take a garbage bag on our river outings so we can police the take-out area after we've finished paddling.

 

Partial to Home: The tour guide's dilemma

Posted 2/3/2018 in Local Columns

Most of us, one time or another, have been called upon -- or taken it upon ourselves -- to serve as a tour guide. The call came for me a couple weeks ago. An eminent musician would be here for three days and his host wondered if I would give him a tour, share with him some of the "historical richness" of our community.

 

Partial to Home: Celebrating the obscure

Posted 1/27/2018 in Local Columns

On a recent, brilliantly cold morning while navigating a kayak down the Buttahatchee somewhere between Lawrence Bridge Road near Caledonia and Highway 45, I thought about the late Robert McG. Thomas Jr., the celebrated writer of obituaries for the New York Times.

 

 

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