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Birney Imes: Southside Saturday


Birney Imes



To use a word State Sen. Terry Brown once used in describing what some MUW alumnae were doing to certain members of the Legislature, two mockingbirds in the back yard are whaling on our cats. Like the alums, the birds are unrelenting and have all but traumatized their victims. 


They have a nest high in one of two river birches we have next to the back patio -- plant a river birch near your house only if you don''t mind harvesting a daily crop of switches. The nest is far beyond the reach of our sedentary cats, but the birds seem to be bolder each day; they now dive bomb and nip the girls on their backs as they run for the house. If that''s not humiliation enough, I think the tormentors are helping themselves to the cats'' food. I''m beginning to wonder if the residents of the house are next. 


It''s not everyone I''d tell that I bought a jar of mud for $30, but that was my meager contribution to the economy of the Market Street Festival. That, a raffle ticket for a quilt and two plates of Greek food from an outfit that came up from Tallahassee, FL. 


But, back to the dirt: I''m reminded of the opening sequence from "My Cousin Vinny," where the boys, having just entered Alabama, pass a sign advertising "Dirt for sale." Unlike me, they resisted the temptation. 


Though, this was Mississippi Miracle Clay from Kemper County, touted as a natural solution for acne, rosacea, eczema, boils, staph, back pain, shingles, insect bites and almost anything that ails a human. Pure magnesium bentonite clay according to the brochure. 


I''ve heard of people -- especially pregnant women and children -- eating dirt for the mineral content, so this didn''t seemed as far-fetched. The practice is called geophagy and is more common in rural and primitive societies and prevalent in the animal kingdom. 


When I told the gentleman selling it I''d seen people years ago digging clay in Burns Bottom to ingest, he took a small bottle of water, mixed a large dot of his product in it and handed it to me, saying, "Have some mineral water." 


I gulped it down. 


A certain downtown merchant who works in a barn wondered if the Miracle Clay would help his wife''s snoring. Or was it is wife asking about his snoring? I don''t remember. I think it was she who bought a jar. 


Meanwhile, back at home, Beth had gotten a text from Annis Cox. Across from a cottage on Third Street behind her house, a clump of bees had congregated high in a red maple. Someone got a ladder and Bob Raymond held it sturdy while I went up. 


On hand for the spectacle were Annis and Bill Cox, Jay and Julie Jordan and their former neighbors HervĂ© and Christelle Ponsdesserre, who lived in Columbus for three years during the startup of American Eurocopter here. The Ponsdesserres are back for a 10-day visit. They now live in Arles in their native France. 


The only causality on the bee rescue was David Owen, who happened by on his way home. David was stung on the face but seemed unfazed. Guess I could have offered him some Miracle Mud. 


Later that evening, much later, I got a call from my buddy Roger Truesdale, who said he was standing on the Mississippi River levee near his hometown of Rolling Fork. With Roger was his beautiful daughter Kady. For company they had a cottonmouth water moccasin. 


Roger says he hopes to return to Rolling Fork on Tuesday or Wednesday when the river crests. 


As reported here last week, officials say the levees on the Mississippi are sound -- the flooded casinos are on the river side of the levee. It''s the levees on the Yazoo River that are questionable. If they give way, much of the lower Delta will go under. 




No such thing as local news 


Last week, the day after the razing of the Friendship House by First Baptist Church, a friend e-mailed me the following: 


"I have never seen people stirred up like they were over the Friendship house. Through Facebook and e-mail I have had about 40 contacts last night and today. They have been mostly local but included people from Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and California. The nicest comment anyone had about FBC was that the church leadership was "dumb." 


Several out-of-state people said it was an another example of ignorance in Mississippi. I am afraid FBC has given the whole community a bad name. An example that no news is just local anymore."


Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment bridget pieschel commented at 5/15/2011 9:57:00 AM:

Birney, I believe the word is "wale," meaning "to beat or injure," instead of "whale." I've also seen it spelled "weal."


Article Comment crazy8 commented at 5/15/2011 3:15:00 PM:

I find it hard to believe that this town can become so "sirred up" over an old house being torn down. There are more than enough century old homes to help us remember a time in history when we owned other men. Let's move on and get "stirred up" about today's problems. Perhaps FBC was more concerned about saving souls than an old house. Maybe they had far greater things on their minds. "Several out-of-state people said it was another example of ignorance in Mississippi." Come on! It isn't FBC that gives us a bad name. It's being at the bottom of the list in education. The top of the list in unwed mothers, teen pregnancies, premature births, high school drop outs, etc. The list goes on and on. Until we look to the present and future and stop worrying about "restoring" our sad past we will continue to hear how "ignorant" Columbus, Mississippi is.


Article Comment 7dust commented at 5/15/2011 9:32:00 PM:

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they are in a version of "Through The Looking Glass" after reading this???? :?


Article Comment birney commented at 5/15/2011 9:42:00 PM:

Bridget, according to,
Whale means to to hit, thrash, or beat soundly. Wale means to leave a raised mark on the skin by striking. Since Sen. Brown was speaking figuratively, I suppose either word could be used.


Article Comment momof3 commented at 5/16/2011 1:22:00 PM:

Birney, you'll have to tell me if your Mississippi Mud turns out to be worth $30. My girls wanted some and so I bought it too. Seemed like a lot for mud, but I figured that worst case scenario, my girls would learn a relatively cheap lesson about why it's important to be skeptical about product marketing.


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