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Birney Imes: Random notes




Random notes 




Remember when Coke bottles had the name of the town where it had been bottled stamped on the bottom? The other day while my grandson and I were knocking around in a vacant lot, he found a piece of one of these old bottles with "Columbus, Miss." on the bottom. 


When I told him it was an old bottle, he asked if it had been around when Elvis was alive. 


"I expect so," I replied. 


He marveled when I told him I'd actually once seen Elvis in concert. I suppose to him that was akin to having met one of the founding fathers. 


On that subject, did you know that Mississippi has not only produced more Grammy winners than any other state in the union, we have produced more than the next five states combined. Elvis, B.B. King, Tammy Wynette, The Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker and Sam Cooke, to name a few. Those "Welcome to Mississippi" signs at the state line declaring Mississippi to be "The birthplace of America's Music," are not an exaggeration. 




Life in Mayberry 


On Southside Friday evening, it was possible to take a walk and while doing so check up on an old friend (Rene Aldridge for whom neighbor Cynthia Swanson works); get a report on the rainfall (two inches, according Joe Thompson); visit a garden that rivals any cottage garden you might see in Britain (Linda Spearing); pass unobserved as two women in chairs talked on a front porch illuminated by the light from an open front door (Jami Nettles and friend) and stick one's nose in a Confederate jasmine vine growing on a telephone pole while frogs from every direction croak their hearts out. 


I'd started out walking when it was still light hoping to make it to Friendship or the bamboo forest near the trestle I had always wondered about and, until this past week, had no idea how it came to be. 


At the risk of sounding like Joe Dillon who was famous for writing in his business column, "more details next week," I'll say the bamboo forest mystery will be answered in the next issue of Catfish Alley. At least as large as a city block, this stand of bamboo dominates the landscape between the south side of the railroad tracks below Carrier Lodge and Friendship Cemetery. 


A friend this past week said she was going to make an arbor with bamboo for a passionflower vine. Just don't plant any, I told her. A landscaper once told me bamboo might not be any problem for me -- I told him I was thinking of planting some in my yard -- but the next generation would curse me for it. You need a backhoe to get it out, he said.  


Somewhere I read the Japanese take refuge in bamboo forests during earthquakes. The mat-like tangle of roots is so strong it resists the forces of earthquake. 




School uniforms 


Speaking of upheavals, I'm having a hard time understanding the vehement opposition to school uniforms by parents of children in the county schools.  


Admittedly they were kindergartners, but the three classes of kids participating in awards day at Sale Elementary Friday morning couldn't have looked nicer in their khakis and whites.  


It seems khaki or navy pants, skirt and a white knit shirt would be low-maintenance and much easier on the purse than designer jeans, expensive running shoes and shirts with fashionable logos. While self-expression would be curtailed -- at least from a fashion perspective -- so would stigmatization of kids from homes not able to afford the latest look.  


Kids at prep and parochial schools have been wearing uniforms for years, so what's the big deal? Schools are having to do and be a lot more now than they were a generation or two ago when two-parent families were the norm. 


Teachers have enough on their hands without being traffic cops. Negotiating with angry students and parents eats up time and emotional energy, time better spent teaching. 


As far as I've seen, no one's made a convincing argument against uniforms, except that it requires change. For some that is reason enough to oppose the idea. 


In the meantime we wait and wonder if either of our school boards, city or county, are capable of wisdom or courage.  






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