April 10, 2011 12:11:00 PM
Birney Imes - [email protected]
The other day I got a call from Sandra Boone complaining about the delivery of her mother''s paper. "She loves her paper, been reading it for years," Boone told me. She went on to say that her mother is an amputee and her previous carrier had put the paper under a weight on her wheelchair railing on the back porch. Sandra added that her mother was a retired beautician.
Eventually, I got around to asking Sandra her mother''s name.
"Elvis Faulkner," she replied.
"Elvis Faulkner?" I asked not sure I was hearing her right. "That''s like Elvis from Tupelo and F-A-U-L-K-N-E-R?"
The two most famous Mississippi names, both in one package and living in the Masonic Subdivision off Highway 50.
Do you think your mother would be willing to talk with me about her name, I asked Boone.
"Sure, I''ll call her."
Arrangements were made and Wednesday afternoon I pulled up in the driveway of a small brick ranch-style house with an immaculate yard blooming with azaleas, dogwoods and roses.
"I feel like I already know you," Mrs. Faulkner said as she greeted me at the door.
The comment gave me a flush of pleasure.
"You read my columns?" I asked, still pleased.
"No, your mother used to talk about you when Katrina did her hair."
That was about 50 years ago. Maybe it''s better she knew me then.
In those days Mrs. Faulkner was a fledgling hairdresser, fresh out of Vaughn''s Beauty College in Aberdeen. She worked for a year at Katrina''s, a decade for Gen Colvin and 22 years for herself on the corner of Waterworks and Seventh Avenue. She called her place the Beauty Corner.
"May I call you Elvis?" I wanted to ask.
"Old enough, I''ll tell you," she responded to a question about her age. Mrs. Faulkner will be 86 on the 17th of this month.
She invited me into her living room where we sat and talked. Like her yard, the house is spotless, as was she, all fresh in denim pants, white athletic shoes and a dark red long-sleeved blouse. She told me about her three children and her long-deceased husband Floyd who came from Detroit. As my mind tried to connect Detroit with her hometown, Greenwood Springs, MS, she added "Alabama."
She told me about the cancer in her leg she had removed at UAB and then losing the leg three years later in 2000.
Finally, we got around to the name.
"Mama said she got it from a book of names she ordered," Mrs. Faulkner explained. "Everybody says ''Elvis Presley.'' I tell them he got my name.
"He did real good," she added. "I declare I don''t know what happened to him."
Faulkner also said she had read some of the books of the writer from Oxford but didn''t go into detail.
As for her time as a hairdresser Faulkner said the women whose hair she did came to feel like her family.
"I loved them to death," she said.
Seemed like a good reason to call my mother.
"Oh, I remember Elvis," my mother said. "She was so sweet."
Elvis asked me about my children, and I told her our youngest was celebrating her 28th birthday that day.
"Is she married," she asked.
"That''s good," she said when I told her she wasn''t. "Most of them marry so young when they are just not ready."
Leaving, I paused to admire the roses lining the ramp leading up to her back porch. "Those are Knockout roses," she said. "Four for $75. They high enough, but they bloom all summer long."
It seems too obvious an analogy, those long-blooming roses and this gentle woman with a famous name, but the comparison is apt.
Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.