Aug. 2, 2001 – Jo Ann and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary on the first Saturday on the Neshoba County Fair. What a celebration it was.
Jimmy Ball of Calhoun City and the Blue’s Lagoon Gang, so named, I assume, from cabin-owner Bill Reeves, whose wife is affectionately known as Blue, honored us with an hour and a half concert by Elvis singer Mike Tubbs of Calhoun City from the front porch of out cabin on Founders Square.
There’s no way of estimating how many walked by, stood, or sat on the neighboring cabins. We even attracted a couple of fancy dancers who were in the neighborhood.
Jo Ann and I thought it was our 47th, but our daughters disagreed. Deanna was certain it was 46.
“You weren’t even here,” I argued, “how could you possibly be so sure.”
“It seems like longer,” I rationalized.
“You have that right,” Jo Ann agreed.
Jo Ann had told me not to get her anything, that she wanted to go on a trip after the Fair and that would be enough.
If I have learned anything in 46 years, it is not to believe this.
I alerted Ellen Jeffrey Houston to be on the lookout for something when she went to the Dallas market and I remembered to put it in the Blazer first thing, when we started packing.
Tubbs, who makes no attempt to look like Elvis, does a good job of sounding like him.
He plays and records all the background music and harmony on the sound tracks he sings with, and claims to have been an Elvis fan since he was two years old.
They had played earlier at Reeves’ Cabin, where prominently displayed on the end of the porch was what Reeves contended was a “mince.”
He had brought Sid Salter and me a treatise on the “mince” earlier, giving its history in Neshoba county and claiming that a number of local folks had known about them through the years.
After he left I asked Sid, “What the hell is a ‘mince?’”
“You know how you folks in North Mississippi used to snipe hunt?”
I admitted I had been. An unsuspecting member of the group is told to stand in the dark a long way from anywhere, and hold a “toe” sack as instructed.
The rest of the group says they would go a long way off and run the snipes back so they can be trapped in the sack.
Extreme silence was required.
Then, the unsuspecting sack-holder being careful not to make a sound, stood in place while the rest of the group slipped off back to town, awaiting the “hunter’s” realization that he had been had.
“Mince hunting is what we did in Neshoba County,” he explained.
The “mince” on the porch looked like a double-tailed deer rear-end mounted over a head-shaped Styrofoam stand like women use to place their wigs.
Other than that I admit that Ball and Reeves, along with Tommy Gregory of Greenwood, Buddy Mitchell of Madison and J.C. Patton of Starkville, put on a good show — the most unusual anniversary celebration I have ever attended.
As I walked across the square to visit with Lala Perry, formerly of Philadelphia and Meridian and now of Jackson, several folks told me they had enjoyed the event.
Lala and I discussed her art entry in this year’s arts and crafts competition and I promised to go by and see it before the fair was over.
Then I went up to Dr. Bill Mayo’s new location and visited with them and the Tommy Boatrights of Oxford, who were watching the first day of horse and mule racing from their back patio.
Harness racing was in progress when I got there and I told Sherry Mayo how much I had enjoyed her cousin Buddy Dees’ harness racing over the years, until his retirement.
“When are the mule races?” I asked, about the fairly recent addition to the racing schedule.
They were the first race, Boatright said.
A couple jumped over the fence, which they are apt to do when bumped on an inside turn, he continued.
I marveled at anyone getting a mule to run, recalling earlier years on the farm when I seldom could get a team of mules to even walk fast.
Replaying the race, Boatright reported that a mule named “Peanut” had won and he thought a mule named “Slick” came in second. He couldn’t remember the name of the mule in the “show” position.
What a way to end an anniversary weekend — sitting on the porch with friends talking about a mule race.