This is the LAST “Talk of the Town.”
When I started writing this column nearly two years ago, I told then-editor Tammy Bullock that I’d do six weeks and see what happened. What happened was this: I wrote about 90 columns, on everything from discovering a valuable, local time capsule to suffering the consequences of forgetting to pick my son up from school. And the responses that I have received from it all have made it one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
I started out to write historic pieces about our hometown of Baldwyn, and I wrote several. At least a third of my offerings have been history-related. I discovered how a sitting Speaker of the House in Mississippi was murdered on Front Street, under salacious circumstances, in 1882, and I found many intriguing and heart-breaking stories that revealed the hardships most Baldwyn families endured from the Civil War through the Great Depression.
Though I soon changed course to more popular tales of the wacky humor found in the human condition, especially among Southern families, mine being the focal point, I always tried to hold true to the original intent of the column. And that was to explain to people here and abroad that Baldwyn is a special place.
Baldwyn’s special to me, first, because I was born here, about where the water tank behind the post office now stands, at the long-gone Caldwell Memorial Hospital. It was Dr. Gene Caldwell who, with my mother, managed my arrival … “old school,” plenty of drugs and a pair of forceps that left my head whop-sided for six months.
It’s special because it’s where my wife and I were married. My boyhood preacher Bro. W.T. Dexter did the honors at the First United Methodist Church, just west of my engineering office down Main Street. That same Methodist Church plays beautiful music – bells – everyday at lunch that can be heard all over town. I distinctly hear lyrics behind those bells. “This is America.” “God is good.” “Love your neighbor.”
Even time proceeds differently here at home, its passage marked by successes and failures of our children on playing fields, dates flagged by their graduations and their weddings. Memorable chapters sadly close with the inevitable deaths of loved ones and leaders.
“Baldwyn is special.” That’s what Claude Gentry thought. It’s what Simon Spight and Johnnie Lee Smith thought. And I know it’s what Michael James, Johnathan Bass, Stanley Huddleston, Earl Stone, John Haynes, Lee Bowdry and three thousand others believe, too. I stand with these guys.
So now, I’m off to something new. It might be a new Baldwyn Orchestra (we’re actually testing the waters for interest now), or some new theatrical endeavor (Improv Apocalypse was a nice success last week for Main Street Players), or reopening the old Tom’s Drug Store soda shop (I’ll get there eventually, the Lord willing). My guys at Quail Ridge Engineering have even suggested that perhaps I could help them out by doing a little engineering work on occasion.
Whatever I do, I’ll be doing it from Baldwyn.
And if in the distant future I happen to recall any more old tales, or experience any new ones, that measure up to “Prayer for my Hemorrhoids,” “This is NOT Hooterville,” or “One Large Freaking Ocean Water,” I just might jot them down and send them in. Who knows?
Thanks for reading!