THE BITTER SOUTHERNER – Great Stories from the South

THE BITTER SOUTHERNER – Great Stories from the South.

We lived by the railroad track-the one Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops came down and burned the crossties on to heat the rails to make them into ‘Shermans bow ties’. Our house stood right in front of the one mile marker to the Red Oak depot. If you read the history books, you’ll read about Sherman’s army coming down the West Point line from East Point to Red Oak. Well-they camped right where I grew up. The South is like that-history under your feet.

This train this story tells runs down the very same rails, too. We used to stand in the yard and wonder about the people sitting in the dining car being served by the porters. Looked fancy. They whipped on past us-not knowing at all about two little girls standing in the twilight watching.

Later in life, I would ride the Crescent part way from DC to Atlanta. I had a Pullman so I had more of the creature comforts. Still-it is somehow comforting and comfortable to ride a train. It has a peculiar sway and the rhythm of the tracks makes you go into something akin to a trace state.

Personal opinion: We need to bring passenger rail back. But we need to make it affordable and electric. Diesel is not the answer. We have the brain and the technology to do it-we just need the big oil lobby out of the way.

This is a full length story of the Southern Crescent. I hope you enjoy.

A Lifetime of Equines

My mom thought I’d outgrow the “horse phase”. After all, other little girls did. She wanted a dainty little girl who played with dolls, held tea parties, was fussy about wearing dresses, stayed clean, and loved playing house. What she got was a child who looked like her carbon copy-but that was it. I hated dolls, thought tea parties were silly, dresses chafed me, dirty was more my style, and as for playing house? nope. Just nope. Could not be bothered.

I was out of the house, climbing the backyard fence, and running across the cornfield to follow my beloved PawPaw plowing with a mule before she knew what was going on. She took to dressing me in red just to keep up with me. I was all of maybe 3 or 4 then. Of course, the fact that PawPaw would throw me up on the mule’s back to ride back to the barn didn’t help her cause a bit.

Then when I was 8, PawPaw died of a stroke-and the mule was sold. I was devastated. He’d promised me that mule. How could they? That began my campaign for my own horse. I was not going to have that happen again.

My mom-mistakenly-thought if she gave me a birthday party with horseback riding that it would be enough-I’d see the ‘light’ and stop. So she found a stable that would do horseback rides and a hay ride for my 10th birthday. It threw gas on the fire. I wanted to bring one of the horses home.

I became one of the most determined people on earth. I wanted my own horse. I knew I had to have one. I read every book in the libraries about horses. I played horses out in the yard. I talked about horses. It was the only thing important to me.

After two years of this, my dad talked my mom into the experience. She rationalized that at age 12, I would soon discover the opposite sex and forget the horses. She was unbelievably off course. I didn’t care-on my birthday, a trailer rolled up and unloaded a bay paint gelding named Poncho. I was on cloud 119.

Poncho and I became soul mates. He was a Girl Scout camp reject and I was the social reject at school. He taught me and I taught him. And, yes, he eventually earned the moniker of ‘Sports Model Jackass’, but he still runs in my dreams. We were together nearly 20 years.

I haven’t been without horses since that day. Every part of me is permeated by horses. If you cannot talk horses-keep walking. If you can, have a seat. Anybody who can treat a horse with love and respect is a friend of mine. Welcome to The Sports Model Jackass.