Some things never change

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

     My Papaw, the late William Carroll Palmer, Sr. could strike up a conversation with anyone. His farm was 13 miles from town, and he worked hard, but that didn’t keep him too busy to dress and go to town. Papaw invariably wore either green or kaki pants with matching shirts. It seemed to be his uniform along with a liberal splash of Old Spice, which I still love to this day.

     Mamaw made sure that Papaw’s clothes were neatly pressed. He made sure his hair was in place and no whiskers adorned his face. Papaw was a very handsome man. He had beautiful dark skin, blue eyes, and a head full of silver hair. He also had the wonderful attribute of making everyone he met feel important. He truly enjoyed conversing with friends and strangers alike and loved to hear their stories.

     Papaw and Mamaw lived in Neshoba County, which had a large population of Choctaw, and he absolutely adored making a Choctaw friend. In those days many of the Indian people didn’t feel comfortable conversing with whites, but Papaw had such a genuine love for people that he had many Choctaw friends. One such friend told Papaw there was a burial mound on his farm, which excited my grandfather to no end, but I don’t think he ever located it.

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     I suppose my love of people, stories, and the land is in my blood. When I think of my grandfather I have such fond memories and wish I had written his stories. When a story is written it doesn’t change and morph over the years as oral history tends to do. 

     My cousin, Sandy, and I were staying at my grandparents’ house one summer, and we decided to walk to an Indian mound near their house that the state of Mississippi had turned into a park. We were young teenagers, but old enough to go exploring on our own a bit. In those days the world seemed a much safer place and what could we find to get into so far out in the country?

     Some things never change much though, and when Sandy and I decided to check out one of the caves at the park we found something exciting. Boys! Well, actually they were young men, students from Mississippi State working excavating the cave over the summer. No shirts, sweat, bulging muscles…need I say more?

     Sandy and I must have seemed obsessed with exercise, because before we had been happy to hang around the farm, but now everyday we just felt the need to take a walk to the park. I remember my Papaw pinning us down with those baby blues one day. He said, “You girls don’t need to keep going to the mound. I think you must be meeting boys there! You are both very young, and have plenty of time for that sort of thing later.

     Sandy and I often wondered what gave us away, but our trips to the mound slowed down considerably.


Jan Penton Miller writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle.