[Note: Below is the Hill Country column from the Monroe Journal, Amory, Mississippi, for February 3, 2010. I am happy to be writing in the newspaper of the Hill Country, the Monroe Journal.]
Hill Country Column -- Second Anniversary
by Terry Thornton
Two years and sixty-five columns ago Hill Country started in Monroe Journal. In this space we've looked at some aspects of Hill Country heritage --- and, thanks to many of you, we're all learning much more about the eastern and hilly portion of Monroe County.
This column has addressed everything from the Indian cave at Weaver's Creek to the day Mr. Will Ritter's wheel popped off his little Ford Model-T coupe and how that loose wheel outran him while driving down Dolly Tubb Hill into Amory. Even bubble gum has been written about in this series as has the out-door health clinics the County Health Department once conducted under the big oak trees at Parham.
Terry Hathcock's "night bus to Amory" was the subject of one of the more widely read columns and everyone still marvels that Parham indeed had the Parham Area Rapid Transportation System. Okay, "rapid" may be an exaggeration --- but Mr. Terry got us to town and back safely and at little cost.
Some nostalgia views of "visiting" family and friends buried at cemeteries were written about as well as a column why I, like my great-grandmother Nancy Jane Lay Thornton, will be buried in Lann Cemetery at Splunge. It is cooler there.
The article about my favorite school teacher, Mr. J.V. Hendrix of Smithville, caused much discussion. Nearly every former student of his recalled how he inspired us to read and to listen -- and to love The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.
Critters of the Hill Country were discussed here --- everything from yellow eels in Weaver's Creek to pet alligators, pet snakes, pet pigs, and even accounts of petting squirrels and one skunk. Here you could read where special coon dogs are buried in their own cemetery over in Freedom Hills.
Readers helped greatly with the columns about determining the highest hill in all of Hill Country (that work is on-going) and helping to locate abandoned cemeteries. Thanks to information from local hunters, I now know the location of several small, overgrown, scattered cemeteries. Just last week a hunter sent specific directions to the location of yet another "lost" cemetery.
This column named the First Families of the Hill Country and provided a list of place names from the hills. I'm still having trouble remembering where Electra was located --- and Wall's Tan Yard. The precise spots for Bristow and Jonesboro elude me still but I've had good advice from readers about the location of Floyton, Easter, Senath and Rye. And new places continue to be named by readers --- Brock, Ashcraft, Adley and perhaps the oldest, most historic settlement in our county,"Rubby's Hog Craul."
A collection of country words and expressions formed the basis for more than twenty columns --- readers say they enjoy learning words such as mully-grubs, skedaddle, slat-bottomed, picking and grinning, mugwumps, nary-nother, skinny-dipping, gander pullings, all-overish, gewhilikins, hellions, unmentionables, youenzes, pshaw, hornswoggle, fleshy, and greased lightning. Of course, writing for folks who enjoy old country words and sayings is like preaching to the choir.
The late Fire Chief of Amory, Earl Frye, and his fire truck which crashed into me on the way to put out a fire in Splunge was the subject of a much-discussed column. I've written about photographing a dead baby. Also subjects for columns were a guide to Hill Country farm buildings, how to use baling wire, and the uses of molasses and sorghum.
But no column pleased me more than the article about when electricity was turned on for the first time in Hill Country. Just before Christmas 1937, was a major turning point for us.
Many other subjects and topics were addressed here --- and I look forward to continuing to explore our hills and to write about what I learn. Some topics being researched include milch cows and Reece Dairy, burial customs, spinning the bottle and other fun games, making butter, post offices, eating dirt, singing schools, and Southern Unionism.
Thanks for being a loyal reader.
Terry Thornton is a retired college administrator and former Amory Middle School principal who resides in Fulton. He can be contacted at email@example.com.