I defend borders all the time. So do you, every time you lock your door, every time you go out into your fenced in back yard and later complain to your neighbor that his dog has done its business there, leaving it for you to clean up, but only after you have stepped in the business and tracked it back into your house, your wife threatening you with a broom, wash pail, and a mop. We like our borders. We like for those who would cross them to do so with our permission, in a manner that we find agreeable. Most of us would not think about violating our neighbor’s border. We’d think it was an improper invasion of his property.
My first real, personal border dispute came at an isolated cabin in the country that many of my friends and I contributed time, labor, and money to build so we would have our own hang out place. My granddaddy had a 160 acre parcel that adjoined my home place. It was hilly, sandy, full of prickly pear cactus, sand spurs, cockle burrs, impenetrable thickets of wild plums, ticks and chiggers (redbugs to those of you in the know). When they were ripe, the wild plums were pretty good to eat, but otherwise, a rabbit could not get through the plum thickets, though a rattlesnake seemed to have no trouble, and they were always on the look out, hunting for the squirrels and birds that fed on the wild plums. Mostly, this property was good for growing pine trees, though the plums and rattlesnakes seemed to like it just fine.
My friend Philip grew up in the home building business. He was our architect and superintendent on the cabin building project. I purchased some old tin that came off a barn from my brother’s father-in-law, and Philip furnished a door, some plywood for the floor, some Styrofoam insulation, and a rear window. Philip, David, Neil, Ronnie, Jet, and dozens of others worked several weekends to get the cabin built. I asked Granddaddy If we could cut some pine trees to use as rafters, sills, and joists, and he said I could cut all I wanted. He even liked the idea of us building a cabin for a hang out on weekends rather than running all up and down the highways. He also asked that we not cut the white oaks for firewood, but the blackjack oaks that were prone to disease. The blackjacks were everywhere. That was an easy request to fulfill.
I got some old creosote timbers from Granddaddy that we cut to length, set, and used for a foundation. We cut and hauled the pine logs by hand, peeled off the bark, notched the floor joists with a chainsaw, and used a broad axe and a foot adz to square up the tops of them where the plywood would be nailed down. If you go to a home center today and ask for a broad axe or a foot adz, no one will know what you are talking about.
We raised the rafters by hand, cut and installed lath strips to support the tin roof from old hardwood barn lumber. We fastened the tin with lead-head nails, and installed the insulation. Philip hung the door since none of us knew how to do it, and we were glad when he made us properly space the floor joists so that the plywood would fit with as little waste as possible. None of us had a clue as to how this worked, except Philip.
I got all fastening materials from my granddaddy’s hardware store, where I worked, and managed to secure a pot bellied stove, stove pipe, and a clay thimble to allow the stove pipe to exit the back wall of the cabin, insulating it from the combustible materials. When we were done, we had us a two story A-frame cabin, the second story really being a mezzanine sleeping loft, but it was perfectly adequate.
Of course, we had no power, only kerosene lamps for light. I even had an Aladdin lamp with the mantle that would burn as bright as a hundred watt bulb. It would nearly heat the entire cabin in the winter time, but was unusable in the summer. The cabin faced South but was in the shade most of the day since we removed only the trees we had to to fit it in place.
Now the paved road frontage was nice for a property owner, but the cabin sat on the back side of the property from the paved road, and there was one bottom among the hills that was filled with bogs and springs that no one could cross in a vehicle, nor hardly on foot without hip waders and the worry of snakebite. We entered the property from the back side, which caused me to violate someone else’s border: Mr. White.
Mr. White owned all the property on the back side of Granddaddy’s, or to the north. We drove up the red clay dirt-but-county-maintained Rutherford Road to get to the turn in point that carried us across Mr. White’s property for a short distance, until we reached Granddaddy’s. One day as I was going in to the cabin, as I pulled into the road, I saw a pickup truck parked in the trees, waiting for me. It was Mr. White and his son, Bill.
I had always known that Mr. White watched all his property, which was a substantial amount. He did not like trespassers and interlopers and I was trespassing and interloping at that moment. I stopped and got out of my 1972 Pinto, which was a remarkably good off-road vehicle, which I suppose is more of a testimony of my ability to drive in an off-road situation than the actual off-road capabilities of a Pinto. I walked up to the truck with Mr. White and Bill seated inside ready to take whatever was coming to me. It could go bad.
“Hello, Mr. White,” I said, a big smile on my face. “Bill.” I added with a friendly nod of my head. Bill nodded back with a slight smile. Mr. White gave no indication of any pleasantry whatsoever.
“I figured that was you coming in and out of here,” said Mr. White. “From the looks of it, there’s lots of folks coming in and out.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. “We built a cabin on the top pf the next ridge on Granddaddy’s property.” If Mr. White had any friends, which I can’t really recall, my granddaddy was likely to be the closest thing to one, at least respected if not liked.
“You know y’all are crossing my property to get back here,” he said.
“Yes, sir,” I said.
“And, I don’t have to let you cross my property because there’s a thousand foot of frontage out on the York Road that y’all can access his place from.” This was not going to be good, I thought. That bog between the cabin and the York Road was impassable. I explained that to Mr. White. He sat there silently for a minute, not smiling, nor revealing anything that I might construe as favorable, and Bill was no help, as stoic as a bronze statue. Whatever his daddy said was the law to Bill.
It was an awkward silence. Awkward for me. Awkward for Bill. Awkward for the cabin and its future use. But it wasn’t a bit awkward to Mr. White. He just sat there in his truck, staring straight ahead, turning towards me only to spit when the tobacco juice built up to the point of spit-or-choke. I still have a vivid memory of that light blue ’69 Ford Twin I-Beam suspension straight-six flat-bed truck, just about the worst suspension that was ever built on the face of the planet, and Mr. White’s great ability to spit an unbroken, nearly endless stream of brown juice, narrowly missing my foot, but never so much as splattering a drop of it on my boot, though he did seem to see just how close he could get.
An eternity passed. Entire universes had their moment of singularity, their big bang, their full expansion, then contraction and destruction while he chewed on that tobacco silently. Galaxies were formed around black holes, their arms reaching out in a spiral cascade of stars and dust, being drawn in by the irresistible gravity of the black hole. I began to think I would need a black hole to warp through space from the Rutherford Road directly to the cabin, as passing through a black hole would be easier than crossing the bog from the York Road side. I was beginning to be crestfallen.
“Well, I figured it was you, and I reckon, since it is you, I won’t mind if you cross my place to get to yours. But no huntin’ and no cuttin’ any trees. Y’all do more on my place than pick up a ripe plum off the ground and I’ll put a stop to it. Do you understand me?”
Now in Southern parlance, adding a “me” to the end of that question made it an entirely different matter than just mere understanding. It was a clear, unequivocal ultimatum. I understood him loud and clear. One did not dicker with Mr. White on his own property. One simply did what he said, which I would have done anyway, he being of that generation that required this respect of me and me willing to give it no matter the personal ramifications.
“Yes, sir,” I replied, firmly, standing at attention as if I were a Marine waiting for the president to board Marine 1, for as far as it went, I was being granted a favor by the president of White Real Estate Holdings, which were vast, closely held and managed timber lands. Someone had been on his land, and Mr. White wanted to know just who it was, was determined to know who it was, and found out who it was. Lucky for me it was me.
It did not hurt that my grandparents and mother knew Mr. White and his wife. Nor that my great-grandfather knew Mr. White’s father. Nor that my great-grandmother was a White herself. Nor that my great-great grandfather and Mr. White’s grandfather all knew each other and grew up in the same community. All my family and all Mr. White’s family are buried in the same small church cemetery. They were friends. They were companions. They did business with each other. I certainly had that working for me, though it could have gone differently, since I should have asked Mr. White, first. I did not, and he granted me a favor that he did not grant to many. Mr. White, having long passed, has left his son, Bill, in charge of everything. When I see Bill today, he is kindly to me because we like each other, and a remarkable thing about human nature is that if you have ever done someone a kindness, you are more likely to like them. If you have ever been mean, every time you see them it reminds you of your own meanness, thus you are less likely to like them. It should be the opposite, but I fear it isn’t.
With that settled, I warned all the people who came to the cabin about Mr. White’s property. We put a flag up where it stopped, and I told every one to do nothing but drive down the logging road until they got to the orange flag. Everyone respected this, since I cautioned them that there was no trifling with Mr. White on his own property, and they may not fare as well as me if they encountered him, particularly if they gave him any lip. Everyone understood.
We had a lifetime of good times at the cabin. Nearly every weekend found our gang there, building bonfires, camping (many brought tents since the cabin would not hold us all). We played music around many a campfire in the fall, winter and early spring. The cabin was not a summer place, since it was a bit too hot to enjoy the outdoors, and the ticks and redbugs diminished the experience, though they seemed to enjoy themselves and our presence just fine. But, my what good times we had on those fall evenings, two dozen or more of us regulars, fifty or more at times, and sometimes nigh of a hundred folks enjoying each other’s company, safely nestled out in the woods, out of sight, out of range of hearing, with a core group staying, and a host of visitors coming in and out over the course of an evening. Lots of folks from town (Meridian) occasionally joined us, but they could never be a part of the core country group, though they were welcome. Musicians were always welcome.
It is remarkable that we never had any incidents or accidents, but I suppose it is less remarkable than one might think, because most of us had some modicum of sense about us. We never did anything foolish. The most foolish things were done during the construction of the cabin, as we were using chainsaws, climbing precariously to heights that would guarantee an injury if one were to fall, erecting a tall A-frame with ropes and push poles. We mostly didn’t know what we ere doing, but we did it with a purpose, and worked hard until someone broke out an ice-chest and the cold beer was passed around, then the work ceased and a game of PEG broke out, where you take a bat-like stick and strike the pointed end of a large peg flipping it into the air, then swinging at the peg like you were a batter in baseball. It was a Choctaw game, a cross between baseball, cricket, and country-jake, only there was no ball, just the peg. It was harder than one might think, yet we had tons of fun with the things that were on hand. We made do with such as we had, and what we mostly had was each other. It was a wonderful time.
Like all youthful hang-out buddies, the gang began to slowly break up. Some got steady girlfriends who did not much like going out into the woods. Some got married. Some went off to college. Others got jobs that required them to work nights and weekends. We had a good three years of fun at the cabin until it eventually fell into disuse. At least, I thought it had fallen into disuse. I was later to discover for myself that others who had visited the cabin during one of the larger parties had made great use of it, appropriating it as their own.
One night, I was at a bar in Meridian that had live music. I was not there to play, but to listen and enjoy whatever and whoever I could find, looking for the place where the evening’s action might be, just like most young folks. I never did like bars very much and generally avoided them, except for Hopper’s Juke Joint, where I always felt at home. Paul Hopper seldom booked bands there, but musicians gathered to play just for the fun of it, much like at the cabin. Music was about as amplified at Hopper’s Juke Joint as it was at the cabin, too, which I liked since I always liked acoustic music, though there was the occasional PA system at Hopper’s, unlike at the cabin since there was no power there. Though I had been part of a great Meridian area rock band with a long history, I really did not really like the music too loud. Sometimes rock bands are much louder than they are good.
While I was at the bar that was not Hopper’s, in spite of the too loud band, I managed to hear about a huge party out in the country. My ears perked up because I was always interested in a huge party. The people discussing going to the party were unknown to me, but that didn’t matter. A large party was a free for all. No doubt, I would know some of the people there, make myself at home, and have a good time. Being the extrovert I am, meeting new people never was a problem for me. I began to eavesdrop more closely to the group of girls discussing the party and how to find this place out in the country.
“It is way way out in the woods. Thirty miles from here,” said one girl to several others in the group, “but Tommy knows the way. All we have to do is follow him. There’s supposed to be a couple of hundred people there.” They all giggled with excitement over the thought of an adventure, and to these city girls, a party thirty miles away in the deep woods was certainly an adventure. It sounded good to me, too. I decided I would eavesdrop more until I heard the directions to the party for myself.
Eventually, Tommy, the town organizer for the country party made his way over. He began to describe to the girls how to get to the party, since then there were no cell phones, no Google maps, no GPS coordinates, nor even any road signs to mark your way….only careful directions using landmarks which might be easily overlooked in the dark.
“You go way out to Lauderdale,” said Tommy. This perked up my ears because Lauderdale was home, and if I got to the party, I would not have far to go to get home, which I liked. Some parties were far in the opposite direction, which made getting to and from home much more tedious.
Continuing, Tommy said, “You turn right at Lauderdale, cross the railroad tracks, take your second right about four miles past Lauderdale, then go about five more miles and turn left on a dirt road past the fire tower. About a half-mile up the dirt road, there is an old logging road that turns to the right.
“You’ll think you’re lost, but about another half-mile down that road there is this cool cabin. That’s where the party is. Gip and Cecil are throwing the party. It’ll likely last two days. They’re gonna have a huge bonfire. If you want something to drink and munch on, you better bring it with you. There ain’t no stores out that way.”
Now I was more than interested. The directions to this party were more than a bit familiar. It was the exact directions to the cabin….my cabin….our cabin….now commandeered by Gip and Cecil, whoever they were, to host their own party. I’ll admit I was a bit peeved, but I decided that there would no doubt still be many people that I knew, and most likely, one of our circle of friends (cabin stake-holders, as it were) who would actually be presiding over the party. Needing no more directions from anyone, I set out for the cabin. If Tommy was wrong about the directions, then there must be some other cabin or hunting camp nearby. I would find the party, wherever it was, but I knew that it was most likely at my cabin.
Thirty miles later, in the midst of traffic that was unusually heavy for a country road, all the cars headed in one direction, I found myself in the midst of a procession leading straight to my cabin. There must have been a hundred cars and pick-up trucks parked all over what empty spaces could be found in the plum thicket. Though it was dark, I could hear curses as girls in open-toed sandals stumbled over and stepped on the prickly pears, and the cries of those impaled on the needle-sharp spines of the wild plums. No one had a flashlight, so the final segment to the cabin consisted of following close behind the one in front of you, placing your feet where they placed theirs, as much as the moonlight would permit, hoping the one in front knew the way and the safety of the road from the dangers of the plum-tree thicket. If one forced his way too deep in the plum thicket, one may not get out until the next morning. Spending the night in the plum thicket, amidst the thorns, the prickly pears, the rattlesnakes, and the ticks and the redbugs would mean the accumulation of some battle scars that you would later be able to show your grandchildren, referring to them as war-wounds, they looking at you with wonder and adulation at your courage and bravery in the face of the enemy.
I could see the glow of the bonfire through the woods. Knowing every rut and twist in the road, and every plum bush likely to grab you, I made my way in the dark straight down the road, passing all those searching for the way. My footsteps must have sounded confident to them, because most of them fell in right behind be.
“How can you see in the dark?” one girl asked.
“I eat a lot of carrots,” I said. She followed so close that every time I slowed the least little bit she crashed right in to me. She’d rather that than a painful spine from the prickly pears growing on the loose sandy soil, or the painful embrace of a wild plum tree. Pretty soon, we were marching in single file with me at the front of a long line of people who assumed I knew where I was going. I did, and the glow from the bonfire eventually became brighter so that the roadway was lit enough to allow them to proceed on their own without me. I found a prickly-pear-less place away from the wild plums and had a seat in a dark spot to observe the goings on around the bonfire and the cabin. If I did not move, no one would see me even if I stayed there all night.
I watched. I observed. I paid attention. There must have been two hundred people at this party, not a one of whom was familiar to me. They all seemed to know each other as they rough housed, threw their beer cans and bottles on the ground, laughed, joked, hollered, and smoked their weed.
“Not a guitar to be seen anywhere,” I muttered sadly to myself. There were no musicians in this bunch, just a bunch of beer-sodden, cannabis-infused revelers milling about. It was nothing like the mellow parties our gang had. It was loud. It was obstreperous. It was fun to those who enjoyed the Bachmann Turner Overdrive blaring from an eight-track tape player in a Dodge Charger, trunk open, doors open, and parked closer to the bonfire than I thought prudent. It did not seem like fun to me. No mandolin. No banjo. No singing. Just people shouting to hear each other over the too-loud music when they talked, just like in the bar they had left to come to the peace of the country. It was mysterious to me.
I still thought it remarkable that among this large crowd, there was not a single face that I recognized. I was a stranger at my own cabin. My border had been violated. I did not like this at all, but decided there were too many people to do much about it, and I did not want to be the party pooper. I’d just try to join in and stop anyone too inebriated from doing anything foolish, since I had already spotted some boys that had had too much to drink being too frisky with some girls that had had consumed even more. I did not know them or the nature of their relationships, but I was hearing the occasional shout of “stop it,” which one never heard from any of the girls in our gang. No one ever mistreated the girls that I was aware of. They say that no means no nowadays, but back then, no still pretty much had the same definition. We all know what “no” means. No is no. No might later become yes, but until it did, no was still no. A girl would let you know when she changed her mind. Until then, go fish in some other pond, boys.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” a wise man once said, which is oft repeated, but unknown to each generation coming along who thinks they invented partying, sex, and intoxicating substances. That our parents, or heaven forbid, our grandparents knew about such things was beyond our capability to comprehend. All the things we were engaged in were brand new, never-before-thought-of, and invented by us for us. The world was new and innocent; we were its corruptors. How full of ourselves we were.
Even fuller of themselves than we once were was the group of people at my cabin that night. They all came from Meridian. Not a one of them seemed to know how to behave in the country, though there were more than a few girls who had left home that evening in high heels with no idea that they’d wind up at a party way out in the country. They brought nothing to eat or drink, hoping perhaps to mooch off their friends. Money was no good out in the country, not that night, for there was nothing to buy. It was late enough that all the stores in Lauderdale, nine miles away, were closed. To buy anything would mean a likely inebriated driver would have to go all the way back to Meridian. No one would make this trip solo, for if they got back to Meridian, they’d just likely stay there rather than drive the thirty miles back to a party that may be over once they returned.
I eventually stepped out of the shadows and into the firelight. No one noticed me for a long time. Everyone was having a pretty good time even though I caught the occasional glimpse of things getting out of hand among the more inebriated. Boys jostling for position in their own pack were likely to be fighting like roosters at any moment; boys fighting boys from different packs were much more dangerous. The air was thick with testosterone in one corner. The girls were sensing this and seemed as excited as a bunch of young fillies exposed to their first stallion. None of them knew how to behave, or rather, they behaved just like stallions around a bunch of mares. Sometimes, in nature, the only thing it takes to get a mare in heat is the presence of a stallion. The more interest the stallion shows, the more hormones she emits until they both will tear the barn down if kept separated. You don’t want to get in between them. Most of these people at my cabin that night did not really seem to be people I wanted to get between. There were some biker types, and back then dentists, surgeons, and accountants were not bikers, nor did they dress like bikers. Bikers were bikers, with not a radiologist or dermatologist to be found among them. There were some heavily tattooed, which was not nearly so common then as it is now, and some that seemed of a downright unsavory character to me.
Eventually, I was noticed, and someone asked me who I was. I told them my name. No one knew me. I knew no one. Standing by the fire, observing my violated borders, I suddenly heard a cry from the cabin as if Tarzan was swinging through the jungle from tree to tree on vines that would break if I tried that. It was really more like Carol Burnette’s imitation of Tarzan, but as Tarzan-eqsue as a drunk, testosterone laden late teenager/early-twenty-something could produce. This was followed by the sound of shattering glass as the rear window in the cabin exploded. I jumped into action.
I flew up the steps of the cabin. I grabbed Gip, or Cecil, or their surrogate, or whoever it was by the arm as they prepared to throw a second piece of firewood into what was left of the rear window. I grabbed the stick of firewood, twisting it, and wrested it from his hand as my left hand moved to his collar.
“What the hell are you doing?” I shouted at him, holding him by the arm, ready to hit him first if he seemed to contemplate hitting me.
“Let me go,” he shouted, wrangling from my grip and taking a step back. “Just who the hell are you?”
“No, who the hell are you, and why did you break that window?”
“I was just having some fun,” he said.
“Well, breaking my window is not much fun at all,” I said, angry, very angry.
“Your window! This is just an old cabin. It doesn’t belong to anyone,” he said, angry back, too ignorant to comprehend the idiocy of his statement and too drunk to be much of a threat as he stood there, looking tough, but swaying back and forth on his feet barely able to keep his balance, trying to focus his eyes. I was steady as a rock; sober as a judge.
“No. This is my property and this is my cabin, and that was my window you just broke,” I said, “Now get your ass outside and don’t let me catch you back in here.” I gave him a shove towards the door. He almost fell more than once, but he made it out the door and down the steps, muttering curses at me all the way, never looking back.
“What’s going on down there?” someone asked from the loft. I heard a half-dozen or more whispers from up there. No telling how many were crammed into that space. I decided to call a meeting to order at the bonfire.
I stormed out with the same confidence as I had walked down the moonlit road. If there were stallions about that wanted to make trouble, they seemed to immediately recognize that I was the stallion-in-chief. “Whose Charger is this?” I demanded in the glare of the fire light.
“Mine,” a fellow said.
“Come shut the music off. I have to make an announcement.” He did. And I started, perched on top of a five gallon bucket rather than a soap-box, no soap-box being handy. I addressed the crowd. Loudly I declared, “Y’all listen to me for a minute. Hey! HEY! Get quiet!” I also whistled a couple of times. I then stood there and waited for them to get quiet. I did not move or say anything else. As the noise died down, there were some who continued to talk, but eventually their friends began to shush them. Soon, it was pin-drop quiet. I was amazed at my own personal power at that moment. Upon reflection, I am still somewhat amazed by it. I told them my name.
“I don’t know any of you, and none of you seem to know me, but this is my family’s property, and this is my cabin, and you are all trespassers.” I heard a chorus of hisses and boos as it looked like I would be the one to break up the otherwise fun party, but no one moved.
“I don’t want to break up the party, but I won’t have any more drunken idiots tearing up the place for their own entertainment. Nor do I want to hear any girl say ‘Stop it’ more than once. Once is enough. If you can’t understand that, then you need to leave and leave now.
“Other than that, have a good time. But if you’re wondering who is in charge here let me assure you that I am. If anyone doesn’t comprehend that and and what it entails and needs me to explain it more clearly, then step forward now,” I said. I was not bluffing. Like the Jimmy Buffet character in the song, ‘The Bear’, I’d have run every G*D* one of them off of that hill that night, but the Jimmy Buffet character in the song was drunk; I wasn’t. But I was angry, tending towards wrath at this invasion of my border, my property, my personal space. I would not have my authority challenged.
Something in my voice, beyond the words, made it clear to the crowd. I was pleased with that, because I expected some trouble. I got none.
“Behave yourselves and have a good time as my guest,” I said. Then I turned to the owner of the Charger, and gave him the signal to put the music back on, which he did, and the party kicked back up, and everyone behaved and had a good time. I met some new people and made some friends. The drunk window breaker apologized for his behavior and his friends and he took up a collection and gave me some money to replace the window. It was not enough to do so, but as it turned out was plenty.
The party lasted until daylight. Those too inebriated to drive themselves home were scattered all over the floor of the cabin. A few were asleep on the ground near the campfire, soon to be awakened by the fire ants invading the front lawn feasting on dropped potato chips, the dregs in empty beer cans, pieces of hot dog bun, and the crushed remnants of toasted marshmallows. Occasionally, I could hear their yelps from the sleeping loft I now inhabited all by myself, after all, the chief stallion deserves his own stall.
The next week, I told Mr. White that I would not be using the cabin much anymore, and I had strung a fence gap across the entrance to the logging road and put a chain and pad lock on it. He gave me one of his own locks to lock inside mine, a common one to my family, as I also did not want to lock my granddaddy or Mr. White out of their own property. That would not do. I also put up some No Trespassing signs.
“Mr. White, if you see anyone else other than me, or my brother, or my granddaddy, they do not have our permission to go in there,” I said. Mr. White, zealous of his own borders, would make sure no one did. He was so astute in his observations that he knew who it was going in and out by their tire tracks. Let him find an unknown set of tracks, and he and Bill would stake it out to discover whether it was a trespasser, or if you had merely gotten some new tires.
I told my brother that the cabin had become a problem. He offered to fix that. A borrowed log skidder, a single 3/4″ cable attached to the cabin’s top roof beam, and a quick pull of the skidder brought the cabin down, after he had removed the tin. The tin and the roof rafter logs were recycled into his own hunting camp several miles away in the community of Kewanee. Every time I go to his camp, I see the logs supporting the front porch and I get nostalgic for the cabin. Some of our initials are still etched into those logs, still working and doing their job in a steadfast manner some forty years since they were harvested and put to use.
Mr. White is long gone, like my granddaddy, though Bill still watches over the property he and his sister inherited. My children know their children. My grandchildren are older than their grandchildren, and they may never know each other, thus breaking the cycle that has gone on for generations. When bonds established by generations and lifetimes are broken, they may never be reconnected, and will exist only as long as there are those with the memories of them. In a way, I knew Mr. White’s father and uncle, though they died long before I was born, from the stories that my mother and grandmother told me about them. I also know my great-great grandfather, who served in Company C of the 2nd Mississippi Cavalry during the Civil War by those same stories. He had a big moustache, just like me. I suppose there is always one character in every family. As it has been written about the South, we all have the insane in our families, but rather than keeping them locked away out of sight, we bring them out onto the front porch and parade them around.
Europe, the Swedes, the Italians, and others have their own border violations going on. Some guests are determined to cause trouble, and to make those whose lineage goes back for hundreds of generations feel like strangers in their own land. They have not defended their borders. I suppose, if you get right down to it, the only reason I ever had the opportunity to build a cabin with my friends out in the woods east of Lauderdale, closer to Alabama than to civilization, is that the Choctaws were unable or unwilling to defend their borders from those invaders whose culture was so different than theirs. It is a cycle that repeats itself often in the course of human history. If one cannot defend one’s borders or property, then others will appropriate it for their own use. So it continues. So will it ever continue. We think we have laws that protect us from that nowadays, but the Choctaws had their laws, too. Eventually, their law was supplanted by a law created by a new majority that left them outside the loop. I am not defending this behavior, but it is common to mankind.
It should teach us all a lesson. Mr. White needed no such lesson. If there was a lesson about borders, he would likely be the one giving it.
There are few Mr. White’s left in the world. They are eunoched by safe-space snowflakes and castigated and demonized by those who tell us that this way of life is over, that borders mean nothing, that borders are artificial barriers to the free movement of people towards prosperity, and plenty, all of which people deserve and borders deny.
Explain that successfully to Mr. White and me, if you can.
Explain that to yourself when you lock your doors as you prepare for bed.
Explain that to your neighbor’s dog, who only retreats from your property when you confront him, otherwise, he leaves refuse on your property he won’t leave on his own.
Welcome to human history. It continues unabated, humans making the same mistakes.
Except all the Mr. Whites that are left. And me. And maybe you, but I’m not as sure about you as I am about me.
Tonight, be sure and lock your doors.
©2017 Mississippi Chris Sharp