John Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2007

Egg in sandwiches, on face after early arrival at picnic

Somehow it’s Doc Whitaker’s fault.

If he hadn’t up and died two years ago, I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself into this mess.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Among the many unheralded and underappreciated jobs left vacant with the passing of the late Batesville alderman-at-large, economic developer and all-around great guy, was that of shuttling little old ladies to the Panola County Genealogical and Historical Society — the Pan Gens.

They meet monthly. Doc and Miss Joyce faithfully picked them up early and took them home afterwards. Doc walked them to their doors and made sure they were safely inside before leaving for the next stop. His shuttling was both a service to Pan Gens, its members and to traffic navigation on Batesville streets after dark, if you catch my drift.

My mother was one of Doc’s grateful passengers. After he was gone I started taking her to the meetings. I didn’t fill Doc’s place, though Miss Annie Glenn occasionally called his other former passengers to see if they needed to ride with us.

During these months at Pan Gens we’ve heard programs on the possibility of converting the VFW building into a county museum, programs about interesting dead people, interesting live people and a need to expand the Batesville Magnolia Cemetery to contain the latter because so many of the former have already been laid to rest there.

There has been a disconcerting moment of personal reflection during those meetings when I looked around the room and realized that I am the youngest one there. Equally disconcerting was another moment of personal reflection when I looked around the room and realized that I was not the youngest one there.

Pan Gens meetings, including their annual June picnic meeting, always at some historic location in the county, are usually held on the fourth Thursdays of each month.

The Black Jack Community Building hosted this year’s picnic. That’s the old Black Jack school building, now renovated by its former students. The picnic is one of those pot-luck affairs where everybody shows out with their dish of choice.

Miss Annie Glenn spent most of the day of the picnic stuffing eggs and spreading egg salad on white bread with the crust trimmed off. I spent most of that day honing my appetite, thinking about how good those would go with homemade brownies, fried chicken and the like.

We loaded the stuffed eggs and egg and white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off into the car and left for the picnic. Driving Miss Annie Glenn.

Our first stop was the Batesville Library, the usual monthly meeting place for the Pan Gens and staging area for the annual picnic. When we arrived, the church van normally borrowed for shuttling those who don’t want to drive themselves was not there. Two other members were already there, waiting and wondering about the van. We parked and sat there for a few minutes with our stuffed eggs and white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off.

After several minutes, the decision was made to forge ahead to the Black Jack Community Center. Perhaps we should have suspected that something was amiss at the library, and surely the suspicion should have been compounded when we pulled up to the community center at Black Jack, stuffed eggs and white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off intact, and saw only two cars parked there.

But still without a clue, I carried that tray of stuffed eggs and white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off into the building, and still I anticipated mixing them up with brownies and chicken and maybe somebody’s caramel cake.

And there I learned that I had arrived for the annual picnic on the third Thursday instead of the fourth. Not only was I a week early, I had published the incorrect picnic date in two newspapers, necessitating two hostesses to come out a week early just to turn people around and ask them to come back the following Thursday.

So we left, egg on our face, stuffed eggs and white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off in the back seat, still untouched. Drove back to Batesville. Once we got back to Miss Annie Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast, we took the next logical step. We sat in front of the television and ate the stuffed eggs and the white bread sandwiches with the crust trimmed off.