Rita Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 15, 2011

Cotton bloom reporting uncovers elected official’s old ruse

My friend Rebekah Bailey celebrated her seventh birthday last week. Turns out it was a significant event. See, Rebekah was born at 7:01 p.m. on July 7, 2004. She turned 7 on 7-7-11. To observe the occasion, she invited seven friends (plus two cousins) to a pottery-painting party at a studio on Highway 7 in Oxford. At 7:01 p.m., she blew out a blue candle shaped like a seven on a blue cake shaped like a seven.

Further research reveals that she was the seventh great-grandchild of the late Milton and Ludie “Lulu” Wardlaw, and that her parents, Brad and Jenny Bailey, had been married seven years when she was born.

Coincidentally, Farmer Brad had a bone to pick with me regarding our recent reporting of the first cotton bloom in Panola County. Andrew Thornton and his niece Elizabeth Rone had presented this year’s first bloom to us on July 1. It was the second year in a row Andrew has produced the first bloom and I declared it an unofficial record in the photo caption. To set the record straight, I need to be clear that Brad Bailey and Rebekah brought in the first bloom in 2005 (found on Father’s Day, no less) and again in 2006. Brad’s given up that competition and growing soybeans now.

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Which brings me to comments made by Charlie Overton on the day Andrew and Elizabeth brought in their bloom. Charlie declared that Joe Reid, in the days before he launched his political career and became our circuit clerk, regularly placed in his deep freezer a a fine specimen cotton blossom from his crop.

Early the next summer, before a single Panola County cotton stalk had thought about blooming, he would remove the flower, let it thaw out, and bring it to The Panolian, to receive accolades for producing that year’s first bloom.

Just for the record, I detected no frostbite on Andrew’s bloom.