Ricky Harpole 7/23/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crenshaw, Sledge once ‘Christmas Gift’ to ‘old coal burner’

By Ricky Harpole
I know as well as y’all do that it ain’t Christmas; it ain’t even December but in this heat I got to “thankin” ‘bout it.

In the heat of July when you’re in the merciless  Mississippi summer you long for frost and snow of December especially when yo have a pushmower or a weed whacker in hand or a timbersaw in a breezeless hollow.

Of course in the dead of winter when the wind chill is cold enough to freeze bourbon in an insulated cup, you long for the season of the oven. Face it people, we don’t have a climate here, just weather. Just about the time an old corpse like me gets adjusted to it, the weather changes again and wreaks havoc with what’s left of my decaying system.

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Back in the olden days in the south there was a custom that the first person you met instead of saying “Merry Christmas,” you said, “Christmas Gift” instead. Whoever said it first had to receive a present from his unwary victim. The gifts didn’t have to have any particular value. Anything from a hand full of pecans to a rusty mule shoe would suffice. It was the principle of receiving a gift.

Well the story goes that both God and the devil both took notice and were amused by the practice and decided to play the game as well. God was returning North from Pope with a lot on his mind after a birthday celebration in honor of his only son’s birth. The old devil was walking south on what is now 51 Highway from stirring things up in Memphis, hoping to get to Jackson in time to get a little hell raised down there.

51 was curvier and steeper than it is today and the devil saw God a’comin and hid behind a white oak stump and bided his time until just the right moment and sprang from the bushes and yelled out “Christmas Gift.”

God who had been pondering back from the devil was taken completely unawares. He said, “Well you for ‘shore got me good that time you old coal burner so I guess I’ve gotta go give you something. I’m making you a gift of Crenshaw, Mississippi and throw in Sledge as a bonus and the devils had em til this very day.

Praying for Congress and a break in the weather,
Ricky Harpole
(Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)