I just returned from the Tri-State Liars Convention held this year at Tibbs, Mississippi. A few of the real old-time professionals graced our presence. At a conference as hallowed as this protocol must be observed.
The speaker and master of ceremonies is usually a journeyman liar who shows potential. As before the lies are brought to effect. The truth must be removed so it can’t interfere with our craft.
The talk began with political schemes and schemers and then progressed to weather and hypocrites and finally landed on farming. Somebody spoke up and said, “Damn farmers got it made now they got all them wells for drought. They ain’t no chopping hoes and cotton sacks to drag and the tractors and harvesters work offin’ them dang satellites and computers. Yup, they got it made now.”
Last year’s winner spoke up and said, “Congratulations sir, you get a point for the first lie this year. It is a good lie (and therefore certified by this congregation) because it is packed with facts which only suggest the truth, while neglecting the mitigating factors.
“To be a farmer these days requires computer literacy and programming techniques. If there is one of us here that can claim that, then he may be a contender at next year’s rally.”
Uncle Will Taylor spoke up and said, “I had a bucket, full of farmin’ since I was a kid and they shore don’t do it no more like they did when I was young.” (He’s about 90 and was runner up for 10 years in a row).
“I was raised up on a 40-acre farm without a mule. Me and my 3 brothers was Daddy’s mules. I guess our sister qualified too because she done the milkin’ and churnin’ and cannin’.
“Daddy only raised cotton for the market, a hog herd and hell on us young’uns. (My sister’s name was Jenny. That ought to tell you something).
“Our little community didn’t rate a traveling circus, and we wouldn’t have the dime apiece it took to get in so the circus never came.
“What we did get one year was a traveling silent movie picture show. Me and my brother shoed some mules for the show and got tickets for the five of us to see the moving pictures and free popcorn.
“Hot buttered popcorn; we’d never had nothing like it. We’d et our share of field corn and beyond but it warn’t nothin’ like that. We all figured that we’d never taste a piece of heaven like that again, but we’ve had it once and that would just have to be enough.
“That winter me and Bubba were sent with a wagon to the feed, seed and hardware store to pick up some corn meal and biscuit flour and a couple of sacks of seed corn for planting come spring.
“The hardware and seed man asked what kind of corn we wanted. We didn’t know much about seed corn but we did know the old man wanted it cheap, and told him so.
“The salesman said, ‘We are overstocked on this variety and will reduce the price.’
“In time we planted the corn. Then came the drought and then the heat. The corn was about ready. It got so hot the hogs couldn’t find a mudhole to waller in, and then it got worse.
“The corn seed was popcorn and it got to cooking off in the shuck. It started about 2 p.m. in the August afternoon and sounded like the 4th of July. Popcorn was a flyin’ in the wind, right over the remains of the mud hole where the hogs were trying vainly to cool off.
“Pretty soon them hogs noticed all that popcorn a coming down and thought it was snowing and froze to death with a thermometer steady at 115 Fahrenheit.
“You talk about a catastrophe! The corn was gone, the hogs were froze and we were forced with disaster on a par with the great flood.
“The old man could always come up with a plan. We rounded up some cotton sacks and stuffed them hogs in ‘em while they were still froze and packed ‘em down with popcorn said they couldn’t thaw out, and preserved the meat and sold it to local stores.
“Then we took what was left of what popcorn and strowed it in the middles so when it thawed out, it saved a part of the crop. We lived on popcorn and Jenny’s butter till I can’t stand to go to a theater where they serve it till today and that was 50 years ago.
“Eventually the old man couldn’t even stand anymore of it himself and sold the rest to a moonshiner up in Tennessee.
“He was later to become an icon in the trade of moonshining. His name was Popcorn Wilson.
“And there you have it boys, I had enough. Any profession that will turn you against popcorn and whiskey is too much for me to handle.”
I was there and God is my witness all them other liars just throwed their hats on the floor and walked out.
(Contact Ricky Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)