This is the start of a series I will do on Woolmarket, MS (I referred to it as “Bullmarket” in the “My Beagle, Mister” for reasons I won’t get into right now) just north of Biloxi which is now known for it’s casinos and gambling business. In my early childhood years (this was from 1957-1961), we lived in this Godforsaken place so far out in the country, my mother used to say they had to import sunlight so we could know night time was over. It is a place that brought both laughter, tears, happiness and sorrow, especially the latter.
My father obtained employment as an office machine (mostly typewriters, adding machines, etc) technician with Johnson Office Supply in Biloxi, MS. I have to give him credit on this; my father was indeed good at his craft. He could get a job as an Office Machine technician with any office supply company around. We moved into a ramshackle house about two miles from Woolmarket Elementary School where I went to school from the 2nd grade and into the first two months of the 5th grade. My father was one who always went where he thought the grass was greener. Not necessarily a lot greener. But, enough to where he felt his talents would be appreciated. He was like that…always wanted to be recognized and appreciated. Thanks to my grandmother (my father’s mother), she supplied the money for the move. God knows we didn’t have any money to make the move. My father was never big on saving anything, especially money (But, upon his death in May 8th of this year, he had over $100K…go figure). Of course, an alcoholic never lets common sense get in the way of them living their life the way they want to. That’s why we were always broke.
There wasn’t much to Woolmarket from what I could see at my precocious 7 years of age. There was a Red’s Meat Market which had the best bacon and ham on the face of this earth. I can still remember Mama (I don’t know if you’re supposed to capitalize “mama” or not…but for my Mama, I am…grammar and punctuation be damned) cooking it on that big black iron skillet on the rare occasion we enjoyed this delicacy. The bacon smell from that big black iron skilled should have made the dead stand up and ask for a plate. God, I can still smell it to this day. There was a drag strip just down from our home in Woolmarket back in those days. Of course, we never got to go to it (“That cost too much money”). But, my brother and I would sneak out the back door from our house on a Saturday night sometimes, get on our bikes and ride down to the strip. We would hide behind the tall grass near the entrance , hunker down with some slim jims we had saved away for a rainy day, wash it down with an RC Cola and just had ourselves a fine old time! We were men of the world during that short three hours in the summer and life at home be damned!!! Of course, when we got in, Mama was waiting on us (we never had to worry about our old man, he was too busy soaking in the suds at some fine establishment). We had to make up some elaborate excuse as to why we were out so late….been down to “The Creek”, hunting for tadpoles. Mama was smarter than that. But, she always let us off with the warning that “Whatever you are doing, get done before your daddy gets in”. We weren’t worried about that. Even if he made it home before we did, he wouldn’t be in any shape to inquire where we had been or what we were doing.
In some ways, Woolmarket, MS was a fine life for a young boy. But, there were days ahead that would make us all forget the good times. That’s for another entry on another day.