Pontotoc’s annual Bodock Festival was held the week ending August 23, 2008. The editors of The Bodock Post were on hand to promote their new publication and to encourage individuals to signup for the free online publication. We occupied a booth adjacent to the Post Office Museum in downtown Pontotoc. Ralph Jones and I were present both days, and Carl Wayne Hardeman joined us on Saturday.
The 10’ X 10’ popup tent we had borrowed shielded us from sunshine throughout the morning. But, to remain in the shade we were constantly moving our lawn chairs to accommodate the position of the sun, and by mid-afternoon, we found ourselves positioned slightly in front of the tent.
Our vantage point enabled us to do a great deal of “people watching.” There was plenty of foot-traffic passing by us. Many persons smiled or waved, and a goodly number stopped by to see what we were selling. Of course, we were not selling anything, we just looked like we were with a display of horse apples (bodock balls) forming a centerpiece on our display table and a stack of September issues of the Post in full view.
Of the vehicles that parked briefly in front of the Post Office, most were there because the driver needed to drop off some mail or check his or her mailbox inside the Post Office. Thus, when a car containing a man and a woman stopped in front of the Post Office and both of them began walking toward our booth, I quickly surmised we had something they wanted.
The man was smiling as if he knew one of us. I stood up to greet him, wondering if he was someone I was supposed to know. Ralph stood, as well. By this time, the woman had made her way to our booth.
As I recall, he expressed an interest in our centerpiece, stating they had driven to Pontotoc in search of some bodock balls for a decorative purpose.
I decided it was time to introduce myself and extended my hand while stating, “I’m Wayne Carter.”
The woman beside him shrieked, “Wayne Carter! Did you say Wayne Carter?” all but drowning out her husband’s reply, “Howard Thompson, nice to meet you.”
Her first words startled me, and I wasn’t sure whether to answer her or to run. But, when she removed her sunglasses, I immediately recognized her.
“Jamie!” I cried, as it was my turn to yell.
She grabbed me and hugged me like I was a long lost relative. Jamie and I had become good friends when were classmates at Northwest Junior College, Senatobia, Mississippi in 1960-1962. I had met her through my friend Ed Dandridge, another classmate, from Independence, Mississippi. Ed and Jamie had graduated high school together as had a number of other students in my class that Ed also made sure I got to know, because they were his friends.
A minute later, Ralph introduced himself. His actions provoked another round of shrieks.
“You did our house plans,” Jamie recalled. “I can’t believe it. We met you in 1969. We drove from Independence to Pontotoc to find some bodock balls, and here the two of you are together. I knew the Lord had a reason for us to be here today.”
I may have seen Jamie once or twice since we graduated in 1962, but I don’t remember when or where. The fact that I still recognized her after what may have been forty-six years is satisfying. We chatted for the better part of an hour, and I walked Howard and her to the office of Habitat for Humanity to meet my wife, Barbara.
Making the day even more amazing, for me, was the fact that Jamie asked how she could reach Fred Wicker. How she and the story-telling, retired Judge became friends is itself a long story, but it involves her needing someone several years ago to speak before a student body where she is an administrator.
Jamie went inside the museum to find a phone book and returned to state, “I didn’t need a phone book after all. There were a couple of little old ladies in there who knew his phone number, and they told me he would be speaking at the community theater, shortly. I also got directions to Jean Peeples’ house. Jean said I can have all the bodock balls I want right out of her backyard.”
Ralph, Howard, Jamie and I spent the better part of two hours reminiscing. I could easily have “carried on” a couple or more hours, but our schedules would not permit such an indulgence. Ralph and I went back to “selling” the Post, and Howard and Jamie left to visit the Judge and pick horse apples.